Monthly Archives: July 2020

July in Review

The Site

Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

This is the most common spam message over the last couple of months.  I believe it translates to “Thank you. How do I log in?” and it shows up dozens to hundreds of times a day in my spam folder because Akismet isn’t sure if it is spam or not.  Welcome to the problems of programmatic moderation, where the algorithm cannot pick up on a single repeated phrase because the IP address that they spoof or the user name or the email address change every time so it cannot say for sure if this time this person is really asking a legitimate question.

see what we’re working with here?

A false positive is seen as much worse than just piping thousands of messages into the spam folder for me to review.

Life in tech.

Meanwhile, I noticed that, for not particular reason, I have posted every single day for four months straight.

March wasn’t quite there

April, which was Blapril, which was Blaugust come early, is explainable.  After that, I guess I was just on a roll.  (That one last empty square in July is covered by this post.)

One Year Ago

There was a Steam Summer Sale to write about, with its odd contest.

Daybreak was fiddling around and registering studio names with the USPTO.

Pokemon Go hit its third birthday. StarCraft got cartooned.

And it looked like Blizz was going to give people a mount every six months so long as they subscribed to the six month renewal plan.

CCP, after saying they would change the 1 million skill point starter pack, just kept on selling it so long as there was sufficient demand.  But at least it was limited to one per account.

Out in null sec space, it was all about the Drifters as the month opened up.  They changed up a bit, but the war we had in progress was already ruined.  We tallied up the damage and headed home.  We had chased PanFam out of Tribute and Vale of the Silent.

But the Drifters were just the start of what would be dubbed the Chaos Era.  CCP announced that local would soon be blacked out in null sec.  We got warnings it was coming.  And then it hit and CCP said it would remain in place indefinitely. (Which some people took to mean permanently.)  The idea came from Hilmar, though many people were going on about null sec being risk averse.

The big VNI nerf hit in there as well.  And a tax increase!  Good thing devs don’t need to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, CCP was trying to keep people in the game during the blackout with skill point handoutsSo many skill points.  And they had to clarify what they meant even.  But the online player count suffered all the same.

And I was on CCP about maybe building their own killboard or at least making SKINs for all the things.

Still, I did get some play time in New Eden.  We did a Triglavian roam with DBRB.  I went on a blackout roam. I moved a dreadnought around to a new deployment on my own, then lost it.  It was a suicide dread.

I tried out DOTA Underlords.

I had been fiddling around with tracking my game play time for six months.

And, finally, we were getting ready for Blaugust once again.

Five Years Ago

I was feeling a bit of the summertime MMO ennui blues.

Windows 10 launched, bringing with it the Microsoft Solitaire Collection.  This wasn’t your Win 3.1 Solitaire or Freecell, and more is the pity.

Project: Gorgon was off with another Kickstarter campaign.  Would the third time be a charm? (Spoiler: yes.)

Need for Speed: World shut down, so I said farewell to Palmont.

Derek Smart began what would become is crusade against Star Citizen, detailing why he felt we would never see the game that was promised.  It could have ended there, but RSI responded in a way guaranteed to turn it into a fight and took away his Rear Admiralty.   Game on!

In Minecraft I was learning about not falling off of thingsbringing light to dark places, and accumulating materials.  Also, sheep stole my mine cart.

I was mucking around in War Thunder for a bit.  It is a pain to return to the game because there is always a huge update required.

Over at Daybreak, there was a vote up for the EverQuest progression server Ragefire about speeding up the unlock of Ruins of Kunark, as well as talk about raids and such.

On the EverQuest II side of the house, there was a beta for its first nostalgia servers.  I avoided the beta but was there when the servers went live… for the big surprise, the return of the Isle of Refuge, adding to the nostalgia experience.

And while that was going on, it appeared to be the end of Smed at Daybreak.

In New Eden my alliance, TNT, handed over its last system in Deklein. We then lived in Tribute.

The Aegis expansion hit… but there was a delay between that and other bits of what we now call Fozzie sov to be deployed.  But entosis link modules were finally able to take sov as the month rolled along.  So we started to learn by doing.

There was a plan in the Imperium to bring in care bears to mine and rat in order to raise ADMs so that our now much reduced space holdings would remain secure.

At one point Mordus Angels managed to claim some sovereignty in Pure Blind!  Can you imagine?  Crazy times!

Meanwhile, in the cash shop… erm… New Eden store, more skins were being rolled out.  Or, rather, the same skin on more ships.  The blog banter of the month was on about attributes, and I was bitching about never having enough jump clones.

On the Azeroth front, Blizzard said they would be announcing the next World of Warcraft expansion… right after the Q2 quarterly report was released, which raised some suspicions in me.  What would the subscription numbers look like if they felt they needed a big announcement to distract from them?

And I finally got my copy of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls from the Kickstarter… only two years late.

Ten Years Ago

The late Paul the octopus created the largest page view day ever in the history of the blog, later to be surpassed by Cats playing Patty Cake and Alamo.

I was told I write like Cory Doctorow… or maybe Ian Flemming.

My daughter was Banned from Club Penguin.  Tears were shed, lessons were learned.

EverQuest II Extended, the free to play EverQuest IIwas announced.  I wondered whether trying to play it without paying at all would be a challenge in and of itself.  Meanwhile, there was some evidence that EQII accounts had value.  That stunning news no doubt got them going on the authenticator they announced at Fan Faire this year.

I completed 100 levels in The Agency: Covert Ops.  I was unemployed, what can I say?

StarCraft II launched.  I never bought a copy and the base edition eventually went free.

Need for Speed World, an MMO version of the Need for Speed series, launched.  I ended up playing it for a bit.  But, being an EA MMO, it was doomed to be shut down.

In EVE Online Hulkageddon III ended, and it even had a video wrap-up.  And then PLEX was made transportable in space.  I wonder if they waited for Hulkageddon to be over for that?

In another Summer hiatus season, the instance group started another run at LOTRO.  This time it was Bung who was out, having the dual issues of moving and having a new baby to care for.  Those of us in Middle-earth hung out with old friends.  That put off deciding who my main character was, by letting me roll another one!

Blizzard gave up on some of their RealID plans thanks to much public kvetching.  Shortly there after, the ESRB came out against Real ID as being bad for consumer security while proving they too were bad for consumer security.

Blizzard revamped Parental Controls again.  As much as I have griped about them, they are better than any comparable controls I have seen, even in games that offer that as a feature.

