Monthly Archives: April 2019

April in Review

The Site

As is usually the case, my post on April 1st about what Blizzard was up to for April Fools was the traffic peak of the month, and likely the traffic peak for the year, largely driven by Google throwing me a bone and showing me in the search results for related terms.  You can see my Google search stats below.

April 1st is always a spike

That is an enviable click through rate as I understand it.

April second saw an increased level of activity as well as people continued to check in on what Blizzard was up to.  But after that traffic slowed back down to the usual reality of 2019, which is about 500 page views a day.

Even April 1st was down, ringing in at roughly one fifth of the amount of traffic I got on the best April Fools, which was back in 2013.  But I was getting a lot more traffic back in 2013, averaging about 1,500 page views a day.  I am coming to the point of view, looking at old traffic and search terms, that writing about Pokemon was the secret to traffic.  Writing about WoW isn’t bad, and all the better if you have a rant about the game as shaking your angry fist at Blizzard still gets people stirred up, but Azeroth can’t really hold a candle to Pokemon.

Hell, even with April Fools the month of April barely had more page views than March, even accounting for one less day.  Maybe writing about EverQuest trumps WoW as well.  There is certainly a lot less competition on that front.

One Year Ago

April Fools at Blizzard was mostly about World of Warcraft.

Having unlocked the four allied races available with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order, I was set to take a break from Azeroth until the per-expansion events started.  The August 14th launch date had been announced.

Ultima Online‘s Publish 99 introduced a free to play option.

Speaking of things Lord British has touched, I also played some Shroud of the Avatar and then tried to figure out who it was really targeting.  That I uninstalled it later probably meant I wasn’t on that list.  I have not gone back to it since.

Pokemon Go got field research as a new activity.

On Rift Prime I was in Stonefield.  There was also a problem with claiming mounts.

There were two Kickstarter campaigns of note, one for Empires of EVE Vol. II and the other for the CIA agent training card game.  I backed them both.

For EVE Online Fanfest was on in Iceland, where the keynote announced the coming Into the Abyss expansion and the Triglavian menace.  There was a lot of other news and tidbits out of the event, which I tried to sum up on the following Monday.  CCP also got recognized by Guinness for the Million Dollar Battle.

Actually in game, we were busy up in Fade and Pure Blind, such that I am going to just list out all those posts as bullet points:

Good times in space.

But, in the end, the most bizarre moment of the month was probably when Daybreak, asked if Russian sanctions might affect them, went straight to declaring that they have never been owned by Columbus Nova, despite having told us they were for owned by them since the acquisition from Sony.  Then they went on to try and gaslight the internet (always a recipe for success) including editing their own Wikipedia page to remove all mention of Columbus Nova, then issued more statements, and then had a round of layoffs, all of which just succeeded in bringing more attention to their absurd situation, to the point that I had to write a summary post just to keep track what the hell was going on.

All of which could have been avoided if Daybreak had just said, “No, sanctions will not affect us.”  A warning to PR professionals everywhere.

That kind of took the air out of the announcement that the Angarr server on EverQuest had reached the Planes of Power expansion.

Five Years Ago

Spacewar! for the PDP-1 was up via emulation on the internet archive.

The Elder Scrolls Online launched, hitting its planned April 4th date.  I did not play.

I was diving in to Pokemon X & Y, having returned to Pokemon at last.

The strategy group played a game of Civilization V that ended with a win via nuclear terror.

The Kickstarter campaign for the book A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online kicked off.  We were also watching Pantheon: Rise of the Something was splutter along after failing its Kickstarter campaign.

In EVE Online proper there was Burn Jita 3, which seemed like less of a thing the third time out.  There was a video.  Then there was the CSM9 vote.  At least there were only 36 candidates on the ballot.

In null sec we were shooting Black Legion things, because that is what we did in the CFC.  I was just happy to be using lasers, those skills having been trained up amongst my 120 million skill points.  There were also some posts about being space famous and an attempt at in-game blackmail.

But on the broader CCP front, World of Darkness was officially cancelled.

On the iPad I was playing Hearthstone and QuizUp… for about a week.

