Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Updates and Milestones: September 4, 2019

I am very happy that people still come to this site to use the Numenera 2 Character Generator. In addition to that, the vanilla Cypher System Character Generator has started to blow up in a big way as well. August, in fact, set another record for Troy Stories, with 1517 views, a truly massive increase over the previous month's record of 1217, set in July. (And weirdly, the difference is exactly 300. This is Spartaaaaa!)

Most of the traffic was, of course, to the character generators. An interesting stat though: about half of the Cypher System character creator's all-time hits came within the past 30 days. That indicates to me that my CS character creator is only just now really catching the attention of the Cypher System community and/or Google. Pretty neat.

Some news: I have heard back from Zendexor, and he indicates to me that the story I submitted for Vintage Worlds 2 has been accepted for publication. The formal announcement has not been made yet, but should be forthcoming soon. I will post here when that happens.

A personal note: I am going back to school now, trying to finish up my bachelor's degree after a long hiatus. That is part of the reason I have not produced any content for the blog lately. At some point I would like to get it going again (although I say that every month...).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"Ja'ek and the Beanstalk" Posted at The Ninth Word

Monte Cook Games has officially launched The Ninth Word-- note the lack of an L-- a repository for fan fiction pertaining to the Ninth World, i.e. the world of Numenera.

The first story to be posted to the site was Monte Cook's own "Reach of Ghosts". Story number two is, wait for it, "Ja'ek and the Beanstalk" by yours truly, a story I submitted several years ago to the now-defunct (I think) CypherCaster magazine which they decided not to publish. I am happy that that story has found a home besides this blog.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Updates and Milestones: August 1, 2019

For some reason, July was a huge month for the site despite the lack of updates, with 1217 views for the month that honors Julius Caesar, straight-up demolishing the previous monthly record of 818 (set this past April). If you're curious-- though I know no one is-- the months intervening between my last monthly update and now (that is, May and June) had a bit over 600 views each, which at one time would've been huge, but compared to the expectations set in March and April, were kinda lackluster. (I'd thought perhaps interest was waning in my character generator, or even that interest might be waning in Numenera more broadly. I guess not haha; maybe the announcement of a new Numenera source book and novel has rekindled interest?)

As one might expect, a bit more than half the Troy Stories traffic in the month of July was to the Numenera 2 character creator. Another 20% or so of the traffic went to the generic Cypher System character creator. Another ~2% of the hit parade marched on over to the relatively new Numenera 2 Character Sheet index, and about the same number of hits to the Scrabble Two-Letter Word List. Other hits were scattered around the site here and there, with little apparent rhyme or reason. (Must have had a ton of hits on the front page; visits to the site's main front page count toward overall stats but doesn't have its own individual views stat that I can find.)

One announcement: though I have not had time for blogging lately, I did manage to get a story finished in time to meet the deadline for the Vintage Worlds 2 call for submissions. I sent in an 11,000 word novelette, the longest I have ever submitted to one of these contests. I don't yet know if it will be selected, but I feel pretty good about it.

That's all for now...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"Come Home Ere Falls the Night" To Be Published (And Other News)

I apologize for the recent lack of updates on the blog. Real-life has been quite full of turmoil lately. Have not had time to write anything for the handful of people who follow this site. Sorry 'bout that. =(

But, I do have some good news. The poem I submitted for consideration in the Love Among the Ruins project has been accepted and will appear in dead-tree form along with the other accepted submissions for that book. Here is the announcement of that happy fact (you will have to scroll down to the row of asterisks). Maybe not happy for the trees, but... y'know.

Not sure when I will have time to write a big update for the blog, but the occasional quick update should be doable. Again, I want to write more, I just don't have much time right now. Hopefully at some point real-life problems will settle down.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Updates and Milestones: May 1, 2019

Troy Stories set another record this month for views with 818 in April, just edging out March's record of 811 views. Overall, the site has now had 6,593 "all time" views, of which 2,079 are of the Numenera 2 Character Creator. Which reminds me, the two-thousand view milestone for the character generator was passed just over a week ago. (And to put that into perspective, the second-most viewed page on this site has only 156 views all-time.)

The generic Cypher System Character Creator seems to be getting a little bit more use as well, as of this moment tied with A Ruinman's Villanelle for fourth most-viewed page on the site with 121 views apiece, but I think people just don't play generic Cypher System nearly as much as they do Numenera, so there's less demand for this sort of thing. I could be totally wrong about that though.

This month also saw the addition of another Numenera-related utility, the Printer-Friendly Numenera Character Sheet index. Within a matter of hours of being posted it had already passed the Scrabble Guide index in total number of views haha (not that that's a particularly high bar).

I can understand though. With the Scrabble Guides, my guides are competing with well-established sites that have had extensive online guides since OSPD 3rd Edition. Whereas with Numenera and the Cypher System, there are not many alternatives to what's offered here.

And speaking of Scrabble Guides, the R-Z Two-Make-Three list is coming, but time got away from me, so I didn't get it finished before the end of the month like I'd planned. Should have it ready in a few days though, I think.

Regarding the Tears of the Gods, may have to take a break from it with plans to revisit it in the future.

That's all for now...

