Monthly Archives: September 2021

September in Review

The Site

And we’re now at the fifteenth anniversary of the first month in review post.  So there is that.

The state of the blog – Sep 2006

In the categories drop down there shows 182 Month in Review posts, one more than there should be because I wrote a post about Month in Review posts a while back.  It even had a poll.  But we’ll get to polls in a bit.

Otherwise it has been quite a month.

I mean, I can’t really complain about the first ten days.  I was in Hawaii for most of that.  But less than a week after I came back I came down with the dreaded “flu-like” symptoms, which was just in the COVID incubation period, so I ran down to get tested and started isolating at home… or tried to, it is harder than you think when your life is intertwined with another person… while my wife cancelled all her in-person appointments.

Luckily, it wasn’t COVID… it took a couple days to get that result… just a cold that has been going around.  I was sick, but just normal-ass sick, not plague sick.

And then the cold developed into an inner ear infection, a malady I could not recommend.  That started almost two weeks ago and I am still recovering, still feeling the effects.  At its peak it was an sharp and constant pain along with my tinnitus cranked to 11 at all times, plus gunk oozing out of my ear, and bouts of motion sickness as it messed with my inner ear functions.

That meant antibiotics.  But, having had an allergic reaction to amoxicillin a few decades back, I have to have the azithromycin based alternative, which makes one prone to stomach upset and what I refer to as “turbo diarrhea” as everything I at seemed to be very much in a rush to exit my body at its earliest opportunity.

At this point you might be saying, “Wow, that sucks… but what does all of this have to do with “The Site,” which is the name of this section?”

Well, all of that has certainly affected the quality of content.  The first eleven days of the month were all pre-written in advance.  I started to catch up a bit, then got sick, and the level of effort devolved to “look, a thing happened” without much in the was of my usual attempts to tie things into a greater theme or the historical context of the genre… though I am kind of curious if anybody actually noticed that or the fact that words per post dropped rather significantly.  Probably not.

All of that added up to the lowest monthly page view count since mid-2007.  It was a slow month here.

Somehow though I kept my post streak going and I still have a stack of things I meant to get to in September that I now mean to get to in October.  I still haven’t even watched that Ji Ham EG7 video.  But here we are.

Oh, and in other news, WP.com broke polls in their attempt to monetize them through their Crowdsignal brand.  My fourth email finally got somebody to look at the problem (the first three happiness engineers just tossed aside everything I said and sent me a link about using the new Poll Block in the awful block editor… which is broken as well so WTF?) and now… they’re looking into it.  I wasn’t planning on creating another poll any time soon, but now it seems I cannot and when I eventually can I will have to buy credits.  So look forward to no more polls I guess.  Yay?

One Year Ago

The blog turned fourteen and I made my usual post about stats and the passing of time.

Nintendo announced the end of their long running DS hardware line.

Chris Roberts was annoyed because people are so cynical online, threatening to unleash an irony-quake.

With no BlizzCon planned for 2020, Blizzard announced BlizzConline for February of 2021.

My third entry in the ongoing binge watching series was posted.  I was also looking at the main streaming channels I was viewing as well as some secondary channels.

In my play through of Diablo II on its 20th anniversary I wrapped up Act II, then launched myself into the somewhat forgettable Act IIIWhen it came to Act IV I had to go use that one time respec to finish Diablo.  On finishing Act V I summed up with some thoughts about the game.

In WoW Classic we were taking on the upstairs portion of Sunken Temple, though it took a third run to get to the Avatar of Hakkar.  I was also still plugging away with some alts.

In EVE Online CCP introduced quantum cores for Upwell structures.  Abyssal sites also got some updates, with T0 and T6 sites opening up with the Depths of the Abyss update.  They also tried to breath some life into the EDENCOM ship lineup.

Meanwhile, metaliminal storms were doing whatever it is they really do.  There was the GM Week bot bash in Yulai, where high sec players got to blow up some capital ships, including two titans.

My own main character hit 220 million skill points in the game.

And then there was World War Bee, which I will just list as bullet points:

Then, in a final Friday Bullet Points post for the month I looked at LOTRO’s mini-expansion, Microsoft buying Zemimax, PlayStaion 5 pre-orders, the end of FarmVille, EA being dumb about lock boxes again, EVE Online ship models, and something about CCP planning to do some sort of resource redistribution thing in New Eden, which became the whole economic starvation plan of the last year.   Kind of a lot for one post.

Five Years Ago

It was the tenth anniversary of the blog.

I was looking back at day/night cycles and full zone respawns of yore.

My wife’s Pokemon Go account was hacked, but I recovered it pretty quickly.  That post brings in a lot of search engine traffic looking for ways to hack Pokemon Go accounts.  So many bad people.

Daybreak announced that both EverQuest and EverQuest II would be launching Kunark focused expansions, with Empires of Kunark slated for the former and Kunark Ascending for the latter.

Smed was taking his Hero’s Song project back to the crowdfunding arena again, this time via Indiegogo which, unlike Kickstarter, lets you keep the money even if you don’t meet your goal.

I was going on about problems EVE Online has getting new players to stick with the game… again.  We also had the YC118.8 Update which revamped a the look of mining barges and some frigates, among other thing.  It also launched the Purity of the Throne event that had me chasing white skins for Amarr ships.

There was also the ascension of Caitiz of House Tash-Murkon to the Amarr throne.  All those ships are still lined up in Amarr for some reason.  Did they have to wait a year for the first Jubilee?

And Alpha Clones would soon be a thing, so I was wondering what you could do with one.

In post-Casino War events the Imperium finished conquering Delve and a state of normalcy was starting to come to pass.  I also got my last ship out of Deklein.

And then there was World of Warcraft where the Legion expansion was off and running.  There was even an app for it.  I started off slowly as I figured things out and moved clockwise around the Broken Isles.  That didn’t stop me from checking up on my Draenor garrison though.

And then in one of those bullet point posts that I always hate a year later when it comes time to do the summary I covered Star Trek Online going to consoles, Legends of Norrath card packs, rewards for Omega players in EVE Online, and the then upcoming EVE Vegas.

