Monthly Archives: January 2022

January in Review

The Site

Well, I got this achievement at least.

They said I had a satanic streak…

Otherwise is was mostly life as usual for the blog.  WordPress.com broke links, waffled about it for a couple of days, then fixed them again.  Pretty good for them, as they still sort of worked while they were broken.

And then there was the ad revenue.  This month the site served up more ads than ever, coming close to 125K ads displayed compared to 99K last month.  However, revenue was down.  December’s 99K ads were worth a little over $23, while the 125K ads this past month were worth just about $16.  Ad quality clearly plays into the revenue side of things, and I didn’t get high quality ads this time around.  Still, $16 keeps me on track to pay the annual hosting for the blog at the Premium service level, which runs $99 a year.

One Year Ago

For my new year’s post I chose to ask questions rather than make predictions.  I’ve always been told that there are no bad questions, though that statement usually precedes attempts to prove it wrong.

I also reviewed the games I played in 2020 and attempted to guess what I might play in 2021.

Twitch told me what I watched there in 2020 and I did that Quantic Foundry gamer profile thing again.

SuperData Research also did their review of 2020 which, along with its penultimate monthly chart, as their end was on the horizon.

There was that GameStop stock craziness.

I wrote a timeline of SOE/Daybreak Games.

The Steam Winter Sale ended with awards and stats.

I was wondering what LOTRO needed, since it clearly needed something.

People were wondering when we were going to get Burning Crusade Classic, with the current rumor being early May, which seemed too early to me.  But we ended up getting it in early June, so I guess it wasn’t that far off.

The instance group was still working on Blackrock Depths, this time for a love potion.  Then we went off to Dire Maul East for a change of scenery.  Dire Maul North proved too much for just the four of us.  We also hunted for recipes out in the Burning Steppes.  Meanwhile, my paladin was catching up to the group in levels.

And then there was World War Bee, which kicked off the new year with the another huge titan battle, though this time the results were much more one-sided.  The war bullet points:

Somewhere along the way I hit a year in KarmaFleet and the 230 million skill point mark.

There was also more binge watching and we had HBO max finally, so I took a look at it and its app.

And, finally, January 20th was a happy day.

Five Years Ago

As with most years here at the blog, it began with predictions.

Nintendo was telling us all about the Switch console, due in March.

I barely had predictions post before Daybreak announced they were closing Landmark, ticking one off the list for me.  That got people freaked out about other Daybreak titles, so I reviewed the list.

That also led me off onto a semi-sarcastic rant about an EverQuest successor.

It was also high noon for Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2.

With a new iPad I lost all my progress on Candy Crush Saga, so forswore the title forever.

I was also tallying up the results of my purchases from the Steam Winter Sale.  I don’t get why people like Stardew Valley so much.  Just not my thing I guess.  I did play a stretch of Train Valley however.

The long mansion road project was starting to hit home with me, but I kept on moving forward village by village.

In EVE Online I hit the 170 million skill point mark.  All those skill points and I still don’t use my capital ships.  After a false start we got the first update of YC119.  It had music.  It was also the kick off of the CSM election season.

In null sec there was a big battle at F4R2-Q that seemed to herald a new war.  However coordination problems with the local defenders saw us pulling back to Catch.

And in Diablo III we were waiting for the Darkening of Tristram event.  I ran through it quickly once, and then again to get some more achievements.  It was kind of neat, but it wasn’t the original Diablo.

Ten Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Riders of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we sometimes get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Twenty Five Years Ago

The original Diablo shipped, stirring up a new genre in its wake, the ARPG.  You can still find a playable version of the original at GoG.com.

Thirty Years Ago

Atari Corporation, as it then existed, dropped production, sales, and support for the Atari 2600, the Atari 7800, and the Atari 8-bit computer family.  The 2600 series was supported for 15 years from launch, and has since been renewed in emulators in software and hardware form many times.

Forty Years Ago

Sega launches Zaxxon, with modeled a 3D environment with an isometric perspective and was, as I recall at the time, amazing looking.  I could just sit and watch the demo run in the arcade.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Probing and Hacking for Fun and Profit in the EVE Online Doctor Who Interstellar Convergence Event
  3. Doctor Who and Daleks Invade EVE Online with the Interstellar Convergence
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  8. Microsoft Plans to Acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion, Promises Joy and Community
  9. Daleks are Coming to EVE Online
  10. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  11. Predictions in the Face of 2022
  12. The Army of Mango Alliance Attempts a Self Destruct to Flee Fraternity

Search Terms of the Month

goonswarm propaganda best
[I mean, it is pretty damn good at times]

eve fax
[Yes, though without the special paper]

eve minokawa
[See ‘eve fax’]

r-arkn aom keepstar
[Not anymore]

usnavy marauders
[Those are not like EVE Online marauders]

Game Time from ManicTime

The month saw New Eden back on top as I ran the Doctor Who event to see what it was all about.  I had a bit of a Stellaris binge and EverQuest II were not far behind.

  1. EVE Online – 26.29%
  2. Stellaris – 22.95%
  3. EverQuest II – 21.56%
  4. Pokemon Pearl – 19.10%
  5. New World – 9.11%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 0.66%
  7. World of Tanks – 0.34%

EVE Online

Things continue to churn in New Eden.  Even in peace there is always some destruction and drama going on.  I saw somebody complaining on /r/eve that null sec wasn’t warring hard enough to keep them entertained, but we blew up and looted a staging Keepstar that might have been the biggest loot pinata in video game history.  You just can’t please some people.

There was also the Doctor Who event, which I ran through.  I’ll have a write up on it as it ends at downtime tomorrow.  Safe to say, like the game itself, it had its ups and downs and was likely inscrutable to any outsider.

EverQuest II

I hit the level cap again playing through the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.  It actually wasn’t that hard, as I wrote late last week.  It was, however, very much an EQII experience, which is neither a good nor a bad thing necessarily, but it is a thing.  I also managed to touch very little of the actual expansion content, because the game is focused on instanced play.  However, they do tend to offer solo versions, so there is still more to explore.

Forza Horizon 4

Some driving was indeed done, but I have hit a point where I got the driving need out of my system for a bit and where I have done a lot of the easy things in the game and the map is such a mess of things to do now that when I do log in I spend too much time trying to figure out where I should even go next.  And then I drive around way too fast and crash through fences, hedges, trees, and whatever else gets in my way.  At least that never gets old.

New World

The holidays finally ended there last week.  Some people leave the tree up too long I think.  The groups spent a few play sessions trying to get to the next dungeon in the game, the one at level 35.  We’re not exactly speeding out way through the game, but we’re not in a big hurry either.

Pokemon Shining Pearl

I made it through to the Elite Four and defeated Champion Cynthia, thus pretty much completing the central story of the game.  But, in Pokemon, there is always more to be done.  I still have more to catch before I can even begin to claim I have caught them all.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.  I didn’t really do much out of the ordinary, a few raids, spun a Pokestop daily, and managed to get in one of the local gyms to earn some coins regularly.  I also managed to miss a day and got my daily catch and daily spin cycles out of sync, which always annoys me.  But I have them aligned again now.

Level: 42 ( 19w.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 680 (+3) caught, 700 (+3) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Inkay

Stellaris

Having purchased some of the latest DLC for the game, I dove in and played.  As I noted, I would consider it a classic “one more turn” game that can keep you up past your bedtime, but technically it doesn’t have turns.  But it will keep you up late dealing with each new update or event that comes in.  And if they’re coming in too slowly, you can just speed the game up.

World of Tanks

I poked about in this for a bit at the beginning of the month, so I have some stats for 2022 I suppose.  But once I got on the Stellaris binge in the evenings, my tank time sort of dried up.

Zwift

I have been at making sure I get on the bike 3-4 times a week.  I think the fact that I post this here is a motivator because, even though I am sure I am the only one that pays attention to my numbers, that they’re out in the open makes me self-conscious about them.

