Monthly Archives: February 2019

February in Review

The Site

I was away on vacation for a week this month.  Did anybody notice?  No?

Well, me being away must have been good because total traffic was up when compared to January.  Not bad for a month with three fewer days.  Of course, it helped a lot that I posted about Burn Jita 2019.  That drove a lot of traffic here.  I don’t have a follow up post about the even however because I was away for the entire thing.

On other site topics, we learned back in October that Google Plus was getting shut down.  At the time we were told it would end in August of 2019.  Then, in December, Google found some more security issues, and that date was moved forward to April 2.

They knew enough to avoid April 1

With that new date rapidly approaching, Google has been warning people of the impending end for the service.  But April 2nd isn’t the only date in play.

Come March 7th, Google Plus will stop allowing external applications like WordPress to post to the service.  In advance of that WP.com has been warning its users that support for Google Plus publication will be terminated in advance of that date.

WP.com letting people know

So if you follow the site through Google Plus… and I suspect that might be as many as three people… posts there may cease as early as tomorrow.  This could be the last post to Google Plus you ever seem from me.  (Or from Richard Bartle, whose blog also publishes there.  For me Google Plus is pretty much the Richard Bartle tracker.)

Unlike Facebook, which cut automated posting to combat “fake news” (with little success, since ignorance is generally a grass roots affair), I won’t be bothering to sporadically post links to my posts following the demise of the integration.  So if you follow me there and want to keep reading my stuff, you will have to find another service.

Twitter maybe?  It isn’t so bad if you are careful about whom you follow.

The posts are also pushed to Tumblr as summaries, and I haven’t been banned yet as part of the great Tumblr porn panic, where the algorithm doesn’t know much about art, but knows if nipples are involved it must be porn.

One Year Ago

I was wondering if EA might be a better company if they were owned by Microsoft.

Trion Worlds announced that Rift Prime would launch on March 7th, putting it a good two weeks ahead of the previous estimated “spring” opening.

SuperData Research released their review of 2017 and it seemed to be missing a key title.

In World of Warcraft it was Battle for Azeroth pre-order time.  I bought it so I could start unlocking allied races.  Not that I needed more alts.  I also did a little raiding with leashes and got the Mr. Bigglesworth drop.

In New Eden the Monthly Economic Report showed a dip in activity , at least in overall NPC bounties, as we all turned to the Million Dollar Battle that January.

CCP was also proposing changes to the CSM election process as well as updating their game news RSS feeds.

The February update for EVE Online saw a change that allowed players to attack Upwell structures at any time and changed it so that unfueled structures only had one timer after hitting the shields rather than two.  That led to a spike in destroyed citadels.  There was also the Guardian’s Gala event and CCP still calling mission spaces “dungeons.”  The coming March update promised players a new ship.

In game I hit the meaningless milestone of 190 million skill points.

Actually out in space, Pandemic Horde gave up their space in Fade and Pure Blind to move to the Vale of the Silent, leaving a hole in null sec for somebody to fill.

Daybreak finally declared H1Z1 out of early access, but the battle royale market had already moved on.  Fortnite, significantly, was now available on PC and consoles.

And Extra Credits was going over the whole lockbox thing some more.

Five Years Ago

A lot of people got their panties in a twist about Steam tags.  It was the literal end of civilization as we knew it… for about 30 minutes.

EA handed over the running of Camelot Unchained and Ultima Online to Broadsword.

I spent some time with Warcraft III attempting to discover the pre-history of WoW.

There was Diablo III version 2.0, and the changes looked promising.

On the World of Warcraft front, we were still talking about Warlords of Draenor.  Pre-orders were announced an there was a rumor that the expansion would cost $60, which seemed a bit steep.  Also, insta-90s looked to be coming as a cash shop item.  Would all of that stem the tide on subscription decline?

Meanwhile, I finished the last of the LFR raids, witnessing the downfall of Garrosh Hellscream.  For all of the complaints about LFR, I enjoyed my raid tourism.  The instance group did Grim Batol, then made the jump to Pandaria before returning with slightly better equipment for Heroic Deadmines.

I was wondering why PvP seemed to be a requirement for all MMOs.

I got into The Edler Scrolls Online beta and declared it Skyrim-like enough for me, then never played it again.

Brad McQuaid’s Pantheon: Further Falling of the Fallen Kickstarter campaign was winding down, doomed to failure.  There was talk about what would happen next.  Plan B anybody?

I ran another EVE Online screen shot contest to give away some items from the Second Decade Collector’s Edition which I scored for free… after having bought it for myself.  And then there was the monument and drone assist and campaign medals and the repercussions of B-R5RB to talk about.

And I wondered what was going to happen with people being given free reign in Landmark.

Ten Years Ago

My 8800GT video card died.  That was the second one to go.

I had been looking at my dis-used GAX Online account and wondered what gamer social networking needed to be viable.  Since then, GAX Online has shut down.

PLEX showed up in EVE Online ten years ago.  It doesn’t seem like it has been around for that long.  And then there was the whole Goonswarm disbandment of Band of Brothers, and act that effectively ended the Great War, and which made the BBC news.  This led to talk of how much control players should have over their destiny.

In game I got the mining foreman mindlink as a storyline mission drop, I upgraded to a Raven Navy Isssue, and finally bought the freighter for which I had been training, and got some ships blown up in the Worlds Collide mission… again. There was EVE Vegas, which was just a player run meet up at that point.

I was still active in Lord of the Rings Online, playing characters on the Nimrodel server.  Looking for a class on which to affix the Reynaldo Fabulous name, I put up a poll on the subject.  While Minstrel won the poll, Reynaldo ended up being a hunter with a fabulous hat.  And when I wasn’t fooling around with alts, I was leveling up my captain who made it all the way to Rivendell at one point.

