EverQuest II and the Renewal of Ro Expansion

Meanwhile, over in the land of Norrath, Daybreak has started giving us glimpses of the next EverQuest II expansion, Renewal of Ro.

It came up as a bit of a tease with the EverQuest II producer’s letter last month, but there wasn’t much to go with it other than a splash screen, so the time did not seem ripe yet.

Renewal of Ro

But things are starting to move along.  The roadmap that they put out in January, and have stuck to admirably (most roadmaps begin to fall apart at the six month mark in my experience) has October slated as the beginning of the Beta, the start of pre-expansion events, and your chance to pre-purchase the expansion.

And you can’t start selling an expansion without telling everybody what it is about, so we have the initial description:

While on a valiant quest to help aerakyn return to their original thread of reality, adventurers find themselves going back to the brutal island of Ro, but this time on the southern half of the flaming desert. Here, with the help of a local tribe of Hizite nomads, they will make their way across the unforgiving Raj’Dur Plateaus, to explore what is left of the Elddar Empire’s cursed city, the long Buried Takish’Hiz, before finding themselves within the renewed Takish Badlands, as they are led into the treacherous Sandstone Delta by the machinations of a notorious foe. They will come face-to-face with Raj’Dur bandits, power-hungry djinn, desert madmen, cursed Elddar, Dunetooth goblins, the Mhyt-moo school of Yha-lei, the Stormfury and Swordfury cyclops clans, and the Ortallian zealots of Ro, not to mention the glorious heroes they will team up with along the way.

There is more available on the expansion page.  I’m honestly not sure what all of that means, but we seem to be going back to the Desert of Flames setting, which was the site of the first expansion… only things seem more green.

Tropical looking

As for what is coming with the expansion, the bullet points are very familiar:

  • Rise above the rest with 5 new Ascension levels and spells.
  • Epic Spell Quests – Embark on an adventure to discover and upgrade an all new powerful epic spell for your class.
  • Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests in the unexplored regions of the deserts of Ro.
  • Conquer all new Solo, Heroic, and Raid content. Return to the flaming desert! Rediscover Takish’Hiz!

Going back to the Desert of Ro does stoke a bit of nostalgia in me.  I was playing EverQuest II semi-seriously back during Desert of Flames.  But my experience with the last expansion wasn’t great… though the joy of EQII expansions is that you can just skip over the old stuff and start right away in the new.  There is always a chest of catch up equipment at the entrance waiting for you.

As for what it costs, the price ranges from reasonable to outrageous, depending on what you really want.  From the expansions order page:

  • Standard Edition – $34.99
  • Collector’s Edition – $69.99
  • Premium Edition – $139.99
  • Family & Friends Edition – $249.99

The standard edition will get you in the door… and comes with a level 120 boost, while the friend’s and family gets you a whole truck load of stuff, including an extra copy of the standard edition that you can trade in-game.

The expansion itself isn’t due out until December, so we have a while to go yet.  But the march to launch has begun.

Left Behind in Outland

I mentioned in my Wrath Classic launch post that I logged on during my lunch and found that the 50% xp buff was still active, so went and played my Death Knight some more, getting him a half a level closer to Northrend.

I am very glad I did that, because you know what made Outland tolerable during the run up to Wrath Classic?  That 50% xp buff.

And believe me, I felt its absence once Northrend opened.  When that happened I had two characters already to level 68 and able to start on their frozen adventure.  But I also had two character that fell short, my druid who was securely into 67 and my Death Knight who was just shy of 66.

For whatever reasons I was determined to get all four characters up into Wrath Classic.  That was my commitment to the Lich King.

So it was back to Outland with those two characters.

I am trying not to over emphasize the struggle here.  It is, after all, just Outland.  Literally millions of people have been through these quests and zones.  Objectively speaking, the bar is not really that high.

Subjectively however… whooo boy!

The the xp boost gone I could see and feel the slow down in my progress.  Those quest turn ins that were worth almost a whole chicklet of your exp bar, they dropped from about 16K to 11K in rewards.

Also, I had been pushing both of my remaining characters through the content, so that when they had some blue bar… double xp for mob kills… that quickly ran out.

Then there is the fact that I ran them both out of content in Nagrand, which is such a nice and happy zone to play in, which meant they were headed to the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

The Blade’s Edge Mountains

The only mitigating factor there is that at least I had splurged for flying for both of them.  That zone is designed as a maze so you cannot fly you spend a LOT of time running back and forth and going up this ramp, down through that tunnel, across the bridge over there, and along the winding path between spiky outcroppings.

At some point I will likely write a post ranking the zones of Outland, and The Blade’s Edge Mountains will get what is coming to them.  Nagrand will be on top.  That will be the easy choice.  There will be a bit of a fight for second place.  And then it will be the struggle to stay out of last place.  Look for that post some day.

Finally, there is the context of all of this, which was the desire just to get to Northrend and be done with Outland.

All of which threatened to turn me into a whiny six year old in the back seat of the car on a trip asking constantly, “Are we there yet?  When are we going to get there?  Why aren’t we there yet?”

My druid got through it fairly quickly.  He had gone through almost all of Nagrand with the xp bonus in play, so only had to play through the first two quest hubs in the Blade’s Edge Mountains before he hit 68 and was able to sail to Northrend.

