Monthly Archives: January 2021

January in Review

The Site

We are already a month down for 2021 and it has seemed… a bit less crazy.  Or, at least we seem to be confining big events to Wednesdays… insurrection, impeachment, inauguration, GameStop… to give everybody time to catch up.  It is a welcome change from the last four years of “what new outrage will I awake to in the morning?”

I mentioned a while back that I had setup the blog as a magazine on the Flipboard app, so if you wanted to read the blog in a handy way on your phone or tablet you now had that option.

Flipboard

As I said, I find it a nice way to flip through headlines with the ability to dive into the news story about which I want to know more.  Well, last week I received a note from Flipboard saying that my configuration had been approved and TAGN was now available generally on the app.  So you can find it if you search on TAGN.  I would still be interested to hear if anybody uses it or likes the format.

One Year Ago

A new year meant predictions.  Also, there was the end of another Steam Winter Sale complete with stats and my own gaming outlook for 2020.  I also had a list of things I wanted to see in the year and my game time played for 2019.

SuperData Research had their own review of 2019.

A research group published a paper exploring the electrical usage impact of video games in the state of California.  It was more than hot tub pumps.

Daybreak finally did their studio split thing, though what it really meant was left unanswered.

In EverQuest II I was gearing up for the moon.  I also leveled up my crafting by doing things other than crafting, though I had our guild hall open for actual crafting.  Leveling up was quick and I soon had three characters on Luclin.

In EVE Online there was the “My Year In EVE” video thing.  GDC also had a video about EVE Online and how they fixed the ghost training problem.

The January game update buffed heavy missiles and added Nirvana implants, the “shield slaves” that people had been asking about for years.

CCP introduced new player packs that were essentially selling skill points… again.  They were also handing out more skill points for logging in, doing a PLEX for Good for the Australian wildfires as well, and finishing the 64-bit client transition.

Our long time corp, Black Sheep Down, was going away, which led me to join Karma Fleet.

Blizzard pushed out Warcraft III Reforged, broken, berefet of expected features, and with restrictions on user created content, all of which made it an object of scorn and an item on many “worst releases of 2020” lists.

World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth was getting down to its final content drop.  There was a lot of stuff with it.  Also, they were offering a flying rat to six month subscribers.

In WoW Classic the instance group was in the Scarlet Monastery.  We took a shot at the library and the armory, then ran off to Stranglethorn Vale for a bit of xp.  After that we went back and did the library and the armory again.  I also ended up with my first level 40 in WoW Classic.

Five Years Ago

I had 16 predictions for 2016. (Results for those who need to know.)

I was also included on some sort of MMO info page thing.

It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.

I was wondering what Early Access should really be.  I was also checking out which MMOs made PC Gamer’s latest list.

Smed was going to Kickstarter for Hero’s Song.  It got cancelled before I could finish the post about all the problems it had.  More than a bit of foreshadowing in that I guess.

People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.

The price for the Occulus Rift was announced, which led to quite a sum if all I wanted to do is play EVE Valkyrie.

In EVE Online I ran my first incursion boss.  We also got the first of the “no name” monthly updates.  Karma Fleet turned one.  CCP told us about skill extractorsBlog Banter 71 was about spaceships.  Also, there was some sort of conflict going on between I Want ISK and SpaceMonkeys Alliance.  It started in mid-December 2015.  The bankers of I Want ISK were banned then unbanned and eventually the whole thing spiraled out to become the Casino War.

In space we reinforced a tower and ran about in Typhoons and Jackdaws.  At the end of the month Reavers headed south to Wicked Creek to tangle with TEST.

Outside the game Battle Clinic, long a staple of the EVE Online third party universe, was set to shut down while the election process for CSM XI was kicking off.

Daybreak announced that they were going to port the five year old DC Universe Online to the XBox.

I went in to Diablo III to try out the Season 5 content.  I ran through the story quickly, but there was more to do.

wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.

Finally, I was marveling at all the movies from 1986 that I remembered.  Aliens! Top Gun!  Platoon!  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!   It was a hell of a year for movies.

Ten Years Ago

Eschewing the predicting convention, I issued demands for 2011. and then tried to figure out the scale used for the Blog Health-o-Meter that WordPress.com sent out to various sites.

The blog was listed at a Vietnamese gaming site in a top 10 post that looked suspiciously like one from Massively.

TERA was trying to win notice by telling people how they had boars in their game!  BOARS!  Can you imagine?

EuroGamer tried to tell us PlanetSide 2 would be out by Q2 2011. (It eventually shipped in November of 2012.)

Rift, on the other hand, gave us a more believable release date.

It was time to start messing with the then new EVE Online character creator.

DC Universe Online launched.  I played in the beta just long enough to remind myself I am not a superhero kind of guy.  Sales of the game were pretty evenly split between Windows and PlayStation 3, but play time seemed to be impacted by American Idol when it came to the console side of the house.

Of course, that was back during the subscription era of MMOs, when Smed was telling us what paying a subscription to lead us to expect.

Meanwhile, competing superhero game, Champions Online, went free to play after less than a year and and a half as a subscription title.  This would end up being foreshadowing for DC Universe Online.

I used Google to tell me World of Warcraft’s five most pressing issues at the time.

Meanwhile, the Twilight Cadre was back in Azeroth in force and checking out Cataclysm.  We got our first guild achievement.  Our group of new characters, four worgen and a gnome, went through Westfall and all its phasing magic, wailed in the Wailing Caverns, before settling down to a pattern of doing three instances every Saturday night.  I wasn’t sure if we had skilled up a lot or if the game had been dumbed down that much, but clearly the 1-60 game in Cataclysm was proving to be not much of a challenge.

The official World of Warcraft magazine was asking me to renew my subscription, though they weren’t really up to mail merge technology it seems.

There was some cool stuff in Cataclysm.  I like the balloons.  Redridge, never one of my favorite places, got turned into a fun solo experience.  And there was the Murloc combat ability.  But otherwise, the game was starting to lose us.

I was muttering about rebates.  My daughter and I were rounding up LEGO minifigures.

And, finally, Pokemon was coming to town.

Fifteen Years Ago

SOE announced that they were going to merge EverQuest II servers a little more than a year after the game went live, trimming the server count down by folding 10 low population servers into 10 low to medium population servers.  The reason given is that the world was sooo big that the population was too spread out.  I’m pretty sure most people thought that the game had just lost too many players to WoW to make that many servers viable since MMO populations are rarely evenly spread but tend to form a bubble in the latest content.

Nintendo, which was still selling the GameBoy Advance (and would continue to in the US until 2008) announced the first major update to their crazy two screen DS handheld platform.  The new Nintendo DS Lite would end up being, in my opinion, one of the finest handheld consoles ever, with sharp screens, a compact form factor, excellent finish, and great battery life along with continuing the backward compatibility with the GBA.  The only problem I ever had with my cobalt blue unit involved me getting old and being unable to read text on the screen without glasses.

Twenty Years Ago

RuneScape launches as a Java based browser game.

Phantasy Star Online launches on the Sega Dreamcast, one of the first proto-MMOs on consoles.

