By the Numbers: Data Dump - September 2012

Welcome to Q4, everybody! We've made it. It's finally that time of year when all (most) of those big games you heard about during E3 and saw/played at PAX are finally hitting store shelves. I took a couple hours away from Borderlands 2 to put together this month's edition of blue lines and bars, so I hope it was worth it. Hey, it could be worse. You could be playing Resident Evil 6 right now, I guess.

Blogs

These are the most active bloggers in the community for last month. All but three of them are new to the list compared to August.

Forums

No matter what forum you put it in, there ain't no stoppin' the wrestling discussion thread on Giant Bomb. And then we've got the usual cast of characters (for the most part) as the top posters of the month.

Reviews

No big surprises in terms of the top ten most reviewed games by users this month. But, then there's this guy named putting everyone to shame on the number of reviews written.

Videos

Clearly, Borderlands 2 is the most popular thing on the site right now. Also, do you ever wonder how much of the site's viewers are lurkers? Well, check out that first thumbnail. Anyone know what's up with this guy? He must be commenting twice on every video. Points for enthusiasm, I guess. Also, what the hell happened on September 26th to cause the spike?

Wiki

Looks about even in terms of familiar faces and new ones on the most points earned in September. Keep it up, duders. Some unfortunate souls continue to do the dirty work of adding release info to the site. Despite "having a job," ZombiePie has reclaimed the top spot on the moderator chart. Aside from Borderlands 2, the most edited page on the site in September was...War of the Roses? Both and broke the 500 edits mark. And there's some weird stuff on the chart for pages with the most points increase.

Considering I'm going to be neck deep in Assassin's Creed III and Need for Speed Most Wanted at the end of this month, the October chart might be a little bit late.

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Tales from Norrath: Don't Wake the Dragon

Sleeper's Tomb is a special place in the world of Norrath. It's a place that caused much controversy following the release of The Scars of Velious in late 2000 throughout 2001 and beyond. The zone was the top-tier, end game content for that expansion and Verant had decided to implement a unique encounter at the very end that could only be completed once per server. By the time my guild was well-enough equipped to enter Sleeper's Tomb, that task had already been completed by another guild. So, unlike my previous entries, this one will be a little less personal.

History of Dragons on Norrath

The Scars of Velious

Sleeper's Tomb is an enormous underground lair beneath the frozen tundra of the Eastern Wastes where the First Brood imprisoned the most powerful dragon in history. The First Brood were/are the first living creatures to ever roam the face of Norrath, and were given life by a goddess named Veeshan, the Wurmqueen. During this era, there were no Claws of Veeshan (Velious dragons) or Ring of Scale (Kunark dragons). All the dragons of Norrath were of one faction. This all changed when two dragons of opposite elements mated, which was strictly forbidden by the council of elders. From their egg hatched a crystal dragon, resembling Veeshan herself, whom they named Kerafyrm. When the Arch Priest of Veeshan, Kildrukaun, learned of their defiance, he sentenced the two lovers to death. Ironically, he took pity upon the young prismatic dragon, and took great interest in its growth. It was during this time that the dragons split into two factions and the Ring of Scale left Velious for the continent of Kunark. Kildrukaun believed that Kerafyrm would lead the Claws of Veeshan in a great civil war against the Ring of Scale and successfully reunite all dragons under the same banner.

Veeshan, the Wurmqueen

The council of elders disagreed with this view, as they thought it a great risk to wage war in Kunark leaving their home, Skyshrine, more vulnerable to the storm giants. Kerafyrm quickly rose through the ranks of the Claws, and became so powerful, ruthless, destructive, and chaotic that the council decided that Kerfyrm had to be stopped or else risk the destruction of the entire world. Kildrukaun was present for this ruling, so he assembled a legion of followers to join Kerafyrm in defiance. Kerafyrm's immense power made the battle more of a fight than it should have been, but they were severely outnumbered by the council of elders. How they subdued Kerafyrm is still a mystery, but death was not an option. The Claws of Veeshan built an elaborate tomb beneath the Eastern Wastes where they placed four powerful warders to keep watch over Kerafyrm, who became commonly referred to as simply The Sleeper.

Sleeper Sleeps

Kildrukaun and a few of his supporters survived the battles and escaped to unknown parts of the world. The warders are simply the last line of defense in this massive tomb, while gigantic golems known as The Progenitor, The Master of the Guard, and The Final Arbiter keep all but the most skilled adventurers at bay. Entrance to the tomb is only earned after completing a task given by Jaled'Dar's shade in the Dragon Necropolis. Jaled'Dar was the leader of the Ring of Scale that left Velious for Kunark, and in his death seeks vengeance against the Claws of Veeshan. Returning a talisman from any of the remaining First Brood dragons to him will earn a key to the tomb.

EverQuest's First One-Time-Only Event

Sleeper Awakened

In the Summer of 2001, a guild by the name of Blood of the Spider on The Rathe server was the first to awaken The Sleeper. By this point, it was clear to most high level guilds that killing all four of the warder dragons that surrounded the Sleeper would cause The Sleeper to be released. Until Blood of the Spider, though, no one really knew what would happen after he was awake. Since those warders dropped loot that was some of the best gear in the game, it was common practice to kill only three of them, then wait for those three to respawn in a week's time (real time) before farming them again. Most guilds simply did not want to awaken the Sleeper in favor of obtaining this high end loot once a week, or sometimes on a rotation agreement with other guilds capable of taking down warders. On many servers where such an agreement between guilds had been made, the Sleeper was awoken by a guild somewhat secretly or at least unexpectedly. Being put on the server-wide list of guilds that awoke the Sleeper, as well as screwing rival guilds out of top-tier loot, eventually became more important than the loot from the warders.

Sleeper vs Yelinak

Once the Sleeper was released, the world of Norrath was changed on that server forever and there were reactions in many zones simultaneously. First of all, at the moment the last warder died, Kerafyrm shouted across the zone "I AM FREE!" and immediately began killing every player in the zone. He was capable of death touching players very quickly, leaving no opportunity for anyone to fight him. Everyone that had just successfully killed the fourth warder was swiftly slaughtered. The Sleeper then spawned Skyshrine, slaying many players there as well, many of which had no idea what was going on.

I was one of those players. Just minding my own business in a grinding group with guild mates. Then, out of nowhere, the biggest dragon we'd ever seen shows up and takes out our warrior in one swipe. Within a few seconds, without any chance to react, we were all dead. Word spread fairly quickly across the server about what was going on, but at that moment it was one of the most startling things I'd ever seen in a game.

Reactions to Kerafyrm's death throughout Norrath.

On servers where Lord Yelinak (leader of the Claws of Veeshan and a member of the First Brood) was alive at the time, The Sleeper would make his way to the top of Skyshrine, fight, and slay him. While this was all happening, dragons all around the world of Norrath began to shout warnings of their impending doom at the hands of the awakened Sleeper. Lady Vox and Lord Nagafen were witnessed shouting joy, for with the death of the Claws of Veeshan, their exile in Antonica would be over. After slaying Lord Yelinak, Kerafyrm flew away and was not seen again by players for several years when it was revealed that he had been hiding out in the unexplored regions of Faydwer in the Secrets of Faydwer expansion.

The Aftermath

An empty tomb.

On each server, following the release of The Sleeper, there was much resentment from other top-level guilds towards the guild that had done the deed as it eliminated the opportunity to get loot from the four warders that were then gone forever. For most players, though, it was just a one-time only, crazy event that left people talking for weeks. Where were you when The Sleeper awoke? Did you see him? The controversy among high-level players though caused Verant to vow to never attempt implementing a one-time only event ever again.

Kildrukaun the Ancient

As for Sleeper's Tomb itself, only the warders were gone. So, players could still enter the zone and farm the much-sought-after primal velium weapons that the golem bosses dropped. Eventually, the zone was revamped a bit, and, in the place of the warders, four "ancients" were added. Kildrukaun himself was among them. The storyline here was that Kerafyrm's supporters had reclaimed the tomb in order to prepare for his inevitable return and would use the tomb as a base of operations for their quest for world domination. These ancients dropped loot similar to the warders, but not exactly the same. For example, the ultra rare gnome illusion mask that one of the warders dropped was replaced with a dwarf illusion mask. As a rogue player, the gnome illusion mask (usable only by rogues and bards) was one of the most sought after treasures in the game. Since I didn't make it to ST until after the warders were gone, I had to buy it. I spent over 100,000 platinum to purchase it from a retiring rogue player. There were only four or five on the server of Rodcet Nife.

