Monthly Archives: May 2020

May in Review

The Site

I managed to break the blogger feed on the side bar.  It actually stopped working on its own and as I dug around I noticed that Pinboard said I had 32,768 entries there, which is exactly 2^15, which I suspected meant that I might have hit an upper limit on entries.  So I cleared all entries and… then nothing there has worked reliably since.

So I have an alternate feed now in the side bar which was, honestly, much easier to setup and get going, and seems more reliable.  However, I have less control over the feed so I cannot, for example, inject the blog name into the feed, so it is just post title, date, and author.  There will no doubt be a blog post about this when I get it settled.

Meanwhile, the blog has seen a bit of a traffic boom this month.  As usual, this traffic bump appears to be completely based on the whims of Google search, which suddenly doubled in impressions and clicks for my site.

Google’s own graph

Things were about normal in March, then there is the usual big April 1st spike, after which traffic and impressions taper off.  And then, suddenly, on May 6, they about double and I couldn’t tell you why.  It might be related to the Activision Blizzard financials.  There are a bunch of searches for “wow subscription numbers.”  But that should have tapered off after a few days.  Instead things appear to have kept going.

Also, in the usual post-Blaugust tradition, I have carried on after Blapril and posted every single day in May as well.  I am not sure that has an effect, but historically the September after Blaugust is usually a pretty good month for traffic as well, so maybe that plays into it.  Mysteries of the internet.

One Year Ago

Back in May of 2018 there was a rumor leak about Daybreak, so a year later I went back over them to see what came to pass.

Blizzard revenue margins dropped considerably.  As if to prove the point, WoW dropped off of SuperData’s digital revenue chart.

To hide that in the news cycle Blizzard gave us a date for WoW Classic. I wondered if the Cataclysm expansion was a necessary prerequisite for WoW Classic.  I also was speculating as to what would happen with WoW Classic as it aged.

The beta for WoW Classic had been up for a while, but they decided to do a stress test, so they let everybody in for a bit.  Of course I went!  And I did the following week as well.

In what we now call retail WoW I was off collecting the Children’s Week pets.

Blizzard also gave us a peek at their 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

The Mittani uttered the words, “Gevlon was right” in a public forum.

EVE Online celebrated its sixteen year anniversary with a sixteen day login campaign.  The Invasion expansion was slated for the end of the month.  Its arrival brought more Triglavian fun to the game as well as the big revamp of The Agency interface and some war dec changes.

CCP Peligro Tweeted out a chart about who gets banned for botting in New Eden.  CCP had also been trying to nerf ratting and mining, so that was the focus of my MER review that month.

The CSM14 election was coming up and Jester did a Reddit AMA about his time on the CSM as his NDA had finally expired.  I also had a bullet points post about CSM14 candidates and rewards and a coming war and such.

Out in Delve I got to undock my dreadnought.

With Liberty Squad I went on ops to Amamake and into Etherium reach that resulted in explosions.  I also got to drop on some Rorquals with Black Ops.

But people were focused on the coming Imperium attack on the north and where it would land.  Even as we formed up and moved vast fleets to the north of null sec, our target was still speculation, though once we set up shop in the east of Pure Blind it looked like Tribute was the target.  There was a rush to see if we could kill the PanFam staging Keepstar, but when that failed we settled in to burn down the region.

In Minecraft I was growing bamboo and looking for the new village types that came in with the Village & Pillage update.  The I went looking for pillagers.

Connor at MMO Fallout announced that the site was winding down… and then he changed his mind.

And I watched the Catch-22 miniseries on Hulu.  I liked some of it, but there were issues for me.  There always are.

Five Years Ago

A bucket list item achieved.

There was another Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I wrote a post.

The whole World of Warcraft “flying in Draenor” explosion started when Blizzard announced that they probably wouldn’t allow flying in that, or any future, expansion.  Lots of people spoke up.  I linked to a bunch of them.

It was not a good month for World of Warcraft.  Subscriptions were down to 7.1 million… and then they banned 100K accounts, so make that an even 7 million.

In the Warlords of Draenor expansion itself I was mostly going garrison stuff and pet battles.

Carbine announced that WildStar would be going free to play after continuing poor financial performance.

EVE Online turned 12 years old.  CCP was offering fan site the option of a free account OR receiving a PLEX every month.  I actually attempted to opt-in for the PLEX, but never heard back.  Was that option ever really a thing?  Did anybody get PLEX?  Is the fan site program still around?

The war in Fountain and Delve was over, NCDot had been pushed back yet again, and we were moving back north as our empire contracted.  Entosis stuff was looming.  Black Legion caught us taking a badly planned convoy through KVN-36.

Meanwhile, down in Querious, the Reavers were playing with Ravens.  Up in the north, TNT was moving out of Deklein and into Tribute as part of our Fozzie Sov plans.  And I hit 140 million skill points.

Then Daybreak went for a crowd pleaser by launching a new time locked expansion server named Ragefire. It was such a crowd pleaser that it couldn’t handle the crowd.  In addition to some first night problems, you simply couldn’t log in most of the time.  They worked on a login queue and some zone instancing technology from EverQuest II and eventually opened up another server named Lockjaw to take care of the crowding.

TorilMUD, the MUD on which EverQuest was largely based, softened its death penalty.  A sign of the times.

There was word of Warhammer Online private/pirate server for those who missed the departed game.

And I was playing LEGO Star Wars on the PlayStation 3 while the freshly minted Imperium was going to try and play H1Z1.

Ten Years Ago

I was unemployed thanks to the great mortgage meltdown, which you would think would leave me a lot more time for gaming and blogging.  But the anxiety of looking for a job for the first time in 12 years… and the first time in 20 years where there wasn’t just one out there waiting for me… made for a quiet gaming and blogging month.

Yes, I did start to poke my nose back into LOTRO.  A game where I didn’t have to pay a subscription seemed about right. (I have a lifetime subscription.)  That meant getting back into the swing of the game and figuring out what had changed.

