Monthly Archives: November 2021

November in Review

The Site

Spam comment bots will hate you if you know this one special trick!  Or they would if they had the capacity to hate.

Over the years I have mentioned how many spam comments that Askismet racks up and how many I end up having to clear out of the spam filter because it isn’t sure.  And then, in looking through yet another thousand spam comment day, hoping to find any false positives in the mix, I noticed that almost all of the spam comments were on old posts, in the 8-12 year old time frame.

Then I was hit by a blinding flash of the obvious and went and set WordPress to not allow comments on posts over a certain age.

The setting I was looking for

Once I clicked the check box it actually worked.

This was not an completely slam dunk idea for me as I don’t mind comments on old posts, and there are a few, like an old one about the Kesmai game Air Warrior that attracts somebody new now and then.  But eventually real people stop showing up.  So I set the timer to turn off comments on posts once they were up for 800 days.  That should give anybody looking to leave a comment plenty of time and I am now much more likely to find false positives in the spam bucket.

And then there are the ads.  Despite serving up only slightly more ads than last month, the total amount earned was over $20, up from $15 in October.  I won’t be able to give up my day job, but the Premium account option will at least pay for itself.  I also think the quality of the ads might be getting better, though I don’t check often enough to make a blanket statement on the topic.

As always, I encourage you to use some sort of ad blocker to keep your browsing safe.  I have on a number of occasions hit a site that demanded I turn off my ad blocker to be able to view their content, only to the have Malwarebytes, my virus protection software of choice, throw an alert that it had to block an ad due to malware.  I never want to be that site.  Be safe on the internet friends.

One Year Ago

EverQuest II celebrated its sweet sixteen with some unexpected downtime.  Oops.  EverQuest was getting ready for the Claws of Veeshan expansion.

World of Warcraft was spinning up for the Shadowlands expansion, and I was getting in a few tasks before it landed.  There was also the beta and something about multiboxing software and the fact that BlizzCon Online being free.  I was also wondering if anybody really needed a level booster after the big level squish.  The ride to 50 was pretty fast.

We were still playing around a bit in the level squished Northrend, trying to do a three person with Prince Keleseth.  That did not end well.  I also started a demon hunter to try the run to 50 in the level squish.  It was a quick run, though it got strange because I wasn’t in quite the right timeline.

Then there were the pre-events in Northrend… and I always love going to Northrend.  There was plenty to do up there.

And then there was the pre-launch calm before we were finally let into Shadowlands.  It seemed like a pretty smooth launch once you got past the crowd in Stormwind.  The zones were quick and fun and I was soon making my debut in the theater of pain. and then off into Ardenweald.

Meanwhile, in WoW Classic, we were working out way to the detention block in Blackrock Depths and then Shadowforge City after which we went walking with Marshal Windsor.

On the WoW Classic front Blizz was talking about plans and bans.

I hit level 40 in Pokemon Go.  I was also using Discord to get overseas raid invites to catch special legendaries.

There were some more shows to write about in the great pandemic binge watch.

And of course there was EVE Online and World War Bee, which I will just sum up in a list of posts:

And so it went.

Five Years Ago

I got back from EVE Vegas and reviewed a bit of what I saw including SKIN changes.  I also borrowed CCP Rise’s Vegas Alpha fit for a trial run.  Of course the Ascension expansion and Alpha Clones were the big deal.  Logging in when the expansion hit wasn’t always easy, but the PCU passed the long distant 50K user mark.

Then suddenly it was election night.  I was in a fleet during which the winner projections turned on their head.  At least we got a tower kill.

Meanwhile back in our old home in the north, the war in Tribute started to come alive.  Sort of.  A bit.  Well, there was some propaganda.

BlizzCon was underway a week after EVE Vegas, and I first projected what I wanted to see/thought I might see and then reconciled that with what I actually saw.  It took a while for me to see Weird Al though.

Project: Gorgon was back to crowd funding.

Pokemon Sun & Moon were coming and I got ready by wrapping up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.  I took Pokemon Sun while my daughter went with Pokemon Moon.

In Minecraft Aaron was using the in-game maps to create art to hang on his walls.  Then there was the update with forest mansions… and llamas!  That meant going on an expedition to find my own mansion.  And once you have your own mansion, you have to do something with it.  Like burn it down.

Daybreak, in looking after Norrath new and old, launched the Kunark expansion twins, with Empires of Kunark going live for EverQuest and Kunark Ascending going live for EverQuest II.

And, finally, in a bullet points post on Black Friday it was death to The Mittani, a new Google widget in my side bar, and some Pokemon news.

Ten Years Ago

I looked back at the Star Wars Extended Universe novel Heir to Empire, which turned 20 years old. That might be my most coherent piece on the site.  Also, it is 30 years old now.

In EVE Online, the upcoming Crucible expansion had a chance to remove the Incarna stink from the game. Oh, and ship trails were back. And Hulkageddon V was announced… about six months early it turns out.

I reviewed my 2011 MMO outlook. Rift appeared to be the unlikely winner, while DCUO had already gone F2P.

Speaking of going F2P in under a year, I had my first peek at Star Wars: The Old Republic in the beta. Pre-NDA drop, I used Star Wars Galaxies to describe the game as nothing new. Then the NDA dropped and I bitched some more. I did not find the game fun, cancelled my pre-order, and went back to Rift.

And then there was EverQuest II going free to play on all servers, which made me wonder what else in the SOE line up might follow suit. (Turns out the answer was “everything,” or at least everything that they didn’t shut down.)

Vanguard started showing inexplicable signs of life.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Scars of Velious was complete and the Luclin expansion went live. Also, breaking the retro aspect, Fippy Darkpaw players got the same new hot bars that all EverQuest players got with the new Veil of Alaris expansion. They actually worked like hot bars in other games.  Amazing!

In Rift, we made it to Meridian and then faced our first boss while learning the rules of their LFG tool. Oh, and the damn Yule rifts were up before Thanksgiving. I swear, it gets earlier every year.

We learned of the real money auction house in Diablo III. Actually, the real money part wasn’t the bad bit, it was that there was an auction house at all… and crap itemization.

And also on the RMT front was the Guardian cub pet in World of Warcraft. I did a couple of price checks on those, but somebody should probably go back and see how prices look a year later.  Can you even find one on the market these days?

Oh, and WoW had lost 2 million subscribers. Remember when that was a big deal?

Torchilght II was delayed because we had other things to play, right?

AOL shut down Wow.com. That doesn’t mean what you think.

I announced the winners of my Azeroth travel poster contest.

Google was pissing me off by changing up Google Reader. Still, I’d take bad UI Google reader over no Google Reader.

A little game called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launched.  A pity nobody played it and it never got ported to very many platforms or got several remasters.

And we said farewell to LEGO Universe.