While over in Azeroth, it was revealed that my mom plays WoW.  I wondered at how active Westfall seems to be most of the time.  But the answer to that seems to be the Deadmines, which I ran my mom and daughter through. (No dungeon finder back then!)  There was a little pet drama with my daughter who wanted a raptor.  I also managed my first exalted status with a faction in WoW, the Kalu’ak in Northrend.  I wanted that fishing pole.

On the Wii, we had Wii Musicwhich was crap, and LEGO Batmanwhich suffered a bit from being yet another variation in the successful LEGO video game franchise.

And then there was the usual blog war shenanigans as somebody was still looking to blame WoW and WoW players for Warhammer Online’s failure to meets its subscriber goals.  I think we’re all over that now, right?  Warhammer did what it did on its own faults and merits in a market that was well known before they shipped.

Fifteen Years Ago

The aptly named Gates of Discord expansion for EverQuest launched.  While Smed called its bug-ridden launch “SOE’s worst mistake in five years” it did see the game to its subscription peak of 550K and introduced instancing as the default dungeon mode, something WoW would make a genre default soon enough.

The creator of the original Castle Wolfenstein game from 1981, Silas Warner,  passed away at… oh dear, my age.  I played that game a lot back on my Apple II.

Twenty Years Ago

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, arguably one of the best entries in the Civilization series, ships.  My only nit-pick is that it ran full screen at pre-set resolutions so, unlike its predecessor Civilization II, if you play it today it either has to be in a small window or distorted full screen on your likely much-bigger-than-1999 monitor.

Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance also launched, one of the better Star Wars titles.  But Star Wars was never plagued by bad titles the way Star Trek has been over the years.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Burn Jita back for 2019
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  4. Burn Jita 2019 Kicks Off
  5. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  6. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Trying Out the Guardians Gala Sites
  9. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  10. No Good Expansions*
  11. The First EverQuest II Progression Server is Coming to an End
  12. Activision Blizzard – Famine in the Midst of Plenty

Search Terms of the Month

is raptr dead or what
[Or what!]

darkfall unholy wars 2019
[Keep on dreamin’]

anything else like all access from daybreak
[XBox Live maybe?]

eve online passie tank vs buffer tank
[Passie tank better than a failie tank]

library of congress “server code”
[The Library of Congress server code is open source]

give usual predictions of new year
[Covered that back on the first of the year]

Game Time from ManicTime

Month two of time tracking with ManicTime. My gaming division of time for February.

  • RimWorld 37.58%
  • WoW 26.12%
  • EVE Online 20.09%
  • EQ 14.28%
  • Minecraft 1.24%
  • LOTRO 0.68%

LOTRO went from top of the heap in January to not much activity at all.  I also binged on a stretch of RimWorld, which replaced LOTRO at the top.  WoW and EQ, which were negligible last month, saw big boosts as I went to those places for my MMORPG fix. And EVE Online stayed about the same.

EVE Online

I was fairly active in fleets during the first half of the month as Liberty Squad brought “freedom” to the inhabitants of The Kalevala Expanse. (I have to look up the name of that region every time. My brain thinks anything that starts with “Kale” should end with “yuck.”)

However, for the back half of the month I was busy with other things, including being away on vacation last week.  As such I missed some big fights in null sec, all of Burn Jita, and the whole Guardian’s Gala event.  I heard that the latter was a bit messed up, but beyond that I couldn’t tell you much beyond it.

EverQuest

Nostalgia for times now 20 years in the past is swelling.  I logged in for a bit in order to get myself back up to speed on the game.  Or down to speed, depending on how you look at it.  That brought me through the Gloomingdeep tutorial.  Will that be enough of a warm up before the big anniversary event?

Lord of the Rings Online

I finished up Volume I of the epic quest line, putting a cap on my Shadows of Angmar experience on the LOTRO Legendary server.  Actually, I did that last month, but only got around to the final post this month.  After that I was sort of done with LOTRO for the time being, and haven’t bothered logging in more than once or twice since then.

Minecraft

I did spend a bit of time playing Minecraft.  I didn’t do anything complicated or start any new public works projects.  I just pottered around a base, improving it, building up some paths and such.  I just wanted to do something simple while listening to an audio book.  Minecraft is often perfect for that.  I am still waiting for the Village & Pillage & Panda update to hit.  It seems like we’ve been waiting for that for quite a while now.

Pokemon Go

Not a lot to report here.  I am closing in on level 36, largely due to several people hitting the “Ultra Friend” level, which is good for 100,000 points.

Level: 35 (+0)
Pokedex status: 388 (+3) caught, 415 (+10) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have a several tasks to go in order to get there
Current buddy: Togetic

RimWorld

I have carried on with RimWorld, and with the colony that had such a disastrous turn, about which I posted earlier in the month.  I’ll have to carry on with that story.  As I have said before, RimWorld has that “one more thing” aspect to it that will keep me up late when I had sworn I was going to go to bed early.  There is always something else to do.  Also, as an MMO player, having a game you can pause and walk away from is a nice change as well.  On the other hand, I think my pausing and walking away might be inflating RimWorld‘s play time stats.  There is always another problem.

World of Warcraft

Finishing up the epic quest line in LOTRO lined up just right with the start of Darkmoon Faire in WoW, so I went and did that since they’ve fixed the trade skill quests.  I also finished up both the exploration and quest line achievements for Drustvar.  That opened up World Quests for me.  While faction grinds are generally bad, taking them in daily four quest bites isn’t such an ordeal.

And then they had a week of double experience for pet battles, so I was in on that as well.  I do that with an alt, who is now level 112 but has never been into the BfA content.  Gaff also joined in on the WoW front, so there have been times with all of three people in guild chat, myself, Gaff, and Earl.  Earl is never not playing WoW.

Coming Up

EverQuest turns 20 in just over two weeks.  I’ve mentioned the special servers already this week, but I suspect that there will be other special things going on as well.  Gnomish things, among others I guess.

I expect that we’ll hear something about EVE Online CSM elections.  And there will be the monthly update.  Otherwise the low intensity wars in Perimeter and the east side of null sec seem set to carry on.