As for distance, I have now essentially gone from our house, though Portland, Oregon, and just over the Columbia river into Washington state.

  • Level – 12 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 684.5 miles (+100,1 miles)
  • Time – 1d 12h 8m (+5h 12m)
  • Elevation climbed – 29,501 (+5,088 feet)
  • Calories burned – 22,811 (+3,385)

Coming Up

We’re already a month into 2022 and, while it is cliche to say so, what the hell?  Time goes by too fast.

February should bring us the Activision Blizzard Q4 2021 and 2021 overall financials.  We’re all eager to see that I am sure… though with Microsoft buying them, I am not sure how much they really matter anymore.  And once Microsoft swallows them I doubt they’ll be more than an obscure line item on the MSFT financials.  Enjoy it while it lasts I guess.

Daybreak has a few things going on, including an odd new Lore & Legend special server for EverQuest II and a 64-bit upgrade for EverQuest.   Also, they’ll no doubt be picking the EverQuest Community Resource Council, but that is all hush hush.

Guild Wars 2 has the End of Dragons expansion slated to launch last I checked, and it will include fishing.  So keep an eye open for that.

Sony Fires Back at XBox by Offering to Buy Bungie for $3.6 Billion

Well, after the big news earlier this month about Microsoft making a bid to buy Activision Blizzard Sony, XBox’s primary rival in the console wars, has decided to buy Halo creator and Destiny owner Bungie, which was once owned by Microsoft.  While the deal was no doubt months in the works, the timing is too perfect to not see it as a riposte of some sort.  I am sure those in the press office feel that way.

Bungie joins the blue team

The console wars are heating up again, and the worry over exclusives and one platform cutting the other out has become very real, with Sony stating that they hope Microsoft will honor current contract.  The rumble you hear in the background is the menace of legal action should they not.  And now we have Sony grabbing up Bungie, formerly owned by Microsoft and the creator of one of the most enduring franchises on the XBox.

The announcement from Hermen Hulst, Head of PlayStation Studios:

What an unbelievable day! Now that you’re digesting the news that Bungie will become part of PlayStation, I wanted to talk a little bit about how I see PlayStation Studios working with our new colleagues.

For starters, please know that I am a big Bungie fan. They are a historic studio that has made significant contribution to the medium that we all love. Bungie’s gameplay is legendary with fluid and balanced mechanics that are easy to pick up and hard to put down. Their game worlds are beautiful and expansive, with a tactile, lived-in quality that makes them stand out. And I respect their relationship with the gaming community, and their dedication to creating experiences that grow and evolve over time to continue entertaining players.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has always been a great place for developers; encouraging collaboration across studio teams, while retaining their creative independence to craft stories and worlds for our community to explore. At PlayStation Studios our mission is to make the best games we can, advancing the very nature of entertainment through our games and the positive impact they can have on people’s lives.

Over the past year we have expanded to a total of 17 studios across the globe. New additions will help us extend the reach of our IP, develop exciting new games, and further leverage the technical capabilities of PS5 through knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Bungie’s technical expertise, coupled with their track record of building  highly engaged communities, make them a natural fit for collaboration with PlayStation Studios. We are excited to make plans to share skills and expertise, and to unlock the potential in having the brilliant minds at Bungie under the PlayStation roof.

I believe that Bungie joining the PlayStation family will increase the capabilities of PlayStation Studios, and of Bungie, and achieve our vision of expanding PlayStation to hundreds of millions of gamers. For game creators, that’s always our goal: to bring our vision to as many people as possible.

I hope you are as excited for the future as I am!

How this will play out and what it really means remains to be seen, but it is kind of a big announcement here on the last day of January.

Related coverage:

 

The Last Day for Harry Potter Wizards Unite

The time has come to say farewell to Harry Potter Wizards Unite.  Niantic’s attempt to find success with Harry Potter the way they did with Pokemon shuts down today.

This looks more exciting than the game ever did

The announcement came back in November, when Niantic said that they would be taking the game offline.  While no reason was specified in the statement from Niantic last year, the elephant in the room was the fact that Pokemon Go was making more every month that HPWU brought in over the first two years that the title was live.  And when you license a big name like Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling wants her money and not excuses.

I explored why I felt the game failed back in November, which has a lot to do with it feeling too much like Pokemon Go and not enough like a real Harry Potter experience.  To sum up, Pokemon Go makes you feel like a Pokemon trainer out in the world, while HPWU never succeeded in making me feel at all like a wizard.

If you want another look at the title, Nerd Slayer did a Death of a Game video this past week about it, exploring the reasons it may have failed to hit its mark.

Of course, while it never achieved anything like the success of its sibling, it still made more money than most video games ever manage and probably leaves behind a host of fans for whom it was “their” game.

So it goes.

Binge Watching into the New Year

There was a lot of free time over the holidays, which meant lots of time for TV.  We managed to get through three new series.  We were a bit late to the party for the first two… though that was fine, because it meant we didn’t have to wait week-to-week for new episodes.

The wheel weaves yadda yadda yadda

I was probably the ideal audience for this show.  I am familiar with the material, having read… or at least listened to in audio book form, which at least means I know how to pronounced things, sort of… the whole series.

But that was more than a decade ago for most of the series, and I didn’t come away as a huge fan of the tale, so I am not wed to the idea that every word is sacred and must be reproduced on screen as the late Robert Jordan intended.

I know the basic tale, am hazy on the details, and happy enough to see them bypass huge tracts of text to winnow the story down to something that can be told in less than a thousand one hour episodes.  So I enjoyed it, remembered enough so I was never really lost, and felt they got through first book just fine.  Just a dozen more to go!

The casting might have been the weak part of the show, not that I don’t love Rosamund Pike, and having Sophie Okonedo, who we last saw as the boss in Flack, as the Amyrlin Seat sparked some amusement, but the kids from the Two Rivers were all kind of bland.  We’ll see how they develop over time I suppose, but I’d like to get some more of the cast of Flack into the Aes Sedai.

The hard core Wheel of Time fans though, there are some very unhappy people in that group.  And I get it.  I like about 1.5 movies out of the six that make up The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  But I also try to remember that bringing something to a different medium makes it a different story almost by default.  Of course, that is easy to say when I’m not invested in the tale.

My wife was on the other end of the spectrum and knew nothing about the story and just had to go with what was on screen and the bits of clarification I could provide.  But even with that, she was on board.  We’re looking forward to next season.

Beautiful and pretentious

Another one where I might theoretically be a prime candidate.  When I grew up the science fiction club in middle school had drawn a line between those who worshiped Asimov and those true to Heinlein, and the weirdos like me who were off reading Niven or Burroughs learned to keep clear of the holy war between the two factions.  And while I warmed to Asimov later, the Foundation series has always been ill considered pretentious schlock in my book. So color me happy to see somebody re-interpreting it, because it always felt like it needed another pass to make it worth reading.  And the series looks so good.  Production values worthy of the tale.

A pity it is both pretentious and as dull as dishwater, though I suppose in that they have captured the original.  We plodded through, though I will probably need a serious “previously” recap when the next season drops… because it was good enough to get renewed for a second season.

Those opening credits

And a third series for which I was well primed, this time because I had never seen the original so I was not going to rend my garments every time something varied from the expected.  Overall the show had great casting, great music, tons of style, and really worked for me for the first eight episodes.  I very much enjoyed the practical set dressing, the retro-futuristic kitsch theme, the music, and the way the story kicked off.  I liked the opening credits so much that I didn’t even skip them after the first couple of episodes.

I was all into this.

The biggest chore was watching it with our daughter, who had seen the original, though she seemed mostly okay with this live action remake.  The problem was that she only wanted to watch one episode a night, and what kind of binge watching is that?

As it turned out, that managed to expand my enjoyment over more than a week.  On New Years Eve we watched the final two episodes and… well, we’ll always have the initial eight.  If they had stopped at eight and teased a bit of what was to come, we might have had a season two in the works.

