Tuesday 29 September 2009

Blogger: comments problem

Some people have mentioned a problem with the comments here.

I found this solution:

Copy Paste problem on Blogger Solved
Being a newbie to Blogger, I was unable to cut and paste while creating a new post for my blog. I was further stumped when from a friends computer, she was able to cut and paste onto on my blog from her computer. I knew then that it must be something in my settings. After some trial and error I pulled up "create new post" and to the right of the "Title bar" I clicked on "Edit HTML" which was highlighted in white. As soon as I clicked the box the color changed to tan. I was then able to copy and paste with no problem.

and have applied the same fix.

Please let me know if anyone is still having problems.

DDO: Why would you do this!!!!


Some new free to play gamers discover a troll. Chase scenes ensue!

DDO: An absolute beginner's guide to making groups

DDO is about grouping and being able to make your own groups is a needed skill.

Generally it's to your advantage to add people. You get the same number of items per chest whether solo or grouped and you'll see a lot more chests grouped because you'll clear content faster. You'll get the same experience for doing a dungeon too plus they may do things like disarming traps or breaking crates that earn you more experience than you otherwise would have got in a solo clear. Plus you'll clear faster.

In other games you can adopt a pattern of grinding something solo while you keep an eye on the lfg channel/tool but here I think you will have a much much better experience if you're able to take the initiative.

Starting a Party

To start making a group press O. This brings up the Social panel. Grouping is the first tab. (It's also one of the buttons at the top left).

I always uncheck Show Groups I am not eligible for and check Hide content I don't own. It's unfortunate it defaults to showing you irrelevant groups, but Turbine have to get you to spend points somehow. It's nice if you have alts too.

At this point if you're lucky you will find a group you want to join and can skip the rest of this post.

Let's assume you don't.

First you can ask anyone on your Friends list or in your Guild if you've got that far. Both of these are on the Social tab and Guild is a tab in your chat window. It's a lot more effective to run a group when you already have people you know from before forming the core.

In the Grouping Tab of the Social window click Create Party.

Look at the quests for the one you want to do and click on it. Clicking on Dungeon will sort them by dungeon alphabetically if you are having trouble finding the quest. Note that it's quest name not dungeon name (eg The Cannith Crystal not Korthos Hall).

Click which difficulty you want: Normal, Hard or Elite. You can't form a party for solo dungeons.

Pick which class you want to see your group. Normally that's all classes but if you have a thing against Barbs or you desperately need a Healer for the last spot you can adjust the filter.

Pick the level range. The level of the highest level player relative to the level of the dungeon will adjust the exp. So for Cannith Crystal which is a level 1 dungeon if I allow 3rd level characters we will get -10% exp for the run. Personally I usually go with a 3 level range from one under the dungeon level to one over. There is no exp penalty for being one level over or under.

Scidude adds:
"Higher difficulty dungeons count as "higher dungeon level". I think a level 2 dungeon will count as a level 4 on elite, meaning you could be up to level 5 and still not get an exp penalty."

Fill in the comment section but do not put the name of the dungeon. They see the name of the dungeon anyway besides if you go on to a different dungeon afterwards you will have to change it in two places. Use this for things like "slow careful run" or "zerg fast fast fast" ie something that describes how you want to play. N/H/E is sometimes used to indicate you want to run on Normal, then repeat the dungeon on Hard, then repeat the dungeon on Elite.

Click Advertise as Looking for more Players and your group will appear in the Grouping window.

That's it! Your group is now open for business.

One other thing you may choose to do (I know I'll be lynched for saying this) is advertise your group in General chat. It helps it fill up quicker as a lot of people haven't really discovered this LFM tool yet. If you spam though you may actually discourage people who otherwise would have come (and if they squelch you you've lost them forever).

Managing a party

At low levels the only concern in terms of class composition is a healer. You can make do without a tank or a rogue. It's a lot harder to make do on Elite without a healer.

Healing classes are Clerics and Favoured Souls. You can expect them to tell you if they don't want to heal. To a much lesser extent Bards and Paladins can heal but these players generally won't expect to be healing when they join your group.

If you can't find a healer or if your healer bails halfway it's very useful if you can call a hireling Cleric. You can tell her to heal a specific player by targeting that player (F1 - F6) and clicking her heal. You can tell her to rest by targeting a Rest Shrine and clicking her Use Item/Attack button. Try to always keep a hireling Cleric contract in your inventory. There's one available in Korthos and a wide range of different clerics in the Harbor or if you're over level 3 in the Market. They are pretty cheap so I suggest you don't spend Turbine Points on one.

