Daily Archives: December 31, 2019

December in Review

The Site

Here we are at the last day of 2019, which is also the last day of the “teens” of the twenty-first century.  Tomorrow we’ll be in the Twenties, so I can use this graphic for one more post.

The jury is still out if the twenties will be roaring or not, or if I’ll be able to retire by the time the Thirties roll around.  The last run at that decade didn’t turn out so well.

Those dates and decades all seem so odd to me.  As a kid I was fixated on what the year 2000 would bring and how old I would be then, but I never really considered what would come after.  Now we’re well past that point and, as it turns out, time doesn’t just stand still.  It was 20 years ago when I was on the Y2K emergency response team, on call to work on any issues related to that monumental calendar date change.  Nothing happened.  But I still have the shirt they gave us.

As for the site, this will be post 412 of the year.  That puts 2019 in 4th place for most posts, beating out 2018 by just eight and 2010 by six.  2007 remains the champion, with 490 posts, though I wrote less than half as many words per post back then, so 2019 was more work.

One Year Ago

Epic Games set out to challenge Steam with their own digital games store front.  That didn’t stop Steam from going on with its usual Winter Sale.

Somebody was trying to crowd fund yet another gamer social network which got me on a tear about gamers not being a unified demographic.  The Kickstarter failed, as I expected.  It was a dumb idea.

Blizzard stepped back a bit from their MOBA, Heroes of the Storm.

In a season of MMO offers, Dungeons & Dragons Online had a $299 season pass offer, Lord of the Rings Online had a $199 legacy bundle, and Daybreak had a limited $299 lifetime subscription offer, though when buyers hit the limit, the limit was extended.

Daybreak launched The Burning Lands expansion for EverQuest as they were laying off staff.  The layoff was alleged to be focused in their Austin office, where PlanetSide stuff happens.

Daybreak, which had been hinting about a new game coming, then announced PlanetSide Arena, which didn’t feel like a new game at all.  And didn’t they just lay people off from that team?  It was slated to be available by February 2019.

On the LOTRO Legendary server I made a side trip to Esteldin.  I also made a side trip to the fall festival to get drunkLOTRO does a very nice drunk simulation.  Then it was off to Evendim, where I made it through Tinnudir and Annuminas.  After that I was in the Trollshaws.  I even made it into the Misty Mountains.  I was on a roll in Middle-earth.

CCP put out their December update for EVE Online, which included changes to high sec war decs, as well as the assets for the holiday login rewards and the Operation Permafrost event.  I wasn’t happy with that event.  It didn’t measure up to the Halloween event in my mind.  I did have some better luck with it eventually.

I was also carping about the dearth of ship SKINs in the New Eden Store.  How do you run a space cash shop where I cannot buy something for my ship?

CCP also announced the final destinations for the Invasion World Tour, in which they would change things up by bringing EVE Fanfest to eight locations around the world.

Actually in EVE Online Asher brought the Reavers SIG on a wormhole adventure to help blow up a Keepstar, which I recorded in a series of posts:

The Reavers also went out and did one of our null sec space races for fun.

In my usual year end posts, I reviewed my predictions for 2018, wrote about my five books of the year, went over the highs and lows of the last dozen months, reviewed the games I played, and ranted a bit about the state of MMORPGs.

Also, I had something about how the core player base will always optimize their behavior to match game mechanics.  Then there was a throw away post about various game studios.

Finally, I told the story of the two chocolate pies.

Five Years Ago

After my hardware woes the month before, I had to figure out which games to install again.

My MMO Outlook for 2015 was bleak.  But not as bleak as the reality ended up.  And then there were the highs and lows of 2014.

Syp was on about “real” MMO studios, strongly suggesting that you had to have more than one MMO to be legit.  I questioned whether that was really the case or not.  Examples were discussed.

It was the 10 year anniversary of the Nintendo DS handheld system.

Warlords of Draenor having launched at the end of November, the instance group was getting together in Azeroth and building garrisons… so we could be apart.  Of course, my first character into Draenor was already level 100 shortly thereafter.  We engaged in some jumping puzzles and then had to ride across country to the Bloodmaul Slag Mines.