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Quick Tip: City of Heroes Monitor Window

CoH Tip of the Day: There is a way to make City of Heroes expose the "real numbers" for you in terms of your character's Defense, Resistance, Hit Chance and other stats, taking all buffs, debuffs, etc., into account (instead of having to rely solely on vague descriptives such as, "adds a moderate amount of to-hit chance", etc.), but it is not at all obvious/intuitive how to do this. Seeing these numbers is critically important for monitoring your performance in end-game content (at least for tanks-- maybe other classes don't depend on it as much, though they could probably benefit from it). At low levels it's not that big of a deal, but if you're doing Incarnate content, you may want to have the monitor window going.

And so, ever since CoH came back into my life last week I've been struggling to find/remember how I got the monitor window to show up before. Was it a custom UI mod? A window that had to be opened with the typed-out /window_show command? Something else? My first thought (after my googling proved unequal to the task) was to check my old Windows XP box that still has CoH installed on it and see if it had any kind of custom UI files, or if there was a user settings file that might say what the window was called. I checked and couldn't find anything.

Most of the old online CoH player guides have disappeared over the years-- so much for the theory that nothing ever disappears from the internet-- so what I ended up having to refer to was a complete list of all slash commands from one of the old CoH wikis, and trying out different commands that seemed like plausible candidates to be the monitor window. Eventually, I found it. It is /monitor_attribute

Type commands such as this...
/monitor_attribute Current Hit Points
/monitor_attribute Last Hit Chance
/monitor_attribute Smashing Resistance
...etc.

You should get something that looks a little like this (attribute monitor moved to the upper right)...


Just for fun, here's a screenshot of the monitor window in action from the live servers, circa 2011...

Friday, April 26, 2019

City of Heroes is Back. (Maybe.)

A confession: I used to play MMORPGs back in the day. (If you don't know what that is, it stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. If you've heard of World of Warcraft-- still probably the best-known game of that genre-- then games that are like that.)

I played a pretty decent number of MMOs with varying degrees of dedication. The original EverQuest was my first and probably the one I put the most hours into, but I also played Dark Age of Camelot, EQ2, WoW, Wildstar, Horizons, The Secret World, Champions Online, and probably a couple of others I'm forgetting in my old age.

But one MMORPG stands above all the others in my memory, and that is a superhero-themed MMO named City of Heroes, which I played off-and-on from its beta in 2004 until it was announced that it was being shut down due to nonsensical corporate politics in late 2012. It was not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but it was by far the most fun MMORPG I ever played. Perhaps even the most fun video game of any kind I ever played. CoH also had a great community, which made playing it that much more enjoyable, something that was-- and is-- very unusual for an MMO (and which has made getting into other MMOs harder, when I inevitably discover they have unbearably toxic communities *cough*WoW*cough*Wildstar*cough*). 

(To be fair, some other MMORPGs did have good communities also. The Secret World had a good community. But that may be partly because TSW went free-to-play the same month CoH shut down, and a huge chunk of Secret World players were CoH refugees for that reason.)

Anyway, at this point, City of Heroes has been shut down for longer than it was live, but it still has a large, nostalgic fan-base holding out hope for bringing it back nonetheless.

And that brings me to my reason for posting about all this today. It's back. The dream is alive! Yes, I am serious.

But how? Well, from what I understand, shortly after the shutdown in 2012, an unknown CoH dev secretly (and very illegally) turned over the game's server-side binaries to some guy who then secretly worked on reverse engineering them these past seven years. And now the cat's out of the bag-- the stolen and reverse-engineered server-side code has been leaked, "out there" in the wild. All this time, it was said that without the server-side code there would never be any way to reverse engineer CoH since so much of that game was handled server-side (at least, compared to MMOs of the same era, e.g. WoW, which tended to rely more than CoH did on client-side code, making reverse engineering it easier.) That is the reason people stated for why it was possible to have rogue "community servers" of games like WoW and EQ1, but that such would never be the case for CoH. With the leak of CoH's server-side code though, everything has changed.

And indeed, now there is a playable CoH community server up. Its legal status, etc, is still up in the air (as one might expect), but who cares? Additionally, there's been an embarrassing amount of publicly aired personal drama surrounding the people involved the effort, but again: what difference does that make to me? City of Heroes was my favorite video game, and I truly thought I'd never get to play it again. But now I can. I'm not going to sweat the legal niceties, nor the petty drama. I'm going to log into City of Heroes and "arrest" bad guys by blasting them with my super-powers, and I ain't even sorry.

Note: I do realize that very likely no one among this blog's usual visitors cares anything whatsoever about City of Heroes. It is definitely dated-- it did not boast top-of-the-line graphics even by the standards of 2004, let alone 2019. But it was-- and still is-- a lot of fun to play. It is hard to point to any one thing that makes it so, but in general, you just feel really powerful in CoH even from the beginning, compared to other MMOs, where you typically feel very weak and afraid haha. Despite that, I just can't remain silent about the return of CoH-- to me, this is huge. And needless to say, anyone reading this is, of course, welcome to check it out, even if they never played it back in the day. *Insert caveat here that doing so may or may not be entirely legal, so do so at your own risk, etc*