Turbine announced that Beornings were coming to Lord of the Rings Online.

SOE gave me a key for seven days of Landmark, so I went and tried it out.  SOE also announced H1Z1 and began their love affair with Reddit and got their new All Access plan running.  While on the old school front, Dave Georgeson said SOE never plans to shut down EverQuest.

Warlords of Draenor was still a long ways away.  But Blizzard was doing well on other fronts.  The instance group finished up Zul’gurub.  And there was the usual April Fools stuff.

Ten Years Ago

Dave Arneson passed away.  He was, with Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, that so-influential gaming system that has shaped how we view fantasy swords and sorcery games for over 30 years now.  There would be no World of Warcraft as it is today without Dungeons & Dragons.

We also saw the launch of SOE’s Free Realms, which stuttered a bit on day one.  Soon though they had millions of people signed up for the game, but since it was free to play, not a common thing at the time, that was no indication of revenue.  My daughter tried to sign up four times, so that was at least four out of the millions.  SOE was advertising the game heavily on Cartoon Network.  But FR did not run on MacOS, and my daughter was running on an iMac at the time.  I knew she has signed up because her email used to get routed to me.

In EVE Online I was mulling over the Apocrypha expansion and configuring up a Cerebus to try out as a mission runner.  I was also doing invention to make tech II missiles, which meant data cores and research agents and such, and pondering the idea that maybe using your skills should increase your skill points or something.

As usual, there was much ado about World of Warcraft.

I was sniggering like a pre-teen about Cornhole.  Also, there was something about Honest Scrap that was a meme, back when memes weren’t just pop culture references.

I was looking back on two years of the Wii and the games we played on it.

On the TV we were apparently watching Castle and Dollhouse.

And then there were new comers as we brought home two wee kittens.

Fifteen Years Ago

City of Heroes launched in the US.  Closed down by NCsoft in 2012, the game has been much in the news this month past month regarding emulators and such.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2019 is Pretty Much No Fools
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  5. April Fools at Blizzard 2018 is Mostly Just World of Warcraft
  6. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  7. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  8. WoW Dance Battle System!
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. Brisc Ban Nightmare Scenario
  11. A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like
  12. Brisc Rubal Exonerated

Search Terms of the Month

does tetris get faster
[Ladies and gentleman, somebody who has never played Tetris!]

is fortnite popular still
[Fortnite is popular still]

orcs gay game pc download
[Not willing to play a gay orc online game?]

“everquest 3”
[You are well advised to put that in quotes]

what did brisc rubal do
[Won in the end]

лего хогвартс
[Google says that is Russian for “LEGO Hogwarts”]

Game Time from ManicTime

There are a lot fewer games on the list this month.  March had ten games on the list, while April has just four.  And I didn’t leave any off just because they had a tiny percentage.  I appear to have played just these four on my computer.

  • World of Warcraft 72.52%
  • EVE Online 15.21%
  • Minecraft 9.78%
  • EverQuest 2.49%

The total hours played was down a bit, but not by much.  I just played a lot of WoW in April.

EVE Online

The low key conflict in the east against Pandemic Horde, NCDot, and the rental areas of both carries on.  I did not spend as much time on ops as I did last month… some nights you cannot just jump in not knowing if an op will last 30 minutes or 3 hours… but I did get in and play.  I got my PAP links and on a couple of kill mails to prove I am still alive.

And, of course, there was the whole CSM13 drama where Brisc Rubal and two other players were banned in a very public way only to have CCP roll back the whole thing based on further investigation.  This was all apparently because somebody thought it was odd that somebody else was selling their Molok titan and felt the need to report it.

EverQuest

After the big 20th anniversary Norrath nostalgia binge that was March, EverQuest fell a bit by the wayside.  I logged in a few times, as the anniversary experience bonus carried on into April a bit, and was revived for Easter weekend, but otherwise there wasn’t much to report there.  I suspect EQ will not make the list for May.

Minecraft

This came up because we got the Village and Pillage update which added a bunch of new stuff to the game.  My daughter helped hype this up a bit in our house, as a group of her friends have a server.  That got me going on figuring out the new stuff and exploring yet again.