Finally, No Man’s Sky launched, capping off yet another dismal episode of fan behavior.  After getting death threats for delaying the launch, Hello Games finally shipped the game only to have the fan base explode even more so when it was discovered that features that were straight up said to be in the product… multiplayer being the prime suspect… were not.  Still, it made a lot of money and features have since been added and it got its own Honest Game Trailers video.  There are, no doubt, lessons to be learned here.

Ten Years Ago

I did the great survey of blogs that had, at one time or another, included this site in their blog roll over the last five years.  Only 28% of them were still up and active.  There was also the five year anniversary post and all that it entailed.

implied that Tobold’s mother a llama.  This had NOTHING to do with him not having a blog roll.

I was totally going to resist Steam selling me Rift for cheap.  That didn’t work, and I ended up playing for about a year or so.

Star Trek Online announced it was going free to play, though I couldn’t imagine how it wasn’t already.

In LOTRO, the Rise of Isengard expansion came out and I almost didn’t notice.  Which was odd, because we were kind of playing LOTRO still.

The Goons were going to wreck the EVE economy by blowing up high sec ice miners.  Another vast Goon conspiracy.  I was being nostalgic for my earlier days in EVE.

GameSpy had a post about re-imagining Diablo as a first person perspective game, which was met with much derision.  Me, I liked the idea and even had suggestions for further topics in that vein to explore.  Meanwhile, Diablo III was pushed out to the middle of 2012.

In other Blizzard news, the Official World of Warcraft Magazine went belly up after just five issues.  And then there was a drop in WoW subscribers.  They lost 600,000 players, though I wasn’t one of them… yet.  Good thing they never lost more than that…

I was still playing Need for Speed: World pretty regularly.  I was filming police chases, avoiding police chases, and buying the squarest ride in the game.

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, the retro experience was made complete by “guilds behaving badly” when it came to contested content.  Some GMs came up with unorthodox ways to resolve conflicts.  Somewhere along the way I got my SOE Authenticator, which I never use.

ArenaNet said something about private GuildWars 2 PvP servers.  I wonder how that would play today?

EA/BioWare gave us a release date for SWTOR at last, so I could start fretting about pre-orders and grace periods.  While I wasn’t in beta yet, BioWare was asking how I was enjoying it.

There was no word about life on Planet Michael.

And, finally, I was wondering how 9/11, which took place just a couple months before the birth of my daughter, would influence her view of the world relative to my own.  This was triggered by her trip to New York, where she visited the Nintendo Store.

Fifteen Years Ago

Here we are, able to at last dip into the blog archives for fifteen year old items.

There was the first post.  I still haven’t covered all of the topics I promised 15 years back.

After that I was straight into the EverQuest nostalgia, an oft recurring topic here.  The Serpent’s Spine expansion came out for the game.  I would get to that in a bit.

LEGO Star Wars II – The Original Trilogy launched, setting the casual path for future Traveller’s Tales LEGO based games.  My daughter and I would later play this on the Wii, but that was still out in the future.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, the first core Pokemon RPG titles for the Nintendo DS platform shipped in Japan.  They wouldn’t reach US shores for another six months.  Again, another series that would show up here as time moved on.

Green Monster Games, later 38 Studios, was unveiled to the public by founder Curt Schilling with R. A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane as part of the creative team.

Roblox launched.  I didn’t know about it at the time, but the title has grown to be many things, including controversial.

I was into EVE Online, which I began playing just about two weeks before I started the blog.  My first post about it concerned the tutorial, then I went on to my impressions.  I already had EVEMon up and running, because you cannot play EVE Online without it.  And, while I was hardly aware of it, the first titan had been built in New Eden.

I was musing about games slated for the future, including Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online I had reservations about both.

I kicked off my old school gaming reminiscences with a post about Stellar Emperor as it was back in 1986.  That was 30 years ago.  Damn continuous motion of time.

The instance group formed up for adventures in Azeroth.

I wrote the first “Month in Review” post.  I am not sure WHY I decided to do that, but it became a thing as here I am doing the 181st such post a decade and a half later. (About nine years ago I decided month in review should have its own category, so I went back and edited each and every last one to put them all in that category.  Fortunately, being a once a month thing, it was easy to figure out if I missed any or not.)

I also wrote something about Saga of Ryzom in that month in review post, which might be the one of the few times I ever wrote anything about it.  It had launched two years before and people were talking about it, but my play time with it was very short and unfulfilling.

But the smartest thing I probably did in that first month was link out to Brent at VirginWorlds in a post, which got him to notice my brand new blog, which kind of got me into the club pretty quickly as well as getting me my first comment.

Twenty Five Years Ago

Meridian 59 by 3DO launched.  It remains part of the perennial discussion as to what was the first “real” MMORPG.

Forty Years Ago

Wizardry for the Apple II launched, one of the early influential titles for me.  I still have graph paper maps of the levels in a drawer in my office.  Robert Woodhead, one of the creators of the title would later serve four terms on the EVE Online Council of Stellar Management.

Apple ][+ back in 1983

Castle Wolfenstein, another influential Apple II title, launched as well.  I needed that two button joystick to play that for sure!

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. Robbing Some Space Banks
  4. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. Twenty Years
  7. Enad Global 7 Q2 2021 Financials and Concerning News
  8. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  9. My Blogging Quinceanera
  10. Getting Setup with Zwift
  11. New World Blues
  12. Dealing with Mudflation

Search Terms of the Month

nantworks h1z1
[That didn’t really work out]

is lotro dead 2021
[I mean, it’s been better…]

eve meta 2021
[HACs in null sec]

eve cv-composite molecular condenser
[I’m not going to be much help with gas mining]

eve online jedi gas
[I think you meant “ninja” there, right?]

Game Time from ManicTime

This month we get kind of a Bizarro world “what year is this?” list for my game play time:

  • EverQuest II – 35.06%
  • EVE Online – 24.37%
  • Diablo II – 22.55%
  • WoW Classic – 14.42%
  • New World – 3.61%

If not for New World I might convince you this was from a decade back or more.  Of course, it was, as noted in the opening, an odd month and my total play time was roughly a third of the average month in 2021 and less than a quarter of the month with the most hours played… which was March.  I guess it was all Valheim all the time that month.

Diablo II Resurrected

The last week of the month saw this nostalgia blast arrive and I managed to find some time for it.  I am still not into Act II with any characters, but I am also not in a big hurry.  Some rides don’t need to go fast to be enjoyable.

