Monthly Archives: August 2021

August in Review

The Site

Another month goes by.  I hit two minor meaningless milestones in August.  In addition to my 6,000th post I also managed to make it to 500 consecutive days of posting.

Quantity has a quality all its own

That was one that was easy up until I got past 400 posts and then it started to weigh on me.  But I made it.  In fact, today marks 521 days in a row.  But I probably won’t keep it going.  The pressure of starting over again at 1 is starting to be outweighed by inability to really care about that sort of meaningless milestone after a certain point.  500 felt worth it somehow, but beyond that is just yadda yadda yadda.

Otherwise it was kind of a slow month for traffic here, which was odd because Blaugust usually heralds a bit of a boost in page views and visitors.  I appear to have fallen out of favor with Google again, as search engine referrals have tanked over the last three months.  Such is life on the web.

One Year Ago

It was Promptapalooza Blaugust a year ago, a bit of a change up since we kind of did Blaugust as Blapril earlier in the year.  I wrote something about Quote of the Day and my alleged writing process.

The pandemic was still in full swing with no vaccine in sight.  I started writing about the shows we were binge watching around our house.  And then I did it again.

Twitter reminded me I had been on their site for a decade.

Facebook said you would need a Facebook account to log into your Oculus VR headset.

Epic broke the rules for the Apple Store and the Google Play store and, when Fortnite was removed due to this, immediately sued, which was their plan.  But what did Epic really want?

Daybreak bought Cold Iron Studios.  I think.  The press release about the acquisition has since been scrubbed… classic Daybreak, though still available at the Internet Archive… and Cold Iron has since gone on to ship Aliens: Fireteam Elite, which was not published by Daybreak or EG7 so far as I can tell.  Both Massively OP and MMO Fallout followed up on this for me though.

The pandemic was turning out to be quite lucrative for Activision Blizzard and the Shadowlands expansion was just two months out.

Over at SSG they were in danger of entering J. Allen Brack territory in warning people that they didn’t want “classic” LOTRO.  They’re probably right in the case of LOTRO, but it still gets people worked up.

I had returned to Diablo II, writing up my adventures in Act I.

In WoW Classic, which turned one year old, we were getting ready for Sunken Temple.  The road there takes some time.  Our first run went down stairs.

EVE Echoes, the NetEase mobile game based on EVE Online, launched.

In EVE Online CCP was introducing space weather in the form of metaliminal storms.  We got armor plating tiericide, Niarja fell to the Triglavians, and the promised metaliminal storms came out way before the month was out.

I hit my 14th anniversary with the game and wrote something about the spaceship meta.

World War Bee was in full swing.  I’ll just list out the posts on that:

Finally, Brian Green passed away and the community mourned his passing.

Five Years Ago

It was really Blaugust, so I was posting every… single… day even though it was supposed to be the “super relaxed” version of the event.

After spilling Mr. Yoshida’s delicious sauce over my ancient cell phone, I finally joined the smart phone boom with an iPhone 5S.  Of course, that meant playing Pokemon Go, something my wife does better than I do.

I tried to come to grips with the constant whine that every MMORPG should cater to every single play style by asking if any MMORPG had ever managed to find a new audience after launch.  I remain unconvinced that it has ever worked.

Blizzard was telling people that World of Warcraft was still the number one subscription MMORPG. But after their vow of silence on subscription numbers, that brag seemed a bit hollow.

In the game though things were looking up as the pre-Legion expansion event , the demon invasions, proved to be a boon to leveling up alts as they built up momentum.  And I still had that level 100 boost with the expansion to look forward to.

And then WoW Legion launched and it was on to the Broken Isles and class halls and what not.

I speculated what WoW expansions would look like if they were done like Pokemon games.

The Stormhold server in EverQuest II was facing a unlock voting crisis over the Rise of Kunark expansion.  It failed the first two votes, and failing a third would put votes in a moratorium for a while.  However, it passed on the third try.  I also shared my secret EQII shame.  Of course, with the coming of WoW Legion I was out of the game… like Legends of Norrath… just in time to miss some deals.

In EVE Online we had the YC118.7 update.  I was wondering if better PvE could save the game, though I remain unsure as to what “better” would really look like.

I was also celebrating my ten year anniversary with EVE Online.  Meanwhile CCP had a free to play plan lined up for New Eden.  It looked like it had some holes in it though… which we later learned it did.

Down in the southwest of New Eden the Imperium had set up shop in Sakht and was banging on the door of Delve, dropping citadels, blowing up citadels, and fighting LUMPY over sov timers.  Despite threats to keep the Imperium down for good, the locals in Delve got very little support in their fight and we were into the region shortly.

Back up north I was able to slip my last belongings out of the newly quiet system of Saranen.  Meanwhile, Executive Outcomes, which rode out the struggle as part of the Imperium, parted ways once the Casino War was over.

And somewhere along the line I found the time to get out Half-Life 2 and give it another spin.

Ten Years Ago

Blizzard announced some crazy idea that you would have to be logged on to Battle.net at all times to play Diablo III.  Glad that never came up again.  Oh, wait

SOE finally got a comprehensive server status page, and Scars of Velious opened up on Fippy Darkpaw.  I was wondering if they had “made good” with customers after the great hacking in April/May of the year.

I hit 70 million skill points in EVE Online and prepared to check out after the summer or rage.

I was back playing LOTRO for a bit.  I made it into Moria, then went looking for hoes.  I also wrote a post summing up my relationship with LOTRO up to that point.  It’s complicated.

Wargaming.net announced World of Battleships.  They have since changed the name to World of Warships, because we cannot have enough games we can shorted to WoW yet.  This got me musing on battleships and related games.

Meanwhile, World or Warplanes (another WoW) got a web site with cool pictures and stuff.

David Reid was telling people that Rift had ONE MILLION CUSTOMERS.  How one actually defines a customer was left as an exercise to the student.

I was still playing some Need for Speed World.  I was enjoying destructible terrain, though the weekend the police broke lead to some different destruction.

I mentioned some of the little things I liked in MMOs.

I was wondering about World of Warcraft Magazine issue 5.  It seemed to be very late.

And Namaste put out a Very Short History of MMOs video.

Fifteen Years Ago

This is the last month in review where I have to pull things from fifteen years ago without linking back to my own blog posts.

AOL, which is still a thing even today (I strongly suspect my mother-in-law still gives them money every month), bought the GameDaily site which, in a case of foreshadowing, was eventually disappeared into the Joystiq brand.

I started playing EVE Online on August 29, 2006.  It was my last “pre-blog” MMO start.  It was certainly another stepping stone on the way to the blog, as I felt I have to tell somebody about the horrible new player experience.  Some things never change.

Thirty Years Ago

Tim Berners-Lee released to the public the first browser for something he called the World Wide Web.  Geocities sites and pop-up ads and massive link rot are on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Linus Torvalds announced the operating system he was working on to the Usenet news group comp.os.minix.  While he wanted to call the OS Freax, it would eventually get the name Linux.

Forty Years Ago

IBM launched the IBM Personal Computer, perhaps the most influential and least IBM-like product the company has ever created.  After failing to come up with an internal design and feeling the market slipping away, IBM let a team working outside of the normal company hierarchy put together a machine with off the shelf parts and an open architecture that was the essential foundation of the PC market we have today.

IBM, seeing all the clones spawning in its wake, eventually decided to make a more proprietary model, so introduced the IBM Personal System/2 in 1987.  The rest of the market said, “No thanks!” and the clones became the standard and IBM no longer makes desktop or laptop PCs.  I think the most lasting legacy of that 1987 design is the PS/2 port.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. The Blizzard Name Will Go
  7. PAPI Begins Pulling Out of Delve
  8. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  9. Activision Blizzard, the Lawsuit, and the Q2 2021 Financials
  10. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  11. CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online
  12. Tempering Expectations with the Diablo II Resurrected Beta

Search Terms of the Month

Карта страны майнкрафт
[There are some map generators out there]

база майнкрафт
[I have made many]

симулятор секса игры на пк
[I get this search term in English a lot]

test alliance please ignore
[Easier to do these days]

ancient winter poncho
[No Ponchos!]

