Published on October 15th, 2009 @ 08:05:55 pm , using 86 words, 22679 views
Well, it's not (nearly) perfect, but for my first paintjob in over 20 years, it's not bad! Certainly no fault of the paint. I'm amazed at the quality of this paint - and it's just Ace brand metallic spray paint!
We have some graphics we're planning to apply, and we'll get to that soon, but the paint's done and I'm pretty happy with it. Der Red Max is basically a total loss and I'll be building a new one, heh. Not even going to show that mess here.
Published on October 15th, 2009 @ 05:58:29 am , using 216 words, 22836 views
Well, as I said in yesterday's post, I'd been waiting for a > 60°F day in order to paint, but it's not going to happen, so I went ahead and put coats #1 and #2 of the second color onto Callisto. I don't have any pictures to put up yet, but it came out "ok". The paint itself is completely awesome, just like the first color. Still getting some odd pitting and imperfections but overall she's looking awesome! I'm pretty happy.
Also put a final coat of red on Der Red Max's body, and the first coat of black on the nose cone. The nose cone is probably a total loss. It seems the Testor's gloss black I bought is not at all compatible with the primer I used and, well, heh, they went to war, with DRM's nose cone as a battlefield. I may be able to remove all the paint, back to the bare plastic, and start over, but it'd probably be easier to buy a new nose cone and start over that way. Or just buy a whole new DRM kit and build again. The paint job on the body is pretty terrible too. Ah well. At least it's a cheap low-power rocket. ;)
Anyway. Callisto is nearly paint-complete. Will just need to do the graphics now!
I haven't written a lot this week as there isn't much to write about! It's getting cold here already, so hobby activities tend to slow down. I've got to finish painting some rockets, but I've been waiting on a > 60°F day to do it. Looks like I'm not going to get it, so I'll likely put the next coat of paint on Callisto today. I haven't started on the G3 as I need to order some supplies, plus there's no rush on that rocket anyway. It probably won't fly until Spring.
I've been working on the new gaming site, as mentioned before, but there's not much to report on that front as it's all behind-the-scenes stuff at this point. I've been watching all the various MMOs in development with interest. So far it looks like The Secret World is the most interesting, though Star Wars: The Old Republic looks interesting as well! The rumors I've been reading about Star Trek Online are kind of saddening, but we'll have to wait and see what actually happens with that packed-with-potential title.
That's about it! Just not much to talk about these last few days.
Published on October 12th, 2009 @ 07:47:27 am , using 55 words, 368 views
I'll slowly be transitioning to posting all my gaming articles over at my new site, MMOZealot.com. I'm still working on layout, themeing, and all that good stuff, but I wanted to get an article up over there. It's an MMO design theory/opinion article, on skill-based vs. class/level based character advancement systems.
Go check it out! <--- clickable!
Published on October 12th, 2009 @ 06:20:06 am , using 624 words, 586 views
My attempts at moving to full-time Linux are well-documented here @ SoD. ;)
I made another attempt this weekend and I'm closer than I've ever been. Vista made this attempt a real nightmare, heh. Ah well.
When I built this box, I built it with 2 identical hard drives; a pair of 1TB Western Digitals. The plan was to have one drive for Vista and another for Linux: a very easy way to setup dual boot. All you have to do is goto into the BIOS and swap which drive is primary, and that will choose which OS to boot. That way Vista doesn't get odd about your boot sector/etc. Anyway... Heh.
When I installed Vista, apparently something very odd happened, that I never noticed, and really messed me up. Apparently, it put all its boot information - the boot loader and all that - on Drive 1, but all the data (programs, OS files, all that) was on Drive 2. I never noticed this, as I just installed Vista, it worked great and I went on with life.
When I went to install Linux, I just installed it to the blank (ish) drive which was reserved for it all along, and told it to put its boot loader (GRUB!) there. But... that's where Vista's boot info was. Even though Vista itself and all the programs/data were where they were supposed to be. So, of course... Vista wouldn't boot.
Startup Repair... nope. There's really no way to tell Vista "hey, dude, trust me... there's a valid Vista install and a bunch of programs sitting on this drive, just slap your boot info there and STFU and boot, suckah!". So... reinstalled Vista over the Linux installation to preserve the programs and data from the old Vista install - then copied said stuff over to the new Vista install. Verify boot info and actual "stuff" are on the same, proper drive, then proceed to install Linux again to the other drive. Sigh.
Linux install of course went textbook. Installed the proprietary nVidaia drivers and X wouldn't start. Some quick Google searching revealed the problem: nVidia's Linux drivers don't really like SLI all that much (and I have 2x GTX 295 cards), so you have to manually edit the X configuration file and provide the BusID of the device you want to be primary. Do so, whammo, working (and FAST!) X.
So before I went too far with pimping out my desktop and such, I wanted to make sure this was a viable project. I need to be able to play my games under Linux, and right now my primary game is EQ2. So add the WINE repository, download and install WINE, copy over my EQ2 installation and fire it up. Launchpad/patcher crash. Google for info. Need to get rid of wine-gecko. Bingo, working patcher. Working client. Working sound! Excellent performance, too! And that in KUNARK! Ok - viable!
I went on and pimped out my desktop. Got conky all setup. AWN setup. Killer themes and such installed and tweaked a bit! I'm in Linux heaven. Then it came time for my wife and I to play together and I had issues getting the client to run as it had before. Dunno what the issue was - I'd been doing a lot since then so who knows; might've just needed a reboot. But it was time for us to play so I just rebooted into Vista and we played. I'll figure it out today.
