I like EverQuest’s Instancing

Instancing has so many different connotations these days. I usually hate all of them, but for some reason I’m really enjoying their implementation in EverQuest.

The instancing in EverQuest is done through the “/pick” system. When a zone reaches a certain threshold of players the game generates a new instance. Players can freely move between these instances once every 5 minutes (when out of combat) by typing “/pick” and then choosing which instance (Example: Commonlands 1, Commonlands 2, etc) they would like to enter.

This type of instancing or redundant zoning system exists in several MMOs, but for the first time it feels like it works. I was thinking about why that might be the case, and I came to these conclusions.

No Phasing. Each zone is a full version of that zone. Nothing about the zone is individualized. Contrast this to SWTOR which has a similar instancing system, but then takes it a step further and phases players within each instance of the zone. The result takes a truncated world and further isolates players. I never feel alone even when there are six versions of my zone.

Group-centric. Everything in EverQuest is still about grouping. Yes, you can solo. Yes, you can do things by yourself and still succeed — even more so with the /pick system — but having such a group-centric focus makes the instances work because people are still moving from pick to pick (we call them “picks” not instances in-game) looking for people to group with.

Item Camping. Much of my time in EQ is spent looking for items to better my character or my alts. Since items can be traded freely (most of the time) that means I can camp a level 40 sword and pass it to my level 1 alt. Having multiple versions of zones means I’m not out of luck when the spawn I want is camped… though somehow they always are!

No Quests. There aren’t quests. People aren’t constantly running around leaving zones. In EverQuest, players tend to spend their entire play sessions in one zone. I’ll stay in Lower Guk for hours grouping and may not return to town for days. If I do, it’s to sell and gate right back.

No PvP. EverQuest is a PvE game. There aren’t instances of battlegrounds or people running around fighting each other. I felt this was important to mention as perhaps it alters people’s mindset.

Shared Dungeons. I want to make sure those reading this realize that all dungeons are “open-world” dungeons. You do not ever get your own version of any zone. Players are always sharing the world and even without changing it they are contributing to a social dynamic. We constrain ourselves to rules such as waiting in line for spawns, respecting someone who has a camp (9/10) and lending aid when needed.

The world of Norrath is huge. There are maybe 3,000 to 4,000 players on at a time max. Somehow the world feels packed full of people, and everywhere I go I’m rubbing shoulders with other adventurers looking to advance. Somehow these things have all come together in EverQuest and made instancing of this particular variation work.

Fallout 4 & Fallout Shelter

Fallout 4

I watched Bethesda’s E3 Showcase last night to see whether or not I would want to be interested in Fallout 4. I will happily admit that I have never been into the Fallout series. Each new Fallout game I look to see if something unique or interesting presents itself, and then decide whether or not I’m going to finally jump on-board.

My reason for disliking Fallout has never too focused around the game mechanics. I think the open-world setting is pretty good. The conversation options are lacking, but the stories (as loose as they can be) are decent. What I really dislike is the post-apocalyptic world. I don’t like the brownish orangish grayish tint on everything. I don’t like wastelands or modern/post-modern weapons and gadgets when they’re combined with a wasteland environment and motif. That’s all on me, and entirely subjective.

Watching the video during the E3 Showcase, I will admit the world looked a little bit better… although still that post-apoc wasteland. There does seem to be a little more color infused into the world. I was digging that. Right when I was starting to think, “Hey this doesn’t look so bad,” I saw what probably would keep me away: The wacky/zany craziness of wearing ridiculous outfits and using downright unforgivably stupid weapons. I think I saw a bazooka shoot teddybears that made enemy’s heads explode. I’m done.

Fallout 4 Pip-Boy EditionGraev already Pre-ordered at Best Buy, and I got one of their available pre-orders of Fallout 4: Pip-Boy Edition on Amazon. It comes with a Pip-Boy that will hold your phone and several other “collector’s edition” items. Bethesda is going all out and creating an app to accompany the game. I don’t know if I’ll end up getting it or not, but I have the pre-order reserved and Amazon won’t charge me until it ships. Might as well hold on and make my decision later.

The biggest news of the night was that Fallout 4 will be available on November 10 of this year (2015) which is crazy fast.

Fallout Shelter

Bethesda also announced that right after the show a new game would be available for iOS and Andoird: Fallout Shelter. It’s one of those time wasting games where you build stations to collect resources and keep people happy. It’s Freemium, so you can download and wait for things or spend real money on lunch boxes which contain cards that will give your shelter benefits.

Fallout Shelter

I’ve just started playing and find it enjoyable enough to log in once or twice a day during breaks at work to check on my shelter, but it’s nothing I’ll spend money on just yet. I’ll write up more formal tidbits about the game later this week or next.