Game Time from ManicTime

The usual suspects top the list, though I was on EVE Online a lot more in the first couple weeks of the month.  Then, once Delve was recovered, that fell off somewhat.  The others I mention in their own entries below.

  • EVE Online – 45.29%
  • WoW Classic – 27.87%
  • RimWorld – 15.47%
  • Diablo II Resurrected beta – 6.20%
  • The Fermi Paradox – 4.96%

Diablo II

The Diablo II Resurrected beta was available for two weekends for some of us, so I was able to get a look at it.  It is good, though the team clearly still has some bugs to work out.  We’ll get to see if for real come the end of next month.

EVE Online

World War Bee is over.  The enemy has retreated from our territory, various parties are still finding new homes, Legacy Coalition is no more, PAPI has effectively been disbanded, and the threat of the dreaded blue donut has been averted once again.  There is lots of rebuilding left to be done and lessons to be absorbed.  Absent our Ansiblex jump gate network Delve has become a target for neutrals looking for easy kills and gates camps pop up all over, so the Home Defense fleet has been pretty active.  The jump gates will be back up again in less than two weeks though.  Then there will be a new transit network to learn.

Pokemon Go

My wanted Pokemon, Heracross, showed up in raids in August, so I got my wish and finished off the Johto Pokedex.  So what do I wish for next?

Otherwise the month was okay.  After the high of Pokemon Go Fest last month I haven’t been too excited about playing, and was all the more turned off when Niantic went back to the 40m radius for gyms and Pokestops.  It is nice that it is back to 80m permanently, but I need something to spark my interest.  Level 41 is dragging on and every level after is that much more of a grind.

Level: 41 (77% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 662 (+8) caught, 686 (+9) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 12 of 14
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat

RimWorld

I kept on playing with the Ideology expansion for RimWorld.  It is pretty neat.  I have been meaning to write up a little review of it, but the dev has been adapting it from player feedback and it has evolved some, so it is probably better that I have waited.

The Fermi Paradox

I wrote a post about this during the month.  I played it for a while, but it felt a little light to me.  As I noted, it is in early access, and just arrived there in July, so it has plenty of room to grow.  I will likely revisit it at a later date because I like the concept, even if the initial execution isn’t quite there yet.

WoW Classic

As I mentioned in a post this month, our group has decided to stick with WoW Classic despite the troubles at Blizzard.  It is just the game that brings us together and I am not sure another title would work as well in the long term.  We spent the month working on epic mounts and then finally finished up Hellfire Ramparts as a group of four.

Coming Up

It is rumored that we will be getting the Valheim Hearth & Home update mid-month.  Our server is still running, so we might have to log in and see what that brings us.

By the end of the month we should also see the launch of Diablo II Resurrected.  I’m down for that.  It even sounds like mod support might be in place for it.  There was a piece about how the Median XL mod would be ready to go for it at launch.

There is also a likelihood that Amazon’s New World will ship next month, though I am in kind of “I’ll believe it when it happens” state of mind there.

In EVE Online it will be a time of rebuilding and homeland defense fleets.  In WoW Classic it is time for us to try the Blood Furnace, the second dungeon in Outland.

And, of course, there will be the biggest of my annual meaningless milestones in about two weeks when the blog will turn 15 years old.

Fifteen Years of Kill Mails in New Eden

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my starting off in EVE Online.  As has become something of tradition, I put up a post on the day that takes a look at some aspect of the game, because otherwise I’ll go on about my first days, the horrible excuse for a tutorial the game had, how my first mission was Worlds Collide, and the fact that it influenced my decision to start this blog, and I’ve told that story enough times.

My EVEWho Details

In the past I’ve written about skill points or my various homes in the game or the changing spaceship meta.  This time around I am going to talk about kill mails.

In EVE Online a kill mail is basically the receipt for a ships destruction that shows the who was blown up, how the ship was fit, how much damage it took, and who was involved in killing the ship, which includes people who applied damage, people who had damage on the way (like a missile in flight) before the ship blew up, and those who were pointing, scramming, painting, or applying ECM effects to the ship.  There are a few other circumstances that will get you included, such as being the interdictor that launched a warp disruption bubble, but only if the ship in question tried to warp but fail due to your bubble, but those are the usual suspects.

The actual kill mail goes to the person who gets the final blow.  Today it shows up in the form of an entry on the interactions tab of your character sheet, though as I understand it, back in the day, it arrived in the form of an in-game mail message, which I guess explains why we call it a kill “mail.”  I never actually got a kill in those days, though I seem to recall getting a few loss mails.

I will also say this; being excited about your overall kill board or total kills or the “green” state of your record is kind of silly.  People who fuss over that tend to be mocked.  But each individual kill mail is a story and batches of them can trace a battle.  They are important not because of what they say about you, but due to how they become a record of your journeys through New Eden.

Anyway, I thought about making kill mails the topic a few months back both because there was a war on… that tends to include a lot of kill mails… and because I was closing in on a round number.  I figured getting to 5,000 kills for my 15th anniversary would be kind of neat and I was fretting a bit back in May as to whether or not I would make it.  And then some battles finally hit and I was at the mark and past it.  So it goes.

As for tracking kills, there have been a number of kill board sites over the years including eve-kill and Battle Clinic, none of which ever quite lined up with each other.  Today zKillboard is the kill board of record, its competitors having fold up shop over the years.  So I will use its numbers, not having much of a choice.  You can find my entry on the board here.

zKillboard totals for now

As of writing this… which is a couple of days early because these posts don’t just poop themselves out… I have been on 5,267 kill mails over the last fifteen years.  That isn’t a big number, certainly not one worth bragging about, but it is my number.  That is roughly 350 a year, though honestly I was not on a kill mail ever for my first five years playing EVE Online.

The first kill mail I ever was on happened on December 21st, 2011 and was a POS tower that belonged to White Noise, the alliance we went to war with almost as soon as I joined TNT and jumped out to null sec.  I even have a blog post about that operation, during which I did and saw a bunch of things for the first time and managed to get on 60 kill mails.  When you shoot a POS you get on the module kill mails as well.  There was even a super capital assembly array in the mix of kills.

So if we just count the last ten years of my career, then that is over 500 kill mails a year, or well more than one a day.  They do tend to come in bursts.

And then there are losses.  The kill board says I have lost 334 ships, though that number is low by at least a dozen, if not more.  Due to API changes no kills or losses before 2008 or so are counted, and I know I managed to lose some ships during 2007.

My first recorded loss was a Drake that got blown up in Rancer in February of 2008 after being tackled on the gate by pirates.  I didn’t pay pirates then and I don’t pay them now.  I took the loss and learned to avoid the system.  There is a post about that encounter too.

I’ve been a lot of places since those days.

The kill board has evolved over time as well so that zKill now offers up some stats about your combat record, and there are few things that I enjoy as much as meaningless stats.  If we look at my top all time stats page, you can see see the ships I’ve been in for kills and the systems where they have happened.

Top 20 ships and systems

The venerable Drake is on top.  My first kill mail was in a Drake and I came to null sec when the MWD heavy missile Drake meta was just ramping up.  For the first year I probably flew that and little else.  I had the skills already trained… I had a mere 70 million skill points back then…. so I flew Drakes and trained for other ships, first combat ships then logi.

The Malediction is a more recent addition to the list, and kill mails from it are almost all likely to be from ECM burst runs.  I got on a couple hundred such kill mails during the recent World War Bee in the Keepstar fights in Fountain. (This also applies to the Ares down in 8th position.)

Then there is the Harpy, a solid assault frigate that we fly pretty often.

And then, then we get to the first logi hull.  By the time we hit the Fountain War in 2013 I had trained up my logi skills enough that I could start flying logi ships regularly.  I have a (bad) habit of keeping a combat drone or three in my drone bay when flying logi so as to get on a kill mail now and then.  My general goal is to get on one kill mail a month just as a proof of life measure.  So there was a long stretch when I flew logi more than anything else and a kill here and there starts to add up as the years go by.  And so there is the Guardian in 4th, the Oneiros in 10th, the Basilisk in 16th, and the Scalpel in 19th place. (And the Scimitar in 22nd.)

