Monthly Archives: December 2020

Enad Global 7 Completes the Deal to Buy Daybreak

At the beginning of the month we learned that the Swedish company Enad Global 7 (EG7) was planning to purchase Daybreak Game Company.  The deal was expected to close by December 31st.

Enad Global 7

Following that announcement, EG7 made a public presentation to its shareholders that disclosed more information about Daybreak and its games than we had previously known, including:

  • DC Universe Online has the company’s highest revenue and player count
  • EverQuest is the most profitable title
  • They still have rights to make a Marvel game
  • They own Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online through Standing Stone Games

There are a lot of spicy details in that post I linked and more in the presentation.

Yesterday EG7 announced that the deal to acquire Daybreak had been completed:

COMPLETION OF THE ACQUISITION OF DAYBREAK GAME COMPANY

The upfront consideration which has been paid for 100 percent of the shares in Daybreak amounts to USD 260 million, equivalent of approximately SEK 2,205 million, on a cash- and debt- free basis (the “Upfront Consideration“). The Upfront Consideration is comprised of the Cash Consideration and the Consideration Shares.

The value of the Consideration Shares amounts to USD 100 million, corresponding to approximately SEK 848 million and 10,079,981 shares in EG7. The price per EG7 share is based on a based on a volume weighted average price of the EG7 share on Nasdaq First North Growth Market for the ten consecutive trading days preceding 1 December 2020 equal to SEK 84.14 per share. The Cash Consideration of approximately USD 160 million, equivalent of approximately SEK 1,357 million, has been paid in cash and is financed through available funds raised via the directed share issue announced on 1 December 2020.

In addition, EG7 will pay the deferred consideration to the sellers of Daybreak of USD 40 million following finalization of Daybreak’s FY 2020 financial statements. The deferred consideration will be paid in cash.

On 2 December 2020, the board of directors resolved to issue the Consideration Shares, subject to the approval from the extra general meeting on 17 December 2020. The extra general meeting approved the share issue and the board of directors has today resolved to allot the Consideration Shares as part of the completion of the Transaction. The issue of the Consideration Shares results in a dilution of approximately 13.2 percent of the number of shares and votes in the Company after the Transaction, through an increase in the number of outstanding shares by 10,079,981, from 66,550,378 to 76,630,359. The share capital will increase by SEK 403,199.40 from SEK 2,662,015.12 to SEK 3,065,214.36.

EG7’s and Daybreak’s financial reporting will be consolidated from 22 December 2020.

For further information about the acquisition of Daybreak, please refer to the previous press release published on 1 December 2020.

As the deal was for both cash and shares in EG7, the Daybreak shareholders will now own some of EG7.

Following the Transaction, Daybreak’s former main owner Jason Epstein will hold approximately 10 percent and the other former shareholders of Daybreak will together hold approximately 3 percent of the total number of outstanding shares and votes in EG7.

So we’re not rid of Jason Epstein yet I suppose.

The EG7 board had approved an increase in the number of outstanding shares in the company, as announced in a press release last week, in order to fund the acquisition.

While the position of EG7 has been quite positive about Daybreak and its titles… or most of them anyway… we will likely have to wait until well into the new year to find out what impact the sale will have.

The November MER Shows Bounties Tanking and Mineral Prices Plateauing in EVE Online

CCP released the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report for November 2020 late last week, so it is time to see where the war and CCP’s nerfs are having an impact.

EVE Online nerds harder

NPC Bounties

I want to start with the biggest impact, which came with NPC bounties, long the largest ISK faucet in the game.  On November 10th CCP launched the Dynamic Bounty System and the mandatory Encounter Surveillance System changes, both aimed squarely at turning down the ISK faucet.

And how did that work out?  Direct hit maybe?  Look at the chart.

Nov 2020 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

NPC bounties fell as far in November as they ever have on that chart, dipping down into the region of the Chaos Era experiments of summer 2019.  Even though the nerf only hit the last two thirds of the month, the numbers were telling when compared to October.

October 2020 vs. November 2020 faucets

You may need to click on that chart above to read the numbers, but you’ll see that NPC Bounties dropped off by 24 trillion ISK in November, allowing NPC Commodities… which is mostly wormhole income, with some Abyssal deadspace turn-ins… to jump to the top of the chart.  In fact, NPC Commodities and Incursion Payouts both jumped in November, almost as though people were looking for other channels to earn ISK.

As for where the bounties were being claimed, most of the usual suspects are in the top ten, but most took a hit.

  1. Oasa – 4.10 trillion (PandaFam) 66% of October
  2. Cobalt Edge – 2.17 trillion (PandaFam) 60% of October
  3. Perrigen Falls – 1.99 trillion (PandaFam) 69% of October
  4. Branch – 1.95 trillion (PandaFam) 46% of October
  5. Fountain – 1.88 trillion (Imperium) 115% of October
  6. Vale of the Silent – 1.80 trillion (mixed small groups) 71% of October
  7. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.77 trillion (PandaFam) 79% of October
  8. Detorid – 1.41 trillion (Legacy) 72% of October
  9. Insmother – 1.34 trillion (Legacy) 65% of October
  10. Tenal – 1.24 trillion (PandaFam) 70% of October

The one region that was up was Fountain, which wasn’t in the top ten in October.  I think that is where The Initiative was doing some ratting, though it might have been LowSechnaya Sholupen, which holds the constellations close to Aridia.

Overall the regional totals added up to 39.3 trillion ISK, down from 55.9 trillion ISK in October.  And, yes, those numbers do not match the ones on those bar graphs above because CCP calculates the numbers differently in different areas.  My total for regions comes from the raw data in the regionalstats.csv file that comes with the report.

