Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Japan: PC/PS2 Update for May 8th



Even though there won't be an update this week, they've posted the next one early. Here's a breakdown:

- New Moatoob Free Mission C-S2 (Il Cabo Base towards Granigs Mine)
- New items at The Collector (Melton's Shop)
- New weapons
- Neudaiz My Room move ticket
- PM Device EX GH490 (requires at least 100 battle stat)
- Twin Saber Tyrant Spadac receives grinding stat boosts
- Drop rate changes to monsters in missions released with and after AotI

Update: Maintenance has ended and the usual notes are out. The Dengeki rewards have expired and the Universe 9-11 names have reverted back to normal. The Colony Guardian's Branch has had it's missions reorganized. The NPCs Karen and Lou have been tweaked. It has been noted that the GH490 does not use it's SUV weapon to a player of PSUv1. The second Rykros mission (Seal of the Dark God) has had some stuff fixed.

Update: There was an edit to add a notice of a 5/22 fix on the maintenance end page. This concerns the correction to the GH490.

JP Update Page
Maintenance End

Japan: No PC/PS2 Maintenance for May 1st

There will not be a maintenance period this week. The support center will also be on break for the week following due to Golden Week.

JP No Maintenance
JP Customer Service Break

General: No Maintenance for May 2nd

The JP page is reporting that there will be no maintenance this week. It is probable that it also applies to the PC/PS2 servers. Fret not, though, as the Ruins addition to MAG should be arriving soon enough. Hopefully this will also give the team more time to focus on the PC/PS2 billing issues (if they are not resolved by then). I've also linked a post describing the fact that the JP support center will be closed during the following week for Golden Week.

Update: Our GMs have confirmed no maintenance for this week on either set of servers.

Official Announcement
JP 360 No Maintenance

JP Customer Service Break

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MAG: Third Milestone Hit



We were just able to hit our third milestone at around 3 AM. It seems we're still well on track, so let's keep up the pace.

It seems that our prize table has been mixed up a bit from JP. I think the next milestone is probably the Ruins area though. I guess we can't be sure yet whether this will replace the NiGHTS statue or not, but it's possible. I don't know whether/when it was out here or in JP, but PSOW says it costs 10 gold. So a pretty hefty charge nonetheless.

A post by board member Miraglyth brought up a good point. JP has a mobile phone casino game that can earn players extra coins for their in game character. Since we are still limited on how many coins we can acquire without risk, it's possible that we were given this straight up as a substitution. After all, just keeping your coin each day would take an incredibly significant amount of time to save up for one of them otherwise.

EN MAG Page
Treasure Chest at PSOW

Sunday, April 27, 2008

MAG: Second Milestone Hit



Sometime this morning we were able to hit our second milestone. Keep it going strong guys!

EN MAG Page

Saturday, April 26, 2008

MAG: First Milestone Hit



Well the event is off to a great start! The first milestone was unlocked sometime early this morning. I think we should be able to hit the next one (or even two!) by the end of the weekend.

EN MAG Page

Friday, April 25, 2008

MAG: Event Start and Website Posted



Maximum Attack in Gurhal has officially started as of 5:20 PDT this morning! I will be soon updating the side bar to reflect various helpful and relevant pages concerning the event. The image above is linked a few times on the official page and it describes how you can actually have a bit of a customized picture of your character on the charts. I'd say it's pretty cool.

I've also linked below the relevant updates for this week.

EN MAG Site
JP MAG Site
Patch and Title Update
Content Update
MAG Begins
EN Maintenance End

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Japan: PSU Calendar Wallpaper for May



It's a week in advance, but May's calendar is already out. You can find April's at the link below (as well as on the sidebar as I'm keeping a link there). Various resolutions are available.

PSU Calendar

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

General: Update for April 25th

The following is a compilation of additions that will be appearing this week:

- Maximum Attack G C-S (April 25th to May 23rd)
- Gifts from Beyond (MAG Item Exchange mission)
- Mission to collect milestone prizes
- Cherry Blossom and MAG Event Lobbies (April 25th to May 23rd) [PSUv1]
- Measures to prevent AFK PA leveling will be affecting the following missions:
The Black Nest, Mad Creatures, Plains Overlord, Endrum Remnants, Duel in the Ruins, Scarred Planet, Grove of Fanatics
- New weapons, armor, and slot units
- New clothes (it seems that every PSO set will be available from the start)
- New room goods
- Casino rotation (music disks are mentioned)
- Mt. Ohtoku box additions (new colors for the Mikumiku set)
- Type level maximum raised to 20
- Most of the awaited weapon and PA changes
* Swords will hit an additional target (3->4, 4->5)
* Chikki-Kyoren-jin gets a power drop and uses less PP (First part reduced 202%->161%. Second part reduced 342%->182%.)
* Elemental rifle bullets receive higher percentages, ATP, and ATA. They also get a knockdown effect at level 31.
* Standard (non PA) rifle bullets drain less PP
* Elemental laser cannon bullets receive higher percentages at their base
* Gifoie, Gibarta, Gizonde, Gidiga, Nosdiga, Noszonde, and Nosmegid consume less PP

The awaited update to make PAs quicker to level was pushed back until some point after MAG. Leaderboards (which weren't present during the winter event) will be returning. There will be categories for things like total kills and fastest times. The top 500 players in terms of kill count (across both servers) will be receiving a Spread Needle / G. The event page should be posted sometime before the event goes live on Friday.