The Death of Kerafyrm

Attempting the Impossible

On November 15, 2003, an army of three combined guilds (Ascending Dawn, Wudan, Magus Imperialis Magicus) on the Rallos Zek server (a PvP server) attempted what many thought was impossible. Being one of the last servers to release the Sleeper, they sought to slay the prismatic dragon. They would only have one shot and since the Sleeper has the ability to death touch players at an alarming rate, the normal strategy of assigning a main tank for clerics to target would not work. And all spells except for manaburn and a shadow knight's harm touch would be resisted, so a simple zerg rush strategy was implemented where players would haphazardly run in, attack as long as they could, and die. The Sleeper could attack for a max 6999 per hit but had the ability to quad hit. All of the clerics in attendance were responsible for resurrecting those players, who would then loot their equipment and immediately run back in to attack. Many players lost levels due to the experience penalty for dying in EverQuest.

GM Apology

The strategy was working, but after a couple hours and getting the Sleeper to 27% health, a GM that was monitoring the attempt despawned the Sleeper, thus ending the attempt. The reason was originally cited as a bug, but two days later, SOE released an apology and respawned all four warders and the Sleeper in order for the guilds to attempt it once more. It was an unprecedented move by SOE.

So, on November 17, 2003, the three guilds returned to Sleeper's Tomb with roughly 200 players in attendance. After close to three hours in battle and reportedly close to 1000 resurrections, Kerafyrm was defeated. As many expected, he had no loot, for it was never intended for anyone to kill him. Since he had no loot, the corpse quickly disappeared. A game-wide message was sent out by one of the game's GMs announcing the accomplishment.

Victory Announcement

The Memory Remains

As of this writing, Al'Kabor, the Mac-only server for EverQuest, is still up and running. It was announced in February 2012 that the server would shut down on March 31, 2012, but the Mac community successfully petitioned John Smedley to keep it going. The Mac server has not been fully supported since 2002, and as such has not seen the release of any expansions beyond The Planes of Power. Thus, Al'Kabor is essentially an active time capsule of what used to be EverQuest. Many players continue to proudly play here under the creed that Al'Kabor is "EverQuest Done Right."

Coinciding with this sense of preservation and nostalgia that these players carry, Al'Kabor is the only active server where The Sleeper is still trapped in his tomb. Based upon forum posts regarding the Mac server, no one is willing to release him unless the server is finally shut down. Some believe he should stay where he is even if the plug gets pulled on Al'Kabor anyway.

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By the Numbers: StreetPAXin Prime 2012

StreetPAX Prime 2012

Thanks for the info, Patrick Klepek.

Starting with PAX Prime 2011, StreetPassing has been a pretty big deal. That first PAX with 3DS, I accumulated about 350 Mii's in my plaza. Then, at PAX East 2012, I added over 500 more. At PAX Prime 2012, I didn't get quite that many. I mostly ignored my 3DS on the third day, but still ended up with over 450 StreetPasses over the course of the four days I was in Seattle. I really wish they would up the maximum number of StreetPasses you can get at once from ten. After a while, it just becomes too tedious to clear them out during the show especially when another ten get collected WHILE you're clearing out the previous ten. It's a never ending loop of Miis. Gross.

At the end of the weekend, I once again had all of the available puzzle pieces. And, I'm on what appears to be my second to last run in terms of filling in all the spots in the Find Mii dungeon. That shit takes forever when you're just throwing army after army of level one Miis at those enemies.

Break It Down

What population of PAX attendees are female? Well, if StreetPass is to be believed, then it's about one in about every six.

If you're not familiar with StreetPass, one of the things you can display in your profile is whether you prefer dogs or cats. So, are most PAX goers dog people or cat people? Well, as you can see, it kind of depends on their gender. Not too surprising I guess.

Male - Dogs vs CatsAll of PAX - Dogs vs CatsFemale - Dogs vs Cats

Locations

Unsurprisingly, the state of Washington is by far the most represented region at PAX Prime. But, I also ran into several international folks as well as many Canadians. And to that one person living in the Northwest Territories, damn. As a side note, the only state (including DC and Puerto Rico) that I haven't met someone from is Wyoming. I guess that makes sense, but I guess I need to book a layover in Cheyenne next year or something.

The percentages below are based on the entire population of StreetPasses, not just America and/or International.

United States of America

Alabama00.00%Montana30.66%
Alaska20.44%Nebraska20.44%
Arizona102.20%Nevada102.20%
Arkansas10.22%New Hampshire10.22%
California4910.77%New Jersey30.66%
Colorado51.10%New Mexico10.22%
Connecticut00.00%New York00.00%
Delaware00.00%North Carolina20.44%
District of Columbia00.00%North Dakota10.22%
Florida102.20%Ohio00.00%
Georgia30.66%Oklahoma10.22%
Hawaii20.44%Oregon316.81%
Idaho20.44%Pennsylvania40.88%
Illinois61.32%Puerto Rico00.00%
Indiana40.88%Rhode Island10.22%
Iowa00.00%South Carolina00.00%
Kansas10.22%South Dakota00.00%
Kentucky10.22%Tennessee20.44%
Louisiana10.22%Texas112.42%
Maine00.00%Utah61.32%
Maryland00.00%Vermont00.00%
Massachusetts30.66%Virginia61.32%
Michigan30.66%Washington17538.46%
Minnesota30.66%West Virginia00.00%
Mississippi00.00%Wisconsin30.66%
Missouri30.66%Wyoming00.00%
USA (no state listed)61.32%

Canada / International

Alberta255.49%Alsace, France10.22%
British Columbia357.69%Capital Territory, Australia10.22%
Manitoba10.22%Dublin, Ireland10.22%
New Brunswick00.00%Ibaraki, Japan10.22%
Newfoundland00.00%England, United Kingdom20.44%
Northwest Territories10.22%Sonora, Mexico10.22%
Nunavut00.00%Stockholm, Sweden10.22%
Nova Scotia00.00%
Ontario61.32%
Prince Edward Island00.00%
Quebec00.00%
Saskatchewan10.22%
Yukon00.00%

Totals

  • Americans - 378 (83.08%)
  • Canadians - 69 (15.16%)
  • International - 8 (1.76%)

Based on these totals, it can be said that you are more likely to meet Canadian and other International 3DS owners in Seattle than you are in Boston (9.8% and 0.96% respectively).

Most Popular Games & Apps

For those who don't own a 3DS, when you StreetPass someone, it tells you the last thing that they played. Whether it was a game or an app, their Mii is holding a little sign with the logo on it. So, based on this information, here are the top 10 most popular games and apps during PAX Prime 2012.

New Super Mario Bros. 255Swapnote31
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy27System Settings28
Mario Kart 722Nintendo Zone Viewer26
Super Mario 3D Land19Mii Maker24
Pokemon White Version12Nintendo eShop14
Kingdom Hearts 3D10Pokedex 3D14
Pokemon Black Version10Download Play10
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D10Activity Log9
Kid Icarus: Uprising6Nintendo 3DS Sound8
Pokemon Conquest6Nintendo 3DS Camera7

The Raw Data

If you see your name on here somewhere, let me know. Also, the average number of Miis in any given person's plaza is 382. One guy had close to 3000. That's crazy. I'm around 1500 or so after three PAX's.