World of Warcraft Magazine issue #2 showed up.  Issue #4 would arrive 9 months later, which is kind of a long time for an alleged quarterly publication.  Once issue #5 was finally out, the whole thing was shut down.

And somebody was trying to make yet another flying car that failed to live up to our expectations.  Have none of these scientists ever seen The Jetsons?

Fifteen Years Ago

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gets rated adults only (AO 18+) and the company faces sanctions when the hot coffee mod unlocks a hidden mini-game that existed in the product which allow the protagonist to have sex with his girlfriends.  Unlike some other infamous graphic mods, this one was not fan created content, but something the company put into the game.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  3. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  4. Day One of World War Bee
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  7. Lurking in Catch
  8. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting
  9. EverQuest II at Fifteen and the Memories of What Could Have Been
  10. Opening Moves in the War
  11. Two Weeks of World War Bee
  12. Theaters of Operation

Search Terms of the Month

is lotro fun
[When it is running it can be]

bloodmyst isle tedious
[Yes]

classic wow peoplle arent doing shadowfang keep
[It is kind of low level, most people are past it I bet]

minecraft burning forest
[guilty]

nfs diggy donuts
[Hell of a file system]

story of babylon in swahili
[Let me get back to you]

Game Time from ManicTime

EVE Online pretty solidly dominated my play time in July.  Diablo II was probably the surprise entry.  I wasn’t planning to play it, but then I wrote something about the 20 year anniversary and decided I ought to take a look.

  • EVE Online – 72.36%
  • WoW Classic – 15.83%
  • Minecraft – 6.53%
  • Diablo II – 4.43%
  • EverQuest – 0.74%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.11%

Diablo II

With the 20th anniversary I downloaded the game again and spent some time playing.  I never did find a mod solution for screen resolution, but the game is still very playable in 800 x 600 and you get used to the graphics pretty quickly.  It still holds up pretty well.  I doubt I’ll do a full play through, but I did get through Act I, so we’ll see how far I go.

EVE Online

The war in null sec, World War Bee (or World War Bee II, depending on your narrative), has been raging and, as the ManicTime numbers indicate, that is where I spent most of my gaming time.  There are quite a few posts this month about the war, something I expect will carry on for a while.

EverQuest

My time with the Overseer option slackened quite a bit.  I had been logging in a couple of times a day to keep that going, but with the war in New Eden and other things vying for my attention, something had to fall off the list, and that was the Overseer. (Along with Swarm Simulator, which I forgot to backup before I purged my browser cache, which reset me to the beginning.)

Minecraft

There was the Nether Update, which I wanted to explore.  I did manage to find one of the new nether biomes.  The whole thing makes the Nether more interesting… and even more dangerous.

Pokemon Go

I did not pay the $15 for Pokemon Go Fest.  That seemed like a lot for something I didn’t quite understand.  But the side effects of the event were still beneficial, including some returning legendary raids.  Thanks to that and remote raid passes, my wife and I picked up Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina.

Level: 39 (51% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 556 (+11) caught, 589 (+12) seen
Pokemon I want: Some more good legendaries from raids
Current buddy: Fraxure

World of Warcraft

As usual I have been wasting the double experience opportunity in retail WoW, which I am sure I will regret at some later date.  But not today.  So all I did again this month was log in and do Darkmoon Faire on my main to get those five points of trade skill experience.  And, at this point, I am not sure that is even worth the effort.  Will it matter when the big squish hits that I got close to 150 points in BFA engineering?

WoW Classic

This remains my Azeroth focus.  The instance group got out and finished up Maraudon and we are going to get ourselves ready for Sunken Temple and our class quests next.  We are all past level 50 now, but there is still a ways to go before we are done.  I remain surprised at how well we have done as a group of four.  I suppose it just indicates how bad we were back in the day as a group of five.

Coming Up

August means school is starting and our daughter will be off to college.  My wife and I will be without a common foe.  Not sure what this will mean for our home life.  It will be different.

The month usually hosts the Blaugust event as well.  But, since we had Blaugust in April… Blapril… Belghast came up with a different event, Promptapalooza.  Instead of everybody posting as much as possible, we will be putting up a chain of posts from a prompt list starting tomorrow.

We should be getting the Activision Blizzard Q2 results.  We will see how much the pandemic helped their bottom line and hurt their shipping schedule.

WoW Classic will celebrate a year since launch.  I still don’t have a character at level 60, and I likely won’t by then.  I do have two in their 50s though.  Not too far off.

The war will carry on in EVE Online, and the front lines are moving closer to home as we try to fight off most of null sec.  They want to stomp us out, we just need to survive.

A Princess of Maraudon

Last time around we jumped into Maraudon without much forethought, choosing to take the experience in as fresh a way as we could.  That led to us taking a somewhat less than optimal route, as we had to double back after clearing the purple side to get a critical question from the orange side.

(Note to self: You can’t be OP is you don’t do orange before purple.)

For our follow up trip we were going to be more direct.  Our group for the run was:

  • Moronae – level 51 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 51 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 51 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 50 gnome mage

We had a distinct series of tasks to accomplish, which started with some quest turn-ins on our way there.  We met up in Theramore to turn in a quest, then flew out to Nijel’s Point in Desolace and got another turn-in done along the way to the instance.  Then it was through the big doors to get started.

In we go

The next item on our list was Magra, the Third Khan, who held the final jewel we needed for another quest.  That meant going down the orange side of the entry area, as he hangs out in a side tunnel, up some stairs from the instance line over there.

Orange, this way…

It took a bit to find him.  The color/texture/lighting inside that area really messes with my ability to resolve the 2D image into a 3D environment in places, so we ended up taking a rather round about way to him because I was sure the direct route was a dead end.  Instead, it was just a sharp turn in the cave, which I discovered when we came back that way.  But we got him.

Then it was over to the purple side of things again, where we fought our way through to Lord Vyletongue.  He was all we really needed from the purple side.

This time around we pulled the guards outside of his lair first, then took him and the interior pair second, making the fight much more manageable.  He had the second item for the Celebras quest.  After that we just needed to get back to him.  The purple side of the instance does allow you to bypass some mobs, though we did have a mishap with the toxic bubbles.  After last week we knew to kite them as their AOE attack was hard on the melee.  Ula, who was trying to get in one last spell before pulling back sat too long in range and ended up being our first casualty of the run.

Mage down! Mage down!

It was about time to redo buffs anyway, so we rested a bit, then moved on.  Along the way we did get one of the better named drops of the run.

Imposing!

They came off a treant, so I guess he had a monkey living in his branches at some point.

