Monthly Archives: August 2019

August in Review

The Site

It was Blaugust, which meant a post every day of the month.

And, in my over zealous attempt to ensure that I would have a blog post for every day of August, I ended up with extras.  This is my 49th and final post for August.  At least I hope it is.

You would have thought after I had already posted every single day in July that I would have been more relaxed about Blaugust, but such is not my way.  In fact, if the WP.com insights page for the blog is to be believed, this is my 82nd day in a row of posting.  Go me I guess.

Three month post density chart

The colors go from zero to four posts.

49 posts in a single month makes this my most prolific Blaugust ever and puts this August in third place overall for months with the most posts, falling behind January 2007, which saw 59 posts, and November 2006, which rang up 53 posts.  But in those early days of the blog I was posting a few words or a picture about a bunch of things.

Now will I have something left to post tomorrow?  It seems likely.  I barely had to dip into my backup posts for the month, so I have some things still ready to go.

One Year Ago

I built myself a new computer!

That meant an update to Windows 10, which meant jump starting my ancient copy of ZMud yet again.  You have to hand it to Microsoft that the support libraries it needed were still available and still functioned.  You don’t get that from Apple.

There was a data leak from Steam that gave us some insight into what was popular on the service. (But only if they supported achievements.)  Oh, and Runes of Magic finally landed on Steam.

On Kickstarter there was Stay Awhile and Listen II and the return of the Warcraft Diary, this time with a more reasonable plan.  Also, there was a Togdor board game.  Nostalgia made me back that.

I first heard about Decentraland, which sounded like Second Life combined with Block Chain.

It was Blaugust and I was wondering what I should even write about.  I also wrote about consolidating your blog reading via various options and the importance of leaving (and responding to) comments, and something about blogging editorial policy.

Daybreak was closing down the first EverQuest II progression servers.  They don’t last as long as the EverQuest flavors.  Daybreak also told us that Just Survive was destined not to.

Before Battle for Azeroth launched for WoW I was wondering about the now every expansion question about where I should use by character boost.  I ended up boosting a Horde Blood Elf paladin.

And then BFA went live and it was time for the opening tale.  Then it was off to Kul Tiras with Jaina.  Given how they did the zone scaling, I was wondering why they bothered with levels.

BFA sales were about on par for for a WoW expansion.

I was wondering how many people played EVE Online.  It was alleged to be less than EverQuest.  As it turned out, my estimates were not far off from what CCP would tell us a week later.

The August update for EVE Online brought us new Badger models… and a few other things.

I hit 200 million skill points on my main character.  I decided to start working on an alt on that account then.

In EVE Online the Monthly Economic Report was showing how much deploying off to war was costing the Imperium in opportunity cost.

The Rooks & Kings video First Light on the Fifth Day, about how the great war on the China server ended up sending refugees to Tranquility, was released.

Out in null sec on TQ there was a war on, which was focused on the NCDot Keepstar in X47L-Q in Pure Blind.  Titans clashed at the armor timer.  Then we had to wait for the final timer, which meant smaller ops in the area and doing some prep for the final battle.  Asher also drove us back to Delve for some side tasks.

Then more titans died along with the Keepstar.  After that, attention turned to the Circle of Two Keepstar in Fade.

And Gevlon was back with his conspiracy about CCP picking winners in EVE Online, and I only made him angry by suggesting that Malcanis was the one doing the picking.

Five Years Ago

I was marveling at the prescience of some quotes from GDC 2007.

We had a couple more SOE games close.  Vanguard saw some touching tributes, while Wizardry Online pretty much passed without comment.  Then Dragon’s Prophet launched without comment, which I suspected might be a sign.

The last ever SOE Live tried to get us excited about EverQuest Next again.  Otherwise it was sort of business as usual on the Norrath front.  I wished for more than I got certainly.

Project: Gorgon was having a Kickstarter and was asking for $100,000.  I was dubious.

Google was forcing me to make bad referential post titles.

Our months long Civilization V game wrapped up with victory for mattman and China.

DarkFall introduced another PLEX-like currency, DUEL. (Which was alleged to stand for “Do U Even Lift?”)

I was wondering what to do about Raptr.

Blizzard gave us a date when they would tell us the launch date for Warlords of Draenor,  then eventually told us November 13th.  Meanwhile WoW subscriptions were down 800K during the long summer of mild discontent.  But people were in the beta for the expansion at least.

I took my loremaster project into Outland and content from The Burning Crusade., staring with what I consider the worst zone in the game.  Then I had to search hard in Terokkar, and had trouble in Nagrand.

We also had that whole 10 Years, 10 Questions thing about WoW to write about.

EVE Online gave us the Hyperion expansion, which included burner missions that killed a lot of player ships.  I was on about hats in New Eden.  We also deployed to Delve, because we always deploy to Delve at some point during the summer, and hung around towers.  There was also a fight at our staging system.

Nintendo announced a new 3DS XL handheld, and my thoughts went straight to Pokemon.

