Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dice charts for Space Hulk: Death Angel and Gears of War

One of the coolest parts of any board game would be the custom parts. But, one of the worst parts of any board game would be the custom parts. Particularly custom dice. Why? Because they’re harder to fake having, to improvise. So, as a result, I figured I’d better map the dice on these two games, lest I lose them, the dog eats them, or they go off to the 5th Dimension without me.

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 2/28/13


Onward and upward, I reckon? It seems there’s a lot more Dilithium and Zen trading hands than I’ve seen in a while. That said, it also seems that the Z:D ratio' of being under 1:100 is pretty much the new norm. I figure with people getting to where they want to be in the Reputation system, they’re using their Omega and Romulan Marks to buy Dilithium to sell or use for Fleet projects. So, why is the price not really going adjusting much? Seems that people are willing to pay the higher prices for Dilithium, and sellers are more than happy to sell at that price per Zen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

[STO] Averages 2/27/13

More playing with numbers! Sometimes I feel like an old druid or something, looking at numerical guts in an attempt to predict the future. Well, not quite. More like looking at the data, all spilled out on the floor, going, “Well, that’s interesting.”

Average Z:D

Average Buying Zen volume



Average Buying Dilithium volume

Average Buying Total Voume



So, what can we see here? I’ll go ahead and say that this is almost like a Rorschach test due to the lack of better information. I’ve never made it a secret that my way of getting data is limited, and is at best the tip of the iceberg. We can’t see the successful transactions, nor can we get a full picture of offerings (ie, entire the 1:25 to 1:500 range).

That said, I think we can say that trading seems to be up, with more offerings being up on the board than before. Now, whether that means the number of successful transactions is up or not is impossible to tell, simply because when the Exchange updates itself, you only see the difference between successful sales and new offers being reflected. If there’s 1,000 successful transactions and 1,005 new offers, then the volume will go up 5 since those are unfulfilled, whereas if it’s the other way round it’d go down 5.

Makes me curious as to what could be done to get Z:D prices to be more pro-Zen (ie, favoring players spending money on Dilithium)? I’m honestly not sure what the “ideal” price is, mind you, and suspect there isn’t one. Dilithium buyers would love to have it be 1:500, but Dilithium sellers might sometimes dream of 1:25...

Is this something you’d like to see on a monthly basis?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracker 2/21/13


Well, I think its safe to say whatever rut we saw pre- and post- Season 7 is over, at least for trading volume. Wow. How long will it last? Not a clue. But, overall, it seems there’s a lot of people buying and selling Dilithium (although there’s a sharp dip recently – wonder if I messed up recording a number?).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 2/14/13

Happy Valentine’s Day! This time of year I’d normally be complaining that City of Heroes was rerunning the same event as last year, and that Halloween plus Christmas got all the developer love.


Can’t do that anymore. So, be sure to enjoy your games, whatever they are, while they’re still around. Anyhow, enough of that, and onto the data!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 4

Last night I got around to priming the individual COGs; Cole, Baird, Dom and Fenix. Rather than using the gesso like I did the Locust, I used Army Painter’s spray primer. The reason why is I didn’t want the primer to shrink away like the gesso does, and the thinner layer of the stuff meant I should have a little more detail with the figures.


Why the concern? Because they’re the player’s pieces, I wanted them to be better looking and more detailed than the Locust. They are the heroes, after all. Moreover, unlike the Locust, they’re well defined characters as a group, the protagonists of the series, and really the guys you spend the most time with in game. As such, they really deserve more attention.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 3

The Drones, the Boomers, the Theron Guard, the Kantus, and the Berzerker. Primed and painted. I started with them Saturday night, did a bit more Sunday, and finished up tonight. How did it go? I think it went along pretty decently!

