Monthly Archives: November 2017

November in Review

The Site

I got a couple of boosts to traffic this month.  The first came with the BlizzCon announcement about WoW Classic.  That got the WoW Reddit group to go looking to link bits of WoW nostalgia, which included my post that attempted to recreate the Alamo druid post.  The WoW subreddit is a popular place and for a few days Alamo was the top destination on my site, beating the main page handily, while Reddit eclipsed Google as a source of traffic for about 48 hours.

That died down as BlizzCon receded in the rear view mirror and people began to bicker about what “Vanilla” WoW really means.

And then I got linked on BuzzFeed.

That sounds a lot more impressive that it actually was.

What happened is that somebody on BuzzFeed needed a picture for a Christmas quiz and grabbed the picture of the Elf soundtrack I included as part of a bad joke for my 11th anniversary post.

My URL on BuzzFeed… there… I highlighted it…

Honestly not very many people clicked on that link… why would they… so it wasn’t like a BuzzFeed landslide on my site, just a noticeable bump in traffic for a day or so.  And, of course, it isn’t exactly like I was liked for something *I* actually did, I just happened to have that picture handy.

Still, it is nice that BuzzFeed is one of the sites that is diligent about linking to sources and I cannot complain about a little bit of additional exposure this month.  So it is all good.

And, finally, Raph Koster showed up in a comment thread, answered a bunch of questions, then consolidated it all in a post on his site with a link back here to note the origin which added a bit more traffic. (Also, seeing him take on all comers with a pleasant tone and without direct confrontation in the comment thread about his post over at Massively OP was good fun.   I admire his skill in that and his ability to stay on point and not get distracted. The Reddit thread seemed more challenging.)

All in all not a bad month for traffic in light of the long term decline in page views here.  Not as good as April, but it looks like overall page views for 2017 will exceed 2008, though will still be less than half of 2012, the peak year for the blog.

One Year Ago

I got back from EVE Vegas and reviewed a bit of what I saw including SKIN changes.  I also borrowed CCP Rise’s Vegas Alpha fit for a trial run.  Of course the Ascension expansion and Alpha Clones were the big deal.  Logging in when the expansion hit wasn’t always easy, but the PCU passed the long distant 50K user mark.

Then suddenly it was election night.  I was in a fleet during which the winner projections turned on their head.  At least we got a tower kill.

Meanwhile back in our old home in the north, the war in Tribute started to come alive.  Sort of.  A bit.  Well, there was some propaganda.

BlizzCon was underway a week after EVE Vegas, and I first projected what I wanted to see/thought I might see and then reconciled that with what I actually saw.  It took a while for me to see Weird Al though.

Project: Gorgon was back to crowd funding.

Pokemon Sun & Moon were coming and I got ready by wrapping up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.  I took Pokemon Sun while my daughter went with Pokemon Moon.

In Minecraft Aaron was using the in-game maps to create art to hang on his walls.  Then there was the update with forest mansions… and llamas!  That meant going on an expedition to find my own mansion.  And once you have your own mansion, you have to do something with it.  Like burn it down.

Daybreak, in looking after Norrath new and old, launched the Kunark expansion twins, with Empires of Kunark going live for EverQuest and Kunark Ascending going live for EverQuest II.

And, finally, in a bullet points post on Black Friday it was death to The Mittani, a new Google widget in my side bar, and some Pokemon news.

Five Years Ago

We said farewell to City of Heroes.

Pong turned 40.

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

dipped a toe into GuildWars 2.

I was feeling in the doldrums about computer hardware.

The Register was wondering if Second Life was a failure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

I was moaning about EverQuest and accessibility again.

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

SOE was still working on fixing Vanguard.

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty Years Ago

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

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

Most Viewed Posts in November

The list this month was mostly driven by WoW Classic nostalgia and the ongoing search for why there is no National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun & Moon… and now Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon, though EA’s woes pitched in and helped a bit.

