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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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SONY settles easy after the 2011 hack
24 July 2014
Posted in EverQuest II
Remember the hack of both the PlayStation Network (PSN) and SONY Online Entertainment (SOE) back in April 2011? Literally millions of PSN and SOE users got their data compromised by hackers, including their financial (creditcard) data and SONY was like 'Hey, you agreed to our EULA and we can't be held liable'. Of course, the US wouldn't be the US if there wouldn't come a lawsuit from that and there's finally a settlement on it. SONY has to pay a mere $15M to their customers at the time.

I mean, a whooping $15M to all users who had their financial (creditcard) date compromised, take action against abuse of it, getting stolen identities straight again and all that kind of stuff??? THIS IS JUST INSANE!

And when you read the verdict on how SONY pays the money things get even more INSANE. A lot of costumers who got hit by that hack have said 'goodbye' to SONY's PSN or SOE and now they get *drumroll* $5 credit for the use of the service

How on earth can this be a punishment for a big company like SONY? This is a virtual payment to customers they have lost anyway. While those customers who fall for this 'payment' will become a 'regular' customer again and will start paying SONY once more for their services. THIS IS NO FUCKING SETTLEMENT, THIS IS A MONEY MAKER!

If you were a victim of the hack, all I can advice is DO NOT FALL FOR IT. Let SONY fuck it and choke on that $5 'gift' they use to lure you back into their web. Do not play their games EVER AGAIN and I would even recommend to buy a XBOX ONE (though that is a real sucky console ) instead of a PS4 (which is far more superior).

I myself will certainly not use any of SONY's online services ever again because of things like this. SONY is a huge money hungry corporation, doing ANYTHING to screw their customers over. Oh yeah, I still have that EQ2 account, but haven't touched it for ages, even while there's still over 7500 Station Cash in it as well. FUCK THEM BIG TIME

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Picking up the (digital) pencil again
23 July 2014
Posted in Drawing art
During my school times I was quite good at drawing. The average grade I had was 8/10 for my drawings and I even had a 9/10 once (the teacher was like "8 for the student, 9 for the teacher and 10 for God"), which shows I do have the skills. With that, half my family is very artistic when it comes to drawing, but only one of my relatives is serious in getting a job in it (though more in the line of computer game designer).

But well, my school days are gone now for more than 25 years (yes I am 45 ) and now that I've picked up programming as hobby and the first game (TetraGems) is nearly finished, I want to expand the border for the next title. I already have a lot of ideas of what I want to do, but the major problem will be the art I'll have to use. I know I can hire an artist or ask some of my cousins who have real good skills, but I'd rather do things myself. After all it's my hobby and not theirs

To get things started I first had to make the choice if I wanted to use pencil & paper (and scan the work later on), or go digital immediately. Well, with computers being my main hobby, that choice was an easy one to answer - lets go digital! That would mean I'd have to get a (good) drawing tablet for my PC.

My first idea was to get a Wacom Intous Pen & Touch S. A small and cheap one to get used to digital drawing. Though limited in options, it would be a good start. When I was at the shop, I learned that this tablet also has an optional wireless kit (MUST HAVE!) to make drawing a bit easier without having that wire all around me. Sadly though, the tablet and the wireless kit together would end up around €135, and that's a lot of money for a pretty limited drawing tablet I thought.

Of course, while at the shop I also glanced at the Wacom Intous Pro S. This tablet has the wireless kit included in the price of €199 and has a lot more options. The most important one I think is the pen pressure levels that the other one lacked. And with the 'little difference' in price I thought to get that one.
But the shop only had the showroom model, and I don't want that for the full retail price. Everyone has already been pushing on it (so I said), and I asked for a rebate (can always give it a shot ). To my surprise I could get it for €180 with still it's full warranty

Then software... I could keep using GIMP2, but that's more of a picture editor than a real drawing program. I also already had the Black Ink demo on my PC, and playing a bit with that I thought it was nice, but not really special. I also tried the Art Rage 4 demo and that one impressed me immediately and bought it.