Update: The kill count leaderboard will exist per character and it will be possible to get more than one into the top 500. The time attack leaderboard will exist per account and they will take your best time on any character.

Update: The patch that was meant for PC/PS2 users recently has been moved into this update.

Update: There has been an update to the JP page of some additional balance additions:
- At level 31+, killer shot will require less PP per shot
- Fighgunner gets S rank machineguns, handguns, and twin handguns
- Guntecher gets S rank wands and an increase in base TP
- Fortetecher gets more HP

Update: Parum GBR is currently the oldest thing we haven't seen yet. This update picks up the rest of the JP Dec 13 update as well as the Dec 20 one (aside from some MAG prize additions as well as possibly a few other minor things). This also includes what I believe to be the last update for Jan 17 (type levels to 20). Almost all the balance updates (outside of Guntecher TECHNIC PA cap and PA EXP gain increases) from Feb 28 are included. The balance updates (outside of level/PA cap increases and type additions) from March 27 are included. This update goes a HUGE length at getting us up to speed. Outside of a couple things, we're almost at Dengeki already after MAG. I expect that all the PA cap increases will come with the new types. To clear up the mess, I'll be posting something soon that will hopefully clear up where we are at all times in comparison to JP.

Update: Links to JP maintenance extension and end notices posted. No version change this time.

Update: It seems that the Acro types have had their needed mission points to level corrected. This has caused some users to wonder why they've been deleveled. However, there was an apparent problem before that caused these types to require less than the other types. It seems the deleveling was to set everyone straight.

Update: I've heard slicer range has been dropped. This could have been the patch too, I'm not entirely sure. I don't use them much myself, so I wouldn't know.

Update: JP has confimed that the Acro types did in fact have their 'MP needed to level' distribution fixed. If you were level 10 or below you probably had your level reduced.

Update Page
Maintenance Notice
JP 360 Update Page
Discussion Thread
PSOW Thread
MAG at PSUP
Leaderboard Thread
PC/PS2 Update Delay

Maintenance Extension
Maintenance End
Acro Type Fix

Community: Sega Booth at SF Spring Festival



I saw an interesting thread recently. Sega attended a festival in San Francisco where they handed out inflatable GH-101 partner machines to a bunch of kids. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Update: Apparently they also raffled off PS2 copies of AotI.

Discussion Topic

Japan: PC/PS2 Update for April 24th

EspioKaos has posted a translation of this week's update for JP. It's fairly hefty:

GM event
The GM event "Casino de Fever!" kicks off on this date.

[sth: They are relabeling universes 9-11 during the event to notify everyone to go there to take part in it. It will last from April 24th to May 8th. It involves playing the slot machines to aim for the jackpot. I've linked to the page for this below.]

Dengeki Mission Carnival rewards
From April 24 until May 08, the following rewards will be in place:
* Megaholy Photon Fortune for all races
* 20% boost to weapon and line shield synthesis success rates
* Free Lumilass services
* Half-price clothing and parts
* 10% boost to grinding success rates
* 10x normal daily Vol Coin allowance

[sth: There was an update on the 22nd that clarifies that the synth bonus only applies to when you take the item out, not put it in. Even if you started a synth before the 5/8 maintenance, the rate will go back to normal if you take it out afterwards.]

The following gifts will be given out to all players. Make sure you have enough room in your common box between April 24 and May 08 to receive them.
* Rappy Tippies (twin daggers)
* Speed King (RCSM)

The following item will be given out to eligible players who answered all of the questions in the quiz mission, "The Protectors' Choice," correctly. Again, make sure you have room in your common box, as it must be claimed before maintenance begins on May 08.
* Holy Ray/D

[sth: I've linked the answer page below.]

[sth: They also mentioned that they sent out the real life awards. The recipients are choosen by lottery.]

Story mission
Chapter 6: "Photon Harvesting 1," "Photon Harvesting 2"
The GUARDIANS have finally defeated the Illuminus, however a much larger task is at hand with the recent discovery of the massive HIVE, Rykros. [sth: As usual, the prior chapter must be cleared.]

Item exchange mission
"The Clothier" ("Protectors' City Clothes and Parts Shop" is the full name, but we all know that when this is localized, it won't be anywhere near that long.) I've gathered together a variety of wonderful clothes that normally are very difficult to get. Stop by and check out my selection!