Sometimes there will be conflict in the party. At the end of the day it is your group and if someone's being a pain you can right click their name and choose Remove unless they're inside the dungeon. Reforming the group and re-inviting everyone except the one who's a problem is also an option.

Do not confuse Remove with Promote or they'll be kicking you!

I've done this twice so far. One guy refused to come to the instance at all and insisted we go do some other instance miles away. Another guy died and gave us some huge lecture about how the game suc ks and he's going back to NWN. They were the weakest links - goodbye!

If you have a good run then keep going with the group. If it's a horrible one then try to at least finish then bail.

If you do keep going update the party advertisement in the LFM tool. Not only do you not want people trying to join the instance you finished with an hour ago you want people to jump in to your new group if you're not full.

After a good run ask people who impressed you if you can add them to friends. Or if you're unguilded and you see someone is an officer you might ask them if they are recruiting for their guild.

Credits: a number of people on the DDO boards helped with some excellent constructive criticism:
Lorien the First One

Thursday 17 September 2009

Eve Online: loose smart bombs sink ships


I am never ever equipping a smart bomb on a mission runner again.

A smart bomb, for those of you who don't know is an area effect bomb that hits everything, including friends.

In High Sec Concord turns up to kill you if you hit another player.

I was actually soloing but I forgot to turn off my smart bomb when I brought my alt in to salvage and WHAM!

Time to build a new ship.

Saturday 12 September 2009

DDO: First Impressions

Dungeons and Dragons Online has gone free to play so I thought I'd have a look. I've tentatively arranged with a couple of real life friends to play an evening per week as a dungeon group.

I downloaded it and it installed and patched pretty painlessly.

I watched the intro video and I thought about hitting Esc as it presented a very stereotyped cliche. I've actually completely forgotten what it was about 10 minutes after watching it.

Character creation was straightforward. I liked it that the first choice they give you is Melee, Caster or Utility. Emphasising the role you will be taking.

It has some pre-made subclasses or the option to pick your own feats. Naturally I went for the custom class, I like to see what I'm buying as it were. I know the 3rd edition D&D rules reasonably well so the feats and skills were familiar.

I have a Dwarf Fighter. Dwarves get a Constitution bonus which doesn't matter that much since it's capped at 18 and Charisma penalty which is great because that's points you get to put elsewhere. I maxxed Strength and Con and put 2 leftover points into Dex.

After the usual creativity-killing "that name is taken" nonsense I settled for Ethelbert. Good old English name. Just don't call me Ethel, mkay?

I took Shield Mastery and Toughness as my feats and put all my skill points into Intimidate. Standard tanky stuff.

I was then ready to enter the game.

You start on a beach very like the AoC start as a shipwreck survivor. I approve. Beaches are an ideal place for a new character to begin.

I had heard the interface was tricky but it seems straightforward enough to a former WoW player. WASD - check. Click the red crosshair to hit stuff - ok. Randomly destroy anything you get a red crosshair for - can do!

The random targets turned out to have copper pieces and healing potions inside.

You get sent quickly to your first dungeon. When you enter a dramatic voice asks "Could this be Cellimas, the cleric you were sent to find?" Opposite you is a woman with the words Cellimas Villuhne (Cleric) above her head.

It's at this point my pen and paper instincts are starting to kick in overtime. I really miss not having a GM to argue with. I want to protest it's too obvious or that she must be a disguised succubus or go back to the beach and attempt to re-make the galleon I had been sailing in out of scraps of driftwood.

But it's a computer game so I wasd forward and click her.

Guess what? She IS Cellimas the Cleric! Who'd have thunk it!

As I walk up she asks "who in Khyber are you?" Now Carry on Up the Khyber is of course a classic British comedy film and any GM foolish enough to ask that in-character would be putting up with "lovely pair of melons you got there miss" sniggers for the rest of the evening.

I actually type "lovely pair of melons you got there miss." It appears in General chat whatever that is. Since no one replies and no one else has in fact said anything in it I assume it's one of those pointless chat channels you find sometimes in games that no one in their right mind uses. (Like Naxx General chat). Possibly instanced so that only I am in it.

She casts an awesome spell on me that makes me totally immune to dying until I leave the instance. I've long suspected that healers know this spell and only subject us tanks to the charade of dipping to 300/30k hit points to entertain themselves. Now I have proof!

I then had to do a climb, drop, gank and lever to open a gate. Now that's great, memories of Eye of the Beholder start to claw their way out of my subconscious.