Pokemon Go

We had a reasonably good month of Pokemon Go at our house.  My wife and I being on the same team now helps.  Thanks to the luck of simply being at the right place at the right time we even managed to participate in a few level 5 raids.  That was exciting.  However, I wasn’t aware how hard actually catching the legendary Pokemon after those raids can be.  I threw a stream of Golden Razz Berries to try and help, but did not catch a single one.  Ah well.

Level: 36 (+0)
Pokedex status: 410 (+9) caught, 441 (+10) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have to catch a damn Aerodactyl to get one
Current buddy: Luxio

World of Warcraft

I guess if you wanted to summarize my April play time, you could just say I played WoW.  I got in with Darkmoon Faire, then hit the pet battle bonus week, and then there was the WoW 8.2 Rise of Azshara preview that got me on board to unlock flying and there we go.  Also, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was big on pet battles.  I did potter around a bit with at least one allied race alt.  My Highmountain Tauren is now in his low 30s.  But he started at level 20 and the prospect of getting him up to level 120 currently fills me with boredom.

Coming Up

EVE Online will turn 16, so there will be the usual gifts and giveaways and such.  There was also some speculation that we might get the named expansion in May, but now that seems like it might come in June.

Around mid-month we should get the Q1 2019 quarterly results for Activision Blizzard.  We shall see if it brings good news, and if good news means laying more people off.

In WoW we will probably hear more about the Rise of Azshara update.  I suspect they will have the achievement unlock requirements for flying set.  But the speculation is that it won’t release until June or even July.

I will carry on some with pet battles… on a new alt… and getting my rep up to exalted on my main.  Maybe I will actually bring an alt into BFA.  Probably my hunter.

LOTRO… I sort of fell off the wagon when it came to LOTRO.  I got into the Mines of Moria on the legendary server and actually made my way through the first couple of areas.  Then all those other games I played in March sprang up, so I never made it back.  I think I missed the 12 year anniversary in April.  Oh well.  Maybe I will make in back in May.

The CSM14 Election Timeline

Now that we’ve hopefully finished up with CSM13 drama it is time to move on to CSM14.

A new CSM gets a New Logo – I hope that wrecked structure isn’t a metaphor

CCP posted a dev blog today announcing the timeline for the CSM14 elections and it starts TODAY with applications.  You have just about two weeks to apply to run for office, after which the vetting will happen, candidates will be announced, and the voting will begin.

The timeline looks like this currently:

  • 30th April – 12th May: Accepting applications
  • 13th – 17th May: Processing applications
  • 25th May: Announcing candidates at EVE Down Under
  • 25th May – 7th June: Campaign Period
  • 10th – 17th June: Voting
  • 22nd June: Announcing CSM 14 Members at EVE North

So come the first day after the summer solstice we will have a new council of stellar management.  And then we can see what shenanigans they get up to.

If you’re keen to throw your hat into the ring and travel to Iceland twice to spend long days in a conference room arguing about internet spaceships while spending the rest of your term with people angry at you no matter what you say, here are the rules for applying:

  • Your account must be older than 60 days at the time candidacy applications close.
  • Characters on both Alpha and Omega accounts are eligible to run.
  • You must have a history of honoring the EULA and the Terms of Service. We will screen every applicant thoroughly and EULA/TOS violations on your record can result in a rejected application.
  • Your account must have updated and correct information at the time of your application. This includes; your real-life name, correct date of birth and the same email you use to submit your application. To view and edit this information go to the account management website.
  • Candidates must have reached 18 years of age. If the legal adult age in your home country (the age at which you have the legal capacity to enter into a contract) is higher than 18, that number applies instead.
  • As an applicant, you must consent to provide your personal details to CCP, including your real name and a copy of your passport. CCP needs to affirm your real-life identity for NDA contract purposes and the ability to travel to summits in Iceland is a key function of the CSM.
  • If you do not currently have a valid passport, we will accept a picture/scan of a valid and approved passport application accompanied by a picture of your driver’s license.
  • You must consent to share your country of origin with the EVE Community and having it displayed on the EVE Online website. You will not be required to share any other personal information with the EVE community.
  • If you are running as an “alt” and you control a character that has a reputation in the EVE universe, CCP may require you to run under that identity at its full discretion.

