Monthly Archives: October 2017

October in Review

The Site

Odd that this, a month in review post, is also my yearly Halloween post.  That is kind of anti-climactic… unless you really like these posts I guess.

Meanwhile, the only amusing site-related bit for the month was this message I got over on Facebook.

My flaming fart joke falls afoul of Facebook

Yes, you can follow the blog on Facebook by friending Wilhelm Arcturus there.  Friend him, he’ll accept.  It is just blog posts from here, EVE Online Pictures, and updates from Good Reads, if you’re interesting in what I am reading.  I don’t play crappy Facebook games any more because, so far as I can tall, all Facebook games are crappy.  Thanks Zynga!

Anyway, Facebook seemed to think that the lighting of farts was an indicator of spam.  Or such is my guess.

Given all the absolute garbage that gets “suggested” to me by Facebook, not to mention all of the alleged Russian sponsored political ads that Facebook is trying to pretend didn’t happen, flagging my post as spam seems almost comical.  That’s some top notch work there Facebook.  I bet it wouldn’t be spam if I paid you some money.  Glad you’re on the job.

I filled out the form declaring that my post was not spam.  Well, it isn’t spam any more than anything I post here is spam, but spam is in the eye of the beholder I suppose.  I haven’t been back to check to see if they agreed.  That account is a bit on auto-pilot.

Happy Halloween all the same!  Go “like” this post on Facebook or something!

One Year Ago

Amazon’s game studio announced some games including the alleged MMO New World.  Being given almost no information about New World did not stop some people from banging the hype drum, boosting expectations, and generally setting themselves up for disappointment.

Also announced was the Nintendo Switch, which would allow millenials to play video games at roof-top parties if the trailer was to be take literally.

Civilization VI launched and became the first Civ title I did not acquire at the soonest opportunity.  It just didn’t excite me.  Instead I was getting my strategy game fix with Stellaris.

I reviewed the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign a year later.  The units were nine months late with no end to the wait in sight.

I made it to level 20 in Pokemon Go.  There was also a Halloween event.

Tom Chilton of unfortunate quote fame let out another one when he said that World of Warcraft had over 10 million subscribers again after the Legion expansion launch.  Blizzard, having taken a vow of silence on subscription numbers the year before, denied everything and claimed he was mis-quoted.

Over at Daybreak they were discontinuing game cards and taking H1Z1: King of the Kill off of Station Cash as an RMT currency.  They did give us firm dates for the two Kurnak based expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

In EVE Online, while we were fortifying Delve our foes in the Casino War began to turn on each other, with Pandemic Legion and their followers declaring their intention to take Tribute and Vale of the Silent away from Circle of Two and TEST.  All I could do was give a Nelson Muntz, “Haw-haw!” at that turn of events.

Still, that wasn’t half as much fun as CCP declaring casinos against the EULA with the coming of the Ascension expansion.  Our foes would have to actually earn ISK in-game.  I wondered what that would do to the economy.

We also got the YC118.9 update which, among other things, meant the death of the in-game browser.  We did get breast cancer awareness skins.  Yay, pink skins!

At our end of New Eden there was a lot to do.  I was fighting the Blood Raider menace with my Ishtar and looking for ways to help the coalition.  Reavers turned two years old and were blowing up citadels and fighting over timers in Querious.  The coalition itself was ranging up into Fountain with a new doctrine.

And in World of Warcraft the Legion got its first post-launch content drop while my own enthusiasm for the expansion was starting to wane.

Finally, I was at EVE Vegas, but since it lasted through Halloween I didn’t post about it until November.  Also, a new version of my blogger feed was operating in the side bar.

Five Years Ago

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  That made the second time in my life, which was one more than I had any reason to hope for.

Disney bought out Lucasfilm, claiming ownership of Star Wars.  Panic ensued.

Zynga was well into its troubles, leaving me to wonder how Lord British viewed his partnership with the imploding company.  Certainly the Zynga business plan seemed… childish?

I had a sudden crescendo of activity around World of Warcraft, culminating in Blizzard finally letting me cancel my subscription.  There was the Panda launch and people declaring success or failure.

Instead I was off in the Emerald Dream pirate server attempting to relive what WoW was like back in 2006.  In involved a shovel.  Vanilla WoW nostalgia drove a sudden surge of traffic to the blog.

The first Project: Gorgon kickstarter kicked off.

I was invited on a pre-release tour of the Storm Legion expansion in Rift.  Then there was the big update to the soul system, some adventures in Lantern Hook, and the Autumn Harvest Festival.

In World of Tanks the word of the day was Sturmgeschütz.