The rest of the hulls in the top 20 have all been mail line combat ships for doctrines the coalition has flown over the years.  They come and go as the meta changes.  Megathrons or Apocs are popular one day, gone the next, then back again as things change.  Feroxes and Cormorants seem to be evergreen in popularity.

I have been on kill mails in 65 different hulls over all, discounting the capsule kills, which total up to 29.  If you shoot somebody, then your ship blows up, but you last long enough in your capsule for the person you shot to get blown up you get on the kill in your pod.

As for the systems, many of them have meaning to me, many of them bring up that sense of place I wrote about last week now that I have history that includes them.

Saranen was the low sec system where the Imperium retreated to during the Casino War.  We fought from the Quafe Factory Warehouse station for months before retreating to Delve.

O-PNSN was the location of a Keepstar fight in which I racked up many of those ECM burst kill mails.  227 to be exact.

3-DMQT, T5ZI-S, and M2-XFE are all systems that saw ongoing battles during World War Bee.  It is probably telling that they rank much higher that 1DQ1-A, the Imperium capitol system and the focus of the PAPI onslaught that never really came together.

The other systems all have tales too, but I can’t write about them all here.  I’ve no doubt written about many of them already, like 3WE-KY, site of the Lazamo.

The kill board site also has a stats page, which tells me, among other things, that I have been on 15 titan kill mails.  My main combat alt has been on 18 though.  Kind of disappointing that.  But I don’t want to start in on him and his 712 kills, mostly in Feroxes and Ishtars.

According to the stats page the top five hull types that Wilhelm has blown up the most of are:

  1. Combat Battlecruisers – 495
  2. Heavy Assault Cruisers – 452
  3. Cruisers – 421
  4. Battleships – 383
  5. Logi Cruisers – 326

Mobile Warp Disruptors were in 6th place, with 300 down.

And the top five hull types I have lost the most of are:

  1. Combat Battlecruisers – 32
  2. Logi Cruisers – 31
  3. Interceptors – 24
  4. Stealth Bombers – 18
  5. Battleships – 16

My capsule has been popped 133 times.  I have lost no capital ships on my main, but I sacrificed a dreadnought on my alt.

That is my reflection on kill mails 15 years into the game.  I know some people hate them, or hate the idea of them, or just hate what the imagine they represent, but they are an integral part of the game to me.  Not for any “Ha ha! Gotcha!” sort of reason, but because they are markers that chart some of my journey through New Eden.

Plus I like a good explosion.  Even my own explosions, though other people’s are a bit more fun.

A Revelation blowing up

That, by the way, was the most recent kill mail I was on as of this writing.  I really like it when capital ships explode.

Past anniversary posts:

Pokemon Go Relents on the Range Reduction

With the declaration that things were headed back to normal in May, Niantic immediately started making noises about rolling out some of the changes they had put in place in Pokemon Go during the pandemic.

Now, they certainly were not going to remove remote raid passes, something they added in response to COVID, because I am sure they are a big money maker for the company.  But they did throttle back on their usefulness.  They weren’t nerfed into oblivion, but if you started a raid with one it would be limited to 10 people and the damage output of remote raiders was dialed back.  Kind of a pain, but tolerable.  Our remote raid pass text group can still take down a five star boss if we can get six of us in the fight.

There were a few other changes, but the kicker, the one that got people howling, was the reduction in range when it came to accessing gyms and Pokestops.  In order to facilitate people being able to raid and battle in public during the pandemic they had doubled the range at which you could access gyms and Pokestops from 40 meters to 80 meters.

That is kind of a lot, and we immediately got used to that range.  We live in an area with a lot of gyms around, and that range puts a lot of them in range from the street, so my wife and I would go out and battle roll in the car, taking gyms and spinning Pokestops without having to stop and, in a couple cases, stand in the middle of somebody’s condo complex to battle.

So when Niantic pulled it, the change was immediately noticeable.  We had gotten used to the 80m range so quickly it was hard to recall the before times.  And we were not the only ones who felt the blow.  Lots of people complained, signed petitions, ranted on forums, and generally tried to raise an internet ruckus while Niantic seems quite unmoved.

This is one of those things where I wonder if the decision was even up to Niantic.  When they announced the roll back for Pokemon Go I went and checked their news for their other games, Ingress and that horrible Harry Potty skinned version of Pokemon Go, and the company wasn’t putting out press releases about post-COVID roll backs for those titles.

So I suspect, even if I cannot prove, that it was The Pokemon Company… which, given the ownership balance, is pretty much a sock puppet for Nintendo… that was calling the shots on this front.

The Pokemon Company oversees the Pokemon franchise with an iron fist and, because Nintendo has the biggest voice in the company, it also tends to reflect some of Nintendo’s obsessions, like health and forcing community interaction.   Some of that obsession has turned into fun features.  I liked the PokeWalker that came with Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver, and the whole Street Pass thing with the Nintendo 3DS series was genius.  But sometimes they push things a bit far, so I could see somebody at TPC declaring that 80m wasn’t close enough to foster community.

We had a grand old time with Pokemon Go Fest and sat on the steps of the old post office building with a crowd of fellow players and hit the four gyms in range without remote raid passes as we swapped stories and exchanged friend codes.  I think we were honestly more social being able to congregate in one place.  But you can’t tell Nintedo that.

But then the whole idea that the pandemic was over went out the window with the Delta variant and now ICU beds in red states are full of people who refused to get vaccinated to “own the libs” and makes and quarantines and working from home and remote schooling all possible in our reality again soon because we just can’t take this stuff seriously.

And so this past week Niantic announced that their task force studying player feedback on their pandemic feature roll back would be presenting their results on September 1st.  Yeah sure, whatever.

But they did say that the interaction range with gyms and Pokestops would be swapped back immediately and permanently to 80m.  Somebody saw the light… or felt the community wrath.

I texted my wife, who was out and about, and she confirmed that the 80m range seemed to be back in place.  So we’re happy again.  We’re going on a trip soon… if it isn’t scuttled by COVID… and having that extra range in a new place will make for some easier Pokemon adventures out in the world.

Enad Global 7 Q2 2021 Financials and Concerning News

I keep having to remind myself that Daybreak’s parent is a public company once again, and a small enough one that Daybreak’s products aren’t hidden in the numbers but are big enough in the company to get highlighted at every report.  EverQuest is a big name at Enad Global 7.

Enad Global 7

Fortunately I have a Google alert setup for Enad Global 7 which, unlike some of my other alerts, has proven effective at catching updates about the company.  So early this week I got the nod that their Q2 2021 preliminary financials had been announced.  The statement was short and sweet:

During the second quarter, we delivered a net revenue growth of 179%, EBITDA growth of 360% and meanwhile having successfully integrated the acquisitions we closed in the first quarter of 2021. With our rapid acquisition growth, we have digested, integrated and built up the necessary processes to continue our strategic focus. I am delighted to announce that the relaunch of MechWarrior 5 was profitable already after a couple of weeks. It was a testament of the collaboration power between the subsidiaries of the group.

There was also a slide deck investor presentation to go with the announcement. (The income statement covers much of the same ground.) Quite a bit of the deck was information previously shared.  They did note that Daybreak’s seven titles account for 50% of the company’s revenue.

Daybreak, owner of 7 IP’s that are live and account for 50% of the revenue, mainly PC and Console.  Distributed mainly through our own platform.

Elsewhere in the presentation they say that live games make up 50% of the revenue for 2020, which includes My Singing Monsters as the 8th title, so I am not sure how that breaks out.

And, as always, the like to talk about the strong IPs and long running titles that came with Daybreak.

This slide from March was re-run, featuring 6 Daybreak titles in the highlights plus My Singing Monsters

Compared to that 16% of the revenue comes in via Innova’s 4Game platform which hosts titles licensed from other companies for distribution in the EU and CIS including Lineage II, Aion, and Ragnarok Online.

The presentation wasn’t big on news.  The previously announced plan to migrate all their titles onto the 4Game platform was reconfirmed.

