Friday, April 30, 2010

Secret Toons and the Jerez connection

Well, I’m back from my enforced hiatus. Not that I minded being away, supporting my family is my main role in life and one I take great pleasure in. But, I’m back now, so without further ado..

For the first time in a while I have actually been able to play EQ2 with my wife. The other day we both created new toons to play together. My wife chose a Coercer and I a Wizard. Usually my wife doesn’t like me playing and grouping with her as our play styles differ so much. This inevitably means that I am not considered ‘hard core’ enough for my top end toons to group with her buds. At first I was a little put out by this but having watched her group with her friends I can now actually see the logic in it. There is no way I could perform like her and her pals do. The last time I saw them grouping, Ema was healing for 9-12 k hps per second and the groups total dps was over 100 thousand per fight. I’ve only been in a couple of raids where 24 people can hit that (albeit I haven’t raided seriously in months and months). Pretty impressive stuff and I can certainly see why they would want the very best of players with them. Anything less and they would not be able to complete the content they set out to.

So, because I missed spending time with the other half in game I asked her if she would be willing to start a new toon with me and the answer was an emphatic YES! You see it turns out that that kind of gaming is not really all that relaxing and recently my wife has needed a bit more ‘chill’ time. There are two provisos that I agreed to when we were creating them. One was that we would both go for finger wagglers and see how much chaos we could cause duo’ing those. The other was that my wife wanted the toons to be kept a secret (hence no names here!) as she has soooooo many friends on EQ2 that sometimes she just wants to be able to play without having to reply to a /tell every 20 seconds. A sentiment I understand, so I had no problem agreeing to her ‘terms’.

There is one exception to the ‘no friends – secret’ rule and that is a very close friend we have both had for a while in EQ2, you know who you are. They will be joining our new toon fest with a healer and I’m looking forward to having them onboard with team Clandestine Toon. I’m not going to give the ID of our buddy away lest wifeys other friends pester them for her toon details. Not sure that would happen but I’d rather not risk Emas wrath. For a tiny little green Arasai she packs one hell of a punch.

Currently my Wiz is sitting at 16th level with 13 AAs and Emas Coercer is 16th also with 14 AAs. We have both switched our AA slider to 50% Exp to be transferred, in a bid to perhaps avoid level locking but also to keep those AAs up. Our plan is that when we reach top tier we will already be fully AA’d out. Yeah, the levelling will take much longer but to be honest it’s the company not the progression I am interested in. I’ll keep you updated.

This weekend sees the MotoGP hit Jerez in Spain. The track is only an hours drive away from me and I still may head out there on Sunday and grab a gate ticket for the race. Hopefully Rossi will dominate as usual, but hopefully not too much! I don’t want to see him disappear off in front, but to fight it out for a win. Thinking back over his career, the very best of Rossi comes out when he is under pressure and the resulting battles are nothing short of spectacular. If you want to know what I mean check out this link and watch Casey Stoner battle it out with Rossi in Laguna Seca, California. It is a truly awesome show of riding skill, on both parts. The great thing about this is that all weekend testing and practice then qualifying, Stoner was wiping the floor with everyone. Little did anyone know that Rossi and Jeremy Burgess (Rossis Chief Engineer) were hatching a plan to keep their speed ‘low-key’ until race day to psych out the opposition. Truly great racing. Mind games and skill!

I’d like to see some solid performances this weekend from Rossi (of course), Edwards, Hayden and Spies. Good luck guys and welcome back to España.

Until next time,

Be well.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A week off.

Hi folks, just a quick one to apologise and let you know there will probably not be any posts for the next week. There has been an unfortunate family crisis and I am going to be committed mostly with real life stuff. I'll be back soon!
Be well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcanic Eruption delays MotoGP

With the first race of the MOTOGP season at Qatar already gone, Valentino Rossi grabbing a very important 1st place with Casey Stoner crashing out in the early laps. Rossi was pretty lucky I guess as he ran out of fuel on the slowdown lap after winning [luck has nothing to do with it. Math does. Plonker – Ed]. He commandeered some Joe Schmos scooter to get back to the pits for the podium. It looked pretty humourous seeing him ride round on his awesome Yamaha M1 then appear in the pits riding..well, take a look for yourself. (Thanks to MotoGP for the Piccies)

Rossi leading the pack - Qatar 2010

Rossi arriving in Pit Lane after victory - Qatar 2010

I’m now very much looking forward to Motegi in Japan this weekend. Except I’m not. Because the race has been postponed due to volcanic ash. Until October 3rd. So it’s a longer wait now until Jerez in Spain on May 2nd. I may see if I can grab myself a raceside ticket for race day seeing as Jerez is just down the road from me. I guess that depends on the weather. If it is stormy again then I don’t think I’ll go and I’ll sit at home to watch it.

