Associations: Task III vs Omikron

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Task III (C64) and Omikron: The Nomad Soul (PC)
Task III (Commodore 64) and Omikron: The Nomad Soul (PC and Dreamcast).

With my past as a composer on the Commodore 64, naturally I was interested in all games with unique music back in the day. One of these was Task III from 1987 with great SID music by Frank Endler. Especially the high score tune had a special “mashing” style that I really liked:

It may be a little odd to begin with, but hang in there. There are a few cute changes here and there, especially at 0:41 and 1:00.

In 2001, I completed Omikron: The Nomad Soul on the PC. The game was actually released in 1999 on PC and was a bold attempt at creating a hybrid of third person adventure, fighting, as well as first person shooter. It was quite atmospheric and even had in-game music by David Bowie.

Web Site Statistics

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Almost 5 months has now passed since I utilized WordPress and opened this blog, and I thought I would show you my latest daily statistics. I often find these kinds of posts very interesting on other blogs, and I hope you agree too. Maybe it will be the first of many.

Today I use four tools to measure the visitor statistics at this web site. There’s the built-in statistics at my domain host (One.com) as well as exporting the Apache log files and viewing them with WebLog Expert Lite. Let’s just say both of these methods leaves a lot to be desired.

Luckily I also use two other methods which I think are both much better at giving me the overview and data I require. The first is of course Google Analytics, which has a lot of interesting graphs and details. I’ve been using this since I converted to the blog and it shows me that there’s been a steady amount of approximately 140-150 visitors per day for the most part.

Halfway through May, I discovered the wonderful plugin WassUp for WordPress. It’s now my fourth and preferred tool of measuring visitor numbers. I has a great list of exactly what pages visitors go to, how they browse around, where they come from (link, search engine, directly) and other juicy details. The way this is represented makes it easy to get an idea of what’s popular.

The other day I calculated the average for a day out of one week and came up with 185 visitors per day – a little more than the estimate from Google Analytics. It includes spam attempts but not spiders and bots. 89 (48%) of these were referred (i.e. came from clicking an external link), 39 (21%) from search engines (including searches for images) and 8 were spam hits (4%).

WassUp also has a useful search ability, and with this I managed to get the exact number of visitors for certain areas of my web site as well. I added the data to an Excel spreadsheet and created the following column chart:

WassUp Statistics (May 2011)

As you can see, the section for LOTRO is by far the most popular area of the web site. The one for weapon glows in WoW is a bit lower, but it’s also a relatively new section. Many visitors come from referrers or direct hits, but there are also a nice lot coming from search engines.

I converted to WordPress in January hoping that I could lure some of the MMORPG visitors over to my new blog, but this actually hasn’t worked out very well. Almost all of these visitors only browse the MMORPG pages and then leave. Recently, I even added a BLOG menu item in top to make them more aware of the blog, but even this didn’t make much of a difference. Most of the hits in the red column originates from external blog links or search engine hits.

TV Shows: Thoughts & Opinions (Part 4)

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This is the fourth and final part in a blog series about what shows I’ve watched and what I thought of them. Just a few remarks for each of them. The text will be with only minor spoilers, so it should be relatively safe to read this in case you’re curious about shows you haven’t seen before.

TV Season Boxes

Don’t miss out on TV Shows: Thoughts & Opinions (Part 3) with my opinions about Fringe, Heroes, House M.D., Jericho, Lie to Me, and Lost.

SWTOR: 1+ Hours of Gameplay

Here is an interesting link to 1 hour and 30 minutes of gameplay in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The player procrastinates a bit here and there, but it’s still worth checking out if you have any interest in this upcoming MMORPG.

I actually didn’t want to post it at first (the name of the page is “Don’t Say a Word!”) but since then I’ve seen it pop up in forums and other blogs, so I guess the rabbit is out of the cage anyway. I wonder how long it will take before it is “foxed” by BioWare? UPDATE: Not long. The video is already gone.