Just an hour ago, I started reading in "Manga for Dummies" (.PDF eBook - I have ordered the paper version already through eBay). Though this book assumes one is drawing with pencil & paper, I can use the techniques demonstrated as well as follow the lessons in it. One of the first lessons was to draw a small circle, then one around it, and an other one around it and so on. I know drawing a (perfect) circle is already hard, but additional ones around it is even harder. And then try to do it as your first 'test drawing' on a tablet...
 photo circles_zpsb5b14041.png
I think I did pretty well there *NOT* The picture shows my first 'good' tries after 15 minutes of trying. I know the circles are not perfectly round, but practice makes perfect, and I will try some more later tonight or tomorrow morning (when it's not so hot here). But at least I know how to use the tablet AND be able to measure somewhat correctly where the pen's pointer on the tablet ends up on the screen. And that's worth something as well...

For now, I have made a category for my drawings on the blog, but don't expect any miracles the coming weeks or even months. I will most likely drop some try outs here first before I start on something serious and be able to show you. With that, I'm taking manga to get started on drawing people. As I said at the start I am good in technical drawings, but people is an other thing. I hope (think) that manga is a good start on people / characters for my upcoming game(s)...

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Alchemy levels way too slow
21 July 2014
Posted in ArcheAge
Of all the crafting proficiencies, Alchemy is probably the most important one out there. Reason for Alchemy to be this important is because of the polishes and oils that are used in almost every other crafting proficiency out there. As I've mentioned earlier, you can't make these polishes and oils without inter-continental trade either.

The last week I've taken a closer look at the Alchemy proficiency because I want to make these polishes and oils myself, and boy, did I bump into a HUGE disappointment. One for now and at release...

During the previous version I haven't spent overly much time into Alchemy and I made the few polishes and oils I needed myself. Because of that the Alchemy proficiency was only around 2.000. Now that the 1.2 patch is implemented, I need 5.000 Alchemy proficiency to make the tier 2 polishes for the gear I want. I know, only 3.000 points of crafting, but that's definitely the problem!

The problem arises from the extremely low leveling of the Alchemy proficiency, and most certainly compared to other crafting proficiencies that go up way faster. Even those proficiencies that are needed to 'fuel' the Alchemy proficiency, like Farming and Gathering.

When you make 1 craft for the first noobie potions, you only get 3XP for Alchemy. Though not a real problem, the XP for the other proficiencies will give you about 20-40XP. With that, for the 3XP (use of 3 labor) for Alchemy you get 10 potions! Okay, 10 potions with a very low healing/mana recovery power, but still you get too many potions for too little XP. Actually, the amount of potions is so overwhelming that at one point you will almost drown in them (right now I have 700 potions that I'm not using ).

I know you can argue that I should use polishes, oils and other stuff to level the Alchemy proficiency, and I agree with that. Problem is only that the amount of resources needed to level (I need 3 of them per polish/oil) is immensely huge. I surely would need over 200 resources for only 1.000XP in Alchemy and I would end up with around 66 polishes/oils And yeah, I have no freaking clue what to do with those now almost every player has maximum level in the game and doesn't really need to make any low-level gear.

Yeah, I think it's clear that the implementation of the 1.2 patch kinda broke Alchemy for me. I will try to level it up, but I doubt it'll be of any use though. I do know for sure though that at release I will call dibs on the Alchemy proficiency and try to level it up ASAP...

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19 July 2014
Posted in General
OMFG it's so damn hot here that it's not normal any more! Living in The Netherlands has it's perks when it comes to weather, but the last couple of days things have gone from bad to worse. Early this week it was rainy and only around 20C. Two days ago the temperature started to climb up to 25C, yesterday it was 28C and today it's 31C here in Alkmaar.

31C FFS! And we're living pretty close to the sea here (only 15km away). In Amsterdam where my brother and mom live it's around 33C and deeper into The Netherlands it's around 35C

Though temperatures normally don't tell a thing, these temperatures are very high for The Netherlands. And being so close to the sea also makes the air pretty humid compared to areas more southern in Europe. This means that it's not only warm, but you're not really sweating and this the body gets even hotter than when you'd be in Spain, Italy or Greece with these temperatures...

As a side effect, I can't really play games overly much either. I have played ArcheAge a bit today and the GPUs heated up pretty bad. Compared with their normal temperatures they were an average of 10 degrees hotter, and topping them at 75C max...
 photo ARCHEAGE2014-07-1914-04-21-95_zpsc4cefcc2.jpg

But luckily all bad things come to an end, and it wouldn't be The Netherlands if the change would be very dramatic. Yes, that's right, in a couple of hours a lot of rain is coming our way and the forecast predicts that it'll be raining on and off for the coming 12 hours when it starts. This of course will drop the temperature as well, making things a bit better for us here...