At least they no longer post your real life name when you’re elected.  People should have to expend at least a few minutes of effort in order to dox you on Reddit.

The link to the application form is in the dev blog, and once you’re done you can post a campaign thread in the forums.  Some have already appeared.

And so it goes.  I expect the usual amount of complaining and cynicism around the whole process, followed by null sec candidates to take up 6-8 of the 10 seats once the ballots have been counted.  Enjoy the show.

Other, perhaps less cynical, coverage:

My First WoW Alt to 120

I finally have an alt up to level 120 in World of Warcraft.  120 was the level cap introduced with the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  That expansion launched over seven months ago, so this isn’t anything like a brag.

The moment – who can tell me where I am?

In a way, it is something of the opposite of a brag.  Because the funny thing about my alt, an alliance druid named Alioto, is that he hasn’t been to Kul Tiras or Zandalar yet.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that while he did go to the Broken Isles in Legion, and has his feral spec artifact weapons, I fell off the wagon there after a couple of levels.  The changes to druids between Warlords of Draenor, where I played him quite a bit, and Legion were enough to put me off the class.  And that didn’t seem to get much better with the coming of BFA.  Still, I might have given it a shot save for the next item.

Second, there is/was/remains the whole bit about how mobs scale up faster in difficulty than you do as your level and ilevel go up.  That was a serious drag with my ret pally main, and I felt pretty good about playing him otherwise, and led to all sorts of angst in the community about levels and what not.  Even I was wondering what the point of levels were if they actively made you feel weaker against the exact same content, and I kind of like levels despite their problems.

I am past that with my pally.  He hit level 120 months ago and has boosted his ilevel past the point of punishment and it is fun again to go out and do world quests and follow the story line.  When the expansion stops punishing you for upgrading things are pretty good, because aside from that I have enjoyed the zone content and the story line.

But I am not keen to dive in with alts quite yet.  I will probably wait until I unlock flying on my account before I dive into that.  And I am certainly not hankering to dive into BFA with alts that are classes that I feel weak playing to start with.  I’d probably be okay with warrior, hunter, or death knight, all of which are ready to go, but my mage, rogue, and druids… those all feel like they would end up being an unhappy slog.

Basically, BFA has made me focus on my main even more than Legion did, and Legion really felt geared to make you focus on a single main to start with, something that was a bit jarring after the alt happy Warlords of Draenor expansion, where I ended up with a bunch of characters at level cap.  And all of this was compounded by the fact that allied races came in with the run up to BFA, so Blizzard was essentially pushing alts by giving you a passel of new level 20s to grind up, while delivering an expansion that made leveling up alts feel like a chore.

Is it any wonder that Blizzard is fretting about levels and talking about crazy things like a level squish?  In hindsight they seem to have set themselves up for trouble.

All of which is part of the public debate about WoW, but leaves out how my druid managed to get to level cap.

He got there via pet battles.

And not just any pet battles, but the battles against grand master pet tamer NPCs in the Warlords of Draenor and Mists of Panaria.

Due to the quirks of the way pet battles have evolved over time, the easiest way to level up your battle pets is to run through some daily NPC pet battles in those two expansions.

I have been over how I can run a level 1 battle pet up to level 25 daily without a lot of effort.  With the right set of teams it is not a big deal, save for the occasional bad luck with the RNG. (I still highly recommend the addon Rematch for managing your pet leveling queue and teams.)

The side effect of running these pet battles, which are all in areas where the level cap was lower so they are pretty safe to travel through even if you haven’t unlocked flying, and completely safe if you have, is that they also yield experience for your character.  They are all daily quests, but due to the fact they are pet battles, they scale up with your level, handing you a solid at level quest worth exp with each one.

Seriously, from where ever through to level cap each battle gave my druid nearly 4% of a level of experience. With Legion, and carried on with BFA, the master trainers became world quests, which means you need to unlock access to them and can only battle them when they are up in rotation.