They ran into what I think of as the Burn Notice problem, where there is a story arc for the season, but a lot of time is spent on quirky, fun side adventures that let you get to know the characters, but don’t always advance the main story.  And then in the last two episodes they went all in on the main story arc, with a whole episode of flashback and then a final conflict episode… and I really missed the quirky, fun side adventures.

We had also just watched The Last Duel, and there were some odd parallels between that and the final episode.  Anyway, the end wasn’t as satisfying… so much so that there will be no second season.

Expansive

Somewhere in season four the series kind of lost us.  But, the books also lost me at about the same point, so I guess that all adds up.

The cast is still good, the sets and effects remain top notch, and there are occasionally things going on that I follow and understand, but we were pausing and asking each other, “So what is going on here?” a little too often.  I think there is an argument here for waiting for a show to be done and binging the whole arc in succession so as to not lose the threads of the plot.  The wheel weaves erratically at times, such that even having to go a week between episodes left us a bit lost.

I don’t know why Amazon insists on weekly episodes.  If there is one streaming service we’re never going to cancel, it is Prime, because we use the subscription for other things as well.

Anyway, we muddled though, saw Holden as the reluctant hero once more, and saw some state of accord come to the solar system for a bit.  I’m just not sure what the scenes on the planet through the gateway were about and, honestly, I kind of missed the simplicity of “whose got the proto-molecule?”  But this was the final season, so I guess we’re done with that.

It’s the End of the Metaverse as we Know It

It certainly feels that people talking about “the metaverse” have taken the universality aspect of of the “meta” prefix a bit too literally as the word “metaverse” is rapidly approaching the state where it means whatever the speaker thinks it mean in that moment.

Of course, we’ve been down that path before.  I remember when “MMO” meant a game with specific characteristics, like hundreds of people in a shared space.  Now it pretty much means any online game where six or more people can interact in some way.

There is the grand purist metaverse vision which says, as Bhagpuss so astutely put it, if there is more than one then it isn’t the metaverse.  That is the online ideal of sort, the place of Snow Crash and Ready Player One, where everybody goes or has a presence… though if you’ve read either, the actual real worlds they exist in are dystopian nightmares, so no wonder everybody is so keen to strap into their VR gear and get away from it all.

We’re probably never going to get there… or I hope we’re not… though we certainly seem to working hard on making the real world something to escape.

But this past week VentureBeat hosted a Summit on the whole Metaverse idea.

VentureBeat presents

It was preceded by a Facebook gaming summit… now Meta, but we still know who they really are… which has moved big towards the whole metaverse idea despite some skepticism within their own ranks, which I  covered previously.  While technically not directly part of the metaverse event, it covered a lot of the same ground, so it might well be counted as day zero of the whole thing.

Facebook has been on the metaverse idea for a while, as this now more than two year old trailer for their Horizon product indicates. (For some reason this ad was making the rounds this week as though it was new.)

At that point they were very much locked into the idea that VR would be the domain for the metaverse.  Also, legs were clearly not a thing.

However, on the first day of the summit, which was all Facebook, I listened to somebody from from the Oculus group tell the audience that the metaverse would need to be on every device, phones, tablets, laptops, consoles, as well as VR.

The same person also mentioned that when he joined Oculus, before they were acquired, everybody who signed on was given a copy of Ready Player One, which is somewhat telling I suppose.  In Snow Crash the metaverse seemed more like something the dispersed internet evolved into.  In Ready Player One it is run by an evil corporation.  So I guess they were already on board with being bought by Facebook before it happened.

A more disturbing trend to me has been the union of the concept of the metaverse and the crypto blockchain NFT demographic.  This has nothing to do with video games and everything to do with money.  Venture capitalists have found they can extract money from a crypto investment much faster than a traditional startup so have been pumping and dumping to their heart’s content.

Essentially, the word “metaverse” has become shorthand for “NFT vehicle”  for some so, while the Oculus guy didn’t mention them, Facebook is all in on the idea, while other speakers, such as Brendan Greene of PlayerUnknown fame, who helped establish the battle royale genre, spoke about his new project, Project Artemis, a world sized metaverse, which will be on board with the NFT train.

Because somehow over the objection of the developers who actually have to do the work, execs and finance people have seemingly embraced the NFT idea as the way to move assets between games in order to create a single metaverse out of everybody’s own pocket virtual world.

However, I will say that, for the most part, the summit wasn’t over-hyped on the whole crypto NFT thing.  There were certainly crypto proponents on the schedule and who sessions were about how this is going to be great once more people jump on the bandwagon.  But there was also some recognition that NFTs needed to win people over, something that had not happened yet, though I did hear one speaker go on about how if gamers weren’t going to get on board with NFTs then they would just find another demographic, leaving gamers behind.

I am not sure who else they are going to get to buy into it… well, I have a guess… but Ubisoft, which has literally bought into NFTs, is certainly finding gamers unwilling to invest in NFTs.  They feel that gamers just “don’t understand,” which is the most common crypto scammer talking point around.  We like to point out how bad Activision and EA are, but Ubisoft is literally the worst and has been for more than 20 years.

Honestly though, while I signed up for the whole event, I would guess that I checked in on maybe half of the sessions, and some of them weren’t all that interesting.  There was, for example, a pleasant man from Helsinki speaking about industrial applications for VR and the metaverse and I just took my headphones off and went on with something else.

The only session I was completely in for was the one featuring Raph Koster, who got the last 20 minute speaking slot at the end of the whole thing.  I teased him about that on Twitter, though he spun it as getting the last word.  Still, they gave some guy 30 minutes earlier in the day to talk some nonsense about The Matrix and promote his book, so I was feeling a little defensive of Raph’s place in the order of things.

But I need not have fretted even a bit.  Raph came in strong with that last session, with a short slide deck, which made him stand out from most of the presentations.  He was there to talk about how we even get to a metaverse, where you’re able to move from one world to another across vendors, a issue he framed as a social problem.  There are standards to be agreed upon and rights and ownership and all sorts of things that need to be sorted out before we start thinking about walking between WoW and Fortnite, which seemed to be the interoperability metaphor of the conference.

Many of the issues that need to be resolved have been under discussion for ages at this point.

He didn’t come up with any specific answers, but blockchain and crypto did not enter into it his talk, those not being solutions to any of the current problems facing the metaverse.

I did stick around for the post-game summary by the GameBeat staff, who were cool on the NFT idea, which surprised me a bit since their parent, VentureBeat, seems keen to cover all things crypto.  But, then their audience is more investors and VCs, and crypto is what investors want to head about now.  You have to give your audience what they want, even if they want garbage I suppose.

The whole thing is up on YouTube on VentureBeat’s channel if you are interested.

As noted, Raph is at the end of day two if you want to watch his 20 minutes. (Also, seeing Raph live, Playable Worlds might want to update the promo pic they use of him, which must be from 2006 given how much gray hair he has now.  Why not play up his age and experience rather than trying to keep him looking forever 35?)

The site also did decent summaries of some of the sessions on their site, which are a little more detailed that the presentations.  I’ll link to a few of the more interesting ones:

Those last two are interesting for specific definitions of the word, like if you want to hear the crypto side of things try to rationalize why the metaverse needs them.  I think that quote about leaving gamers behind is in that last session.

Not everything at the event was worth hearing, but it was the place to be if you wanted some insight into what the people… mostly money people… want to hear about.  The GamesBeat team kept things going, though occasionally the slipped up a bit.  I think they were about done with the event when this poll popped up.

Yes? No? Both? Neither?

So it goes.

And, while we’re on the topic of the metaverse, interoperability, and NFTs, I figure I should toss in a video that cam up last week.  It is 30 minutes of a developer going through the issues, one by one, about how NFTs don’t solve any of the problems that need to be solved for the metaverse.  It is just shy of 30 minutes, but it is pretty to the point.