We're joined by the rest of the NPCs including the rogue who not only has a corny London accent but promises to watch Cellimas' behind for her. Watch her behind! Geddit? Melons, missus, melons.

I run up to a door and swing my axe at it. The door has a lever next to it and my questhelper is telling me to use the lever to open the door. Not my axe. So sorry, got distracted there.

You go in and there's a very cool ambush. I really like the combat because you get numbers and a skull killing blow system when you hit stuff. Like -13* only * is a skull. Naturally the NPCs take all the credit for killing the monsters even though I got skull after skull. I didn't find any loot on the bodies but with a cockney rogue in the group what can one expect?

At this point I notice my hit points are 21/37 and are not regenerating. Lucky I can't die. We enter a room and there's a clickable hit point recovery shrine. OK, it's different. In fact it seems a reasonable way to support the D&D magic system in a computer game.

Next is another awesome Tomb of Horrors style trap which the NPC Rogue handles for you.

We press on and kick in a Sahuagin High Priestess. 7/37 hit points and the silly cleric is "cleansing the profane energies of the shrine" which if it was a player I'd take for going to the bathroom. Hael? Oh well.

There's a chest of treasure which is all mine, none for the NPCs at all! Yippee! Finally a suit of armour. Interestingly it takes a while to equip it, nice touch of realism.

After I've looted it Dick Van Dyke confides in me that he'd already had all the good stuff out of it before I got there. Fraggin rogues.

Then you have to use your Search ability to find a secret door. Another very cool aspect, it implies later dungeons will have you think about the dungeon layout and use Searches intelligently. (Or when bored).

You know how there's always a team talk just before a raid boss and everyone gets a little bored? If I were designing raid dungeons in DDO I'd stick a trapped secret door in at that point, bound to be good for a laugh.

I'll let the NPC Rogue have the last word:

"Tidy lasses and pints up the wazoo!" Oo er, missus!

Friday 11 September 2009

Eve Online: Market Day

For me Friday is market day in Eve and today promises to be something of a marathon.

I've been experimenting with using Buy Orders to increase the amount of junk my mission runner accumulates at his mission hub. That's a good policy I think and certainly the large amounts of cheap rig parts I picked up for re-sale at Jita were well worth the investment.

However I got greedy and put out orders for minerals. They were cheap after all. I had however forgotten how bulky minerals are. I'll be making about 0.4 isk per Trit and I've ended up with millions of the stuff. I've done about 5 runs already (beginning to lose count) and in the process have rigged my Mammoth with cargo rigs so it now holds 27,129.3 cubic meters. That's 2.7 million trit per full load. And the end is still nowhere in sight.

A full load of trit takes about half an hour to haul and is making me a million isk. That's not really worth the time.

On the plus side it is very lazy play and I'm enjoying reading Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. I also have a second copy of the client running with my second account dragging stuff around. In a bit I can mission run on the second account while the first one hauls.

Because not only have I been buying all the minerals within 2 jumps of my mission hubs on my main I've been buying ammo within 2 jumps of Jita on my ammo dealer alt. Haven't even started his hauling round yet.

Here's a summary of who my alts are and what they are doing for the next week after all that hauling:

Modules salesman: 10.8 mill balance, 45 orders. 340 different types of modules including 26 Medium Shield Booster Is and 23 250mm Railgun Is. He clears about 20 orders a day if I play him once a day so I'll need to be busy on him to shift all this. Standard 1 isk undercut twice a day should shift most of it.

20.1 million if all of this current round of orders sell. A week of selling this junk should bring in about 200 million.

Ammo/salvage/stackables seller. 71.8 million balance, 41 orders. He has a huge amount of stock because this week I tried a 2 station range out on his buy orders. It took a long time to round up because there are a lot of systems within 2 hops of Jita. Plus Cap Booster charges are bulky and his unrigged Badger doesn't hold much.

On the plus side between his own buy orders, buy orders at the mission hub, and mission loot he has a lot of stock. For instance 1171 Fried interface circuits (a rig component), 200 600 Nuclear S bullets, 25 000 Devastator Cruise Missiles.

144 million worth of sell orders up with plenty more stacks of things to list if they all go.

Ships/drones/skills/implants seller. 190.6m balance. Sell orders worth 197.7m. Comparitively little more to list. Will either help my module seller or will station trade later in the week. Might buy a Plex this week to pay for this account.

Mission runner. 57.6 million balance, 41 orders. I actually didn't bother to set his orders today. He usually buys loot at my mission hub.