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Active and awesome community
16 July 2014
Posted in Final Fantasy XIV
I know I've said not to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Real Reborn any more because of the well known 'Kill 10 rats' problem. But that was almost 10 months ago and recently I've learned that the 1299 crysta (1 month subscription) I added to my account could expire through time. With the new 2.3 patch and a lot of changes since the last time I played, I figured to give FFXIV:ARR an other try.

But first things first... What server was I on, and what was my character again? Well, I was on a US server and my character was only a level 17-ish Arcanist. Nothing major there and I figured to reroll and start anew on a EU server. Though normally I won't play on EU servers, I thought it would be better for me this time because of playing times. With me playing ArcheAge mostly in the morning and FFXIV:ARR in the afternoons and evenings, staying on a US server would really hurt my gaming experience.

So, a reroll, a very long (over 10 minutes) new intro movie and my noobie Conjurer arrived at Gridania. To my really big surprise the town was full of people, and I don't mean NPCs or AFK players. No, it was really buzzing with activity - players running all around, players crafting and HUGE amounts of chat as well. I was really amazed by the amount of activity. It also didn't take long before I had an invite to a Free Company (guild), and liking the game (Touch my Kitty ) I decided to join (and I'm still with them).

Playing a bit and leveling through questing I hit that one famous level 5 story-line quest where all your gear had to be at least level 5. Damn! So far the gear I had from quest rewards was good enough for me and I didn't bother to upgrade all parts to level (I never do in a MMO anyway). That meant I was missing gloves and shoes for level 5 (still wearing the starter stuff). I asked in the FC if someone could make me some and that was possible. Within 5 minutes I had the stuff (high-grade as well) and I could continue with the quest.

I know, it's pretty normal for guild mates to help each other out and this doesn't really show how good a community is. But the next example does.

I was in one of the 3 city-states (I'm so bad with names...) and was crafting some stuff to level that crafting class. Once again, I was not alone there and some higher level player steps into the crafting guild and stays motionless for a while. After a minute or 2 he changes gear and starts to craft. In the mean time I had the quest done for that guild and was on my way out when I had a trade invite from that player. Of course I accepted and he trades me a full set of crafting gear for my current level and level 8 (all high grade). I was really grateful to that player and amazed as well. I mean, I've played a lot of MMORPGs, and never have I had this happen by a complete stranger in the game...

In general, I have to say that I do like the way FFXIV:ARR plays now. And by that I mean the game itself (will comment on that later this week) and the community in general. I haven't had a single problem with anyone yet and the community in general is very helpful. I think a lot of MMO communities can take an example to this one!

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TRION fucked up the alpha badly
13 July 2014
Posted in ArcheAge
We're almost 2 weeks playing the 1.2 patch for ArcheAge, and that's also the time that the 2nd alpha server (called Omega) was added. With the lack of open farmland spaces before the implementation of the 1.2 patch, and the huge amount of players who started all over on the Omega server, you would guess that more farmland on the original alpha server would become available.

Sadly though, that's not the case. TRION has made an error with the implementation of the payment for farmland with the new certificates (200 labor per 5). To counter this problem, TRION is paying the taxes for the players automatically. In all you'd say it's not a bad thing, because we're saving lots of labor points that can be used for actual work. But is it..?

As I started with, we're almost 2 weeks down the road with the new patch. When a player ism behind on the tax payment of his land, he has an other week to pay the tax or his property will be cleared by the game and become available to other players to claim.

With the huge amount of players no longer playing on the original alpha server, there are a lot of unused farmplots scattered around the continents. Farmplots that should have been cleared by the system automatically already and become available for other player to claim. Farmplots that are in tactical areas - islands that have the biggest chance to produce thunderstruck trees and Auroria where you can easily grow archeum trees for archeum dust. It is these kind of plots that are now mostly unused and have to be reused again ASAP. As a direct result, the prices of both archeum crystals and thunderstruck trees have gone sky high. Not only because of the huge amount of unused plots that could produce them, but also because the Omega server is sucking most of them in (yea, auction houses are shared between servers!).