NameLocationLatest GamePetsSexPlaza
???BCMii MakerCatsM225
+++JapanSystem SettingsCatsF1629
~TMNMii MakerDogsF27
AaerinWAPokemon White VersionDogsM272
AdiasAngelMIMii MakerDogsF937
aktuarieILSwapnote-F29
AlWAPokemon Black VersionCatsM338
AlbanarOKSystem SettingsCatsM420
AldoUSATheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM199
AleeWAPokemon Black VersionCatsF115
AlexORNintendo Zone ViewerCatsM142
AlexandreWAMario Kart 7DogsM323
amalfushiWAMario Kart 7-M471
AmandaWADokapon JourneyCatsF409
AmmutABNew Super Mario Bros. 2-M447
AnaWANintendo Zone Viewer-F69
AndresCAMetroid FusionDogsM415
AndrewWAPokemon White VersionDogsM425
AndrewTNGhost Trick: Phantom DetectiveDogsM389
AndrewWAMario Tennis Open-M81
AndyBoyBCResident Evil RevelationsCatsM1172
AntonioFLNintendo Zone ViewerDogsM58
ArianCAMii MakerCatsM318
ArtVAShin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor OverclockedDogsM786
ArtILSwapnoteDogsM443
ASCOBCProfessor Layton and the Curious VillageCatsF157
AshPaulsenCANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM1647
AustinCAActivity LogDogsM1362
AveryWANintendo 3DS SoundDogsF829
AwhsomeWAActivity LogDogsM1850
B-chanWAYoshiCatsM172
ballsWASuper Mario 3D Land-M148
BartholoFLNintendo Zone Viewer-M198
BARTZ13ORPokedex 3DDogsM170
BatmanVAStar Fox 64 3D-M222
BaxterWAThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DCatsM41
BeardyUTPokemon White VersionDogsM163
BeardySwedenNew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM98
BeauRosserWAPokedex 3DDogsM456
BejaBCSystem SettingsDogsM357
BenWADownload PlayCatsM650
BenjaminMOSystem SettingsDogsM471
bigboldWAPokedex 3D-M452
bigdumhipyPATheatrhythm Final FantasyCatsM339
BozabaABNew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM315
BradfordAZSuper Mario 3D LandDogsM401
BrandonWAKingdom Hearts 3DDogsM493
BreezyWAThe Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DXDogsF555
BrentBCNew Super Mario Bros. 2-M18
BrettABMario Kart 7DogsM173
BrettBCMario Tennis Open-M88
BrianWAShin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor OverclockedDogsM493
BrianCAMario Kart 7-M55
BrittABMario's Picross-F561
BronyMikeBCNew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM1714
Bruce WiiWA--M2
BryanABFire Emblem: The Sacred Stones-M114
brycecubeNVNew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM196
BubsORNintendo 3DS SoundCatsM1027
BzWAActivity Log-M322
C-JoBCNintendo Zone ViewerDogsM125
CabrillUTNintendo Zone ViewerCatsM274
CaliBCSystem SettingsDogsM235
CarORSwapnoteCatsF439
CatONKirby Mass AttackCatsF255
CatrixaORPokedex 3DCatsF327
CattTXNew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsF484
ChareyORKid Icarus: Uprising-M250
chaseWASuper Mario 3D LandDogsM101
chestoneCANintendo eShop-M565
ChichenCAPokemon Black Version-M101
Chii_OsWASonic the Hedgehog: Triple TroubleCatsM320
ChopStyxCANintendo 3DS CameraDogsM110
ChrisNJSonic GenerationsDogsM1311
ChrisAKNew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM251
ChrisWANintendo Zone Viewer-M77
ChrisGANew Super Mario Bros. 2-M1
ChuckPANintendo Zone ViewerDogsM397
ClintWASuper Mario Bros.CatsM668
CloudyIceBCSuper Mario Bros.CatsM244
CocoTXPokemon Black VersionCatsF305
CodyABThe Legend of ZeldaDogsM423
CodyWAMii MakerDogsM305
CodyWAPokemon Black VersionCatsM110
CovetWASwapnoteCatsF1908
CowsCrazyONDr. Mario ExpressCatsM956
CreedWANew Super Mario Bros. 2-M57
CrisMBZelda: Four Swords Anniversary EditionDogsF19
CutestieWAMii MakerCatsF66
CypherORSwapnoteDogsM422
CyricZNHSystem SettingsDogsM929
DagronCAMetroid FusionDogsM491
DanTXPokedex 3DDogsM111
DaniWASwapnoteDogsF901
DanoAZSystem SettingsDogsM425
darkcobraWAMii MakerDogsM335
DaveUKPokedex 3DCatsM1672
DaveUKThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D-M601
DaveWAActivity LogDogsM508
davidWAPokemon SoulSilverDogsM8
DbtdCarrotWAPokemon White Version-M357
DeadScottCAMario Kart 7-M152
DennisNVTheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM318
DerekBCMario Kart 7CatsM621
DestilAZTheatrhythm Final FantasyCatsM76
Dev_StewAB--M3
DevinXtrmUTPokemon Black VersionCatsM646
DKCKYNew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM113
DocCATheatrhythm Final FantasyCatsM948
DOCTOR MAONVMii MakerCatsM159
DommiusABPokemon White VersionCatsM226
DomnallAZKingdom Hearts 3D-M544
DOscarCATheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM991
Double JWASystem SettingsDogsM453
DougCA3D Classics Kirby's AdventureCatsM519
DragonNVSystem SettingsDogsF153
draklanONNintendo Zone ViewerCatsM1292
DraytonWASuper Mario 64 DSDogsM177
DrewUTNew Super Mario Bros. 2-M249
DrewCAPokemon White VersionDogsM199
DrewWANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM110
DrGrumblesWAPokemon ConquestDogsM221
DriftirCASwapnoteDogsM51
DTJAAAAMWATheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM2956
DueceBCDownload PlayDogsM321
DustinKSSwapnoteCatsM341
DustinWIMario Kart 7CatsM148
DutchORSwapnoteDogsM91
DyreWITheatrhythm Final FantasyCatsM221
EdoNDRagnarok DSDogsM4
EmberWAThe New York Times CrosswordsDogsF28
emilyWASystem Settings-F199
ErikWANintendo eShop-M91
EthorCANew Super Mario Bros. 2-M173
EverettCATheatrhythm Final Fantasy-M619
Eyes5BCPicross 3D-F732
FauntleroyWANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM977
FaustusORNintendo eShop-M31
FishWANintendo eShopDogsM135
FoolioWAMario Kart 7DogsM239
FoxWAMetroid FusionCatsM501
FrankUSASystem Settings-M301
FriedONThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D-M455
FrubenWANintendo VideoCatsM572
FunktasticAB-DogsM641
furuiCATales of the AbyssCatsM172
G$WADownload PlayDogsM538
GabsterORWarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$-M456
GamechampWAGame & Watch GalleryCatsM25
GenXerUSANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM1060
GhigCA--M240
GingyABMetroid II Return of SamusCatsF645
ginkoILSwapnoteDogsF394
gmanWASuper Street Fighter IV 3D EditionCatsM308
GoatousILShin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor OverclockedCatsM541
GrandfathaTXNew Super Mario Bros. 2-M90
HaleyBCMario Kart 7DogsM830
HammerWANintendo VideoDogsM445
HansABSuper Mario 3D LandDogsM806
HanzWAPokemon Black Version-M317
HedinnWeisWANintendo 3DS SoundCatsM68
Helen0rzTXSwapnoteCatsF297
HidoWAKingdom Hearts 3D-M111
HiesenbergWAMii MakerCatsM528
HilaeriWADownload PlayCatsF78
HodenWASuper Mario 3D LandDogsM276
HolimionORPokemon ConquestDogsM257
HylianHeroABNew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM582
HyruleHeroWASwapnoteDogsM860
IanORFire Emblem: Shadow DragonCatsM205
inpheauxFLThe Legend of ZeldaDogsM645
J-64WASystem SettingsDogsM978
JackWAMario Kart 7-M478
JackCASystem Settings-M204
JakeWAMario Kart 7DogsM42
JamesBCSystem SettingsCatsM374
JamesCANew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM221
James DOR3D Classics ExcitebikeDogsM785
JamieODIrelandNintendo 3DS SoundDogsM383
JasonCASpeedX 3DDogsM473
JasonABNew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM433
JasonONKirby & The Amazing MirrorCatsM387
JawobazABTheatrhythm Final Fantasy-M101
JayFLSuper Street Fighter IV 3D EditionDogsM137
JediteNMChrono TriggerDogsM64
JeffWANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM202
jeffchazSATheatrhythm Final FantasyCatsF182
JennytaliaNVNew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsF457
jepNJWarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$DogsM1040
JeremyWAMario Kart 7CatsM570
JeremyORNintendo eShopDogsM431
JeremyWATales of the AbyssCatsM309
Jerrad N.WAPokedex 3DDogsM138
JesseWANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM315
JessimikaWASwapnoteCatsF327
jetmanWA--M27
JewWAMasyu-M274
JeyleBCPushmoCatsF236
JillianFLKingdom Hearts 3DCatsF402
JimboABSwapnoteCatsM460
JimDrkMajkAZNintendo Zone ViewerDogsM265
JimmyLANew Super Mario Bros. 2DogsM44
jindraxINMario Kart 7DogsM478
JJNismoWANetflix-M163
JoMANew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsF862
joeWANintendo eShopDogsM121
JonCAPushmoDogsM489
JonAZNintendo Zone ViewerDogsM378
Jon G.WANew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM424
JonathanCASwapnote-M73
JorvanWAMii MakerCatsM389
JoshCOSwapnoteDogsM191
JoshORMario Kart DS-M89
JoshuaORSuper Mario 3D LandCatsM98
jpegTXMii MakerCatsM322
JPLBCSwapnoteDogsM496
JubeiCAPokedex 3D-M448
JudeMTKingdom Hearts 3DCatsM423
JumboMTDownload PlayCatsM184
JustinNETheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM803
JustinMONintendo Zone Viewer-M296
JzigNCShin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked-M188
karenWAMii MakerCatsF121
KateyNVLEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars-F48
KaziticusNVTheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM316
kdABSwapnoteCatsM248
KeenaNWSystem SettingsCatsF16
KendraBCKid Icarus: UprisingCatsF121
KennyAZMighty Switch Force!DogsM482
KennyCOKingdom Hearts 3D-M80
KentronWAHarvest Moon: The Tale of Two MoonDogsM168
KeshifWAMii MakerCatsM496
KevinCAPokedex 3DDogsM596
KevoBCNew Super Mario Bros. 2CatsM876
KitesBCPokemon ConquestCatsM148
KrisORColors! 3DDogsM408
krisORSuper Mario 3D LandDogsM87
KruthWASpectrobes: Beyond the Portals-M222
kttnhggr14ORNew Super Mario Bros. 2-M80
KtywfWAPokemon White Version-M118
KushabaWARhythm Thief-M33
KwaizyAustraliaTheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsM195
KyleTXVVVVVVCatsM371
KyouWADownload PlayDogsM782
Lady NikkiCATheatrhythm Final FantasyDogsF170
LadyTaeIDProfessor Layton and the Unwound FutureCatsF233
LauraWASwapnoteCatsF602
LendontaklGATales of the AbyssDogsM407
LexBCPushmoDogsF316
LimonpiWAResident Evil: The Mercenaries 3DCatsM304
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By the Numbers: Data Dump - August 2012