Storm Eagle Studios was again worried about my marriage.

There was some trolling about free to play.

Lord of the Rings Online launched the Rider of Rohan expansion.  I eventually picked it up for Turbine Points… or LOTRO Points… or whatever.  I haven’t actually played through it yet.

In EVE Online we got the Retribution expansion that updated all that crime watch stuff.  At least visible timers ended up being cool.

EVE-Kill was looking for donations to keep everybody’s then-favorite kill board up and running.  It has since died, so I guess that didn’t work out in the long run.  Also in that post, there was a new EVE site up called The Mittani dot com (worst name ever), something about sound in EVE Online (who knew?), and the dawn of miner bumping.  This is why I hate those bullet point posts one, five, and ten years later.

I was off on a CSAA killing mission that got me accused of cognitive dissonance.  I was feeling warm and cozy in null sec.  We were also pursuing our foes in Tribute and the Vale of the Silent.

I was wondering how EA Louse’s comments about Star Wars: The Old Republic were holding up two years after he made them.

I was complaining about games (or, in my 30+ year old example, a game master) that try to impose their story on your character.   I don’t mind being a part of the overall story, but my characters have their own stories and motivations and I do not like it when games put their own words in my character’s mouth.

And, finally, there was the case for seat belts.

Ten Years Ago

For about 20 minutes the blog had a different theme.

In EVE Online I finally finished my training and was actually flying a Hulk!  Being mining focused, I went out and calculated which asteroids were the most profitable to mine.  Veldspar rated surprisingly high.  I was also calculating the cost of producing light missiles, probably the only time I really used a spreadsheet for EVE Online.  “Spreadsheets in Space” is a lie.

I also figured out that with 120 billion ISK and a year of training, I could fly a Titan, but I couldn’t fire the main weapon system.

Blizzard made its first big cut in the amount of experience needed to get to level 60 in World of Warcraft.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

There was SOE’s Station Access Savings Calculator.

EA announced it was buying BioWare for $860 million.  It seemed like MMOs might be in EA’s future again, as BioWare was already known to be at work on one.  Meanwhile, I was trying to work up a set of criteria on evaluating whether an MMO would be a success or not.

I was going on about THE REAL PROBLEM with voice chat in video games.

Mario Kart Double Dash was our Wii game of the moment.  My daughter was also playing Webkinz, though some of her friend’s got their mothers to play for them.

I found one of the rare Golden C-3P0 mini figures in a LEGO package.  I was also looking at the stack of old Dungeons & Dragons books at the used book store up the street from work. (Both my work and the book store are long since gone.)

The instance group finished up Zul’Farrk and went after one wing, then the other, in Maraudon.  We were closing in on level 50 across the group.  I also got a horde character to level 40… I think he is still level 40 today. I was also excited to get a 16 slot bag drop!  Also, being able to craft from items in the bank, as we now can, would have helped me a lot.  Meanwhile I finally read some quest text closely.

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising was put on indefinite hold, which lead to a headline contest.

In the post-launch downturn for Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine was out polling players about what they wanted… and what they would pay for.

As usual, with the coming of autumn, the rains, and a new expansion I again became nostalgic for EverQuest.  I was also playing around with some ideas for Secrets of Faydwer packaging.

Also, Team Fortress 2 launched.

Twenty Years Ago

Age of Empires and the first Grand Theft Auto launched.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  3. Lost in Legion
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Home From EVE Vegas 2017
  6. RimWorld Ate My Gaming Time
  7. The Demise of BattleClinic
  8. VR Development Dead and Layoffs at CCP
  9. Daybreak 30 Months In
  10. Lifeblood comes to EVE Online
  11. Three Years of Reavers
  12. Attribute Remap in New Eden

Mildly amusing that the end of month post Lost in Legion made it up to third place on the list so quickly.  Writing about WoW attracts views.  Also amusing is how the top two posts on the list have persisted for so long.  There is a reason for the first, there being NO national Pokedex in Pokemon Sun & Moon, however the second seems… odd.  Are people really looking for an EverQuest successor?  They keep coming here in search of that.  I’m not sure my post is much help in that regard.