But, the thing is: I HAD EQ2 working perfectly, and so it should work again, it just might for some reason need a fresh boot or ... who knows. It was working though, so it will again. And I might be willing to deal with needing a fresh reboot, to be running full-time Linux finally!
I haven't done a Monday AM mish-mash in a while so here goes! :D
Had a totally awesome weekend!
Saturday started off with a trip to the Feast of the Hunter's Moon. It was our first time going. Yeah, we've lived in Lafayette for 6 years now (and Monticello for 8 years before that!) and have never gone. Before 2 years ago it was an issue of comfort - at the weights we were then, there's no way we could've handled it! The Feast is a huge event - way bigger than I expected! So many vendors and things to see, and a very SouthFaire feel to it, despite obviously being a totally different period. We're definitely going back next year, no question about it.
Dinner was insanely wonderful. We'd been wanting to make a "Chef's salad" type of thing for a while and finally got around to it. Killer romaine hearts, red onion, scallions, tomato, cucumber, 12 year old cheddar, Finladia Emmentaler, Boar's Head hard salami + smoked ham, hard-boiled egg, and a homemade ranch dressing combined to make a "Killer Salad ov Death". We'll be doing that again!
Then, Saturday night, we went and watched the Lafayette Brawlin' Dolls roller derby bout! Wow, now that was fun! Yeah yeah yeah, those of you that know me will be saying "WTF Jon you said you hated sports?!?" Well, in general I do! I'm a gaming geek, programmer, rocketeer, and former R/C pilot. I like geeky things, not jocky things. But, any sport where the players have names such as "Roller Damage", with jersey number "2D6" .. Yeah. I'm in. The Dolls lost to the Circle City Socialites, but only barely, and the bout was extremely well-played by both teams! We'll be going back.
I also finally installed Linux on my second drive, but that's a subject of another post, as it caused a small nightmare (though the nightmare was Vista's fault).
Sunday we got a lot of stuff done that needed done and that was super-fun too as it always feels good mentally to get stuff done! I made killer burgers too. D&R Market's beef + Rogue creamery smoked bleu cheese + D&R Market's bacon = pure win. I cooked the bacon all chopped up and mashed the bleu cheese up with the bacon and topped the patties with the mixture. Mmmm. She made one of her patented ubersalads to go with and the dinner was perrrrrrrrrfect.
Ahh, what a perfect weekend. :)
Published on October 9th, 2009 @ 06:18:52 am , using 1014 words, 1137 views
If you've been reading this blog for a while, or if you've delved into the older posts, you'll know that I was until recently involved in the hobby of flying radio controlled airplanes. It was a fun hobby, but due to various factors (money, time, politics) I've left the hobby, but today I'm going to start this post by talking a little about the history and evolution of the hobby as I understand it. It's an old hobby, dating back way, way before I was born, but I've talked to people that have been into it for over 30 years and I've read a ton on it as well.
It used to be, back before, say the 1970s, that if you wanted to fly a radio controlled airplane, you needed to build it yourself. From a bunch of wood. You either got plans and cut the pieces you needed based on the plans, assembling them together with various adhesives, or, you knew what you needed and didn't even use plans. As you can imagine this required a fairly large amount of "crafting" skill, patience, and knowledge of tools and techniques. A lot of people really like building things, so this was cool. Gave them something they enjoyed, then they got to fly the plane. Other people, I'm sure, didn't like the building as much, but really wanted to have something they could fly, so they soldiered through it.
As time went on, companies took notice that people were doing this hobby, and so they started producing kits of airplanes. This gave you pretty much everything you needed for the basic airplane - all the wood and usually some of the other parts. In the beginning you still had to do a lot of cutting, but as time went on, die cutting (and very eventually laser cutting) was introduced, eliminating the cutting of parts steps. This was still building, and satisfied a lot of the "builder" types, but was a lot less work than scratch building, so satisfied more of the people that didn't enjoy building as much.
More time passes, and companies take note that a lot of people really just want to fly, and so "ARFs", or "Almost Ready to Fly" airplanes were introduced. This gave you a (mostly) fully built airplane, leaving you to just install the motor and electronics needed to control the airplane. Instead of months, time from purchase to flying was reduced to days or a week at most. The early ARFs were pretty rough and you still had to do quite a bit of work, but it wasn't nearly as much as building from a kit. Nowadays, with modern ARF airplanes, the time from purchase to flying is pretty much anywhere from about 4-5 hours to maybe 15 or so for a large, complex airplane.
Now you'd think everyone in the hobby could be happy about this. The guys that just want to focus on flying can get ARFs and fly sooner, and the guys that love the building aspect can still build their airplanes and then fly 'em when they're done, right? Well, yeah, they do, but a decent number of the builder types really look down on the guys that only have ARFs. Or, more correctly, their airplanes. They say the planes aren't as good, that you didn't "earn" it, and so forth. It's not usually mean-spirited, it's more friendly teasing, honestly, but still. Just be happy someone's in the hobby and enjoying themselves, right? Heh.
You probably noticed this post is categorized/tagged "gaming" and by now you probably think I'm on crack or something. I'm not. This was a long, wall-of-text analogy.
Back in the early days of MMOs if you wanted a high level character, well, you made it yourself. You leveled that sucker up. And it was good! Hell levels in EQ1? We loved em! (not really.) The other option was, well, the black/grey market of "RMT" and buying accounts. Variously either against the TOS of the games, or at the very least looked down upon by a lot of players. It was honestly best if you'd self-leveled a character before you tried to drive a max-level character, no matter the game. But still, once you'd been through the levels, if you wanted to try something else, you might want to shorten the time to higher levels.
