Monthly Archives: March 2022

March in Review

The Site

It looks like I might get paid soon.  If the final numbers for the month are correct, I may have cracked the $100 mark for ad revenue since I enabled ads back in October of 2021.  I was at $88.59 earned when the month began and it looks like I am comfortably past the $12 mark for this month, so I could be there.

It looked dicey for most of the month, then somebody linked my 2009 post about Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID! in /r/wow and that put me over the top.  Some things never die.

The goal was always to pay for the premium hosting option, which runs about $100 a year.  So that may have paid off.

Of course, it is one thing to think I should get paid and another to actually see the cash in my PayPal account.  We shall see how speedy WordPress.com is on that.

Meanwhile, I passed another posting milestone.

A post a day in San Jose

731 days adds up to two years straight of posting every single day.  You too can manage this, if only you let go of your standards and just hit the “publish” button on whatever you have to hand!

As for how long this streak will continue, I am pretty sure it will end in April.  It is going to be a busy month and my goal was just to get to the two year mark in the end.  Still, I kind of hate to let it go because it is one of those things that, after you have invested 731 days in it, the whole thing resets to 1 as soon as you skip a day and then topping your previous record is two years away.

But it is that sort of thinking that got me here in the first place.  Better to just let it go at some point.

One Year Ago

EverQuest, under the EG7 banner, turned 22 years old.

The beta for Burning Crusade Classic opened up, starting the march to the launch of the next classic experience.

My wife and I both hit level 41 in Pokemon Go.

Raph Koster started telling us about what Playable Worlds was up to, but it was all very vague.

But a lot of the month was spent writing about Valheim.  That was definitely the apple of our group’s eye as we made it to a month of playing it and were still going strong.  That was long enough for Honest Game Trailers to do a video about it.

Having defeated The Elder, we were off looking for iron in the swamps.  Iron turned into a key focus for us.

We finally found Haldor the Trader in our game.  I also figured out fishing.

Having geared up, we went after the next boss, Bonemass, with an elaborate plan.  Then it was off to the mountains of Valheim, which led to a new set of experiences.  I also made our first Dragur Fang Bow.

The other major topic for the month was EVE Online where we still had World War Bee going along with some CCP actions, which I will sum up as a list:

Finally, I summed up some more pandemic binge watching.

Five Years Ago

EverQuest turned eighteen.  Now an adult, it still lives in Daybreak’s basement and grumbles about how it used to be the center of attention before all these younger siblings showed up.

Blizzard officially announced that StarCraft, even older than EverQuest, was getting a remaster.  We suspected it was going to happen, but it was nice to get the official word.

Flying was unleashed in the Broken Isles with the Tomb of Sargeras update to WoW Legion.

The Nintendo Switch launched.  But I was still playing Pokemon Sun on my 3DS XL, binging on the Alola Pokedex.  Then I had to figure out where the National Pokedex was.  It turns out it is in Pokemon Bank.  I was hoping for a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.

Disney shut down Club Penguin, hoping to force players onto their new mobile app, Club Penguin Island.  Mobile is always better, right?  It did not end well, with Club Penguin Island closing down in just two years.  Way to fumble success!

In Minecraft, the long road to the forest mansion I found was nearly done.

In EVE Online I took a trip out to Oasa and back.

We got the YC119.3 update that nerfed Rorqual mining a bit and gave us warp bubble decay among other things.  Music was included.  A follow on patch let us see our estimated space wealth.

Blog Banter #80 was on the topic of the CSM, something about which I has opinions!  It was a timely topic as the voting for CSM12 was just kicking off.  In the mean time Gevlon declared that CCP was picking winners… though not CSM winners I guess.

We had a dev blog about refineries coming to New Eden.  Moon mining was going to change and it seemed like the end of the POS was coming at last.  There was also an announcement about changing PLEX, breaking it up into 500 pieces and replacing Aurum with PLEX.  But not that free Aurum they gave you, though they relented on that after some outcry.

I was nostalgic for old ship models in New Eden and talking about the tension between grouping and solo again.

And, finally, we had to say good-bye to our cat Oscar after 17 years.

Ten Years Ago

The family and I went and visited the USS Iowa while it was docked up in Richmond.

