The Federal Trade Commission Sues to Block Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard

It has been nearly 11 months since Microsoft’s bombshell announcement about signing a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion dollars.

XBox plus Activision Blizzard equals something

Since then there has been rumblings that somebody in the US or EU might challenge the merger and… the rumblings turned out to be true as the US Federal Trade Commission announced their intent to sue to block the merger.

Among the FTC’s mandates is to oversee such mergers to assure that they do not lead to monopolistic anti-competitive situations or unduly harm consumers, something that they have been spectacularly bad/naive about my entire life.  See the T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint where literally every promise made by T-Mobile to keep the deal from being blocked by the FTC was broken.

It seems unlikely that Microsoft and Activision aren’t lying hard enough.  They have been out promising that the swath of games they will soon control will be allowed on platforms like PlayStation or Steam.  But the FTC isn’t buying Microsoft’s reassurances… like maybe there is a history of anti-competitive practices there… and stated in their press release:

With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers.

If we have learned anything over the years, it is that a corporation’s promises are worthless without contractual weight behind them… and Microsoft was clearly already aware of the FTC’s interest, announcing a deal to keep Call of Duty on the Switch just this week in an attempt to build a case for itself.

And yes, I am swinging hard against Microsoft so far in this post, but I am conflicted on the whole deal.

Microsoft is, by all reports, a much better place to work that Activision Blizzard and it might be good to have a major studio like ActiBlizz, which has been facing so many problems with the state of California, cleaned up, something that will never happen with the current ActiBlizz management in place.  Literally every c-level exec needs to be cast out before there to be any change, and there are probably a good number of VPs and directors that should be on the list as well.

Of course, part of my conflict is that the one person who drives the culture at ActiBlizz, Bobby Kotick, is also the person who will benefit the most from this merger.  If the merger goes through all his sins will be rewarded with dump trucks full of cash… but if the merger does not go through, then he’ll just remain obscenely over-compensated while beating down unions that are only being proposed because of poor working conditions and compensation.

As such, Kotick is keen to reassure people that the deal is going through.

I wanted to provide a brief update on our pending merger with Microsoft. This week the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its decision to challenge the deal. This means they will file a lawsuit to block the merger, and arguments will be heard by a judge.

This sounds alarming, so I want to reinforce my confidence that this deal will close. The allegation that this deal is anti-competitive doesn’t align with the facts, and we believe we’ll win this challenge.

As I may have suggested, facts are few and far between.  It is the potential for how the company could use the weight of its combined influence of XBox Live for PC and Console plus the titles like Call of Duty that they will control if this deal goes through.

So will the deal go through?

As much as I hate to agree with anything Bobby says, I strongly suspect the acquisition will be allowed.  In fact, I doubt the FTC has in mind any plan to actually stop the deal cold.  Instead, they will probably want some of the promises Microsoft is making to be legally mandated by an enforceable agreement, like not screwing over competing platforms by making all their titles exclusive to Microsoft channels, in order to acquiesce on the deal.

So that is my guess.  But we shall see.  A bit of a shake up in the status quo at least.  Something to distract us from whatever Elon Musk has been up to today.

Related:

The Mistlands go live in Valheim

The Mistlands biome has gone live for everybody in Valheim.

The Mistlands at last

Since Valheim launched back in February of 2021 to immediate and almost overwhelming success, we have kind of been waiting for more biomes.  I mean, it took our group some time to get through the initial set that came with the launch, but eventually we hit the plains, which was the end of the road for advancement in the game.

Which is not to say that the game hasn’t improved since launch.  There have been a ton of updates, enough that another play through by our group earlier this year felt fresh, as opposed to being a repeat of what we had done already.  But we still ended up in the plains without next destination.

And you can’t satisfy Odin’s bloodlust and earn your way into Valhalla without some more of his forsaken to vanquish.  The wait for the Mistlands continued.

Then, late last month, we go news that the new Mistlands biome was available for testing.  And that gave people hope, but how long would testing last?  What is the timeline for a content beta for an early access game?

Two weeks I guess, because on Tuesday the developers announced that theMistlands were generally available.

Gather your friends and gear up, for it’s time to embark on the voyage to the Mistlands! We have worked hard on this update for the past nine months now, and we’re so happy to finally be able to share it with all of you.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has participated in the Public Test period for this update, as your feedback has been very helpful. Given that Valheim is in Early Access some things are still subject to change, of course, but right now we feel assured that the Mistlands update is stable and ready for all of you.

An important thing to note is that the Mistlands biome will only generate in areas you have not yet discovered. Therefore, if you have explored a lot of your world, you might be better off starting a new one in order to actually be able to travel to the Mistlands. As per usual, mods will also most likely cause the game not to launch, as they are only compatible with the latest Live version of the game. If you have mods, you will either need to remove them or wait for the mod to be updated before you can play.

The Mistlands have arrived!

Of course, the big caveat it that announcement is the whole map generation thing.  If you went and explored your current world thoroughly, as we did with our first world, you might be out of luck.  But starting a new world isn’t a horrible penalty, unless you’ve invested as heavily in building as you did in exploration.

There is a full set of patch notes available, split into spoilers and no spoilers sections.  The spoiler free patch notes give the high level sketch of what the update adds.

  • New biome – Mistlands:
  • New mechanics
    • 9 new creatures + Mistlands boss
    • More than 20 new crafting materials
    • new crafting stations
    • 3 crafting station extensions
    • 3 other resource/crafting constructions
    • 15 new food items
    • 3 new potions
    • More than 25 new craftable items (weapons, armours & tools)
    • More than 35 new building/furniture pieces for building, decorating and defending your base
    • New type of dungeon
    • New lore stones
    • New dreams
    • New music
  • Misc:
    • Fishing update
    • 12 new emotes
    • 9 new hairstyles and 7 new beard styles
    • Enabled Yule seasonal items (Yule tree, Yuleklapp, Yule wreath, Yule garland and Mistletoe
  • Fixes & Improvements:
    • Various console command improvements
    • Multiple animations have been updated and improved
    • Multiple VFX have been updated and improved
    • Various other tweaks

The full patch notes go into the gritty details, though I am not sure all of it really counts as spoilers.  The drop from killing the plains boss, Yagluth, for example, is now something else.

As for our world… we made an effort to not explore too far and wide.  At one point, while sailing, I was alerted that I was approaching the Mistlands, so I probably ruined that location, but otherwise we might be able to return without a restart.  We will have to see when the mood strikes the group.

And, of course, somebody will burn through the Mistlands this weekend I am sure and then will be waiting for the next two biomes, the Deep North and the Ashlands.  The waiting will continue and we had better be careful about not exploring too widely all the same.

The November EVE Online Monthly Economic Report Featuring Uprising and Free Omega Time

We got the November Monthly Economic Report for EVE Online on Friday, and it is an interesting one as it covers the scope of both the Uprising expansion that landed in November, but also some of the additional things CCP has done promote the expansion, such as giving out 7 days of free Omega time and changing up how referrals work.

EVE Online nerds harder

And because I can’t wait to get to the big topic this time around, I am going to break with my usual order once more and go straight to ISK faucets.

