Going Heroic in The Nexus

When we finished the final current dungeon in Wrath Classic and got the “been there, done that” Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement, I wasn’t sure where we would go from there.

Northrend Dungeonmaster List

Ula had suggested we might do heroics, and I was all in for it if people wanted to, but I wasn’t sure how committed we were as a group.  We did not do heroics back in the day.

Then the month of May was busy for a couple of us, so it didn’t really come up as an option, until this past weekend when we were all on and working on Argent Tournament stuff… I thought that might just be a “me” thing to do, but it is a good source of gold and opens up some gear upgrades… when Fergorin suggested we go try a heroic instance.

We had the time, and we were all together, and we were all level 80, why not?

When the question of which one landed, I suggested The Nexus.  It is probably the one instance we have done the most, so it would be familiar.  We remembered the bosses and their quirks.  It was also one of the instances we managed to do with a group of four, save for the final boss, so it seemed like it might be achievable.

So it was off to Coldarra.  Fergorin and Bjorid flew on out, then summoned the rest of us.  There was a question of how to start a heroic, though the dungeon difficulty selection in the group setting was found quickly enough.  Then in we went.

When the swirl has a skull, it is heroic

Once we got ourselves buffed up and ready, our first target was one of the patrolling dragonkin, which seemed a bit tough until I remembered that they are essentially double size elites.  And we did finish them off, it just took a bit longer, and needed a bit more healing, than I expected.

But once we got to the groups of normal dungeon trash, we did okay.  They were level 80, but so were we.

We hit the first boss, Commander Kolurg, which was a new one on us.  Kolurg is only in the heroic version.  He is there with two clerics, so we decided to kill the clerics first to eliminate healing, then finish of Kolurg.

And our plan would have worked too, except that we forgot that the clerics might fear us, which they did, and which caused us to run off and pick up some more adds.  Then things went south.  We hurried up to kill at least one of his clerics, but we needn’t have bothered.  Kolurg’s whole encounter respawns if you wipe.  So we had to clean up and try again.

The paladin’s ressing

After that we decided to pull Kolurg and his group as far back as we could to avoid additional unfortunate encounters.  That, and our original plan to kill the clerics first, worked out.

Kolurg and clerics down

We then cleared our way around to our old friend Grand Magus Telestra, who is probably the dungeon boss we have defeated the most times so far in our WoW Classic experience.  This is always a busy encounter, and a lot can go wrong, especially as she cycles through her routine a second time in heroic.

Grand Magus Telestra awaits us

We actually found out about the whole “do everything twice” aspect on the fly, but we managed to adapt and follow our plan… when she splits into three, slay the arcane version first… and managed to pull through to the end without feeling like it was a struggle.  We won.

Telestra down on the first try

You can also see the shine of my having raised my standing with the Knights of the Ebon Blade.  Ula and I both remembered to go buy tabards from factions that we wanted to raise.  I went with the Ebon Blade while she chose the Wyrmrest Accord.

Tabards on display

Our foresight was acknowledged by the rest of the group, who all put tabards on their shopping lists for next time.

We worked our way around to Anomalus, who like Telestra, was the same fight with just more of the same actions.  We knew the routine, followed it as we had in the past, and were rewarded with another boss down.

The only hitch was that, in jumping off of platforms to bypass groups of mobs, Ula managed to land in a little pocket of floor that was to low to climb out of.

Ula trapped in a pothole

Fortunately, Beanpole’s ritual of summoning was available and we were able to port her up out of the hole so we could continue on.

Next was Ormorok the Tree-Shaper, who was also a something of a “the same, but more of it” encounter in heroic.  However, things got a little out of hand on the first attempt… I misjudged his size and walked up too close to him before we were ready… and we were down again.

Down at Omorok

We had to release and run back through the instance, avoiding the mobs we had bypassed… and only getting tripped up on that once… to get another shot at Ormorok.  The second run, when we were prepared, was a success.

Which left us with Keristrasza, the final boss.

Keristrasza in her full glory after a past wipe

This was another fight with some mechanics we knew, the key one being the need to jump every so often to avoid the frost DOT build up.  We knew our positioning, we had ourselves buffed up, so we had at her.

And wiped.  At about the 25% health mark she enrages and puts out a huge burst of damage.  We had managed to overcome that in the regular version, but this time around it got away from us and I was down while she was still at 22% health.

Another release and run back, though at least she is at the front of the instance.

You have to go all the way around counter-clockwise to end up at the beginning and the final boss

We got ourselves setup for another try, with the same result.  I was down by about the time she hit 22%, and once I was down she finished off the rest of the party immediately.

Time was running by and dinner was at hand at our house, so we had time for one more run.  I had my lay hands skill ready and was going to hold that until I was in peril at around the 20% mark.  And, in the fight, that work… for a bit.  It nearly got us there, but I was out of potions and other options and Fergorin was out of mana, so we got her to the 5% mark, then it fell apart.

So close to victory

We were close.  It felt almost doable.  We just needed a little bit more.

But I was out of time, so we would have to come back another day.  In the mean time, we all went looking for some gear upgrades.  There were some to be had from the various faction quartermasters and other vendors.

Ula read somewhere that the suggested gear score total for doing heroics was 3,000 and, while gear score doesn’t seem to be a visible thing by default in WoW Classic… not that I can see, though there are achievements based on gear score, so maybe I missed it… but my Auctioneer addon does show me gear score in its detail view.

Falling (Through the World) for a Boneguard Commander

Part of my fading on WoW Classic last month was due to having hit my immediate goal in earning enough in the Argent Tournament to buy the Argent Hippogryph mount, which remains one of my favorite flying mounts in the game.

Flying above the Argent Tournament

However, with the Joyous Journeys xp buff and the rest of the group hitting the Argent Tournament I found myself drawn back into it, both to collect some more of the currency and rep and to earn some gold.

If you are familiar with the set of dailies, you’ll know that you have to head on down to the Court of Bones to use your Argent Tournament jousting skills to battle a series of foes, including Boneguard Commanders, which are generally the toughest of the lot.

