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!