Review: Skyrim

Thursday, December 01, 2011

I haven't played Skyrim to far in yet. I've been waiting on the contruction kit to get released. My first impressions of it weren't very good. I saw it as being developed very lazily, in that there were few improvments over Oblivion. Mostly just the graphics were made more modern. The issues I always had with Oblivion are, horrid looking character models, lack of (online) co-op, finding the quests and characters engaging, horrid UI for a PC game, etc. Skyrim improved on these issues very little, and in some cases not at all.

With the ugly models, well, thats why I'm waiting on the CS to get released, so I can play it without the poorly modeled characters distracting me and pulling me out of the immersion into the game.

Its probably because I've played MMOs to much over the years, but any time I play either game, I do so with some sort of nagging feeling in the back of my mind. Its not completely clear what that feeling is, but my guess is that it just feels like I'm playing an MMO, but I'm the only one on the server. It's kind of a eerie feeling. That and I would find the game SO much more enjoyable if I could just share my experience with someone else.

While not very much better, I did find the story more engaging in the early parts of the game then I did in Oblivion. Quests were easier to find, the main quest line was easier to stay on/follow. I've always felt these TES games could do with a better, more cinematic feel type of approach to the quests and stories. And with Skyrim its closer to that, though could still use a lot of work.

Besthesda is extreme lazy with the PC version. Despite a significant amount of players using the PC version, they just half ass port the console interface and controls to the PC, and nothing ever feels right. Granted, the UI and controls are better this time, but that's just because there better for consoles too (most likely). No effort was put into the PC version to make it better.

I haven't logged in a lot of time. Maybe 10 hours. And as of writing this, I haven't really played it for a few days. Any time I'd otherwise invest into it has been spent on Oblivion. It turns out that Oblivion runs a LOT better for me then it used to. I have virtually the same comp, just a better video card. Seems the video card upgrade is enough, because I can now run Oblivion with everything on max and at a decent very playable frame rate. When I last played Oblivion before there weren't nearly as many mods out as their is now, and a lot go a long way towards making it more playable. Still though, I won't let myself get to involved in that. I'd like to put more time into Skyrim first, before I go back to Oblivion.

So,. while not living up to its epic hype, and certainly not worthy of a game of the year honors, Skyrim seems nice and worth playing if you haven't. But if you would have the same issues with it as I do, I'd recommend waiting a little bit. At least until there are some mods to fix the models, and maybe the UI.

News: WoW 4.3

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today is the big day for WoW I've been waiting for. Transmoging!

Honestly, I haven't paid much attention to other things that will be added with this patch. I didn't even realize they were adding some new dungeons. Probably because I have barely played the older cata dungeons. Only yesterday did I finally try out ZG/ZA.

Sadly I still don't have all my transmog gear. Basically the same as listed in my last post. I still need pants and chest. And while I did get the Moroes dagger this week, and the opera event was R&J, that dagger that I actually wanted didn't drop. I'm hoping along with this new cross realm random raid finder, that I'll be able to raid older dungeons with other realm friends. It's been my plan now for several weeks to finish out my set, but honestly I have no idea if things will even work like that.

While in theory I wouldn't be terribly interested in new dungeons when I have barely played the current ones, I love the caverns of time dungeons. So I hope I can get my ilvl average up enough to do them very soon, whatever ilvl their going to require. Mines about 351 atm. I just got about 4 epic upgrades the past couple days, but that's been it. Of 17 slots I have 7 Epics, 6 Blues, 4 Greens.

However, I'm not to interested in the new raid dungeon. Just the Rogue Legendary quest. But I still don't have a guild, so sadly its looking like I wont be getting that too soon. I have the 10k! But doubt I'm getting in a pug for it with my ilvl, let alone past 3 bosses to pickpocket something.

 Also, not that anyone cares, but I know I said I was going to try to post more. My free time the past couple weeks has been full thanks to WoW, Skyward Sword, Skyrim, and the past few days teaching myself 3d modeling with Blender. Hopefully I'll get around to posting some personal reviews of those games, or even some 3d modeling project worth sharing.

News: More WoW

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Well, that's another week down back on WoW retail again. It really has been a bland week. I just run my 25 dailies each day, and farm old heroics and raids when I'm bored.

I did finally get the last transmog piece I needed from Karazhan after the weekly reset. Just need gruul now, at the least, and hopefully mag too. I got some dagger upgrades along with a couple other pieces. I even got enough BoE gear to sit in my bank to raise my ilvl average up enough to do ZA/ZG if I wanted now.

When I'm bored and want to kill time, I've been farming to try and complete my enchantment list. Most of what I need still is world drop outland stuff that was to expensive to ever buy in the AH before. But there are a few things I can farm for still. Mostly BC exalted rep rewards, MC boss drops, and some from Magisters Terrace. Only 1 more to go from the latter. I need some from AQ40 too, but when I tried before my dagger upgrade, killing the first boss just wasn't happening. It would probably go better now, but I doubt it would be enough still.

It is nice though that I have now completely soloed MC with my crapy mix of greens blues and a few purples. As well as everything in Karazhan except Nightbane, the Prince and the animal bosses. Well. technicly not all 3 of the opera events too. I need Romeo & Juliet for that still. lol. At of all the times Ive gone through Karazhan over the years, I've only seen R&J and Big Bad Wolf once each. It's insane how much Oz comes up. I hope to get the dagger from R&J for transmoging, but given that and its lower drop rate, I likely wont get it for a long while. If I'm bored before the next reset I may go back in and try Prince and maybe Nightbane for the hell of it. Soloing chess though its just annoying, or I would have tried already this week.

As people are probably well aware of, Skyrim was released a few days ago. I played it for about 1 hour, and sadly, I wasn't impressed. It really seems like a minor improvement over Oblivion. Just more modern graphics and that's it. The non-human models are hideous still, controls are only marginally better. UI changes are still confusing, though probably better. It's pretty dull to me, but I guess I wasn't that interested in it anyway due to it lacking the 1 thing I thought Oblivion needed most. Online co-op multi-player. In this gaming era, I just don't see how a game like this could be made without it. I waited for years for homebrew Oblivion multi-player mods to get finished, but sadly they never were done to a point to be actually useable. Maybe Skyrim will be different in that regard, or maybe they will actually release a patch to add it. Not going to hold my breath though.

I can't even enjoy the graphics very much either, since my comp is getting out of date. I don't even think I can run Oblivion with anything near max settings. But really, as a true gamer, I care about graphics a ton less then gameplay. Graphics don't get me to play something, which is why I don't/won't own a crapbox 360 or lamestation 3. I'm still interested in WiiU having more modern graphics, and will definitely enjoy it if I get one, but if I do get one it will mostly be because I know the gameplay quality of the 1st party games will be there as always. I just hope more 3rd parties sign on this time around. They talked like they were. But they did that with Wii too, and look at the crap 3rd party support for that.

Changing topics a bit, I have a few un-posted posts typed out now. They are mostly rants on different topics. I'll likely comb over them each a bit more and refine them before I post them. Additionally I would like to hopefully try and post less multi-topic posts by posting more often. This one itself went off into its own rant about a different topic. So hopefully I'll start posting at least 2 posts a week here instead of tryig to maintain 1 as a minimum.

News: First Week Back

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I've been back on WoW retail for more then a week now. I got my Rogue to 85 a few days ago, and haven't really been doing much since. I'm not really interested in doing dungeons without a friend along, for reasons of fun and I'm lazy and prefer to have a friend brief me on encounters over vent, rather then just look them up.

I've mostly fallen back into my old routine of just doing dailies, except now I do a full 25, and have to leave out many that I'd want to do. After my dailies are done, I usually just log, or maybe sit around Org for a bit raising enchanting and/or tailoring. It's a pretty bland playstyle, but I will likely have enough fun with it until my reps are maxed, and I have all the Quartermaster gear I want.

I did start planning and farming for my transmog set this week. I have about 5/8 pieces now. I had to do some farming in Kara to get it. Kind of surprised myself at how easy it was to kill all the bosses I cared to try. At 80 with a 264 ilvl average and 2x extended Evasion I couldn't even solo the first boss. Now in big part thanks to Recuperate, him and others can barely even move my health down, with my normal Assassination spec, the mix of greens, a few blues, and 2 purples I have. I guess why I was surprised was that as I leveled, I'd check my DPS on a training dummy each level. And despite getting higher level and a few pieces of gear upgrades each level, my DPS went down each level. I blame the horrible deign of crit chance lowering as you level. I had 52% at 80, and now about 15% at 85. I guess I understand the reasons for it, but its stupid and doesn't make any realistic sense. You gain more experience in battle but get significantly worse at your ability to aim for sweat spots on a target? If anything, it should be the other way around. But WoW fails to make sense at a lot of things like that. Large bulky metallic shoulders that would probably weigh 75lbs on a class that's supposed to be agile to the point where he can sneak around people undetected? I could go on and on, but I won't. But it seems the increased HP and avoidance of the 5 more levels was enough to make the difference, which as a Rogue I generally don't care about. As a Rogue, what more levels should mean to me is killing things faster, not things killing me slower. Oh well.