Search Terms of the Month

eve jaspet mining strategies
[Go find some in your Venture and mine it. Warp off if somebody shows up.]

eve online change name
[As bad as the name is, I don’t think they’re going to change it]

new everquest game
[Maybe, some day… probably not an MMO though]

any games succeeded everquest
[Technically EverQuest II I suppose]

level 20-25 planarite bow rift
[The way you level up, you won’t use it for long I bet]

“october 15 2017” torilmud
[An oddly specific date]

blizzcon predictions 2017
[I sort of did that yesterday]

why make flying in draenor so difficult
[Wait until you get to Legion buddy]

EVE Online

There was EVE Vegas.  We also got a big update with the Lifeblood expansion last week.  The repercussions of that will likely take a while to settle down.  But actually, in-game, I did not do a lot in New Eden.  I went on one actual strategic op, got two PAP links, and that was about it.  Oh, and I remapped my attributes.  I’m barely down from that high.  Woo.  Perhaps The Agency revamp and the Crimson Harvest event will give me something to do.

RimWorld

Holy moly, this is probably why I wasn’t playing EVE Online… or anything else… for at least half the month.  Steam says I put in a lot of hours playing RimWorld… which isn’t a game you play so much as tinker with and adjust and watch until you realize it is way past when you planned to go to bed.  I eventually hit a threshold with it, but for a while that was pretty much all that was running on my computer.

Grim Dawn

This was on a Steam sale when the game launched an expansion.  It had long been on my wish list, so I decided to grab it.  I haven’t spent too much time with it, but it really seems to be the ideal Diablo clone; same enough that you get it right away, but different enough to not feel like a straight up copy.  Unfortunately the timing was bad and I started off in WoW and have slacked off.  I’ll have to return to it and write something about it, but SynCaine was effusive about it back in March and so far I agree.  Tops Diablo III, Path of Exile, Torchlight II, and the Titan Quest remaster in my early, and perhaps premature, opinion.

Pokemon Go

I hit level 30, a milestone indeed, though the path from there to level 40 is much longer than the path I have already trod.  Then there was the Halloween event which offered double candy, something that helped my finally evolve a Magikarp into a Gyrados.  It takes 400 candies to get there and Magikarp are rare in my neck of the woods.  My next goal is to get a Blissey because I want to be that level 30 jerk with one in a gym that can’t be taken down by people level 25 or under.

  • Level: 30 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 204 (+15) caught, 236 (+14) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Blissey
  • Current buddy: Chansey, because I only need 10 more candies to evolve it to Blissey

Pokemon Silver

I started off playing for a bit, but let that fall to the wayside with the coming of RimWorld.  I haven’t even gotten to the first gym yet.   Still, it is playable and clearly a solid entry that helped cement the Pokemon saga as a staple of Nintendo’s handheld titles.  I own a 3DS XL to play Pokemon.

World of Warcraft

I resubscribed.  I want to fly in Legion.  I am still figuring out where I left off a year ago.  But I will say returning to WoW and all of its polished smoothness is still a good feeling even when I’m mildly frustrated about what the hell I should be doing.  I seem to be on course now, immersed in a task, though the mount of the Headless Horseman still eludes me.

Coming Up

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. 

So we have that to look forward to.   Seems apropos this year. 

But by the time that rolls around BlizzCon 2017 will have come and gone and we’ll be more the wiser… or not.  Despite my prediction back in January, it seems likely we’ll all be talking about a new expansion for WoW rather than Guy Fawkes.  I waxed a bit about that in yesterday’s post.

I expect we’ll have a broader look at the upcoming expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II, the latter being set to arrive during the last week of the month.

Given the big expansion in EVE Online I’m not sure we’re slated to get a November update.  They may just be pushing bug fixes through until December when they have a few more items in store.  And the disruption that layoffs and re-orgs cause lends more weight to “not much going on in November” idea.

Nintendo will be launching Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon in the latter half of the month.  I should get that pre-ordered to get my discount on Amazon and make sure my old 3DS XL is charged up.

And then there is the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, the gateway to winter, Christmas, New Years, and a bunch of predictable annual posts.  We’ll get there soon enough.

VR Development Dead and Layoffs at CCP

One of those “note the time and date” posts, Massively OP reported earlier today that CCP was backing away from development of Virtual Reality games, closing their Atlanta office and selling off the studio in Newcastle responsible for now VR-optional Oculus Rift launch title EVE: Valkyrie.  This will mean a job loss for as many as 100 CCP employees world wide, including 30 in Iceland.

EVE: Valkyrie in stasis

CCP says that they will continue to support their VR products but will no longer be investing time into new development for EVE: Valkyrie, EVE Gunjack, or the recently launched Sparc.  That sounds nice, but once you cut the development team restarting on a VR project won’t be easy.

Hello VR captain’s quarters?

In addition to a renewed focus on EVE Online… because what else is making them any money… CCP will continue with development of the shooter known as Project Nova as well as the EVE Universe themed mobile game Project Aurora, which was demoed at EVE Vegas earlier this month.