Fifteen Years Ago

Our World of Warcraft Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group finished up Blackfathom Deeps,The Stockades, Shadowfang Keep, and started in on Razorfen Kraul.

In EverQuest, I picked up The Serpent’s Spine and tried running a new character though some of the new level 1-70 content.  I also set out a minor goal of taking screen shots to compare Faydwer in EQ and Faydwer in EQII that lead to posts about Kaladim and Kelethin.

In EverQuest II, the Echoes of Faydwer expansion came out.  Once I found a copy and got past the patching process and into the game, I made a fae swashbuckler and went to town.

The Revelations expansion hit in New Eden, my first expansion update in EVE Online.  I followed the general wisdom and made sure I had a long skill training the night before.

The Wii and the PlayStation 3 were both released in the US.

I was talking about Diablo II, because that comes up every few years.

And the maker of the ubiquitous ZMud client announced a replacement product called CMud.  I tried the demo version, but since ZMud continued to work for me, I stuck with that.

Also, I was apparently hosting my blog screen shots on Image Shack back in 2006 and they’re all gone from many of those posts now.  I went back and fixed all the WoW instance groups posts at some point… probably five or ten years ago… but the EQ and EQII posts are just going to require you to use your imagination.

Twenty Years Ago

EverQuest went to the moon with its third expansion Shadows of Luclin.

Nintendo released the Game Cube in North America.

Microsoft launched its first game console, the original XBox, also in North America.

IL-2 Sturmovik, one of the more important combat flight sims for flight sim nerds, launched.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. The Crimson Harvest Returns to EVE Online
  3. The EVE Online New Dawn Quadrant to Start With Mining Changes
  4. Life on the M2 Hellcamp
  5. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  6. A 64-bit EverQuest Client is Coming
  7. The LOTRO Fate of Gundabad Expansion Targets November 10th Launch
  8. Protests in Jita Over New Dawn Changes
  9. Robbing Some Space Banks
  10. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  11. Why Harry Potter Wizards Unite Failed
  12. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor

Search Terms of the Month

eve online [barghest]
[The flying griddle!]

defeat the lord of flies in this java game
[No, u]

is there supposed to be a fence with torch on top of it in minecraft in the savanna village
[An oddly specific question. Yes?]

гипер врата в космических играх
[There are jump gates in EVE, but they aren’t hyper]

(Google made some change and now so few search terms make it through that I am down to single digits to pick from.  This might be a dying feature, and just when I killed off spam comments as well!)

Game Time from ManicTime

For the first time in a long stretch there was no significant WoW or WoW Classic play time recorded.  Basically my six month subscription expired at the end of October and that was that.  I did log in quickly to get the 17th anniversary achievement with a level 18 character, so I guess I will boost their MAU for November, but I have spent my last cash on Blizzard for a while.

  1. New World – 35.56%
  2. Forza Horizon 5 – 30.95%
  3. EVE Online – 12.83%
  4. Diablo II – 9.68%
  5. World of Tanks – 8.76%
  6. EverQuest II – 2.20%
  7. World of Warcraft – 0.02%

Considering how far into the month I grabbed FH5, you can see I spent a lot of time on the road.

Diablo II

I managed to get a necromancer through nightmare and into hell difficulty, and the instance group carried through and defeated Diablo, before we ran out of steam on the game.  It is a solid game still, 20 years down the road, though it could use some improvements.  But for purposes of nostalgia I own it and can go back and play some more whenever I want.

EVE Online

I did not spend much time in EVE Online this past month.  I got in, went on a fleet op or three, got on my requisite kill mail for the month, and even lost a ship… which was fine because my hangar has more ships in it than I will ever fly unless PAPI invades Delve again.  So at least losing a ship meant SRP and some more ISK back in my wallet.  Otherwise I let all but my main account lapse into alpha status.

The CCP team however went through its periodic routine of setting themselves on fire, this time with the “New Dawn: Age of Prosperity” dev blog, then denying there was even smoke while the player base yelled at them.  They appeared to acknowledge that, perhaps, there was some sort of combustion, but we won’t know what they’re really thinking until we get the next dev blog.  The only thing that is sure is that “prosperity” won’t be on the agenda for any reasonable definition of the word.

Also, what is going on with the algorithmic false positive bans?  CCP seems to have it in for certain activities.

EverQuest II

I played a bit more of EQII, finished out the Days of Summer/Panda quests, did a little mucking about with some alts, and then drifted off to play something else.  Unless there is something seriously unexpected in the new expansion next month, my account there will likely lapse as well.

Forza Horizon 5

Bought this on a lark for a freaking dollar… well, I didn’t really buy it so much as rent it for three months via XBox Game Pass for PC… and have played the hell out of it at times over the month.  A fun driving game with a lot of different options to suit anybody from the casual to the hard core.

New World

The instance group has found its way into New World and we are trying to move through it as a group.  The game itself seems to be deep in a new crisis every week and more than a few of them could be on the list of “why does this happen with every MMO launch?” But it is good looking and the combat is different and the trade skills are… well, there is a lot there to be done.  We’re all at level 20 at this point, so we might be able to do some group things soon.

Pokemon Go

The big event in November for me was hitting level 42 at last.  A big enough deal that I am including a picture!

Level 42 level up graphic – what I did on my way from 41 to 42

The downside is that now the mountain of xp needed to get to level 43 seems all the taller.  9 million experience will take a while.

Level: 42 (+1, 1.5% of the way to 43 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 673 (+3) caught, 695 (+1) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 13 of 17
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat, but not for long

World of Tanks

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I cranked this up again to have something quick to drop into and play.  I started in at the beginning of the month and played quite a bit… then I got Forza Horizon 5 and play time fell off a cliff as I binged on that.  But I have come back and played some more since.  I have enough coins and bennies that I can drop in and out for a few days at a time and still play in premium mode most days.

Zwift

Another month in with Zwift.  I am a bit surprised I have kept up as well as I have, as one of my defining attributes is laziness. I haven’t really lost any weight, though I have redistributed some of it.  I know this because I need to cinch my belt up one notch further.

My distance cycled at this point is almost exactly the distance between my house and the happiest place on Earth; Tijuana!

  • Level – 11 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 487.9 miles (+115.5 miles)
  • Time – 1d 1h 48m (+5h 48m)
  • Elevation climbed – 20,013 (+4,875 feet)
  • Calories burned – 16,141 (+3,845)

Coming Up

Last month I had a list of things that were due in November or seemed likely to arrive and… a few didn’t make it, so I guess I get to rerun them.  The FFXIV expansion is now set to land on December 7th, while EverQuest and EverQuest II have expansions that should land on the 7th and the 1st respectively.  You can probably foresee tomorrow’s post in that.

Also, for those who know the blog, December means a series of end of year posts to sum things up and check on things like predictions and all of that.  Those posts are coming.

Otherwise it seems like there will be more New World in the offing and maybe things will heat up a bit in EVE Online after the post-war slump.