We actually got THE DATE for the release of StarCraft II.  How did that turn out for everybody?  I skipped the whole thing.  Maybe when the StarCraft II warchest version comes out with all the expansions I’ll look into it.

The Agency came to Facebook, in the form of The Agency: Covert Ops.  A Mafia Wars-like game, without the multi-level marketing aspect, it had its good and its bad.  I liked the puzzles.  The dogs with guns… and the submarine fight… not so much.  Who knew that would be all of The Agency we would ever get?

Meanwhile SOE was transcending bad taste with their EQII PWNZ marketing campaign.

EVE Online got the Tyrannis expansion, though I wasn’t paying much attention there.  Something called EVE Gate was introduced… later closed and now being proposed again I think… as well as integration with DUST 514… also later closed and effectively proposed again with Project: Nova. Pattern here?

There was some Pokemon fun going.  I was twinking the Pokewalker while our cats worked against me.  The cats won in the end.

We also went to see the Pokemon Video Game Championships in our area.

And the Horde remix of the instance group was wrapping up Dire Maul and Stratholme.  Then, having hit 60, we let the Dungeon Finder guide our way into the Outland.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sony unveiled the PlayStation 3 in a pre-E3 announcement while Microsoft announced the XBox 360 on MTV.

Pokemon Emerald, the final third generation Pokemon game and the last GameBoy Advance Pokemon release, arrives in North America

Forty Years Ago

The Empire Strikes back, arguably the best movie in the whole series, debuts.  Or, as I sometimes think of it, the last great Star Wars movie.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is Coming
  7. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  8. EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start
  9. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  10. Where is the Scenario Mod for This?
  11. Burn Jita 2020 Seems Unlikely
  12. Hints of a Diablo II Remaster

Search Terms of the Month

iowa wooden deck
[You’re far from Iowa friend]

robert jordan wheel of.time repetitive writing
[Clip that and you’d lose a book worth of text]

eve online auction house no more undercut
[Well, no more .01 ISK undercut]

how to make bamboo grow faster in minecraft
[You’re kidding, right?]

wve onlune mist active cirporations
[Your fingers are on the wrong keys]

mmo when you can play as kobold
[Uhh… I don’t know]

where’d holly windstalker go?
[Blizzard]

Gaming Time from ManicTime

A bit of a surprise for times this month.  If you had asked me on the first I would have probably guessed that EVE Online would be at the top, with WoW Classic maybe not too far behind.  And then I launched Minecraft.

  1. Minecraft – 43.20%
  2. EVE Online – 32.22%
  3. WoW Classic – 16.58%
  4. EverQuest – 6.65%
  5. World of Warcraft – 0.69%
  6. RimWorld – 0.66%

It is really easy to put on a podcast or an audio book and while away the hours with Minecraft.  Meanwhile, WoW Classic has languished a bit as the group has been busy so hasn’t had a chance to get back to Zul’Farrak.

EVE Online

With the Goon Expeditionary Force deployed, there has been some opportunity for fun in space.  I am definitely in a mood where I only log in for fleets and not much else.  I have gone on some fleets, but perhaps not as many as I thought I would.  But we’re still out there in Cloud Ring.

EverQuest

I have been mostly poking along with the Overseer feature here, though I did log in and make a character on one of the new progression servers.  The Overseer got some updates, and there is a post about it in the making.  It remains, to my mind, superior to the EverQuest II version of the feature.  As for the progression servers, I am likely going to give this round a pass.  I poked my nose in for a first day glimpse, but without a group already stood up and ready to go it is more than I care to take on.

Minecraft

I mentioned Minecraft and a new world appeared.  My post about exploring our old world inspired Skronk to roll up a fresh on on Minecraft Realms, so we’ve been playing with that for about a week or so now.  I guess I had best move it up into the “games I play” list again.

Pokemon Go

Having hit level 39 at the end of last month I am still in the midst of the long climb to level 40.  Niantic’s quality of life changes to support pandemic play, like remote raid passes, have helped out.  I caught my first raid legendary, the Terrakion.  However, for every legendary I catch, four more seem to get away.  Oh well.

Level: 39 (19% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 541 (+10) caught, 569 (+9) seen
Pokemon I want: Some of these Unova Pokemon where I only have one
Current buddy: Axew

Pokemon Sword

I made no progress this month.  I didn’t even pick up the Switch Lite except to move it when it was in the way of something.  I think it is a nice little unit, but I haven’t worked in where it fits in my play time.  I used to sit on the couch when nobody was home, turn on a TV show I had seen before (reruns of The Wire FTW) and play, but now there is never a time when nobody is home.

World of Warcraft

I thought at the start of the month that I would totally get my Horde alt out and to level cap now that I have unlocked flying and there is double XP available until the next expansion.  It should be easy mode, a quick tour of the Horde story.  And then all I did was a bit of Darkmoon Faire.  I guess I can recycle that plan.  Maybe next month.

WoW Classic

Things slowed down some in WoW Classic, mostly due to the group being busy with other things in life.  We managed to get started in Zul’Farrak, but haven’t managed to get back for a return trip.  It is still on our agenda though.  Maybe next month.

Coming Up

A preview of June’s month in review: I will no doubt be complaining about the new editor WordPress will be forcing on us.  I’ve been using the old editor for over a decade and have heard little good about the new one.  But the old one may be dead tomorrow, so expect some curse words. (They say it will still be there, but in the past they have broken things like that on purpose to force people to change.)

It seems likely that, should I be able to still write posts, there will be some updates about the deployment in EVE Online, something about the instance group in WoW Classic when we get back to ZF, and maybe a further thought or two about Minecraft.

The CSM15 elections start tomorrow for EVE Online.  I bet you can already foresee that post coming.

I did buy a copy of the new Minecraft Dungeons, which I will probably try out later today, so perhaps something about that will pop up in June.