Mining

Mining is still living with the nerfs from earlier that are keeping mineral prices at or near their all time high.

Nov 2020 – Economic Indices – Long Term

If you look at the short term indices chart, you can see a slight dip in November relative to the October peak.

Nov 2020 – Economic Indices

But that is mostly likely just the market prices stabilizing after the shock of the huge nerf to mining.  Minerals remain expensive and rare.

The top regions for mining remain mostly high sec.

  1. The Forge – 1.37 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Metropolis – 1.26 trillion (High Sec)
  3. Domain – 1.22 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Oasa – 1.20 trillion (PandaFam)
  5. Sinq Laison – 979 billion (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 874 billion (High Sec)
  7. Tash-Murkon – 793 billion (High Sec)
  8. Derelik – 739 billion (High Sec)
  9. Essence – 669 billion (High Sec)
  10. The Citadel – 665 billion (High Sec)

A total of 23.7 trillion ISK in mineral value was mined in November, down from the 28.68 trillion ISK in value mined in October.  The new mining meta is to sit in high sec in a brick tanked Orca and AFK mine with drones.

Production

The top regions for production in November were:

  1. The Forge – 21.59 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 11.62 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Lonetrek – 7.13 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 5.88 trillion (High Sec)
  5. The Citadel – 5.79 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Domain – 4.89 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Esoteria – 4.08 trillion (Legacy)
  8. Tribute – 3.89 trillion (mixed small groups)
  9. Oasa – 3.51 trillion (PandaFam)
  10. Vale of the Silent – 2.94 trillion (mixed small groups)

Total production added up to 115 trillion ISK in value, largely concentrated in the high sec regions around Jita (The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel), the main trade hub.  That is down from the 122.78 trillion ISK in production that happened in October.  Delve, focal point of the war, was down more than 6 trillion ISK, accounting for almost half the drop in monthly production in New Eden.

Trade Value

The top regions for trade value in November were:

  1. The Forge – 439.5 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 55.46 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Delve – 22.79 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Sinq Laison – 20.93 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Lonetrek – 14.63 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 10.13 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 9.70 trillion (Rens)
  8. Essence – 5.07 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 4.43 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  10. Insmother – 3.74 trillion (Legacy)

Jita remains the dominate numbers, accounting for 70% of the 629 trillion ISK in trading done in New Eden in November.  Amarr remains the strongest among the lesser hubs, holding onto its number two spot even after having the short route to Jita cut by the Triglavian invasion.  Delve was down about 2 trillion ISK in value, though the destruction numbers in the region were down considerably, so there were likely just less ships that needed to be replaced.

Destruction

Finally, the impact of the war, which was being fought for its second month in Delve.  The top ten regions for destruction were:

  1. Delve – 4.50 trillion (Imperium)
  2. The Forge – 2.04 trillion (High Sec)
  3. The Citadel – 1.93 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Lonetrek – 1.65 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.36 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 1.31 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Oasa – 1.11 trillion (PandaFam)
  8. Heimatar – 1.04 trillion (High Sec)
  9. Esoteria – 1.01 trillion (Legacy)
  10. Syndicate – 961 billion (NPC Null Sec)

Destruction overall was down from 45 trillion ISK in October to 40 trillion ISK in November.  The largest regional drop was in Delve, which saw 10.89 trillion ISK in destruction in October, largely due to the Keepstar fights in NPC Delve, to a mere 4.5 trillion ISK this month.  There is still clearly a war going on.  Esoteria, TEST’s home region, which has been under attack by the Imperium joined the list.  TEST’s response to that has been to declare they are abandoning the region to move into Imperium space.  That is an issue that has yet to be resolved.

And that is where things stood in November.

For December we will have to see if people adapt to the NPC bounty nerfs or if CCP’s minor tweaks to them have any impact on that ISK faucet.

The Steam Winter Sale 2020 has Begun

It is that time of year… though haven’t you bought enough video games this year already?  All the numbers indicate that spending on games has been boosted by the pandemic.  But here is a chance to add I a few more titles to your list.

With the first day of winter, at least here in the northern hemisphere, comes the start of the annual Steam Winter Sale.

Back for 2020

Between now and January 5th the usual range of discounts will be available for many games on your wishlist.  Did you just buy Cyberpunk 2077 last month at full price?  Well, it is already on discount… if you can log in… whoops, no it isn’t.  I logged in and could have sworn I saw it marked off then the server coughed, kicked us all out and it was back to full price again.  But I bet somebody clicked on it in time if my eyes did not deceive me.

It isn’t a real Steam sale if something isn’t broken or mis-priced… usually both.

Server down, come back later

That will settle down soon enough through.

It is also your opportunity to vote in the annual Steam awards.

I am sure I will find the time to log in and vote.  But the great weariness of 2020 has actually made it less likely for me to buy or try something new.  We shall see.

24 Weeks of World War Bee

We are at week 24 of the war proper, having started officially back on July 5th, but it has been a full six months since the invaders were caught out in their plans and the two week count down to the start began, so I am celebrating six months of writing about World War Bee.  Compare that to the Fountain War back in 2013, which covered just two months, or the Casino War, which started in earnest in February 2016, had us in Saranen by mid April, and in Delve come July.  And we’re not done yet.

This week saw an address by Progodlegend to Legacy and TEST where he both said the war was pretty much a foregone conclusion and that we will all soon begin to abandon the Imperium.  The Initiative attacking in Catch was held up as a prime example of the Imperium collapsing.  Once the war is over Legacy will lay claim to both its old territory, such Esoteria, which they previously said they were abandoning for Delve, as well as Delve, Querious, Period Basis.

