Monthly Archives: September 2017

September in Review

The Site

I got another WordPress.com achievement.  Go me.

A New Record!

I think I hit that largely based on the impending death of Raptr, which is a bit sad when you consider it.  Still, go me.

Also, I got quite a spike in traffic this month from the Warzone event in EVE Online and from being linked in a post over at PC Gamer about the Circle of Two heist/betrayal.  The latter used my LOL Keepstar screen shot and nicely linked me as the source.

LOL bubbles at the Keepstar in 68FT-6

The Warzone event traffic, no doubt representing people trying to figure out how the event worked, seems indicative of CCP perhaps not thinking things through.  Or at least not communicating sufficient information about the event, especially in light of how past events under The Agency banner have been run.  (And how easy they were relative to Warzone.)

Anyway, one of my search terms of the month below is dedicated to CCP.

One Year Ago

It was the tenth anniversary of the blog.

I was looking back at day/night cycles and full zone respawns of yore.

My wife’s Pokemon Go account was hacked, but I recovered it pretty quickly.  That post brings in a lot of search engine traffic looking for ways to hack Pokemon Go accounts.  So many bad people.

Daybreak announced that both EverQuest and EverQuest II would be launching Kunark focused expansions, with Empires of Kunark slated for the former and Kunark Ascending for the latter.

Smed was taking his Hero’s Song project back to the crowdfunding arena again, this time via Indiegogo which, unlike Kickstarter, lets you keep the money even if you don’t meet your goal.

I was going on about problems EVE Online has getting new players to stick with the game… again.  We also had the YC118.8 Update which revamped a the look of mining barges and some frigates, among other thing.  It also launched the Purity of the Throne event that had me chasing white skins for Amarr ships.

There was also the ascension of Caitiz of House Tash-Murkon to the Amarr throne.  All those ships are still lined up in Amarr for some reason.  Did they have to wait a year for the first Jubilee?

And Alpha Clones would soon be a thing, so I was wondering what you could do with one.

In post-Casino War events the Imperium finished conquering Delve and a state of normalcy was starting to come to pass.  I also got my last ship out of Deklein.

And then there was World of Warcraft where the Legion expansion was off and running.  There was even an app for it.  I started off slowly as I figured things out and moved clockwise around the Broken Isles.  That didn’t stop me from checking up on my Draenor garrison though.

And then in one of those bullet point posts that I always hate a year later when it comes time to do the summary I covered Star Trek Online going to consoles, Legends of Norrath card packs, rewards for Omega players in EVE Online, and the then upcoming EVE Vegas.

Finally, No Man’s Sky launched, capping off yet another dismal episode of fan behavior.  After getting death threats for delaying the launch, Hello Games finally shipped the game only to have the fan base explode even more so when it was discovered that features that were straight up said to be in the product… multiplayer being the prime suspect… were not.  Still, it made a lot of money and features have since been added and it got its own Honest Game Trailers video.  There is, no doubt, lessons to be learned here.

Five Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remembered Spaceship Warlock.

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

The people at Stormpowered Studios started in against marriage.

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty Years Ago

Ultima Online launched.  Raph Koster has some accumulated memories of the game from over the years and a link to a video… and then he wrote some more about the game as it came about, what influenced it and what it influenced.

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

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. At the Camp in 68FT-6
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. The Agency Warzone Extraction Event in EVE Online
  4. Running some Warzone Extraction Event Sites
  5. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  6. Alpha Strike in New Eden
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. The Imperium Buys a Keepstar
  9. EQ2 Wire to Shut Down after Nine Years
  10. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  11. Missions and Content on Demand
  12. Quests, Missions, and Return on Investment

Search Terms of the Month

mallet of zul’farrak
[Still in my bank somewhere]

eve learning curve
[It is still a thing]

how to get to scarlet monastery
[Do people still walk there?]

torchlight 2 updates 2017
[That seems unlikely]

do you need to play pvp in mmorpg
[Only in the good ones]

future everquest game
[Maybe some day]

i’m thinking of resubbing to wow 2017
[Me too…]

eve online warzone extraction wtf?
[A question asked by many]

EVE Online

Well, after the CO2 betrayal caper things got sort of quiet.  I tinkered with alts and did some of the Warzone Extraction event sites, but there wasn’t a lot to draw me to New Eden after the camp at 68FT-6 drew down.