Amazon acquired Twitch and GamerGate became a thing,

And then there was the first Blaugust, from which I at least got a post out of a questionnaire.

Ten Years Ago

The Matrix Online (MxO for those in the know) was shut down by SOE that August.  Planetside was still around though… for the time being.

Bruce Everiss was getting sued for libel by the makers of Envoy.  That was eventually worked though the next March.  Enovy, LLC dropped their suit, but not before causing Mr. Everiss much pain and hamstringing his desire to be as forthright in the future.

Somebody was granted a patent for something that sounded a lot like podcasting.  How did that ever turn out?  Oh, wait, like this.  Turns out podcasting doesn’t make any money, even for Adam Corolla, so trolling with that particular patent is a losing proposition.

That Wii Bowling Ball made another appearance.  Still no know deaths attributed to it.

I was wondering what genre our post apocalyptic future really was.  People assume it is Science Fiction.  Is it?

On the Blizzard front, we learned that we were not going to get StarCraft II for Christmas.  I still don’t own a copy yet, though I did buy that remaster of the original.

There was a lot of speculation before BlizzCon about the next WoW expansion.  My guesses were far off the mark.

I also tried to draw parallels between 2004 and 2009.  It was a Cataclysm in the making.  At least I correctly predicted nostalgia might come into play if the old world changed.

I subscribed to the BlizzCon Pay-per-view event via DirecTV.  That was a lot of gaming coverage to watch.  Also, it was the first year of a big act closing ceremony, with Ozzy Osbourne featured.

Meanwhile in the instance group, we were finally almost all level 80.  It was time to screw around in some old raid instances.

I actually posted the results of that cheating poll I had set up.  I generally mean to post the results of these sorts of things, but somehow I usually don’t get around to it.

And, finally, I was on a re-reading binge that August while making Code Red floats.

Forty Years Ago

Atari released the Lunar Lander arcade game.  I remember playing this when it came out.  It was difficult, single player, and the first game I can recall where you could feed in quarters for more play time.  Each quarter bought you a set amount of fuel rather than a specific amount of time or in-game lives.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. The WoW Classic Name Reservation Run
  5. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  6. The Factions of MMO Nostalgia and Progression Servers
  7. WoW Classic First Night Fun Complete with Queues
  8. WoW Classic Server Names Announced
  9. Chaos Fatigue
  10. All I want to do right now is Play WoW Classic
  11. The Chaos Era is Coming to Cynos
  12. WoW Classic and the Hunter’s Path

Search Terms of the Month

minecraft everquest qeynos
[Yes please!]

will burning down a pillager outpost stop them spawning
[No it will not]

asilomar haunted
[So I have been told]

pokémon go account gehackt
[das ist Scheiße]

why is rasberry so hated?
[if only…]

Game Time from ManicTime

Pretty much a two game month for me.  I was probably too busy writing posts for Blaugust to play much more.  EVE Online was heavy at the start of the month, tapering off until the skill point give away time was over.  WoW ramped up some before WoW Classic, then took over my play time at the end of the month.  ManicTime sees them both as the same app, which no doubt aligns Blizzard’s plan in that because they do not want proof that their old game is more popular than their new.  You don’t want an analyst at the earnings call asking if the Blizz team has basically been wasting the last decade on stuff less popular than vanilla.

World of Warcraft – 54.93%
EVE Online – 39.16%
Teamfight Tactics – 2.89%
Minecraft – 2.17%
Dota Underlords – 0.85%

Auto Chess

While I spent a bit of time with both Dota Underlords and Teamfight Tactics, “spent” is probably the operative word.  They were both interesting to tinker with for a while, but I didn’t really feel the need to keep playing beyond the point when I wrote a post comparing the two games.  Just not my cup of tea, though I will be interested to see how they evolve over time.

EVE Online

The Chaos Era and the Season of Skills login rewards dominated the game in August.  Well, that and arguing about changes to the game, but that seems to be part and parcel of the Chaos Era.  I remain chagrined that chaos was the takeaway for Hilmar from The Three-Body Problem.  It would be like coming away from Game of Thrones thinking, “What I really need is a dwarf in my game.”  Anyway, I persisted through the login rewards and got my remaining ships home safely from our deployment.

Minecraft

I did get log into Minecraft for a bit to play, though less out of a desire for the blocky landscape and more out of a need to find something I could occupy myself with during the wait for WoW Classic.  It is a fine game for logging on and tinkering a bit.  Not sure I still need to keep our server hosted on Minecraft Realms though, as it is just me on there of late.

Pokemon Go

The Team Rocket event was interesting, a change up for the game.  I went through and did what I needed for the event and got ten victories for the bronze badge, but after that I was kind of done.  Unlike a raid or a gym attack, you don’t know what you’re facing until you’ve already picked your team.  I used up a lot of potions and revives for just those ten wins.