Unlike what it seems most Rogues will be doing, I won't be using Bloodfang for my transmog set, nor any complete set at all. Mines a custom mix of various pieces. Mostly from BC. It will however feature 3 pieces of the Netherblade set. That set looks horrible like a lot of gear blizz makes. But it looks significantly better without the mask and shoulders that seem like a bad joke. I'm using the BP, legs and gloves. The BP still sucks, but its the best of the worst, as no other BP in the entire game seems to match my set as well as it does. I hate tabards, but maybe I can find one that will go well with it all. Ebonblade is the best I know about, but even that's to bright. I seriously think blizz had something against ever making a set of armor that was pure black, or just very dark. At best, theres a few things like black whelp tunic and such that are kind of a dull greyish black. But it just amazes me how they can have Rogues in game and make armor for them for so many years, but not one single good solid black or dark armor set? Heck, even the best Rogue hood in the game isn't even Rogue useable. The DK greenie starter hood. Archerus Knight Hood I think it's called. They don't even have a single solid black cloak that I could find. Everything just looks like someone stole someones ugly table cloth or curtains, and put it on their back. Blizz just never understood that sometimes simple is better. They have to always try and make something elaborate and end up making things that just look silly. That's how we end up with the popular opinion about the each gear set getting worse and worse each time, to the point where this transmog feature was demanded enough to finally get implemented. I know I come from a viewpoint of a D&D type Rogue, or more accurately a Thief. That's what I want to play in an MMO, a Thief. But instead everything just uses a Rogue instead, seemingly to me just so they can have an excuse to use when they mess things up. "It's not a Thief, its a Rogue. So the thievly abilities and armor and general design you would want don't apply." That's the kind of a response I'd expect about this, and it's generally something I have to live with. But I wish MMO companies would try a bit more at least. Even EQ wasn't that great at it, but at least they weren't idiotic like blizz.

Thankfully, as I like to be unique, it seems most Rogues will be going for sets not like mine. But sadly I do expect Rogues to see me once, and just copy my gear. So I wont go into all its details. Another blizz rant I have is the lack of ability to keep things private. Everyone can just inspect you, see exactly what gear your wearing, enchants your using, gems, and as I completely expect, most likely transmog gear. And if your not around to inspect? Oh, they can just go to the armory and get all the info they want from that. The Armory was one of the worst ideas ever, strait from the start when not having the ability to hide your profile from public view at all. That should be a choice, not forced. Same goes for inspect too really. But instead the game devolved into this state its been in since were you may not even be able to get into a pug raid purely because some 14y old idiot thinks your gear isn't good enough, or to put it another way, because you actually need the gear that drops there. Thankfully I have had very few occasions that even resembled that.

Enough about that. I still need the boots, BP and legs for my set. I could live without the BP for a few weeks, thanks to the Ebonblade tabard. Possibly even the boots, instead using some other pair. But without the legs, the set just wont look right and won't be worth using yet. I'm highly skeptical, but hopefully I will be able to solo grull and mag for the tokens for those pieces. I'll probably give it a shot later tonight or sometime this week.

Later Addition:

Soloing gruul and magtherdion didn't go so well. I didn't try very hard, but I couldn't get past the first boss in gruuls. Going at it with a strategy may help, but I just think I can't do it. Far as Mag, I gave that several tries, but couldn't get a single one of the 5 channelers killed. Damn Dark Mending heal. I think my gear/DPS is just a little to low to do it atm, without serious luck. I'll try again when I get some 400+ DPS daggers to replace my 305 DPS daggers. Which will likely happen after a couple weeks more of rep grinding from dailies, or if I can get someone to help me with the ring quests in TH.

News: Changes, Bye bye Emberflame and Hell has frozen over!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Well, after a few days of thinking, while I'm not decided on everything yet, I have made some decisions. As a few may notice, I have changed the blog a little and it will now be less about just projects. When I have a project I'm working on, or an update to one I will still post it just the same. But now I'm preparing myself more to post things about non-project related topics. Maybe something about progress I've made in an MMO. Maybe specific game reviews. Who knows. I'll figure things out as I go.

I figure expanding as such will draw more visits from google searches. Maybe not very much, but its something. And when approaching the blog like this, it will remain more active in times where there's not much going on project wise.

Lets get things started now. I have basically completely given up on the Emberflame WoW emu server. It's horrendousness has pushed me back into playing retail. The server was pretty nice at the start, outside of just my personal crashes that happened frequently in the first week I was there. But there was a 3 week rollback last week. Insane right? I got deleveled from 74 to 47, had to farm for and raise my enchanting all over again, and even after I got back to 74 I was down gold compared to what I had before. But in the past couple weeks, due either to server growth, incompetent devs, or both, the server crashes about 10 times a day during prime hours. Sometimes staying down for up to 3 hours. To make things worse, recently a queue was added. That was one of my major reasons for choosing this server. The lack of a queue. It was added to help with the server stability, which I guess I can understand. The thing is, it didn't help in the least, so now we just have 2x the BS to deal with.

It was this combination of BS that weakened me enough to be talked back into playing retail. I don't really have any plans there. Just take it one day at a time. I'm basically alone on my server now, but thanks to recent and upcoming cross realm changes, that will matter a lot less. It seems I got removed from the last guild I was in, so now I'm left to find a new one or make one myself. I don't know what I'm going to do for a guild yet. I've been leaning toward rejoining a guild I was in before that one, if their not bitter about me leaving when I did. I can understand if they are, as I became the top geared character in the guild, and was easily one of the best, most competent raiders. I could see them feeling like I just used them to gear up and go to a top guild, and in some ways see me just leaving them high and dry, and less able to accomplish things. But when I left I felt I wouldn't be missed that much, at least in the 10m's as there was another Rogue basically nipping at my heals to get in. He wasn't much worse then me, and was RL friends with a lot of the other raiders. So I didn't see that as much of an issue. But honestly, when I left that guild my choices were either quit the game, or quit the guild and try something else to see if I could still remain interested. Doing so bought me like another month on the game. 6 weeks tops, and then I was just as bored except now with a major headache every Tuesday.

I had little to no I'll will towards the members of the guild when I left. Granted, I was frustrated with spinning our wheels on 10m LK for 2 months, with zero progress from the first week to the last. But that is what it is. I was needing to progress to stay interested in the game. My Rogue was maxed out as much as I could get him. The addition of my Mage to my roster wasn't enough, and I wanted more from my Rogue. So I just did what I had to do to attempt to keep the game fun for me.

Enough about that. My other options are find a completely new guild, or make one myself. If I'm going to look for a new guild, its going to be hard. I don't see things the same way as the average WoW player. I would really want to find a guild that's perfect for me, but I doubt I can. The server population is even smaller then last year, making that likelyhood much worse. Making my own. Well, realistically that option is likely to be harder then my guild on the emu. It may be hard to explain all the details behind my reasoning on that, but I just don't see being able to find the same type of players I was looking for on the emu server. And the whole guild level thing. Worst idea ever blizz. I seriously doubt many new guilds are ever being made and joined on retail now.

I could just go guildless, and pug raids. But at some point like in the past, the failness of pug raids will annoy me to the point were I wont want to pug raids anymore at all. And I just feel naked without a guild tag. I'll just have to give it some time, and hope it will all work out.

Sadly, I will have to let my emu guild die. Sad because it was just starting to bring in players who sought out my guilds type. I maybe could have made it into the guild I planned on. Who knows.

News: Blog & Project Woes

Friday, October 28, 2011

Well, it's been over a week now since I released Profile Manager. The blog has got several hits since then, but there have been basically no downloads of it. I really thought more people would be interested in it then that. Disappointing. =/

Maybe I'm just impatient, but that irritates me. I just don't want to work on projects anymore that no one uses. That's the whole point of why I chose this project, as I thought it could be something more people could/would actually use.

Honestly, the blog has been up for a few months now, and it only has one follower (a RL friend that doesn't even view the blog, but just wanted to be supportive). A few hits come from my old Z-Net url redirecting here, and most lately just from my EQC goodbye post. I thought I had more online friends then that, and ones that would be supportive. Sadly, it seems I don't.

I'm at a crossroads, and I need to start thinking about some things. Like what I want from this blog, if/how I might want to advertize it, ties to online friends I thought I had, what I want to do with the Profile Manager project, future project hopes, etc. I either need to focus on moving forward, or just give up on some things. Honestly, I originally created this blog to preserve my older projects, but I continued with it due to wanting to move forward into something new. I have fun working on projects that people will use and enjoy/appreciate, and feel I still have it in me to make such projects. Just the way things are going, I'm hitting a dead end looking for that fun.

I'm not going to abandon my new project now or anything. But my interest in it is going to get a lot lower until other peoples interest in it picks up. Of course I'm still going to try thinking of other projects to take on too. I don't have many ideas right now though. Until any of that, I'm likely to slow down my posting here. I like expressing my thoughts/happenings here, but it's really pointless if I'm just talking to myself most of the time.