So that's market day over, with a lot more hauling than I usually plan for. Next week I'll avoid the 2 station range buy orders unless it's for something very light!

Just to give non/new Eve players an idea you can buy a month's game time for about 280 million and you can buy a 20 million skill point character for about 4 billion. I started playing in June so you can be earning a fair amount of money pretty quickly in Eve.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Eve Online: A maze of alts

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
when we start rolling alts in Eve.

As Shakespeare probably would have said had he been a MMO player.

I have 2 accounts in Eve now and a total of 6 characters. But there's only one skill queue per account which means that only one character per account is progressing.

Here's how I have them organised:

1) Mission runner. Owner of the skill queue for my first account. Flies a Drake, a ship of the Battlecruiser class which is very strong for level 3 missions. He can actually tank level 4s but isn't quite tanky enough to do level 4s without risk nor does he hit hard enough to do them at an acceptable rate. This character is training towards a bigger, more powerful ship called a Raven, a battleship class ship.

2) Jita trader #1. This guy got about 3 days of skill queue time in order to be able to place multiple market orders. His main job is selling off modules. It seems to be taking him about a week to sell out and I restock him once a week. I trained him up so I could use sell orders (like listing an EBay auction) which allow me to make more money than selling direct.

3) Jita trader #2. This guy has the same skills as the other Jita trader. His job is selling off stackables like ammo and minerals. He tends to finish selling mid-week so he spends the rest of the week buying ammo with a 2 station range (which means I'll need to fly him around collecting once a week) and selling ammo. Most of what he does is known as daytrading or station trading when I buy in Jita and then sell in Jita for a markup.

4) Support alt. This originally had the second account's skill queue. This character has trader skills as well as the ability to fly a salvager. I usually have this character in a salvager on a second client while character #1 runs missions. This speeds up mission running time considerably.

5) First pvp alt. My first attempt at a pvp alt is a tackler in a Rifter (a Frigate class ship). Well actually he's not in a frigate at the moment I got it killed. What happened was I went out with a mob of corp mates looking for trouble and managed to tackle an enemy battle ship. I tackled a feisty beast called a Tempest, outfitted with pretty decent modules. I hung on like a bulldog until the rest of my fleet warped to me and they killed the Tempest just after the Tempest's friends killed me. A thoroughly worthwhile sacrifice.

Tackler ships are designed to be expendable and my ship is really cheap. About 450K isk some of which is recovered as insurance when it dies. One level 3 mission pays for 2-3 of these.

This alt is in Eve University. The University is a specialist corp for training new players. The benefit is we have very interesting Teamspeak lectures (we had a former Goonfleet FC talk to us on Monday), very helpful people, good forum and internet resources and occasional exciting pvp action. The downside of this corps is that they are very risk averse. So you are not allowed to undock during war (which is just about all the time) unless as part of a fleet operation and sometimes there's no one getting a fleet together. So you're not allowed to do anything.

So it's a great guild to have an alt in but I don't think I'd enjoy only having a character in that corp and not doing anything else.

6) Is my new pvp character. He is the current owner of account #2's skill queue and is training for a particularly annoying pvp role, an e-war pilot. E-War in Eve means your weapons and other ship modules basically stop working for a bit. So while I can't kill people with this ship I can really spoil people's day.

I am trying to get this one guilded with a corp that's a bit more adventurous than the Uni. I want to get him into trouble and I want to lose a few ships. That may sound odd but pvp in Eve is about losing ships. You spend ships for fun then have fun making the isk. That's Eve.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Eve: Failed with the Goons!

Somewhat to my amusement an attempt to join the Goons in Eve was met with scorn. My application to join their low key "accepts anyone" alliance was rejected and my forum account was put on probation for being a "horrible jerk".

Ah well, at least I have access to the Something Awful forums which are pretty lively. I am not allowed to post for 3 days and common sense suggests I avoid the games section of the forums to give some of the self-appointed school prefect types time to cool down.

Fortunately the Eve players don't seem to look anywhere else on the SA forums, at least the ones I ran afoul of.

The problem was they are status-obsessed. This does in retrospect make a lot of sense in a somewhat military style organisation like a game guild.

But going in and being cocky was totally unacceptable to them. They require you to be humble until you have earned your status.

Unfortunately it's a very common attitude in Eve. I tried a couple of place where being chatty intelligent and humorous got me labelled a "spy". Need to practice my bland-face if I want to join someone else's corp.

Another option of course is to form one's own corporation. That's something I'm considering along with a friend.