I was wondering how important pictures were in blog posts.  I think I’ve gone pretty far in favor of them since.

April Fools spirit hit Wargaming.net a little early.

It only seemed like Zynga was desperate back then.

I took a quick peek back into Need for Speed: World.

We found out when Diablo III was slated to ship.

Raptr said I could be the top WoW player they tracked… if I just played another 18,999 hours.

I also rolled a new character on a new server in LOTRO because… why not?

In EVE Online voting commenced and The Mittani won the chairmanship of the CSM 7 by a large margin.  And then he named names during his alliance talk and was removed from CSM 7 and banned from EVE for 30 days.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, we were being taunted by a LEGO Rifter that we were doomed never to see and Derek Smart was telling everybody DUST 514 was doomed to fail.  Well, he got that one right I, and doesn’t seem too far off on Star Citizen so far.

Meanwhile, the war in the north was heating up again even without The Mittani.  The CFC was picking up systems in Tenal as bases of operation for the upcoming offensive.  Then there was the bloodbath at C-J6MT.

In Rift, we had a couple of runs at the Foul Cascade.

EverQuest turned 13 and went free to play.  That saw more than a few of us run in to give it a try.  Fall nostalgia in the Spring.  We ran the tutorial, tried out mercenaries, and created a guild.  I am not sure what became of our little group.  Nostalgia is like that.

It was also announced that Vanguard would be going free to play as well, leaving PlanetSide the only hold out on that front Meanwhile on the Fippy Darkpaw server, LDON and LoY went live… I think.

Then I was trying to find another blog name that used the TAGN acronym as a setup for an April Fools joke.  That totally fell flat.

Speaking of names, I was wondering if Pokemon Black 2 & White 2 were the least creative names in the series.  Whatever, there were download events.

Then there was a mailbag post about the Path of Exile beta, EON Magazine going digital, something about Roger Ebert, and a few other items.

And, finally, I attempted to bring together as many memories from the early days of Air Warrior as I could.

Fifteen Years Ago

In EverQuest II, my swashbuckler Blintz became my highest level MMO character at the time, hitting the level 50 mark.  I was also going on about the pain of the alchemist trade and offline selling in the game.

Meanwhile, I was still griping about the rise in the price of Station Access, but at least I got something of an answer as to how my Station Access dollars were allocated.  SOE was having problems with their email marketing though.

In World of Warcraft the instance group, after a couple attempts finally finished up Uldaman in one of the more memorable fights of our time as a team, was then coming to a temporary stopping point at Zul’Farrak. Work would keep Earl too busy to play with us for the next few months. Meanwhile, a load of my other friends in WoW disappeared due to server splits.

Proving that random grouping has been a problem for a long time, there was a discussion going around about being able to rate people with whom you have grouped.  That option doesn’t seem to have come to pass.

CCP was whispering in my ear about resubscribing for their Revelations expansion.

EverQuest turned 8 years old and the blog itself hit the six month mark.

And, finally, I had a comically large arrow stuck in my head.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  4. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  5. A New Kind of Blackout Comes and Goes for EVE Online
  6. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  7. EVE Online Gets Battleship Buffs and a Mining Event for March, Plus CCP Starts Selling Ships
  8. Five Bad EVE Online Ideas that will Never Die
  9. A Return to Stellaris
  10. Amazon, Twitch, and Lost Ark
  11. An EVE Online Play to Earn Announcement is Coming at Fanfest
  12. Progress in Lost Ark

Search Terms of the Month

eve online news ships
[Nothing on that front I’m afraid]

глобальная карта майнкрафт а
[Maps for Minecraft are always in demand]

hellcamp
[This one time, at hellcamp]

custom character naked gay
[If it is an avatar, it it really gay on its own?]

Game Time from ManicTime

This month was kind of a search for something to play.  Lost Ark was the top option, but I find that I can only play so much of that in a day.  EVE Online is always situational; I go play when something is happening, but that isn’t all the time.  So I dragged out a few other options.