The Court of Bones circled

That doesn’t mean they are all that difficult… the AI is pretty easy to game… but they aren’t as quick to knock over as some of the other mobs.  Also, there are only a few of them about that are easy to get to without wading through a bunch of other mobs.

If I am out alone I tend to try and grab the few that are on their own, including one guy with his four helpers who is off to the left of the main concentration of mobs that line the pathway to Icecrown Citadel.

This little group over here

Also, allow me a moment to complain about the draw distance limitations of WoW Classic once more, because it is a real pain in the ass in the Court of Bones when you’re looking for mobs and you see nothing, but in reality they are about three steps just outside of the game’s ability to render them.  Just beyond that commander group in the image above is the path to ICC that is littered with mobs, but they don’t render from where I am standing.

Anyway, this past week I had an odd thing happen.  The Boneguard Commander above, when I started to battle him, clipped his way right into the ground like we were playing a Bethesda title.  He submerged into the terrain like a submarine diving beneath the waves.

That is a bit of an unfair advantage when you’re trying to hit somebody and they can just walk through an impenetrable floor to evade you.

I did find that I could throw shield breaker attacks at him still, so I did that, then decided to charge him… and that was when I too passed beneath the terrain and started falling through the world beneath Icecrown.

Falling into the nothingness below the map

You get some strange insights into the world when you get to look below the surface of the world.  There used to be a way to clip through Stormwind and end up below it back in the day.

The difference here is that there wasn’t a nice patch of ground for me to land on.  I just kept falling and falling, passing various bits of the zone that were tucked away down there, until I passed some threshold and the game decided I was out of bound and respawned me back up in the Court of Bones again.

At the respawn point

I am actually overlooking the spot where I fell through in that shot.  And I would complain about the draw distance thing, except that I had bigger problems than that.

The whole Court of Bones area for the Argent Tournament is only accessible to you if you have one of the two quests for it.  If you don’t, you see different things on the terrain, and anybody you’re with who has the quest is phased into another layer in the game.  The old phase issue that Wrath introduced, where you could be on the same map location as your group, but not see anybody.

Well, I was in an odd situation because I HAD the quest, but somehow falling through the terrain broke that, so I was phased out of the area I wanted to be in.  Also, when I attempted to log off or exit the game, I got an error about not being able to do that.

I got on my Argent Hippogryph and flew out of the area and back in, to see if that would shake things up, but no luck.  So I flew over to where Chillmaw spawns, because we were going to do that as a group, only to find myself still unable to log out.  So I force quit the game and logged back in.

On my return I found myself back at the Court of Bones, back at the respawn point where I had started, the game apparently having lost track of me at that point.  But that was fine.  I still needed one more Boneguard Commander.  So I went down to get that same guy again and… I didn’t mean to charge when he started to submerge again… but reflex drove that action and I was once again falling.

Falling through empty space again… look at that chamber over there

And I had to go through the same routine again.  But I learned my lesson: Don’t charge submerging Boneguard Commanders!

Since then I haven’t seen any of them start to ride into the ground, but I remain alert to the possibility.

Addendum:  Since I initially wrote this over the weekend, I have fallen through the world a couple more times.  At first I thought it was that particular Boneguard Commander, but I lured another one away from the big path and he submerged too.  It is a bit of terrain that is bugged it seems.

Also, it has happened enough that I have worked out a routine to deal with it.

  1. Don’t charge if they’re submerging… but sometimes you don’t noticed until it is too late
  2. When you finish your fall through the world, the game will log you out
  3. Log back in and go play a different character
  4. After about 10 minutes the server will resolve your fallen character
  5. You can log back in with that character and be in the right phase again, at which point we’re back to the first point

The Initiative Leaves the Imperium Compact

It was announced on Saturday’s Imperium fireside that long time Imperium member The Initiative would be leaving the coalition as of downtime on June 4th, and would thus no long be a part of the Imperium or subject to any or its rules or agreements.

The Initiative logo in spaceships

Darkshines has not gone full Vily on us or anything.  The Initiative won’t be launching an attack on Delve anytime soon.  In fact, they will remain with friendly standings and they will retain access to dock in Imperium space and use our jump bridge network and Imperium members will retain the same access in their space.  If PAPI reformed again and attacked The Initiative in Fountain, we would go to their aid, and they would likewise do so if PAPI came to Delve.

The main change will be economic.  Neither side will be allowed to rat, mine, frack, PI, drop structures, or otherwise use or exploit the other’s space for gain.  Aside from that the impact on line members should be minimal.  They won’t be shooting us and we won’t be shooting them.

Darkshines has said that the current coalition system has led to stagnation in null sec and is putting his money where his mouth is by removing The Initiative from the Imperium, for whatever value that has.  I suspect that PanFam and Fraternity will call it a distinction without a difference.

That The Initiative is leaving isn’t the biggest surprise in New Eden.  They have always been very independent within the Imperium and the idea that The Initiative is leaving the Imperium has been common enough in the past to have achieved meme status, with it being regularly predicted during World War Bee.

Having The Initiative with us has enhanced the Imperium experience.  They have helped wedge us into wars by jumping in and getting the other side to escalate.  They have also invited us along for some adventures, like the Fort Knocks Keepstar kill in J115404.

Of course, it hasn’t been all a bowl of cherries.  Some will remember last year when their leadership let a Fortizar run out of fuel and quietly blew it up in off hours so they could loot all the possessions of former members of The Bastion.

Apparently, as part of this amicable divorce, the Imperium ended up with custody of Brisc Rubal, who decided to go with KarmaFleet as his home, no doubt to stay with his Rampage Inc. buddies, Merkelchen and Innominate.

So it goes.  Time will tell as to whether or not this change has any meaning, whether being a de facto member of the Imperium will have any impact different from them being an actual member of the Imperium.

Asher, in the fireside, described it as them leaving the Imperium compact, which shaped the title of this post, meaning they were no longer a party of or subject to any diplomatic agreements of the Imperium.  That could mean a number of things… or nothing at all.