Hopefully I'll have decided on some things by my next update.

Release: Profile Manager v0.9.0.0 Beta

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I have finally decided to release the next version of Profile Manager. I figure if I don't now, Ill just keep fine tuning it forever, while working on it less and less often like I have been.

I forget what features were/weren't present in the last version, so I may leave something out, but I'll try to mention as much as I can think of.

Well, there's a new installer, upon first run of the program it will create some example profiles, the popup menu now has some color/style, added a few more instructions other then just deleting a directory, changed when files are backed up to when the program launched closes instead of the next time a profile is selected, added support for different backup directories, and I renamed/rearranged a lot of the key names to be more straightforward, or just make more sense.

I've tested this version about as much as I can/plan to. But I'm sure some bugs will likely crop up for some users, and if they do ,post them in the replies here or on the Profile Manager page.

I hope to see many people download this, and enjoy using it!  =)

Here's the new download:

Profile Manager v0.9.0.0 Beta

And here's a new screenshot:

News: Where did the week go?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I feel like I just posted my last news a couple days ago. But it has been a whole week! Weird. I like to at least try to keep 1 post a week here, so I'm posting this with probably little news, said in my usual long winded way.

I have worked on Profile Manager more this past week, but not as much as I have in previous weeks. There isn't really much to write about. I started implementing the structural changes to better handle multi-boxing and maintaining the Last Run feature more properly. My idea to get it managing multi-boxing better is to have the program monitor the processes launched by it. Doing that it can just wait and wait until the program is closed, and once closed Profile Manager will know/think the files for the profile associated with that process were likely just saved, and are ready to be backed up. So basicly the changes are heading more towards backing up files when the target program is closed, rather then the next time any profile is run. With this setup, its far more likely to be backing up the correct files when it comes to things like settings and saves. Of course I can't say this will be the case for every program you could run with Profile Manager, so the profile locking option will still remain. Users are just going to have to figure out for themselves what options are best for the programs they run.

For the Last Run option, things get a little more complicated then I ever intended the option to require. It was just supposed to be a simple option to run the last used program, with the current files copied to the directory(s) when the profile was last run. Really just a glorified shortcut. But due to the way multi-boxing plays out, those files won't always be what they should be when it comes to saves and settings, so again the new process monitoring changes will come into play. When more then one process are being monitored by this program, then one closes, depending on if that process is truly the one that was last run or not, Profile Manager will act differently. If it was the last run, Profile Manager will will backup the files for that profile under temp names, to later be restored once the last process is closed. If it wasn't the last run process, its files will be ignored.

This process monitoring isn't invasive at all, so games with anti-cheat protection won't have issues with it. Its only downside, other then still not being 100% effective to eliminate multi-boxing issues, lies in that Profile Manager has to remain open for the entire time that the processes ran by it are open. This issue likely isn't to be huge either though, since Profile Manager isn't meant to be closed between uses. It's a small, lightweight program meant to stay running in the background/systray until the next time you need to launch something. Which is why the installer will install it as a startup program, with no option planned to disable that for whatever reason a user may have. It just only bothers me that the hole in the overall design exists that could allow for files managed by this to be incorrect compared to whats expected. I'll have to get over it though, lol.

Other then that, all I have done this past week was work on a custom wow addon. I likely won't release it here, as it's basically just custom to the emu server I'm playing on. Though possibly other emu servers. It's a anti-spam addon for hiding the auto broadcasts, BG que broadcasts, and server announce broadcasts. The emu sever I play on has all those, and seeing as I don't care about pvp 1 bit, and seen all the info in the autobroadcasts 1000 times as I'm no longer new to the server like the messages intended targets, I don't ever need to see those messages scrolling across my screen again. And due to the fact that the server has a few to many immature GM's with apparently zero codes of conduct for them to even try to follow, more often then I care for I see the GM's abusing the server announce broadcast inappropriately for things like saying hi to someone specific, redundantly telling people about a battleground that's about to start, just because their interested in it atm, happy birthday to someone I don't know or care about, something that is or should be in the autobroadcast, or just chatting through it. I know I'm likely being overly picky on that, but its supposed to be for important messages that effect everyone on the server, or everyone should care about. I don't need to constantly be reminded I'm playing on a emu sever, especially when its goal is to replicate real retail server as close as possible.

Also I've noticed, something that's a annoying enough problem on retail PvE servers, and is even worse on this emu server. People /duel'ing you everywhere you go, just because you happen to be inside 30 feet of them. Again, I have no interest in PvP what so ever, and have strong views against its existance in anything claiming to be an MMORPG, so I get easily sick of having to click decline, hear the duel sound, or even hold my forehead in my hand as I shake it cause I realize I've run into another PvP obsessed retard that's ruining the point of a PvE server. To help combat this, I've added to my addon some /duel blocking measures. With it, you will no longer see the pop up, hear the sound, or see /duel related messages. Sadly I can't get rid of the flag dropping down from the sky. Hopefully this all will be enough though. I might work more on this feature to allow some more options, but its likely fine for now.

All these are individually optional, as I figured I might polish it up and release it on the servers forums at some point. I may add guild recruitment spam blocking as well, as the GM's seem to do a poor job at handling that too.

Since I made the addon, and since I started keeping world chat in a tab/window to itself, things have become a lot less annoying and more peaceful. Though maybe a bit to boring and quiet. My Rogue is 70 now, and I still don't have any friends on the server, and have invited basically no one to my guild. I really need to iron out my guilds intentions and recruitment policy more, and get working on inviting some people, if I want to play there much longer and have much fun. Last time I solo played like this was around the start of BC. I leveled my Rogue up to 70 on a server I thought I had someone on who would care to talk to me/play with me, but even when I was caught up they didn't care, so I soon lost interest doing just level 70 non-heroic dungeons. This came after leveling up a rogue to 53 on another server with a similar situation. Learning from all that, I have long since realized my interest in staying playing WoW for any length of time heavily relies on playing with friends, and I can predict how things might go here if I don't attempt to make some friends soon, something that I have a really really hard time doing in WoW, but never in EQ. Though really it likely won't bother me very much. I just started playing there to scratch the itch of wanting to play WoW again, and I think I've accomplished that now. =/

News: Progress

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The AstralWoW server is being crap, like it has a lot this past week. (The devs really suck in that they will restart the server mid day, randomly, to add minor fixes, and they just don't test fixes to well and keep breaking server stability more and more.) So, I've decided to post a short news update.

I'm still working on Profile Manager a bit each day. I haven't done much worth mentioning though. its about the same as in my last post. Just with tighter code. I do a lot of testing with it myself and find plenty of things to fix and optimize. Things worth mentioning are that I made an installer for it, got it managing its ini's better on vista/win7, and styled up the menu with color.

I don't plan on adding many more features. At least not right now. I'm keeping my mind open regarding other features and writing them down, but I've learned from Z-Net not to put to much work into new features before the current ones are thoroughly tested and fine tuned. For its next release I just want to polish up everything I have done so far, and work around issues regarding multi-boxing. It's quirks regarding multi-boxing will never be completely quashed, not without more invasive measures, but I hope to get them worked on as much as I can. At the moment I toss around a few ideas to myself, here and there. And think I know the direction I want to go now.

For its next release, I want it installing as intended, setup to be as easy as possible, profile creation to be as newb friendly as possible, and its main functions to be as smart as possible. I'm not sure how close it is to all that right now, but doubt it will take much longer.

And a heads up. I have taken down the links for the previous version of Profile Manager, for now. I've learned AutoIt scripted exe's can be decompiled into scripts resembling their true source script. Which I don't care for from my experience with mIRC scripting. I have no desire to have this, or any other project I can think of atm, be open source, or just plain stolen. Had I known there was such a community behind helping decompile AutoIt scripts, I likely would have done this project in c++, or not at all. There are ways to make it harder to decompile, but that I didn't know about with my last version. Since I don't have a copy of the script from it in that state, the links will just be gone until the next update. Not a huge deal really. My blog is only getting about 30 hits a day, and only a few people downloaded it so far. So not much interest yet.

News: More work on the Profile Manager

Friday, October 07, 2011

After some feedback from Nerocon in IRC, I have added the support for my Profile Manager to keep backups in different directories. Three types of completely optional locations are supported. The "Source" type keeps them in the same directory as the files source files. Same as before. The "Backup" type stores them in a sub directory in the Profile Managers root directory, named "Backups". The third option is just to store them in a specific directory. Each profile can store these backups in different locations. This is all done through the addition of a new ini key in the Profile.ini's profile sections. Continuing my example from my last post:



BackupDirectory=E:\Games\WoW Settings Backups\

The "Source" option functions the same as the "BackupDirectory" key not existing at all.

As suggested by Nerocon, this could be useful for keeping saves on a flash drive in which you transfer between computers. And probably more.