On the LOTRO front it seems like a lock that the Mines of Moria expansion will be coming our way on the Legendary server.  I am still not certain how strongly I’ll be in for Moria.

March otherwise looks to be a quiet month.  Spring starts towards the end, at least in the northern hemisphere, and of course daylight savings time starts in the US, for states that observe that (I wish California would opt out even though that would literally mean a bunch of work and testing with time zones yet again in my job), so I will be cranky(er) from sleep pattern interruption and people will be asking what “PDT” stands for again.

What else does March have in store for us?

Malcanis to Favor His Chosen with Skill Book Delivery

Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of  ‘new players,’ that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players.

-Malcanis’ Law as generally quoted

It isn’t that I don’t get CCP’s idea.  Their dev blog this week about making skill books easier to buy is something that will help new players.  I both see the logic in this and agree that it will probably help out new players.  No longer will they have to figure out the market and where to find the skills they are trying to buy.

The plan is to allow people to buy skills directly from the skills tab of the character sheet.

Buying from the character sheet

Purchasing from there will inject the skill directly into your character.  No more hunting around in your hangar trying to find the skill.

In addition, any info window that has a skill requirements tab will also let you buy skills directly from there.

Purchase from info window

It is not tough to see how this might things simpler for new players.

But as soon as I saw this my mind went rather to players out in null sec and wormhole space, players far from NPC stations that sell skills, and what a boon it will be for them.  If you’re out there on an alt and realize that you’re short a key skill for something, it will likely be immediately available to you through the skills tab.

Special skill books that require LP to purchase won’t be available, but anything that is generally available will be on demand if this change goes in as planned.  Life will be much easier for those who live away from empire space.

There will be some changes to pricing.  This direct injection purchasing will cost more than purchasing from NPC stations.  That is something that might drive a new player to save some ISK by going direct.  But if you’re beyond the fringes of empire space, you’re likely going to pay a bigger mark up from anybody reselling near you.

Which, of course, brings up a secondary question about the skill resell market.  Many an enterprising new player has made their first foray into the joys of arbitrage by purchasing skills from an NPC station and bringing them to Jita or Amarr or another likely system to resell them for a markup.  Likewise, there are entrepreneurs out in the distant corners of New Eden who fill the skill needs of their fellow pilots while enriching themselves.

What happens to that market?

There is already a floor on skill prices set by the NPC station.  Now there will be a ceiling set by the direct purchase price.  And anybody looking to make money in that particular game will have to live in what I imagine will be the very short space in between.

As I wrote earlier, I can see why CCP is doing this and even agree.  But I also see the bigger advantage that will go to the established player base outside of empire space.  Malcanis would be proud.

Others writing about this:

FML – Moving from Winter to Spring

This week saw the final round of the Winter/Awards season for Fantasy Movie League.

While I am still holding out for the summer blockbuster season before I return to focusing on the league as a regular feature here, if you wanted to join in for a practice season now would be a good time.  I will put a link in the comments after this post goes live.  The links expire, so I don’t want to put it in the post in advance.

As for the season just passed, here were the final top ten scores.

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $964,413,237
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $941,196,773
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $861,126,227
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $786,513,610
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – $784,396,889
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $739,435,908
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $707,973,439
  8. grannanj’s Cineplex – $696,783,637
  9. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $682,821,329
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $621,049,944

That is the same people in the top three slots as my mid-season summary, though the final positions changed a bit.

Goat and I were neck and neck, with me behind by a mere $600K, at the end of week ten.  But then I made bad picks on the last two weeks.  Goat and SynCaine both went with the Alita lineup in week 11 and How to Train Your Dragon plus Happy Death Day 2U lineup in week 12 that were both runaway picks, weeks where if you don’t get those you fall way behind.  That lifted Goat and SynCaine well past my score.

That I was even in contention was probably a bigger surprise.  I didn’t win a single week, while SynCaine and Goat won 10 of the 12 weeks combined. I just didn’t make a really bad pick until the end.

And then there is the alternative scoring methodology which, as a reminder, hands out a score to the top ten finishers each week, with first place getting 10 points, second getting 9 points, and so on down the line, which is an attempt to remove the scoring volatility that some weeks show when the FML team is off in their pricing.

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 96
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 85
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 84
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 69
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 65
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 55
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 48
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 44
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 41
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – 37

In that scoring SynCaine came out in first place, well ahead of Goat in second and myself in third.

While SynCaine only won 4 weeks to Goat’s 6, SynCaine also never fell out of the top ten on any week while Goat did so twice.  Despite never winning a week I held on to third place by consistently staying in the top five finishers every week, save for the final two, where I placed sixth.

And so it goes, another season down.

The Spring season will be a long one, running 14 weeks, ending after the US Memorial Day weekend. That seems late, and puts the start of the Summer Blockbuster season out until the first week of June.

If I had been paying closer attention I could have changed the duration of the Spring season for the TAGN league.  However, now that the season has started, we’re stuck with 14 weeks.  No changing after a season goes live.

I am thinking about possibly changing the Summer season.  I could cut it up into two or three shorter seasons; maybe two six week seasons (or a six and a seven) or three four week seasons (or two fours and a five to line things up).  That would let people come and go on vacation without them messing up a whole season as well as stopping that inevitable second half drag where anybody who started off with a couple of bad weeks feels they are totally out of contention.

Anyway, feedback on that idea is welcome.

SuperData says Digital Sales Were Down in January

As we roll into the end of February, SuperData Research has their digital sales numbers for January, and the headline was that sales were down year over year, with the PC platform down 29% when compared to 2018.

I guess we got everything we wanted for Christmas this year.

Anyway, the chart is available.

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2019

On the PC side, Fortnite fell from fourth to fifth spot, allowing the long standing top four to reunite.  League of Legends fell out of first place, something that started to happen last year, replaced in the top spot by Dungeon Fighter Online.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds remained behind rival Fortnite, though they are adjacent on this list now.