The Initiative was a founding member of the Imperium, back in April 2015, when the great re-branding from the old Clusterfuck Coalition happened.  They stuck through the Casino War even as other, larger alliances abandoned (or, in the case of Circle of Two, betrayed) the coalition.  I noted when Executive Outcomes left after the migration to Delve that The Initiative had almost 2,200 members.  As an alliance it has grown quite a bit since then.

With the departure of The Initiative and its 12,367 members, Imperium membership, as of this moment, is made up of the following alliances:

That is a total of 51,910 characters.

The Initiative is only the most recent alliance to leave the Imperium.  Siberian Squads left back in December, The Bastion shut down in April of last year, and Ranger Regiment left as part of the Army of Mango debacle in January of 2022.


Answering Gaming Questions with AI – Using That Master Ball in Pokemon Go

Back to the AI challenge again, this time with a question of immediate practical concern.

AIs thinking about video game questions… drawn by an AI

Past topics in this series:

This time around I am turning to the AIs to answer a question I had on Friday.  As I wrote then, Pokemon Go had a challenge that awarded a Master Ball, the most coveted Pokeball of all time, one that offers you a 100% guarantee of a catch.

Behold its glory

The question was, what Pokemon is worth expending that most precious ball upon?

This time around I am going to start with ChatGPT because with it I run into an immediate issue, the fact that it doesn’t know anything beyond September of 2021.  So It has not data on a Master Ball in Pokemon Go.  So I had to frame the question around that, ending up with this:

What is the hardest pokemon to catch in pokemon go?

From that, ChatGPT gave me:

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the hardest Pokémon to catch in Pokémon Go is Mewtwo. Mewtwo is a legendary Pokémon known for its powerful psychic abilities. It has a low catch rate, meaning it can be quite challenging to capture. In addition to its base catch rate, Mewtwo’s evasive movements and high CP (Combat Power) make it even more difficult to catch.

It’s important to note that Pokémon Go is regularly updated with new content, including the introduction of new Pokémon and changes to catch rates. Therefore, the difficulty of catching specific Pokémon may have changed since my last update. I recommend checking the official Pokémon Go website or the in-game announcements for the most up-to-date information on the catch rates of different Pokémon.

Well, I’ll give it points for trying.  Mewtwo is a tough one, but I already have a few of them, including a shiny, so it is unlikely to be on my list.  And, of course, ChatGPT has to warn me over and over about the limits of its knowledge.

Grade: C-

Then it was time for Google Bard.  Google has been sending me notes telling me that Bard has been upgraded recently, so it was time to see if it could rise beyond mere comedy relief in these posts.

The hardest Pokémon to catch in Pokémon Go are:

Mew: Mew is arguably the rarest Pokémon in Pokémon GO, since it cannot be captured in the wild, and many players still do not have one to this day. It can only be obtained through special events or by completing special research tasks.

Mewtwo: Mewtwo is another rare Pokémon that is difficult to catch. It has a 6% catch rate, and it is only available through 5-star raids.

Shaymin: Shaymin is a mythical Pokémon that was only available during a special event in 2019. It is not currently available in Pokémon GO, but it is possible that it will be released again in the future.

Deoxys: Deoxys is a mythical Pokémon that has four different forms, each with its own set of stats and abilities. It is only available through special research tasks, and it can be difficult to catch even with a high level of expertise.

Galarian Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos: These three Legendary Pokémon were originally only available through special raids during the 2020 Season of Legends event. They are now available through regular raids, but they are still quite difficult to catch.

These are just a few of the hardest Pokémon to catch in Pokémon GO. There are many other rare and powerful Pokémon that can be difficult to capture, but these are some of the most challenging.

That was a decent answer, though it included some Pokemon, like Mew and Shaymin, that were event rewards, so only hard to catch in the sense that you had to be there at the right time to do so.  There was no call to use a Master Ball on them.

Bard also provided images of each of the Pokemon, indicating the source from which it swiped them, and even gave me a source for some of its response, a Screen Rant post about Pokemon Go.

That, however, only answered the question I asked, not the question I needed answered.  But, I figured that Bard should know about more recent events, so I straight up asked it:

Which pokemon should I use the master ball on in Pokemon Go?

And to that it gave me:

The Master Ball is a rare item in Pokémon Go that is guaranteed to catch any Pokémon. It is a good idea to save your Master Ball for a very rare or difficult to catch Pokémon. Some good options for using your Master Ball include:

  • Mew: Mew is a mythical Pokémon that is very rare and difficult to catch. It can only be obtained through special events or by completing special research tasks.
  • Mewtwo: Mewtwo is a legendary Pokémon that is also very rare and difficult to catch. It is only available through 5-star raids.
  • Shaymin: Shaymin is a mythical Pokémon that was only available during a special event in 2019. It is not currently available in Pokémon GO, but it is possible that it will be released again in the future.
  • Deoxys: Deoxys is a mythical Pokémon that has four different forms, each with its own set of stats and abilities. It is only available through special research tasks, and it can be difficult to catch even with a high level of expertise.
  • Galarian Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos: These three Legendary Pokémon were originally only available through special raids during the 2020 Season of Legends event. They are now available through regular raids, but they are still quite difficult to catch.

Ultimately, the decision of which Pokémon to use your Master Ball on is up to you. However, these are some of the best options if you are looking for a guaranteed catch.

Here are some additional tips for using your Master Ball:

  • Don’t use it on a Pokémon that you can easily catch with other Poké Balls. There’s no point in wasting a Master Ball on a Pokémon that you can catch with a regular Poké Ball or Great Ball.

  • Save it for a Pokémon that you really want. If there’s a specific Pokémon that you’ve been wanting to add to your collection, then the Master Ball is a great way to guarantee that you’ll be able to catch it.

  • Don’t be afraid to use it. The Master Ball is a rare item, but it’s not meant to be hoarded. If you come across a Pokémon that you really want and you think it’s worth using the Master Ball on, then go for it!

Well, that didn’t add anything to the result, save for some unhelpful coaching at the end.

You don’t need it for Shaymin and Mew, I already have Mewtwo and Deoxys in all of its forms, with shiny versions of each, so I guess Galarian Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos are the suggested targets.