Level: 37 (+1)
Pokedex status: 438 (+6) caught, 461 (+4) seen
Pokemon I want:  Any of the ones that need Sinnoh stones
Current buddy: Feebass, for the current special task event

World of Warcraft

I was feeling quite the malaise when it came to Battle for Azeroth.  I thought with the Rise of Azshara update I would get in and unlock flying, but I wasn’t really thrilled with the Nazjatar zone.  Like the Tortallian, I am not down with the Naga.  It wasn’t until I went to Mechagon that I found something I liked… just in time for WoW Classic to show up.

WoW Classic

Given how many posts I had up this month about WoW Classic, you’d think that was all I played in August, but it didn’t even go live until the last week of the month.  It hasn’t even been up for a week yet.  But it is finally here.  You don’t have to listen to me pine for it any more.  We’re trying to get the band back together as we wander through a version of the game more than a decade gone.

Coming Up

WoW Classic.  WoW Classic.  WoW Classic.  The highs, the low, the queues, the memories, the complaints.  I am sure there will be a lot of WoW Classic talk.  It is the event of the season.

Still, while that will no doubt be a regular feature, other things will happen.

I am sure I’ll have something to sum up from Blaugust.

Some of us are waiting for various bits of news from Daybreak, from release and expansion info to the status of the company overall.  Some of that will show up next month I am sure.

The Chaos Era continues in EVE Online.  There will be the September update and the first CSM14 summit.  Reavers might even do a thing as well.

Also, there is a milestone coming up for the blog.  All that and more… hopefully more… coming in September.

My Gamer Motivation Profile Once Again

I was tagged for something for Blaugust, and right at the last minute too, so I am going to have to squeeze in just one more post in the month.

Angie at Backlog Crusader did the Quantic Foundry Gamer Motivation Profile survey and then tagged some other bloggers to give it a try.  I’m game… so to speak… but here is the thing.  I’ve done this before, back in 2015 when the survey was new.  Still, I figured I could go through the questions again.  The test itself is built around some assumptions about gamer behavior.

The Motivation Model Overview

As I said previously, it reminds me of the Bartle model, with a few more dimensions.  It does rely on the common personality test dynamic of paired behaviors that are placed as poles in a given motivation.

I had even made a profile back in 2015, so was able to log in and go through the test again.  It remembered my answers from back then, though a couple more questions had been added.  I also changed some of my answers, ending up with a chart that looks like this:

My profile summary graph – 2019

You can compare that to the last time around.

My profile summary graph – 2015

In 2015 there were only five factors, now there are six.  If you want to see how the test has changed you can compare my 2015 post, where I wrote about each of the factors, and my 2019 results available here.

In 2015 I was “Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded.”

In 2019 I am “Calm, Driven, Gregarious, and Grounded.”

The problem I have with this sort of test is the somewhat generic set of questions asking how important certain things are to me.  I sit there and read the question and think, “Well, this is important to me under specific circumstances, but at other times I could care less.”  So the strength of my answers is not very strong at all.  I went through and changed a good chunk of them as I passed through the quiz once again, but never by more than one notch either direction.

Basically, my mood at the moment could alter many of my answers at least somewhat, to the point that I am pretty sure if you wiped all my answers and had me take the survey again in a week, the results would change some.

But for an afternoon in August, that was how I was feeling.

And at the end of the survey the site offers up some games that might appeal to you based on what other people taking it who scored similarly to you ranked as their favorite games.  My top game was No Man’s Sky.

Seems appropriate.  I actually own it, having picked it up in a Steam sale.  Couldn’t get past the forever loading screens though.  Maybe that has gotten better.

The game recommendations come in three levels.  To get an MMO result I had to select “niche” as a parameter, because MMOs remain a niche genre.

Anyway, if you want to take the survey as well, you can find it here on the Quantic Lab site.

All My New Eden Homes

We are here now at the 13th anniversary of my starting to try and figure out EVE Online.  I’m still not there yet.  Rather than marking the moment with the usual origin story I have told before, I am going to look at something else.  I want to cover where I have lived in New Eden.

The in-game map shows me all the systems I have visited.

My personal map of New Eden

Each little dot of color is a system I have visited, with the size and intensity of the dots representing how often I have been there.

There are systems I have visited many times.

That last visit date is wrong

And there are dots on the map that represent system I have visited just once.

It has been a while

YVSL-2 is a dead end system in Cobalt Edge.  The system to which it connects shows that I have visited it twice, so it looks like I didn’t go all that way to get blown up. (Hey, I found the tower kill mail from that op!)

But what the map does not show, at least not overtly, is the places I have called home over the last baker’s dozen years.  While people complain that EVE Online doesn’t have housing, a station can end up being more of a home to you than the captain’s quarters could have ever managed.  Over the years a series of stations have served as my home in New Eden.

So, in something akin to chronological order, here are the places where I have lived.

Jita Planet IV Moon 4 – Caldari Navy Assembly Plant – The Forge Region

Back when I started playing EVE Online the first stop after the Caldari tutorial was Jita 4-4.  I have long theorized that this is why the main trade hub in New Eden is where it is.  Rolling up a Caldari gave you an advantage, and everybody who did that ended up with their first agent in the same station.  Where else would you sell your mission drops?  That is the first station I spent time in.