Guild Wars 2

There is a new expansion and people I know are playing which makes me sort of thing about maybe trying it some more.  I patched up at least.  My highest level character is 41 and hanging about in Harathi Hinterlands, which has to be the most Azeroth sounding zone in the game.  Otherwise, not a lot to report.

Lord of the Rings Online

I managed to get through another month of avoiding Mordor.  Seriously, I bought the expansion, have the character boost, but have not stepped foot into that dark land.  Then again, I hear it is brutal solo.  I did try to carry on with a character I boosted to level 95 previously.  However, the first place he was sent out of Rohan was the paths of the dead, which was also pretty tough for somebody still getting back into the swing of the game.

Minecraft

One of the members of our server built some giant monuments in the game, something I have been meaning to do a post about.  However my own efforts there have been somewhat desultory.  I log in, I work for a bit on the rail line I have going to the north mansion, then I log off.  Also, Minecraft Overviewer still hasn’t been updated for Windows, and I miss being able to update my map of the world.  The pain of open source and waiting for somebody to step up and do a build for you. (I’d give it a shot if you need a full version of Visual Studio.)

Pokemon Go

No big changes as the game carries on.  I still make sure to catch a Pokemon and hit a PokeStop every day.  There are rumors of third generation Pokemon showing up some day, but nothing concrete yet.

  • Level: 29 (+0, though I am closing in on 30)
  • Pokedex status: 189 (+1) caught, 222 (+3) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Gyrados, since the new legendaries are nigh on impossible
  • Current buddy: Magikarp… only 80km more to get enough candies for a Gyrados

Also, after months of saying she really wanted a Snorlax my wife finally had one hatch.  One evening she was reading a game message aloud, “Snorlax has battled hard…” and I was all, “When did you get a Snorlax?”  It had come from an egg earlier in the week and she hadn’t even noticed.  She just started putting it in gyms as soon as it showed up.

Pokemon Gold & Silver

I picked up a copy of Pokemon Silver from the Nintendo Store and started off on that adventure.  We’ll see how Pokemon from 1999 compares with Pokemon from 1996 and 2016.

Coming Up

Well, as I mentioned earlier in the month, there will be no more Raptr tomorrow.

Potshot had been tinkering with Medieval Engineers and, since it was on sale (and had been on my wishlist for a while), so I picked up a copy as well.  A post about it seems likely should I be able to engineer anything.

After the decapitation of Circle of Two in EVE Online we seem to be in another consolidation stage in the south end of null sec as former members of the alliance settle in with new groups.  Things will likely remain quiet for a bit on that front.

Still, we have the Life Blood expansion to look forward to as well as EVE Vegas, which I will be attending.

We’re likely to get more details about the upcoming EverQuest and EverQuest II expansions.

And, while BlizzCon itself isn’t until the first week of November, speculation as to what Blizzard will be talking about will no doubt be a hot topic in October.

I am sure something else will show up next month, but I can’t think of anything else at the moment.

Fippy Darkpaw – A Merger Too Late

Long has been the tale of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server and it has been quite some time since I last posted about it.

Fippy has been around for a while now

I started out playing on the Fippy Darkpaw server back when in launched in early 2011.  Potshot and I had our old school adventures for a time there.  And much fun was had. (You can click on the Fippy Darkpaw tag and scroll way down to read about us playing if that’s your thing.)  However the great big Sony hack that brought PSN and SOE games down for a couple of weeks killed our momentum and we fell out of the habit of playing and that was that.

But the server went on.  Such servers have their own lives.  I continued to follow major events on the server… votes and expansion unlocks… but at the time SOE was so bad at publicizing the server that I had to depend on people complaining in the forum about problems with new expansions to figure out when something changed.

I will say that Daybreak did get on board with their special servers and now broadcast updates prominently.  Good for them.

Eventually I gave up on following the server.  I made it to the Underfoot expansion in July of 2014 and that was about it.  Somewhere I said I would probably have two more posts at some future date, when Fippy Darkpaw merged with its twin the Vulak server and when the pair were eventually rolled into a live server.  That was the fate of the previous progression servers, The Sleeper and The Combine.

Now the first has come about, the Fippy Darkpaw server is slated to be merged with the Vulak’Aerr server in the latter half of October.  October 18th, to be specific.

My initial reaction was wonder that it took this long to get to a merger.

The two servers were the result of the usual unbounded enthusiasm that a new retro server tends to bring out in the EverQuest community.  That enthusiasm has a limit however.  After having two full servers for a short amount of time Daybreak/SOE tended to end up with one viable server and one sparsely populated one.  So people were calling for a Fippy Darkpaw/Vulak merger at least five years ago if not earlier.  But somehow the two marched forward on their own, probably more out of neglect than any actual plan.