Once out of the purple side and into the center of the instance, we found we could bypass quite a bit of the trash by jumping off into the brackish water and slaying the few mobs that wandered there.  We didn’t need any more drops of quest updates.

That brought us to Celebras again.  We fought him and his mininions and bested them, and this time Celebras had a quest turn-in for us and offered to teach us about the stone of something or other.

Celebras the instructor

That was a bit more of listen, turn-in, listen, watch, and so on.  We got out of sync, but once somebody is finished Celebras is willing to run the whole routine again for anybody who was left out.

Celebras and Ula

So we ended up with the Scepter of Celebras, which those of us who were just clicking through and not reading the quest text then asked, “So what? What  does it do? Can we use it right now?”

I had to go look it up, being one of those who clicked through without reading.  The scepter lets you skip the whole orange/purple parts of the instance and start at the stone, so you can farm the inner instance.  But we were not even sure what the inner instance was about, so we wandered off to see what we could find.

As with the the earlier parts, we found we could bypass quite a few mobs along the way.  We killed what we needed to, bypassed any mobs off the path, and made our way along.  Landslide, the primordial behemoth boss, dropped a helm upgrade for me.

Defense and Nature Resist

I also got a cloak upgrade that also had a nature resist stat, that being the theme of Maraudon gear I guess.

From there we fought our way down to Princess Theradras.  I actually didn’t take very may screen shots on this run.  I find that being the tank keeps me busy and I forget to take screen shots all the time.  But there was a nice vantage of the path leading down to the princess, with the behemoths in pairs spaced out along the route that I wish I had stopped to take a picture of.

But we made it down there to the island where Princess Theradras roams.

Princess Theradras is about

And we sat for a bit and discussed how we sort of remembered this fight and maybe some failed strategies and something about line of sight and being in the water and some other possibilities.  In the end I just looked it up.  I had been up past 3am the night before playing EVE Online and only got about 4 hours of sleep because I am old and seemingly incapable of staying asleep past 7am, so I wanted to get this done on the first try.

The basic info was she hits hard, so the tank needs to endure, and if she runs off after any of the casters the tank needs to grab her quick because she’ll smoosh the clothies.

In the end, we got her in one run.  It went about as described, though I think the fact that, by the time we got to her, we were all level 51 (and I had just hit 52) gave us enough of a buffer to endure any rogue attacks.  She dropped a nice caster item.  We gathered up and took the traditional screen shot.

Down with the princess!

I didn’t tweak the saturation or anything on that screen shot, it is just bright green around there.

After that I was feeling done, but we needed to leave and couldn’t remember if there was an exit path out of the instance or if we had to stone out.  I thought there might be something down in the water below the path to the princess, so we jumped off to check.  While we were there we took down Rotgrip.

Rotgrip under water

That was worth the effort as Moronae ended up with a nice set of boots out of it.

with nature resist

We explored a bit more… there is a whole cave area down behind where Rotgrip lurks… but did not find any likely exits, so decided to just stone back to Ironforge.

Recall in the water

After that I called it a day.  We still had a couple of quests to turn in.  One was back in Desolace, which promised to reward me with a best in slot item for tanks, the Mark of the Chosen.  The other was in Moonglade, which Moronae could just teleport to in order to turn it in.  The rest of us were going to have to get there the hard way.  But for 6,100 xp and a gold and a half I’ll make the run.

We missed at least one boss on our runs, and probably a few more things, but Maraudon isn’t anybody in the group’s special favorite instance, so we may be done there.

That makes the next instance on the list Sunken Temple.  But before we venture into there we need to get our level 50 class quests ready, as they all seem to require something from that instance to complete.

Addendum: Our history in Maraudon

SuperData Research Says Gaming was Still Going Strong in June

SuperData Research has released their digital revenue rankings chart for June 2020.  Digital revenue remains strong in the video game market according to the lead item, though PC and consoles were down a bit from March.

  • Digital games generated $10.46B in revenue in June 2020, the second-highest total ever after April 2020’s $10.54B sum. Overall earnings were up 3% from May ($10.2B) and 9% over June 2019 ($9.6B). Both PC and console revenue were down from their 2020 peaks set in March. This was offset by growth in mobile revenue, which hit an all-time high. Mobile game spending typically sees a boost in the summer months, and this seasonal growth was likely further bolstered by the limited availability of other entertainment options due to COVID-19.

The chart itself shows the top ten in each segment they cover.

SuperData Research Top 10 – June 2020

On the PC side of the chart, the usual top four continue to dominate the list, though Dungeon Fighter Online and League of Legends swapped places.

Roblox, which climbed onto the list in April held on to the fifth spot, which it had taken last month.

In sixth place we have Valorant, the new shooter from Riot.  My daughter plays it and describes it as a mash up of CS:GO and Overwatch, though she was yelling at her screen so much I initially thought she must be playing golf.  But I guess it does have the word “rant” in the title.  SuperData called out the game specifically in their notes:

  • Valorant from Riot Games had the biggest launch ever for a free-to-play PC title. The game’s revenue and player numbers put it ahead of what the PC version of Apex Legends achieved in February 2019. Apex Legends did, however, earn more overall at launch due to its console version. Valorant also made more than its closest competitor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in June despite the Valve title having a slightly larger audience. CS:GO user numbers and revenue were also down for the second straight month in June, indicating Valorant is siphoning away players.

This gives Riot two games on the PC list, and might explain why LoL slipped into second place I suppose.

After that we have Fortnite, which is seeing a bit of a resurgence with their new party game mode, World of Warcraft, CS:GO, and The Sims 4World of Tanks, a generally solid entry on the list, fell off for June.

On the console list, The Last of Us II, a PlayStation exclusive, jumped to the top.

  • The Last of Us Part 2 sold 2.8M digital units in June, easily setting the record for exclusive PlayStation launches. The long-awaited sequel surpassed Marvel’s Spider-Man and Final Fantasy VII Remake, which each sold 2.2M digital units in their respective release months. However, sales of TLOU2 are likely to be frontloaded as more than two-thirds of first-month digital sales were preorders, a high share even for a AAA title.

After that is FIFA 20 and then Pokemon Sword & Shield, which launched a paid DLC update that boosted revenue.

  • The Isle of Armor expansion for Pokémon Sword & Shield was responsible for the title’s highest monthly digital earnings since launch. The earnings far exceed the highest month of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate additional content revenue. This is the first time a traditional Pokémon game has featured premium additional content, and this new strategy has paid off.

