Seeking the Eerie Red Glow in Tristram

Last week I ran through the Darkening of Tristram event in Diablo III with my best equipped character.  That got me a look at the whole thing, but left me shy on the achievement and rewards front.   Specifically, I wanted to get what seemed to be the main achievement for the event, which had a pet included.

On my list...

On my list…

That required rolling up a level 1 character and running through the event.  So, in a fit of unoriginality, I created another crusader… I really like the class… named Maurice (Steve Miller Band joke here) and set off to run the event one more time.

Unfortunately I got a little bit lost on the was in, as I started out in campaign mode and then tried to blitz through the whole thing until I got to the portal.  However, the portal is only there in adventure mode, which is the free form, open world.  I figured that out after a bit of fruitless searching, then exited that game, changed modes, and started over again.  The portal was listed on the map, so I jumped straight there and off I went.

Event Here!

Event Here!

I have already advanced to nearly level 4 at that point, but for the event you just have to start a level 1 character and eventually run through and slay Diablo.  This was the first alt I had made since I ran through season six and got into Paragon levels, so I a bit surprised to find that I had access to those as a low level.  Still, waste not want not, so I allocated those and headed into the dungeon.

Maurice versus the Skeleton King

Maurice versus the Skeleton King

The Crusader excelling at defense, the paragon levels, and a series of fortuitous equipment drops meant that the run was pretty easy.  I waded into mobs and slew them with abandon as I made my way down the 16 levels to finally face and defeat Diablo.

Level 26 and the pet

Level 26 and the pet

That got me the achievement, the pet, level 26, and a third crusader that I probably won’t ever use again.   The whole thing also felt a bit easy, as with my first run.  So I decided to go up a notch.  Season 9 had just begun, so I figured I ought to do the run with a seasonal character.

Welcome to Season 9

Welcome to Season 9

That would cut off access to paragon levels, gold, extra equipment and such.  I also decided to go with a Barbarian.  While not completely out of my comfort zone, I have not played one for ages, so it would be at least a bit of a change.  I couldn’t just count on the Crusader’s defense to get through the massed of mobs.  I thought about making this a hardcore character… one death and he’s done… but decided that might be too much.  I’d hate to die way down at level 16 and have to start from scratch again.  And finally I decided to do it real old school and never return to town.  No vendors on the run, just going with what I could pick up.

Sigwerd the Barbarian was rolled up.  I set the game to Adventure and the difficulty to Hard and set off for the event.

One of the things with starting out as a level 1 is that you do level up quickly.  This makes getting regular gear drops somewhat critical to progress.  Since the mobs scale with you as you level up, having old gear starts to really weigh against you.  Worst of all is being left with an old weapon, as killing stuff becomes a chore, and all the more so when your defense pretty much depends on killing stuff before it kills you.

And weapon upgrades were in very short supply.  I didn’t get my first weapon upgrade until I was already level 7 and it was taking 10 hits or more with my primary attack to kill random mobs.  Fortunately the game relented literally one room away from the Butcher.  It wasn’t a huge upgrade, but it was better than the no-stats, 3.0 DPS gray starter axe I had been swinging up until then.

Sigwerd versus the Butcher

Sigwerd versus the Butcher

I thought perhaps the game had relented at that point, but I was wrong.  The game seemed keen to keep me on the hair edge of viable gear.  The fight with the Skeleton King was especially taxing as I was several levels up but was still chopping away with the same axe I had against the Butcher.  With the mass of skeletons the Skeleton King has with him… and he summons more the longer the fight goes… the battle went on for several minutes with me kiting him about, clearing his helpers, and running after health globes that the game seemed as tight-fisted with as it did gear drops.  I came away victorious, but it was some work.

By this point I had also noticed a problem with health potions.  They didn’t seem to be working reliably.  If I was in combat and clicking then hit Q for a potion, the timer for the next potion would start, but I wouldn’t get healed.  I had to make sure I wasn’t clicking or hitting any other controls before I hit Q to get that critical heal.

Down I went, level by level, always hungry for a gear update, but the game seemed to want to keep me that way.  I got a very nice orange axe at one point that sustained me for quite a few levels, but eventually fell behind and left me beating on mobs for ages to slay them.

Around the 15th level of the dungeon I got my last weapon upgrade, a 60DPS 2-handed sword.  I didn’t mind laying aside my shield and going with that as I had not seen a buckler upgrade during the whole run so still had the wee level 1 buckler I started out with.  I was level 22 by that point.  And I finally got pants during the big fight to open up the portal to final level of the dungeon.  Up until that point I had gone pantsless.