On the boat, styling into Valliance Keep

My DK however… He had done some of Nagrand before the bonus went away, but finished it up after it was gone, leaving him having to go deep into the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Which includes being launched around the zone

I will say that the quest chain that throws you around the zone from Toshley’s station is a pretty cute idea… so long as you do it at exactly the right time.  One of the interesting/odd aspects of TBC as an expansion is that you can see, usually after the fact, that certain quests were meant to be done along side other ones, or in conjunction with another series… and that it is completely possible, if not totally likely, that your typical obsessive quest finishing MMO player will screw that up.

And I am that typical player.  But, as I said, flying helped mitigate that issue.

Bypassing complications

I ended up flying all over.  Just to repeat yet again, without flying it would have been quite a walk.  After quite a bit of back and forth.  It was enough that when my DK hit 67 I took the boat to Northrend just to see if I could get any quests.  But no, they were not talking to anybody under level 68.

But I am a DK, I am totally OP, I can handle it!

I even toyed with the idea of just grinding mobs on the beach in Borean Tundra.

See, I could totally finish those quests at 67

But without any blue bar that was going to be a grind on its own.  So I went back and ran from Death’s Door to Raven’s Wood and places in between until I finally turned in a quest on a bridge in the middle of somewhere and hit level 68.

There should be an achievement for 68 instead of 70

Then I got on my mount, hit the nearest flight point, and headed to Shattrath to take the portal to Stormwind so I could make it back to Borean Tundra.  Along the way I deleted all the Outland quests from my journal, which ended up showing me something I cannot recall seeing before.

No quests listed

When your quest log is empty it has little cobwebs on it.  When has my quest log ever been empty in the last 16 years except when starting a fresh character… and usually the first thing you do is grab a quest.

So that was it.  I managed to get my fourth character to level 68 and into Northrend.  Now I just have to get on my way to finding out what the Lich King is up to.

PLEX Prices After the Omega Sale

I wrote a post last month about how the price of PLEX in EVE Online had be climbing since the price increases that CCP implemented back in May of this year.  Actually, they began their climb the moment CCP announced the increase in subscription and PLEX prices, which is what markets do; they react to news.

Then CCP, in what can only be described as an economic “hold my beer” moment in relation to PLEX pricing, held a sale the following weekend where 30 days of Omega time was cut from 500 to 300 PLEX in game.

The New Eden Store Only

For some reason they only announced this sale on Twitter initially.  People bitched out that, but the word got out quickly all the same.

That sent PLEX prices soaring once more, boosting the volume of PLEX being traded beyond the April 22nd peak of earlier this year.

Whoops, I did it again!

I have heard, at least anecdotally, that some people who had been sitting on PLEX as an investment took the opportunity presented by this fresh spike in PLEX prices to sell and take their profits in ISK.  It was a good time to do so as there were points during the sale when somebody could have comfortably sold PLEX for well over 6 million ISK each, a big jump from the 4.2 million ISK price point that had previously represented the “PLEX is too damn expensive” price point plateau we had been in.

Somebody more diligent than myself totaled all of this up and posted the results over in r/eve.

The results of PLEXageddon weekend

That chart covers the regions where major trading occurred, with The Forge, where Jita and Perimeter, leading the charge.  That survey of seven regions had nearly 44 trillion ISK in PLEX traded during the sale, with 41 trillion being in The Forge.

That is a lot of PLEX, and it bring into question what the PLEX market is going to look like going forward.

The sale and people digging into their PLEX reserves to meet the demand at higher prices has passed.  The market is momentarily sated and the price of PLEX, while still higher than some would like, has dropped down from its peaks and is beginning to settle into something of a new normal for the moment.

For the moment.

Eventually the people who bought the PLEX to keep their accounts going will find that time running out and will want to PLEX again.  Demand will return and the supply of PLEX, the limited nature of which is what has driven the price up so far, will not have improved.  It will be worse.  I suspect that there is less PLEX floating around, but there will likely be as much ISK as ever chasing that supply, which may drive the price higher over time.

That is, unless CCP steps in to try and “fix” the economy again in its usual hamfisted way.  They already put up a sale on PLEX over the weekend, offering select packages at 15% off of their usual price.

However, they chose only a couple of the more expensive packages, 1,500 and 3,000 PLEX, for the discount.  Maybe those are popular sizes that people buy.  Maybe that will back fill any future PLEX deficit.  But I suspect we are seeing the usual routine of CCP trying to fix things by making a few very small adjustments.  Once that fails to fix things quickly they tend to reach for the sledgehammer.

I am now keen to see the September Monthly Economic Report and how this sale might have had an effect on measures like Velocity of ISK.  I am sure CCP Estimate will have me covered if he hasn’t posted the MER already.  Look for more about PLEX when I post about the MER.

Used Teslas

My wife and I had to make a couple of trips across the valley last week along Capitol Expressway, in the midst of which there is what is called the Capitol Auto Mall, a stretch of new car dealerships lumped together between Almaden Expressway and Highway 87.  Its primary distinguishing feature is a series of truly huge American flags lining that stretch, all of which were at half mast due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II… because… America?

I don’t know.