Nintendo also has Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Animal Crossings: New Horizons on the list.  That is unusual for the company and shows them transitioning from their strong retail presence of the past to a bigger digital footprint, no doubt spurred by the pandemic.

In fourth place was GTA V, which SuperData had some concerns about.

  • Grand Theft Auto V revenue on console fell 33% in June, indicating a lack of major updates may be offsetting increased engagement from COVID-19 lockdowns. The last named update to the game, The Diamond Casino Heist, released in December 2019. During that time, spending did rise temporarily in April and May, possibly due to COVID-19 lockdowns, before falling in June. The PC version is on a different performance trajectory and continued to benefit from a free Epic Games Store giveaway in May.

After that comes Fortnite, again doing well, and Destiny 2, which jumped onto the list in sixth place as it too had something new to offer:

  • Destiny 2 revenue and player numbers rose substantially as a result of a new season and announced expansion packs. Preorders for the Beyond Light expansion, currently slated to launch in November, and spending coinciding with a new season of content caused monthly earnings to rise 221% in June to reach the highest level since October 2019. Player numbers also jumped 45% to a record total for the game. The current and announced updates to the game were especially appealing to lapsed players, and millions of users who had previously quit the game returned in June.

On the mobile end of the chart, where all the money is I guess, Peacekeeper Elite, the Chinese market mobile version of PUBG, remained at the top of the list, followed by the previous reigning champ, Honour of KingsPUBG Mobile West also made the list, grabbing the tenth position.  In between Pokemon Go held onto fourth position while Candy Crush Saga dropped down to the ninth spot.

And then for comparison, NPD is back in the saddle still and has their own June numbers chart up.  As always, NPD numbers are US only, combine PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales (where noted).

  1. The Last of Us: Part II
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Mortal Kombat 11
  6. Red Dead Redemption II
  7. Ring Fit Adventure
  8. NBA 2K20
  9. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  10. Minecraft Dungeons*

*Digital sales on Nintendo eShop not included

That is a very different list in some ways.  Yes, TLOU2 is at the top, because consoles are still the most retail oriented of the platforms and everything on the list is on consoles.  But Pokemon Sword & Shield is nowhere to be seen because the DLC is digital only.  Instead, the Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure for the Switch, which has a controller with it, makes the cut, as does Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, an older title, showing that Nintendo still has a foot in the retail space.  ACNH making both the SuperData’s digital list and NPD’s retail only list shows how strong it remains.

Chasing Dreadnoughts with DBRB

Monday afternoon a ping went out asking people to be around for ops around 01:00 EVE Online time.  Something big was going down, but what it was all about was well above my need to know.

Still, I like to show up when something is going to happen, so I was online when the first ping went out.  However, I had just stepped away for a moment when the ping landed and a lot of people were online and ready to go, so I missed the Asher Sacrilege fleet that I was aiming to go on.  Additional fleets were promised.

They were not, however, immediately forthcoming.

After about a half an hour, a ping went out for a bomber fleet on Dabigredboat, or DBRB, and the question was whether to go on that or wait for the next opportunity.  When DBRB is on his game, his fleets are exciting and he has a knack for finding capitals to kill.  It was on one of his ventures that I got on my first super carrier kills. (He was also there for my first big battle fleet op in null sec.)  But he has a reputation.  His fleets can be manic chaos at times and there is a long standing rule to wait a couple of beats before you do anything his says.  He has been known to shout, “Warp to X!” only to countermand that seconds later and declare that those who warped might end up dead.

Still, the kills can be worth the effort, so I got in a Purifier and went along for the ride.

Chaos started right away as we traveled out to our destination.  DBRB was a few different channels and his orders were not always clear and he himself found that part way into the trip he had grabbed a bomber without a covert ops cloak and somebody had to find him one on the route to our destination.

Still, we got there, one of those Drifter wormholes.

Landing in the vicinity

We motored over to it… the beacon you land on puts you 100km off the hole… and waited for DBRB to tell us to jump through.

Bombers around the wormhole

DBRB got his black ops battleship, the blops, to us, found his covert ops cloak, and soon we were all gathered there.  Then the order was given to jump through, though he said to jump through to Jove Observatory, which confused many people, as there was a Jove Observatory in the system with us, but that was a few AU off of us.  But, as I suspected, he meant the wormhole.  Eventually that got clarified and we all jumped through.

Once in we were told to spread out and cloak up.  Standard stealth bomber practice.

While we were sitting there I say that the Sisters of EVE Flotilla was in the hole with us.

The Flotilla Spotted

The flotilla is one of those EVE Online points of interest, like the EVE Gate and the Wreck of Steve, and one of the ones I had not seen.  I had only read about it over at EVE Travel.

We were sitting and waiting for DBRB to get set up and I wasn’t sure I would have the time to zip off and take a look… but things were quiet for a bit, so I decided to chance it.  I managed to warp in and get a screen shot of the flotilla moving along through space.

Nestor Formation

Of course, after some minutes of quiet, as soon as I warped off DBRB started talking to us again, though in his usual fashion.  Somehow I managed to interpret him correctly and warped to him at the out hole, though I would wager half the fleet didn’t get that and there was a repeat later that got everybody there.

Once assembled, DBRB gave us the outline of what was going on.  GSOL had spammed a bunch of Athanors around TEST space… no doubt we had some extras sitting down after the moon mining changes made some moons not worth the effort… all set to finish anchoring and go into their repair cycle around the same time.  The number was later reported in the war update thread as “dozens.”  The expectation was that, to cover as many of these as possible, TEST would send out individual dreadnoughts to kill them.  A single dread can manage that when in siege mode.  We were going to go after any solo dreads we could find.

And it wasn’t long before DBRB had a target for us.  He had a covert cyno close to the target, so we all went through the wormhole into normal space, got on the blops, and were bridged on to the dreadnought.  On landing there was a Revelation there waiting for us.  We started shooting.  Those of us who brought focused void bombs set up and launched them to drain his capacitor.  I am no expert bomber, but even I can line up and launch a bomb on a target if I am just motoring around without anybody shooting me.

And we got him, a 4 billion ISK kill.

Help arrived to support him, in the form of a Jackdaw fleet, but we were already off and cloaked up.  The only loss was the Athanor.

DBRB already had another target for us and we were quickly back on the blops and being bridged to another system where we found another Revelation waiting for us, in siege and shooting another Athanor.

Revelation and an Athanor

There we once again managed another dread kill… along with a cyno Falcon… before help could show up to save him.  A Munnin fleet arrived and managed to catch a couple people who were slow to cloak up and get off grid… though, honestly, we lost more people to the guy who launched a scorch bomb at the Revelation and managed to catch a few blues in the blast.  Still, a very much ISK positive strike, even with the Athanor getting popped.