I had also gotten the whirlwind skill for my Barbaian, a signature skill for dealing with rooms full of foes.  I got that setup on the right mouse button and headed into the final level, knowing that I would be facing rooms full of mobs.  And then I ran straight into the first full room on that level and promptly died.  The skill isn’t all powerful.

Up until that point I had been wondering if I should have gone heroic.  Wouldn’t that have been a pisser, having gotten all the way to the final level only to have to pack it in?

Instead I revived at the previous checkpoint, which was the portal into that level, so I could finish it up.  Having to start back without a full globe of fury meant taking it careful, which I should have done in the first place.   I cleared the first few rooms, unlocked Diablo, cleared off his helpers, then danced with him for a while, chipping away until he was finally defeated.

Diablo down

Diablo down

That finished up the event for me.  There are a couple more achievements left, but I am not sure I want to hang about re-running the whole thing until I slay every single possible named mob that can spawn.  I saw the place, I got the pet, I had a bit of a challenge, I think I might be set.

I am still not feeling the full rush of nostalgic enthusiasm I thought I might for this event.  Putting it in Adventure mode in the game meant you could run it with any character you had, which was convenient.  But it also marked it as just some additional content.  There isn’t any real story around the event like there was back in the day, just the achievements and an in-game goal to slay Diablo.  I am not sure this will be a big drawn as a yearly month-long event unless Blizzard drops in more rewards/achievements.

This also makes me think about any potential plans Blizzard might have for Diablo II.  Some time back there was an indication Blizzard was hiring to convert/create HD versions of Diablo II, Warcraft III, and StarCraft.  That still sounds like the best plan to me for Diablo II.

Would You Rather Fight Than Switch?

We got all sorts of new information about the upcoming Nintendo Switch console yesterday including price ($300), launch date (March 3rd), region locking (none), and that you can pre-order RIGHT NOW!

And of course there will be Mario Kart

And of course there will be Mario Kart

Every gaming news sight worth that title has some sort of story up about Nintendo’s new console today, with more to follow as demos commence.  This is the moment we have been waiting for since the initial announcement back in October.

I have to admit I like the Switch on paper at least.  I like the size, the light weight design, the mobility, and the built-in screen that makes it a portable.  The latter is important in a one TV household.

Oddly, one feature that drew my attention is the ability to take a screen shot of game play.  As a blogger who charts his gaming journey through his writing, the ability to set a scene with a screen shot rather than the MS Paint that are my words has direct appeal.  Not sure that is a tipping point level feature, but it is interesting.

And then there is the price.  $300 seems like a good compromise price.  I think at $250 it would be a no-brainer purchase for people and that at the $350 mark that was rumored just before the announcement the Switch started to creep too close to XBox and PS4 territory so that you might have to start considering is games exclusive to the Switch would be worth the commitment.  But at $300 it is just far enough away that it can fall into the impulse purchase zone for some.

On the flip side, I am not really a console gamer.  We got a Wii back in 2007 and I picked up a PlayStation 3 in 2011 after the prices had gone way down.  The Wii got a LOT of play at our house.  My daughter and I used to play games on the Wii every weekend for hours and hours.

However, my daughter was 5 years old when we got the Wii and would wake me up early on Saturday morning so we could start playing.  Now she is 15, I am not sure she has seen a Saturday morning before 10am lately, and if she wants me to do anything with her on the weekend it is to teach her to drive so she can get her license in a year.

Meanwhile the PlayStation 3 has been mostly a video playing device since we bought it.  My daughter did enjoy Little Big Planet, but after that wore off it has been more about Netflix and Amazon Prime.  We could replace it with a Roku box if it wasn’t for the fact that it is also our Blu-Ray player.

And the last console I owned before those two was a SEGA Genesis back in 1992.  And the console before that was an Atari 2600 way back in 1977.  I’ve been a PC gamer since 1983 and online since 1986.  I never had a NES or a SNES or an N64, so lack any Mario nostalgia.  My Nintendo franchise of choice is Pokemon, which probably explains why we have more DS series handhelds (2x DS Lite, 1x DSi, 1x DSi XL, 2x 3DS XL) sitting around the house than the count of living room consoles systems I have ever owned.