Basically, all they need to do is wrap up the Imperium pockets in 1DQ1-A and E3OI-U and they’re done, the war is over.  Those will be the last big fights of the war.  The timeline for that, however, is fairly vague.  Progodlegend says the will come very soon at one point and maybe in  a couple more months elsewhere.  Goons being driven from the game is assumed in there somewhere.

Pandemic Horde had a town hall meeting last week as well, where they distanced themselves from the Vily message of driving Goons from the game.  They are just in it to damage the Imperium economically.  They seem less patient when it comes to assaulting 1DQ1-A and E3OI-U, suggesting if the current strategy wasn’t working in the first few weeks of December that they might try something different.  Also, the second pass on Fountain has been seen to be something of a wasted effort which will likely not continue.

On the comedy front, there was this 5.3 billion ISK Vince Draken pod that got caught trying to slip through Delve in a covert ops frigate.

Delve Front

The Delve front saw quite a bit of action.  Also, that metaliminal storm has found its way into NPC Delve, keeping people from cloaking in the systems marked around it.

Delve – Dec. 20, 2020

The Imperium strategy of retaking ihubs before the 35 timer runs down and allows PAPI to cyno jam the system has not been working out for us.  We were not able to retake the ihub for NOL-M9 as they were able to put many more people on the field to defend it that we would manage.  NOL-M9 now has a cyno jammer setup and the Keepstar there seems likely to be destroyed this week.

PAPI titans at the armor timer shoot

A similar fate seems likely for the Keepstar in D-W7F0, where PAPI also holds the ihub.

The strategy, or that aspect of it which I can see, appears to have moved to preventing enotsis ops on the ihubs that remain in our hands where Keepstars remain.  This had led to a number of fierce skirmishes, like the ones that have happened around 5-CQDA.

Battle Report Header

The other twist that has been coming up more recently is forcing PAPI to choose between objectives.  PAPI can put enough pilots in Delve to force an objective there, but a simultaneous timer elsewhere, like Catch, will be lost because they had to make the choice.

Catch Front

This week I am elevating the Catch region to have its own category as it remains the most active theater outside of Delve and is the place where Legacy is being forced to make choices.

Legacy came back and reinforced the staging Fortizar of The Initiative, but were distracted by a Delve objective that allowed The Initiative to put down a backup Fortizar in their staging in 0SHT-A.  The odd thing was that, when the final timer came up for the original Fortizar, Legacy started to commit to it, lost a bunch of ships to The Initiative, then stood down, losing both the objective and the ISK war.

That left The Initiative with two Fortizars in 0SHT-A after the fight.

Meanwhile, ihubs in Catch, and even next door in Immensea, have been falling.  We took the DY-P7Q ihub and then blew up the no longer operational Ansiblex jump gate and Pharolux cyno beacon on the grid with the Keepstar anchored there.

The Ansiblex blowing up, taking over a billion ISK in fuel with it

The Initiative now holds the ihub and TCU for HED-GP, the gateway system into the region from high sec.

And, as Progodlegend said, Imperium SIGs have been active in Catch as well.  Asher, accused of abandoning the war to hide in Catch, had gathered up the Reavers SIG to deploy out to 0SHT-A along with The Initiative, so I have been out there some myself.  We have been shooting structures… like the two above… as well as doing some of our own entosis work.  Not bad for a “30 man SIG.”  (We have Dawn Rhea of Theta Thursdays with us as well, so add at least one woman to the total.)

Popping a node during an entosis event

Things do not look so bad for Legacy when you look at the map of Catch right now.

Catch – Dec. 20, 2020

They have taken back some ihubs, including the one at 4-07MU, which connects to Querious.  But having lost them, they have to wait 35 days after restoring them before they can install Ansiblex jump gates to restore their easy travel routes.  Instead they either have to gate, use titan bridges, or jump clone between Delve and Catch.

Furthermore, rumor has it that The Watchmen alliance, which holds a large section of Catch for Legacy, is about to fold up shop and disband.  That would set quite a few systems back to the 35 day clock before they can be used for travel infrastructure.

Other Theaters

Despite Progodlegend declaring the Esoteria efforts a failure, citing The Initiative’s move to Catch as evidence, the groups remaining down there, The Bastion, Ferrata Victrix, and the Stain Russians who hate TEST, have continued to make a nuisance of themselves.  They have pushed back on The Army of Mango’s attempt to assert itself in the region and have expanded to hacking new systems.

NW Esoteria – Dec. 20, 2020

Then there is Querious, which is largely a dead zone as both sides have tired of planting new ihubs in the region.

Querious – Dec. 20, 2020

A range of systems remain empty while those still occupied by Brave continue to be assailed, meaning Brave has to deal with entosis events both here and in Catch.

And then in Fountain, as noted above, the PAPI invasion has pretty much ceased, with NCDot left holding a single ihub in LBGI-2 for now.

My Participation

I was able to jump in on a few ops, including two fights in 5-CQDA, including the one mentioned above.  I was also off on a few side missions over in Catch.  I ended up losing a few ships, including two Malediction interceptors that were used for burst jamming in one fight (the hostiles love that), a Scimitar in another fight, an Atron entosis frigate, and a Drake.

Probably the most amusing fight was in Catch on Saturday night when we landed on a gate with a Maller gang fit with smart bombs who were looking for ESS banks to rob.  We murdered them.