After that the locals seemed to be alerted to our presence and we had to hide for a while as DBRB looked for targets.  We were bridged to a trio of capitals and came very close to killing a Nidhoggur before a cyno let help arrive to save it.

The locals forming up large against us

We could have gotten it, but some of the fleet warped off as the capitals began to land.  DBRB expressed his disappointment in this, as losing a bomber… which will get an SPR payment… was worth killing a hostile carrier.  We warped off having only killed an Arazu cyno ship.

So we went back into hiding.  A couple of more false starts came and went before he had a fresh target for us.  There were three dreads on an Athanor and we were going to try and get one of them.  By this point the blops was out of fuel and we had to gate to the target.  We had a subcap fleet trying to catch us and those who were slow had to cloak and motor out of bubbles before warping off.

We met up on the final gate and jumped through.  DBRB warped us on grid where we found Revelation, a Phoenix, and a Naglfar waiting for us.  DBRB picked the Naglfar and we opened up on it.  It was a near run thing.  At least one of the dreads on grid was HAW configured, which means it was setup to shoot subcaps like us.  We started losing some bombers.  DBRB, who got popped, called for us to overheat our launchers, which speeds up the missile cycle time at the cost over damage accruing.  The Nag went into structure, but got a rep up on its shields.  A cyno went up and some additional caps started jumping in.  We stayed on grid, shooting at the Nag as it was beat back into structure and slowly got to the end… then finally exploded.  Another dreadnought kill.

The Naglfar blows up

After that it was time to safe up again.

DBRB had us on the move again, once somebody donated a ship to him, but easy targets were not so readily available.  We managed to pop a Sabre that was trying to slow us down, but we were also down some ships.  A ping went out for a reinforcement fleet, so it looked like we would be waiting a bit, so I decided to call it a night.  It was getting late for me and I was happy enough to go home on a last win.

Getting home meant going through the TCAG-3 gate in G-M4GK (which people refer to as “Gee Magic” on coms).  That is the border between TEST and the Imperium and the gate is often heavily camped and, with us in action in their region, that night was no exception.  I arrived at a perch under the gate to find a half a dozen large warp disruption bubbles deployed and a small fleet hanging around waiting for some solo pilot to wander into their midst.

I sat on my perch and went to go do the dishes.

When I got back, I found that the fleet had pulled back to one of their structures and there was just a single hostile on the gate happily looting and salvaging any wrecks in the vicinity.

This helped me out a bit.  The locals had also dropped an array of jet cans around the gate so as to decloak anybody like me trying to sneak to the gate unnoticed.  But Mr. Salvage was clearing a nice little whole in the litter for me.  So I warped to the gate, getting stopped at the nearest bubble, and began to thread my way through the debris.

Threading through the field

This was like any submarine movie with the sub trying to make its way past mines and nets to get to its destination.  I had to corkscrew to the gate, and was worried for a moment when the happy salvager seemed to be coming my way.  But then he moved off in the other direction and I carried on.

I made it to the gate and jumped through.  Our side was not camped.  Activity seemed to be focused on TEST space, so I was able to warp to our Fortizar and let it repair my overheat damage.  I had enough nanite repair paste to keep my missile launchers and cloak in good shape, but the bomb launcher needed a lot more paste than I had on me, so that got fixed up.

From there it was a few jumps back to 1DQ1-A and home.  I put my main alt on the gate into the system to make sure it was not camped, but it was all clear, so I arrived safe.  Somebody on the fleet had been recording some of our handiwork, so there is a short video up showing our dread kills.

Later on the war update thread laid out the bigger picture.  The Athanors in TEST space had been dropped and timed to coincide with the removal of a Keepstar we had in 3-FKCZ out in the eastern end of Querious.  TEST and its allies had to decide whether or not to let a bunch of Athanors successfully anchor in their space… and many did… or try to grab/kill the Keepstar.

The cover fleet, which included a lot of titans, was probably more than enough to discourage them, though they did have a Charon freighter logged off to attempt to scoop the structure when it was unanchored.  The Charon was  quickly blown up after logging in, and we successfully retrieved the Keepstar.

Another day in the war goes by.

LOTRO Outages and Compensation

While I haven’t been playing the game for a while now, I have been reading lately that the game has been having problems.

Starting around July 15the the servers were sometimes down, often for long stretches during prime play hours.  When the servers were up, chat functions were limited and reliability and connectivity wasn’t stable.  The company, Standing Stone Games… or Daybreak, depending on who you think owns them… has been reluctant to offer anything much beyond “we’re working on it” sort of answers.

It seems that something happened in their data center.  They at least confirmed that much.  It stands as another reminder that software isn’t a “solved” problem but a constantly shifting scenario where updates are pretty much regularly required for security, compatibility, and support reasons.  And updates often make new problems as they fix old ones.

This certainly wasn’t the longest outage in MMORPG history.  CCP has had their issues now and again with EVE Online.  And then there was SOE, which had its great hacking issue back in 2011 when all of their games were completely offline for almost two weeks and the PlayStation Network was down for more than three.  It was a bad time for them.  And other MMOs have broken and never recovered.  I seem to recall that being the fate for the now aptly named Fallen Earth.

But the problems seem to have been somewhat addressed over the weekend.  Chat channels are still limited, but the servers were up.  I don’t know how well they were doing, but I didn’t see any further “everything is down” reports.

So now comes the time when they work out some way to give the players some compensation.

This can be kind of a big deal.  Sony and SOE faced a class action lawsuit over their outage even after their “make good” plan.  Granted, there was more in play than just the outage, but it ended up costing Sony quite a bit, even if the players affected pretty much got squat. (In class action suits, the lawyers are generally the only winners.)

The LOTRO offer, posted in the forums, is available between now and August 31s by using the code THANKYOUGIFT in the LOTRO Store.  The code can be used once per account, so choose wisely where you redeem it.  That will get you the following.

  • Skill and Slayer Deed Boost x5
  • Enhanced XP Supply x5
  • +5000 Enhanced Reputation Supply
  • +2000 Virtue Acceleration Tome

All players can use the code, but there is still some pending compensation planned for VIP players, which means subscribers.  The information is supposed to appear in the thread linked above.

If you want the play by play coverage of the outages, Massively OP’s post about the compensation has links to the story so far.

The Ahn’Qiraj War Effort set to Begin in WoW Classic

The day has arrived for the Ahn’Qiraj opening events to begin in WoW Classic.