That has to be hilariously wrong… clone jumps don’t count I guess

It was from this station I was launched on my first mission, the level 1 version of Worlds Collide, in my starter Ibis.  I was, of course, blown up immediately.  But like many people, that made playing the game about revenge as much as anything.  I mined, sold, saved, and went back in a Cormorant and finished the mission before it expired.

This is also where my first cache of junk started.  And it remains the place where I dump stuff when I can, because it is the place to sell things.  I usually live elsewhere, but I still come home to Jita now and again.

Hagenek Planet V Moon 2 – Caldari Navy Assembly Plant – Lonetrek Region

Even back in 2006 Jita was obnoxiously busy, so I decided to break away from the crowd.  I wanted to get far away and go to some remote system and explore the wilds of space.  So I went to Hageken, which I can still recall feeling like I had made it to the wild frontier at the time, but which is all of six gates from Jita.

That number looks right

It was there that I started mining, ran missions, and lost my first ships in PvP.  I was jet can mining and some Goon… no, really… stole my ore.  So I thought I would show him, pulled up in my shiny new mission Caracal, and was promptly blown up.  Can flipping and robbery were common, which prompted me both the start dual boxing accounts and to move further away from Jita.  So I packed up all I could and headed for Amarr space.

Ebtesham V – Amarr Navy Assembly Plant – Domain Region

Navy assembly plants seemed to have all the best agents back in the day.  I moved to Amarr space not just to get away from Jita, but also because I was told you could mine kernite there.  I mined and ran missions for quite a stretch in Amarr.  Our little corp, the Twilight Cadre, did most of its operations around there, its office being a couple jumps over in Gid.

Spent a lot of time in this area

I also did production, invention, data core research, market games, and my first ventures into WH space from around Ebtesham.  (Which I could never pronounce, so we just called it “EBT.”)  I still have a lot of stuff in that station, including a mission Raven, some mining barges, a lot of mission loot, and a few of the POS parts Potshot collected for our never realized WH expedition.  That was where I got bored of EVE Online and logged off for what have might been for good if CCP hadn’t tempted me back with Incarna.  Of course, Incarna only made be quit almost immediately.  It seemed I might be done for good.

0P-F3K – Deklein Region

The stations are all gone from null sec, so I don’t know which planet or moon the Amarr Factory Outpost was anchored near, except that it was a gas giant.  I gave CCP and EVE Online another chance with the Crucible expansion in late 2011.  But I was no less bored with high sec and missions and whatever.  The Gaff said I should come join him out in null sec space.  He had asked before, but I was always worried about “mah stuff” in high sec.  This time I left it all behind, joined TNT, set my home station out in Deklein, and self-destructed to death clone into null sec.  Among other things, it was pretty close to VFK-IV, for a long time the coalition staging system.

Happy times in Deklein

There is was that I learned about null sec ratting and mining, and it was from there that I packed up to go off to war, first in the north, then to Delve, and so on.  I bought my first capital ship, an Archon carrier, which I still have, and joined my first SIG there, Reavers, of which I am still a member.  This was my formative time in null sec.

PBD-0G – Tribute Region

With the coming of the Aegis expansion and Fozzie Sov the CFC, rebranded as the Imperium, consolidated and spread people out.  TNT gave up what had been the longest held system in the game and we packed up and moved to Tribute, next door to Circle of Two who acted like we stole their space.  I moved all my stuff there, but I was already tired of mining and did not rat very often.  I spent most of my time deployed.

Legit low traffic, I would just jump clone in

In one of my few bits of foresight in the game, I packed up most of my stuff in my Archon and jumped out of Tribute less than 24 hours before the mass evacuation was sounded.  I chose the system because of what was within jump range, which worked out in the end.

Saranen V Moon 12 – Quafe Company Warehouse – Lonetrek Region

This was far more of a home to me than Tribute, though we did not end up staying all that long.  This was, of course, the station where the Imperium retreated during the Casino War.

A brief but active stay

In many ways being in Saranen was a high point for me in the game.  Despite our defeat we undocked every day, multiple times a day, took fights, and got what kills we could.  But the money couldn’t last and the Quafe Company was talking about raising the rent, so the great migration began.  Once again I undocked my carrier and started traveling, jump by jump, to Delve.

NIDJ-K – Delve Region

TNT was given a couple of systems to watch over in Delve.  Since every alliance can make a system its capital, it makes sense to hand out a few systems to allies, though GSF still owns the ihub, and the ihub is what matters.

A home in Delve

This is where I settled in once Delve was tamed.  I did my ratting here as well as my first real run at Planetary Interaction.  I tried to set up PI in PBD, but it wasn’t until we got here that I had time to figure it out.

Life went on, deployments happened, and I got bored.  I stopped ratting, pulled up my PI, collected all of my stuff, moved it to an NPC station in Aridia, and decided I was going to give up EVE Online at last.  But there was a Reavers deployment, so I figured that would be my last fling before I signed off.