Forty Years Ago

The first DeLorean rolled off the production line.  Not really game related, but very much pop culture related.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Titan Massacre at M2-XFE
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. PAPI Thwarted at Final M2-XFE Keepstar Timer by the Early Bird Imperium
  6. Time to Earn some ISK
  7. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  8. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting
  9. Do You Need a Level Booster for Shadowlands?
  10. Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend
  11. Life on the M2 Hell Camp
  12. My Year in EVE Online 2020

Search Terms of the Month

elf heroes with flying.mounts
[not asking for much]

dawn rhea eve online
[Over at Theta Thursdays on INN Twitch]

eve online is npc station safe to store my assets?
[with CCP I am hesitant to say yes]

does trion still exist
[Only in our hearts]

звёздные войны буквы уход
[Some nuance there Google translate lacks]

Game Time from ManicTime

Two games dominated my PC play time this month for sure.  It was pretty much a neck in neck tie between WoW Classic and EVE Online all month.  I also spent a little bit of time logged into retail WoW and was in and looking at LOTRO for a bit though, as I mentioned, on the big monitor it is almost unplayable due to tiny, indistinct icons on the hot bar and in inventory.

  • WoW Classic – 50.36%
  • EVE Online – 49.30%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.19%
  • LOTRO – 0.16%

EVE Online

The war goes on.  For a short stretch of time after the battles at M2-XFE the invaders seemed dismayed and their participation was way down, allowing the Imperium to push them back in Delve, retaking several constellations and saving a few Keepstars.  PAPI has since recovered, building up to a more aggressive tempo, and in the last week has been able to field their overwhelming numbers again to grind down our gains.  More on that tomorrow though.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has had some weekly events that we have been doing.  With wind and rain and the pandemic, Pokemon Go is often the only excuse to leave the house some days.

Level: 40 (65% of the way to 41 in xp, all tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 613 (+2) caught, 642 (+7) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 9 of 10
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Froakie

World of Warcraft

I did not spend a lot of time in Shadowlands this month.  It isn’t so much that the expansion is bad than I would simply rather spend my time in WoW Classic again.  Since one subscription gets me both, I am not sure it matters too much, the way it would if I were playing a different MMO.  I did, however, keep up with my usual standard of at least doing Darkmoon Faire.

WoW Classic

The instance group has been doing its thing every week, but if I was playing a game this past month and it wasn’t EVE Online, then it was probably WoW Classic.  I will likely have at least one character up to level 60 before Blizzard starts talking about The Burning Crusade, and I will likely have three well before anything based on that launches, even with the most optimistic schedule.

Coming Up

BlizzConline will be coming up on the 19th.  After no BlizzCon in 2020 and relatively few announcements since the Shadowlands launch, it is time to get some news.  If there isn’t an announcement and a plan for The Burning Crusade Classic I expect riots in the street.

It would also be nice if Blizz could come up with something else… and not just another Hearthstone expansion.  2020 was a retro year for Blizz as we once again reached the point where World of Warcraft was the game that mattered and everything else felt neglected.  It isn’t necessarily bad to have just one main game for a stretch… look how long Riot ran on just League of Legends… but Blizz actually has other franchises.

In EVE Online the war will continue no doubt.  Both sides still see a path to some sort of victory, and given Vily’s temperament war aims, it is very likely that both sides will claim victory unless there is a very dramatic end to the war.

Meanwhile, CCP continues to hold the screws to the economy, so prices are rising.  They sent out a survey about their handling of the economy.  I’d like to see the results and comments from that.  I doubt they will share however.  But they will need to do something because the one main threat to the ongoing war is supply and replacement, which is running up against CCP’s belief that if they make us all poor we’ll fight more rather than less.

Otherwise… maybe I will play something beyond EVE Online and WoW Classic next month.

A Year in KarmaFleet

A little over a year ago I wrote about how our old corporation in the TNT alliance, Black Sheep Down, had dwindled in numbers and the remaining members were be pressed, if not pressured, to move into other corps in the alliance.  As with many things in life, my corp didn’t matter so much to me at that point… almost anybody I knew or who knew me had stopped playing by that then… but there was no real reason to pick up and move either.

Once pushed to choose something new I felt I had best look for the corp that would work best for me, and KarmaFleet seemed to be the obvious choice.

Spoiler, that is where I ended up

KarmaFleet is the largest corp in Goonswarm Federation (GSF), with nearly 5,500 pilots currently.  That makes the corpse more than double the size of GoonWaffe, the traditional core corp of GSF, and its nearly 2,500 capsuleers.  Those in GoonWaffe have traditionally been the “made men,” to borrow a concept, of the alliance and to get into that corp was to be accepted into the bosom of the organization and accepted fully as one of their own.  Other corps have to prove their value to the alliance, but those in Waffe were only ever subject to removal because they betrayed the alliance in some way.  Otherwise you were pretty much free to do as you pleased, no PAP link requirements or such would dog you.

GoonWaffe used to be the goal of many, and back in the day you had to show your Something Awful forum bonafides.  It used to be a standard “True Goon” dick measuring contest to compare registration dates over at SA.

These days though, KarmaFleet has become something of the destination for a lot of long term members of the alliance.  There are a lot of people in Reavers who were in other corps back in the day who are now in KarmaFleet.  It is the corp to be in if you don’t have a strong reason to be in another alliance corp.

KarmaFleet is the way into the alliance for many people and over the last six or so years as it was the GSF response to the need for more pilots to hold space.  Deep in the past a lot of null sec systems were not worth having, save for the fact that you wouldn’t want anybody hostile living next door to you.  Over the years that changed and more players could be accommodated in fewer and more densely packed systems.  The empires of 2014 or so, with three major coalitions holding most of null sec as either their own space or as rental space.

The Eternal War of Coalitions in 2014

Changes to null sec, both before and after Fozzie Sov, made having more players who would both live in coalition space and fight for the coalition itself more important.  The levee en masse era of null sec began.  Brave Newbies showed the way, and now each coalition has at least one new player organization that outsiders can join.  Gone are the days when getting into a null sec corporation needed three vouches, a phone interview, and a DNA test.

It also meant that these groups had to be nicer to people.  In 2011, when I went to null sec, the prevailing attitude was still very much “you should be happy we even let you in.”  Now organizations advertise the benefits of joining.

What KarmaFleet Offers

Of course, by the time I was thinking about KarmaFleet I was already in the coalition, so a lot of the recruiting benefits were already mine… or I was well beyond needing them.  There were no free skill books from them that I could use.

Once I had filled out the forms and waited around for a while… there was a bit of a queue to get in… I was let in.  I got myself set back up in the various channels and SIGs and squads and whatever and went on my merry way.

So the question now is, was it the right choice?  Am I happy a year down the road?

Sure.

From a purely selfish perspective, being in KarmaFleet has been good for me.  Some of that has been due to some rather small items, like not having to maintain two sets of coms because TNT has their own voice server and own forums and own Jabber channels.  I also don’t get every “all all” ping twice, once straight from GSF and once via the TNT relay.

Not a huge thing, but a benefit none the less.

I think the biggest change early on was with contracts.  Since I tend to do things with special groups within the coalition, that means getting out to remote stations and buying replacement ships.  Since we’re often in NPC stations adjacent to hostile space, that means that any ship contracts need to be up for alliance members only, lest the hostiles just come in and buy up all of our stuff right when we need it the most.  (Or buy it up and relist it for more, or put up bogus contracts with bad fits, something I have fallen for in the past.)