While there is a limit to the number you can do on a given day… you can only battle each master trainer once… doing enough to level a pet up to 25 each day gets you a good chunk of a level.

In fact, I think the master pet trainer daily quests in all of the content up through Warlords of Draenor do the same, and there are a lot of them.  There is even an achievement for doing them all in a single day, which I will do some day (with an alt well shy of the level cap).  I haven’t done it yet because, for me at least, pet battles are best done in small doses lest they become tedious.

Anyway, there is a way to level up an alt.  I’ll probably start in with another character… probably my mage, which is the level 110 alt I am least likely to ever play… and carry on with the pet battle dailies.

Addendum: I am not the only one on about mob scaling in BFA today.

SuperData Shows Fortnite Still Popular and WoW Hanging On

It is time for the monthly digital sales chart for March 2019 from SuperData Research.

SuperData Research Top 10 – March 2019

On the PC end of the chart the usual suspects continue to occupy the top four spots.  League of Legends seems to be relegated to second place at this point, while Crossfire and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II swapped spots from last month.

Fifth spot remains the domain of Fortnite.  Battle royale remains solid there, though the big new free to play competitor, Apex Legends, that was off to such a strong start in February, fell from sixth to ninth place.  Instead, World of Tanks finds itself up in sixth position.

SuperData even tweeted a supplementary chart comparing the Twitch viewership of the two titles.

Twitch Viewership, Fortnite vs. Apex Legends

Fortnite remains popular, though Epic is running their staff hard to keep up it seems.

A new entrant, the well reviewed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, showed up in seventh spot, reflecting strong sales for its late March launch.  It is also the rare single player title on the list.

DOTA 2 remained in either place while World of Warcraft, again flagged as “West,” maintains a spot on the list in tenth place.

On the console list The Division 2, a mid-March release, takes the top spot, pushing down last month’s first and second place titles, FIFA 19 and Fortnite, a notch each.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice grabbed the fourth spot on the console list.  Apex Legends dropped from fourth to sixth position while the troubled Anthem disappeared from the list completely for March.  Bell weather Grand Theft Auto V remained on the list, but dropped to ninth position.

On the console end of the chart the mobile version of the popular Asian MMORPG Perfect World launched in early March and jumped to the top of the chart.  That pushed Honour of Kings and Candy Crush Saga down into second and third place, followed by Pokemon Go, which held on to its fourth place spot from last month.

So there we go.

For comparison, EEDAR also has their list out for March, which mostly combines digital and retail, combines both PC and console (and excludes mobile), and which is US only, making it the ongoing orange to SuperData’s apple.  Their top ten looks like this:

  1. The Division 2
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice**
  3. MLB 19
  4. Devil May Cry 5
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  6. Red Dead Redemption II
  7. NBA 2K19
  8. Grand Theft Auto V
  9. Yoshi’s Crafted World*
  10. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII**

*No digital data
**No digital data for PC

For EEDAR’s social media impressions Apex Legends, which topped their list last month, disappeared in March, reinforcing what SuperData tweeted.  The list was topped by Fortnite, followed by League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, CS:GO, and DOTA 2.

Take that comparison for whatever you feel it is worth.

Other items from the March SuperData report:

  • Worldwide digital game spending ends the quarter on a soft note. Consumers spent $8.7 billion digitally across console, PC and mobile in March, down 3% from the prior year. Premium PC continues to lead the declines with a 23% drop, while Mobile, which made up 56% of total revenue, also fell by 2%. Console revenue was the only source of growth in March, up 10% on the back of a strong premium release slate as well as continued traction for Fortnite and Apex Legends.
  • Fortnite continues to hold steady despite increased competition. Fortnite revenue grew 7% year-over-year in March, which is the first year-ago comparison that includes console, PC and Mobile (Fortnite began its iOS beta in March 2018). We expect that Fortnite will face tough comparisons going forward as it’s unlikely to replicate last year’s meteoric rise during Spring and Summer 2018.
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege declines again despite “Year Four” spike. Rainbow Six in-game spending increased 43% across console and PC in March compared to February on the back of a new “Year Four” content release. However, revenue was still down roughly 20% year-over-year.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice outsells Dark Souls III. Activision’s new release sold roughly 1.4 million digital units across console and PC, compared to 1.2 million units for Dark Souls III during its own launch in April 2016. Growth in digital units came primarily from console, where the download rate is significantly higher than it was three years ago.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate finds success with its Fighter Pass. We estimate that Super Smash Bros. generated $67 million from in-game spending during 1Q19, primarily from its $25 Fighter Pass which unlocks several DLC characters throughout the year.