On the subject of MOTOGP, I came across these links the other day.

Team Yamahas day at the Office

The Ben Spies Method

Team Texas Road Trip - Man-cation

They are funny shorts from Yamaha and the riders. Great stuff. I must say it’s nice to see people who are privileged enough to have talent and many other skills, really enjoying themselves and having a laugh. These guys get paid ridiculous amounts of money and it really is nice to see that they appreciate how lucky they are and they just get on with enjoying their lives. In contrast have you seen how miserable a lot of the Formula 1 drivers look? These guys are getting fantastic pay and all for doing something they love with a deep passion, yet half of them seem like grumpy miserable idiots. Sometimes I wanna shake them and ask them if they realise how lucky there are. That’s why it’s great to see the MOTOGP boys just having a great craic of it. Good on ye boys.

Until Next Time,

Be well.

Finland = Lavastorm

Had a pretty busy weekend, family style. The weather here in Spain at the moment is horrendous. Thunder storms that last for days, heavy heavy rain and flash floods. Luckily though, one of this has affected our online connection like is usually does.

I’ve been giving my new computer some final tweeks this week and now it runs all my games like clockwork and at a high resolution and fps. I’m still very keen to get Lotro on there as I haven’t tried that on the new comp yet. I have been logging in to Lotro though, I just have to wait until Ema is off her computer so I can use that. I think tonight when she goes to bed I am going to dig out the portable Hard Drive and leave the Lotro files copying across. I still have to get DirectX 9 though apparently for it to work correctly.

So, anyhow. I have been doing the odd few quest lines in Lotro, just to keep my hand in and to make sure I get my fix of luscious scenery. I have headed back to Buckland and also to Trestlebridge to get some of the questlines there completed before I out level them. Have only just started those questlines. They seem like they are going to be a lot of fun.

As for EQ2, well I have been spending a bit more time there since I got my computer running. Just hanging with the guild and doing the odd instance and when time allows following the solo questline. It seems odd doing the solo questline. Unlike RoK or TSO there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of quests to do at once. Sure, there are some that overlap but not very many at all. Because of this you pretty much end up just doing one quest at a time instead of a load together and as such it takes a fair amount of time to level using the solo questline. I’ve been told to head to the Hole with a grind group for levelling. That’s all well and good, but I want to be able to progress whilst learning the new expansion and all of the areas in the expansion. As it is, I think I will just stick with grouping to help out guildies and friends and questing to learn the zones. I guess I’ll hit 90 as and when I hit 90. No rush though.

A quick message to all those suffering from travel arrangements due to the volcanic eruption and the chaos that has caused. My thoughts are with you and I hope you get to your destinations soon!
Be well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It Lives!!

[Wow, two posts in one day! Scroll down for more after this. - Ed]

I felt a bit like Dr Frankenstein the other night. I had put the kids to bed, grabbed a bite to eat then headed upstairs to hopefully get the computer up and running that my brother kindly sent me. From my previous blogs I think you can guess I am a bit of a gimp when techno stuff is concerned. Anyhow, as I was climbing the stairs there were dark clouds everywhere and the heavy thunder and rain began to start outside with the occasional flash of lightning lighting up the stairwell.

Hunched over the carcass of the computer I beavered away until finally after about an hour of hard work I leapt up, sweaty and grime covered, exclaiming to the street holding my arms aloft, “It Lives!”. OK, so I wasn’t particularly sweaty or grimy, but yes, I did stand up shouting in a dramatic manner. Luckily Ema was there, or I would have had no one to bring me back down to earth with a shattering “You Nobber”. Nevertheless, I had it working, all ship shape and smart. I can’t tell you how much easier that is going to make things in our house. Having to share one computer between two computer nerds is not much fun and has been the mainstay of ‘disagreements’ in the house for the last month or so. “Look, Vampire Diaries are on tomorrow, so you can log on whilst I’m watching TV” seemed to be Emas clarion call recently.