When I was in TNT that often meant I had to ask somebody else to buy me a ship off a GSF alliance contract and then I would give them the ISK for the ship.  Not a huge deal, but it is annoying to have to constantly ask and not be able to take care of yourself.

SRP, the ship replacement program… and I think I should do a post about the SRP and how it works at some point… is better in KarmaFleet.  TNT, as a smaller org, wasn’t keen to support special SIG or squad fits.  I ate some Reavers losses over the years as my SRP requests were denied.  KarmaFleet uses the GSF alliance SRP, which has been pretty good about special fits.  But they also have their own SRP for certain fits.  To encourage people to fly logi in support of fleets, you can get an additional payout on your loss by filing for both GSF and KarmaFleet SRP reimbursement.

One of the other benefits is that the participation requirements for KarmaFleet are low but well defined.  You need to go on three fleets and get participation credit every quarter.  Basically, one PAP a month, but you can make it up if you miss a month.

In TNT the participation requirements were somewhat vague.  I was never called out for lack of participation… and, in our corp, I was often one of the top three when it came to participation… but it is the sort of thing I can fret about.

Of course, once the build up to World War Bee came back in June, I was never in danger of missing participation goals.  I am on 64 PAPs so far for January and there is still more than a day left in the month.

The war itself has been the main focus for more than six months now, but I am glad I made the change when I did.  I could have lingered around in the old corp… like I said, they were not necessarily pushing, but the end was nigh… but getting out and getting set up and settled well before the war worked out.

Over all it was a good move.  I don’t take advantage of a lot KarmaFleet has to offer, and being a big organization means that I hardly stand out at my level of effort.  So it is likely this is where I will stay until they kick me out or I finally tire of the whole null sec thing completely.  I came in well on my way to the final stage of member progression.

The real progression

But the full transformation won’t happen until the war is over at least.  I know I have to see that through to the end, if only to see where it goes and to be a part of whatever denouement lays in our future.

The Friday Bullet Point is GameStop

January is almost in the rear view mirror and it has already been a strange year.  I figured it was about time for me to grab some smaller items from the month and do a Friday bullet points post.  Obviously, GameStop was the top item for me.  But, after that, everything else sort of faded into insignificance.

  • The Revenge of GameStop

A year ago, in my predictions for 2020, I said that GameStop was headed for bankruptcy.  That seemed like a gimme prediction given the company’s situation.  But then came the pandemic and we all needed video games and the company revived.

Still, things were not looking great for storefront video game sales.  The company’s stock price (ticker: GME) was around $4.00 a share a year ago and had buoyed up close to $20 thanks to holiday sales.  And then, earlier this week it was past $450 a share.

Melvin Capital Management (MCM) decided to short the stock… basically a bet that the price would go down… when it was sitting in the high teens, which the Reddit group Wall Street Bets decided to go all in the other way, driving the price up to punish MCM, costing them a lot of money as they had to cover their position.

As if many were not convinced already that the stock market has simply become a casino for the wealthy, Robinhood, E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade, all of which cater to small investors, stopped allowing their users to trade GameStop (along with AMC, BlackBerry, Nokia, and a few others which was also seeing unexpected movement).  Robinhood denied it was a political move, claiming problems with margin exposure and reconciliation, and they are kind of a dicey edge case in the market, being already under investigation by the SEC and some states.

But TD Ameritrade E*Trade are not.  They’re really in the Wall Street club first, and no doubt this move was to defend the extremely wealthy… which includes themselves… as much as anything.  The casino gets upset if the suckers start costing them too much money and start changing the rules.  And there have already been calls for the SEC to control this sort of outsider behavior so that the peasants can’t rise up again.  Populist politicians on both sides of the divide are already looking to make hay out of this and there may be congressional hearings… because political donations from Wall Street are all important.

As a rule, small investors are only safe… or not at complete risk… investing in index funds, usually through their 401k retirement program, because Wall Street can charge a recurring maintenance fee and then use the money to prop up the stocks that benefit them the most.  The little guy is allowed to benefit, but only if Wall Street can make its money first.

And people may be cheering that MCM lost a bunch of money on this, but other big firms either sold off or got in with their shorts when the price was high and made money on the backs of the Redditors.  Meanwhile, individuals who saw GME prices taking off and jumped in later and who didn’t sell before the dive will lose out.  As always, Wall Street wins in the end and the small investors mostly lose.

In the end, none of this helps GameStop  the company even one iota. (Though I wouldn’t be surprised to find some senior execs and board members sold off part of their positions.)  The stock price only matters when the company offers new shares to the public.  This was all people trading shares the company had already sold, so the price… $4.00 or $400… doesn’t mean much to their daily operations.  The company is still in trouble.  This is all people trying to make money from nothing but perception… it is straight up gambling.

This sort of thing happens every so often.  The NPR podcast Planet Money did a story earlier in the year about Hertz Car Rentals when declared bankruptcy earlier this year… due to the fact that they had no cash reserves to speak of because they have spending all their money on stock buy backs which are what most benefit the CEO, board of directors, and Wall Street in the short term, so were completely unprepared for the pandemic downturn… and how their stock suddenly shot up because people were playing the market and wanted to make a quick buck.  The GameStop thing was only news because Wall Street lost control of the situation for a brief moment.

And yes, I am a bit cynical about Wall Street after watching them wreck the economy with sub-prime mortgages fifteen years back only to pay no price and get handed billions of dollars in quantitative easing so they could pay themselves bonuses while many suffered.

After the great depression of the 30s a lot of regulations were put in place to keep a titanic event like that from happening again.  For a brief time in history the stock market was what my finance professor described back in college, a way for company to raise money in order to expand or invest in the business.  That has long since been chipped away and we’re not so far from the days of Joseph Kennedy bilking small time investors.

Anyway, this seemed like something worth noting, even if it is only tangentially gaming related.  I’ll be interested to see where things stand in a year when I review this post.

For those interested in more details about GameStop:

 

Recipe Hunt in the Burning Steppes

Ula has been working on her tailoring in WoW Classic and has been able to make us 14 slot runecloth bags for a while now.  But we have recently started getting a felcloth drop now and then, which she can convert to mooncloth, which can be used to make 16 slot mooncloth bags.

It takes some time, as there is a cool down on the conversion, but she also needs the mooncloth bag recipe.  There was one available at the auction house for 48 gold, but that is a lot of cash for us.  It is also a drop from various mob around Azeroth.  So, when we got online on Sunday and didn’t have a plan, we decided to go see if we could farm some mobs for a while to see if we might get lucky.

The nearest likely mobs were over in the Burning Steppes.

The Burning Steppes, squeezed in between

According to WoW Head, there were a few different mobs that might drop the recipe.  We decided to concentrate on three groups that were fairly close together.

The usual suspects

While at Morgan’s Vigil we also made sure everybody has the quest for drops off of the Blackrock orcs, since we would be slaying them in great numbers.  Once that was in hand we mounted up and headed across the zone.

