December in Review December 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, Pokemon, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Nintendo 3DS XL, Pokemon X & Y, Steam
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How many extra embarrassment points to I get for misspelling the word “embarrassment” in the title of a post?
The usual story, I throw some text in the title as a placeholder, write the post, hit publish, and realize some minutes later that I didn’t actually look at the title. While I fixed the title here right away, the error was immortalized in the URL and on G+ and Twitter. Go me.
WordPress.com broke a few less things than usual this month and provided me with the 2013 version of their blog annual report:
I have flagged the report as public, so you can go and read it here if you want. There isn’t much to it really, just a few basic Top 5 lists. Interestingly, a couple posts that never bubble up to the top 12 I post monthly still get enough traffic over time that they end up on the top 5 for the year. Of course, they produced this report more than a day early, so if as few as 5,000 people suddenly decide to view one of my posts, it could be rendered incorrect. That doesn’t seem likely, but it could happen in theory. If you are really into this report, you can compare it with the reports from 2012 or 2011.
And I mentioned quite a while back that there was a huge surge in Brazilian email list and SEO spam coming in. That seems to have subsided. The new thing this month appears to be online casino spam in Swedish. Vive l’esprit international!
One Year Ago
I wrote a post looking at 50 years of James Bond. It included ranked lists for people to argue about.
Turbine announced that they were bringing back Asheron’s Call 2. I am not sure what became of that.
I was deep into my World of Tanks binge. I was up to the KV-2 on the Soviet heavy line, choosing that path after the three way split at the KV-1. (And the T-28.) I was also still working on the German tank destroyer line.
I crammed together all the ads I could find from the EVE Online splash screen. The launcher killed off those ads.
Five Years Ago
December seemed to be all about the micropayments and the like. Sony Online Entertainment surprised some by putting Station Cash driven stores into EverQuest and EverQuest II. The selection wasn’t great and the pricing seemed a bit off, but I was more interested to know what other SOE products would get the Station Cash treatment.
And then EA announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic would be microtransaction financed. Or maybe they didn’t.
In Azeroth we were still coming to grips with the Northrend instances. In Utgarde Keep we managed to kill off Prince Keleseth, but couldn’t hold it together to finish the instance. Outside, we were running around doing quests.
Meanwhile, somebody was working on a WoW code, akin to the old geek code that used to clutter many a .sig file back when Usenet was cool and we knew the spammers by name.
I actually found some time to play Lord of the Rings Online.
New Linking Blogs
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in December
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- Greetings from the Timeless Isle… of DEATH!
- Quote of the Day – CCP Layoffs and World of Darkness
- Shroud of the Avatar… It’s a Thing
- Do You Know the Way to Blackrock Caverns?
- Seated on the Throne of Tides
- Remembering Warhammer Online
- LOTRO and the Latest Insta-Level Scheme
- The Instance Group… Under the Sea
- Four Space Operas and a Funeral
- An Embarrassment of Options…
- Looking Back at 2013 – Highs and Lows
Search Terms of the Month
love strawberry hate raspberry
[I'm with you on that.]
eve online missiles or guns?
[As much as it pains me, guns.]
ccp mintchip fired
[Not that I have seen.]
why would someone transport plex?
[That is one of the mysteries of EVE.]
jita make lego bolo
[All those words mean something, but not when strung together.]
I passed the two year mark in null sec this month. Despite being in something of a lull for the last couple of months due to the lack of a really intense deployment, I still keep my hand in with a fleet now and again. I still enjoy a big fleet fight and sovereignty wars in general.
World of Warcraft
The Azeroth binge continues. I think I have said this before, but everybody in the regular group is playing at about their maximum rate. I know I have been playing WoW more than anything else by quite a margin. It is a combination of Blizzard smoothness, familiarity, and each of us discovering in turn that Mists of Pandaria is actually a pretty meaty expansion… and that there was still quite a bit left uncovered in past expansions. I keep going back to bits of The Burning Crusade with various characters. I feel like I haven’t done very much in that expansion to this day.
