Monthly Archives: May 2018

May in Review

The Site

May always seems so quiet after the bustle of April and the April Fools traffic it gets.  May is down 50% when it comes to page views.  I suppose that is what happens when not much happens.  The most viewed posts for the month reflect this as the old Google search favorites return to the top of the list while things I actually wrote in May are somewhat scarce.

So, looking further afield, what was the biggest thing to happen this month?  Probably GDPR.

Look for the EU Label

I am happy to announce that there has been no change to the privacy policy at TAGN, since I never had one since I don’t keep any data on you myself.  WP.com has some statement on that, since they actually hold all the data, but things around here are business as usual.  I’m not even sure that cookies warning comes up correctly.  But I don’t have ads here.  I pay not to have ads here.  No ads, no cookies for tracking ads.  It does pop up on my other blog.

One Year Ago

Nintendo announced the new 2DS XL hardware.  It seemed like a deal, since all it was missing was the somewhat unloved 3D option.

Being a bit down on crowdfunding MMOs, I was wondering who was backing Ashes of Creation.

Daybreak was giving out free level boosts… again… in EverQuest II.

Over in the land of Everquest, the new Agnarr limited progression server went live with a promise never to progress past the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion.  I wondered about the life of progression servers and if this attempt to make a perma-retro server might extend beyond Daybreak.

I returned to the land of the ten dollar horse of legend, Runes of Magic.  Once a trailblazer, an Asian MMO built for the west and designed on the free to play model, in some ways it is very much stuck in time.  And I am not just talking about the archaic patcher.  It still feels like it did back in 2009.  Which isn’t a bad thing, really.  Look how popular retro servers are now.  And it isn’t a bad MMO either.

I worked my way through to the first big city, explored the cash shop, and carried on through the month until the grind started to surpass any sense of nostalgia I was feeling.  As with many such games, if I was playing with a group it would have been fine, but as a solo venture it had its limits.

EVE Online turned 14 years old.  I was again looking at the monthly economic report where Delve was leading null sec in ratting and mining and the Rorqual remained the top mining ship.

The May update for EVE Online gave us new PLEX and the Blood Raiders ship yards.  New PLEX was a money making opportunity for some.  New PLEX went well enough that CCP decided to covert the Aurum they gave away for free sooner than expected.  And then there were the new small skill injectors.

The first Blood Raiders ship yard showed up in Period Basis.  I went to go visit it.  After some trial and error the Imperium went old school and reinforced it with a mass of T1 frigates.  I missed the destruction (and TEST swooping in with interceptors to steal the loot) but still managed to get blown up by the leftover Blood Raider forces.  A dread can one-shot an Ibis.

In other ops in New Eden we went to a brawl around an Astrahus in Catch and I manged to get my Cerb blown up trying to catch up with the fleet, which gave me an opportunity to try flying an interdictor.

In a bullet points post I noted that Blizzard called Overwatch its eighth billion dollar franchise, but I couldn’t figure out what the other seven might be.  Has Blizzard even had eight things one might call a “franchise” at this point?  Also, SuperData was splitting WoW into East and West versions again.

And I rather optimistically suggested that the Mineserver Kickstarter project might still happen.  Ha, ha, ha, I can be so naive.

Five Years Ago

I celebrated the five year anniversary of a blog.  No, not this one.

EVE Online turned 10 (I even made a movie) and reminded us of its true nature, while DUST 514 finally went live for real.

Somebody was saying that there had only ever been two successful MMOs, EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

I checked up on the Newbie Blogger Initiative to see who survived their first year of blogging.

Camelot Unchained made its Kickstarter goal one day before their campaign ended.   Success at the last minute is still success.

The project code named Titan was rumored to have been pushed out to 2016. Meanwhile Activision-Blizzard announced that WoW had shed 1.3 million subscribers, dropping to 8.3 million total.  And then there was the problems with the Diablo III economy.  Rough times.

The XBox One was announced.  Or the name was.  I didn’t like it.

I made a chart about the relative natures of MMO economies.  I was also musing about dangerous travel.

We were starting to peek into NeverWinter as a possible game for the instance group, in hopes that we might have a hiatus from our long hiatus.  We also played a bit of Need for Speed: World.

Rift, ostensibly the game the instance group was playing (and which I was still playing a bit of), announced it was going free to play, which made me mutter about revenue models again.

Our EVE Online corp decided to go play some Lord of the Rings Online, and so my relationship with Middle-earth continued and I was quickly in the Lone Lands.

And finally, I wrote a bit about the first computer game I ever played, which led to some charts about my video gaming timeline.

Ten Years Ago

My daughter and I were finishing up the final battles in the base game of Pokemon Diamond as well as staging our own gym battles.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a date for the Empyrean Age as well as giving us all a gift on the five year anniversary of the game.  I still have that gift in my hangar.

Meanwhile I was building battleships, working the regional price variations, dealing with the realities of production, refining my Drake fittings, and laughing at a the EVE Online guide to talking smack.

Oh, and I was being propositioned in a standard Goon scam.  Damn Goons!

In World of Warcraft the instance group was doing some quests to level up a bit because the Mana Tombs were proving to be a challenge.  We also did some mucking about with alts.

And, in the industry in general, Turbine got $40 million dollars to play with (I wonder where that ended up?) while Age of Conan launched amid immediate declarations of success and failure.

Fifteen Years Ago

SOE launched PlanetSide, their MMOFPS.

3DO laid everybody off and filed for bankruptcy, leading to the end of the line for it and its subsidiary New World Computing, best known for the Might and Magic series.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. What Would Even Help This Genre Anyway?
  4. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  5. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  6. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  7. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  8. EVE Online Third Party Apocalypse Day
  9. Lost Dungeons of New Eden
  10. Rift Prime Time
  11. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  12. The Road to CSM13

Search Terms of the Month

do people still play everquest in 2018?
[Daybreak has never been owned by Columbus Nova]

google play talent tree rpg
[I’m not sure how that works]

what is impulse control eve online
[Not buying PLEX?]

swamp of sorrows or winterspring
[Hrmm… neither?  Winterspring maybe?]

games gay nude servers
[Would there be a point to non-nude servers?]

spanking organizer adult software
[I’m sure I saw a spanking organizer on Steam]

EVE Online

We got the big Into the Abyss PvE expansion for the game, which introduced Triglavian ships and modules, all obtainable via the deathtrap solo space dungeons known as abyssal pockets.

In game, in null sec, in the north, things were exciting for various reasons.  GotG announced they were going to stop trying to defend Fade and Pure Blind, which led to dissent in MOA, which lived in Pure Blind, and which decided to abandon its position there.  And then Circle of Two came over to take up stewardship in Fade, giving the Imperium groups deployed in Pure Blind a new set of opponents to spar with.

EverQuest II

The Daybreak team was handing out level 100 characters again, this time with gear that would keep you from being squashed like a bug when you hit the latest content, so I went and made yet another character, a Shadow Knight.  Despite a few hitches, I actually played a bit with him.  A post about it to follow at some point.

