Monday, December 29, 2008

Mending pastimes

EVE has provided a nice diversion from pain and immobility after my surgery.  Since the ancient computer here is too slow to run EVE properly, I have been limited to playing around with trading within a station.  I am experimenting with buying and selling orders, and have trained some basic Trade skills.  So far, I haven't found any ultra-profitable trades, but it has been fun to start learning about the complex EVE economy by jumping into it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Surprise!

My plan while hanging out at the family ranch in Texas over the holidays was to relax, spend time with family, and catch up on blogging about old ideas while exploring some new ideas in a quiet reflective space.  Away from my gaming computer, I would not be able to actually do any gaming, but it is always nice to read other's blogs and write about my own thoughts.

My body had another plan.   On Christmas night, I found myself in the emergency room experiencing the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced.  After days in the hospital following emergency surgery, I am glad to be alive, glad to be with family, and excited about my gaming possibilities in 2009!  While I can't move much yet, I am at least out of the hospital and on the mend.

As an aside, I managed to get EVE running on my parent's ancient video-cardless Dell.  Being logged in at a station is choppy and laggy, and you can't leave the station without triggering a crash.  However, it is possible to log in and change skills and place buy and sell orders.  This has been a nice development that has provided some welcome distraction to a painful and challenging vacation! 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Survey says!

Thanks to a bit of advice from Letrange, I am currently training up Survey and have bought the Salvaging skill which I will train next.  This investment (Salvaging isn't cheap!) should help me finance further progress in gaining ISK.  

I am also going to train for a Catalyst, which I can be in very quickly, and which should be better for a dedicated salvaging ship.  Since I already enjoy ratting and missions, this may help increase my returns while I am still only running L1's (and soon L2's).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Having a blast!

LOTRO Mines of Moria has been great fun so far. The mine interiors are really well done! Turbine knows how to create beautiful atmospheres, and the LOTRO lore provides plenty of fodder for virtual world creation.

I am amazed at how well it has worked to play both LOTRO and EVE. Even though I am spending more time in EVE, I have also really enjoyed the different ambiance in LOTRO. When I need a warm, lush interlude, I can hang out in middle earth. When I feel industrial and hardcore, I fly around in spaceships in bleak but beautiful New Eden.

It is very amazing to think about the variety and quality of virtual worlds available to us through pixelated screens. The best part of MMO's is the ability to play concurrently with friends and real people in a living, evolving world. Even solo players interact through the markets and chance encounters. For me, playing static non-massive games just doesn't hold the same kick. I like cooperating towards a goal with other people in a massive world. Whether running quest lines on rails or finding a path in an open sandbox, the enjoyment of virtual living is a great bonus to living in the 21st century!

I can only imagine where things will go in the MMO sphere. I am sure we will see alternate interface methods tried in the next decade, as there are
MMM, electrons! already several "brain wave" controllers hitting the market. The eventual target will be some sort of fully immersive virtual experience. Whether it is from Kurzweil's brain colonizing nano-bots, Matrix style brain jack interfaces, or some other fantastical technology of virtuality, we are in for an amazing ride!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Budding mogul, or the pains of EVE newbishness

Diving into EVE is very challenging due to the way CCP designed the skill progression.  While I am slogging away at my learning skills, I have also learned enough about the game to now have a sense of what I NEED to be able to play more efficiently.

I have realized the possibilities of trading on the markets as a way to maximize profits.  Of course, now I need to train new skills so I can have more than 5 open trades at once.  I also need new skills so I can pilot my frigates more effectively.

I am holding my edge on a slippery slope.  If I give in and keep cheating on skills at the expense of learning skills, I will be less effective in the long run.  It would, however, be much more instantly gratifying to work on more of these support skills.  My immediate compromise has been to train some of the needed skills to 1 or 2, while returning to the Learning skills for the bulk of my current development.

LOTRO MoM was supposed to save me from this issue, as I was planning to be playing it as my main game while I trained up the basics in EVE.  While MoM is very awesome, I have been finding EVE irresistible lately.  I think this is mainly because I have always played LOTRO with Sedona, who is currently binging on DDO and not available to hang out with me in Middle Earth.  