EVE Online

I went on exactly one strategic operation in September.  The war is over and I was away for one week and sick for another and in the middle there wasn’t a lot going on.  My planetary industry plans kind of crashed when oversupply of what I was producing hit and I didn’t really have it in me to re-do all of that to pursue some other PI goal.  I did, however, get on one Fortizar and two Keepstar kill mails.  Not a bad month for that.

EverQuest II

The announcement of the next expansion got me thinking about post-cataclysm Norrath and whether it might be time for a return to the old game.  After all, Pandas were on the horizon and there wasn’t really much else going on mid-month.  I subscribed, ran the 2020 Days of Summer event and did the intro quests for the next expansion.  Then Diablo II and New World showed up and now… maybe.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.

New World

New World, the new game under the sun.  I’d play more if I could log in.  Unfortunately, while I managed to slip in during the afternoon of day one, since then the queue on the server I chose… which had no queue at that point… has been mid-three to four figures and honestly I don’t want to play the game that badly.  But I am also not keep to toss ten levels overboard just to avoid the queue.  This isn’t working out so well I guess.

Pokemon Go

If you’re one of my friends I might have sent you a gift from Hawaii… and if you’re one of those people who actually look at the gifts you get, you might even have noticed!  I got in a lot of steps with my buddy while traveling, then had to send my wife with my phone out to get me a Pokestop while I was sick.  Not a lot of progress made overall.

Level: 41 (83% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 665 (+3) caught, 689 (+3) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 12 of 14
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat

WoW Classic

My avoidance of Outland overland content continues on.  The instance group did the Blood Furnace in one go, so we have that going for us.  I also did a bit of Brewfest, but honestly I wasn’t up to grinding out the tasks for a mount.  I got the mug and went on to other things.

Zwift

I am going to put my Zwift progress here in the monthly update.  I’ve written a couple of posts about it and I have a few more brewing.  It is now Wilhelm canon.  I did not make my modest monthly goal of 75 miles but, as I have repeated ad nauseum by this point, vacation and illness.  Leave me alone.  Anyway, my standings right now:

  • Level – 9
  • Distanced cycled – 264.9 miles
  • Time – 14h 28m
  • Elevation climbed – 11,352 feet
  • Calories burned – 8,783

Coming Up

Welcome to Q4 2021 as of tomorrow I guess.  Last year ActiBlizz gave us their Q3 financials at the end of October rather than sliding into November.  We’ll see if they’re as eager this year.  The will probably be eager to get players back to their games, so we’ll see what incentives and updates they throw out.

I imagine we’ll get more info about the EverQuest II expansion as well as the announcement for whatever EverQuest has in store for players as well.  Maybe those perks will go live too.  They were delayed due to technical issues.

The instance group will be headed towards Zangarmarsh in WoW Classic.

I will carry on with Diablo II Resurrected.

And then there is New World, where my mild indifference is both a blessing and a curse.  I’ll play it if I am enjoying it, but I am not interested in queues.  I guess we’ll see how that settled down as time goes on.

Finally, I am thinking about turning on ads for the site for Q4 just to see how that plays out.  Your feedback on them is welcome, though I clearly won’t be putting up a poll about it.  We’ll see if they can offset the extra I am paying for the premium plan.

The LOTRO Fate of Gundabad Expansion Targets November 10th Launch

SSG has announced the date for the next Lord of the Rings Online expansion, Fate of Gundabad, which is set to go on November 10th, 2021.

The fate is per-determined by the quest chain I’m sure

The expansion boasts of the following features:

  • New Brawler class
  • Level cap raised from 130 to 140
  • New mobs to face, new zones to explore
  • New instances and raids
  • A new run at the Legendary Item system

The expansion is available for pre-purchase now and comes in three different flavors:

Standard Edition – $40

  • Fate of Gundabad Content
  • Brawler Class
  • Extra Character Slot
  • Standard Expedition Supplies

Collector’s Edition – $80

  • Fate of Gundabad Content
  • Brawler Class
  • Extra Character Slot
  • Improved Expedition Supplies
  • Brawler Gauntlet Box
  • Level boost to 130
  • Gundabad Cosmetics
  • Gundabad Mount & War-steed
  • And more bonus items!

Ultimate Fan Bundle – $130

  • Fate of Gundabad Content
  • Brawler Class
  • Extra Character Slot
  • Ultimate Expedition Supplies
  • Brawler Gauntlet Box
  • Level boost to 130
  • Gundabad Cosmetics
  • Gundabad Mount & War-steed
  • Fateful Gundabad Cosmetics
  • Thunder Boar & War-steed Appearance
  • Dye Carry-all
  • 10,000 Virtue XP
  • And more bonus items!

I do find it a bit amusing that the Expedition Supplies include various accelerators, because nothing says your game is grindy like handing out XP boosters with the expansion pack.

All of which seems to be standard fare for an MMO expansion; level cap increase, more stuff to do, a new class to play, and some changes to a key system here and there.  As pointed out elsewhere, not exactly earth shattering stuff.

More interesting to me is where the game is heading.

Lord of the Rings Online is in an odd position in that it cannot just make up new content.  It cannot follow in the footsteps of its Norrathian siblings and just go to the moon for a couple of expansions or decide to go on a sea voyage to discover some new content.

SSG is stuck with the books of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  As I recall they cannot even stray into The Hobbit, which seems like it would be a nice time travel expansion, much less the lore dense Silmarillion.

And when it comes to the main story line of the trilogy, we’re kind of done.  The ring has been destroyed, Sauron has been thrown down, we’ve tidied up Mordor a bit, had a wedding, scourged the Shire, and have generally wrapped up all of the great moments of the Third Age. [edit: or at least I thought we had done all those things… I’m still back in Mirkwood]

So the team at SSG has been working on what I call “plundering the appendix” of the trilogy.  Dr. Tolkien, bless his soul, crammed in more than 150 pages of appendices with all sorts of bits of history, family trees, pronunciation guides and language primers, and other items of tangential interest to the main tale including a timeline of events of the world.

In that condensed history of Middle-earth you will find the tale of Gundabad in the Misty Mountains, where the dwarves first awoke when the world was young and their struggles with the orcs over it.  This has been picked up for the latest expansion.

