Monthly Archives: February 2016

February in Review

The Site

Here we are, another month gone by as we move through the tenth year of the blog.  Despite the extra day we get this year… the third leap day for the blog… it has been a quiet yet active month here.

It was quiet because I was pretty much gone for a week as we went to Hawaii for my wife’s birthday.  I wrote a few posts in advance, but nothing spectacular.

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Obligatory “I was in Hawaii” picture featuring Diamond Head

But then it was busy because somehow, even with that interruption, I ended up writing 29 posts this month, if you include this one.  Things happened I guess, like the DUST 514 shut down announcement (I wrote that post while waiting for my wife to get ready to go to the airport!) and skill injectors and the Pokemon 20th anniversary.  Another lesson that, if you have low standards, you will never run out of things about which to write I suppose.

One Year Ago

Sony Online Entertainment ceased to be, having been sold off to Columbus Nova and rebranded as Daybreak Games Company.  The launch was not auspicious to my mind, with Columbus Nova issuing a questionable press release while the new company shed many old hands.  Still, classic Norrath seemed to be safeNew progression servers for EverQuest were announced fairly quickly thereafter.

H1Z1 was out in early access (or “recently launched” according to Colubus Nova) and having some issues.  Polygon took my own point of view in stating that if a company is out there taking money for a game then they felt entitled to review it as it stood.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign launched and the game quickly hit its initial goal.  Meanwhile, I was wondering how Nebula Online, another project with a Kickstarter, was going to make any money.

Massively and WoW Insider were recreating themselves as Massively OP and Blizzard Watch.

I was still playing WoW , which still had 10 million subscribers, while looking towards the 6.1 patch was due.  I was doing pet battles and looking at my addons.

I was also still flailing about a bit with Elite: Dangerous.

Star Wars: The Old Republic seemed headed back to that vaunted fourth pillar.

The Tiamat expansion hit EVE Online, unleashing the Svipul menace.  CCP was bribing people to vote in the CSMX election. And for the monthly blog banter walking in stations came up again.  I was also figuring out how to change my space clothes and Reavers were making a difference.

The now defunct BattleClinic had just finished their site overhaul, allowing players to mine more data out of their kill mails.

Then there was Juche.

And, finally, a farewell to Leonard Nimoy.

Five Years Ago

At one point I was declared influential.  We got over that pretty quickly though.

Hulkageddon IV came and went.  We all survived.  And then there was the new character creator in EVE Online.  It had… options.

LOTRO had a welcome back event… even though it is free to play.

There was yet another sign of the coming apocalypse.

NetDevil got pulled out of LEGO Universe.

Nintendo was banging the drum for Pokemon Black and White.  We were certainly ready for it at our house.

Van Hemlock was slumming back in MMOs for a bit.

I was taking a look at the holy trinity of roles through a historical lens.  It wasn’t always Tank/Healer/DPS.

The instance group was still playing World of Warcraft Now we just get nostalgic about it.

World of Tanks.  It was in beta and set some sort of bogus record.

Rift was getting ready to launch.  People were freaking out in the absence of calm words.  Personally, I wasn’t buying into the game.  Who needed a WoW clone when we had WoW?

Nostalgia was officially on with the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  Characters were rolled.  Low level zones were crowded and experience was slow.  But the tour was a go.  We hit the Qeynos Hills, Blackburrow, West Karana, and the Qeynos SewersImportant spells were rediscovered and camping trips were planned.  Not everything was as we remembered it, but it made for a pretty darn good nostalgia adventure.

And while that was going on, SOE shipped the Destiny of Velious expansion for EverQuest II.  But I couldn’t be bothered.

And, finally, one of our cats was on top of the refrigerator.

Ten Years Ago

EVE Online reached the 100,000 subscriber mark, back when companies talked about such things publicly, and launched the Bloodlines expansion.  That expansion, which basically complicated character creation and made everybody go Caldari, would be the current state of the game when I made my first character in New Eden a few months down the road.

James Cameron was jumping onto the MMO bandwagon with Multiverse Network, which was going to lower the barrier to entry for MMO creation.  The plan was for there to be an MMO released alongside his next movie, but Avatar had to go it alone in the end, while Multiverse Network shut down in 2011.

SOE launched the Kingdom of Sky expansion for EverQuest II, which became the first bit of content that I did not buy for the game.  I never purchased the expansion, getting it for free as part of the later Echoes of Faydwer expansion.  It marks the line between “classic” and “new stuff” in my brain, as illogical as that seems ten years down the road.