So for me, while I like the idea of the Switch, I haven’t seen anything compelling that makes me want to run out and pre-order today.  $300 isn’t a bad price, but that same $300 would go a long ways towards replacing my 14 year old Dell 1600×1200 monitor with something bigger and better, which would have a much greater impact on my gaming… and would probably also require me to upgrade my video card.

That is where I stand.  I like the Switch.  At this point in time, if I was going to buy a living room console, the Switch would be a serious contender.  But there isn’t enough there yet to make it an automatic purchase.  It seems fresher than the Sony and Microsoft offerings, but it isn’t as magical as the Wii seemed back in 2006.

How about you and the Switch?  Any interest?  Time for a poll?

If the poll above doesn’t appear for you, there are always the comments below.

Falling Back in Catch

CCP is going to try to fix the 4-07 system in 10 minutes. You will be booted. get safe

-Ping from last night

I had the flu… or a cold… or whatever the mucus based eldritch horror that was going around the office was… last week and through the weekend which, among other things, altered my video game activities.  So while there has been a war going on in Catch, of which I wrote previously, I haven’t had the wherewithal to go out on fleet ops.  Instead I have been playing things that are… interruptible… or which at least don’t require a three hour window of time.

I think I spent most of Saturday either napping or slumped sideways at my computer playing Minecraft and listening to an audio book, and that was done in part just to be upright so things would drain.

But the war has gone on without me.  Over at The Nosy Gamer there have been some regular updates as to changes in sovereignty and such, mostly collected under the Winter War 2017 tag.  Stuff has happened, including some awkward stuff.

As noted in a post over at Imperium News, a tackle on a TEST Leviathan was offset when an Imperium Ragnarok pilot hit “jump” instead of “bridge,” the classic bridging titan screw up, giving both sides a titan kill for the evening.

Picture source: unknown

Picture source: unknown

The evening’s fun was further complicated when Imperium forces went to extract their capital forces only to find that Against All Authorities, an absentee (and long standing anti-Goon) part of the Stainwagon Coalition, had put up a cyno jamming array in HY-RWO, a system which we had been using as a waypoint for capital operations.  We had to pile in some dreadnoughts to blow up this new bit of system infrastructure as we couldn’t get anybody from AAA to respond.

This led to a quick fireside chat yesterday where The Mittani explained the situation and that our response was going to be to pull back away from AAA’s territory and back towards Querious to cover the approaches there.  The whole thing was summed up in a modified piece of a comic from The Oatmeal which even The Mittani tweeted out as a representation of what happened.

Nope!

Nope!

We were no longer going to stage in central Catch and AAA could lose all their space.  Capitals would fall back to the gates of Qeurious while subcaps would be heading home.  So when I was finally feeling well enough for fleet ops again it was time to pack up my subcaps and head back to Delve.

So it was time to get myself setup for the return.  I had three ships to move and only two pilots.

Asher solved the extra ship problem by offering up space in his titan to Reavers, so I was able to hand over the Cerberus for him to carry back.  He also carried it out for me and I never actually flew it during the deployment.

The Cerb secured, I got myself setup in the Guradian I had in EX6-AO, loaded it up with anything I left in the citadel, and then logged in my alt so he could fly my Scimitar back with the move op fleet.

Only I had forgotten that he had not set his death clone of EX6, so when he got blown up back at the Fortizar battle in F4R2-Q, he ended up back in Delve.  I hadn’t bothered to get him back out to Catch and now the move op was about an hour away.  It was time to get him moving.  But how to get him out there without ending up with yet another ship to move back and without building up too much jump fatigue?

I realized that he still had a Clownshoe fit Sigil, the Amarr industrial we were using (along with the Nereus) as very annoying entosis ships back during the Casino War.  The Sigil warps fast, has a huge tank with a lot of passive regen in the Clownshoe fit, and would reduce any jump fatigue by 90%.  So I stripped out any excess modules and cargo, including the entosis module and all the stront, and headed off to the system with the jump bridge.

The Sigil proved its worth as I managed to get past a Pandemic Legion gate camp in T5ZI-S consisting of a Taranis, a Sabre, and a Kirin, along with several drag bubbles, that I managed to blunder into and escape from… though I am not sure if that is an endorsement of the Sigil or a rebuke of the gate camp’s competence.  They chased me to the jump bridge system but I kept out of their reach.