Brisc Rubal Exonerated

If we are radio silent [on] something you know it is quality drama.

-Aryth, CSM 13 member, announcing the CCP post

Previously on season 13 of our favorite show, CSM Drama, the real life politician Brisc Rubal had been accused by a fellow CSM member of sharing confidential information with his corp mates, allowing them to enrich themselves.  For this CCP threw Brisc off of the CSM and banned all of his EVE Online accounts for life.

Council of Silly Messaging

Brisc protested his innocence, and he had his share of supporters.  But he also faced many jeers from those who mocked his carefully worded response as something a politician would do.

That quieted down after a bit.  After all, CCP had spoken.  They certainly would not make such a public accusation with such a severe penalty if they had not done a thorough investigation and were absolutely sure of the facts.

And then, of course, we found out that they did not, in fact, do a thorough investigation and, upon further reflection, announced that they needed to review the facts.

I described this as the “nightmare scenario,” a dramatic public pronouncement that they had to walk back, a situation that would leave nobody satisfied.  An actual investigation into the events would now take place.

Naturally, this made some people happy, Brisc no doubt included.  Others complained loudly about CCP, the CSM, and the unfairness of the world, where high profile players get second chances.

Now we have the final statement… at least I hope it is the final statement, but I thought the first statement would be final as well… from CCP after having completed an actual investigation.

Final Statement On Brisc Rubal Follow Up Investigation

Dear Citizens of New Eden,

Following on from our statement on April 17, we have completed our review of the Brisc Rubal investigation and determined that our initial findings were incorrect. Neither Brisc Rubal nor the other players implicated in this incident breached CCP’s confidentiality, the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or used privileged information to obtain an in-game advantage.

We made a mistake here and we offer our formal apologies. First, to Brisc Rubal and the two other players involved, both for making the allegations and for the disturbance and stress caused by the way in which we handled this situation. Second, for not collaborating with due care with the members of CSM 13, who have acted responsibly throughout. Lastly, we owe our sincere apology to the EVE community for this error. We take full responsibility for any confusion and mistrust caused by our initial assessment of the situation.

After reviewing our assessment of the information on which these allegations were based and having spoken repeatedly with everyone involved, it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions. While we were motivated by a desire to protect the working relationship between the CSM and the EVE Development Team with all due speed, had we taken the time to review the information with greater scrutiny, this incident could have been resolved without the disruption that has since occurred.

We aim to make it up to all concerned. Right now, we are in the process of restoring access to the EVE Online accounts of all three affected players, returning any confiscated assets and providing rectification as appropriate. We will work to set this right and will be making changes to our procedures and policies to ensure this kind of situation does not reoccur.

Thank you for your understanding.

Basically, CCP was wrong, know they were wrong, admits they were wrong, and has announced that they were wrong.

I think any internal review of what happened… one hopes they have some internal feedback process, since the only way you learn from mistakes is to examine how they occurred and build in checks to ensure the don’t happen again… should focus on what happened that led to this phrase:

…it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions.

Holy moly, they did all of that based on what now?  It sounds like they just took somebody’s word for it, not the way to go in a game where shading the truth and presenting points of view as fact are long standing aspects of the meta.

Naturally, the forum thread to discuss this final turn has much of what you would expect.  There are people at least mildly happy that CCP ended up with at the right decision, scorn for CCP jumping to conclusions, and an array of pundits wanting to know if everybody who got banned gets a review now.  The usual suspects preside.

In the end Brisc Rubal, whom CCP called out publicly, as well as Pandoralica and Dark Shines, the two unnamed alleged co-conspirators, have been cleared.  The “INIT 3” go free.  They get their account reactivated and their stuff back and probably some sort of “we’re sorry” gift for all of the trouble.