Pokemon Go

Still at level 32, but chugging along.  The change up in available Pokemon and the occasional events keep things interesting.  I did get one of those Alola Exeggutors… a few actually.  They were on every street corner yesterday.

My current state of affairs:

Level: 32 (+0)
Pokedex status: 327 (+15) caught, 349 (+7) seen
Pokemon I want: Still Lapras, still don’t have one
Current buddy: Spoink

Rift

I logged into Rift Prime for 21 days during May, collecting my daily prize until I got another mount, then stopped logging in altogether.  And that is likely the end of that for now.  Still a decent MMORPG, lots there to love, had fun in Freemach and Stonefield, it was great to be in the mass of players at low levels, but soloing along just wasn’t keeping me invested.

Coming Up

In EVE Online the CSM 13 elections are slated to happen from 12 noon UTC (EVE Time) on 4 June through until 12 noon UTC on 11 June.  Be ready to cast your ballot.

Also coming to EVE Online is the great null sec outpost conversion, where all those stations in conquerable null sec systems will be converted to faction citadels.  This is slated for June 5 and will result in a lot of assets that have been locked in hostile stations suddenly becoming available via asset recovery.  I expect some last minute grabs at stations over the weekend.

I may go play some more EverQuest II.  Maybe.  I have until June 7th to see if it is worth subscribing to… and I’d need to buy the expansion… for that one free level 100 heroic character.  Is this the whole “giving away the razor then selling the blades” thing at work again?

The Kickstarter campaign for The Flower of Knighthood will wrap up, though I cannot imagine why they haven’t cancelled it already.  While it has gotten some more pledges, it still hasn’t managed to collect, all total, as much as it needed to get every single day of the campaign in order to fund.  It is currently trending to hit 1% of its $600K target.

The Summer Fantasy Movie League is kicking off with new rules.  See the previous post for details and a link to join.  We shall see how that turns out.  I don’t usually mention FML in the monthly review post, do I?

Finally, summer will commence on the 21st, my daughter will be out of school, and I will likely have to leave the house and go on a vacation or something.

Summer Fantasy Movie League – Now With New Rules!

The time of transition is here.  Our Spring Fantasy Movie League ended yesterday and the final scores were posted earlier today.  Now the Summer League is upon us, a time for new picks, new deadlines, and new rules.

Thanks to the changes that FML made earlier this year, leagues can go their own way.  Going with my whim and the results of a poll I posted l two weeks back, the TAGN league will be departing for the FML default to charts its own path.  I give you the summer season!

The rules for the season, as you can probably guess from the graphic above, are:

  • No bonuses – Raw box office take only
  • Early lock – Thursday at 9am Pacific Time

The early lock will keep people from being able to pick based on the Thursday night previews that are usually available before the standard 9am Friday lock time.  It will also keep the final theater count out of the running, since that usually doesn’t finalize until Thursday around noon Pacific Time. (New arrivals usually have a theater count before then, but you might not know which older titles are going to drop theaters.)

And then there is the no bonuses thing.  People seemed in agreement on cutting out the $5 million weekly perfect pick bonus.

But I also decided to go against the grain and kill the best performer bonus, which is $2 million a screen, so capable of adding as much as $16 million to a weekly pick, as it did with the Baby Driver lineup last summer.  I can see the upside of it, but I felt a no bonus league would be better, or at least more interesting.  We shall see.

There is still a $2 million per screen penalty for blank screens, but I did not add in a penalty (or bonus) for getting the worst performing pick each week.

The hope is for there to be more volatility and variety in the picks with less time to research without leading to insurmountable scoring gaps with the absence of the bonuses.  We shall see.

So if you are up for it, let the summer games begin.

The opening week of summer, coming after the three day Memorial Weekend is a bit of a let down.

Solo                    $514
Deadpool 2              $325
Adrift                  $215
Avengers: Infinity War  $167
Action Point            $143
Book Club               $126
Upgrade                 $62
Life of the Party       $49
Breaking In             $36
Overboard               $30
Show Dogs               $25
A Quiet Place           $21
Best of the Rest        $19
RBG                     $15
Rampage                 $7

There are three new movies on the list this week, Adrift, Action Point, and Upgrade, but none of them are in the summer blockbuster league.  The best of them, Adrift, only made it to third on the price list.  Instead Solo, now condensed to a single day, tops the list for the weekend, followed by Deadpool 2.  And I feel like Avengers is a better pick than Adrift for the pricing.

At the filler end of things is almost all of the same old stuff we’ve been looking at for at least a few weeks… aside from Upgrade, which made the filler end of things in its first week.  But it might be the wild card if it does better than the $2.5 million that the long range forecast has it pegged to do.

This week’s surprising bit is the return of the Best of the Rest at $19, putting it ahead of two picks.  When Best of the Rest isn’t the cheapest pick, it always makes me wonder.  If there is some movie that they expect will be better than others already on the list, why not just put that movie on the list?  And if there is not, what justifies Best of the Rest being more expensive than RBG and Rampage.

So those are the choices for week one of the summer.

If you want to join in, now is the time.  I will put a link in the comments that you can click on to get into the league.  You will need to create an account, but that doesn’t take much.

You also have an extra day to join.  On weeks that start with a Monday holiday all lock times are pushed back a day, so the lock time for the league this week will be the usual Friday at 9am Pacific Time.  Starting next week the league picks will lock on Thursday at 9am.

Spring Movie League – Kessel Also Ran

The time has come, the season has drawn to a close, the last week is over, it is now time to count up the final scores.

Yes, our Spring Fantasy Movie League ended with Solo: A Star Wars Story over the US Memorial Day weekend.

Alas, poor Solo, what went wrong with him?  Was Marvel Universe still too much of a draw?  Have we become over saturated with Star Wars movies?  Did The Last Jedi sour too many fans on the franchise?  Is Han Solo just not that popular?  Were there no back story questions we felt needed to be answered?  Did the whole thing feel like an expensive attempt to again validate that “Kessel run in 12 parsecs” gaff from A New Hope? Was everybody just out camping over Memorial Day?

Yes, there is something odd about the headlines decrying the failure at the box office of a movie that brought in over $100 million over the four day weekend.  But this is a Star Wars movie, and that means that there are expectations.

Still, some of us were not fooled.  Liore and I were discounting Solo in MCats Slack early in the week, where I was calling it $100 million over four days due to a lack of excitement in the force.  And I stuck to that, opting to anchor on Deadpool 2.  Liore couldn’t resist Solo though and anchored on it all the same.

In fact, in the MCats League I was the only one not to bet on Star Wars, which is why I won the week there.  In the TAGN League there was less enthusiasm for Han Solo, so seven of us went with Deadpool 2, though a couple hedge with a Monday Solo pick as well.

But in the end, while Deadpool 2 wasn’t even the winning anchor, it was The Avengers backed up by five screens of Book ClubDeadpool 2 was second best and Solo was in third.  How crazy a week was this?

