News from the City of Heroes

This has been a pretty busy time on City of Heroes. Issue 14: Architect just came out a few weeks ago, the 5th Anniversary celebration is starting today and running through May, and also today, they put up the first announcement about Issue 15: Anniversary.

The next issue looks nice, especially for those of us that have been missing beating up the 5th Column. They are back in a big way, with a separate Strike Force and Task Force for the Villains and Heroes in the game. New costumes, new faces, new emotes, and some needed updates to the Mission Architect UI. And the best news is, it should be coming fairly quickly. With a name like Anniversary, unless they want to push it back to November, they will want it out as soon as possible so it is at least close to the 5th Anniversary.

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Life Happens

As a wise man once said,

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.*

So the last couple of weeks have been busy. Far too busy to keep up with posting here obviously. Part of the time was spent trying to earn some money, part with family, and part with playing games. The family had games parts were much more successful than the money part so far.

Especially with the last couple of days, dealing with taxes. That has been especially depressing, but at least it is past now. Just the regular bills draining my resources at this point.

To combat the various depressing parts of the last couple of weeks, I have been spending too much time buried in City of Heroes. Issue 14 is live now, and I had to bring over and update an arc from the Test server. Feedback immediately got me started re-writing parts and searching for typos. The re-writing is done, but I do not believe it is possible to get rid of all the typos. They hide from me, just to jump out and bug the players.

Frankly, between the time spent working on a website for someone else, and writing I have been doing on my arcs for the Mission Architect, I have not had the time, nor really the inclination, to  get much written here. But I am currently between arcs on City of Heroes, and before I start on the website, I thought I would drop a quick update here.

I am also considering how, or even if, to proceed with the plugin reviews. I enjoy looking at the various offerings the plugin developers  give us, but I really need to spend more time making money, which my writing reviews will not do. Will have to wait and see how life happens I guess.

Oh yeah, if anyone that reads this is a COH player, try out Future Skulls, ID 4727, and Simple Times, ID 70801, and let me know what you think. Both are low level arcs, with related stories.

*John Lennon of course.

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Review Ratings with WordPress Plugins

After letting others rate your posts and pages last time, today will be devoted to helping you rate what other people produce. These plugins are mostly for use by people that review something, whether music, TV, or movies. If that is what you do on your blog here are a couple of plugins you may find useful.

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Europe on Obama

I have mentioned the benefits of being on Twitter before. I encountered another today, from the computer of @GottaLaff when I checked out a link to one of her posts at The Political Carnival. You never really know what you will find when you follow a link on Twitter, although I have not yet been RickRolled there, but I have enjoyed the writings of GottaLaff that I have already read, so it was not a big risk.

This particular post was mostly from an Op-Ed piece at the New York Times, so I went over there to read the original. I do not know just how accurate the piece is about the European point of view, since I do not live in Europe and have not been taking any polls there. But I do know a few Europeans, and while they feel that Bush did do a few decent things, they mostly think that Obama is a huge improvement, both for their nations and for the United States.

I have to say that for me personally, the article is accurate, as far as it goes. I do feel proud of our President. And I have a great deal of faith in him and his leadership. This doesn’t mean I think he is the “messiah” or he can do no wrong. He has some positions I disagree with, and he has made some mistakes already. But it does mean I think he has the ability to lead us, and show us as a nation, how to be a better than we are.

I just hope that when he makes a big mistake, which I am afraid is inevitable, it will not cause the faith and hope he instills in so many around the world to backlash. We are always hardest on our leaders when they fail us, and the greater the hope we feel, the lower the depths we fall to. And in over thirty years of following politics, I can not remember anyone instilling so much hope and optimism in so many people.

Rating Your Posts with WordPress Plugins

Everybody is a critic. Really. When you watch a movie, listen to a song, read a blog post, you have an opinion of it. And most people are not that shy about sharing their opinions. Well, sometimes they are. Like when they don’t want to take the time to comment on a blog. But it is possible for them to share their opinion without actually having to write it. That is where ratings come in.

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Mission Architect Open Beta: City of Heroes

I have not done nearly enough testing of Issue 14 on the test server since open beta started. Real life has been…intruding a lot. I did avoid a couple of large problems by missing one of the new builds, so that was good, and I did find a few things that I bugged when I was on.