Mounting up at Morgan’s Vigil

There were, of course, no Blackrock Battlemasters in sight when we arrived at the first location.  But we needed drops and it seemed likely that they shared spawn points with the other Blackrock orcs, so we slew them all, out and about and inside the fort they were around.

Clearing the halls

We had a bit of a problem with Grark Lorkrub, a named orc inside the fort with the Blackrock orcs.  He would de-aggress and run away when we fought him.  Later research showed he was a quest mob for a Horde quest that requires players to beat him into submission and then escort him to Searing Gorge.  Still, we found if we sat right on his spawn point and kept beating on him without letup, we could kill him.  It wasn’t worth the effort in the end, but we managed it once.

We never did run across and Blackrock Raiders.

But the Flamescale Wyrmkin were out in force, and were elites, so we were able to dig into them for a while.

Flamescale Wyrmkin

Naturally, the recipe did not drop, though that did not stop me from thinking it would every time it was my chance to loot.  Go optimism.

While we did not get that, we did rack up a bit of xp as we ran around and slew mobs.  Moronae and I both hit level 59 while we were out there and Skronk and Ula got close to the mark.  Level 60 is in sight now.

After about 90 minutes the mob grinding started to wear a bit thin and Skronk asked aloud what I was thinking, “Don’t we have a quest to finish up for Moronae in Blackrock Depths?”

I mean, it was right there.  And we did still have to get the shadowforge key for Moronae.  So we headed off up the ramp and into Blackrock Mountain for another visit to our most visited instance.

Blackrock Depths map

All we had to do was get through the main floor, through the Ring of Law (6), and around to the monument to Franclorn Forgewright.  Moronae already had the drop from Fineous Darkvire from a past run. It would be easy.  We zip in, we pick up the key, we zip right out again.  It’s BRD.  It’s like going into Wisconsin.

Getting through the main open area was easy enough, and the Ring of Law… well, we drew the Eviscerator yet again.  He was easy enough.  Then it was through the back gate, up the ramp, past the crowd upstairs watching the Ring of Law events, and to that first set of five mobs that gave us such heartburn in one of our early runs.

We had gained a few levels by then, something proven when, in an effort to get a closer look at them, Ula wandered into aggro radius of the group and started the fight.  In we went.  And we got the wandering fire elemental that passes up and down the hall as well.  Still, we held it together and by virtue of experience and being nearly level 60 we knocked them all down and nobody died.

All six down as we recover

From there we could see our target.  There was another group to deal with, then the boss who guards the monument, but neither group was a big risk so long as we were ready before the fight started.

Just a boss to remove before the monument

Once they were down there was a little bit of figuring out how to turn in the quest.  There isn’t a big yellow question mark or anything.  Vanilla WoW had conventions, but wasn’t 100% locked into them.  Once that was accomplished, we took a group shot.

On the invisible ledge before the monument

Then Ula opened a portal to Ironforge for us.  From there we flew out to Morgan’s Vigil to turn in the Blackrock orc quest.  It was there that Skronk noticed that he still had an ogre head in his bag from one of the other quests.  However, when we went out to where the quest is supposed to send you, Skronk found that he did not have the quest and we couldn’t get it from the quest giver, so he probably got credit when somebody else did it.  Vanilla WoW was also pretty bad about clearing up quest items from your bag.

While we were out we ran across Volchan, the wandering level 60 boss in Burning Steppes, and managed to drop him fairly easily.  The loot was yet another mail item.

After some mucking about at Morgan’s Vigil to figure out Skronk’s quest issue, we called it a day and recalled back to Ironforge.

Everybody stoning home

While we didn’t do much in the instance, that is our tenth run in and about Blackrock Depths, and we’re still not done yet.

SuperData Shows WoW was Still Going Strong in December

SuperData Research released their digital revenue numbers for December last week, so it is time once again to see what they say.  Overall it was another big month for video game revenue.

  • Digital games closed out 2020 with $12.0B in December, which was an 15% growth from the prior year and the highest monthly revenue total ever. Mobile earnings were up 5% year-over-year and console earnings grew 16%. PC games revenue, however, jumped 40% largely thanks to the release of Cyberpunk 2077.

The chart for December:

SuperData Research Top 10 – December 2020

On the PC side of the chart the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 topped the chart, which despite many issues, still raked in a ton of cash.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 had the biggest game launch of all time based on digital revenue and digital units sold (10.2M). A successful marketing campaign and the reputation of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt provided the hype necessary for the CD Projekt Red title to break records despite issues including performance problems on consoles, widespread glitches and the indefinite removal of the game from the PlayStation Store. An extremely high share of digital sales (80%) were on PC, likely due to the delisting on PlayStation and overall state of the console versions. Regardless of the short-term financial success, the critical backlash means the developer will now have to invest significant resources fixing the game in order to rehabilitate its image before the launch of its next title. [total subtracts refunds issued]

That ruled the roost on the PC side, which kept League of Legends down in second place for another month.

Then we see World of Warcraft in third place, indicating that they at least held people with the Shadowlands expansion into the first full month.  Generally WoW tends to live on the lower half of the chart, so third place is pretty good.

After WoW we get the rest of the usual top four entries on the PC list, Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online.

CS:GO saw a surge, ending up in seventh spot for December, followed by Fortnite and its return to the top ten on the PC stack.  Fortnite was doing well in December according to SuperData.

  • On PC and console, Fortnite earnings were at their highest since August 2020, and player numbers were larger than at any point since August 2019. High-profile events and collaborations continue to draw people to the shooter. December began with a limited-time Marvel Comics event that brought in a record 15.3M concurrent players. This was followed by the release of cosmetic items from franchises including Star Wars, Halo and The Walking Dead. 

After that is the redoubtable Roblox and World of Tanks to wrap up the PC side.

On the console column Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which released in November, carried on in first place, followed again by NBA 2K21 again.

Cyberpunk 2077 only managed third place on the console chart, which while respectable, makes me wonder if the refunds for PS4 and XBox One users might have been a drag.

After that there was the perennial list member GTA V.  It had another release that pushed sales up yet again.

  • The release of the Cayo Perico Heist for Grand Theft Auto V resulted in the game’s highest monthly digital earnings ever.  The update for the multiplayer Grand Theft Auto Online mode marked the first time the seven-year-old game received a new open-world area for players to explore. Player numbers also grew 46% from November levels but did not exceed totals achieved earlier in 2020.

And then we find Fortnite, up from tenth spot last month.

On the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go topped the list, swapping spots with Free Fire, which went down to second position in December.  Candy Crush Saga managed to take fifth position on the list, while the long time first place champion, Honour of Kings, remained down in the 9th spot.

Finally, while it did not make the list in December, SuperData once again has a bit to say about Among Us and its success in 2020.

  • Among Us player numbers fell from their November peak, but the game was still 2.8 times as popular as the next most-popular game, Roblox. The title also launched on Nintendo Switch in December. This edition sold 3.2M copies and was the highest-earning version of the game for the month.

And that is what SuperData had to say for December.

CCP Offers Up Broken Monthly Economic Report for December

We got the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report for December last week and I waited a while to write about it because what they put out was simply and obviously wrong in places.  At least more so than usual, so I thought they might go back and fix the most egregious bit.  I am ever the optimist.

EVE Online nerds harder

But, since no update appears to be forthcoming, lets look at what they gave us and hope for better next time.