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  4. Elf
  5. What Other Pains will WoW Classic Bring?
  6. Blizzard Announces Battle for Azeroth and WoW Classic
  7. Disney Checks EA Over Battlefront Microtransactions and Other Hilarity
  8. Feature Creep – On The Cost of Making Video Games
  9. VR Development Dead and Layoffs at CCP
  10. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  11. Delta Force – A Memory of Voxels
  12. Monday Morning BlizzCon Thoughts

Search Terms of the Month

world of warships polish tree
[Looking for a screen door on a submarine joke?]

download gay porn games for free
[They have to be free now?]

eve online all time high concurrent users
[65,303 on May 5, 2013]

eve online how long does it take to fly a marauder
[I think the real question is how long does it take to lose one?]

EVE Online

It has been something of a quiet month for me in New Eden.  I went on a few ops during a deployment up north to drop on ratters and miners, but have not really had the blocks of time that such things demand.  House guests and holiday activities kept me distracted.

Of course, I write that knowing that a couple of sections down I’ll mention how much time I spent playing WoW, often in large chunks of time.  I might just be a bit worn out on New Eden at the moment.

Still, I think I hit the mandatory minimum of participation links to not get kicked from my corp.  We’ll see what happens next month.

Pokemon UltraMoon

Despite no huge urge to get back into Pokemon at the moment, I did have enough credit on my Nintendo Shop account to pick up Pokemon UltraMoon, so it has been downloaded to my 3DS XL.  I’ve played a little bit, enough to see the story is both the same yet different, but haven’t jumped in with both feet yet.

Pokemon Go

I keep on going in Pokemon Go, though I never play while driving.  Instead I can have my teenage daughter drive me around to Pokestops now that she has her learner’s permit.  That is safer, right?

  • Level: 30 (+0)
  • Pokedex status: 210 (+6) caught, 237 (+1) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Slowbro
  • Current buddy: Slowpoke to earn candies to evolve him

World of Warcraft

I have been binging a lot on Azeroth.  There was a discussion somewhere recently about MMOs being hard to get back into when you’ve been away for a bit.  I’ve bitched about that myself more than a few times.   But I will say that WoW, while not perfect in that regard, is still pretty good.  I managed to get myself back up to speed with my ret pally, found a goal to pursue (flying), and side tasks to keep the main goal from getting stale (events, pet battles, trade skills, and alts) that I really look forward to spending some time in WoW every evening.

Coming Up

It is the end of the year which means I have a bunch of standard posts to do, things like reviewing my predictions from January (looking bad, as usual), checking to see if I played any of the games I said I might play (always doubtful), and trying to sum up the year in a series of highs and lows.  Expect them to show up over the course of the month.  I have already started them all, now to finish them.

We have the Winter Movie League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi to look forward to.

Then there is an EverQuest expansion coming along with one for EVE Online.

There is the inevitable Steam Winter Sale.  Maybe we can bring back the argument over whether Steam sales cater to price sensitivity, yielding sales that otherwise might not have happened, or literally steal food from the mouths of starving developers because nobody will buy anything ever now due to the inevitability of it going on sale on Steam.

And posts about games, games I am playing… which is mostly WoW and Pokemon UltraMoon with occasional forays into TorilMUD now and again.  So expect another long, dull month I suppose.  It is cold out, what else have you got to do?

SuperData Shows PUBG Continuing its Meteoric Rise

SuperData Research is out with their digital market sales numbers a bit late this month.  They have been busy writing editorials about the Star Wars Battlefront II fiasco and what comes next.  But, finally, we have the numbers for October here on the last day of November.

SuperData Research Top 10 – October 2017

On the PC side of things PlayerUnknown’s Battleground continues its ascent.  Last month it was in 4th place, now it has risen to 2nd position, with only League of Legends ahead of it.

Destiny 2, new to the PC chart, hit 4th spot, injecting itself in the midst of the perennial top performers in the Chinese market, Crossfire, Dungeon Fighter Online, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online IIMiddle-Earth: Shadow of War also gained a spot on the list while ROBLOX returned to the top ten as well.

This left World of Warcraft and World of Tanks in 7th and 8th position and knocked DOTA 2 and Overwatch off the list.

On the console side FIFA 18, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, and Destiny 2 grabbed the top three spots.  Last month it was Destiny 2, FIFA 18, and NBA2K18.

And on the mobile side Candy Crush Saga stayed on the list hanging on in 9th position.