As the strength of MMO's lies in the social aspect for me, without my favorite gaming buddy even an excellent game may be less captivating. It is amazing how much the "regular crowd" impacts the fun level of an MMO.  Since I have less expectation of playing EVE with Sedona, it has been a good place to spend time on my own.  Hopefully, I will establish corp membership in the next few weeks as well and start making some new online friends!  I hear that corp life opens up new dimensions in EVE's gameplay.


I am a true NEWB, and have taken this license to experiment with awful fits. In this spirit, I present the Iteronator which I have dubbed "GetRichSlowly!!!"

This is an Itty I with a mining turret, a civilian shield, a named survey scanner, and a power diagnostics unit. I also had an extra damage control module that I added, but it cannot run and keep the Iteronator cap stable with my current skills.

This terrible construction is highly inefficient but highly effective in my current use. I noticed with a Navitas that I was constantly having to run back to the station to empty the hold, and I didn't want to go to the trouble to jet-can and pick up with an Itty, or use a GSC.

My current system involves identifying a big asteroid, orbiting, and munching on the minerals. I leave the civilian shield running, which is able to tank 2 Serpentis rats at once. I can see my computer screen from the living room while hanging out with my wife, and so I just leave the Iteronator "GetRichSlowly!!!" chomping on an asteroid while I do other things. I do have to keep an eye out for times when more than 2 rats decide to ruin my profits!

I am sure that I could soon upgrade to a better mining method, but this is helping turn downtime into profits with minimal attention! (My inspiration for this method came from hearing about Chribba's Veldnaught.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So I bought a Navitas and equipped some named mining turrets I looted off Serpentis rats along with 2 cargo expander I's. While I would not pin myself as a dedicated mining type, I have found that mining can be nice while bouncing a baby and chatting in-game. It also brings in a bit of ISK, which is never a bad thing!

My Eve time currently is revolving between ratting/mining and running Lvl 1 missions while I train up Learning skills. The other big news is that I am in the process of applying to my first corp!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blogger Tagfest

Thanks to 2 of my favorite EVE bloggers, Dee Carson from Miner with Fangs and Sarah Barah from Super Gamer Housewife for tagging me in the EVE blogger tagfest 2008!

Here are the rules:
- Link to the original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
- Share 7 facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
- Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
- Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

Here are the facts:

1. I have branded over 1000 cattle in my lifetime.

2. I love brains, psychopharmacology, cognitive neuroscience, and psychotherapy.

3. My favorite sport is cruising through 3 feet of dry powder on my snowboard.

4. I am constantly learning guitar and fiddling with synthesizers.

5. I practice mindfulness.

6. I have jumped out of an airplane.

7. Nothing compares to my love for my 8 month old gremlin and his super mama!

Tag, You're it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Still Alive

Between Holiday busy times and getting a new job, I have not budgeted much time for writing.  It doesn't help that I am sucked into both LOTRO MOM and EVE at the present time!  Things settle down for me considerably next week, so I should be back into the posting game soon.  (Sedone is also not posting, largely because in addition to EVE and LOTRO, he has gotten re-addicted to the new and improved DDO!)  Good times!


Friday, November 28, 2008


I am most thankful for a wonderful wife and a charming and delightful 7 month old son! Next comes family, friends, work that I enjoy, and good times.

In the virtual sphere, I am thankful for amazing choices and beautifully crafted games. Complexity and depth in EVE and story and ambiance in LOTRO are providing good gaming entertainment these days. I wish the best to the employees at CCP and Turbine, and am very thankful for the communities that have formed around the virtual worlds I frequent. A special shout out goes to CrazyKinux and Massively for turning me on to EVE and the EVE blogging community this year.

Last, but not least, I am thankful for a President that I can be hopeful about! It is the first time in my life of 33 years that I can say I am proud of my leader. I hope he doesn't disappoint too much!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fleet Blobbing Technorati!

CrazyKinux's fanfest memorabilia contest inspired me to join Technorati. While I was there, I noticed something that could really help the EVE blogging community step things up a notch in our Technorati networking:

You can use an OPML file to add favorites on Technorati. And Ga'len from The Wandering Druid of Tranquility has kindly put together an OPML file of all the EVE bloggers HERE.