Otherwise, summer is coming, my daughter is graduating from high school, the weather is warm, and we’re coming up on three months of “stay at home” and even I am feeling like I need to go to the mall or something.  We shall see how we manage.

EQ Aradune Server Remains Over Crowded

In addition to launch day problems on Wednesday, the Aradune “Truebox Dedicated Progression” server remains over crowded.

Nostalgia goes live

Rather than being able to simply log in and adventure, players are finding long queues most hours of the day.  Daybreak has spent some time in the past creating a structure that could absorb more players on these special servers, adding the ability to spawn multiple versions of popular zones and creating a login queue for the launcher.  But the draw of a fresh new, true box progression server remains a bigger draw than they can handle.  The following statement was issued on the forums this morning:

We know lots of you are excited to play on Aradune, and wanted to provide an update. We’ve been monitoring queue times for the server closely and at this time we’re at the maximum capacity it can safely handle. We have noticed, If you have a flexible play time, there have been little to no queues between 12 AM and 7 AM PDT. We have made changes to the AFK timer to improve queue flow and are continuing to look at further improvements to reduce queue times during peak hours.

This does not apply to the Rizlona server, which also launched on Wednesday.  Logging into the game on that server is not nearly as difficult.

Aradune is, of course, a special name, being the handle EQ developer Brad McQuaid used in game, and was no doubt chosen to remember his passing last year.  That no doubt drives a bit of the desire to be on that server.

Also, the Rizlona server is not a “True Box” server, allowing players to multi-box if they like, a practice that has angered some players who have been quite vocal in the forums about Daybreak needing to do something about this sort of thing.  That has probably driven people to choose Aradune over Rizlona as well.

The question now is whether the pressure on the Aradune server is something Daybreak can manage until the population spreads out and the initial enthusiasm wears off, at which point the queues will likely disappear, or if they will need to add an additional server, the old school way to solve this sort of problem.

Adding a new server inevitably ends up with the second server being low population after a while, necessitating a server merge down the road.  We shall see which path Daybreak chooses.

 

Punching Trees Once More

I posted about Minecraft last week and this week we are playing it again.  My blog posts can still exert some influence I guess.

Specifically, Skronk and Ula saw the post and it stirred a bit of the desire to play again in them as well, so Skronk fired up a Minecraft Realms account and created a fresh world.  I may have written about the immersive nature of the more distant horizon when playing locally, but playing with friends tops that.

Skronk sent me an invite and I was able to pop in and find the town he had set up shop.  It was nestled in a taiga biome.

Finding Skronk

In a fresh new world you have to start from scratch.  Gone was all my diamond gear and that bow with the infinite arrow enchantment.  I had to beat on a tree to get some wood to make some tools to harvest some stone to make some slightly better tools to dig a mine to start looking for iron.  And then there is food and shelter to find and the monsters of the night to avoid.  Things are more deadly when you’re just waving a stone sword about and have no armor.

Creeper got me

I helped build things up a bit in the new town, doing what I always do.  I dug down to level 12 to start mining.  I put in a couple of rows of potatoes away from the villages for food.  I built an auto-furnace down in the mine once I had enough iron for hoppers and some buckets.  Lava was readily available.  With some iron I made some clippers to shear the local sheep.

Once things were settled a bit I decided to go on a walk about.  I packed up some supplies and headed east, then north, then back around to the west, coming over a hill to find a village in the plains to work with.

A new town discovered

It had water, animals, horses, and even some sugar cane near by.  So I starting in on my usual tasks, digging a mine, making some beds, and walling up the place to protect it.  Protection is necessary with the pillagers about.

Pillagers show up

I had done an okay job on the perimeter, but a couple found their way in and I had to fight them.  Fortunately, by then, I had iron armor on and a shield, so was able to block their crossbow attacks as I closed in to fight them.

Skronk had turned raids off, so the big pillager event did not happen.  That was a bit of a relief as, even armed up a bit, I wasn’t sure I could manage that.  A pillager raid was a handful even back in my diamond armor on the old world.

So it goes.  A new world to play in.

Another Minecraft day passes

There is some joy starting fresh and building up again.

The April MER and Mining and Ratting

CCP got us the Monthly Economic Report for April 2020.  These seem to be dropping later in the month this year, but at least we’re still getting them.

EVE Online nerds harder

This was a report I was waiting for as it will show us the impact of the last round of mining changes, the removal of common ore and mineral types from moon mining.  That change went in at the end of March, so April is the first time we will be able to see any repercussions.

April also saw the Surgical Strike update, which made super carrier ratting less viable, so we can see if that had an impact on NPC bounty numbers as well.

But mining first.

All that scarcity appears to be working, at least when it comes to mineral prices.  Those continued a sharp rise in April.

April 2020 – Economic Indices

That continued rise in prices is now looks like it could reach an all time high, as the long term chart shows.

April 2020 – Economic Indices – All Time

The all time peaks look like they hit in 2012… I am not sure what was going on at those two moments… but the trend looks like we are heading there again.

Interestingly, not all of the indices are following the mineral price spike.  The primary producer price index (PPPI) is climbing somewhat with the mineral spike.  But the PPPI has ore prices as one of its components.  Here is what makes up the PPPI:

  • Ore
  • Planetary Processed Materials
  • Planetary Refined Commodities
  • Planetary Specialized Commodities

The consumer price index (CPI) however has remained flat.  Here is what makes up the CPI:

  • Ammo
  • Commodities
  • Drones
  • Implants
  • Skills
  • Starbase structures
  • Tech I modules
  • Tech I ships
  • Tech II modules

That list feels like it needs to be updated as there are some items with very little price variation there.  While there are a few skills that are drops, the influence of those outliers no doubt gets hidden by the vast sea of skills with very static pricing.  You can buy most skills straight from your character sheet so you cannot even get gouged on standard skills any more unless you really want to be.