Better late than never. Due to me being at PAX Prime 2012 in Seattle last week, I didn't really have time to put together a data blog for Giant Bomb's August numbers. But here's your monthly dose of blue bars and lines. The wiki saw a decent boost in submissions partially due to a few users dedicated to filling in release info. It's a thankless job, but someone's gotta do it eventually.

Blogs

Here are the most active bloggers followed by a look at the number of blogs posted per day on the site. What the hell happened on the 20th?

Forums

Once again, themost popular topics on the Giant Bomb forums this month are rasslin' and cartoons. The images below this one are for Replies per Day, Top 10 Forums by Most Topics (Dark Souls?!), Top 10 Topic Creators, and finally the number of topics created per day.

Quests

We haven't had new quests on the site in almost a year, but there's still people out there doing them. Here's the proof.

Reviews

Only one real surprise in the top ten most reviewed games in August. How the hell did Limbo get up there?

Videos

With just over 50,000 views, Vinny's romp through Sleepy Dawgs was the most watched video in the month of August. Coming in second was the debut of Kinect Party. No one can deny the power of hyperstyle. The following graphs show the usage of the various quality levels as well as the top video commentors.

Wiki

As I mentioned above, we had more submissions in the queue this month mainly due to a bunch of release data being added/updated. Sadly, much of this data should probably be ignored though, due to some "questionable" edits which were later removed. Also, ZombiePie's reign at the top has come to an end. Although, he's got a head start on September, so I'm sure he'll be back up there soon.

See ya next month!

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Tales from Norrath: An Alliance is Born

In my most recent entry, I mentioned that the guild I was in, Dol Amroth, had just recently joined an alliance with another guild, Echoes in Eternity, prior to our slaughtering of Cazic-Thule. So, I figured I should tell the story of how that marriage came to be. It was all because of a immensely stubborn dragon named Telkorenar.

Outside ToV in the Western Wastes. Those cauldrons you see are much taller than a player.

A Brief History of the Temple of Veeshan

Entrance Hall - Lady Vox Portrait

The Temple of Veeshan is home to the mightiest of dragons in all of Velious. Much of the temple is off limits even to the most devout followers of dragonkind as well as those Lord Yelinak would regard as an ally. For no matter what good deeds a Norrathian has performed in the name of dragons, ultimately dragons are simply superior to the "second generation" of races, and this is their most holiest of places. The dragons were here before the other gods took notice of Norrath, and they will likely be here after the other races die out.

The south wing is where those that made it past Sontalak outside will arrive in the temple. Though, once inside, there is no immediate means of exiting. The south wing has one enormous straight hallway decked with dozens of almost life-size paintings of some of Norrath's most notable dragons including Lady Vox and Lord Nagafen. This hall is guarded by small drakes of various shades. This hall is safe to those allied with the Claws of Veeshan, as is the west wing, known as the Hall of Relics. The east wing, the Hall of Testing, is where friends of the dragons go to prove their skills and return to Skyshrine for rewards in the form of exquisite armor. And the north wing, known as the Vault of Worship, is off limits to absolutely everyone and is full of some of the world's oldest and most powerful dragons.

An Alliance is Born

ToV Entrance

In the Scars of Velious expansion, much of the content is based on three warring factions. The Coldain (dwarves), the Kromzek/Kromrif (giants), and the Claws of Veeshan (dragons). Each faction has its own city (Thurgadin, Kael Drakkel, Skyshrine). Players, and guilds from a larger perspective, had to make a decision on which side to take. The choices each have their pros and cons, of course. We took the more difficult route of siding with the giants. The dwarves and dragons don't really care about each other, but the giants at war with both. Raiding the Temple of Veeshan is the end-game of the Velious expansion (aside from Sleeper's Tomb). And the logical line of progression was to tackle the three dragons in the west wing before venturing into the much more difficult north wing.

As a guild, we had been farming the west wing for armor drops every weekend for upwards of eight hours a day for weeks. The armor that the wurms and drakes dropped were blank, but could be turned in to certain giants in Kael in exchange for some insanely good class-specific gear. The first dragon in the west wing is a red dragon named Telkorenar. There is nothing specifically unique about this dragon. He has an AoE fire spell that also dispels buffs and it's impossible to land any kind of Slow spell on him, but that's about it. Even so, he was the bane of our existence for what seemed like forever. We even had one encounter where his health bar got down to that almost invisible last pixel, and we still wiped. I think our guild leader admitted to crying after that loss.

Telkorenar

One weekend, we had spent time farming armor again, and decided to go after Telk one more time. If we couldn't beat him, the dream of heading to North ToV would be simply that, a dream. As we were getting ready, Echoes in Eternity showed up in the zone. They were a relatively new guild that had broken away from one of the two top tier guilds on the server. Like us, they had been attempting to make their way deeper into ToV. We knew that if we failed, they would take a shot next. Unfortunately, we lost our battle with Telk once again. As we gathered our corpses and belongings, we watched as EiE ran past us in their rightful attempt to slay Telk, but they too fell short of the goal.

I'm not sure who first presented the idea of joining forces, but there we were. Two guilds with one goal. All of us just wanting to finally crush this damn dragon. So, we helped each other get our corpses and got our buffs back in order. The guild officers from both sides called out groups for us to form up. It's hard to explain, but in EverQuest, your guild sort of became a family. Attempting a raid with strangers was…well…strange. I knew some people in EiE from pick-up groups in Velketor's, Sebilis, and other high-level dungeons, but I never thought I'd be in a healing rotation keeping one of their warriors alive on a dragon raid. Clerics had to work together by casting heals on set intervals, and I didn't know any of their clerics. Pick-up groups don't typically need more than one, so I'd never really spoken to them.

The main tank charged in and the clerics, including myself, started our rotation of casting heals that would hopefully keep him alive. It was a rocky start, and our main tank went down pretty early. Several players died before a new warrior could establish gaining Telk's attention to take over the main tank role. We had many more bodies to throw at him, but that wouldn't mean anything if the clerics didn't work together to keep that one warrior alive. And we did. The only problem was that having so many people in a small space created a ridicules amount of lag, which made communicating in chat quite difficult. You have to remember, this was before we ever had voice chat.

Here's me posing for my own picture. Telk kinda fell into the wall when he died. Sadly, I failed to keep one of our rogues alive (and he was one of my guild's officers). Drogoe (rogue) and Chania (shadow knight) were from Echoes in Eternity.

But, Telkorenar finally fell. And, when he did, the chat log caught up with a flood of exclamatory shouts that would be heard throughout the zone. It was that night that shouting "MOTHER FUCKER" comically became our unofficial battle cry. Everyone had been so frustrated with this encounter that the fact we had finally defeated him felt like we could do anything. You can see the elation in some of the chat in the third image below. And, while we had hoped to do it on our own, joining forces with Echoes in Eternity gave us the opportunity to progress through the game's content much faster. Quite literally overnight, we had become a powerhouse. A force that the top two guilds on the server had to be concerned about.