World of Warcraft, again tagged as “West,” remained in seventh position, one step ahead of World of Tanks, which regained the eighth slot from Sims 4, which fell to ninth.  And in tenth position, DOTA 2 returned to the list, replacing Hearthstone West.

On the console side, FIFA 19 jumped ahead of last month’s top duo, Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while the venerable Grand Theft Auto V hauled itself up into forth position yet again.

And on the mobile end of the chart the top five remained unchanged from last month, shaking out as Honour of Kings, Pokemon Go, Fate/Grand Order, Candy Crush Saga, and Clash of Clans.

Nothing too exciting on any of the lists.  But next month’s charts should show the impact of two EA titles, Anthem and Apex Legends.  That pair ought to shake things up a bit.

Other items from the SuperData post:

  • Worldwide digital game spending declined on Console, PC and Mobile in January. Consumers spent $8.4 billion on digital games across all platforms in January, down 6% year-over-year. Premium PC had the biggest drop off of any platform with a 29% decline. Meanwhile, console revenue also decreased by 3% even including a favorable comparison from Fortnite due to tepid performance from top Premium Console franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, FIFA and Overwatch.
  • Fortnite dips month-over-month after a strong end to the year. Fortnite revenue on all platforms combined declined 48% month-over-month in January, although sales are still up significantly year-over-year. This comes after a peak month in December and points to an increasingly lumpy revenue profile heading into 2019.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 Online (beta) fails to pick up momentum. RDR2 Online (beta) revenue fell by 14% month-over-month in January due in part to declining MAU levels. Combined sales from both RDR2 Online (beta) and GTA V Online, which makes about 5x more than RDR2 Online (beta) from in-game spending, were flat year-over-year versus GTA V Online alone last January. (Note that Red Dead Redemption 2 Online (beta) is still not fully launched, which may create an unfair comparison against full-fledged live service offerings such as Grand Theft Auto V Online.)
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate unit sales decline sharply. We estimate that Super Smash Bros. digital units were down 83% from December, indicating that sales were more front-loaded than usual, as well as closely linked to Switch hardware purchases during the holiday season. In-game spending increased month-over-month as more players purchased the Fighter Pass.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘s high engagement levels aren’t translating into revenue gains. CS:GO MAU grew 8% year-over-year in January after benefiting from the switch to a free-to-play model in November. However, digital revenue fell considerably compared to last January as new users showed lower conversion for in-game spending.

Daybreak Updates Its Norrath Anniversary Progression Server Plans

As I have no doubt mentioned a few times already, and will likely mention again before we’re there, this coming March 16th is the 20th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest.  This is a big deal for me, having been there for the launch, and for Daybreak, as this is the oldest title in their catalog and the foundation of the company that was once Sony Online Entertainment.

So naturally enough Daybreak has some special things planned for Saturday, March 16th, including the launch of four different special servers.  Two are focused on the original EverQuest while the other two are in EverQuest II.

That we’re getting two EverQuest II servers seems a bit odd to me, as that title has its fifteenth anniversary coming up in November of this year.  But maybe they just want to get in on their ancestor’s glory moment.  We’ve already heard that EverQuest II is getting an expansion this year, so maybe that will the the focal point of its 15th anniversary.

Anyway, the official rules for these four servers seem to be set, so let me review what we have here.

The rules for the two EverQuest progression servers were announced a couple weeks back and met with some push back from the players.  Daybreak said they would take this under consideration and came back on Friday with an update heralded on Twitter with this message:

Hail, Norrathians! We heard your feedback, and have made changes to the upcoming Selo and Mangler Progression Servers so that you can get excited about finding a new home in Norrath on March 16th.

So what did they change?

Selo – Ultra Casual becomes Fast

The Selo server was probably the most controversial because Daybreak said in advance it would be “Ultra Casual” and then didn’t define what that meant.  As one might expect, that let everybody interested in the idea set their own mental expectations, so when the rules for the server came out they seemed for many to be at odds with their personal view of the situation.  The Selo server was going to start three expansions in, be true box, unlock an expansion every month, and offer faster experience gains than other progression servers, but still slower than live servers.

Beware of an old game in a hurry

Reading the forums, that seemed ideal for the hardcore raiders, who as a group are always antsy for the next raid unlock, but not exactly casual.  Meanwhile, if you read any of the forum posts on this topic, what constitutes casual is a pretty wide topic.  I personally expected mercenaries or multi-boxing to be allowed and probably experience at the level of a live server.  Others were calling for slower progress, or less experience, or whatever their hearts told them.

Anyway, Daybreak fixed all of this by changing the description of the server from “Ultra Casual” to “Fast Progression.”

Seriously, looking at the FAQ for the Selo server, nothing else has changed.  Given that, I would claim that the message I quoted above was pretty much a lie when it comes to the Selo server.  I’m not saying there was a right answer for everybody who was complaining, but this looked like no answer at all.

Mangler – Plain old Progression Server

Mangler was supposed to be the hardcore server.  Again, what constitutes hardcore is up for debate.  Some people want slower progression, others want to wear the hair shirt and have slow exp.

Hair of the dog

As with the Selo server, Mangler was supposed to start with the Shadows of Luclin expansion, but move more slowly with a much more oppressive experience curve.

In the update, Daybreak has relented and will start a progression server on the 20th anniversary of the classic launch at classic content.  That seems fitting.  But with that, they decided it will be standard progression server, with 12 week unlocks until the Gates of Discord expansion and 8 week unlocks there after for any expansion without a level cap increase.

There is a FAQ up for Mangler, but if you’re familiar with any of the last few progression servers, you won’t find anything new.

Nagafen – Another Shot at PvP

On the EverQuest II front, the previous big news was Daybreak trying to revive PvP with the Nagafen server.  PvP servers have tended to be self consuming for EverQuest II, with the population dying off, followed by players complaining in the forums, then SOE making changes which have tended to only to make things worse.  But they’re willing to give it another try, so if you’re willing to subscribe to all access, you can have a PvP server to play on.