The Steam Winter sale has almost run its course. I did manage to find a couple of titles I wanted on deep sale. Company of Heroes 2 is the one I have actually spent some time playing. It isn’t bad, though it isn’t quite Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin in depth. The other game I bought was Endless Space, which I have heard both good and bad about, but which dropped to a price point that I just bought it. Now to find time to actually play it.
It will be the new year, which means tomorrow I will have a post with some ridiculous predictions and such as well as a somewhat delayed yet probably very predictable 2014 MMO and like games outlook. Things I do every year so at least you can plot my insanity/inanity over time.
My daughter also got a Nintendo 3DS XL for Christmas, and immediately used some gift cards she got to go buy Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Pokemon X. She has played quite a bit of both since then. I will have to give the unit a closer look. It seems very nice and the big screen means I can read the text without my glasses. Anyway, there will no doubt be a post on that at some point in the not too distant future. Is the 3DS XL worth it, or would a DSi XL and a pile of older games be a better choice?
Then there is the ongoing adventures of the instance group, which I have been slacking on the last two weeks and all the things that go along with that.
And, finally, I have a Mystery Code from the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition to give away. There will be a contest. I expect it will involve screen shots. I can’t help it, I can sit and look at EVE Online screen shots all day.
Quote of the Day – No, You Gotta CATCH Them All! October 23, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
“When it comes to business, the one thing I’ve always said ‘no!’ to is ‘the act of buying Pokémon with money,’” says Sugimori. “That is something that has been said since the days [Satoshi] Tajiri was completely involved in everything.”
-Ken Sugimori, Art Director for Pokemon, on Pokemon DLC
In a world where we have things like Skylanders, it is interesting to hear from a company that has a line they won’t cross.
Granted, it isn’t like Nintendo doesn’t exploit the Pokemon franchise. There are the original GameBoy role playing games, the hooked-in add-on games like Pokemon Ranch and Pokemon Battle Revolution, the decent spin-off games such as the Rogue inspired Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, the dubious (in my opinion) spin-offs like Pokemon Snap or Pokemon Ranger, there is the collectible trading card game with its various sponsored tournaments, the guest appearances by Pikachu and others in games like Super Smash Bros., and then the whole television series which is now past the 800 episode mark, with 16 full length movies along with some short subjects in there as well.
Nintendo clearly grasped Miltank by the udders and commenced to make the cash flow with as much vigor as they could manage.
But there is a limit. Selling you a Pokemon directly would potentially “ruin the world view” set in the game. You can catch them in game or pick them up by participating in special events, but going for outright Pokemon sales might damage the brand.
And given how lucrative the Pokemon franchise is, protecting the brand certainly has to be a high priority. The latest versions of the game, Pokemon X and Y, look to be on track for best seller status, like so many versions before them.
Then again, the amount of 100 Yen (about one dollar) came up a few times during the interview. Would you buy a Pokemon for a buck?
What if it was the last one you needed to complete the National Pokedex?
A Farewell to Pokemon October 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
Tags: Nintendo 2DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS Lite, Pokemon X & Y
We were out shopping on Sunday. For some reason my wife asked me to come along and for equally inexplicable reasons I said yes. I do not like wandering around the mall “shopping” and begin to behave like an 8 year old in making up games and distractions to pass the time. This, in turn, annoys the crap out of my long-suffering wife, so clearly neither of us was thinking straight on this call.
But as we made our way through the electronics section of Target, my daughter went over to the Nintendo section and spotted the new Pokemon X and Y games.
She actually seemed both surprised and excited to see a new Pokemon game out. I knew it had shipped. I still get email updates from Nintendo and was aware that the new games were releasing world wide this past Saturday. I just hadn’t said (or written) anything about it. (Keen and Graev have some posts about the new games.) But I have to admit I have been interested in the game.
Pokemon used to be one of our things.