Dungeons & Dragons Online went live.  I remember picking up the box at Fry’s and reading the label on the bottom of the box that declared the game required group play, that no solo play was supported.  I put the box back on the shelf and moved on.  How times have changed.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s feature site I want to bring your attention to:

While I remain confused as to what to call him some days… the blog is the “Nosy” gamer, but he goes by “Noizy” when he signs his handle… his is the blog you go to if you want to see somebody track and follow up on topics like illicit RMT in EVE Online and other such goings on.  He is a respected source in the EVE Online community.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

This is a long form blog that delves in depth into video games and other related digital entertainment topics.  Posts come up about weekly, but they usually dig deep into the meat of the topic at hand.  Take a look at the table of contents for the site.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. MMOs and their Middle Age Problems…
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. First Night of Skill Point Trading in Jita
  5. Pokemon 20th Anniversary Download Events Kick Off with Mew
  6. CCP Continues to Confound Recognized Financial Expert
  7. Further Anecdotes from the Skill Injector Front in New Eden
  8. Diablo III Season 5 and into Chapter IV
  9. Our Automated Farms in Minecraft
  10. DUST 514 to Shut Down on May 30, 2016
  11. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  12. Quote of the Day – CSM members have no agency

Search Terms of the Month

elder scrolls online 1 million
[I wouldn’t pay that much, wait for a Steam sale]

need someone to hack my empires and allies accnt
[Wouldn’t you be better of just letting that go?]

what expansion is fippy darkpaw in
[They were trying to unlock Underfoot back in July 2014…]

wow token useless for free players
[For specific definitions of “free” I suppose]

Diablo III

I have carried on with Season 5, finding fun in chasing down the various goals and achievements laid out for this round.  This has led me to my highest level character yet in the almost four years since the game launched.  That probably says something, though I am not sure what.

EVE Online

The month started with the Reavers and some of KarmaFleet down in Querious having a good time brawling with the locals.  Then we got called back home because we had a real war… or as real of a war as we can manage these days… to fight.  The Casino War, pitting the Coalition of the Billing against SpaceMonkey’s Alliance.  So that has been the main focus for the last couple weeks, with content being delivered to our doorstep fresh daily.  And it looks set to continue on.

Meanwhile, the theme of the month seemed to be skill injectors.  I have yet to be in a fleet since they were introduced where somebody hasn’t announced they have a new ability thanks to injecting billions of ISK worth of skill points straight into their head.

Finally, we seem to be ending up the month with server issues and extended downtime.  I hope that isn’t a sign of things to come.

Minecraft

It has been a quiet month on the Minecraft front.  I’ve still played some, and Aaron built another automated device for us, but there hasn’t been much to write about.  However, the 1.9 update looks like it is finally threatening to arrive, and that should stir things up a bit.

PlanetSide 2

In a moment of odd timing, just as the Casino War was heating up to the point that Reavers were called back home, The Imperium decided we should go play PlanetSide 2.  The deal to get us there was no doubt struck with Daybreak ages ago, so the timing was what it was.  Still, it is free to download and a pretty easy game to jump in and out of.  I’ll be interested to see if it sticks.

Pokemon

Pokemon turned 20 years old just two days ago, which got me focused on the game somewhat.  There is a series of legendary download events over the course of the year to celebrate.  And the next installments in the core RPG game, Pokemon Sun & Moon were announced three days back, so we have those to look forward to.  Meanwhile, the most immediate action was the release of the original games, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, on the 3DS Virtual Console.

In order to experience the origins of the series, I grabbed a copy of Blue, while my daughter picked Red.  We shall see how far we get.

Coming Up

What is coming up next month… aside from the dreaded start of Daylight Savings Time?  For a week or two I will be extra groggy every morning as I try force the reality of my sleep pattern to line up with the illusion that is time.

As noted above, there is the distinct possibility that we will get the Minecraft 1.9 update in March.  That could lead to some fun as we try to upgrade our server.

In EVE Online the CSM XI elections kick off today.  That will mean something to somebody I am sure.  There will likely be a March (YC118.3) Update coming, though I am not sure what we’ll get besides fixes.  I am not sure what features are slated to hit before the big Citadels expansion later this year.  Are we getting that new watchlist update?  And, of course, the Casino War will carry on for a while I am sure.  We’ll see who gets tired of nightly content first I suppose.

There may or may not be some PlanetSide 2 times worth writing about.

I will no doubt have something to say about Pokemon Blue as I play to discover just how far the series has evolved in 20 years.  I played quite a bit yesterday and I was actually a bit surprised at where things stood “in the beginning” as it were.

And I suspect that Season 5 of Diablo III might be winding down for me.

Honest Game Trailers – Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

Pokemon has been around for 20 years and a day now… and I’ve been on something of an Honest Game Trailers kick this month… so here is their take on my first Pokemon title, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.

Yes, they put names on all of the Pokemon added with this generation.

And, if that isn’t enough, there are Honest Game Trailers for:

 

Pokemon Turns 20 Today

The Pokemon franchise turns 20 years old today.  It was back in 1996 that the original Pokemon Red & Green launched in Japan for the Nintendo GameBoy.