And that makes me wonder what else is buried in the appendix that they can farm for more expansions.  Where else might they go?  I mean, technically, there is a lot of stuff mentioned in the appendix of the trilogy.  Is something being there an opening to include it in the game, because they do retell a tale of one Thorin Oakenshield and an expedition to the Lonely Mountain… I’m just saying.

A New World Dawns

The day has come at last.  After changes and postponements and what not, New World goes live today.

Just how new and how worldly?

I received an email yesterday morning from Amazon with the Steam key that was the fulfillment of my pre-order.  I launched Steam and plugged that in and downloaded the client, which weighed in at about 39GB, putting it about on par with the Diablo II Resurrected client I downloaded last week.

After that all there was left to do was wait.  And even the wait wasn’t that long.  The various server regions were all set to start up at 8am local time… except Australia for some reason.

It is 8am somewhere

That means pretty much everything is live now.  But I won’t bother to log in until later today, after work and the usual rest I need.  It is hard to sit at you desk at home all day working and then transition to games.  I need to be somewhere else for a while.

Amazon has provided a whole bunch of details about the launch in a post on their site, including the list of servers available.

Meanwhile, somebody has also put together a whole web site about which streamers will be on what servers for launch so you can avoid  the servers that are going to get slammed because somebody with 100K followers is going to swamp the server.

As for why I am playing, a legitimate question after my somewhat tepid summary of the latest beta relative to where the game stood a few years back, there are a few reasons.

First, I remain interested in how it turned out.  The change to a theme park stance has worn away any hype I might have had for the title, but that might be a good thing.  Hype knows no sense or logic, it only knows hype and it is very easy to let hype inflate your expectations.  Lower expectations mean a more appraising look at the title and less likelihood of real disappointment.

Second, it has been a bit of a ride getting here since the game was announced back in 2016.  Five years isn’t that long of a stretch… let me tell you about some Kickstarter backed MMOs that promised to ship more than five years ago that still aren’t even in beta… but given the gyrations and the delays and the change of course… again, I am interested to see where it ended up.

Third, it is a bit of an event in the genre, the first big studio launch of an MMORPG in a while.  How it goes will likely be read as a barometer for the genre as a whole.  Are MMORPGs a thing again?  Is the market ready for new blood?  And how long has it been since I was at an MMORPG launch?  Expansions don’t count and I cannot remember the last time I was there on day one for a new title.

Finally, it is kind of a low commitment.  New World is buy to play; grab the box for $40 and no subscription required.  I am down with that.  Not having a subscription cuts both ways of course.  While it makes it easy to buy in, I also have a tendency to prioritize the games I am paying a monthly fee for when it comes to play time.  But we’ll see.  I also want to see the day one cash shop versus what it looks like a year from now.

I have no idea where I will end up server-wise.  And the fact that companies (guilds) are capped at 100 people means I’ll likely not join one any time soon if only to avoid taking up a limited resource for some group.

And, of course, we’ll see if Amazon is really ready.  There is certainly a chance that there will be issues.  It would barely be an MMORPG launch without some problems.  I’ll be along for the ride.  Let’s see how it rolls.

Addendum: I peeked in this morning just to see how things were going and it is queues everywhere, rolling up into the 25K zone for some “cool name” servers, like Valhalla in US East.  I expect we might see some additional servers coming online before the weekend.

Addendum 2: Oh yeah, new servers inbound

24 Million EVE Online Pilots Means What?

As part of their announcement that EVE Online was now available on the Epic Games store CCP put out a press release that indicated that more than 24 million “pilots” had played the game and that more than 91 million ships had been destroyed.

Some numbers

Those are some impressive numbers.

When I write about older titles in the MMORPG genre I often refer to a game’s “installed base.”   Those are the total number of users who have played the game and who are still interested in or fond of the game. They are often a lucrative resource for a company to sell to.  There is a direct correlation between that “installed base” number and how successful an older game can be playing the nostalgia card with retro servers and the like.

EverQuest, for example, while peaking at 550K subscribers, was the biggest show in town when it came to the genre for the first five years of its run.  During that time several million people played the game and then moved on.  So, while many players didn’t stick with the game forever, they played long enough to have had good times.  When SOE, and later Daybreak, started offering old school servers based around early content, that became a significant part of the title’s business.

Likewise, we saw WoW Classic revive the fortunes of World of Warcraft when Battle for Azeroth was foundering a bit, and Old School RuneScape… playing the retro card there has gotten it concurrent player counts more than a lot of titles have total players.

So EVE Online looks to have a sizable installed base to work with.  Even if they can’t play the retro server card, they can still market to appeal to players who have played and lapsed over time.

The question is, how big the core installed base, the players that got invested enough in the game, really is.  And for that we have to first figure out what 24 million “pilots” really means.  That could mean characters, accounts, actual individual people, or some other metric they came up with after a night of too much aquavit.

Fortunately, even as I was thinking about what it could be, CSM member Brisc Rubal was using his position to find out from CCP what it really meant.  On The Meta Show on Saturday he said that he got clarification and that “pilots” really meant “accounts.”

That means 24 million accounts have been created for the game.

But he got even further clarification.  Of those 24 million accounts… and I know I keep rounding down, but I am going to get into some sloppy math in a bit and that will be my margin for error or some such… 18 million were created by unique individuals.

So the largest potential installed base for EVE Online is 18 million people.

Of course, it is not that big.  Not every one of those players spent enough time to form at attachment with the game.  After all, we’ve all seen this chart from EVE North 2019, haven’t we?

How many new players log back in as time passes

And that wasn’t even news in 2019.  We had seen a similar sort of chart back at EVE Fanfest 2014.

New Player Trajectory

People who leave without engaging, people who don’t log in after a day or two, nothing has hooked them.  They got a glimpse, didn’t find anything to their liking, and moved on.

This was the view of EVE at the time

The retention problem has changed over time.  That 2014 chart reflects the pre-F2P era, when you had to commit a bit more to even get going because the whole thing required a monthly subscription after the 14 day trial, a fact that chased a lot of people off before they took their first step towards the game.

Now, with free to play, the reality of the first chart, where nearly 90% of new players fall by the wayside in a week and the overall long term retention is something like 4%, that 10% “Group / Diverse” long term retention path probably feels like the good old days.