Daybreak has since launched more such servers and has gone on to bring over multiple zone spawning technology from EverQuest II in order to handle the initial surge of players without having to double down on server creation.  The community split/merge problem has been reasonably addressed.

However, they still have two pairs of launch twins, Fippy Darkpaw/Vulak and Ragefire/Lockjaw.  The older pair now has a merger in their future and I expect that the newer pair will get the same treatment as well at some point.

The question, I suppose, is who will this impact?  Both sets of servers do not see much in the way of load these days.  There is a tendency to jump on the latest retro server when it shows up, and with Phinigel and Agnarr servers having shown up, a lot of people have moved on.  In my opinion the best part of any such server is everybody starting fresh.  But some community forms and sticks with servers even after the new server smell fades and the short term enthusiasts like myself wander off.

Anyway, something else to add to the tale of the Fippy Darkpaw server events.  According to the FAQ at the end of the announcement, the Fippy Darkpaw server is currently on The Darkened Sea expansion, which means it has only moved on five expansions since I last reported on it. That leaves only The Broken Mirror and Empires of Kunark to complete before catching up with the live servers.

My event list up until this point:

  • Fippy Darkpaw server goes live with classic EQ content, February 15, 2011
  • Classic EverQuest competed, February 24, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark unlocked, June 6, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark completed, June 19, 2011
  • Scars of Velious unlocked, August 29, 2011
  • Scars of Velious completed, September 14, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin unlocked, November 21, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin completed, December 4, 2011
  • Planes of Power unlocked, February 13, 2012
  • Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Legacy of Ykesah unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 7, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 21, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, June 4, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlocked at last, June 18, 2012
  • Omens of War unlocked, September 10, 2012
  • Omens of War complete, September 12, 2012
  • Dragons of Norrath unlocked without a vote, November 13, 2012
  • Prophecy of Ro completed, April 26, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine unlocked, July 16, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine complete, July 19, 2013
  • The Buried Sea unlock vote goes up, September 23, 2013
  • The Buried Sea unlocked, October 7, 2013
  • The Buried Sea complete, October 9, 2013
  • Echoes of Faydwer complete, ~end of January 2014
  • Seeds of Destruction unlocked, May 1, 2014
  • Seeds of Destruction complete, May 12, 2014
  • Underfoot unlock vote fails, July 14, 2014
  • Daybreak announces Fippy Darkpaw/Vulak merge – September 22, 2017

And so it goes.  It looks like there will be a couple more entries on this list before the server goes away.  Also, this was totally going to just be the last bullet point on the previous post until I realized that I had a tradition of over-long posts about the Fippy Darkpaw server to uphold.

Friday Bullet Points for the End of September

Another one of those round up posts to quickly cover some things I thought about working up posts around, but which never quite materialized.

CCP Closes the Gate

CCP announced that as of Wednesday the EVE Gate portal on the EVE Online site has been shut down.

You shall not log in!

The EVE Gate, for those who do not know… which is probably most people reading this… was a portal that allowed players to log in and access their in-game email and calendar.  It should not be confused with the in-game EVE Gate of lore, which is how humans first arrived in New Eden.

I’m not sure how big of a deal this really is.  I think I used it twice over the years.  I don’t get much in-game email really, as my corp, alliance, and coalition have other preferred communications methods.

Riverini returned to EN24 to write a post about the demise of EVE Gate.  As CCP notes, you can use their phone app or, if you want, you can use a third party app like Neocom.  I find the latter is much more useful overall, though it won’t let you send mail.

CCP is NOT Turning Japanese

Earlier this year CCP announced that they were cancelling their deal with Nexon for Japanese localization.  NEXON was a mixed bag for EVE in Japan, so CCP decided to carry on with a single Japanese speaking employee.  Sad for the Japanese community, but at least CCP was trying to carry on with support.

I want to hear Falcon read this in Vegas

However, things have taken a further turn as CCP has asked a lone Japanese speaking ISD member to stop translating patch notes and posting them to the forums.  The person in question was doing this on their own time, but CCP felt it was confusing as it was not officially sanctioned and there was some disagreement over the translations as converting EVE Online lore and mechanics from English to Japanese is problematic at the best of times.  The tale of this, with some translation examples, is in a Reddit thread.

Free Brittania!