The flat line of the CPI also seems to indicate that maybe we’re working off supply further down the production pipeline.  Realistically, if mineral prices are going up, ship and module prices should be as well… people are complaining that tech II guns are tough to find in Jita, so those prices should be spiking… but the line remains flat.  Perhaps the CPI going up is what CCP is waiting for.

And then there is the secondary producer price index (SPPI), which is trending on an almost reciprocal line to mineral prices.  The SPPI is made up of:

  • Blueprints
  • Commodity
  • Planetary Commodities
  • Planetary Refined Commodities
  • Planetary Specialized Commodities

That is mostly planetary interaction output, which hasn’t been touched by CCP recently.  Demand there appears to be going down as the mineral drought throttles production.

Going as planned?  We shall see.

Meanwhile, looking at the mining numbers by region, it is starting to look like a high sec activity.

April 2020 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

The total mined overall was 31.58 trillion ISK worth (a number inflated by the rise in mineral prices), with the  top ten regions by value mined in April being:

  1. Delve – 1.81 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.64 trillion
  3. The Forge – 1.59 trillion
  4. Oasa – 1.35 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.34 trillion
  6. Lonetrek – 1.15 trillion
  7. Fountain – 911 billion
  8. Metropolis – 888 billion
  9. Genesis – 878 billion
  10. Tash-Murkon – 869 billion

That list is three null sec regions Delve, Fountain, and Oasa (2x Imperium and 1x PandaFam), and seven high sec regions. (Those seven are also close to trade hubs.)

If you go back to November of last year, six months back, before all of this kicked off and after the Chaos Era had ended, the top ten regions for mining were flipped the other way around, with seven null sec regions and three high sec regions.

  1. Delve – 4.55 trillion
  2. Esoteria – 2.43 trillion
  3. Outer Passage – 2.00 trillion
  4. Querious – 1.39 trillion
  5. Domain – 1.14 trillion
  6. The Forge – 993 billion
  7. Malpais – 953 billion
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 910 billion
  9. Feythabolis – 781 billion
  10. Sinq Laison – 737 billion

So the mineral squeeze, the starvation diet, the diminution of asteroid yields, and the removal of common ore and minerals from null sec seems to be having an effect.  And CCP is still looking for loopholes.  Earlier this week they removed asteroids from combat anomalies, just in case you were tempted to rat and mine at the same time.

Which brings us to ratting and NPC bounties.  As mentioned above, April saw the Surgical Strike update launched, which reduced the effectiveness of shield and armor resistance modules.  This was ostensibly put in place to make more capital ships explode… there were additional nerfs aimed straight at supers and titans… but which also had an impact on PvE as well.  Your mission running, abyssal pocket, and ratting fits all took a hit, and so NPC bounties fell.

April 2020 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

A total of 50.46 trillion ISK in NPC bounties were collected in April, with the top ten regions being:

  1. Delve – 5.79 trillion
  2. Oasa – 4.47 trillion
  3. Perrigen Falls – 3.02 trillion
  4. Fountain – 2.54 trillion
  5. Cobalt Edge – 2.50 trillion
  6. Branch – 1.91 trillion
  7. Esoteria – 1.90 trillion
  8. Omist – 1.87 trillion
  9. Tenal – 1.62 trillion
  10. Malpais – 1.58 trillion

Compare that to March, where 58.26 trillion ISK in NPC bounties were paid out.  The top ten regions for March were:

  1. Delve – 7.91 trillion
  2. Oasa – 7.14 trillion
  3. Perrigen Falls – 3.71 trillion
  4. Cobalt Edge – 3.07 trillion
  5. Omist – 2.93 trillion
  6. Tenal – 2.84 trillion
  7. Esoteria – 2.11 trillion
  8. Fountain – 2.09 trillion
  9. Feythabolis – 1.92 trillion
  10. Branch – 1.80 trillion

Every region on the April list is down compared to their March numbers.  This was likely due to fewer super carriers out ratting after the update.  Super carriers had long been pretty much invulnerable to subcaps, requiring a dreadnought fleet to take one down reliably. (The dreadbomb.)  Now, with the resistance changes and fighters applying less effectively to subcaps, they are now vulnerable.

While the dip in NPC bounties doesn’t seem that big, it only represents a partial month of change.  I expect that the May numbers will show a further decline as the state of NPC bounties and ratting adjusts to the new normal.  There is a lot of that going around.

So it goes.

As always, the full monthly economic report has a lot more data and many more charts than what I post here, so if you are interested in the details you can dig into it.

EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start

Yesterday was the big day, the day that saw the launch of the two latest EverQuest progression servers, Aradune and Rizlona.  You can read more details about these servers at a previous post.

Nostalgia goes live

And things looked to be going better than normal, with the server launches hitting the promised noon Pacific Time launch window unlike so many past launches so that Daybreak was able to post the news on time.  I was even able to peek in and see that they were up and going.

The launcher shows them live

Of course, as the situation often unfolds, there was a rush to get on the servers and into the game as soon as the servers went live, though it appeared that Daybreak’s somewhat opaque queuing system might be up to the task.  Some people got in while others had to wait.

19 minutes isn’t a bad queue… it just doesn’t update

And then things fell over.  I saw an update pop up indicating there were problems and bringing up the launcher seemed to confirm that all was not well.

Yeah, that is not looking good

That apparently sent people scurrying to the forums to find out what was going one, so that they too promptly fell over.  Too many connections.

These are not the forum messages you were looking for…

The forums were available again after not too long, but all the forums are interconnected, so it seems that the EverQuest II forums were seeing problems.  And, apparently, the EverQuest II login servers as well.  I did not know they were connected, but I guess since the games share accounts that makes some sense.

Twitter updates not too far apart

Once the forums could handle the load there was a note about working on the issues followed by updates.

I am loathe to blame the user base for believing that Daybreak could successfully launch two new servers on time and without issue… but really, it is the same story every launch, isn’t it?  Delays, crowds, problems, they are all part of the authentic experience here now.