Sure, it was the pricing and studio predictions that set this course, but who would have pegged a Star Wars movie only running to $103 million on an opening 4-Day weekend?

And then there was the filler picks.  There was a lot of discussion as to what would be the best performer.  Rampage, A Quiet Place, and Life of the Party all had their fans.  Even Show Dogs, which was causing some controversy, had supporters.  But in the end, Overboard took the best performer slot, acing out Life of the Party.

But that didn’t make it a good pick.  It was better to have as much Book Club as could, it held strong from last week, then fill with just two screens of Overboard at the end, a choice it looks like only two people made.

Spring Week Thirteen – Perfect Pick

Nobody in the Meta League had the perfect pick.  The winner for the week was SynCaine, one of those who anchored on Deadpool 2.

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $91,661,374
  2. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $85,559,599
  3. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $84,922,565
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $82,869,211
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $80,463,749
  6. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $80,463,749
  7. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $79,848,296
  8. Kraut Screens (T) – $78,075,953
  9. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $77,414,439
  10. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $76,334,572
  11. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $76,334,572
  12. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $75,485,422
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $74,869,036
  14. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $72,970,209
  15. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $71,451,624
  16. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $69,176,242
  17. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $68,730,172
  18. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $66,575,638
  19. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $65,051,142
  20. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $62,496,157 (Did not pick)
  21. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $60,209,580 (Did not copy picks)
  22. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $41,139,005 (Did not pick)

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

That was a pretty crazy shake up of the usual order of things, with Biyondios, Ben, and Corr way down the list.  SynCaine took the week, his Life of the Party filler lineup giving him the edge.

But the final season standings, with came out as:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $1,461,821,220
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,436,682,416
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,420,901,968
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $1,405,745,374
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,388,655,028
  6. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $1,381,421,102
  7. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $1,365,385,176
  8. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,357,376,973
  9. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $1,342,783,242
  10. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,302,008,386
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,289,493,645
  12. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $1,286,471,231
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $1,226,445,994
  14. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $1,216,573,742
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $1,178,875,806
  16. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $1,173,846,467
  17. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $1,166,013,150
  18. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $1,152,016,914
  19. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $1,122,435,526
  20. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $1,108,293,580
  21. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $1,095,907,569
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $994,744,898 (Adjusted for main pick)

Given far down the weekly list some top players were, there was very little change in the final ranking.  The week just wasn’t big enough to let people jump more than maybe one spot on the list.  Just $105 million for the perfect pick on a four day weekend with a Star Wars movie opening was not what I expected back at the start of the season.  Sorry Solo, you just didn’t give us the big, dramatic finish we were expected.  A metaphor for the film?

Anyway, congrats to Biyondios who won the spring season after passing Ben a couple of weeks back!  Victory is yours!

This is the end of the Spring season and the end of the Meta League.  With rule changes everybody seems to be going their own way.  So, if nothing else, I won’t have to color a bunch of letters every week.

A post will go up a little bit later for the Summer league plans and rules, with a link if you wish to join.

Find Your Own Private Abyss in New Eden

The EVE Online expansion Into the Abyss went live earlier today.

Into the Abyss

Announced at EVE Fanfest last month, the expansion is centered on new PvE content for the game in the form of abyssal pockets.  These are solo PvE encounters.  However, you need to take care.  Once you start one of these encounters you have 20 minutes to complete it and come out the far end.  If you fail, the pocket will collapse and you will lose your ship and your pod, ending back up where ever you have your death clone set.

A new way to stimulate the market?

The pockets come in multiple flavors (5) and levels of difficulty (also 5), but you can only get into one if you have an abyssal filament.  You can find those at data sites or, likely, on the market.  I am sure enterprising explorers will be happy to see some.

In the pocket you will face three encounters with Sleepers or the new Triglavians.  But when you go into a pocket a marker is left that lets people scan down where you will re-appear once you are done.  And if you do level 4 or 5 difficulty pockets you will also have a suspect timer when you exit, so anybody can shoot your likely damage ship and take your stuff.  Fun fun!

So why, given the drawbacks, would anybody bother with abyssal pockets?

Well, loot of course!

Rewards include blueprint copies for one of the three new Triglavian ships, entropic disintegrators and related modules, the hot new weapon system the Trigglavians bring to the game, or those Mutaplasmids, special items that can mutate the stats of current modules in New Eden, making them better… or worse… or just different.  For the new ships and modules there are new skills you’ll need to train up… because of course there are.  For the Mutaplasmids though no special skill is required, just a willingness to gamble with modules.

Or maybe you will want to go just for some screen shots.  Those abyssal pockets are pretty.

Eagle in a pocket

Just don’t go out of bounds in search of a good screen shot, that’ll blow you up as well.

Maybe try abyssal pockets out on the test server first.  That’s what I did.

That is the big anchor feature of this expansion, solo PvE death dungeons… in space!

But that isn’t all there is to the expansion.  Also announced at EVE Fanfest was the fact that somebody at CCP actually tried Planetary Interaction and found out that the interface was confused shit.  So they decided to try and fix that.  The feature’s only been around for eight years, coming in with the Tyrannis expansion back in May 2010, so it was about due for a pass.  There is a whole dev blog about how CCP plans to make things better.

Of course, if you’ve grown used to the unintuitive psycho-clicky interface over the last eight years, I am sure the new one will seem a burden, at least for a while.  Time to re-learn.

Aside from that, you can no longer have a warp core scrambler stabilizer fit if you want to use a Factional Warfare acceleration gate.  Unless you have a mobile depot out and quickly refit after activating the gate… or so I hear.  CCP was going to fix that by not allowing people to refit while aligning for or in warp, but it turns out capital pilots use that feature pretty often.  After dismissing the capital pilot outcry for about a day by pointing out that this was an unintended feature they had been using for years, CCP relented and left things as they were.

There is also the usual range of big fixes and the like.

And then there was one more item.  CCP also updated the recommended computer specifications for playing EVE Online.  Those are now:

Windows:

  • OS: Windows 10
  • CPU: Intel i7-7700 or AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.6 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16GB or higher
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM

Mac:

  • OS: Mac 10.13
  • CPU: Intel i5 Series @ 3.8 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16 GB or higher
  • VIDEO: AMD Radeon Pro 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM

That came as a bit of a shock.  CCP defended this move by pointing out that they haven’t updated the specs since 2013, but in the world of video games, where “recommended” often really means “minimum” and where “minimum” usually means “the publisher wouldn’t let us ship if they knew how demanding our game really was, so theoretically you can play with this config, but it will likely be frustrating” that seems like a pretty high bar to set.  People may assume that they shouldn’t bother if they don’t have the recommended config.

However, the minimum specs didn’t change, so I guess we’re all still okay with this update.  I assume I’ll still be able to carry on running two clients with graphics turned up, in the manner to which I have grown accustomed.   But I am now fairly far behind the recommended spec with the following:

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Processor
  • RAM: 12GB of RAM
  • VIDEO: nVidia GeForce GTX 960 video card with 4GB of VRAM

Oh well, we shall see.