Pokemon20

With all of the things that have come since that initial launch… an animated TV series that is nearly 19 years old at this point, 19 movies, 10 TV specials, a collectible card game that remains hugely popular, and a host of spin-off games… it is sometimes easy to forget the rather humble beginnings of it all.  I was actually aware of the collectible card game and the TV series before I ever saw the game on a Nintendo handheld.

I had a Pikachu on my desk at work back in 1999 or so, and a few Japanese Pokemon cards that a friend gave me. I had even seen the TV series a few times… hell, the seizure causing episode is a bit of cultural lore at this point.  But my own journey with the core Pokemon role playing game didn’t come until 2008.

In February of that year we were going on a trip and, in order to keep our then six year old daughter occupied on a long flight, I was sent out the obtain a pink Nintendo DS Lite and a few games.  I think I grabbed LEGO Star Wars and Mario Kart along with Pokemon Diamond as the game selection, though I could have just picked up the last one.  It was all she played on the flight both ways.

During the trip I was impressed by the Nintendo DS Lite hardware.  It was compact, solidly built, had a great screen, long battery life, and built-in WiFi support.  But more than the hardware, I was impressed with the game.  My daughter, being six, had me help read some of the dialog in the game during the flights.  That exposed me to the game sufficiently that I decided I wanted to play too.  So, for my birthday the following month, I ended up getting a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond.

Since then I have played a lot of Pokemon.

I have binged and played through titles in focused sprints.  I have played some of the spin-off games, like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (basically a Rogue-like with Pokemon).  I have gotten burned out and let titles sit half way played for months at a stretch.  I’ve gone to watch tournaments and to download events and even a special Pokemon celebration at our local mall. I even collected them all at one point.

There are currently 133 Pokemon related posts on the blog, all under the Pokemon category.

The hardware has changed.  The DS Lite screen seems so small now… I used to be able to read it without glasses… and I have a Nintendo 3DS XL to play on these days.  The graphics have been updated.  But the basics of the game haven’t changed all that much.  And I am still looking forward to the launch of the next games, Pokemon Sun & Moon, which were officially announced yesterday.

But this is where it all started for me.

Pokemon Diamond and the DS Lite

My Pokemon Diamond and old DS Lite this morning

Now to decide which one of the three originals I want to grab from the 3DS store.  The obvious choice is Pokemon Yellow, because Pikachu.  But that also seems like the safe choice.  Plus it is in color.

Pokemon Sun and Moon Coming for the Holidays

As we sit here on the day before the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Pokemon franchise, Nintendo has some new Pokemon related announcements.

The big one is, of course, the next new Pokemon games in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moon.  You can see the brief statement about the new games here.

Coming in Q4 2016

Coming in Q4 2016

While the setting and new features slated for Pokemon Sun & Moon are yet to be announced, we do know that they will link into the Pokemon Bank application available for the Nintendo 3DS series, which will allow players to move their Pokemon from Pokemon X & Y and Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire to the new title.

In addition, the revised versions of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, the original generation which started it all back in 1996, and which should be available in the 3DS store tomorrow, will also connect into Pokemon Bank.

A diagram from the presentation, so it must be true!

A diagram from the presentation, so it must be true!

This will allow you to catch the original 151 Pokemon… well, not Mew, but the other ones… in the initial setting and then bring them into the current generation of games.

Old games come to the Virtual Console

Coming to the Virtual Console February 27, 2016

It will be a one way trip from Pokemon Red, Blue, or Yellow, but you might as well catch them there, as we still have most of the year left to wait until Pokemon Sun & Moon come our way.

I have been waiting for this announcement for a while now, as we seemed due for a new Pokemon release announcement.  I guess waiting for the anniversary makes sense.

The questions that remain for me include, which of the original three should I grab, will I be able to endure a 20 year old version of Pokemon, and will I finally finish up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire before the holiday launch of the new titles?

And, if you’re dying for more Pokemon history, Polygon has a Pokemon timeline posted covering the last 20 years.

CCP Continues to Confound Recognized Financial Expert

I am quite willing to bet you that CCP goes bankrupt in 2012. You might want to interpret their “great success” how ever you like, but financial reports don’t lie.

Tobold, October 2011

CCP continues to defy the predictions of financial expert Tobold Stalefoot.

CCPlogo

Nosy gamer spotted an Icelandic news report on the company financials, a rough translation of which ended up over on Neville Smit’s blog.  The bottom line for for CCP in 2015 was:

The company yielded US$20.7 million profit last year…

According to CCP, the company’s profit, cash balance and financial position has never been stronger.

So they have that going for them.  Bankruptcy seems to be a much longer term goal of theirs than previously assumed.