Oh, and there is a a sequel to The Matrix landing in December, The Matrix Resurrections.  I might have to go see it.  That is probably one you need to see on the big screen.

A Return to Tanks

As the month started and my WoW account lapsed I was looking for another game to play that would be good in short sessions, something I could jump into for maybe 30 minutes at the end of the evening.  And, for no particular reason I thought of World of Tanks.

World of Tanks

There were a few times over the last year or so when I thought about going back to give it another run, but there was always something else that was just ahead of it.  So I missed the game’s 10th anniversary and a few other events.  But this month I finally decided to go back and play for a bit.

And I discovered that it had been a while.

The version I had installed, that I migrated from my old computer, hadn’t actually been touched since 2015, if the file dates are to be believed.  The client I had was so far out of date, or was missing enough files from the move, that it couldn’t be patched up.  I had to uninstall it and then install a fresh copy of the game.  And I had to figure out my account login before I could even do that.

Fortunately I have that saved away someplace where I managed to find it.  I made the account back in 2010, back before the game went live.

But I got myself logged in and the client installed, and once it launched and loaded up, which seemed to take a long time considering I have it on a fast SSD, I was back in the game… with all my old stuff.

I had 22 tanks in my garage, with about 18 crews, bits of various currency, and even our old clan was still there, Les Chars de Combustion, with the flaming French tank logo.

Les Chars de Combustion

I also had some gifts waiting for me.  Wargaming.net had a pile of stuff including some premium time and a badge by my name indicating that I had been in the beta.  I think that might be false advertising as it might imply that I had gained some skill or was any good at the game.

Let me assure you I am not, and I am probably worse now than I was six years back.  I’ve forgotten all the maps and I am frankly just less responsive on the fly.

I ran through a bunch of tanks and tank destroyers before I settled down in a niche that seemed to, if not suit me, at least expose fewer of my flaws.  I ended up settling down on a rotation with the KV-1, the Soviet Churchill, and the Soviet Valentine II, all of which tend to be able to take a hit better than some of my other options.

My style of play tends to be to simply wade into the middle of the action and shoot targets as they appear.

As often as not, that leads to an early death… which is why I rotate between the three tanks because I just get back in the queue again to play again unless the match is really close.

The Churchill charred yet again

It can be discouraging at times.  But I think I have disproved Gevlon’s conspiracy theory that the game is fixed to ensure that you maintain about a 50% win rate.  My win rate this month is more like 10%.

But once in a while I find myself in the right spot at the right time and… well, we still lose, but we go down in a glorious defeat.

Medals awarded posthumously

So I log in a couple of evenings a week and slug it out some more, favoring my slow by well armored rides.

A pretty heavy light tank the Valentine

Between this and Forza Horizon 5 I have my low cost, low commitment gaming covered I think.

Honest Game Trailers does New World

Just in time for our group to get stuck into New World, Honest Game Trailers has an episode devoted to the game.

Welcome to a New World

The video actually hits on a number of points that we have experience in our short run so far.   I mentioned in my first post about us getting into the game that trading between players and the trading post were turned off due to yet another dupe bug.

 

We’re still having fun of course, and are getting into the various aspects of the game, which does have its own flavor.  And we’re clearly past the main problems of the first few weeks of the game where just being able to log in was an issue.

But in looking into the news I keep running into the statement that it uses a “client authoritative” model, something that Amazon says is not so, but admits that it has been allowing the client to override server inputs leading to some of the exploits that have been coming up… and that keep coming up.

Anyway, we’re low enough level, just entering the 20s, that we’ve not been impacted by the various issues that have come up.  We cannot, for example, even afford houses yet, so a furniture dupe bug isn’t even an option.  Still, we’ve seen more than our share of graphical glitches and other oddities while playing together.   We’ll be sticking around for now, but it is starting to become a bit of a meme about there being some fresh new major issue every week.

Enad Global 7 gives some Insight into Future Plans with its Q3 2021 Investor Presentation

Enad Global 7 dropped their Q3 2021 earnings announcement and report on Thursday.

Enad Global 7

I don’t know if things have changed at the company since Ji Ham was put in charge, but Daybreak does seem to be at the center of things at the company.  There is even a chart that puts the watchful eye of the Daybreak logo in a position that can’t help but draw attention to the size of its influence at the company.

None dare meet its terrible gaze

I realize that image is just to show all the things various groups in the company touch, but they could have made a chart that didn’t highlight an oversize Daybreak logo in a circle of light relative to the other parts of the company, but they chose to all the same.  And, in so choosing, it is hard not to read something into it.

Still, if we are getting what turns out to be Daybreak 2.0, at least it is a publicly held version of the company so they have to show up and tell investors and the general public what is going on four times a year.  That would be about four more times a year than privately held version did.

And a Swedish public company.  I guess we have to remember that.  Because if a US company dropped a major announcement on Thanksgiving Day, one would automatically assume a desire to hide something.  But it was just another chilly autumn Thursday in Stockholm.

On the financial side of things the company is very big on showing how much better it did on the revenue front when compare to Q3 2020, with numbers growing over 400%.  This was, of course, before several key acquisitions, including Daybreak, so we’re seeing one of the quirks of corporate accounting where an asset acquired is assumed to be worth exactly what you paid for it… that being how value is determined in the market… so buying Daybreak was a wash and all their revenue is an automatic bonus.

The company continues to emphasize many of the Daybreak brands in the report:

  • Key first party brands include:
    • EverQuest, considered to be one of the three most iconic fantasy MMO brands in the
      world together with World of Warcraft and Ultima Online.
    • H1Z1, the very first battle royale game that was credited as one of the inspirations
      for Fortnite, with over 40 million life-to-date (LTD) registrations.
    • Big Blue Bubble’s My Singing Monsters, which has over 82 million LTD registrations
      on mobile and now expanding to PC and console.
  • Top tier global third party brands:
    • DC Comics from Warner Brothers with continuing pipeline of content from
      blockbuster feature films and TV shows.
    • The Lord of the Rings, arguably the most iconic classic fantasy IP, primed for
      resurgence with the new Amazon series on its way.
    • The Dungeons & Dragons from Wizards of the Coast, with a world-wide passionate
      fan base and a new feature film on its way.
    • 4game’s third party brands, including Lineage, Black Desert Online, Blade and Soul
      and more.

EverQuest is certainly iconic for those who pay attention to the MMORPG genre, though as a brand it does fall pretty squarely into the realm of “what have you done with it lately?”  The two titles in that brand are still modestly active and get updates, but both also show their age.

And then there is the ongoing wish-casting about H1Z1.  I mean sure, not only did it inspire Fortnite, the guy who led PUBG worked on H1Z1 as well.  But that is all in the past for a brand that by their own accounts nobody is working on.  It is a bit like General Motors reminding us of the Pontiac or Oldsmobile brand because they still sell repair parts for the otherwise discontinues lines.