Destruction

The flaw in the December MER is the destruction numbers.  If you pull out the regional data for destruction, the top ten regions are:

  1. Delve – 3.23 trillion
  2. The Forge – 2.1 trillion
  3. The Citadel – 1.77 trillion
  4. Lonetrek – 1.68 trillion
  5. Catch – 1.47 trillion
  6. Metropolis – 1.38 trillion
  7. Sinq Laison – 1.26 trillion
  8. Domain – 1.04 trillion
  9. Genesis – 832 billion
  10. Black Rise – 753 billion

The total destruction according to the regional data was 35 trillion ISK.  That put Delve down by more than a trillion from November, with overall destruction down by trillion.

The problem is that the number for Delve… and thus the total number for all regions… was very far from the actual mark.

With the war on and the huge battle at M2-XFE that started on December 30th and ran until downtime at 11:00 UTC on December 31st, many of us were expecting to see a huge jump in the destruction numbers for the Delve regional data.  The battle report showed more than 20 trillion ISK destroyed in that first fight.

Battle Report Header

That seems like a big miss.

I sometimes get a bit pissy about CCP and the MER because the numbers from one chart and data set do not line up with numbers from another chart and data set.  It seems like a summer intern project to write a little unit test to validate the data being pulled.  And this month is no different, but at least this time around another data set shows that the regional data is bad, at least for Delve.  So I will bring up the Produced, Destroyed, Mined chart.

Dec 2020 – Produced vs Destroyed vs Mined

This tracks the daily data game wide, with the thick line being the 30 day moving average and the light lines being the actual daily totals.  You can see there, at the end of December, the daily number jumps up off the chart, which has a top range of 6 trillion ISK.  Likewise, the 30 day average for destruction is pulled up, exceeding production.

CCP provides the raw data for that chart in a .csv file, so anybody can see what the actual amounts are.  The total destruction in the data for December is 74.83 trillion ISK, and the value for just December 31st, which covers the primary portion of the battle before downtime, is 23.26 trillion ISK.  (The second battle is in the data already, as it leaks out into the current date when they pull the report, and that totals up to 15, 4 trillion ISK destroyed on January 3rd.)

Of course, the data for that chart isn’t wholly accurate as well as there are three days missing, December 3, 4, and 26.  Still, they reflect the reality of the situation more than the alternative.

So the regional stats are off by a good 40 trillion ISK total, and at least the amount of that battle report for just Delve.  So a more likely ranking is:

  1. Delve – 26 trillion (estimated)
  2. The Forge – 2.1 trillion
  3. The Citadel – 1.77 trillion
  4. Lonetrek – 1.68 trillion
  5. Catch – 1.47 trillion
  6. Metropolis – 1.38 trillion
  7. Sinq Laison – 1.26 trillion
  8. Domain – 1.04 trillion
  9. Genesis – 832 billion
  10. Black Rise – 753 billion

Anyway, here is to hoping they’ll set things right next month.

NPC Bounties

Moving on to NPC bounties, which were the big story last month, we see they are still way down.

Dec – and Faucets Over Time

The numbers began to crash when the ESS and the Dynamic Bounty System were introduced to the game in November.

Total bounties collect in November were 39.3 trillion, which was down from 55.9 trillion in October, the last full month without the new systems.  December, the first full month with the ESS and DBS changes saw that number tumble to 22.8 trillion ISK.

Even with the ESS payments, which amounted to 6.5 trillion ISK, that leaves the total at a little more than half of the value paid out in October.  This is a big hit to income.  The top regions for December were:

  1. Oasa – 1.62 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. Vale of the Silent – 1.19 trillion (mixed small groups)
  3. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.02 trillion (PandaFam)
  4. Perrigen Falls – 996 billion (PandaFam)
  5. Insmother – 918 billion (Legacy)
  6. Cobalt Edge – 753 billion (PandaFam)
  7. Tenal – 739 billion (PandaFam)
  8. Metropolis – 737 billion (High Sec)
  9. Branch – 711 billion (PandaFam)
  10. Fountain – 699 billion (Imperium)

Of note is that a high sec region has entered the top ten, meaning that NPC bounties collected by mission runners are now likely a significant portion of the remaining bounty total.  There are no Forsaken Hubs in Metropolis.

Outside of NPC bounties, the sinks and faucets for December looked like this:

Dec 2020 – Sinks and Faucets

Commodities, which are drops from NPCs in wormhole space, Abyssal Deadspace, and the December holiday event (and maybe the bonds from robbing an ESS in null sec) and sold back to NPCs, continue be the largest ISK faucet into the game, ringing in at 40.59 trillion ISK.

After that there is NPC bounties, which are now in close competition with incursion payouts.  And then there is insurance, which if you look at the first sinks and faucets chart, saw a spike at the end of December, no doubt related to the battle at M2-XFE.

Production

Turning to production, the regional data shows the following regions as the top of the list:

  1. The Forge – 21 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 7 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Lonetrek – 6.94 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 6.25 trillion (High Sec)
  5. The Citadel – 5.73 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Domain – 4.51 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Tribute – 4.22 trillion (mixed small groups)
  8. Esoteria – 3.73 trillion (Legacy)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 3.64 trillion (mixed small groups)
  10. Heimatar – 3.07 trillion (High Sec)

The Forge, and the high sec regions around it, which support the Jita market, remain strong.  Delve, home of the Imperium, led the production outside of high sec.  The war has kept production going.  Legacy production remained ongoing in Esoteria despite claims that they were set to abandon the region.  Oddly, two regions of small holders, Tribute and Vale of the Silent, made the top ten, but PandaFam in Oasa fell to 11th and off the list.

The total for production in the regional data was 107.84 trillion ISK, though since I’m double checking things this month, the production/destruction data only shows it at 74.83 trillion ISK.  However, that is missing three days.  I am not sure those three days would make up the gap, so it shows once again that the data can be questioned.

Trade

Then there is trade value, where the top regions were:

  1. The Forge – 429 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 51 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Sinq Laison – 20.6 trillion (Dodixie)
  4. Lonetrek – 16.25 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. Delve – 16.21 trillion (War Zone)
  6. Metropolis – 10.9 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 10.1 trillion (Rens)
  8. Essence – 5.55 trillion (Gallente High Sec))
  9. The Citadel – 5.34 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  10. Tash-Murkon – 3.65 trillion (Amarr High Sec)

Everything was about in the same zone as November, save for Delve, which was down about 6 trillion ISK.  That is odd because with both sides now based in Delve there ought to be more buying rather than less.

Mining

Finally, there is mining.  After seeming to plateau in November, mineral prices continued their climb skyward as CCP’s keeps the starvation economy plan in place.

Dec 2020 – Economic Indices

The October peak was an all time high point for mineral prices and now the spike continues.

Mining remained largely a high sec occupation, though Oasa in PandaFam territory climbed to the top of the list in December.