This alliance between Dol Amroth and Echoes in Eternity on the Rodcet Nife server would last for nearly ten years. Players came and went, but that alliance stood strong through two server mergers, sixteen expansions, and countless other MMOs being launched.

Next time, I think we'll stay in Velious and talk about the controversy surrounding Sleeper's Tomb.

Previous Entries

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Tales from Norrath: You Are Currently Bound in The Plane of Fear

Previously on Tales from Norrath, I described the concept of binding your soul and respawning, and the dangers therein. Today, I'm here to tell the story of how I ended up binding my soul to one of the most dangerous place in the game (at that point), the Plane of Fear.

The Intricacies of Bind Affinity

Plane of Fear

I described some of this in the previous entry, but let's recap just in case you didn't read that entry. Casters (enchanters, magicians, necromancers, wizards) and priests (clerics, druids, shaman) all have a spell called Bind Affinity. Casting this spell on themselves or any other player would create a spawn point for that player. You could only have one spawn point at a time. Those with the spell could cast it on themselves almost anywhere, while melee (warriors, rogues) and hybrids (paladins, rangers, shadow knights, bards) could only have the spell cast on them in a city zone.When a player dies, he/she resapwns at that one specific bind point with no equipment. All of his/her equipment remains on the corpse left behind until it is recovered by the player. Obviously, being bound somewhere near where you are playing is quite important especially for melees and hybrids. A corpse run from across the world is no fun at all.

You Are Currently Bound In: Plane of Fear

The Portal from The Feerrott

My guild, Dol Amroth, had just decided a few days prior to ally ourselves with another guild, Echoes in Eternity. We were both of about the same skill level, but alone we were each having trouble with some of the top tier content, and were losing those mobs to the two top tier guilds on the server. Together, we figured we could at least challenge them.

We decided to test our skills against the ruler of the Plane of Fear, Cazic-Thule the Faceless. The Plane of Fear was a place that I'd lost levels in before from dying so many times during raids. The only way into the plane was through a one-way portal in The Feerrott, and it was not safe at the entrance. You might just zone in to a pack of harpies or nightmare horses that would almost instantly kill you. Plus, in order to have a chance against Cazic-Thule, you needed to kill everything else in the zone first, otherwise, he would summon them all to his side once he was attacked. Even a completely error-free, successful raid of Fear could easily take several hours.

It rains blood here. Literally.

The risk of losing experience was accepted due to the high chance of getting some great loot, of course. The planes of Fear and Hate had some of the best class-based armor in the game. And the loot from Cazic-Thule himself was some of the best in the game period. We had a strategy planned out and cleared the zone of everything except CT pretty easily. Cazic, more affectionately known to us as Mr. Potato Head, had several abilities that makes fighting him a real pain in the ass. First of all, he has a skill called Cazic Touch, which would instantly kill whoever had his attention at the time. He could do this every minute or so. He also had an AoE fear that would send your character uncontrollably running away if your magic resistance wasn't high enough. To make things even worse, he had an AoE snare that made your movement about 30% slower. And lastly, he had an AoE debuff that would cancel out your buffs several at a time.

Cazic-Thule the Faceless

As I said, we had a plan, but we also had a backup plan. Me. As a cleric equipped with an epic weapon, I was able to resurrect fallen players without using any mana. The Water Sprinkler of Nem Ankh's spell effect was called Reviviscence, which not only brought the person back to their corpse, but also gave them 96% of the experience lost from the death back. So, I was stationed well away from the fight, but within sight. One of our monks, Rokudan, was tasked with dragging bodies to me. A monk was chosen for this because they have the ability to feign death if things go bad. My purpose was basically to get people back into the fight as quickly as possible, to the point where it may turn into something resembling a zerg rush if things went poorly. Also, if things went really bad, and everyone died, hopefully I'd have time to camp out (log out), then have Rok lure CT away while I logged back in and rezzed some people.

The real kicker in this plan is that I had to bind myself in the Plane of Fear, so that if by some crazy chance I died, I would be able to quickly get my epic back and keep on resurrecting people. The risk with this being that if somehow the fight with Cazic-Thule got pushed close enough to where I was stationed, he may be able to see me, thus sending me into an infinite death loop that would leave me helplessly leveling backwards until someone else could get into the zone to grab his attention. So…that was kinda scary. You should expect nothing less from a place called The Plane of Fear, I guess.

Here's some screenshots of my view of the fight, with a big ass picture of CT in the middle.

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Cazic-Thule in Plane of Fear. Those aren't tiny horses.

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Luckily, the battle went quite well. At one point, I got a bit too close and got hit with the snare, which sucked for a minute or so. Between Rok and I, though, we had a resurrection machine churning there for a bit, but we ended up killing ol' potato head without too much going wrong. This was before we started using DKP, so loot was doled out by guild officers at their discretion. So, I don't know if was a reward for taking the risk of being the dedicated rezzer, or for a more cumulative reason, but I was given the Halo of the Enlightened, which was one of the few 100 HP/Mana items in the game at the time. Maybe it was a bit of both, for it was the first "god" loot I ever got.

Nice Hat

That was our second endeavor as two guilds in an alliance. It was an alliance that would last nearly a decade (well after I stopped playing) and through two server mergers. I guess next time I should talk about our first encounter as a tag-team.

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Marino's PAX Guide v2.5

Before PAX East 2011, I put together a FAQ of sorts for PAX first timers. I've updated and revised it a couple times, but now it's time for PAX Prime 2012. For those that don't know me, I have attended the last seven Penny Arcade Expos (2008, 2009, East '10, Prime '10, East '11, Prime '11, East '12). I have also attended ten E3's from1997 to 2006. As you can see, I have quite a bit of experience in attending gaming conventions, making the most of the time available, and generally surviving four days on little to no sleep. While a lot of this info is targetted at those who have never experienced PAX, I believe it is also helpful to those who have.

If you read the guide prior to PAX East 2012, much of this information is going to be a repeat. I've edited it to focus on Seattle and the WSCC instead of Boston and the BCEC, of course. And there may be a few new bits of info to add in there. Off we go...

Wheaton's Law: Don't Be a Dick

PAX East 2010: Keynote Wil Wheaton

I once wrote an article about The PAX Vibe. In it, I tried to describe the most indelible thing about PAX. The experience is as though you've come to some sort of reunion with tens of thousands friends you never knew you had. Whether it's an attendee, enforcer, exhibitor, panelist, or D-list Internet celebrity, virtually everyone has a permanent smile affixed to their face for three days. Our leader, Wil Wheaton, said it best...

All of the things that make us weird and strange in the real world.
Those things that people tease us for loving.
Those things that we seem to care about more than anyone else at work and school.
Those things make us who we are.
And when we are at PAX, we don’t have to hide them, or explain them, or justify them to anyone.
We have come here this weekend because just playing games isn’t nearly as fun as playing them together, surrounded by thousands of people who love them just as much as we do.

Personal Hygiene

PAX East 2011: The Unwashed Masses

First of all, for the sake of everyone at the show, please shower. Yes, every day. And use deoderant. It's not hard. You're going to be doing more walking than you're probably used to doing. Aside from that, why is this so high on the list of tips? Well, after PAX Prime 2010, there was a confirmed case of H1N1 on my flight home. So, use the hand sanitizer whenever you can. There are generally dispensers set up all around the convention center and especially right outside the bathrooms. You're going to be touching controllers that have been touched by people of varying degrees of sickness from all over the world. Be smart, and don't spend the week after PAX in misery.

Enforcers Are Awesome

Just look for blue.

The Enforcers are the incredible army of blue shirts that volunteer their time in order to make sure that PAX is an enjoyable experience for everyone. Can't find the right panel room? Look for a blue shirt. Need medical attention after experiencing the Hideo Kojima panel? Look for a blue shirt. Can't figure out where Jeff Green is handing out light-up Plants vs. Zombies sunglasses? Look for a blue shirt. These guys and girls are stationed everywhere. If they ask you to do something, listen up. Respect them. Appreciate them. Buy them cookies.

Do Your Homework

PAX Prime 2011: Chair Throwing Panel

The schedule is avaiable right now. Download an app as well. Ther Official PAX App is Guidebook and it's the best. Skim through it, look at the presenters of every panel, and make a rough draft of what you'd like to see. Compare with your friends, look for overlaps, and start the excruciating process of deciding how to cut the least awesome things from your to-do list.