ROIR-Y II Moon 2 – Food Relief Food Packaging – Pure Blind Region

I wasn’t sure if I was going to count this as a home or just an honorable mention as a location.  But we were based there for almost a year and went through a series of doctrine changes which ended up with me having enough ships and excess modules and so on that I figured it ought to count.

Number seems low, but we bridged a lot

That eventually built up to what we might call the Keepstar War as it ended up being mostly about deploying, attacking, and defending Keepstars.  Freed from any pretense about earning ISK, just logging on for fleets and fights, I was refreshed and felt again like I was part of the bigger tale of New Eden.

1DQ1-2 – Delve Region

No war lasts forever… except Afghanistan maybe… and eventually peace were declared and we all packed up to head home in a giant move op.  I followed the path back to Delve and dumped everything in the Keepstar of Dickbutt in 1DQ1-2.

I am indeed here

And so it goes.  Those are the places where I have stayed long enough… or in which I have hoarded enough junk… to feel like I really lived there for a while.

Honorable Mentions

Of course, there are places that almost made the cut, systems or stations where I spent time, but which didn’t quite rise to the level of being a home.  So, even though this post is clearly long enough already, let me pile on a few more locations.

Gid V – Moon 4 – Imperial Chancellor Bureau Offices – The station nearest to Ebtesham where we could afford to rent an office for our old high sec corp.  Still holds most of the POS modules that were stored up for the wormhole expedition that never came to pass.

VFK-IV – Home and staging system for the CFC back in December of 2011, while I lived in 0P-F3K I stored many combat ships and undocked for many fleet ops from the one time Mittanengrad station.

Badivefi VI Moon 2 – Expert Distribution Warehouse – Where Reavers once staged to assail Querious back when Darkness lived there.  I still have a pile of special, go fast, Reavers specific fit ships stored there.  Shield Ishtars.

ED-L9T – A special location for Reavers, home of the one time Jacket Disbursement Station and scene of the glorious station defense battle.

H-ADOC – Another Reavers deployment system and the source of many fish related puns.  I left an alt there to hunt MTUs after we left.

That is about it.  There are many other systems that hold memories for me, locations that saw memorable fights or events, but few other places where I have left as much space junk sitting around in storage… unless I start looking at my alts.  Those maps… those are a whole story on top of all of this.  Maybe some other time.

PlanetSide Arena Resurfaces with a Plan for a Q2 2020 Release

Remember PlanetSide Arena?  It has a new ship date.

But first, a recap of the story so far… the ship date being in the headline and all.

Back in mid-December of 2018 Daybreak’s big new game announcement was a rework of PlanetSide 2, bringing it back to the realm of shooters of old by taking their MMOFPS and turning it into a match based game with a bunch of old school modes… and Battle Royale too, of course.

Meet Battle Modes

Those looking for an actual NEW game went away disappointed, but even cynics like myself had to admit that this seemed like a viable plan of sorts.  After all, what could it take to turn PlanetSide 2 into a Battle Royale game?  H1Z1 was literally built off of PlanetSide 2.

Daybreak was confident too, declaring that season one for the game… because of course it would have seasons and battle passes and whatever, it has to pay for itself… would commence on January 29, 2019.

January 29, 2019

However, nothing in software is as easy as it seems, and people often confuse something being simple to articulate (e.g. PlanetSide 2 Battle Royale) with being easy to do.  They are not.  So a couple days before the 29th, the date for PlanetSide Arena was pushed to March 2019.  Still pretty aggressive, but with a bit more breathing room.

And then come mid-February the whole thing got a moved to “summer” as a release, though this would now include a simultaneous launch on the PlayStation 4.  They also refunded everybody’s Steam purchase, which seemed the decent thing to do.

And then summer came, moved along its merry way, until yesterday, the Thursday before Labor Day, the traditional end of summer in the US, regardless of what the calendar tells you, when we finally got some news about PlanetSide Arena.  There is now a four stage release plan, spanning from Early Access availability this coming September to the actual game release at some point in Q2 2020.

PlanetSide Arena – August 2019 Schedule

There is also a FAQ page, which is good, as the announcement itself is pretty sparse.  Call me a pessimist, but I made sure that FAQ page was saved to the Internet Archive right away in its current state.

The first question is, naturally enough, about what the game actually is.  I’ll quote that one:

PlanetSide Arena is a massive-scale, match-based, scif-fi arena shooter that reintroduces players to the revolutionary PlanetSide Franchise – the record-breaking MMOFPS that redefined all-out planetary warfare. PlanetSide Arena features class-based combat, combined arms gameplay, compelling team tactics, and a deep tech tree with weapon mods and in-game progression.

It is still a match based shooter.  The various modes mentioned back in December 2018 have gone missing, and when you click on the link in the FAQ that mentions modes, it just directs you back to the page with the above graphic.

The graphic itself gives few details, aside from the emphasis on teams (3 people), squads (12 people) and outfits (your space shooter guild).

