Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Questions at Fan Faire

The goodly folks over at EQ2 Wire have had a wonderful idea and asked for visitors to post questions they wish the Devs to be asked at this years Fan Faire. The EQ2 Wire crew will select the best and deliver them to the Devs for answers at the Faire. Great stuff. Get your gripes and wonderments in now!

I did.

16.Comment by Voltaan — June 28, 2011 @ 10:59 am

Voltaan is tired! When will he be able to sit down in a chair or lay down on a bed?

All very important stuff, I'm sure you will agree. I was going to ask why the hell they are looking at re-itemising all items from 20-80th level as I see this as a complete waste of time. Having just run those levels at a not too fast rate, there really is no mega issue from my point of view. There are much more important things to look at like making the classes a bit more distinct again, especially with a 25th class on the way. But hey-ho. Thems how the dices roll. So, I decided to ask a question about a small inane subject that personally drives me mental! I'd like a music script like LoTRO too, but that's never going to happen.

Be well.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Net update

It's official, our telephone line is completely shafted underneath the house. Telefonica sent out a techy and have told us they will not and cannot fix that and the supply of telephone service to that house is now impossible!  Nevermind the fact that all the cables running under the houses each have their own little feeder tube and all they have to do is whip out the cable and feed another through. It's not as if it's a difficult job, they even have the piece of string there ready to tie to the cable to pull the new one through, but apparently, not their job.

So, that's it until either I move or can get that wireless I spoke about in the previous post up and running. Oh yeah, forgot to say. They tried to charge us €60 for coming out to tell us this. I won't repeat what Ema apparently told them. Anyhow, bloggy will be updated still from work at lunch times, but online gaming for the minute is down the pan.

Be well.

Mad Skillz

It’s official, it’s been only a few days and I am missing EQ2 already. I have been able to use the time constructively though and I have got more jobs done round the house than the whole of last year I think. It’s amazing what MMO down time does for you. I’m up to date with my papers and correspondence, I’ve read two books, played a few offline games (Mass Effect, Neverwinter Nights, Left4Dead), written more of my novel and spent a huge amount of time with the kids. Well, the time with the kids hasn’t really changed as I don’t go online until they are both in bed. So far I’m coping OK though, even though I do miss seeing my mates and adventuring with my Bro. Now’s the time to catch up with all the solo stuff you have to do at level 70 level locking matey!

We may have some good news about internet though. Not with Telefonica, I’m kind of writing that off as a futile project at the moment. Not really, but we do have a friend who runs an I.T shop and he has just started providing wireless services up to 20meg. He is supposed to be coming round our house this weekend to see what the signal is like. Anyhow, depending on what Telefonica come back to us and say, then we may end up going with him for our connection. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

EQ2 news and it seems that Smokejumper has announced here that the devs at Sony are looking to re-itemise all items from level 20 to 80. I have no idea what this will bring aside from making old items fall in line with the ‘one stat per archetype’ thing. There are so so many items out there in the lower tiers that serve absolutely no purpose aside from an alternative ‘look’. I really don’t want to see the end of those items though. I hope they don’t just get rid of them. It’s worth noting here that following SoEs stat changes and combat changes that seem to occur pretty much every expansion, followed by the time it takes to put right all the mistakes they have made, it is usually time for the next expansion to come out by the time everything is fixed.

Seriously, can you recall a time when we had changes to stats or the combat system where after it was implemented everyone says, “Yeah, that worked well”? Of course you can’t. Every time they do it, they mess something up and remedial work to correct it seems to take forever. So, I ask the question of you, ‘Do you really think that SoE can change thousands of items over a MASSIVE level range, bigger than they have ever attempted before, and get it all right?’. I personally think the answer is no. The thing is, I know old content needs to be brought in line with new concerning stats changes etc, but it isn’t really as if they need to do that urgently. I have spent the last six months or so going through older content with Merecraft and it really isn’t that broke. It’s too easy if anything. The differences certainly did not affect or ruin the game play anyhow. So, why are they messing with it? I know it will need to be looked at eventually, but surely there are more things they could be getting on with. Like making it so my toon can sit down properly. After nearly seven years of either standing or lying down, his knees hurt and he wants to sit for goodness sake! Old poor Voltaan is not getting any younger and these things matter to him at his age. He also wants a fabled walking-frame (the fabled version does not have the speed reduction stat ;) ).