Back when I first saw the link in a forum I actually watched most of it and wrote down a few notes:

  • Generally there are many conventional MMORPG clichés. A bit worrying.
  • Nice UI layout with health, pets, buffs and more all in the bottom, close together. Makes it fast to see the important stuff in battle.
  • The chat window in the top left corner is a little strange, however. But maybe I just need to get used to it.
  • Very odd “blue soap bubble” map. It even goes partly transparent when you run while it’s still open – I wonder if they were inspired by Rift there?
  • Combat seems a little boring to be honest. Same old. And of course no blood.
  • Tooltips are very WoW/LOTRO-style – even has bonus sets too. But there’s a nice delayed “slide-out” comparison with gear tooltips.
  • Some textures are too WoW-style for my taste (i.e. cartoonish), especially inside caves.
  • The KOTOR-style voice NPC talk and choices are pretty cool. Nice lip sync and voice acting. Also a nice touch with the good or bad choices in debates showing a cyan or red tint on the screen afterwards.
  • Some humans have long faces. I don’t have a problem with that, actually – the models still look good. It’s those textures on the cave walls I’m worried about.
  • Action icon GCD cyan refresh is too interfering – can’t see icons well enough.
  • Groups of 2-3 mobs seems to be quite common?
  • Many mobs stand still (LOTRO-style). Good. I’ve had enough of excessive patrolling like in Rift for a while.
  • Not a lot of background music – often silent. Perhaps this will change in the final version?
  • Almost devoid of loading bars. Interesting.
  • Taxa on small speeders.
  • Large inventory – 48 slots! I hope that makes it to the final version.
  • I saw the player enter a big building that had its entrance obscured by a wall you had to run around. It’s 2011 and we still need this trick in 3D engines?

Rift: Fat and Fifty

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Finally hit level 50 in Stillmoor a few days ago. I was surprised there wasn’t a lot of additional solo quests left after that. I barely completed less than half a dozen quests for Icecrown Citadel The Endless Citadel in the west end, and then the same quests just turned into dailies.

I decided to finalize my time with Rift after that. I rode through Freemarch and Stonefield just to see the zones and then parked my Cleric in Sanctum. I actually have a level 16 Rogue at the Defiants side as well and I was thinking about playing him through those zones, but I must say that I’ve had more than enough of Rift now. As mentioned in an earlier blog post it just feels like a shallow game world devoid of much soul, and the quests were for the most part uninspired.

Shimmersand
The only quests I really enjoyed occurred in this fortress in Shimmersand.

The dynamic rifts and invasions were an interesting new gimmick, but often an inadequate experience one way or another. Either there are no or too few players and the rift is too difficult, or there are zillions of players and the rift is too easy.

Last week there was a world event invasion in Fortune’s Shore in Shimmersand. It started with the usual intimidating villain speech and smoke rising from the town. Hundreds of players from both factions soon arrived and in the beginning it was exhilarating that we were so many beating on these elite mobs, but soon it dawned on me how undirected it was. I had no feeling of who or what was healing or tanking, if at all. Some gave orders in raid chat, but I think most players minded their own business. Lots of gravestones, layers upon layers of sound effects, and spells flying in all directions. Sometimes an invasion was defeated and the rabble floated onwards like a colony of ants. I got a lot of nice rift rewards out of it, but I wish it didn’t feel like something that will grow old quickly.

TV Shows: Thoughts & Opinions (Part 3)

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This is the third part (of four) in a blog series about what shows I’ve watched and what I thought of them. Just a few remarks for each of them. The text will be with only minor spoilers, so it should be relatively safe to read this in case you’re curious about shows you haven’t seen before.

TV Season Boxes

Don’t miss out on Part 2 with my opinions about CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, The Dead Zone, Dexter, Dollhouse, and Firefly.

Disconnect Gift

Once upon a time, back in May 2005, I logged on my Paladin in World of Warcraft. I went to Silithus to grind Dust Stormers in the hopes of acquiring a few drops of Essence of Air for crafting. It was tedious business as I had to kill a lot of them for just a few measly drops of those, but that’s what I did back then and I actually enjoyed it.

But just as I started killing the umpteenth Dust Stormer, my World of Warcraft client froze. Oh no, I thought – it’s going to disconnect, and when I return, I bet the Dust Stormer finished the job. I was right. Disconnect, relog – and my Paladin was dead. Cursing and shouting commenced.