The interface and general bugginess of the Mission Architect have both improved a great deal, although not always smoothly. Anyone that has done any software testing can certainly understand that. And if you have not experienced it yourself, just understand that it is very much of the “2 steps forward, 1 step back” type of progress. Except for when it is 3 steps back. The law of unintended consequences is rampant in software testing.

The last I looked there have been 0ver 18,000 arcs published so far on the Test server. That does not mean there are that many available. If an arc is unpublished for any reason, then re-published, the number of the arc changes. (Not when a published arc is edited without being unpublished. That does not change ratings, ID number, or anything else about the arc except what the writer edits.) So the 18,000+ is how many times arcs have been published. Still a huge number, especially since most of them are still around.

I have really enjoyed the arcs I have created, including the test arc that had Duper-Man, FastMan, and NiteVVing invading from New Earth. That was created only for testing the mission reporting feature, so it is long gone now. But it was fun to create. And I got some nice feedback from one guy that loved getting one-shotted by Duper-Man.

Creating custom critters and groups is fun. Figuring out their looks and powers, and how all of the ranks will fit together, is an excuse to play with the character creator for hours. As someone with a bad case of altitis, this is almost Nirvana. Then comes of the fun of figuring out the story and fitting them into a mission or arc.

I have had the most fun combining things so far. Taking a standard group from the game, then creating a few extra custom mobs to add to them, and using them to tell a story. This can get tricky, since custom critters are all level 1-54, but the regular mobs in the game are level limited. If you create a custom group of say, Hellions 2, and add in all the Hellions plus your custom critters (You can’t add a custom critter to a regular ingame group.) then the mission will be available for all levels rather than automatically lowering the level of the players to the right one to fight Hellions.

So a level 30 scrapper runs in, and the only spawns in the mission will be the custom critters, because the regular mobs will not spawn out of their level range. The way I have worked around it, until they get around to letting use set the level for an arc (Note: They have not said this will happen. This is just wishful thinking on my part, along with a lot of others.) is to add in a patrol for the mission from the regular ingame group. This forces the mission to cover the correct level range and players are raised or lowered in level to fit.

If you are really interested in the Mission Architect, and how to get started using it to create your Hall of Fame/Developer’s Choice arcs, Memphis_Bill has been working on a series of tutorials on the forums. They can be hard to find there, because of the very fast pace of new topics in the testing forum right now. But ParagonWiki has been collecting them and doing a good job keeping the information up to date. The tutorials do a very good job walking you through the options and getting you up to speed. I would recommend reading through them at the very least if you want to create your own stories.

I have really enjoyed the Mission Architect. I have seen people complain about the lack of new content in this Issue, including one that said he was canceling his subscription. This was pretty stupid in my opinion. Once the MA hits the live servers, the amount of content available, for all levels, for all playing styles, will skyrocket. Some of it will suck, no doubt about it. But there are already arcs on the Test server that are better than most of the stuff already in the game. And that collection of material will just continue to grow as the MA gets improved and the players get better at using it.

Ads on Your WordPress Blog: 3 Plugins

One of my most popular posts in this series, at least according to WordPress Stats, has been the first one that really focused on one type of plugin, 8 WordPress Plugins for Ads. The reason for this is fairly obvious, even the most casual blogger hopes to make at least a little money from his writing. And after all, everyone knows how easy it is to write and sell stuff. Just ask the professionals.

Back in reality, most people won’t be able to make a living at blogging, but it is possible to have some money coming in. It has been just over 2 months since that first post on ads, so I thought it was time to take another look at what is out there right now.

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Listening to Music: Marian Call

I have not done much in the way of writing reviews here. I seem to spend most of my time doing the posts for my plugin posts. I enjoy looking around in the plugin depository, but once I have spent a few hours doing that and writing the posts, I do not feel like writing much else. So I am going to write this before the plugin post, to see if that will work out better.

The choice of what to write about is easy this time. I mentioned back in this post on Twitter that I was introduced to Marian Call’s music by following Phil Plait on Twitter. Since then I have bought her 2 albums, and listened to them quite a bit.
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Adding Amazon.com to your WordPress Blog

I was thinking about a topic for this post by going back over my earlier posts and trying to branch off of them in a slightly different direction. I hit upon the idea of looking at plugins that allow you to add affiliate links, when I realized that the biggest affiliate program out there is Amazon.com. A quick check shows quite a few plugins for adding Amazon.com affiliate links, so it seemed like I found my topic. It turns out quite a few of those plugins are very old, but I have found enough to justify a short post on the topic.

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