The first instance I can think of where a company directly served this desire was EA/OSI offering the "Advanced Character Service" in Ultima Online. You could, for a fee, buy a mid-"level" (no levels in UO, all skill-based game) character, chosen from about half a dozen different templates. These were nowhere near max-skill characters, they were (are?) just mid-grade characters so you can at least start doing something cool instead of grinding up from no skills at all. It was pretty cool. I was a hardcore UO veteran by the time this service came online and I used it a few times! Oh, but the backlash from players was horrible! They said it was the doom of the game, etc, etc, etc. Of course that was around 6-7 years ago and the game's still going strong-ish...
Of course now the de facto way to skip leveling is just go to to the black RMT market and buy an account. It's against the TOS of almost every MMO (UO, Warhammer, and EVE are notable exceptions), but people still do it en masse. I do it. Heh. I'll always self-level my first character, but after that, yeah, sometimes I wanna skip the "rats and bats" phase and get to the "really f'ing big rats and bats" phase!
Now of course, some people really still like the "building" thing. Leveling from zero, clawing up to max. That's cool! Go for it man! This is a hobby, we're both enjoying it... Relax. :) I don't see why the different playstyles have to be enemies.
So... are you a builder or a flyer?
Published on October 8th, 2009 @ 07:03:25 am , using 1333 words, 2313 views
I do like to try a little of everything, but in the end, when I look back to characters I've played longterm, it's always been the same: pet classes. I prefer deep and complex pet classes rather than more simple ones where you just summon the pet and it doesn't change much.
The pet class playstyle seems to be lost on newer MMO developers. Oh sure, they're putting in classes with pets, but they're very shallow. You summon the pet, and maybe you've got the choice between a tank pet and a DPS pet. Maybe you can pick from a few skins. But that's about it. There can be a lot more to pet classes, and it is honestly a very different playstyle - different from melee/ranged DPS, tanking, healing, or anything else. It really is a separate category.
Let's go back to the beginning: Ultima Online. UO has no classes - you build your character from a decently long list of skills, assorted in any way you like. A skill cap prevents you from building a "super being." So, while you can work on any skills you want, you cannot max all of them. One of the skills is "Animal Taming." This allows you to tame certain animals and monsters and then have them as pets. Each different creature requires a certain level of the skill. So, while chickens are easy to tame, dragons not so much! Once tamed, a creature gains skills in the same way your character does, and is again subject to a skill cap. This is pretty cool: you can choose your pet, and it grows with you. Taming was also (and probably still is) the hardest skill to "GM", short for "Grandmaster", in UO. This refers to achieving the [then] max of 100.0 skill. (Now it's 120.0 if you use Power Scrolls...). It took real dedication to GM Taming. This is because you had to find creatures of the right taming requirement level (you couldn't gain skill taming trivial things), and they had to not have been previous tamed/released by other Tamers. Etiquette dictated that you tamed then killed things you were grinding skill on. But we all know what happens with etiquette in MMOs. ;) Now, it's the opposite: if you tame then release a creature it raises the skill required to tame it, so it's desirable to sometimes find things that were previous tamed. There's a whole naming scheme most tamers adopted for this... But anyway I digress. Taming is hard to GM, and I've had 3 GM Tamers in UO. :)
Everquest 1 came along, and it had 2 (3 if you count the limited Shaman pets) pet classes: Necromancer and Magician. The Necromancer summoned a skeleton pet to fight for him, and the Magician could choose Earth, Water, Air, or Fire elementals to fight for them. In the beginning, the different elementals didn't do anything different. They do now. And now there's the Beastlord class, but I'm talking Day 1 stuff. Anyway. I always liked the darker side of things, so I chose a Necromancer and played one very seriously for over 8 years. It's a limited pet class: you summon your skeleton and it fights for you. You can't customize it or anything. But, hey, it's still a pet class. This was the beginning of the "shallow" pet class.
The true Golden Age of pet classes was Star Wars Galaxies, before the "New Game Experience." SWG was another non-class-based game. You picked what skills you wanted your character to have, and there was a wide variety! You could build some truly interesting characters, to be sure. It was a true sandbox character building system, easily the best. One of the skills was Creature Handling. This allowed you to tame (or buy - more on that later!) various creatures to use as pets in your fighting. There were a huge variety of creatures you could tame, and on top of that, you could customize them a lot once you got them. You could choose what skills and abilities they had (within limits). You could control a certain number of them based on their relative power. It was awesome.
On top of that, there was another skill, Bioengineering, that allowed people to custom make pets based on DNA samples and the like. This was a very, very complex system and allowed for serious customization of pets. I never was a Bioengineer, but I bought many pets from others that were, and with the customization ability I had some truly awesome pets! Much more powerful than anything I could have found in the wild. See, SWG's resource system was such that you didn't just mine, say, "Metal Ore." You mined "Metal Ore" but it had a number of properties that could vary widely, which controlled how powerful an item made from it would be. Knowing where to find high quality (and of course, "Server Best") resources was part of being a top-tier crafter in the game... Sigh.
Now we'll discuss WoW. It has 2 true pet classes, Warlock and Hunter. Both are pretty good - you can choose tank, DPS, or balanced pets - basically. Warlock has just summons, as would make sense for the lore behind a Warlock - they summon demons. Cool. Hunter is a ranged DPS class that tames animals (and some monsters) to fight for them. Different creatures are more suited for certain roles - solo tanking, DPS, PvP, etc. And you have pet talent trees allowing you some customization of your pet. It's a pretty good pet class - not as great as SWG Creature Handling, but still at least it's not just "summon and that's it."
