Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where Were You When...?

I see that Wilhelm2451 was online for the Vox kill I was totallly jealous of. (So jealous I just dangled a preposition. Sorry about that, Mr. Eames.)

This is what I was doing.

Exercise for the reader: What zone is this, what part of the zone, what level am I, what am I wearing? Some of it will take guesswork, but not much.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Dark Side of Nostalgia

I've been spending time on a nostalgia trip in Everquest, reliving my origins as a high-elf enchanter from Felwithe with red hair. The hair, I have to say, isn't fabulous yet. It's barely hair at all, and only sort of red. it was the best I could do with the 1999-vintage character models which allow for zero customization, just about 6-8 choices of face.

But up until Monday, mostly the nostalgia was good. Sunday there was one thing: Someone at the orc hill in Greater Faydark advertised in OOC (out of character) chat as needing more. I responded with a tell with my level and class (I think it was 5 chanter at the time). I get an invite and accept. I arrive at their camp about 10 to 15 seconds later only to find that I've been kicked from the group. A couple of tells asking what was up get no reply.

This is the dark side of nostalgia. I didn't make muster for some reason, or there was a conflict, or a favorite, and I'm on the outs.

I eventually got into another group in the same area, and after a chaotic start things settled down and I dinged 6.

Then came Monday. Groups didn't seem forthcoming in GFay, so I got a sow from a friendly shammy got a mail quest from Kelethin for Freeport and set off for the Butcherblock Docks.

By the way, Chuck Norris doesn't take the boat from Butcherblock to Freeport, he walks.

I just though you should know that.

I am not Chuck Norris, so I took the boat. Of course, while waiting for it, I broke out the fishing pole and fished up several seaweedy sandals. Fun times. Then when the boat showed, I promptly fell off the dock and in consequence, missed the boat.

The good news it the boats run very frequently now. There's no hour long wait for the next one. It's 15 minutes. I am careful to not fall off the next time, and we zone into the Ocean of Tears and begin waterskiing.

Really, the boat is that fast now. it seems like a hydroplane, not a sailing ship. But the slow boat was not exactly tolerable.

This creates a visual curiousity. The game sends my client updates on the positions of other toons in my area (in this case on the boat) roughly once every two seconds. In between these times, the client tries to figure out where the other avatars are by applying inertia and gravity - the toon will stay where it is, or continue on its course, and will fall when appropriate.

What the client doesn't do is apply the motion of the ship to the passengers on it. Let that sink in a minute.


Yes, the other passengers of the ship keep sliding off the back of the ship and falling into the water, as far as my view of them is concerned. They then reset to the deck of the ship and slide off again. And again. And again.

They are spraying out the backside of the ship like some sort of Soylent Green rocket fuel.

Ok, that part wasn't nostalgia. I've never seen that before.


I got to Freeport and everything is different. This zone, The Commonlands, and the Desert of Ro have all been redone. In NRo and EC, the plan has stayed the same, more or less, but the look updated. Not so in Freeport. There are only two zones now, East and West Freeport, with North Freeport apparently mostly merged into West Freeport. All the elements are there, but they seem to me to have been somewhat rearranged. There's the Ashen Order, but it's nowhere near the Stage that somehow was associated with Quellious the Tranquil. However, I didn't find this just yet. Instead, it was lunch time and I logged out.

When I came back from lunch I found the mail delivery guy, and I also found that the mail pouches were NORENT, and had evaporated during my offtime. Uhh, I remember that now....

So off I go into NRo and find a group. We start at the edge of the desert proper, but that's a bit too easy so we push forward a bit. Things get hairy when a monk trains a few madmen through us. Oh, yes, I remember that. Hostile, competetive behavior. If anything, the years have increased this, since all the carebears have gone off to other games that prevent this sort of things. Games such as, well, almost any other game, except for EVE Online. Another game I've been playing a lot of lately.

Just what does that say about me?

Well, I run to the EF zone and escape death. I come back and things go well for a while. Then a pull of one snake turns into a pull of 6 snakes, and I don't have enough mana to mez them all. We wipe. And I have another jolt of memory. I have forgotten to bind in Freeport, and now I'm being asked to revive in Greater Faydark. Wow, I've just committed a classic EQ blunder. More nostalgia, but it isn't the good kind.

I assuage the pain by first running a bunch of mail quests: Akanon, Felwithe, Kaladim and BB docks all to Felwithe for a nice bit of change and modest experience. I also stop in Kaladim to turn in a bunch of Crushbone belts for more items (I can use them but they are good money) and experience.