My daughter was attracted to the game a long ways back, when we saw a Nintendo DS on display at a store with Pokemon loaded up. It was colorful, the basic functions were immediately comprehensible to her, and the idea of capturing little pets and making them battle held an attraction for her. She was into bugs and dinosaurs and animals when she was that age. (Now, however, she screams bloody murder if there is a moth in the shower with her.)
Of course to play Pokemon you had to buy the hardware, a Nintendo DS. That was the stopping point, until we were about to go on a trip and my wife gave me the mandate to go buy one to keep our daughter entertained on the plane for five hours. So I went out and bought a pink Nintendo DS Lite along with LEGO Star Wars, Mario Party DS, and Pokemon Diamond.
I could have skipped the first two. We spent the whole trip playing Pokemon. My daughter was in kindergarten at the time and needed help reading some of the text in the game… this was before she had been trained by World of Warcraft to skip all quest text… so I spent a chunk of that time reading the game text aloud to her. That was a bit of a chore for me, but got her motivated to read.
The game was such a success that a couple of months later my wife bought me a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond and we were off.
We played through that together, went on to Pokemon Platinum, and really hit our peak during Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver. We were wearing out Pokewalkers everywhere (and cheating a bit using physics and LEGO). There were mishaps and tragedies and meddling cats, but we were into it. We went to the Pokemon regional championships, played with Pokemon Ranch, and in went to the Pokemon Black and White tour when it showed up at a local mall. I even caught ‘em all, nabbing all 493 Pokemon that were available in the series up to that point.
But then Pokemon Black and White came along and we were not quite as interested. In part that was because we had played so much Pokemon up to that point. We might have been a bit burned out having burned through all the predecessors on the DS, plus a couple of the GameBoy Advance versions, which also ran on the DS Lite.
Then there is also the fact that all Pokemon games are very much alike at some basic level. You start out in the world as a youth, you meet some Pokemon expert, you get your first Pokemon, and you head out into the world to catch Pokemon, battle gym leaders, and eventually take on the regional champions, all while battling a rival and some oddly dressed organization bent on evil. And all of it takes place in a world completely obsessed with Pokemon and where all conflict is resolved by Pokemon battles.
After a few runs through that, you might get a little tired of it.
And then there are the special features each game brings to the table. My daughter and I used to enjoy playing together in the underground in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. It was a shared environment you could link up in on WiFi. We were also fond of the Pokewalker and the way your lead Pokemon would walk around with you in HeartGold and SoulSilver. In Black and White the key features were the graphics, which were improved, 150 new Pokemon (groan), and a lot of online WiFi connectivity (like Global Link) that did not really click with us. Neither of us finished Black or White and we never bothered with Black 2 and White 2. (Which I still think were dumb names.)
Finally, there were just other distractions. Other games to play, other things to do. My daughter was growing up and little things like Pokemon were no longer quite so important. So we have not been playing Pokemon for quite a while. I would say that we are at least two years past the last time either of us played with any read drive.
But the memory of those times, of playing together, of figuring out where to go next, of catching and trading Pokemon, that all remains. And I think some of that came rushing back to her when we were standing there at the counter looking at the new Pokemon. She was gushing a bit when she asked, “Can we get it?”
I had to tell her we could not.
While Pokemon X and Y have the usual range of features and even a slick way to transfer your old Pokemon over to the new games via the internet (assuming you have them all in Pokemon Black or White) using a feature called Pokemon Bank, there was a problem.
Pokemon X and Y are the first versions of the main line of Pokemon games that are exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS generation of handheld gaming devices. Our Nintendo DS Lites are now pretty much obsolete. When Nintendo stops shipping Pokemon on a platform, it is done.
There certainly seems to be some hunger for a version of Pokemon on the 3DS platform. It is on track to be a big seller, moving 4 million units on its first two days. The top Pokemon games of all time are Pokemon Diamond and Pearl which together move nearly 18 million units.
My daughter had an immediate solution to this problem, which was to buy new hardware!
I have clearly failed to instill any sort of sense as to the value of money in my daughter.