ISK Faucets

What happens when you have a big expansion that brings people back and some free Omega time and when you are suddenly allowed to retroactively recruit your own accounts to collect the bonuses and you hand out skill points like candy as part of login rewards?

Well, first off, a lot more people log into to game.  We have seen a very obvious increase in players in New Eden.  After the long down stretch that came after the price increase, when the peak concurrent player count struggled to close in on 25K characters we suddenly saw days where the game peaked past the 30K mark.

And with all those accounts, some of which were previously dormant, suddenly counted as active again, the money supply goes up.

November 2022 – Money Supply

How do I know that isn’t, for example, null sec running amok because CCP fixed NPC bounties to get more people out ratting?

Well, the fact that corporation ISK holdings didn’t go up is a pretty good sign.  But I like this sign better because it is more obvious.

November 2022 ISK balance

Yes, more ISK came into the game from faucets, up from the 114 trillion ISK in October, but the key item here is the Active ISK Delta.  That number has been negative for so many months in a row that I cannot recall the last time it was a positive value.

Active ISK Delta is ISK being removed from the economy either by players being inactive or through GM action.  But in November so many people came back to the game that the ISK accounts of those returning players swamped whatever GMs took out of the game and swelled the total active ISK by almost 75 trillion.

For October, as an example, the Active ISK Delta was -50 trillion ISK.

(Also, the end value for last month doesn’t line up with the start value for this month… again.. but what is a couple trillion ISK between friends I guess?)

So 211 trillion ISK arrived or went active in the New Eden economy in November.  I’ll go over the faucets first, then when we get to Trade we’ll have a peek at what all that ISK was up to.

November 2022 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

As usual, for those who cannot read those tiny numbers:

  • Commodity – 50 trillion (up 3.1 trillion)
  • Bounty Prizes – 33.9 trillion (up 10.4 trillion)
  • ESS Bounty Payouts – 17.3 trillion (up 6.9 trillion)
  • Trig Invasion Payouts – 15.4 trillion (up 0.7 trillion)
  • Incursion Payouts – 11.1 trillion (up 0.4 trillion)
  • Agent Mission Rewards 3.5 trillion (up 0.3 trillion)

Everything was up.  Commodities remained the single biggest category, but since Bounty Prizes and ESS Payouts are linked activities in null sec, and those two together add up to 51.2 trillion ISK, it looks like ratting is back in business.  The changes to the dynamic bounty system had a tangible impact.  More people were back and earning ISK, but ratting looks like it was up well beyond that.

You can see it on the faucets over time chart.

November 2022 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

That is a pretty obvious spike for that dark blue line.  Total NPC bounty and ESS payouts combined to a total of… well, the big chart says 51.2 trillion ISK, but the regional data says it is 44.8 trillion ISK, up from 31.8 trillion in October.  But the charts never quite line up.  They didn’t last month and they probably won’t next month.

According to the regional data, here are the top ten regions for NPC bounties:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 5.71 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 3.28 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Perrigen Falls – 3.14 trillion (PanFam)
  4. Fountain – 2.54 trillion (Imperium)
  5. The Kalevala Expanse – 2.11 trillion (PanFam)
  6. Querious – 2.07 trillion (Imperium)
  7. Tribute – 1.71 trillion (Fraternity)
  8. Malpais – 1.36 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Period Basis – 1.31 trillion (Imperium)
  10. Deklein – 1.18 trillion (Fraternity)

Look at that, three of the big power blocks in null sec, Fraternity, PanFam, and the Imperium, all look to be bulking up their ISK wallets, no doubt with an eye towards future conflicts.

Not that commodities were completely slacking off.  They were a close second, with the following in the running.

November 2022 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

The data for that chart shows the following breakout totals for November:

  1. Sleeper Components 21.44 trillion
  2. Overseer Personal Effects 9.47 trillion
  3. Triglavian Data 6.10 trillion
  4. Bounty Encrypted Bonds 7.55 trillion
  5. Miscellaneous 2.87 trillion
  6. Rogue Drone Analysis Data 2.21 trillion

That totals up to 49 trillion and change, or pretty much all of the 50 trillion declared on the main faucets chart.

Trade

This is very much related to CCP turning on the ISK tap though bounties and newly active accounts.  If things aren’t fun and active, dumping 114 trillion ISK into the economy could really flatten out something like the velocity of ISK.  The more ISK in the system, the more that needs to change hands in order for velocity to remain constant.  So what does that chart say?

November 2022 – Velocity of ISK

Hey, velocity actually went up, and not just for PLEX related transactions.  You can see that red line, which is sans PLEX and contracts, took a jump on its own.  Not as big as the PLEX jump, but the market was clearly more active in the presence of more ISK.  Imagine that.

According to the regional stats, trade in November totaled 683 trillion ISK, way up from the 559 trillion ISK reported in October.  People were out there in the market buying and selling.  The top regions for trade in November were:

  1. The Forge – 506 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 42.54 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Lonetrek – 20.44 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Delve – 18.29 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Sinq Laison – 15.53 trillion (Dodixie)
  6. Perrigen Falls – 11.81 trillion (PanFam)
  7. Metropolis – 11.13 trillion (Hek)
  8. Heimatar – 8.84 trillion (Rens)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 5.66 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. Essence – 4.49 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

Nearly 3 in every 4 ISK exchanged did so in The Forge, home of Jita and the Tranquility Trading Tower in Perimeter.

Surprisingly, all that ISK did not cause the price of PLEX to go up in November… or, at least it didn’t spike like it did during that sale in September.

Production

Related via demand is production.

November 2022 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

That red line shows production going up as the month carried on.  The data for that chart shows that 94.53 trillion in ISK value was produced in November, up from 82.14 trillion in October.

The regional stats but the number at 138.28 trillion in ISK value produced, up from 113.93 trillion in October.  So up either way.

The top ten producing regions were:

  1. The Forge – 24.62 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 14.85 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Vale of the Silent – 13.76 trillion (Fraternity)
  4. Lonetrek – 7.4 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Heimatar – 6.14 trillion (High Sec)
  6. The Citadel – 6.1 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Cloud Ring – 4.88 trillion (BL0B and Shadow Ultimatum)
  8. Fountain – 4.51 trillion (Imperium)
  9. Perrigen Falls – 4.15 trillion (PanFam)
  10. Tribute – 3.83 trillion (Fraternity)

Again, feeding Jita kept production in the three adjacent regions going.  I will have to change the identifier for Cloud Ring if it makes the list in December as Shadow Ultimatum has joined the Imperium as a candidate alliance.

Mining

As with the previous categories, mining was up as well.  The produced, mined, destroyed graph data puts mining value at 23.97 trillion, up from 19.32 trillion in October.

The regional stats put the numbers at 20.25 trillion ISK in value, up from 16.48 trillion in October.  The top regions were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 979 billion (Fraternity)
  2. The Kalevala Expanse – 950 billion (PanFam)
  3. Delve – 929 billion (Imperium)
  4. The Forge – 769 billion (High Sec)
  5. Metropolis – 758 billion (High Sec)
  6. Domain – 743 billion (High Sec)
  7. Malpais – 708 billion (PanFam)
  8. Perrigen Falls – 698 billion (PanFam)
  9. Lonetrek – 680 billion (High Sec)
  10. Sinq Laison – 640 billion (High Sec)

With all that mining though, the price of minerals continues to climb.