This mission will likely be used to obtain the more unique clothes such as those worn by a few NPCs such as Mirei and Lumia. (This assumption coming from the clothing update mentioned below. I assume we may also see Howzer's coat and Laia's new getup somewhere down the line.) [sth: I think we might see some previously event only clothing in here.]

New shop items
AOTI-exclusive weapons will be available for purchase in shops up to 8-stars. Weapon boards will go up to 9-stars in shops. Some material synthesis boards will be adjusted and new ones will also go on sale.

New casino items
The exchange counter at Casino Voloyal will receive an update.

New clothes and parts
New clothes and parts will be released along with new color variations of existing clothes. The new clothes seem to be based on Lumia's new clothing and Mirei's clothing. [sth: Check the pictures on the site, you may be surprised at the others.]
Quite a few interesting things in there.

Update: Version is now 2.0006.4. Universes 9-11 are now labeled for the casino event. The My Room fix to searching between entrances has been made.

JP Update Page
PSOW Thread
GM Casino Event
Dengeki Answer Page
Maintenance End

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Other: 300th Post EXTREME

Here we take care of another random, acceptably round milestone. This is a particularly good spot for one I think as it marks a turning point. The following people are now mods on the official forums:

Silver19
SamuraiSilhouette
VD0gamemaster
S-T-H
Ironfox
Lucente

That's right: I am now to a degree in their ranks. I was somewhat reluctant as I worried what some might think of what I have to say coming from a mod position. However, I am now in a position to help out to an even higher degree than what I could before. You will find soon enough that many of us aren't there just to clean up. Some interesting things are happening from a community standpoint and I've been working with a few of these people as well as some other high ranking community members to help out in a variety of regards.

Some of you may have noticed that a link to a recent post of mine has a link at the top of each PSUP page. This was actually not my own prospect. That being said, I hear that it might show up on PSOW too. Things like this are just the beginning of what I hope will become a greater awareness of users trying to help the game as well as sites working together. You may wonder if this has anything to do with my new relationship on the forum, but I assure you this was set in motion well prior to anything like that. There are plenty of things I still have planned that don't concern or require me being a mod or whatever I may end up as in relation to PSU.

That being said, things are quickly becoming streamlined in terms of my relationships with other community members as well as the bonus of keeping GMs aware as to what we're doing so that they might even be able to put in some input or possibly help if they feel they can manage to do something. I have been sensing increasing optimism from both sides recently and I think we'll soon be at a turning point. I think we'll be on a level greater than anything the game has seen prior and the difference will be staggering.

[Soon I'll give descriptions of some of these guys.]

I am removing the following links from the side bar (at least for the time being):

PSUniverse (Currently Down)
PSUtopia (Currently Down)

They seem to have been defunct for awhile now and I don't see a reason for them to be there. I know there is a chance PSUtopia may recover, but PSUniverse may not be coming back.

New Mods

Friday, April 18, 2008

Xbox 360: Live Downtime and System Update

First off, there will be a maintenance period from 2 to 10 AM PDT this Monday (8 hours!). For PSU players this means (a possibly record breaking) three maintenance periods for this coming week.

In addition, a system update has been released. However, it contains no new features and is just meant to provide a base for 'future growth'. This could either have to do with possible expansion on their side or the coming spring update or even both.

Live Downtime
System Update

Thursday, April 17, 2008

General: Update for April 18th (Moved to the 23rd)

There is no update tonight for the EN servers. Instead we will have two maintenances next week to take care of the patches and content update. The first (as a replacement to this one) will be on Tuesday night to Wednesday morning and will contain the title update for 360 and patch for PC/PS2.

In addition, there is a notice about certain waiting room functionalities available to original PSU players.

I've also linked a thread detailing some of the changes coming with the 360 update. At least some of these will also apply to the PC/PS2 one. There aren't mentions of any performance/sound/chatpad changes, so we may have to wait somewhat longer on those. In the meantime I have linked a thread where some very productive discussion on the slowdown issues is taking place. In another thread, chillaura mentions that this update will not include the recent changes to certain missions to prevent certain afk PA leveling. It looks like we'll have to wait to see if there are any additional undocumented changes.

Update: While there was no maintenance on the 18th, there were some random lobby changes by mistake. The spring lobbies went out early, but at the same time certain lobbies ended up broken. It was decided that they didn't need to immediately address the problem, but they should be fixed soon (if not already).

Update: To prepare for the incoming 360 title update, JP has pushed back the end time by 3 hours. It's unknown how long the PC/PS2 servers will be down for for it's patch. It is also not yet known how relevant the change log is in comparison to the 360 one. There are more system changes coming with MAG which I will soon mention in the post concerning this week's update.

Update: This update has been delayed for PC/PS2 users until Thursday's maintenance.

