Monday, May 28, 2007

I know it hasn't been a month since my last entry , but I had to write some stuff here. It just helps me clear my head a little.


First off, I found this nifty little program for EVE Online the other day. So I resubscribed and booted the game up.

"Wait ... did he just say he's playing EVE Online /again/?"
"Fuck, this guy is back and forth so much I can't keep track!"

Shut up you two.

Anyways, the program runs in the background and takes the data you export from the EVE Market window, and calculates trading runs for you. You input your ship's cargohold capacity, and available money, and it does the rest. Even figures out security status and everything. So you don't jump into dangerous territory and get blown up.

I used it a bunch in the last couple days and I've made 12 million credits. All fairly quickly, and without needing to worry about lag, losing my ship, looting/salvaging wrecks, or finishing my mission quickly enough that I get the bonus credits and my loot cans don't de-spawn.

It's been great. It's finally given me back what I used to have in EVE. A casual way to make money, that I can do whenever I want, and can leave the computer at a moment's notice. The Level 3 missions I was running before weren't like that at all. Lag was a MAJOR issue. Then there was the fact that you never knew what mission you would get, so it could be a nice 20 minute one, or a 3 hour epic. Add to that the time to loot and salvage the wrecks. It wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't a penalty for turning down a mission offer. But you can only turn down 1 mission every 4 hours. So you're pretty much stuck with whatever you get.

Now, with my Trading, I can go get a drink if I want, go to the bathroom, logoff, etc. There's no requirement for me to play for a certain amount of time. I /really/ like that. A lot. Having that much freedom in an MMO is one of the things I think most MMOs lack. CoX is the only other MMO I've played with the same low time requirements. For example, the other day I logged on CoH for a half hour before work, and I managed to complete 2 missions for my contacts. I don't think you can do that in most MMOs at all.

In another story, still about EVE, there's been /more/ allegations of developer/GM misconduct by staff at CCP. I can't believe these guys. They can't keep a tight reign on their staff to save their lives. I won't describe all the details here, but I did find it interesting that a former Blizzard employee wrote a letter (ie. forum post) to CCP about how he finds the companies' differences in business practices ridiculous.

Here's an excerpt of the post:

As an ex-Blizzard employee, I am flabbergasted at the extent to which developer presence contaminates the player pool. With WoW there wasn't a line between our player accounts and our personal accounts- there was a wall, a moat, a spike-filled trench, and electrified barbed wire. You so much as tried to enter a developer command into the console, you'd be kicked from the server, your account would be flagged, and unless you had a really damn good reason for attempting to bring developer capabilities into the game your ass was fired. You told no one anything about the game behind the curtain, you never told anyone in-game that you even worked for the company, or your ass was fired. The impetus for crossing that line in eve is entirely beyond me.

And don't start for a second with "We need to see how things work." Rubbish. You've got one of the most robust test servers known to MMOs, you've got ridiculously fluid interaction from your player base (At least from the bottom-up) and if nothing else you could have internal servers to try things on. Having anyone with even the possibility of developer powers in the public server is nothing short of madness. Having powers above and beyond normal players, or having access to information beyond the average player, is akin to putting water in chocolate- a single drop can cause a whole batch to seize and it's ruined just like that.

"But what about GMs?" you ask. Fair enough, they need certain powers to set things right. But they should only ever exist in the game when no other option presents itself. They should be invisible, intangible, a last resort for a coding malfunction or dispute that requires GM omniscience to solve. They should not be people but a service, identifiable only to the point that they can be held accountable for their actions. If you tried to log in as a GM account anywhere but at Blizzard's GM center, hell, if you even hinted that you had a GM account, you'd be canned so fast your head would spin. That CCP would willingly and intentionally contaminate the public player base with what amounts to demi-gods with varying degrees of moral fortitude just boggles my mind.