Murder report header

The one ship of ours they got was a Griffin ECM frigate.  Otherwise they were tackled and blown up.  In that quick clash I somehow managed to get the final blow on five of them with my sentry drones, which gave me a nice little line of five kill marks on my Ishtar.

5 orange kill marks in the upper left on my Blaze SKIN Ishtar

I do not think I have ever had a hull last long enough to earn five kill marks.

Anyway, my losses for the war so far now are as follows:

  • Ares interceptor – 12
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Drake battle cruiser – 4
  • Malediction interceptor – 4
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 3
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 2
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Scimitar logi – 2
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

CCP did a Fireside Chat on Twitch with CCP Burger and CCP Hellmar where they mentioned, among other things, that more than 1.9 million new players had logged into EVE Online in 2020, a number greater than the previous three years combined.

That seems like amazing news, though the fact that the online numbers peaked back in April and have been slowly sliding down as the year has begun to fade suggests that CCP has not solved the player retention problem they brought up at EVE North back in 2019.

The CSM 14 summit meeting minutes had a list of priorities that were:

  1. Stop the bleeding
  2. Fix the stupid
  3. Excite and teach
  4. Incentivize return

It feels like they haven’t really addressed the first point yet as 1.9 million people have poured into the game this year and apparently right back out again.  This number of new players was so huge that I had to check to see if they were including EVE Echoes in their count, but EVE Echoes has claimed more than 2 million players on its own, so I couldn’t tell you where those 1.9 million went.

And that brings us to this week’s peak concurrent user number, which was down again.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)

That is now the low water mark for the war, with even the holiday events and the Luminaire snowball fight failing to entice people into the game.

Related

My Five Books of 2020

Once again into a review post for the year 2020.  This time I am back with the books I read in 2020 and my attempt to pick the top five.

Here again the Goodreads site was there to help me remember what I read, because some of it seems so long ago.  That is the 2020 effect.  The joke going around is that in the future there will be historians who will focus just on specific weeks of the year, or even single days, as their entire field of study.

It was a tough year for reading mostly because 2020 broke all my routines.  The kid was home from school, my wife was pretty much out of work, I was working from home every day, there was no going out to dinner or movies or much in the way of out of the house recreation.

I feel like I mostly watched television, enough that I have multiple blog posts on that topic.

But going to my profile page over at Goodreads shows I did read some books, and the summary they put up shows I read about the normal number of titles… 31… though the page count was a bit shy of past year.  You can see the summary here.

Mu summary, not as fun as last year’s

And the page count is a lie.  There were a number of books in there that I stopped reading before I was finished.  There were too many interruptions and too much going on for me to focus on a book at times.  2020 was the year of doom scrolling Twitter for the latest bad news.

And picking five books out of those 31… not easy, or very easy, depending on how I look at it.  I was able to pull four from the list very quickly, but then there was a multi-dimensional tie for fifth place.  A lot of titles on the list were the reading version of comfort food in hard times, but something in my brain feels the need to put one of the tougher reads on the list.  I mean, my picks from last year were so very serious, as was the list from the year before.  Also, William Gibson made both of those lists.

Anyway, I came up with five.  I’ll let you figure out which one was the final addition to the list.

the 2020 five

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Clearly in the comfort category, I went back to the first three titles in the Douglas Adams classic series at the beginning of the year, back when the fires in Australia seemed like the biggest problem the world might face.

What to say about these books?  If you are of my generation you probably love them or don’t care for them at all.  I actually read the initial book when it was first released in the US because my grandmother was a high school librarian… back when you needed a masters degree in library science for the position, had to teach classes, run the library, and be an expert in all the odd-ball media formats that were there to supplement the books… used to hand me titles to read before she put them into general circulation.  I was the litmus test for approval somehow.  (Same story for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.)  I read it and gave it my thumbs up, and so it ended up on the shelves.

Anyway, I have the unabridged, unedited (that initial US version had a few omissions) audiobook versions read by Douglas Adams that I sat and listened to at the start of the year and enjoyed the hell out of.

The 2020 Commission Report

Or, to give you the full title, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States: A Speculative Novel.  Written by Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear proliferation researcher whose Arms Control Wonk podcast I listen to regularly, and published back in 2018, the book charts a chaotic and self-serving set of policies and responses by Donald Trump in the midst of a nuclear crisis. Some felt the books representation of Trump was implausibly and ludicrously overblown at the time.  And then, of course, 2020 came and the administration actually faced a real test and failed tragically.  Even now Trump is trying to undermine the electoral process to support his ego, even as his own appointees in the administration and judiciary oppose him.  In hindsight, the book was probably too kind to him.

The Battle of Arnhem

Back to Anthony Beevor, who writes military history that is both incredible in its depth and its accessibility.  He has tackled topics where I felt I have read it all before and make them feel fresh, as he transitions very well between overall objectives and the stories of individuals in the fight.  As with his books around the battles at Stalingrad, Berlin, and Normandy, you may have read about them before, seen the movies, and watched the documentaries, yet you will find something fresh and new in his recounting.   The only exception is his book on the Spanish Civil war, but that was an early work of his and covers a tedious and depressing topic. Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is really all I need on that front.

The Cold War: A New History

One of the tenets of writing history is that it can’t really be done until those whose names an reputations are tied up with events have passed away.  We are just starting to get there when it comes to the Cold War, or at least the start of it, set in the post-war era as it was.  This book feels like a fresh telling of that era and the policies, goals, and ambitions that drove it.  I very much went into my reading daring it to tell me something I didn’t already know and found that the author was able to assemble things I did know into a more unified narrative that I would have considered.