Update: The 360 title update is out and it's 2.0002.4. The lobbies have been fixed. Some fixes also made for those using German. Players are still finding some various other tweaks. I've heard the frozen photon fortune teller bug has been corrected.

Update: Apparently during the recent lobby bugs, users were able to find rare drops from Easter rappies.

Update: This pulls in a lot of tweaks (if not all) from JP's April 10th update.

Update: I don't see the meseta color change on PC and neither do a few others. Then again the change doc for the PC/PS2 side hasn't been given yet. I'm not sure if there is anything else missing or added in comparison to the 360 one. However I believe the maiden freezing was fixed on both sides.

Update: Here is a quote of chillaura's post about what the 360 title update contains:

Attention GUARDIANS! Maximum Attack G is approaching quickly, and we’ve got a number of new updates, glitch fixes, and system changes going up that will be improving PSU across the board. Heading your way during maintenance this Tuesday Night:

Updates and system changes

During GUARDIANS Boost Road event, earned points will now be shared among the same account characters.

Meseta will now be displayed in multiple colors depending upon amount. This will make it easy to determine exactly how much an item is priced, and works as follows:
・ Meseta 1- 99,999 is colored white
・ Meseta 100k – 999k is colored light blue.
・ Meseta 1 million to 9.9 million is colored yellow green
・ Meseta 10 million to 99 million is colored orange.

The method of synthesizing and storing grinders has been changed. When synthesizing grinders, make sure you have at least 5 open spaces for any potential grinder outcome (e.g., no more than 94/99 C+1 grinders) or you will not be able to synthesize grinders of that type.

The price confirmation window will now be displayed even if players purchase items requiring individual inventory space.

Playing story missions will no longer affect the appearance of rare missions.

When purchasing an item priced over 100k meseta from a Photon Gacha, players must wait one second before accepting. This is specifically to help combat Photon Gacha scamming.

Glitch Fixes:

Second Machine Gun Glitch fixed.

Photon Gacha text overflow glitch has been fixed.
By the time that I've added this, PC/PS2 players should have already seen these items added.

Maintenance Change
JP 360 Maintenance Change
Waiting Rooms for PSUv1
360 Title Update Announcement
Slowdown Discussion Thread
Update Discussion
Lobby Notice
Maintenance Extension
PC/PS2 Delay
JP Maintenance End

Japan: PC/PS2 Update for April 17th

There wasn't a proper content this week, but 3 star photon fortune was implemented for the next week because of that GBR issue. I also linked to a review of the white day GM event as well as the upcoming (April 24th to May 8th) casino one.

GM White Day Report
GM Casino Event
Maintenance Report

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Community: User Comments and Reviews

I've been brainstorming some ways that we can help as players to promote the game and I believe there are some very simple things we can do. There are definately corners of the internet to fill that we would do best. This is also part of that possible project I might have mentioned before. In a way, it pretty much fits in nicely with the 'word of mouth' concept.

The point of this particular post is about user comments and reviews. There are many places that are at a lack of them. Some of you may have already noticed that there are very few reviews out for AotI (much less online). There are many popular sites out there that have sections dedicated to user experiences with these games. There are even many places where you can comment on professional reviews directly. I say that it's our responsibility to use these as a start to tell others about our positive experiences with the game (and how it has changed since the original release). Even a score and a line or two is better than nothing.

Sites like Metacritic and Game Rankings allow you to give a score, some basic comments, or even an extended review of the game. GameFAQs would also be a prime place to hit. The site currently does not have any user submitted reviews for AotI whatsoever. GameSpot actually has a few, but not on every platform. IGN nor 1UP currently have user reviews for AotI. You can also put in some simple scores at these sites. They happen to track activity on certain game pages. More is of course better, but the results depend on the site.

Metacritic
Game Rankings (search Phantasy Star Universe)
GameFAQs
GameSpot
IGN
1UP

These are just a few of the more popular (albeit often American) game information sites. If you manage to browse around some of the reviews on Metacritic and Game Rankings I'm sure you can find a variety of sites that you can put in comments on. You may even find a review here and there with factual (or now factual) errors.

All this even is just scratching the surface of what a game's player base can do to help it get more recognition and properly communicate its high points. On the flip side, if we leave this stuff unused...who will think we are even here playing and enjoying the game?

I'm sure this will probably spur some other thoughts about what can be done. If not, I have a stack of other posts coming up with suggestions. I think though that if you have a bit of free time, you can't really go wrong helping out with this aspect. Besides...you can feel responsible for writing what might be the only review someone might see on a certain site. Isn't that even better than Sega managing to get some people to review the game that won't necessarily highlight its high points?

Update: I felt I left out a very important category of sites. Retailers (Amazon, Gamestop, etc.) usually also have extensive systems set up for people to make a variety of comments. The only problem is that many sites no longer carry PSU or AotI. This is actually another issue in itself, but keep that in mind. Amazon though in particular would be a good place to hit.