So, what have I been doing with my new computer spangly? Mainly EQ2 so far. I don’t have Lotro installed on it yet and apparently need to download DirectX9 for that to work ok. I’ll get that sorted out this weekend. Like I say, in the mean time I have been an EQ2 whore. The other night saw me march the Acolytes of Valor troupe through the Ward of Elements x2 raid instance. It was ahuge amount of fun. I know I have done the zone a thousand times but a load of my guildies still had to get most of their Tier3 molds for their mains (AoV is not a guild made up of hardcore players, there are a few but mostly casual in approach). I must say the slower paced chillax through the zone really suited me. Yeah I like as much as the next person on raid night to hammer through content as fast as possible to get as much as possible achieved during raid time, but this was a nice change in pace.

I ran the raid like I always used to run raids when I was raid leader back in EoF. Fun first, content next. The only caveat I placed on this was that I asked and kept reiterating that everyone needed to place full undivided attention when doing named fights. With technical fights you just aren’t going to get them down unless everyone stays on the ball. Overall it went well. Admittedly most of the raid was by now 85 levels+, but even with those extra levels WoE can be tough if you do not pay attention on the technical named fights. Luckily, I seemed to bring back the old magic and we all had a huge amount of fun, great drops and moved through the zone at a steady pace. Not fast, just steady. I had a real great night.

Last night saw me join a group of AoVers to help them do the Palace of Ferhzul. We didn’t get to Varsoon, but that was a time issue as our healer had to go and look after his kid. Not a problem though, we are going to finish it tonight. Nearly everyone in the group (aside from Taozen & I) had never done the zone before. They all really enjoyed it. PoF is such a technical zone on the nameds (for those who have not done it before) that there is something different every fight and I think that tends to keep you interested a bit more than just tankin n’spankin. A jolly good night.

So, what else is happening this week? Well, I have some old work colleagues from the UK coming over for a retirement party this weekend and heading to Puerto Banus. I’ll be meeting up with them for a few beverages probably one afternoon. It will be great to catch up with some of the guys. In my previous job we were all really close and got on like a house on fire and I really miss that camaraderie sometimes [Don’t you mean constant piss taking? – Ed]. Aside from that it’s going to be a fairly quiet week I hope. The craziness at work has halted for a few days now and I don’t expect it to get super busy again until next week or the week after. So this week is going to be relaxing nights in playing on the computer and the weekend catching up with the crew.

Be well.

Friends from distant shores

I thought it worth a mention that the other week Ema and I met up with some of her current and my ex-guild mates from ABs Tapiolan Sankarit guild, in real life. Ema and I already know Ardilla and Orlaith as they live only about an hour from us. But a few of the other guildies who I had met and played with in game came down from Finland to join in the fun and frolicks. Ratty, Tymar, Alexi and Rahua (apologies for naff spelling) were in Madrid and decided to catch the train down to the coast to see us all.

We got Emas Mum to babysit and headed out into Fuengirola to Moochers for a few drinks and a meal with our buddies (I was driving so no drinky for me). Because I was working the next day we couldn’t stay too late and eventually left about 2330hrs. It was a real shame. I was having a great time catching up with people who have only been a voice the other end of VC before and unfortunately I had to cut it short.

I just wanted to mention that it was great to meet you guys and as always great to see Ardy and Orly. I also wanted to say thanks for the Finnish battle bread and the crazy booze you gave us. Wow. Lethal stuff. Hope to see you guys again soon.

Now I just have the main one person in real life from EQ2 I am desperate to meet (and get drunk with). Playing any online game where interaction with others is so prevalent at some point you are bound to hit upon a kindred spirit. I have met a HUGE amount of top notch people playing EQ and EQ2. Totally great folks. But I’m talking about someone who has the same sense of humour, the same life values and you just know if you had grown up with that person you would be the very best of friends. I’m hoping that will happen in the next year or so. I know it will happen, I just have to be patient. The thing is Jahf me ole mucker, are you prepared for it? [That’s just mean. Adurj, why do you inflict yourself on people. Cruel, just cruel. – Ed].

Be well.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


oh why won't baby go to sleep?

Ho hum.

5 times a day?

I haven’t been online playing games much recently. What with work being an enormous pest and time sink with projects needing to be done on my days off, I really haven’t had much time to myself to do anything on t’internet. This creates a problem in that it leaves me without material to blog with. Well not completely of course. Any writer can find inspiration from the smallest of things. But, what I mean is that it leaves me without ‘fresh’ MMORPG material to blog about.

So. Here is what I have decided. When I don’t have EQ2 or Lotro stuff to bore you guys with, I am still going to attempt to keep some time aside to keep the ole blogatron a rollin’and the content will find me I’m sure. I guess I’ll just see how that goes.