I had to tell her that wasn’t going to happen either. At least not right then. Something like a Nintendo 3DS is a Christmas/Birthday present (or maybe a going on long trip present) and not something we just buy on a whim while at the store on a Sunday afternoon. Even the more moderately priced Nintendo 2DS, about which I am a bit dubious given what I have read (turns out it has just one big LED panel for both screens), falls outside of the impulse buy price range in my opinion.
My daughter’s response was in the “Oh well” range of emotions. She didn’t seem all that put out by it and I somehow doubt that a Nintendo 3DS is going to make it to her Christmas list. And if it did, I think she is more interested in Animal Crossing: New Leaf than Pokemon.
So I suspect that we have had our time with Pokemon.
Quote of the Day – PokéVille November 6, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Pokemon, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Pet Battles, Quote of the Day
A couple of years ago I was addicted to Farmville and I’ve always had a soft spot for Pokémon. As much as I hate to say, it the Mists of Pandaria is coming over all Pokéville 2. Everyone is battling minipets or farming, which all feels a bit twee but I can’t deny it’s also extremely enjoyable… except when I see my baby polar bear bashed to death by someone’s mini robot.
Mists of Pandaria review over at The Register
Pet battles was supposed to be one of the draws for my daughter when it came to Mists of Pandaria. But Pokemon has fallen out of favor at our house. Pokemon Black & White 2 shipped about a month ago and I didn’t even mention it here. My daughter has discovered Minecraft and that has driven out all other games… except the ones she cannot play on her iMac. She watches me play Rift and wants to know why it is Windows only.
I suspect that is a case of wanting something just because she cannot have it.
Anyway, while I am not sure about the FarmVille aspect of Pandaria… hasn’t FarmVille been shut down or something… it is nice to see that the pet battles seem to be working out, though it isn’t like Blizzard didn’t have a pretty solid franchise to copy on that one.
And to wrap it all up, I see there is an addon now that will redo your pet battles UI so that it actually looks like Pokemon.
I might have to try that out with my daughter’s idle WoW account.
Or maybe not.
There is always too much to do and not enough time.
Tags: Pokemon Black, Pokemon Video Game Championship Series, Pokemon White
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Pokemon.com has the information up for the Spring 2012 Pokemon Regional Championships.
Unlike last year, where the regional matches were part of a big Pokemon road show and occurred on consecutive weekends throughout Spring, this year the matches are being run by regional partners and are all taking place on the same day, April 15.
In California, the nearest regional event is still close by my home, just across the bay in Pleasanton.
Links to information about other regional matches are available at Pokemon.com.
The US National Championships will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 30th – July 1st, 2012, and the World Championships will happen in Waikaloa, just up the road from Kona, on the big island of Hawaii on August 10th-12th, 2012.
Tags: Pokemon Black, Pokemon White, Reshiram, Zekrom
Pokemon.com has announced that Nintendo is offering a chance for owners of Pokemon Black and White to get the legendary Pokemon that is not available on each given game as part of the regular adventure.
The text of the announcement reads:
Add the Legendary Pokémon Reshiram or Zekrom to your game with a special distribution event beginning on March 10th and ending April 8th via the Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection service*! The Pokémon that you’ll receive into your copy of Pokémon Black Version or Pokémon White Version will be the Pokémon that is not available in that version during normal gameplay. So, you’ll receive Reshiram into your Pokémon White Version game and Zekrom into your Pokémon Black Version game.
These Legendary Pokémon are Level 100, and have moves that make them extremely powerful in battle. Plus, you’ll know they are special Pokémon because they come in a Cherish Ball and are adorned with a Wish Ribbon.
The opportunity to get these Legendary Pokémon won’t be around long, so don’t miss your chance to get Reshiram or Zekrom for your game!
*Wireless broadband access required for online features. For more info, go to support.nintendo.com.
What is boils down to is that for a limited time, if you have Pokemon Black, you can download the legendary Zekrom.
And if you have Pokemon White, you will be able to download the legendary Reshiram.
The downloads are available now. I have downloaded Reshiram to my copy of Pokemon White already.