Once you have downloaded the OPML file from Ga'len, you will want to create an account on Technorati. It is fast, easy, and free.

After you create your account, log in and then click on Favorites in the top toolbar.

The next step is to find the Ins and Outs section and click on Import Your Favorites. (I have provided a photo below to show where to click)

The next step is to click Browse and then browse to where you saved Ga'len's OPML file on your system and select your OPML file. (Follow picture below)

After you click upload file and Technorati does the digital magic, you will now have a list of EVE blogs as your Technorati favorites!

I used cut and paste to quickly add tags to the entries. This is easiest if you click on Favorites and then Favorite Blogs under your profile.

Hopefully, this guide will make it easy for EVE Blog writers and EVE blog readers to support the EVE Blogging community through linking on Technorati!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Overview love

For any EVE newbs out there that missed it, Manasi at A Mule in EVE has posted the best guide to the EVE overview that I have seen!

For non-EVE players, the Overview is the targeting and filtering system used to select actions in EVE. As there can be hundreds of objects, ship wrecks, and asteroids in a system, it is critical to be able to filter out extraneous info and focus on mission critical data!

Thanks to Manasi for making a great guide to a complicated and somewhat clunky game system.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vive EVE Blogroll!

One of the most captivating things about EVE is that it is a sandbox. What this means for people accustomed to playing narrative driven games is that EVE is about player created stories and player created drama. CCP provides the tools and environment, while players provide the economic dynamics and political machinations that define the New Eden experience.

The window that drew me into the drama in EVE was the EVE Blog Pack, managed by CrazyKinux. This is a stalwart group of 30 dedicated and talented writers who have been chronicling the human dynamics within New Eden. There are writers who focus on teaching, writers who stay in character as their pilot in EVE, and writers who provide an experiential subjective description of their exploits in EVE.

The blogging community in EVE is welcoming and rapidly expanding. This interest in writing about the alternate reality experience manifested by so many EVE players piqued my interest in EVE. It takes a living, vital phenomenon to inspire so much creativity amongst its players. My time in EVE has verified this truth, and it has been fun to dip into writing about this virtual universe that is constantly evolving and deepening.

I am delighted to now be listed on CrazyKinux's EVE Blogroll, which is currently sporting 121 members. I have no doubt that this number will continue to grow along with EVE over the next few years. The creativity and excitement that these bloggers bring to their virtual experience inspires me. I feel honored to be able to explore this terrain with such interesting and passionate individuals!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Free range plans

I have been playing with EVEMon and have worked out my skill learning plan for the next 131 days!

First, I will train all the learning skills to 5. Next, I will train drones so I can get tech 2 Hobgoblins. This should make missions significantly easier, even though I am not having problems with most Lvl 1 missions at this point. I might even try some Lvl 2 missions with my now speedier Imicus and tech 2 drones!

The next phase of training involves getting into a Helios and learning to use a Covert Ops cloaker module. My thoughts on going for the Helios are that I can use it as a scout to help Sedona move goods, and hopefully be helpful for a corporation as a scout. Sedona and myself are planning to try to join a corp after we have trained the basics. We hope to find a 0.0 corp with significant Industrial and POS activity who are open to taking on newbs with brains. We have already identified several prospects that we are watching! Getting faction to allow for some jump clones is also on the agenda, as implants are too expensive to lose casually!

Getting the learning skills is very slow, and the game design in EVE definitely favors those who think long term! Luckily, Sedona and myself are planning to check out LOTRO Mines of Moria for the next month or two. We will keep the skills cooking in EVE, and return to more regular piloting sometime in early 2009. I will still probably do some occasional missions to be developing faction in the interim.

It is funny that my original plan was to mainly train skills in EVE for the first several months, but I enjoyed the game so much that I couldn't stop playing EVE! Sedona agrees that EVE will likely be our primary Virtual world for the next several years! A casual player would probably be better off not initially training all the Learning skills to 5, but rather focusing on getting broadly trained in Navigation, Gunnery, Drones, Electronics, and Mechanics. As we are planning on checking out LOTRO in the near future, the strategy of getting all the Learning skills out of the way makes sense. I can already tell that I will be playing EVE for years, so the investment in early Learning skills makes sense!