Coming back to WoW also got me to post five seemingly simple things I wanted to see fixed.  I think they’re all still unchanged at this point.

I also spent a bit of time in EverQuest II over the holidays, figuring out where to go, getting some AA points handed to me, and rolling out into the Kylong Plains.  I also tried to recall the events around the great downtime of December 2004.

In New Eden, NCDot’s invasion of Fountain was pushed back.  Reavers were operating in their backfield in Querious, where Asher managed to setup a trap that lead to us killing four supers.  Then it was back to our home in the north.

We also got the Rhea expansion from CCP, which gave us graphical updates, the Bowhead freighter, the removal of clone costs, and Thera, a new kind of wormhole system.  There was also a blog banter about what to tell new players about EVE Online.

I was also wondering if PLEX-like currency items were working out well in any games besides EVE Online.  That was before the WoW Token came on the scene.

And I posted about three science fiction series I had started reading.

Ten Years Ago

Let’s see… a random reader wrote in to tell me that the social aspects of MMOs were insignificant.  It wasn’t even Gevlon.  Still, I don’t think he understood what he was talking about.

People seemed to be getting worked up as to how you define content in an MMO.  Can you compare sandbox and amusement park content fairly?  Taking some of this to its logical extreme, I demonstrated something that trumped all MMO content.

Also getting people worked up was the catch in the whole free to play model, brought up by changes to the store in Battlefield Heroes.  That actually got responses all over the place.

The US release date for Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver was announced.

People were warming up for Star Trek Online.  There was a confusing array of pre-order options.  But it was missing some items I really wanted. (I think the awful early movie uniforms eventually appeared recently in the C-Store.)

In World of Warcraft we were busy wrapping up the holiday achievements, including Pilgrim’s Bounty.

We were also playing with this new Dungeon Finder thing that showed up with WoW patch 3.3.  Automated cross-server instance group matching with random strangers?  It will never work.

The instance group, in its horde RP-PvP server form, was hitting Gnomeregan and Shadowfang Keep, both of which seemed… much easier.

And I was officially epic… proven by the achievement.  Of course by that time, somebody already had all the possible WoW achievements.  Too epic to be believed.

Meanwhile, this horrible image was keeping me up at nights.  You just cannot unsee some things once you have seen them.

In EVE Online the Dominion expansion went live, changing how players captured and held.  Out was POS based sovereignty and in was territorial claim units (TCUs), infrastructure hubs (ihubs), sovereignty blockade units (SBUs), and all the fun times they brought.  I wasn’t in null sec at the time, but would learn all about these things later on.

Finally, there was an actual podcast interview with Erik “WoW isn’t easy enough” Estavillo.  He was a surprisingly good sport about being the subject of mockery.

Fifteen Years Ago

In EverQuest II there was the great December downtime, where the game was offline for more than a day when the servers wouldn’t come up after an update.  I wrote up a bit about that a decade later, but you can find some contemporary commentary over at Terra Nova.

Anarchy Online introduced a Free to Play program, five years before Dungeons & Dragons Online made a splash with that idea, replacing trial subscriptions for new players.  It gave players access to the original content for free.  Free players were shown ads on in-game billboards to help fund this new program.  Started as a one year experiment, free is still an option within the game.

Garry’s Mod, one of the oddest early “games” to take advantage of Steam and Valve’s Source Engine, was launched.  A best selling package on Steam, it is a sandbox that lets people tinker with assets from Valve’s games such as Half-Life 2.  It was used as the basis for a number of web comics, such as the famed Concerned, as well as videos and other creations.

Twenty Five Years Ago

Sony launched the original PlayStation console.  Sony’s aggressive courting of third party developers, something the then market giants Nintendo and Sega did in a half-hearted fashion at best, led to a software library that allowed Sony to dominate.  This eventually drove Sega and the second tier competitors out of the console market and led Nintendo to double down on its insular franchise pattern that often goes for years pretending no other consoles even exist.