November 2022 – Economic Indices

The mineral price index continued its ascent, climbing ever closer to a new all-time high.

This is reported to largely be due to a shortfall in minerals that are restricted to low sec asteroids, and isogen in particular.  Just a year ago isogen was going for around 100 ISK per unit, now it is past the 500 ISK per unit mark.

Apparently that is insufficient financial incentive to go mine in low sec.  If you go alone or in a small group you’ll get blown up for sure, and if you go in large group… Snuffed Out will drop on you with the same result.

November 2022 – Mining by Security Band

So while low sec’s percentage of the mining effort has grown, it still isn’t enough to meet the demands of New Eden.

In response to this, CCP has announced that a new mechanic is coming to help alleviate the mineral shortfall and keep us from having to go get blown up constantly in low sec.  We shall see how this plays out.  It does also reduce moon mining output, which might make T2 moon goo more expensive eventually… but people have now been piling that up for a year, so there are stockpiles to burn through before we get there.

Addendum: Some further details on this plan.

Destruction

All of that economic stuff is great, but unless it enables us to blow stuff up, what good is it?

Fortunately, more people and more money seemed to also lead to at least slightly more ships blowing up.  The produced, mined, destroyed chart data showed 31.96 trillion ISK in destruction, up from 30 trillion in October.

The regional data also showed a mild rise, totalling to 32.01 trillion ISK in value, up slightly from 30.99 trillion ISK in October.  The top regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 2.06 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Pochven – 1.61 trillion (Triglavian)
  3. Delve – 1.4 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Lonetrek – 1.4 trillion (High Sec)
  5. The Citadel 1.4 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Vale of the Silent – 1.31 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. Pure Blind – 1.16 trillion (Brave/V0LTA)
  8. Sinq Laison – 1.02 trillion (High Sec)
  9. Placid – 1 trillion (Low Sec)
  10. Metropolis – 964 billion (High Sec)

Meanwhile, the security band chart shows

November 2022 – Destruction by Security Band

I would have expected a bit more of an increase in the low sec band given the expansion was largely focused on faction warfare.  But maybe my very limited experience with FW has me believing it is all about blowing things up.

Loyalty Points

Finally, from the regional stats, another look at loyalty point earning.

A total of 9,654,442,272 loyalty points were earned in November, up a bit from the 9,473,307,417 collected in October.

The key regions were:

  1. Venal – 1,647,891,942 (NPC Null – Gurristas)
  2. Metropolis – 1,370,026,564 (High Sec)
  3. Lonetrek – 939,247,128 (High Sec)
  4. Placid – 928,298,329 (Low Sec)
  5. Stain – 525,324,197 (NPC Null – Sansha)
  6. Delve – 452,003,840 (Sov Null – Blood Raiders)
  7. Aridia – 327,702,373 (Low Sec)
  8. Pure Blind – 313,659,207 (Sov Null – SOE and Mordu’s Legion)
  9. Curse – 309,520,447 (NPC Null – Angel Cartel)
  10. The Forge – 278,744,569 (High Sec)

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, Venal is a key location for loyalty point missions.

And so it goes for another month.  December is now upon us, and it is traditionally a busy time in New Eden.  We shall see how that looks once we get to the cold opening of 2023.

Related

The Night of Shadows Expansion Arrives in EverQuest Today

The day has arrived, the next EverQuest expansion, Night of Shadows, lands today.

The Night of Shadows arrives

Night of Shadows is the 29th paid expansion to the game, which I have to think is some sort of record.  There are lots of titles out there that put out updates and content drops regularly, but a full blown annual expansion… and it was two annual expansions for a stretch, which is how we get 29 expansions for a game that will be 24 years old next March… but I cannot think of an MMORPG that is anywhere close to this level of effort.

And if they keep doing it, it must be making them money and keeping people subscribed.  With Daybreak now running Enad Global 7 we know that the bottom line is primary.

Night of Shadows puts us back on Norrath’s moon of Luclin.  Norrath’s leading vampire has been kept at bay, but there is always some new conflict brewing.  From the expansion brief:

Norrathians have ended the conflict between Mayong Mistmoore and Luclin herself, but can they relax their vigilance? The recent attention of Luclin has emboldened the Akheva, and they continue their plans to conquer the moon!

As war rages across the surface of Luclin, disaster has befallen Shadow Haven deep below. The mysterious sealed door has been smashed open, and the great spirit trapped behind it has rampaged through the city, leaving death and destruction before retreating to the unknown caverns it escaped from. What maddened the spirits? How can the Akheva be stopped? Can Shar Vahl survive as war threatens to engulf the city? The truth lies in the shadows — will you survive to find it?

And what will this expansion bring to the game?

  • 7 Expansion Zones – Explore more of Luclin to calm the spirits.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Tradeskill Component Depot – Your account will gain a Tradeskill Component Depot that can hold 250 stacks of different tradeskill items. You can add slots with marketplace items as you need them! This depot is shared among your characters on the same account and server, like a shared bank. Each of these slots ignores the standard stack sizes and can hold significantly more of each item. Additionally, you can utilize these items anywhere in the world when crafting.

Some of that is the standard fare for any Norrath expansion, but the tradeskill component depot is probably going to make some crafters happy.  Inventory management, even with a couple of decades of UI improvements, is still a chore in EverQuest.

Otherwise there is no level cap increase, so it is the other advancement metrics that come into play. The Alternate Advancement page already has more fine print than a rental car contract, but I guess there was room for a few more paragraphs.

As for the seven new zones, I saw somebody post to Twitter an updated map of Luclin indicating where the zones fit in, but I can’t find it.  They were somewhere around the Twilight Sea on the old map.

A busy place, the moon

As always, there are the usual version of the expansion available for purchase, from the reasonable Standard Edition to the crazy “give me two of everything and make half of it tradeable in game” Family and Friends edition.

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

The pre-launch purchase bonuses are likely gone, but there is still a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber.

So congratulations to the EverQuest team!  Every time they launch an expansion I feel a slight pang, a desire to go back and play.  I am just so far removed from the current game’s meta that it is too high of a mountain to scale.

I do wonder what they will do for next year’s expansion, what we will get for the 30th expansion.

Related:

Clash of Fleets at H-PA29 in Venal

Saturday saw more than 3,700 ships in a single system engaged in a sprawling fight that went on for over seven hours.  The thing is, there wasn’t any huge objective to be won.  The fight was centered on a Brotherhood of Spacers (B0SS) alliance Fortizar anchored in Venal, and NPC controlled region of null sec.  Fraternity, which controls the regions around it has been pressing into the region which is where a lot of pirate faction missions.

In fact, if you look at the Monthly Economic Report for October, which started reporting on loyalty points, you will see that Venal is at the top of that list.  So it is lucrative NPC space and Fraternity would like to keep others from living there.

So they were set to form up, along with their PAPI ally Pandemic Horde, and commit capitals and battleship doctrines to overwhelm BOSS, which is small relative to either of those groups.  It would be very hard for BOSS to defend against those odds.