All joking aside, I’m a little concerned about them spending so much time on this when there are real issues with some of the other areas of the game. One of the main ones is that we have 24 classes that pretty much bleed in to one after all the stats and skill jiggery-pokery that the devs have done, with another class on the way, who may well either morph in to the rest of the grey mess of classes or may be outstanding and different, meaning that all will want to play. I just wish they would concentrate on something useful, like making sure all the classes are properly defined with skills that separate them and make them useful, at their trade. That was one of the drawing and influencing factors for me with EQ2, there were so many classes and they each had their own foibles and fun attached. Now there seems to be a real generic category that a class fits in with few defining parameters, Tank, DPS, Util, Heals. The original classes although some were a bit wishy washy with their skill sets originally, were well defined in the image of what that class was and had skills to back that up and stats that reflected their specialities. I just hope the new character class fits in with what we used to have and helps the devs with their defining of the existing classes. Whatever happens with this, at least new and old classes alike will have lovely new [but largely useless when compared to what else needs fixing] stats on their equipment to play with thanks to the level 20 – 80 revamp.

I have just realised that in the above I have just done a lot of moaning. More than usual. Must be my bad temper and withdrawal symptoms kicking in. On that note, I think it’s time to speak to a Telefonica representative again.

Be well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Frustration Continues..

So, not only has our internet now given up the ghost after just a few hours of being fixed, but our telephone is now not picking up a dialing tone either. Looks like our wires are completely shafted and the technician apparently checked them all apart from the ones he could not reach under the house. Not sure if it's a fixable problem. Well, of course it's fixable, but whether Telefonica will bother is another matter.  A friend of ours had similar trouble and in the end Telefonica said 'we will not be replacing any cables and apologise, but it is no longer viable to offer a telephone service at that address'. I would not be surprised by a similar answer.

All hope is not lost though as we are probably moving house in September to a much bigger place, a pool and...get ready for this..the owner works for an ISP and has plenty of solid connection at about 20meg. With Telefonica, we pay for 6 and get about 3-4meg...when it's working of course. All that's a few months down the line though and if we cannot get up and running at our current place it looks like we may be offline for quite a period of time. At least it's summer and there is plenty to do outdoors.

Be well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Keep me hangin' on the telephone"

I have no idea what it is about Spain and its citizen’s endemic lethargy that means anything even slightly bureaucratic is turned in to a mammoth journey in to the unknown maze of Spanish administration. Let me explain. Currently we have no internet. None whatsoever, nada. It’s one of things you really don’t realise how dependant you are upon it until it is taken away. And that is how I am seeing it. It has been taken away from me by incompetent fools. Seems harsh? Read this first, then comment.

Of course when you have no net, the first thing you do is quickly check everything is OK your end and your cat hasn’t chewed through the cable. So you check. Nothing is out of the ordinary, no viruses, firewall working OK and not blocking, and so on. Of course the next step is to call your service provider to find out what is going on. Now in the UK, service generally from callcentre helplines etc is pretty good. Yes the systems that provide services such as these have a lot of problems and sometimes there are problems. Nothing like in Spain though, wow.

One thing I would like to point out is that it is thought by some that if you are in a foreign country you should speak their language. I agree. I have basic Spanish (as I work in Gibraltar all day long I speak mainly English) but my wifes Spanish is much better due to her being at home and having to do the day to day operations in Spain, and as such, has picked up the language well. My 9 year old is completely fluent. Even so, when calling to speak about technical stuff, it’s difficult even though we do make the effort to try and speak/learn Spanish. Because of this, we always opt to speak to the English speaking staff there for ease of resolving the problem.

So, here is how the conversation went when Ema rang them.

Dial 1004, Moviestar/Telefonica helpline for customers.

Ema: “Hola, habla usted Ingles?”

M/T: “No” – tone symbolising being transferred.

Ema: “Hello, do you speak English?”

M/T: “Yes. What is your name and phone number”

Ema: [provides details]

M/T: “What can we do for you?”