That means that the installed base isn’t 18 million.  But it also isn’t 720K, which would be 4% of that number.  It is somewhere in between, though much closer to the lower number I would guess.

So I am going to do a bit of hand waving with the data we have to come up with a guess that, while not solid, has some foundation in reality.  And that is where we get to that gap between 24 million accounts and 18 million individuals.

That is a gap of six million, and I am going to use that as the basis of my estimate, because to me those are the secondary and tertiary accounts that users who are committed to the game, people who would likely count in the installed base, players that CCP could reasonably be able to market to with some new initiative.

So if that is six million alts and, let’s take a 3 alts per main as an estimate… I know, somebody will say that person X has a hundred accounts, but a lot of people still just have one, and even Goons by the last participation metric count are a little past 4 to 1…. that means that there are maybe 2 million individuals out there that have committed to the game enough to manage multiple accounts.

That leaves 16 million in the total users, who can’t all have turned and run, so I am just going to somewhat arbitrarily declare a million of them…  6.25% of that total… are also in the installed base of the game.

That gives the game an installed base to draw on of maybe 3 million individuals, and I am going to use the slop in my rounding down to 24 million at the top to hide the current player base, where CCP has said they have an active monthly user count that runs between 200K and 300K.

That is pretty healthy.  But EVE Online has had some promising numbers of late, like that floor of 110K subscribers that the redeemed ISK token line in the July/August MERs seemed to indicate.

Of course, the question is what CCP does with this installed base.  As I noted above, they don’t really have the retro server option, the New Eden economy being a bit precarious as it is.  Splitting the player base with another server would likely doom both, leaving aside the giant elephant in the room of what an EVE Online retro server would even be.

So they have untapped potential.  Can they do something with it?  What would lend itself to getting the installed base engaged and back to the game?  Or is the installed base really a thing at all for New Eden?  When you “win” EVE and log off, do you want to come back?  It is a game that can absorb all the effort and dedication that you have, so would you miss it when it was gone or just feel relieved?

Binge Watching Prime Suspect

When digging through Hulu, which has a pretty poor interface for discovering content, and I say that comparing it to a field of apps that are all pretty bad at that, I stumbled upon the entire Prime Suspect collection.  Having watched the original back when it premiered in the US in early 1992, I decided to give it a go to see how it has stood up over time.

Prime Suspect

The series stars Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jane Tennison who is the only woman of that rank at her station in the London Metropolitan Police.

British crime dramas have taught me that DCI is the rank at which you personally run a major investigation into something like a murder and people are supposed to call you “Guv” or “Boss.”  DCI Tennison, as the first series opens, has yet to be given her own case despite the obvious competence that got her into the otherwise male dominated command structure.

And then, in the midst of a grisly murder investigation, the DCI running it dies of a heart attack.   Her superintendent’s first action is to find another male DCI from another station to step in and take over the case.  Tennison points out that she is a DCI, in the building, with no current assignment, and pushes to get the case assigned to her.

She gets it, though it is clear that it is somewhat probationary and the male DCI they were considering is always just a phone call away.  Meanwhile, the team she inherits is not all on board with a woman DCI either.  And when the late DCI who had been running the case is found to have been hiding some evidence due to his own association with the case, her looking into that makes everybody bristle because she seems to be trying to tear down her well liked predecessor.

So it goes.  But her hard work and insight win over key members of her team and, when her superintendent is pressured to replace her with the male DCI waiting in the wings because the case isn’t moving along fast enough, her teams stands up for her and the progress she has made even as she is hiding from her boss to avoid being dismissed.

This was 1991 after all.  No email, no texts, no mobile phones, except for one giant car phone that is seen in the first act.  You had to find somebody to talk to them.

Anyway, the ploy works, she gets a reprieve, and eventually solves the case, cementing her position as an effective DCI.

The series carries on to follow her career.  It isn’t really a series in the same way that TV shows tend to be.  The format for each season is generally a pair of episodes each formatted for a 2-hour block of TV time, with obvious spots for commercial breaks. A season generally follows one case in detail, though season four breaks the trend in being three episodes, each one about a different case.

The case is always murder, but the themes vary with each season, though Tennison’s struggle to maintain her place in what remains a very male dominated world from start to finish is a universal thread.  She manages to be promoted to Detective Superintendent, which mean the DCIs report to her.  But well groomed and correctly bred male sergeants and inspectors who serve under her early in the timeline sometimes come back as her boss or her boss’s boss as things progress.

Seasons explore immigrants, racism, gay and trans acceptance, the drug trade, street gangs, pedophilia, government corruption, and police involvement or indifference in all sorts of crime.

The show overall is a solid, gritty police procedural that focuses on the dedication and investigative work that it takes to solve a crime; not a lot of car chases or gun battles.  It takes place primarily in London, though Tennison is banished to Manchester for a season and visits Bosnia for a brief bit in season six.

And, as with any British series of any length, a number of notable actors wander through including Tom Wilkinson, Peter Capaldi, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, David Thewlis, Brendan Coyle, and Ralph Fiennes.

But the whole thing is carried on the shoulders of Helen Mirren’s Tennison.  The character works because Tennison doesn’t bring magical female insight into the role, though a knowledge of how a woman’s body actually works is useful now and then, but is just more tenacious and hard working than anybody around her.  She is as tough on herself and does the difficult tasks rather than delegating, which earns her the respect of her team.

She also has many of the issues of her male colleagues.  She works long hours, can’t give up smoking, drinks too much, sleeps too little, neglects her personal and family life, makes poor choices with whom she sleeps occasionally, and generally puts the job ahead of everything in her life.  She won’t play the promotion game, except through hard work and success, or work a case in a way just to please her superiors. Her affinity is with the gruff old guy who has been a detective sergeant for 20 years rather than the up and coming bright starts looking to tick the boxes on their way to higher rank.

And she doesn’t cut her female colleagues any extra slack.  No sisterhood here.  She opens one season trying to kick a female detective inspector off her team because she goes home at the end of the work day to be with her husband and kids rather than putting in the extra hours than Tennison does.

In season seven, when Tennison has been on the force for 30 years and the powers that be are pressuring her to retire, she does question whether it was worth it.  She is 54, her mother has passed, her father is dying, her sister has a husband and a family, and all she has had is a string of short term relationships and an obvious problem with alcohol, with no real place to go if she retires.  The force has been her whole focus for almost her entire adult life.