Nagafen’s all consuming fire

The server will be free-for-all PvP and will only allow you to make a single character per account.  You can kill anybody from any faction, with the only safe areas being Qeynos and Freeport.

The newbie starter areas will only allow you to attack people +/- 4 levels from your own, while in the open world you will be restricted to +/- 8 levels, save for the level 40+ zones, where there will be no restrictions at all.

The Nagafen server FAQ covers the plans for seasons, itemization, and expansion unlocks.

Kaladim – A New Gimmick

Finally, there is the Kaladim time locked progression server.  I think there is a message in the fact that Daybreak thinks they can launch a plain vanilla progression server for EverQuest, but for EverQuest II they need something to spice it up.  Not that I am against a gimmick.  I like me a new gimmick now and again.  But it seems odd that Kaladim needs one while Mangler does not.

Kaladim is a dwarf place, so a dwarf

When it comes to the Kaladim server the twist is that you will be able to earn account-wide rewards for completing heritage quests and special account-wide titles for collection quests.

In addition, you will be able to go to the old starter home areas.  This is something of a mixed blessing to my mind.  On the one hand, it will be nice to see old areas of the game that have since been removed.  On the other hand, few things were as disappointing as the racial ghettos of the two starting cities when EverQuest had a unique hometown for every race.  While I missed the old Isle of Refuge starting area, my memories of Greystone yard in Qeynos are mixed at best.  Barbarians and dwarves started there, and little about the place reflected either race.

Also, I had never heard anybody refer to these areas as “hoods” until the Kaladim announcement.  When I saw the word “hoods” I literally thought there was going to be some new cosmetic head gear.   But I guess they cannot call them ghettos, the way I do.  I am certainly using that word in the pejorative sense.  And they aren’t home towns, but places where they are sorting our refugees from the great cataclysm.  No wonder I have little affinity for them.

Anyway, as with the previous three servers, there is a FAQ for Kaladim that goes into more detail.

Which to Choose?

So that is four new servers, all launching in March 16th in celebration of the EverQuest 20th anniversary.

Honestly, I am not enthusiastic about any of them.

If I was part of a group that was keen to visit any of them, I would probably go along.  But for just me, there isn’t much of a call for any of these four.  In this they are unlike the LOTRO Legendary server, where I knew that I could at least progress through and see all the sites on my own.

So where does that leave my plans for the 20th anniversary?

I think I might just stick with the Vox server, where I am already through the tutorial and in the Plane of Knowledge with my cleric.  I am not sure if there will be anything special for him at his low level, but There will be banners and special NPCs to see if nothing else.

It also raises the likelihood that I will head off into Moria once SSG figures out when that will unlock on the Legendary server.  I don’t expect Daybreak to make any changes to the servers announced at this point, but we shall see.

Shall I Venture Forth into Moria?

The Lord of the Rings Online Legendary server has been a big success for me personally so far.

I went back, played through the Shadows of Angmar content, revisited old favorite places, and expanded my reach into things I  had not done in the past.  Op success.

Where legends are revisited

It wasn’t perfect.  I did most of the run solo.  Friends I had played with in the past were not interested in returning (having the lifetime subscription made returning easy for me, but I am not sure I would have gone if I had to pay) and I didn’t end up finding any sort of regular group.  I joined a Kinship, then never did anything with them.  I was moving too slow at first, so was behind the curve and not able to join in on instances with them.

And by the time I had caught up and was through with the epic quest line, I was feeling done with Shadows of Angmar.  Initial plans I had about alts and such faded after three months of focus on the game.  It was a “three monther” I guess.

But the Mines of Moria expansion is coming.  Standing Stone, in its usual indecisive, foot shuffling way, suggested in its recent producer’s letter that Moria will probably open up some time in March, that being the nearest of futures I suppose, all while avoiding making direct eye contact.

Given my general feeling of success when it came the run through Shadows of Angmar, I am seriously considering a return bout for the Mines of Moria.  But I am not sold on it yet, so I am going through the pros and cons of such a venture.

Pros

Refreshed – After a month away from LOTRO, I might be ready for a fresh expedition.

Moria itself – The place is huge and epic and really unlike any other MMORPG expansion that I can think of.  Has there ever been an expansion set almost completely underground?

New Discoveries – I’ve only been end-to-end through Moria and out into daylight on the other side once.  I am sure I missed something along the way.  I was getting antsy to get out towards the end there.

The Crowd – The one time I did make it through Moria I think Helms Deep was the current expansion, so I went through a very quiet version of the underground complex.  It might be nice to see it crowded with people.

Progress – It might be nice to move through the game with each unlock.  I own all the expansions, but really haven’t played much beyond Moria.

Lifetime – Hey, since I have a lifetime subscription, it won’t cost me anything extra.  I am already paid up.

Cons

Competition – March also sees the 20th anniversary of EverQuest hit, and when it comes to the nostalgia factor, EQ > LOTRO.  That does depend on what Daybreak has on tap, but there it is.

The Crowd – Honestly, there were a lot of people in Moria relative to how Tolkien described it.  The dwarves moved in pretty damn fast behind the fellowship, especially considering there was a war on.  What will it be like in that constrained space with tons of players milling about?

Moria itself – As majestic and wonderful and large and well appointed as Moria can be, it is still a goddam cave, and we don’t call somebody a “caveman” as a compliment.  In my one run through it I wanted to get to the end in part because I wanted to get outside under the sky again.  Ten levels in Moria made me miss the usual bear/boar/wolf tropes of Shadows of Angmar.

Eregion and Lothlorien – There is a bell curve of interest when it comes to the Mines of Moria expansion.  Eregion on the near side is nothing special, and Lothlorien on the far side is uninspired enough that I was tempted to go back into the cave after a bit of sunshine.