Get Windows 10 App/Icon is Missing or Not In Taskbar – Here’s the fix!

If you’re like me and you have Windows 8.1 and want to take advantage of Microsoft’s offer to provide you with a Windows 10 Free Upgrade, you might have run into a little issue today: Your Get Windows 10 App is missing.

Worry not! I have a fix that should work for you. No, it’s not what Microsoft suggests by simply telling you to make sure you have your updates enabled. But hey… Be sure you have your mandatory updates in place. Again, if you’re like me, you probably turn off those optional upgrades. You’re going to have to install two of them!

You MUST have the following patches installed. Check your optional updates list (I had dozens) and see if these are missing. If they are missing, check the boxes, install, and restart.

For Windows 7 SP1:
KB3035583
KB2952664

For Windows 8.1 Update:
KB3035583
KB2976978

Next step, follow these instructions.

  1. Open Notepad
  2. Copy the following text and paste it into Notepad:

REG QUERY "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\UpgradeExperienceIndicators" /v UpgEx | findstr UpgEx
if "%errorlevel%" == "0" GOTO RunGWX
reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Appraiser" /v UtcOnetimeSend /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
schtasks /run /TN "\Microsoft\Windows\Application Experience\Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser"
:CompatCheckRunning
schtasks /query /TN "\Microsoft\Windows\Application Experience\Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser"
schtasks /query /TN "\Microsoft\Windows\Application Experience\Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser" | findstr Ready
if NOT "%errorlevel%" == "0" ping localhost >nul &goto :CompatCheckRunning
:RunGWX
schtasks /run /TN "\Microsoft\Windows\Setup\gwx\refreshgwxconfig"

  1. Click File, and then Save As
  2. In the File name box, change the file name to ReserveWin10.cmd
  3. Then click the drop-down next to Save as type, and select All files (*.*)
  4. Select the folder you would like to save the file to.  I used my desktop (C:\Users\keena_000\Desktop).  Then click Save.
  5. Open an elevated command prompt.  (From the Start screen or Start menu, type Command Prompt in the search box, and then in the list of results, right-click Command Prompt, and select Run as administrator.)
  6. Finally, run the file from the location you saved to in Step 6.  In this example, you would type the following in the Command Prompt window and hit Enter:C:\Users\keena_000\Desktop\ReserveWin10.cmd

Let this tool run! It ran for me for about 10 minutes and eventually the icon appeared. If you come up with your own fixes be sure to share them! If you have any questions, I’m happy to try and answer them.

People Are Actually Talking & Playing Together!

I was more social these last few days in EverQuest than I have been in the past 10 years of MMOs combined. There are so many different social dynamics in EverQuest that have happened to me all while playing in just the first 20 levels.

Groups

I’ve grouped with dozens of different people. Each of these people brought a new and unique take on my grouping experience. Every zone I go into there are groups recruiting more for their location, people looking to join a group, and chatter happening about forming to kill something. The other night we were slaughtering some camp with just the three of us and really didn’t need anyone else. Then along came this cleric who needed a group — we already had a cleric — and I found myself thinking that I may one day come across this guy again, and my actions here and now could decide whether or not my next encounter with this cleric (who may res me later) will go down. So we invited him and were truly no worse off. He stayed for about an hour then had to go and thanked us profusely.

I’m Making Friends

The cleric I mentioned before is one example in many where I’ve invited people to group who weren’t necessarily going to bring anything amazing. In fact, most groups should just invite Mages and Necros and blow everything up with their pets. That’s the most efficient and quickest way to level, but it’s not the ‘right’ way to level in my mind. I formed groups this past week consisting of everything from Warriors to Rangers and Rogues. All of these classes are drastically inferior to a Mage, but why should they suffer because they are playing a class they like? We can make it work with them, so why not just do it? As a result, my friends list — my network — is growing and I’m hoping one day they pay it forward.

Trade is Thriving

Chat channels, even those that aren’t designated for auctions, are thriving with people auctioning off their goods. People are making goods and selling them. People are actually buying them because there is a true NEED for the items. I’m definitely not one of the rich players. I think I’m probably in the lower 20%, actually. I don’t know the secrets, nor do I really have the time to invest in camping the spots, but some of these people already have super rare items they’re auctioning off and people out of nowhere have farmed hundreds upon hundreds of plat to just throw at them. It is what it is, and I may never have it, but I love to see it happening around me. Stuff isn’t just individual loot in EverQuest — it’s part of the global economy.

