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I'll post news and updates here about (MMO)RPG games. Both those that I play, as well as (general) news that I deem important enough

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Stable but lost faith
15 April 2014
Posted in General
*knocks on wood*

I think that knocking on wood is indeed the best way to start todays post For now my PC looks stable again and after having had lots of trouble last night where the DVD player wasn't responding anymore and I've had a couple of BSODs (on a clear Windows 7 install ), SP1 was installed and new updates are downloading (164 in total )

But that still doesn't say that I think the motherboard of my PC is okay. As said, last night I did have a couple of BSODs while installing software and drivers, after rolling back to the initial Windows 7 install and trying to install SP1 over night (which failed BTW), the PS seems stable once more. But I still think that the motherboard is on the end of it's life.

You might remember the meltdown of a 8800GT I had back in 2010, I think that meltdown didn't affect the motherboard for full, but did leave its mark on the motherboard. Ever since that meltdown, I've been having weird BSODs and by now it seems that the NorthBridge of the motherboard isn't working 100% properly. This is either caused by bad memory confituration (which I doubt after I was helped to get it running properly), or indeed corrosion over time form that meltdown...

Then there's also the problem of a loose SATA connector on the motherboard. I think I yanked a SATA cable with a bit too much force from it in the past (though it does sound highly unlikely ), and since early this year the connector can be physically be removed from the board, leaving only the metallic part on the board. Of course, I can slide the plastic connector in place again and the SATA connector is working again (have the DVD drive attached to it), but it might not be helping the stability of the motherboard at all....

Last couple of days while trying to solve the BSODs I've been windowshopping *pun intended * for a new motherboard. It seems that these days AMD motherboards with SLI are getting rare (prolly because AMD wants to push their ATi graphical cards), but I was able to find a couple. The one I want is way out of budget, but the one I can buy is good enough and a 'trimmed down' version of the one I want.
Then memory to add to the new motherboard. Having a Phenom X6 1090T, I could use 2000Mhz memory, but if I want to upgrade later on, it seems that the new processors on this board only support up to 1600Mhz memory It's clear that I'll pick the 1600Mhz memory then But I will upgrade the total RAM though. Having 8Gb now I often find my PC slow ans still a bit swapping. And willing to start on 3D mesh editing, 8Gb will be on the 'low side'of the range of what I need, so I will buy 2x8Gb memory immediately, which ishalf of what the board I want can support and leaving room for a future upgrade as well.

A good thing is that the current DDR2 RAM I have in my system is fully okay. With the current prices (€60-€65 for 2x2Gb), I think I can sell the 4x2Gb I have for €60 so push the costs a bit. I'm not sure though what to do with the motherboard. I think I might set it up for sale as malfuntioning but running, and see if I can make someone happy with it for free or a small price

Now I have to hope that my system will be stable for an other month. Around May 23rd, I'll get my holiday allowance and will buy the new motherboard and RAM from it. If not, I will have to call upon our savings earlier, but that's something I don't want to do right now...

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BSOD 0x124 part #3
14 April 2014
Posted in General
Yet an other update on the BSODs I was having...

Last night at 12:30 the partitioning was finally done and I turned off the computer and went to bet. When I woke up this morning at 6am (quite normal for me ) I decided to plug in the other two HDDs again and use the (Linux) PartedMagic tool again, which I used to split the HDD last night. I figured that there would be a way to access that old C-drive with the tool, and figured it would be worth a shot.

To my big surprise, PartedMagic holds more than just a partitioning manager. This tool holds ALL HDD tools you might wish for to manage and test your drives. I immediately decided to test the 1Tb D-drive (3 options to test from 2m to 2h30m) and that drive came out 100% okay, though it does already have 15K running hours (good to know this tool also reads running hours). With a Western Digital Caviar HDD rated to run a minimum of 150K hours, this will not be a problem for the coming years.

The old C-drive however is quite a lot older than the 1Tb drive and I figured that one might be already over half it's lifespan and thus cause errors. But to my big surprise this SeaGate drive is still 100% healthy as well and has 'only' run 35K hours so far (using it as Windows system disk only).