The Fellowship of the Ring

Chicken soup for the soul here.  I used to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings every three or four years starting in the early 80s.  That stopped somewhere in the late 90s and I think perhaps I have been getting my fill of Tolkien via movies and Lord of the Rings Online since then.  But here, in the dark days at the end of 2020, with the pandemic surging out of control and Trump trying to destroy democracy to assuage his bruised ego, aided by many willing enablers, going back into Tolkien’s words was like sitting down in a favorite armchair on a comfortable Sunday afternoon and relishing the luxury and ease of the day.  My main concern is that I burned through this book so fast, leaving the only the remaining two… and the third book is so short, padded by the vast appendices.  I suppose I shall just have to dig through those once more, or pick up The Silmarillion, though that have never been half as satisfying.  I may have to write a follow up post once I am done.

And so it went in 2020, where the list of titles I read wavered between current events and dystopian themes and old standbys that I could hide in away from the world for a bit.

Honorable Mention:

A People’s History of the United States

What to say about this book?  It is something of a contrarian look at US history, which I can see a reason for, since the teaching of US history through high school… you get US history every other year in some form… can be lacking.  Also, every other year you have to unlearn something you were previously taught because the earlier teacher was dumbing something down to your grade level.  This book is the dark side of US history and actually had some things I did not know or only knew about very superficially.

The issue is that the author, like many who feel they are revealing truth to deceived, drives forward with a sense of superiority and a need to throw mud at everything at times.  This only became irksome for me when he spent half a chapter going after Lincoln because his priority list had “preserve the union” one spot above “abolish slavery.”  I mean, if the union fell apart he couldn’t really end slavery in the slave states that left, now could he?  And, in the end, he did end slavery, so he got there, though the road was neither easy nor straight.  But somebody is salty that his motives were not pure enough.

Still, it is a very American book.

SupreData says WoW Jumped in Subscribers and Revenue

SuperData Research put out its report for digital revenue for November, which saw record numbers.

  • Digital games earned $11.5B in November 2020, the highest monthly revenue ever. Overall earnings were up 15% over November 2019. Mobile grew 9% while PC rose 22% to reach a new revenue record, which was driven largely by the release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Console earnings were up 24% but fell slightly below the all-time record set in April 2020.

According to another report they put out, Black Friday fell short of 2019 by 10% due to a variety of reasons, mostly on the console front.  But PC sales were the big winner, with World of Warcraft topping that end of their monthly chart.

SuperData Research Top 10 – November 2020

World of Warcraft took first place on PC for digital sales, leaping past the usual suspects that make up the top four names nearly every month, due to the Shadowlands expansion.

  • The release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands led to the game’s highest monthly revenue since 2008 and player numbers since 2010. Compared to the launch of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in August 2018, earnings and user numbers were 50% and 34% higher, respectively. It is unlikely the game will sustain these high player numbers for more than one to two more months. The title is now highly dependent on major expansions to drive temporary spikes in revenue and user numbers.

Great numbers… the highest revenue since 2008 and the most players since 2010… but the caveat is pretty real.  This spike was driven by the new expansion and history shows that those numbers will taper off if they don’t have content that will deliver for players over time.  It would be good to follow strength with strength, like maybe having some news in time for BlizzConline in February about plans for WoW Classic and The Burning Crusade.

After WoW we have the usual four, League of Legends and the heavily Asian titles, Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War dropped into six place with its Warzone free to play mode.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War sold 5.7M digital units in November, a 7% increase compared to the previous franchise record holder Black Ops 4. The ongoing success of the free-to-play Warzone mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare helped drive interest in the latest title. Warzone will likely continue to be the most common way gamers experience Call of Duty on PC or console in the near future. Thanks to Warzone, Modern Warfare had 2.7 times as many players as Cold War in November 2020.

World of Tanks returned to the list in seventh position, followed by Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, which launched early in November.

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sold 1.7M units, 50% more than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at launch. The latest game benefited from a positive reception to Odyssey, from being a showpiece game for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S and also from a last-minute delay of Cyberpunk 2077. Even though the game’s overall revenue was up 23% over Odyssey at launch, in-game revenue was down 62%. This was likely because Valhalla did not offer a paid experience booster at launch, which Odyssey was criticized for featuring. However, Ubisoft did add a booster into Valhalla in December.

Then the list wraps up with Roblox and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which was in sixth spot last month.

On the console list Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War topped the chart while Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla managed fourth position.  Staple of the console list, Grand Theft Auto V managed to hold on another month in eighth, while Fortnite grabbed 10th spot.

On the mobile side of the chart Free Fire, the mobile shooter from Singapore, returned to the top spot, while Pokemon Go fell into second place after topping the list last month.  Bell weather title Candy Crush Saga held on in seventh position while Honour of Kings, which held the top spot for many months this year, stayed on the list in ninth position.

Not on any of the charts, the sleeper hit of 2020, Among Us, gets a special mention in the November report.

  • Among Us had roughly half a billion monthly active users in November. The title is now by far the most popular game ever in terms of monthly players. Since Among Us is not heavily monetized, earnings figures are comparatively smaller. The PC version (which has a $5 upfront price) accounted for the majority of revenue from August to November (64%) despite having an extremely small share of the total player base (3% in November).

So that is November.  For December we will no doubt see Cyberpunk 2077 jump onto the PC and console charts, and we’ll have to see how well World of Warcraft holds on after its trip to the number one position.

Bad Day at Blackrock Depths

In the grand scheme of things in Blackrock Depths, we are nearing completion.  We have been to most of the spots on the map.