I also do not know what the expressway is named “Capitol,” it not going anywhere in the vicinity of anything one might consider the capitol of anything, but that is another rabbit hole to go down at a later date.

Anyway, my wife was driving so I was gawking out the window as I do and as we went past the various dealerships I noticed that there were, in the used car sections of several of the dealerships, a disproportionately large number of used Teslas lined up for sale.  Like way more than any other vehicle by a wide margin.  The Chevrolet dealership alone had 19 Teslas lined up along the front of their lot, while another had an easy dozen.  There were so many that I tried to take a couple of pictures with my phone as we drove past. (Out the window of a moving vehicle yielded the poor results you might expect.)

Some Teslas

Now, if Silicon Valley is going to claim to be the capitol of anything, Tesla ownership would certainly be on the list of possible options.  The things are everywhere.  Seeing a Telsa in the Santa Clara Valley today is like seeing a VW Bug most places in the 70s.  If you come to a stop at a major intersection during daylight hours and don’t see at least one… and likely more… it is a notable occurrence.

And used cars are, of course, very much a thing.  They are large, mobile, durable goods that hold value.  Buying a used car is an every day occurrence for millions.

But used Teslas, that made me stop and think.

A Tesla is a car, sure, so of course there will be used Teslas.  And maybe it is because I have stuck with my old Camry for 19 years, a vehicle that came with a cassette deck and is the model of simplicity when compared to current new cars, that got me thinking about what one should consider when buying a used Tesla, or any other electric vehicle.

Batteries make me wonder about if buying one is a good idea.  I was already down on the idea of used hybrids due to battery decay over time.

A quick look on Google showed me Tesla itself reassuring people that a used Tesla is a perfectly cromulent vehicular choice, claiming that the batteries in them are good for 300,000 to 500,000 miles.  But that is also the end of useful life, and the inevitable performance degradation is unlikely to occur in a single giant leap that many miles down the road.  It happens from day one and likely in a smooth but every increasing slope, meaning that there is some point well before those end of life numbers where the batteries are going to be an issue.

Also a Tesla, having been in a couple… they are almost like a iPhone.  Unlike my own car, where the radio station pre-sets and the stains on the upholstery are about all the mark I would leave on it, a Tesla is a device, with lots of data about the user stored away.

I am sure there is a way to wipe a Tesla, to restart it as a fresh device.   But as with an iPhone, you immediately have to get into contract with Tesla, at least setting up an account, otherwise you won’t get updates and offers to buy new features and the ability to extend your driving range because Tesla limits your battery life with software unlocks that they would like to sell you as upgrades.

I am not down on Teslas in particular.  We’re getting past the point where you know who a Tesla owner is the way you know who a vegan is because they won’t shut up about it.  It isn’t like I don’t enjoy nattering on about expensive electronic gadgets.  But the electric car thing is still not a viable option for me.  I already have to deal with my aunt who lives 70 miles away and has a Nissan Leaf.  Every visit is a trial about having to recharge at our end and we only have standard outlets which charge an electric vehicle very slowly.  Too slowly.

Slow, but I can show you on my electric bill the day my aunt visited and charged here.

Can you spot the day?

So we have to meet up at some place locally that has a free charging station and I drive her back to our place or out to lunch or whatever we’re up to.  Her work has a charging station so she rarely charges at home, her car getting topped up during the day.  But on a weekend trip it is suddenly an issue.

Anyway, I have digressed from my main point, which is mostly, “Whoa, that was a whole lotta Teslas on the used car lot!”

The question here is really “why so many Teslas?”

The answer could be simply that these dealerships, several of which have the same owner, have decided to go all in on electric and have been scooping up Teslas at auction to stock their inventory.  Maybe they are trying to make used electric vehicles their brand.

But that still leaves the supply question, why are so many Teslas available?  Cars in general are still in somewhat short supply, and Teslas especially have a reputation of buyers needing to get on a waiting list to get one.

Does the electric car thing not fit in with user needs as well as people thought?    Is there something specific about Telsas that people are trading them in for something else?

While I know Teslas are very popular around here, so supply in the used market is likely to have more units available, I also wonder if the used bookstore analogy is in play as well.  If you go into a used bookstore and there are a lot of copies of a particular title… say Tek War… and the store even has it on a list of titles they are not currently purchasing, that does tend to be less than a stellar endorsement.

I don’t really know the answer, but it seemed an odd situation.

Addendum: Further thoughts.

The used cars at dealerships are part of their own ecosystem, being made up largely of trade-ins, lease returns, and the occasional other route like a repo that made its way back into the system.

When you trade your car in or do a lease return, if the car is in really good shape they may spiff it up and put it back on the lot.  If it needs some work they bring it to the dealership auction and somebody else will buy it, fix it up, and either put it their lot or auction it again for more.  If specific cars are in demand in different areas sometime dealers will buy them at auction and ship them across country.

Used cars are very profitable for dealerships since they generally pay for them in what is essentially store credit towards something else you’re going to buy.

Then there is the parallel private used car sales channel, which is largely handled via Craig’s List these days, but use to be a staple of newspapers until the web became big.

So every one of those Teslas was very likely a trade-in or a lease return at which point the owner bought something else.