Legendary Weapons – Somebody will claim to like legendary weapons, but I am going with Stockholm syndrome when that comes up.  I hate legendary weapons and I wish Turbine had dropped the idea the moment we get out of the cave.  Having to constantly tend to the needy baby that is your legendary weapon is just unfun.  Identifying, advancing, reforging, adorning with gems and runes and whatever else, all of which requires you to go back to camp, is an endless chore.  And don’t get me started on all of the legendary weapons that drop that you cannot use, since they are class specific.  Just what I need, more inventory issues and something else I need to bring back to camp to deconstruct.

Progress to What? – The problem with getting past Lothlorien is that it just leads into Mirkwood, which lives up to its reputation from The Hobbit.  It is a dark and boring place… literally darker than Moria in my memory.

Conclusion

I am undecided.  My enthusiasm is at war with my pessimism.  I left Eregion alone once I had finished the epic quest tasks there and had done enough quests to unlock the first stable master.  And much of the zone is skippable if I recall right.  You just have to get on the right path to get into Moria and then into the hole.

I will likely start off down the Moria path.  Whether or not I end up persisting probably depends as much on other options as anything.  As I said, the EverQuest 20th anniversary has a possibility of providing a viable and even more nostalgic alternative.  Then there are some friends who are talking about giving Path of Exile a run when the next season of it commences.  And there is always WoW.  It is easy to slip into playing that.  I guess we will see by the end of the month where I fall on this.

Burn Jita 2019 Kicks Off

Is downtime over yet?  If so, then Burn Jita 2019 is live.

Will CCP warn people with their shiny new launcher?

I warned you a couple of weeks back that the event was on its way.  Well, today is the day.

If you want to see freighters exploding, it is a good time to hang around the gates in Jita.  Watch for a swarm of Coercer destroyers either landing nearby or passing through a gate to hit something on the other side.

Coercers undocking for their next run

You can follow them to see the pretty explosions, and even shoot them if you like.  Free killmails if you get a blow in before CONCORD finishes them off.

Coercers going up en masse… might as well shoot them

But the big explosions will come from the many freighters and jump freighters that will be blowing up.

Lasers on the Providence

Just be sure you don’t hit the target by mistake.  Then CONCORD will be after you too.

It will be a good weekend for space tourists, the explosion curious, and those looking to pad their killmail count.

If you’re hauling goods in a freighter though… it might be a good weekend to take off.

The Revolt in Gloomingdeep

Following on from the previous EverQuest post, I arrived in the main area of the tutorial.  It was time for it to teach me a few more things about the game.  There was a list of people to speak to… to hail, in the parlance of the game… who would in turn instruct me in some aspect of world.

A list of people to speak to…

But before I could start on that, I was told about the Find option, which you can invoke with Control-F or via the Find button that is placed on your hot bar by default.  This present you with a list of NPCs in the zone, with a description of each.  You just select the NPC you need to find and a glowing wisp trail appears to guide you to them.

Follow the wisp

For whatever reason I feel that EQ does this better than most games.  That includes EverQuest II, which has pretty much the identical wisp mechanic.  But the wisp in EQII seems to spend a lot more time confused as to which way you should be going.  It also seems more likely to send you towards impassible terrain before changing its mind.  In EQ, at least in the early zones where I have used it, the wisp is solid in its directions.

You end up visiting somebody to upgrade your weapon.  Base EQ weapons have basically two stats, damage and delay.  You want a big damage number and a small delay number, which together you can use to figure out DPS.   The upgrade actually just made my club slightly faster.

My polished club

You also learn some basics about spells from another NPC, which generally includes a spell to add to your spellbook.  The spell system was definitely influenced by TorilMUD, yet ended up as kind of its own thing.  It is still over complicated though, and I still have to go look at Allahkazam or some other site online to figure out what spells I need to buy when I level up as they’re all just at a vendor listed by name.

Another NPC tells you about the map, which is another item that came in after my time in the game.

The map of the tutorial safe area

The map is primitive, but better than nothing.  And it is community driven, as you can add and edit maps.  The game provides some basic maps, but the community does the rest.  You have to go download the collected maps if you want to know where things are.

Also, just to roll up a pair of items, one of the reason the wisp is superior in EQ is that the route it sends you down also shows up on the map.  That is a surprisingly useful aspect of the wisp at times.

I also talked to the NPC about mercenaries.  You can hire a mercenary to heal for you or tank for you.  While I have used the mercenaries in EQII, I have tended to stay away from them in EQ, mostly because my EQII characters have a lot of cash while I tend to be dirt poor in EQ and mercs cost in game money to keep around.  You have to fork over some in-game cash every 15 minutes for your merc.  However, the in-game economy is focused on richer, high level characters.  In the tutorial I was looting stuff that sold to the vendor for some copper or a few silver, yet the vendor is now scaled to display prices in platinum coins.  Hard to get there on loot, though a couple of the quests did give out plat coins.  So I gave that a pass for the time being.

You don’t really need a merc to start with anyway.  You’re just going to go kill some rats.

I am savagely beating this cave rat

The quests start off easy enough.  But eventually you hit some that are flagged as being for a group.  While the tutorial was more populated than I expected… I saw maybe a dozen people running around at any given time… it was a quiet bunch and grouping didn’t seem to be their thing.  So I went back and rented a tank mercenary.

Despite reading the intro, I rented the tier I apprentice tank, who is about as useful as a third nipple.  After having to flee from Spider Tamer Gugan, I went back and got the journeyman tank.  After that, things went much more smoothly.

The demise of the spider queen

From there, supported by my mercenary companion, I continued on through the tutorial, trying to do all of the quest.  The mercenary is free for a while, and then it starts charging you every 15 minutes.  First one gold coin, then two, then three.  I kept him on since he was effective, but when it is 10g to 1p, and I had about a dozen plat all told, that was starting to seem expensive.