The expansion has been successfully deployed.  Details are available in the Patch Notes and on the Updates Page.  There is also the Known Issues post about what has been found so far with the expansion.

The next big update will be coming next week when, on June 5th, CCP retires all of the null sec outposts, converting them into faction citadels.  At that point all of the lost goods, trapped in hostiles stations, will go into asset safety, leading to… I am not sure what.  INN has some speculation on that front.

Memorial Day 2018

Marching Men

Under the level winter sky
I saw a thousand Christs go by.
They sang an idle song and free
As they went up to Calvary.

Careless of eye and coarse of lip,
They marched in holiest fellowship.
That heaven might heal the world, they gave
Their earth-born dreams to deck the grave.

With souls unpurged and steadfast breath
They supped the sacrament of death.
And for each one, far off, apart,
Seven swords have rent a woman’s heart.

Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922)

Level 100 in Norrath Yet Again

In EverQuest II I have two level 100 characters and one level 95 character and I don’t think I have ever leveled up past 70 myself.  Instead, it is because Daybreak keeps just giving me high level characters.  There was also a level 85 character in there somewhere, but I deleted him at one point to make room for one of those level 100s.

But wait, I will soon have another.  In order to celebrate Game Update 106, Daybreak is offering people yet another level 100 character.  You even get a mount with the deal.

Here we go again…

This is a very generous offer and I will make the time to go take advantage of it.  But on a Friday where I am feeling more skeptical than usual… which is pretty damn skeptical… I have to wonder how effective such offers are.

I mean, I guess it must be somewhat effective if they keep doing it.  And this time around it has a hook in that you are allowed to play in the Planes of Prophecy expansion while the offer is active, after which you will be have to pay to continue there… or to continue to level up, since you need the expansion to go past level 100.  But you get to keep all the prizes you’ve been given otherwise.

However it also seems to expose yet again the ongoing problem for long running MMORPGs that based user advancement on levels.  If you don’t simply allow, but actively encourage players to skip you’re old content, that doesn’t say much for it.  Of course, when the new content is complex due to years of progressive additions, then you’re really in a bind.

Bhagpuss and Isey both have comments on this as well.

The Unchecked Optimism of Not Knowing Better

I want to say up front that I am not writing this post to be mean.  But, given that I am going to explore something with so many things wrong with it, I am sure that is the way it will come across.  Such is life.  I suppose I could just not make the post, but I just cannot let this pass, it being an object lesson on so many fronts.

l speak, of course, of The Flower of Knighthood Kickstarter campaign.

The Flowers of Knighthood for Algernon

I’ve been down the list of things wrong with past Kickstarter campaigns.  I was critical of The Fountain War, Hero’s Song, and The World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter campaigns, calling them all problematic early on, because they all seemed to fail on fronts that seemed obvious to even an outside observer like myself.

But The Flower of Knighthood seems on track to outdo them all.

Let’s start with the asking amount.  As I have said in the past, the amount you ask for needs to reflect reality.  People with industry fame like Lord British and Mark Jacobs, they were good for $2 million.  Brad McQuaid, certainly famous in MMORPG circles, didn’t have enough pull for $800K, but came close to $500K.   Eric Heimberg, who could at least point to some successful MMORPGs he had worked on, had to take three runs at Kickstarter campaigns for Project: Gorgon before getting the mix of publicity and goals correct. to bring in nearly $75K.

Basically, a little bit of research can give you some baseline expectations when it comes to funding.  Those aren’t hard and fast numbers.  You too could possibly bring in a million dollars on a campaign without being Lord British, but you would have to do something else to bring attention to your efforts.  You could get media outlets interested in your project, have some sort of event, or maybe buy ads on Facebook.  I hear those can swing national elections.

What you shouldn’t do is just forge ahead with an ask you think you need but have no reason to expect you’ll make.  So there is The Flower of Knighthood looking for $600K.  No real publicity in advance… I mean, I pay attention to things better than most and I only heard about the campaign when Massively OP posted about it earlier this week.

Before that there was just a post about their project, but no mention of funding, no attempt to get people ready to buy in, just launch the Kickstarter without preamble and hope for the best.

This campaign is not going to make its $600K goal.

My rule of thumb, based on observations of successful campaigns, is that if you cannot secure 20% of your funding in the first 24 hours you are not going to make your goal.

The first 24 hours is when your installed base, the true fans of your plan, will show up and support you.

The Flower of Knighthood brought in just $351 in the first two days of its campaign, a dismal 0.006% of their goal, and I rounded up a bit to make that number look better.  If you follow the campaign over at Kicktraq it will give you the scale of how far they are off from their goal.  The campaign needs to bring in $20,000 a day to hit its goal.

$351 is such a ridiculously tiny amount that it brings into question how serious this team really is about their project.  Seriously, the base level of effort I would expect, the low end support they should be looking for is from their friends and family.  Surely they went out and at least told all connections on Facebook about this campaign to at least drum up some level of pity support.  If you can’t get your mom to kick in five bucks, just go home.

And yet in the first two days they managed to get pledged from just nine people.

Given the lofty goals and wide scope of their plan, I have to believe there are more than nine people working on this product.  Whose mom wouldn’t pony up?

So the whole thing is dead out of the gate.  No real publicity, no real effort to rally fans, nothing but a misguided belief that if they put up the project then fans will magically appear. (And, best of all, they have stretch goals already, out to $4.8 million!  Plan for success I guess.)

Somewhere they missed the news about how 20 new games popped up on Steam every day in 2017, a number that has continued to rise in 2018.  In the flood of new games that is our current reality, how did they expect somebody to find theirs?

Of course, that doesn’t start to get into some of the other issues hindering this campaign, like the game itself.

I know from long experience that any game, or any aspect of a given game, no matter how horrible and tedious you may find it, is somebody’s favorite thing.  That is the nature of the world.

But just because you know somebody out there will like your game doesn’t mean that there is a big enough audience out there to support it.  The campaign states “the main point of our game is realism” and they are taking that seriously.  For example, I give you the summary of the crafting system:

Authentic craft system – thanks to Dr Stephen Mileson from Oxford University we are creating a maximally authentic craft system. It means that during craft activities you will accurately repeat the actions of 15th-century blacksmiths, carpenters, leatherworkers, tailors and other craftsmen.

I am sure this will appeal to somebody, but I already have a day job.  People found the old EverQuest II multi-level crafting, where you had to refine raw materials, build components, then assemble them into a final finished product, so I have to wonder how realistic they can afford to get.  Will things take literal days and weeks to create?  And what is everybody using until production gets under way?  There is something about NPCs being able to do some of the tedious work, but will they want to get paid?

To make thine axe…

And speaking of paying people, what about the economy to support this crafting?  They don’t say much, aside from the fact that there will be no instant travel and thus, I assume, no instant delivery auction house, so it sounds like people will be walking around from town to town trying to sell things.

Then there is the combat system.  They have rejected hit points and have declared for a realistic physics based system of attacks and blocks.