I’ve seen all these points before, but it is nice to have them summed up in one video.  He also has a follow up video because the crypto bros came after him with the whole “but we want to be able own/trade independent of the developer” scenario, which he also picks apart pretty well.

However, if you really want to dig into the NFT/crypto thing and have two hours to spare, I highly recommend this video from Folding Ideas.

It is essentially a documentary look into where cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and NFTs came from, what they really are, how badly designed they really are, who is making money on them, and how the scam really works.  Spoiler:  It is all based on the greater fool theory.

I don’t think there was a lot shockingly new to me in that video, except for the cost, and the variability of cost, of blockchain transactions, which would make the whole thing a non-starter for any legitimate enterprise.

Seriously, you would have to be insane to use crypto for your business unless it is a scam.  Any CEO of a legitimate company that says they are seriously considering NFTs is throwing out a buzzword to boost their stock price or doesn’t understand how they actually work… though you cannot rule out both being the answer.

Anyway, the video did nicely tie together a lot of different threads and I felt it was well worth the time, so much so that I listened to it twice. (While doing some quests in EQII.)  Hat tip to Massively OP for linking to this video.

Addendum: If you prefer the written word to a two hour video, then there is David Rosenthal’s Stanford talk that he reproduced on his blog, which gets down into the details of crypto and how it goes so very wrong.

Facing the Pokemon League in Pokemon Shining Pearl

Having caught Palkia and dealt with the Team Galactic menace, it was time to challenge with the Sinnoh Pokemon League.  That was always the end game in what I guess might be the “classic” era of the core Pokemon RPG games.  That got changed a bit in Pokemon Black & White, but there is almost always a way to become the champion in the local region.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

First things first though, I had to defeat the final gym in Sunnyshore City.  There Volkner runs the gym, which specialized in electric Pokemon.  While I had left behind a Graveler, which would have been an ideal Pokemon in my lineup, my current crew was enough to find the way through the maze of his gym and defeat him.  That got me the Beacon Badge for the gym and unlocked the final travel move for me.

Finished in Sunnyshore City

That gave me all eight moves, most of which you need to then make your way to the Pokemon League, which is a trip on its own.

All eight moves in my Poketech

The trip to the Pokemon League took a bit.  It is over water, then underground, then over water some more, and finally up a waterfall… that last move lets you ride up one… before I arrived at the league.

Having made the journey once, you are able to fly there directly going forward, though there are things hidden along the way that you might want to go back and pick up once you’ve made the trip once.

Of course, your rival is up there, so you have to battle with him once more.

Barry Again

He is the most good natured rival of the series I think.  He is just keen to get out and conquer the world.  But once you beat him you are left to face the Pokemon League, where you have to take on five successive battles against the Elite Four and then the Champion.  They are:

  • Aaron – Bug Type Pokemon
  • Bertha – Ground Type Pokemon
  • Flint – Fire Type Pokemon
  • Lucian – Psychic Type Pokemon
  • Cynthia the Champion – Mixed Set

The types are more of a suggestion than a rule.  As with some of the gym leaders, they slip in things that can use, say, fire type moves, but which are not fire type Pokemon.

While you cannot leave the challenge between battles, you can stop to apply potions and such. So I had spent some time at the resort outside Pastoria City where you can battle the rich patrons daily, doubling my take by making sure I had a Pokemon with the Amulet Coin in each fight.  I built up a war chest of coins to lay in a supply of heals and revives and other items I might need.

And then, once supplied, there was nothing for it but to go give it a try.  My lineup for the first run was:

Crew for the First Run

And, I did not do so badly.  Bertha’s ground Pokemon took me a while to get through, which was a bit of a surprise due to my having two water types in the mix, but that was what I said about the types they favor not making up their whole teams.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised I made it all the way through to Cynthia, having gone in without much of a plan.  I didn’t even have some of my Pokemon holding items.  I started in on what became almost an hour long battle.  I had a lot of trouble with her Gastrodon, a water/ground type that I did not have a good handle on.  But she didn’t have anything too strong that I couldn’t counter, so there were lots of swaps and I tossed out quite a few potions and not a few revives.

It seemed like I was finally getting the upper hand, though I had clearly not purchased enough potions, when Cynthia brought out her big gun, the Garchomp.  That proceeded to one-shot my team until it was all over.

Garchomp takes me down

At that point you lose 8K in coins and you’re sent back to the Pokecenter to revive your team.

Well, at least I knew what I was facing now.

There are essentially two ways to beat the Pokemon League.  You can assemble just the right team of the right types with the right moves that can handle every Pokemon that will get thrown at you, or you can just level you Pokemon up to the point where they can handle it.

Cythnia’s team was in the low 60s for levels, but that Garchomp was level 66, which put him a couple levels above my highest.

I didn’t think I necessarily had a bad lineup, so my first plan was to make sure I had the right moves for the fight.  Also, I went to earn some more coins so I could fill up my bag with more heals.

So back I went for a second run with the same lineup, just a little more prepared and with a couple more levels.

Back for the second run

And the story was about the same.  I struggled with Bertha a bit, but got past here, then, once I got to Cynthia things slowed down.

The battle wasn’t as long, but it ended the same way; once Garchomp was set loose on me, he proceeded to eat my party, sending me packing.

I decided that perhaps I needed to change my lineup a bit to take on Cynthia, as her Garchomp was killing me.  I needed something that would be able to stand up to it.

In searching the web I found a couple of recommendation, the easiest of which to obtain was a Weavile.  I had seen some level 50 Sneasels in the underground, which evolve into Weavile.  Catching one wasn’t too tough, but actually evolving it took another search.  To get it to evolve you need to give it the razor claw item to hold and have it level up at night local time, which starts at 8pm.

I actually missed the 8pm part of the description, so leveled him up twice before checking on the time requirement.  But the third time was a charm.

Sneasel evolving into Weavile

Having evolved him and gotten him the Ice Beam move that was supposed to be a Garchomp killer, I needed to level him up a bit as he was still in the low 50s.

I started by doing random encounters along the route to the final four, but that was kind of slow going.  So I went back to the Pokemon League, because one of the best ways to gain experience to level up your Pokemon is to battle them.

While I wasn’t aiming to beat the champion this time, I still loaded up on potions and revives, and went in to gain some levels.  I also gave my Weavile a lucky egg to hold, which would double the experience he received.  I was going there to level him up.

Of course, by this point my team had leveled up since my first try, so the Elite Four were somewhat easier and I soon found myself facing Cynthia again.

Once again I was locked in a long, drawn out battle.  Every one of her Pokemon I knocked out was a bit more experience for my team, so I kept on going until I found myself once again facing Garchomp.  Facing him was my starter Pokemon, Perry.

Perry versus Garchomp

This turned into a battle of attrition.  He hit me with an Earthquake, which had previously been enough to one-shot Perry.  Now though, he had leveled up enough to be able to ride it out, though just barely.

I hit Perry with a potion to heal him up again while Garchomp did sword dance, which boosted his attack.  The next round I countered with charm, which lowered his attack while he did another sword dance.  We went through a series of round of that, until he ran out of moves for that, so I got a charm off again before he hit me with another earthquake.  I used a potion and got hit with another earthquake, again, over and over, round after round, until he ran out of earthquake moves.

At that point Garchomp fell back on a lesser attack and I was able to get an ice beam off… I had also trained that on Perry just in case… and boom, Garchomp went down.  I had won.

Perry left standing

My goal was to level up my Weavile in order to face off against Garchomp, but I ended up not even needing him.  In assembling a better team I had leveled up enough to win.

From there Cynthia congratulates you on your victory.

Champion gracious in defeat

Then Professor Rowan shows up and they take you to the room where they record you team in the hall of fame.

Everybody healed up and in their Pokeballs

And then you get a show that displays each member of your team, then the final victory shot.