Ema: “This is about the third time I have rang. Our internet has been broken for over three days now”

M/T “I’ll transfer you to the technical department”

Ema: “Wait, they don’t speak Englsih. I’ve tried before”

M/T: “Oh. OK, but I can’t help with an internet issue”

Ema: “But cxan you talk to the technical department for me and explain our problem?”

M/T: “Sorry. No.”

Ema: “You can’t speak to them or won’t?”

M/T: “We’re not allowed”

Ema: “So your internal departments are not allowed to speak to each other?”

M/T “Yes, we are”

Ema; [exasperation] “Then can you please speak to them for me?”

M/T: “I can’t do that”

Ema: “What is your name?”

M/T: “Why?”

Ema: “Because I am the customer and I am asking”

M/T: “David Davies [made up name!]

Ema: “Can I speak to your supervisor please”

M/T: “No, sorry”

Ema: “Why?”

M/T: “He's not allowed to talk to customers”

Ema: “So the supervisor of the customer help centre is not allowed to speak to customers?”

M/T: “That’s right”

Ema: “So what’s their name then?”

M/T: “I can’t tell you that”

Ema [severe exasperation]”Erm, why can you not tell me?”

M/T: “You’ll have to ask him yourself”

Ema; “So I can speak to him then?” [are we getting somewhere here?]

M/T: “No, you can’t”

Ema; “Then how the hell can I ask his name? What’s his name?”

M/T: “I can’t tell you”

Ema: “This is a joke”

Voltaan in background overhearing conversation: “Babe? Are you sure that’s Telefonica? Are you sure you’ve not called The Secret Service?”.

Ema: “Nope, I rang the shite service”

M/T: hangs up.

So, that’s how our conversations have been going with our ISP. Fun huh? It’s now been five days and one of our fluent Spanish friends has been in touch with them and we are supposed to be having a technician round today. They’ll call us when they are on their way round. It’s nearly 4pm and no sign of them yet and they haven’t called either. Our frustration continues.

As a little light hearted fun, the Spanish themselves have made the below video about their bureaucracy. It's absolutely spot on. I think it's really great. At least the Spanish have a great sense of humour about themselves. Just as an fyi, I LOVE the Spanish, I LOVE living here, you just have to get used to some damn frustrating administration.

Be well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Bugged Life

So, the last few days have seen Merecraft and I soldier on through the Swords of Destiny Timeline. We are actually getting somewhere. It’s really nice being able to duo zones, especially when they start to pose a challenge. Mistmoore Castle has certainly been providing us with that with Volt mentoring down. Taking just a party of two through there is only a challenge because there are just so many damn Vampires (it seems there’s so many they have bled over into naff teeny TV shows) and the Vamps respawn so quickly too. Add in to that most of the updates required us to dodge the Epic x2 Vikomt mob continuously and it really was a lot of fun.

I don’t think I have laughed so much playing EQ2 for along time like I did a couple of nights ago. Merecraft just couldn’t seem to stay alive.  It really was down to many reasons, his amazing ability to stand near doorways, healing whilst I tank and of course aggroing all the mobs in the room too. Then there was the fact that I was sluggish too. Quite a few times Mere would shout over voice “Got mobs on me” and by the time my lazy clicks had got round to targeting and taunting, he was invariably dead.

It wasn’t all our fault though!  Recently and I don’t know if anyone else has been experiencing this, there have been some pretty weird bugs in game. The thorn in our side last night was aggro. There was definitely something up with that.  At one point Mere had a mob on him and this time I was quick enough to get in there. But could I get the mob off of Mere? Nope. That was really weird. Really really weird. You see, Volt has no trouble grabbing mobs of trigger happy end game dps’rs hacking out crazy damage and the reason for this is the many tools bruisers have for insta grabbing aggro. Used correctly they rarely fail, apart from last night. For some reason at times they just loved Merecraft. We checked buffs, he monitored where he was standing and at times there was no reason whatsoever that the mob would run to him unless the mobs are using the advanced AI and selecting to target the healer in the group I guess. Or, it may have just been a buggy night.