CCP Falcon had the following to say on Reddit:

With regards to EVE, it’s kind of bittersweet that this puts us in a more solid position going forward, as a lot more focus is back on EVE Online, its services and all the technology and support around it.

The EVE Online development team was not impacted at all by these changes, and remains the same size, working toward the same goals and features that have already been announced.

While that may be so, one of the losses with the Atlanta office is CCP Manifest who was the PR and social media lead who paid a lot of attention to the EVE Online community.  Likewise CCP Logibro who minded the fansites and worked with the CSM appears to be on the list.   They will be missed.

We shall see what this means in the longer term.  EVE Online remains the only money making video game for the company.

Other coverage:

Will BlizzCon 2017 Announce a New WoW Expansion?

It is that time of the year again and BlizzCon looms, just a few days off.  I am now in the midst of my internal monologue BlizzCon Virtual Ticket debate.

Virtual Ticket Decision Time

The Blizzard watching portion of online gaming journalists seem to think it is pretty much a lock that the next World of Warcraft expansion will be announced on Friday.  If that is the case, then I definitely want the Virtual Ticket.  As I have said before, there is often as much in the way people say things as the text they are speaking.

I have found, in years past, the quick transcriptions and summaries of video game journalists to not only fail to deliver the “feel” of a presentation but to occasionally boarder on near deceitfulness, albeit unintentional, when passing on information.

A problem of journalism in all areas of the press.  I used to swear at the local paper because every story I had first hand knowledge of would invariably contain errors in material fact.

Anyway, if there is to be an announcement about the next WoW expansion, I want to get the Virtual Ticket so I can watch and re-watch key presentations.

And certainly such an announcement seems likely, if only because of historical precedent.  Every other BlizzCon tends to be an expansion announcement, with the off year being the year the expansion ships.  The only exception this decade has been WoW Legion, and they had to announce that before BlizzCon in 2015 because Blizzard so badly fumbled content pacing for Warlords of Draenor that they needed some good news to off-set the record loss of subscribers they had to announce just two days before. (They subsequently stopped talking about subscription numbers, except for that Tom Chilton slip.)   They didn’t even have the cinematic set to go, a standard part of past announcements, which I found indicative of their haste to find good news to spread.

So aside from that exception, BlizzCon on odd numbered years seems to be a pretty likely time to hear about the next bi-annual-ish expansion.

The problem is that there hasn’t been the usual smoking gun.  Nobody who has been dumpster diving in the game assets has found a map of a new area or splash screen with a new name, just some sporadic items that could be part of a new expansion, but might not be.  And it is awfully early for Blizzard to be putting assets into the live game files for something that is likely to be at least a year off.  That makes me think all of that speculation is just finding the black cat in the dark room that isn’t there.

Meanwhile, Blizzard itself hasn’t screwed up and accidentally posted the new expansion page on their site early again or had somebody on the team leaking information, the usual harbingers of an expansion announcement.  Of course, the week is still young.  There is time yet.

And the BlizzCon schedule itself doesn’t exactly scream “expansion coming!” with extra WoW sessions with vague titles.

The kick-off of the BlizzCon 2017 schedule

Yes, after the opening keynote the next thing on the big stage is an hour of WoW, but aside from pride of place, that isn’t much different than the Overwatch or Hearthstone panels on the main stage.  (Well, Hearthstone doesn’t get a full hour because even *I* can tell you “what’s next” there, more card packs to buy lest you fall behind the meta.)

So while logic and my gut both agree that an expansion announcement is highly likely, but I haven’t seen anything yet that guarantees it.

And, without that announcement and the subsequent discussions wallowing in what details Blizz cares to share, is there anything else I want out of BlizzCon?

Overwatch – I don’t play it, so any announcement there has naught to do with me.

Hearthstone – Play it occasionally, very casually, with the free cards, so the inevitable new card pack announcement isn’t going to mean anything beyond being beaten by newer and more powerful decks.

Heroes of the Storm – Hahahaha!

StarCraft – I don’t care so much about StarCraft II and we already got the remastered version of the original StarCraft earlier this year, so not much for me there.

Diablo – Blizzard has said there won’t be anything for the Diablo franchise.  The schedule only shows two presentations, one about visual effects and one about community.  There is no “what’s next” panel.  Last year was the 20th anniversary, which got us a special event, and we got the necromancer mini-pack earlier this year, so unless they have news about that Diablo II remaster that came up back in 2015 (along with the StarCraft remaster which, as noted, we got!) it would be hard to come up with something that would interest me much.

Which leaves me with World of Warcraft and maybe a Warcraft III remaster, the third leg of that remastering thing from 2015.