As an aside, taking the Special Forces option in character creation has really been nice! My drone skills were good enough from the beginning to easily solo Lvl 1 missions. Even though I will have to play catch up to get the Industrial basics, I think it has been more fun as a newb to have the ability to run Lvl 1 missions from the start. For any newbs reading this, a basic strategy is to get an afterburner on an Imicus and orbit at 25km from the nearest enemy. You just get the enemy's attention, and then release your drones and let them wreak havoc! If they get too close, use the afterburner to keep out of damaging range. I carry a remote armor repairer to fix the drones if they ever pull aggression. I'm sure there are faster ways to run missions, but this method works well for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Officially committed!

I gave my ultimate seal of approval to CCP today and joined the ranks of EVE-Online subscribers. After months of obsession with the piracy, politics, and player driven complexity of EVE, I finally jumped in 2 weeks ago.

I am very surprised to say that the actual game FAR exceeded my expectations. (Given that I was obsessed with EVE for months before downloading the trial and had huge expectations, it is almost mindblowing!)

The 2 week trial has only given the faintest taste of what EVE has to offer. There is little instant gratification in EVE. It can take months just to master piloting one race's frigates. Getting into industrial or trade game play can take just as long. In EVE you can only learn one skill at a time, so "hardcore" players gain little beyond ISK and experience from playing many hours when compared to a more casual player.

Two weeks gives a minimal glimpse into the possibilities and complexities awaiting a mind willing to face the learning curve and dive into New Eden. The game is seriously beautiful, and the combat mechanics are captivating. There are multiple roles and strategies for fulfilling these roles. Unlike most MMO's, a player is never pigeonholed into a specific class. The skill system means that with a corresponding investment of time, any role may be pursued by an EVE player. The game is so huge and the possible roles are so vast that many serious EVE players keep multiple accounts to allow for specialization. It would take decades to learn all the skills on one account, and that is not counting any future skills which will be added to the game with the bi-yearly updates!

The alliance/corporation and low-sec/0.0 sec interactions seem to be the heart and soul of EVE. Sedona and I hope to find a friendly home amongst "Industrialists with Teeth" in the next few months. We look forward to lucrative and dangerous adventures that involve controlling territory and resources while adapting to the sweeping political tides that roll through space and periodically redefine the boundaries and interactions in this very amazing virtual world.

!Vive EVE!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Buy low, sell dangerously!

Sedona almost got ganked in 0.3 space by a pair of Ravens. Luckily, he remembered to warp to 0 and jump back to higher sec immediately. The Ravens were jamming or blocking his warp initially, but he finally managed to successfully warp his ship to the gate back to higher sec. The Raven flock arrived at the gate just as he managed to pull off the jump. No shots were fired, but it got Sedona's blood pumping! If he had been on autopilot or not warped to 0 on the gate, he would have been toast as it would have taken too long to pull off the jump... The multiple wrecks in the area were another indication that he might have been in danger!

Sedona had earlier lost a ship (ouch, an expensive Tristan!) on a mission in the same 0.3 area, and had noticed that there were no shuttles for sale in the system. The nearest shuttles were 4 jumps away, costing about 5 times what you would pay in highsec Gallente space!

We now have a potential ISK generating opportunity identified. Our plan is for me to get into a cloaker Helios to spy for safety while Sedona pilots an Iteron (IV probably) to the low sec base. We also may ask a friend to help us by webbing the Iteron so it will warp even faster. We will be paying attention to times that seem to be less busy to maximize our odds of sneaking into a low-sec base full of overpriced (or dangerously priced) cargo!

With a little luck, and provided there is a demand for the goods we bring in, we can make a bit of ISK trading dangerously!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Barack Obama's beautiful win in the US Presidential election will go down in history as monumental. The second election for EVE Online's CSM (Council of Stellar Management) may be slightly less impactful. However, it is a great gesture by CCP to formalize and democratize player feedback. In addition, I am certain that interacting with CSM members is less annoying for the Devs than reading through whine and groan posts on the forums to "take the player's pulse."