  1. Oasa – 1.27 trillion
  2. The Forge – 1.17 trillion
  3. Metropolis – 1.04 trillion
  4. Domain – 990 billion
  5. Sinq Laison – 824 billion
  6. Lonetrek – 751 billion
  7. The Citadel – 617 billion
  8. Tash-Murkon – 575 billion
  9. Perrigen Falls – 568 billion
  10. Everyshore – 559 billion

Aside from Oasa, which is up slightly, numbers are down in every region on that list.  Since the value of ore mined depends on the price, that appears to mean that a lot less mining went on in December, even in Oasa.  The total mined from the region data was 19.9 trillion in value, down from 23.7 trillion in November.

Since we’re skeptical of the regional data this month, I double checked it against the Produced/Destroyed/Mined data which, despite missing the three days indicated above, shows 19.8 trillion ISK value mined, down from 24.9 in November.  That is within the usual margin of error between the different data collection methods.

So it goes.

As always, you can find all the standard charts and the raw data used to create them… such that it is… in the MER dev blog.

Related:

29 Week of World War Bee

This was the week of fish and pigeons in the Imperium. The Mittani told us the story about his fish dying as well as a tale from his youth when, as a young child, he was chasing pigeons around and managed to grab one… then immediately let go because he didn’t know what to do with it once he had caught it.

Somehow this pigeon thing has become his metaphor for the situation in M2-XFE.  We have grabbed the pigeon… in this case, a multitude of hostile titans… and we better not let go.  I don’t think a pigeon is necessarily the best metaphor, but that has become it for the moment.

Pigeon metaphor aside though, events in the war remain focused on the trapped titans.  Locator agents report that there are at least 318 still logged off around the Keepstar grid in M2-XFE and PAPI needs to do something about it.  Or Legacy does.  It seems that the old titan hands from NCDot and Pandemic Legion are content to wait for months until the time is right in order to extract.  But they are also from an era when you had a dedicated titan alt, because they were essentially space coffins you could never leave before we got Keepstars.

The younger generation of players with big toys, those who have become used to skill injectors and being able to dock up a titan or super carrier like any other ship often have a “do all the things” character, and having that character trapped and logged off in a hostile system is a hardship that restricts what they can do.  Organizations with players like that are feeling the pressure to get them extracted.  That falls a lot on Legacy, though Pandemic Horde has its share of those anxious to escape.

And there is now a timer starting to loom over the situation.  The Imperium retook the ihub in MX-XFE back on January 6th.  That started a 35 day count down, at which point the Imperium will be able to setup an Ansiblex jump gate into the system, making reinforcement of the hell camp much easier, and cyno jammers, which will keep PAPI from dropping capital ships to support any extraction effort.  They have to get out by mid-February or face an even more difficult task.

Delve Front

There was a lot of activity on the Delve front, ihub contests, structures reinforced, and even a Fortizar dropped by PAPI in 1DQ1-A, the Imperium capital system.  But all of that seems to total up to PAPI looking for ways to occupy the Imperium, get our collective eyes focused elsewhere, so that they can do an extraction attempt in M2-XFE.  Somehow they always have a HAC fleet or two able to fly over there no matter what is going on, usually to the detriment of whatever operation they were allegedly involved in.  And then they run into the hell camp on the Keepstar.  So not a lot on the map has changed.

Delve – Jan 24, 2021

PAPI’s continued feints and thrusts into M2-XFE help keep the hell camp alive.  They have had a bit of success.  Just after downtime last week they were able to log in and jump out four titans that were on the Keepstar grid, but closer to their old Fortizar location.

Then on Friday night they made a big push and cleared all the bubbles above the Keepstar in order to attempt an extract of capital ships trapped up there.  Their pings on Discord sounded like they were going all in.

PAPI straying near to hubris

However, the shredding did not appear to be enough.  They did extract five titans and maybe a dozen super carriers, but upon losing two super carriers, they gave up and went home, having lost over 100b ISK and inflicted about 53 billion ISK in damage according to the battle report, and leaving more than 300 titans still trapped.

Battle Report Header

The M2-XFE situation continues to be a drag on PAPI’s ability to engage in effective offensive operations.  Despite still being able to bring more pilots to any fight they choose, their effectiveness and willingness to fight and take necessary losses feels greatly reduced.

Catch Front

I did not hear much about the Catch front over the course of the last week.  Fights are still happening, some ihubs changed hands, and TEST lost a two Fortizars to the Stain Russians.

Catch – Jan 24, 2021

And that metaliminal storm that looked like it might head into Querious to follow the other one that went that route, changed its mind and moved back into the core of Brave’s space.

Other Theaters

Over in Querious the last Brave ihub was destroyed, leaving a lot of unheld systems in the east and center of the region.

Querious – Jan 24, 2021

Esoteria remains the same when it comes to ihubs, so I get to reuse the same map fragment yet again.

Northwest Esoteria – Jan 24, 2021

Like the team in Catch, the Esoteria crew managed to bag a TEST Fortizar and a Tatara as well.

And up in Fountain there was a bit of activity over ihubs as GaNg BaNg TeAm moved in to take a couple of ihubs on the far side of KVN-36.

My Participation

Leaving my alt in M2-XFE in a Rokh to participate in the M2 hell camp when I have some time has turned out to be handy as I am there and ready to go whenever there is a breakout attempt.  It often means I have two ships logged into the system as I will then get on with my main, join a fleet in 1DQ1-A, and end up in M2-XFE as well.  Usually it is just to defend the bubbles… or repair them if I am in logi.

Repair drones on a bubble generator

I did get into the big breakout attempt on Friday night and was able to get on one of the Nyx kills with my alt.

A Nyx exploding in M2-XFE

However, that was pretty much my big kill of the week.  On the flip side, I lost a Purifier to a gate camp because I was dumb and got decloaked.  Se I have added that to my loss list for the way.

  • Ares interceptor – 15
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Drake battle cruiser – 4
  • Malediction interceptor – 4
  • Scimitar logi – 3
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 3
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 3
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 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 released the Monthly Economic Report for December 2020 and it was broken, but I have a whole post about the MER tomorrow.

Siberian Squads has decided that they no longer want to be a part of Legacy Coalition.  Word is that they are going to head up north in null sec to do their own thing.

There was also a rumor that the English speaking portion of Winter Coalition, which is the part of PandaFam that Fraternity runs, were headed back home for a rest from the war.

Progodlegend and Vily held a Legacy Town Hall meeting yesterday, which started off badly when they tried to dump to many people at once onto their Mumble server and it fell over because it could not handle the load.  You would have thought that the second battle at M2 would have taught them a lesson about that, but I guess not.

The meeting then moved to Twitch, where they claimed that everything was going well in Delve, they still plan to move into Delve, Querious, and Period Basis.  Since that plan is taking longer than they thought they are making arrangements to allow their pilots to mine and rat in allied space as the fighting in Catch, Esoteria, and Immensea is hampering that.  Then there were questions and people said “uh” and “um” throughout.  You can listen to it here if you want.

The ihub contests in Delve that they had setup were all successfully won by the Imperium because they stood down to have the town hall.

Over in /r/eve somebody from Brave put up a bit of propaganda invoking the movie 300 and casting themselves as the Spartans.  Again.  This is a recurring theme from Legacy, even though they are effectively the Persians in the war, outnumbering us and invading our territory. I suggested that if they want to keep rolling with memes they consider this one.

The Imperium didn’t set our war goals

And the concurrent user count was up a bit this past Sunday.  Not a huge jump, but trending upward still.