  • Lost Ark – 51.67%
  • EVE Online – 16.46%
  • Combat Mission – Red Thunder – 15.59%
  • RimWorld – 12.64%
  • FreeCiv – 3.63%

Combat Mission – Red Thunder

As noted in my post about it, I originally wanted to play Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin, but it was not having my 34″ monitor.  Not surprising from a game that is about 20 years old.  So I dove into what was essentially the revised version, though even Red Thunder is from 2014, so not exactly new.  My feelings are a bit mixed.  It works, but seems like a bit less of a game than the original, then tries to make up for it by putting more units on the map.

EVE Online

A deployment, first to Esoteria, then to Feythabolis, has been the main focus of my time in the game.  That and tending to my PI farms, which is pretty much my only source of income these days.  Still, it did keep me busy.  According to the KarmaFleet participation app I went on 16 fleet ops in March, which doesn’t include move ops.  That isn’t exactly huge compare to some people.  There are a lot of people more into the game than I am.  But 13 of those were in the last week of the month.  That is a lot more ops than I went on in

FreeCiv

I thought I would give this a shot and, as a free title that is essentially an open source community project, it has a lot of depth.  That’s what nearly 25 of continuous work gets you.  It is also more than a bit obtuse when it comes to the UI and its depth takes some work to find.

Lost Ark

This is really the only fantasy MMORPG I am playing at all at the moment, which is a bit of a strange turn for me.  The group is playing it and I have been running around playing solo as well.  It is both a light commitment, at least up to level 50, and free to play, which is a hard combo to beat at the moment.

Pokemon Go

We got some new Pokemon to catch out in the world as the Pokemon Sun & Moon collection started getting doled out, including the first couple of legendaries in raids.

Level: 42 ( 33.8% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 697 (+12) caught, 721 (+16) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Rockruff

RimWorld

Another return to an old favorite, this time with an eye towards exploring the Ideology expansion now that changes to it have finally settled down.  It remains a good story generator and a time sink that can make hours go by.

Zwift

I actually kind of hit a sweet spot in Zwift in March, getting on the bike and peddling for much longer than I usually do.  My minimum effort has always been 20 minutes per session, but I had a week of hitting 35 minutes per session.  That gave me a bit more distance this month, though that week seemed to be an outlier high and this week I wasn’t feeling it as much.  I wonder if it is related to how interesting the audio book is I am listening to while I ride?  Anyway, going down the Interstate 80 route from California, I have now peddled myself into the southwest corner of Wyoming, having left Utah in the rear view mirror.

  • Level – 14 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 903.2 774.8 miles (+128.4 miles)
  • Time – 1d 16h 55m 1d 23h 49m  (+6h 54m)
  • Elevation climbed – 33,855 (+4,354 feet)
  • Calories burned – 30,076 25,924 (+4,152)

Coming Up

Today is the end of Q1 2022, so any number of companies will begin working on their quarterly results, which we will likely see reported at some time in May.

And tomorrow is April Fools Day, which people either love or love to complain about.

On the 19th of next month we should be hearing from Blizzard about the next World of Warcraft expansion.  A WoW expansion announcement is always a big deal, but this one has a lot more riding on it given the state of malaise that Shadowlands brought to the game as well as all of the internal and legal issues the company has been facing.  Plus, it would be nice to impress the new owners with something hot.

We should also see the launch of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, the delayed ultimate version of the LEGO Star Wars series from Traveller’s Tales.

Otherwise, it might be a light month around here.  As I noted at the top of the post, there are a lot of things I need to do in real life next month, so there might not be time for much posting or many video games.

We shall see.

EVE Online PLEX for Good Ukraine Raises $501,652

CCP announced that their EVE Online PLEX for Good campaign to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine raised a total of $501,652.

The total amount raised will be converted to real world money and donated to both UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the National Bank of Ukraine Humanitarian Assistance campaign.

The community team with the big check

PLEX for Good campaigns allow EVE Online players to donate PLEX, the game’s cash shop currency that can be purchased directly from CCP or from other player inside the game for in-game currency, and contract it to a CCP run in-game account where it is collected.  CCP then converts the PLEX back into real world currency and uses that for the charity donation.

Donation instructions

CCP then matches the amount donated, essentially doubling the amount donated.  For the Ukraine campaign, CCP promised to match up to $250K in donations, and it looks like they hit that cap and the donations went a bit beyond that.