Planning ahead is a must. If you walk in there completely unprepared, you're going to either be a deer in headlights or a wandering madman. It's overwhelming. The key to planning ahead is to be flexible. Inevitably something will come up and you'll want to rearrange your plans. And know that it is virtually impossible to go to two panels that are back-to-back even if they're in the same room. For most panels, the Enforcers will empty the room in between. This means you'll be at the end of the line if it hasn't already been cut off. Also, not all of the panels are in the convention center. Getting to and from the convention center from the Sheraton, the Hyatt, the Red Lion, or the Paramount in under 30 minutes may be tough on its own, but it almost certainly means the panel you're running to will be full.

I'm going to tell you right now that you're simply not going to be able to do everything you want to do/see. Don't stress out about it. Stick to your plan as best you can, but have fun above all else.

Rhythm-Based Entertainment

PAX East 2010: Video Game Orchestra

A common misconception is that PAX is just like E3 in terms of being a giant expo hall of developers and publishers demoing their games. While that is a big part of PAX, there's so much more. The expo hall closes at 6 PM each day anyway, and the party certainly doesn't shut down at six. The concerts are an excellent way to spend your evening, whether you know the artists or not. In 2008, I only vaguely knew of Jonathan Coulton. I knew he did "Still Alive" for Portal, but that was about it. After that night, I was instantly a fan. The same could be said for Freezepop after that night as well.

This year's line-up includes the Video Game Orchestra, Sam Hart, Supercommuter, and The Protomen on Friday. And then Paul & Storm, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot on Saturday. When I go, I typically go on Saturday. For the uninitiated, Paul & Storm typically steal the show with their comedy stylings and a 15 minute song about pirates that you'll never forget. Generally, these concerts go pretty late. Sometimes well into the following morning. But, sometimes they are strictly told by the venue to be out by 1 AM. Dejected ARRR!

The Omegathon: Final Round

PAX East 2010: Omegathon Finals

The Omegathon is a three day tournament between attendees that were randomly selected weeks ahead of time by Penny Arcade's staff. You'll see that each round is on the schedule if you want to see a particular game they're playing, but the important one is the final round. The final round's game is always kept a closely guarded secret until just moments before the contestants are set to play it. Have you ever imagined being in the crowd for the final showdown in The Wizard? Well, this is it. Literally thousands of people cheering for a few of their peers as they battle head-to-head in Pong, Contra, Skeeball, Ikaruga, or whatever they come up with this year. And it's all hosted by Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. This is the perfect closing ceremony, and you should be there to experience it.

Hurry Up and Wait

PAX 08: Queue Room

As the years have gone by, attendance at PAX has only increased. The Washington State Convention Center is a massive maze of six levels, but you will inevitably be waiting in line for many things you intend to see and do. I've waited over an hour to see/play things like Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Skate 3, and others at E3. On the most popular panels (i.e. the Keynote, Giant Bomb, Mega64, G4/X-Play, Kojima, and anything associated with Penny Arcade), you should arrive about an hour ahead (at least) to guarantee yourself a good seat.

So, be prepared. Bring your 3DS, Vita, Game Boy micro, or whatever it is you like. If you're a 3DS fan, you will get literally hundreds of StreetPasses over the weekend. Just check this out! If you're a Vita owner, be prepared to gather up more Game Goods than you will the rest of the year combined. And regardless of your handheld gaming option of choice, you'll likely never find a better place in the world to jump into random multiplayer games. I've mentioned it before, but I once used Pictochat on my DS to solicit people to come play me in Hot Shots Golf on PSP...and it worked!

Backpacking Through the Pacific Northwest

PAX Prime 2010: SWAG

Many convention rookies make a mistake as soon as they leave their house. You simply must have a backpack of some kind. If you show up to PAX empty-handed, you'll be hurting and feeling like an idiot by 2 PM. Some think you can just pick up one of those big, fold-out, paper bags from a booth, but there's no guarantee any booths are doing that. Plus, they're cumbersome, you'll be hitting people with it constantly as you squeeze through crowds, and you need to keep your hands free.

So, be smart. Bring your favorite backpack or messenger bag to throw all of your swag into. Your shoulders are going to be killing you by Sunday afternoon, but it's your best option.

Expo Hall: It's a Trap!

Fuckin' Pooyan

The expo hall is where all the developers and publishers have booths set up to show off their upcoming games. You get to play stuff that's not out yet and typically talk to the people that are making them. It's awesome. But don't get stuck in there. Make sure to make your rounds through the convention center. Go upstairs and check out the PC Freeplay area. It's a massive farm of PC's unlike anything you've ever seen (unless you've been to QuakeCon). Hit up the Console Freeplay room and take your shot at some of the best fighting game players around. Think you're good enough? Enter one of the nearby tournaments (check the schedule). Need to take a break? Crash in the Handheld Lounge and rack up some StreetPasses and Near stuff. Head up to the Classic Console room for a bit and take a look at the massive library of gaming's past, pick out something you loved and play it with some people. And, even if you don't play board/card games, drop by the tabletop area and play some Cards Against Humanity with some random duders. There's just so much more than just the expo hall that you need to see and do to get the full PAX experience. And for the love of all things sacred, do your best to play some fuckin' Pooyan.

The Dangers of SWAG

PAX 09: I have never, nor will I ever, wear this.

Free stuff is great. I know. But, listen to me for a second. Don't spend the majority of your time trying to get inflatable swords, funny hats, and Gunnar Optiks t-shirts. You're going to get free stuff without trying. Not all of it, sure, but plenty. The vast majority of free stuff you get, you will eventually throw away or, if you're like me, going to pile into boxes in a closet. At PAX East 2010, there were people that waited well over an hour to play APB for 15 minutes and get a t-shirt. How do you think those people feel about that decision now? Just be smart, people.

Pack Light and Carry-On a Big Bag

PAX 09: Capcom Merch

For those of you flying to Seattle, you're likely going to pay at least $25 to check a bag on the plane, so you might as well get your money's worth. Even if you're only packing three Internet meme t-shirts and three sets of socks and underwear, bring a big suitcase. The extra space is going to be great for any swag you obtain as well as any stuff you end up buying inside or outside of PAX. At PAX 2009, I bought a 'Splosion Man statue from Twisted Pixel's booth. It came in a block of styrofoam, and I was still able to safely fit it into my luggage on the way home. At PAX Prime 2010, my friend (Washa Endrya) bought a fight stick from Capcom and was able to get it home easily as well.

Also, if you have one, bring a cardboard tube in your suitcase. You are likely to be handed posters at the show, and there's really no other way to get those home without folding or crushing them. One more tip from the experienced in packing for a con. Throw an empty trash bag in with your stuff. You can use that as a dirty laundry bag, which will allow you to quarantine your sweaty socks from all the cool stuff you accumulated at the show on your way home.

Do You Like Sleep? TOO BAD!

PAX Prime Night Life

Sleep deprivation is a major side effect of the PAX experience. You can sleep on Monday or on your flight home. But, there are official and unofficial PAX events going on virtually 24 hours a day beginning Thursday night. The concerts Friday and Saturday typically go til at least 1 AM, and you're going to be in downtown Seattle, which awesomely has everything you need within walking distance. Don't even bother renting a car. In the grand scheme of things, your time at PAX is very limited even if you can be there all three days. You may not realize this now or even during the show, but come Monday, you'll know what I'm talking about. So, if you get four to five hours of sleep, you're doing great. Make the most of the time you have.

Microsoft Space Bucks Don't Work Here

PAX East 2011: Band Land

If you've got a debit or credit card, you're mostly okay. Any food places in the area (i.e. Brock Lesnar's Jimmy John's) are going to take your card just fine. Most booths in the expo hall will take it as well when purchasing their wares. But, it may be a good idea to carry at least a little old-fashioned paper money. Cash can be good especially if you're going out to the bars at night. If you know you're going to need cash, there are several ATM's at the convention center, but you should hit them early because I've seen them run out of cash to dispense. And there's nothing worse than knowing you can afford that one of a kind Cammy drawing by Long Vo, but being unable to retrieve the funds to buy it.

Eat Something!

Downtown Seattle is prettay, prettay, pretty good.

This may sound ridiculous at first, but once you're in the thick of PAX, you may forget to eat or drink. And considering that you normally don't walk around for 10-14 hours a day, you're going to need to hydrate. Stopping for 30 minutes to eat may not sound enticing either depending on your schedule, but you've gotta. Luckily, downtown Seattle is a pretty great place to run out and get food. Just don't make the dumb mistake of standing in that hour-long line for the tiny Subway in the convention center. There's plenty of places within 5-10 minutes of walking distance. Otherwise, you could toss a few Clif bars in your bag and just eat on the go.