Other bullet points from SuperData’s monthly update:

  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds sells another 5 million units.
  • PUBG vs Fortnite. While Fortnite has seen a higher out-of-the-gate active user base thanks to its F2P status, the game’s long-term success vs. its major and earlier-released rival is uncertain.
  • PUBG comes to XBox One as an exclusive and leaves Steam Early Access in December.
  • Destiny 2 has a solid release on PC. Destiny 2’s much-anticipated Blizzard Battle.net PC launch proves very successful.
  • Super Mario Odyssey launches on Switch. Mario sold 191,000 digital units in October, making it the biggest digital launch on Switch to date. However, digital download rates continue to lag compared to those found on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
  • Single player games still have legs. While multiplayer-centric genres (FPS, MOBA, and Battle Royale) are in the spotlight, there is still room on the stage for single-player focused games. In October, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and Assassin’s Creed: Origins collectively generated over $160M through digital full game sales. However, we don’t expect these games to have as much success in the long run, compared to the multiplayer genres, as it is generally harder to monetize through microtransactions in a single-player focused title.

Internet Spaceship Screen Shot Tip of the Day

Yesterday CCP ran a quick screen shot contest on Twitter.  They do such things on social media every so often.  They were giving away ten 60 Day Omega time codes to the ten best screen shots sent in response to their tweet.  They even had a sample screen shot showing how cool EVE Online can look.

My immediate response was to wonder what you do when they use one of your own screen shots as the example.

That is a shot I took during one of the Fortizar fights up in Hakonen back in August.

So a bit of pride there.  I couldn’t be satisfied with just that though, could I?  But what other screen shot should I submit?  The problem with taking lots of screen shots and having another blog devoted to EVE Online screen shots (cheap plug) is that I have a lot of screen shots to go with.

If I had been at home that might have taken me all day to get sorted.  But being away and on my phone limited my choices.  Fortunately I had already declared a “favorite” screen shot in a post early this year, so I went with that.

The Doomed Vigil

That was taken at a fight in F4R2-Q back at the very start of the year when TEST and CO2 were moving in down south and, coincidentally enough, was over a pair of Fortizars.  And it was enough to win me one of the ten codes they were giving away.

So there is you tip for the day on taking contest winning screen shots; go to more structure fights.  They tend to attract an interesting array of targets… and explosions.  There lots of explosions.

You can see all of the submissions to the quick contest as replies to CCP’s tweet.

Winter Movie League – Opening Options

As noted in the previous post, there will be a Winter Fanatsy Movie League and I will be posting about it weekly as I have before, combing the TAGN League and the MCats League into a single Meta League.  Maybe Liore’s League as well, as she is supposed to be back to play for Winter.

The Winter season (or the “Awards” season as FML refers to it) starts right now, as in you need to sign up and get your picks in by Friday at 9am PST (17:00 UTC) if you want to be in for all 13 weeks.  So if you’re dying to join the TAGN league and play, click link now and sign up.

I already see two new names on the list and I hope that all of those who came in late for Fall will stick around for Winter where they won’t be playing down a week or two (or four in one case).

While one of the aspects of this season will be trying to figure out how Star Wars – The Last Jedi will do, we still have two weeks to noodle around before that is a thing.  So, for the opening week of Winter the choices are:

Coco                           $417 
Justice League                 $280 
Wonder                         $230 
Thor: Ragnarok                 $134 
Murder on the Orient Express   $132
Daddy's Home 2                 $126
Three Billboards               $74 
Lady Bird                      $66 
The Star                       $60 
Bad Moms Christmas             $44 
Roman J. Israel, Esq.          $36
The Man Who Invented Christmas $14 
The Disaster Artist            $13
Call Me By Your Name           $8
Wonder Wheel                   $6

Coco again looks to win the box office this week, but even a conservative week over week decline still puts it under $30 million under normal circumstances.  Otherwise there is mostly a collection of retreads from past weeks, with three new titles popping up, The Disaster Artists, Call Me By Your Name, and Wonder Wheel, all of which are coming in at the bottom end of the pricing.