Past PLEX for Good campaigns over the years have raised over $1.2 million total, via the following events:

  • 2005 – $25,326 – Southeast Asia (tsunami)
  • 2010 – $34,350 – Haiti (earthquake)
  • 2010 – $38,900 – Pakistan (monsoon)
  • 2011 – $44,600 – Japan (earthquake and tsunami)
  • 2011 – $32,900 – United States (Hurricane Irene)
  • 2013 – $190,890 – Philippines (Typhoon Haiyan)
  • 2015 – $103,650 – Nepal (earthquake)
  • 2020 – $107,454 – Australia (bushfires)
  • 2020 – $135,550 – Global (COVID-19)
  • 2022 – $501,652 – Ukraine (war)

Related:

 

Forward into Feythabolis

I mentioned the Goonswarm Expeditionary Force deployment to Esoteria in a post a couple of weeks back.

Two leading candidates

This started off as some help to defend our allies in Red Alliance and a few other groups that are heavy on Russian and Ukrainian players.  They had previously gone in to fill the vacuum in Esoteria after the collapse of Army of Mango, but with them distracted PAPI got back together to start moving into the region.

The deployment was a welcome distraction, something to do in the game, and enough to get me to resubscribe after a month of Alpha.

I actually spent more time moving stuff out to the staging Keepstar in Esoteria than I did on actual operations, but it gave me a purpose.  And PAPI forces were pushed back out of the region, falling back into Feythabolis.

The southeast of null sec – Stain, Impass, Esoteria, Paragon Soul, Feythabolis, and Omist

And that meant us chasing them into Feythabolis.  More move ops, though with Ansiblex jump gates it is only three jumps from the Esoteria staging to the new one in Feythabolis.  You just want to take care because the route is obvious.  It is too dangerous to go alone and all that.  Go with some caps.


Caps taking the regional gate to Feythabolis… I’m in a subcap somewhere in there

For all this moving around I still don’t have a ship for every doctrine we fly, and we have even added a new one along the way, though it is at least superseding another.

Feythabolis is home to alliances in the FR.RE coalition, which is also heavy on Russian and Ukrainian players, and part of PAPI.  Having roved into Esoteria, PAPI is now defending Feythabolis.  This has led to some propaganda showing up on r/eve, though it is very much TEST focused.

TEST, having lost it all in World War Bee, forcing it to flee from its home in places like Esoteria, Impass, and Paragon Soul for distant Outer Passage, has been in a bit of a rough patch in trying to rebuild.  Once nearly 17K players in size, it has dropped to about 10K players.  A significant number of those leaving have moved to Pandemic Horde, swelling their numbers from 22K to 28K over the same time frame.  Included in those departing was Vily, architect of the PAPI war on the Imperium, and the corporation he runs.

So while TEST remains a sizable null sec alliance, being fifth in ranking of sov holding by membership, the departures seem to have driven them to a recruiting campaign.  While “Dreddit is recruiting” is a meme in null sec, there is now a “Keep the Feyth” propaganda and recruiting series in r/eve.

There was enough of that going on that Brisc Rubal harnessed his own artistic skills to make a parody in the same theme, poking at TEST’s relationship with Pandemic Horde.

She’s “Keeping the Feyth”

I don’t know if the propaganda is helping TEST.  Their numbers haven’t exactly grown this month.

As for the results in Feythabolis, there have been some skirmishes off and on.  I have yet to be involved in one myself, but the time for that seems to be a little earlier in EUTZ than I can get on.  Instead most of my time in the region has been shooting structures, mostly those owned by Pandemic Horde.

The grand total of my Feythabolis kill mails

In the end, even though structures have been gunned and some of our fleets have been opposed, PAPI seems very much on the defensive.  The most fierce resistance I have seen around a structure defense was some bombers attempting to take advantage of the rather static nature of such events.

Isn’t the Nemesis the worst of the stealth bombers?

Also, multi-boxing.

There have been some ops to tear down the sovereignty structures, but aside from the system we’re using to stage the deployment nobody is bothering to claim the systems once the ihubs and TCUs are down.

So far a moderately paced deployment.  There are multiple ops during every day if I am around when they are pinged, and there is a kill mail or three to get on if I hit the right fleet.  Enough to keep me busy without feeling like I absolutely have to be on all the time.