Maxis released SimCity 2000, the sequel to the original SimCity.  It was a huge leap over the original in many way.  And it came from a time when we felt adding “2000” to a name made it more modern.  That faded a bit about 20 years back.

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. The Holidays Come to EVE Online with Login Rewards and More
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  6. My Five Books of 2019
  7. The Test of Righteousness
  8. Reviewing my 2019 Predictions
  9. WoW Classic gets Battlegrounds and Key Rings Today
  10. Top Five Rejected WoW Squish Ideas
  11. Gnomeregan Again but Backwards
  12. Return to the Crowd Pummeler

Search Terms of the Month

flattering dominix outfit
[Go with the Hyperion outfit, trust me]

myrmidon or ishtar
[Myrmidon. Is this Gallente “hot or not” now?]

fozzie sov mechanics
[They suxor]

nantworks just survive
[It did not]

what do i get extra if i pre order torment of velious?
[Nothing if you’re asking after it launched]

daybreak all access lifetime
[That was last year]

Game Time from ManicTime

The update for WoW Classic this month changed the name of the executable, so now ManicTime will report WoW and WoW Classic separately.  However, the change was during the month so I cannot break them out yet, but I will be able to do so for next year.  Anyway, I clearly spent most of my gaming time in two places.

  • World of Warcraft – 47.75%
  • EverQuest II – 45.39%
  • EVE Online – 6.12%
  • EverQuest – 0.73%

At some point in the new year I will look at all  the time combined and what it meant and what affect measurement had on my play time.

EVE Online

I dipped into the game for a few ops, but wasn’t out on any deployments.  I also logged into the game for the 13 days of Christmas to collect my free goodies.  And there was a Reavers space scavenger hunt that Ranger Gama set up, which I did exceedingly poorly at.  But otherwise a quiet month in New Eden for me.

EverQuest II

I started off slow in Norrath this month, having hit the pre-expansion level cap with my main.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to play Blood of Luclin all that much, even though I had pre-ordered it.  But then it came out and I did dive in and I did play quiet a bit.  There are posts in store about all of that.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I finally made it to level 38.  I crossed over first, which got her to do a binge evolve session with a lucky egg to catch up.  Now, however, we face the climb to 39 and 40.  40 requires 20 million experience points, which getting to 38 pushed us past 12 million, so we’ve got about 40% of the journey to level cap ahead of us.   I figure if I just get about 100 new friends and get them all up to max friendship level I should be close.  Too bad you can only have 10 gifts in your inventory at one time.

Level: 38 (+1)
Pokedex status: 481 (+11) caught, 505 (+10) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Tepig

World of Warcraft

Retail WoW is not at all my main focus and I spent very little time there.  I did log in with my main to go do Darkmoon Faire, since that is pretty much the only way I am going to make any trade skill progress at this point.  I almost forgot to log back in for the Winter Veil gifts.  There was a nice present under the tree, something new for the toy box.  I am glad I logged in to grab that.

WoW Classic

I started off the month getting back into old Azeroth.  The instance group ran some dungeons and I worked on my alts, most of whom are now into their 30s.  But the holidays were busy and getting together became a bit more dicey.  And then Blood of Luclin came along to occupy my solo time.  Still, it hasn’t faded yet.

Coming Up

A new year and a new decade.  Or have I mentioned that enough already?

Tomorrow will be the usual predictions post.  In the completely unchanged way of things, I thought that maybe I would skip it or change it up… maybe do a few predictions for the decade… largely because I was coming up short on predictions.  But over time they accumulated like a snowball rolling down hill and now you get the same old new year’s prediction posts you always get.

I still might do something looking forward a decade.  But then I think about what I might have predicted back on January 1, 2010 for the last decade.  At least it will likely be comedy in hindsight.  Maybe I’ll go with what I want to see as opposed to what I think will come to pass.  What does optimism look like again?

Otherwise the change of the year won’t see much change in reality.  We all still have to keep going no matter what the calendar says.