My early week, haven’t seen any forecasts, inclination is that some mix of Justice League or Wonder as anchor is the way to go, though the fact that you can get seven screens of Thor or Daddy’s Home 2 is still tempting should they pop a bit this week.

Of course, it is the “most wonderful time of the year,” as the song goes, so there is a chance that people will go full on into “Nutcracker” mode and feel the need to see Christmas related movies.  That might give a boost to The Man Who Invented Christmas, The Star, or even Bad Moms Christmas I suppose.

However, while we’re in that season, school is still in session and there is holiday shopping to get done.  Does that make it more or less likely for people to see movies over the weekend?

Anyway, welcome to the new season!

 

Fall Movie League – Winners Edition

Here we are at the last post for the Fall 2017 run of our Fantasy Movie League.

This, the thirteenth and final week of the Fall season, was the last chance for people to jockey for position, and with a new Disney Pixar title hitting theaters, there was the possibility of some movement in the final ranking.  The lineup for the week was:

Coco                           $716 
Justice League                 $534
Wonder                         $298
Thor: Ragnarok                 $206
Daddy's Home 2                 $143
Murder on the Orient Express   $128
Roman J. Israel, Esq.          $102
The Star                       $96
Bad Moms Christmas             $70
The Man Who Invented Christmas $68
Three Billboards               $51
Lady Bird                      $49
Jigsaw                         $7
Loving Vincent                 $6
Blade Runner 2049              $6

Projections for the Pixar title Coco seemed decent, but not enough to support that price in light of other options.  So after that mad minute first Monday pick, where I always anchor on the film that is going to top the box office, I spent my time exploring other options and “what if” scenarios.  Justice League and Wonder played out in some of my plans.

Then on Wednesday I saw a couple of articles projecting Coco to run past $70 million.  At that run rate Coco was suddenly very viable and I went back to building a line up anchored on that, deciding to also bet heavily on Lady Bird due to the positive social media buzz it seemed to be getting.

Then in the FML Slack channel Ben curbed my enthusiasm by pointing out that those $70 million and up projections were for the entire week, as Coco opened up in the US on Tuesday, and not for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday time frame that would count for the FML league.  Damn press not taking my needs into account.

Anyway, that put Coco back down at maybe $50 million again and I told myself I needed to go back and redo my lineup.  And then Thanksgiving came, which we host at our house, and all of the fun and work that goes with that and the next time I thought about FML was on Friday morning at about a quarter to ten, less than an hour after the picks were locked, but it might as well have been forever since I was stuck with where I had left things on Wednesday.

My Fall Week Thirteen Picks

So my hope was that Coco would do much better than expected.

It did not, just passing the $50 million mark expected of it.

Meanwhile, the winning bet of the week was Murder on the Orient Express, which got the best price/performance nod and was the anchor film for the perfect pick of the week.

Fall Week Thirteen Perfect Pick

542 players got the perfect pick this week, which is a sizable number and makes me wonder why I didn’t at least see that as an option.

Amongst those with the perfect pick was Corr, thus cementing his win in the MCats League and the overall Meta League.  The scores for the week for the Meta League were:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $118,127,443
  2. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $110,643,594
  3. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $110,643,594
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $110,643,594
  5. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $89,095,650
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $89,095,650
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $82,679,441
  8. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $78,853,690
  9. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $78,853,690
  10. Kraut Screens (T) – $77,042,620
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $76,819,285
  12. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $71,832,620
  13. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $70,520,361
  14. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $69,468,295
  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

There is a new name on the list, Po Huit, who joined in for the next season, but got in a pick for week thirteen and won the week in the TAGN league, so I figured I had better mention him.

Meanwhile, the bottom three on the list are all people who anchored on Coco.  That was clearly the bad pick of the week.

With week thirteen complete, the final scores for the Fall Meta League are:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,241,295,127
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,181,566,118
  3. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $1,150,719,925
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,149,644,649
  5. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,122,285,136
  6. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $1,113,910,654
  7. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,084,359,341
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,011,733,999
  9. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $995,906,854
  10. Kraut Screens (T) – $871,754,429
  11. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $871,715,649
  12. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $842,656,155
  13. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $717,236,170

As expected for the last few weeks, Corr came out on top for the overall Meta League and also won 5 of 13 weeks in the MCats League.