Here come the bugs!

In order to unlock the 20 player Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj raid and the 40 player Temple of Ahn’Qiraj raid, Horde and Alliance players have to collect supplies in Orgrimmar and Ironforge to support the coming war.

Upon collecting enough supplies, a 10 hour long war event will be unlocked.  That will bring Anubisath and Qiraji warriors to Barrens and Thousand Needles, for low level players, and Silithus, Tanaris, and Feralas for higher levels.  Fighting there will gain you gold, loot, and faction with the Brood of Nozdormu.

There is also a quest line to run down that rewards a mount, so long as you finish it before the gates unlock, and a competition to become the person on your server declared the Scarab Lord.

And all of that begins today once the servers are up.  Blizzard has a post up describing the event in more detail.  And, it seems that at least one server has all the supplies they need stored up in advance, so it will be a very short event there indeed.

I also got a reminder that Holly Longdale is on the WoW Classic team on Twitter this morning.

Let’s hope it isn’t too much like the Sleeper event and the server doesn’t go down.

Meanwhile, Blizzard thinks it has a handle on the lag issues that the event may cause, but we shall see.

EVE Online Command Ships Get a Small Update

CCP announced today that they had deployed the Combat Command update, part of the Zenith Quadrant plan, to give a bit of a buff to command ships.

Command ship love

The changes, listed out in an update to the patch notes, are as follows:

Attack Command Ships (Absolution, Astarte, Nighthawk, Sleipnir):

  • 3% bonus to command burst strength changed to 4% bonus to command burst strength
  • 100% bonus to command burst range removed

Absolution:

  • Mass decreased from 13,300,000 to 12,300,000
  • Max velocity increased from 150 to 158
  • CPU increased from 400 to 420
  • PG from increased 1500 to 1550
  • Scan resolution increased from 210 to 252

Astarte:

  • Max velocity increased from 155 to 165
  • CPU increased from 440 to 450
  • Scan resolution increased from 200 to 240

Claymore:

  • 5% bonus to missile explosion velocity increased to 10% bonus to missile velocity
  • 7.5% bonus to shield boost amount changed to 4% per level bonus to shield resistances
  • max targeting range increased from 65km to 75km
  • Scan resolution increased from 220 to 264

Damnation:

  • Scan resolution increased from 210 to 252

Eos:

  • Command Ships bonuses (per skill level):
    • 7.5% bonus to Drone Tracking speed
    • 10% bonus to Drone Optimal range
    • 3% bonus to Armored Command and Skirmish Command burst strength and duration
  • Gallente Battlecruiser bonuses (per skill level):
    • 10% bonus to Drone hitpoints and damage
    • 4% bonus to Armor resistances
  • Max targeting range increased from 65km to 75km
  • Max velocity increased from 145 to 150
  • Mass decreased from 13,000,000 to 12,500,000
  • Drone bay increased from 250m3 to 300m3
  • High slots decreased from 6 to 5
  • Low slots increased from 6 to 7
  • Scan resolution increased from 200 to 240

Nighthawk:

  • 7.5% bonus to missile rate of fire increased to 10% bonus to missile rate of fire
  • max velocity increased from 140 to 150
  • mass decreased from 14,810,000 to 13,200,000
  • mid slots increased from 5 to 6
  • low slots decreased from 5 to 4
  • Scan resolution increased from 195 to 234

Sleipnir:

  • Scan resolution increased from 220 to 264

Vulture:

  • Command ship skill bonus to hybrid optimal range changed to 10% shield hp per level
  • Scan resolution increased from 195 to 234

After a few bad experiences I stay away from boosting and command ships, so can’t really say if these changes will make much of a difference.  The Eos looks like it got the most changes.  We will see if the state of the Nighthawk gets any better.  The next time I see one in space will likely be the first time.

The update also marked the end of the 2v2 cruiser brawl proving ground event.  A destroyer event will be starting on Friday.

Three Weeks of World War Bee

Here we are again, another Monday, another summary of what I saw.

I was actually feeling like I might be over-indulging in EVE Online a bit, so took a couple days off to play other things.  No need to get burned out.  Sunday has become the instance group day for WoW Classic, so when we can get together that tends to be the focus. (Sunday evening is when I write this weekly update as well.)  Still, I found quite a bit of time to play.

Northern Front

The Fountain front has been cracked open and the first three constellations have been taken, but we haven’t collapsed back to the Delve boarder yet. The attackers have taken a total of 27 ihubs at this point and PandaFam has moved forward from Hophib to stage some of their forces out of PNQY-Y.

The Northern Theater of Operations

The move forward has put their capitals in range of the northern end of the C-4NOD to KVN-36 backbone route, leading to a fight over a Tartara that escalated which ended up as a major loss for the Imperium.  Both ends of that route remain in Imperium hands.

PandaFam also started clearing out some of the structures left behind in the space they have taken.  Their current push is into space held by The Bastion and a large number of ihubs have been reinforced in their space.

Southern Front

In the south things remained largely focused on Legacy trying to break into Period Basis for most of the week.  We took back the one key ihub in XZ-SKZ that we had lost and have spent time bashing POS towers that TEST keeps dropping, though we did get some pre-emptively.

This remains a thing in 2020

Also, Madcows of the recently returned Elitist Ops managed to steal a Leviathan titan from a TEST POS that they forgot to fuel.  Too busy with towers in our space I guess.

There were a number of clashes in TCAG-3, and the Ansiblex there was destroyed and replaced a couple of times, but the situation remains fairly stagnant.

Sov trolling remained the standard in Querious up until the weekend, when Legacy decided to take some ihubs from United Earth Directorate on the eastern end of the region.

Querious systems where Legacy now has an ihub

I covered our evening of fun making that operation difficult in yesterday’s post.

My Participation

My PAP link status seems to be a marker for how much time I spend with the war.  Last week my total stood at 46, this week it is at 61, so I was counted 15 more times by the coalition.  PAPs remain an imperfect reflection of time spent as I think I earned half of those on Saturday, but spent time during the week doing things for the coalition that was “off the books” so far as PAPs were concerned.  Still, it is a number, and I like numbers.

My ship losses increased as I lost three Ares interceptors in Querious over the course of the week as well as a Hurricane in a dumb loss in Delve.  Caught on a gate by a small gang, I made it back and jumped through, but they had friends on the other side.  My was losses so far are:

  • Ares interceptor – 8
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Atron entosis frigate – 1
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1

I did keep up my entosis hit and runs in Catch, generating an entertaining number of responses from the locals.  They are often keen to tell me about how they can guard an ihub all day long, which is rather the point of my doing this as it keeps them there and not doing other things.