I turn them in in Kelethin and get the mail for Freeport again. Go to the docks, don't fall off, laugh at the boats human-jet-propulsion, get off the boat, BIND RIGHT NOW, deliver the mail and go look for a group.

There is no group forthcoming. While I'm soloing, a world-wide announcement comes up: the guild Twisted Legion has defeated Nagafen. On the seventh day after the server has started.

I begin to remember why I stopped playing Everquest.

There following was an interesting discussion on global chat. Nobody from Twisted Legion participates. There are a variety of claims. First, that this was the sort of thing that killed the previous progression servers. Next, that this is a voting server, and one can frustrate "them" by simply leveling to 30 within 90 days and voting against progression. Furthermore, the claim is made that Vox and Naggy aren't hard, and that a few players should be able to ninja in and get a kill.

I really would like to understand that last statement better. I have faced one of these dragons exactly once, on my monk, whom Lady Vox used as a sort of human yo-yo, alternately summoning him and fearing him to run away. And then we wiped.

I don't really think that we knew what we were doing at the time, and I would very much like to know better. How is this possible? What sort of gear and tactics are used? How can I solo Vox?

Because, it must be admitted, I'm kind of jealous. I'd like to do something that is outrageously cool, though I tend to the creative rather than the insomniac no-life kind of coolness. But throwing down with my posse in the attempt accomplish something is an experience I treasure. Like what we did to buy the high-level guildhall with Shards of Glory a smallish and somewhat casual guild.

Since I took that screenshot, Vox, Phinney and Inny have fallen also. There is a claim on the forums that TL leapfrogged another guild that was killing its way through the giants defending Vox, and trained them. Did I say something about hyper-competitive behavior?

Further research indicates that mage pets seem to be the key to this whole thing, buffing them up, and giving them better weapons, etc., they can tank much better than any player character. This is the game we are playing.

I log off, have dinner and play Eve for a while afterwards. When reds show up and ruin my ratting, I log off and go back to Everquest. I try in EC and trigger some more unpleasant memories. This time the memories of just how much swarming and social aggro there is among the wild animals of the Commonlands. I've got the bruises and deaths to show it. I group with a wizard for a little while, but instead of just sitting down at Orc 2 and killing stuff, he keeps running off, checking on other camps. He doesn't say for what, and while he's gone I'm steamrollered by two kodiaks and a spider, I think it was. He disbands me when I say I was killed. Apparently I'm incompetent.

No other groups are to be had. It's late, I'm tired, and I'm pressing. Due to a strange interaction between XFire and Everquest, I have to either have no voice chat with Karaya, or have my mike always on. I choose the latter, and Karaya seems quite amused by my, erm, forceful exhalations. I think I died five times last night. But I still have level 7.

So that's the dark side of Everquest - hyper-competitiveness in the form of kill and camp-stealing. Bad groups, and poor communication skills. The sense that one wrong move and the game slaps you, and so do the other players. Feeling like you are behind the curve one week after launch. I've paid for a subscription though, at least for a while.

I really, really want a piece of Vox. I'm going to have to find a guild, though.


Friday, February 18, 2011

I Had to Swim to Work, and It Was Uphill, Both Ways!

Like so many others, I couldn't resist trying on my former glory in Everquest's launch of it's new Progression Server, Fippy Darkpaw.

But I am behind the curve and the downloader was very very slow. It stalled out several times, and I would cancel and restart it to get more progress. I'm sure it didn't help that Mrs. Darkwater was downloading it to her computer too. Hers finished the night before mine though. My download didn't finish until noonish yesterday.

So, naturally I took the rest of the day off.

First, there was character selection. This is where the fabulous red hair started, after all. Or maybe I should say, this(?!!?) is where the fabulous red hair started? Sheesh! Because I'm a trial account, I guess, the options available for appearance are extremely limited, maybe 10 different faces with no customization options. I took the one for which the hair looked vaguely red, but really it looks more blonde once in the game, and silver-gray from behind. Which is where I'm looking at mostly.

Perhaps if I decide to pay up and play, I'll be able to look just a tiny bit more fabulous.

Ok, High-elf enchanter check. I have a dagger, some food and water, a lantern and a backpack. Oh, and two spells. One gives me a slight boost to AC, the other does 4 points of damage and weakens the target a tiny bit for a little while. Not exactly overwhelming.