Despite being down in 6th place I managed to eke out a win in the TAGN League after weeks of battling for the first spot with SynCaine.  However, I only came out as the league winner once during the season, while SynCaine took the top spot five times.  Wonder week and the huge win for me there sank him.

And I doubt I would have been in first place had Pak not started a week late.  He won 4 of 13 weeks in the TAGN League and would have no doubt come in first in the league if he had been there for the initial week.  The gap between us was a mere $29 million and he surely would have done better than that on week one.  I feel like there should be a Roger Marris asterisk next to my win.

So that is the end of the Fall season.  Congrats to Corr, the overall winner, and everybody who managed to win a week or even managed to play every week.  Just remembering to get in and make your picks is half the battle sometimes.

There will be a Winter league.  My plans are to do weekly posts for that as well.  And, after Pak and Po Huit soundly thrash me in that venture, to take the Spring season off in order to feel fresh for another run at the Summer blockbuster season.

In order to keep the season separated there will be a second post today with the initial movie lineup and some comments about what is to come.  Thank you for playing!

Planes of Prophecy Expansion for EverQuest II

It is that time of year, the expansion season for the Norrath franchise at Daybreak, and today the first of the pair to launch is EverQuest II which is going live with the Planes of Prophecy expansion today.

Planes of Prophecy

As down as some people are on Daybreak (looking at you Massively OP) I still see a victory in every additional expansion they manage to ship for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Even though I don’t play either any more, and really can’t bring myself to stick to either when I try, they still both occupy a special place in the pantheon of MMORPGs for me.

Anyway, the fourteenth EQII expansion takes us to the elemental planes again, as the title indicates.  I guess that counts as something of a nod to nostalgia as it even has the same acronym as the famed/infamous 2002 Planes of Power expansion for EverQuest.

The feature list reads as such lists tend to, with more of just about everything including levels, quests, zones, raids, and so on.

  • New Zones including
    • Plane of Magic
    • Plane of Valor
    • Plane of Innovation
    • Plane of Disease
    • Bastion of Thunder
    • Solusek Ro’s Tower
    • Brackish Vaults
  • New Heroic Dungeons
  • New Event Heroic Dungeons
  • New Solo Dungeons
  • New Duo Dungeons
  • New Raid Dungeons
  • New Large Overland
  • New Hub Zone “Coliseum of Valor”; provides access to dungeons, raids, and public quests
  • Alt-Friendly Keyring System: If you unlock a new heroic or raid zone on your main, your alt will also gain access to it.
  • New Signature Quest Line
  • New Public Quests
  • New Timed Key Quests
  • New Collection Quests
  • New “Soulbound” Weapons: Soulbound weapons will be able to level up and become even more powerful!
  • New Weapon Type: Crossbows, a ranged weapon usable by all
  • Adventure Level Cap Raised to 110
  • All Ascension Classes Level Cap Increased to 15
  • Guild Level Cap Increased to 250
  • New Factions
  • New Achievements
  • New Items
  • Tradeskill Level Cap Raised to 110
  • New Adornments for Crafters to Make
  • New Tinkering Recipes
  • Mercenary Level Cap Increased to 10
  • More Mercenary Gear Slots: Six new slots for hands, legs, feet, and 3 additional accolades

Lots and lots of “new” and “more” on that list, enough to keep people busy for another year… or at least until the spring game update.

A few items jump out at me from the list.  I am curious as to how this Coliseum of Valor will work, or what it actually is.  Is this the EQII version of the Plane of Knowledge?

Then there are crossbows because… well… I bet they look cool.  Still, that seems like something that wasn’t really missed for the last 13 years, so why bring them in now?

And then there are the new Soulbound weapons, which on the surface sound a lot like Artifact weapons from WoW Legion or Legendary weapons from LOTRO.

Which is to say it could be a good idea, but it could also be a bad one.

I actually ended up liking the Artifact weapons in WoW Legion even though, for example, every retribution pally gets a copy of Ashbringer.  That you can unlock special looks for each artifact weapon helped on that score.