On the quest hunt I found one I had missed previously.  But I am also sure I missed a couple.  The meta quest ends when you speak to Arias at one point, even when there are some sub-quests still available.  But you will hit level 10, which overall doesn’t take too long, and you’re all dressed up in the blue armor set that you acquire from the quests along the way.

I’m now a blue meanie

At that point the game sends you off to the Plane of Knowledge, the hub of Norrath.

Off you go then…

Of course, first you have to get there.  My memory of leaving the tutorial is pretty vague.  I think you can hang around until level 15, at which point you’ll get kicked out to the PoK, but if you want to leave earlier, you must take direct action.

Avoid the obvious cave.

Obvious cave is obvious

There is a sign next to it that moves… for reasons I do not recall… but you get a message about the slaves having dug a way out.  You can go through the cave to exit Gloomingdeep, but you end up in Crescent Reach.  That is a whole different experience that came in with The Serprent’s Spine expansion where you can level up to… I forget how far, but pretty far… in a series of purpose built zones with quests and the like.

Wait, this isn’t the Plane of Knowledge

That’s not horrible, but it starts at level one and is an alternative to the tutorial.  If you’re already at level 10 or beyond, and if you want to do the PoK armor quests, going there won’t help you. (Unless you go find the PoK teleport book, which you will probably only be able to do if you’ve downloaded and installed all those maps.  It used to be in dangerous territory, but I think they moved it.)

I got back to the tutorial by camping out and selecting the “Tutorial” button from the character select screen, since I was too lazy to go find the teleport book.

Back in the tutorial you have to go find Arias one last time, select him, and say “I am ready to leave” to get out.  The tutorial tells you that at some point I am sure, but like so much of the information, it is in small text in various windows and easy to miss or forget.

Saying that to Arias will teleport you immediately to the PoK where you can run over and bind your soul… basically set your respawn on death point, just select the NPC and click on the “bind my soul” link in chat… and be ready to work on the armor quests.

I hear you are into bindage

The next set of quests, at least on a live server, will get you well along to level 20 or so.  That is what I seem to recall anyway, the evidence being the other characters I created on the server, which all seem to be level 20-ish.  After that, the game has tended to get a bit less directed in its help.

Of course, the last time I played was a while back.  Since then some new things have come along.  There are a whole series of achievements for going places and slaying particular mobs.  That might even be an interesting way to tour the game.  And then there is the Hero’s Journey, which the game popped up a window to tell me about.

Joseph Campbell would be… something

I’m not sure how deep that is… at level 10 it seems to just point me at an achievement in my level range… but it might be something to look into.

Now to see if I carry on in Norrath.  I’ve warmed up with the tutorial.  The anniversary events are about three weeks away.  I could wait for that or I could go do the armor quests and see where that leads me.

MER – New Eden Numbers for a New Year

We’re already into the back half of February and the Monthly Economic Report for January has finally made its appearance.  I suppose CCP had an update to push and event to launch, though the latter was pretty small while the former… well, the less said the better I suppose.

But now we have some charts and numbers to stare at finally.  So I might as well open up with mining, my usual start point.

January 2019 – Mining Value by Region

Mining was up some in our benchmark region of Delve, moving from 12.2 trillion ISK in ore mined to 14 trillion.

January 2019 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

The bar graph shows that the top five regions for mining output remained the same, with Imperium owned Querious passing Detroid where Fraternity lives.  The top three all saw an increase in mining output, while the next two, Detroid and Branch saw a decrease.

Given that the price of ore was up slightly, if all things were otherwise equal, output should have been up.  That the Imperium and TEST (in Esoteria) have deployed some groups to the east of null sec may be suppressing output there.

January 2019 – Economic Indices

While up a bit, mineral prices are still near an all time low for New Eden.  That they bottomed out seems to suggest that we have hit a natural price floor.

On the production front, both Delve and The Forge, the top two regions, say a small decline.

January 2019 – Production Values by Region

Delve remains the top region, though the three regions that directly feed Jita, The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel, still combine to more than Delve, totaling up to over 56 trillion ISK in production.

January 2019 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

Looking at the bar graph, you can see Esoteria (TEST) and Detroid (Fraternity) are not far behind, holding fifth and sixth place overall, indicating that they are also building up capital ships and the like.

On the market value front, The Forge, home of Jita, continues to dominate the numbers there.

January 2019 – Trade Value by Region

Trade in The Forge was down a little, but not enough to put any other region in the same ballpark, to the point that you have to exclude The Forge for the bar graph to show anything about the rest of New Eden.

January 2019 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

The ranking of the second tier systems remained unchanged, with Domain, home of Amarr, in second followed by Delve.

And then there is the big ISK faucet in New Eden, NPC bounties.

January 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region

Delve, unsurprisingly, remained at the top of the heap, up two trillion ISK over December.  The Imperium has some SIGs and squads deployed, but otherwise continues to farm Delve under the protective supercap umbrella.

January 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

The next four regions remained in the same rank as before, Branch (GotG), Detroid (Fraternity), Esoteria (TEST), and Querious (Imperium), with all of them up for January.  That led to a new all time high.

January 2010 – Top Sinks and Faucets

NPC bounties peaked at that new all time high early in January, but was drawn back down some mid-month.  My guess is that the fighting in the east of null sec and the ongoing showdown over the Perimeter Keepstar trade hub drew some people away from their ISK collecting.  I keep thinking that maybe CCP will make some more tweaks to address this growing ISK glut, but players rolled right over the last change that was supposed to slow down titan and super ratting.  We’re like that.

Of course, maybe CCP has its eyes elsewhere.

January 2019 – Sinks and Faucets

Despite the peak in NPC bounties, overall ISK in the game went down slightly, with the infamous “Active ISK Delta,” which includes GM’s going after botters and RMT sales, pulling 95 trillion ISK out of the economy.  In addition to bans, they are moving level 4 and 5 missions to Omega only status to close the courier mission botting exploit.  Go CCP!

And, finally, the region summary chart with which I like to end, the regional summary.