What is coming in September is Window only… so no more PlayStation 4 simultaneous launch… and in Early Access mode, available via Steam.  Given Daybreak’s Early Access history, that probably means a rough alpha with obvious missing features coming at you.  Pay to help test.

Daybreak will have achieved their “summer” launch window… minus the PlayStation 4 part… rolling in just four days before the calendar maker’s official end of summer in the northern hemisphere, though that assumes you consider Early Access a launch.  I am unconvinced.  But I am sure we’ll hear about it if the game is totally broken.

And the Daybreak story goes on.

WoW Classic and the Hunter’s Path

I am in no hurry to get through things in WoW Classic.  As tends to be my approach, I want to cover a lot of ground without wearing myself out.  And wandering every side path has already paid off.  This was the era of random quest givers stuck in the middle of nowhere.

The exception so far has been with my hunter.

The hunter was probably the most distinctive class of early WoW; strange, complicated, and always pressed for inventory space, both because hunters lose a bag slot to hold ammo and because you have to carry food for your pet.

But a hunter without a pet is practically no hunter at all… and all the more so where your still running around with the 1 dps newbie hand axe because you haven’t gotten a fortunate drop yet.  Three gun upgrades, but no melee,  and without a pet every encounter gets resolved at knife range… or axe range, as the case may be.

So I was in a bit of a hurry to get to level 10 with Tistann so he could get a pet going.

I was out in grinding that last bit of experience by taking down leper gnomes past Brewnall Village, itself a quest destination.  I had already done the Operation Recombobulation quest there… another one of those quests you might miss if you don’t wander in the right building… but leper gnomes were good exp and drop coins, cloth, and the occasional green quality item.  I finally got my axe upgraded hitting them.

Battling a leper gnome, just a few xp to go

That got me to level 10, at which point I started to trot on back to Kharanos where the hunter trainer with the class quest hangs out.  I had forgotten that class quests were a thing really, except for hunters.  But SynCaine reminded me that they are there for everybody and do require a bit of class knowledge.

I passed through Brewnall Village to sell some drops and saw that I had a quest waiting for me there.  And it wasn’t just any quest, but the lead-in quest for the hunter class quest.

Hunter quest for you

This wasn’t the best assumption on the part of Blizzard I suppose.  I had already finished up the quests in the area by the time I was into level 9, and this quest only goes live when you hit level 10.  I could have easily left the area, hit level 10, and never have seen it.  I don’t think it blocks you from getting the actual level 10 hunter class quest, but I would have missed out all the same.  These days a quest just appears for you in the UI to keep you from missing such things.  But back in the day some game designer just assumed that of course all dwarven hunters would be passing through Brewnall Village after hitting level 10.

I took the quest and kept on trucking to the hunter trainer, where I got a little extra xp for having the lead-in quests I suppose.  And then it was on to the real deal.

The Hunter’s Path

The Hunter’s Path is in a few stages.  You run out and tame a crag boar, a snow leopard, and an ice claw bear as samples of the pets you can tame.

Taming the bear

You have to spend ten minutes with them, which I used to go hunt some more skinnable animals.  I had picked up skinning and leather working with Tistann.  And while the auction house was saturated with light leather (and we’re all too poor to buy anything still anyway) I was quite active in skinning everything I could find, so those stacks of light leather could be sold to a vendor for 3 silver each if I was short of coin.

After the three runs, you are given the ability to tame a pet of your own, as the three each disappear as you finish up each quest.  Then the next step is to run up to Ironforge and find the pet trainer… the trainer with skills for your pets.  You also get some of the follow-on skills, like pet feeding, dismissing, calling, and reviving.  I had to sell a couple of those stacks of light leather to load up on everything.

And then it was time to go out and find a pet of my own.  My gut said I should get a bear, and not just any bear, but a bear from Elwyn Forest in the human starter area.  There was a reason to get that particular bear, but I couldn’t recall why.  I just knew I did that back in the day for a reason, and my hunter on WoW live still has that pet from way back in the day, even though any advantage has long since been ironed out by changes to the game.

Fortunately Petopia, the long standing hunter pet reference site, had opened up a Petopia Classic page for those of us playing WoW Classic.

That brought me back up to speed on bears as pets.  Some of it I knew, like the fact that bears are good tanks.  I had forgotten they were pretty omnivorous, which is handy since you have to keep pets fed to keep them happy.  And the bears in Elwyn Forest come with a rank 2 version of the Claw skill, which other bears don’t get until later.

So I took the tram from Ironforge to Stormwind then ran down the hill to find a bear.  I was able to tame a nice level 9 specimen.  Level is kind of important, both for what skills they can learn and because your pets level up independently of you, capped only by your own level.  I was nearly level 11 at that point, so wanted a pet that wasn’t too far behind.

Pet tamed, then fed until he was happy, I used my hearthstone to get back to Ironforge.  Fortunately I remember to set it at the inn there.  So my hunter now has his first pet.  I ran around and killed some mobs with him, which got both of us a level.