Next I added the last nifty little feature I hoped to add to this for my personal goals. The icons for the target programs will display next to the profile names in the menus. The menus look a lot better now with that. =)

Here's a screenshot of it:

I've decided to not release the next version for now. Learning from past experience with the Z-Net mIRC scripts, I know I can tend to jump the gun a bit when releasing. I have a bad habit of not always expecting errors to happen and having them handled correctly. I'm taking my time and making sure enough of that is taken into consideration. Also with my quick releases, I just plain don't test things enough sometimes. Honestly, I've mostly been done with these 2 additions since the day after the programs last release, but I've been cleaning up the code for things mentioned, redundancy and personal readability. The code is small for now, so now is a good time to do such a thing. I'd really like to wait on the next release until I can at least come up with a better name for the program, but I just don't seem to be coming up with much. Just the names I've accidentally called it here and there. Project Manager and Program Manager, lol. I'd like a name for it consisting of a single word. Heck, I might even be fine with "Profile Manager" being its subtitle, as long as its real name is something else.

For the next release I may have an installer for this, and a proper directory. I guess a readme too then. It will likely still be considered a beta, but I might as well get that stuff ready now.

Additionally, while tweaking more bits of my blog, I've learned blogspot allows 20 custom pages to be made. I swear it said 10 just even a few days ago, but it now says 20. Well, with that I'm probably going to give past projects more proper pages. And I've even setup a proper page for this latest project. I'm not sure when I added it, but I don't think I mentioned it. I setup an "About Me" page. I'm not one to talk much about myself, so its probably pretty dull. I tried to include only things relevant to projects I have or might post here, my hobbies in general, and things that help define and convey my background and personality. This page will probably be tweaked and refined much more in the future.

News: My Latest Program

Monday, October 03, 2011

I've continued work on the project I mentioned in my last update, and have ready now a Beta version of it. I'm calling it "Profile Manager" for now, until I can come up with a better name. I need to make an original icon for it as well. You can can even just consider this a prototype of a later project I guess, though it is fully useable as is.

It's a very simple program. But one that at least I myself will find very useful. It's a System Tray app that once clicked will pop up a menu of preset profiles, that once clicked themselves will run a program/game after preforming a few simple tasks. Tasks are generally copying and backing up copies of files. It's "intended" purpose is to copy and backup mostly text files containing things like game login info, game settings, server lists, etc. The "Profiles" you select using this are stored in a ini file, and contain paths, labels, and instructions for the files you want to be managed.

I'll supply an example using World of Warcraft.

Group=World of Warcraft
ProgramPath=C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\
File1=C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\WTF\
File2=C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Data\enUS\

The first part, the ini section name, is also the text that will appear in the menu for that profile.

The "Group" key is a name used for grouping several profiles together under one sub menu.

The "ProgramPath" key is the path to the file you want to run.

The "Program" key is the program you want to run in the given directory.

The "File#" keys are the files you want backed up and copied prior to running the program. There can be any number of these lines, but the # part must be a increasing number for each.

Simple right?

Now I will explain what it does behind the scenes, and explain how it manages the files pointed to by "File#=". When a profile is selected, first this program checks what profile was run last, and backs up the files listed for that profile. Then this program checks if the files pointed to by "File#=" exist under backup copy names. Using the example above "" would be a file it would look for. These are stored in the same directory as the source file. Then this program copies the backup files for the profile selected, under the default name, overwriting the previous files that were just backed up if needed. Once done with that, the target program will be run.

With my WoW example, what the benefit of this is, is having different game accounts set with different graphics/sound/etc settings (, or in the case of the you can easily play on a emu server out of the same install as your legit accounts. I particularly like not having to type in the account names every time I switch accounts as well, as blizzard account name stuff is also stored in

For my personal use, I have 2 retail WoW accounts, 2 AstralWoW emu accounts, and like 8 or 9 ProjectEQ accounts that I have just begone setting up with this. There's really no limit to what I can setup with this, and I look forward to even just organizing files and games from my desktop and quicklaunch bars, into this simple right click menu.

Additionally I've added a few extra features. Command line parameters can be supplied with the profiles using "CommandLine=". There isn't much it can do yet other then deleting directories, but you can use "PreExecutionInsctruction#=" with "RemoveDir,C:\ExampleDir\" to delete directories. I'll hopefully add more options for that later.

Also there are options to group up Profiles into sub menus, or just one giant main menu. And use the icon of the last run program as the icon for this program in the systray. Both settings can be changed in the Settings.ini. Also a quick use option, to run the last used program, exists on the main menu. This option is quicker to access then looking through what could be big menus and sub menus, and quicker for reusing the same profile as no files are copied around. It just runs the exe right away. Instructions are still carried out though.

So. Setup is a bit crude right now, having to edit an ini and all. I may make some sort of GUI for setting up profiles and changing options, later. But for now, this should be fairly simple for most people to use.

This project will be open to fan feedback posted in the comments, as for now it's been designed for my personal needs, all of which seem to have been fulfilled. I hope people find this as useful as I do, and hope to see comments and blog traffic reflecting as much.

I also hope anyone using this will share profile setups for different games and programs they find this useful for. At the moment, I only have/need to setup WoW and PEQ profiles. Though my PEQ profiles could probably use some more work. The only difference between my WoW personal use profile and the example used above is that I use this line as well:

PreExecutionInsctruction1=RemoveDir,C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Cache\WDB\


Removed for now.


Multi boxing from the same install with this will likely cause errors with most games and programs, and lead to settings files getting overwritten. To help prevent that I added a workaround, as its the best I can do for this program with out making it invasive.

In the Settings.ini, you can now supply an option for each profile to lock those profiles. What this means is, after being locked, that profile wont be backed up anymore at all, so there will never be any chance of losing that profile. The profile will still be copied from the backup over the source name file of course, so it can still be used, but that's it. Needless to say, but only lock your profiles if they are managing settings files, and you have already set up those settings files the way you will want them permanently. If you ever want to change those settings, you should do it while single boxing and after having unlocked the profile. Generally with most games, changing the settings then logging out and closing the window completely will force an update to settings files. Just remember to lock it again once done.

To lock it enter this ini key for each profile, but in the Settings.ini, NOT the Profiles.ini.


=1 enables the lock.
=0 or the key not being there at all will keep it disabled.

News: Moving On, Projects, Blog, etc.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Moving on from recent events. Its time to talk some about what things I have been working on the past week or 2, and what I may be working on in the near future.

Well. First, as usual, I have made many blog tweaks here and there. Most minor like getting the pages looking more like "pages" and less like posts by removing the date of their creation from the top and some post footer residue from the bottom. Also adding status sections to the top of both pages. Yea. Pretty bland. I did at least figure out that posting comments probably wasn't working for anyone, and have since fixed that. Hopefully soon I'll be able to get enough traffic, and have enough content so people find something worth commenting about. Other then adding labels to posts so people can more easily search for posts referencing things they care about, that's it. Since this is partly a personal blog, soon I may make an about page. =/

Well. Lately I have been working on programs using the AutoIt scripting language. I know, I know c++ and can probably make any program I would make with AutoIt with c++, and more. But I find it fun and more familiar with its simplicity, to mIRC scripting which I really enjoyed and miss. Of course mIRC scripting is very limiting in what I can make, and it requires projects to be open source, so its rarely viable anymore for me to make anything with that. I forget if I have used AutoIt before recently doing so. I know I have used AutoHotKey to an extent. In fact I made a program with that that I may soon release. Though I may instead rewrite that with AutoIt. Their both similar programs and languages, though AutoIt is apparently better. In fact I think AutoHotKey scripts can be easily converted or just plain used with earlier versions of AutoIt.

What I have been working on lately with AutoIt is a personal use project for use with WoW. Something to help manage my rotations easier. Maybe its coming from EQ, maybe its having used MacroQuest2 on the PEQ server. Who knows. But I have always found managing rotations in WoW annoying. Some of the time I'm fine. Like when soloing and doing most grouping I guess. But other times like on raids I found I had to multitask and pay far more attention to multiple upon multiple things at a time, to the point where I started getting headaches doing 25m normal and heroics in ICC before the headaches and lack of fun forced me into retirement. My program takes enough of that burden away. So much I kind of wish I had it last year before I quit, cause if I did I probably wouldn't have. Obviously its a controversial program like MQ2, and something bli$$ would very much consider against their rules and terms. In my recently left community there would be a number of people that would hate the idea of my program. Considering all this, I will choose to keep the project for personal use for now. Though I do try to design it as if I were ever to release it. Who knows, I may share some copies with friends. Its a fairly safe program, and next to impossible for bli$$ to legally detect.

Parts of the program I have now begone separating out into its own program that's far less controversial. A new program I'm making with AutoIt is a launcher. Not like the recently deceased EQC Launchpad. This launcher is more generalized, and very basic. Its just a program that sits in the systray waiting to be right clicked. When done so, a menu pops up and lets you select a profile. Once selecting a profile, the program will copy around some files you have preselected, perhaps delete others, then run a exe you have preselected. Very simple, but very handy, at least for me. I do have a form of it done and in use now, and I find it very handy with multiple WoW accounts, and clients. It could easily be used with other games as well. In fact several can be setup and accessed at the same time from just this program, saving desktop space if you needed to. Just right click, and select the account of the game you want to play. I use WinEQ2 for my chars on PEQ, just for such a convenience, and will likely switch to this once its done. If anyone else would be interested in such a program, I'm open to suggestions placed in the comments of this post, since I'm still working on it.