So far there has been no word from TRION about fixing the tax payment problem, other than the announcement that comes in-game a couple of times that they're paying the tax for all the farmplots. This makes me wonder if I should even continue to play this alpha actively, or that I just should give up on it, keep my farm up and running and wait (im)patiently for the release of the game...

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1st closed beta on the 17th!
11 July 2014
Posted in ArcheAge
Finally, TRION has set the date for the first closed beta event: July 17th. This date is about a month later than they originally planned, but at least more players are now able to try out the game.

Personally I will not play this beta event though. I mean, 4 days to restart and 10.000s of players trying to get in? Nah, that doesn't sound like fun to me. Not to mention the lag all these players will cause to the servers AND the hunting of the monsters needed for the quests. To make things worse: the land-run (again).

I might take a peek though in the game, only to see what the cash shop will be like and comment on that. I know a couple of items that will appear there, but I'm very curious on everything TRION will add to the cash shop, so I can judge on the amount of Pay2Win stuff in it (or lack of it).

What to do when the beta is running? Well, I hope the alpha servers will stay up as well, but I have my doubts. That would mean I'd have to find something else, and luckily I did reactivate my Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn account recently (I noticed that the 1299 crysta I had there have an expiration date)...

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Won't continue to play
10 July 2014
Posted in WildStar
Don't get me wrong, WildStar is a kick-ass game with a lot of very good features. More over, the questing is a lot of fun and the humor used it the game really makes it worth playing. But yet I'll quit playing it and I hear you wonder why...

Well, as said earlier on, the 1.2 patch of ArcheAge is really good and I enjoy playing that MMORPG nor more than I did before the patch. Even without being in a guild (the one I was in sadly is inactive and no way to contact any of the players to check if they will be playing at release and on what server ) there is still enough to do. This new found enjoyment in ArcheAge will result in MMORPGs I'd play in general and in this case WildStar, which was the only other MMORPG I was playing along side ArcheAge.

But finding WildStar worth to play, there is also an other issue with the game - replay value. I am far away from 50, but I already have found a lack of replay value in the game. And though that's not yet a problem, when I'd hit 50 and reroll an other character, the content of the game will be mostly the same. This is not just WildStar's fault, but the 'themepark' fault in general. MMORPGs focus too much on questing and instanced dungeons and too little on anything around it. While WildStar does try to give other activities to the player (the path system included in the game), I personally find too little enjoyment in only two activities. And when I compare the activities in ArcheAge with WildStar, then ArcheAge clearly has a lot more to offer to the player than WildStar does.

Last but not least, I fear that WildStar will become a Buy2Play game within a year after release. Why? Well, look at all other released 'themepark' MMORPGs for the last decade. Most of them are not able to keep subscriptions up and the only way to keep them profitable is either Free2Play or Buy2Play. I don't think WildStar will go Free2Play just because of the quality the game offers, but yet, a subscription system for the coming years is something I won't see happen either, so Buy2Play seems the only viable option...

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Trade in 1.2
06 July 2014
Posted in ArcheAge
We're a couple of days down the road with the new patch, and I have been able to test it with some trading. Let me start with the comment that trading has been extremely simplefied (as with most of the crafting). You still need the 50 silver certificate from the general merchant. Then you need a couple of cut down resources (15 to 50), for which you need a very cheap knife (consumable). Lastly you need the actual material for the pack. Yes, you hear it right. No more fuzzing around with different materials, rare materials which you always have too few of and such things!

Then the trade run itself. It can be divided in two parts: on your own continent or to the other continent (or Freedich Isle).
Your own continent is pretty straight forward. You get around 4.05 gold or 6.5 gold if you move the pack 1 or 2 zones away. I still need to try to get a pack from the contested zones on my continent and see what I'll get for those when I bring them to the regular spots (City of Towers and Austera).
Trade to the other continent (and Freedich Isle) only gives crafting resources or gilda stars. But sadly it seems a bit bugged at the moment I have taken tradepacks from Sanddeep (a coastal region), and from Marianople (deep in the other continent) to Solis (I'll explain later why I go there and bring it to my own continent), and in both cases I only had 1 gilda star or 13 or 14 crafting resources. IMO a pack from Marianople should give more because it's coming from deeper in the continent. On the other side, the while trade on the own continent is save (though not for me walking around there...). I have yet to bring packs to Luteson Harbor (Villanelle) and Cearnond (Ynystere) to see what I get there, but I think it will be the same...