PS2/PC: Team Race on April 19th

CCC is holding an event this weekend. Here's some details:

Date: April 19th, 2008
Time: 3 PM PST, 6 PM EST, 11 PM UTC (Check for Daylight Savings mistakes)
Place: Kego Clearing (Neudaiz) on Universe 8
Requirements: Level 85+, 2 man teams
Prizes: 5 million for first, 3 million for second, 2 million for third

Check the link below to register and see the full details.

Discussion Thread

Xbox 360: Pre-MAG Event on April 24th

Synbios is holding some random contests the day before MAG. Here's some tidbits:

Date: April 24th, 2008
Time: 9 PM UTC
Place: Club on Guardians Colony 3rd floor on Universe 17
Requirements: Wear purple (various contests do not require mission play)
Prizes: 500k for clothes contest, 1 million for hat draw, 100k for random number

For the full details, please visit the thread linked below.

Discussion Thread

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

General: Guardian's Express Volume 3 Issues 1 and 2

I was just told that a GE went out about MAG. Somehow I must have ended up off their mailing list. I was wondering why there hadn't been one in awhile. Outside of this one I only missed the last one. Maybe something reset between volumes or maybe something got messed up one of the times I signed up for one of their other lists. Anyway, after resigning up, they just sent out the MAG one automatically. Oddly both of these have the same character picture. I've also of course added them to the backlog.

GE Volume 3 Issue 1
GE Volume 3 Issue 2
GE Signup Page

Monday, April 14, 2008

General: New GM Named

To quote RubyEclipse:

Hey there everyone,

There’s been a lot of cool stuff happening lately, and I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on what’s going on. (Brace yourselves)

First and foremost:

Ruby Eclipse = PSU Castor
PSU Castor = Ruby Eclipse

I used Castor’s account for the PSU Podcast so that it would get reviews based on content, not on whose name was attached to it. While we probably could have kept going about it this way a while, in light of the second big announcement I wanted to be completely open and up front with you guys.

The next (and in my opinion, much cooler) bit of news is that I have officially joined the SEGA of America team as the next Game Master for PSU. As a Phantasy Star Fan for many years (and a general PSO/U addict), I’ve been with you guys in seeing the mistakes, the victories, and the many in-betweens. My goal is to keep PSU fun and enjoyable, and likewise to push for fixes on the issues that do need to be resolved. And when it comes to player-run events, there are some awesome plans in the works that I hope to announce very soon.

MAG will be here in no time, our community driven PSU Series is also in the works right now, and Season 2 of the PSU Podcast will be starting in the next few weeks. It is a pretty exciting time for all of us here in the community, and my hope is that it will only get better as we move forward.

I look forward to working with everyone, and to meeting with you guys when the in-game support starts in full during MAG.
First, I want to say that I knew they were the same guy. Second, I'm quite glad that he's now on the team. He's been very involved with PSU and had been with PSOBB. I know that quite a bit of good will come out of this for the community and for Sega. From my own viewpoint, there are very few people from our playerbase that would potentially be a better selection than he.

Announcement Thread
Discussion Thread

Thursday, April 10, 2008

PS2/PC: Gurhal Tour Race 2 on April 12th

DreamStar is hosting an event for this coming weekend. Here's some details:

Date: April 12th, 2008
Time: 3 PM PST, 5 PM CST, 6 PM EST, 11 PM UTC (Check for Daylight Savings mistakes)
Place: Agata Islands on Universe 15 (Neudaiz)
Requirements: Need to be level 85, 4 person teams
Prizes: 1 million meseta per person for first place

Read all the rules and register at the thread below to enter.

Azureflow's Thread

General: No Update for April 11th

As mentioned before, there is no content update for this week.

The 360 servers will have no maintenance at all.

The PC/PS2 servers will have a short maintenance to return lost items to player common boxes after that certain incident awhile back. Players should probably clear their common boxes prior to shutdown, but I believe the items may still appear when space is made available.

Discussion Thread
JP 360 Announcement

MAG: Live Support Schedule

I'm going to start using a new tag for Maximum Attack G (and update older relevant posts).

To quote Chillaura:

To make Maximum Attack G the best supported and most fun event we have ever run, we are very pleased to announce that we will be covering both servers with live in-game customer support five days a week between 4PM and 8PM PDT.

The Live Support Schedule will be:

Monday 4PM to 8PM PDT
Tuesday 4PM to 8PM PDT
Wednesday OFF
Thursday 4PM to 8PM PDT
Friday 4PM to 8PM PDT
Saturday 4PM to 8PM
PDT
Sunday OFF

This Schedule will run from Saturday 4/26 to Thursday 5/22.

Friday 4/25 we will be kicking off the M.A.G. event with an informal community gathering from 4:00PM to 8:00PM.