But it also makes me wonder about the complexities of private Tesla sales.  To use my analogy from above, I might trade my iPhone in at the Apple store, but I am not sure I would sell it to a private party even if I wiped it myself, not being wise enough to know what data might still persist.

I speak as somebody who has retrieved a lot of data off of supposedly wiped hard drives.

Friday Bullet Points on Saturday about EVE Online

What do you do when you have a nice set of items for a coherent, single topic bullet points post and then Friday is the last day of the month so your month in review post gets that spot?

You declare Saturday an honorary Friday and just run with it.  So here are some short items about EVE Online that I probably could have cranked posts out of… but didn’t feel like it.

  • Empires of EVE Vol. II Audio Book

I received an email last week from the Empires of EVE Vol. II Kickstarter project I pledge to back in 2018 that the audio book version of the project was finally complete.  The physical book has been in my possession for a couple of years now, but an audio book release, as we got with the first book, had been a promise.

The sequel!

The audio book announcement was for backers only and contained a link that allowed us to download it.  The good news is that it is available.  The less good news is that it still needs work to be released for Audible.com, something that may not happen.  That is a shame, because once I saw the email subject line I ran over to Audible to buy a copy just to support the project and its author one more time.

Andrew Groen, the author, has had his own trials over the last couple of years, as have we all, and it sounds like chronicling the tales of the null sec empires is no longer on his agenda.  Two books is more than enough to ask of one person I suppose, but one can always dream of a third volume.  The downfall of The Mittani might have made a reasonable bookend to the series… at least until something else happens in null sec.

  • The Mittani Gone from GoonWaffe

Speaking of The Mittani, the word spread this past week that he had been kicked from GoonWaffe, the executor corp for Goonswarm Federation.  This news was greeted by cheers, jeers, and very few tears.

The corp history of The Mittani

I’m not particularly worried about him and his well being… he’s not even as old as I was when I started this blog… but I do wonder how he has filled the hole in his life that EVE Online used to occupy.  How much of your average week does it take to be a space emperor?  More than I am willing to commit no doubt.

  • Alliance Tournament XVIII Begins

Or, rather, it has already begun by the time this post goes live.  This weekend sees the Trials Tournament where teams that did not get direct entry into the AT or buy their way in with the silent auction are able to battle it out to earn a spot in the tournament.

Alliance Tournament 18

The linked post also shows which teams are already lined up for the AT as well as the tie breaker methodology for the tournament.  (Hint: fly Minmatar hulls)

  • Weekend Fleet Pack

Finally, while I usually don’t shill for CCP when it comes to special offers, this one connects to some interesting history.

CCP just announced what they are calling the Weekend Fleet Pack, that gets you 3 days of Omega time and 50 PLEX, all for the low price of $3.75.  Yes, that is $37.50 for 30 days of Omega at that price, almost double the going rate, but that is not the point.

Weekend Fleet Pack

This looks like it could be a smart move by CCP.  This allows a player to unlock Omega for 3 days, so if there is some big move op or fleet battle going on they can jump on in without committing to the $20 fee that is the base 30 day subscription these days.

And, once you’re in and invested, maybe you’ll see the light and subscribe further.  It could happen.

But what makes this interesting is that SOE had an offer kind of like this back in the day called the EQII Passport.

One from the archive

Back in 2010 SOE floated the idea that you could get 3 days of game play for just $5.00… and it got a pretty rough response from fans.

In hindsight, I think the plan suffered from a few items, not the least being price.  But I think the fact that it was treated as a “once per 30 days” option was the real killer.  What were they thinking?  They wanted players to commit to 3 consecutive days of play in a month during a time when there was no free to play option.

In light of that experience, I think CCP’s cheaper price and more flexible terms might stand a much better chance of success.

September in Review

The Site

Last month I was on about email subscriptions and how they appeared to have broken for a stretch, then started back up.  Well, they seem to be completely broken again.  WordPress.com working its magic yet again.  So if you’re one of the 45 people WP.com thinks still subscribe via email… that number dropped suddenly as well… you’re probably not reading this.  Sorry?

Also, I have somehow carried on posting every single day, bringing the tally up to 916 days in a row.

Another meaningless milestone

That means I only need to do that for 84 more days to hit 1,000.  And there are 92 days left in the year.  I could get there by Christmas and give myself boxing day off… unless I have waited until the last minute for all of those end of the year posts.  We’ll see I guess.

That is about it for the 17th September in Review post… well, except for all of the usual stuff below.

One Year Ago

It was time to sum up the labors of Blaugust once more.

It was also anniversary time as the blog turned fifteen.  Also, WordPress was talking about putting “sponsored content” into blogs.

I also wrote something about 35 years of connected computing, it marking the anniversary of purchasing my first modem back in 1986.

I was wondering if the level squish had been a good idea a year after Blizz did it.  I still wonder if it was today.

In Burning Crusade Classic the instance group managed to get through the Blood Furnace as a foursome.

But we were kind of slowing down on that, and on our radar was Diablo II Resurrected, which launched at last.

Daybreak announced the Visions of Vertovia expansion for EverQuest II.  Then it was time for the Pandas and the pre-expansion catch up.  Meanwhile, over in EverQuest there was something about perks… for sale of course.  And Lord of the Rings Online announced the Fate of Gundabad expansion.