Blackrock Depths map

We really only have two locations to hit to be able to declare ourselves done.  We have to face Magmus (20 on the map) and then Emperor Dagran Thaurissan to rescue Moira Bronzebeard (21).

And we have been doing pretty well.  Much more so than I might have credited us as a group of four.  So when we got together last week we were set to get in there and get it done.  Our group was:

  • Viniki – level 57 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 56 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 56 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 56 gnome mage

We met up at Thorium Point and ran down the chains and to the instance one more time.

From there it was off to the left and through the gate with the Shadowforged Key, slipping past the wandering fire elemental easily enough.  Then we were in through the side door to the room that controls the bridge.  We found we did not even have to clear the full room.  Skronk slipped up to the control and was still out of aggro range of the final group.

The Skronk sneak

From there it was up the ramp and some clearing to get ourselves along to the manufactory and into the Grim Guzzler, the same path we took the week before.  However, we were hurrying along a bit too quickly and were, at times, a bit optimistic about aggro radius.  And accidental proximity pull of a group left Viniki down, though we won the fight.

Viniki waiting for a ress

We managed to stumble through the manufactory without losing anybody, though we managed to get ourselves a couple more surprise pulls.  Then we cleared the bridge and were into the Grim Guzzler once again.

This time we were just passing through, so I bought the beers for Private Rocknot and set him up for his event.  He got rambunctious and set of Phalanx who knocked open the back door… there must be some sort of emergency fire exit clearing routine in his programming… before we knock him down ourselves.

The back door open we headed out to keep clearing the way to our goal.  But them Skronk went down the steps and we got another proximity pull with me at the top of the steps and out of line of sight for heals.  That quickly led to our first wipe.

Viniki dead as Skronk releases

Accidents happen.  So we released, ran back to the instance, ran through the dungeon and back through the Grim Guzzler to get ourselves setup on the steps again.  This time I ran on in to start the engagement… and it turned out there were more guys than we had planned for… and, well, things went down hill from there and we managed to wipe again.

Dead together at the bottom of the ramp

We at least took one of them out before we wiped, so once we released and ran all the way back once again we were able to take them down without any further drama.

Around the corner, once it was clear, we came upon Ambassador Flamelash once again, a fight that seemed a lot tougher this time around.  Skronk died part way through the fight but Moronae was able to get a combat ress on him so we could finish things up, though it was a close run thing.  I think everybody ended up dying on their own during a fight at least once… twice for me… along with the various wipes.

We managed to wipe once more due to me running out of Skronk’s healing range as we fought the last group in that room.

Ula was the last hold out

Another run back.  We cleared that out and then did well on the Summoner’s Tomb event, slaying the seven dwarves without too much trouble.

All of that was just precursor to our first objective, which was to get through the Lyceum.  That was where we had stopped last time, though we had done a lot before then.  This time around it was our first main goal.  There are two mobs you need to slay in order to loot torches from them so you can light the braziers which opens the way to Magmus.

The trick, as noted last week, is that the non-elite mobs in the room are on a very quick respawn timer and come in groups of six to a dozen.  Also, unlike mobs early in the instance, that are around level 50, these are level 55, so have a much larger aggro radius relative to us.

Our plan, at the end of last week, was to look up some info about the Lyceum to see if there was a strategy we could make work.  Unfortunately, the info we found tended to be along the lines of “stay tight, AOE the crap out of things, use the columns to break line of sight with ranged mobs, get the torches, there is a safe spot near each brazier.”

We decided to head towards one of the braziers, get to the safe spot there, and see if we could spot one of the mobs with a torch.

One of the braziers is just at the end of this row

And, we actually made it to the platform with the brazier.  From there one of the torch carrying mobs, which Skronk had spent some time scouting out with mind vision and marking, was visible walking back and forth.  I tried to slip over in range of the torch mob, and managed to tag it, but I brought back a whole raft of non-elites with it.  We ended up in an epic fight on the brazier platform.

Moronae in bear form holding out at the end

However, it ended up as a wipe for us, though we did kill the torch mob.  The hope was that Moronae could stealth in and loot it when we got back.  However, by the time we ran to the instance and then took the path all the way through to the Lyceum again, the corpse had faded.

More research ensued and it came up that the torches persist and can actually be sold at the auction house.  The thought then was that we could perhaps blitz our way to a torch bearer and, even if we wiped, if we could just loot the torch we would be a step closer to getting through.  So I led a run straight for one of the torch mobs, and we got him down too.  I even clicked to loot him.

But I had turned off auto loot back when I went to grab an item from the chest you get at the end of the seven dwarves fight.  If I had had the option set we would have had a torch.  Instead, Skronk and I lay dead next to the corpse, still sparkling and ready to be looted.

Our corpses are practically on top of him

But at least we had a plan.  So we released for another run back, only to get to the room with the bridge control and find that it had respawned.  We killed a mob in our way and ran up the steps in the hope that we might beat the spawn there, but we were too late.  Groups at the top of the ramp were there and even as we watched groups down the hall began to re-appear.  We were stuck on the landing below the mobs.

As far as we could get back with many fights

We had spent too much time getting to the Lyceum and then too much time idle there trying to figure out a strategy.  We were not up for another clear, so we called it a day.  We will have to work our way back to the Lyceum another time.

Choosing my Covenant in Shadowlands

I’ve slipped a bit on keeping up with Shadowlands, though that is less to do with the expansion and more to do with my ability to juggle multiple games.  I can generally focus on two MMOs… and only if one of them is EVE Online, which is different enough from everything else to not overlap.  So if I get hooked up with something in WoW Classic… which I have been… then I am generally playing that and not retail WoW or some other fantasy MMORPG.