That speaks volumes I think. The people at CCP haven't made the line between developer and player clear enough. They need to make all their Dev/GM enabled accounts flagged as so, and visible to all the players, and only make them available from work. The staff can have their own personal accounts to play on their off time, but cannot use them from the office. Plus, they need to have a system to track /every move/ the GM accounts make. Maybe even track the employees' personal accounts as well. When the game is all about competition with other players, the temptation of cheating becomes all too real.

I'm just enjoying my time in EVE right now, trading and seeing the sights. I'm really just waiting till they release the next patch, as it has a whole whack of stuff I've been waiting for. Co-op missions, revamped exploration, etc.

Hopefully it doesn't take them forever to get the bugs worked out.


Heroes was awesome last week. I'm sad that I won't be able to see the next episodes for some months. But at least they left the show at an ending, of sorts. They gave a glimpse that more is still to come, but this "chapter" of the story is done. I like that. The shit that Smallville pulls each season just pisses me off. Apparently, my old friend, who now lives over 800+ km away (500+ miles), loves comic books and used to be a huge fan of the show, can't stand to watch it anymore. I'm starting to agree with him. There's only been a handful of episodes that have been truly great this last season, IMO. The good ones are getting too few.

Maybe next season will get better. But I'm not holding my breath. Fucking Bizarro ....


In the tabletop front, my friends and I got to play last week. I truly glad we did. The amount of crazy shit that happened was awesome, and most of the session wasn't even any dice rolls or combat. I think we were really getting the one guy who's very "Hack 'n Slash" into playing in character. It was great.

I also need to work on my space campaign a lot, I'm coming to realize. I don't have anything really started, and I found out my other friend wants to run Cyberpunk again, using the GURPS system. He's going to run it on one of the technologically driven planets in the space game. So, if I get my parts written up, we can play GURPS all the time, and only use DnD as a fallback game. We'll have Space Marines, Cyberpunk, my Space game, Aliens/Post-Apocalypse, and Vikings. I'm sure the other guys might be bummed, but I'm sure they'll get over it.

I think I might even do some write ups this afternoon. Or maybe tomorrow, I dunno. I'm such a procrastinator when there's no real deadline.


In other gaming news, I tried playing Battlefield 2142 the other day, but I just can't get into it anymore. It's weird, cause I can play FEAR all the time and be fine. I think cause Kofi (my co-worker, who I play BF2142 with) and I haven't played it together in almost 2 months, it's lost it's magic. I've got all the Recon and Support unlocks, and the Assault and Engineer ones just don't interest me in the slightest. Maybe the Medic tree of Assault, but I'm going to grind out 3 more ranks to get them all. Besides, I'm one of the /worst medics ever/. I'm usually the first one killed. How the fuck am I supposed to heal/resuscitate people when I'm already dead?

The glitchy nature of the game, and the complete shit design of the EA matchmaking service also piss me off. Having to refresh the /entire server list/ every time I try and join a server and find it full is a fucking huge pain in the ass. Why they didn't make it check if the server was full first, and then give a pop-up message if so, instead of trying to load the server and map, fail, then kick back to the server list is beyond me. They definitely have never taken a course on efficient program design. Or at least they don't remember anything from it. I sure do from when I took it.

As for FEAR, I still love it. I can't believe how much fun I can have with it. And it's so simple, and shallow. Yet satisfying to the extreme. I think I would have get a lot more into Planetside if the game wasn't so exceedingly laggy and glitchy. Fighting a huge battle with tanks, planes and everything to take over entire planets sounds awesome.


In personal news, it seems like my dad and I won't be able to get in the hiking trip we wanted this year. We were going to go hike Mt. Temple, a 11,000 ft mountain in the Rockies, before the bear season hits and they close that part of the park. But he's busy with his work, I'm overworked at my work and low on the list for getting holidays, and I have to move soon too. Maybe we can find something else to do later on in August.

Or maybe I'll have to go on a trip without him. It won't be the same though. It's always been something we've done together, I've never gone on a trip without him. I don't know what it's going to be like when he gets too old to hike anymore. I probably won't even go at that point.