This made me wonder if the E-drive (Samsung 670Gb) might be causing problems. After all, I've had bad sector reports on this drive quite a couple of years ago already. And BINGO! That Samsung HDD is pretty faulty, showing one red topic and advising me to replace it ASAP and a couple of purple ones (being warnings that those topics have been a problem before and might become faulty in the future). And somehow I was not really surprised that this HDD might be the one causing trouble to my Windows configuration.

Knowing that the Samsung HDD might be the cause, I unplugged it again and started to install Windows XP x64 Professional. This time the install went 100% without hangups or error messages and within 30 minutes it was fully installed. After that I upgraded this (bare) installation to Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and that went flawless as well, though I did find out that I downloaded the wrong files for the SP1 installation

At this very moment I'm merging the D-drive again to one partition with close to 3 hour to go. While this process was running I've bought a new Western Digital 2Tb HDD and now I'm bored like hell because all I can do is wait.

When the partition merge is done, I can copy the data I need to keep from the old Samsung HDD to the 1Tb partition (180Gb free there and it should be able to hold all data I want to keep *keeps fingers crossed*). Then remove that SamSung HDD from my system all together, drop the old 1Tb as my development (E) drive and install the new 2Tb as my games (D) drive.

In all, I think it won't be before tomorrow before I can be working on TetraGems again and play Elder Scrolls online..

[UPDATE]

Ubuntu doesn't seem to like the Samsung HDD either - it hung itself up while I was saving data from it. Not to mention, Ubuntu (32-bit version from USB drive) doesn't use cache and copies at 35% of Windows. So instead I booted the clean Windows 7 on the PC and started to copy. Oddly enough the PC is now already up for 1h20m and still running *knocks on wood* Somehow the clean install of Windows 7 doesn't check the hardware as intensively as the updated version. That's good news, so I can keep working on saving data. After that the Samsung HDD will be replaced for the new WD 2Tb and SP1 will be installed followed by all other patches to be done.

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BSOD 0x124 part #2
13 April 2014
Posted in General
Follow up on yesterday's BSOD entry....

Today was yet an other day with BSODs and this time I wasn't even able to play the Elder Scrolls online longer than the (in)famous 1h0m3s That really implies that things were going from bad to worse. So I decided to re-install Windows.

But re-installing Windows isn't that easy for me. Since I have an upgrade version of Windows 7 Ultimate x64, I do need to install an older version of a 64-bit Windows first. Well, in my case that's Windows XP Professional x64 (yeah, go ahead and laugh, but at least I have a fully legit Windows installation ).

But first things first... Copy all essential files (My Documents) from the C-drive to the D-drive and download Windows 7 SP 1 (saw I didn't have that one yet on my external drive). With that done it's time to install Windows XP x64...

It all sounds so easy, but it really never is with me and PC problems... Windows XP just wouldn't install - heck, the DVD didn't even fully load the first time. The second time it did load, I was able to format the C-drive BUT... at 100% it hung again

At this time I really wasn't sure anymore what to do, so I called my brother, who in most cases is a last resort. We both have about the same PC hardware knowledge, but experiences from the past make the knowledge a bit different between the two of us.
After having explained the whole problem (BSODs hardware related but CPU, GPU and RAM are okay) and telling that I fear that the motherboard is about to die (thing is 4 years old already), he opted that it's possible that the HDD is dieing instead. And he was speaking from recent experience, where his D-drive died and Windows kept crashing into BSODs.

With that knowledge, it was worth to give it a shot. I'd much rather buy a new HDD (or rather SSD ) than a new motherboard and DDR3 RAM (my motherboard has DDR2 RAM ). So I took out the Ultimate Boot Disc (one that I use a lot to check hardware), and was looking for harddisk managers that would add a new partition to an existing drive without deleting data - and such a tool was there. Problem though, it's been running already for 4 hours now, and it has about 7 hours left before the D-drive (1Tb and holding the data i need to keep) is done splitting

I also mentioned my problem on Steam and a fellow scripter opted that it might be the HDD that's failing, and he linked to a topic on the Microsoft forums where someone had BSODs around every 60 minutes (sounds familiar...). His SSD needed a firmware update and when that one was applied, the BSODs were gone.