New Message from ‘@Gobbins’ (Gobbins [HORDE]) in “pandemic-horde.discord” –

@everyone **PREPING:‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍ MAX DUDES TOMORROW EARLY EUTZ, SAT 16:00 EVE TIME**
Maximum girth full form. Capital move ops are also posted if you want to pre-move your caps.
This time we have ensured that all parties involved are fully organized.

But other groups, such as the Imperium, very much like to see Fraternity and its allies thrown back, the way they have been in Pure Blind in their war against Brave and its coalition.  So it was that I saw on Friday afternoon a ping noting that there might be a big fight on Saturday and we should be on around 17:00 UTC if we wanted to join in.

Having some free time, I showed up and got in the first fleet, led by Asher himself.  We were going to be using a revised version of our war time Sacrilege doctrine, a missile spewing Amarr armor tanked heavy assault cruiser.

He also explained the plan.  Pandemic Horde was going to be there in a Paladin doctrine, which are marauders, an expensive tech II battleship hull.  We were going there to kill paladins knowing we could probably break even on ISK exchange if we traded ten Sacs for each Paladin we killed, and more if we managed to pod the pilots, since the doctrine requires a set of Amulet implants, which can run to near a billion ISK on their own. (Like this pod.)

As third parties, we were going there for kills and were not all that concerned about the objective which was, after all, just an armor timer on a Fortizar on the other side of New Eden.  We figured the attackers would win the timer and we would just be there to make sure the price for that win would be high.

So off we went.  Our fleet filled up quickly and we ended up having three full fleets headed north from Delve.

Sacs on the way

The locals, who were also forming up to resist the Frat/Horde attack, gave us access to their Ansiblex jump gates to help us move through their territory, though the toll on some of their gates seemed a bit high.  We’re spoiled in the Imperium, the land of low fees.

How much to jump through?

It took a while to get all the way up to Venal, even with jump gates.  There is always this criticism of null sec that we can get all the way across New Eden in minutes.  And we can with some planning if the fleet is 50-100 people tops.  Shoving somewhere on the order of a thousand ships through the pipe from Delve to Venal… well, time dilation follows you wherever you go.  We were a constant wave of time dilation as we moved through Fountain, Cloud Ring, into Deklein (and all those familiar systems), and finally to Venal.  There were stops to let people catch up, stops to change the route, stops because the same people in Cloud Ring with that one gate camp dropped bubbles, and more stops to let people congregate when we needed to take a titan bridge.

Sacs waiting on a structure before the next leg of the trip

Some work and coordination was required to get us all up there.

Using a local structure to bridge us forward

It took us well over an hour to make the move, but we arrived just in time.  We were all settling in on the B0SS Fortizar with a little over six minutes left on the clock.

Time to spare before the fight

So there we are on the Fortizar and Asher is giving us our game plan.  We can see the Horde Paladin fleet out there and we’re setting up to go get them, with assignments for tackle and targets and tracking disruptors, and this is all going to be more fun because there is a metaliminal plasma firestorm in the system which, among other things, includes a debuff to turret tracking.

Storm Effects

It also effects missile explosion radius, but that won’t do much to heavy missiles against battleship hulls, but the tracking thing will make us harder to hit, and all the more so when we add our own tracking disruption.

We are primed and ready to go.  The timer has counted down, the hostiles are shooting the fort, the capitals on the hostile Fortizar have sent their fighters to help the structure shoot, we just have to anchor up on Asher and go get some Paladins.  But then something is going on with the hostile capitals.

What is happening off to the right there?

Rather than getting stuck into the Paladins, Asher aligned us towards the hostile capitals and then we were warping into them.

The hostile caps stacked up in bubbles, made so red by the storm

We went in, found a Nyx we could tackle, and started in with the energy neutralizers and missiles and suddenly the hostiles had a scenario they didn’t seem to have anticipated.  We had no capitals of our own, but now we were up close with their caps and they were starting to de-aggress and call in fax support.

So we were in there, holding down first one, then a few supers and blowing up faxes as they arrived.  The tidi by that point was so bad, and we were putting out enough damage because other fleets were on grid with us, that I couldn’t even lock up and shoot some of the faxes before theyd been blow up.  There were over 3,700 people in the system at that point.

Local says 3,713, and Tidi went back to 10% pretty quickly

I still managed to get on 15 of the fac kills, but I saw a number of additional faxes blow up before I could get a shot off.

Meanwhile, the hostile subcaps, who were shooting the B0SS Fortizar were being called to come get us off of the cap fleet, but our dictors were in between us and them dropping bubbles to keep them from being able to warp to us, keeping them out of the equation for a lot longer than we had any right to hope for.

Bubbles on grid keeping us safe

While we had to let the Nyx go because some subcaps eventually leaked through and we had to deal with them, we did manage to grab onto a Hel super carrier and slowly grind it down even as more faxes were coming in, even as some of the caps were jumping out.

Our Hel, up close

We took long enough to kill it that it apparently became a topic on hostile Discord that the Hel was holding out against “900” heavy assault cruisers, a declaration by Norus, the leader of Fraternity.

Statements that did not age well

The Hel died a little while later.  We have the kill mail.

I also liked 0Musky calling us blobbers when their operation was set from the start to get as many of their own caps and battleships on grid to win the battle and teach the locals a lesson.  Can irony be too rich?

During that the word came to us that our bringing the battle to the capitals had drawn away enough firepower from the B0SS Fortizar that it repaired.  The hostiles had lost the objective, and the ISK war was going very much against them, with it looking close to a 4 to 1 ratio in our favor.

At that point it was possible that the battle could have ended.  The objective was secured, and combat after that would have been a bit gratutious.  We could have tethered up and made plans to go home.  We did, in fact, tether up for a short bit.  But we had been promised Paladin kills and were being kind of whiny about not getting any.  So we found some Horde Paladins to tangle with and got the promised kills.

We also got stuck pretty deep into a fight.  While there were only around 3K people in system, that is still a lot of people and the grinding of multiple fleets together commenced.

In the thick of things

The exchange of losses became a lot more even, then weighed against us as many of the hostiles were staged close to hand while our losses ended up back in Delve.  My own ship went up in the middle of the final great subcap scrum and I was left motoring around in my capsule, ignored while there were so many more lucrative targets about.

Capsule in the thick

If there isn’t a rush to get back into the fight, as there was when we were on the defense in Delve back during the war, I tend to try to get my capsule out, even if I don’t have implants, just to deny the hostiles one more insignificant kill.  Also, hanging around meant I got credit for ships I had hit earlier but only blew up after I was unshipped.

I managed to slow boat my way to the edge of the bubble field, past the eerie wrecks of capitals littering the grid, list by the light of the storm and the ongoing explosions.

Dead Minokawa wrecks

I docked up in one of the structures we had access to and jump cloned home.  Silly, but I felt like it was a minor achievement.

By then the fight was almost over.  I had re-shipped back in Delve, but people were kind of tired.  It was past midnight for the Euros and the fleet had run for over 6 hours by that point.  We were done.

The results were still heavily in our favor.  As third parties in a fight like that, we had the luxury of claiming any victory metric we cared to.  As it so happens, we secured the objective and won the ISK war, so came out well no matter what we chose to point at.  The battle report puts our ISK ratio closer to 2 to 1, but it was still quite the win.