Grade: C+

Then it was time for Bing AI to step in, and it answered the first question with:

According to some sources¹²³, some of the hardest Pokémon to catch in Pokémon GO are:

– Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard, and Dragonite with a base capture rate of 4%¹.
Palkia, a Legendary Pokémon that has a Water and Dragon typing and only one weakness: Dragon-type moves².
Mewtwo, a Legendary Pokémon with a 6% catch rate and powerful stats and moves³.
Shadow Mewtwo, a Shadow Pokémon that can only be obtained by defeating Team GO Rocket and has a 20% damage bonus³.
Mr. Mime and Farfetch’d, two region-locked Pokémon that can only be found in specific countries³.

Are you trying to catch any of these Pokémon?👀

(1) The Easiest and Hardest Pokémon to Catch In Pokémon Go – Lifehacker
(2) Pokémon GO: 15 Challenging Pokémon To Catch – TheGamer
(3) Pokémon GO: 10 Hardest Pokémon To Catch, Ranked – Screen Rant
(4) Pokemon GO: Hardest Pokemon To Find – Game Rant
(5) Hardest Pokemon to catch in Pokemon GO – Sportskeeda

Brevity and references are the hallmark of Bing AI, which is more of a search engine assistant than an AI in the way ChatGPT is trying to be, but it did get in there and get me some options, including a familiar one.  And it used one of the same sources that Google Bard used.  But the answers were not Pokemon I was going to use a Master Ball on, in part because I have them all already, save for the Shadow Mewtwo.

So I asked Bing AI the more direct second question and got the following:

The Master Ball is a very rare item that has a 100% catch rate on any Pokémon you use it on¹. It can be used in normal encounters, Incense/Module encounters, and even Raid encounters¹.

The only way to get a Master Ball in Pokémon Go right now is to complete the Let’s Go! Special Research quest once the final tasks are released on May 22, 2023²³. The Master Ball is a reward for completing all of the tasks in Step 5.

You should use your Master Ball wisely, as there will be limited opportunities to get more in the future²³. Some possible candidates for using your Master Ball are:

Galarian Articuno, Zapdos, or Moltres found when using Daily Adventure Incense, which have a very low catch rate and a high flee rate².
– A high IV legendary encounter following a raid that you want to level up, such as Mewtwo².
Shadow Mewtwo, a Shadow Pokémon that can only be obtained by defeating Team GO Rocket and has a 20% damage bonus².
Mr. Mime and Farfetch’d, two region-locked Pokémon that can only be found in specific countries².

I hope this helps you decide which Pokémon to use your Master Ball on. Good luck!👍

(1) The Master Ball is Coming to Pokemon Go – GamePress
(2) How to get a Master Ball in Pokémon Go, and when to use it
(3) How to get the Master Ball in Pokemon Go – Dexerto
(4) How to get the Master Ball in Pokémon GO: All the details
(5) How to Get the Master Balls in Pokemon Go? – Dr.Fone
(6) Pokemon GO: How To Get and Use Master Ball – Game Rant

Bing AI came back with more references and some recommendations.

Galarian Articuno, Zapdos, or Moltres made the cut again, so maybe I should take that seriously.

Then there is Shadow Mewtwo, which I would consider, but as I mentioned on Friday, Niantic’s desire to force in-person raiding means that you have to show up at the gym during the raid.  We have a regular raid group of 10 people, but we’re all middle age, have jobs and kids, and are spread out geographically, so we have never all been in person for a raid.  We’re doing good if we can get four, and on a rare occasion six, though that requires some semi-interested spouses. (Does it say something that the wives are the biggest Pokemon Go fans and really drive the group?)

Anyway, that means we have to show up in person an find somebody else willing to raid.  That works out on big raid day events.  But for general, ongoing raids it is almost never a thing… and it sounds like Shadow Mewtwo needs a bigger than average group with its damage bonus.  So not likely to happen.

And I am not sure why Mr. Mime and Farfetch’d keep coming up.  Yes, they are rare, but the tough part is finding them.  Once found, catching isn’t all that hard.  So I am reducing credit for that.

Grade: B-

In the end all three gave me something of an answer… and they all seemed to agree that Mewtwo should be in consideration.  The low marks are more a response to having few good suggestions, or several bad ones.

But it could be argued, even though they all got a passing grade, that the question itself was not well suited to AIs.  Again, in my post on Friday, I have a tough time coming up with a target worthy of expending my one and only Master Ball on.  Is it fair to expect AIs to answer questions you cannot?  Or is that what they should be there for?

I did like the mention of catch percentages.  That could influence my decision, but I am not sure how widely available that information is.

Life is Feudal Returns with a $20 a Month Subscription

Life is Feudal was a sandbox MMO that came out of the Life is Feudal series of games back in 2017 and then shut down in January of 2021.

Life is very much that at times

I really did not pay that much attention to it as a game.  I mentioned it as an outlier possibility in my gaming outlook for 2017, but by the time the year closed and I did my review of 2017, it did not make the cut.  I wasn’t even sure if it had actually launched… though a lot of the titles I had on that list didn’t launch.  That initial post was also the first time I took note of Lost Ark, which was a few years away at that point.

But it is back, having re-launched this month to take another run at the MMO business.

And, having not played it when it was here the first time, I do not have a lot to say about its revival.  I probably won’t run off and play it this time around either.  It’s return is a bit of a non-event for me really.

What DID catch my was the announcement that it was returning with a $20 monthly subscription.  Now that is some news.  As I have noted in multiple posts in the past, the sort of industry standard $15 a month has been pretty much set in stone since 2004… and even that seemed unsustainable for quite a few titles as we had the mass migration to free to play options around 2010.

Inflation be damned as far as gamers are concerned; any time somebody mentions a subscription price increase players want to know what they’re getting for the additional money.  Software is a victim of the overall view of tech where hardware gets cheaper and more powerful as time goes on.

Software, however, is made by people, and it is difficult to cost reduce them the way you do a chip set.  They expect to get raises and need to buy things like food, which seems to keep going up in price.  So anybody making software has been on the lookout for ways to charge more money as their costs continue to rise.  For buy to play titles, that has meant special editions and season passes and piles of DLC and cosmetic cash shops and, of course, loot boxes in order to extract more money to cover increasing costs.