  • 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)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996

Related

Pandemic Binge Watching and HBO Max

Last month HBO and Roku worked out whatever it is that was keeping me from being able to access the service on my Roku Stick, so I now have access to all the wonder and majesty that is HBO Max.  And it is a bit of a mess.

It is fairly obvious what the plan for HBO Max is in the evolution of HBO overall.  Back in the day, HBO was a service that let you watch a few movies that had recently been in the theaters along with a haphazard selection of older movies.  Then they started producing some original content with things like comedy specials and shows like The Wire and The Sopranos.   With Game of Thrones their original content was clearly the biggest draw for the service.  And now, in the world of the pandemic and theaters being closed, HBO has leveraged the situation to get some films to open on their services at the same time as their theatrical release.

Also, Netflix and Hulu have been doing pretty well with a bunch of old but popular shows, so HBO wanted to jump on that bandwagon as well, which brings us to HBO Max, which attempts to bring all of that together into a single user interface.

As I mentioned, it is a bit of a mess.

That doesn’t mean it is bad.  They have added some features that they were lacking when compared to other services.  You can now have a user profile, something I think Netflix has had for a decade at this point, so if your kid binge watches Sesame Street you don’t have that polluting your recommendations.

You can also skip over ads for other shows or the opening credits or the series summary with a press of a button now.  And these are good things.

But, at its heart, HBO Max is an attempt to have a lot more content without making finding something you want to watch any easier.  This is a problem every service has, so it is a matter of where it stands in the hierarchy of channels we use.  HBO Max does this a bit better than Amazon Prime or Hulu, but not as well as Disney+ and not nearly as well as Netflix.

Which is odd, because HBO Max was clearly trying to emulate Netflix in their own way.  But despite the fact that a lot of the same categories are up at the top of the page when you open the service… just added, popular, continue watching, items from your list… and despite my occasional annoyance at how brazenly eager Netflix is to start rolling video the moment you pause on some title… Netflix just does it better.

Part of this is that Netflix is easier to read from across the room on the couch.  They have titles in big bold print, while somebody at HBO decided that the title card for a show or movie has the name on it and that is good enough, forgetting how often that text can be tiny, in a frilly script, or made otherwise unreadable to older eyes.

And part of this is that HBO Max just doesn’t run very well on the Roku.  It is slow to load and slow to respond to inputs, which is a bad look next to Netflix, which is light and nimble and responsive even as it is more active and throwing video at every turn.  How can Netflix be so smooth with dynamic responses to selections and streaming clips on the fly as you move through a list while HBO Max, which is relatively static, chugs along, responding eventually to your inputs?

But there is also just the simple ability to find something to watch.  Maybe because my Netflix account is now about 20 years old, counting the old disks by mail era, they know what to serve up to me as options.  Maybe their algorithms are more sophisticated.  Maybe they just have better content.  But if we sit down on a Friday night and I pull up Netflix I am generally able to find something for us to watch on which we can both agree.

And, in the end, finding something to watch is the most important thing.  HBO Max promises more movies coming with their theatrical release dates, while Netflix has been telling me they’ll have a new movie every week this year.  We shall see how these two services compare over time.  While we are currently subscribed to both, I have to give the nod to Netflix at the moment.

Returning Again to My Gamer Profile

I have done the gamer motivation profile thing over at Quadratic Foundry a few times at this point.  It is one of those things that comes up every now and then, often part of something like Blaugust.  So you can read about my past runs… and how they differ every time… if you so desire.

However, I received an email from them last week that said they had something new for their profiles now.  They now have an array of nine gamer types to go up against Bartle’s now ancient array of Explorer, Socializer, Achiever, and Killer quadrants.  They are:

The Nine Gamers to oppose the Nine Riders

They are, if you cannot read the chart:

  • Acrobat
  • Gardener
  • Slayer
  • Skirmisher
  • Gladiator
  • Ninja
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Architect
  • Bard

You can read about them in detail over on the page that describes them.

So naturally I wanted to see which type I was.  That meant going back and running through the quiz again, which is always the largest flaw in such and enterprise.  As I have said numerous times, the questions are a bit… squishy.  What I deem important can change depending upon the game or situation.  And, as such, my profile changes every time I re-do the quiz, as it did this time.

If you have an account, as I do, when you re-take the quiz you get to see your previous answers and the fact that I end up changing at least half of them every time is a pretty good indication that the question don’t have hard and fast answers.  At least not for me.

So I am apparently and Architect/Skirmisher this time around.

I am at war with myself

  • Architects are solo gamers that enjoy planning, decision-making, and progression. They prefer slow-paced, relaxing gameplay where they can plan and build something grand and enduring.

I guess.  Certainly that describes my Minecraft style.

  • Skirmishers want fast-paced team arenas that are accessible and easy to jump into. They are highly spontaneous gamers who dislike games that require thinking and planning.

And that sounds like the polar opposite of architect.  So I like relaxed solo, fast paced team games, and I enjoy planning but dislike thinking and planning.  I am also a by the book cop who is a loose cannon who breaks all the rules or something.

My adjectives this time around were: Aggressive, Spontaneous, Driven, Gregarious, and Immersed.

That is kind of a lot, while my graph, which I have posted with each of these was:

Where my motivations lay

And, as usual, once you have the profile the site tries to recommend games.  My top ten matches (for PC and Nintendo Switch) were:

  1. Animal Crossing (series)
  2. Starbound
  3. Diablo (series)
  4. No Man’s Sky
  5. Stardew Valley
  6. Elite: Dangerous
  7. The Sims 3
  8. ARK: Survival Evolved
  9. Fallout Shelter
  10. Borderlands (series)

I own games from half that list, but never really got into them save for Diablo.  The first game I have really invested time in on the list is Minecraft, which made it on page three of the recommendations.

Of course, judging from the Massively OP post where they did their surveys, an MMO player needs to be a Bard.  If I read the description for Bard, that sounds a bit like me too.  Maybe less on the social interaction, but certainly the bit about being a part of a grand story.  So I probably answered the questions badly yet again.  But if you go back and take the quiz knowing what you want the result to be, is it any more or less valid?

I went back and changed very little… slightly more emphasis on one thing, a little less on others, but no answer moved by more than one position… and ended up with Bard/Bounty Hunter.

Bard yes, but a Bounty Hunter?

  • Bards are team players who want to chat and interact with other players in game worlds that are rich with lore, stories, discovery, and customization. For them, the game is a grand story that emerges from a community of players.

That is sort of me.  I am less of a chatter and more interested in interacting with the world.  Being part of a grand story that emerges from a community of players pretty much pegs why I play EVE Online the way I do, but not WoW or many other MMORPGs… largely because the grand story is scripted and has little or nothing to do with the community of players in those games.

  • Bounty Hunters are solo, action-oriented explorers who want game worlds that they can make their own through customization and discovery. They also enjoy power progression and unleashing mayhem.

I think the questions about explosives and being an agent of chaos are more influential than one might suspect.  That is the only thing I can imagine would get me on the Bounty Hunter type.  I am not really at “action oriented” explorer by my own measure.  Look how low my action score is both times.

At the root those small changes altered my motivations a lot more significantly than I would have guessed.