Now, I think it's time for some gaming. I've been wasting this day off sleeping, eating and doing other mindless things. That just won't do.

See y'all later,
The Rev.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Okay, it's been over a month since I've wrote anything here. Really, not that much has changed, but I figured an update was needed anyway.


First off, the transition from graveyard shifts back to days is over, and I've found that things are much better now. I can sleep better, and don't need as much sleep to feel rested. On graveyards I could sleep for 10 hours or more, and still be tired. On days, I can sleep 6-8 hours and feel rested. I never feel tired until later in the evening when I'm at home.

Also, seeing the sun every day, at least for the walks to and from work, is something I really missed. I also can have breaks outside at work, so I can be in the sun even more. I'm sure that's all the sun a person should really have in a day, to avoid skin cancer and all. It's nice though. I think it's also had an affect on my moods and such, as I feel a lot more energized and happy. I probably had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from all the time on graveyards.

About the only things at work that aren't as good are: 1) The pay, 2) The hectic pace. I was getting $2 more an hour on graveyards, so that's actually a lot of money I lose each week. But I'm not hurting for cash right now, so it's not a big deal. The hectic pace of days is quite a change though. There have been numerous times when I have gone without a break for a few hours, or days when I didn't get some. But it hasn't really been that bad. Mostly I hate it when I get called away from my work, when I'm trying to get something done.

Oh yeah, another bummer about working days is that I only see Satan, my co-worker, a hour or so, a few times a week at best. It gets hard trying to talk to him about video games in 10-15 minutes. There's a lot of stuff to catch up on.


Which brings me to my next points. The news in the world of the Rev. I'll try and be brief, for your sakes.

#1. Vanguard is bought by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and Sigil fires all it's staff

This one was something I had seen coming for a while. Vanguard had been in the worst state ever since it's launch, and things weren't getting any better. SOE had bought EQ from Brad McQuaid before. It was safe to assume they'd try to get Vanguard too.

The stories about the inner workings of Sigil during the development are insane. It sounds as though they had /no idea/ how to make an MMO, how to manage a team of developers, or even how to show up to work. Apparently Brad hadn't been in the office since Dec 2006. And he was absent during the impromptu meeting of all the staff in the parking lot when they were told they were fired. Not what you'd expect from the CEO, is it? I just feel sorry for the people at Sigil who are now out of a job cause the managers had no idea what they were doing.

#2. EVE Online

The guys over at CCP have talked about what's next for EVE, and some of it sounds kind of exciting. But I'm getting too cynical for EVE, it seems. CCP promises all these cool features, and then only delivers half of them (at best), after ten times as long as they say it should take, and it's all bugged to hell anyways.

It's rather apparent that EVE doesn't have what I want in an MMO, nor a game for that matter. I truly play MMOs for the PvE, and socialization. PvP is an afterthought. I don't hate it, mind you. But I want it to be /optional/, fun, easy to get into, and not overly unbalanced. EVE PvP is time consuming, over too fast, not optional at all, and not really all that fun. Plus it has the biggest death penalty of any MMO I've played.

Basically, until EVE has /loads/ more PvE content, I'm exceedingly hesitant to play it again. Either more PvE content, or consensual Factional Combat. But I think that's going to take forever, or will /never/ see the light of day.

Also, Kofi (my co-worker) has talked about playing EVE again. Satan is playing it right now too. But Kofi wants to "pwn it up" with the two of us. He's still all "anti-gaming with internet strangers". He just doesn't get that EVE is /never/ going to be like he wants it to be. Basically, like WoW is. Battlegrounds for PvP, Instances for PvE with your friends. I hope he sees the light at some point.

#3. Tabletop gaming

Ever since my last entry, I've played exactly /one/ session of DnD. And that one was maybe, 3 hours long. It's sucked cause I've wanted to get a chance to play my Warlock. The other guys are busy with work (out of town), and my friend Inferno is working graveyards, so it's really hard to find any time.