But upping the price of an MMO subscription beyond the standard $20 a month?  So far only EVE Online has take that step, and it was not popular.

New Prices as of May 17, 2022

In fact, CCP has had to rely on sales and special discounts for multiple accounts to keep an even keel.  But players also freaked out when CCP went full in on selling fitted ships, and they had already started selling skill points, so they didn’t have a lot of cash avenues left.  And their revenue has been trending down all the same.

So while I do not have much of a brief for how things will go for Life is Feudal, I am curious to see if they can make the $20 a month model stick.  They are already hedging a bit, calling the new price a “test.”  It will only be a test if it doesn’t work.  If they can swing it, it will be the new reality.  And if they can do it, who else will give it a shot?


Niantic Remains Irksome on the Pokemon Go Front

If it wasn’t for the fact that Pokemon Go is the one video game experience my wife and I share, I might have been tempted to let the game fall by the wayside before now.  But I enjoy that time with her more than I dislike Niantic… though Niantic seems determined to test me on this.

Pokemon Go – Since 2016

First, they seem keen to double down on their whole in-person raiding drive.  I mentioned previously that they seemed against remote raiding, doubling prices and putting a limit on how many remote raids somebody could do in a day, the latter having a pretty big impact on our dispersed raiding group.  One friend who lives in a rural area pretty much depends on remote raids for any but the smallest raids, and they have been pulled up short a few times.

Well, they have a Team Rocket raiding event going on now, but the whole thing is local raids only.

Bayleef will not accept remote raids

There was basically a weekend of nearly zero remote raid opportunities, plus an event that was zeroed out if you couldn’t meet up in person.

Then there is the whole Vivillon thing, another topic I have written about before.  My main gripe about that was Niantic using post cards for something they were never used for previously, which led to full postcard books for everybody in our group.  Not the worst thing, but you have to go delete them out of your book, clicking on them one by one to select them for a bulk delete.

What they really needed to do was add in a button to clear your postcard book, since by making it an adjunct to the Vivillon collection, they essentially removed any uniqueness from collecting postcards since people were now incentivized to save ALL postcards to get Scatterbugs to appear.

Instead, Niantic went the transparent greed rout, so that now when your postcard book is full of postcards you don’t really care about, the game pops up and offers to sell you more space.

How many we milk you today?

No I am just going to delete postcards out of spite.

Speaking of selling things, they also have a new web store… they can probably thank Tim Sweeney for that option… which they keep sending email messages about, encouraging me to shop there rather than in the game.  Niantic clearly gets more of the money when I do that.  But to encourage me to give up the convenience of the in-app purchase and pad their bottom line a bit more, they are willing to give me just 5-7% more of their pretend currency.  I can be bribed, but it takes more than that.

And even when Niantic gives us something nice, I remain a bit hazy on the intent.  They recently had a set of special research tasks that ended up rewarding you with a Master Ball.

Behold its glory

The Master Ball has a storied history in Pokemon games.  It is a ball that will never fail to catch the Pokemon you use it on.  In the traditional Pokemon RPGs there is generally an obvious end goal, a legendary Pokemon, usually pictured on the splash screen of the game, that you’ll hold out to use it on.

The thing is, the Pokemon RPGs have a logical end to the stories and a limited selection of Pokemon to catch, so you know who you were holding out for with that Master Ball.

But with Pokemon Go, which raid legendary would be worth expending this ball on?  You get multiple chances at most legendary raids… my main problem is generally when they’re restricted to local only raiding, as noted above… and almost all of them get rotated back after a while.  So who is worth throwing this at?

I mean, it is cool and all, but this isn’t a classic Pokemon RPG that has an end and a definitive “catch ’em all” state to achieve.  This is a live service game that just keeps piling on Pokemon from all eras… and which has to keep cycling through eras because you have to give anybody just joining the game some opportunity to catch stuff that most of us have seen too many times already.

This will most likely be one of those things that just sits in my bag unused forever.

So I feel like even this reward is something of an empty gesture, a high value item from other games that is diminished by being included in this title.

The Dawn of Diablo IV

Depending on where you are and whether or not you pre-purchased the right version, you could be playing Diablo IV in about six hours from when this post goes live.

Diablo IV

The client download was enabled on Tuesday, and if you purchased anything beyond the standard version, the early access is yours.

Diablo IV Early Access Launch Map

There it is.  At 4pm Pacific time today, you will be able to log in… or you will be able to try logging in.

I don’t necessarily want to be that guy… but there is a bit of a history of launch day problems with Blizzard in general and Diablo in particular.

Oh, I remember that

Blizzard has said that they are “confident” that they can handle the opening night load… and I guess we will see if that confidence was warranted. (Though they have since hedged a bit in later interviews.)

For the rest of the player base, those who opted for the standard edition, the game will open up on June 5th at 4pm Pacific Time.

Diablo IV world wide launch map

So the game probably won’t feel the full load of players until the weekend after that.

And where will I be as all of this goes down?  Playing something else most likely.

I am somewhat interested in Diablo IV… but not enough to feel I have to jump in on day one and into that scrum.  I can wait.  But I will be interested to see how Blizzard’s confidence plays out.

Congrats to Blizzard.  I was somewhat skeptical when they announced the June launch date, expecting a slip between then and now.  But they made it.  Good on them.

On the other hand, Bobby Kotick remains a horrible person and pretty much a living indictment of unfettered capitalism, if you need a reason not to buy Diablo IV.

May in Review

The Site

I often start writing these monthly review posts well in advance.  They have a structure and a formula and very little of it requires me to be at the end of the month.  If I want to write but don’t have a topic I am invested in, I will often start in on one of these, filling out the framework.

Such was this month where, back on the 20th or so, I wrote this section, having felt that the big site event of the month had come and gone.

For this month it was when somebody linked an old post I did about voxels back when EverQuest Next was re-announced, in relation to something called Minetest, which is something like a voxel Minecraft I guess.  That generated a lot of referrals and I figured the most viewed post of the month had been set, it having passed the 800 mark already, when most months any post that passes 400 views is almost guaranteed to be the top of the list.