A few nights ago I experienced another weird bug. I was in Velious knocking out some of the solo quests, which is an achievement in itself seeing as I immensely dislike the expansion. Blame boredom for that one.  Anyhow, thankfully for me very shortly after I had started questing there Merecraft logged in. I was by the Ring Public Quest event area.  As I was porting to Merecraft to join him in Steamfont for a jaunt in to the Court of Innovation to grab an SoD update, a guy 'Greatslasher' was camping right next to me.  Anyhow, as I arrived in Steamfont, I looked down and there was one of the cute little Winter Wolf doggy pets that follows you around. Cute as a button.  It’s tag said its name ‘Ghost’ and below that he was 'Greatslasher's Companion'.

It was really strange.  As I ran off to catch Mere up, the little doggy followed me, and kept following me for about thirty minutes, through zone ins and battles.  I have no idea what sort of weird bug meant this little fellow was following me around and not its master. I did check to see if the guy had logged back in but he wasn’t around. Mebbe his doggy didn’t want to stop playing just yet and attached itself to me for more adventures. Anyhow, it is probably one of the weirdest bugs I have ever experienced in the game. Kinda fun though.

'Ghost', Greatslasher's Companion (AoV Guildhall Entrance)

Greatslasher's Companion, hitching a ride with Voltaan 
(Steamfont Druid Ring)
I was playing EQ2 again last night as Ema helped her Dad at Kareoke, and the bugguyness seemed to have disappeared. We had a great night in Castle Mistmoore again, duo'd some epic x4's (which was fun!)  as we had finished the last part of the Swords of Destiny earlier and were looking to try and duo the x4 contested Mayong Mistmoore! Sadly, he de-popped just as we got to outside his room in the Castle but at least we got the Legendary versions of our Soulfires.  Plenty of time to go kill Mayong and grab the Fabled version. Also, later Mere got his Rain Caller from completing the Casualties of the Fay heritage quest. Grats! 

On to a completely different note, it looks like EQ2 may be getting a new character class as Dave Georgeson, EQ2 Executive producer let slip recently whilst talking to Massively.  So that will be 25 classes available. I'm not so sure about this myself. The classes as they stand are a little messed up still since they seem to buff/nerf them regulalrly and I can't help but try to imagine what gap they will fill.  Of course the EQ2 forums are alive with the 'I DO so hope it's the Beastlord' crew. problem with this is that in EQ1, the Beastlord really unsettled the level playing field and even though i don't play EQ1 anymore, I do hear that the Beastlord is still unbalanced after all this time.  I think if it is the Beastlord that we have coming our way that those expecting a carbon copy of the EQ1 Beastlord will be sorely dissapointed. The devs would be stupid to make them as OP'd as they initially were and to some extent still are in EQ1. personally, I think it may be the Beastlord that we have on our radars, but I honestly think it will be a huge jump away from what some may expect.

Another question this raises, is, will the class be the opposite of an already existing class? The reason this is poignant is that we could have level 90 'new class' toons running around within hours of it's release if betrayal and subsequent class change is allowed, as long as the class is an 'opposite' to another. That's a pretty steep learning curve by anyones book. I'm hoping the new class will only be available from level 1 and no betrayal will make it possible for you to get a level 90 straight away almost. I guess we'll just have to see.

In other EQ2 news, it looks like the dev crew are currently looking at mount development. If you check this you'll see that they are developing mounts that might not fly but kind of get you there slowly. This is how the layout is looking from that link. 1-29 : Walking and Ground mounts (horses, wargs, rhinos, etc.), 30-59 : Now also able to use Leapers!, 60-84 : Now also able to use Gliders!, 85+ : Able to use everything, including Fliers! Leapers are mounts that can leap great distances and change direction mid-leap, gliders can do the same, but at the apex of the leap they can extend wings then glide for a considerable distance. Check out the piccies borrowed from the above link to the EQ2 news pages.


Leaper & Glider (Wind Komodo)
But wait, theres more! For those of you who spend what seems like hours every time you create a new toon deliberating and agonisingly reviewing and discounting name after name for your toon, like me, then help is soon at hand. Finally, SmokeJumper is getting round to reviewing old used, but abandoned names. Don't worry you'll get plenty of chance and warning to log in with your toons that you haven't played for a while to make sure their names aren't stolen. I think this is great news. There are lots of cool names out there but they simply can't be used because they are there, unused on a level 4 Paladin sat in the Queens Colony for the last 5 years. Going to have to make sure I have some character slots free to reserve a couple of names, methinks. Good times.