So what do you think?  Expansion announcement or not?  Sounds like an excuse for a poll.

There is a poll above this line, which might get eaten by AdBlock.  I pay not to have ads here, so blocking them is mildly futile I suppose.

As I said above, I am inclined to believe there will be an expansion announcement, not only because of past history, but also because I am not sure how WoW goes forward for another year without one.  How could they NOT have an expansion announcement?  But one might also ask how they could let some past expansions molder for as long as a year with no updates.

I will probably get the Virtual Ticket.

But if there isn’t an announcement, will there be anything else worthwhile?

Chasing the Headless Horseman Year after Year

I didn’t come back to WoW just to run the Hallow’s End even again, but I came back when the event was live, so I figure I might as well carry on in my ongoing effort to get the elusive mount.

201 mounts, but not HIS mount

I don’t know how many years in a row this makes in futile pursuit of that one Hallow’s End prize I have yet to obtain.  But I keep on queuing up.  At least it is quick.

The queue generally pops in under five minutes

This year I only have two characters that can realistically run the event.  Out of a pile of six level 100s at the end of Warlords of Draenor only two have gone into Legion so far.  So twice a day, every day, I give it a shot.

Occasionally I get something good.  I got the Horseman’s Horrific Hood on my first run with Vikund, an ilevel 880 helm that was a big upgrade over what he was wearing.

Vikund with the new helm

Of course, with WoW’s wacky cosmetic system, I had to go find the NPC to reset my look since cosmetics apply to individual pieces of equipment rather than equipment slots.  Whatever.  At least I can now do the horseman’s laugh on demand now, a feature of the helm that is pretty cool.

Most of the time… like every single time since I got the helm… I end up with a paper mask and some candy.  Not even a ring.  And you can probably guess how I feel about getting candy at this point.

Why do I look UP when puking? How does that make things better?

Still I persist, hoping that the random number generator will favor me some day and give me the mount.

Yelling and Selling in Waterdeep

I remember way back in the early days of what is now TorilMUD… or perhaps I should say, what persists today against the odds as TorilMUD… back when it was called Sojourn, back past the 20 year mark and into the first half of the 1990s, wanting to make sure I got online on a Saturday evening because that was the best time to buy and sell things.

The place to be was in the northern part of the city of Waterdeep, which is where most people idled when they were not out in the world grinding mobs or running zones.

As for how to sell… well, you would just yell out what you had, some stats for it, and your opening price and wait to see if anybody would send you a tell with an offer.  You might want to sell an items straight up, but usually people wanted to auction things in order to get the best price.

In the event of an auction, once you got a tell… or a few tells if you were lucky… you would then yell out your item for sale again and the current bid, and maybe the name of the first bidder if several people came in at the same price, just so they knew who was currently going to get the item.  Then people would send tells upping the price, which you would yell out again when it hit a lull.  Eventually you would hit a point where you had a high bid and nothing else.  Then you would give the three yells, going once, going twice, and finally SOLD with the item, price, and buyer.

For a good item you might go through several iterations of the last three yells, as some people with money would wait to see where the bidding had settled before throwing their hat in the ring.

It was an interesting system that actually worked fairly well.  Auctions happened in a very public space, so were essentially conducted in front of a crowd.  A yell would only go a across a single zone, so you had to be in north Waterdeep, which wasn’t always as simple as it sounds.  There were certain rooms that seemed like they ought to be, but for whatever reason they were actually part of the south part of the city or the tunnels underneath.  And some rooms in the zone filter out yells.  But most people would figure out where to hang out to hear what was going on.

The public aspect meant that a lot of items had a price associated with them, so for some regularly farmed items… as I mentioned in a past post, most items of any value only spawned once per boot and the game would have to crash again in order to obtain another… you could tell if you were getting a good deal or if somebody was asking too much.  That suit of dwarven scale mail armor went for a regular 400p for a long time.  Every caster had to have one. (Old stats shown, like everything good it has long since been nerfed.)

Name ‘a suit of dwarven scale mail armor’
Keyword ‘armor suit mail scale dwarven’, Item type: ARMOR
Item can be worn on: BODY
Item will give you the following abilities: NOBITS
Item is: MAGIC NOBITS
Weight: 13, Value: 1
AC-apply is 20
Can affect you as :
Affects : HITPOINTS By 20

But somebody asking way too much would often hear a counter shout about how much the last couple copies of that particular item sold for.  It was also a way to figure out who had money.  You  could see who was getting rich by how they bid on things.