My winning team

After which, the credits for the game roll on by.  Then the game restarts and you’re back in your room, where the game all began.

Back where it all began

The game is not done though.  When you go down stairs your mother tells you that your rival was looking for you.  Then there is the Pokedex to finish up.  I went by and Professor Rowan said I had 145 found so far.  Just a few more to go.

And then there are the legendary Pokemon Uxie, Azlef, and Mesprit, still to catch, which I recall being a bit of a pain.  You have to find them on the map and then get to them before the move on.

So there are still things to be done.  But the main narrative, the story of the game, is complete.  40 hours is about par for the course for me.

Hitting the Level Cap in Visions of Vetrovia

I mentioned previously that, on something of a whim, I bought the latest EverQuest II expansion, Visions of Vetrovia.  That was probably because there was a boost in the level cap, from 120 to 125, and I enjoy the level progress game at times.

What will we see in Vetrovia?

I opted for the cheapest version of the expansion as I don’t really need any of the extras.  I have a couple of level 120 character boosts just sitting in my /claim queue, so there wasn’t much I wanted besides access to the content.

Anyway, I bought it, jumped in on the first day, which wasn’t difficult.  Despite the run up event with its ship and crew hanging about around Mara, getting to the expansion was just a matter of using one of the travel points.  It is just there on the map for everyone.  You don’t even have to use the special subscriber-only travel map.

There it is, on the left in yellow

Opening night it was a popular place, spawning five versions of the starting zone.

A place for everybody

That is a decent amount, though given the rather insular nature of the remaining EQII fan base, that was also probably most every active account on the server piling into the new content… though I will say, even this past weekend in prime time the Skyfire server still had two versions of the first zone running.

I spent my first bit of time getting outfitted from the chest that is on the ground at the start of every EQII expansion these days.

Handout gear once more

I needed the gear because the last expansion I played into was Blood of Luclin, skipping the Reign of Shadows follow on, so my stuff was out of date.  I find it to be a somewhat finicky process, claiming all the gear I need from a chest with the vendor UI.  I try to sort it out in my bag as I go, then when I have it all, I go through and swap with the items I am wearing, until I think I have it all… and then I check and find I have missed some slot or another.  It takes more time than it probably should, but EQII characters have a lot of gear slots.

Then, I must admit, I did not do much.  December saw me busy with other titles, as my month in review post shows.  EverQuest II was fifth on the list, so did not get much attention.

However, as we rolled into January and I played out enough Forza Horizon and Stellaris and EVE Online, I ended up looking for something to get into, so it was time to go back to the expansion.

It was probably a good thing too.  Waiting allowed for some updates and fixes and for the bulk of players to work their way deeper into the expansion.  So last week, over the course of a few nights, I toddled along the main adventure quest line and the crafting signature quest line in a somewhat parallel fashion… and hit the new level cap in fairly short order.  The adventure level cap landed first.

At the cap again

I managed to get there in the second zone of the expansion, the Karuupa Jungle.

There are only four zones in the expansion, which are:

  • Svarni Expanse
  • Karuupa Jungle
  • Mahngavi Wastes
  • Forlorn Gist

But if you’re going to hit the level cap mid-way into the second zone, then you probably don’t need a half a dozen zones.

The signature quest for tradeskills took me into the Mahngavi Wastes… on the back of a raptor of sorts.

Dashing through the wastes on… whatever this thing is…

And it was there that I hit the crafting level cap.

The height of crafting

That happened with an NPC that was right on the doorstep of the fourth zone, the Forlorn Gist, so I have at least been into all four zones of the expansion.

So how was it?

I am once again a bit bemused by the meta in EverQuest II, mostly because I come from a much older generation of players in the game.  Quests are now the only way you can advance your levels, either for adventuring or crafting.  I know, it has been this way for a while and I have mentioned it before, but I think it bears some repeating, if only as a reminder as to where the game stands.

Basically, you can grind mobs or craft items all day and maybe, if you worked really hard, get a single percentage of progress.  The exp given is so tiny relative to the amount required to level… and the amount quests hand out for completion… that killing mobs is really something to be avoided if you can.

Seriously, they barely drop anything ever out in the world, they don’t give you any viable amount of exp, and there aren’t even any more lore & legend quests to make them worthwhile.  This is multiplied by the fact that all mob groups are level 125 or up, so they are annoyingly difficult even when you hit the level cap, so your desire to avoid them is going to be strong.

Mobs in the game are either quest objectives or barriers to make you work to get to a quest objective.  Once you unlock flying in a zone… and it unlocks per zone based on being sent to the next zone for one of the signature quests so far as I can tell… you will bypass all mobs that you can.

Also, because they are level 125 and up from the start, your early encounters will flirt with the risk of death if you don’t pay attention or draw some adds.  I did not have too much trouble with my berserker, but I suspect my squishier classes might not be so handy.

Also, the damage numbers remain insane.

Can’t add all that up in my head

I realize that a numbers squish is a luxury that games like World of Warcraft can afford, but I do wonder if, as a rando in handout gear in an overland zone, I will be hitting into the billions by the next expansion. (I expect raiders already are.)

The quest chains were decent, though not so memorable that I could tell you the story after having played through once.  I spent some time making stuff for a little girl and her dad on the crafting quest line.  My paying attention to the story is hamstrung a bit by my 34″ monitor, as all the text on screen is so tiny that I am more likely than ever to just skip past it.

The crafting quest chain did require a fair bit of harvesting, and you have to cough up a few rares in order to complete it.  I managed to harvest everything save for some pteradon meat, which I ended up buying off of the market… though the price was quite shocking.

But, again, I come from an era where getting your first platinum coin was a big freaking deal.  Now prices are… much higher.

I covered the meat price with this

Also, as a complete aside, I received what might be the first useful thing from the Overseer quests ever.  I don’t know if this came in with the expansion or was always there, but I finally got it.

Best overseer drop ever

Of course, if you have already leveled up all your mounts, this probably doesn’t matter.  But I needed it.

Then there are the zones, which vary quite a bit.

The opening zones, the Svarni Expanse, is a coastal savanna which feels like a number of other zones in the game.  The look, the mobs, the quests, the resources to harvest, all feel like I’ve seen them before.  That isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t a standout either.

Sailing over a bit of the Svarni Expanse

The second zone, the Karuupa Jungle, is easily the best looking in the expansion.  The splash screen for the expansion, which I have at the top of the post, is from there, a lush green jungle with dinosaurs roaming about.

Looking out on the jungle

That is kind of an open area, but the colors and the shading and the beasts all stand out as top notch for the game.

Standing in the jungle

You do, in fact, get to ride a dinosaur, even if you don’t track down the mount unlock somewhere in the end game.

Go dino go!

Not quite as cool as a raptor, but still kind of cool.

I did not spend very much time in the final two zones.

The Mahngavi Wastes is purple and brown and foggy.  That raptor ride further up the post gives you a sense of the color scheme.

And then there is the Forlorn Gist, which is a zone, but not a very big one.  It is a haunted town of some sort… I spent very little time there, just taking the ride from one end to the other on the ghost mount travel network.

Riding through the Forlorn Gist

I expect that this zone is the focus of the end game content, though there is instanced dungeon content in all of the zones so far as I could tell.

So the question sort of becomes “What do I do now?”

EverQuest II expansions are a bit of a double edged sword for me.  I jump in and buy one to play now and then largely because I know there will be that chest at the start of the zone that will gear me up so I can play.  But, that knowledge also means that I am not exactly motivated to grind for better gear because come the next expansion there will be that chest again.

I am really just a tourist at this point

I am also not much of a chaser of achievements in EQII.  For whatever reason the achievement system in the game doesn’t spark anything in me.

But I do like leveling up alts.  That is probably my next move, to run through the content again with a couple more characters that are already at 120.  And, of course, with each one that gets to the new cap, the path gets a little easier.

The bonus

We’ll see how many quests I need to look up a few characters in.  Maybe I will know the story by heart then.