The event is slated to last from March 10th through April 8th, though as we saw with the Mewtwo download event, Nintendo some times changes their mind, so download yours sooner rather than later.
These special Reshiram and Zekrom also unlock a special in the Pokemon Dream World.
This is not an in-store event. This download is only available via Nintendo WiFi. Instructions are available here at Pokemon.com.
Tags: Pokemon Black, Pokemon Black Version 2, Pokemon White, Pokemon White Version 2
Nintendo has announced the next versions of the ever popular Pokemon franchise on their handheld game system. They are to be, giving them their official names, Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2. These two titles will be out in Japan by the summer and in Europe and North America some time in the fall.
This sort of breaks the pattern of Pokemon game releases that have gone before it.
Over the years, a pattern has evolved that Nintedo will release a pair of games, like Diamond and Pearl, each of which has some Pokemon not available on the other. This is to encourage, depending on your level of cynicism, playing and trading with friends, buying both damn versions of the game, or boosting the sales of those cheat add-ons which some no doubt believe Nintendo secretly funds.
Then, in a year or so, Nintendo will launch a single, slightly revised version of the the two games, Pokemon Platinum in this example, which has all of the Pokemon from both Diamond and Pearl, so you can feel like a schnook for playing through both of the original games AND the new one. Pokemon Emerald and Crystal were also examples of this sort of update.
And then Nintendo goes back to remake an older version of the game. HeartGold and SoulSilver were remakes of Gold and Silver. Remakes always get that modifier in the name it seems. FireRed and LeafGreen were further examples of that.
Then, finally, Nintendo gets around to knocking out a new version of the game, which is where new Pokemon get introduced (and I have to think this is the tough part, putting together a batch of 150 new Pokemon that are balanced and useful and don’t seriously offend any cultures that buy a lot of these games) in a new land.
So really, while there have been about 20 Pokemon games (not the spin-offs, the classic Pokemon role playing games), there are only really five settings in which they take place and, honestly, one damn story played out over and over again, a young boy/girl sets out to defeat some oddly dressed bad guys and become the reigning champion in a world obsessed by Pokemon.
And while I sound cynical, the system has worked. I have the games on the shelf to prove it, and the sales numbers do not lie. Any year a classic Pokemon RPG title gets released, it is on the top 20 list for game sales that year, and often the next year as well.
So it is always a bit surprising when a company like Nintendo, which has been living off Mario for 30 years and Pokemon for the last 15, deviates from their traditional path, especially when such deviations often fail. (Compare Mario Party 8 sales to Wii Party… Mario Party with Miis versus Mario… and well, they are not that far apart actually, but Nintendo is still going back to tradition and Mario Party 9 will be the next version.)
I was expecting that single wrap up title to come out, to combine all of the Pokemon in Black and White with a name like… well, Gray isn’t a great plan I guess… maybe Pokemon Checkerboard?
Instead, we are getting two rework games with the continuation of exclusivity of Pokemon between the two and what have to be the worst name choices ever in the main Pokemon game line. Version 2? Really?
And even the main Pokemon in the game, the legendaries that you play through the whole game to catch, are on the lame name bandwagon. Rather that two distinct yet unpronounceable names, we have Black Kyurem and White Kyurem. And they appear to be basically the same Pokemon with just a different color scheme and a slightly different accessory kit.
There is not much out there… at least not in English… about the Black and White Version 2 story or new features that might get introduced, but at a high level it feels like the Pokemon team is running out of ideas.
I know, complaining that the latest two games feel repetitive when the whole series is, quite frankly, the same game retold nearly 20 times is silly, but it is like they aren’t even giving us the fig leaf so that we can pretend that this is something new.
In the end Nintendo will have to do more than merely crank up the repetitive dial another notch in order to keep this from being a best seller. There are a lot of people out there who are mad for Pokemon.
And a new release will mean launch events and special downloads and all sorts of thing that I will no doubt participate in over the spring and summer.
And when fall comes, I am sure we will buy a copy of each game. Because that is the way it works.