While the financials are fine, they are a bit boring, because the company is simply doing okay.  Q3 is dull for Daybreak because “summer,” but Q4 will see a big boost with expansions being shipped at players returning to the game. Overall they aren’t setting anything on fire, including themselves, so bravo to them, but the future is where promises lay.  And in the presentation they have a few explicit looks into their plan.

In the near term, which is between now and the end of 2022, the company has the following lined up.

EG7 Q3 2021 slide 17

Not a lot there for Daybreak fans, and I honestly have no insight into My Singing Monsters, but some things are in the queue beside the business as usual updates for current products.

Past that, into what they refer to as the Medium-term, things are a bit more interesting for those of us on the Daybreak desk.

EG7 Q3 2021 slide 17

Medium term isn’t defined, but since they have a column dedicated to 2022, I think it is safe to assume that this means past 2022, so perhaps things that might come to fruition in 2023 or 2024.

First up is LOTRO.  I am not sure where they get that top ten ranking metric, but LOTRO does stand out in many way and it is arguably both the biggest and truest simulation of the works.

But here they double down on one of the early promises of the Daybreak acquisition, a revamp to upgrade visuals, a modernization of the experience, and a release on consoles.  And I guess the medium term time frame may be viable for all of that, though I would push the very end of 2024 as the earliest we might see results.  The problem with an old title with many expansions is the extent of the visuals that need to be upgraded.  There is simply a lot of manual effort that will need to go into that and even if they are ramping up staff right now… and SSG has job openings listed… it will be a long march to get there.

And then there is the console plan, something I dismissed back when they first announced it eleven months back.  It seemed wishful thinking.  But if it is still in the plan, that too feels like a huge project.  Not only do visuals need to be upgraded to work on current generation consoles, but the UI of the game… which people have been complaining about since day one as being sub-par for the genre… will need to be completely redone from scratch.

It honestly feels like they will need to branch the game, that they will need to split off and have Legacy LOTRO with a small caretaker team to keep it going, then focus efforts on what I will call LOTRO Next, where most of the work on the game will happen, which will yield a better looking, but very different version of the game.

That is my prediction anyway.  We shall see if we get another expansion for Legacy LOTRO or if work gets aimed elsewhere.

Then there is DC Universe Online, the “one and only” superhero MMO, so forget about Champions Online or all those attempts to remake City of Heroes, they are all illusory.

DCUO is big on consoles, and was at one point the biggest revenue free to play title on PlayStation.  So investing in it, to bring it up to the standards of the current generation, seems like a good plan.  And they even mark 2023 as a point for upgrades and a big content update.  Also, if you were going to make another superhero title, say one based on the Marvel IP, then it would be good to have an up to date engine and platform with which to work.

And, finally in the medium term, there is Minimal Effect.  Sounds fun.  I’d give it a try.

After that we get to the “Longer Term” plans.

EG7 Q3 2021 slide 17

I am going to guess that longer term means past 2024, so a few years down the road.  In software that is often so far away and subject to so much change that it is generally regarded as tenuous at best.  Roadmaps are often fluid past a certain point and no company promise beyond the six month mark can be counted on.  But you have to at least have a plan.

The two shooters, IGI Origins and 83, don’t interest me, and certainly not if we’re talking about titles three or more years out, but then there is the “Unannounced MMORPG” which, if it is in your slide deck and you’re telling us the IP on which it will be based, is kind of announced.

Dimensional Ink’s Unannounced Project has a logo of sorts

I have said a few times since the EG7 acquisition of Daybreak that this will be the Marvel IP version of DC Universe Online.  I mean, why wouldn’t it be?  DCUO is already the most played title in the Daybreak lineup, it is popular on consoles, it is getting an upgrade to make it look good/play good on current generation consoles, this seems like a gimme.

Sure, what I keep referring to as Marvel Universe Online probably won’t be called exactly that, and it will get some tuning and some differentiation so it won’t feel like a complete knock-off reskin of DCUO… that could go very badly if done in a cheap way… but I remain very firm in my belief that it will be, at its core, a sibling, if not a twin, to the one and only superhero MMO.  Dimensional Ink, the Daybreak studio that does DCUO has a placeholder on its site for this new title and has job listing for it as well.

Anyway, those are my immediate take away thoughts from the Q3 2021 presentation.  There is a lot more in there, but I don’t want to write a book.  Links to the sources and other coverage below.

Related:

We Group Up in New World

As I mentioned previously, we were able to form our company, Crag Boar Corruption, and get everybody invited.  Now we just had to get together and figure out what we could do as a group.

Mudstone and Snoop had made their way into Windsward and off north, ahead of the pack.  I was still lingering in that town, while Ulalu and Oswald were finding their way there.  Windsward seemed the spot for all of us to meet up, so when we were all on last weekend we made that our first objective.

So we all made our way to Windsward, spoke to the innkeeper and made the place our home.  We met up for the first time as a company just outside the city as we escorted Ulalu into town after her run from Monarch’s Bluff.

The first full meeting of Crag Boar Corruption

Ulalu had to make the run both because she hadn’t been to Windsward yet and because she did not yet possess any Azoth, the mysterious elixir resource that, among other things, allows fast travel.

Once together and settled into town, it was time to figure out what to do as a group, which led us to a few discoveries.  For example, there doesn’t seem to be any way to tell what quests other people in the group are on.

We’ve been spoiled by quest journals in some other titles… I hate to bring up the WoW comparison, but WoW does this right… when you’re in a group and can see who else is on the same quest as you.  The ability to keep a group in sync is clearly still on Amazon’s “to do” list.

We thought maybe we could grab some faction quests to help improve our standing as we played together, but those are all level based and somewhat random even between people in the same level band.  Two of us could get one quest in common, but we couldn’t get everybody on the same on.

We had heard a bit about expeditions, but we were too low level for that.

Eventually we decided we would try to sync up on the main story quest.  That meant a bit of back tracking as Mudstone and Snoop were a bit ahead while Ulalu was behind and I, somehow, didn’t have a main story quest in my journal, which seemed to indicate that I had failed to pick it up somewhere along the way.

Mudstone found a the quest chain online so we could find where we were.

We headed over to Monarch’s Bluff, where Ulalu and I started, in order to move her along the main story quest line and to figure out where I fell off the quest chain.  That meant a run over the Wren island, where I knew I had been before, then back to Monarch’s Bluff again.

Out and about on the main story line

After a few quests, all of which I recognized, we hit the one quest that is on all the paths, The Old Man and the River, which has you fast travel to a point west of Windsward City.  That is the reason we all settled down there.

Fast traveling, which Ulalu now had the Azoth to do, brought us into contact with Yonas Alazar, the hermit fisherman.