Meanwhile, Amazon finally launched New World.  Having played in some of the beta cycle, I was moaning about how the vision for the game had changed.

In EVE Online it was once again time for Caldari Union Day.  We also got the Gateway quadrant update, which included yet another new player experience, as well as a UI update for skills that once again proved that the one thing CCP UI designers value over all else is wasted empty space in the middle of informational elements.

CCP was also telling us that 24 million pilots had played EVE Online, though they were not clear about what that really meant.

The New Eden monthly economic report was showing us the impact of the end of World War Bee.  Meanwhile, CCP remain on its path to make players poor, their solution to MUDflation, while I was looking to my own finances in game.

Things were still happening though.  We blew up a Keepstar in Catch and CCP helped up blow up botters in Yulai once again.

I was getting setup with Zwift and our new exercise bike.  A year later I am still using it regularly, even if the stages of every ride remain the same.

We were also binge watching Ray Donovan and all of the Helen Mirren versions of Prime Suspect.

My wife and I went to Maui where we were involved in some minor driving adventure.

Finally, it had been 20 years since terrorists brought down the World Trade Center and I was reflecting on how it was very much a dividing line in history.

Five Years Ago

The blog turned eleven and so I brought out an elf.

I was talking about a typewriter.  The first typewriter I used.  I still have it.

Raptr announced that they would be shutting down at the end of the month.

GuildWars 2 launched their Path of Fire expansion.

Destiny 2 launched.  That’s an MMO, right?

Pokemon Gold & Silver were made available via the 3DS Virtual Console.

Crimson Leaf Games announced MegaWars – Dawn of the Third Age.

I took a look at Daybreak 30 months into is existence.  And, as I did that, we got the bad news that EQ2 Wire was shutting down after covering the game for nine years.  Then Daybreak announced that the Fippy Darkpaw server would be merged with the Vulak server… probably a few years too late to make any difference.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a heads up as to the coming Lifeblood expansion, complete with trailer.  Last I checked the site was still up, but running pretty much unattended.

I was running on about meaningful PvE progression in New Eden and going on about return on time invested and content on demand.

In space I was doing the Alpha Strikes event while the August MER showed that deploying to Hakonen cost the Imperium in mining and ratting revenue.

Then came the Warzone Extraction event to celebrate the non-VR version of the soon to be in maintenance mode EVE: Valkyrie.  It was a tough event by EVE Online PvE standards and I am sure it killed some newbies.

But the big EVE Online news of the month was The Judge betraying Circle of Two, selling their Keepstar to the Imperium (who later sold it to TEST) and the camp in 68FT-6 as alliance members tried to escape from their former home.  GigX was banned and CO2 seemed doomed.  It was one of those “Only in EVE” sort of events.

Andrew Groen was planning some EVE Online history lectures via a new podcast.  That only lasted five episodes before he went back to writing books on EVE Online history.

In a bullet points post I noted the passing of the EVE Gate site, that CCP cancelled their deal with Nexon for Japanese EVE Online support, that Ultima Online was talking about free to play, and that Daybreak wasn’t going to be handing out any more free content in Norrath for the foreseeable future.

And finally Chris Roberts was unironically talking about developer optimism in an interview.

Ten Years Ago

The World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria launched, adding a panda race to Azeroth, right on Ultima Online’s 15th anniversary.   I think the shark jumping trope jumped the shark that day.

I was falling out of WoW myself, though still not allowed to unsubscribe. Being locked out of the Theremore event due to item level helped kill any enthusiasm I had for staying with the game.

Torchlight II showed up.  I was still waiting for the Mac OS version so I could play with my daughter.

In the land of EverQuest, the Rain of Fear expansion was announced, while EverQuest II went straight to truth in advertising and revealed an expansion called Chains of Eternity.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, Omens of War went live and was finished.

SOE was talking about some form of Wizardry that was online.   PlanetSide 2 was planned for the end of the year… sort of.  And then there was Player Studio and all that implied.

The next chapter in the Darkfall saga was announced.  And they had a new game/expansion or some such.

In EVE Online, the CSM was looking for a way to… well… screw most of the people who actually vote for the CSM.  I stranded my null sec Drake in Jita and I compared Traffic Control to a hostile FC.

In a more serious vein, the real world reached into our game took a fellow player.  Even tragedy cannot displace idiocy though.

My goal to get my fourth class in Rift, a mage, to level cap before Storm Legion had me in Stonefield.

BioWare, not done with their trend of announcing public metrics they eventually failed to meet, committed themselves to a new content schedule for SWTOR.  Later we found out that “adding items to the cash shop” counts as new content.  Meanwhile, I pondered the SWTOR lore choice.

The Lord British saga continued as he opted to jump in bed with Zynga!  He, of course, expressed great fondness for Zynga, while I wondered what his sith name would be, since he was clearly going the Anakin Skywalker route.

I remembered Spaceship Warlock.

Free to play was still under discussion.  An article in Game Developer Magazine included the warning to not assume profitability just because people are going on about revenues.  And yet all I hear about are revenues when it comes to free to play.

The people at Stormpowered Studios started in against marriage.

And the blog turned six and felt very clever about it.

Fifteen Years Ago

I summed up my first year of blogging, the first in a long series of anniversary posts. I also participated in a meme… back when that wasn’t an picture thing… about the power of four.