There are other games with pet classes, of course, but I'm just trying to lay out a spectrum. From most shallow (EQ1 Necromancer style) to most deep (SWG Creature Handling). I'll always pick up a pet class as my "main", no matter what, but I do long for a very deep pet class again.
Why have current MMO developers forgotten, or given up on, this playstyle? Sure, I know one reason: cries for balance. When you've got a character that basically has another character (the pet) or characters (if the game allows multiple pets) at their control, players of other classes cry "IMBALANCED!" It's hard to balance that, and I certainly understand that. But it can be done, and it's worth it, I think, to bring back this playstyle. I know I'm not the only one that is a devotee of the style.
Another interesting thing about players and what classes they play is that I'm starting to see that it's really rooted fairly deep in someone's personality. Yesterday I was helping my wife do some work. She's recovering from surgery, and I've been trying to do as much of her work as I can. She is feeling better and was starting to do more of the work, and I wanted her to slow down and let me do it so she wouldn't tire out, and I said that I wanted to do all of her work. She replied that she didn't want anyone to do all of her work, and my reply was basically "why not? I'd LOVE to have someone do all of mine!"
I knew right then, that aspect of both our personalities linked directly to the classes we both play in games. Her first character in EQ1 was a Magician. She liked it, but always liked the idea of a Rogue. One day she rolled a Rogue and never looked back. She does not play alts; she has one character in every game we play, and it's always a melee DPS class, and nearly always a rogue type. She wants to get in and do everything herself. I always end up a pet class: I want to have minions do my work for me!
Published on October 7th, 2009 @ 07:26:08 am , using 417 words, 1581 views
My friend Chad had read yesterday's post on Atheism/etc and we were chatting about it, when he said there was something he'd always wanted to ask an Atheist. So I said "sure, go ahead!" and his question was (and I'm paraphrasing...)
So, ok, hypothetically, what if it happens, when you finally die, it ends up that there is some God/spiritual realm/whatever - what would you say?
To which I could only respond,
Heh. See, though, that's the beauty of following The Scientific Method! You don't get emotionally/egotistically attached to an idea or theory or hypothesis. When you receive new evidence that contradicts what you believe, you simply adapt your thinking. No big deal.
I of course went on to point out that while, yes, if I die, and then am suddenly in front of some God, I wouldn't sit there and try to deny his/her existence as that would be stupid. I deny the existence of a God because there's no evidence to support the belief in one. Standing in front of one would be evidence. And, I think, after thousands of years of human history with countless millions of people trying to prove existence of Gods and other spiritual beings, and completely failing, that it's safe to say that it isn't likely that any exist.
Humans are hard-wired to assign "supernatural" origins to things they simply don't currently understand. In the way distant past, humans didn't understand a damn thing, so they made up Gods for everything. The Sun, the Moon, fire - you name it. But now the Sun is very much understood, and so you don't see many/any people worshiping a Sun God anymore. As humans came to understand more and more things, there became less and less Gods and Demons. Mental illness used to be thought to be caused by Demons or the Devil; now we understand it's mainly just chemical imbalances in the brain. The list goes on. But yet many humans still hang onto the idea of a God, because we're hard-wired to.
There is still that "what if?" barrier for some people. "What if I choose Atheism and I'm wrong?" Well, ok, sure, that would suck. But, look at the evidence. It's more likely, far more likely in fact, that there are no Gods, than that there are. You should instead ask yourself, "What if I waste my entire life, worrying about, stressing about, and basically agonizing over, some invisible, non-communicative, vengeful, Sky-bully, and it ends up that he/she doesn't exist?"
Oh boy - if you've been reading my writing for a while, you're going to be saying to yourself "oh god, not again..." But - too bad - you don't have to read. ;) I know I sound like a broken record on this subject, but seriously: in the MMO world, fantasy has reached saturation. I'd even say over-saturation at this point.
Now before we get too far, let me make it clear: I like the fantasy genre! The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit, and the other writings of Tolkien) are my favorite stories and have been since I was about 5 years old. I also like more modern fantasy. With that out of the way...
Since the early days of MMOs, with the "father of the commercially successful MMO", that being Ultima Online, fantasy has been the prevalent (and at many/most times only) genre covered by MMOs. Sure there's been a wide variation in style - some have been original IP, some have been based on popular and established IP, but still... Fantasy. High fantasy, low fantasy, weird fantasy (Asheron's Call), but still, again, fantasy.
There have been "blips" from other genres. There is Anarchy Online - a good game for sure. There was Star Wars Galaxies (Peace Be Upon It). The Matrix Online (Rest in Peace... you had so much potential). There's EVE Online, City of Heroes/Villains (and Champions Online!), and a few others too. But I'm straining myself to think of the non-fantasy titles. Contrast that with UO, EQ1, AC1, AC2, Horizons, Shadowbane, WISH (RIP!), AoC, WoW, Warhammer Online, EQ2, Aion, FFXI, LOTRO, whew, and I'm forgetting a ton of titles! I can rattle those off without even thinking about it.