Be well.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Way that People Respond to Summer Madness

Well summer is here (apart from the horrendous storms we had last week) and it’s time for me to start thinking what I will do with my evenings and weekends that doesn’t involve being a hermit and sitting in front of a monitor. Well, at least until it gets dark anyhow. So what to do? Typically when the summer hits my playing hours drop quite considerably. I’m not so sure that will happen this time round though, as already I have drastically reduced my hours online since Emarald stopped playing MMOs. I can forsee lazy evenings on the terrace writing my book, probably drinking a bit too much wine, BBQs and drinks with friends.

When I was thinking about this I started to think about how you actually notice when different seasons come around when playing an MMO. It is felt a lot more keenly if you normally have an active guild, especially if that is a raid guild with a set raid force. Every year during the summer months the Inquisition and the Fraternity both used to take summer raiding breaks as there simply wasn’t enough of our raid force present to do anything of note. Then as always there would be the normal attrition rate and some would not return meaning the raid force would have to go recruiting again and if it was a key class, usually wait before full on raiding started again.

It’s a reminder that the people we play with have lives outside of the game and that got me to thinking also. Unless you really know someone well online and discuss your real life with them, you are simply another, albeit probably friendly, toon in the game to them. Yes you may be a friend in game, but think about how many folks you play with, then have a think about how much you know about their lives in real life. It’s kinda weird now I think about it. Knowing so many people on terms that I would state as ‘knowing them well’ but then realising that really is only in game. There is so much more behind the facade with each and every person in an MMO and that is one of the things that makes them so great.

Of course, it’s also easy to forget as well as remember and we have evidence of this pretty much constantly in chat channel 1-9 and on websites such a EQ2 Flames. The ferocity with which some people attack each other in game is pretty primal at times. I think it’s probably part personality and part forgetting there is a real person on the receiving end and part bravery by protection of anonymity. Whichever it is, or even if it is an amalgamation of all of them, it’s still a ‘brain out’ moment.

I used to read EQ2 Flames. It started with using the website as a tool as the class discussion pages are simply awesome with the huge amount of help you get on how to play your toon well. But then it kind of bled in to checking out the other forums and of course the cruelly named ‘Rate a Retard’ forum. I’m actually quite surprised my abhorrence for such bullying didn’t kick in immediately and I initially enjoyed the tit for tat back and forth wrangling. Yes there were some posts that were always bang out of order and as the threads continued (in to hundreds of pages) the attacks seemed to get worse. Some of the posts are like a car crash. You really do not want to look but just can’t help it. I have banned myself from those forums now aside from the class specific ones as I no longer wish to witness such bashings and it really does serve no positive purpose.

It’s a real example though of over the internet how peoples true inner being comes in to play without the worry or social stigma of being an arsehole affecting them. About the only folks who get away with acting like that in real life are politicians, the rest of us try to be nice for the most part as we actually like having friends. I think online it’s also easier to coerce those who would perhaps normally sit on the fence to join in with such antics. It doesn’t seem such of a mountain of conscience to climb when the person you are about to bully isn’t standing in front of you.

I’ve seen it myself. One particular person, who I didn’t really have a soft spot for, left our guild after a long ongoing dispute about how we raid. Now although I didn’t like that particular person too much I didn’t take part in the months of bashing and nasty tells/discussions behind the scenes that took place after they left the guild then promptly started stealing some of the ‘on the fence’ members to join their new raid force, obviously depleting ours. Yes, there were some underhand actions on both sides and it really did go on for a long time. I couldn’t help but thinking as some of my guildies were waxing lyrical to me about how they ‘need’ to be punished for breaking up our guild, that I must have missed the meeting where two wrongs make a right. I just don’t allow that stuff to sit well with me. Just because someone else is being an idiot does not mean I or indeed others should allow their brains to dribble out their ears and become bereft of reason and compassion. Have at it, let them get on it with it, but for goodness sake, do not get involved in a negative manner. I know it’s only a game, but sometimes Homo Sapiens ability to be frickin’ evil disgusts me to the core. I’m no angel, do not think that I am, but I have my own morals and I stick to them and one of the biggest is to ‘only do to others as you would have done to yourself’. Bullying in an online game because it seems OK as you are not face to face with the person falls in this category. Of course it does.