Aiming at a distant tower guard in Delta Force

Then, for whatever reason, my About page became popular… with bots no doubt… for about a week.  Enough to vault it into the top Most Viewed Posts this month, as you will see below.  It is, technically, a post.  That gave me something for this section.  I even took a screen shot to accompany the whole thing, but felt I should take one later in the month, when the final results were closer to set.

Then I wrote that one post in a fit of pique about Alta Fox trying to bully Enad Global 7 to set forth wrecking the company, draining its coffers for stock buy backs, so they could be enriched with no possible upside to the health or long term viability of the company.

Then that took off.  I ended up with a 2,000 page view day with that one.  There was a time when I was getting more page views than that as a daily average, but that was a decade back.  Now it is a good month when the average approached 500.  That is still more than I ever expected, but it hardly registers on the internet.

Basically, looking at my most viewed posts this month, the internet seems to be telling me that if I want traffic I should spend more time critiquing the excesses of late stage capitalism and reminiscing about voxel based 3D game engines.

One Year Ago

Blizzard, attempting to get into the mobile game space on its own, announced Warcraft Arclight Rumble.  Meanwhile, Diablo III turned ten years old.

On the flip side, Enad Global 7 and Daybreak announced that they were cancelling the previously hinted at Marvel based super hero MMORPGEverQuest did get two new progression servers, Vaniki and Yelinak, and EverQuest II got the Varsoon server.

In Valheim we built the grey pit to harvest grey dwarves.  This has become a semi-popular post for people trying to do the same.  We were also in search of silver, which meant building a mountain base, and looking to defeat Bonemass.

I had a list of five problems that I felt CCP was never going to solve in EVE Online.  I also wrote about damage meters in the game, which are alike and different from other MMORPGs.

But that was just a warm-up for EVE Fanfest.  We had been promised a lot, but the opening keynote didn’t deliver.  Overall, Fanfest just made a lot more promises without delivering anything substantial.  The return to expansions sounded nice… but the first one was months off.

CCP did, however, finally relent on the prices of capital ships.  Another of their economic theories dashed on the rocks of reality.  Meanwhile, the final days before the subscription price increase saw people buying in to save some cash and EVE Anywhere became available for Alpha Clones, but the announcement was so confusing that some news sites reported that the feature had entered alpha.  Also, CCP was being called out for still betting on an FPS as its future.

CCP did promise us something special for alts as long as we consolidated all our accounts to a single email address.

CCP also announced the candidates list for CSM17.

Actually in New Eden, the GEF headed to war in southeast null sec, first hitting Omist then pushing into Tenerifis.  That led to some real fights.

I brought up Wordle-like games that focused on the movies.

Josh Strife Hayes went and played LOTRO as the game turned 15 years old.

This American Life did an episode about NFTs, which were a plague at the time.

I got paid for the ads on the site for the very first time and we were still binge watching at our house.

Five Years Ago

My other blog turned ten years old, so I did a retrospective… here… since my other blog is a picture blog.

There was the big rumor post about plans at Daybreak that included winding down EverQuest and EverQuest II in favor of a new EverQuest game.  While some items on the list did come to pass ( Just Survive did not and PlanetSide Arena is effectively PlanetSide 3), the old school preservationist faction won out in Norrath and it looks like we’ll be getting expansions for some years to come.  Meanwhile, they were also giving out level 100 character boost in EQII again.

While I was on a WoW break of sorts, Blizzard seemed to be doing well enough in the financial report for Q1 2018.  Of course, they were feeding us tidbits to keep us interested while we waited for Battle for Azeroth, with pre-orders available since January.

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, an RTS from the turn of the century, was still getting expansions.  You cannot keep a good game down.

I objected to a silly post about making the MMO genre “more accessible.”  It was all either blindingly obvious or too specific to be practical as a general rule.

I was still mucking about in Rift Prime, having made it into Scarlet Gorge, though it felt like something was missing.

Microsoft was planning to discontinue support for Minecraft on some older consoles after the Aquatic Update was released.

On the Kickstarter front the was big success for the Empires of EVE Vol. II campaign and a huge flop for the ill advised Flower of Knighthood campaign.

CCP was celebrating the 15th anniversary of EVE Online and I was going on about the importance of all the tales that make up the ongoing story of the game.

I was over on the test server trying out the upcoming Abyssal Space content, which I likened to dungeons.  Why not?  CCP calls things dungeons in their patch notes.

At the end of the month we got the Into the Abyss expansion for EVE Online and people were losing ships to Triglavians almost immediately.

That was preceded by what I called the great third part apocalypse as CCP shut down the old API interface, killing any number of third party applications that depended on it.  I was also on about their New Eden Store scarcity policy.

We got an update on when the elections for CSM13 would be held, while with the MER I was wondering if anybody would challenged the might of the Delve economy.

And then, actually in game, we were still running ops against GotG in the north, exchanging citadel kills and chasing after them into Venal and mounting some ops from there before returning to Pure Blind.

Ten Years Ago

I celebrated the five year anniversary of a blog.  No, not this one.

EVE Online turned 10 (I even made a movie) and reminded us of its true nature, while DUST 514 finally went live for real.

Somebody was saying that there had only ever been two successful MMOs, EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

I checked up on the Newbie Blogger Initiative to see who survived their first year of blogging.

Camelot Unchained made its Kickstarter goal one day before their campaign ended.   Success at the last minute is still success.

The project code named Titan was rumored to have been pushed out to 2016. Meanwhile Activision-Blizzard announced that WoW had shed 1.3 million subscribers, dropping to 8.3 million total.  And then there was the problems with the Diablo III economy.  Rough times.

The XBox One was announced.  Or the name was.  I didn’t like it.

I made a chart about the relative natures of MMO economies.  I was also musing about dangerous travel.

We were starting to peek into NeverWinter as a possible game for the instance group, in hopes that we might have a hiatus from our long hiatus.  We also played a bit of Need for Speed: World.

Rift, ostensibly the game the instance group was playing (and which I was still playing a bit of), announced it was going free to play, which made me mutter about revenue models again.