I almost need a different group to game with, but I don't know anyone off hand.

#4. Renting

My landlord is selling the house, and is in the midst of some minor touch ups to make the place look better. After he cleans up some of the crap in the backyard, and gets the upstairs painted and such, he's going to list the house. I'm hoping he lists it near the end of the month, so I can have all of June to move. I techn ically don't need to be out until the end of July, but I'd like some breathing room in that department.

Which brings me to my other point: "Where the heck I'm going to live in this freaking town with its ridiculous 0.7% vacancy rate?"

Luckily, I've found a solution, in case I can't find somewhere to live. My friend Inferno owns a house in town, and has an extra bedroom he can rent me. Our one friend lives downstairs too, but he's got almost a entire suite to himself (minus the kitchen).

I've looked for places to rent, but there's sweet fuck all near my current place, which is only a few blocks from work. I live near work cause I don't have a car, and it makes it cheaper to live. No gas, insurance or car payments to worry about. Mass transit isn't really an option for me, as the system here is shitty, and I work odd hours so getting to/from work could be problematic. I have shifts that start at 6am, and others that can end at 11:30pm, so some buses aren't running or run only sporadically at those hours.

Anyway, I've found a couple places, and am still waiting to see what they are like, but the unfortunate truth is that they are a /lot/ more expensive than what I am paying right now. The best I found is smaller, and costs at least $100 more per month. It's just as close to work as here, so it's not all that bad. I have to see it tomorrow.

But if that doesn't pan out, I'll move into Inferno's place. When I mentioned it to him on the phone today, he didn't seem surprised, worried, upset, or anything. He's bugged me to move in a couple times, but I have always said no, as I was (and still am) worried it would adversely affect our friendship. We'll have to talk about that first, as I've been friends with him for almost a decade now, and I don't want to ruin that. Plus, he's only got a spare room, not an entire suite, and I have a /lot of crap/, so we need to figure things out.

We're going to look at what we can do tomorrow afternoon, for space, where to put stuff, etc. I'm sure I could fit all my bedroom stuff in his spare room, plus my desk (currently in my living room), so that's not a problem. The big problem is my living room furniture, and the stuff I have in storage in the closet. He does have a car port/garage in his basement that he doesn't use, so I could probably put my crap in there. But where to put my couch and such?

We'll have to figure it all out. The biggest reason for moving in there would be he would only charge me like $400 / month, /tops/. Compared to right now, that would save me $250 a month in living costs. If I had to pay for gas and insurance, I'm sure it wouldn't be more than that. Even if it was, it would still be less than the places I've seen, and the bonus would be I would have a car!

Now onto the car bit. I told him I would need a car, cause the old beater I have ('83 Buick Park Avenue) is just that. An old beater. It hasn't been driven in /years/, is horrible on gas, and is rusted to shit on the back panels. I couldn't even get it to start the other day to move it out of the way for my landlord. Suffice to say, it's not something I can rely on to get me to work.

So I told him I'd need a car, and he told me our mutual friend (I'll call her "J"), is still trying to sell her car. One that I was interested in buying a while ago, but didn't have the money for. J works out of town a bunch, so she doesn't have the time to sell it, hence why she still has it. And she is asking a price that's totally reasonable too. Plus, she's taken care of it, so I won't have to worry about it falling apart. I have more than enough money saved up to buy it too. Recently, I thought about getting the same car, albeit a brand new one.

Seems like things are looking my way for a change.

#5. Heroes/Smallville

Okay, #4 was waaay too long. This one will be brief, I promise.

Smallville was the season finale last night. It was okay, but there were too many "characters are dead/alive? we don't know" moments in it. And it's of course, "To Be Continued ..." for next season. I fucking hate that soo much. Plus, they introduced "Bizarro Superman". All I can say is, what the hell?