Addendum: Of course, I wrote this last night and this morning I wake up to find a capital brawl exploding in Feythabolis with nearly a thousand people in system, close to 200 billion ISK destroyed, and both sides are pouring in reinforcements, all over a Fortizar armor timer.

Battle Joined

I got there in time to get on at least a Naglfar kill.

Addendum: Oops, got the chop myself, but I got this guy on the Fort.

Here is the battle report, if you are interested.

J-TPTA Battle Report Header

The Imperium lost the ISK war, but completed the objective by winning the armor timer on the Fortizar under attack.

The Bored Ape Victorieux Luxury Yacht Club of New Eden

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

-Maya Angelou

I’ve written a bit about how Pearl Abyss has been talking about embracing blockchain and pay to earn in their quarterly earnings calls.  I have even made a rash prediction that we’ll be getting some sort of pay to earn scheme announcement for EVE Online at Fanfest in early May.

A voice in the wilderness, I know.

But CCP has already toyed with the crypto idea, making NFTs part of the Alliance Tournament back in November.  They were not IN the game, but they were OF the game, and CCP’s slow pace of work means they often look like they have cleverly boiled the frog in hindsight.  This was likely the first step towards crypto in New Eden.

So my eyes have been on EVE Fanfest and what we might expect to see from CCP there.

But then GDC happened up in San Francisco last week, and it was full on “Crypto is the next big thing, jump on board fast!” panels and pronouncements.

The Blockchain Game Alliance – GDC 2022

I am borrowing that image from Jason Scott, who posted it to Twitter.  I hope somebody will put together a score card to see how many of those company’s still exist in five years.

Of course, the Atari logo is in there.  There is no bad idea that the owners of that name won’t jump on.  Likewise UbiSoft, though at least they create games that are popular, making them a stand out on the list.

A bit surprised to see AMD at the top center of that image, but I guess they make good money selling video cards to crypto miners rather than gamers.

Anyway, I am willing to let the market decide winners and losers on this one, as it did when MMOs, Facebook games, and VR were the next big things at GDC in past years.  Just because some new idea is hailed at the conference doesn’t mean it is a good one, and it certainly doesn’t mean everybody who jumps on board with some half baked idea is going to win big.

Out of GDC came a tweet from the account of Eden Holdings about a meeting with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar being a favorite moment of the conference. 

Hilmar in the middle of the crypto suite

Of course, Eden Holdings is all about crytpo and the metaverse and has a bored ape avatar. (Have you not heard about the Bored Ape Yacht Club?  Lucky you, though that probably makes the title of this post doubly confusing, as it references that and a specific ship in EVE Online that I am almost certain you’ve never heard of.)

Eden Holdings Twitter Profile – Mar 29, 2022

Also mentioned in that tweet as being a part of the meeting was Yield Guild Games, whose profile says the are about Play to Earn, NFTs, and the metaverse.

Yield Guild Games Twitter Profile – Mar 29, 2022

There was also Delphi Digital, an investment firm into advancing the understanding and development of digital assets, that last being shorthand for crypto and NFTs.

Delphi Digital Twitter Profile – Mar 29, 2022

And, finally, there was also BITKRAFT Ventures, another investment firm into Web3, which is another way of saying crypto and the metaverse these days.

BITKRAFT Ventures Twitter Profile – Mar 29, 2022

Quite the little get together, Hilmar and various crypto proponents all huddled in a suite talking about their favorite digital asset fantasies… and how much money it will earn them.

So why am I bringing this up?  Am I stalking Hilmar and his crypto pals?  Am I that obsessed with crypto?

Not really.  The GDC stuff just came through all of the usual gaming media I have been following for years.  I don’t follow any of these accounts on Twitter, except for Hilmar, and he barely tweets anything.  He certainly didn’t have any comments on GDC.

No, this came to my attention because the official CCP EVE Online account retweeted this particular item.  Not the CCP Games corporate account, but the account dedicated to the game EVE Online.

And why do you boost a message about a meeting between the CEO and some crypto investors on that account?  Because crypto is coming to EVE Online maybe? (Edit: The EVE Online twitter account has since undone this retweet.)