Even though I am too new to the New Eden universe to vote in this election, I still wanted to contribute by offering a newb's perspective to this election. Following are my endorsements for the next CSM term:




Eva impressed me with her balanced focus on evolving game-play. I like her ideas regarding fleshing out the Factional Warfare system, as well as her support for industrial players. Eva demonstrated a willingness to listen to other's ideas during the first CSM, and I feel she is a great choice overall.


LaVista Vista

Conservative Shenanigans Party(CSPTY)

Charlie is also a CSM veteran, and he demonstrated a great willingness to collaborate and seek out player input on the issues. He brings a balanced focus between Industry and PVP to the table, and was one of the best liked personalities on the original CSM.

United States




My endorsement of Brian is based on his involvement with the 0.0 metagame. He will bring an interesting perspective to the CSM, and I feel his ideas on UI improvements and better NPC interactions are very good!

Here's to wishing that EVE will continue to benefit from CCP's choice to involve players in the planning stages of game design through the CSM!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I love my Imicus! I love EVE in general, and have been playing far too much in the past few days. A childhood friend who is an established miner and industrialist hooked me up with some seed funds, so I have been able to go shopping for training materials. The L1 missions and ratting in 0.7 belts have made a fair bit of ISK too, and even better provided me with some cool modules for free!

Thanks to timely advice from Geaux Tiger, I checked out the Imicus and got a set of drones. I'm currently rocking 2 Hobgoblins and 1 Warrior, and the combo seems very effective against the pirate factions I have tangled with in the missions.

The main problem I have with EVE is that it is so awesome I am not sticking religiously to my plan to train the Learning skills up first. I have now got my basic Drone skills to a decent level, and trained skills so I can rep drone armour as well as my own. I'm not sure I need this micro armor tank, as I have never lost my shield. With my new drone skills, I can hang way back and it seems that most weapons cannot hit me very well when the afterburner is on and I set up an orbit around the nearest enemy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I managed to spend a few hours with EVE yesterday, getting through the intro tutorial.  I hope I remember some of the basics that the tutorial covered.  Even on the classic client, the EVE universe is beautiful!  I actually really liked the design of the Gallantean newb ship, the Velator.

I chose military/special forces which gave me a good start in drone skills and electronics.  After researching more, I realized that the Helios doesn't make a good cloaker/EWAR platform.  The Helios will make a fine scout or a good platform for using sensors, but to combine stealth with EWAR I will need to save for an Arazu.  I haven't plugged the Arazu into EveMon yet, but I have a feeling it will be a LONG time before I get one of those going with four level 5 skill requirements.

In the short term, I will be focusing on two paths.  For grouping with my brother, Sedona, I hope to get into a Maulus and focus on EWAR and maybe a few drones.

Solo mission running presents a quandary:  Do I try to leverage my drone skills and try an Imicus, which has the biggest drone capacity and bandwidth for Gallantean frigates, or do I try an Incursus and leverage my starting skills in small hybrid turrets?  I have no idea how effective drones are vs. straightforward shooting at the frigate level, but for now I am leaning towards the Incursus, which has more slots and seems tougher and quicker.

So far, EVE has been a blast!  I am not disappointed, which is saying a lot given that I have been obsessed with the game for months...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tasty Hobbits

MMOG's have come a long way since my first foray into the world of Norrath! Seeing a fully 3D world brought to life with npc's, unique locations, quests, and most of all, other players is something I will never forget.

Like Jaggins, I was hooked. Beyond hooked as I probably almost lost the job I held at the time!

Now we have many choices, from Sci-fi to fantasy to pirates there's an MMO out there for just about any preference. One commonality that has held true from the beginning though is the capacity to bring people together. With Ventrilo and other chat services the communication gap has been further reduced (not to mention in game emotes and other ways to express yourself).

For me the cultural implications have always been fascinating. As the market expands and these games spread everywhere, we find ourselves meeting and getting to know people from all over the world. How will our cultures be affected?

That's something I hope to explore here on Vive Virtual.