Lets see. What else? ...

Well, as usual. My WoW emu guild is still open to anyone through my blog (Dark Empire link on the left side menu of my blog). Perhaps with my recent changes, I may make it less EQ player oriented then before. Haven't put much thought on it yet. Would probably make sense to do so at this point. We will see.

Oh. I recently helped set up a WoW guild website for a friend. I wish him the best of luck with that!

Think that's it for now. =)

News: Why I left EQClassic

Friday, September 30, 2011

For anyone who was following recent events, you may think you know why I'm off the team now. You however would be wrong. I choose to leave, and did so for several reasons that have piled up. This post may be long as I'm unsure how much I have to say about everything, and I intend to be as thorough as I can.

I'll start with why I joined in the first place. It was a time during the second era of this project, near the end. A cease and desist was issued to the website, and the website and forums for the project were closed down. The project however was kept on life support through an IRC channel. But even there it was barely hanging on due to most of the devs halting work on the project. Only really one dev, the newest, was active at the time. That was Yeahlight. He was doing great work in a hefty amount then. He begone to not like the control the inactive devs seemed to try to maintain on the project when they weren't even contributing, and begin planning to take the project reigns over himself, by force if needed.

At this time in my impatience for the project, I begin to wish I could help in some way. I did have c++ experience, but knew my experience would be to lacking to contribute directly to the server source myself. With past projects of mine, I realized my limits to late, and learned from it. So since then I have always tried to know what I can and can't do. After fiddling around with my EQTrilogy discs out of boredom, I realized a way I could help. I've used EQ emulators before, and knew all of them bypassed the patcher. To me, while not the most important thing, it was a part of the classic experience that would be discarded. For legal reasons a patcher for a emulator server doesn't sound like a good idea off the bat, but I realized it would be helpful for at least a few important, legally manageable files. Enough so that a patcher replacement was a good idea. Even this was a bit beyond my abilities at the time. But I figured if I failed, oh well. Nothing lost. No one was depending on me, and I wasn't in the way of anyone else. And fail or not, I should learn something.

I wrote the patcher, and things went very well. I got a few bored alpha testers at the time to help test it so I could refine it, and it proved to have potential. Enough so, that with my talks with Yeahlight he seemed to be interested in officially supporting it with the EQC project. Something that I of course would like very much for my project. But I was wary of joining a team still. I'm used to projects on my own. And I'm used to a certain amount of respect. An amount I would need from the community and other devs. Whether I deserved that amount of respect or not, it was required. I'm not interested in being just another lackey. I've had issues with lack of respect in team situations in my past, and knew enough to just avoid such things. I would need that respect to join, and Yeahlight gave it to me. He treated me as an equal, and appreciated my project contribution. This was exactly what I needed to join him, so I did.

It wasn't his project, it was our project. We helped usher in the 3rd era of this project. Sadly for my contribution, my ideas started running out, so progress slowed. And soon after the alpha testing group was disbanded for the most part. Further putting my project on the shelf until it was needed. I was given server source access without asking for it, and clearly stated that while I may try and contribute something here and there, don't count on it at all. I did pick some code to try out, put several hours into it refining it and doing my best to figure out bugs with it. But I just wasn't that interested in it. So I was forced into inactivity myself, with nothing to do. I think I then took time away from the project, and started playing games more in my free time. In that time off, I lost server source access, saw new devs added to the team, but remained uninvolved other then just submitting what I worked on to Yeahlight for him to add to the source for me. Something of which I waited a long time and which he never did.

Fast forward now to a couple months ago. It has been so long since I worked on a programming project, that I was getting more active in my talks with Yeahlight and actually trying to find something else to work on. We couldn't find anything due to either lack of interest for me, lack of the project as a whole being ready for it, or both. And never once did I ask, or was I asked about working on the server. As far as my end goes, I still wasn't interested, and still figured it might be to much for me. But I was considering it in case I was asked is all. For now I just wanted to see what I did work on and spend so much time on, added. Still though, for whatever reasons, Yeahlight never got around to doing that for me. I decided I would ask this newer team member I only just recently met, and see if he would do it for me. Something I now regret deeply. I asked Harakiri. He seemed kind enough to do it. But his kindness soon turned insulting when rather then add my code he just decided my work sucked, and rewrote it himself claiming "You did all the research, that's the hard part. So no big deal.". I did no research on the code. It was all experience. The "hard part" was that code I invested my time in. Several hours of work. 1 1/2 - 2 years waiting, and its just tossed in the trash? Yea, of course I'm going to be pissed. This was my last straw with this guy and a big one, as in just a couple short days of knowing me, he had insulted me several times prior. I don't know what is with the guy, but he just seemed to not want to like me from the start. He seemed to be posturing and trying to show his ego and rank or importance to me in every dealing, in a likely effort to get me to kiss his ass like he views everyone else as doing. I never insulted him. I gave him respect, and acknowledged he was a better programmer then me, and everything I could to get off on the right foot with him. But that all failed it seems. After the issue with my code submission, I no longer have any respect for the guy. That's enough about him for now though. Moving on...

I kept my distance from that guy for the benefit of the project. And continued on my quest to find something to contribute to the project. Well, part of why I stayed gone so long was due to the state of the community. IRC was dead, and the forums were far more dead then they should be, and getting worse. The IRC channel issue was mostly resolved when Sven setup a new channel. I decided to start figuring out ways to help the rest of the community around the forums. Community is something important to me, as I expect any classic EQ fan to understand. But forum community's are something I take fairly serious. They often require a delicate balance, and can be difficult to handle properly. I've heard from several people who wanted to join the EQC community, but found over moderation, and general strictness of the forums to be repulsive. That's something I hate to hear. In my time back evaluating things myself, I was beginning to see exactly what people were talking about. Certain mods like Harakiri and perfect would to strictly enforce the letter of the rules, and lock down threads before they barely even started. The rest have sunk into a rut where they have been encouraged to over-moderated things themselves. Rules are made for a reason, yea. I helped make most of them there, and as such agree with them. But a mods job isn't about locking down threads and dealing with troll. Its about helping a forum community prosper and thrive. This is where the balance comes in, and over moderation can hurt just as much as under moderating things and letting trolls and spammers run wild. The rules are there and should be followed, yes, but they shouldn't always be staring everyone in the face. Rules are rules for posters, but should be seen as guidelines by mods who better understand the intent of those rules. Rule breaking should be evaluated on a case by case basis, with a more dynamic situational touch only a human can understand. Other wise, just make a massive list of banned text, keep less moderators, and be done with it. Anyway, this is all my opinion based on experience and observation. And a desire to encourage more posting. Right or wrong, its a matter of opinion. Fact is though the community is stagnant, and I wanted to help. An idea that anyone can agree and and support.

Tossing around ideas for a few weeks, the best thing I could come up with was a minor boost in the fun of the forum members, by getting whatever very few that would be interested, together and playing WoW on a emu server. Something approachable by anyone, as its free to play and you can freely obtain the game client files online from legal sources. And it won't spoil the classic experience everyone is waiting for, by going back to EQ in another form prematurely. It was a good idea, and after debating it for a while, posting it, things getting off topic, then re-posting it. Things blew up and my time with EQClassic started circling the drain. Apparently one whiny troll, and a ego centric power hungry dev have more respect then me now. In fact I come to find out I may never have had the respect I thought I had, and Yeahlight just lied to me when I joined him. He considered me just a bit player. Someone that just spits out some tools for him and that's it. I lost my mod privileges, which in itself is a clear sign of not having the respect I thought I had and was told I had when I joined. And just begins to tell the story about what this team has become, and where the project is likely heading.

I in no way wanted to be a part of a team like this where I'm not respected as an equal, or at all. And I in no way want to be a part of a project in which the goals I care about so much, is heading further and further into a direction of increasing damaged community and possibly even failure, and not being able to even attempt to stop it myself. I was lied to and tricked years ago, or it's just that the Yeahlight of today isn't the same person anymore, instead being replaced by a much worse one. I'd have never have joined the project in the first place had this Yeahlight been the one I knew back then, nor if I had known the directions things would end up heading, and with me powerless to help.

I can go into detail, and argue lots of points I've made here. And in some cases already have elsewhere. In the end its all pointless. Peoples views, opinions, and positions are unlikely to change. The only thing that changes anything is time and choices. I choose to leave. That will be good for me. Possibly in some ways good for classic EQ fans. Perhaps time will help improve other things. From my end, it's not impossible for me to go back. But from either end, its probably seen as unlikely. Lets see how kind time is to this project. So far, its had a lot of ups and downs. And will likely have more in the future.

For me, I'll continue on without the project as I did before. Programming is my hobby. I do it when/because I have fun with it. I have nothing major planned right now to help fill the void of the EQC Launchpad project being placed in its coffin. But I'm almost always looking and thinking.