A bear named Barstow

I just have to keep him fed.  A fed pet is a happy pet.

Happy Barstow

I’ve never had a pet run away on me, though it has been said that an unhappy pet can lose enough loyalty that they will take off.  Now my hunter can get on with actually being a hunter… though I need some more silver so I can stable Barstow at some point, because to learn some skills you have to tame a an animal that has the skill, the work with them until you learn it.  Then you abandon them, unstable your own pet, then hunt with them until they pick up the skill.

Being a hunter can be a job at times, but there are few classes so fun and flexible… in WoW Classic at least.

Blaugust and Keeping the Words Flowing to the Site

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

-Voltaire

Here we are in the last week of Blaugust and the topic of the week is about staying motivated.

To write a single blog post is pretty easy.  We all have something to say, some opinion to share, something to complain about, or some entertaining tale of challenge, victory, defeat, or shame.  It probably isn’t a chore to get to maybe half a dozen posts.  The world is, as I noted a couple weeks back, full of topics if you look closely enough.

But at some point the white hot rage or whatever drove you to start a blog will diminish.  You will have said the things that were on your mind at the beginning and will have to face the fact that if you want to keep writing you will need both a source of topics and the motivation to keep going.

If you are happy with what you have written, if people are reading, if you’re getting comments that turn into thoughtful discussions or interesting counter-points to your posts, it will be easier to carry on.  Attention is a powerful motivator.

But what if you post your well crafted opus on the evolution of housing options in Runes of Magic and nobody responds?

There was a time about a decade back when you could reliably count on somebody showing up for a comment if you had managed to pass what seems now like a fairly low bar of notoriety.  The stats that WP.com shows me say that there was a stretch when I could count on an average of 8 comments per post.  Even with some percentage of those being my own responses in comments, that is a lot of discussion going on.

As SynCaine pointed out in my July month in review post, there was a link to a reference to a fairly simple post he did back in 2009 that ended up with 40 comments.  That was the golden age, where a rant or a controversial opinion might get your comments to overflow.

But now a days the threshold for getting comments has risen quite a bit.  The advent of other social media channels like Twitter and Reddit, and other gamer outlets like Twitch, not to mention the whims of Google, has made blogs much more of a niche than they were.  Comments per post here, which peaked at 9 a decade back, are a lot closer to 3 these days.  And if it wasn’t for Bhagpuss that number would probably have sunk to around 2.

What do you do now?

Well, first, go leave a comment on another blog.  They’ll appreciate it.  And, if they don’t, you know not to bother going forward.  There are still plenty of fish in that sea.

But after that, you probably need to evaluate why you were blogging in the first place and work towards that as a goal.

If you started blogging in order to get traffic and comments and whatever, you can still do that.  It is more difficult than it was a decade back, but you can still swing it.  You can work on your SEO, you can promote your blog on a wide range of social networks, and you can tackle controversial topics or take radical stances on more mundane things.  You can get attention.  Whether that attention will make you happy is your call.

Or maybe you set out simply to craft a gold plated edifice of perfect text that you expect to stand the test of time and and serve as a shining beacon to future generations.  You might manage that with a few more revisions of that post that has been sitting in your drafts folder for two years already.

My own motivation is much more mundane; just to remember.

Even if you have your writing goals nailed down and you can think up topics left and right, there can still be times when motivation lacks.  Do I want to write about another move op or quest run or achievement?  Sometimes the words just won’t come, or dribble out half halfheartedly.  It is around then that I feel like I need to prime the pump.  The one thing that seems to get me writing is to be writing already.  So I have a series of regular posts I do, or events that I will write about, which I can fall back on.  I mentioned a few in my prep week post.

Probably the most common on here at TAGN is the month in review post.  I have managed to do one on the last day of the month, every month, since I started the blog.  But I don’t have to write it on that day.  It has a standard format and, save for a couple of entries that require the end of the month, I can start writing it any time.  I often start writing these posts weeks in advance when I have some time to write but don’t feel I have something to write about.  Doing the 1/5/10 years ago section often sparks ideas and leads me off to some topic about which to write.

Another post type I find I can get running with are Quote of the Day posts.  Somebody is always saying something.  Take their quote and run with it.  And then there are “Summer Re-Runs” posts, where I lump together a series of posts on a specific topic that bring together a story or a bit of history.

There are some other regular posts, like a look at the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report and the SuperData Research digital video game revenue chart.  EVE Online also releases a patch/feature update most months, which is an easy item to write about.

And then there are the items that trigger posts for me, things like announcements, patch notes, expansions, and the sort of headline news items that come around once in a while.  There are times when I get in almost a reactionary style of writing, where these sorts of bits that I feel I ought to write about start showing up all of a sudden and I am just writing about them.  The blog starts to feel like a news site as I try to cover these sorts of things.  But I am not about news, but about context, the idea that all sorts of things are going on even if I am only playing EVE Online or WoW in a given week.