But my first obstacle is to get out of Felwithe. There's this whole big pond in the way, between the enchanter's guild vendors and the rest of the city. And water is just a bit hard to get out of. Ugh. Mrs. Darkwater gave up on the elf she thought she'd try and decided to make a troll shaman, Jasper, instead.

But I'm persistent (some might call it stubborn), and eventually I find the right spot, go to first person, look straight up, and try to move forward. I'm on dry land! Shouldn't there be a trumpet fanfare?

Part of the difficulty is that the keyboard isn't set up to use wasd for movement. I'm using the arrow keys for now, and switching to mousing left handed. But the game comes equipped with keyboard mapping, so I may implement wasd in the very near future. No WASD!!! Wow, this feels like archeology or something.

Then there's the zoning. You are walking along, and all of sudden the screen freezes for no apparent reason. WTF? Oh yes...eventually the famous words appear: LOADING...PLEASE WAIT

Greater Faydark near Felwithe is very crowded, and so many people are wearing green robes, you would think that it's graduation day at the University of Oregon. And yes, I'd forgotten the standard issue thong for female wood elves. Not that male wood elves are all that clothed.

I buff up and pull my first mob, a bat. No, excuse me, it's "a sylvan bat". I poke it for a while as it gnaws on me, and eventually I worry it to death. This is not going to be easy. Any pull of a yellow results in near-immediate flight to the guards and a long rest. Some kind soul stops to watch me and hands me a worn great staff, saying "You need this more than I do". And he was right. With the worn great staff, I can now down level one sylvan bats with ease!

My youngest stops to watch over my shoulder. I am finding my utter incompetence hilarious, and she finds it infectious. We join together in mocking not only how bad my character is, but how bad I am at running these controls. This is inexplicably fun. Eventually, I go into Felwithe to sell things, and buy a few more spells and some tiny daggers. These allow me to summon the enchanter pet, a disembodied shield and dagger that will attack anything that takes a swing at me. I can't give it commands though, that will have to wait until I learn Charm.

But he follows me around, at least sometimes. Sometimes he gets lost or has pathing issues and has to be resummoned. (Remember pathing issues?) One time he was stuck in a little hollow and was just furiously swinging about, apparently looking for a way out of a shallow 1-meter depression.

But his dps is another big boost, and we ding level 2. A little later and it's time to be off to my RL martial arts class. It's just as well, since GFay is swamped now. It's prime time: 6pm PST, and the whole USA is home from work and wanting to walk to little adventurer's old school in the snow.

Yellows are still a gamble, some of them are manageable, but others require a hasty retreat. But my running, unlike my swimming, is swift and sure. I haven't yet died. Eventually, I ding level 3, and since I'm having difficulty keeping my eyes open, I head off to bed.

Officially, Fippy and it's sister server (there was so much demand they started a second) are Locked/Voting progression servers. What this means is, each expansions features and geography will only be introduced when

  • Certain ingame actions are accomplished. I'm thinking that for the first swing, dropping Vox and Nagafen will count.

  • Then, after a grace period of 90 days for the first expansion, and probably 60 days thereafter, an ingame vote will appear, and the next stage will only be opened when a majority of voting players vote to move on. There is talk of a minimum voting level, perhaps 30.

I saw players of level 14 last night, and Wilhelm saw a 15. So, I'm thinking that the first raid on Naggy/Vox might take place within the month.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Came Here To Be Podkilled: Belated Double Jeopardy Edition

In the week before Christmas, I lost two ships and got podkilled both times. That was after 229 days of not ever being killed. And just now, February 14, I'm getting around to writing about it. What can I say, ouch! I've been "too busy" - as in, double ouch.

The first death was in YA0-XJ, a Goonswarm Sov system right next to the TNT-sov constellation I live in. Before we had stations up in our area, I melted all my loot drops and kept my ore there, since it is a refining station. And sometimes I put up mineral buy orders, too.

But then we got a station in XCF-8N. I decided to move all my stuff that was in the YA0 station over there. It's a manufacturing station, not a refining one, but that sort of worked too. Especially since I can rat in XCF.

Thus I had my Iteron V out, jumping the systems from XCF to YA0 and watching the intel channel. There was a report of a red gang in the next system over from YA0, but I thought I would have time to at least get into the station before they showed up in YA0. I was wrong.

The chat log in the intel channel looked something like this.