Now why I go to the other continent and bring a tradepack to my own continent for gilda stars and resources... Well, the reason is actually simple, and also the same reason a lot of players hate the 1.2 patch. If I bring a pack to the other continent, you're bound to the PvP rules of the other continent. This means that I can not initiate PvP with the enemy faction. With a lot of enemy players actually waiting on the docks for us to come, it's an easy picking for them and we're pretty sure to loose our tradepacks Making a tradepack on the other continent and bringing it to my own continent does give me the certainty that the campers on the dock can not attack me, simply because they're my own faction and they can not PvP with me for the simple reason it's a save area for my own faction

Last but not least a word on the gilda stars and crafting resources... Both are equally important, though the crafting resources more than the gilda stars. With the current low gain of gilda stars, doing the daily quests gives actually more gilda stars than the traderuns do, and it's 100% save. If you have 30K Husbandry, you can get up to 8 gilda stars per day from the daily quests I also need to add, that gilda powder (yeah, we have to crush our hard earned gilda stars!) is used as a crafting ingredient for all sealed items (crafting for level 40 and up). Add to that the fact that almost everything you can buy from gilda stars on the Mirage Isle is more expensive than before the patch, and you see a problem arise with the number of gilda stars you need...
Crafting resources are (as far as I could check) only used for Alchemy. You need them to make polish, which is used in almost every craft you do. To make things worse, you need 3 of the T1 resources, which means I can only make 4 polish from one tradepack. I haven't yet looked at amount of the T2 and T3 resources in Alchemy, but I guess it'll be the same, as well as the number gained from a tradepack...

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Labor in 1.2
05 July 2014
Posted in ArcheAge
With the new 1.2 patch also the whole labor system has been overhauled. Though not a full overhaul, there's been a lot of tweaking done to the system to 'optimize' it. Well, optimize, it looks more that it's been done this way to sell labor point supplemental items

Lets start with the most important change... In the previous version of the game, we could craft almost everything we wanted while leveling up our character and the corresponding labor proficiencies. This was a handy system and every player was pretty happy with it.

Now after the 1.2 patch, a lot more limitations to labor usage have been implemented with a minimum proficiency for the skill. And to make things worse, a lot of rewarded points have changed as well. Some went up, others went down. As an example, I'd love to take the Alchemy proficiency. before the patch you basically had to pay a lot of gold for the bottles you'd need for the potions you'd make, but at least you could quickly make the higher level potions because the minimum requirement to make them was pretty low, and the points rewarded for the craft was relatively high (15 each craft iirc). Now though, the Alchemy craft now rewards a mere 5 points per craft for the same potions, while the curve to the next 'tier' of potions is pretty high. There are two examples really showing this.
The first one is the pet recovery potion - a potion that resides in the husbandry proficiency and has no minimum requirements. The problem making this potion is that you need a healing potion which has a minimum of 25K alchemy
The other example is the tier 2 polish that you need to make a farmer's workingstation from you small scarecrow. This polish has a minimum requirement of 10K or 15K Alchemy, while you can need it already at level 10. Add to that the extreme slow 'growing' of the Alchemy proficiency and you can see the problem that' arising here...

An other problem with the new labor system is the raised labor used for some skills. Sadly though, this increase is mainly for the processing of raw materials into materials to be used for actual crafting (like 3 wool into 1 fabric, 3 ores into 1 ingot and 3 logs into 1 lumber). That used to have a 3 labor requirement, but now it's increased to 5 labor. Though it doesn't seem so bad, the amount of raw materials needed to be processed is enormous! Not to mention, you get a lot of it and with this increased labor usage, you can't process it all anymore.

Last but not least an other HUGE complaint on the new labor system. You get more XP per labor point used than before. This implies that the pure crafters (I'm one of those) will level a lot faster now when crafting their stuff. I'm not saying it's a real bad thing, because leveling a new skill tree can be a pain, and crafting can ease that pain. But if you start crafting from early in the game like I did, you'll miss out on a lot of the other good stuff the game has to offer...

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