Once there I flew to the last system in Querious, parked the Sigil in the citadel there, installed a jump clone, and then docked up in the station in the system, which caused Pend Insurance to issue me an Ibis because I was docking in a station and had no ship available.  Free corvettes are still a thing you don’t get in citadels.

From there I flew the dozen jumps to EX6-AO successfully, avoiding a couple neutrals and a trio of CO2 interceptors, a Taranis, a Raptor, and another one I forget at the moment, one of which will come into play later in this narrative.

Happily at my destination, I docked up in the Fortizar, handed over the Scimitar to my alt, and waited for the move op to begin.

Once it got pinged I joined up.  Due to the usual confusion where at least 10% of any group never sees the ping or gets the instructions passed to them, the fleet filled up and there were lots of questions about moving caps.  That eventually led to us undocking and covering the gate to HY-RWO so a bunch of capitals could come to EX6 and either use the Fortizar there or jump to 4-07MU where another Fortizar was available.

Of course, it was about that time that a ping went out to indicate that there were problems in 4-07MU.  People in the Fortizar were having strange issues, couldn’t undock, had problems with modules, and other ailments.  Anybody jumping to the system was advised not to dock at the Fortizar, though tethering was okay, while people at the coalition level started trying to find somebody from CCP to look at the problem.  There was also a report on intel about TEST moving a capital fleet at about that time, an opportunity that passed because key people were stuck in the broken Fortizar.  Or so I heard.

After covering the caps, we moved off on our way back to Delve, out destination being 4-07MU.  That coincided with an update that CCP was going to bring 4-07MU down and back up again, which was broadcast as the ping at the top of this post.  Our estimated time of arrival at 4-07MU was going to coincide with that because or course it did.  Later The Mittani was on our coms and heard about that, among many other odd turns of event, and thought maybe we should give up on any current names and just call the whole thing “Murphy’s War” after the well known law that seems to govern, among other things, life in New Eden.

Otherwise though, it was a move op.  A slow move op, with battleships in tow, so we were limited to warping a 2.0 AU/sec, but a move op.  Jump through the gate, align to the next gate, wait for the fleet warp, do it all again.

The fleet ball warping yet again

The fleet ball warping yet again

But every op needs “that guy” who becomes the comedy star of the show.  It has been me on past occasions.  That night it was Parvulus Dei from the corp Into the Fray.

As we were moving along he called out on coms that he had made a mistake a jump or two back and had accidentally warp to the sun in his Rokh.  While there he reported that he had been tackled by a Probe, which is the Minmatar tech I scanning frigate.

Questions abounded about how he had managed this feat and Asher told him that since we had moved on he was on his own unless somebody in a small ship wanted to run back and save him.  We moved on our slow way while getting updates from him and from a couple of people who decided to run back and give him a hand.

After a chunk of time had passed… much more time that one would imagine would be needed to notice this… Parvulus Dei amended his status to indicate that he had, in fact, been tackled by a Taranis, a Gallente interceptor, and a considerably different ship in almost all regards.  This just made laughter and speculation swell on coms as people tried to figure out how one could mistake a Probe for a Taranis.  One guess was that he saw a combat probe on his overview, another was that the ship was named “Probe,” but I cannot recall if we ever got a definitive answer on this.

Help did reach him in time and the Probe-Taranis was blown up.  It turned out to be one of the CO2 interceptors I had seen coming out and had duly reported on the intel channel, complete with names and ship types, as being in that very system.  I don’t know what happened to the other two.

For the rest of the fleet there were ongoing jokes referencing Parvulus Dei and his side trip.  He caught up with us around the 4-07MU gate, where we had to wait as we did, in fact, arrive just as CCP took the system down.  Parvulus took this all very well and spoke up when somebody wanted to know who this had happened to and so on.  The only way to deal with being “that guy” is to just roll with it until it wears out.

Once we heard that the 4-07MU system was back up we did the prudent thing and just sent a couple of ships in to make sure it was working okay.

Hah hah!  No we didn’t, we shoved the whole 250 person fleet through the gate as soon as we possibly could before wondering whether or not that was really a good idea.

As it turned out, everything was fine.  We headed off to Querious and the jump bridge that would land us a couple of gates from home.  Along the way we drove off a gate camp with a few bubbles trying to catch people coming back solo.  After that we took the last gate, docked up in the Keepstar and called it “Op Success!”  Asher even gave us a PAP, which after getting 11 from him already this month seemed like a bit much, but maybe they hadn’t rained so generously on others.