Kindness of Others

For every kind person there are a dozen jerks, but that doesn’t make the kindness of the one any less meaningful. In a game like EverQuest, often times you need things that are difficult or even impossible to obtain if you aren’t one of the lucky few. The rich get richer in EverQuest. When someone goes out of their way to let the class chat channel know that they have extra of this rare quest item and anyone who wants one can have one… it makes me go “d’awww!”

Sharing Strategies and Swapping Stories

I love the class chat channels. I participate in them as much as I can by answering questions from newbies, asking questions of my own (I am a newbie to this version of EQ), and simply contributing my thoughts and ideas to the philosophical and ideological debates that always spring up. This hasn’t happened for me in ANY MMO since vanilla WoW days back in 2004.

Top 10 Star Wars Games You Probably Never Played #MayThe4thBeWithYou

Star Wars has been a staple of gaming for decades.  We all know and love the popular titles like Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront, and love to hate ones like SWTOR, but there are many Star Wars games you’ve probably never tried — many you’ve never even heard of! Allow me to share a few of my favorite lesser-known Star Wars Games.

Rebel Assault 2

Rebel Assault I (1993) & II (1995)

I combined these two games into one because most of you probably never played or even heard of either of them. I remember playing Rebel Assault I & II. At least I remember trying to play them. Buying a game for the PC was hit or miss when it came to getting things to work with DOS. Once they were finally up and running, these games boasted live-action cutscenes flying ship levels, ground combat, and cover mechanics all woven into a fascinatingly cheesy storyline.  I think the only thing I remember is hating half the levels and some prototype TIE fighter.

TIE Fighter Game

TIE Fighter (1994)

“You are now the hand of the Emperor!” Oh yeah, that’s right. Nothing like managing shields, speed, powers, etc., all from the cockpit of a TIE fighter. This made the simulation genre come alive for me.

Dark Forces Game

Dark Forces (1995)

Way more than a Doom clone, Dark Forces put the player in the role of Kyle Katarn for the first time. While tasked with stealing the plans of the Death Star, Katarn learns about this super secret Storm Trooper being built: The Dark Trooper. The story and levels were awesome. Dark Forces easily spawned the Star Wars shooters genre.

Yoda Stories

Yoda Stories (1996)

Yoda Stories is often hated on as one of the worst Star Wars games ever, but I think it’s simply misunderstood and before its time. Yoda Stories was a quasi-RPG map-solving game all about going on little mundane quests and exploring procedurally generated top-down tile maps. Graev absolutely loved it.

Dark Forces 2

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997)

Katarn is back in the continuation of what will become one of the most important stories to Star Wars video games. Katarn sets off on a journey (taking place right after Episode VI) to find the Dark Jedi who not only killed his father but also intends on rebuilding the Empire. Katarn discovers the force is strong with him and based on the player’s actions can become a Jedi or the next Emperor. Epic!

Rogue Squadron N64

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998)

A departure from the simulation style play of its predecessors, Rogue Squadron features amazing arcade-like flying and action. I remember flying in the X-Wing, A-Wing, V-Wing, Y-Wing and Snowspeeder. Roping walkers was a pita. Rogue Squadron on the N64 was the first game to ever use the Expansion Pak, which upped the resolution. I remember buying that thing just for this game!

Battle for Naboo N64

 

Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo (2000)

Made by the same team as Rogue Squadron, Factor 5 continued their arcade-action-flight series with Battle for Naboo. Featuring lots of cool vehicles from the era , Battle for Naboo was the first chance we had to experience vehicles and things like this from the prequels.

Rogue Squadron 2 Rogue Leader

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (2001)

Oh yeah, they made a second Rogue Squadron (and a third but I never played it), and it was pretty awesome. Rogue Squadron 2 was probably my favorite game on the Gamecube. Although the story was a little lacking compared to the original, it was simply awesome to fly all of the different ships.

Jedi Knight 2

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002)

Jedi Knight 2 is one of the best Star Wars games ever made. Continuing Katarn’s story is one thing, but where this game shined was in its multiplayer. From mods to roleplay servers, Jedi Knight II was yet another game before its time. JK2 featured different lightsaber dueling styles and force powers! I remember Graev and I played on a server all about recreating the Jedi Academy. He was an instructor and trained in light saber dueling styles. Graev and I even competed in a tournament competition hosted by Gateway computers. Good times.

Empire at War

Empire at War (2006)

If there was ever a franchise that would lend itself to a rich RTS, it’s Star Wars. Large epic battles in space, on land, and utilizing all of the Star Wars vehicles, characters — all in RTS format — makes Empire at War an easy addition to the list. Empire at War was much, much better than Galactic Battlegrounds which was the Star Wars RTS from 2001 and impossible to run on my computer.

Wow, that was an adventure down memory lane. Did I miss one of your favorite lesser-known Star Wars games?