Support will take place within the party mission waiting room areas in the GUARDIANS branches on Parum, Neudaiz, and Moatoob. This will allow us to deal with a handful of users on both servers at a time. Although we may settle on one primary location, at first we will use the in-game announcement system to tell you the universe, planet and party name to find us in when we open up a support shift.

If there are no support issues on any given day we will use this time to patrol, join you in missions, or hang out in the branch lobbies and chat. We are announcing this schedule in advance to encourage players to run community events during our support hours.

We would like Maximum Attack G to be fun for everyone, and we will be trying to immediately respond to any reported cheating, scamming, obscenity or abusive behavior reported to us in game. Responding to issues reported through forums and support forms will also be a high priority during the event, please continue to use those when you can't reach us in game.
Seems like the bar has been raised once again. I would suggest that everyone not crowd around them too much and allow them to manage the game appropriately. The last thing we'd want to do is scare them back into hiding.

Another quote:
In-game support will cover any customer service issue other than billing or technical related issues that prevent you from playing PSU. Max and Edward will still be answering those through the email support system. While the in-game GMs will be available to take questions, don't expect a huge flood of information, we don't want to ruin this by leaking information we weren't supposed to.

I have been making vague promises about improving support and security, and know that the lack of availability of the GMs in game has been a real problem for you guys. This is the most common sense answer to those problems, and we will work on a plan for more permanent in game "office hours" after we see how this goes.
Nice to see that they are trying to work on getting some solid public hours for GM monitoring. Hopefully we'll see a day that a blue ID runs around the lobbies without a hoard of users running after them.

Official Announcement
Announcement Thread
Discussion Thread

Japan: PC/PS2 Update for April 10th

Seems there is alot for me to catch up on. First JP's update for this week (translation by EspioKaos):

Seasonal lobby [sth: PSUv1]
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom across Gurhal! Enjoy the scenery from April 10 until May 8. [Added note: corrected from April 24]

GUARDIANS Boost Road
This time it's for Neudaiz. This GBR will be running from April 10 until May 08 with a drop boost bonus. The missions this time are:
* Hill of Spores
* Dancing Birds
* Sakura Warpath (new mission)
* Sacred Stream
* White Beast

New free mission
Sakura Warpath (C-S2, Saguraki C.D. to Ohtoku City)
After the collapse of the Illuminus, some spies were revealed to be active within the Communion of Gurhal. Now they've armed themselves and taken refuge in the Saguraki C.D. Track down and suppress the rebels!

New rare free mission
Fires of Illusion (C-S, random counter)
Following the discovery of Rykros, a mysterious cave has been spotted by eyewitnesses, appearing and disappearing all over Neudaiz. High nanotransformer activity has been detected in the area, but its cause is unknown...
* The method of getting a rare free mission has changed slightly. With this update, your chances of getting the mission will increase if you have more players in your party. Furthermore, the amount of time it takes to clear a mission will have an effect on your chances of a rare mission appearing. If a mission is cleared in less than five minutes, there is no chance of a rare mission appearing. From five minutes and up, however, the longer a mission takes, the better the chances of a rare mission appearing. Note that anywhere over 30 minutes will not increase the chances of an appearance above the maximum probability.
- Only the party leader will be able to see the rare mission appear. [Added note]
- Also, if players join mid-mission, in order for their play time to go toward increasing the chances of finding a rare mission, they must have been in the mission for at least 80% of the total time spent. [Added note]
- Also applies to Forest of Illusion. [Added note]

New S2 missions
* Sakura Blast
* White Beast
* Hill of Spores
* Dancing Birds
* Sacred Stream

Enemy adjustments [sth: some PSUv1]
Adjustments have been made to the following missions which will disallow players from semipermanently engaging enemies in battle (for the purpose of AFK leveling photon arts, for example):
* The Black Nest
* Seal of the Dark God
* Maximum Attack G'
* Mad Creatures
* Plains Overlord
* Endrum Remnants
* Duel in the Ruins
* Scarred Planet
* Grove of Fanatics
* The Results of Ambition (story mission)

Item exchange mission
Electric Festival (Dagora GUARDIANS Branch)
Bring any extra Zon Drops and Zon Spheres you have from the Dengeki Mission Carnival to trade in for some interesting items! (This mission will contain some of the items from DMC's exchange mission.)

New items
* New Casino Voloyal items will be added to the exchange counter.
* Many new weapons, line shields and units will be added. Note that new units which will increase or decrease TECHNIC range affect only TECHNICs which fire in a straight line, i.e. Foie and Barta.

System change [sth: PSUv1]
Prices will now be color-coded in shops. Blue: 100,000 - 999,999 Green: 1,000,000 - 9,999,999 Yellow: 10,000,000 and above

Universe consolidation [sth: PSUv1]
The number of universes will be reduced from 42 to 26.