Battle Report Header

There are a few variations of battle reports out there and they all seem to have the sides wrong in some way.  I chose the one with the least amount of wrong.  I also grabbed that image not too long after the fight, so another billion ISK of losses has shown up, but it get s the point across.

400 billion is a decent sized fight.  It wouldn’t have ranked very high in the World War Bee battles, but for a peacetime conflict over a minor objective, that is a lot of ISK expended.  Going back to the “blobbing” claim, the defenders did outnumber the attackers, which is never a good sign for the attacking side.  On the other hand, the attackers came with capitals and supers, which should have pushed things their way if things had gone right.

As for lessons being taught, the locals had thrown together a video about the battle even as it was ending.

And, of course, r/eve is alight with all sorts of memes and propaganda about the battle and the choices made by Fraternity and Horde and how they are coping with it.

It was a fun time all the same.  I am glad I had the time to travel up there and take the fight with our fleet.  People will complain about 10% tidi grind fests being literal cancer, and if every fight was like that the game would be in trouble.  But having a fight like that every couple of months… it is good, gets people worked up, and generates a shared experience that we can talk about when we meet up in person.

And, of course, it is nice to have a New Eden experience worth writing about.  It has been kind of quiet for me since the war wrapped up over a year ago.

The only real downside to the whole affair was the Photon UI.  I had it enabled because the finally fixed the Neocom issues and I am getting used to its quirks.  Certainly improved readability on large screens was not on the list of issues for CCP to address.

But in a big fight under heavy tidi parts of the Photo UI become pretty much unusable.  It lags, it breaks, it doesn’t respond.  I had the outstanding calls window open and things like issuing commands to drones didn’t even make it there half the time.  Meanwhile, CCP still believes that it the game is going at 10% then the UI should respond at 10% speed as well, and the Photon UI, in addition to its other sins, really seems to have problems with that.  Overall, I was unhappy with its performance relative to the old UI.  Basically, under tidi, you get all the same old responsiveness issues, plus some new bonus Photon UI exclusive issues.

Oh well.  Maybe CCP will get to that before we have another war.

Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country

With our arrival at Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, we are at the end the run of movies centered on the original series cast.  We are now up to 1991, a dozen years after the release of the first film and a good quarter century past when the original series started the whole phenomena.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

By this point Star Trek: The Next Generation had gotten through its initial rough start and had settled down into its fourth of seven seasons, so there was a newer and perhaps more relevant and approachable Trek canon to explore.  Meanwhile, even The Simpsons would poke fun at the aging original series cast in the Itchy & Scratchy Movie episode the next year.

Star Trek XII – So Very Tired

And then there was Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the series, already in declining health, who passed away a couple of months before the film’s debut.  So, in this time of change and transition, the final fling of the original crew arrived.

The film opens with the USS Excelsior, now commanded by Captain Sulu, detects a massive explosion on the Klingon moon Praxis, which shatters that celestial object and damages the Klingon home world so badly that it is estimated that it will no longer be able to support life in the next 50 years.

The Klingons get the Federation on the line and want to talk peace as the cold war with the Federation is no longer economically sustainable, something of a reflection of our own times when the movie launched, where the break up of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact led to a new reality between east and west.

Were the Klingons always a stand in for the Russians?  And maybe the Romulans for China?  I don’t know, but for the moment that fits.

The Klingon leader Gorkon, played by David Warner who was the Federation emissary to Nimbus III in Star Trek V, wants to come to the Federation to discuss the terms of a new relationship between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.

Kirk and his bridge crew, minus Sulu and Spock, as summoned to Star Fleet Headquarters… we know that is what it is because there is a Batman 66 quality sign on the wall declaring it as such… where Kirk is told he will take the Enterprise to escort Gorkon to Earth.

Kirk doesn’t like or trust the Klingons and says so.  Repeatedly.  They killed his son.  They aren’t to be trusted, and so on.  But orders are orders and it is felt Kirk and the Enterprise might engender respect from the Klingons.  Also, if Kirk doesn’t go there won’t be much of a movie with him just hanging out in San Fransisco complaining about the damp and his hiatal hernia.

Kirk meets up with the Klingon ship and Gorkon is invited with his staff to a dinner on the Enterprise where there is much drinking and quoting of Shakespeare.

The quoting of Shakespeare is no new thing in Trek.  Khan had his moments with it in Star Trek II.  Hell, the film’s title is a Shakespeare reference. But the writers seemed to have fallen in love with the idea of the likes of General Chang, played by Christopher “Captain von Trapp” Plummer, quoting the bard and declaring that it can only fully be appreciated in the original Klingon.  And so we get a lot of Shakspeare out of Chang and others, as well as Spock quoting a Vulcan proverb about “Only Nixon could go to China” and some like nonsense that starts to feel a bit too try hard after a while.

Then again, perhaps they were reflecting the times to well once again, making a parallel to America’s cultural influence on the world.

Anyway, before the night is over Gorkon is dead, Kirk and McCoy are under arrest by the Klingons, and after a trial where they are defended by Michael Dorn, who is playing Worf’s grandfather, are sentenced to life at a penal colony on a frozen planet, which they even call a gulag at one point, so once more we’re bleeding a bit between here and there.

After a few rounds of prison humor and an elaborate and unnecessary side plot to kill Kirk and McCoy via an escape play, they managed to escape, beamed back up to the Enterprise and have to rush to save Gorkon’s daughter because the whole thing was a plot by war mongers on both sides of the cold war to keep the bad times going.

Enterprise ex machina.  Everybody saved, bad guys apprehended (or killed), and a standing ovation from the crowd at the peace conference… which includes a flash of some aliens doing a straight arm, vertical clapping motion just like the aliens in Galaxy Quest, which makes me wonder if that was where the idea came from.

In the end the whole thing is a bit of a mess, though it is also possible I am getting less charitable with each film, something that doesn’t necessarily speak well for the series.

We have a Cold War parallel, a murder mystery, a prison break, betrayal and collusion, and something like a presidential assassination all in motion along with the usual personality play going on, all of which feels like too much and not enough at the same time.  And the fact that pretty much everybody just ignores what Star Fleet tells them to do doesn’t help.

After saving the galaxy once more we end up with the crew back on the Enterprise, which is set to be retired… something of a shame because it was finally fixed and running well… and Kirk flaunts Star Fleet one last time, ignoring their order to return home, instead telling the helm “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”  That isn’t Shakespeare at least, but Peter Pan.  Something oddly appropriate about that.

Once again, it feels like a one hour episode spread too thin over about two hours of run time.  I suppose I should applaud the consistency of the six films in that regard.

All of which leads me to the final ranking of the original series films.

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  3. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  6. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

I could be argued into a couple of swaps, but I think Wrath of Khan is the most solid of the run and The Final Frontier the biggest mess.

And that is it.  We will get to see Shatner one more time in Star Trek: Generations, but it will be the cast of The Next Generation headlining for the next four films.

Honest Game Trailers takes on Wrath of the Lich King Classic

We’ve been at Wrath of the Lich King Classic for… wow, has it been two months already?  It doesn’t feel like that long at all.

The classic comes to classic

Of course, anything that Blizzard does it news, so naturally Honest Game Trailers got out there and took a run at it, and I was eager to see where they went.