The downside is that artifact weapons will cease to be a thing come the Battle for Azeroth expansion, which will leave an awkward 10 levels towards the end of the level curve where you have to get and upgrade a special weapon that you’ll likely throw away before you’ve had a change to fully upgrade it.

As for LOTRO and legendary weapons… ugh… that seemed like a good idea back in Mines of Moria, but it quickly got old for me there and Turbine’s, and then Standing Stone’s, continued use of the awkward mechanic is on the long list of things that keep me from going back to play the game.

I haven’t followed the updates for the expansion, so I am not sure what path Daybreak plans to follow here, but I am wary none the less.  And what do these new Soulbound weapons mean for Mythic weapons, yet another category I am told exists.  I am clearly out of my depth here.

Anyway, you get all of that when you buy the standard edition of the expansion along with a level 100 character boost.

But, of course, the expansion comes in three flavors, the same as before, so I don’t even have to crop up a new graphic for the pricing and can just roll with what I did in 2015.

Premium packages available for premium prices

For the Collectors Edition you also get a trade skill level 100 boost and a 5 ascension level boost along with an array of other items, and with the $140 Premium Edition you can add on a 10 ascension level boost as well as even more… um… stuff.

You can get all the details from the expansion order page.

Sadly, if you’re reading this and have not ordered yet it is likely you missed out on the Clockwork Calamity illusion pre-order bonus item, some aspects of which Bhagpuss has demonstrated in a video.

Bhagpuss also has some words about the expansion in his post today which are probably better than my own as he pays more attention to EQII than I can manage.

That is it, another year and another EverQuest II expansion.

Addendum: Even Daybreak says the expansion is live now.  Hit level 101 before December 12th and get special painting for you house.

The Coming Alpha Clone Skill Point Apocalypse in New Eden

for me at least this started back during EVE Vegas when CCP announced that they were going to expand the range of skills that would be usable by Alpha clones.  After about a year of these free accounts roaming New Eden, CCP felt they ought to be allowed to do more.  So CCP said they wanted to unlock tech II weapons up to the cruiser level, add battlecruisers to the list, as well as limited battleship skills.  Oh, and Alpha clones would no longer be limited to their own faction.  If a Gallente Alpha clone pilot wanted to bring their Drake, that would be within the realm of possibility.

The interesting bit, for me, was how they were planning to do this.

Adding in the new ships and expanding support to all empires raised the skill point total possible to about 20 million.  However, free Alpha clone training would still cap players out at 5 million skill points.  If you wanted to get 20 million skill points you were going to have to subscribe and become an Omega clone to train them or inject them through the usual method.

The Skill Point Divides

So if I unsubscribed my alt, who has over 120 million SP, I would be able to use 20 million of those skill points to play as opposed to just the meager 5 million.  This, to my mind, would create a special class of players who had paid CCP some money at some past date and were being given a minor reward for that support.

LOTRO has something similar in the past, where there were free players, VIP players, and then those who had paid for something and so were entitled to a higher level of support even if not VIP subscribers.  I thought that was a good idea back then, and think so today.  In a game where “free” is an option, people who show a willingness to spend money ought to get some attention.

After EVE Vegas there was a dev blog that laid all of this out again and listed the skills that would be included in the new, expanded, unlimited use pool.  Good so far.

This was followed about two weeks later by an additional dev blog about New Alpha Training Options, the dev blog that introduced the Daily Alpha Injector.

LOL! Drink a pot noob!

This is where the slope begins to get slippery.

CCP had some criteria that this new injector should meet, which I will borrow from the dev blog:

  • Alphas must be able to acquire training in small chunks (one day’s worth ideally)
  • Training rate from new option must not be faster than Omega
  • Must not activate Omega state or put character in a new Clone State
  • New option must be easily traded and available on market

And what they came up with was the Daily Alpha Injector, which has the following specifications, again borrowed from the dev blog:

  • Only one Daily Alpha Injector may be used per day, per character [not account] (resets at downtime)
  • May only be used by characters in the Alpha Clone State
  • Can be purchased in the NES for PLEX or purchased for your regions real money currency via secure.eveonline.com
  • Can be activated to immediately to add 50,000 skill points to your character’s unallocated skill pool (roughly one day worth of Omega training)
  • Can be traded on the in-game market
  • Does not award Omega Status

While you can earn ISK to buy the 20 PLEX for your Daily Alpha Injector (DAI going forward) in game, you can also straight up purchase them for cash, which I have to imagine is going to be a likely course for many an Alpha clone player.