We’ll all play on 4Game

Not a big news day for EG7 really.  A good financial report, some rah rah, and back to work.

As I was tracking down the financials I found that the same day a bomb dropped at EG7.  Robin Flodin, the chipper, young, and enthusiastic CEO of EG7 that gave us all such good feels when the Daybreak acquisition was announced, was being given the boot, with Ji Ham of Daybreak stepping in to fill the role as acting CEO.

The Board of Enad Global 7 AB (publ) and Robin Flodin have agreed that effective immediately Robin will transition away from his current role as CEO of EG7 and will be replaced by the current CEO of Daybreak Game Company, EG7’s largest subsidiary, Ji Ham. During this transition Robin will stay on for six months to assist Ji as he assumes his new role within the EG7 family of companies. Ji will be appointed acting CEO of EG7 as a search for a permanent CEO has been initiated. Ji has an extensive background in both gaming and finance and has for the last six years been the CEO of Daybreak. During his tenure at Daybreak Ji has overseen extensive growth and profitability of the company.

Of course, this made hearts sink, and not just because some of us had crushes on Robin.

Ji Ham should have an entry on the IMDB given his ongoing acting roles.  After Smed got the heave-ho from Daybreak, long time SOE exec Russel Shanks took over for a bit.  But that did not last long and Daybreak quietly updated its information to indicate that Ji Ham had stepped in as acting president of Daybreak.

Nobody outside of the company was quite sure who he was.  His profile over at Bloomberg, which has since been scrubbed from the site (classic Daybreak move), indicated that he was with Columbus Nova’s renewable fuels group, working closing with the Russian Renova Group, which owned Columbus Nova.

The profile probably disappeared during the 2018 panic when Daybreak tried to gaslight everybody , though “gaslighting” implies some subtlety and skill that was not present in the act, into believing that the company had never had anything to do with Renova, Columbus Nova, or any other Russians that might be facing sanctions from the US government.  And that is what the Daybreak era reminds many people of, a regime of obvious lies.

So why is Ji Ham in and Robin Flodin out?

I suspect we’ll never know the real dynamics of the situation, but looking at the slide deck from the quarterly numbers, Robin didn’t own a lot of the company.  The combined management and board of directors own 49% of the company, broken out like this:

EG7 board and management ownership stakes

I have pasted in the total ownership stake in the company for each individual (you might need to click on the image to view it full size to make those numbers readable) and in that mix that represents 49% of the company, Robin holds just 3.504%  That is a lot of shares, but not enough to maintain any sort of control

Meanwhile our old Columbus Nova friends, Jason Epstein and Ji Ham, own more than 9% of the company.  Add in the fact that Daybreak is responsible for 50% of EG7’s revenue and it probably isn’t a huge mystery as to how Jason Epstein and his partner Ji Ham got themselves in the driver’s seat again.

As for what it means… well, I am skeptical.  The press release says this about Ji Ham:

During his tenure at Daybreak Ji has overseen extensive growth and profitability of the company

That seems to be, from the outside, counter factual.

From the outside Ji Ham’s tenure was one of cancelling new titles, shutting down old titles, laying off staff, and tarnishing the reputation of the company with outrageous historical revisionism.  The company may have seen profits, but it wasn’t due to growth.  Growth didn’t enter into it.  Profits came by cutting costs and not investing in anything new, it came from maintaining the status quo at the cheapest possible rate.

Is that the future now holds for EG7?  Have they finished with their growth through acquisition phase and moved to consolidation and profit seeking?  Is Ji Ham being put on the throne to do to EG7 what he did to Daybreak?

Yes, I know he is “acting” CEO, but he was “acting” President and CEO at Daybreak too, and he had a long run in that role. He has recast his LinkedIn profile in the Daybreak tradition to indicate that he was CEO of the company since the date of Smed’s departure.  There was no Russell Shanks, only Ji Ham.  He did a modest attempt at downplaying the fact that he was deep in Columbus Nova, that company that never had nothing to do with Daybreak ever.

CN? What is CN?

I suspect he hopes people think he worked for Canadian Northern Railway and not a Russian oligarch investment front.

I might be borrowing trouble here, taking the dimmest possible view of events, but back in December, when EG7 announced their acquisition of Daybreak with a vision of growth and investment, a lot of optimism bubbled up for the future of the company and its titles.  That optimism came from the grim times that the Daybreak era represented, so bringing back the same actors to run the new show can hardly be expected to be received with enthusiastic applause.

Of course, some of that December optimism was likely misplaced, especially on the LOTRO front.  Making a console silk purse, as the initial announcements hinted at, out of the sow’s ear that is LOTRO now… and that, honestly, LOTRO has always been… would require an investment in funds that would likely never see a return.

And who knows, maybe EG7 is still looking to expand and grow.  Maybe Ji Ham will be given resources and instructions by the board to go in directions he could not when he was at the helm of Daybreak.  Hey, maybe the “acting CEO” bit isn’t a lie, maybe the company is really looking for a new CEO and Ji Ham will be just a caretaker… though why he needs a six month transition from Robin Flodin raises some questions on that front, though likely it means Robin gets paid as CEO for another six months while not having anything to do after a week or two.

But it is concerning.  It smacks of a return to the habits of Daybreak writ larger as they now apply to even more studios.  As I said with the initial burst of optimism about EG7 I will now say about this dark turn; we will have to wait and see.

Addendum: As pointed out here in the comments, Robin Flodin apparently had problems during an interview he was giving on Swedish television where he couldn’t explain the difference between sales and revenue.

That Tweet, which I also linked in the comments, points to an article about the interview.  Google translates the headline as, “Robin Flodin is forced to leave the position of CEO of EG7 after a high-profile interview.”

So the ascension of Ji Ham was perhaps not premeditated, though we have yet to see what it will mean in the long term.

Related:

Hunting for Disenchants in Blackrock Depths

After our Hellfire Ramparts run Ula announced that she had finally made it up to 301 in enchanting and wanted to know if there were any gear enchants we might want.

Fergorin started looking at enchants that would be available to us at that skill level, and the common denominator seemed to be large brilliant shards, with a couple to a dozen being needed depending on the specific enchant.  Some investigation over at WoW Head showed that we might be in luck for some of those shards if we were willing to go back to Blackrock Depths to kill a few bosses.  And why not.  We’ve been there a dozen times in WoW Classic already, it isn’t like we don’t know the layout by now.

But it was Sunday and there was only three of us, so we’d have to see how well we could manage against bosses in the low 50 level range.  Our group was:

  • Ula – level 62 gnome mage
  • Wilhelm – level 63 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 63 human paladin (holy)

We met up at Thorium Point and rode the familiar path to the instance.

Off towards Blackrock Depths

There was a question as to where we ought to go first… and if we even had the keys to the place.  Both Fergorin and Wilhelm are Outland replacements, so neither of them were on the dozen BRD adventures, and so neither of them have the Shadowforge Key.  Fortunately Ula had it, so we were able to move about.

The nearest boss seemed to be Lord Roccor, who wanders around outside the Ring of Law.  Fortunately for the sake of speed, our aggro radius was small enough to allow us to thread the needle and bypass a lot of mobs, though we had to knock out a few groups.  We were able to grab Lord R in between two groups who just sat there and ingnored the fight.

After Lord Roccor

His drop only yielded a small brilliant shard, not a large.  We went into the Ring of Law and did the event there, drawing the big spider, whose drop also disappointed when disenchanted.  Still, we pressed on, heading around the corner to find Pyromancer Loregrain.  His loot included the recipe Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon.  Not a shard, but something pretty cool for Ula. (Moronae got that last time we found Loregrain, but I don’t think he ever got his enchanting high enough to use it before he swapped out to Beanpole.)

From there we wound our way back, set the bridge/gate so we could cross it, and went looking for General Angerforge next.  He was a bit of a pain at level back when we did him.

There is General Angerforge

At level 63 and geared up from Outland, the three of us were able to handle him, with AOE taking down his non-elite minions when he summoned them to fight.