Of course, the problem with standard posts is that they can start to feel routine.  If they get stale then they are less likely to spur you to write other things.  Sometimes you have to shake things up in order to find a new balance that can keep you going.  For example, for the EVE Online MER I kept reporting on the same charts for over a year.  When that got stale, I decided to find something specific to focus on each month, something related to events in the game to see what influence they had.

And then there was the weekly Fantasy Movie League posts, which grew to be immense, 2,000 word ventures each week.  That started to feel like a burden.  So I looked at what was the most interesting bits and focused on that… for me it is probably the look at the new movies that show up each week… and cut other parts back to no more than what was probably really needed.

But all of those together, the regular posts and the fall back options, give me just enough structure that I seem to be able to build up a week’s worth of posts, one week after another, until another year has gone by.  And then they find their way into the Month in Review post where I look at them and often find inspiration from them yet again.

Or I suppose you could just to what WordPress.com sent me this morning about writing more.

SuperData July Numbers Show a Resurgent Grand Theft Auto V

The numbers are out from SuperData Research for July 2019 digital revenue, so it is time once again to look at their lists.

SuperData Research Top 10 – July 2019

On the PC end of the chart the list of titles was a bit stagnant.  Nine out of ten titles listed there in June were still there in July.  There was a little shakeup as Dungeon Fighter Online took the top spot from League of Legends.  That was shocking the first time it happened, but now they swap every few months, so seems pretty normal.

Six of last month’s titles remained in exactly the same position, including World of Warcraft in seventh place, behind World of Tanks.  We will have to see if the launch of WoW Classic pushes the Blizzard title up the list some when the August numbers come out next month.

The one new entry was PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which returned to the list in ninth place, replacing FIFA Onilne 3.  As noted below, PUBG saw a price cut which juiced sales in July.

In the console column Grand Theft Auto V jumped back to the top spot with the release of the Diamond Casino update for the online version of the game.  Having purchased GTA V during the Steam Summer Sale, I received several email notes about the casino, so they were pushing that hard… and successfully it seems.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII moved up from third to second place in July, while the new release, Fire Emblem: Three House fell into third place, leaving last month’s number one, Fortnite, down in fourth.

At the mobile end of the chart, Honour of Kings remained on top, with Pokemon Go holding on to second place.  Candy Crush Saga, my other benchmark, moved up one spot to third place, taking it from Clash of Clans, which dropped down to seventh position.

Overall Supdata said that worldwide spending was up with this bullet point.

  • Strong mobile growth drives a 5% increase in worldwide spending. Consumers spent $9.02 billion on digital games across console, PC and mobile in July, up from $8.56 billion in the same month last year. Mobile revenue grew 14%, offsetting declines on PC and console, with the latter being dragged by a 50% drop in free-to-play spending.

But when they tweeted a chart to support that, I wasn’t all that convinced.

Digital Spending July 2019 vs July 2019

It feels like if you’re going to claim that mobile is pulling the segment up, you ought to go with a chart that doesn’t show mobile taking a smaller slice of the pie while the PC slice is growing.

I realize that this chart does not necessarily invalidate their statement, it just feels like goofy optics to support the assertion being made.  “Mobile is growing!” he said, waving around a chart that showed PC and Consoles were growing.

Meanwhile, the comparison list from NPD of July sales is also available.  They show the following:

  1. Madden NFL 20
  2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses*
  3. Super Mario Maker 2*
  4. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order*
  5. Minecraft
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  8. Mortal Kombat 11
  9. Mario Kart 8*
  10. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*

*No digital data

As usual, it is different from SuperData because the NPD data is US only, combines PC and consoles, includes traditional retail (which favors console sales), and does not include digital sales where noted.

Given all of that, I think the relative position Madden NFL 20 is interesting.  It is primarily a US focused title, but I would probably say the same for NBA 2K19, and it was higher up for SuperData but didn’t make the cut for NPD.

Also, look how much Nintendo still depends on the normal retail channel.

And so it goes, another month of numbers.  Additional notes from the SuperData post:

Grand Theft Auto Online‘s Casino update leads to a huge uptick. We estimate Grand Theft Auto Online made $69 million across console and PC in July following the anticipated “Diamond Casino” update, marking one of the best sales months for the game since launch and the first month of double-digit year-over-year growth since August 2018.

Apex Legends Season 2 sales falls short of Season 1 levels. Apex Legends generated $37 million across console and PC in July, more than double what it made in June but only roughly half of what Season 1 earned in March.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a solid launchFire Emblem sold 800,000 digital units on Switch in July, making it the best digital launch in franchise history.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds gets a price cut and sells another million units. We estimate PUBG sold 1.1 million units on PC with an average selling price of roughly $18, though sales are still down significantly from last year.

FIFA Mobile Soccer faces a tough comparison against 2018’s World Cup. Despite being one of EA’s most reliable sources of growth on mobile since launching in 2016, FIFA Mobile has hit a rough patch this summer, with revenue declining over 50% year-over-year in each of the past three months.