Now, when thinking about how MMOs work, it would seem to me that something in the Cyberpunk (or Steampunk!) genre would be a "bullets and guns" type match! Sure there's NeoSteam, but I'm betting this is the first many of my readers will have heard of it. Why isn't there a WoW-popular (or at least close!) Cyber/Steampunk MMO? Why isn't there an MMO, a good one, capitalizing on the popularity of monster/semi-horror type IP's along the lines of the popular vampire/etc literature of the day? Or on shows like Buffy/Angel? Well sure there's a project in development, but it doesn't appear to be a "serious" attempt at an A-list MMO title. The Firefly MMO would have been awesome if done properly and as an A-list title!
Sure, I get one reason: money. The fantasy MMO genre is a proven money maker. "Look at WoW!", they say. Sure, yeah, look at WoW. Blizzard is more a money printing press than a company. ;) You can't kill WoW with another fantasy title. (Well, I don't think you can kill WoW no matter what... But that's a subject for another rant!) WoW is a refinement of a proven MMO formula - that of EQ1. They evolved it several steps, and it got them 11,000,000 subscribers. Pretty cool! Now take that formula, evolve it a couple more steps, but do it with a non-fantasy IP. License it or make a new one - it doesn't matter. People will flock to your game.
So, yeah, I understand the bean counters looking at other successful titles and saying "Ok look, fantasy makes money." But what are the other reasons? I just don't see them. Developing an MMO is a huge risk anyway. But it carries the potential of insane rewards. Have you ever done the math on 11,000,000 subs times $14.99 per month? Heh.
Maybe Star Trek Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic will do it. Both have a lot going for them. Popular (HUGELY popular!) IPs, and especially with SWTOR, a very good, proven company behind them. SWTOR will suffer a little from "OMG NOT SWG AGAIN!!!" syndrome from ex-players of SWG, but I think in the end it'll win back a lot of pissed off ex-SWG'ers. I actually like both Star Trek and Star Wars, which is kind of odd as usually people like one or the other but not both. So I'm not sure which of the two will "win" the perceived battle between the two IPs there. CCP Games, EVE's developer, merged with White Wolf, the owners of the World of Darkness (Vampire: The Masquerade, etc) IP a few years ago and reportedly have an MMO in development based on that. Blizzard has a super-secret "next-gen MMO" (their term) in development. And Funcom has The Secret World - a Lovecraftian-style horror-ish MMO that looks awesome so far - in dev. Maybe one of these titles (and I hope it doesn't end up being Blizzard's!) will achieve the same level of success the fantasy MMOs have, and then open it up for other non-fantasy titles!
Published on October 6th, 2009 @ 07:37:27 am , using 970 words, 1395 views
I'm posting this warning, as I haven't in the past made too many "serious" posts on this blog. Well, I mean, talking about exercise and weight loss and a couple of surgeries is somewhat serious, but I kept it fairly light and didn't provide a lot of detail or talk about many negatives.
This post will be about subjects that might offend some people, and will be my first post on said subjects (in any depth anyhow). So... I'm giving you the opportunity to not even see it.
Hit the "Read more..." if you dare. ;)
Published on October 6th, 2009 @ 06:45:46 am , using 484 words, 801 views
My friend Kari posted a comment in reply to my EVE post. Not talking about EVE, but instead about Age of Conan which I'd mentioned in that post. Her comment:
AoC doesn't have the population to be anywhere as fulfilling as it should be. Gorgeous game, fantastic PvE but no population to drive the economy.
And trust me, if you want to go anywhere near city-building, you need A) a population and B) an economy.
AoC is a large-guild-only game. A crack team of 8-12 elites will make it to 80 very quickly but will NOT be able to progress a city beyond the first stages.
Her comment is both true and not true - depending on what you want out of the game.
As far as "no population to drive the economy", I'm not sure. The population certainly seems very high on the server I play on (Cimmeria). There's always a lot of people around. Whether or not the economy is "working" is another matter; I'm too low level to notice. Then again, does any MMO have a super functional economy? They always seem a little borked to me anwyay. The server merges did massively increase population on most of the remaining servers.
The city-building bit - well, yeah. A city implies a lot of people, so yeah, it takes a large group of people to build/maintain a guild city. I think that's intrinsic to the idea of a city in the first place.
As far as other things to do, to make AoC worth playing, well, for me, I want "quick and dirty", "get in and get out" type of action. I can log on, do a couple quests, or go to a zone and do some random PvP and then log out as needed. That's really all I want out of a "secondary" game right now. I don't have enough time to "really seriously play" 2 games - and EQ2 is definitely my primary game, as I play with my wife, and the fun and awesomeness of that just can't be beat! So basically I need a "secondary" that's playing and "stoppable" easily, while still feeling worth it when playing in that mode. Basically for me, right now, that'd be either AoC or World of Warcraft. Possibly Warhammer also, but I really don't know anyone else playing and I at least want the option to play with a friend or two when I have a tad more time.
I do have another friend that's playing AoC at the high end though. He's got 3 (or maybe 4) max-level characters and they're all guildless and he raids on them! Pickup raids are super-commonplace in AoC, and it's no problem to participate in that aspect of the endgame content without a large guild - indeed without any guild at all!
So, in short... AoC's playable solo or small-group, depending on what you're wanting. But, yeah, city building, yeah, that's for larger guilds.
Published on October 5th, 2009 @ 08:56:39 am , using 423 words, 1391 views
Ok ok, last week (or before), I promised I'd have up a full, detailed post with my take on EVE Online. Well, here it is, finally...