Ultima Online has been celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, which I haven’t covered at all since I never played it.  I think Lord British and I parted ways at about Ultima V.

Welcome indeed

The game is still alive and rolling and trying to keep pace with the changes in the industry under Broadsword’s stewardship.  Over at Massively OP it was mentioned that, along those lines, Broadsword was looking into some sort of “free” option.  As the FAQ on the UO site indicates, free will mean giving up some options that I am sure any serious player would not want to do without.  The option is called the “Endless Journey” as is supposed to arrive in Spring 2018.

Expansions Coming to Norrath, But Not for Free

Both the EverQuest and EverQuest II sites have made it clear that we’ll be seeing the usual yearly expansions again for 2017.

For EverQuest it will be the Rings of Scale, while EverQuest II will be going old school again with the Planes of Prophecy.

We don’t know much beyond the names yet, but the usual warm up events have been kicking off and last year’s expansions are now 50% off for those late to the party.

One of the usual aspects of this phase is the addition of some past expansion to the free to play access level of the game.  Usually you can buy the latest and the previous expansion and everything before that is open for everybody.  But no longer.  As Massively OP reported (a pity Feldon isn’t around for this, he’d have done a nice full story on this), when asked when the soon to be in third place Terrors of Thalumbra expansion might be made free, the official response was:

We will not be adding anything further to the F2P line-up.

Harsh words, but perhaps the flip side of something Daybreak has said before.  The Planet Side 2 team opined in the past that there is a point of diminishing returns when piling on things for subscribers.  Now we’re seeing EverQuest II declining to remove something from the paid column.

I have not seen word as to whether the EverQuest expansion The Broken Mirror will face a similar path in not moving to the free zone, but I expect that will also be the case.

And that is it for items on my list.  I’m sure I will hate myself a year from now when I try to put these into my “One Year Ago” summary.

SuperData Research says PUBG Passed WoW for August

As the month of September rolls to a close it is time to see what has changed on SuperData Research’s digital revenue charts for August.

SuperData Research Top 10 – August 2017

On the PC side of the house League of Legends remains nailed to the top of the chart while Dungeon Fighter Online and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II swapped spots since last month and Crossfire remained in its 4th place position.

New to fifth place this month is the ever exploding PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which passed World of Warcraft, pushing it down into sixth place.

After that World of Tanks stayed in place, Overwatch moved up a spot, DOTA 2 fell from eighth to tenth, and CS:GO climbed back onto the chart, pushing ROBLOX back off the list.

At the other end of the chart the only mobile games I pay attention to remained solid, with Candy Crush Saga holding onto ninth place again while Pokemon Go jumped up from seventh to fifth position.

Other notes from the SuperData blog post, consolidated to reduce redundancy:

  • The worldwide digital video games market grew 11% year-over-year in August to $7.9B. The premium PC segment shrank 10% year-over-year, despite PUBG’s breakout success, due to tough comparisons against No Man’s Sky release, World of Warcraft: Legion expansion launch, and Overwatch’s first event and new map last year. Social and pay-to-play MMO segments continue to decline at a rate of 4% and 25% respectively. Console and mobile grew 11% and 13%, respectively. The free-to-play MMO market was the big winner this month, growing 28% year-over-year, as more publishers and developers adopt this business model.
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds continues to dominate PC game sales, despite still being in Steam Early Access. PUBG is the number 1 premium PC game for the 3rd month in a row and has overtaken World of Warcraft on the total PC games list for the first time. Total life-to-date sales close to 9 million units through August
  • Hearthstone hits all-time revenue peak with Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. Blizzard’s CCG reached a new high this month. This marks a 15% increase over their previous peak.
  • Overwatch PC monthly active users reach new highs due to successive updates. On the back of a string of updates that introduced a new character, two new game modes, and the return of the “Summer Games” event, Overwatch recorded its highest MAU yet.
  • Madden NFL 18 sells over 220,000 digital units at launch. Sales were up compared to last year’s launch month units for Madden NFL 17. We also estimate modest additional content growth on the back of new in-game DLC packs available this year.

Fall Movie League – Of Cabbages and Kingsman

Week four of the fall Fantasy Movie League gave us a few options when it came to filling out eight screens.