[STO] Buying Zen with Energy Credits 2/11/13

Last October I posted a blog on buying Zen via Energy Credits. Well, since then the Z:D rate has changed dramatically, and I wasn’t sure how the requisite bits were being priced on the Exchange. Now, both of these factors are constantly in motion, so it was, and is, a snapshot at best. So, time for another snapshot.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 2




“I beheld the wretch - the miserable monster whom I had created” ~Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Tickers more or less done, I turned my attention to the Wretches; a very annoying enemy in the Gears series. Why? Because they bounce around like they’re on pogo-sticks.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 1

Gears of War is probably one of my favorite gaming franchises right now, and definitely one of my favorite things on the Xbox 360. Its an excellent, well done 3rd person shooter from Epic Games, and one I’m actually really annoyed that is on the 360 only. Only the first game is on Windows, and its not on the PS3 at all. Really, its one of those games that could’ve been truly huge, if not for the fact its tied down to a single system.

Anyhow! There is a board game based on the series, published by Fantasy Flight Games, designed by Corey Konieczka. I don’t actually know who the guy is, but I do know he made Space Hulk: Death Angel the card game, which I also have. Given they mentioned him by name, I’m assuming he’s actually a big deal, and from my play-through a few Saturdays ago? I can understand why.

But, I can give my impressions of the game another time.

[STO] Of Fleets and Bases.

On the official boards I've seen a number of requests to make life easier for small fleets to advance in the Fleet system. Now, looking at the fact that the size of a fleet doesn't directly correlate to the amount of people (the fleet I'm in is small, has a high number of contributors, and is pretty high up there, or so I'm told)? The problem isn't the size of the fleet! Its the number of people pitching in. Anyhow, this is my suggestion from off the boards.


If you look at Dave Ramsey's recommendation for getting rid of debt, he uses what is called the Snowball Method. He admits it isn't ideal mathematically, however, its easy to understand and it works for people mentally. This idea, this mentality, works for exercise and fitness goals, weight loss, etc. Have a plan, go one step at a time, and you'll get there.  That's the problem with the current system - you're presented with these large, gargantuan projects that can be summed up with one word: Intimidating. As such...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

[W8/RT] DiceGod

The Windows 8/Windows RT marketplace is still pretty young. There’s a lot of room for growth, niches to be filled, and things to be made. As a long-time table-top gamer, there are a few apps that can really make things easier on me, especially if I’m the GM for a given game. One such app is DiceGod.

A glimpse into madness, or "Why I love Windows 8."

I wrote this up as an email to an acquaintance of mine, and figured I ought share. Now, keep in mind - I understand myself to be irrational and flawed at times, so if you don't agree with me, that's fine! I'm nuts! Really! Just be polite about it and we'll be fine :)

Since we never quite got around to it during the show (understandable) or lunch (likewise understandable), I figured I'd just go over the reasons I'm one of the Windows 8 fans.

First off? I've got a taste for doomed things. Well, not quite. Perhaps. Its a coincidence, perhaps. But, there's OS/2, BeOS, the Sega Dreamcast, NeoGeo Pocket Color, the Palm Pre, etc. In fact, once I decided I really loved PCs and Windows (really around Windows 7's public beta), then the real rumbling of us being in a "post pc era" started catching on. I even liked and admired Microsoft's work on Vista, believe it or not.

Its rather odd being a banshee. I suspect the good folks at Microsoft sighed in relief I didn't buy a Surface RT.

Seriously, first off; I've seen and used the Metro design language since 2006? 2007? with the Microsoft Zune. It was original, it was functional, it was sensible, it was an example of what Microsoft could do when they turned off the xerox machines and did something. A good example, at that. My third generation Zune flash-based player, complete with that weird squircle thing (you could touch, swipe, and click) was fantastic. The Zune software got me to leave iTunes; it was simple, worked quite nicely, was very straightforward to me, etc.

I started following the Windows Phone development in 2010; it was an evolution of the Metro design language. Initially rumored to be the "Zune Phone," when details started coming out it was clear it wasn't just that. In fact, while it certainly had commonalities, they definitely built upon it. The design team took the portions that made sense, but added more to it while not compromising the minimalist aesthetic. Moreover, it wasn't a simple adaption of the computer desktop to a phone (which Microsoft had done before), rather it was an original take on things, which is what I appreciated about the Pre (which I still feel has the best phone multitasking metaphor to date).