Blizzard Announces its Unannounced Survival Game

Blizzard tweeted out yesterday with a message and an image indicating that their next project was going to be an entry in the survival genre.

If you announce something unannounced is it still unannounced?

There was a link to a post on the main Blizzard site, but references to the game itself were fairly vague and minimal.

Blizzard is embarking on our next quest. We are going on a journey to a whole new universe, home to a brand-new survival game for PC and console. A place full of heroes we have yet to meet, stories yet to be told, and adventures yet to be lived. A vast realm of possibility, waiting to be explored.

They are going to do their usual routine and jump into a genre that is already established and try to give it the Blizzard polish and spin, making things shinier and more accessible.  I’ve been through that before in a post. (Though you should look at the first comment on that post.  Winner!)  That plan has worked in the past.  In fact, that plan is pretty much the whole story of Blizzard.

  • Warcraft: Blizzard does Dune!
  • Diablo:  Blizzard does a Rogue-like!
  • StarCraft: Blizzard does Warcraft in space!
  • Diablo II: Blizzard refines Diablo!
  • World of Warcraft: Blizzard does Everquest!
  • StarCraft 2: Blizzard does StarCraft again!
  • Diablo III: Blizzard tries to find something new in Diablo!
  • Overwatch: Blizzard does Team Fortress 2!
  • Hearthstone: Blizzard does Magic: The Gathering!
  • Heroes of the Storm: Blizzard does Dota 2!

Unfortunately for Blizzard, there is a bit of an inflection point there after WoW, where things are not always an automatic success just because Blizzard did them.  StarCraft 2 has never really stood out from the original, Overwatch managed to fumble its initial success, and the less said about Heroes of the Storm the better.

Basically, since the launch of WoW, Hearthstone has been the most consistent success, though Diablo III did sell a lot of copies… it has just been a decade since it launched.  And, more recently, we’ve just had expansions and remasters.

But now we have Blizzard announcing that they’re going to jump in with Valheim or Don’t Starve or Oxygen Not Included or Just Survive or half a hundred other survival style game.

Which might not be a bad thing.  We’ll have to wait and see… with an emphasis on the waiting part, because most of the announcement is a recruiting message asking people to apply to come work at Blizzard on this unannounced survival game.

Of course, wags in the audience noted that working at Blizzard seems like its own form of survival game.  On the corporate side of things, Blizzard seemed to be encouraging their employees to tweet about how excited they were about this project, as I saw a lot of line member hype from Irvine yesterday.

I find this an interesting development, but it is a long way from hype for me.  Given that we still haven’t seen the launch of Diablo Immortal yet, a title that had a playable demo at BlizzCon 2018, I suspect that it will be some years before we get a chance to play this new game.

Still, Blizzard actually doing something new for the first time since Overwatch is worth a mention.

Related:

Searching for the Starstone Barrows in New World

Having had a successful Amrine Excavation run, played around with the Winter Convergence event (which ended today), and run around looking for crafting supplies, we had found ourselves up into the 30s in level.  That, in turn, made us think about what might be next on the dungeon agenda.

Welcome to a New World

Lacking any other hints… nobody knew where the next dungeon was or what we needed to do to get there really… we decided to do what we did previously and go back to the main story line quests.  That would surely get us there, upgrading our Staff of Azoth along the way.

And the main story line provided.  We ran thither and yon, fighting this and talking to various people all over the map.  And the Staff of Azoth we all carried did indeed get upgraded.

New and improved

Yonas, the focal point of the main quest line, kept sending us off on tasks, never mentioning the next expedition or anything, and eventually moved up to Fort Alazar in Brightwood.  We followed suit.  His new digs, named after himself I guess, had a nice view.

Pardon me while I wipe my feet on the map…

From there we were sent out on a series of quests to unify the three factions in the game in their efforts against the corruption overtaking the world.  That sent us off on a series of colorful adventures.

New World offers grittier, more realistic poop jokes than WoW

We carried on with that until we had arm wrestled with each faction, done a few tasks for them, and got them all around the table.  At that point, when we got back to Yonas, the quest reward was yet another upgrade to our Staff of Azoth.

Cool mint uncommon flavored tier III

Then the next quest on Yonas’ agenda involved us getting to level 40.

Get to level 40 and get back to me…

It was about here that we started to think that maybe we had missed our exit, that the turn off for the next dungeon, was somewhere in the rear view mirror at this point.

I mean, we were on our way towards 40.  Oswald and Ulalu had both hit 36 and I landed at 35 just before we were headed back to Yonas.

Hitting level 35 down in Cutlass Keys

But it was my understanding that the next dungeon should be available around level 35, and thus getting to level 40 seemed like a bit of overkill.

It was then time to tab out and get on Google to look up the situation.  And, sure enough, the very first search we did revealed that the next expedition was the Starstone Barrows and that it was indeed targeted for a group around level 35.

The dungeon itself was located down in the Everfall, so we headed down there.  The brief summary I saw said that William Heron, who is upstairs at the tavern in Everfall, will give you a quest that will start you on your way towards the Starstone Barrows.

After some searching around… because the tavern and the inn are two distinctly different things in Everfall… we did indeed find William Heron hanging about, mug of ale in hand, and not much else on his mind.

Bottom up Bill!

While he had a mug to hand and a jaunty feather in his hat, what he did not have was any sort of quest for us.  And this is where things get kind of vague.

We started using Google for search terms like, “quest chain for Starstone Barrows” and didn’t find much useful.  There were a few posts that described getting to the dungeon, but they tended to yadda yadda over the whole lead-in quest chain aspect of it.

There seemed to be a general opinion that you needed to do some quests in Everfall in order to get on the William Heron quest chain, but which quests specifically was left unstated… though judging from the tone of some of the posts, that was because the author didn’t actually know.

This ambiguity was not helped by the fact that each of us had done some quests in Everfall at past points, including one of the core intro quests, so it wasn’t as though we could all find the same quests available.

So we set out to do quests that we could find.  Mudstone and I seemed to be the furthest behind on Everfall quests, but they were all low level, so we were able to get through them fairly quickly, though it just burned through more Azot to travel around even more.

Eventually we got to a point where three out of four of us had a quest from William Heron.  It wasn’t the quest that was mentioned in our online searches, but at least it was a quest.

Unfortunately, Mudstone could not get the quest, and we were trying to figure out why.  The first theory was standing with Everfall, but Ulalu was the lowest standing-wise and she got the quest.

It seemed possible that Mudstone wasn’t high enough level, as he was only level 32, but then I looked at the quest and saw that it was level 17.

Ancient Contemplations indeed

So there was some more grabbing of quests in Everfall until Mudstone happened to hit on the right one.

And then we were in a whole string of quests which involved us visiting what seemed to be every freaking structure in the Everfall region, three at a time… who built all these towers and why did they both… until, at last we had Center for the Stars, which seemed to be the one that would get us into… the Amrine Excavation again.

It doesn’t say that, but I think we end up there…

But I was already expecting that.  That was one thing most of the sites seemed to agree about, that we would have to go run that one more time before we got out invite to the Starstone Barrows.  But at least, after three and a half play sessions, we seem to be on track.

The EVE Online November and December 2021 Monthly Economic Reports, Technical Difficulties, and Mining Data Changes

We got a double tap of Monthly Economic Reports from CCP, with the long overdue November MER and the December MER both landing the week before last.

EVE Online nerds harder

The delay was blamed on “technical difficulties,” though that seemed to apply mostly to the December MER.  I am not sure what went wrong with November.

As for the December MER issues, those were around the mining yield, no doubt due to the changes that were part of the big New Dawn permanent austerity plan.

As I noted on the previous Friday Bullet Points post, CCP disavowed the mining numbers in the original December MER, which showed a huge drop in mining output since the patch, put up a chart without any data that showed mining was actually up, then promised to revise the December MER.