My first few posts however will be on Lord of the Rings Online's changing PVP if Snaarl (my eternally hungry warg) can stop chasing these tasty hobbits for a second. :)

Ready to rock it!

I found an awesome character generation tool at EVE-Guides and I have decided upon the background and starting skills my fledgling New Eden explorer will have. (Character code 211111102030 if you want to check it out)
For others contemplating the jump into EVE Online, I found an awesome Guide to Skills and Attributes at the essential This article also goes through an optimized way to train Learning skills for those who want to invest in more long term skill acquisition efficiency.

I ended up with an Intaki reborn instead of an artist to capitalise on the mega memory. While Mimatar and Caldari seem popular on the EVE blogging circuit, I like the Gallantean philosophy and dystopian democratic freedom oriented culture. Thanks to Kirith Kodachi for reassuring me about going for aesthetics over min/maxing!

My brother, Sedona, is planning on creating a Gallantean counterpart to my Intaki. While I am going for a military career with special forces training (Helios here I come!), he is going military with soldier specialization to focus more on tanking/DPS. We are looking forward to seeing how we will synergize in missions and maybe later in PVP! We think we can start running missions and learning the ropes fairly quickly with these choices. I will be adding Industrial skills later, while Sedona plans on focusing on Trade.
P.S. Downloading the EVE client right now! I will probably not have time to install until later this week.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Fall is dropping leaves and bringing on the rains in Seattle. After the rush of Halloween parties in the next week (last night being the first), we will settle into the 5 consistently grey months for us in the Pacific Northwest. While snowboarding provides a bit of respite from the grey, getting above the rain in the jaggy Cascade Mountains for some riding is only workable for me about once a week at the most. My gaming time traditionally increases in direct correlation to the darkness and wetness of my immediate environment!

Of course this year there is the added variable of a delightful 7 month old who needs lots of dad time, so I may be gaming a significantly lower amount of time! 

I am planning to upgrade my long in the tooth system (p4, Radeon 9700 for the techie readers) to a Wolfdale / Radeon 4850 set-up. Yes, I am mostly an ATI fan-boy. It mainly has to do with the way Radeons render colors. I think colors are more aesthetically pleasing with ATI, maybe because they are more saturated or something compared to NVIDIA. It is a totally subjective preference. By my calculations using newegg, I can upgrade to my intended new specs for about $350, keeping the current drives, powersupply and case.

As soon as the new system is working, I will download EVE online and begin facing the reportedly steep learning curve that EVE hits newbs with.  Thanks to Kirith Kodachi, another gaming dad and all around EVE veteran, I am now comfortable that my intended choice of Gallantean Intaki Artist will not gimp me beyond belief whether I decide to pursue industrialism, tanking, or ECM at some point in the future.  I am planning to mainly work on learning skills anyway for the first month or so, thanks to some ISK funding for skills from a childhood friend who is now a wealthy EVE miner/industrialist!

While my EVE entrance is cooking, I will be checking out LOTRO's Mines of Moria with Sedona, my IRL brother.  He even may actually post to this blog some day, if he can drag his Warg away from PVMP!  (Sedona is also planning to check out EVE when I do, so I will start with a partner for running missions, etc.)

Well that's it for my planning update!  Winter 2008-2009 is looking to be a great time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Turbine has released articles about the new classes today at Checking out the Warden Mastery article has me excited about the "gambit" system. This play style will involve attempting to anticipate what will be needed later, as it takes time to build up to a powerful gambit attack. I think this will appeal to brainiacs who like a challenge that demands full attention. I think Sedona will be great at this!

Personally, I like the looks of the Rune-Keeper. It's been too long since I've played either a healer or a glass cannon...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Virtual Identities

Developing virtual characters is part of the fun in MMO game play. One can specialize in min-max stats, in roleplaying, hanging out and goofing off, or any combination of human behavior that can be filtered through a digital avatar in a virtual space.

Oblib Jaggins is my burglar in LOTRO, and my "main." I was an alt-oholic in GW, but as my game time can be limited due to real life concerns these days, I have focused on one main toon in LOTRO. As you can see from LOTRO's character profile banner, O is very developed as a crafter. The craft skills help provide the in-game income necessary for housing upkeep and other sundry purchases.