Auto Assault was gone, another NCsoft title shut down.  I was wondering if Tabula Rasa might follow suit.

I started thinking about what an expansion would look like for Lord of the Rings Online.  I was also browsing in Othrikar.  But I was more curious as to why the game just wasn’t as much fun as, say, World of Warcraft.

On the Wii it was Mario Party 8 and the Virtual Console.

In EVE Online I finally fixed the sound driver issue that was making the game crash. Hah, I used to run EVE with the sound on!

In other New Eden events, I was flying the Mammoth as a hauler to support mining ops in my Retriever.  Jet can mining and training up to Mining Barge V and salvaging.  I was also getting lost with the corp and station interface.  Another wish list there.  At least I found the “warp to 0” options quickly.  I still wasn’t quite sure what people meant by “tank” in the game though.

I was still running missions and had advanced to cruisers on that front.  And I was losing them as well.  I also had to queue to log in because there were 21K people in the game.  Traffic control was coming up as well.  CCP was working on the issue.

Our summer vacation from Azeroth was over with the return of Earl.  We were back to running instances, starting with Zul’Farrak.  Of course, then we realized nobody had the mallet, so we had to go get that.  I still have it in the bank.  I was also out searching for mithril.

SOE announced that their combined Station Launcher would be available for beta soon.  I don’t think it ever left beta before it was finally scrapped.

I was reminiscing about the Thundering Steppes in EverQuest II, a zone I was playing in less than three years before.  Early onset nostalgia I guess.

There was the loaded question about who counts as “press” in a world where blogs exist.  People seem determined to embrace arbitrary rules on that front, something that always leads to suppression of opinions with which they disagree.

And finally there were naked zones and wondering how to make PvP (and PvE) better.

Twenty Five Years Ago

Ultima Online launched.  Raph Koster has some accumulated memories of the game from over the years and a link to a video… and then he wrote some more about the game as it came about, what influenced it and what it influenced.  He was back with another post for the 25th anniversary.

A little title called Total Annihilation also launched 20 years ago today.  With a real three dimensional environment and line of site constraints, it was ahead of its time and remains an underrated title to my mind.  Cave Dog, the developer, went bust ages ago and, through the twists and turns of the video game business, Wargaming.net of World of Tanks fame ended up owning the rights to the title.

Forty Five Years Ago

Atari ships the Atari 2600 Video Computer System, getting the retail channel all setup for the best Christmas ever.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Flight in Pre-Patch Outland
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  4. The Level 70 Boost Question for Wrath Classic
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. A Brief History of Goon Leadership
  8. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price
  9. Sixteen Years of Driving the Blog
  10. Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend
  11. What Will it Mean to Have a Bunch of 20 Year Old MMORPGs?
  12. Where Does WoW Classic End?

Search Terms of the Month

seedofthedead “fail”
[Um, sure]

portable hole bag price
[Too damn much]

dune adventures in the imperium sand and dust download pdf
[That sounds pretty interesting really]

Game Time from ManicTime

Another month with two titles, with pretty much the same ratio between them.  I did, however, spend about 20% more time actually playing video games this past month, so I guess I shared that extra time out equally.

  • WoW Classic – 77.8%
  • EVE Online – 22.2%

At least I think it was just those two titles.  There was an update to ManicTime and, while the daily stats remained normal, the rolled up stats for the month got messed up and now seemed to be associated with the executable rather than the window name.  So, for example, WoW Classic and retail WoW both run as the same name, so I just see time for World of Warcraft.  Now I know I mostly played WoW Classic, but I did spend a bit of time in retail WoW redeeming that dragon mount and poking around.  But I cannot tell how much time.

As always seems to happen, my time tracking app seemed to get screwed up eventually.

EVE Online

Something must have happened in New Eden, I spent some time there.  I guess there were a couple of move ops home, my Planetary Industry to tend to, and at least one fleet op… the one where I lost the insured Ferox.  That was a net win.  I only have eight more in my hangar.

Pokemon Go

Still working our way towards level 43.  It may still be a while.  I did, however, finally get a Torkoal this month.

  • Level: 42 ( 82.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 733 (+8) caught, 751 (+5) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 25
  • Pokemon I want: Pachirisu
  • Current buddy: Golisopod (just because he looks cool)

WoW Classic

It was the big run up to Wrath Classic and getting mains and alts leveled up and then that first brief look at Northrend.  Really, it is about as simple as that.  We leveled up mains, leveled up some alts, and made Death Knights.  And we were happy doing it.

Zwift

I have somehow kept this up for over a year.  I may have to do a post about that.  But here are my stats as of today.

  • Level – 16 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,244 miles (+64 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 49,652 (+2,040 feet)
  • Calories burned – 40,232 (+1,797)

Coming Up

October is likely to be very much about Wrath Classic.  We’ll be heading there as a group this weekend for the first time.  Eventually we’ll get to the first dungeon and will have to work out how to get past the Prince Keleseth fight.  It will be tough with only four of us, but we’re working on ideas.

In EVE Online there could be some happenings… though Hurricane Ian ravaging Florida means that our Alliance leader is offline.  I do hope he is okay.  I’ll trade some downtime for his safety.