It was also in most people’s best interest to be around during prime selling times.  As I mentioned above, Saturday evening was a key time.  A lot more would be for sale then and a lot more buyers would be around.  You could probably find an auction going on most days, but the weekend was worth waiting for if you had a mind.  During the week you would only sell to get rid of an opportunistic find that might be too common come Saturday.

People actually adapted very well to the system for quite a while.  People were mostly patient with their auctions, making sure only a couple were going on at once so as to avoid confusion.  People were sincere with their bids and handed over their item at the bank when they were given the right amount of platinum.

Basically, for an online where having 200 people online at once was a big deal, it was an adequate system of exchange.  It wasn’t all hugely expensive stuff either.  It was early enough in the cycle of the game that most people were still poor, so selling something for 5-10p was generally a worthwhile venture.

There was also a way to play on scarcity in a way.  My friend Xyd and I started as elves who, until a recent emancipation, were stuck on the isle of Evermeet until level 20.  It was life of privation on the isle, something I recounted in the Leuthilspar Tales series of posts, collected under a tag of the same name.  Equipment was scarce and we would wear just about anything under the theory that an equipment slot filled with something was better than an empty equipment slot.

But elves who had hit level 20 and made it through the elf gate and on to Waterdeep would return… a hazardous journey for any but a druid or a cleric, as those classes could use “word of recall” to return to their guilds on the isle… with items to sell their poor cousins still stuck on the island.  How we longed for a tiny silver ring, which was AC5 +1 hit, to replace that crappy piece of string from the goblin’s junk pile in the Faerie Forest or that strange ring from the Elemental Glades (I need to write a post about that zone still) that turned out to be crap.

Not only were we short of equipment, but identify scrolls were about ten times as expensive in Leuthilspar than in Waterdeep, so we had to do without.

We would later learn that pretty much everybody had a tiny silver ring in Waterdeep, it being one of the few useful items that spawned on a several mobs each boot.   And they spawned near the inn at the south end of the city, so they were farmed after every boot.  We didn’t know that, we were just anxious to hand over whatever we could scrape together to buy one… or two… oh, to have a pair of tiny silver rings.

The only problem with that return trade in Leuthilspar is that we, as elves of Evermeet, were dirt poor.  We didn’t live in the wild because we loved nature, we lived there because that was what we could afford.  Even the rent in Kobold Village was too much.  (Just kidding, there was no cost to rent at the Inn in Leuthilspar, but the innkeeper used to say something that staying was free for now, as though there might be a charge some day, a threat that used to keep me up at night in the early days.)

But we did have some items on the isle that could be sold in Waterdeep.  As Xyd and I learned once we had been through the elf gate and into Waterdeep.  After hunting buffalo, skirting lake Skeldrach, and walking the salt road… and finding ourselves still dirt poor… we found that we could enrich ourselves by carrying over some common items from the isle.

Bandor’s flagon was a favorite.  In a game where you had to carry around food and drink, having a large, lightweight drinking flagon in your bag was just the ticket.  For quite a while it was the drinking vessel that everybody rich or poor sought.  We could easily sell one for 20-50p every boot, and sometimes 100p or more if the market was hot, which seemed like a hell of a lot of money to us back in the day.

There were some other items that would sell reliably on a Saturday when enough people were around.  The Cloak of Forest Shadows from the Faerie Forest would go for a few plat, though I think more because it sounded cool than because of its somewhat modest stats. (Also, you couldn’t vendor it, so anything we got was good.)

The cloak is still there in the Faerie Forest last I checked

The Elven Skin Gloves from Vokko at Anna’s house was good for a few plat as well.  Again, not a great item, but for an elf hater the material made them a must have item.  The mods later changed them to Kobold Skin Gloves on the general idea that we ought not to have to tolerate that sort of thing on Evermeet.

The cloak off of the Kobold Shaman in Kobold Village was sometimes worth something.  I forget the stats, but casters could wear it and I seem to recall it being +HP.  And the Boots of Water Walking from the Kobold Fisherman could go to somebody who hadn’t picked up the Skiff from the Tower of Sorcery just north of Waterdeep.

So we would collect these items and head through the elf gate to town to join in on the sales, all the better to gear ourselves and our myriad of alts up.  Even when I hit level 50 and had my fair share of decent equipment and was able to go on runs to Jot or The City of Brass fairly regularly I would still recall back to Evermeet on an occasional reboot to snag Bandor’s Flagon to sell.

Of course, things changed over time.  Somebody tired of us shouting in Waterdeep all the time.  At first they coded a limit as to how often we could shout.  Later shouting auctions were banned and relegated to an auction house… literally an auction house… before somebody finally coded what now passes for an auction house in MMORPGs, a board where you could deposit items then list them for sale to the highest bidder, with a minimum bid and such.  All very modern, and it showed up well before WoW was a thing.