So what we have here is a clear attempt to monetize the free player by selling them skill points generated on demand.

Now, on the one hand, CCP is a relatively small company in the industry; they’ve only have, and have only ever had, the one successful video game and the company lives or dies by its earnings.  They have also made something that is unlike almost all other games in the genre.  Given that, my inclination is to cut them some slack, a position no doubt influenced by the fact that I have played and enjoyed the game for more than 11 years.

So an admitted blind spot right there.

On the other hand, a lot of us just had a jolly old time last week roasting EA for going so overboard on monetizing Star Wars Battlefront II that even Disney had to step in and say, “Whoa, dude, settle down!”  And even though EA has shown itself to be bad to both its employees and its customers regularly and repeatedly over the years, there is still plenty of room for hypocrisy if I just say, “Well, CCP are nice people so they get a pass.”

CCP isn’t straight up selling a titan + fully skilled character package yet, but they are, as has been pointed out in a number of places, pulling skill points out of thin air and selling them for cash money.  And while CCP is clear on their intent, embodied in this phrase:

They can only be used by alphas, and an alpha can only apply unallocated skill points to alpha skills.

That isn’t strictly true.  If you pile up a bunch of DAIs, using them every day on your Alpha, but not spending the skills, they just sit in your unallocated skill points buffer.  If you then convert the account to an Omega… which is to say, you pay the old fashioned monthly subscription fee, which is what CCP really wants you, so we all win when you do that… you can use those unallocated skill points on whatever you want.  But if you go back to being an Alpha and you used those points on skills outside of the noted 20 million, you’ll lose the use of that skill.

Admittedly, that is a tiny and unlikely to be pursued loophole, but it does exist.  And if I can find that one, I bet there are others I haven’t found yet.

And the loophole isn’t really the issue here, it is the willingness to change a long standing rule of the game.  We got skill injectors because players could already buy skilled up characters from other players through an official process.  Besides which, they were not introducing new skill points into the game, just reallocating those already present.  In fact, due to the way the injectors worked, CCP was effectively removing skill points from the game.   If I try to use a skill injector, which contains 500,000 skill points, I only end up with 150,000 while the other 350,000 disappears into thin air.

Well, now those skill points seem to be coming back out of the air and are available straight up legal currency, and no other players need be involved.

But its only for Alphas right?  And it is in such small increments right?

I expect the usual cast of characters to express outrage.  Gevlon and Dinsdale will point at this as CCP revealing their true colors or sign of the impending demise of the game.  And certain Star Citizen fan boys who feel that EVE Online must die for their game to succeed will jump on this as well.  But the current EVE player base seems… well… oddly restrained.

I mean, look at this thread on Reddit.  Generally speaking EVE Online players cannot discuss the weather that politely.  I mean sure, there is dissent buried in there, and the expected “This is the end, EVE is dying” theme pops up now and again.  But the most upvoted comment basically summarized DAIs as selling Omega training time in daily allotments.  (Which sounds a lot like the “selling game time in smaller increments” that Gevlon brought up in an ongoing comment thread with Raph Koster on Saturday’s post.)

I guess that is how you could look at it.  I guess I could get comfortable with that.  I mean, no Alpha clone is going to catch me at 185 million SP consuming DAIs.  It would take them over ten years.

But I was also pretty okay with day one DLC and the whole Season Pass thing wasn’t horrible, but now look at where EA stands.  If we’re fine with one thing it sure seems like a company will push things further.  What follows selling skill points under very restricted circumstance?  And can CCP, which has investors and shareholders to appease just the same way that EA does, afford to not press the envelope and find further ways to monetize the game?

The whole thing leaves me uneasy.  I want to be reasonable, see the stated intent as the only goal.  But I am a product of my environment and goals can change, especially when cash comes up short… or even when cash is flowing freely but somebody sees a way to eke out some more.

What’s a capsuleer to do?  I suppose we shall see come December 5th when this goes live as part of the Arms Race release.