News from EQ2 and Lotro then, minimal though it is.  Adurj has hit 82nd level, [Wow, that’s some pretty damn slow levelling ye got going on there – Ed] and has been bumbling around the new expansion slowly doing quests and finding his feet. What else? Oh, yeah. Apologies to those on Saturday who were hoping to go to the Ward of Elements raid I was running. I had to cancel at the last minute due to a request from my boss at work to prepare a presentation. So, sorry to all those who missed that WoE run. I will be doing another this Saturday all being well.

As for Lotro, I have spent some more time messing around in the Spring Festival and finding out a bit more about it. I think I have that sussed out now. The quests I have been doing around the festival site reward you with ‘spring leaf’ tokens. Like in EQ2 these can be handed in and traded for items of appearance for both toon and player housing. I didn’t win it myself, but my Bro sent me a pretty cool pirate eye patch that he got as one such reward. I still have not found out how to take part in the horse race though! I will probably be playing Lotro on Friday night and plan to head away from the festival site and back to some questing. It is about time I started Caedluff on his journey to 30th again. I plan on heading to Trestlebridge as my Bro says there are some quests there that may be suitable and I may start to outlevel them if I’m not careful. I must say I am quite looking forward to that. I have visited Trestlebridge gate before (when I was way too low to quest there)and it seems like quite a cool place. I guess I’ll let you know.

Back to EQ2. I guess it’s time I gave you my impressions of Sentinel’s Fate now that I have been enjoying it for a couple of weeks. I ‘kind’ of like it. I have been having this discussion with a few of my friends and we all seem to feel differently about it. Some really like the new areas, some don’t. Some like the Hole, and some don’t. I think it has probably been the same with most of the expansions. My favourite expansion so far (RoK) is not favoured by all. Some of my friends seem to think that is the worst one. I suppose what I am getting at is that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and with so many different play styles and differing personalities out there, of course people are going to have different opinions on what they like and enjoy and what they don’t.

I say, “I ‘kind’ of like it”. By that I mean, I like the story lines and the quests I have done so far have ranged from the boring and mundane to the interesting. A lot do seem to be the standard, ‘go here, do this, come back’ format. I guess that it unavoidable, but luckily with some of the quests the story is funny or interesting, so you don’t mind so much. I have noticed that doing purely quests in this expansion that the levelling seems slower than previous quest lines in previous expansions. I think most people are doing a lot of their levelling in the Hole in grind groups. I don’t particularly mind this. I am in no rush to get to 90 [Bloody good job son! – Ed] and if I have to spend ages getting there with the slower quest exp and lack of time online, then so be it. The important thing to me is that I still have fun every time I log on.

Apart from the content used for levelling there is quite a lot I like about the new areas. I like the layout of the zones and the graphics aren’t too bad, although I still struggle to think of them as anything better than that  being a Lotro player. There is no getting away from it. SoE have tried hard to improve the looks of EQ2 and have done a sterling job but even so, EQ2 still doesn’t hold a candle to the scenery in Lotro. 

I am yet to try our Battlegrounds as I feel my time is better spent (when I actually get some that is) levelling Adurj and enjoying the PvE content. Ema has tried it though and is hooked! She can’t get enough of the stuff. Having watched her play I guess it is like playing Quake or Unreal Tournament but with EQ2 toons instead. The excitement Ema displays when about to zone in to a BG is quite palpable and uncontrolled giggling from the excitement has not been unknown. I  recall those adrenaline fuelled sessions way back when on Quake, it was a lot of fun. As such, I really am looking forward to playing in BGs but even so, this will not stop me concentrating on PvE first and foremost.

I am going to try and get my Bros computer up and running again tonight (I’m such a techno gimp) [Seconded! – Ed] so hopefully I may be able to play at the same time as Ema soon. We’ll see how that goes. It certainly would be great to get a bit more online time if I didn’t have to share it. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Until next time,

Be well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring has Sprung.

I have been splitting my online time pretty equally recently between Lotro and EQ2. I’ll start with EQ2.