This is one of the three problems I feel MMORPGs are never going to solve, or bother solving at least, because it is transitory.  A week from now the crowds will have thinned and in a month any additional hardware applied would be sitting idle.

On the bright side, it does speak volumes about the ongoing popularity of EverQuest, now past the 21 year mark, and the desire to get back to a more primeval state of the genre.

As we got into early evening Pacific Time it seemed like Daybreak had finally gotten a handle on the problem and that things would finally kick off at about the usual time for these servers.  Logins were allowed and the queues quickly swelled up t about an hour.

And then something fell over again and all the servers were taken down once more and stayed down until around midnight, when the situation seemed to finally be settled.

This morning the servers appear to be up and running.  Maybe they should always launch at midnight?

The Aradune server, the true box progression server, had a queue this morning when I checked, once again running close to an hour in length.

The Rizlona server, which allows multi-boxing, seemed less in demand and I was able to pop right in and make a character to try out.

Halas on a crisp May morning

I ran out to Everfrost where I almost immediately had somebody train a red con skeleton onto me, which stunned me then killed me before I could do anything.  So all is normal in the world.

I haven’t really decided if I will give either server any sort of real effort.  I am always a bit interested, but I am not sure I am up to the task.  We shall see.  And if I let it pass, there will likely be a new server next year.

Others on this topic:

SuperData Says Gaming Continues to Do Very Well in the Pandemic

SuperData Research is out with its chart and report on digital revenues for April 2020.

SuperData Research Top 10 – April 2020

As with last month, digital revenue for video games were at record heights

  • Game spending totaled a record-breaking $10.5B in April 2020, showing the continued strength of the medium during the COVID-19 crisis. Lockdowns that began during March had an even greater impact on gaming habits in April as they continued for the entire month in many regions. Revenue was higher than March 2020 and was up 17% over April 2019 ($8.9B). Year-over-year earnings grew on both mobile (up 14%) and PC (up 12%). Console growth was even more substantial (up 42% year-over-year) largely due to strong performances from existing titles.

On the PC end of the chart, League of Legends returned to its usual spot at the top of the list, with revenues reported to be at their highest since February 2017 (see supplementary info at the bottom of the post), followed by the other three usual suspects that own the top four spots every month.

After them however, Doom Eternal, which launched across multiple platforms near the end of March, shows up.

Then there is CS:GO, which continues to hold a rare position for it halfway up the chart.  It generally shows up every so often for a 9th or 10th place bite before disappearing for a bit.

Fortnite is also up the list, having gone absent last month, making it to seventh spot, even getting a call out from SuperData.

  • An in-game concert reinvigorated interest in Fortnite. The limited-time event, Astronomical starring the artist Travis Scott, required players to log in to the game at a specific time to be part of an audiovisual experience. Player numbers grew month-over-month on all platforms, and monthly earnings reached their highest point since May 2019.

Back in February Epic and Tim Sweeney were whining about SuperData’s reporting on Fortnite, claiming their estimates were wrong while declining to offering any data to dispute SuperData’s reports.  I suppose this will make Tim Sweeney feel better.

Then we have World of Warcraft, Roblox, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare rounding out the list.  Gone missing is World of Tanks, which is in the midst of an anniversary celebration with special events.

On the console front Animal Crossing: New Horizons claims the top spot for the second month running.  That is rare for a platform exclusive title, a Switch title (Nintendo customers still buy phyical units primarily), and for a title that isn’t heavily online cash shop focused.  But demand for the game remained strong for a second month as SuperData reports:

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons once again sold the most digital units (3.6M) of any game during the month. The Nintendo title has become a cultural phenomenon with major celebrities and an NFL team posting about the game on social media. Digital sales declined a modest 27% in April, but it is now the top Switch title in lifetime digital sales and lifetime digital revenue after only two months on the market.

Following behind Animal Crossing was the Final Fantasy VII Remake, which also sold big despite being another platform exclusive, this time locked into the PlayStation 4.

  • The long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Remake from Square Enix sold a total of 2.2M digital units, setting records for the franchise and for PlayStation exclusives. The share of digital copies sold was extremely high for a single-player game as players had difficulty acquiring physical copies due to factors like store closures. As a result, digital sales at release narrowly surpassed Marvel’s Spider-Man, which previously held the launch digital sales record for a PlayStation 4 exclusive title.

After those two we get into more familiar territory, with FIFA 20, GTA V NBA 2K20, and Fortnite along with expected newcomers Doom Eternal and the Resident Evil 3 remake.

On the mobile end of the chart Peacekeeper Elite, the rebranded version of PUBG Mobile for China, took over the top of the chart, displacing the long reigning Honour of Kings.  Perennial chart member Candy Crush Saga held on in fourth position, but Pokemon Go fell off the chart for April.  It is possible that players, being unable to go outside as readily, may have set the game aside for now, but Niantic has been running a lot of special events and has introduce things like remote raid passes, so they have been trying to hold on.

As for my usual comparison chart from NPD… well… with the collapse of brick and mortar retail it seems that NPD has given up on its monthly chart, as it is heavily driven by physical sales.  They still had their February numbers posted when I last checked.  Like SuperData, they only display their most recent data, so if a year from now you click on that link and see a later chart, that is why.  If you still see February 2020 though… ouch.

So it goes.

I will leave it with that then, adding on the additional items from the SuperData report below”

  • Resident Evil 3, another remake of a late 90’s classic, also performed well, moving 1.3M digital units in April. The Capcom title sold nearly as many digital units at launch as the remake of Resident Evil 2, which sold 1.4M units in January 2019. Resident Evil 3 had notably lower review scores than Resident Evil 2 but likely benefited from the extremely positive reception its recent predecessor enjoyed.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered showed there is still demand for single-player Call of Duty experiences by selling 3.4M units in April. The remaster of the single-player portion of the 2009 title also sold 622K copies the previous month (it did not launch until March 30). The game will likely perform well on Xbox One and PC over the course of May, since it was exclusive to PlayStation 4 until April 30.
  • Lockdowns caused players to return to, and spend on, long-running online titles. Revenue for League of Legends hit the highest level for the game since February 2017. Player numbers for the game also hit an all-time high. Similarly, Grand Theft Auto V saw its highest monthly spending on in-game content ever during April. The title will also see a significant boost to its PC player numbers in May due to a free giveaway that caused the Epic Games Store to crash.