So, where do we stand so far in the post? Well, we’ve had my summer plans, consideration of population in game during holiday seasons and a rant about how I dislike others who use MMOs and the Net in general to be a complete spanner. I think that just about covers my crazy rambling mind for today. Summer summer summer time, in the summer time....

Be well.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Slowly, slowly, catchy blog

I'm slowly getting round to spending some more time back on my blog. It's taking some time to get on top of things at work though, so apologies for the slow rate the posts are coming at you.

This weekend was a nice easy one. It’s been extremely hot and sunny all through and it was nice to spend the first full weekend with such good weather. Friday saw my mother return home after a weeks visit. Always nice to see her, but as every with any visitor, it’s nice to get our house back. Friday evening was spent having lots of fun in EQ2 running Merecraft though The Estate of Unrest for the very first time (more on that later). Saturday and Sunday were lazy days full of cold beers, take away food, slurp TV, a few beers down the Chiringhito whilst helping the kids catch crabs in the rock pools at the beach and of course EQ2.

We also had friends over for a party on Saturday night which was a huge amount of fun. The evening saw lot’s relaxing and socialising. The kids were all gathered there too and they had a load of fun playing and adding some pretty heavy duty volume to the proceedings. The highlight of the night though was when my wifey began running through our garden sprinkler system with her mate at 2am getting soaking wet as they just HAD to see if they could still do cartwheels on the grass. Monday was another day off as it was a Public Holiday and sadly that day was filled with all the chores we missed from having such a relaxed and job free weekend. Oh well, it was definitely worth it. Great fun all round.

So gaming. EQ2. The longest session I had this weekend was on Friday night. Wifey had gone out drinking with her mates so I had a quiet house and no interruptions which was the perfect setup. When I logged in I hooked up with my Bro and we decided we would head to the Estate of Unrest. We are still gathering the statues for the Knights in the Round quest (part of the Swords of Destiny questline) and I know there is one in Unrest to gather and that my Bro had never completed the zone in EQ2 before. I was pretty tempted to not tell my Bro the secrets of the zone and to let him find out the clues and puzzles as we moved though. I quickly thought it through though, remembered that when we first did the zone from scratch without any spoilers it took eight hours and re-evaluated. I would walk him through it but get him to do all of the collecting and clicking so if he ever needs to go there again he’ll know the zone. As it happens we wouldn’t have had the time (obviously) to do that and after about 10 minutes we were joined by three other guildies, Egoacia, Lusarien and Prop, so that also put pay to that idea as I am sure they wouldn’t want to be dragged round at such a slow rate.

I love the Estate of Unrest zone. Along with Nektropos Castle it is one of my favourite ‘Castle’ zones. The story line is very cool too if you take the time to research it. It’s amazing how similar in layout it is to the old EQ zone. Obviously the EQ2 one is bigger and better looking, but essentially the developers have been faithful to the original design. It’s also one of the zones that has held some good luck for me. I met the guild leader of Inquisition, the raiding guild I was a part of for a few years on an Unrest run through. It was a last minute thing and they needed dps, so both me and wifey went along to join them. Me on my Assassin, Shahlai and my wifey was on her Necromancer, Kruelah. We obviously did OK because at the end of the zone we were asked to join their raid force by Beafcake and Littlebyte the guild leaders. A couple of years of happy end game raiding followed from that little encounter in there. I also met another guild I would become involved in during an Unrest run. This was The Fellowship of the Dragon, a roleplay guild who I ended up having a lot of interaction with following that run through. All in all, a great zone for me, Unrest.

Merecraft and I have been cracking on with the Knights in the Round statuette collections too. I’m pretty sure we can’t have too many to go now. I hope we finish the questline soon as I am looking forward to organising an MMiS raid so we can go kill Mayong for the final update. We also have the Claymore line to finish for him and I know he’s working hard on some HQs, one of which is casualties of the War of the Fae. I love that HQ. Great fun indeed, apart from getting molested in the Faydark zones by rabid werewolves all the time. The epic x2 end encounter was a lot of fun back in the day. Looking forward to helping Mere with that part.

Right-o, time for more work (does it ever end!!).

Be well.