The three obvious anchors were It, which was entering its third week, Kingsman: Golden Circle, a sequel to the 2014 Kingsman: The Secret Service, and the third entry for big screen LEGO releases, LEGO Ninjago.  The pricing was:

 Kingsman: Golden Circle $511
 LEGO Ninjago Movie      $389
 It                      $352
 American Assassin       $68
 Friend Request          $66
 Mother!                 $34
 Home Again              $32
 Brad's Status           $22
 Hitman's Bodyguard      $19
 Wind River              $15
 Leap!                   $13
 Annabelle Creation      $12
 Spider-Man              $11
 Battle of the Sexes     $8
 Dunkirk                 $7

At the start of the week the studio estimates had It in at a solid, predictable $30 million.  That would have been my guess if asked.  Kingsman was being pushed as high as $45 million in predictions, while LEGO Ninjago was being considered for about $35 million.

With that sort of pricing spread and predictions, LEGO Ninjago seemed like the obvious anchor to me.  No only was it sizing up as a better price/performer than the alternatives, but it seemed solid to me as it was the only kids movie to hit the screen.  Of course, as somebody who loves LEGO, I might have been emotionally invested, but how could a LEGO movie miss?

The to fill in I went with two screens each of American Assassin, Home Again, and Battle of the Sexes.  While the latter was only on 20 screens I figured it still might beat its price competitor, Dunkirk, and maybe even squeeze out a best price/performance if LEGO Ninjago didn’t grab that.

My Fall Week Four Picks

Even when the Thursday night totals came in, reinforcing Kingsman and It in their respective estimates, I did not swap.  LEGO Ninjago did not have a preview night, which could have been a danger sign had the studio not glibly declared it a school night.  I bought that even as I was tinkering with a line up that had one screen of Kingsman and seven of American Assassin.  I have witness is Slack that I was contemplating such a line up.

That was the point in time when I could have been at least tied for first place for the week.

Instead I stuck with LEGO Ninjago and was let down.  As you can see from the image above it barely crossed the $20 million mark, far from the early week estimate.  I blame the lack of a Batman appearance, the hallmark of successful LEGO big screen ventures so far.

In the meta league a lot of people went with LEGO as well.  We’re all down at the bottom while those who bet on Kingsman are at the top, with the top two tied using the Kingsman line up I was considering.  Damn!

  1. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $82,812,329
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $82,812,329
  3. Kraut Screens (T) – 80,896,439
  4. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $80,388,701
  5. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $73,146,908
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $67,722,939
  7. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $65,969,112
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $65,969,112
  9. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $65,969,112
  10. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $64,872,588
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $61,124,362
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $60,610,822
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $58,501,206
  14. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $48,421,081

Meta League legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
  • Liore’s Summer League – players from it marked with an (L)

[We had one new addition to the TAGN league, Darren, and I dropped Bel from the Liore league as he stopped picking.]

Basically, if the score was over $67 million, that person went with Kingsman, and if it was under, they went with LEGO Ninjago.  Also Dunkirk beat Battle of the Sexes.  At least I got a bit of a boost from Home Again, the price/performance winner.

And yet there was a surprise twist.  The perfect pick of the week included neither Kingsman nor LEGO NinjagoIt was the anchor of the perfect pick again, with a heavy helping of Home Again, a selection good for close to $98 million.

Fall Week Four Perfect Pick

Damn meddling clowns!

That left the standings for the Meta League as follows:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $354,348,845
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $344,853,444
  3. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $333,425,631
  4. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $325,759,23
  5. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $323,286,545
  6. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $321,586,050
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $314,900,377
  8. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $310,149,811
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $304,352,727
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $263,203,132
  11. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $258,240,572
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $232,327,410
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $230,870,243
  14. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $67,722,939

Reminder: The bottom of that list is (mostly) people who started a week or two… or three… late.

And so we head into week five where a number of new titles are joining the fray.  The FML pricing for week five looks like this:

Kingsmen: Golden Circle $256 
American Made           $225
It                      $214
LEGO Ninjago Movie      $168
Flatliners              $143
Battle of the Sexes     $72
A Question of Faith     $42
American Assassin       $40
Home Again              $28
Mother!                 $21
Stronger                $20
Hitman's Bodyguard      $12
Friend Request          $11
Wind River              $10
Spider-Man              $9

Somehow Kingsman in its second week is supposed to be a better performer than American Made, a Tom Cruise movie with him in a totally Tom Cruise role.  What has this country come to when a Tom Cruise movie, with Tom Cruise in a role he was born to play, Tom Cruise, cannot top the charts on its opening weekend? (And stop bringing up The Mummy.)

Ah well.

In addition we have Flatliners, A Question of Faith, and Stronger making their debuts on the list while Battle of the Sexes is now out in general release.