BlizzCon Cancelled for 2020

Blizzard has put out an update to say that there will not be a BlizzCon down in Anaheim this year.  Not an unexpected turn of events given the state of the pandemic, the uncertainty surrounding when things like this will be safe again, and the past statement from Blizz.

BlizzCon in Blue

The statement was short enough to quote here:

Hello Blizzard community,

Several weeks ago, I shared an update about our uncertainty around holding BlizzCon this year. Since then, a lot has changed . . . and a lot also hasn’t changed. During this time, we’ve had many discussions about what holding a convention could look like in light of all the health and safety considerations we’d want to make. We’ve also talked about different paths we could take, and how each one could be complicated by fluctuations in national and local health guidelines in the months ahead. Ultimately, after considering our options, we’ve come to the very difficult decision to not have BlizzCon this year.

We’re feeling deeply disappointed about this decision, and imagine many of you will feel the same. I truly love BlizzCon, and I know that’s a sentiment shared by everyone at Blizzard. We will sorely miss connecting with so many of you at the convention and “recharging our geek batteries” this fall.

But we will meet again!

We’re talking about how we might be able to channel the BlizzCon spirit and connect with you in some way online, far less impacted by the state of health and safety protocols for mass in-person gatherings. We’d want to do this as soon as we could, but given that this is new-ish territory and the different factors involved, it will most likely be sometime early next year. BlizzCon is also a stage for big esports events in Blizzard games each year, so we’re also looking into alternatives for supporting some of the high-level competition that would normally take place at the show.

We’ll tell you more about our plans as they develop—but in the meantime, we hope to see you exploring the Shadowlands, hanging out in the Tavern, pushing the payload (do it!), and wherever else in the Blizzard universes you may roam.

Stay safe and stay well,

Saralyn Smith
Whirlwind Barbarian, Executive Producer of BlizzCon

This does hold out the possibility of some sort of virtual or online event… no doubt Blizzard will have some announcements coming that they will want to highlight… but the press of the big crowd in the Anaheim Convention Center and all that goes with it won’t be happening in 2020.

As for the “early next year” suggestion, I suspect that won’t come to pass unless things take a significant turn for the better and stay that way through the end of the year.

The Forsaken Fortress Update comes to EVE Online

CCP announced the Forsaken Fortress update a almost a month ago, which is a long lead time for them these days.  We got that and some more today.

Forsaken Fortress Day

The plan here was, once more, to reduce structure spam in New Eden by making unattended Upwell structures easier to blow up.  This adds on to the Kicking over Castles changes that we got back in December. (Along with the odious HyperNet Relay spam and scam platform.)

The idea is that if an Upwell structure has not consumed any fuel for seven days, it will enter a new “abandoned” state.  Once a structure enters this new state, the following will be true:

  • It will skip the Hull Reinforcement phase. This means it has no reinforcement cycles at all, and can be destroyed in a single attack session. (Damage caps will continue to apply as normal. Normal war-dec/CONCORD rules continue to apply)
  • It does not have any tethering capability at all.
  • If it explodes, an abandoned structure will not push any items into asset safety whatsoever. All assets located the structure are eligible to drop as loot. (This will be the same behaviour as a current wormhole structure)
    • Note that as long as the structure is still in space, you can still manually push your assets into asset safety as normal.
    • When a structure is close to becoming abandoned, all characters/corporations with assets in the structure will receive a notification that their assets are potentially at risk.
    • Unanchoring an abandoned structure will push all assets into asset safety as normal. The loot drop only applies to exploding abandoned structures.

This also applies to normal and flex structures, each of which apparently now requires a flow chart to figure out what happens under which set of circumstances.

Life cycle of the standard Upwell structure – Click to view full size

Life cycle of an Upwell Flex structure – Click to view full size

The following changes have also been made around this update.

  • The five faction citadels introduced as replacements for Outposts and Conquerable Stations (Moreau, Draccous, Horizon, Marginis, and Prometheus fortizars) are exempt from the asset safety penalty, because they have a special bonus meaning that they will never transition to Abandoned. These citadels can remain in a Low Power state indefinitely.
  • The Structure Browser window lists a corporation’s own structures. This will now include an indication of which structures are Low Power and which are Abandoned.
  • The Asset Browser window will highlight any structures containing your personal assets which are currently Low Power or Abandoned. You are advised to consider pushing your assets in Abandoned structures into asset safety, as otherwise they are at risk of sudden loss.
  • When a structure is forced into Low Power mode as a result of entering a Hull Repair/Reinforcement cycle, it will now internally remember which service modules were online at the time. If it survives and returns to full health, it will automatically make an attempt to re-online those service modules (provided that it has sufficient fuel to cover the onlining cost).
  • All these changes apply equally to FLEX structures as well as regular structures. So for example, Jump Bridges and Cyno Jammer/Beacon structures will automatically re-online their service modules, and thus re-enable their specific functionalities, after surviving an attack.
  • Structures that are Low Power on patch day will begin their 7-8 day countdown as soon as the server is restarted.

 

It is hard to decide which is the biggest change for this new structure state.  The lack of timers makes them quick to kill, the lack of tethering makes them more difficult to defend, and the lack of automatic asset safety makes them irresistible loot pinatas.

I suspect that we will see a surge in kills as people hunt down structures in the new abandoned state in a week.

You will still need a war dec to shoot a structure in high security space, but that seems like a low bar.

