Friday, 31 August 2012

Day 75 : So Long And Thanks For All The Sagefish

Today I feel a bit of nostalgia for Warcraft. The latest pre-expansion patch came out, step one in Blizzards usual and excellently stage managed routine of building up anticipation to a fever pitch. Whatever I might say about Warcraft, it is a great game and it is very well run.

My nostalgia isn’t provoked by the game itself. I’ve spoken before about how I don’t like the direction the game, primarily the setting, has gone in. Instead it begins when I see a news item on Massively about the patch. Instead of reading that I wonder if the fact that the expansion is imminent has caused any regrowth to start among the player base. I head to my old guild website and check that. They've applied a new layout to the Warcraft setup. It’s oddly shocking after having the old one as a common background to online guild activities for so long. It has been a long time since I saw something new about Warcraft even if it is just a new background and stylesheet to a forum engine. My old guild leader (and real life friend and sometime casual member of the EVE corp - o7 G) has put up a couple of posts indicating that he has the bit between the teeth again and is raring to go, as is his other half who has been a real life friend of mine for even longer. Down in one of the posts I find an old guild mate, Daz, has come back to the game and is ready to get going. This is when the Warcraft longing hits me. I’m not looking forward to the the expansion itself. I am mildly interested in some of it and will take a look if I’m not busy shepherding the multitude of plans that EVE constantly births in the back of my mind.  What I am looking forward to is the fact that lots of old friends, some of whom I played alongside for years, will be back there. Except, of course, I doubt I will be. Not like I was before, 
raiding two nights a week, playing at least half the weekend and maybe a couple of other evenings. I’ll be back for a slow casual run around. Perhaps a last goodbye even. I think I might be one of the Eveborn now and my destiny lies elsewhere.
With this realisation I decided to compare what I liked about the two games. Often people claim to hate Warcraft. I can’t do that. It’s a great game that I think is slowly going bad but it’ll be a long time before it gets bad enough to outweigh the fact that I played it on and off for six years, and the fact that nine million other people are still playing it.


My friends. I played the game for a long time and took some of my friends to Azeroth with me. C, G, and D - you have my greatest apologies for all that time (and money on PCs) you spent after I got you hooked. The first one month was free as I said, correct? I spent a lot of time with these and other people, trying to achieve the same goals and working together. Doing that in any scenario is going to build some bonds. Could I ever raid again? I don’t think so, I think I’ve burnt out. I’ll still miss it though. I still worry that this will effect me if I ever reach null sec ops in EVE.

Swords n Sorcery. I love a decent fantasy setting, science fiction and fantasy war constantly among my bookcases. Epic Erikson re-read or brilliant Banks Culture revival? They sandwich anything contemporary I might read, though I do make room and my favourite author might surprise you. Warcraft could be a bit... well, cartoon like, but it was a good fantasy setting and more importantly had a large and atmospheric world to base it in. I still remember arriving at Darkshore after leaving the starter areas for the first time, finding myself in a haunted forest and having to trek for ages to reach the next town. I don’t remember the scenery, I remember the atmosphere.

The characters. Cartoony or not, I played them for a long time and you can become attached even to the digital representations of your psyche. That’s what they are at some level, no matter to what shallow depth you think you are trawling. I found a way out of this trying SWTOR. I took the names with me, if they were representations of my subconscious then they were with me in whatever game I played and the names were labels. My character name in EVE is built from two of the names I’ve used in every game I’ve played for the last ten years. I have good memories attached to things done playing those characters but I’ll always have those memories. The particular digital manifestation of these archetypes is just a shadow of structures in my mind, cast by that particular game.

Pandas. I could legally slaughter a lot of Pandas if I went back. Something we all want to do really, provoked to fury by their good natured, bamboo eating harmlessness. Sitting around, going extinct on a mountain and being voiced by Jack Black is naturally something that would cause Mr Average Joe to fly into a murderous rage that makes 28 Days Later look like an episode of Sesame Street.

Wait.... Ignore that last paragraph. That’s not what I think about pandas. Thats what I think about Pokemon....

So I can’t abandon Warcraft completely, I’ll be “super casual”. Never again will I run 21 dungeons in one day. To be fair I only did that once and it broke me. I’ll attempt to run 21 DED sites instead. To those of you headed back to Warcraft, looking for a guild to get some casual raiding done then Virtue on Hellfire are looking for at least one healer. It’s a good bunch of people and the reason I can’t fully abandon Warcraft just yet.