Sounds like quite a bit. The GBR this time is all AotI. I'm going to take a bet we'll be seeing 'Caves of Illusion' on our own EN servers. I think the new rare mission appearance method is welcome along with the other system changes. I'm guessing we'll see these soon enough.

The reduction of universes is peculiar (although not the first time there's been a change). They now have less than the 360 servers (demo or proper, EN PC/PS2 has 18). About half the 'normal' universes and one of each of the labeled ones have been lopped off. I've seen some reduction of their playerbase, but I didn't imagine it was enough to present quite this large of a change (16 of them). There used to be two worlds with 40 universes a piece (after some quick fixing of a greater than expected launch base). When they combined them (around AotI's release), they sorted them out into 56. January 10th of this year they reduced it to 42 universes. As of today (3 months later), it's down to 26. It makes me wonder if we'll be seeing some dropped universes on the EN side.

Update: Notice of a maintenance extension linked. This is so they can take down the Dengeki event and reduce the number of universes (along with the rest of the update).

Update: Sonic Team is encouraging users to send in reports of griefers that will boot party members when rare items appear. I'm not sure if the EN side currently does anything, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to ask. If they don't, perhaps they will soon enough.

Update: As with most events, the GMs will be running around doing various things during this GBR. Link is below.

Update: The updates have been applied and as usual there is a change log. Version is now 2.0006.3. I'd imagine the EN servers will see these updates soon enough. Here's EspioKaos's translation:
* A universe transport cube has been added to the GUARDIANS HQ at the GUARDIANS Colony. Also, a PP charger, transport cube and NPC vendor have been added to each planet's GUARDIANS Branch
* Enemy HP has been adjusted in "Forest of Illusion."
* Party recruitment missions ("Dagora Standby Area," Holtes Standby Area," "Ohtoku Standby Area") have changed the way fastest clear times are presented. (No specific details are given on the change, however.) Also, a way to leave the standby area without ending the mission has been added.
* Grinder synthesis has been changed so that the maximum number of Grinders (of the same grade) you can produce reflects the maximum number you can put hold in both your personal inventory and your partner machine's storage.
* The mission "Military Subway" has been adjusted to correct a bug that caused certain containers to never drop anything.
Update: Also a common site after maintenance is a list of things that haven't been fixed and of course will be in the future. This thing has been updated a few times. At first it was mentioned that GBR points weren't correct and that they may have needed to be reset. Then they mentioned an issue where users using Entrance 2 didn't have correct search results from the shop system. They fixed the point issue and because of the reset are going to be providing more 3 star photon fortune.

Update: Sonic Team made an update to the content update page. The added notes are marked accordingly. They are the date change for the lobbies and extra notes about the Illusion mission changes.

Update: There is a page describing an emergency maintenance on Saturday. The aforementioned bugs are corrected after this (GBR and search issues).

Update: Change log for the emergency maintenance added. Now GBR will start off at a 25% bonus (instead of 3), but still only go up to 50% per player. In addition, the promised 3 star photon fortune will appear on April 17th to the 24th.

Goodness...this was some weekend for JP.

Update: Added another note about the rare mission finding update. Only the party leader will see it, so there is no need to disband.

JP Update Page
PSOW Thread
Official Forum Thread
Extended Maintenance
Wicked User Notice
GBR GM Event
Game Server Update
Known Defects
Emergency Maintenance
Emergency Maintenance Update

Monday, April 7, 2008

Xbox 360: Possible DRM Fix

I noticed this awhile ago and figured it might help out some people.

If you've had to replace your 360 (by sending it to MS), you may have noticed that you can't use download content offline. The following link gives a few tips on how you can correct this (at least for some stuff).

The only additional thing I can say is that you should make sure that the content you want to redownload is still available in your download history/on Live. Also, you may want to try it without deleting your saves first.

DRM Fix?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Podcast: PSU Community Podcast XXV



This is the last episode of the 'first season' of the podcast. Perhaps there was some small delay that pushed them into when they planned to have a break, thus being delayed a few weeks. I hear there's been some moving going on.

The first episode of season 2 is supposed to be announced by the end of April.

Thanks to the guys for mentioning the site. Perhaps we can team up somehow in the future.

Podcast at Switchpod (Also on iTunes)
Discussion Thread

I guess I should also note that you can now listen to it at times on Samurai Silhouette's uStream. Speaking of which, I'm going to add a list of some of these channels and IRC ones as well soon.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Other: EN PSOX Shutting Down April 30th

The JP Xbox servers were shut off at the end of January and the North American ones will be turned off midnight PST (PDT?) at the end of this month. It is unknown what will happen with the PAL ones if they're also separate. They have stopped taking additional subscriptions at this point and will prorate the current ones if they are cut off from a full month when the servers shut down.

I must once again mention the inevitable ending of 'Eternal Christmas'. At least this will lead right into the start of MAG for those hoping to continue some nostalgia into PSU.