Anyway, I left off last time having finished up in Ravendreth, at which point you get sent back to Oribos to make the big decision.

Choose your destiny – Bastion, Ravendreth, Maldraxxus, or Ardenweald

As I noted previously, the whole level 50 to 60 experience and tour through the four zones is just an elaborate intro to the expansion. I know for many the end game is the game, but this looks like Blizzard’s attempt to make the end game the game for everybody.

And I am not necessarily against that.  I have done a lot of the world quest and story line quests and other events after hitting level cap since Wrath of the Lich King.  We’ll have to see how people deal with the idea that you can hit level cap so quickly and then spend the next two years doing events and alternate progress.

So there I was in Oribos to pick my covenant.  There are representatives from all four hanging out there by Bolvar Fordragon and you have to talk to each one to update the quest that ends with you picking one.  Given my reactions to the various zones, Maldraxxus, the Necrolords, or Ravendreth, the Venthyr, seemed the best options.  In the end the Venthyr abilities won me other, and I made the choice.

As sure as I can be

Once you click the button you are semi-committed.  I hear it is a bit of a pain to change covenants, but I haven’t felt the need to track that down.

Oh, and an achievement.  Always an achievement.

I have chosen

And then it is off to your chosen covenant to dig deeper into their tale.  There are more story lines to run down, world quests to do, and currencies to acquire, with which you can unlock various things.

I am not sure why I chose the command table, it ended up being exactly what I expected

And, eventually, you get back into the Maw and back on the trail of Anduin, Jaina, Thrall, and Baine, the four leaders who helped get you out of the Maw in the first place, after which you spent ten levels getting introduced to people while they suffered.

In fact, the commute to the Maw becomes a pretty regular routine, such that the awe and amazement that NPCs first displayed when you showed up seems somewhat misplaced.  You’re jumping down the portal to the Maw as part of your daily commute because there is always something to do there.

Jumping into the Maw yet again

That doesn’t necessarily make me happy.  The Maw is one of those zones where it is really easy to get in over your head or have an unfortunate respawn.  I die a lot in the Maw, which seems odd in the land of the dead, but you roll with it.  It is inconvenient and usual, and my repair bill is huge… or it seems huge.  It would bankrupt me in WoW Classic.  But somehow my gold balance keeps slowly rising due to the rewards.  I had some gray vendor trash that would have paid for an epic mount in vanilla.

But the Maw is the path to Torghast, which is the center of things.  I do a bit better in there than out in the Maw solo.  My ret pally has just enough oomph to deal with most things, if I choose the right zone boosts.

I’ve been in and rescued Blaine Bloodhoof so far, though he seemed surly afterwards.  He probably knows how much time I spent dawdling before I got to him.

Blaine just sitting there in Oribos

I haven’t gotten much further past there, though I have run down a couple more stories in Ravendreth.

That achievement

But I don’t feel in that much of a hurry to carry on.  If we’re going to be doing end game for two years, then there isn’t any reason to get burned out on it a month in.

And then there are alts.  With the easy run to level 60… and, honestly, the run from 1 to 60 is pretty manageable compared to the pre-squish days… this seems like an expansion where people can get a lot of max level alts going.  I pushed my hunter, always first among my alts, into the expansion, but haven’t decided which path to take with him.  Once you have one character at level cap you get a choice.  You can go the full tour route, or you can commit to a covenant straight up and run with that.

Choose your experience

I haven’t decided for my hunter yet.  You can go on with the tour path as long as you want, but the moment you choose a covenant you give up the tour and cannot return to that path.  I am not sure which covenant would suit him, or even if I want to jump straight into end game world quests and what not right away.

As for the rest of the group, Skonk went with Kyrian and Bastion, that seeming compatible with a priest, and Ula went with The Night Fae in Ardenweald so she could spend more time with her pal Moonberry.  Ula has pushed ahead and already has a mount even.

My pally will keep swinging away in Ravendreth.

More places to explore

And I’ll just have to see where it ends up taking me.

The Idea of an EVE Online Shooter Just Won’t Die

An Eve Online first-person shooter is CCP’s greatest folly

-Jeremy Peel, VG24/7

Massively OP posted earlier about a press release from one Sperasoft about how they and CCP are working together on a first person shooter based on the EVE Online IP.

Together for a purpose

The idea of an EVE Online FPS is one that just will not die, and I am honestly confused at this point as to why this is the brass ring that CCP wants to grab so very badly.

We had DUST 514 and the promise of integration with EVE Online back in the day.  That was not a success for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the decision to make it a PlayStation 3 title, and shut down back in 2016, though CCP spent time after that closing off the integration points.

Even before the corpse of DUST 514 had cooled there was talk of something called Project Legion, the next FPS CCP planned to deliver.

That, or some elements of it, later became Project Nova, which CCP showed an early version of at EVE Vegas back in 2018.  It was hinted that the whole thing was closer to being done than we might think.

Then, about a month later, CCP announced that Project Nova had been postponed.  This corresponded with the Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP for $425 million.  (EVE Online was worth more in 2018 than Daybreak was in 2020 I guess.)

We coasted along for another year or so until, in February of this year… which feels like it was a forever ago now… that, whatever Project Nova was, it was becoming something else, though we were not going to get a new name and CCP was going to try and stop talking about shooters until they had something more concrete to present.

That being difficult to parse as a headline, the gaming media mostly went with “Project Nova Cancelled.”