I'll start off by saying the game is great. If you want an open game, where you can do anything, go anywhere, with little or no direction, and such - EVE will give you that for sure. Most of space is minimally controlled or uncontrolled, so you can shoot at anyone you like, anytime you like. Heck you can even do that in controlled space if you don't mind it being a suicide mission. The cops will shoot you down, but if you have big enough guns you can kill your target first. ;)
The game does have a steep learning curve. There's thousands of places to go, and no vectored/funneled direction like most of the fantasy MMOs have. There's also the whole, vast skill system. You need skills to be effective, and you need certain skills to even fly certain ships, and to use equipment you'll want to place on said ships. Training takes a LONG time in most cases - but you can train whether you're offline or online. You just add skills to the queue and they take as long as they take, and it ticks off no matter what you're doing, and even if you're offline. It's really easy to get into a loop where you say "Ok, I want to fly 'x' ship with 'z' modules fitted", then queue the skills you lack, and just tell yourself "Ok, I'll play for real once that's done." And then never do it, cause you decide to get different skills.
I feel EVE is a game you really need to focus on - it needs to be your only game, and you need a bit of time even at that. If you're a 1-2 hour a day player, it's probably not going to be as cool for you. But, if you're a 5-6 hour a day player, and EVE's your only game, you'll probably find it awesome!
I'm a 1-2-3, maybe sometimes 4 or 5 hour a day player - but my primary game is EQ2 as I love the game, and play it with my wife... So EVE ended up not being as fulfilling for me. I need something as secondary game, where I can log in, do something fun, and just be able to log out when my wife's ready for EQ2 action. EVE doesn't fit that... at all. For me.
Age of Conan however does, but that's a subject for another day!
Ok, as promised, here's my full Naga review. I have not had time to get any good photos of the device - but - it looks like every other photo of the Naga you've seen. It's not like Razer's hiding anything. I'll get some - mainly to show how it fits my hand - when I can, and add them to this post.
Since this is the first hardware review I'm posting here, I'd like to mention I don't have any "star" or "rating" system for reviews. Honestly, peripherals are too complex to boil down to any simple 1-5 star or whatever rating system. To me. You'll just have to, actually, read, to get my take on it.
Let's start out with the basics: the Naga as "just a mouse." It's great. Fits my hand great, glides on the Razer ExactMat great (Teflon feet for the win!). Typical Razer quality here. As "just a mouse" it's great! I know a lot of people might be concerned it might not be as good when using it for just normal stuff. Don't worry. It's an awesome normal mouse.
But you don't pay $80 for "just a mouse" - so now to the main selling point of the Naga - that 12 button grid on the side for your thumb. The so-called "MMO features." You're wondering if it's physically possible to hit 12 discrete buttons with your thumb. Or if you'll be able to land on the one you want. Yeah, I was worried about that too. And I have a small thumb and do not have overly good fine motor control with it. But, as I'd said before, I wanted to support Razer's realization that "MMOs = MONEY!", so I bought the device.
It's no problem! They do include a few stick-on "dots" (think of the homerow marks on a keyboard) that you can put on the buttons (they suggest a few possible configurations) if you need them, but they're careful to say that "most" people will not need them, and they strongly advise trying the device without them first. I did, and I didn't need them. At all.
Using the Naga, I was very (VERY!) surprised at how quickly I adapted to it. Razer says "most people" will adapt within 18 hours of gameplay. I was somewhat awkward for the first, I don't know, maybe 15 or 20 minutes. By half an hour, it was feeling natural, and by 2-3 hours you'd have to kill me to take my Naga from me. I like it that much.
Currently I'm playing Age of Conan and of course EQ2 and it works great with both - and it'll work with anything as it's just mimicking a keyboard. They do have UI Add-Ons for World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online, since those games of course have a LUA programmable UI. But you don't "need" them as the device is just sending keystrokes 1 through 0 and - and = (the standard main hotbar in 99% of MMOs).
And therein lies my only beef about the Naga: that's all it does (currently). There's a switch on the bottom that flips it to send the keycodes for the number pad versions of those keys, or you can leave it on the default of sending the top row number and -/= keys. If you flipped to "numpad" mode, you could then leave your default hotbar on the top row keys and have the Naga send the keypad keys, which you could bind to another hotbar. But if you want it to send, say, Q E R T F G Z X C V B or some alt-keys, or anything else you're out of luck. And if you want to rebind the forward/back mouse buttons - too bad. They're not reprogrammable - which is ODD for a high end gaming mouse. I've not seen one yet that doesn't have that capability. That'd give you 14 buttons. I'd experiment with binding them to alt and ctrl, so I'd then have 1 through = and alt/ctrl versions of same, all on the mouse. I'm sure that's a driver thing though, and maybe Razer will release a new one that lets you reprogram more things.
Despite that limitation, though, this was well worth the $80 I paid for it, and then some. My beloved Saitek Cyborg has slit its wrists in pure Emo woe as it's been relegated to a shelf, now unused. Naga is new king! :)
Her surgery went great! Got it done on schedule Friday morning, she stayed overnight in the hospital and then came home Saturday around noonish. Her first thought, in the hospital parking lot was "we don't have any O'banon, do we?" So it was off to D&R Market to fix that serious problem - can't recover from surgery without some O'banon. I love my wife. Leaving hospital after surgery, still tired as hell from not sleeping well... and first thought is "must...get...cheese!" <3.
Anyway, she's doing great, especially considering the whole surgery thing! :)
Yup, that's a Razer Naga MMO Gaming Mouse. It's a terrible iPhone shot, but it was late and that's all I had time to get. I'll get better shots of it + write up a full review within a few days. But, so far, I like it. I've only used it for about an hour, though.