Reconnecting with Yonas

There Ulalu was able to pick up the next quest, as did I.  Apparently when I spoke to him on my first pass I was in such a hurry to get to Windsward City that I forgot to pick up the next quest.

That got three of us, myself, Ulalu, and Oswald in sync on the main story line.  Mudstone and Snoop had already done that quest, and recently enough that they were able to lead us there and guide us through fairly quickly.  Then it was back to Yonas again for the next quest, A Lost Cause.

That actually got the group all together on the same quest.  It only took us about 90 minutes to get there, but it wasn’t all bad.

The next quest sent us to a tower called Arcturus, which once again made me wish I had just gone with the name Wilhelm Arcturus for the game.  Oh well, I’m invested now and don’t want to start over.

I claim this in my name… it being my name

We managed to get through that fairly readily.  With five of us normal mobs were melting pretty quickly and even the bosses were fast to fall.

We ran that and did some exploring, then headed back to Yonas.  Along the way I was able to find out how to turn off the UI, so I got our first group screenshot without out names and company logos looming over our heads.

Ulalu, Oswald, Stannislav, Mudstone, and Snoop

We also started talking about weapons and who might specialize on what.  Given the whole “weapon skills develop with use” mechanic, it seemed like a good thing to commit at some point before level 20, when skill respecs start to cost.

Mudstone had been doing the smart thing, running around and experimenting with different weapons to see what suited him.  In our picture above he is wielding the new void gauntlet, which is a pretty cool looking weapon in use.

I, on the other hand, was more haphazard in my approach, just trying things that happened to drop… and I literally had no weapons drop for quite a stretch.  As such, I was already pretty invested in the sword and shield as a primary.  I had been using the musket as a secondary, but might give that up for a great axe to use when I need DPS more than a shield.

But Ulalu had the best weapon choice of all, the fire staff, which emits a flamethrower-like jet of flame as an attack.

I hope that wasn’t flamable

Anyway, we are moving along.  Expeditions should be viable with a bit more work.

The Company isn’t bad, it’s just Staffed that Way

I have mentioned in the past that I occasionally have to remind myself that various game companies and studios are not, in fact, my friends. It isn’t that they like me or dislike me, it is that they are not people and are incapable of anything of the sort.

Yet I think that many gamers, myself included, struggle with this because of our emotional investment in the games we play.  I have no problem understanding that the utility company doesn’t care about me… to say it only sees me as an account number probably oversells our relationship… but video game studios, whose decisions have such an impact on my leisure pursuits, the line is harder to draw.

This is all the more a problem because developers and community reps and studio heads are often out there interacting with the community, which helps personify the company.  CCP is the most problematic for me because they, as a team, are out there in the community and they host live fan events, so I interact with the team online regularly and have met many of them, from Hilmar on down, in person.

Other studios get out there as well.  If you’re deep into EQ or EQII you probably know who Holly Longdale was at Daybreak.  If you’re into WoW you probably have opinions about Ion Hazzikostas and how he compares to, say, Greg Street.  There are lots of names out there from various studios that personify the companies and the games.

In the end though, those are individuals.  They may represent the company to you in some way, but they are not the company.  The company is just a name, an idea, a construct of our imagination, a consensual illusion that we all share that binds a select group of people together, and no amount of vision statements or employee handbooks can make it feel for you in any way.

Saying you hate Activision is like saying you hate the color blue if you think too hard about it.

And yet… and yet… even though they are not people and cannot care, a corporation is made up of people, dozens, hundreds, thousands of people, each with their own life, story, likes, fears, motivations, and emotions.  To paraphrase a famous movie quote, “Corporations are people!”

As a collection of people, corporations tend to develop a culture.  I’ve worked at companies with a strong central culture and at companies where every group or team or office has their own distinct flavor.  And culture, once it sets in, can be as difficult as crabgrass to be rid of.

Culture tends to be set by the leadership of the group, and once the group buys in it tends to be self-reinforcing.  Changing it requires constant affirmative effort.  The CEO or some VP saying they want to change the culture of a company is an exercise in futility.  Unless there are policies and rule back it up, and unless those policies and rules are enforced as expected, any statement about changing a company’s culture is just window dressing.  The CEO may aspire to it, but without effort it is nothing more than that.

Which finally, 500 words into this ramble, brings me around to Blizzard.

Lots of problems there, mostly culture related.  If the CEO and senior management say it is okay to harass and discriminate, if they visibly engage in that sort of behavior, that sets the tone for the company, the defines what is acceptable, no matter what HR’s employee handbook says.  HR, in the end, reports to senior management and they either get on board with the culture, as they did at Blizzard, or they get the axe next time a record setting financial report leads to layoffs.

Eventually the State of California showed up due to employee complaints about the culture.  But the state is interested in the corporate entity known as Blizzard.  That is who they will sanction, unless an employee files criminal charges against an individual.  Otherwise they will just make the company pay, and the company isn’t a person, can’t care, doesn’t set or define culture.  Likely the state will also require all employees to take some sort of mandatory training about how to behave in the work place.  But that sort of training has been mandatory in California for more than 20 years for anybody in a supervisory role in a company over a specific size.  I know, I had to take that training when I was in management.  You can see how well it worked at Blizzard.  If the ideas within that sort of training aren’t part of the culture, the training won’t stick.

Blizzard has stated that they are going to fix the culture.  They have, admittedly, fired some people.  Many were fired way too late, but at least they were let go, from J. Allen Brack on down.

Unfortunately, the line seems to be drawn somewhere below executive management.

Bobby Kotick has vowed to fix the company, but he is clearly part of the problem.  He has known about the allegations, helped in covering them up, and has been problematic on his own.

In theory, when you’re the boss, everything is supposed to be your fault.  In practice, at Blizzard… and in a lot of other companies… leadership doesn’t confer responsibility, it shields you from responsibility.  This all happened on Bobby’s watch with Bobby’s full knowledge.

Blizzard is a large company, and part of an even larger organization.  There are without a doubt many good people working there.  But so long as the company has Bobby Kotick as its head the company won’t change.  Making the executive suite immune from any culture change, when culture flows from leadership and the examples it sets, is doomed to fail.

Forza Horizon 5 with Friends

As I mentioned in my first post about Forza Horizon 5, my talking about it go Potshot interested enough to take the plunge for a dollar as well and, after having faced the same issues I did trying to go from Microsoft Store to actually playing the game, we found ourselves both in the game and decided to try to play together.  Again, it was something we had managed in Need For Speed: World back in the day, how hard could it be?

Forza Horizon 5

How hard indeed.

I was already vaguely aware that there was a grouping mechanism in the game that allowed you to create a “convoy” with friends (or strangers I guess) in order to drive/race together.  So once we were chatting on Discord we started exploring the UI to see if we could create a convoy.