Will I play EQClassic if/when it is done? Who knows. It's certainly less likely then it was. All I can say for sure for now is that, perhaps things are working out for the best for me. Maybe I can put more hope/faith in EQNext or something more modern/new rather then holding onto a game that was lost almost 10 years ago.

R.I.P. EQC Launchpad.
R.I.P. EQClassic?



Reminder. If you have comments or wish to discuss any on this with me, I am no longer monitoring that forum or my PM box there as I'm trying to make as clean a break as possible. Comments should be posted here if you intend on me reading them. And I can be reached through IRC and IRC under the name DarkAkuma. And in certain cases may be willing to establish email or MSN contact.

News: Goodbye EQClassic

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'll keep this post short, and post a more detailed post in a couple days after I have had time to think things over. For now, in short, I have left the EQClassic project. I'm mostly posting this now so people have a place to post comments about the situation if they wanted to.

For anyone who wishes to still remain in contact with me. Of course I'll still be available here. I intend to remain in the IRC channel, at least for now. And my old Z-Net project channel linked on the side. I am still playing WoW on a emu server, and would still welcome anyone who would want to to join me (you can check out the guild blog here for more info. Dark Empire). And while I'm not active on it at the moment, I have several characters on the ProjectEQ server (Uberest, Narcoleptic, Shibi are my main 3 you would find me on).

Also, be advised, I am now logged out of my account on the EQC forums, and won't be logging back in and able to check PM's there. Any sent to me there will remain unread.

Release: EQInside Console

Saturday, September 24, 2011

EQInside Console is just a console based program to manage PFS files, or more commonly known as s3d or pak. It makes use of EQInside.dll to do this, so it has all the features of that plus a couple extra.

I wrote this app shortly after starting EQC Launchpad. I mostly needed its functions for the launchpad itself, but felt it would be nicer to release it more publicly due to the lack of any such thing that can be used with command line params and .bat scripting. Actually I could have just had avoided writing such an exe for the launchpad to use, and instead just use the EQInside.dll itself, but felt due to some of the features I was going to make, it would be better to make them less "behind the scenes" so it's easier to tell what is happening with the PFS files regarding legality. One of the features I needed, and added into EQInside Console was creating a empty archive to work with and put files in. I didn't want to change any existing PFS files at all, and wanted it to be know as much as possible that any PFS files the launchpad was changing were created by the launchpad itself.


EQInside Console

News: Not Much

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I haven't really worked on anything worth talking about this past week, so no real news. As such, I'll probably start posting the more random things I've made over the years, to fill in the void. One should be up in a few days.

I'm still playing wow on the emu server Emberflame. I made a guild (Dark Empire) there now too, for anyone to join from here or the EQClassic community. If your interested in playing a free, least buggy, as close to retail like version of cata era wow, then drop on by. Setup is easy. Just remember to sign up with my invite code. Link is the "AstralWoW" on the side.

News: CPU Issues and Games

Monday, September 12, 2011

Las Vegas weather sucks some times. Its mostly known for its heat, and wind, But yesterday in the span of 30m it went from somewhat sunny, to completely cloudy, to thundering, to a sudden heavy rain, to a wind driven sideways hailstorm. Just lasted long enough to knock out our power for a few hours. Seems when our power went out, my comps PSU kicked the bucket. Spent most of my evening yesterday after the power came back on figuring that out and getting my comp working again with borrowed/old parts. Borrowing a PSU for now, but the PSU doesn't have the power connector for my video card, so I'm having to use my old card for now. With all this, and all the comp stuff I'm fixing to buy soon, I probably won't be working on much to soon. Anyway...

I haven't been working on much. Just more tinkering with blog layouts, in hopes of getting setup a base custom layout of my own that I can use to make a few other themes I've been thinking of.

Mostly I've been getting bored and wanting to play something. I was playing EQLive some on the Fippy server, cashing in my 40 free days at the last minute. But I lost interest in that. Newbie exp rate for my Wizard seems way more harsh then when I played on live. I leveled up a wizzy at the start of luclin era, so exp may have been faster at that time. But I also leveled up a wiz into the teens once or twice in the velious era, and a sk to around 10 in the kunark era. So when I don't think the exp rate is correct, I may be right. Granted I've also played on the ProjectEQ emu server (8 level 65's, most near top end gear) which is faster, though not much faster then live. And I've played WoW. After WoW, anything slower will seem extremely slow.

I haven't played WoW since Dec 2010, more like Sep or Oct 2010 since after that I just paid and played to finish out the year long achievements. I got so tired of it, I didn't even want to talk about the game. Guess I've finally had enough time away, and have been getting somewhat interested in it again. Just the time doesn't seem to be right for now. Have to either pay $95-$105 to end up on a PVP server I don't in anyway want to, or $55-$65 to stay on a server in which I don't know anyone I care about. For me, my fun in that game is heavily reliant on family or friends. Both options just aren't appealing, as their just to much money for something I can't guarantee I won't quickly lose interest in.

To satisfy my interest in playing WoW again, I decided to look into WoW emus. Never played one before, and never seen one mentioned enough to know the quality. Heck, I didn't even know if they ever got off the ground in terms of development because the few times I've heard about them, was when they were getting shut down. I was surprised to find that there seemed to be tons and tons of packed servers. But that's just the phony aspect meant to trick you. In actuality there's only like 1 server cluster with packed servers, and they basically all suck due to insane exp/gold/rep/etc rates that make an already easymode game easier, and custom content I don't give a crap about, and in fact will most likely make my experience worse.

I considered, and even tried a vanilla WoW server. Claimed to be the best, but was PvP. Tried another that claimed to be more about accuracy, but that had 3 people playing on it. I never played past 42 in vanilla, so missed a lot of content. Playing that, or cata would be interesting to me right now as I haven't played them. Most emu servers are using patch 3.3.5, so stuck in the WotLK era, which I've had my fill of. I found the best cata server I could, and started some chars there. 1x rates, PvE, little if any custom content. Certainly none staring you in the face in the form of NPCs in the newbie area in shameless attempts to get you to vote the server up on server ranking lists. I understand the desire to get votes, as it helps you and others in the end by drawing in more players, but that's to much.

Server I'm playing on is AstralWoW Cataclysm. Doesn't seem perfect, but good enough. I don't know how much cata content it has. I think of a lot of the quests you level up with from 1, and maybe a few instances. For it you can currently patch to blizz servers, then just modify the realmlist and run the astralwow exe.

If this is something you may be interested in, and you may seriously try and level a char up, please sign up using this link with my invite code. Helps me out as you level by giving me some virtual badges, so to speak. I've been using what I get to buy heirloom gear for my Rogue there. Still have tons more to go.


News: Slowing Down Again

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mostly what I've worked on this past week has been the blog layout. CSS was very unfamiliar to me so it's something I needed to get experience with. And with the images, I just needed to sharpen up my photoshoping skills a bit, and perhaps develop more. I've done some tweaks here and there since my weekend post, but that's it.

Still, with that done, I'm still not to interested in working on the Z-Band server scripts anymore atm. A project you don't plan on releasing can only hold your interest so long, at least with me. And I have to many unreleased projects now. I'm still trying to figure out something to work on, that I can/will release. I don't have many ideas though.

I was considering working a little more on EQC Launchpad again but due to recent developments, the launchpad project is even more dead then before. I'll have to wait to find out if some ideas pan out that can keep it alive. But until they do, I'm starting to consider the project officially heading towards the canceled shelf along side Z-Net. I'll give it sometime though, but if that ends up being the case, I'll probably drop from the EQC team as I'll have nothing substantial to offer the project anymore, as I won't work on the server for a couple reasons. And I'm not that interested in being a "Tools Devs" in its real meaning (I don't consider EQCLP a tool, but no other team titles make more sense). I've actually only made one tool, and have had that made worthless by an attempt to 1up me. I've considered working on some tool ideas proposed in the past, but they just don't interest me much, even if the project was near a point that called for their creation. I was also considering offering some of my resharpening webcoding/imaging skills to use, but that idea is now scratched along with the launchpad.

God help if I start getting more serious about it, but I've even been considering working on a version of last years Z-Net stand alone client that I'd officially release. As much fun as I have with it all, the future of any version of those projects is grim and headed for disappointment. So please future self... NO!

For now I'll probably work more on image related things when I'm bored. Like creating some wallpapers. I find that fun. I've been drawing a little here and there as well. I've even been messing with a 3d editor called Blender lately. Hoping I can gain at least enough skill to make some wallpaper ideas I have look better. We will see. The controls with the program are wacky, so who knows if I can remain interested in it long enough to create something that's actually usable.

I just remembered one project idea I might work on. A C++ project. I started some prelim work on it today. Just getting some of the basic window functions working as I'd want. As is, it's just a project shell I could use for different projects. Some of the code will probably end up in EQCLP if I continue that project. Until I have some progress on it, its not worth describing. Kind of like Z-Band was for me years ago. Both I just don't/didn't know if I had enough skill to actually do it, or even if my idea was ridiculous and wouldn't work at all or as well as I think it could. If I make significant progress with it, I'll post more about it.