And… I feel a little called out by that video.  I mean, I laughed, but I also went, “hrmmmmm.”

I am on record here as saying how happy I am with how well my classes play and the story and seeing Arthas in Dragonblight and following his tale and that I am on board with achievements again despite having done them all before.

Look, I am down with playing through the MMO version of Warcraft III

And then the video hits me with everything is OP and too easy and achievements and the fact that holy paladins don’t completely suck anymore… and we have a holy paladin as our group healer.

But, you know what?  I don’t care.  I am fourteen years older, slower, and less capable, so the whole thing is just about my speed.  I am happy playing Wrath Classic.  I am glad I play a protection paladin tank that is pretty much all about AOE’ing all the things… because that is what makes the damage meter pop, and that is what it is all about, right?

You kids, get off my lawn.  I’m having fun here!

Star Trek V The Final Frontier

My wife is already starting to ask when we get to the Chris Pine Star Trek films.  We have a ways to go yet.

Instead we have arrived at the fifth film in our marathon, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and a pattern has started to emerge.  What these films seem to all have in common so far is that they might have made decent one hour episodes for the original series, but there is a lot of fluff being grafted on to them to turn them into two hour movies… though, Star Trek V ran only one hour and forty six minutes, so it has that going for it.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Going into this viewing I knew that this entry has been generally regarded as the worst of the films, so I fortified myself for some effort to get through it.  But, as with much of what we have seen so far, it is neither as bad as I expected nor as good as one might hope.

Star Trek V is also unique in the series in being the one I don’t think I have ever watched all the way through.  I am pretty sure I have caught bits of it on TV.  I recall seeing the climax with the memorable Kirk quip at one point, but have no memory at all of the rest of it.

As with the previous three films, this one picks up pretty much immediately after the last one.  I don’t know why they felt such a need for continuity.  They could have just gone “five years later…” if only to cover for the actors, whom were all a decade older than they were when Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released.

But there we start, days after the last movie ended.  Most of the bridge crew is on shore leave while Mister Scott is up on the new Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, trying to get it fit for service.  Unfortunately, it appears to have been built by at GM Fremont plant, a location infamous for poor quality.  This American Life did an episode about how it was so bad that GM and the UAW agreed to work with Toyota in order to try and fix it. (Telsas are now built there, so quality control problems are still an issue at that location.)

Anyway, I digress.  The ship is a mess, things don’t work, there is a skeleton crew aboard, and Kirk, Spoke, McCoy, Checkov, and Sulu are all off on a wilderness hike when Star Fleet calls and needs them to run off on a mission… again.  How many ships and crews does Star Fleet have?

The problem is on Nimbus III, a joint venture between the Klingons, Romulans, and the Federation in the neutral zone, a location that looks like the set for a Mad Max film, a feeling only enhanced by the ragged garb and thrown together weapons the locals are carrying.

On this planet we find Sybok, a Vulcan.  He is rallying the various tribal factions into a single army through the sheer force of his charisma and being a really good listener.  We learn later from Spock that Sybok has rejected Vulcan tradition, been cast out from the planet, and has been wandering the galaxy forming his own pseudo religion.  Also, he is Spock’s half-brother, something the film felt the need to establish with a completely unnecessary flash back to his birth.  I would have been more interested in an explanation about what Sarek, their shared father, was up to.  Sarek is the ambassador to the Federation, a high status position, and having two wives, one of them human, was apparently no impediment to his career choice.  Though, that is speculation.  Maybe they just wanted him off Vulcan.

Anyway, Sybok captures the combined administrative outpost, making the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan representatives his prisoner… momentarily.  He soon persuades them to join his cause.  They send out a distress signal to lure a starship to come to their rescue.

And the first starship on the scene is the USS Enterprise, again half functional and under staffed, because the Federation has no other ships or competent officers available.  They fall for Sybok’s trap, he takes over the ship, and has them set a course for the center of the galaxy where he proposes to find the garden of Eden and its various forms that seem to be a common origin story for the races involved.

Wasn’t there a space hippies episode of the original series that had a similar premise?

Meanwhile, a second ship shows up, filled with what I can only call the Jersey Shore version of Klingons, whose commander is keen to blow up a Federation ship, any Federation ship, so the lure of one commanded by the infamous Kirk.  So they give chase and everybody crashes through the impenetrable great barrier that keeps people out of the center of the galaxy, which turns out to be super easy, barely an inconvenience.

Through, the go to God’s planet, which could also be a Mad Max set, or maybe a 40s western set, take a shuttle down, and meet up with God once he teleports them into an obvious sound stage.  There God puts on his benevolent Olympian God face and asks Sybok, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to take him on their starship out of this place where he has been imprisoned and out into the greater galaxy.

This is where we arrive at the “Why does God need a starship?” point of the show.  It certainly does cast doubt on the omniscient and omnipresent aspects of the all mighty.  Through various machinations the Klingon bird of pray attacks and dethrones God, everybody has a good end of episode chuckle, and Kirk, Spock, and McCoy go back to camping and singing, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”  The end.

Holy moly that was some bad Trek.  It had all the goofiness of The Voyage Home with almost none of the entertainment value.  Sybok’s secret power, the ability to release deep seated pain in people, reveals that McCoy assisted his father in his wish to die and that Uhuru has the hots for Scotty, so character development was that and Kirk liking to free climb and Spock having a half-brother that we’ll never speak of again.  The rambling, incoherent story, in the tradition of the series, left out a lot of salient details, like how the pretend God managed to tell Sybok where to go or why Spock’s name ends in a “ck” while Sybok only gets a “k.”

Anyway, on the ranking scale, the only question is whether or not it was better or worse that Star Trek: The Motion PictureThe Final Frontier was so bad… but TMP was so boring.  I am going to have to give TMP the nod based on coherence and special effects, but the gap between the two isn’t huge.

So my ranking for now stands as:

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  3. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  5. Star Trek: The Final Frontier

That gets us through five of the six original series films.  We have Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country left to go.  Can we end on a high note before we roll into The Next Generation films?

Pilgrim Achievements Completed

I had forgotten the compelling nature of achievements in WoW, the pull they can have on me.  I was a bit dismissive of their return with WoW Classic when the Wrath pre-patch hit.  Was I really going to do all of those achievements again?

In September I said “no,” but by November I was apparently on board, though even as I started out on the Pilgrim’s Bounty achievements, I initially only saw the whole thing as cooking amnesty for alts rather than something I would do with my main.

But after a few days of the event, I realized I had done many of the achievements on my Death Knight alt, which got me feeling like I needed to do them on my main too because we’re in the stage of achievements where they don’t share across characters.  And the achievements were not too tough, so I got out Wilhelm and started to do them myself.

What really got me rolling was Ula and Potshot doing the Sethekk Halls achievement, which I helped them out with, donning my own pilgrim had and apparel to get the achievement as well.

Turkey team in Sethekk Halls

With that done I was one my way after the other achievements.

Some just involve a bit of travel and a recipe or two to be prepared.  The Turkinator achievement turned out to be pretty easy on Sunday morning when nobody was about in Elwyn Forest.  I got my forty turkey kills without running into anybody else.