Our EVE Online corp decided to go play some Lord of the Rings Online, and so my relationship with Middle-earth continued and I was quickly in the Lone Lands.

And finally, I wrote a bit about the first computer game I ever played, which led to some charts about my video gaming timeline.

Fifteen Years Ago

My daughter and I were finishing up the final battles in the base game of Pokemon Diamond as well as staging our own gym battles.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a date for the Empyrean Age as well as giving us all a gift on the five year anniversary of the game.  I still have that gift in my hangar.

Meanwhile I was building battleships, working the regional price variations, dealing with the realities of production, refining my Drake fittings, and laughing at a the EVE Online guide to talking smack.

Oh, and I was being propositioned in a standard Goon scam.  Damn Goons!

In World of Warcraft the instance group was doing some quests to level up a bit because the Mana Tombs were proving to be a challenge.  We also did some mucking about with alts.

And, in the industry in general, Turbine got $40 million dollars to play with (I wonder where that ended up?) while Age of Conan launched amid immediate declarations of success and failure.

Twenty Years Ago

Internet spaceships become serious business as EVE Online launches.

SOE launched PlanetSide, their MMOFPS.

3DO laid everybody off and filed for bankruptcy, leading to the end of the line for it and its subsidiary New World Computing, best known for the Might and Magic series.

And the WordPress blogging platform was first released in May of 2003.

Fifty Years Ago

In May of 1973 Bob Metcalf wrote a memo at Xerox PARC with the title “Alto Ethernet” that contained the basic schematic for the networking hardware that would come to be known as “Ethernet.” This was just one of the many designs and innovations that Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center would create, which Xerox would then completely fail to capitalize on but which would go on to become the foundations of modern computers.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. Late Stage Capitalism Ruining Things: EverQuest Edition
  2. Delta Force: A Memory of Voxels
  3. The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap – No Consoles, No UI Updates
  4. About
  5. Changes at Netflix, HBO, and MTV
  6. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. How Many Skill Points are Enough in EVE Online?
  9. Another Chance to Get Your Name on the EVE Monument
  10. Twitter Alternatives as Elon Continues to Elon Fiddle
  11. The Viridian Expansion is Coming to EVE Online in June
  12. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II

Search Terms of the Month

wow zul’farrak can’t talk now trolls sergent bly
[ZF be like that mon]

using chatgpt with everquest
[Don’t let me stop you]

buying omega with plex
[Yes you can]

exiled kingdoms patch
[Haven’t actually played that]

website template wow
[Oh no, another potential blogger]

Game Time by ManicTime

Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to do this anymore?  I lied, though whether it was to you or myself is up for debate.  But apparently I find some usefulness in this section, so here it is again.

  • WoW Classic – 54.88%
  • LOTRO – 35.66%
  • EVE Online – 9.21%

Overall, since I was away for a good 10 days of the month, the total hours played in May were the lowest monthly total for the year… or since I started using ManicTime.

EVE Online

It was something of a quiet month in New Eden for me.  With the war in the north winding down into a more contained “content” conflict and having moved all my stuff back to Delve, I didn’t have a lot to do.  I went out and harvested my PI, I went on a couple of fleets, I got on my minimum of one kill mail for the month, and I logged in daily to redeem all my 20th anniversary goodies.

Lord of the Rings Online

The Lossless Scaling experiment started me off in Middle-earth.  I have made it through into the Lone Lands once more, and ought to be a shoe-in to make it through Evendim if I remain enthused.  After that though… well, Evendim is the last zone I think of as fun.  We’ll see if I get beyond there.

Pokemon Go

Nothing much went on for us in Pokemon Go, except for me having a Pokemon in a gym in rural Oregon for nearly two weeks before they got kicked out.  Level 44 is closer, but still a ways away, and Niantic seems keen to screw with our routine.

  • Level: 43 (77% of the way to 44 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 770 (+3) caught, 785 (+4) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 24 of 35
  • Pokemon I want: Three specific Scatterbugs; Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow
  • Current buddy: Krokorok

WoW Classic

Northrend was starting to wear on me a bit as we entered May.  Then I was playing LOTRO for a while.  But then the Joyous Journeys xp bonus hit and the group was using it to get everybody to 80 and to work on some alts and we all started doing the Argent Tournament, so that come the last week of the month it was my main game again.


Not a good month for riding the indoor bicycle.  I was away for two weekends and had an injured leg for a third, leaving not much activity in May.

  • Level – 18
  • Distanced cycled – 1,629 miles (+27 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 62,297 (+735 feet)
  • Calories burned – 50,470 (+723)

Coming Up

There are a couple of big things coming up in June.

Probably the biggest, at least relative to topics I cover here, is the Diablo IV launch.  It goes live on June 5th or 6th depending on where you live for the world wide launch, with early access for the special pre-orders as early as tomorrow.  Blizzard is “confident” that the servers can handle the load they expect at launch.  I am “confident” that this optimism will age poorly.

Meanwhile, over in New Eden CCP will be launching the Viridian expansion for EVE Online.  So far we have been told that will bring Tech II capital ships and graphics upgrades to the game.  I am sure there must be more to it, but we shall see.

We are also getting the next phase of Wrath Classic.  Maybe I will be able to build Jeeves.

There will also be some more AI stuff next month.  You know it is the buzzword of the moment because over at VentureBeat literally every other headline is related to AI, it having replaced Metaverse, which in turn replaced Crypto/Blockchain in their obsessive focus on the latest hotness.

Fifteen Years of Internet Spaceship Pictures

Fifteen years ago this month I started up a new blog as an experiment.  That is my “other” blog, the screen shot blog, EVE Online Pictures.

The original banner for the blog

Somehow it has persisted for a decade and a half.  Granted, the effort is relatively low when compared to this blog, but it isn’t zero effort.  There was a brief period last year when WP.com decided that free blogs would have much reduced storage space for things like images and the site was suddenly out of space.  But WP.com grandfathered in legacy blogs by basically not counting data older than a specific date.

For the origin and history of the blog I have the two previous anniversary posts you can read:

Fortunately for everybody I only do these posts every five years, because I barely have anything to say even with that interval.