Which brings us to today and a company called Sperasoft and the following announcement:

USA, San-Jose – December 15, 2020 – Sperasoft, a Keywords studio specializing in co-development is proud to announce its partnership with CCP Games, the creators of the world’s largest living work of science fiction, EVE Online.

CCP is a leading video game developer, founded in 1997 in Reykjavik, Iceland. CCP’s mission is to create virtual worlds that are more meaningful than real life. CCP pioneers technology and design that facilitates emergent behavior, empowering people with compelling means of self-expression. With the launch of EVE Online in May 2003, CCP established itself as one of the most innovative companies in the interactive entertainment industry, winning numerous awards and receiving critical acclaim worldwide.

EVE Online is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) science-fiction game of galactic proportions, in which space flight is the path to all commerce, communication, and conflict. Set in the star cluster of New Eden tens of thousands of years in the future, in EVE Online every pilot’s greatest asset is their starship, designed to accommodate their specific needs, skills, and ambitions. Featuring a vast player-run economy, EVE Online offers an immersive, community-driven experience filled with adventure, riches, danger, and glory. EVE Online is renowned for its scale, complexity, and its gigantic, world record-breaking in-game battles where thousands of players come head to head in a single star system.

“We are excited to be a partner of CCP Games and share in their mission to create immersive virtual worlds” – comments Denis Larkin, Chief Commercial Officer at Sperasoft – “Our experienced team of developers is focused on delivering cutting edge solutions for our client and gameplay innovations for their fans.“

“We’re delighted to be working with Sperasoft on our unannounced online shooter set in the EVE IP,” said Allen Edwards, Game Director at CCP Games’ London studio. “Together, we’re looking forward to delivering a rock-solid, action-oriented gameplay experience with stunningly beautiful worlds.”

The first details about this currently unannounced title will be revealed via www.ccpgames.com/news in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, follow @CCPGames on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Those are some fine words, with a promise to get some more information in the “not-too-distant” future, and not much else.  I am going to guess that puts it in a time frame beyond “soon,” which itself is an unknowable and possibly quite long unit of time.

Sperasoft’s page shows quite a bit of collaboration with some big name studios and titles.  But the services they offer appear to be geared towards outsource coding and platform porting, with some live game ops thrown in.  So while they have had a hand in on titles from Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed to DC Universe Online and Free Realms… seriously, they have the old Sony Online Entertainment logo on their brag page, a couple spots over from Trion Worlds… it isn’t clear what they specifically did for any of them or if they have ever stood up a game on their own.

Still, they clearly have success, undefined though it may be, under their belt.  So they could potentially be a big help to CCP’s shooter ambitions on the technical front.

What they probably cannot help with is finding a compelling reason for an EVE Online shooter to exist.  New Eden can be a deep, dark IP, full of lore.  But the reach of that lore is pretty small.  EVE Online is a successful beyond niche status game in the MMORPG genre, but the MMORPG market is very much niche in the grand scheme of things.

We will have to wait and see if CCP and Sperasoft can come up with some way for a New Eden shooter to stand out in the crowd of shooters that currently clutter the market.

EverQuest II Reign of Shadows Expansion Goes Live

I think the EverQuest II team had a bit more luck with their launch that the EverQuest team did with their launch last week.  The EQII team, after having the game down most of the morning, brought the servers up a little after noon Pacific time and they have been rolling on since then.  No emergency downtime.

And so we welcome the Reign of Shadows expansion, the 17th expansion for the game.

Let slips the moon cats!

It is time to head to the dark side of Luclin.  The marking blurb for the expansion says:

Emperor Ssraeshza and his unyielding throngs of insidious zealots and enslaved minions have laid claim to the ancient citadel of Vex Thal. The march of the nefarious snake-like shissar must end there, deep within the heart of the dark side of Luclin.

Face terrible challenges and forge great alliances in regions unseen by Norrathian eyes in centuries: Echo Caverns, Shadeweaver’s Thicket, Grimling Forest, Shar Vhal, and Vex Thal. Heroes will be made in the shadows!

The features list includes:

  • Play as a Vah Shir! The first new race in the game in five years.
  • 20 Reign of Shadows Prestige Advancement Points and 10 new Reign of Shadows Prestige Abilities.
  • Maximum Guild Level increased to 350 with an all new content-driven guild leveling mechanism.
  • Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests as you investigate what secrets lay concealed in the endless gloom.
  • Master all new Solo, Heroic, Challenge Heroic, and Raid content in the perpetual shade of Luclin’s dark side!

The new race is a big deal, as it brings the Vah Shir, the EverQuest feline race from Luclin, to the game.  The rest sounds a bit like the usual “new zones, new quests, new raids, new collections” sort of stuff that make up the bulk of any expansion.

One of the things mentioned with the Producer’s Letter when the expansion was announced was a revamp of part of the Alternate Advancement system:

Launching with Reign of Shadows, archetype and class Alternate Advancement abilities are getting a full revamp so that every point has an impact on how your character plays. These changes should not affect Kaladim in a significant way and we do not plan on having them affect future TLEs either. To see these changes before the launch of the expansion, please login to beta when it opens and check them out.

The patch notes for the expansion list them out in detail, sorted by class, which makes for very log web page of changes to sort through.  I’ll have to log in to figure it out.  Until then, there is always the trailer.

Reign of Shadows, and the EverQuest Claws of Veeshan launch, will be the last two expansions for the franchise under the Daybreak banner.  Come the end of the month Daybreak will change over to Enad Global 7 as the acquisition is set to be done by Dec. 31st.

And, as Bhagpuss points out, Frostfell has launched in game, so holiday events are in full swing as well.