I will give them credit in that they did, in fact, publish a revised December MER.  What it tells us… well… I will get to that in the mining section, where I will review November, the original December numbers, and what CCP has given us since.  I’ll save that for last, since that is where things go off the rails.

Production

Dec 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

Production remains well below where it sat before industry changes made battleships and capital hulls much more expensive to produce.  CCP Ratatti remained confident at the “No Question Taken” Q&A stream after the tepid Winter Update that players would fall into line eventually.

Production in November rang in at 90.4 trillion ISK in value, about where it was in October, with the following regions in the top ten producers:

  1. The Forge – 17.15 trillion
  2. Delve – 9.55 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 6.3 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 6 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 4.82 trillion
  6. Fade – 3.58 trillion
  7. Sinq Laison – 3.55 trillion
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.1 trillion
  9. Domain – 3.03 trillion
  10. Placid – 2.28 trillion

December actually saw a bit of an uptick in production, coming in at 109.19 trillion ISK in value, though there were new blueprints and new modules to research and produce as part of the New Dawn “prosperity” patch.

  1. The Forge – 19.61 trillion
  2. Delve – 13.51 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 7.65 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 7.2 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 7.12 trillion
  6. Fade – 3.73 trillion
  7. Sinq Laison – 3.69 trillion
  8. Domain – 3.27 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.18 trillion
  10. Heimatar – 2.87 trillion

In addition, the Imperium also had an expensive new homeland defense fleet doctrine announced anchored on black ops battleships, so there was a ramp up in producing those, which no doubt had some impact.  I’ll probably return to the doctrine in another post as I bought one of those ships myself.

There was also the Winter Nexus event in play during the holidays, which tends to see a rise in player presence in the game.

Destruction

As always, the life’s blood of New Eden, the thing that keeps the economy alive and pumping out replacement ships and modules.

November saw 31.44 trillion ISK in destruction recorded, about on par with October, with the following regions in the top ten:

  1. The Forge – 1.97 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.46 trillion
  3. Pochven – 1.31 trillion
  4. Lonetrek – 1.25 trillion
  5. Pure Blind – 1.22 trillion
  6. Delve – 1.11 trillion
  7. Vale of the Silent – 1.05 trillion
  8. Metropolis – 1.02 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 963 billion
  10. Sinq Laison – 909 billion

December saw destruction rise slightly to 33.2 trillion ISK in value, with the top regions being:

  1. The Forge – 2.17 trillion
  2. Lonetrek – 1.76 trillion
  3. The Citadel – 1.65 trillion
  4. Pochven – 1.41 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 1.31 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.08 trillion
  7. Delve – 1.08 trillion
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.03 trillion
  9. Metropolis – 990 billion
  10. Pure Blind – 910 billion

Regions surrounding Jita, along with Pochven, seem to be holding on to the top spots.

Trade

In November trade in New Eden was valued at 562 trillion ISK in value, down about 30 trillion ISK from the October number, which in turn was down about 16 trillion ISK from September, a post war trend where reduced destruction, increased prices, and CCP imposed scarcity continue make their combined weight felt.

The top ten regions were mostly the usual suspects:

  1. The Forge – 408.56 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 43.03 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Delve – 17.67 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Sinq Laison – 14.65 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Lonetrek – 14.17 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 9.22 trillion(Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 6.90 trillion (Rens)
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 6.43 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Insmother – 4.27 trillion (FI.RE)
  10. Vale of the Silent – 4.08 trillion (Fraternity)

December saw a reversal of the downward trend as players join in on the Winter Nexus, which injected quite a bit of ISK into the economy, as we’ll see in a moment.  So the total trade amount went up by 42 trillion ISK from November, totaling 604 trillion ISK in value, putting it about on par with the September number.

Again, the usual suspects inhabit the list, though there is always one wildcard region:

  1. The Forge – 428 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 49 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Lonetrek – 18.7 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Delve – 16.87 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Sinq Laison – 16.06 trillion (Dodixie)
  6. Metropolis – 10.21 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 7.45 trillion (Rens)
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 6.54 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 5.16 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. Essence – 4.62 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

ISK Faucets

Time for two months worth of money talk… that means clips from two charts before I get going.

Nov 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

Dec 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

Once again, a curse on whoever made those charts with such tiny text.

But for the two months the big numbers, in trillions of ISK, were

  • November
    • Commodity – 38.6
    • Bounty Prizes – 22
    • Incursion Payouts – 12.2
    • ESS Bounty Payouts – 9.4
    • Trig Invasion Payouts – 7.6
    • Agent Mission Rewards 3.1
  • December
    • Commodity – 46.7
    • Bounty Prizes – 24.7
    • Incursion Payouts – 13.2
    • ESS Bounty Payouts – 9.2
    • Trig Invasion Payouts – 8.6
    • Agent Mission Rewards 3.1

That adds on to the sinks and faucets over time chart for December.

Dec 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

There you can see the effect of the Winter Nexus event as commodity payouts went up by about 8 trillion ISK in December.  With the commodity faucet chart below you can see that the Overseer Personal Effects were dropping from the event, so those became the top commodity in December.

Dec 2021 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

I expect that, come the January MER, should we get one, that commodities will be boosted once again, this time by the Doctor Who cross over event which, among other things, drops items you can turn in for ISK.

Meanwhile, on the NPC bounties front, November saw a total 29.28 trillion ISK paid out according to the regional stats, which are again not in alignment with the faucets numbers up above.  Missing regions from the data?  Maybe.  The top regions were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.22 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 1.88 trillion (Imperium)
  3. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.60 trillion (PanFam)
  4. Fountain – 1.49 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Detorid – 986 billion (FI.RE)
  6. Esoteria – 970 billion (AOM)
  7. Outer Passage – 891 billion (TEST)
  8. Malpais – 887 billion (PanFam)
  9. Oasa – 886 billion (Fraternity)
  10. Querious – 847 billion (Imperium)

December saw the NPC bounty payouts rise slightly to 30.09 trillion ISK, though again the regional stats are not aligned with the faucets listing above.  The top regions were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.17 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 1.77 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Fountain – 1.56 trillion (Imperium)
  4. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.35 trillion (PanFam)
  5. Tribute – 1.05 trillion (Fraternity)
  6. Malpais – 1.01 trillion (PanFam)
  7. Catch – 921 billion (Imperium/Others)
  8. Oasa – 919 billion (Fraternity)
  9. Querious – 918 billion (Imperium)
  10. Outer Passage – 811 billion (TEST)

We have a series of usual suspects here as well now I suppose.  Vale and Delve have been vying for supremacy for a while now, but there are some other regions in the running.

Mining

As noted above, I saved mining for last because it is the most complicated this time around.

Just for openers, CCP seems to have dropped the short term economic indices chart, which was a bit more granular, so I will swap to the all time chart, which at least gives a historical perspective.

Dec 2021 – Economic Indices

As you can see, mineral prices, while down from their peak, remain at an all time high thanks to scarcity.

And, when it came to mining, November was a normal month… well, a month in what had become normal with minerals being reduced by 90% over the last year.  37.77 trillion ISK in mineral value was mined, with the top regions being:

  1. Delve – 1.99 trillion (Imperium)
  2. Vale of the Silent – 1.93 trillion (Fraternity)
  3. Fountain – 1.52 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Insmother – 1.42 trillion (FI.RE)
  5. Detorid – 1.18 trillion (FI.RE)
  6. Malpais – 1.06 trillion (PanFam)
  7. Etherium Reach – 1.03 trillion (PanFam)
  8. Providence – 980 billion (somebody lives there I guess)
  9. The Forge – 961 billion (High Sec)
  10. Genesis – 935 billion (High Sec)

Then came December and the imposition of the New Dawn permenant austerity plan, and things start to get screwy.

First, the original December MER.