Now I just have to go back and pick up that Sigil at some point.

YC119.1 Update Deployed Successfully

Changes were made and the update was deployed and the world kept on turning.

This time for sure!

This time for sure!

That last bit is quite literally so, as you will find this item in the patch notes:

Astro-Oil has been diligently applied to the rotational axes of temperate planets, allowing them to once again rotate freely.

No doubt some new religious sect has spawned somewhere in Amarr space based on this and some new tract will include a passage similar to Joshua 10:13.

As I noted on Tuesday when the patch had to be rolled back, there isn’t much in the way of new features in the drop.  It is mostly fixes and adjustments, which is fine.  I doubt anybody is going to claim there are not things in New Eden that need fixing or adjustment.  The updates page adds in a couple of SKIN lines that will be available in the New Eden Store at a later date, including the Nova SKINs for Mordu’s Legion ships.

Hot Surface Warning Markings on Mordu's Frying Pan

Hot Surface Warning Markings on Mordu’s Frying Pan

And then there is a song, because there is always a song.

I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever

In which I finally get a post I started on about two years ago out of my drafts folder.

Five years ago we picked up an iPad 2 after Christmas with some gift cards and a bit of cash we had around the house.  The iPad was a luxury good in my opinion, not something we needed, so I wasn’t going to pull money out of the budget for one but my wife, ever the clever shopper, pointed out how we could get one without touching any of our accounts, so we went out and got one.

While it was supposed to be a device for the whole family… and I did try to share… I quickly became its primary user.

Everyone in the house has played with my iPad

I even got an app for the cats

A lot of games have come and gone on the old iPad over the last five years, but three seem to have stuck through the whole time; Ticket to Ride, DragonVale, and Candy Crush Saga.

Ticket to Ride is an example of a board game translated to the tablet just right and remains a joy to play through to this day.  I own it and all its expansions. (I still think the Windows version is crap by comparison.)

DragonVale is something my daughter wanted to play.  But then I started helping her with it, eventually becoming the sole person interested in this little “breed and collect” game.  At some point I will do a post about how this game has evolved over the last five years and how it should be a model for others who follow.

And then there is Candy Crush Saga, a horrible game from a horrible company… they literally took another company’s game, made their own version with slightly better visuals and a new name, and then, at some later point, actually tried to suppress the game they copied… that I downloaded just to see what all the fuss was about.

The game itself actually isn’t all that horrible.  It is just another minor variation in the long tradition of tile matching games that stretches back to the early days of the computer age.  Once we all had color monitors, we started matching colors to score.  And the game is actually well put together, stable, colorful, and all the things that make for success.

The horrible bit is the business model.  And the company that made it… mustn’t forget King.com, now part of the happy Activision-Blizzard family.

Candy Crush Saga uses every marginally ethical trick in the free to play book to get people to spend money on it, or at least get people to annoy their friends about it.  It is the true spiritual successor to FarmVille in my mind.  The key barrier to playing are time gates.  You only get five plays, and a play gets used up if you fail on a level.  They regenerate at a rate of one every 30 minutes, so if you’re facing a hard level.  And then, once you hit the end of a 15 level segment, you hit the 72 hour wait gate.

Pay us, bug friends, or wait...

Pay us, bug friends, or wait…

Oddly, what Candy Crush does with time gates is not radically different than what DragonVale does.  The latter has its own time gates that you can buy your way through.  However, their aggressive application differs just enough that one annoys me and one doesn’t bother me at all.

Anyway, because of their business model I made it a goal to beat the game without spending any money on it ever.

Back when I picked up Candy Crush Saga on the iPad, there was some debate as to whether or not the game was tilted to force you to pay in order to advance that far or not.  There were all sorts of hurdles and timers and levels where random chance had to fall your way to keep you from progressing.  But was that enough to deter people and make them pay?

King said it was not, pointing out that 70% of players who had gotten to the then top level, 355, had not paid them any money.  You could beat the game without paying!

Later, as the game went on King was saying that 60% of players that had beaten the game by reaching the cap, which was then level 455, had not ponied for the privilege.

With recent iOS updates for Candy Crush Saga the level count has moved past the 2,000 mark.  New levels get added regularly, I have to hand them that.  But the ability to beat the game gets harder with each new 15 level segment they add.  I mean, if you don’t pay.  I could get to the top level in an afternoon with an unlimited budget.