This reminds me of the post from back in 2010 from the dev at Undead Labs who was going to revolutionize MMOs by eschewing auto-attack and skills for the ability to just swing a bat and hit somebody.  That… and Syp’s reaction to it… got a long response from Brian “Psychochild” Green back then.

More telling, Undead Labs ended up releasing State of Decay in 2013, a single player game.  Even the recently released update, State of Decay 2, is four player co-op, so you’re only bashing zombies, not other players.  So much for fixing MMOs. (There is an Honest Game Trailers about State of Decay if you’re interested.)

And while games like Darkfall and Asheron’s Call have done positional based combat… you have to at least be in the arc of the attack to get hit… I am not sure they attempted to match up attacks versus blocks in a PvP world.  Latency is still a thing.  I can speak from experience in EVE Online, where it has been proven that the person closest to the London data center gets their attack in first.

Okay, you might think, but maybe their goals aren’t so lofty?  Maybe they are overstating things by declaring it an MMORPG?  Maybe this is really meant to be something small, like Medieval Engineers or some such.

Well let me disabuse you of any thoughts down that path.  They want all of that and they want it on a massive scale.  From the Kickstarter:

Talk of ‘massive’ does not mean 100 vs 100. We want to make it possible to gather armies of 1,000 people on each side of the battle. This allows you to implement diverse tactics and combat strategies. You can use archers to weaken your opponent’s army and then send heavy swordsmen with high shields in to attack, and in the most tense moments you can strike with your cavalry into the opponent’s flank.

Two thousand people on field?  I have been on internet spaceship battles in EVE Online of that scale and larger, but fights in New Eden are “press the button to shoot” level of complexity, where you just have to get hostiles within your weapons envelope, open fire, and let the server calculate the rest.  The system gets so slow and so unresponsive that the thought of having to do individual attacks seems ludicrous.  And, as a defender, being able to put up blocks to counter attacks… attacks you would have to see coming… seems like a pretty dicey proposition.

When questioned about this on the Kickstarter page, their answer expressed a confidence that it could be done given enough server computing capacity, which I know to be the answer to all performance issues, but which seems a bit smug given the level of funding they have achieved so far.  Server capacity costs money.

Meanwhile, they just sort of wave away the end user’s video card capability to render such a battle with the idea that first person view will help.

But when they are planning on “realistic” graphics and character movement based on motion capture, facing even a hundred live and active players seems likely to melt ones video card.

Basically, almost every aspect of this project, from funding to design to implementation, seems like pie in the sky.  They are even missing one of the key items of every MMORPG Kickstarter campaign, the list out of the veterans on the team and the projects on which they have worked.  If you’re going to do something this crazy ambitious, you want to at least be able to say you’ve got somebody on the team who has done something similar.  There is a reference to somebody with 21 years of experience, but neither the projects they worked on nor in what capacity.  If it was somebody with 21 years experience working on server side code for some big titles, I might be impressed.  If it is somebody with 21 years experience doing character models and textures, not so much.

At best they seem to have checked too many boxes on their wishlist.  Maybe this is viable as a multi-player co-op.  Leave out the massive battles and cavalry charges and just have players join tournaments and fight off the odd bandit.

And, yes, I am sure I have just expended 1,500 or so words shitting all over somebody’s dream.  But the company, Eaglance (not to be confused with Swiss SEO firm of the same name), really hasn’t the groundwork to be taken seriously.  They’re an effectively unknown company with nobody on staff they can name with relevant experience, planning technical feats that have thwarted the likes of Blizzard in the past, with just a bunch of features, asking for an amount of money that manages to be both ludicrously large and hilariously small at the same time given their abilities and needs.

Anyway, I invite you to take a look at their Kickstarter and their web site to tell me if I have missed something that indicates that this project might have a chance.  To me it seems likely to simmer for years before either shipping something with little relation to their grand vision or disappearing altogether.

SuperData and How God of War and Fortnite Ruled April

The SuperData Research Digital Sales numbers for April 2018 have been released.

SuperData Research Top 10 – April 2018

On the PC side of the chart the status quo ante of the top three was restored as League of Legends, which dropped to second place in March, returned to its usual position at the top of the list.  The Dungeon Fighter Online insurgency was put down.

Elsewhere on the PC list, Fortnite held on to fifth position and World of Warcraft held on to sixth.  Popping onto the list in the seventh spot was HearthstoneWorld of Tanks held eighth position for another month while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds dropped from seventh to ninth and CS:GO held tenth again.

On the console chart, Fortnite held the top spot for another month, while the newly released God of War ran up to second position as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.  FIFA 18 held on to third while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds remains buried by Fortnite on the console front, completely missing from the list.  Also disappearing is the XBox exclusive Sea of Thieves which broke into the console chart last month.

I do wonder whether H1Z1 will be able to make the chart, sqeezing back into the battle royal market it lost a hold of.  The report is that 1.5 million people downloaded the H1Z1 beta.  We shall see if that translates into sales going forward.

On the mobile chart Pokemon Go and Candy Crush Saga both held onto spots, but Lineage M, which brought in so much revenue for NCsoft in their last quarterly report, fell off.

Other items from the SuperData Research report:

  • Fortnite can’t be stoppedonce again it broke the record for most additional content revenue in a single month by a console game.
  • Fortnite breaks another record. Epic’s Battle Royale shooter made $296 million in April across Console, PC and Mobile, up from $223 million in March.
  • Console spend was up a whopping 44% in April due to the record-breaking success of both Fortnite and God of War
  • God of War has the largest console exclusive digital launch to date. Sony’s new exclusive title sold an estimated 2.1 million digital units at launch in April. This is more than double that of the second-largest Sony exclusive launch, Uncharted 4.
  • Grand Theft Auto V is finally showing its age. GTA V Online revenue declined 9% year-over-year, ending an impressive streak of 12 consecutive months with year-over-year growth. GTA V Online has declined sequentially every month since the start of the year, likely in part due to the continued rise of Fortnite as well as a dearth of significant content updates from Rockstar.
  • Honour of Kings hits a new high. Honour of Kings further cemented itself as the top grossing mobile title in the world with another $185 million in revenue generated during April, up from $171 million in March and $149 million last April.

A Decade of Internet Spaceship Pictures

It is probably a good thing that I only track my other blog here in five year increments rather than the sort of yearly posts I do for this site.  Eventually though time flies past and suddenly you’ve been posting pictures of pretend spaceships on the internet for a decade and you wonder how it happened.

In short, EVE Online Pictures turns ten years old today.

The original banner for the blog

A bunch has happened since I posted at the five year anniversary, and yet things still feel very much the same in some ways.  The graphics of EVE Online have evolved and improved.  A picture from today looks different from a picture from five years ago which looks different still from pictures taken a decade back.

At some point I had to change up the theme on the site, as I had to do on this site, because WP.com was breaking things for older themes.  EVE Online Pictures now uses the Piano Black theme.  Also, unlike TAGN, it has ads all over it.  Over time WP.com has gone from “your visitors may see some ads” to “we’re going to get ads all over your shit” when it comes to free blogs.