And then there was the economy which, as with every primarily PvE MMORPG with many faucets and few sinks, went to hell.  It is called “MUDflation” for a reason.  As noted above, everything was beautiful when we were all mostly poor.  But once people started to accumulate platinum, things went the usual haywire.  Aside from identify scrolls, a few quests, and the rare vendor item, there wasn’t much to spend money on in TorilMUD save for equipment.  And just hanging around you would eventually accumulate a pile of cash, so the price for items going for auction climbed well out of range of any new player, to the point that platinum lost its value for any rare item and people would hold out for trades rather than just piling up more useless platinum in the bank.

It didn’t help that there were some holes in the system.  I made some early seed capital hauling things from one vendor to another because the pricing was messed up.  They fixed that.  Later, after the last pwipe, I found some alligators that dropped an item that could be turned in for a 30p bounty, plus they tended to have 5-10p in their pockets… odd gators… so I harvested them whenever I could because, due to somebody not setting a flag right, they respawned with the item rather than having it only on the first spawn.  I grew pretty well off on that before they fixed it.

But that was all from another time.  We mostly left TorilMUD to play EverQuest II when it launched, then moved on to World of Warcraft.

However, you can see the seeds of the future of MMORPGs in what happened there in the 90s.  The tunnel as trading ground in the Commonlands tunnel… I remember going there at specific times when it would be active in order to upgrade my gear… was clearly foreseen by our yelling out auctions in Waterdeep.

The Plane of Knowledge kills all this…

Meanwhile the auction house that replaced our loud economy was also a precursor to what we now find in World of Warcraft.

Anyway, another tale from the “good old days” of TorilMUD.

Lost in Legion

I did it.  The cool weather and the longer nights had already triggered within me the desire to get back to the serious business of playing a fantasy MMORPG.  I had just been debating which one, all the while averting my gaze from World of Warcraft.  Why go back to the obvious one?

But there I was on Saturday afternoon, looking at Steam and wondering if I wanted to open up RimWorld yet again to eat up a few hours.  I had a couple of colonies established that I could pick up, but they had entered that mid-to-end game state of being established and secure and on an obvious path forward where it is just a matter of dialing up the speed and reacting to events now and again.  As SynCaine noted on my post about RimWorld, “A game design problem as old as (Civ) time itself.”

So I wasn’t feeling it.

I like the idea of a goal, but I don’t necessarily want to micro-manage my way forward.  Workers have automation in Civilization games for a reason… except in Civ VI, where they only last through a couple of improvements.  What the hell?

And, as noted, I was feeling the fantasy MMORPG urge.  So it came down to me listing out which candidates I could get back into and have a viable goal to pursue.  Being on the outside looking in for the last year or so on that front has left my knowledge of goals… goals beyond just “level up”… pretty hazy.

But then there was World of Warcraft sitting there saying, “How about unlocking flying in the Legion expansion?”

It was speaking right to my need with that.  And, after all, hadn’t I done the same thing with Warlords of Draenor?  I played that at launch, burned out on garrisons and not much else to do, then came back later once the flying update had dropped and settled down to pursue that, enjoying it quite a bit.

Seemed like a plan.  I mean, how hard could it be?  This was just WoW after all.  So I activated my account, logged back in, and found Earl logged on and working away.  Amongst the people I know who play WoW, he is the most dedicated.  Everybody else logged out and went away nearly a year ago, but he carried on.  He has more fully upgraded alts than anybody I know.

Anyway, activating your account again is easy enough and soon I was logged in and standing around in Dalaran wondering what in the hell to do.

This is always the problem with returning to an MMORPG, at least for me.  It is like the knowledge gap that opens between seasons of Game of Thrones, where you go away with most characters solidly in mind only to show up a year later having skipped the “previously on…” segment and wondering who half the people getting lines and screen time are.

I left myself in a state with most of the initial zones done, save for Suramar, but a dozen or so quests dangling in various states of progress.  That gives me something to “do” but not the feeling that I am getting on track to make progress on the whole flying thing.

I started off by just trying to pick up threads left dangling in the form of quests.  This didn’t go horribly, though my attempts to go straight across country to a couple of locations sent me off in odd, sometimes bad directions.  At one point, thanks to me being clumsy, I managed to vault over a barrier no doubt placed there to keep people from falling off of what looked to be the highest waterfall I have ever seen in WoW.