The Turkinator

Pilgrim’s Peril seemed like it might be dicey.  You have to sit at the Pilgrim’s Bounty table outside of each of the main Horde cities.  But even the ones where you had to get in close enough that you were flagged for PvP, like Undercity, weren’t too tough.  Nobody bothered me.

Pilgrim’s Peril achieved in the Undercity

The achievement that turned out to be the tough one was Turkey Lurkey, where you have to go out and hit rogues of each possible race with your turkey shooter.  The first problem was that I bought all the different apparel first, so was shy of the single use turkey shooters which you can only obtain by doing the Pilgrim’s Progress dailies.

The target list

As I accumulated shooters, I started picking off the various rogue types.  Human rogues were easy to find, and nigh elves were not too hard to find either.  I thought a gnome rogue might be tough, but I found one almost right away.

Then it was time to hang around Dalaran, where most of the population on our server seems to be, looking for rogues.  I spent quite a bit of time in front of the bank watching for rogues.  There was an orc rogue that hung out by the bank for days, a public service to those of us hunting, so that was easy.

It took some effort to get a troll rogue.  There was one that would run around in front of the bank, then ride off quickly around a corner and stealth up, foiling attempts to get them.  A troll was trolling us.  But eventually I got him.

Eventually it came down to me just needing a dwarf and a blood elf rogue, and the serious waiting began.  I sat around Dalaran for a couple of hours in hopes of finding a blood elf rogue.  I saw literally every other blood elf class… I didn’t even know they could be hunters… and pretty much non-stop blood elf paladins coming and going, but a blood elf rogue was not happening.

commiserating with another hunter

Eventually I gave up on Dalaran and went to the blood elf starting area in hopes of spotting a fresh new rogue, likely one somebody rolled up to help out a friend.

That gambit did not pay off.  But Potshot was on and offered to roll up one himself, so I got some help from a friend on that front after all.

And then it was down to the dwarf rogue, but I was out of shooters again, so I had to wait until the next day, the last day of the event.  I ran a couple of the dailies, so I was loaded up for the hunt again, then went looking.

As it turned out, Potshot had a dwarf rogue as well, so I met up with him in Ironforge to complete the event.

Pilgrim achieved!

The funny thing is that I ran into another dwarf rogue less than ten minutes later, so I could have managed it on my own.

But now that I have done that, gotten my first title and a nice turkey pet, it probably means I am going to have to go after the Merry Maker title when the Feast of Winter Veil lands in a couple of weeks.

Clearly I am still sold on achievements in WoW.

November in Review

The Site

The site crossed the six million page view mark earlier this month.

That took almost exactly four years from the previous time I mentioned total page views, outside of my annual blog summary post, which was when it five million page views.

TAGN Highlights – Nov 2022

I suspect, with the current rate of traffic decline, that I will never see page views hit the seven million mark.  My main hope on that front is Elon Musk and Mark Zukerberg making social media so unpalatable that blogging becomes a thing again.  But wishing good to come from evil is generally a forlorn hope.

You may, if you are one of those people who likes to try to reconcile data presented them (go you!), wonder about the imbalance of visitors versus views.  Visitors represent daily unique users, and any user that does something that causes another page to load generates an additional page view, so the ratio of page views to visitors has been, historically, between 1.6 and 2.3 on the site.

Yeah, those two numbers seem out of whack still, even with that bit of info, so I’ll ad some more.

WordPress.com didn’t start counting visitors until the very end of 2012.  So the site had more than 2.6 million page views recorded before counting the first visitor.  If you deduct that from the six million you get about 1.8 page views per visitor, well within the zone.

And, since we’re on the topic, that ratio has been going down over the years.  2013 saw a 2.3 ratio, while 2021 was down to 1.6.  2022 looks to be up to 1.7, but total page views pretty much collapsed this year, so is in the running to be the lowest traffic full calendar year in the history of the blog.  Go me.

One Year Ago

I got an odd award for a blog I barely started.

Blizzard was in a place where literally anything they did looked bad or desperate.  In their earnings, WoW Classic and Diablo II Resurrected were keeping the company’s revenue going.  They were also trying to win some support by rolling out a community council. On other fronts the company was just looking bad.

They were also fiddling around with a Season of Master WoW Classic server option.  I didn’t feel I needed to go back to vanilla so soon, so let it launch without me.

We were playing D2R ourselves, rolling through Act III and into Act IV.  Meanwhile, I was soloing an necromancer into Hell difficulty while Carbot had ideas for new updates.

And then it was into New World, where we tried to group up and create a company of our own.  Honest Game Trailers had some insight on the game as well.

We learned that we would be getting a 64-bit client for EverQuest. EverQuest II turned 17 years oldLOTRO launched the Fate of Gundabad expansion.  Meanwhile, EG7 was talking about future plans including a Marvel Universe MMO.

In EVE Online I was trying to sum up the post-war view from Delve.

CCP announced the return of Fanfest after the Covid hiatus.  The Alliance Tournament was running.  I watched some of week one,

But all eyes were on the economy, were CCP’s delivery on promised prosperity seemed unlikely with the announced mining changesThere were protests in Jita. as it seemed like the company was going all in on permanent scarcity.  The MER showed things were still down.

I tried out Forza Horizon 5, something that cost me just a dollar.  I even got Potshot to come play with me, though linking up with friends was a typical Microsoft disaster.  We also did some World of Tanks.

It was also time for the launch of the Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remake that my daughter and I had been waiting for.

I looked into why Harry Potter: Wizards Unite failed.  There was also some more binge watching.

Five Years Ago

It was BlizzCon.  Blizzard, while pretty much ignoring the Diablo franchise, did announce the next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, as well as WoW Classic.  There was much discussion after BlizzCon wrapped up.  I brought up a list of things that would likely be different in WoW Classic compared to live.

Actually in WoW I was into Suramar and my class hall campaign, timewalking in Northrend, and picking up again with pet battles.  The WoW thirteenth anniversary event was timely as it gave a boost to faction gains, something I was working on to unlock flying.  Also, as predicted, I failed to get the headless horseman’s mount yet againThis is fine.

In EVE Online we were off on what would become a nearly year long deployment to the north of New Eden.  I was worried about these upcoming Alpha clone skill injectors.  CCP also had a screen shot contest.  And I did a write up about the Neocom II app for iOS and only got a few material facts wrong.

I was trying to get my copy of ZMud 7.21 up and working again.  This comes up every so often.

I had to get ZMud going so I could finish up my post about the Elemental Glades in TorilMUD.

EverQuest II became a teenager, turning 13.  For its birthday it got the Planes of Prophecy expansion.

In Minecraft I was touring our world looking at some of the epic structures.

There was some crazy talk out of EA.  And that was before the Star Wars: Battlefront II fiasco started to boil over, with Disney stepping in to check EA.

Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon launched, marking the end of new Pokemon titles for the Nintendo handheld line.

And a video on YouTube ended up prompting a long discussion about how much it costs to make a video game.  It no doubt costs even more now.

Ten Years Ago

We said farewell to City of Heroes.

Pong turned 40.

Star Wars: The Old Republic made their free to play transition.  Hot bars were for sale.

dipped a toe into GuildWars 2.

I was feeling in the doldrums about computer hardware.

The Register was wondering if Second Life was a failure.

SOE was on their usual autumnal roll.  They introduced Krono, their PLEX-like currency.