I have taken to letting the locals get close enough to think they’ll catch me before cloaking up or warping off, just to keep them on grid longer.  I got a little too cocky with that, decloaking just to taunt some chasers, and ended up tackled and being shot.  However, it was just a point, so I was able to turn on my MWD and burn out of range then warp off.  I got away, but have a bit of armor damage “flavor” on my Atron now.

My Atron has some scars

Having been at both ends of this, the most effective method of dealing with people like me is to have a rail fit Tengu loaded with spike and a probe launcher to scan the attacker down, warp to them, then hit them as they burn away.  I have been probed a couple of times as I ran, but only by a Hecate, which lacked the range to get in more than a couple of hits before I was too far off.

A 7,000 m/s fit Jaguar isn’t a bad second option, but you have to get there before the attacker can cloak.

The closest pass of the week was by UnOriginalName 28.

So close, but space is so big

I have seen him and some alts both in Catch and in Querious.  I managed to get on his killmail a couple of times in our space, so I am up on him.

As for big battles, I did managed to get into the scrap that happened up in EI-O0O that saw things fall in our favor. (Trying a new battle report tool.)

EI-O0O BR header – Click on it to see full size

I also managed to get in a couple of the TCAG-3 fights, the biggest of which saw more than 1,600 capsuleers on field and 70 billion ISK in losses.

TCAG BR header – Click on it to see full size

However, a lot of the bigger fights seem to be happening in EUTZ, so I am sitting at home working and I see the pings, but I cannot log in unless I have a bit of free time to take a lunch break.  By the point that prime USTZ hours roll around the bigger fights tend to be over.  There are still ops and skirmishes to be found and always things to do, but the Euros are at the tip of the spear right now.

A Popular War?

There are a lot of parties involved in the war, and we regularly see fights pushing towards or exceeding 1,000 pilots, so it feels like the war is creating content that gets people to log in and play.  And you can point to people who have subscribed again just to get involved, which is some anecdotal evidence that the war is good for the game.

But, looking at EVE Offline, the peak concurrent user numbers are not all that huge.  The peak of every week tends be on Sunday between 18:00 and 20:00 when both EUTZ and USTZ players are active.  This past weekend the number hit 35,583 at a little past 19:00, while the top day of the war so far was July 5th, where the count hit 38,838.

Those are not bad numbers these days.  They are certainly better than what the game was showing a year ago, when Hilmar’s Chaos Era plan seemed bent on driving the user count down in null sec, though they remain a shadow on even some more recent years, and far behind the 2013 high of 65,303.

PCU for 2016 through 2019 – Chaos Era in red

That July 5th number is higher than the 2019 peak.  But back in April we had a couple of weekends where the peak was past 40K.  April was when the pandemic was fresh and video games were seeing huge surge all over.  Now a lot of people have settled into new routines and are not binging as much.  Plus, in some places outside of the US the pandemic has been brought under some measure of control, so people can go out again.

Still, hitting 35K on a Sunday was about normal for the few weeks before the war started, so you can wonder how much of a positive impact it is having.  Of course, there is the argument that the user levels tend to sag some during the summer as people travel or at least take to outdoor activities.  Something to ponder.  We will see if the numbers go up when battles over Keepstars start of when titans begin appearing on the field in numbers.

If we get to that.  There is speculation that this war will remain conservative, that subcaps and capitals will be the limit that the attackers will be willing to risk.  It has already been asserted that null sec powers are risk averse by necessity, so we shall see.  We have another week of war ahead of us to test that idea.

Addendum:

 

Legacy Sweeps into Eastern Querious

After nearly three weeks of trying to gain ground in Period Basis, which saw their early gains reversed while their POS tower dropping campaign did little to change he balance, TEST alliance and its Legacy Coalition allies decided to focus on a much softer target.

Perhaps they felt they needed a tangible win for morale reasons.  Or maybe they wanted to show PandaFam, which battered its way into Fountain earlier in the week in the face of stiff resistance, that they were carrying their weight in the war.  Either way, their target was Querious.

Not that Legacy had not been operating in Querious up to this point.  But, with rare exceptions, their efforts were largely harassment level efforts, doing entosis runs to ping warnings on GSF alerts and even setting some timers now and then, but with very little in the way of follow up.  But last night and this morning some something of an actual coordinated effort.

The targets were in eastern Querious, systems owned by the United Earth Directorate, a 114 character alliance which was set up, as I understand it, by P.L.A to claim the space that was abandoned when the Querious Fight Club was disbanded on the eve of the war.

That meant that the systems had low ADMs, which meant their vulnerability windows were large and the time needed to reinforce them was relatively short.  Plus, as an added bonus, notifications when sovereignty structures were being hacked only went out to UED, which meant they usually got little or no response.  So they managed to setup a set of events by reinforcing ihubs that would allow them to destroy a large batch of them in on big operation.

On the Imperium side it was seen as a foregone conclusion that we were going to lose these ihubs.  The way Fozzie Sov works, any alliance can attack during an enotisis contest, but only the alliance that owns the ihub can defend, and there seemed scant chance that we could find enough pilots in UED to make any difference.

Losing the ihubs being the accepted outcome, we instead chose to simply make the effort as difficult as possible.  Asher Elias formed up an interceptor fleet well after midnight his time on the east coast (the ping for the fleet hit just before 11pm my time… the vulnerabilities were set for Chinese/Austrailian hours) and set out to see just how annoying he could be.

Interceptors are fast align, warp, and move in general and are interdiction nullified, which means that they pass through warp disruption bubbles unaffected.  While their individual firepower is not great, a large enough group of them can focus fire and take down a hard subcap target.

Ares gang on the move

Though the fleet peaked in size at just over 100 while I was around, there were rarely ever that many of us on grid at any one time.  Of the kill mails I was on over the course of the night, the high water mark was an entosis Drake, a hard target, which got 92 pilots on the kill mail, including both my main and my alt.

(I was dual boxing for a while, as were some others, though that was too much for me after a while and I parked my alt nearby until I lost my main, then the alt caught up and carried on.)

But we also brought down a Prophecy hacker, which was capable of killing interceptors if we got within web range, which just 33 of us on the kill mail.

Prophecy under attack

It was a lot of run and gun, jumping into a system ahead of the fleets that were hunting us, getting around other groups that were defending the hackers, and trying to quickly blot out the entosis ships before warping off.