News: New Layout Revamp

Saturday, September 03, 2011

I got sick of my old blog layout which was inspired by the layout of one of my old sites. Even in its time, it was somewhat bland. With all the web coding I've been messing with lately, I've been really wanting to take a full crack at a new layout. One that looks sleek and professional. And built from near scratch, using no copyrighted image "shortcuts". I started with a basic bare-bones template, browsed some sites and blogs for inspiration, then started work on the graphics. A couple days later, here's what I have.

I like black and blue colors schemes obviously. I felt no desire to change that from my old one. In fact, I liked keeping it more to see myself use a black/blue+white/grey scheme more properly. I'm using the same background as the old layout, cause well, I just made that a week or 2 ago. So didn't really need to replace it. Still, I may build a new background sometime soon just because this one may not look as good as everything else now.

I'm quite happy with how the logo came out. Yes even that is 100% created by me. It's a kind of electrical circuit pathways type of thing. I'm more happy I didn't have to go with my first option, and make a cheesy matrixy mix of Japanese and Roman characters trickling down vertically, but in blue instead of green. Sure, it would still probably look nice, but ugg. The Matrix code effect is far to over done to the point of being cheesy. Even my binary code background is pushing it, though hey, I want some form of code in my images since this is primarily a dev blog for projects in whatever languages I make them in.

Anyway, now that I have a nice looking blog, I need to get back to finding some new, interesting content to put in it on a regular basis.

EDIT: For some reason I chose to get ahead of myself, and skip the round of testing in different browsers. I saw the site in IE8, and it was completely messed up regarding displaying the post column to the right or the sidebar column. Fixed now though. Also got border styles displaying as intended in mobile browsers, and hopefully IE9 (don't feel like installing it right now, as I won't be using it).

News: First week with PHP

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I seem to be getting more used to php now. I'm far from an ace at it, but I'm able to get it to do what I want a lot easier now. I need to start focusing more on cleaning up my style with it and making it all more professional looking, as I've learned that if I don't do that soon while I'm learning I'll become to accustomed to doing it lazily while planning to clean it up later. My C++ is such a mess most of the time. Apparently, while I don't believe it, even when I spend a lot of time specifically to clean up my code like I did for pickpocketing for the EQClassic project, since others will see it and probably need to work with it at times, it still warrants being completely discarded. Who knows how many hours I spent on that code. I was proud of the work I did on it, as the EQClassic project is one I really believe in, and I was happy to have finally contributed something to the server project. With my work on that gone to waste, I can safely say I won't be offering to work on the server code in the future like I was about ready to. I may even keep the launchpad code permanently private now. I know I'm not the best coder/scripter, as I'm self taught all of it with no formal background in any language, but I don't need my work or efforts insulted just because someones more talented. Anyway, I'm getting off track on a rant so moving on...

This past week I have worked more, off and on, on the Z-Band server scripts. I've gotten them a lot more polished then in my last update. The Leaderboard is functioning more like a Leaderboard now, and sorting in descending order based on wins. Both the registration and score updating scripts have been fully written, and rewritten (compy crash with unsaved data ftl). For most of my developing and testing of the scripts they just supported Super Mario Kart. I thought adding support for other games was going to be a bit more trouble, but I did all that today without much issue. As they all stand now, their completely functional. I still have to tie them into a phpbb database to use account info. As such, I don't have proper password support implemented. Other then that, I have to add a few checks to make sure nothing is tried to be done that isn't expected. Like sending an update for a game your not registered as playing, a score mismatch between players, etc. I'll probably iron that stuff out over the next week. Then maybe consider recoding a new version of the dll to support these, or implementing what I can of a recoded dll into a version of the stand alone client.

Other then that, this week I worked on my blog layout a bit. Polishing up some of the template code to suit how I want it. And adding/changing some images and colors. I brushed up on Photoshoping (formerly just PaintShopPro for me) and made the current background and logo. I made several other backgrounds as well, all pretty nice. This one was just closer to what I wanted. I'm not totally happy with the logo. I couldn't summon up much inspiration for it, and it seems very plain.

I also re-registered the old #Z-Net channel on gamesurge. The IRC link for it is on the side menu there. It's been a real ghost town since the projects homepages randomly went down (shakes fist at as finding a download link for Z-Net has been hard for anyone to stumble upon anywhere else. Even if there's no Z-Net 2.0 activity there still, I'll still use it as a chat channel for discussing my projects or whatever else unrelated. At this point my blog has only been up about 2 weeks, so it only gets like 4-10 hits a day. So I don't expect to see much traffic, but if anyone feels like it, drop by. =)

News: What I'm working on

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

With informational updates for most of my more major projects now posted to preserve their history, I'll now start posting news about what I'm working on and any progress with my projects.

Out of boredom with nothing to work on, I recently started learning php. My past web development experience was mainly just with html, and I wasn't all that great at that. I've been told php was easy if you know C++ and had been meaning to give it a try for a few years now. It seems that it is in fact easy. Its like a good blend of C++ and mIRC scripting styles when it comes to familiarity for me. I'm still just at my beginnings with it, but I can probably see myself getting more used to it fairly easily. Really its more pointed out how lacking and outdated my html skills are, as dealing with html and CSS seems to be much more confusing and messy.

As a learning project, I choose to create a much needed page for editing the header EQCLP uses located on the server. This header is downloaded every time a user runs EQCLP as its first act, and tells it certain basic info. Mostly just what files are available to be downloaded by it, and the CRC's of those files so it knows if it has the most up-to-date ones locally. There are a few other options as well. Having a web based editor for this header is much nicer then having to edit the file manually, as editing it manually could cause serve issues if done by someone who doesn't know what their doing, or someone makes a slight mistake.

There is probably a little more I can do with the editor, but I basically finished quickly. Still wanting a project to help me learn more, I talked with Yeahlight of EQClassic some about possibly making some scripts for that. But nothing could be worked out due to either my lack of interest, lack of php skill (I don't want to take on a project TO involving), or lack of need at this point.

Oddly enough, I found a good learning project buried in a failure of one of my older projects. Z-Band never saw the light of day in part because of my lack of interest or inability to write a server for it. Without a server, something like Z-Band is pointless and only serves to be something "neat". I've been working on that on and off for the past few days now. I have it set it up to access a MySQL database for any match/scoring info. A basic scoreboard was the first thing I made. I then started working on 2 other aspects of it, being a match registration script so the server knows a match is going on and between who, and a score update handler to receive players scores as they earn them. I'm not near finished with either yet, and am still running into my share of bugs due to my inexperience. But their coming along, and since it relates to my favorite project, its fun and interesting.

Of course this still doesn't mean I will try to revive Z-Net, or that I have any plans of releasing Z-Band in some form. Like the stand alone Z-Net client last year, this project isn't meant to be publicly used in anyway, and is just for my personal enjoyment. Whether I'll work on any client side Z-Band stuff at some point to work with this, is unknown. But it would be neat to see it all working like I once envisioned! =/

In other news. I got some of some older links to my past sites changed/redirected to here. Mostly just the url, and some links from websites. Hopefully I'll get a little more traffic here, and maybe some visits from some old friends.

Details: Z-Band (2004-2008)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Z-Band is my favorite project, but it never saw the light of day sadly. I started it after Z-Net 1.0 was officially released. I think it was technically my first project using C++, so I was still learning as I was making it. At this time, my inexperience was certainly what hindered this project, as I couldn't figure out how to get it to work exactly like I wanted.

Before I go on more, I''ll describe the intent of the project. It was to be a mIRC dll designed to automatically track scores from Z-Net users netplay games, and automatically submit the scores to a IRC bot for tournaments and scoreboards. I derived the projects name from the, ahead of its time, X-Band modem for SNES.

Now, in 2004 I got stuck on the project. I couldn't get it working properly like I wanted it as a dll. I was able to get it working better as an exe however, but didn't like that. I produced a spinoff version of Z-Band called "Z-Band - SMK". The notable differences being that is was an exe at one point, and a dll at another. Also it didn't send its scores to a bot, but just updated the channel with score changes. This spinoff version was more of a proof of concept, that the idea could work. Still though, while I proved the idea could work, it had it's issues, and I couldn't advance the project along further towards getting released. So the project died out.

Years later when I started the Z-Net 2.0 project, my C++ had improved by then and I gave Z-Band another look. I was now able to fix the issues I had with it years before. I got it working perfectly, and added support for more games including Street Fighter 2, Gundam Wing Endless Duel, and Bust-A-Move was almost finished. This time however, the issue I ran into was different. While I did design a bare-bones server bot, I realized I didn't want to invest the time into developing a more proper one. No one else stepped forward to offer to do so, so Z-Band never progressed further.

I wasn't interested in developing a bot, cause one, I'd want to do it properly, and that would be to involving, and two, I just wanted to work on things more directly with Z-Net. It was enough of a project itself.

The close tie in of this project to Z-Net itself, of course also played a factor, as soon after I came to a conclusion to end development of Z-Net all together.