Are my motivations a lie?

That also changed my adjectives to:  Aggressive, Spontaneous, Completionist, Gregarious, Deeply Immersed, and Creative.

You can see my current profile in detail here.

With the change of profile, my game recommendations changed… a bit.

  1. City of Heroes
  2. Slime Rancher
  3. Animal Crossing (series)
  4. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  5. The Elder Scrolls Online
  6. Fallout Shelter
  7. The Sims 3
  8. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
  9. The Elder Scrolls (series)
  10. Dragon Age (series)

I guess I should be happy some MMORPGs made the first page this time, though I have to question City of Heroes being a recommendation.  You cannot legally play it currently, as it is only available via private/pirate servers.  Also, like the other MMORPGs that made the top ten, it was never a game I could get into really.  Not my thing.  And, of course, WoW and EVE Online appear nowhere on either recommendation list.

So there we go.  Am I what the first pass through the quiz said I was or the second?  Should I go take it again until it gets me right?

Thwarted in Dire Maul North

We hadn’t really made a plan after the previous week’s diversion into Dire Maul East.  However, we had made it through successfully, had the key to get into the rest of the complex, and were looking for something to do, so we decided to carry on in Feralas.

Feralas in WoW Classic

Skronk said that Dire Maul North was the next destination, and I honestly couldn’t recall.  The high end of the level range is packed with dungeons and they are something of a blur in my brain all these years down the road.  Our group for the afternoon was:

  • Viniki – level 58 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 58 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 58 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 58 gnome mage

But before we went to Feralas we had a bit of leftover business to which to attend.  In Dire Maul East we picked up those gems after the final boss and brought them to Moonglade to jump start a quest.

Two gems left to collect

On our way to the instance we decided to wrap that up, which required a trip to Silithus.  Since we had not been there before, we flew into Un’Goro Crater and took the path into Silithus.

Actually, I had gone ahead over the course of the week and completed the quest as it had a shield upgrade for me.  That meant I knew the way to where we needed to go.

The wrecked town in Silithus

Alone it was a bit of a pain to get myself into the building where the chest you need to collect is.  As a group we rolled through pretty quickly.

Chest found… also, my new shield is visible

From there we ran back to the alliance camp in the zone, picked up the flight point, and flew back up to Feathermoon in Feralas.  The boat was, once again, just in time for us and we were soon within the Dire Maul compound.  This time we headed to the back of the main open area, the north end, to the door.  It was locked, but we had the key.

The door to Dire Maul North

Once in and setup, we got off to a pretty strong start.  We managed to work our way around the open main area and get to the steps to pull Guard Mol’Dar without aggroing any of the packs of hounds that are down there with him.

The Guard commeth

He was an straightforward fight, as was Stomper Kreeg after him, though the drunk effect from fighting Kreeg stuck with me for a good long while after the icon for it went away.  I was weaving about as I ran, which wasn’t an opportune thing to have happen as things started to get a bit thick on the ground for us.

We were attempting to make our way to Guard Fengus and his chest, which has another key, but the groups of mobs on the way were very close together, with wanderers moving in between.  This was made more difficult by the fact that the mobs in Dire Maul North were a couple levels higher than those in the east, ranging from 58 to 60, which made their aggro radius tricky to watch.  Honestly, the aggro radius for the mobs there seemed to be extra wide, though maybe the size of ogres distorted my perception.  But at times I would edge into range to shoot one for a pull and find that I had already had them with proximity aggro.

Still, we managed to thread our way through, knocking out groups we needed to as we moved and bypassing the rest, until we were able to pull Guard Fengus off to a safe corner.  Well, it seemed safe until that add wandered up.  Still, we won, though Moronae went down in the fight.  Time for the first ress.

Bringing Moronae back

But we got him and got the key and were headed into the deeps of the instance, which was when things started to get a bit hairy.

We were fighting the first group on the way in when an Eye of Kilrog floated up on the group.  I said something like, “I think we need to kill that… fast” but we were already engaged in a fight and did not get it in time.  The Eye of Kilrog opened up a portal and two Netherwalkers hopped out and joined the fight against us.  They were both level 60 and basically kicked the crap out of us before we could get our act together.

We’re all dead, save Skronk, who is banished and about to die

That meant a release and run back.  We got back in the instance and threaded our way back to the Netherwalkers who, conveniently, stayed where we left them, far enough from the remains of the group we had been fighting that we could take them on their own.

We were able to take them and move on down into the main room, avoiding further mishap with fights.  We managed to pull Guard Slip’kik away from the other mobs on his patrol path and take him down.

Slip’Kik pulled back

Up to this point I haven’t mentioned drops from the bosses mostly because we were getting rooked on the RNG.  Mail every single time, despite the fact that the loot table had some nice items in there.  There were some upgraded shoulders I would have like had as a possibility.  But we were denied every time.

We spoke with Knot Thimblejack about his quest, but didn’t have the materials… no planning here… so decided to skip on past that.

Knot prepared for him

And after that the road got pretty rough for us.  There were a series of groups around the ramp that led up to the next level.  Something about that ramp tickled some memory in the back of my brain, something negative, but we carried on.  On pulling one group we got them around the corner only to have an Eye of Kilrog come up behind us and go unnoticed until it was too late.  Another wipe.

Dead again as the Netherwalkers beat us down

On the way back a patrolling Ogre managed to get the better of Moronae and I, though Ula and Skronk managed to finish him off, so Skronk was able to ress the two of us so we could carry on.

Embarrassing

The patrol had banish Skronk and I was a millisecond late on my health potion.  It was not a good look.

We came back and managed to clear the bottom of the ramp, but in attempting to clear the area at the top of the ramp we ended up with another Eye of Kilrog attack that wiped us again.

Wipe on the ramp

Honestly, we were killing about half of the Eye of Kilrog patrols as soon as they showed up, but you just have to get one mid-fight when you’re busy and things can get quickly out of control.

We were also starting to notice some really odd draw distance issues.  The mobs on the platform at the top of the ramp were fading in and out of visibility even though we seemed to be plenty close to them.  I know there have been some other draw distance issues in WoW Classic before, but here we were dealing with things on the edge of aggro range popping in and out our sight.  We managed, but it was odd.

We pushed on and cleared the platform and made it up the next ramp, thwarting an Eye of Kilrog along the way.  We found we could bypass most of the mobs on the next platform and were able to get in and up the hall to within sight of Captain Kromcrush, the next to last boss.

The captain is up ahead, the final boss back beyond that

We had to deal with one more group.  Unfortunately that got out of hand… that banish is a killer at the wrong moment… and we ended up wiping in the hallway.

Down in the hallway

You can see behind us some of the groups we were able to bypass.

Still, we got one guy down and were so close to the captain, so we ran back to the instance again.  But when we got there, we found we had been long enough that the instance had started to respawn.  We got a patrol right in front of us, but past him groups were appearing again.

That first guy

We were looking at the need to fight our way through at least half of what we had cleared on the first pass through.  That wasn’t going to happen, so we called it.  Ula opened a portal to Darnassus for us to put us near a flight point.  Those that had not turned in the quest we started out with were able to fly off and turn it in, reaping the reward.  We’re all starting to get close to 59, so it might be a little easier once we cross that number.