As Ratknight1 said on the fleet, it did help that we had the home field advantage.  There are a lot of citadels scattered about the area, including not a few faction Fortizars commemorating the stations that were once in those systems.

Tethered on up a faction Fortizar

This allowed us to tether up safely… a Legacy interceptor fleet landed on us just as we tethered at one point, so they couldn’t do much save warp off and try and catch us elsewhere… as well as repair the constant thermal damage from overheating guns and prop mods that came as part of our attempts to catch and kill entosis ships that are often equipped with MJDs or prop modes that let them hit the maximum 4K meters per second allowed with an entosis module fit.

Our efforts took what might have been an hour long operation for Legacy if unhindered, into at least a four hour effort while we were around.  And it might have gone longer.  Asher called it a night as the sun was rising for him, but another fleet was forming up to take out place.  It was on its way to 3am for me when I finally logged off.

I ended up lowing two interceptors… both on my main.  My alt seemed to have better luck.  SRP will cover that, plus I got the final blow on one of the entosis ships, which adds another 50 million ISK in bounties, or basically another interceptor fit for these sort of ops.

In the end though, Legacy won the objective.  They have now managed to blow up and replace 25 ihubs in Quetrious.

Querious systems where Legacy now has an ihub

Holding the ihub gives the owner effective control of the system, though I did learn this week that the TCU is not as useless as I thought.  It you hold the TCU you do get notifications if somebody drops a structure in the system, which is how we have been so quick to track down the POS towers that Legacy has been trying to drop in our space.

However, those systems are not completely lost to us.  As I noted, many of them have citadels of ours anchored in them, safe spots where we can land and repair.  Legacy still has some work to do if they plan to reduce all of those.

But they can point out to their allies in Fountain that they now hold 25 ihubs in Querious compared to the 20 that PandaFam hold in Fountain as of this writing.  Morale victory achieved.

We shall see if they can work their way up to taking and holding ihubs in systems we can actually contest.

And you can say I am being snarky about Legacy in this post, but on /r/eve TEST and Brave are hailing this as a great victory, proof that they have the Imperium beat, while trying to discredit any assertion that maybe this wasn’t the triumph they are suggesting it was, so they feel deserving of some prodding.  Easy wins should be taken, but let’s not pretend that they were more than that.

I am sure I will be hearing about this in local, in between the usual “we can guard this ihub all day” threats, as I continue my own annoyance hacking in Legacy space.

Finding a Crimson Forest

I mentioned the Nether Update for Minecraft last week and expressed my desire to find some of the new stuff that came with it.

The problem is, as always with new stuff in Minecraft, that you need to spawn fresh chunks for the new stuff to appear.  That means exploration, which means some danger in the nether.  Also, getting lost.  Roaming around on the floor of the nether and trying to find your way can be difficult and disorienting.  Lava and mad terrain and lurking threats keep you on your guard.

The safe path is to get up into the roof of the nether and tunnel.  In our old world we ended up building a whole transport nexus in the roof of the nether, and in the new world out nether portals were close enough to the roof that I went with that option.

Working in the roof is not without its challenges though.  You go through a lot of picks.  Your inventory fills up with netherrack.  Hidden pockets of lava can surprise you, and lava flows very fast in the nether.  You also have to be careful to dig ahead.  I accidentally dug straight down just one block only to find that there was only one block between me and a long drop into the middle of a lava lake.  Feel the burn.

And progress can be both slow and difficult to measure.  Every once in a while you need to dig down enough to see if you’ve gotten close to anything you are seeking.  This is when I fell into the lava lake.  Eventually though, I poked through some netherrack and saw something new down below.

First peek

It isn’t easy to distinguish in the gloom of the nether, but that is one of the crimson forest biome mushrooms just down below.  There is also the bridge/causeway system related to a nether fortress visible as well.

Now I just had to get there.

In Minecraft, as in the real world, it is much easier to build upwards than down.  I have not figured out how to build down to something, so my usual plan is to jump down and build up.  To do that, I needed to find a place I could safely jump down.  So I eyeballed a potential spot and started digging around in the roof trying to get over it so I could drop onto it.

A couple of tries led me to the right spot and I jumped down onto one of the big fungi and then built some steps back up into the roof.  Then, using the fungi as an anchor, I was able to get down onto some solid ground to complete the steps.

From there I started to explore a bit, and quickly got lost.  I am sure the dark red on dark red with dark red highlights color scheme wasn’t helping me.  And, of course, I was on a high spot above a lava lake, so watching my step was kind of important.

Looking down is always bad

I did grab some of the warped stem blocks from the fungi, which is a form of wood which you can use to make some alarmingly ugly doors, among other things.

They need a black light block for those

I hadn’t gone too far and managed to retrace my steps with the wood and some shroomlights, a new light source that you can harvest in the biome.  I ran those back to a chest I had up the tunnel a ways, then went back down to poke around some more.

There were Piglins about in groups.  They seemed to respect the gold armor rule and just looked at me when I got close.

Piglins off on another platform

There were also hoglins, the pigs who now live in the nether.  They were not at all impressed by my gold helmet and proceeded to attack me.  The little ones were not so bad.  They run away when you whack them a good one, though you then have to chase them down to finish them off.

The big boars though, they were a bit of a hazard.  The charge and have some knock-back, which is just what you want when you’re on a platform full of pitfalls over a lake of lava.

I was a bit surprised by the relationship between the Piglin and hoglin though.  I kind of expected them to be partners together in the world.  But then I saw a group of Piglin chasing a hoglin around and found of different.

Piglins eat hoglin for dinner I guess

I once again got turned around and ended up fairly far away from my one landmark, the steps coming down out of the nether roof, which was hard to spot amid the towering fungi.

Off in the distance I think I see them

I tried to carefully make my way back towards them, vowing to make some sort of more obvious marker and path to guide me.  At one point I was near the edge of one platform when something whacked me from behind, sending me flying off and down.

The drop wasn’t too far.  I had been at full health and still had two hearts left.  I looked around to try and get my bearings when I saw a Piglin coming down the slope and straight towards me, gold sword in hand.  He killed me.

Another death in the nether

I am not sure what I did to aggravate him, but he was clearly after me and the gold helmet wasn’t convincing him of anything.  Still, I had found at least one of the new biomes the update brought to the nether.

I still need to find Soul Sand Valley, a Warped Forest, and a Basalt Delta, plus some of the other new things.  That probably means back into the roof, though first I have to get back to base for some fresh equipment.  I had barely put any wear on that diamond sword I had with me.