In my case though, no firmware available for that old HDD. Not to mention, the drive was already pretty old. It came from an Compaq PC I bought back in 2007 and of which this HDD is the only thing I have left from it. That would make the HDD 7 years old (at least, knowing HP they use old models in their hardware) and errors are bound to happen then.

So for today no gaming at all for me, and tomorrow most likely not either. Gaming is one thing that I can do without, but it also means that my work on TetraGems is on hold at the moment as well, and that does make me sad. I know, I can use this old (2004) laptop and plug in the USB-stick with the latest version that I copied before I started working on the PC this morning, but this laptop really doesn't work so fine when I'm programming - it's just too slow when I compile for Windows and test my programs, now try to imagine when I test TetraGems in Android on this old laptop...


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BSOD 0x124 after 1h0m3s
12 April 2014
Posted in General
I know I haven't been posting the last 2 days, but it's with reason. Since the morning of April 9th my PC has become unstable (again), and once again I'm getting BSODs that point out hardware problems (0x124).

These BSODs started to happen after I Had installed the latest Windows updates on April 8th, so I figured that would be the problem. Looking at the nature of the update (a silly one marked as important I might say) I decided to restore my system to before that update, but that didn't work.

Next I looked at other updates on my system, but those were not much. AVG Free did make an update and had BSOD problems in the past, but replacing it with any other anti-virus tool didn't help, so AVG wasn't the problem. Also Dropbox has had an update that same date, but disabling Dropbox didn't solve the problem

Only because of the nature of the BSOD I decided to check my hardware anyway. Aside from finding the 2501 BIOS update for my motherboard (I had a version a year older still installed), nothing much had to be updated. So next up was a hardware stress-test, and that all looked good as well.
 photo Screenshot2014-04-12061901_zps90d20528.png

I did notice that when my systemn is (somewhat) idle, the BSOD happens after exactly 1 hour and 3 seconds (one time it was 4 seconds) up time. This made me think that the problem is Windows related, and that some event at 1 hour after up time is triggered (if idle at the time) and would run for about 3 seconds before the BSOD happened.

Good thing a friend of mine has quite a collection of Microsoft MSC certificates, so I called him. He thinks it's the .NET 4.0 optimizer that could cause the problem. Well, he might be right, since I also wasn't really able to uninstall a lot of stuff anymore from my system either (mainly Microsoft software BTW). And I decided to search for a repair tool on the Microsoft site. Yes, they have one, and indeed, the 4.5 .NET tools had to be repaired. By now I've done that (obviously), and have been able to uninstalll some of the Microsoft tools I wanted to ditch (GFWL - a possible cause?).

Right now I have a bit over half an hour before the 1 hour BSOD could happen. Lets hope that the repair of the 4.5 .NET did the trick! If not, then I'm afraid I have to format my C-drive and install Windows all over again.

And perhaps I should re-install Windows anyway. This copy of Windows 7 is running since August 2010 and since then I've removed and replaced so much hardware and installed and uninstalled so much software that the registery might (will?) be a complete mess anyway, one bound to give problems sooner or later as well...

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My first dungeon
10 April 2014
Posted in Elder Scrolls
Two days ago, I've made my first dungeon run: Spindleclutch. This dungeon is one where you have to search for a group of soldiers in a dungeon (duhuh ^^) filled with spiders. But there was only one problem when doing this dungeon - it was during the day and we had no healer with us but we though to give it a try anyway...

The start of the dungeon was pretty straight forward as with most MMORPGs. You get lots of monsters (pretty weak ones I must say) and a couple of semi-bosses to make it a bit harder for the players already. So far nothing's wrong, though we all died a few times already due to the lack of a healer in the party...