Here I pay not to have ads.  Over there I have been less inclined to pay, mostly because the site gets so little traffic anyway.  Its main benefit to me is counting as a fan site so I get one of my accounts comped by CCP.  So the accountant in the back of my brain is reluctant to give away any of the economic upside of that blog by plunking down $48 a year just to have no ads.

You get other features with the basic plan, but none of them interest me.  For example, after ten years at the same address, getting a new domain name seems like a very bad idea.

If somebody could convince me that no ads and a new domain name would double my traffic… I still wouldn’t be interested.  You’ll know why when I get into the numbers.

The story of how the blog came to be… more dubious ideas… was covered five years back.  I’ll link to that post again in case you are interested.  But basically for the last ten years I have put up 2 or 3 pictures a week, every week, with occasional bursts of more pictures (during the Fountain War I put up a picture a day for two months) and a video now and then on the weekend.  The current schedule is a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Basic Statistics

Days since launch: 3,652
Posts total: 1,507 (up 927)
Average posts per day: 0.41 (up 0.09)
Comments:  201 (up 36)
Average comments per post: 0.13 (down 0.15)
Average comments per day:  0.055 (down 0.045)
Spam comments:  35,371 (up 6073)
Average spam comments per day:  9.68 (down by 3.29)
Comment signal to noise ratio:  1 to 176 (up 35)
Images uploaded:  1,418 (up 859)
Space used by images: 447 MB of my 3 GB allocation (up 204 MB)

What do those numbers say about EVE Online Pictures?

Well, first is that I do not get very comments at all, with just 36 comments being posted in the last five years.  Even spam comments have been down during that period.  I also have a lot of space left to upload more screen shots.  My early worry was that I would run out of space.  Not something I needed to give much mind to I guess.

Some Numbers

I’ll put the big chart up front, as I did five years ago, so you can see exactly how much traffic the EVE Online Pictures blog gets.  First, the total page view numbers.

EVE Online Pictures Total Page Views by Month

And then the daily averages.

EVE Online Pictures Average Daily Page Views by Month

You can click on either of those charts to see them full size.

Overall, you can see that traffic volume there is nothing to write home about.  If you go to the TAGN eleven year anniversary post you will see that almost every year this blog gets more traffic than EVE Online Pictures has had in its ten years of existence.

There are a few reasons for that, not least of which is that the site gets far fewer posts.  And the posts themselves are just pictures.  People can see the pictures without bothering to click through to the site if they follow me via a number of syndication channels.

Unlike this blog however, traffic at EVE Online Pictures is not in decline.  There was a significant drop in early 2013 when Google changed how they did image searches.  You can see that hit to traffic in February 2013.  But after that it is pretty steady, holding at about 30K page views a year.

Demographics

As I noted, the language barrier isn’t as big a deal when you have a blog that is mostly pictures.

EVE Online Pictures traffic sources

Countries with large English speaking populations are still represented, but I do get a lot more Russians there than I do here.  Well, at least as a percentage of the total visitors.

Incoming

Who sends traffic to EVE Online Pictures?

  1. Google
  2. EVE Bloggers
  3. Total EVE
  4. TAGN
  5. Twitter
  6. EVE Online Forums
  7. WP.com dashboard
  8. Der Held von New Eden
  9. Reddit
  10. Facebook
  11. WP.com Reader
  12. Massively (not Massively OP, the old AOL site)
  13. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
  14. EVE Online Community site
  15. Google Reader

Of course, Google is at the top of the list, and its total is well over three times the traffic all other sites have ever sent me combined.  Such is the power of the Page Rank.  You can see why people freak out when Google makes any sort of change to their search algorithms.  Anybody who drops off the first page of results suffers a percipience drop in traffic.

EVE bloggers, in its various forms, has provided a decent amount of traffic over the years.

Total EVE has the site in there because I bribed somebody to include it in the EVE Blog Pack list.  I think it has a legit place on that list.  It is all about EVE OnlineTotal EVE hasn’t been around as long as EVE Bloggers so it isn’t higher up the list, but it matches or exceeds EVE Bloggers most days of the week.

Then of course, I send traffic there from this site.  This post will add a bit to that I bet.

For a brief flicker of time the official forums used to send traffic to the blog.  One of the community team discovered the site via Twitter and began including a link to a picture now and then in the regular This Week in EVE post.   And then, as that was ramping up, CCP cut most of their community team and that regular post fell by the wayside.

The WP.com dashboard is people clicking on their stats page wondering what this site is that is sending them some traffic.  I have a lot of EVE Online blogs and a set of news and informational feeds in the side bar of EVE Online Pictures.

Then there is Der Held von New Eden, literally the only blog I know of out there, aside from this one, that links to EVE Online Pictures.  No love for a long time fixture of the community.  At least screen shots know no language barrier.

Once in a while somebody a link gets posted to Reddit.  Actually, looking at the number of page views I would change that to just once.

As with this blog, every EVE Online Pictures post gets piped to the Wilhelm Arcturus account on Facebook where pretty much only my mother sees them.

Old school Massively, several years gone at this point, still holds a spot on the list because they linked back to the site to acknowledge a screen shot they used.  Massively OP isn’t anywhere on the list.

Kirith Kodachi doesn’t have a blog roll, but he must have linked to me at some point.

The EVE Online community site is basically CCP’s list of EVE Online fan sites.

And then there is Google Reader, a blast from the past.  It will be five years gone this coming July.

Outgoing

Honestly, the site doesn’t send much traffic anywhere.  I would be surprised if anybody noticed that they were getting traffic from the EVE Online Pictures.  For the most part it is the rare post that even has a link out.

Occasionally somebody will click on something in the side bar where I have a list of EVE Online related sites and EVE Online related news feeds from CCP and key third party sites.  But for the most part people land on the site, look at some pictures, then leave without a trace.

In that scenario, the sites that do get clicks now and again are:

  1. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  2. EVE Monkey
  3. EVE Online Ships
  4. West Karana
  5. OmbEVE (defunct)
  6. Jester’s Trek
  7. EVElopedia (defunct)
  8. EVE Null Sec Influence
  9. EVE Kill (defunct)
  10. EVE Online Forums
  11. The Mittani dot com (changed to INN)
  12. DOTLAN EVE Online Maps
  13. EVE Online community sites
  14. EVE Bloggers
  15. EVE Tanking (defunct)

The inertia of time.  A third of the sites on that list are gone or no longer at that address.

Of course I am the biggest beneficiary, and why not?  If I post screen shots from a big fight I will sometimes link back to a related post here for further info.

EVE Monkey, West Karana, OmbEVE, and Jester’s Trek all had links out to the for pictures they posted.  Those sites aren’t gone, but they are dormant.