Of course, I couldn’t get back over the barrier and, bowing to the inevitable, went over the falls.

Such a long way down…

There was a respawn point very close by however, clearly anticipating the falls of fools like me.  If only I had that engineer parachute thing… or remembered that I was an engineer and could make such a thing before I reached this point.

Also in my attempt to pick up threads I managed to get the paladin tank artifact shield.

Guards you from the Truth at least as well as CNN

I wasn’t actually trying to do that.   It was just another quest I had started on already and thought it might have been a class order quest or something that would further my way forward towards flying.

Eventually I stopped trying to just wing it from memory and breadcrumbs.  I was starting to think that just starting from scratch in the Broken Isles with another character might be the best plan.  But then I started looking stuff up on the internet.  That led me to WoW Head as usual, which reminded me of their tracker for getting flying in Draenor, which they have updated to include Legion now.

That started me off in a more constructive direction… like getting to Suramar to do the quest chains there.  I never quite got there before.

Missing bit: Suramar

Even that had me stumble a bit as I had done the first couple of steps for the lead-in quest chain for the zone, but then for some reason dropped it.  Fortunately Khadgar was holding it for me and once I found him again in Dalaran I was off to Suramar and on track.

Okay, this is the right path now…

That got me through the introduction story and into the actual quests for the zone.

Yellow punctuation is all I really need, right?

That also got me introduced to the Nightfallen faction, residents of the zone, so I could begin working on reputation with them for one achievement and to unlock world quests for another.

That was all I needed, a nice solid foundation from which to work.  A zone of quests to follow and some reputation to grind works for me.  I still have to figure out the class order quest thing, but at least I am making progress.

Meanwhile, some things surprised me a bit on arrival in Azeroth.

When I left I was bitching about how I was getting drops for 50 to 250 artifact power to upgrade my copy of Ashbringer, the ret pally artifact weapon, because I had hit a point where the cost to unlock had jumped up to an incredible 8,000 power.  So imagine the look on my face when I started seeing drops and quest rewards that included artifact power boosts like this:

One BILLION artifact power!

So my Ashbringer went from being miles to go to being fully upgraded in fairly short order, with no doubt enough left over to upgrade the artifact weapons for the other two Paladin specs.  Achievement unlockd and all that.

Anyway, I seem to have found a path to follow.  After a couple of evenings flailing about and falling off of things, I am no longer feeling lost in Legion.  I think I have made it over the usual hump that comes with returning to an MMORPG and trying to figure out where you left off.

Onward towards flying!

SuperData Research says Destiny 2 Killed on Consoles and PUBG Continues to Advance

It is that time of the month again when SuperData Research gives us their digital revenue numbers for the preceding month.  Now we can see what they had to say about September.

SuperData Research Top 10 – September 2017

Last month saw PlayerUnknown’s Battleground pass World of Warcraft on the revenue chart.  This month the popular battle royale title rose another notch, hitting fifth place and knocking longstanding top five title Crossfire down a peg.  World of Warcraft remains in sixth place while Divinity: Original Sin 2 broke into the list at number eight, suggesting that single player games might be more viable than EA seems to think.   That move pushed both Overwatch and CS:GO down a slot and left DOTA 2 off the list.

On the console side Destiny 2 topped the list.  The title just launched on Windows this week and will surely be on the PC top ten chart for October.

And then on the mobile end Candy Crush Saga moved up from ninth to sixth place while Pokemon Go fell off the chart again.

Finally, items noted on this month’s report:

  • Digital games revenue grows 15% worldwide in September. Players spent $8.3 billion across console, mobile and PC in September, up from $7.2 billion in the same month last year. Growth was underpinned by a 25% jump in console digital revenue on the back of rising download rates for new releases such as Destiny 2. This more than offset a double-digit declines in pay-to-play and significant drop in social revenue.
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds has overtaken two titans of PC games—World of Warcraft and Crossfire—in September revenue.
  • Destiny 2 has the largest digital launch ever on console. Destiny 2’s highly-anticipated launch resulted in digital unit sales up significantly from Destiny 1 back in September 2014. This marks a new record for the most digital units sold by a console game within a single month, edging out the previous record holder Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
  • FIFA and NBA 2K continue to expand their reach with new releases. The sports franchises show little signs of slowing down. FIFA 18 console digital units came in significantly up from FIFA 17 last September despite a later release date this year, while NBA 2K18 console sales also saw a healthy jump.
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 builds on success of single player PC games. Larian Studio’s new RPG sold an impressive 660,000 digital units on PC during its launch month. This places it among other recent successful single-player-centric games such as Nier: Automata and Horizon Zero Dawn.