Don't Let PAX Ruin Your PAX

Who invited you?

This is something I've learned over the last couple PAX's. Whether it's the pre-PAX board game meet up at the Sheraton, the Pokemon bar crawl, the Double Fine meet up at the Hard Rock, or one of the countless other unofficial PAX festivities, make an effort to do stuff after show hours. Honestly, it doesn't even have to be PAX related. Chances are, if you head out to the bars and restaurants in downtown Seattle, you're going to run into other PAX goers. We generally take over the city.

What I'm getting at is that being in line at the Queue Room of the convention center at 8 AM (2 hours prior to show open) isn't worth missing out on the great stuff that's going on at night. Now, if there's a game that you HAVE to see and you know the line during the day is super long, go ahead and get to the convention center early one day and run for it when the doors open. But, just make sure you spend some time outside of the convention center and your hotel room.

It's All That You Can Do

If you were to cosplay as PAX Prime 2011, this is what it would look like.

Be yourself, but also be open to meeting new people. I know your mom told you not to talk to strangers, but I'm telling you that's a bunch of crap. It's unlikely that you're ever going to be around more people like yourself than you will at PAX. Above everything else, including all the tips I've given you here, have fun. You're about to have an experience that you'll never forget.

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Tales from Norrath: Don't Sleep in The Hole

In my previous entry, I briefly mentioned a guild mate of mine named Glimpse. Glimpse was a high elf enchanter and I think he was still in high school at the time. Most importantly though was his notorious reputation for being a tad narcoleptic. It didn't really matter what time of day it was or what we were doing, if he was AFK for even a couple minutes, we just assumed he had fallen asleep. It was just an accepted risk. Glimpse was a cool guy though, so no one ever really got angry about it. Although, while this was quite funny at times, it could also became hazardous. Like that one night in The Hole.

A Brief History of The Ruins of Old Paineel

The Ruins of Old Paineel
The Hole is a massive underground cavern created by an explosion caused during the Erudites' civil war. The study of necromancy is strictly forbidden in Erudin, so a group referring to themselves as Cazicites (as in worshippers of Cazic-Thule) decided to leave the the High City and establish their own city where the dark arts could be freely researched. They called their new city Paineel and became known as Heretics by those true to Erud's teachings. It wasn't long before the two factions were at war. With the vast majority of Erudites being highly intelligent spell casters, this was a war waged primarily with magic and not swords. At the height of the battle, the clashes of magic resulted in an enormous explosion that blasted an island-sized chunk of earth completely off the face of Norrath.

Aghast at what they had done, both sides parted ways. What was left became commonly known as The Hole, and the Cazicites began investigating its depths. They should have left it alone though, for the blast cut so deep that it opened the Vault of Living Stone, a passage to the Plane of Underfoot, the realm of Brell Serilis. The Cazicites were overrun by powerful earth elementals and other types of Brell's minions. Now, the Hole is not only full of powerful earth elementals, but also the ghosts of many fallen Cazicites. The citizens of Paineel refer to this area by a more proper name; The Ruins of Old Paineel.

Operation: Keep Glimpse Alive

Nortlav

The Hole has seen a few different types of revamps over the years, but it's always been a challenging zone. It was also the location for certain parts of several different class' epic weapon quests. A pair of ghosts named Kindle and Polzin were sought by enchanters. A wretched erudite was tracked by rangers. A ghost named Glohnor was a target of shadow knights. Paladins all needed a tainted sword carried by the Keeper of the Tombs. And, at the very bottom, was a legendary dragon-slaying Erudite named Nortlav who often carried red dragon scales that both bards and warriors would want. We were there to hit a number of those targets for members of the guild, but the last one was an Iksar known as High Scale Kirn that our buddy Szago needed for his shaman epic.

We'd been there for a while, so it was getting late. I forget exactly how the encounter with Kirn goes, but we got him. We probably had about 25-30 people down there and we started to head out. The easiest way out for casters (wizards, enchanters, magicians, necromancers, clerics, druids, and shaman) was to just cast Gate, which would return them to their bind point. Wizards and druids also had group teleportation spells, so they would typically get the melee folks (warriors, paladins, shadow knights, bards, rogues, and rangers) out so no one had to try to fight their way back out.

High Scale Kirn

Well, Glimpse was in my group. And, as if you didn't know where this was going, he'd fallen asleep. The problem was he was the group leader. This meant that he was the only person that could invite people to the group, and we didn't have a druid or wizard in ours. You had to be in a group in order for the teleport spell to work, so others could disband and group up with a porter, but Glimpse was effectively stuck there either way.

Why is that a big deal? Well, when you die in EverQuest, not only do you lose experience, but your corpse also keeps all of your stuff. So, when you respawn, you are 100% naked. You have no gear and none of your bags or other inventory items. If you didn't get to your corpse within 24 played hours, it rotted, taking everything you were wearing and/or carrying with it. So, leaving him to die was not an easy choice to make. Also, we didn't know where his bind point was. All casters had a spell called Bind Affinity. If you played a melee class, you needed a caster to cast this spell on you in a city so that if you died, you would respawn (hopefully) relatively near wear you were raiding. Casting it on other players only worked in cities, but the caster could use it on himself/herself almost anywhere. We would have liked to assume Glimpse was bound in a safe place, but if he wasn't, letting him die could send him into a death loop that could potentially delevel him all the way to a newbie.

The Hole

Yeah, you read that right. If you died over and over, you would lose levels. And corpses with nothing on them rotted faster than ones that did. So, what did we do? Well, myself and a few others knew we could probably at least hold the room once the mobs started respawning. We could do this indefinitely and hope Glimpse would wake up. A small group of us, in one of the most dangerous zones in the game at that point, protecting a sleeping enchanter. Maybe we were delirious from being up that late, but the whole situation was hilarious to us. Unfortunately, it got to a point where one or two of us simply had to go to bed. There was no way three of us could hold the room, so we said goodbye to our sleeping enchanter and ported out of there.

Within fifteen minutes, Glimpse was dead. Luckily, his soul wasn't bound in a dangerous place. The next day we all had a good laugh about it. Luckily, necromancers had a spell that would summon corpses, so one of our necros escorted a naked high elf to The Hole and got all his stuff back in time.

I don't know where "Glimpse" is now or what he's up to, but I hope he's got some good friends to keep an eye on him when he's out late and surrounded by ghosts.

Here's Glimpse muggin' the camera for my screenshot of our first Tunare kill.

Next time I'll talk about a time that I binded myself within the scariest zone in the game.

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Tales from Norrath: It Pains My Soul

In the first edition of Tales from Norrath, I told the story of my luckiest moment in EverQuest (or any other game). Now, I'm here to counter that with one of the unluckiest moments. If you can call nineteen hours a "moment."

It Pains My Soul

Inside Veeshan's Peak

For anyone who played the game during The Ruins of Kunark era, you definitely know about Veeshan's Peak. While everyone knows about it, few ever actually got to go there. It is the home of the Ring of Scale, which is an ancient order of dragons that live within the Skyfire Mountains of Kunark. It is named after the Wurmqueen, a dragon deity that was the first to bring life to the world of Norrath. The zone was built as a test for the game's highest level and most skilled players even more difficult than the Planes of Fear, Hate, or Sky. To even enter Veeshan's Peak, each player had to individually complete a lengthy quest to obtain a key. And, once you were inside, there was no way back out (teleportation did not work inside the zone either) aside from one of the portals that were located behind the most powerful dragons in the zone.

Emperor Ganak was an Iksar who led his people against the Ring of Scale during The Age of Blood (many centuries before the time period in which the game takes place). He fell in an aerial battle along with the dragons' leader, Jaled`Dar. Now, even in death, he still seeks the destruction of the Ring of Scale and must employ the help of living mortals to carry out the task. He holds the key to Veeshan's Peak and requests that the medallions of the five, ancient Iksar tribes be returned to him. Oh…and he wants a tooth from the undead dragon known as Trakanon who resides deep within the ruins of Sebilis, the former capitol city of the Iksar empire.

Emperor Ganak

The first two tribes' medallions, Nathsar and Kunzar, are easy to obtain by killing a couple frogloks not far from Emperor Ganak's ghost is found. Bringing him those two earns a key to Sebilis, which is obviously required to slay Trakanon. If you were thinking that slaying an undead, poisonous dragon was the hard part or the portion I was here to tell you about, sorry. Everyone wants to slay Trakanon, regardless of wanting a VP key or not. He drops class-based breastplates, tunics, and robes that were some of the best in the game at the time.