Then it was across the way to Golem Lord Argelmach.  Here we had a bit of trouble.  We were able to slip through the manufactory well enough, but we had forgotten that if you don’t clear it out, Argelmach runs out there and summons help.  So the fight seemed to be going off the rails pretty quickly.  But we held it together and were able to muscle through the boss, his two minions, and the adds he summoned.

Golem Lord Argelmach’s golem friends down

That goes us a good shard plus, on the ground near where he spawns, was the engineer recipe for the Field Repair Bot 74A.  You cannot even pick it up unless you’re a level 300 engineer, but Wilhelm was at 305, so a happy new recipe for him as well.  While the bot is one use and a bit pricey, requiring a dozen thorium bars and two fused wiring, the latter being the more painful item to provide, having one along if we need to repair or sell to empty bags some day may well save us some day.  I’m working on sourcing more fused wiring so I can make backups.

From there it was over to the Grim Guzzler, where we picked off Ribbly Screwspigot and the mobs that show up to defend the kegs when you break them.  The drops were now starting to disenchant nicely into the shards we wanted.

At the far end of the Grim Guzzler I bought the ale to feed to Private Rocknot to get him to start the fight with Phalanx when we had ran into a bit of trouble.  Once Phalanx went active I hit him with my taunt to pull him onto me, but it has a 15 second cool down, and in that time Ula unloaded on him, pulled aggro, then did her AOE freeze to hold him down so she could step away, not remembering that bar patrons were right behind her.  So the bar went aggro on us.

Melee in the Grim Guzzler

Ula got stomped and, as things started to really go bad, Fergorin pulled out the Divine Intervention card, sacrificing himself to bubble me, take me out of combat, and let me walk off to ress and restore the situation.

Time for a ress

We were able to get back together and slay Phalanx and move on around the corner to knock out Ambassador Flamelash.  He was another one that summons a bunch of minions where consecrate takes care of business.

We were not keen to go much further in.  The lyceum felt like more work that we wanted to do, though I suppose we could have tried threading the needle again.

So we turned around and jumped off the platform we were on to go after Lord Incendius.

Lord Incendius down again

After that we went up the ways a bit and knocked out Fineous Darkvire for good measure.  That done, we had the vault and a couple more small things we could have done, but it felt like enough for the afternoon.  I had a couple of real life chores calling, so Ula got us a portal to Ironforge.

Once there I asked about what materials were needed for the Fiery Weapon enchant.  It needed different shards and an essence of fire.  I bought the shards off the auction house and had the essence of fire handy, so she enchanted my blade.

Fiery Enchant Active

That is a good looking enchant.  I had just upgraded my weapon earlier, so I will get to see that fiery glow for a while.  And, of course, it throws an extra 40 points of fire damage regularly, which means it both looks good and is a practical addition.

We might have to go back for some more shards, but that was a pretty nice run back… again… to old Azeroth.

Immersion in the Nebulae of New Eden

Back to the immersion track again and this time I am going to change things up completely, leaving behind the fantasy realms of Middle-Earth and Norrath for outer space.  It is time to take a crack at EVE Online.  That is, after all, where this tear about immersion started a while back.

This should be easy, right?   CCP even ran an ad campaign around the “I was there” idea, which seemed to me to be a clear suggestion that immersion was a thing.

Of course, that was made for the Incarna expansion a decade back and ends with the player in the ship hangar of the captain’s quarters, a feature gone from the game for about four years at this point.  It was not a high point for the game and the relations between CCP and the players.  But it was trying to get at something about the game.  Was it accurate though?

EVE Online has a lot of things going for it when it comes to immersion.  It is a futuristic dystopian space empire game, which means not only can the game get away with a lot, but things that might seem immersion breaking in a fantasy MMORPG like Lord of the Rings Online are perfectly acceptable in EVE.  There are no naming conventions to break, no cultural references that you can make that aren’t ancient history in New Eden, things like in game chat channels and voice comms are totally appropriate to the setting.

And the game even enforces a bit more reality that your average MMO.  In the future currency is all electronic… it is mostly that way today… so a cash balance at your finger tips that is measured in the millions or billions of ISK is totally within the scope of what one should expect.  But the magic storage back doesn’t exist.  You can’t store something in your hangar in Jita then run over and pick it up again in Amarr.  You can’t even use the magic mail service that exists in WoW and EQ and so many other titles to insta-ship things to yourself or others.

Which isn’t to say there are not delivery services in New Eden.  They’re just run by other players.  Contracts, scams, industrial enterprises, spies, piracy, it is all there.  I even think the space flight aspect is probably more realistic to what we ought to expect that your typical dogfight in space simulator.  Do we think people will fly ships by the seat of their pants or do we thing computers will do the calculations and take the ship where you want to go?  I think entering a command to warp to a particular destination is probably more likely.

So here is the odd twist, at least for those of who read my posts about the game.  If I am writing about some big battle where thousands clashed and ships were exploding left and right… that even probably involved very little, if any, immersion for me.  Or maybe it is a different sort of “in the zone,” I am not sure.

But generally with those fights when were on voice comms with hundreds of people in a fleet and you’re getting instructions over your headset and trying to follow broadcasts and keeping an eye on your position and you overview, it can be a lot of work, a lot of switching around and not focusing on one thing, and getting focused on something is an easy gateway to immersion.

Add in time dilation and the UI not responding and having the outstanding commands window up and having the FC change their mind based on intel coming in on a channel that he can hear but you cannot…. it is probably very warfare realistic… but it not something that where I get that “I was there” feeling.  It feels very much like a video game.  An amazing, complex, video game with thousands of people involved, but still a video game.

One of the problems with EVE Online is that I spend a lot of time playing the game while tabbed out in some other window.  I am looking at Jabber channels or something in Discord or one of the many web sites with game information like DOTLAN or zKillboard… or maybe just looking up something that was mentioned on voice comms or linked in fleet chat.

Which is, like so much, is perfectly in sync with the technology age of the game.  Of course we would have access to all sorts of data… and data overload can be a thing.  If you have the wrong overview setting or mis-heard a command because something else was going on of the FC is too excited and only keyed up his mic half way into what he was telling us… but that is all very realistic too.

What isn’t, however, is the UI itself.  The game has gotten better over the years, doing things has become smoother, but having to fumble around with that user interface that is suppose to represent the state of the art technology thousands of years in the future doesn’t quite sell it.

Okay, so where do I find immersion in the game?

I can get there in big fleet fights, but usually only if I am flying logi, the repair ships that accompany a fleet into battle.  I can get into the zone in that role, and it is one of the reasons I spend as much time as I have over the years doing so, because your part of the battle is fairly small.  You need to stay on your anchor and keep an eye on broadcasts, locking up and repairing ships as they call for help.  This is often facilitated in a fight by a spy in the opposing fleet who will communicate the enemy’s next target.  Somebody in command will call out the name of the next target and tell them to broadcast for reps and we’ll all lock them up so they will have repairs already on them as hostile damage begins to land.  When things are going well it can be an assembly line of reps, one ship after another until suddenly the broadcasts stop if the fight has gone your way… or until the logi ships start dying off too quickly and you can no longer hold and then your side is probably on the losing end.

That is certainly a thing.  And even in smaller fleets, especially Reavers fleets, I can get in the zone flying a combat ship rather than logi.  Having an FC you know and trust and knowing what you need to be doing can get you there.

But for the most part immersion is kind of a solo thing for me in New Eden.

While most of my posts about big fights don’t involve immersion, almost every post I have made about doing some minor task… usually flying a ship through hostile space on my own… has involved some immersion moment.  Especially when I jump through a gate in low sec or null sec space and find hostiles on the other side.  I was reminded of that last week when I lost a Purifier to a gate camp.  I came through and saw them on the overview, that they had the gate bubbled, and my heart rate went up noticeably as my body responded to that sensory input with an little jolt of adrenaline.

A physiological  reaction to something that happens in game is pretty much proof of immersion in my book.

Anyway, looking back at what I have written so far I have been meandering.  That is often my style.  But I don’t need this to be 10K words, so I am going to try to pull immersion in New Eden into better focus by comparing it with my past two posts, which were about LOTRO and EQ in order to tease out what elements of the game help me find immersion and what works against it.  What do they titles have in common for me?