Being killed because of a disconnect was rare for me back then as it is today, as I usually make sure I have a stable computer and ditto internet connection. Not much I could do about it anyway, so I ran back, resurrected, and continued killing Dust Stormers. A few minutes later, something extraordinary happened; one of them dropped an epic item. This one, to be precise:

Jeweled Amulet of Cainwyn (WoW)

It doesn’t look like much today, but back in 2005 it was pretty good. It cheered me up and I instantly used it, but it also had me thinking. Was a GM looking over my shoulders, saw me disconnecting, felt sorry for me, then decided to make it up for me? Nah. Probably just a coincidence. Occam’s Razor and all that. I continued grinding and that was that.

6 Years Later

Fast forward to May 2011 – actually it was just yesterday. I logged on my Cleric in Rift. I went to Shimmersand to do some solo quests for XP, as I was only level 48 (still not quite there yet). Killed some basilisks around a pond and a few humans. I took another look in my quest log and saw that I needed to kill four Volcanic Flames, so I walked into the relevant canyon and spotted one.

Hm. It’s elite? Strange. Perhaps there’s a trick about finding a thing that will weaken them, so I didn’t think more of it and walked past a few of them. Then I took another close look at one of those fire elementals. It was indeed elite, but it didn’t look all that tough. Only about 11K health. I decided to give it a try and pulled it. It was a tough fight and I had to use a few potions, but I actually thought I was on top of it. I could have won it.

But then the game client froze. Oh no, I thought – it’s going to disconnect, and when I return, I bet the fire elemental finished the job. I was right. Disconnect, relog – and my Cleric was dead. Cursing and shouting commenced.

I thought this felt familiar, but never mind. I took a look in my quest log and only now I realized that the quest was for groups of three players. Bleh. I abandoned it and went back to the pond to kill some more basilisks and humans.

And then, just a few minutes later, this item dropped from an unimportant solo mob:

Gnawbone Staff (Rift)

Not only was it an item I could use for my class, it was also a pretty cool update. How convenient, wouldn’t you say? I’m not buying this anymore, developers. You have some kind of “Disconnect Gift” algorithm going on, don’t you? If someone is disconnected in the middle of a solo fight and dies, you activate a high chance of getting an epic item within the next few minutes. Just as some sort of apology and to make sure the player doesn’t do anything stupid like, say, rage quitting.

Actually, this could still all be a coincidence and I just got lucky both times and there really is no trick going on. But how about you? Have you ever had a suspiciously cool drop in an MMORPG shortly after a death due to e.g. a disconnect?

Maniacs of Noise

If you check out my About page, you’ll see that I have a past as a programmer and composer on the Commodore 64 and PC. I used to be part of the demo scene where loads of demos and chiptunes were released both to entertain and of course to brag about our abilities.

Although I stopped messing around with that stuff in the end of the 90’s, I still keep an eye on it in Facebook where I have several nostalgic friends that used to be part of this old scene. I have also liked a few relevant groups and fan pages.

One of the giants of the old Commodore 64 scene was Maniacs of Noise. They made excellent music both for demos and for games such as Cybernoid, Myth and Turbo Outrun. Their compositions and instruments were often of an unprecedented high quality.

Recently, Maniacs of Noise opened a fan page on Facebook, and here they posted a massive tune lasting 23 minutes with contributions from Jeroen Tel (NL), Mick Rippon (AU), Thomas Mogensen (DK) and Thomas Egeskov Petersen (DK). You can also check it out here:

TV Shows: Thoughts & Opinions (Part 2)

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This is the second part (of four) in a blog series about what shows I’ve watched and what I thought of them. Just a few remarks for each of them. The text will be with only minor spoilers, so it should be relatively safe to read this in case you’re curious about shows you haven’t seen before.

TV Season Boxes

Don’t miss out on Part 1 with an introduction as well as opinions about 24, The 4400, Alias, Battlestar Galactica (2003), The Closer, and Criminal Minds.

Fog of War

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I was reading the Bullroarer Release Notes for the upcoming Update 3 for LOTRO the other day, and one thing immediately caught my eye:

“Fog of War” on the world map no longer exists. You will now be able to see the world map in its entirety without having to visit every area.

I guess a lot of players would immediately find this to be a nice change. No more guessing, no more not knowing. It also fits with the latest trend of dumbing down our MMORPG bit by bit. But it actually saddened me, even if the “Fog of War” in LOTRO was only the crude version.

Fog of War (LOTRO)
A map in Lord of the Rings Online. Everything below Windfells is unknown.

Is “Fog of War” in MMORPG slowly becoming an endangered feature, soon to be extinct?