PlanetSide 2 went live.  I even patched up and tried it.  Pity about it becoming aim hack central so quickly.

EverQuest II Chains of Eternity went live, leading to some EQII reflection on my part.

The EverQuest expansion Rain of Fear launched, leading to one of my occasional ponderings about how long the game will go on.  Meanwhile, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Dragons of Norrath expansion was unlocked.  That marked the potential end of my coverage of the server as SOE seemed uninterested in promoting it or anything about it.  I was only getting updates when they went wrong.

Over in Rift we were patching up as Storm Legion went live.

The British tank tree showed up for the first time in World of Tanks.

We were running movie ops in EVE Online while I was wondering how the Retribution expansion might change events like Burn Jita.  As it turned out, it did not change things one whit.

Time Magazine wrote up their 100 Best Video Games of All Time while Complex Gaming gave us a list of 50 with EVE Online at the top.

Turbine, grasping at straws at this point, relaunched Asheron’s Call 2, a decade after it first launched.  Or maybe it was in December of 2012.  I have conflicting sources.  However in the end, different decade, same result, abject failure.

And I was rambling on about motivation and what makes a good story in an MMO.

Fifteen Years Ago

I was going on about MMOs on a single server again, focusing on EVE Online and why its unique set of circumstances allows CCP to get away with everybody on one shard.

CCP also changed the name of player groups from gangs to fleets, befitting a game about ships.  Player usage of the terms took a while to catch up.  I think I still heard people talking about “gang links” at least five years later.  CCP also announced that their Power of Two campaign boosted subscriptions past 300,000 and broke a record when the game passed 50K players online at once.

I was still mining away in New Eden, trying to optimize my yields.  I also hit 10 million skill points in EVE and bought my first Drake.  Also, the Trinity expansion launched.

I found an old parody screen shot from the early days of Air Warrior.

I was thinking about all that vendor trash that just disappears.

I was moaning about EverQuest and accessibility again.

Also it was time for the Rise of Kunark expansion, if I could find a copy.  You had to buy that stuff at retail stores back then.  But I eventually found a copy and took the boat out to Kunark.  I hit 58, 59, and then level 60 for the first time in EverQuest II.  I was also claiming my four year veteran rewards.

SOE was still working on fixing Vanguard.

My daughter and I were playing LEGO Star Wars: The Compelete Saga on the Wii.  I even put together a review of it.  Still one of my favorite games on the Wii.

And in World of Warcraft the instance group was finally all level 50 and taking on the remains of Maraudon. Then we were off to up Sunken Temple in a way that gave us a before and after snapshot of the WoW 2.3 patch. (Which took forever to download back then.)  I was also trying ride on the outside of a boat.  I hate missing the boat.

Tabula Rasa launched, beginning its short run before being shut down by NCsoft.  The cover shown in the Wikipedia article still makes me want to say, “Multipass.”

Also launching a decade back was Rock Band.  You could now play the drums.  Take that Guitar Hero!

Finally, Perpetual announced that Star Trek Online would be delayed leading to another headline contest.

Twenty Years Ago

Bungie put out their RTS Myth: The Fallen Lords, which I remember being pretty excited about after seeing a demo.  And then I went off and played Total Annihilation and forgot about it, while Bungie eventually went off to create Halo and mostly forgot about it as well.  Now I suddenly want to play that RTS again.

Also, the last episode of Beavis & Butt-head aired and the bladder testing epic Titanic opened in theaters. (I had a large soda and the last hour of the movie is constant water moving and flowing…)

Fifty Years Ago

Atari launched Pong, the arcade console title that would make the company famous and rich.  Many memorable titles would come later, but Pong and all its variations (including Breakout, which Steve Wozniak designed) were at the root of the company’s success.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Flight in Pre-Patch Outland
  2. Faction Warfare Updates Kicking Off in EVE Online
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  5. The RimWorld Biotech Expansion
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. The Level 70 Boost Question for Wrath Classic
  8. A Week of Musk Era Twitter
  9. The Uprising Expansion comes to EVE Online
  10. RimWorld Ideology
  11. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  12. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online

Search Terms of the Month

superdata top grossing games 2022
[Nielsen shut down SuperData in 2020]

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[It certainly isn’t Muninns Online anymore]

dyson sphere program мощность сферы
[The star in the middle provides the power]

minecraft bases 2015
[They sure were fun back then]

особняк вход майнкрафт
[The front door worked for me]

Game Time from ManicTime

Another month where I played just the same two games… well, I have three on the list, but I only farted around in retail WoW to see the changes the Dragonflight pre-patch brought, and to peek in on launch day.  I didn’t really “play” for any serious definition of the word.

  • WoW Classic – 90.76%
  • EVE Online – 7.66%
  • World of Warcraft – 1.58%

EVE Online

I really did not do much in New Eden in November.  You would think, what with the big Uprising expansion hitting, that I would find lots to do in the game… and I guess you would be wrong.  Faction Warfare isn’t my thing… and there wasn’t a lot else in the expansion for me.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Every update doesn’t have to be about me.  But I only logged in to keep the training game going and to update my PI for most of the month… and to collect login rewards.  Lots of skill points to be had there.

And I blew all those skill points right away, so I now have five additional jump clones.  Totally worth it.

I was also at risk of blowing my “be on at least one kill mail every month” streak, which I have managed to keep going since April of 2014, having not undocked in anger all month long.  But then, on the last day of November I was at my desk and a homeland defense fleet came up and I was able to log in quickly and help blow up a half a dozen Pandemic Horde pilots that were running around Delve.  And thus my streak was maintained for another month.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I finally hit level 43 in Pokemon Go.  I mentioned hitting level 42 in last year’s November in review post, so that took 12 months to accomplish.  And now the path to level 44 is even longer.  We’ll probably get there in 2024.

  • Level: 43 (1% of the way to 44 in xp, 0 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 744 (+4) caught, 761 (+4) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 21 of 25
  • Pokemon I want: Pachirisu
  • Current buddy: Golisopod (just because he looks cool)

WoW Classic

We have been carrying on pretty well in Northrend, in our own slow and steady way.  People have been level 80 for weeks and weeks now and we’re just hitting 74.  We’re in no hurry… though maybe we should be.  Retro servers tend to be fast moving and I am not even sure what the phases are for Wrath Classic.  Still, we’re happy for the moment.

Zwift

I did manage to gain a level.  I think that unlocked some new socks or some such.  Zwift does cosmetics, but they are all earned the hard way and I am not that big into the whole scene.  Still, I have hit a few milestones in the game.  I have a blog post brewing about it.

  • Level – 17 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,352 miles (+51 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 53,022 (+1,382 feet)
  • Calories burned – 43,140 (+1,321)

Coming Up

It will be the last month of the year once more and the holiday season will be in full swing.  Every online game will have some sort of event, there will be holiday sales, and all sorts of stuff going on.

It will also be time for the usual gamut of end of year posts.  I will be summing up all sorts of thing as well as reviewing my predictions.  I went back to take a peek at them and… I think I was in something of a mood when I wrote them.  I got a few right, most wrong, as usual.  But was I wrong on the things I wanted to be wrong about?  We shall see… somewhere around the 15th if I follow the usual pattern.