The other three tribes' medallions (Jarsath, Kylong, Obulus) were the tough part, as they were each broken into three pieces and scattered across the continent. Some were easier to obtain than others, of course. Some could be found on the ground in less-than-safe places while others were carried by certain people or creatures that must be slain. The one that I'm here to tell you about is bottom third of the Obulus medallion. It is carried by another spectral Iksar who can be found just a few hundred yards from Emperor Ganak himself. He is known simply as the "pained soul," and hangs around the above-ground ruins of Sebilis in a part of the Emerald Jungle now known as Trakanon's Teeth.

A Quick Lesson in MMO Terminology

PH > Named

If you're not familiar with [old] MMO mechanics, there are "named" NPCs such as this pained soul, Emperor Ganak, Trakanon, etc. Then there are generic NPCs like "a spectral warrior," "a dracolich," "a froglok knight," etc. Many of these "named" NPCs have placeholders, which are generic NPCs that spawn at the same spot as the more sought after named NPCs. The purpose of placeholders is to limit the acquisition of certain items and completion of certain quests that require the named NPCs. For example, anyone can go online and find out that the pained soul spawns at the coordinates of -1835, -4370 in Trakanon's Teeth, but that doesn't mean he is always there. At that spot, you may find a variation of Iksar ghosts. If you're after the named, you must kill that placeholder, then wait for the next spawn and hope it's the named next time. The spawn timer is different depending on the zone or mob. In this case, it is seven minutes.

Trakanon in Sebilis

It was a regular afternoon in the world of Norrath and not many people from guild were online yet. We were all somewhat casually working on our VP key quests at that time, so I figured since there was nothing else going on, I'd try my hand at the pained soul. I knew going in that he was quite rare, but I figured I had at least a few hours before the guild would be ready to go raid something. So, around 3:00 PM I killed the first of what would be many Iksar ghosts. I was probably level 58 or so at the time (60 was the max), which meant that I was at virtually no risk of dying in that area of Trakanon's Teeth. And, as a cleric, I had a fairly high-powered spell specifically for killing undead, so I was able to kill them easily.

The Above-Ground Ruins of Old Sebilis in Trakanon's Teeth

At some point, probably four or five hours in, I decided for myself that I wasn't going to leave until the task was completed. A few times, guild mates stopped by to say hello and make sure I was still awake. Around 11:00 PM, a high elf enchanter from a rival guild showed up. Although he never spoke to me, I knew why he was there. See, in EverQuest (and most older MMOs), there were really no rules built into the mechanics of the game to "claim" an encounter. If he was able to do 51% of the damage to a mob I was fighting, even if I was first to attack, he'd earn loot rights. This would be unlikely considering he was an enchanter, but it meant that I had to be on my toes every time that seven minutes ran out.

A guildmate of mine, a half elf ranger named Ravenmyst, asked me to tell her when this guy left, because she wanted to get in line behind me to camp the spawn next. She gave me her phone number and told me she didn't care what time of night it was. Around 2 or 3 AM, he finally left me alone. So, I stared at my phone trying to decide how serious she was about this. Am I really going to call a woman I've never talked to (in person) before in the middle of the night to sign on to a video game? What if someone else answers the phone? Everyone knows nothing good's on the other end of a late night call. Well…I did it. She did ask me to after all. After a few minutes, there was Ravenmyst, keeping me company in the dead of night and helping kill these placeholders at a much faster pace.

Talking to Ravenmyst while that enchanter casts junk spells on me to annoy me.

After a few hours, with no luck at all, she gave up the idea of taking over after me. She wished me well and went back to bed. This is where my story gets blurry. I remember commenting to the European players in my guild that the sun was coming up. What I don't remember is getting out of my desk chair and laying down. I woke up around 9 AM in a state of confused panic. Did I just waste all that time by unconsciously going to bed? I looked across the room and the game was still on the screen. When I sat down, the first thing I noticed was no ghost was there. Someone had killed the most recent placeholder, which in the unwritten rules of the game, meant I had lost my rights to the camp. But, the person doing it was a guild mate. His name was Glimpse, an enchanter most known for being fairly narcoleptic during raids. The irony here was at ridiculous levels. He saw my character move and immediately said "YOU'RE AWAKE!" I looked at my chat log, and he (and others) had been sending me tells for quite a while it seemed.

This Mother Fucker

Glimpse said he'd found me there with a placeholder up and after I didn't respond, he started killing them for me, hoping, in a weird way, that the pained soul would not spawn before I woke up. He hung out with me for a bit before leaving once I assured him I was fully awake again. It's a miracle that someone else didn't take the camp.

Around 11:00 AM, the pained soul finally spawned. No one else was around. I blinked a bit trying to verify to myself that I was seeing what I thought I was, then nuked the hell out of him as best as a cleric could. So, after nineteen hours of killing placeholders every seven minutes, I finally had the piece of the medallion I needed. That's at least 100 placeholders depending on how long I was asleep. I was so excited that I actually stayed awake most of the rest of the day.

Do you want to know the really sad part though? I never did get to go to Veeshan's Peak. I didn't finish my key in time before my guild's first trip into the zone. And, by the time I did, we had moved on to content in Scars of Velious.

So much trouble for such a small thing.

Next time, maybe I'll tell a funny story about our friendly, neighborhood, narcoleptic enchanter. And maybe it won't be so ridiculously long as this one!

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By the Numbers: Data Dump - July 2012

Wake up, wake up. It's the 1st of tha month! Time for another set of blue bars to look at. If you were a fan of these in the past and somehow missed last month, just know that I don't access to some of the analytics that Ethan did. That means I can't tell you who had the most visited profile pages or most visited blog pages. If I do get access to that, I'll definitely let you all know.

June's numbers were affected across the site by E3 2012. July was a slow month in terms of games, but we did have the Steam Summer Sale to boost some activity around here.

And don't forget you can click on the graphs to embiggen™ them.

Blogs

The number of blogs posted on the site per day is kind of all over the place. You can't really even pin it down to weekdays vs. weekends.

Fellow moderator, , has been on a tear with his Video Game Music of the Day blogs. And, if you're a fan of beer, you should really check 's Brewcasts featuring Tested.com's Joey Fameli.

Forums

Only two of the most commented topics of July were related to games. That's what happens when no games come out. All I can say is that I really hope games start coming out soon.

Also worth noting, if there's four things that Giant Bomb users love, it's:

  • Cheap games
  • Wrestling
  • Anime

No surprise here. easily takes the top spot with the most posts once again by just barely missing 200 posts.

Well, Patrick took the top spot here due to news posts, so that makes the most active user in terms of creating topics.

Forum activity seems to bottom out on the weekends, which is kinda weird to me. Maybe that will change now that school is starting up again. I'm guessing people have had a lot of free time during the week lately. They certainly haven't been playing new games.

And the commenting activity pretty much mirrors the creation activity for the most part.

Reviews

Low numbers across the board here on the user reviews front. We're almost out of the desert, guys. I promise. There will be new games soon. We're almost there!

I don't really know who or are, but they're carrying the whole community in terms of reviewing games it seems.

I don't know what the hell happened on July 5th, but apparently someone went buck wild on reviewing games that day.

Videos

What if I were to tell you the most viewed, and therefore most popular, video on Giant Bomb during the month of July was Ryan and Vinny bouncing on a trampoline? Yeah...that sounds about right.

So, posted on videos 98 times in July, and if my investigations are correct, he still doesn't have the "First!" quest completed. You'll get it soon, buddy!

Wiki

3400+ individual edits? I have no idea what that guy's doing. Might have to look into that...

Always interesting to see new names at the top of highest points earned list.

These are the top 10 pages in terms of number of edits made, not points. How did FF7 jump into the top 10? And that seems like a ridiculous amount of edits for the Cerebrate page.

And here's the top 10 game pages in terms of points earned. Some weird stuff on the list this month. All comes back to being in the depths of the Summer drought I think.

Here's a breakdown of edits per day shown by category. That's a pretty big spike in the middle of the month for game pages.

Moderator business over here. I'm pretty sure that spike in rejections was when I ran into some users trying to add games to franchises incorrectly. But, for the most part, you can see here that we don't have to reject many submissions at all. Some days none at all.

ZombiePie once again squashed the submission queue. Every time I go in there, it's practically empty. It's been fairly slow the last few months. I kinda miss the days when we'd chug through 200+ submissions a day. You guys should do something about that. Get on that. Give us something to do.

Just a heads up...Next month's edition will be several days late, because I will be at PAX Prime 2012.

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