So King has long since stopped talking about how many people beat the game for free… I am going to guess that the percentage has continued to dwindle as the levels have increased… instead focusing on the percentage of players who chose to pay, a number that I saw reported at about 2.3%.  So 97.7% of people who play do not pay, depending on that thin slice to fork out over $20 a month on average to keep things going.

That is your free to play market place right there.  It seems to work for some companies.

My own progress towards beating the game, getting to the top level, started to lag behind.  Without spending any money the time gates and super hard levels start to hold you back.  I spent three weeks on a single level at one point, during which I think King added 30 levels to the game.  Yet I persisted.  Once I am on a quest I do tend to hang on.

However, a final problem arose.  For Christmas my wife got me a new iPad, and 32MB iPad Air 2, bringing me somewhat up to date on the iOS hardware scene.  The upgrade was due, the old iPad 2 was struggling to keep up with new apps and had developed a memory fault that caused apps to crash when they queued too much data.  So I backed it up and restored everything to the new iPad Air 2, then wiped the old one and started it up fresh as just a viewer for Netflix and Amazon Prime videos, where it still seems to be able to hold its own.

And everything ran great on the new unit.  I am quite happy with it.  However, there was one issue.  All of my progress on Candy Crush Saga was lost.  Unlike every other app on the old iPad, it didn’t store its data in a way that let me move is across to the new unit, even though it was the same Game Center ID.

So that led to a dual moment, the feeling that my quest was over before it could be fulfilled and a sense of being released from a minor obsession.  Because I was not going to start over again.

So I can report that I made it nearly to level 700.  I took screen shots now and again to mark my progress, the last one being at level 680.  I made it beyond that, but pics or it didn’t happen I guess.

Last point recorded

Last point recorded… waiting for that 72 hour timer

So we’re done with that.  Meanwhile, Candy Crush Saga continues its tenure on the top revenue generating iOS apps, and King.com keeps adding levels to make sure it stays there.  They pretty much have to since, again in the Zynga mold, they haven’t been able to remake their success through remaking the same game over and over again.

YC119.1 Update Recalled, YC118.10 Rolled Back to New Eden

Today was patch day for EVE Online, and we were supposed to get the first update of 2017, or YC119 as it is styled in the distant future of internet spaceships.

The actual official patch graphic

The actual official patch graphic

However, according to an update from CCP, the code deployed with the update was problematic.

Due to an issue with the 119.1 release which resulted in server stability issues after its deployment, we will be re-deploying the 118.10 release while we work on a fix.

This led to an extended downtime as 118.10 was restored to Tranquility.  TQ was initially taken down just before 12:00 UTC when problems were first noticed, with the roll back being completed, with the server cluster eventually back online for players as of 13:15 UTC according to the forum update.

CCP did not say exactly what caused the instability and nothing in the YC119.1 patch notes jumps out at me as a likely suspect, the update seeming to be mostly adjustments to current features as opposed to anything new.  Maybe is was those Mordu’s Legion SKINs listed on the updates page.  We haven’t had a patch day failure in ages.

So the patch has been pushed back while CCP figures out what went awry.  We can still listen to the launch theme, which carries the now mildly ironic title, “The Ones We Left Behind.”

 

Daybreak Doomsaying

Since the announcement last week that Daybreak would be shutting down Landmark, there has been quite the hum of doom and gloom and wondering what other titles in their catalog might be headed for the chop.  Over at Massively OP they turned this into two posts, one asking if you’re worried about any Daybreak titles and then a poll as to which game people think is next.

It follows you as you move about the room!

It is watching you

The articles themselves are not big thrills, but the comment sections of both are rife with wild speculation and what I would consider unfounded and counter-factual claims.  All of that got me to mentally stack ranking the titles based on what I perceive as their viability based on what we can all see in the news and the occasional rumor that has come my way.

Given that, here is my list, from least to most vulnerable.

EverQuest – Bedrock

Emotionally I am tempted to say that SOE/Daybreak without EverQuest is a ship without a rudder.  EQ is the cornerstone on which the empire was built, so widely popular and wildly profitable in the days before World of Warcraft, it spawned a port, a sequel, two false starts at a second sequel, and likely represents the most valuable IP the company holds.

Also, a lot of people still play it.  And they pay to play it.  Two of the three most popular servers require Daybreak All Access subscriptions.  Every time Daybreak stands up a nostalgia server it gets swamped, to the point that they had to write a login queue and take the zone instancing tech from EverQuest II in order to keep from having to put up overflow servers.  And as the pre-WoW subscription champ, it has a lot of former players to pitch nostalgia at.