When we finally came to the end boss (a horrific huge spider) things went from bad to worst though. We had 2 full wipes there and one of the party members (it was a PUG BTW) said that the day before he did this dungeon and the party gave up after a dozen wipes. Now that was very encouraging

After the 3rd wipe, a 4th wipe was already imminent, but I found out that jumping when the boss started to do it's horrific AoE skill helped a lot to keep me alive. None the less, two members died anyway, and me an the tank were left, with me having the aggro of the boss (gotta love DPS classes ).

At that point I decided to make a run out of the boss room, but sadly the boss followed me everywhere in the dungeon. I hoped to loose the boss to ress the other 2 members, but that didn't work. The tank was a good one and started to use aggo skills on the boss, and after a couple of minutes he finally managed to take over the aggro (imagine how much aggro I had ). With the boss off my ass I went back to the main room and ressed the other 2 members (no respawn during party battle) and by then the tank saw what my plan was and complimented me on it.

With us 4 back on our feet again we didn't have a hard time to kill that boss anymore since it was already halfway. The party was grateful of the ress and we had lousy drops from is (which is very common). Good thing we all had a shot on a chest in the dungeon (I had a blue ring) and a very nice quest reward (blue medium armor pants).

This dungeon also showed me the importance of what to pick as 2nd weapon set. I decided today to make it the healing staff. Though it might sound odd for a Nightblade to use a healing staff, it's not. A lot of skills I have use some soft of healing, including group healing. I decided to slot all those healing related DPS skills when I use the healing staff, and I hope that the next time we're in a dungeon I can take toe role of healer...

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Back to programming discipline
08 April 2014
Posted in About me
The last week I've played a lot of Elder Scrolls online and haven't really spent a single minute to programming on TetraGems. That was because of the first release of TetraGems as well as the release of the Elder Scrolls online.

Now that I've had some feedback on TetraGems and  having just released the first update of the game, it's time to get back to the daily discipline of programming. This implies that I won't be playing ESO as much as I did before, and during the morning I will mostly be working on TetraGems.

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Somewhat forced social play
07 April 2014
Posted in Elder Scrolls
If memory serves me correctly, I have made a similar topic about this for Guild Wars 2. But then with the remark that you're playing in party without a party (thanks to the public quests). Elder Scrolls online also has a somewhat forced social play system, but does it the other way around...

Lets start with the most important thing: the guild. They (read: ArenaNet) said about Guild Wars 2 that the guild was the most important part of the game. Because without guild, going to the PvP area was useless. Zenimax kinda thinks the same way, and without guild it's no use to go to Cyrodiil (the PvP area). BULLOCKS!
In both games you can go to the PvP area without problem because there's always a group doing some sieging. This was true in GW2, and is true in ESO as well (despite my level 10, I have already played 'PvP'). In both cases though, the term PvP is somewhat overrated. Most of the times the 'siege' is a PvE thing where the attackers zerg the stronghold and only NPC defenders are there to be slain. But in ESO, a guild can obtain a stronghold (no clue how though ), giving some advantages...

One of the biggest advantages of a guild to have a stronghold (which will also bring me to WHY you should be in a guild in ESO), is that the guild can open it's guild stores to other guild, and you as guild member can shop with other guilds as well.
Though it doesn't sound like a big deal, it really is. You see, ESO doesn't have an auction house, but instead, the guild you're in has a guild store where (if the guild has 50+ members) you can sell your stuff to other players. Having a stronghold your guild store will take up the function of the regular auction house...

An other thing I have noticed is that after level 8, the game starts to become harder (unlike a lot of other MMORPGs out there). It's not the monsters that really become harder and get more hit points, but it's more the number of monsters appearing together. Much like in the single-player Elder Scrolls games, in ESO you can handle 2 perhaps 3 monsters, but that's about it. And in between you have to wait to heal (or pop potions), which takes time (hmm kinda reminds me of old-school Lineage II ). In quite a lot of areas you just don't have the time to wait a bit for healing, and playing in a (small) party will come in handy. Right now I have already played in one party of 3 because without party the quest would just be impossible (or very hard ) to complete.