Playing a Burglar in LOTRO is great fun! They are very tough, as they can stealth when needed to avoid doom. Burgs also have debuffs, crowd control, and the ability to trigger Felowship Maneuvers when in a group. They have decent DPS, and are always welcome in group situations. The only downside to such great versatility is that Burgs use a ton of skills and require signficant attention and awareness to maximize their effectiveness. This is not a class for the push auto-attack and snooze crowd!

My monster alt is also a stealthy sort, although Wargs have no CC in LOTRO. They are gank/DPS specialists, and are sure to strike fear in squishy targets like Minstrels and Lore-Masters. Wargs are most effective as scouts or in packs, but there are also plenty of expert lone-wolfs out in the Ettenmoors.


I am obsessed with a dark, unforgiving place called EVE Online. This obsession has been brewing for months, likely triggered by intriguing articles at Massively and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. LOTRO has worn on me with its grinding traits and grinding reputation and grinding money to support repair costs in PVMP and upkeep on player housing (storage). I am also a bit sick of pointy ears and tights, swords, dragons, magic gear, and 5 hour dungeon crawling (Thanks, Fornost, Helegrod, Rift, etc!). Munching on elves as a Warg helped with my aggression towards pointy ears for awhile, but PVMP in LOTRO is best served as a wonderfully spicy and entertaining side dish.

I have very mixed feelings about Mines of Moria. I am sure the space will be awe inspiring, and the exploration and PVE storyline excellent. Turbine knows how to make a good game. However, the innovative Legendary weapons and gear that have to be leveled seem awfully grindy to me. In addition, there will be new deeds and traits to be ground, as well as new faction that will have to be ground to access efficient travel options. (I miss Guild Wars, with the easy click and go travel!)

I will definitely check out Moria, and as a lifetime subscriber, I will always look to LOTRO to fulfill my fantasy MMO needs. I am just not sure I can stomach the grind necessary to make my Freep (Oblib Jaggins, Hobbit Burglar on Firefoot) a viable force in raids or a viable Freep in the Ettenmoors, where the PVMP happens. I think this brewing dissatisfaction contributed to my current obsession with EVE Online.

A few captivating articles in my RSS reader led me to check out EVE. The Empyrean Age videos looked amazing and my curiosity was piqued. I had heard of EVE a few times while engaged in other games, but it had mostly been negative commentary: clunky UI, laggy, and terribly unforgiving for Newbs. What I had not seen while engaged in other games was that EVE brought levels of depth, complexity, and massive interaction unrivaled in the field: A single shard sandbox MMO with a player driven economy, fleet warfare, subterfuge, political drama, player owned stations, player alliance controlled territory, and tons of PVP and pew pew pew!

I was hooked.

Massively led me to CrazyKinux and Winterblink. CrazyKinux turned me on to the EVE Blog Pack, which I started to devour like a raging junkie. After months of articles, blogs and observed EVE drama, I know about can-flippers, pirates, POS, low-sec, 0.0, mining, industrialism, ECM, mission running, gate camping, safe spots, corporations, frigates, cruisers, titans, and shuttles (which can be smart bombed to steal valuable industrial blueprints!).

While I will continue to enjoy the EVE blogosphere, I now have a grand plan to check out the actual world of New Eden and eventual leave my mark there. I shall soon engage in the 2 week EVE trial, and then buy the game outright along with a 6 month subscription (to save $) if the trial does not totally turn me off. I will then set my fledgling Gallantean training up on essential skills while I mainly play LOTRO and check out Mines of Moria. I can dip into L1 missions and explore the Newb High sec areas of EVE at my leisure during this time as interest leads me. I just found out an old friend is very into EVE, and his established industrialist has offered to front me some ISK for training to enable this grand plan. I hope to have this started within the next month, so watch out Ravens, Megathrons, and Stabbers! There will soon be a fresh newb flailing in the stars!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Musings and Virtual Wanderings

My hope with this blog is to capture thoughts on virtual worlds, gaming, mmos, and other forms of early 21st century entertainment. My experience with MMO's started with playing EQ (Everquest) the day it launched. After initially being blown away by a massive 3d world crawling with human personalities and drama, the shine of this proto-MMO wore off after the initial glamour was tarnished by poor game-play. I found EQ too annoying, and was unable to tolerate corpse runs, waiting for ships to travel, and the other myriad obstacles offered by SOE's first foray into 3d MMO gaming. My time in EQ was limited to several months, but I did discover a love of the potential that these parallel universes had to offer. I know that EQ fixed most of the game mechanics that I couldn't tolerate later as the game developed, but by then I had already moved into new virtual worlds.