In similar prognostication related news, the DICE awards have refused to relent to Tobold’s version of reality and Fallout 4 remains the DICE pick for 2015 Game of the Year.

The one time MMO gamer Tobold, whose expertise also extends into determinations on good versus evil, who is lying and who is telling the truth, fairness in the matter of pricing in relation to currency exchange rates, whether or not the hosts of Top Gear actually drive those cars, and dramatically quitting blogging only to return the next week, was unavailable for comment.

Addendum: An analysis of the CCP financials here.

Couch Podtatoes Podcast Episode 80 – A Daybreak Retrospective

In one those “a joke that ends up with a life of its own” moments, a “demand” that I appear on a podcast ended up with me actually appearing on one.

Izlain at Me vs. Myself and I apparently drew the short straw amongst the podcast community and so I ended up on the Couch Podatoes Podcast episode 80.

CouchpodtatoeGraphicThe topic discussed was Daybreak Game Company, formerly Sony Online Entertainment, and how they and their games have fared over the year since that transition.  We track the timeline, gush about the state of EverQuest and EverQuest II, ponder DC Universe Online and PlanetSide 2, cast a critical eye on the H1Z1 split, and wonder whatever became of EverQuest Next.

For those interested, you can find the podcast here.

It has actually been a while since I was on a podcast.  I think the last one I was on was the VirginWorlds five year anniversary podcast, and the ten year anniversary is next month.  Doing the podcast was fun.  I enjoy talking about video games.  Actually listening to myself on the podcast is another matter.  My voice never sounds like I think it sounds and I can hear every malady that afflicts me in it.  I am clearly not completely over that bout of pneumonia I had in December.

Anyway, there it is!  Enjoy!  And a big thanks to Izlain for having me on!

(Also if you’re not into the “what are you playing” segment, which I must admit, as a listener, can be tiresome, you can jump to the 10:50 mark where the meat of the discussion begins.)

CCP to Create More Dead Links on My Blog

After careful consideration whilst planning upgrades and changes to Tranquility, we have decided to discontinue the EVElopedia as of the announced extended downtime on Monday February 29th, 2016.

CCP Falcon, EVE News Update

Well, that sucks.

The final featured article?

The final featured article?

Not that I thought EVElopedia was the be-all, end-all of New Eden knowledge.  In fact, it was lacking in many respects, often being out of date or incomplete on many fronts.  CCP made a wiki and then didn’t make keeping it up to date anybody’s primary job I would guess.  But I often found it useful, especially since it used the same hierarchy for things like ships and modules and the like as gets used in the game itself.

I probably refer to the site once a week at least when I want to figure out what ships the Angel Cartel has or something of that sort.

There are alternatives of course.  CCP is suggesting the Brave Newbies and EVE University wikis as alternatives in their post about the shut down.  And, of course, being in The Imperium, I have access to the Goon wiki as well.

And, one of the charms of EVElopedia is its wealth of somewhat outdated information.  There is still, as an example, a history lesson in how Domain sovereignty worked.  That information, while no longer relevant in the age of Fozzie Sov, is part of the rich history of New Eden, and I am loathe to see it disappear merely because it doesn’t reflect today’s reality.  There is also a host of items on the site related to the lore of New Eden, also part of the threads that have been spun together in order to create the fabric of the game as it stands today.

According to the post, some of the “prime” fiction and backstory will be archived to and put on another site at some future date

But I am primarily annoyed because, as noted in the title, I have tended to link out to EVElopedia quite a bit over the years, so a lot of links on the site are going to go dead.  This is the World Wide Web at its worst.

All the more so because I had alternatives, but I chose to link to the official EVE Online wiki because I thought that was less likely to just up and disappear with little notice than a user created site.  I guess CCP has made a fool out of me on that front.

Finally, I am more than a bit cheesed off about the seeming indecent haste in making the whole thing disappear.  Is there a reason it needs to be remove right fucking now?  Is there some fee due on March 1st if it remains?

Seriously, inviting people to save off what they might want with four days notice is a serious dick move.  I’m tempted to go try and rile up Jason Scott to see if we could get the internet archive team to save a copy of the whole thing.

And that idea is all the more compelling as I took a peek over at the Internet Archive and found that while the Wayback Machine has archived most of the top level items on the EVElopedia site, when you attempt to drill down to the actual articles, nothing is there.

There is a .sql file you can download, which promises it has all of the “player content” currently hosted.  But I am not sure what that really means.  It probably doesn’t include the wide array of classic graphics screen shots and the like, weighing in at only 102MB. (Also, DBVisualizer ran out of memory trying to open up the file.)

So I am pretty pissed about the whole thing.  Yes, this is old stuff and likely doesn’t matter to you, but it matters to me… and there is not much I can do about it.