And the rest are people actually clicking on the side bar I guess.  All told those listed add up to just over 5,500 clicks, which is about three a month over the last decade.  Not a significant source of web traffic for anybody.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. B-R5RB Infographic
  2. Space Cockroach
  3. Sansha Battle Station
  4. Asteroid Mining Station
  5. The Maze Complex
  6. Myrmidon
  7. Raven and Rokh
  8. New Asteroids
  9. Rifter
  10. Angel Cartel Battleship Opens Fire
  11. Ragnarok Jumping in with the Fleet
  12. Cormorant Classic
  13. The Mighty Rorqual Transitions
  14. Caldari Jump Gate
  15. New Cladari Jump Gate Model

The B-R5RB infographic is the biggest draw by far, the one thing that Google still finds on the site when people search.  Of course, somebody else made that.  The top five are all the results of Google, as is number eight on the list.  General interest in asteroids and asteroid mining tricks people to coming here.

After that the rest of the list were linked on some other site or in a forum post.

For the most part a post gets traffic the week it is posted and never gets another click after that.

Most Used Categories

For the site I tried to set up categories for what I felt would be logical ways to divide up pictures at a higher level.  I went with the four empires and then some specific items, ending up with 24 categories over the years.  I suppose I could have gone with ship classes or something else, but this is what I started with and some times it is better to carry on consistently how you started out rather than trying to change horses mid-stream.

  1. Caldari
  2. Amarr
  3. Gallente
  4. Minmatar
  5. Space Station
  6. Planet (also used for moons)
  7. Space Objects
  8. Explosions
  9. Contest Entries
  10. Citadel
  11. ORE
  12. Classic Graphics
  13. Ringed Planet
  14. Drones
  15. YouTube Video

Ships identified as Caldari are the most common on the site, the category having been used 492 times, followed by Amarr at 479, then Gallente at 373, and finally Minmatar at 355.  I think that split mostly reflects my starting off as Caldari back in 2006, so a lot of early pictures were focused on those ships. (Or the Guristas versions thereof.)

Explosions is probably the best tag, followed by Ringed Planets, while Classic Graphics is a interesting look at the past.  Of course, when I created that category there were only “new” and “classic” graphics.  Since then there have been a number of revisions to how things are rendered as well as ship models, so I suppose the concept of “classic” has been somewhat diluted.  But in the context of the site it means the way the game looked when I showed up.

I excluded one category from the list.  Every post has the category “EVE Online” attached.  Tags and categories are powerful things at WP.com and one of the things you can do with them is make an RSS feed of a category or tag.  If you have a WP.com blog and you write about EVE Online, you should definitely use the “EVE Online” as a tag or category. (Here is the feed for EVE Online category or tagged posts at WP.com.)  For heaven’s sake, don’t use just “EVE,” you don’t want to know what else gets lumped in that feed.

Most Used Tags

Tags are a lot more whimsically applied.  They include the specific type of ship in the picture (and are mostly correct) or the system or some detail in the shot like Caroline’s Star.  But mostly it is ship types.  And there are a lot of ship types in the game, which probably explains why I have 450 different tags.

  1. Drake
  2. Megathron
  3. Jump Gate
  4. Apocalypse
  5. Revelation
  6. Archon
  7. Avatar
  8. Naglfar
  9. Erebus
  10. Tengu
  11. Maelstrom
  12. Dominix
  13. Hurricane
  14. Typhoon
  15. Ragnarok

Of course the missile spewing doorstop that is the Drake tops the list.  I flew it a lot before I went to null sec and then it was a doctrine ship for over a year once I got there.

Likewise the Megathron was a doctrine ship during the Fountain War.

Jump Gates… they are in a lot of shots because that is where fleets tend to bunch up and where fights often happen.  And then there are titans.  When I got to null sec I took a lot of screen shots of titans because I had never seen any before.  I still take lots of screen shots of them.

The Future

I plan to carry on as I have.  Three pictures a week isn’t an onerous level of effort.  It is easily worth doing given that it nets me a free account. (CCP still makes money off of me though, I have two other Omega accounts at the moment and I have been known to buy PLEX to get SKINs from the New Eden store.)

My posting process is pretty straightforward.  I tend to sit down for a bit on a weekend and go through pictures, queuing up posts for weeks ahead of time.

The only tricky bit is to try to include some variety in the pictures posted… I try not to post several pictures in a row from the same battle or of the same ship type… and to not repost the same screen shot.  I’ve only done that a few times over the course of the blog, but I have caught myself thinking “that looks like a good shot to post!” only to find that I already post that weeks or months earlier.

I am also picky about posting things that give a view of things that people might not see every day.  That tends to mean lots of titans.  If I gave up on my own personal rules about repetition and just started posting every decent screen shot I took, I could probably post a picture every day for the next couple of years without repeat.

Overall, a decade in, I am happy with the site.  It never took off or became nearly as popular as this blog, but it has been steady over the years and is now something of a time capsule of EVE Online visuals over the last decade. (And earlier, since I drew from older pictures at times.)

Probably the only regret is that I have hung on to the same 1600×1200 monitor over the life of the blog so far, so all the screen shots are that size.  I did recently upgrade to a slightly larger monitor, so at some future date when my current queue runs down, screen shots will start appearing in 1920×1200 resolution.

So, after about 2,500 words, I will invite you to come visit the site if you like internet spaceship pictures.  New posts are syndicated out to the following sites:

  • Tumblr (I need a better theme here)
  • Twitter (I do say things here occasionally)
  • Facebook (Pretty much just blog posts from both my sites)

I guess I need an Instagram account as well.  Maybe some day.

Or if you don’t care for any of those, you can just go to the EVE Online Pictures site directly and use the Page Down key to scroll through all 1,500 pictures thanks to the infinite scroll option of the theme I use.  We’ll see how things look again in another five years.

Spring Movie League – Papal Fallibility

Week twelve of our Spring Fantasy Movie League has come and gone, with another blockbuster opening.

However, this time around there was a change up compared to how things usually play out.

Coming into the summer blockbuster season, the early entries are already upon us.  We had The Avengers: Infinity War already, and it made bank.  Week twelve brought us Deadpool 2, a big enough title to be split three ways, giving us the following price choices.

Deadpool 2 FRI      $501
Deadpool 2 SAT      $452
Deadpool 2 SUN      $337
Avengers            $280
Show Dogs           $99
Book Club           $98
Life of the Party   $76 
Breaking In         $73
Overboard           $50
A Quiet Place       $45
Pope Francis        $25 
I Feel Pretty       $21 
Rampage             $19
Tully               $13
RBG                 $13

The Avengers, in their third week, had settled down from blockbuster range to being predicted to bring around $30 million, something that would otherwise be a good opening week for a film of less spectacle and ambition.  Deadpool 2, being estimated between $130-150 million was expected to bring in more than that on any of its three days and was priced accordingly.

So way back on Monday evening when the picks unlocked and I was writing last week’s post, the question seemed to be which days of Deadpool 2 should you take.  Being the blockbuster of the week, of course you should anchor on it and of course you should take two days of it, because of course you should.