In digging through FH5 we found a screen that would let us invite a seemingly random list of people to a convoy or see nearby convoys, but there didn’t seem to be a way to search and find a specific player to convoy with.

It seemed like proximity might help the situation, so we picked a spot on the map and both drove there hoping to see each other and group up that way.  I had seen options pop up when close to other players in the game and had even had some rando invite me to a convoy at one point, so off we went to meet up, choosing one of Horizon event points to meet up.

However, when we both had announced our arrival we couldn’t see one another.  I don’t know much about FH5 really, having purchased it on a whim, but I know it is a shared world AND that it sold something like ten million copies in its first week, so I was not entirely surprised that we were not just parked next to each other.  I barely seem more than a few people on the road generally, so the partitions between parallel worlds seem numerous.

There didn’t seem to be a way to make friends, invite, or otherwise see each other on demand from within the game, so it was time to go to Google.

Google said that for those of use using the XBox Game Pass PC version of the game needed to be friends in the XBox app, which meant finding each other there.  It was time to press the Windows key once more and fumble about.

Somehow we managed to get on each others list in the XBox Social window.  But getting into a convoy was another matter.  Back in the FH5 UI we were still lost as how to invite each other.  It might be possible, but we haven’t figured it out yet.  But you can also invite people to play from the XBox Social window.

We had greater success there, though even that took a few tries.  You have to invite in the social window, the other person gets a pop up in the game, but you have to open up the social window to accept it.  Honestly, I am not sure I could replicate the process as we were just poking buttons by that point.

Eventually though he managed to invite me to a convoy and I managed to hit the right buttons to accept and we were together.

In a convoy at last, a GMC Jimmy and a Pontiac GTO

His handle in FH5 was potshot3285 because apparently when 10 million people buy your game it feels the need to append a four digit number to the end of your default XBox handle just to keep track of you.

Unless, of course, your XBox handle already has a four digit number appended to it.  Mine is wilhelm2451 by default, also my Twitter and blog email address ID, so the game felt it could leave me be without appending any additional digits… though you can see in the background of the screen shot above somebody with the name YourMAD5244614, so maybe it isn’t limited to just four digits.

Also, as an aside, I pointed out to Potshot that way back in the Need for Speed: World days he also opted for the ’64 Pontiac GTO.  I even have some screen shots of that here on the blog.

The Xmas GTO

Anyway, we were now grouped up, time to figure out something to do.

FH5 has the same problem that vehicle based games seem to… and I include EVE Online in this category… in that there is a very impersonal feeling that comes from just being in cars or spaceships or whatever, as opposed to having a human avatar.  Also, just driving around it is easy to get separated or lost.

So, in search of some focus, we decided to run some races.  Potshot looked at the map while I swapped into a car more akin to what he was driving.

Waiting for him to find something on the map

Races are all over, but you have to drive to them and the convoy system doesn’t seem to have a way to pin a route or destination for everyone, so after some time going back and forth over things that were on his map but not my map, we picked the closest thing to hand and ran that.

Races went… well, as expected for the two of us the way we play.  We did co-op, which meant only one of us had to win, which still ended up being a tall order.  We mostly alternated holding down 12th place.

In a convoy only the convoy leader can start the race and if the convoy leader chooses an event that is part of the festival story line, you may not get credit for running it if it isn’t already on your list.  We did a run through one of the Aztec sites… you cannot actually four wheel over (most of) those pyramids, but you can have drag races and do donuts to your heart’s content in Teotihuacan… that Potshot had on his event unlock list and you basically get another identical car to run the event, but I didn’t get credit.

Not that it was a big deal, just an advisory.  And when I ran the event later on my own, at least I knew what I was supposed to do, having run it before.

Also, whenever we ran a race or an event Potshot got an echo on voice comms.  We were using Discord to talk, but it seemed like when you go into a race or event as a group, the game opens up a voice channel as well, and one of the channels was slightly behind the other, causing the sense of an echo.  Of course, there wasn’t anything I could see on the screen that indicated that voice was live, but since we already had voice live I suppose it doesn’t matter.

And then, of course, one of us got disconnected from the game and we managed to disband the convoy and had to go through the “did you push the button? I don’t see anything?  push it again?” routine to get back together.  But we got there.

So we accomplished our goals.  We managed to get on our respective friends lists and we were able to play together.

But the game wasn’t done with this.  Once you have somebody on your friends list, the game immediately starts comparing the two of you.  Every time I notch up one of the things they track, like signs crashed through or roads discovered, I get my total then a comparison with Potshot’s progress.

How many roads must a man drive down…

I assume if you have more than one friend it compares you with the friend you’re ranked closest to.  But with just Posthot on my list, it is always him.

And the game also takes names from your friends list when you go on to race solo later on.  So now whenever I run a race on my own there is Potshot’s name on one of the cars.

Faux Potshot ahead of me

The game does seem to like to put him in some odd cars though.  For a stretch he was always in a Mazda MX-5 which, while a fine car in its league, seemed to get matched up against me in a 90s Nissan GT-R.  Even in that screen shot he is in a Mitsubishi Starion ESI-R which, while not a bad car, used to be referred to as the starship back in the day for its sci-fi look.

Anyway, op success.  We managed to drive together.

Crag Boars Discover New World

Before we had begun our assault on Diablo, the decision had been made to try out a new title, and the title being suggested was New World.

Welcome to a New World

New World had the advantage of being a new title that we hadn’t played… I had dabbled a bit, but as things played out it became clear I had learned very little of the game… that was past its initial point of craziness… queues and other initial teething issues seemed mostly in the past… that also wasn’t $60 to purchase and didn’t have a monthly subscription.

So off we went.  The first thing was to pick a server, which basically meant any server in a server group in US West that wasn’t the one I already had a character in.  I wanted to start fresh with everybody else and Amazon only allows you to have one character per server group.  The pick was the Parima server, probably based upon its easy pronunciation.

Parima in US West

With a server designated, it was time to make characters, the hardest part of which was picking names.  As I under stand it, names have to be unique game wide and, while you cannot create a bazillion alts to hold names, the game easily had a million people playing at its concurrent peak, so a lot of names have been claimed.

Ula managed to get Ulalu, one of her alternates.  I went through all of my usual names, through a bunch of likely alternates, and then started trying some random stuff, just to see if anything wasn’t taken yet.

Damn, somebody grabbed “Lmnop” already… “Abcde” as well…

Eventually I found an name while going through alternate spellings of dead Polish nobility, ending up with Stannislav.  It will do.

And then Potshot demonstrated that I was being dumb.  My view on names is always just first names, unless otherwise specified, because of my upbringing in MUDs, where last names were awarded later and first names needed to be short, or at least easily typed.

He showed up in game as Oswald the Patsy, no doubt a reference to Lee Harvey Oswald.  But then his character portrait looks like Oswald Mosely, so maybe I shouldn’t make assumptions.