By way of PSOW and JonathanF came the news referencing the following link.

PSOX Product Detail Page

Community: Social Design in Online Games

I just read this pretty interesting piece on social behavior in online games and how it can be controlled. There is a bit of bad language in there, but it's well worth the read. The guy in question had his hand in modifying some of Shadowrun's systems to lessen possibilities for grieving. Some of these methods involved how players are kicked from parties as well as how credit for kills is distributed. The former more than the latter seems to still be a bit of an issue with some PSU players.

The real issue at hand is how the current state of some games (think more FPSes rather than RPGs) is negatively affecting sales and the online play of the majority of potential customers. This is of course attributed to the way a more hardcore gamer may treat a more casual gamer. He gives some interesting examples on how you can modify a person's behavior just by tweaking their perspective a bit.

If we're going to try and get more people into the game, it may be futile if we don't first look at trying to change the way a certain small group of players act as well as attempting to change the play styles of the community at large (i.e. more group play as opposed to solo/friends only). Of course, these things can only happen in a certain order for some, so there's sure to be some difficulty involved. The best way to go about this might be even transparently to most. Mega community help plans and such are often put down and I've generally seen them faulter. Ideally you want to find a way to get people to realize things for themselves and have them bring out the best in each other.

Gamasutra Article

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

PS2/PC: Dualshock 3 Next Week



The new PS3 controllers are currently shipping and will be available most places by next week. Those of you waiting for rumble (outside of Japan) will now be able to get it on the PS3 (in America at least, not sure on the other regions). They are going to retail for 55 USD. The battery life is said to be about as long as the Sixaxis. It should be noted that these (as with most accessories) aren't region specific, so you can import them if you can't wait.

Originally they didn't support rumble in older Playstation (1 and 2) games, but as of a firmware update late last year they do. You can view a list of PS3 games that will support it on launch at the link below. Apparently this isn't a full list, so don't be surprised if you feel a jolt in some other games. Newer games come with the above label.

Update: The Sixaxis is now discontinued.

Playstation Blog
Sixaxis Discontinued (care of Kotaku)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Japan: PSU Calendar Wallpaper for April



Sonic Team will be releasing PSU themed calendar desktops for at least the next year (April 2008 to April 2009). You can find various resolutions of this month's at the link below. Unfortunately, there is no widescreen version. At least they don't seem to create any language barriers. Perhaps it would be a good idea to feature them on the EN site as well.

I've already marked a big red ring around the 25th for MAG!

Update: I believe the reason that the 29th is highlighted is for Shōwa Day in Japan (previously known as The Emperor's Birthday and Greenery Day [which is now May 4th]).

PSU Calendar

Xbox 360: Live Downtime and New Products

I kept putting this off for some reason...and it seems that I was just a tad late on it. There was downtime from 2 through 5 AM PDT today. You'll now find some videos on inside xbox featuring some very special new products. They can also be viewed at the link below. I'm all for the helmet myself, but perhaps that's just the Cast in me talking.

I might as well mention a few other things I meant to recently. My Xbox has a bit of a visual update to it which I think might also be work in progress. There is now an archive of the inside xbox videos that appear on the console (those of you without a 360 may be able to catch some video of those new products soon enough). Finally, people that have been using certain means to raise their gamerscores are getting punished. This consists of having their gamerscore reset to zero as well as them not being able to reobtain old achievements. They are also now labeled as cheaters on Live.

I'm not going to go into detail, but this doesn't happen to be a hack or a breakdown of the system's security. It is merely a traceable method (could probably at worst be called an exploit) that allows you to increase your score without spending the usual amount of time and effort that most users do. Assuredly, people aren't just breaking into their servers and setting arbitrary values.

Update: Video for new products linked below.

Major Nelson's Blog
New for Spring
My Xbox Update
Inside Xbox Archive
Gamerscore Correction
GS Cheater FAQ
Inside Xbox Video on Vimeo

General: Update for April 4th

This week we'll be receiving the following:

- S Rank Her Secret Mission (Neudaiz Guardians Branch)
- Neudaiz Guardians Branch party formation mission
- New items

Just like Bruce's Dungeon, the S version of HSM is AotI exclusive. This is JP's Feb 21 update minus the addition of a story mission. The current waiting room issues are still in effect, so check the link below if you don't know what's going on with it.

EN Update Page
JP 360 Update Page
JP 360 Maintenance End
HSM on PSUP
PSUP Ohtoku Standby Area

Japan: Incorrect Synthesis Times

I'm not sure if this also happens to apply to the EN servers, but there is a bit of a synthesis bug. If I'm looking at it correctly, it would seem that boards that had started synthing before midnight on March 31st (and have continued past it) will need up to several more hours to finish. It's recommended just to wait until it finishes the extended run before taking it out.

JP Page