In addition to that, we also got an armor hardener tiericide to try and make armor hardener names and stats fit into a regular pattern.  The list of modules that were touched is long, so you’ll have to browse the patch notes for that.

In addition, there were also revisions to the armor repair unit, shield hardener, and shield booster tiericide passes to tweak the values across the various module flavors.  Again, longs lists in the patch notes, but I will note this item, since it will probably confuse people for a while:

  • All Adaptive Invulnerability Shield Hardeners have been renamed to Multispectrum Shield Hardeners

They have also done away with “anti” in the names.

The armor and shield rigs that provide damage bonuses were renamed in order to make it clear exactly what they do.  Their names were also changes to remove the “anti” prefix, so they all look more affirmative and, since there are only eight, I’ll copy and paste that list:

  • Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer → EM Shield Reinforcer
  • Anti-Explosive Screen Reinforcer → Explosive Shield Reinforcer
  • Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer → Kinetic Shield Reinforcer
  • Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer → Thermal Shield Reinforcer
  • Anti-EM Pump → EM Armor Reinforcer
  • Anti-Explosive Pump → Explosive Armor Reinforcer
  • Anti-Kinetic Pump → Kinetic Armor Reinforcer
  • Anti-Thermal Pump → Thermal Armor Reinforcer

And then there was this one-liner in the mix:

Removed mining asteroids from non-mining, Null Sec Combat Anomalies.

I guess CCP is serious about closing the door on minerals.  I don’t know how big of an impact that will make, but every little bit hurts.  I’ll get to the April MER later this week.

And, finally, there is the final chapter of the Triglavian saga, which doesn’t get very much mention in the patch notes either, relative to how much CCP has been hyping it up:

The next chapter of the Triglavian Invasion will unfold over the coming months.

Seriously, if you glance at how CCP is pitching this update, you’d think Triglavians were all there were.  The patch notes are officially named after this.

The official logo celebrating the single sentence above

There is a news post announcing it, but details are sparse there as well.  So look for that I guess.

There were the usual series of smaller fixes and tweaks.  You can see them all in the patch notes.  Would it kill CCP to pick a naming scheme for patch notes and stick with it?  The “month year” pattern seemed about right, since they update the patch notes during the month some times.  But now the pattern is “day month” when that title will become inaccurate with the first revision.  Oh well.  It is probably better than the “name every patch” idea that ran for a while.

The updates page is still there, but isn’t all that useful.  It is only sporadically tended these days.

If you want to see what people are complaining about there is the feedback thread in the forums, as well as the known issues thread to see why they might be pushing an update.

Have You Ever Question Time

There was a quiz over at Contains Moderate Peril, which was grabbed from Ace Asunder, where it had been borrowed from RNG, who got it originally from Vamp It Up Manchester, which probably makes it more of a UK thing, but it had a few questions I though might lead to amusing anecdotes about which to write, so I figured I would swipe it next.

Now that we have established the lineage of the quiz, let’s jump straight into the questions.

Driven or been driven at 100 mph/160 kmh?

Yes.  While the speed limits on US highways top out at about 70 MPH most places, there are plenty of long runs of road where you can get up to speed.  Also, cars tend to have the most ridiculously optimistic speedometers.  My Toyota speedometer measures out to 160 MPH, a speed it could only attain if you pushed it out of an airplane.

I think the first time I hit that speed was shortly after I got my drivers license.  My grandmother would let me use her car, a 1970 Buick Electra 225 with the 455 CID engine. (7.5L for those who measure in that way.)  It was a mighty motor, with more torque than a sane man ever needs, and I once laid a 70 foot long patch of smoking rubber on the pavement in front of a friends house.

It looked something like this… image borrowed from the internet

One evening I got onto highway 85 and nobody was on the road, so I decided to see if I could peg the speedometer, because I was a 16 year old boy in command of two tons of iron with a powerful engine.  I was well past 100 MPH by the time I passed Fremont Blvd and let off the gas to let it wind down so I could take the exit to highway 280 and fill up the gas tank.  I think I blew through almost a quarter tank getting that brick up to speed.  Gas was $1.29 a gallon at the time, which seemed expensive at the time.

Learned a possibly deadly skill?

I spent summers on my grandparents farm where I learned several skills that might fall into that category, the most obvious being how to handle and shoot firearms.  It is just a thing in the country.  At eight years old I was judged worthy of being sat with a bolt action .22 rifle and a baby food jar full of bird shot to pick off the starlings that would peck at the figs on the big tree my grandfather had planted.  I was paid 25 cents a head.  I also learned how to handle poison gas bombs for the ground squirrels and traps and a few other things.  I was, however, not allowed to get within six feet of the table saw in the barn because that was dangerous.

Ridden in a helicopter? Gone zip lining? Been Bungie Jumping?

I am going to lump these three together because they are all negative answers.

Been to an NFL game or Ice Hockey?

I have lived within reasonable driving distance of two NFL teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, all of my life and I have never been to an NFL game. (The Raiders are leaving for Las Vegas though, so my opportunities will soon be reduced by 50%.)  NFL teams only play 8 home games a year, the stadiums are huge and crowded, the tickets are expensive, and I am not a fan.

I have been to many NHL games.  We have a professional team in San Jose, the Sharks, though I even went to a California Seals game back in the day.  I have also been to major league baseball, NBA basketball, and MLS soccer games as we have teams in the SF Bay Area close by.  Just never an NFL game.

Watched Dr Who?

PBS during my childhood seemed to entirely consist of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, nature documentaries, pledge drives, and television from the UK, including  Doctor Who.  I watched a lot of Tom Baker episodes and some of the Peter Davidson episodes.  If you ask me who my doctor is, the answer will always be Tom Baker.  If Gandalf were a time lord, he would be the Tom Baker version of the doctor.

Been to Canada?

I’ve been close enough to see Canada, but I have never actually been into Canada.  I’ve been to Minnesota, and that’s about the same, right?

Visited Disney?