So ends her career and the force goes on looking not much different than it did when we first saw her fifteen years back, though everybody does seem to have a cell phone on them at the end.

The seven seasons run from 1991 through until 2006, with a rather significant gap between season 5 (1996) and season 6 (2003).  The early seasons have been cleaned up a bit and made to work in HD.

I had only watched the first three seasons previously, but the series holds up well enough through all seven.  Season four is the odd duck, as mentioned, being three episodes about three different cases.  The stories are all a bit weak, even the third one, which goes back to the original season one case when some copy cat killings bring her conviction under scrutiny.  But I suspect that the inability to pull together a single strong story probably necessitated the variation.  Sometimes plot ideas don’t pan out.

More recently somebody went back and tried to make a prequel series, Prime Suspect: 1973, charting the rise of Jane Tennison.  But not everybody needs an origin story and it lasted a single season.

So it goes.

Diablo II Resurrected Arrives

Diablo II has been resurrected at last.  Well, it never really died, there being a community that still plays it and the various mods to this day.  But it has been remastered.

And it has been a long time getting there.  Much has happened since Blizzard had an ad for developers to work on some remasters they had planned, which was almost six years ago at this point.

The return of the classic

We got a remaster of StarCraft back in 2017, which came quickly enough to give hope that the other two titles were on their way soon.  They weren’t, but at least we had a slightly better looking/sounding version of StarCraft.  A modest update with a modest price that mostly got a modest reaction, but it served an audience.

Then in early 2020 we got Warcraft III Reforged, which was… less good.  Broken and missing features along with a draconian licensing agreement that simply proved that Blizzard remained aggrieved that somebody else was getting paid for Defense of the Ancients.  It was very much a black eye for Blizz, a company that at least had a reputation for polish and quality until then.

We were left hanging on Diablo II until BlizzConline in February of this year, blowing right past the game’s 20th anniversary.  Maybe it wasn’t ready yet.  Maybe Blizz learned a lesson.  But the company was still in mostly good odor at that point.  Shadowlands was still fresh and people were eager for its first big content update, Burning Crusade Classic was keeping the old school Azeroth fans happy, and now they had a classic to update for fans new and old.

And then, of course, Blizzard’s world fell apart when the State of California sued the company based on its two year investigation, which the company denied and minimized, a reaction that just got more people to come forward publicly and tell their tales of the company.  The company that could do no wrong for many is now the pariah that couldn’t get a favorable headline if it suddenly cured COVID and achieved world peace.

But you get to sleep in the bed you made.  These are Bobby Kotick’s chickens coming home to roost and execs down in Irvine have been jumping onto the evacuation slide… or are they being pushed… with grim regularity.  The circus has years to play out I am sure.

But they shipped Diablo II Resurrected.  It went live on Thursday.  I downloaded it when it became available, having pre-ordered it ages ago, but I didn’t even get around to playing it until last night.  I wasn’t in a rush.  I didn’t need to take the day off work or spend that night playing.  I knew what I was getting.

The beta, as I wrote, tempered my enthusiasm for the title a bit, though not necessarily in a bad way.  The title wasn’t going to make be 20 years younger just by playing it and I was reminded, as I have always been reminded when I gone back to play the original, that it is a product of a different time.

Still, I played last night and it was good.  It sticks to the original in the important aspects, even the ones that don’t always thrill me.  That “one respect per play through” is still a huge penalty if you spec wrong.  But I remember Blizz relenting and giving us that respec because it wasn’t there at launch.  Things could be worse.

I gather that the launch was less than perfect.  I saw one article that called it Blizzard’s Latest Disaster.  I kind of want to write in and remind them of the Diablo III launch, next to which the list of issues I saw seemed pretty minor.   I know the editorial slant these days is to hit Blizz hard on everything, which they certainly deserve.  But given the scope of disasters the company has managed so far in 2021, this launch seems like a non-event by comparison.

Of course, that is a problem for Blizz too.  The coverage feels grudging save for sites that have hooked their brand up to the Blizzard name.  Sorry Blizzard Watch, that is kind of the path you chose.

For me, last night, things seemed to be working well.  Though, child of the original Diablo that I am, I remain dubious of making character on Battle.net unless I have to… as during the beta… and rolled some local characters for my kick off.  That shielded me from many problems I am sure. (Something that wasn’t an option for Diablo III as we all well recall.)

The animation, which seemed a little janky and off back when I played in beta looked to be locked down.  The “weapon swings, hits mob, makes swinging sound, mob dies, makes striking sound…” audio coordination also seemed to have been addressed.  But maybe that was just Battle.net.  I remain wary.

As for the critical aspects of the game, which has always been atmosphere for me, that seems spot on.  The graphical update managed to enhance the light and shadow movements.  Things feel very good, and the old sound track and sounds, tuned up, are all spot on.

Meanwhile, some of the fire and magic effects are huge improvements.  When that shaman throws a fireball at you it looks very good.

Here comes the heat

This isn’t going to be a new obsession.  I’ll want to play through and see all the locations redone.  But the reality of my history with the game is that I have played through Act I dozens of times, and Act II nearly as many, but my enthusiasm tends to wain a bit with the tepid Act III.  If I do get through Act III and generally go straight through Act IV, though its brevity doesn’t make that too difficult.  Then there is Act V, which I think I have played through three times top, and once was in my play through of the original last year.

But it is in my library and I am happy to have the option to play it when the mood strikes me.

Cooking in the Blood Furnace

After the three run struggle to get past Hellfire Ramparts, I have to admit that I was a bit pessimistic about our chance for the Blood Furnace, the next instance on our four person instance tour of WoW Classic.

Yes, we had leveled up and geared up some, but even so we barely squeaked out that last fight on our third run in ramparts.  That was not a promising sign.

Still, what else were we going to do?  We can only go back to visit Blackrock Depths so often.

So we got together… this was back on the 12th… and our group was:

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

The first thing was to get everybody to the instance.  I scouted it out early, which wasn’t too hard because I had found it when I was looking for the Hellfire Ramparts instance previously.  But then I had to explain to everybody else where I was as they logged on, which I did poorly, so I ended up running out to the end of the wall to where the siege engine with the ramp is that lets you get up onto the wall so they could come to my marker on the map.  Eventually we got to the instance.