For LOTRO I listed out:

  • Familiar lore
  • Good adaptation of the lore to the game
  • Feeling of place within the game
  • Mechanics are familiar but not identical to other fantasy MMORPGs
  • Familiarity with the game
  • Well done landscape that feels like Middle-earth

And for EQ I said:

  • Feeling of place within the game
  • A connected world that required travel
  • A feeling of different places in that world
  • A simply huge world at this point
  • A freshness that has somehow remained with me
  • Night/light really changing the feel of the game
  • A sense of danger in the world
  • Mercenaries if you can’t find a group now

Lore comes up right away for LOTRO.  Without Tolkien’s works behind it LOTRO is just a poorly implemented fantasy MMORPG.  Lore is key to the experience for me.

Not so with EQ and not so with EVE Online as well.  The lore of New Eden just doesn’t do much in the game for me.  It isn’t compelling for me and is, in some cases, a bit annoying.

For example, the idea that ships in New Eden have crews is dumb, an artifact of somebody slipping a mention of crews into the old game wiki.  Nothing in the game supports the idea of crews and much argues against the idea.  Even those who love the idea of crews gladly toss aside the complexities involved with their pet theory.  Where do they come from?  Are they impressed into service?  Are they slaves?  Who willingly gets on a ship with an immortal capsuleer who will be reborn if the ship blows up?  Are planetary conditions so bad that people are willing to die?  This is a plot hole worse than where they go to hire henchmen in James Bond movies.

I am a proponent of the lone capsuleer theory.  The game takes places thousands of years in the future where technology has made capsuleers immortal gods of the space lanes.  Am I supposed to believe we have the technology for that and faster than light travel, but somehow my missile bays need somebody standing around loading them by hand?  I think not.  Besides which, how do my skills and implants and boosters affect ship systems unless it is me running everything.  I am alone on the ship, I am a part of it and it is an extension of my body.  This is the lore hill I will die on.

Sorry, got a little carried away there.  Let’s just say that the lore is a split decision for me on a good day.

I am going to skip down on the LOTRO list to familiarity with the game, which is kind of a draw for me in EVEEVE is a game of continual learning, so familiarity means that you have a foundation from which to work.  But there is so much to know.  The wise quickly learn their limitations and fools like me rush in and get schooled.  There are 65 regions in known space in the game and after 15 years of playing I still run across region names I cannot place on the map in the MER… and if I’m listing them out from the MER that means a bunch of people live there.  So kind of a wash on familiarity, but that was why I wanted to get it out of the way and move on to the big one.

Then there is a sense of place.  I said in the last post that this felt like an item that could be a through line on all of these posts, and this one will support that idea.

EVE Online very much has a sense of place.  Not in the way that Middle-Earth in LOTRO or Norrath in EQ do.  Not really.  I mean, space in New Eden is as beautiful and varied as the landscapes in LOTRO, and the size of EQ is only matched by the size of EVE Online, something enhanced by the lack of instant travel and automated post box deliveries I mentioned above.  It feels like a place because it takes time to move through it.

But New Eden doesn’t have a lot of personal touches, places that are special because the devs designed them that way.  There are a few monuments scattered about space.  But a lot of the places that are special are because the players made them so.

My personal map of New Eden and the places I’ve been

Jita, the main trade hub of New Eden is an accident of design.  The Caldari Navy Assembly Plant at Jita planet 4 moon 4 was once the first mission hub for new Caldari players back when rolling up Caldari gave you an initial skill advantage for PvP.  So lots of new players are coming back from missions and selling their stuff and suddenly it because the place to sell.  Jita 4-4 is your space mall.

The graveyard in Molea was a player driven effort.  CCP has since made it a thing they shepherd, but it went for more than a decade of being a place made special by the players.  Other monuments in the game are there to remember things that players did.  There are plenty of systems made famous for events, like B-R5RB or M2-XFE, where titanic battles were fought.

And then there are the places that mean something to us individually.  Two years back I wrote a post about my homes in New Eden.  Anybody who has played the game for any length of time likely has a system or two or a station that they feel like they lived out of, that has memories for them.

The funny thing is that while space if pretty, it is also kind of generic.  It doesn’t change much as you travel through a region.  One system can look very much like another.  They only become special because of the things we experience.  It is our stories over layered on top of New Eden which makes one system memorable and another just another pair of gates on the way to some place.  New Eden has a sense of place because we make place there special.

And that leads me into another item which isn’t on either of my other two lists, and that is the player stories.

Every MMORPG has player stories.  I write here about the tale of the instance group and my time in other games, essentially retelling the stories of my time spent.  But those tales are often in the context of the lore and the larger tales of the game itself.  I wrote about Hellfire Ramparts yesterday not because we did something unique, but because we ran a piece of content.  Our experience was our own, but it was parallel to what many thousands of others have experienced.

EVE Online, being a good sandbox, lets players have stories that are not on the same rails that everybody else has experienced.  It can be small, personal events.  If you have decided to move to a new region in high sec, just finding a new home, hauling your stuff, and getting to know the new neighborhood is a story.  A lot of stories depend on interaction with other people.  There is a lot of PvP in New Eden.  Ships blow up.  Players pop up where you don’t expect them… or sometimes they land exactly where you do expect them.  It is a difficult game to find the fun in at times because the fun isn’t always dispensed in bite sized increments.  And the scripted stuff, missions and events and the like, are often a bit tedious after the first run or two.  PvE is content that can be mastered and, thus, made routine.  But player stories about them doing their own thing, that is what makes the game.

People often complain about sovereign null sec.  It is boring.  It is too safe.  Wormholes are more lucrative and low sec has better small gang fights.  I’ve heard it all over and over and have been called names because of where I live.  F1 monkey is always a favorite.  Gevlon said I was a slave, like I somehow couldn’t log off.

But here is the thing.  Out there in null sec I am a part of a much larger story.  We just saw a 13 month war that had 120K in game characters attack a group of less than 40K in a campaign that swept through a dozen regions and laid waste to at least half of them.  It was a struggle the size of which just doesn’t happen in other games, driven by politics, deals, grudges, and a desire for fame and a place in the history of New Eden.  Andrew Groen has written two large books on the history of the null sec empires in EVE Online, and there is certainly material enough for a third.

Even if we assume the character to player ratio is something around 5 to 1 (I make this call knowing that the current ratio in Goonswarm Federation is 4.2 to 1) that is still a lot of people involved.  That is maybe 30K real life individuals involved in a virtual space war that carried on around the clock for over a year and spawned host of narratives, intrigue, and propaganda that spilled out into the real world.

I had to come up with a new term just to try and find some way to capture the feeling of being involved in such an event.  I will call it “Meta Immersion,” the feeling of belonging to something that isn’t real yet becomes a real part of your life.  This is a special aspect of New Eden that just doesn’t happen at scale in other games that I have played.  Empires rise and fall, alliances are made and broken, leaders become famous for a season and maybe infamous come the next, it is all quite a big deal when you dig into it.

Okay, I am getting all breathless about story here, I know, and I am already three thousand words into this post.  Maybe it is time to try and sum up to some bullet points.  So let’s see…

Pro Immersion

  • Sense of place
  • No fast travel options makes the size of the game more tangible
  • Scales up to “meta immersion”
  • A vast canvas for story, from the smallest to those with a cast of thousands
  • Lore that is compatible with player stories
  • A company that sometimes cares a lot about player stories
  • A lot of good complexity
  • Most meaningful trade skills in any game ever
  • Unique mechanics
  • Skill and knowledge focused versus gear focused game play
  • A sense of danger in the world

Against Immersion

  • A UI that really struggles to tell you what you need to know (remembers everything, tells you nothing)
  • Most info you need is outside of the game (tabbing out breaks immersion)
  • A lot of bad complexity (try managing a corporation)
  • No other game prepares you to play this one
  • CCP can’t quite grasp its own game or the implications of some of its actions
  • CCP goes through bouts of “you’re playing wrong” and breaks things
  • Other players on voice coms (and in the forums and on /r/eve)
  • Loss is very much part of the game, which is a tough hurdle for many people

That last one is a hurdle for so many people.  I still hate losing a ship.  If there is one thing that MUDs then MMORPGs have taught us as players is that gear is sacred.  I remember back in TorilMUD where a first offense for doing something considered cheating (which included a bunch of things that would be normal in WoW today) got you the choice of losing half your levels or all of your gear.  That was no choice at all.  With gear getting back your levels is no problem, but without gear a level cap character was useless.