Then there was something of a disturbance in the quiet contemplation of the week.  Book Club, of which I was somewhat dismissive on Monday night, started getting forecasts that seemed to put it as the likely best performer of the week.  It seemed to be priced in expectation of doing about $9 million or so, but was quickly buoyed up past $12 million.  At that price it seemed like the best lineup might be 1x The Avengers 7x Book Club.

I had that selection in my list of possible lineups.  While the new multi-league picking interface is awkward, it does let me keep several lineups in play with a plan to copy the one I eventually pick to the other leagues.

Meanwhile, another wildcard seemed to be in play in the form of Pope Francis.  Religious films having done fairly well this year, as well as bio-pic RBG, the allure of the pope caught on a few places.  It seemed to be priced conservatively, as befitting his holiness, and you could get in Deadpool 2 Friday and Sunday and six screens of it.

I was tempted by that lineup for a bit, and had it up on my list.  However, in the end, I was more sold on women reading Fifty Shades than the leader of the holy mother church of Rome as a box office draw.

So it was down to that mix of The Avengers and Book Club or some load out of Deadpool 2, as much Book Club as I could get, and some filler.  I was fine with a single screen of Deadpool 2 at that point.

Then on Friday morning the numbers for the Thursday night previews came out and showed Deadpool 2 had drawn $18 million, a number that would be added to the Friday totals, which sold me on Deadpool 2.  My final pick was 1x Friday, 4x Book Club, 1x Life of the Party, 2x RBG.

And it wasn’t a bad pick I suppose.  I ended up pretty high up the list on most leagues relative to my performance over the last couple of weeks.  But it wasn’t the perfect pick.  The perfect pick was the lineup I had been considering earlier in the week, 1x The Avengers, 7x Book Club.

Spring Week Eleven – Perfect Pick

As it turned out, Deadpool 2 didn’t live up to that Thursday night rush. (And the Thursday night numbers for Book Club didn’t seem all that spectacular.)  While I can hardly bring myself to say it “only” made $125 million over its opening weekend, a huge number that secures its spot in the league of blockbusters, especially as an R-rated title, that was still less than I (and many others) had calculated on.

But at least I didn’t bet on the Pope.  Pope Francis only brought in half a million, less than half of what RBG brought in, despite the fact that RBG was half the price.  In hindsight, it shouldn’t have even made the list.

Super Troopers 2 and Black Panther should have been retained as they both outperformed Pope Francis and Tully.

The picks in the Meta League were quite varied and the scored for week twelve ended up looking like this:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $143,528,520
  2. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $143,528,520
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $132,317,638
  4. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $125,473,035
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $124,708,463
  6. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $119,401,760
  7. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $105,188,471
  8. Kraut Screens (T) – $105,078,227
  9. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $100,045,032
  10. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $99,332,982 (Did not copy picks to the TAGN League)
  11. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $98,105,435
  12. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $95,651,071
  13. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $94,334,631
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $94,334,631
  15. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $91,456,556
  16. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $91,268,046
  17. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $88,467,250
  18. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $88,079,508
  19. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $88,079,508
  20. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $88,079,508
  21. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $84,825,769
  22. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $84,257,700

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

At the top end, both Biyondios and Pak got the perfect pick, so led the week.  The rankings from that point down pretty much follow how many screens of Book Club people went with, the top lineup with any of it being SynCaine at $100 million.

Two people bet heavily on Pope Francis, Ben and Goat, and they suffered for their sins.  Meanwhile, Liore went all-in on Deadpool 2, going with Friday and Saturday, 2x RBG, and four empty screens, but the merc with the mouth failed to back up his talk, leaving her in the lurch.

All of which led to some changes in the overall Meta League lineup:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $1,396,770,078
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,365,230,792
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,347,931,759
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $1,325,281,625
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,305,785,817
  6. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $1,295,861,503
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,290,801,335
  8. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $1,285,536,880
  9. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $1,267,297,820
  10. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,227,139,350
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $1,223,975,074
  12. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,197,832,271
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $1,148,370,041
  14. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $1,136,109,993
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $1,110,145,634
  16. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $1,096,836,908
  17. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $1,096,432,028
  18. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $1,075,682,342
  19. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $1,054,768,564
  20. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $1,037,512,961
  21. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $1,031,959,008
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $934,535,318 (adjusted to reflect main league pick)

Biyondios getting the perfect pick combined with Ben betting on Pope Francis meant a change in the number one spot, putting Biyondios solidly in first place.  Pak, also with the perfect pick, moved ahead of me, but I also moved ahead of Aure, Liore, and Goat.

So we go into the final week of the season with Biyondios in a strong first place position, Ben within striking range of Corr, Pak maybe eyeing Po, and a bloodbath still possible in the fight for fifth or sixth place.

And so it is appropriate that we are going into a big, big final week for the season.  Week thirteen has the following options available.

Deadpool 2          $680
Solo FRI            $587
Solo SAT            $371
Solo SUN            $334
Solo MON            $271
Avengers            $252
Book Club           $133
Life of the Party   $57
Show Dogs           $52
Breaking In         $49
A Quiet Place       $35
Overboard           $33
RBG                 $16
Rampage             $10
I Feel Pretty       $8

The big new film on the block is Solo: A Star Wars Story.  It is expected to open big enough to be split.  But since this is a holiday weekend, it has been split into four days for your lineup amusement/confusion.

Four slots of Solo means that nothing else new made the list, while the Pope Francis and Tully were knocked off.  As I mentioned above, they should have even made the cut last week given their performance.

At first glance you might think it will be all about Solo this week, but then you notice that Deadpool 2 is at the top of the price list.  Having done $125 million last week, its combined take over four days should easily eclipse any single day of Solo unless Solo breaks out and exceeds expectations.

And there is still The Avengers out there and Book Club, which might be the counter pick as it isn’t a big budget action adventure film.

Meanwhile, at the low end there is still a pretty reasonable selection of filler options at prices to suit what remains of your budget after your anchors take most of it.

So it seems to come down to how much you believe in Solo this week.  Something in my gut says that it being another Star Wars filler story after Rogue One (the “why did we need to make this?” movie) and following on The Last Jedi (the “screw everything you knew about Star Wars” movie) is going to lead it to being at the low end of expectations… expectations that have been dropping week after week in long range forecasts.

But some part of my brain still asks, “Who bets against Star Wars?”  And who bets against Han Solo… or young Lando?

Anyway, it will be a big week, a week where the right pick could change your standing dramatically.

Also, remember to make your tiebreaker pick and to apply your picks to all your leagues, unless you’re going to be like me and play something odd in a couple leagues. (I may be in too many leagues.)

Finally, be ready to pick next week.  The summer blockbuster season starts next week and, thanks to a four day weekend, picks will only unlock on Tuesday evening while the new rules for the TAGN League (not fully set yet) will require you to pick by Thursday.  (Though, for week one, that will be pushed to Friday as any holiday week gets their picks pushed back a day.) There will be no Meta League for summer, only the TAGN League. (So I can stop coloring letters every week!)

Good luck with your picks!