It seemed cool, but yet stupid all at the same time. I dunno, the show is losing it, that's for sure.

As for Heroes, its season finale is 2 hours away, and I can't wait. It's so much more enjoyable than Smallville. Drama, more realistic stories, none of the "villain of the week" that seems to plague Smallville. Plus, I really like Peter Petrelli in it. He's cool, yet vulnerable at the same time, and never seems to flinch from his mission. Kind of like Hiro, my other favourite character.

#6. Other MMO stuff

I'm still playing CoH, which has amazed me completely. I was sure I would throw in the towel after a week or so, for sure. Just like all the other times I came back. But this time I've stuck around. Probably cause there's people to talk to now. It's crazy actually. There's usually at least 2 other people online when I am. Sometimes there's up to 6-7! It's a major change compared to when I quit last time. I used to never see anyone. Maybe one person for a half hour, tops. I've also kept my playtime to only when I get the urge. Not to login every day like I used to. Sometimes I want to login every day, other times it's only for an hour or so, just for a quick fix. But that's okay. It gives me what I want. I'mn sure once I get my characters all ironed out, RPing will be another thing I can enjoy when I want.

Another reason I've kept playing is that I've tried some new powersets and ATs. I've also come up with completely new characters, going through countless revisions to find the right ones. I started with a Dark/Dark scrapper, meant to be a corpse, reanimated to fight the undead. But I scrapped him (pardon the pun), as he wasn't all that interesting to RP, and I had a hard time playing him, ICly and gameplay wise.

I made up an Ice/NRG Blaster and figured out his background and personality in no time. It was one of the easiest characters I've come up with. Not too sure about him though, as Ice holds no mysteries for me. But he's still fun to play. I've yet to RP him at all, but I know I'd be a snap. I'm sure some others would hate me though. He's a bit abrasive, that's for sure.

The other characters have been redesigned I don't know how many times. I changed their powersets, backgrounds, looks. Everything. But now I like how they feel, and what's more important, I like how they play. One is a Rad/Rad Defender. I've played the reverse on a Corruptor to about level 14, so I know the terrain. He has been modified to fit into the place the Undead guy was going to take. All my characters are linked in some way, so I changed the story a bit and came up with the Rad guy. He'll be a much better fit ICly, and more interesting to RP with.

The last guy is a Claws/Regen Scrapper, and he's been modified to be like an old tabletop character I made. I knew exactly how the tabletop guy was, before any mechanics were involved, so it's easy for me to work with him. RPing him might be a bit tricky, as he's modeled after the same character I made my old scrapper Dex from. So I don't want to fall into the trap of just playing a Dex clone. But his background is totally different than Dex, it's just that his attitude is similar. We'll see how it goes.

I've been checking up on LotRO as well, as it's now quite popular, especially with the casual players. That, and one of my CoH guildies is playing it. I still don't really see the appeal, but I guess it's the whole "Lord of the Rings" part. I was never a fan of the books, and hadn't read them, until I saw the Fellowship. I still wouldn't say I am a big fan of the books, but I did enjoy the trilogy /a lot/. How the MMO fares will be something interesting to see. It just seemed to me to be "too friendly" for casuals, and too much like WoW, but missing some of the things that WoW had that made it cool.

I've even given the thought to trying the EQ2 trial again. This time, I'd like to see it with the SOGA models. The SOGA models are the ones from the Asian release, and are downloadable for everyone else. You can even pick and choose which ones you want to use, which is nice. The difference between the two types of models is huge, IMO. The SOGA ones are a bit anime-inspired, but they are far more interesting to look at. Plus, the fact that they aren't completely realistic, reduces the Uncanny Valley aspect so that it's looks good, but doesn't seem as fake. I'm not sure if the trial can use the SOGA models or not, so I'll have to check around.


I can't think of anything else to say. That's a good thing though, looking at the size of this entry.

See you all later.
The Rev.