Up on the wall and around a bend and there we are

Once inside we looked around and steeled ourselves for a hard slog.  None of us could remember in any detail any of our past runs, though as we moved through we had flashes of wipes and bad turns.  I try not to go re-read the old instance group posts from back in the day before we do a run as not to spoil things, but I had a feeling there were stories.  So we moved forward to see how it would play out.

Inside and ready to move

We made our way in and up the passage, taking out groups, then up the stairs, where somebody mentioned stealthed rogues in a comment on the last instance group post, so we were warned and managed to handle them well enough.

We seemed to be doing okay, though I suspect our being level 63 help us avoid an accidental proximity pull here and there.  There were a few close runs, but it wasn’t until we got to the room outside of the first boss’s chamber that we had any real problems.  There are three groups close together and a walker that moves between them.  In an attempt to pick off the walker I managed to pull everybody in the room.

Things went badly soon thereafter.  I fell, then Fergorin, then Beanpole.  Ula ran for the instance line, blinking to keep ahead of all the mobs chasing here, which just allowed her to make it out.  That was all that kept it from being a full wipe.

The chorus line running back past our corpses after chasing Ula out of the instance

We had a soul stone handy, so Fergorin was able to revive then ress Beanpole and myself.

With that out of our system, we went in a bit more carefully and managed to pull a group, then the walker, then the other groups, clearing the room and letting us into the room of The Maker, the first boss in the instance.

You have to clear his room too, and there are groups standing around and in motion, but they are spread out enough that we were able to clear the room, which left us the prize.

Facing The Maker

The Maker did not end up being all that tough.  After a short sharp fight he was down.  He dropped the Diamond-Core Sledgemace, which is not only a very healer focused weapon, but a very dwarven one as well, which made it a perfect fit for Fergorin.

Sledgemace in hand

From there it was into the tunnel that runs to the second boss, where there are mobs in close proximity and wandering mobs and at one point Fergorin had to use Divine Intervention on me to avoid a wipe when we got in over our heads, so I was able to ress everybody so we could carry on.

In the tunnel

We managed to get through that and into the room where the next boss fight would take place.  We had to clear it out, of course, but once done there was a big lever to pull that would set the event in motion.

The lever awaits

We looked this one up in advance just to prepare.  You pull the lever and you have to face four groups of four elites, one at a time, then Broggok, the boss comes for you.  Mana management was recommended, with the suggestion that you crowd control the final elite from the last group and let your mana regen before killing him and facing the boss.  Seemed easy enough.

This went a bit rough with the groups.  We had some trouble focusing on a single target and mobs would break away to chase the casters and then I’d have to go chase the mobs and it was a bit of a circus.  My taunt, which pulls multiple mobs, has a 15 second cool-down and inevitably I use it for one caster seconds before the other unloads with some huge windup and then I am off chasing a mob while swearing at the cool down timer on my taunt.

Anyway, we somehow managed to keep it together through the first three groups all the same, then Beanpole died on the fourth group and it seemed like we might be done for.  We managed to finish off all but the last elite in that group, then kept him crowd controlled while we regenerated mana and considered our options.  We were in combat and didn’t have a combat ress, so we were just going to have to fight the boss without Beanpole.  So we offed the last elite and went to dance with Broggok.

You can just see Beanpole’s corpse on the floor a bit to the left

And dance is the right word.  One thing I did remember through the years was that he drops a poison stink that you need to avoid, so you have to keep moving through the fight.  So I unloaded everything I could on him, there being no point in holding back.  Fergorin kept me healed, I held aggro, and Ula burned him down.  And we won.  With just three of us.

It seemed kind of amazing.  We got Beanpole ressed and checked the loot.

Broggok Slain

He dropped the Arcing Bracers, which went to a roll-off between Beanpole and Ula, though I cannot remember who won them in the end, but they were another upgrade for somebody.

That left us clearing our way to the final boss, Keli’dan the Breaker, which we managed to do without too much additional drama.  There are still some stealthed rogues that far into the instance, but we managed  to spot them before they surprised us.

For Keli’dan you have to slay five elites who are holding him in place, and for once we managed some very good target discipline and chopped them all down one after another, before launching into the boss.  All we really knew is that he has an AOE fire blast and that when he says “Come closer” you run away like he’s promising you there is candy in his white panel van, and you don’t stop until you know the blast is over because you’re probably not far enough away when you think you are.

And with that bit of knowledge we managed to best him.  He died with some parting advice.

Says the dead guy

He dropped the Raiments of Divine Authority, which went to Ula, another upgrade on the run.

We took our end of instance screen shot.

The group made it to the end

Then we headed out the back door and called it a day.

Happy fun ramp exit

A rather successful run.  No full wipes, no runs back to the instance, upgrades dropping from each boss.  Hard to argue with that.

It will probably boost our confidence slightly until we get to the next instance, which is The Slave Pens in Zangarmarsh.  That probably means we’ll have to do some overland content to get quests lined up and all of that.  I have been avoiding that content for a few months now.  Maybe it is time.

And, after all of that I went back and looked at our original run back in the day… and we did it on the first try back then as well.  So maybe I was worried about nothing.

Pandas and Gear Up and Level Up Events Hit EverQuest II

With the announcement of the Visions of Vetrovia expansion last week I opined that we might soon be seeing Gear Up, Level Up events as well as the possibility of the now usual Days of Summer event.

The 2021 Expansion

And this week saw both get announced, though not in that order.  The Gear Up, Level Up event news hit the EverQuest II site late on Tuesday announcing the usual array of pre-expansion bonuses.  For live servers we will get:

  • Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, September 27, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double loot drops, double experience for members, double status for members.
  • Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 4, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double loot drops, and for a limited time: mount training drops.
  • Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 11, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double loot drops, and for a limited time: spell research.
  • Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 18, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double loot drops, for a limited time: spell research, double experience for members, double status for members.

For those on the Kaladim server, there are some lesser bennies… but they’re paying to walk to school up hill in the snow both ways, right?  I guess they do get a bit of double XP.

  • Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, September 27, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double status for members.
  • Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 4, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double Destiny of Velious Hunter coins.
  • Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 11, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double experience for members.
  • Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 18, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double Destiny of Velious loot drops.

And then there is the Tarinax PvP progression server, which I am reminded is even still a thing, has its own set of bennies.

  • Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, September 27, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double status members.
  • Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 4, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double Cobalt coins.
  • Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 11, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double experience for members.
  • Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Monday, October 18, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
    • Double Kingdom of Sky loot drops.

As with Mickey Donovan’s favorite jacket, these bennies are “Members Only,” which means you have to subscribe to the Daybreak All Access plan.  $15 a month is all they ask.

Those bennies are all fine and good, though not much there really appeals to me.

On the “Level Up” front  I managed to get six characters to the current level cap of 120 back when we first went to the moon with the Blood of Luclin expansion.  I still have characters that are not at level cap, but I do start to wonder how many level cap characters I really need.  (Also, there is a pile of them in the 40-70 range, which is a long way from level cap.)

As for “Gear Up,” I am already way behind there having not bought the Reign of Shadows expansion.  That means I’ll be depending on the crate of gear that is on the ground at the start of most of the recent expansions.

And then there is the Days of Summer event which, even at its earliest, ran deep into autumn, and has finally submitted to reality and been given a name change.  It is now Panda Panda Panda … because the related NPCs are pandas.

Panda Panda Panda starts in autumn

As with gear up/level up, there isn’t much available that we realistically ready me for the next expansion, though I am sure the gear will be upgrades over what I have.  But the event, which comes in a series of weekly tasks, sends you all over Norrath and is kind of fun.  And there are always some cosmetic items worth having, and this year there is a mount… and ant mount.

I wonder if that is foreshadowing for the next expansion?

Anyway, I’ll be doing that over the next few weeks.  And then when that ends we’ll be in the zone for the launch of the next expansion.

Bhagpuss also has a write up about the event and I am sure we’ll both share pictures of the mount.  It certainly won’t be the worst looking mount in the game.  I wonder if it scales to barbarian size?

A Keepstar Dies in Catch

The war is over and most groups are back in their homes… old or new… and working on building up for the next struggle.  Out in Delve we have Ansiblex jump gates again and an industrial infrastructure in progress and ADMs on the rise.

But there are still some details to take care of.  While most of the PAPI structures have been cleared out, a Keepstar was still hanging on in Catch, in U-QVWD.  That might have been the most reinforced structure of the war.  The Initiative went after it many times, but it was a key waypoint on the capital highway to the east, so PAPI forces kept showing up to defend it even when they were not doing much in Delve proper.

They even gave it a name to taunt Dark Shines of INIT

But Monday night late USTZ the final timer was coming up for it.  The question was whether or not TEST or PAPI would put any effort into defending it one more time.  It was far from Outer Passage, but not impossible to get to.

The Imperium was not going to take any chances.  Capitals moved out the day before and as tht timer counted down subcap fleets were formed up and sent to Catch.  After all, who doesn’t want to get on a Keepstar kill?

Titans waiting their turn

There was even some chatter about Pandemic Horde doing a flash form and maybe coming our way.  But nothing came of it.  The joke went around that they accidentally jumped to the bait beacon in UQ-PWD like so many of their comrades before.

I had a jump clone and a couple of ships over in Curse in an NPC station just a couple of jumps away, so I grabbed an Ishtar I had sitting around and joined in to watch the fun.

Ishtar watching the Keepstar

I have been a bit under the weather and wasn’t feeling up to being in main fleet, so I did this on my own.  I waited until the Keepstar was down to about 15% then warped in range and took a few distant pot shots at it.  I scored no hits, but you get credit for trying.

The Keep exploded soon there after.

Another one bites the dust

I made it on the kill mail with about 800 of my fellow Imperium pilots.

GSOL, well practiced at this now, swooped in and grabbed the core then salvaged the wreck.

GSOL doing its thing

There is another TEST Keepstar in 0SHT-A, one gate over in Curse.  I am sure that will be next on the list.

 

Yulai Bot Bash 2021

GM Week is back upon us, and it opened up with the traditional Bot Bash in Yulai.  I think they get straight to that to grab botters before they realize the even it coming.  While there are plenty of other things to do during GM Week, this is always has a good turnout.  It is described as:

In this fan-favorite event, Capsuleers discovered using CONCORD-prohibited automated piloting technology will be dragged into Yulai, ship and all, where countless players will be sitting in wait to tear them apart!

So I had to find a character who could go out and take part.  Due to other commitments, the only character I had handy was  5 million skill point alt that I rolled up back in 2008 and only just started working with recently.  Most of his skill points are in planetary industry, but he had just enough in Caldari ships, and enough un-allocated skill points, that I could get him in a Kestral with decent range so he could get his first kill mails after almost 14 years of hanging around in the station waiting for his turn.

Of course I bought him a SKIN, I have some sense of style

I flew him out to Yulai early and set him up in a wide orbit around the Yulai Graveyard beacon.  (You can read about the Yulai Graveyard here.)

Things were warming up even as got there very early.  People had started to gather already and fireworks were being thrown about liberally.

It looks like the battle has already started

I left that to itself and went about my business until the time was almost upon us.  I was going to be ready this year, so I set my alt up with a capitals only overview and got ready.

There was an announcement in local.  The targets were going to be arriving soon.

Here they come

CCP Convict was on grid and rolling around in his Polaris Enigma Frigate.  Destruction was imminent.

CCP Convict in the thick of thins

Then the first three targets, three Rorquals, appeared on grid on my overview.   It was on!

And then I did a very null sec thing.  I shot them right away.

Unfortunately, Yulai is a high sec system, so you’re supposed to wait until the GMs flag the teleported ships as suspects, making them legal to shoot, before opening fire.  Honestly, if I had just counted to five I would have been fine.  I saw them turn suspect even as my own handle was broadcast across the system as a criminal and CONCORD came to get me.

And then I exploded.

My pod lasted long enough to get on the kill mail for the Rorqual I shot.  Or maybe the system was just lagged and I snuck in.  But now he is on his first kill mail… and he has his first loss mails as well.  He is a capsuleer now.

The event carried on without me.  It looks like the haul was those three Rorquals, five supercarriers, and a Titan.  Not ships you get to see in high sec every day.  Not as big of a haul as last year… one of my baby characters is on two titan kill mails from that… but still decent.

I am a bit bummed about my mistake,  but I am sure the event will be back next year.  Bots never sleep and they keep coming back.