[Somebody at 06:24:15] Red gang now in YAO
[Me at 06:24:30] Engaged at FMB gate in TXME, Halp Halp!

There are two noteworthy aspects to this:

First, the first report in intel of the gang's presence in YA0 came about 15 seconds before my call for assistance. Allowing for the time it took me to fumblingly type it, as well as do what I could to escape, that first message probably appeared in intel at pretty much exactly the same time I was first engaged. Not much help there. I did know that the gang was nearby, but they system they were in has many neighbors, they might have stayed there or gone any of a number of other places. Lucky me.

The other thing to notice is that I was so befuddled I didn't report my location correctly, I was at the TXME gate in YA0, but I said, er, something else. Well, really, I typed it. What I said on Teamspeak was, roughly,

"Oh shit, I'm gonna die!"

"Wait, maybe not" [My ECM burst worked for a moment, and broke the lock that the first ship had on me]

"Yeah, I'm gonna die" [As the other 5 ships in the gang show up and lock me and blow me up very neatly. At the TXME gate in YAO.]

And die I did.

I built another Iteron V and named it "Expansive Regret", but you can call it "Expensive Regret" if you must. It's lows full of Cargo Expander II's.

My other loss was in EC-P8R. This is our gateway to hisec/Jita. I was carrying a load of stuff for sale in Jita, and expecting to return with things like datacores and some T2 components. I was, of course, in the Edward Fitzgerald, my Viator, equipped with Covert Ops cloaking device. (It's kind of a ghost ship, you see).

Our alliance/coalition has a jumpbridge one system over from EC, in EWOK-K. So I jumped through and assessed the situation. Intel said there was a couple of reds camping the EC/EWOK gate. Hmm, need to be careful, thinks I, but no reason to abort, just for a couple of ships. I'm flying a cloaky hauler, after all, and I've slipped through more than one gate camp with it. Not only can it cloak, but it gets into warp smartly.

But some caution is advisable. There is a third system G-M418, that adjoins both EC and EWOK. After sitting at a safe in EWOK for a while, I figured I'd do an end around and come through G-M.

The first thing I notice when I come through the gate is another ship on my overview, but my overview isn't set up correctly, and I'm not sure if it's a red, since it's showing secstatus. Not to worry, my gate cloak will last a bit and I confirm with local, it's a red, and he's flying a ship called a Sabre.

If you know EVE, you know that spells trouble. Sabres are a class of ship called a heavy interdictor. They can generate warp bubbles all on their own. Just as I selected the EC gate to hisec, hit warp and hit cloak, he dropped a bubble. He didn't manage to target me, I was good on that score, but I hadn't got away, the bubble had me trapped. He must have seen where I was, because he headed for me and when he got within 2000m, my cloak went away. After that, I was easy pickings, and heavy lag on my explosion meant I was back in the station before my pod was painted on the screen.

I don't think I'll have trouble remembering the class of a Sabre any time soon. Or ever.

I managed to get through to Jita later that night in my pod and buy and fit a new Viator, which I flew back safely the next day. But the two losses put a dent in my wallet that only now has been filled back in.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Meet the New Fabulous

I managed to get some screenshots of my new look, using the new EVE character generator. My main problem with it is that despite my best efforts, the nose is too big. Ah well, they just didn't make their character generator to accomodate high-elves that had been in cryosleep for 3 million years. I took this from an ingame screenshot, so the resolution is poor. There's a better one in the loading screen, if I was only willing to poke around in the filesystem more, I could probably find that. All hail laziness!

For comparison, here's the old look. Definitely a bit more hippy-dippy, which is good. The new Toldain is a bit too buttoned down. It was a choice between a uniform or a T-shirt, and Toldain would definitely not be wearing a T-shirt, unless it were a rare vintage T-Shirt, such as one from the star-studded Concert for Felwithe, or an original Matari Revolutionary Brigade t-shirt. But the wart on the face? Not a chance! I think I like the expression on the old one better, but it's my own fault. The chargen had an enormously detailed expression capability, with individual muscles highlighted. Like the new character, the nose is also larger than elf.

This, if you didn't know already, is Gloria Swanson. Well, she has her hair covered, I wonder what she has to hide? But otherwise, she's looking pretty good. I'd kill for her lighting, mine is about as soft as I could make it, but still comes off as harsh. Her nose, however, is just about exactly the right size. I hope she quits the game soon and lets me have her stuff.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What to do in Eve

Nice graphic/flowchart here - What to do in Eve