Also, CCP is starting to roll out some of the things they presented at Fanfest.  There might be actual game news to cover.

Otherwise Daybreak will be ramping up for its range of content launches in Q4 and holiday event will start showing up.

World of Warcraft Dragonflight is Launching November 28th

Companies seem to be in the mood to get announcements in before the end of the month, no doubt to be able to claim they did them in Q3 of 2022, Q4 starting on Saturday.

Next on my list is Blizzard, which has given us a launch date for the Dragonflight expansion.

WoW Dragonflight

As has become the pattern for Blizzard, this will be another world-wide launch, happening at 3pm Pacific time on Monday the 28th, midnight Paris time, and morning hours of Tuesday the 29th in Asia

Dragonflight World Wide Launch Times

Of course, Blizzard would like you to buy a pre-order.  There are the usual three flavors available.

How much to fly a dragon?

The base edition will get you the content and the new race, along with a pet if you pre-order.  If you want a boost up to level 60 you’ll have to opt for the Heroic or Epic editions, which also include an additional layer of fluff, the Epic edition tossing in 30 days of game time as well.

As for the launch date and timelines, Shadowlands to Dragonflight is about mid-pack, coming in at 734 days if they make the November 28th date.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 779 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 656 days
  • Legion to Battle for Azeroth – 714 days
  • Battle for Azeroth to Shadowlands – 832 days
  • Shadowlands to Dragonflight – 734 days

Coming so soon after the Wrath of the Lich King Classic launch, I have no plans to join in on the new expansion at launch.  I might log in to see where the action is at 2:45pm on the 28th, but I am not spending $50 to take a step beyond that.

The Shadowlands expansion was a bust for me.  I got exactly one character to level 60, the new level cap after the big level squish.  It isn’t as though I couldn’t have run more alts through.  Getting to level cap was fairly easy.  I just had no interest in doing so after my first run through.  So while I enjoyed the xp boost in classic, the one they’re offering in retail won’t move me.

Google Stadia to Shut Down on January 18, 2023

You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!

-Willy Wonka describing when a thin client application shuts down

When the news hit yesterday that Google was shutting down Stadia, it wasn’t a moment of shock.  I think it had been clear to most people who were paying attention… that being a rather small population… that Stadia’s days had been numbered for quite some time now.

I haven’t had much to say about Stadia since it was announced back in June of 2019.  It wasn’t of much interest to me, and only got the mention it did due to the company backing it.  I don’t think I wrote a single post devoted exclusively to Stadia.  I covered its announcement and launch in bullet point posts and mentioned it in passing in a post about thin client applications.

I think the biggest deal I made about it was when somebody representing themselves as a big deal at Google was ranting on Twitter that streamers needed to be made to pay to stream video games.  And the main mention of Google was them repudiating that statement. (Also, I see that the person in question did not delete that tweet, but also no longer works for Google.  Whatever.)

So welcome to my first blog post devoted solely to Google Stadia.

At it heart it was another attempt to stream video games.  The main difference was that Google wasn’t some start up, so wouldn’t fold the moment it became clear there wasn’t a huge market for what they were offering.

Of course, it being from Google meant that a good number of us simply expected it to join the ever growing graveyard of products killed by the company.  Being shut down was always on the table.

I am frankly surprised Stadia lasted as long as it did.  It never caught fire. (neither literally nor figuratively)  I suspect that the pandemic, which was nature’s gift to video game studios, helped keep it going for as long as it did.  But in the world of vaccines and a death rate low enough that we can pretend COVID isn’t a thing anymore (though I saw an anti-vaccine protest just last night in the middle of Silicon Valley) people are no longer feeling the need to stay home all the time.

Less binge watching.  Fewer Doordash orders.  Not as much time for video games.

The good news is that Google isn’t going away and isn’t going to play the Wonka card, no doubt from a desire to avoid getting sued, so it is offering refunds for a lot of things according to the shut down FAQ that they have posted.

We will be offering refunds for all Stadia hardware purchases (Stadia Controller, Founders Edition, Premiere Edition, and Play and Watch with Google TV packages) made through the Google Store and software transactions (games and add-on purchases) through the Stadia store. Stadia Pro subscriptions are not eligible for refund, however you will be able to continue playing your games in Pro without further charges until the final wind down date.

That is something, money back on all of your purchases… if you used the Google or Stadia store.  You don’t get your subscription money back because that was a purchase allowing you access over a given time frame which you have already received.

So it goes.

I guess the most smug person today must be one Daniel Camilo, who wrote a post for Gamasurta, now Game Developer, back in September of 2019, before Stadia launched, explaining why he thought it was going to fail.  And fail it did.  We’ll have to wait for the post-mortem to see if he called it completely I suppose.

Expect one more Stadia post out of me on January 18th to confirm that it has in fact gone.

Related:

Faction Warfare Updates are Kicking Off in EVE Online

Promised at Fanfest back in early May and occasionally hinted at over the summer, the beginning of the Faction Warfare updates have finally landed in New Eden.

Faction Warfare, within the scope of EVE Online, is probably most akin to realm v realm in other MMOs.  But, with one server, you can’t fight other realms, as there are none.  Instead players align with one of the four major NPC empires (Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, or Minmatar), which battle over four regions of low security space, the Amarr facing the Minmata and the Caldari facing the Gallente.