Regardless of where I started off, the goal for the blog after some years became to capture both the ordinary and the unique in New Eden.  There are screen shots of jump gates and space stations in high sec, including Jita 4-4, which is, no doubt, one of the most visited station in New Eden… though I bet some station in a started system is at the top of that list… which are common sights, and screen shots of things that some people in the game might never see, like a Keepstar exploding (or being deployed) or a fleet bridging off of a titan.

Sometimes I actually get a nice shot

There are almost no descriptions for the images I post, save for the names of the ships and structures shown.  That was probably a mistake, but I also didn’t want to get another blog that required writing going.

Have I succeeded?   What does success even look like?

I do not know.  I just keep posting pictures from my time in EVE Online and, every once in a while, somebody shows and scrolls through dozens or hundreds of my pictures.  So I guess the blog if for that rare traveler on the internet.

Basic Statistics

Days since launch: 5,448
Posts total: 2,297 (up 790)
Average posts per day: 0.42 (up 0.01)
Comments:  206 (up 5)
Images uploaded:  2,222 (up 804)
Space used by images: 788.7 MB of my 3 GB allocation

Page Views by Month

This is the lifecycle of the blog, its traffic.  While Google did me in with changes to how they did image searches up until January 2013, the traffic does also follow in a vague way the popularity of the game itself.

Page Views by Month

Average Daily Page Views by Month

This shows that, even at its peak, EVE Online Pictures was never really that popular.  At its peak it was getting maybe 8% of the page views this site, and that number has dropped to about 5%, though only because this site too is in decline.

Average Daily Views

Most Viewed Posts over the Life of the Blog

This is something of a hangover from the peak days of the blog.  This is exactly the same list as five years ago, with just one position swap.

  1. B-R5RB Infographic
  2. Space Cockroach
  3. Sansha Battle Station
  4. The Maze Complex
  5. Myrmidon
  6. Asteroid Mining Station
  7. Raven and Rokh
  8. New Eden Subway Map
  9. New Asteroids
  10. Rifter
  11. Angel Cartel Battleship Opens Fire
  12. Ragnarok Jumping in with the Fleet

Where does the traffic come from?

Who sends people here?  Search engines are the top source of traffic, broken out as follows for the last fifteen years.

Search engines over the life of the blog:

  1. Google Image Search – 49,379
  2. Google Search – 45,861
  3. Bing- 1,476
  4. Yandex – 770
  5. duckduckgo.com – 319
  6. Yahoo Search – 287
  7. Yahoo Image Search – 281
  8. isearch.avg.com – 76
  9. Baidu – 62
  10. dmoz.org – 32

To give a sense of how much of an impact the changes to Google Image Search were, ALL of those page views were before February 2013, after which it ceased to provide any traffic.  And yet it remains the top source of traffic a decade later.

Other sites over the life of the blog:

  1. totaleve.com – 15,823
  2. evebloggers.com – 11,676
  3. tagn.wordpress.com – 6,333
  4. Twitter – 2,607
  5. forums.eveonline.com – 1,792
  6. Facebook – 1,016
  7. Reddit – 764
  8. WordPress.com Reader – 746
  9. WordPress Dashboard – 712
  10. massively.com – 483

This is a little bit more interesting, though also somewhat depressing.  Total EVE, which was also a big source of traffic for this site, closed up shop last year, causing a noticeable drop in traffic.  The EVE Bloggers domain has been around through a few different owners, and is now run by former CSM member “Fuzzy Steve” Ronuken, who keeps it going, but it is not an ideal UI.

I suppose it is a bit of a tell that this site is in third position.  I do link there when I can.

Twitter has garnered a bit of traffic, but overall social media hasn’t been much of a draw.  Though, to be fair, the picture I post gets put in the Tweet or whatever, so unless you want to see the image full size, there isn’t much point in clicking.

Finally, that Massively URL is the OLD, pre-2015 MMO news site that AOL shut down.  Michael Zenke must have linked me in some EVE Online post back in the day.

Where do I send traffic?

Almost nowhere.  My top ten clicks over the life of the blog are as follows:

  1. tagn.files.wordpress.com – 3,664
  2. tagn.wordpress.com – 726
  3. evemonkey.wordpress.com – 242
  4. eveonlineships.com – 225
  5. myeve.eve-online.com – 149
  6. totaleve.com – 142
  7. eve-offline.net – 131
  8. forums.eveonline.com – 121
  9. go-dl1.eve-files.com/media/corp/Verite/ – 114
  10. ombeve.co.uk – 111

That first one represents the fact that I used to just use this blog as the picture source, back when WP.com let you post pictures from a URL.  Then they screwed that up.

The rest, those are mostly links to things in the rare post where I add some supplemental information to the image, like a source.

All of which is mildly disappointing because for quite a while I kept the links side bar up to date with EVE blogs, news sites, utilities, and EVE Online news.  There are multiple feeds in that side bar still that are useful.  Just not useful enough.

The Future

I will likely carry on as before.  The effort is low and I do not pay anything to maintain the site.  My main problem is just WP.com messing with things.  They are always doing something, like making it so when you click on an image to see it full size, wrapping that image in a WP.com frame that means you do not, in fact, get to see it full size, plus you get a WP.com ad.

So it goes.  As long as I keep taking screen shots I will likely keep posting them every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Memorial Day 2023

Korean War Poem

by LCDR Roberto J. Prinselaar, USCG (Ret)
as inscribed on the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial in Jersey City, NJ

We didn’t do much talking,
We didn’t raise a fuss.
But Korea really happened
So please – remember us.

We all just did our duty
But we didn’t win or lose.
A victory was denied us
But we didn’t get to choose.

We all roasted in the summer
In winter, we damn near froze.
Walking back from near the Yalu
With our blackened frozen toes.

Like the surf the Chinese kept coming
With their bugles in the night.
We fired into their masses
Praying for the morning light.

All of us just had to be there
And so many of us died.
But now we’re all but half forgotten
No one remembers how we tried.

We grow fewer with the years now
And we still don’t raise a fuss.
But Korea really happened
So please – remember us.