Mewtwo Available for Download from Nintendo February 12, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Pokemon.
Tags: Mewtwo, Pokemon Black, Pokemon White, Pokemon WiFi Event
The full instructions for the event are available at Pokemon.com, along with this information:
You’ll have a new opportunity to get the Legendary Mewtwo once again! Between February 12th and March 6th, you can receive Mewtwo in your Pokémon Black Version or Pokémon White Version game. Don’t miss this limited-time distribution event to get this amazing Pokémon via the Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection service (wireless broadband Internet access required. For more info, go to support.nintendo.com).
When you take this Level 70 Mewtwo into battle, know that you have one of the strongest Pokémon ever. Its moves are powerful and well suited to take advantage of Mewtwo’s strengths and cover its weaknesses. Psystrike is a new signature move for Mewtwo that does damage depending on its opponent’s Defense. Ordinarily Mewtwo doesn’t learn Psystrike until Level 100, but this Mewtwo already has the powerful attack! Mewtwo also has Shadow Ball, a Ghost-type move that is super effective against the Ghost-type Pokémon that can cause problems for Psychic types. Mewtwo is also weak against Dark-type Pokémon, so its third attack, the Fighting-type move Aura Sphere, is a good counter to their attacks. Lastly, this special Mewtwo knows Electro Ball, a stunning Electric-type move that Mewtwo cannot normally learn!
When you get Mewtwo, it will be holding a King’s Rock, an item which occasionally makes its opponent flinch in battle. You can also give it to certain Pokémon and then trade them to make them evolve. Plus, Mewtwo comes with a Premier Ribbon, a special Ribbon that you can’t get through normal game play!
Mewtwo will be available via a Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection distribution event that runs from February 12th through March 6th.
A reminded, this is not an in-store event, but a download available over your local wireless internet connection to Pokemon Black or White only. For instructions on setting up that connection, go to the US Nintendo support site.
Mewtwo for Me and You – Pokemon Download Coming Soon January 29, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
Tags: Mewtwo, Nintendo Wi-Fi, Pokemon Black, Pokemon White
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Pokemon who get their own entry in Wikipedia are pretty rare, there being 646 Pokemon available at this point, so Mewtwo is pretty important in the Pokemon mythos. Nintendo says about the impending Mewtwo event:
The legend of the Genetic Pokémon Mewtwo has grown ever since it debuted in the Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version games. The Psychic-type Pokémon has always been considered one of the most powerful Pokémon available, and also very tough to catch.
You’ll have a new opportunity to get the Legendary Mewtwo once again! Starting on February 12th, you can receive Mewtwo for your Pokémon Black Version or Pokémon White Version game. Take part in a limited-time distribution event to get this amazing Pokémon. This Mewtwo is incredibly strong and fast, and it even has an exclusive move that Mewtwo cannot normally learn!
However, while Nintendo is being coy, Siliconera is reporting that they have already done this same download event in Japan and they are unlikely to change things up for the distribution in North America.
So if you have Pokemon Black or White, be ready come February 12th for this Nintendo WiFi special offer. I suspect the instructions will be similar to the Victini event they had at the end of December.
Victini Available for Download Again Through Dec. 31 December 3, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
In celebration of the release of the Pokemon movie… erm… movies… you see there is Pokémon the Movie: Black—Victini and Reshiram and Pokémon the Movie: White—Victini and Zekrom… because that is the sort of forward thinking that got Nintendo where it is today… now where was I?
Because of… the movie thing… Nintendo is making Victini available for download via Nintendo WiFi again.
This Victini download is different from the previous one. This Victini is higher level, has a special ability, and is the star of the 14th Pokemon movie (and only the second or third not to go straight to video). This Victini also goes straight into your party. There is no need to get the Liberty pass and go catch him.
The instructions on how to download Victini are available at the Pokemon Black & White web site.
Remember that this is NOT an in-store event, but a download you can do from any WiFi internet access point.
Meanwhile, there is still no official work from Nintedo on the next Pokemon game.