That sounds exciting, but as a feature of the game it has often been neglected, been the subject of exploits, and felt the pain of collateral damage as features roll out for other aspects of the game.  So it was kind of a big deal to have CCP say they were going to focus on Faction Warfare at Fanfest.  Even groups with their own lists of long standing issues felt it was long past time for FW to get some attention.

So today’s patch notes include a big update about Faction Warfare.  There was a news item posted about the militaries of the empires going on alert with an accompanying dev blog, while in The Agency there is now a headline about the new Faction Campiagns.

Faction Warfare – Does it live yet?

There are two campaigns available, one for the Amarr/Minmatar side of the house and one for the Caldari/Gallente conflict.

The two campaigns

For the Gallente/Caldari conflict the copy says:

The Gallente Federation and Caldari State have placed utmost importance on controlling the Athounon system, and are attempting to build stargates leading back to Amygnon and Samanuni respectively, Capsuleers can assist either faction by occupying Athounon through factional warfare, and mining unique ore in the Serthoulde constellation.

And for the Amarr/Minmatar war the copy says:

The Amarr Empire and the Minmatar Republic are both attempting to develop new technology derived from Triglavian Stellar Transmuters. To advance this research they are fighting over control of prototype Stellar Transmuters that the Amarr has constructed within the warzone, as well as data collected from remote observation facilities spread throughout the local constellations.

Helping with the efforts of the empires will reward players with Loyalty Tokens… not to be confused with Loyalty Points, the usual currency of FW… where they can be used to purchase early access to the new faction hulls that are coming to the game.

The new hulls are:

  • Navy Issue Battlecruisers
    • Cyclone Fleet Issue
    • Ferox Navy Issue
    • Myrmidon Navy Issue
    • Prophecy Navy Issue
  • Navy Issue Frigates
    • Probe Fleet Issue
    • Heron Navy Issue
    • Imicus Navy Issue
    • Magnate Navy Issue

Attributes of the new hulls are available in the patch notes linked below, but my guess is that these must be good hulls because people have been complaining about them on r/eve since they showed up on the test server.

One thing that is not clear to me with the update is who is able to participate.  One of the pitfalls of FW has long been the need to join a corporation that has pledged itself to one of the factions in order to participate fully.  So it wasn’t something you could do casually on your main, like Abyssals, because it required your organization to commit.  If they didn’t, it might be something you did on an alt.

It was at least implied back at Fanfest that CCP planned to break down that barrier to FW, but the patch notes, while one might infer something like this, does not call it out explicitly.  So, as usual, your mileage may vary.

Related

LOTRO Announces the Before the Shadows Mini-Expansion

The lesson from EverQuest and EverQuest II is that having some new content to sell every year is a money making deal.  Even now EQII is warming up for its annual fall cycle of events leading to this years expansion.  I’ll get to all of that later for both titles.

Since Turbine sold off Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online to Daybreak under the guise of the Standing Stone Games deal, both titles have been trying to get on the regular expansion content train.

And so we have the Before the Shadows mini-expansion coming this fall.

Before the Shadow and after the summer

And which shadow exactly are we speaking off… or where is it in any case?  Well, the blurb for the expansion says:

Reveal the mysteries of the One Ring as you venture through the reedy fens of Swanfleet and the moors of Cardolan.  Journey alongside Boromir to Rivendell, and run afoul of the Witch-King and Nazul in their pursuit of “Baggins” and the peaceful land of the “Shire” as shadow begins to pour forth from the land of Mordor.

So it sounds like we’re getting a bit of a prequel adventure, which is to be expected I suppose.  There is only so far you can go once you’ve thrown down the dark tower… though I don’t think we’ve scourged the Shire yet.  But they’ve added some areas to the Shire, so maybe we’ll get to that at some point.

The actual meat of the expansion is fairly thin:

  • New Regions & New Early Leveling Experience
  • New Skirmish and 6-player Instance
  • New Delving System
  • New Themed Missions Wrapper
  • Go Further with Expedition Supplies
  • Upgrade Your Experience with the Ultimate Fan Bundle
  • 10% VIP Discount

However, the base price for the content alone is just $20, which is a bargain these days.  We’ve finally hit the point where the base price for a big studio title is going to be $70, and that is before you get to the deluxe edition and the season pass and the cash shop.

Of course, if you WANT to spend more on Before the Shadow, if you have money to burn and a desire to support your favorite MMORPG set in Middle-earth, you can throw as much as $100 at your screen with the “recommended” ultimate fan bundle.

Before the Shadow pricing options

That, of course, is another thing Daybreak has been good at.  But I cannot begrudge them their pricing scheme.  Some players want all the possible goodies and if it keeps the game alive and the studio afloat… and it isn’t mandatory or game breaking… then good for them I suppose.

Anyway, you can find more details over at the LOTRO expansion page, which is a reminder that unlike EverQuest, they don’t just roll up that last expansion into the current one’s content.  They still have older stuff for sale.  It doesn’t go all the way back to Mines of Moria.  I think that is all free now.  But If you want to get into Mordor, there is still an expansion for that and a few more after.

Addendum: Also, there is a coupon pack that will get you additional content. It expires Oct. 31, 2022.