Why would anyone spend close to $100 on a mouse? Well, if you're a fellow MMO gamer, you're probably not asking that question - you know why. ;) But if you're wondering, I'll try to explain. Even in a "basic" MMO, you've got at absolute minimum 14 keys to deal with. That's bare minimum: the standard 4 PC gaming movement keys (WASD) plus the 1 through 0 keys for your primary hotbar. It's usually 1 through = though (the entire number row, minus ~ and backspace). So that's 16. And that would be in a simple game, and there's not many like that anymore. In a more complex game you've got multiple hotbars that you've usually got mapped to shift + number keys, alt + number keys, ctrl + number keys, etc. And more advanced gamers also map other keys that are near WASD, such as Q E R Z X C V and so forth.
So, getting a few keys off onto the mouse, which you've always got your hand on anyway, is a good thing. I've been using the Saitek Cyborg mouse for months now - and I love it. It has a directional Dpad on the thumb, plus a lower thumb button, and the standard PC mouse forward/back buttons in an easy to get spot - and the Saitek software lets you map those to anything you want. I have the Dpad mapped to 1-4, scroll wheel press to 5, forward/back to 6/7, and the lower thumb button to 8. That's 8 buttons on the mouse. Using hotbars mapped to shift/ctrl/alt doubles, triples, and quadruples the keys available on my mouse and it's very nice! But the Naga has a thumb grid with TWELVE buttons - yup - enough for an entire hotbar.
I preordered it the day it was available for preorder. I knew even if the device wouldn't work out for me that I wanted to support the idea that "MMO specific hardware = money" so I ordered it sight unseen. I liked that they didn't WoW (or any other game) "brand" it - even though they promoted it heavily as being good for playing WoW (and I'm sure it is!), they didn't put WoW all over it. It's just a normal black mouse. I like that. And again, I like that a hardware company is taking MMOs seriously finally!
So I've got it, I like it, there are problems/limitations with it, and I won't know how much I really like it until I've had a few days/weeks to use it. I'll be doing a full review for sure - stay tuned!
Had a great 15th anniversary yesterday though - we spent most of the day re-visiting old "spots" (note: Kinser's Bakery in Monticello, IN is pure win) of ours, doing things we'd wanted to do, and basically just enjoying the day. :) It was our best yet and I'm looking forward to 15-30-45 more. Ok, 45 might be a little unrealistic, but you never know - modern medicine advances by leaps and bounds every year it seems.
Haven't started on the G3 build yet, as the missing parts haven't arrived, and I'm reviewing build tips and such anyway. A Rocketry Forum user provided an awesome link for me, to a build thread he did on a very similar rocket. I'll definitely be using that as a reference for my build. I'm not as weight-obsessed as he is, though. I'm not looking to set altitude or speed records with this rocket, instead I'm looking to make it a tank, and be able to survive rough landings and such. Basically I want the rocket to last forever, heh.
Anyway - like I'd said in a previous post - my wife's having surgery tomorrow so I likely won't be writing much over the next few days. :) But you never know - it's not "major" surgery and she might bounce back faster than we think.
Published on September 28th, 2009 @ 04:19:05 pm , using 187 words, 2690 views
Had a nice present from UPS again! A nice long box from Wildman Rocketry!
Inside was a bunch of G10 fiberglass... :D
The fins and nosecone bulkplate were missing, but Wildman's going to ship them along. This is going to be one big rocket. I dry-fit all the parts together, and couldn't manage to get the whole assembly into one frame. This is all I could get...
Wow. This will be one awesome rocket! I'm not sure where to start on construction - there's no instructions included as the G3 is a "budget" kit, but assembly is pretty straightforward and once the missing parts are in and I've consulted with a few people from the club, I'll get going on it!
This will be my Level 2 certification rocket, and I'm excited to get it done and flyable!
I couldn't get any painting done today as it is so windy, even in my garage it isn't safe to spray paint! Hopefully tomorrow, as then Thursday or Saturday would be the next chance I get to paint.
Stay tuned for G3 build pics as well as painting/finished painted rocket pics!
I've got a pretty busy week, so it could be a slower posting week than usual! Mostly good, mostly fun, but definitely busy.
Wednesday's my 15th wedding anniversary, so I'm off work and we've got a full day of fun stuff planned. Hard to believe it's been 15 years, and even harder to believe she's put up with me this long... ;)
Friday she'll be having surgery - so there'll be planning/etc for that all week and then of course on Friday itself I'll be off and at the hospital and such. It's nothing super major, but it's still surgery. :)
But, Monday and Tuesday I should be getting some more paint on those 2 rockets, so I'll be posting progress pics for those. Callisto's looking awesome and I'm sure will only get better. Der Red Max, well, I think I'll build another one soon and learn from my painting mistakes. ;)
Anyway. Until next post...
Published on September 27th, 2009 @ 06:08:37 pm , using 143 words, 500 views
Well, got the primer sanded down and the fist color of paint onto Callisto! We decided to start with the booster section, and this is what we ended up with! The paint is really, really nice. Very nice metallic. The paint job itself isn't perfect - there are quite a few imperfections. But, for my first paint job in a very long time it looks pretty good.
After the paint cures for 24 hours I'll get to work on the next color. :)
I also got the first coat of red onto Der Red Max. I'm not getting creative with DRM - just the stock red booster and black nose cone, and I'll even use the included decals. DRM's a classic and I always liked it, so it's getting done stock.
More tomorrow I'm sure!