In EVE Online ships are not like that.  Aside from a few very special items, ships are expendable, more like ammo than gear.  I’ve lost 334 ships in 15 years, which is a small number really.  That is almost twice a month.  If you lost your gear in WoW that often you’d quit.  But in New Eden you just go to Jita and buy a new ship.  There is enough competition that the market is usually good at finding the lowest acceptable price for producers and most anything can be had for ISK.

Anyway, I have rambled enough about EVE Online for now.  There are probably half a dozen things I meant to write that I forgot and no doubt a couple I went on at length about that could have been cut back.  But this is an exploration via writing on a blog where everything is a first draft.

So that is three games down.  Where should I go next?

The series so far:

Return to Hellfire Ramparts

After some time away from the game and then some mucking around in old Azeroth in search of a guild tabard and some epic mounts, we finally had to get back to the business waiting for us in Outland.  It was time to go back and finish Hellfire Ramparts.

I wasn’t sure faster mounts were really going to help us, but we did get a level each in our wanderings since the last attempt on the instance.  A couple in some cases.  Our group for the venture was:

  • Ula – level 62 gnome mage
  • Beanpole – level 63 gnome warlock
  • Wilhelm – level 62 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 62 human paladin (holy)

And even after our warm ups in various Azeroth dungeons, getting back into Ramparts was going to be a bit of a chore for us.  If nothing else we were going to have to get used to having a somewhat larger aggro radius.  So we got ourselves to Honor Hold and rode on out to the instance.

Our fate lay beyond the instance swirl

Once in and buffed up we were able to take out the first few groups without too much problem.  Another residual issue from doing Azeroth instances was the amount of sloppiness we could endure.  Pull a few extra mobs?  No problem!  Here, the aggro radius and the mobs more geared to our level meant when we managed to aggro not one but two additional groups, it was a race to the zone line when the tank went down.

Beanpole almost made it. Warlocks don’t have blink

The comedy of errors continued as we towards the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar.

Even there, a boss we had brought down twice before without incident, we ran afoul of aggro radius, taking him on before clearing all the way around, and thus managing to bring two groups of guests to the fight.

Dead again in Ramparts

I think Ula made it out of the instance, or got close at least.  But the rest of us had to get a ress.  Fortunately we had the soul stone handy.

After that we decided to be a bit more thorough.  We pulled everything around the boss, so when we got him the next time it was just him and his two minions.  The minions went down quick, so when he called for healing there was none coming.

Watchkeeper Gargolmar getting his now

After that we started doing better.  The high point after that was the group of five at the top of the ramp which we have managed to wipe on every time.  As we got ready for that fight, I looked at my exp bar and realized I would level after we killed two or three of the group, so when we pulled them around the corner I did not hold back on mana.  I kept consecrate going and anything else I could throw at them.

Just as the third one was about to die I announced that I was out of mana… then he died, I leveled up, and was suddenly full again.  We had not problem that time around.

Win at the top of the ramp

We then managed to clear the mobs ahead of us until we had a choice.  We could go do Omor the Unscarred, who is generally the second boss, or we could just go straight for the final bosses, the duo we had yet to defeat, Nazan and Vazruden.

We went for the big boss pair.

This duo again

And we came close on the first fight.  A slip up on my part… late on a health stone… and I was dead, leading to a wipe.

The soul stone got us back in action again and we went right at them once more… and wiped again.  This was not going to plan.

We took a break to refresh drinks and feed cats, during which time we read up on the fight.  We were getting close, but we had been close before.  I was staying under Nazan’s snout to avoid as much of his fire breath as I could and we were burning down Vazruden pretty easily before turning on Nazan.  And then it came out of the guide.  Vazruden wasn’t really a threat.  We needed to focus all fire on Nazan as early as possible.  Ranged attacks and DOTs on him while he was still in flight, then all in when he landed.

With that bit of info we changed up our tactics and… won the fight at last.

Victory in Hellfire Ramparts

After looting the chest and posing for a screen shot, we ran around the corner and gave Omor the Unscarred a shot.  He went down very easy when compared to previous fights.  A couple levels and some gear upgrades will do that.

And the run helped us with a few more gear upgrades.  There was something for everybody along the way, and even more with the quest turn ins back at Honor Hold.

One instance down, many still to go.  We’ll see how far we get as a group of four.

The next target is the Blood Furnace.

On Blogging, Motivation, and Passion

It is “staying motivated” week in the Blaugust event and I figured it was about time for me to post something Blaugust related.  I have not been very attentive to the event, wandering off in whatever direction takes me, as is my usual pattern.

On the topic of motivation I have a little story.

When my daughter got to middle-school (which for some reason is 5th through 7th grade in our local district, it used to be junior high school when I was that age, and was mostly just 7th and 8th grades), she was able to pick an elective class and she wanted to take band.

It wasn’t an easy choice.  She also wanted to take art, something she enjoyed and was already into.  But band won out because it was new and different.  She went with flute as an instrument, and we went down to the music store and rented her a flute.

She did well enough in band I suppose.  She practiced at home.  She went to all of the events.  She seemed to enjoy it well enough.  She took band for a second year, sticking with the flute.

For the third year of band she switched to the baritone saxophone.  The flute, which was a rent-to-own deal, was paid off just about the time she made the switch.  A baritone sax is a much more expensive instrument, but the school had one for her to use.  She went with the sax both because it was kind of cool… we were watching Bojack Horseman around then, and the opening theme is heavy on the sax… and because the band needed somebody to play it as the person who had been playing moved on to high school.

So we had the bari sax around the house.

Our cat Rigby making himself at home with the sax

She did that for a year, though I think she enjoyed posing with the sax more than she liked playing it.  She borrowed my sunglasses for performances.

Then came eight grade and when she was signing up for classes she asked me, rather hesitantly, if she could not take band.  She wanted to take art.

Her tone said to me that she was afraid we would be disappointed in her choice, but I told her right away that it was fine, she should take art if that was what she wanted.

I explained to her that I could see she wasn’t really into band.  While she practiced as often as was recommended and took things seriously, I had never once seen her play her instrument… flute or sax… just because she wanted to.  She did her time, then moved on to what she really wanted to do, which was often art.

She had no passion for music.  People I know who do will play just to play, will figure out how to play something they heard just from listening to it.  My step-brother used to sit in his room with his headphones on just figuring out a song for hours on end.

Meanwhile, she clearly had a passion for art.  She had a drawing tablet hooked up to her computer, a copy of PhotoShop Elements along with a few other art and design titles, and would sit for hours just trying to get something right… not because she had to but because she wanted to.

I never had to tell her to put down the flute or the sax and go to bed, but I got up a number of times in the middle of the night to tell her to put down her sketch pad and go to sleep.

If you have a passion for something then motivation will come.  And if motivation does not come… well, maybe blogging or band or whatever isn’t really your thing.

Which I guess isn’t a very motivational message.  But maybe it can be a guide to help find motivation.  We all seem to be able to find the time to do the things we really want to do, so if blogging is feeling like a chore, perhaps it isn’t for you.  Or maybe you just haven’t found an aspect of blogging that works for you.

I like writing long winded narratives about what I did in this game or that.  I enjoy telling a story.  I almost always feel I have to establish my relationship with a topic to write about it.

But that is just my style.  There are lots of options.  Some people like to do reviews or game guides or write in the voice of their in-game character or track statistics or complain loudly and make up irrational conspiracies.  There is room for all of that and more.

When you find your niche, motivation will follow.  And if blogging isn’t it at all, then maybe videos or streaming or screen shots or something else is.