No screenshots of this exist, but shouldn't be needed. And the project was never released, except maybe the SMK version. I have no plans to release any version now, and if the project were ever to continue forward, it would be a part of a stand alone client or possibly a stand alone client all in itself.

Details: Z-Net (stand alone client), a.k.a ZB-Net (2010)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

After production had stalled for a while on EQC Launchpad, I grew bored without any interesting projects to work on. I started desiring to want to work on Z-Net again, despite knowing full well from my experiences, such a project would be a waste. I never liked the fact that I failed so miserably at creating the stand alone client years earlier, and it gnawed at me that due to my recent experience developing EQC Launchpad, I know I could could make it now. From only my code, and it wouldn't take that long.

In fact, looking at the only successful project of its type, zbattle, I still maintained that it was ridiculous how simple/bland it is, that it hadn't seen any improvement in the vast ways in which it could be done so, for years, and that even with my low skill I could write that program in a week!

It was a silly statement I made to myself. Or so I thought at first. As I thought about it for a while, I realized more and more that it was possible, even for me. Eventually this thinking got to me and I said "What the hell!?", deciding that I will give it a try. I still had no plans of trying to make a program to gain a following in such a scene, as I could make it as perfect as it can be, and it still wouldn't attract any new users, or any away from zbattle, no matter how many extra features it would have, or what types. I just needed to prove to myself that I could do it.

So I started developing a new stand alone client, with no intention of releasing it. In part, as not to get dragged into a futile competition, and in other part cause I was going to make an exact clone of zbattle. No more, and no less features, mirror image GUI. While not exactly like taking source from a project, and claiming its yours, making a project that's an exact clone of another and releasing it seems like bad form to me, and close enough to theft.

While I say it would be an exact clone, I mean only visibly in terms of interface, and in terms of features. Obviously, while I could, I wouldn't name it the same. And I went a different route in terms of the server of which the client connected to. One of the biggest cons to the zbattle project that prompted me to even start Z-Net years before, was the reliance on a central server that can, and did get hacked, and would often go down for long periods of time. Also, using a server such as zbattle costs money. That money would be coming strait out of my pocket if I were to go that route, something that is not very appealing to me. In the past with the Z-Net mIRC script, I believed IRC was the best answer to that. There are tons of IRC servers, completely free to connect to and run channels on. If a hacker decided to go after one, the program could just use another. Even the first Z-Net stand alone client used IRC. Why not use it with this one, to help prove the point, and prove to myself the idea could work?

I always thought most of the communication between users clients could be handled just fine using IRC, and in a clean way that could allow the channel to remain free and clean as a chat space. But I wasn't sure about every aspect. Most that I wasn't sure about I figured out with the Z-Net 2.0 series. Could I figure out the rest, and support a channel that users not using Z-Net and instead using a regular IRC client to just chat, cleanly? I was determined to find out, and prove I could make the program in just 1 week or less!

Low and behold, I did it! And in 1 day less then a week! I shocked even myself at how simple it was, and by comparison zbattle. I got the GUI for all windows made, settings dialog fully working, ini support fully working, game list window fully working, host and client windows fully working, all messages displaying and changing at proper times, even the game send feature! It is a fully working stand alone client like zbattle. With 1 day of my self allotted dev time left, I even worked on a couple other nifty features, though their not supposed to be enabled of course. From there, I thought about releasing a demo version with imposed limits to show off what I've done, limits being to keep people from regularly using it/asking for support. I decided against the demo release, as it serves no real purpose except to brag, stir up controversy, and was generally just tactless. In fact this dev blog will be the first time I've revealed the existence of this project to anyone.

This project is of course unreleased, and will remain as such. The only way I might release it would be if zbattle servers went down again for a significant amount of time, permanently, or the possible but unlikely project merger of zbattle into Z-Net.


I use a Windows XP style I custom made myself thats designed to look exactly like the default 3, except black/grey (perhaps I should post that at some point) . So ignore that as thinking its part of the program itself. This seems to be from earlier in my week of developing the project, as the "Game Name" column is indented. A bug I fixed before I finished it. And the icon is a copy of the old one I used with the Z-Net 1.x mIRC combo pack.

This pic I took after originally posting this. It shows the settings window. Not much going on. This is of course of a final build of the program. Its using a new icon I mocked up for it, and though you can't see it since I didn't feel like logging in 2 clients, the bug I mentioned is gone.

Details: Z-Net (stand alone client) (2004)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This was being made shortly after development of the Z-Net 1.x project series stopped at 1.41. Due in part to enough users finding the combo of Z-Net + mIRC confusing, and part from someone actually stealing my work on the Z-Net mIRC script by just blatantly making a copy of it and renaming every reference to me or "Z-Net" inside of it to one of their own choosing, then posting it online as their own project making me realize how bad the forced open source nature of mIRC scripting really is. I decided if I wanted to continue with this type of project, I'd need to do it in something like C++ to code a binary package that's obviously more secure from theft, and I'll have greater control over making it much easier to install and use.

At the time I had tinkered with C++ some for the Z-Band project, but undertaking a project like this was significantly more challenging for my experience. I took as many shortcuts as I could by starting with an open source IRC client (I don't remember which one. It wasn't a popular one). I customized the source around my vision for Z-Net as much as I could, and got some real bare-bones code implemented for launching ZSNES netplay. But soon got stuck on some issues using Win API to create a game list window. At the time, I didn't even know the term "Win API". It was all C++ to me. So finding help was hard, and I clearly saw my inexperience wasn't going to let me progress anymore on it.

My dead end due to lack of skill, and my eventual reasoning that taking the source of what was probably a licensed IRC client and not planning to release the source with my changes, would be no different then the same type of theft that helped cause me to start the project in the first place, brought this project to a halt. I never even shared a binary with a tester/friend. I only released a couple screen shots.


History: Z-Net 2.0 - 2.0B5f3 (2007-2008)

Friday, August 19, 2011

In December 2007, as odd as it was, my interest in Z-Net got peaked again. The program zbattle was still running, perhaps with more users then years before. Yet somehow I still felt like bringing back Z-Net. I guess I came to the conclusion that "I just don't care, I want to do it for fun", and even decided I would revive it as a mIRC script.

I grabbed the script from the complete rewrite I was silently making 3 1/2 years earlier, what I called the "new core", started polishing it up and worked out how to re-approach the issue of an interface. The interface was much more simple, made more sense, and was even more familiar to users of other online games. The ease of use (outside of bugs) was so much better, I can easily say that had I made it this way the first time around, Z-Net would have been a lot more successful.

But that's not all. Z-Net 2.0 wasn't just a rewrite of the first. This one offered something very new. Support for more then just ZSNES. The new core I wrote was with the idea in mind that add-on ini's could easily be made to support launching virtually anything that supported netplay and command line parameters to access it. Sadly, ZSNES is still the only emu I know of to this day that supports command line parameters for it's netplay, and one of only a handful of emulators that doesn't just use the laggy bland eyesore that is kalleria. I realized that years before when I abandoned the project. This time I had an idea. I would use the C++ I learned years before to make a mIRC DLL Z-Net can use to launch netplay games of those kalleria emulators using a less known about IP-to-IP version of kalleria. I did this by what I referred to as "macro launching". Once commanded to by the Z-Net script, the DLL would run a function run through a series of preset simulated key presses on the emulator window once the script ran the emulator and its window was found open. It actually worked quite well. It seemed that although my C++ skills were lacking for the project years before, they could accomplish this! I added support for a number of emulators for systems including NES, N64, Genesis, and arcade/MAME.

I was quite proud of this new version. Clearly superior to the old one, and arguably, but clearly to me superior to anything else comparable. But whats this? In the time since I abandoned Z-Net, I knew a couple other programers tried their hand at this type of project but hit their own roadblocks whatever they were. What I didn't know about was one that started around the same time I resumed work on Z-Net 2.0, by a C++ programmer more talented then I. I never crossed paths with the dev, though I swear he stole every idea I ever had. I think a formerly loyal Z-Net 1.0 user fed him information from a lot of the ideas I discussed among the channel community. Disheartened my ambition lowered.

The community for these types of projects was/is to small to support 2 programs as I've learned, let alone 3. People only want to use one program. The community for SNES games was/is firmly in place in zbattles hands, and the community for other systems netplay is almost non-existent. I realized it would take far more work then coding Z-Net 2.0 and the DLLs themselves to establish any community for my project, and I think the dev of that other program realized the same. Both our projects seemed to die before they ever took off.

At this point I realized the situation of building/maintaining a project like this. The community is to small, and isn't going to grow much. In the years since I first took a crack at the project, single player emulation had moved more towards being run on modern consoles like wii and xbox. Single player emulation supplies the biggest percentage of users who would make their way into this type of community. And with less people using PC emulators, growth of netplay emulation popularity is and will be low.

These two major reasons lead me to choose to walk away from the project for good, as I decided trying to create a successful program like this just will never work, no matter how many and how good the features are that I add. I declared to myself, few things would ever tempt me to try a project like this again.

I walked away from this project this time satisfied, as I had fun making it, and that's all I really wanted anyway.


Z-Net 2.0 Beta 5 fix 3