Published on September 26th, 2009 @ 11:51:23 am , using 48 words, 527 views
Callisto, Der Red Max, and Baby Daddy were primed this morning! A nice thick coat to ensure a smooth, awesome paint finish later. Now they'll dry for 24 hours or so before getting some nice paint.
Stay tuned for more progress photos and of course the eventual finished products!
Published on September 25th, 2009 @ 06:07:48 am , using 298 words, 1791 views
That nice beautiful bright orange label greeted me when UPS dropped off the package for me yesterday. My first order of rocketry supplies since getting L1 certified and thus my first shipment that required hazmat/explosives labeling! Very cool.
Reloads for Callisto's next 2 flights. An H73 "Black Jack" reload, and an H242 "Blue Thunder" reload. Also a 3 pack of reloads (F impulse) for Screamin' Green Meanie & Baby Daddy.
But that's not all!
The box also contained most of the rest of the "stuff" for my L2 project. 2 parachutes, 1 58" for the main parachute, and also the 18" drogue parachute. Also a Missile Works miniRRC2 altimeter and an Aeropack tailcone style 54mm motor retainer. All I need now for the L2 project is the rocket itself - but it's backordered. It's supposed to be in today or Monday though, and the vendor is only a 1-day ship from me. So, cool.
All this stuff was purchased from Wildman Rocketry in Illinois - a great vendor! Their prices are good and they ship fast - plus they're a 1-day ship like I said, so that's always good... :)
I posted the haul on my club's forums and everyone pointed out how lucky I am that I was able to do this for my first cert-required supplies purchase. Up until recently you couldn't have high power reloads shipped to you - instead you had to purchase at a physical location, or on-site at a rocketry event. But Tripoli and NAR scored a legal victory that allows us to mail order these reloads - though you still have to have the hazmat/explosives labeling and pay a hazmat shipping fee. It's still nice though!
Published on September 24th, 2009 @ 06:09:19 am , using 222 words, 649 views
Yesterday in the mail, I got the above card, showing my Level 1 Certification! My previous card had a big "0" where the "1" is now. According to Tripoli's rules, you have to pay $5 if you want your card re-issued when you achieve a new certification level. $5 is no big deal, given all they do for the hobby, and I was planning to do that once they'd received and recorded my cert paperwork.
But instead, they just sent me a new card, with "Congratulations on your Level 1!" written inside the envelope! :) Very cool! Hopefully someone at Tripoli is reading this and will see it is appreciated. I may write them a letter.
In the US, there are two national organizations supporting, lobbying for, and certifying people for, the rocketry hobby. They are Tripoli Rocketry Association and National Association of Rocketry (NAR). Without getting into a religious-style discussion/argument on the merits of either, suffice it to say that they both have slightly different focuses and depending on your interests you may want to join one or the other, but not necessarily both. Obviously, I joined Tripoli.
I've been very happy with Tripoli so far. Not only did they help out the hobby immensely with the victory vs. the BATF on the explosives permit issue, they just simply...rock!
Published on September 23rd, 2009 @ 05:44:16 am , using 178 words, 567 views
I always forget to take screenshots. I'll be playing and just getting into what's going on, then later, I think "gee, I should have screenshotted that..." I did get this one, though.
It kind of... sort of... shows of the theme of Living Tombs. It's not super high quality - EQ2 takes only JPG screenshots, and of course I have to scale down from my native res of 1920x1200 to 450 width for the blog, plus the gamma is all messed up. It still shows off how cool the zone is. I wish EQ2 would take direct-from-buffer screenshots. I guess I need to install FRAPS. :D
Anyway, we "finished" Living Tombs, as far as the main story in there - that of going deeper into Silent City. We went in, but didn't stay long as we wanted to turn in quests back in Pillars of Flame to see if they'd be sending us back to LT/SS (they didn't!). We'll probably go back there, just to see what we might have missed, and to go deeper into Silent City.
Awesome stuff, though!
Published on September 22nd, 2009 @ 07:00:28 am , using 177 words, 515 views
I thought this deserved it's own post, as we were both so blown away!
We'd been questing in Pillars of Flame, and were sent to Living Tombs, so figured "sure, why not." We'd heard of the zone, and figured it might be kind of cool, since it's obviously undead-themed, and a lot of Desert of Flames has an Egyptian theme to it. Undead + Egyptian = win! So off we went...
Zoned in, first impression.. "WOW! AWESOME!" To the art and design team that did Living Tombs: "YOU RULE!" I can't describe how cool the zone is - I'll get some screenshots up in a day or two to show it off. We'll be there a while - the zone's pretty big and there's a LOT to see. There are several different areas and a lot of named mobs, and quite a few quests to do inside the zone. And there's another zone deep inside, called The Silent city! Can't wait to see that!
So, yeah, Living Tombs... PURE WIN!
Published on September 22nd, 2009 @ 06:53:15 am , using 146 words, 525 views
Well, there's a shot of my build table as of late last night. Yup, a lot of flyable, but not pretty, rockets. I need to get painting! Priming Callisto will come first, followed by Der Red Max - because I have the paint for both of those already. Paint for Screamin' Green Meanie isn't bought yet, and we've got to find the right greens to do it with. Baby Daddy, well, the scheme we have planned for that is in "concept" stage at the moment, so that will probably come last.
Painting will be fun though! Callisto's going to look awesome with the colors and artwork we have planned.
Short post today - I'll end with this: I got my Level 2 project ordered! Performance Rocketry's G3. And a miniRRC altimeter. And a tailcone-style Aeropack motor retainer. Ohhhhhhhh yeah!