And it isn’t just nostalgia.  The game still gets an expansion every year, which is something you don’t bother doing if people aren’t buying enough copies.  Expansions would have to stop before I would consider the game was closer than five years from being shut down.

DC Universe Online – Profit

This is sort of a blank spot for me.  I don’t play the game, not liking it on Windows.  However I have heard, throughout its life, that it is profitable… at least on PlayStation, where at one point Smed said it generated more revenue that any other F2P option on that platform.

It is also unencumbered by Station Cash/Daybreak Cash, at least on consoles, which makes its accounting all the more simple.  And DCUO is the only game to actually expand during the Daybreak era, having been ported to XBox.  I have heard that did not go as well as it could have, but a game has to be doing okay to expand its base.

EverQuest II – Stalwart

The other game that gets people to subscribe to Daybreak Access.  Never the star and not as successful selling nostalgia as its older brother, EQII still has a solid following.  It must have been doing okay for a long stretch, as it seemed to be the focus of SOE’s oddball science experiments with things like SOEmote.  And, of course, it does get an expansion every year, which I think marks it as pretty safe for the near future.

Still, I can’t mark it as solid as EQ, and I roll my eyes every time somebody in the comment sections assumes that it has many more subscribers than EQ merely because of their relative ages.  EQII also remains the one Daybreak game I play regularly so, strictly speaking, I am not even picking my favorite as safest.

H1Z1: King of the Kill – Wunderkind

I hesitated to put this below EQII as it is Daybreak’s darling, the star of Twitch, and is getting its own currency in order to break it free of the burden that is Station Cash.  But it is the new kid as well, so that decided the ordering.  Safe so long as it remains popular, it seems to be getting all the development resources when it comes to the H1Z1 duo.

PlanetSide 2 – Struggling

The favored child of former Chairman Smed, the seemingly simple sequel to the original PlanetSide has had a whole host of issues over the course of its career.  It managed to get all the aim-bot and hacking problems of its predecessor while not having as much draw as $60 shooters like Call of Duty.

The executive creative director said the game was “really struggling” a little over a year ago, unable to get people to subscribe to Daybreak All Access just to play.  The game has been shut down in South Korea and China, hasn’t come close to Smed’s old feature list, and there hasn’t been much in the way of news about the game, a danger sign at a company where silence leads to closure.

H1Z1: Just Survive – No News is Bad News

Not done, not loved, and not very high in the queue for resource, Just Survive doesn’t need a blood red mark the size of a doubloon on its cheek to cement its position at the bottom of the safety list.  SOE/Daybreak have a long tradition of neglecting titles, failing to mention them, promising some news “soon” in the run up to the point that they are canned.

Not a bad game, this base building zombie survival variation, but you have to play with a regular group on a server where there are other players but where you are not overwhelmed.  But if somebody at Columbus Nova showed up and said that their research indicates that Daybreak should only have five games, I have no doubt this is what would get cut.

Not Candidates

I keep seeing Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online come up as doomed in the dystopian  Daybreak future.  However, while we still don’t know the full extent of the relationship between Daybreak and Standing Stone Games, I doubt the team in San Diego is going to be able to shutter either title of their own accord.

Furthermore, WB isn’t spinning those games off out of the goodness of its heart and a love of the player base.  WB expects to get paid over time, and it wouldn’t have bothered setting them up as an license revenue income source if it didn’t think it would at least pay back the lawyers fees needed to setup Standing Stone.

When?

While I may have picked H1Z1: Just Survive as candidate for closure in my 2017 predictions post, I don’t think we’re going to hear anything about the game for a while, if we do hear bad news.  Its code connection with King of the Kill may be close enough still for it to get some attention.  Eventually though Daybreak will either need to do something with the game or stop wasting resources on it.  The more time that passes without any real change, the more likely it seems to me that closure will be the end result.

And then there is PlanetSide 2.  I am still stuck on that “really struggling” statement.  Then again, it is linked to King of the Kill in its code base and does seem to be getting some attention.  If Smed were still around I wouldn’t even consider PS2 for closure, as it was his baby.  Without him around and the harsh realities of being an “indie” studio nothing is strictly safe any more.

Anyway, that is my outsiders opinion on the subject.  We shall see what 2017 brings.