January 2019 – Regional Stats

That gives you a nice overview of what each region has going on.

The Forge, while down from December, leads in total ship destruction.  That number that will likely go up with Burn Jita 2019 hitting this Friday.  And Geminate, where some SIGs and squads are deployed, saw its destruction number trending up.

And in a few weeks, or maybe less, we’ll see what February did in New Eden.

 

Towards the EverQuest Tutorial

As part of the post last week about the EverQuest progression servers that Daybreak announced for the 20th anniversary, Bhagpuss and I ended up exchanging comments about the tutorial.

There is a tutorial, though it was added at some point well after launch.  Neither I nor Bhagpuss nor Google could say exactly when… so if you know, here is an opportunity for you to leave a comment… and it has been through various iterations, so there is probably somebody out there who longs for the “classic” tutorial.

Anyway, I said that, despite its unknown provenance, I kind of like the tutorial.  I’ve been through it a couple of times, though not recently.  In fact, I think the last time I went through it was when Daybreak opened up the Vox server, which I think coincided with the game going free to play… which would make it 2012.

It has been a while.

Anyway, all this thinking about it made me want to go try it.  At least it would get me warmed up for the game in time for the big day next month.  So I cranked up the EverQuest client, logged in, and looked at the old server list window once again.

Choose a server, choose a race, choose a class…

There I realized that I was still subscribed to Daybreak All Access.  I mean, I knew that in some part of my brain… and I’ve let it slip some since I was playing EQII late last year because I did the three month at a go subscription, but they stop giving you Daybreak Cash if you unsubscribe early and so I let it run, log in to collect, but lose track of the point when I should subscriber… so they’ve clearly got my number on that one… but the fact that I had all the pay to play progression servers on the list kind of pressed that home on me.

Also, I like the little scroll window that first tells you how many of the expansions you own… a useful number I suppose… and then proceeds to list out, by name, in order, all of the ones you do own, followed, again by name and in order, all of the ones you do not.

Given that there are now 25 expansions in the wild, that can take a while, even if most of them are just three word names.  I had to wait a bit for the scroll to come around so I could get a screen shot with my own count.  I own everything through The Darkened Sea, which was more than I could mentally account for… but whatever.  Even watching that list scroll past I kept seeing names that seemed like they only just shipped, but.  Everything from House of Thule forward seems like it was recent.

Once I was done staring at that I decided to go back to the Vox server once more.  I have characters on all of the progression servers… my thing seems to be to at least roll up a character and stand out in front of Qeynos even if I don’t play… but I wasn’t sure where any of them stood these days and I didn’t want any special rules of restrictions.  I wanted the tutorial.  So Vox it was.

I already have four characters on Vox, three in their low 20s and one at level 85 from that time they gave a free boost and then I couldn’t get to where the game was telling me to go.  That was almost five years ago.

Also, I thought surely the launcher was wrong when it was telling me about level 85 boosts.

Level 85 is hardly your best these days

Seriously, that was what the boost was five years ago.  Since then the level cap is 110 now.  Though, I guess looking through that list of expansions, it was 100 back then so it was hardly an invite to battle with anybody’s best back then as well.  The boost for EverQuest II has moved forward, but like so much in EverQuest, the boost there stays locked in the past I guess. (Bhagpuss seemed similarly bemused about this.)

But, again, I wasn’t here to boost, I was here for the tutorial.

So I rolled up a fresh character.  I had already done the usual suspects on Vox already, a paladin, a shaman, a warrior, and a druid, so I went out for something I hadn’t looked at in a while.  I considered a bard.  I do love EverQuest bards.  However, bards have always seemed like more of a group oriented class to me, and I wasn’t planning to group.  Instead I decided to go for a cleric.

EverQuest clerics are good, old school clerics, wearing heavy armor and beating people with blunt objects.  I like a healer that can take a punch and have always been a bit chagrined in WoW with cloth wearing clerics.  I mean, sure, they have mind control.  But wearing cloth like some sort of common mage?  But I guess you have the paladin if you want an armored cleric in WoW these days.

I ended up with a dwarf cleric named Dolenz because I was thinking about Circus Boy the other day or something.  I clicked the tutorial option… it is a bit confusing, because there is a button there on the character page that says “Tutorial” but I wasn’t sure what it did, so I clicked it a couple of times and figured it was just a toggle to indicate whether or not you wanted to go through the tutorial.  But then I couldn’t remember its initial state and, honestly, even if I did remember, it was not clear to me which state got me into the tutorial and which would drop me straight into Norrath.

Whichever I ended up choosing, it turned out to be the right one, because it sent me into the tutorial as I had wanted.

The tutorial, unlike a lot of what I remember about EverQuest, has a story of sorts.  It isn’t a very original story.  You’ve been captured by kobols and are in kobold jail and have to escape… because by industry convention all RPG starting stories must be a jail break or a ship wrekck scenario… and after a bit of an intro you end up in a room with a shirtless barbarian named Arias who has come to help.

Look at that oiled chest, 100% in my book

Arias takes you under his wing and introduces you to the basic concepts over EverQuest, like movement, the quest log, looting, and beating the tar out of kobolds.

Arias and I have done him in

I recognized the quest log, was hazy about being able to click on the keywords in dialog rather than having to say them, and was surprised a bit by the looting mechanism, which was a new one on me.

Well, new-ish.  It seemed to be very similar to what I saw had ended up in LOTRO when I came back for the legendary server there.

The loot just waits for you

It looks a little better in LOTRO, but it seems to act about the same.  And it was comforting.  One of the things I forgot to mention in my ramble about returning to World of Warcraft was how, after three months in Middle-earth, I kept forgetting to loot.  You get used to the loot just showing up in a window for you to pick and choose among.

After looting that key and learning again how to hand it to an NPC, Arias led us out of the initial story and into thee stronghold of the revolt.

The revolution begins here

From there I was set to learn a whole range of game mechanics.  But I will pick that up in the next post.