My travels then led to Asheron's Call (AC), where I lingered for a time. The "clunky factor" of a new game once again wore me down and I eventually drifted away from MMO's for a time. Asheron's Call 2 (AC2) drew me back, and I enjoyed that game for its brief illustrious time until the server issues drove my guild (and most other players) away. I enjoyed the innovative play style in AC2, especially the Lugian tactician and the vampiric Tumerok tank. The PVE content was fun, and it seemed much more polished to me than EQ or AC had been. I had just reached a high level with my character when the game became unplayable so the complaints that there was not enough content didn't impact my experience in AC2.

Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) offered a brief and severely flawed gaming experience. I loved the amazing character models and customization, but running from alien animals shooting a blaster over my shoulder was just too much to take. The X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter action that should have been in the game was missing along with fun playstyle. Having been treated with AC2's engaging combat, SWG just couldn't represent.

I did find amazing combat in the venerable FPS MMO, Planetside (PS). This game was fun enough to engage me for several years of massive fun. The large scale battles that occasionally happened have been unrivaled to this day for me. Sadly, SOE was not up to the development task with PS and was unable to continue innovating and improving the game. PS stagnated, and I now only rarely dip into the Vanu world every year or so for old time's sake.

I tried World of Warcraft (WOW) and Lineage 2, but found them too rudimentary and "grindy." Spending months to finally get to the interesting "end game" just wasn't engaging for me. I had been spoiled by PS and AC2, which both offered engaging ways for lowbies to enjoy the ride. PS especially made it easy for anyone to contribute to the fight at any level. You just gained access to more options when you had risen in the ranks with experience in PS. Anyone could pop anyone else in the back of the head in Planetside!

This disgust with gear or level being the defining force in determining effectiveness in PVP led me to one of my all-time favorites: Guild Wars (GW). Here was a game that made it easy to cap the character, yet still provided engaging PVE with a great objective based PVP system as well as fun arena battles! GW fulfilled the MMO need (with occasional dips back into PS) through the Factions and Nightfall expansions. However, after working at getting my toons fully developed in GW, I was disappointed when Arena Net announced GW2. I had invested in awesome characters, and now they were killing the game to start again. (We saw how well that seemed to work for EQ2...)

I briefly tried Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) and enjoyed the game overall. However, I didn't like how they set up healing in the initial release, and this put me off the game as I often enjoy playing healing classes. DDO has phenomenal dungeon crawling, and I feel it is a highly underrated game. I still dip back into DDO from time to time, and look forward to checking out the recent addition of the Monk class at some point in the future. Turbine seems to be attentive to improving DDO, and they have worked most of the kinks out that the game shipped with.

Around this time, my brother had been beta-testing Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), and he convinced me to check out LOTRO and pick up a lifetime subscription. I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere and lore of the game, so this seemed like a good fit. While I heard the complaints that LOTRO was a WOW rip-off, I found the players to be more mature and enjoyable on average and dove into Eriador. The bulk of my MMO time over the past 1.5 years has been with LOTRO. I love the Monster PVP (PVMP), and I feel Turbine has done very well with the Player Housing, Crafting, and frequent free expansions they have added to the game. I am excited to check out the Mines of Moria expansion expected this November.

I hope to explore my thoughts on LOTRO, gaming, and MMO's in general as this blog develops. I have been learning about EVE Online over the past 3 months, and look forward to checking out a new world soon. I hope this blog will develop into an interesting travelogue and offer some worthwhile reflections or even insights. At the least, I hope it might be entertaining!