The regional stats showed that a mere 16.48 trillion ISK in value was mined in December, less than half of November’s total, with the top regions looking like:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 853 billion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 849 billion (Imperium)
  3. Fountain – 810 billion (Imperium)
  4. Outer Passage – 652 billion (TEST)
  5. The Forge – 651 billion (High Sec)
  6. Malpais – 648 billion (PanFam)
  7. Metropolis 546 billion (High Sec)
  8. Domain 545 billion (High Sec)
  9. Querious – 476 billion (Imperium)
  10. The Kalevala Expanse – 461 billion (PanFam)

Not a single region with over a trillion ISK mined, something of a milestone.

However, then there is the mined/produced/destroyed data, which is used to generate that chart I use every month to look at production.  That data says that 27.55 trillion ISK in mineral value was mined in December.

Quite a disparity.  There are a couple regions missing from the December regional data, but that would not come close to explaining over ten trillion ISK worth of mining output.  Could it have been the new waste mechanic in action already?  If so, it was a bigger nerf than expected.

People pointed this out to CCP as proof that the New Dawn continuing austerity plan was killing off mining.  The CCP response was surprise… because they never check the data before they post it… and then denial.  A chart was posted in the MER discussion thread to show that mining was in fact up, though what the chart actually represented was unclear and no underlying data was included.

CCP says mining was great in December

Then last Thursday we got the updated December MER and… well… some things changed and some things did not.  The mined/produced/destroyed chart and data were unchanged, still indicating that 27.55 trillion ISK in mining was done in December.

But there were some new, more granular charts.  Per the update:

The Mining Value by Region data has been replaced by eight new graphs showing Asteroid Ore, Moon Ore, Ice, and Gas Volumes mined – as well as the residue numbers. You can expect this information for all future Economic Reports.

My first thought was that this was going to turn this into an apples vs. oranges comparison where CCP could claim whatever they wanted.  But at least we were getting some new data to work with.  Or so I hoped.

However, the result was different than I had expected.  As part of the mining report change they altered the new charts so that they are measured solely in cubic meters mined.  Apples, meet oranges.

Now, I will say that makes some sense when compared to the ISK value previously used, which had to reflect both volume and price fluctuations.  However, it makes every cubic meter or ore mined equal to every other, regardless of value.  It also really draws a hard line in comparisons; there is what came before December and then there is everything going forward from December, and the two cannot really be compared because CCP says the old data is bad and measures the new data differently.

Also, the new data, sticking to the usual CCP script, is missing some regions.  I’m sure somebody must be mining at least one moon in Omist, while the list of regions for gas mining seems noticeably shorter than its sibling graphs.  And this is supposed to be the “good” data that CCP tells us they work with.

Also, as a further kick in the nuts, CCP did not include the raw data used to create these charts, so I had to pick the data out of the HTML versions.  It also makes getting overall totals quite arduous when compared to just summing up a column in a spreadsheet.  But that is the way that CCP wants it.

So now we have the following charts for December.

First there is asteroid mining by region.

Dec 2021 – Asteroid mining by region by volume mined

The top ten regions for asteroid mining:

  1. Sinq Laison – 2.47 billion m3 (High Sec)
  2. Metropolis – 2.14 billion m3 (High Sec)
  3. Lonetrek – 2.03 billion m3 (High Sec)
  4. The Forge – 2.00 billion m3 (High Sec)
  5. Domain – 1.67 billion m3 (High Sec)
  6. Heimatar – 1.64 billion m3 (High Sec)
  7. Delve – 1.63 billion m3 (Imperium)
  8. Tash-Murkon – 1.35 billion m3 (High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 1.28 billion m3 (High Sec)
  10. Essence – 1.18 billion m3 (High Sec)

Nine of the top ten regions are in high sec, but since CCP took away all the asteroid belts in null sec, Delve made the cut on mining anomalies I guess.  Otherwise, that is just a thing mostly done in high sec.

Then there is asteroid mining over time.

Dec 2021 – Asteroid mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

First, the chart only goes back 12 months, so doesn’t provide as much insight as one might hope.  That puts the data set mid-mining nerfs and in the middle of a null sec war over one of the otherwise most active economic regions, Delve.

Also, it isn’t shaping up to be a big increase in mining overall since the patch.  Yes, some more mining was clearly done, but most of the increase went into residue, or waste as it ought to be called.

Then we have gas mining by region:

Dec 2021 – Gas mining by region by volume mined

This is more mixed, with null sec, low sec, and high sec regions in the top ten.

  1. Delve – 12.68 million m3 (Imperium)
  2. Aridia – 11.40 million m3 (Low Sec)
  3. Fountain – 10.46 million m3 (Imperium)
  4. Placid – 10.37 million m3 (Low Sec)
  5. The Forge – 9.72 million m3 (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 9.44 million m3 (High Sec)
  7. Vale of the Silent – 9.00 million m3 (Fraternity)
  8. Solitude – 8.63 million m3 (High/Low Sec)
  9. Cloud Ring – 7.94 million m3 (Misc Null Sec)
  10. Derelik – 7.03 million m3 (High/Low Sec)

Overall gas mining over time shows.

Dec 2021 – Gas mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

There is a spike in April as new gas mining options appeared and were part of the requirements for building battleships and capital ships.  Once again, the volume does not appear to be up that much in December unless you allow for the wasted effort of residue indicated at the bottom of the chart.

Then there is ice mining by region.

Dec 2021 – Ice mining by region by volume mined

The mix in the top ten is high and null sec regions, with the top ten being:

  1. Metropolis – 2.48 billion m3 (High Sec)
  2. The Forge – 2.42 billion m3 (High Sec)
  3. Delve – 2.34 billion m3 (Imperium)
  4. Vale of the Silent – 1.75 billion (Fraternity)
  5. Domain – 1.21 billion m3 (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 1.21 billion m3 (High Sec)
  7. Fountain – 1.20 billion m3 (Imperium)
  8. Kador – 938 million m3 (High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 676 million m3 (High Sec)
  10. Malpais – 631 million m3 (PanFam)

Overall ice mining over time shows the following.

Dec 2021 – Ice mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

September was when CCP put ice back in belts… which was timely because there was a huge capital fuel bind as thousands of capital ships were convoying home as World War Bee ended.  Again, December doesn’t look exceptionally up from November, and is weighed down by the amount of waste being shown.

The big dip at the start of December is said to be a combo of a problem with ice belts spawning after the patch and the fact that the Winter Nexus event offered ice to mine and was considerably more lucrative than normal belts.  The latter makes me wonder if CCP will attempt to steer the economy via events going forward in order to inject this or that into the economy.  I mean, they have already straight up handed out ISK for a login event when numbers were way down, so why not ice or ore or whatever?

Finally, there is moon mining.

Dec 2021 – Moon mining by region by volume mined

The top ten there were:

  1. Delve – 2.94 billion m3 (Imperium)
  2. Vale of the Silent – 2.49 billion m3 (Fraternity)
  3. Domain – 2.49 billion m3 (High Sec)
  4. The Forge – 2.02 billion m3 (High Sec)
  5. Outer Passage – 1.71 billion m3 (TEST)
  6. Fountain – 1.59 billion m3 (Imperium)
  7. Insmother – 1.54 billion m3 (FI,RE)
  8. Querious – 1.45 billion m3 (Imperium)
  9. Kador – 1.37 billion (High Sec)
  10. Genesis – 1.35 billion (High Sec)

Delve and Vale of the Silent are the top two regions, but they are followed by Domain and The Forge, which are both high sec regions, because moon mining is allowed in high sec in systems that have 0.5 security status.

Then there is the overall for moon mining.

Dec 2021 – Moon mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

Now here is the one segment where mining was, in fact, up.  CCP has made a blanket statement that mining was up overall since the patch, but the data they have provided seems more accurately stated as moon mining was up and other areas were reasonably flat since the patch, the wasted effort represented by residue.

Anyway, new charts, new data, and a new year under way.  We’ll see where this goes.