Old friends and new. A couple of the guys from Warcraft jumped over to EVE following my rantings. One even subscribed from my invite gifting me with the free month of play. I’ve made quite a few new friends in EVE, even one old hand from the same Warcraft server. A few I met as I spent the first week grappling with the basic concepts and finding other people in the same boat. With others I’ve been even luckier since this blog has had a LOT of kind responses. It’s good to get out and meet people without the irritant of having to leave the flat, then again I am looking forward to the London meet up. I’m not sure my friends from real life who came to EVE will stick it out for much longer, it might not their thing. This too is important as it means I’ll need to catch up with them more, back out there in Real Life, and take some time away from the pod.

Science fiction. I’m a science fiction fan in addition to being a fantasy fan. A science fiction fan was always going to be enthralled by the concept of EVE. I’m hoping that one day I’ll have more time away from the manic rush of getting things done to go and explore more of the back story of EVE. I imagine that most science fiction fans will be space nerds too at some level. Personally I can’t get enough of the vistas on offer in EVE, and the ships in which I fly through them. I spin the camera when I’m in systems at the heart of the nebulae and try to work out where I am relative to the view from outside. I regularly read planet statistics. I’m particularly fond of reading temperate planet statistics and wondering if I’d live there (I want lower than 9.8m/s gravity because I’m lazy and it genuinely would make it easier to get out of bed in the morning). I have the ships and I have the space. I can will myself into this universe, the sandbox awaits and I can do anything I choose. What science fiction fan wouldn’t come and roam here for a while? I should say here that I don’t have a problem with the ships being my avatar. If you do have a problem with this, go read Excession by Iain M. Banks. It’ll fix the problem. I once met Iain Banks. It was the only time I’ve been star struck and even though he was massively hungover he was amusing and generous.

Complexity. EVE is complex, a lot of it is statistics but there is a tricky learning curve beyond that I’ve covered elsewhere. I’m adapting to it because I  enjoy using my mind. It’s like exercising after a long illness, it’s almost euphoric. Before I launched into EVE my plan was to use my brain by spending a lot of spare time coding, getting back up to speed with what’s out there since the company I work for uses a lot of internal tech. I’ve almost forgotten that I used to be a decent Java coder, I have almost totally forgotten all the C I knew and what is left is a serious amount of adaptability and a need to learn. In EVE there is a lot to absorb and it branches out into the “meta game” as you plan. I’ve learnt more about spreadsheets than I ever knew before for a start! Not that this was the intended aim but you know what I mean. One day I’ll have the spare time to merge EVE and the coding and start writing my own apps to streamline some of the processes I’m dealing with manually.

The blog. I’m enjoying writing, though I’m a bit scared of how prolific I appear to have been. Other people liking it is a serious advantage. It makes it easier when I look back at the earlier posts and wince, despite the enthusiasm, at the unedited stream of consciousness I find there. I’ve a long, long way to go. It’ll be a long time before I reach the liquid prose some of the other bloggers I’ve read produce but a lot of it is practice. Maybe one day I’ll look back and grimace as I read this post. I never thought about writing about Warcraft.

Attitude. EVE is darker than Warcraft, it suits my mood these days. It has been a rough couple of years out there in RL, dealing with illness and a bit of post relationship wreckage. At least EVE is going to prevent the latter occurring again by ensuring that I remain single. A nerd anchored to the keyboard (you don’t even have to learn Anchoring I, hooray - the skill queue is undiverted!) is not a nerd going out and falling for someone. I am doing exactly what I want and enjoying myself fully for the first time in a long time. In addition, EVE is the most adult game you are going to get, at least until I write Porn Empire Manager (TM),  despite some of the attitudes you see out there. I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the nonsense you usually see in MMO’s. That said, I did stop reading EVE News 24 after the vile thread of misogyny following a Mintchip posting. That’s the internet though, you get used to it.

In the end I struggled to find a way to summarise the reason why, for me, EVE is the place to be. I couldn’t do it until a song made me look up a quote and it turned out to be stunningly relevant to EVE in more than one way, if a tad bit misappropriated. The full quote of Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels:

We want to be free! We want to be free to do what we want to do! We want to be free to ride. And we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man. And we want to get loaded. And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party!

To all you glorious bittervets. It’s a call to arms. Come back. There is a war on. See you in the black.