Or maybe just cute cat pictures.

Anyway, if you haven’t found motivation here… and I’ll admit that I didn’t have much to offer in that regard… maybe one of the other Blaugust participants can help you along.  There are 46 others from which to choose:

 

59 Weeks and the End of World War Bee

One last weekly update.  There is rarely a clean transition from war to peace.  The Imperium will be clearing out left behind PAPI structures for a while still.  But the pace of things has wound down significantly over the past week.

PAPI forces are all returning to their respective homelands.  Brave is clashing with Psychotic Tendencies in Geminate, and I can only wish them the best in that fight.  And they have their first ihub in NBPH-N in the region.

TEST though seems to be struggling to get to its new home in Outer Passage.  They do not appear to hold any ihubs there yet.  The word is that they have made it at least as far as A24L-V in Insmother on their route home, but that fuel constraints are hitting hard.

TEST has also dropped out of the Alliance Tournament.  I hadn’t heard why… probably ISK… but when they were pulled by CCP in the Alliance Tournament Feeder draw stream (you can see that at the 30 minute mark when they draw for spot 17), CCP Aurora said that TEST had asked to be left out.  They are still listed in slot 17 (see brackets here), but I guess they have decided to forfeit.

Progodlegend got up at another TEST town hall to motivate the troops during their retreat.  He once again tried to sum up the war favorably, declaring that 4,500 Goons just sat in 1DQ for 13 months.  I guess the battles in NPC Delve and M2-XFE, and the Guinness Book world records that went with them, were all just some sort of collective Goon fever dream.

You tell yourself whatever story you need to in order to get to your objective I guess.

And the rest of the former Legacy coalition is scattered about, settling into new homes or looking for a couch to crash on.

The overall PAPI coalition looks to be breaking up.  Pandemic Horde reset a large number of other null sec alliances, while the PAPI Assemble Discord server looked to have been taken down.

No more honking

Without PAPI there is no blue donut to fight for now.

One Year Ago

Niarja fell to the Triglavians, and the WWB participants were involved.

CCP added metaliminal storms to null sec so we could have space weather to worry about.

We fought over the O-PNSN Keepstar and lost, but at the fight over the KVN-36 Keepstar it was a server crash that saved the day for the Imperium.

In my week seven summary I looked at what coverage the war was getting, our losses, and Legacy getting pushed back in Querious.

Imperium Space Cleanup

In the Imperium regions of Delve, Fountain, Querious, and Period Basis all of the ihubs have been retaken and we’re in the count down to when GSOL can start installing Ansiblex jump gates again to facilitate movement around our space again.  Right now, if you don’t have a bridger and a cyno handy, moving around means taking a lot of gates.

TCUs, or territorial control units, are getting cleared out as well.  Those are less critical as their primary function these days is to act as a flag on the map for a given system.  They are a legacy of Dominion sov.  If you go to the null sec influence map for yesterday you will see that Delve TCUs have been retaken, but that TEST and Warped Intentions still have some down in Period Basis.  Those will be taken care of soon enough, but the ihubs are what matter.

Delve is Goons, Anime is Cartoons

And now it is the rebuilding time.  Structures are being put down again.  ADMs need to be raised in some systems to support infrastructure hub upgrades.  A new standing fleet for home defense has been arranged.  A list of supplies went out that the coalition will need to help rebuild.  I got my Planetary Industry stuff rolling again to help fulfill a few items on the long list of needs.

There is a lot of work still to be done, but plans are rolling out to focus our efforts in building a new Delve.

My Participation

I went out on a few ops this past week.  The pace of operations definitely started to taper down as the week went along.  The almost constant tempo of pings showing up for structure shoots fell off noticably.  Still, I got in on a few of them.

An Astrahus blowing up

We also got to run out and blow up a Hel supercarrier, which was a fun distraction.

Hel tackled in Catch

I did lose one ship this week, a Purifier to a gate camp.  It was a dumb, avoidable loss where I immediately said, “Why did I do that?”  But I am not going to count it as a war loss because the group that got me, Pax Sex and his gang, are neutrals that used to hunt in Delve in peacetime.  Losing ships to them is a normal thing now and then.  So my total losses for the war are:

  • Ares interceptor – 18
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Drake battle cruiser – 7
  • Atron entosis frigate – 7
  • Cormorant destroyer – 5
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 5
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar T2 logi – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Jackdaw destroyer – 4
  • Scalpel T2 logi frigate – 3
  • Guardian T2 logi – 2
  • Sabre interdictor – 1
  • Eagle heavy assault cruiser – 1
  • Scythe T1 logi – 1
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

That is 86 ships and a deployable.  I am surprised I didn’t lose more really.

Other Items

CCP release the Monthly Economic Report for July, which I covered a bit.  It generally showed that July was kind of a slow month.

We also got a quick, three day login campaign for some skill points.  CCP hands those out like candy these days.

And CCP did the draw for the Alliance Tournament brackets.   The feeder round starts on September 4th.

The Final PCU Report

With each of the weekly updates I have reported the peak concurrent user count for that week, mostly as a record to see if those numbers tracked along with the intensity of the war.  There are a lot of other factors that play into online numbers, but they did seem to generally follow the war.  CCP reported that at one point during the second M2-XFE Keepstar battle more than one third of accounts logged into the game were in that system, T5ZI-S, or 1DQ1-A.

Anyway, I made a little chart out of the data with some annotations.

Over the timeline of the war

Over the 60 data points… I counted day one of the war as the “zeroth week,” which means that the numbers at the bottom of the chart are offset by +1… the following states can be derived:

  • Average weekly PCU – 33,893
  • Maximum weekly PCU – 40,359 (Week 15)
  • Minimum weekly PCU – 24,262 (Week 52)
  • Median weekly PCU – 35,075 (Week 9)

Weekly PCU isn’t all that accurate of an indicator.  It is more of a flavor for how each week went.  But it doesn’t reflect well if a whole week was busy or if we just had a busy day.  You can go to EVE Offline for a more granular look at the war.

The last year chart via EVE Offline

My chart lines up somewhat with that chart, though that cuts off the start of the war, which probably drops the average a bit when compared to mine.

And, of course, the final data set listing:

  • 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
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)
  • Week 34 – 35,626
  • Week 35 – 35,379
  • Week 36 – 35,085
  • Week 37 – 34,394
  • Week 38 – 36,319
  • Week 39 – 35,597 (Saturday)
  • Week 40 – 35,384 (Saturday)
  • Week 41 – 33,708
  • Week 42 – 33,521
  • Week 43 – 33,731
  • Week 44 – 33,742 (Saturday)
  • Week 45 – 33,758
  • Week 46 – 31,768
  • Week 47 – 29,898
  • Week 48 – 31,462 (Monday)
  • Week 49 – 27,914
  • Week 50 – 26,045
  • Week 51 – 25,661
  • Week 52 – 24,262
  • Week 53 – 24,290
  • Week 54 – 24,922
  • Week 55 – 26,259 (Saturday)
  • Week 56 – 27,176
  • Week 57 – 29,953
  • Week 58 – 29,111
  • Week 59 – 29,749

Related

Honest Game Trailers does Burning Crusade Classic

One of the problems with playing mostly old games is that Honest Game Trailers is mostly videos of games I probably won’t ever play.   But not this time.  This time they had Burning Crusade Classic.

Before the Dark Portal

And their assessment all feels pretty true to me.

 

I have a a few posts already from WoW Classic in the Burning Crusade era that have us still back in Azeroth taking care of unfinished business, including getting our epic mounts.  But I also leveled up my druid from 36 to 60 and, that done, started in on my level 21 rogue rather than spend my free time playing my mains.

Some of that was, in part, because of the instance group taking a bit of a summer hiatus.  We do go places now then.  But some of it is just reminding me that, over the years, I have said that I wasn’t too keen on the overland questing in Outland and that I might not have been mis-remembering how I felt at the time.

Still, I am not getting on the refugee boat to FFXIV.

Nope, not going there.  I can hold out for Wrath of the Lich King.  I swear.  I’ll level up in Outland eventually.