Disneyland is an hour flight away.  You can hardly avoid it.  I have been a bunch of times, twice for company events where we left in the morning, flew down for the day, and got back home that nights.  I am also just old enough to have gone as a kid when they still had tickets, so saw the “E Ticket” of legend. That said, I am not a big fan and it is hugely expensive these days.  My daughter complains that we never go, but she has been to Hawaii more times than most people ever will.

I have also been to Disney World in Florida once and on a Disney cruise.  That mouse is everywhere.

Visited an actual castle?

That depends on what you call a castle I suppose.  I’ve been on forts and fortifications and in a palace or two.  But not a medieval castle, that being what I imagine the question is getting at, as that wasn’t really a thing where I live.  I did find an arrow head once though.

Visited Vegas?

Vegas is a 90 minute flight away and the location where many conventions and events take place.  I have been many times. (I’ve posted here about going to EVE Vegas at least five times.)  It is bright and shiny and colorful with some good places to eat.  But if you don’t really drink or gamble it can lose its edge pretty fast.  Also, the dirty, seedy underbelly of the whole thing is pretty visible if you start looking for it.  I enjoy the first day I go and am generally ready to leave by the end of the second.

The hardest thing for me about Vegas is that they allow smoking everywhere.  I’m from California where smoking in public is only allowed in very specific pariah zones.

Eaten alone at a restaurant?

I am not sure why this is even a question.  Yes.  Many times.  I see people do it all the time, though I am not one of those people who sets up a nest with a good book in a corner booth, but if I was alone and needed to eat I wouldn’t think twice about eating alone in a restaurant.  This must be one of those English things where they are always looking for something else about which to feel embarrassed.

Played an instrument?

I took trumpet lessons in school in 4th grade.  I wasn’t any good and didn’t have any passion for it.  I am pretty sure I just wanted to get out of class for an hour one day a week.

Ridden a motorcycle?

Yes, in the form of a dirt bike out on the farm mentioned above.  It was fun then, but I have no desire to ride one now.  I’ve seen what happens when cars and motorcycles collide.  If there was a question about seeing a dead body, my answer would involve a motorcycle accident I witnessed.

Ridden a horse?

Again, on the farm.  My grandparents didn’t have horses, but the neighboring farm did, so I got to ride a bit back then.  It wasn’t a big deal to me.  A dirt bike is more exciting to a young male I suppose.

Been skiing/snowboarding?

I have been skiing.  My stepmother liked to ski and so we went once or twice a year when I was a kid.  It was a very yuppie sport, expensive and inconvenient, and while I enjoyed it some at the time, when it came to the point that I had to pay in order to participate I stopped completely.

Gone to a festival?

Yes.  Maybe.  I am divining what these means from context, which is a multi-day musical event.  But I’ve only gone for one of the days, so does that count?

Driven a stick shift?

My first three cars were manual transmission.  By the time I got to the fourth car I was commuting daily across the valley in stop and go traffic and got tired of “rowing the boat” constantly, so went for automatic transmissions after that.  But hell, even F1 cars have paddle shifters now, which is something you add to an automatic transmission.

Ridden in a police car?

I have been frisked up against a police car, but never invited inside.  I have ridden in a fire engine though.  When the SFFD took over administration of Treasure Island in SF Bay and friend of my aunt’s drove us around the island in one of the fire trucks.  It was loud, even without the siren going.

Driven a boat?

A few times.  No particular stories to go with this though.  We live near the ocean and a huge bay and a freshwater delta and a series of lakes and reservoirs, so the opportunities are at hand.  Going water skiing in the delta was a thing when I was a kid.

Eaten Escargot?

No.  I poison snails I see, but don’t see the need to consume them.  I have plenty of more palatable food at hand.

Been on a cruise?

My step-mother again, she loves cruises and goes on a few a year.  Her and my father have brought the whole family along a few times.  As a floating hotel that brings you to the next destination while you sleep they are fine I suppose.  The food aspect is overrated to my mind.

The best cruise was probably on the Freedom of the Seas, which was the largest cruise ship in the world when we went.  That ship had a lot of space and things to do.  I enjoyed just being at sea on that one.  The Disney cruise was good too, all the more so if you have kids.  The rest have been on Carnival ships, which are okay but not as much fun.  I’d go again, but I am not interested enough to plan it myself and I’d rather go sit on the beach in Hawaii or by the pool somewhere, it being cheaper, more relaxing, and less crowded.

Been on TV?

In a couple of crowd scenes on the news.  Nothing that would have had my presence noted.

Been in a paper/book/magazine?

I was quoted once in the local paper when asked some questions by a cub reporter who then printed what they felt I should have said rather than what I actually said, much to my annoyance.  The problem with the news is that every story I have been personally involved with has had significant material errors and the reporting team doesn’t really seem to care.  If the news has a bad reputation these days, it is in part their own fault.

Eaten Sushi?

I live in California.  You cannot drive two miles without passing a sushi place.  I am a peasant and like things like California Roll and the Shrimp Tempura Roll, but I’ll eat sashimi.  Raw fish, fine.  Snails, no.

Seen a UFO?

Literally, I have seen many things flying I couldn’t identify.  Flying saucers or space aliens from other planets however, no.

Rescued an animal?

Out on the farm, depending on how you want to count rescue.  There were a whole series of dogs who showed up in various states of repair, hung around for the summer, and disappeared of their own accord.  A few cats too.

Met someone rather famous?

I like the modifier “rather” in this question.  It is a very English affectation, like you might not be expect to have brushed up against real fame, just some lesser degree of it.

We occasionally talk about famous people at family events and I always find it amusing who focuses on what sort of fame.  It seems to be divided up between sports stars, musicians, movie and television stars, and then there I am talking about tech luminaries.  So when it is my turn I always bring up that I have met and conversed with Steve Wozniak a few times.  But if you need somebody in one of the other categories, I got to talk with Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead a few times as he was something of a Macintosh enthusiast back in the late 80s/early 90s.