Last Saturday night was a riot. I have moved all of my toons out of Tapiolan Sankarit guild and back home to Acolytes of Valor. I really did enjoy being a part of Tapiolan Sankarit and on the whole they seem to be a really great bunch. I have met a couple of them in real life and it looks like I am going to meet a few more this weekend as some of them are over in Spain. The reason for my leaving however had nothing to do with me, but actually had to do with my wife Emarald. With us only having one computer we take it in turns. Now sometimes when Ema is playing I will go downstairs and watch a bit of TV (watched ‘What Happens in Vegas’ a couple of nights ago. Funny film), and others I will sit on the bed and read a book half watching her play. It has been over the last couple of weeks whilst I have been watching her play that I have noticed that ‘some’ of the guildies treat Ema pretty badly. In fact, that ‘some’ I have seen treat others badly too. Now I know that the ‘some’ is only a very very small fraction of the guild as a whole and should not be an indicator of the guild on a whole, because it is not. Tapiolan Sankarit was a very good guild to be in. But, when it is your wife being treated badly by these couple of people you want to do a couple of things. Now as I’m a law abiding citizen and the fact that I live over 2000 miles from the perps, my first reaction is not perhaps sensible or indeed achievable. My second reaction was to challenge them verbally about it, but being a good hubby I checked this was OK with Ema first. Unfortunately she didn’t want me to rock the boat, so I had to keep my mouth shut about it. So, the next best thing I thought was to distance myself. Hence my leaving Tap San and a return to AoV.

That’s actually not the only reason. I have been a big part of AoV for about 4 years now, possible a bit more. For about 2 of those 4 years I was a leader of the guild. Needless to say, when you input that much time and involvement in to a project like I did with AoV, you meet a lot of people along the way and a good number of them have become very good friends. So I guess I felt I wanted to go home too. So, two birds, one stone. Done. Bish, bash, bosh. I’m back in Acolytes.

Back to last Saturday! I had been asked by Sj, long standing Guv’nor of AoV to attend a WoE raid. So I decided that it would be a great opportunity to get some ‘face time’ back with my AoV buddies. As it happened, I turned up to find that I was supposed to be running the raid! Not too much of a problem in that I have been a raid leader before and I have run WoE a million times before. A little bit of a problem in that I was already chipping away at a bottle of Red Breast whiskey and was non compos mentis pretty much before we started and also had only recently returned to game from a break.

It was fun to lead again though. I really had a load of fun. We got the first three nameds down no problem at all. However, Digg caused us a few problems in that I think everyone in the raid was getting tired of my increasingly slurred direction and also a bit fatigued from a lot of waiting around (my ISP caused me havoc that was not fun for all involved and my apologies to the raid force for that!). Because of this I think concentration was slipping a little (me included) and as such we kept getting wiped by Digg. Mainly due to positioning of both mob and players. But, we will hit it a fresh again this Saturday I think and see what we can achieve. Hopefully my connection will be a bit more constant and we can whizz through the first few nameds to get to Digg again while we are fresh and ready for battle! Overall I think all attending had fun. I certainly hope so. I know I had a riot and quite a few larfs. Looking forward to Saturdays rerun.

Lotro! Spring Festival! I finally got a chance to hop on to Lotro and go and check out the Spring Festival event in the Horsefields. Unfortunately at the time it was kind of late and the festival grounds seemed kind of deserted. That is one thing with EQ over Lotro. As it is an international server, there is someone around all the time. For example at the recent brewday festival in EQ2 I noticed the bar was pretty busy no matter what time of day for me.

However, undeterred I decided to have a good look around and see what fun was available. The festival grounds themselves were very pretty and there was some vendors knocking around to speak to. I only found two quests though in the main centre part of the festival grounds and these seemed to want me to go to visit the other festival grounds in and around Bree and the Shire. I still haven’t completed those yet as that seemed like a lot of running around. I will perhaps check those out tonight.

I then found the maze. It’s strange. It took me only seconds to decide, ‘Yes, I do have enough time to have some fun here’ and then go and pick up a quest and enter the maze. I was tasked with finding 6 wandering Elves lost in the maze. I found 5 then wandered round for so long I actually think there is now a quest outside to find a wandering Hunter. Eventually I did escape from one of the back entrances to the maze, but alas did not find the fifth Elf. I guess I shall have to pop back in to sort that out. Aside from that I saw what was quite clearly the start of a horse race with four horses lined up and ready to go. The race course looks like a lot of fun (I know this because I ran it on foot), but for some reason I couldn’t get the lady who runs the races to speak to me. I obviously have to do something else first. Or maybe wait until daytime. It certainly looked like a lot of fun though, so I will definitely be finding out about that. In general I think I need to revisit the festival grounds when it is a little more lively to see if there is anything else on offer. There must be some things I don’t know about as when I was wandering the maze a big message in orange writing appeared on my screen stating ‘The Chickens have entered the maze!’, and later ‘The Chickens have escaped the maze!’. Sounds intriguing, so I will have to find out what that is all about.

Apologies for the gloomy screenies. It was the middle of the night after all!

The main festival site

The Horse races

Looking down on the maze

Centre of the maze

Until next time,

Be well.