Anyway, I hadn’t thought about putting in a last name.  I could have probably had Wilhelm Arcturus as a name and been recognizable, but I was happy enough to have a name and be in game.

Bung from the group ended up with the perfectly serviceable name Mudstone.  His son, who played WoW Classic with us as Obama, was also interested in New World and showed up as SnoopDogg420, which I was sure would get reported, but then I got in game and saw what passed for names and decided it was probably not going to be noticed.

When we were all on, we started into the game to do the opening area.

However, the game split us up, with Ulalu and I popping up in Monarch’s while Oswald and Mudstone were dropped into the game over in First Light.

I recalled there being a couple different starter areas, but I hadn’t thought about what to do if we ended up in separate locations.

Ulalu and I on the beach

There was some talk of trying to cross the map to meet up, but that seemed a bit iffy as low level as we were.  Later on I looked it up and apparently the way to solve the different starter area problem is to run to your friend’s area before you have started the first quest.  Once you talk to the quest giver and get the first quest then you are stuck on that path for a bit.

But I had also heard that the main story quest from all of the starter areas join up not too far into the game and that we would all end up in Windsward.

And, sure enough Yonas Alazar, the hermit fisherman, ended up being the meeting point.

When you are that far along it is also time to pick a faction.  The word seemed to be to pick the faction that is dominant at the moment and worry about changing up later, and the Syndicate seemed to own all of the 1-25 zones where we would be playing for a while, so that became the choice.

And once we had that set, we formed a company.  Forming a company was surprisingly easy… and probably necessary, as I started getting unsolicited company invites in Windsward.

When I say easy, I mean nearly frictionless.  No fee, no charter to sign, no minimum membership level.  Hell, I made a typo in the company name on the first try and rather than being locked into that forever you can just edit the name.

What madness is this?  I know New World has had its issues, and continues to stir up the player base, but I think they hit the nail on the head with this.

Our company was named in the theme of our WoW Classic Guild, changed to match the theme of New World.  We were now Crag Boar Corruption.   They even had a nice boar icon for our banner, which is more than Blizzard had for us.

Crag Boars in Aeternum

We managed to do that before we were all assembled in a single location.  Again, pretty nice.

The next task was to actually get together and do something as a company.

Vale of the Silent Leads Null Sec in the October EVE Online Monthly Economic Report

The Monthly Economic Report for October dropped last week and, while Delve is back near the top of the charts for economic activity in null sec, the Imperium’s recovery is still lagging behind Fraternity’s economic efforts in its main region.

EVE Online nerds harder

So we might as well get right into the numbers.

Mining

In September we saw Genesis at the top of the chart with 2.15 trillion ISK mined.  The region is made up of both high and low sec empire space, and it vaulted to the number one spot with a combo of high sec mining along with Dock Workers attempting to set up a low sec mining operation.

October changed the picture, with the top ten regions being:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.67 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 2.11 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Branch – 1.96 trillion (Fraternity)
  4. Etherium Reach – 1.80 trillion (Pan Fam)
  5. Fountain – 1.51 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Querious – 1.37 trillion (Imperium)
  7. Catch – 1.36 trillion (Imperium & neutrals)
  8. Outer Passage – 1.29 trillion (TEST)
  9. Malpais – 1.27 trillion (Pan Fam)
  10. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.21 trillion (Pan Fam)

It looks like the Dock Workers plans fell through, and for the first time in a long stretch null sec again occupies the top ten slots for mining.  There was a point during the war when high sec completely dominated the list, but the war is clearly over.

Fraternity led the way in Vale of the Silent, which is their primary home region now which, along with Branch mined a combined 4.63 trillion ISK.  While Vale of the Silent eclipsed Delve, overall Imperium mining exceeded 5 trillion ISK in value if we add in a bit from Catch. (4.99 trillion without Catch.)  PanFam pulled a good 4.28 trillion ISK in minerals out of their regions, while TEST, alone in Outer Passage, is trying to crank up to recover from its complete defeat in World War Bee with 1.29 trillion ISK mined.

Overall mining output in October was valued at 45.72 trillion ISK, up more than 12 trillion ISK from September.  That means the total m3 mined was probably considerably more than the previous month because the price of minerals, and ore has no value aside from what the market is willing to pay, was down a bit in October.

Oct 2021 – Economic Indices

It is possible that we will see the total amount mined go up when we get the November MER next month as people try to grab what they can before the New Dawn “age or prosperity” lands and solidifies the starvation economy with nerfs and time sink mechanics.  There is not much time left to mine with Rorquals.

Or maybe the number will go down if all those people who said they were unsubscribing their Rorqual alts carry through on the threat.  Mineral prices will probably hold or even go up a bit as people stockpile due to uncertainty.

Production

Where mining leads, production follows… sort of… or not really.

Production, which saw a bit of a rise due to the post-war building boom as regions… mostly Imperium… had to be rebuilt, slid back a bit as that tapered off and no large war stepped in to consume ships and materiel.

Oct 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

Capital ships remain too costly to build so few are being risked, and those that do die on the field are being replaced by stocks built before the huge industry nerf hit in April.

Overall production totaled out to 92.59 trillion ISK, down by about 8 trillion from September, with the top ten regions being:

  1. The Forge – 17.54 trillion
  2. Delve – 8.72 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 6.86 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 6.23 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 5.76 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 3.72 trillion
  7. Fade – 3.67 trillion
  8. Domain – 3.03 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 2.74 trillion
  10. Malpais – 2.43 trillion

The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel are always the big three as they all serve the Jita market.  Delve remained strong, though it was down from more than 11 trillion ISK last month.

Destruction

Destruction drives production, but while production was down, destruction remain flat, totaling up to about 31.78 trillion ISK, close to the 31.41 trillion ISK destroyed in September.  That likely means that the decline in production was more about the post-war building boom fading than the lack of a serious war.

The top ten regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 2.04 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.65 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 1.49 trillion
  4. Vale of the Silent – 1.31 trillion
  5. Delve – 1.21 trillion
  6. Pochven – 1.11 trillion
  7. Metropolis – 1.04 trillion
  8. Genesis – 993 billion
  9. Pure Blind – 987 billion
  10. Sinq Laison – 950 billion

The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel are big in production and destruction as traffic to and from Jita provides the most lucrative targets for suicide gankers.

Trade

Trade totaled up to 591.65 trillion ISK in value, down about 16 trillion from September, which isn’t a huge drop.  The top ten regions for trade were:

  1. The Forge – 436.66 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 43.21 trillion (Amarrr)
  3. Delve – 15.30 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Sinq Laison – 15.07 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Lonetrek – 15.07 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 8.83 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 7.74 trillion (Rens)
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 6.27 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 4.53 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. Essence – 4.04 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

Those are the same ten regions, in the same order, as last month.  Trade hubs and large coalitions will tend to dominate this list, though Jita alone is more than 70% of the total.  I do still wonder what is driving trade in Essence.  It isn’t a region I know.