But, the most impressive thing? Microsoft did something that was out of character; they broke binary compatibility. There was no backwards compatibility between the hardware or software of Windows Mobile 6.* and Windows Phone 7. Moreover, the problem that plagued Windows Mobile (wildly varying hardware configurations and all the associated issues) and now frustrate Android developers? They were doing away with by requiring licensees to follow minimum specifications and a set platform. While there were a good number of areas for OEMs to differentiate themselves (both software and hardware), there was a basic level of expectation that all phones would meet. It was like Microsoft realized their greatest strength was their greatest weakness - their OEM partners - and they were doing something about it finally.

Now, this isn't why I love Windows Phone, so I'll leave it there. However, that is available for later discussion if you like. I should mention that there's an irrational element to what I like, if not love, but its well rooted in the appreciation that with my usage? I can get away with choosing based on aesthetics :)

Now, Windows 8 and Windows RT. First off, learning it would have the Metro interface (now called "Modern," I think) and was looking towards the post-PC era. Microsoft's past tablet initiatives were interesting, but I felt they were impractical for most people. Seeing them address where the market was rather than doubling down on their strengths? Taking a risk? Interesting!

Then later on, I read up on the changes they were making under the hood. Yes, the operating system was going to be schizophrenic. Metro was going to be sandboxed and separated from the desktop. The two didn't especially want to interact. Trick being, of course, OS/2 was the same if you had it running Windows 3.x (one of its selling points and downfalls, ironically enough). Apple's OSX ran itself, but would also start up OS9 as the Classic Environment for a few versions (I'm sure you remember that). That's before you even get into virtualization or emulation. So, in a way, an OS wanting to be two different operating systems isn't so foreign an idea to me.

The key element, however, was WinRT. A new API that was exclusive for Metro. Apps in that environment could not access Win32 (there are exceptions for browsers, maybe some others, but on the whole...). Again, a baby step of trying to get rid of dead wood. Not as dramatic as Windows Phone, but regardless, it was something that felt very uncharacteristic of Microsoft. Programs were sandboxed, could only interact with each other in specified ways, and those ways could expand as you gained applications (which is very much reminiscent of BeOS).

Additionally, the integration of Microsoft's SkyDrive and other cloud services? Much like a smartphone and tablet, it makes for a good, smart use of online. Pulling down my settings, my contacts, letting me access my SkyDrive up and down, etc? Fantastic. But like my Windows Phone and Xbox? Downloading and installing an app, a game, whatever, is one and the same. There's not separate download then installation processes. Once its downloaded, its available. Updating? All centralized for all apps. Want to uninstall something? Simply right-click then hit "uninstall" - its gone instantly, with no mess, no crap left behind clogging things up. Expected on a good smartphone, but revolutionary for Windows when compared to "Add/Remove Programs."

The UI was more than simplified; it feels very, wonderfully consistent. While the full-screen (and 1/3:2/3 split screen) feels abominably wasteful for large screens, its fantastic on smaller ones such as laptops. It feels quite good, honestly, and makes use of the metrics Microsoft got of most Windows users who use almost everything at full screen. Switching with a mouse, keyboard shortcuts, etc., is just fine. Trackpad gestures are great. Get it on a touchscreen and its very nice. A lot of the superfluous elements are out of sight until they're needed , maximizing the available space.

On my desktop, however? I simply switch to the desktop. The x86 version of Windows 8 is more fully functional than the ARM-based Windows RT. The changes made for Windows 8/RT on the desktop are very good, but I wouldn't necessarily say they're worth a full version release in and of themselves. That said, they are still good, and continue polishing the excellent work done with Windows Vista and 7. The lowered memory overhead is great, the reworking of Windows Explorer, good compatibility, etc. Its Windows 7.1, arguably.

Looking at it as a whole? Windows 8/RT is probably the closest we'll see anytime soon to Microsoft having a do-over, a "from scratch" OS. Its not as bold as Apple going from OS9 to OSX, but then Microsoft went through that ugly phase going from Windows Millenium/9x (which was arguably still a grotesque DOS based mess) to Windows XP and the cross-platform NT kernal. Paul Thurrott, the great MS cheerleader, argues that the ill-selling and rather confusing Windows RT tablet OS is actually a glimpse at the future Microsoft wants.