There are also a couple of spots on the map where where an event will occur. Those are real tough (they are marked with a skull and 2 crossed bones with reason ) and you really need a party there (or play with others around you).

I think Zenimax tries to break the solo-minded play style of a lot of players and get the players to team up more than other developers do. I hope what I have seen so far will stay truth higher up in the game (levels) as well, and I might have found myself a new home to stay...

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Daughter of Giants
06 April 2014
Posted in Elder Scrolls
Yesterday I hit level 10, and the Prophet once again came to me asking to meet him in the Harborage. That I did, and he came up with a plan to rescue Lyris from the prison of Morlag Bal. While I was strolling around in Daggerfall, she has been removed from her prison and dumped in the Foundry of Woe to make weapons for the army of Morlag Bal...


In all, this quest was a rather easy one. I guess they didn't intend to make the personal quest overly difficult, but rather more informative on the how and why of your imprisonment at the start of the game and revealing your destiny bit by bit.

It's clear that my next quest involves a rescue or search for Sai Sahan. I have no clue who he is, but it's clear he is important...

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PvP in Cyradiil
05 April 2014
Posted in Elder Scrolls
This morning I (finally) hit level 10 and I could enter Cyradill for some 'good old' PvP. But since I had not a clue on what I had to do with PvP, I was hoping for a small guide. Well, that guide was given by a tutorial quest...


Okay, done the tutorial, so now I know what to do..? Indeed, pickup a quest and get on with that one. I picked up a scouting quest and it was one to walk to the other side of the map and I thought I could do that. 10 minutes later I checked my map only to find out that I didn't even progress 10% toward my destination

Good thing that while I was there, there was a lot of activity with the Daggerfall Covenant and 'we' were about to start to get a stronghold. I teamed up (FRAPSed that as well, but no time to process it now) and we went there. It was a lot of fun, but I seem to have forgotten one small thing - a siege engine. That meant that I was just running around while others were trying to break the door. When that was done we all stormed in and OMFG level 50 NPCs running around there (with me being only level 10 ).

The whole PvP thing was fun, though I didn't really PvP. The ESO PvP system is much like that of Guild Wars 2, but from the looks of it made a lot better. I will certainly be in Cyradiil more and post more about the PvP (system) there...

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Immediate subscription charge
04 April 2014
Posted in Elder Scrolls
Early access has been extended for an other 2 days. But this won't give you an extra 2 days. Oh well, I had a SMS this morning that I could pick up my pre-order (including the soundtrack CD), and I did so after work. In the mean time I've read that (on MMORPG.com) Elder Scrolls online needs a payment source upon entering the ESO key AND will charge you immediately for the first period (as you have selected to be charged for either 1, 3 or 6 months). Since I don't have a creditcard anymore, I kinda had to buy a 60-day timecard immediately along with the ESO pre-order...

On MMORPG.com I've read some very negative comments on this first charge on this immediate subscription charge. Even the words 'cash grab' was used. But I think it's only a positive thing that Zenimax is charging subscription (or using a 60-day timecard) immediately upon entering the game's key.

These days, MMORPGs are more and more played like regular (console) games, meaning that played buy the game when it's released, rush through the content and then abandon it. With games becoming shorter and shorter (in terms of both playing time and content) and MMORPGs these days are no longer the 'grind' they used to be, players might burn though the ESO content in matter of a few weeks (days?) and then abandon the game without seeing a lot of (hidden) features the developers have put in the game. Forcing the players to pay for at least an extra month (60 days) at release could keep these players in the game.

And ESO has a lot of features. First off, there are 3 factions, and my guess is that each faction has it's own full storyline. Playing through all those 3 storylines would already triple the earier mentioned few weeks (days) to get through the content of ESO. Not to mention all exploring, crafting, PvP and Kingship in the game.

ESO really has a lot to offer and I hope that with this extra 'forced' subscription players might linger a bit longer than the regular (boxed) month...

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