ISK Faucets

And, finally, the “show me the money” part of the summary, though some of the “show” part requires me to put on my glasses because the charts are in tiny eye-strain inducing font sizes.

The cropped off top of the big sinks and faucets chart shows commodities still at the top of the list.

Oct 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

That shows commodities ringing in at 35.2 trillion ISK, while Bounty Prizes and ESS payouts combined add up to 31 trillion ISK.  Bounties are catching up again.  Then there are incursions and Triglavian invasions, which add up to 21.9 trillion ISK.

Here is the chart of the top ten sinks and faucets over time.

Oct 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

You can see… if you click on it to see it full size… that the commodity line tends to be some what bursty, which is probably due to the nature of the rewards, which have to be brought to an NPC station in empire space to be converted into ISK.  Bounties tend to be smoother over time, only changing rapidly due to CCP intervention (you can see the blackout dip and where the ESS system was made mandatory), and a few peaks that probably related to wars, but otherwise it tends to be smoother on a day to day basis.

The other line of interest on the chart is the transaction tax, which got a huge spike after a three month tax holiday.  CCP changed around the tax structure so now broker’s fees, the bit that players can collect in player controlled stations, are lower while the transaction tax, which is a sink everywhere, is much higher.  More of CCP trying to fix the economy, though in a more benign way in this case.  Making the Tranquility Trading Tower such a lucrative enterprise was probably a mistake on CCP’s part.

On the commodities front, Sleeper drops from wormhole ratting remain the top commodity.

Oct 2021 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

Then, for NPC bounties, the top regions were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.15 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 1.72 trillion (Imperium)
  3. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.53 trillion (PanFam)
  4. Fountain – 1.31 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Outer Passage – 1.15 trillion (Fraternity)
  6. Malpais – 991 billion (PanFam)
  7. Esoteria – 978 billion (Army of Mango)
  8. Querious – 976 billion (Imperium)
  9. Oasa – 932 billion (Fraternity)
  10. Insmother – 901 billion (FI.RE)

Vale of the Silent took first place in both mining and ratting this month, but that was mostly due to activity dropping in Delve, which had 2.22 trillion ISK in September, than from any increase from Fraternity.

The regional data shows a total of 29.64 trillion ISK gained from bounties and ESS payouts, which is close to, but not the same as, the 31 trillion the sinks and faucets chart and data shows, and I don’t think we were even mission a region in the data this month.  Either way, that is pretty close to what is was in September.

And so it goes, another month in New Eden.

As usual you can find this information and more by downloading the raw data and charts from the MER dev blog.

Related:

Binge Watching into Another Autumn

The pandemic isn’t over and we’re still staying home rather than going out as much as we used to, so I’m back again with another post about what we have been watching on TV.

This was one we were going to give a pass to, then we heard some good things, watched a couple of episodes, stopped watching, and then several people told us we had to finish it because there was a huge surprise twist involved or some such.

And I guess, technically, if I let you watch episode one and told you how it ended up, you would indeed be surprised.  But each episode is designed to pull the viewer’s attention in a different direction, so whatever you thought was going on in episode one will be superseded by episode two and so on.  There isn’t a big surprise twist at the end because you don’t even get the information to know it was possible until the next to last episode, at which point you’ve been yanked around so much that your reaction is likely to be just, “are we there yet?”

The biggest deal about this show for me was that according to IMDB, it was mostly filmed in Australia, but it takes place in Oakland California, so I spent a lot of time looking for details that were wrong.  They did a pretty good job on that front. (I can’t really ding them for making up a fictional University of Oakland to give the story setting I suppose.)  Still, didn’t really do much for me as a show overall.

Billy Bob Thorton is back for the final season of the series and it takes place in San Fransisco.  Or is sort of takes place there.  There are a lot of exterior shots that are clearly from the city by the bay, but Billy McBride lives in a strange side street in Chinatown where it is always either raining or has just stopped… it feels like a set from Blade Runner at times… and I want to know where in the Bay Area it rains that much, because the weatherman isn’t telling us.

Anyway, Billy is up in SF for an opioids case, because the TV and movie production pipeline has finally caught up with the opioids epidemic.  A really sold and strange performance with J. K. Simmons and Bruce Dern in the mix.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.

A dead body is found by a US Marine Fisheries agent near Provincetown, MA.  The case is picked up by the state police task force as the victim was involved in an investigation into a local drug ring, and also the opioid epidemic is in there somewhere.  The agent is also a drug users and turns out to be connected to the murder indirectly and tries to get clean and interferes with the investigation and we spend a lot of time with their problems, which keep bringing them back to the whole crime, while the lead from the state police task force sleeps with the stripper wife or the imprisoned drug kingpin who… oh, I don’t know, it is kind of a mess.  It was okay, and was popular enough to get a second season, which is out now, but I was fine with stopping at the end of season one.

Jeff Daniels as a small town police chief taking on the scourge of the… wait for it… opioid epidemic.  Jeff Daniels gives a solid performance and I quite like him, but the whole thing felt like it had been done with Mare of Easttown already. (About which I wrote here.)  Small town, murder, drugs, woods, relationships, something about a union, and opioids.  It isn’t bad, but it felt like ground already covered a lot of late, small town America, poverty, and opioids.  Also, it ends somewhat abruptly.  At the end of episode nine I assumed there was another episode to be seen, as there was enough left unresolved to fill out another hour.  But no, that was it.

Ten final episodes to wrap up the series, though there really felt like the writers only had about five episodes of content to work with, so there is a lot of what feels like filler as Lucifer has to solve a time traveling mystery that involves his daughter, Chloe, and whether or not he wants to take up dad’s position and run the universe.  You could probably just watch episode 10 if you needed closure on the series.  Otherwise is suffers from what I call Castle-syndrome, where once the Lucifer and Chloe love connection gets resolved, the show has to fish around for a reason to continue.

We watched the first episode of this back when the first season landed, didn’t like it, and stopped watching.  Then, two years later, with a second season available and it still lingering in my “continue watching” queue, we picked up with episode two and watched both seasons.  So maybe episode one is optional?

Anyway, aliens show up on Earth at some future date where we also have a spaceship with faster than light travel tech, so Katee “Starbuck” Sackhoff flies off to find the source of the aliens while her husband leads the research team that is trying to figure out what is going on with the monument the aliens dumped on Earth.  Also, they have a daughter who, in any sane world, would have been picked up by child protective services half way through the show.

The show kind of builds roughly, as the FTL ship runs into trouble and they have to hang out on a couple of planets to find food and on both somebody in the crew takes their helmet off and you just know that is going to end badly… and it does.  While the show veers off course now and then and gets caught up in some crew drama, we did watch it all the way through and were eager to see how they wrapped up season 2.