I have to think Tom Cruise is the pick for anchor this week.  It has decent reviews, it will be on many screens, and it is freakin’ Tom Cruise.  It has got to do better than the initial $16 million projection.  I guess you know where I stand right now.  We’ll see if I change when updated estimates, social media penetration numbers, and Thursday night preview results come in.

Warzone and EVE Valkyrie sans VR

The free Warzone expansion to EVE: Valkyrie adapts the high-immersion experience of virtual reality to computer and TV screens. Valkyrie pilots can now fly and fight together with or without a VR headset.

EVE: Valkyrie site

Today is the day that CCP launches their Warzone expansion for EVE Valkyrie.  Owners of CCP’s VR title get some new content for free, expanding the options of a game that has been criticized for being limited in depth.

The point of the Warzone Extraction event in EVE Online has ostensible been to draw attention to this new addition to EVE Valkyrie, though I am not sure it has done much in that regard.

Launching Today

And while I am sure that more content good news for people who already have the game, the big news here is the expansion of the target audience beyond those who have ponied up a few hundred dollars for a VR headset.  This is why CCP wants to make EVE players aware of this update.

Warzone, now without the VR requirement

I suppose it is easy enough to explain why CCP went this route; removing the VR requirement increases their potential audience manifold, starting with a few hundred thousand current and former EVE Online players they can market to directly… if they can figure that out.

I am not sure what the system requirements are yet.  The entry over at Steam still matches the Oculus Rift system requirements, of which my rig is just shy.  I have the processor indicated but need a video card upgrade.  I suspect that the requirements for running without VR should be less, but I do not know for sure. [Update: INN has the non-VR requirements and they are reduced.]

But is there also a message about the current state of VR in this move to support a non-VR option?  I see lots of rosy predictions for the future growth of VR and if you Google you can find numbers that show that over 100 million VR headsets had shipped by the end of 2016.  But if you dig in you find out that almost all of those were Google Cardboard and it seems much less impressive.  And there is no “killer app” yet to move the more expensive headsets more quickly.

Anyway, EVE Valkyrie is now VR optional.

I will be interested to hear how it plays without VR.  I should still have a special item waiting for me in the game courtesy of the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition I got back in 2013.

Templar Fighter could be mine… is that even a thing in the game?

Of course, I’m not sure how to collect it.  It is attached to the somewhat maligned CCP Mystery Code from the collector’s edition.  I am sure the card is somewhere in my office at home, but I couldn’t tell you where.  Until I find it I suppose I can watch the launch trailer.

 

Quote of the Day – The Optimism of Software Developers

Software developers at all levels tend to be optimistic – you have to be to build big things

Chris Roberts, EuroGamer interview

In my experience, developer optimism is the true state of affairs on every software project, big or small, and I can think of a few on which I have worked that wouldn’t have been started had we known up front how long they would take.

One of the tricks in managing software projects is understanding that the estimates that software developers give often need to be decoded to understand what the real number is likely to be.

There is an old saw about software project estimates that says you should take the time a developer says a task will take, double it, then go up a unit of measure.  So if your dev says it should take a day, you should assume it will be delivered in two weeks.

Of course you can’t develop a project plan that way.  If all your developer time estimates add up to a month and you say the project will take two years, you’re going to get fired.  And, in any case, with any software project you’ve probably been given the feature list and the deadline in advance, so you really have to start stack ranking features by importance to know where to focus.  Of course, marketing will rank every feature as a “1” so good luck there.

Still, if you know your team you’ll know how to interpret estimates.  You’ll know who chronically underestimates and who has other tasks that might interfere with the project.  I used to work with one dev who was always spot-on with his estimates of how long it would take him to finish any task.  The problem was that he was the key database guy on a product that was completely database driven, so spent more than half his time debugging field issues and helping out with new installations, tasks always deemed more critical than project work.  So his estimate of a day of effort for a task would be correct, you just wouldn’t know when he would have a day to focus on it.

And don’t even get me started on having a dependence on third party libraries and such.

Anyway, this is why most companies keep their projects vague and under wraps until they get close to launch.  Maybe a company will put out a road map with some general milestones, but even those tend to fall over beyond a six month window and get swept under the rug to be forgotten.

So running a project where you’re trying to do everything out in the open in front of customers… that way lies madness.  It would be nothing but outsiders kibitzing, asking for updates, and holding you to account for everything you’ve ever said would be a feature.

I am not sure why anybody would subject themselves to that.