As for what Brisc will do now, he made a short statement on Twitter:

And so it goes.

Brisc will be appearing on the Open Comms Show, which you can find on the INN Twitch channel, tomorrow night at 18:00 Pacific time, 21:00 Eastern time, or 01:00 New Eden time.  There he and Dirk MacGirk and the Open Comms Show team will no doubt have much to say on the topic and many memes to share.

Naturally, other people are covering this story as expressing their opinions, though probably not as many as covered the initial bans.  Bans are news, retractions are not, so guess which will dominate Google search results when you look up Brisc Rubal going forward?

Other coverage:

Addendum:

And you know something isn’t really a thing on the internet until there is a Downfall parody of it.

 

The Minecraft Village and Pillage Update Lands

The Minecraft 1.14 update, the “Village & Pillage” release, landed for both the Java (old school) and Bedrock (Win10 and consoles) editions this week.  It has been described by the team as the biggest update to villages ever.

Villagers and Pillagers

And, given the list of new items and changes, I won’t argue with that description, even extending it to the biggest update overall I have seen for the game.

The list of just “new” things added to the game is already pretty impressive:

  • Bamboo jungles with bamboo trees and pandas
  • Barrels
  • Berries
  • Blast furnaces
  • Town bells
  • Campfires
  • Cartography tables
  • Composters
  • Crossbows
  • Fletching tables
  • Foxes
  • Leather horse armor (dyeable)
  • Lanterns
  • Lecterns
  • Looms
  • Pillagers
  • Raids
  • Ravagers
  • Wandering Traders
  • Scaffolding
  • Smithing tables
  • Smokers
  • Stonecutters
  • New flowers
  • New dyes
  • New decorative blocks

Back over the summer, when they first started talking about this update I thought pandas were going to be the big deal.  But now there is so much more.

And those are just the new things.  The Minecraft team has also changes up how a lot of things work in the game.  Cats are now their own thing, separate from ocelots, villages now work differently, and all of that new stuff has it own mechanics as well.

In addition, textures were updated as well, so the world even looks a bit different.  And all of that is just scratching the surface of what is listed out for the update.

As usual, I face some of the “old server” problems.  New biomes do not appear in already discovered areas, so if I want to see pandas I am going to have to mount an expedition to find one, the way I did for the warm ocean.

However, this time around a lot of the new stuff is right there in front of me.  I went to a village near our server spawn point, literally the first village we discovered almost four years ago when my daughter and I started out with a fresh server, and found the newly updated villages… well… making new villagers I guess.

Love is in the air

The villagers have new textures, as do a lot of things in the game.

Villagers doing it in the new wheat texture

They also have some new behaviors.  They need some of the new work stations to go about their business, which will appear automatically if you discover a new village but which you need to build for them in an old one.  The villagers also all now sleep in beds, which I discovered when night fell and I went to use the one bed in the village only to find it occupied.  So I had to make beds for everybody.  It is a good thing I had some sheep within the walls of that village.

Young villagers, without occupations, sleeping in the new dorm

I also collected a few cats.  Cats are now strays and they spawn around villages.  You have to sneak up on them and give them fish to tame them.  The wall around this village helped me corral them as they couldn’t wander off, but I understand that if you village is open they will spawn and move away.

A calico kitty caught

There is still a lot to do and a lot to explore with this Minecraft update.  There were some initial problems with people logging in and, as is often true with new updates, Minecraft Realms servers seem to be struggling under the weight of the changes… taking a mine cart anywhere leads to some ragged movement… but the update is live.  Time to go play.

Taking the Eye of Terror to Lonetrek

Every so often I go on a main fleet op just to remind myself why I don’t go on main fleet ops any more.  Plus I happened to still be sitting in 1DQ1-A from the Reavers race (still in my Gnosis) and Pittsburgh2989, who is in Liberty Squad, was the FC.  So when the ping went out festooned with no fewer than three animated parrots I joined up.

I thought if Pitts was here we might not be having a Liberty Squad op.  I was wrong, but I only figured that out when it was too late.