Apple's relatively ruthless culling of dead weight, old features, etc., often annoys me (recently got rid of my iMac), but I feel its a not insignificant factor in why OSX has evolved so well. Microsoft and their dependence on enterprise/business can't make moves like that, but even glaciers move. It will likely take 10 years for the vision being around, getting tweaked, etc., before its fully accepted, but I do think its necessary movement. Win32 will likely stick around for quite some time, but for the professional market. The consumer market? Or those without IT? I think that WinRT is really where they need to be looking in the long term. The problem with Windows is that I feel its traditionally ill-suited for its market position with the general public. If Apple went ahead and licensed out OSX? That'd be preferable. Sadly, the hardware dongle that OSX requires... :p

Still, its Microsoft being smart about it, finally. They're going at the only pace they realistically can (slow, pulling along 10+ years worth of luggage), going about it sensibly, and honestly they're letting Google become the new 90's Microsoft with Android becoming the new Windows. Much like the Windows Phone, its a middle ground between Apple's total control of the hardware/software (ie, a Mac is a singular product, not two separate products) and the mess of Android being a free for all between the OS, hardware, etc, but the freedom that goes with it. There's a clear mandate of how it should be handled at a minimum (reflected in the problems OEMs are having with W8 being on fundamentally W7 hardware), but even then I'm finding it to be competent on old hardware like my desktop PC and laptop.

The learning curve, the "its different!", "not what I'm used to!" etc., is what's causing the most fuss. Ironically, the Mac users are the ones coming into Costco and warming up to it. My sister in law has had the most positive response from them; they're quick to experiment, pick it up, and even happily buy. The PC users who are simply used to older Windows and fancy themselves power users (but probably aren't) are fussing and kicking up a storm, which is a pity. Its perfectly usable, if not more so, with a keyboard and mouse. Keyboard shortcuts are smart, the search is fantastic and more functional/flexible, and its great. Very seriously, I do no miss the Start button because I feel its actually less efficient, not as fast, and not as flexible.

And again, must say, I'm being irrational and emotional, but that's me and tech ;)

Bottom line for people? Give it the chance it deserves, and the time it needs. Its excellent! When I use Windows 7 and Vista, it really does feel like a step backwards.  Again, I've upgraded both my computers with it, and really enjoy it. Once you get past the learning curve, I hope you'll feel the same.

[STO] 2/7/13 Dilithium Tracking


Well, as an encouraging sign, the total volume seems to be doing pretty well these days!  In fact, it looks like we had a high point just a few days ago, but it didn’t seem to be a fluke so much as just a high point. Certainly, its not anomalously high.

Offers to buy sell Dilithium seem to be up as well, but I don’t know if that’s because there’s more Dilithium to go around, or because folks are trying to get the price back down.

Monday, February 4, 2013

[STO] PVP as War, PVP as Sport.

In the middle of last year, I read a little on a thread about "Combat as Sport versus Combat as War." It was referencing a very long opinion post for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (currently in development). Intriguing as it was, though, is was concerning a tabletop role-playing game. Could it offer anything worth noting about Star Trek Online's PVP?

I think so.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

[STO] Averages!

I’ve recently been wondering about how the market has been doing. Its all well and good to look at charts, but sometimes it’s a bit much to take in at once. So, I decided to break my combined chart down into its independent pieces. I also put in a line with the average over the measured period. While not exactly a baseline, its still a useful thing to see. So, as such, we’ll be looking at:

  • Zen:Dilithium Exchange Rate
  • Top 5 trading pools for buying Zen volume
  • Top 5 trading pools for buying Dilithium volume
  • Top 10 trading pools volume

We’ll be covering the period from September 19, 2012 until February 2, 2013.

Friday, February 1, 2013

[STO] 2/1/13 Dilithium Tracking


First off, let me apologize for missing a few days recently. In the general scheme of things, it should be okay since I’m more trying to track trends than anything else, but I’m still disappointed with myself. I’ve got my desktop back up and running, though, so hopefully everything will back to normal soon.