Loaded by Primal Scream


The “sagefish” of the title was a type of fish you caught and cooked in Warcraft. When eaten it gave statistic boosts useful to spellcasters. Fishing is like the Warcraft version of Mining except with the relaxation taken out and annoyance put back in its place. I still did it anyway. I’m an obsessive. In the last expansion Warcraft had a new version of these Sagefish that REQUIRED raiding casters to go and fish in one of several locations for quite a long time unless they wanted to pay the super inflated prices that both time and location had created. Not doing this ever again is one of the single greatest things about not going back to Warcraft full time. Thanks for turning my down time into a grind Blizz. Greatest small mistake ever.


  1. I'm a huge sci-fi novel fan, but have run out of ideas as I'm just finishing the eve novels. I'd love it if you could compile a recommended reading list for people like me of books you've read.

    1. That would be a task and a half. I can throw out a few suggestions though

      Neil Stephenson : Anathem
      Ken MacLeod : Learning the World
      Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars
      Alistair Reynolds : Revelation Space
      Charles Stross : Singularity Sky

      Pretty much anything by the guys above. Some other, pulpier or one-off stuff that came to mind

      James S A Corey : Leviathan Awakes
      Peter Hamilton : Fallen Dragon
      Niven, Pournelle and Barnes : Legacy of Heorot.

      if you fancy something a bit different and lighter
      Chris Wooding : Retribution Falls (its like steampunk Firefly)

      Or try some classics like Arthur C Clarke "Rama" or Frank Herbets Dune if you haven't read them

    2. Dont forget Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game"

  2. got to

    Lots of good sci fi Authors there. and Often you can read a chapter or 5 for free to see if you like the style or plot.

  3. eve news 24 has totally taken a turn for the worse in recent months, with them stating they are gonna diversify their reports to other mmo' anything worth reporting ever happens in other games.

    and then not reporting anything from other games.. lol?

    then they have missed a few really big chances to report real NC. recently lost THIRTY dreadnoughts in one go...and eveNEWs24 has nothing to say?

    thats like WWIII happening and CNN not having a special.

  4. Issac Asimov's Foundation is very good too. If your a fan of 40K then you will recognise where the premise came from.

  5. For some years now, I have no patience for anything but non-fiction, usually a biography. A recent good one was on Josiah Wedgewood, the world's first merchant millionaire. He was one of the early proto-industrial era manufacturers to really contemplate what he was doing, and to commit to experimentation as a deliberate process, rather than an accidental one.

    This game exists as much in anticipation as in execution. Consequently, it is played mainly in headspace for many. (h-space ?) People bring in their outside skills, and as with many things in life, you get out what you put in. Almost every alliance I've seen had at its core team someone technical creating applications to network various communications devices. Usually it was part of rolling out security among various sites in a uniform process of pilot enrollment. However, there are many shortcomings to the co-operative EVE experience that could be addressed by an enterprising person possessing the literacy of our day.

  6. Excession is my most favourite of books. Recently Banks seems to be back on form. Transition was great and may or may not be sci-fi depending on what side of the atlantic you bought it on.

    Word of warning you won't be reading all the (red) mars books in a weekend. Each one is a monster.

    The newest eve book, did it actually have a end? Although it at least had a plot, unlike the one before.

  7. just finished catching up -- your work is wonderful, and was part of why i started playing EVE in the last week or two. amazing game, amazing writing, keep it up!

    1. ;) not doing anything for my ego control but thanks! Check the "Blogs I am Reading" list thing in the sidebar. They are better than me.

  8. I've really enjoyed reading your blog; I've been playing EvE for a bit over a year and many of your experiences echo my own. To find out you're a fellow Hellfire player just takes the cake. We could be twins, or something (although I'm Welsh, and therefore would be the better looking one).

    I haven't played WoW properly for about 6 months, but recently logged in to try the patch. I'm definitely going to give PandaWow a try, but like you, the thought of committing to a raiding schedule when there are spaceships to fly, leaves me cold.

    Keep up the excellent work!

    1. Glad you liked it! You might want to give my old guild a miss if you go back to Hellfire, one of the officers is a huge England rugby fan and tends to, good naturedly, taunt Welsh people whenever the rugby is on. She can't help herself.

      Hellire Alliance or Horde? If Alliance and you go back, shout something rude at Hellrising next time you are in Stormwind for me.

  9. Hellfire Alliance, and nothing would give me more pleasure. Well, except to meet him in EvE. In nullsec.

    1. This is my new favourite dream. (for non Hellfire, or non Warcrafters, Hellrising was notoriously "vocal" in the equivalent of EVE Local. He'd have been very much at home in Jita)

  10. Anything by Iain M Banks, David Weber's Honorverse books are well worth the read to, and all the classic stuff obviously.