The call was for Baltecs, a fleet composition built around the Megathron battleship.  I actually had a few options for this, including a Megathron left over from last year’s war, sitting in my hangar.  I decided to go with Logi though, hopping into an Oneiros and putting on the Emergency Response SKIN.

Oneiros in the hangar

I could have gone with a Guardian… I have a few of those sitting around as well… but being free of the cap chain for an evening had its appeal.  So I got in the logi channel while the fleet came together.

There are any number of reasons why I avoid main fleet ops.  They tend to be ponderous operations, full of strangers who will talk on and on in a fleet of 150 people about not being able to find a something in the hangar.  There are a variety of FCs, each with their own quirks and pet peeves.  And they fly battleships, which are slow to get places.  This is why you join SIGs and squads, to fly with a regular group… usually in cruisers.

While things were getting sorted I undocked and sat on tether, wondering where we were headed.

Hanging on the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A

Of course, the battleship slow travel problem isn’t always problem.  Not when you have the reconstituted Eye of Terror jump bridge network running from Period Basis all the way up into Cloud Ring.  When the fleet got going Pitts essentially gave us three way points, each corresponding to an Ansiblex jump gate.

We were headed up to Cloud Ring and the trip was essentially “take a normal gate, take an Ansiblex, take a normal gate, take an Ansiblex, take a normal gate, take an Ansiblex, take a normal gate” and we were way up north, passing a series of Keepstars along the way.

Also, who puts a Keepstar AT THE SUN?

In Cloud Ring we took a gate into low sec and sat on a titan for a while.  The word filtered down to us that we were there to jump on anybody who formed up against an op already in progress.  We lingered there for a while… for longer than it took us to make the trip there for sure… until it was decided that nobody was going to show up.  So a cyno was lit and the bridge went up.

Time to go

We landed in Nannaras, which is way up in Lonetrek, a location that seems like a long way from home.

Obligatory fleet landing screen shot

Looking at DOTLAN navigation, that is about 40 gates away from where we started.

Up the western edge of New Eden

But with the Ansiblex network it felt like we hadn’t gone that far at all.

As for what was in Nannaras, there was a Pandemic Horde Fortizar there in its final timer.

A kill mail to be had

We warped up within range of it and joined in the shoot.

Somebody was there to gun it, so bombs were launched our way repeatedly.  This led to a lot of people hitting the “need shields” button in the fleet window, an annoyance to those of us in the logi wing because Baltecs are an armor doctrine fleet.  There was nobody around to rep shields.

But even announcing that on comms didn’t stop people from broadcasting for shields.

I actually had some shield repair drones.  Since there was little else to do for the moment, I put those out and repped some of the pricier ships.

Shield rep drones on a Bhaalgorn

However, I missed a bomb launch… there was something nobody was announcing on comms… and it wiped out my drones in one go.  So that was the end of that.  A few people were unlucky enough to drop into armor due to bombs, but otherwise it was a simple shoot.  I put out a combat drone towards the end… among other benefits, the Oneiros has a big drone bay… to get in some hits on the Fortizar just to get on the kill mail.

The small ships in the fleet also warped in to get their hits in as well, which prompted the gunner to turn on the point defense system.  That meant I didn’t have to worry about recalling my Warrior II drone, as it died pretty quickly.  But the Fortizar followed suit shortly there after, and I was on the kill mail.  Priorities.

Another dramatic explosion scene

From there we had to actually slow boat back to the Ansiblex gate network.  But we were only seven jumps or so away.  And once we arrived we were let off the leash to free burn home.  As somebody pointed out in comms, the first thing that happens is that the logi, which are all cruisers, leave the slower warping battleships behind leaving the potential for comedy/disaster.

But nobody bothered us and we were all quickly back in Delve and docked up.

Not a bad op, for main fleet.  Comms were subdued.  There were relatively few Game of Thrones spoilers mentioned and only one fan theory brought up. (The “Due to a time travel loop Bran IS the Night King” theory.)  I am not saying that comms should be silent, but there are people who seem to forget they have an audience of 150+ people.

Even with a good main fleet op I’ll be happy to be back in a Liberty Squad fleet when I have the chance.