Am I reading too much into one retweet?  Probably.  Somebody on the community might just be instructed to retweet anything that mentions Hilmar.  He likes the attention.

But there is that CCP history to deal with, their ongoing experiments with boiling various frogs, and that quote up at the top of the post.  Are they showing us who they are?

The best outcome I can imagine from this is that they might announce another title that is focused on crypto at Fanfest, leaving EVE Online alone to suffer from resource depletion as their new venture follows the path of every new title they have released since 2003.  It will still hurt the company, which will be bad for EVE Online, but at least it might not ruin the game.

The other route, in which they try to bolt crypto and/or play to earn onto EVE Online, ends less well.

EVE Fanfest may be interesting for some of the wrong reasons this year.

Related:

Diablo Immortal Possibly Set for Launch by June 30th

Blizzard is going to do something in 2022 that it hasn’t done in quite a while… it will ship a new game.

Phone Diablo

Diablo Immortal is reported up on the various app stores with a text preview available.  Here is the lead-in from the Apple Store:

The Lord of Terror rises again! This time he’s bringing his limitless power to your iPhone and iPad in Diablo Immortal—the mobile debut of the celebrated action-RPG franchise.

Diablo Immortal™ is a brand-new game in Blizzard Entertainment’s genre-defining action role-playing game series set between the events of Diablo® II: Lord of Destruction® and Diablo III®. Explore the nightmarish realm of Sanctuary like never before, now a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) where angels and demons wage an endless war over dominion of the mortal realm. Join forces with countless other players on an epic quest to collect the shattered fragments of the corrupted Worldstone and prevent the Lord of Terror’s return. Fans of Diablo and new players alike will embark on an adventure across a vast open world where they will clash with armies of demons, collect epic loot, and gain unimaginable power.

Well, “brand-new” for specific definitions of term I suppose.  There was a playable demo back at BlizzCon 2018, which was also the scene of the “Don’t you guys have phones?” fiasco where the core PC and console fans were present in the audience and… well… they were not expecting a mobile game, that is for sure.  Talk about subverting expectations.

Over in the Apple Store you can… uh… pre-order the free to play app.

Is it really a pre-order if it is free?

There was an image going around online from the Apple Store that said the expected date for the launch was June 30th, though that appears to have been removed since the image was taken.  (This was later explained to be a placeholder for the final date.)

Backing that date up were past Blizzard plans from the Q2 2021 report that said the title was planned for the first half of 2022.  June 30th is the last possible moment to make that first half of the year goal, so we might even get it earlier.

Currently the official Blizzard site for the game doesn’t say anything and is still referencing beta.

As for what you get when you click the GET button to “pre-order,” well… it is just a marketing pitch for the game with some images that might be screen shots.  You can see it all here in a browser.

Now will it run on my aging iPad Air 2?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Waiting on Valheim

I was working on the month in review post for this month, doing the hardest part, which is pulling together the One Year Ago section… for all of the older ones I just go back and copy, paste, and occasionally edit, what I wrote in a past post… and it was pretty clear that the instance group was all in on Valheim in the March of a year ago.

Valheim on Steam

You will get the full sense of it on Thursday, but 10 out of 31 posts in March 2021 were about Valheim. We had gotten past the stumbling first stages of playing in February, setting up a shared and server managing to log in, our first shelter, the perilous raft journeys, the somewhat unnecessary amphibious night assault on another island, building a base in line of sight of a troll spawn, the whole death skeeter incident, and had settled in to expanding our reach in the game.

And we certainly carried on into April with the game, but before the end of that month we had defeated Moder, built a secure base in the plains biome, and were mostly pottering about, exploring, stocking up on supplies, and engaging in base building.  There was still another boss to slay, but after that the next biomes up the ladder in the game were as yet unfinished.

We carried on base building and exploring into May, but we were slowing down and kind of waiting for development to catch up and populate the next biomes.  Something that we’re still waiting for.

Yes, the Valheim development team is very small and they spent most of the first six months just trying to keep up with the runaway success of their game.  A good problem to have.  And eventually they were able to get back to delivering some updates to the game.  But, so far, the further biomes remain unfinished.  Not only are the unfinished, but there is a disincentive to exploring them as Valheim shares an issue with Minecraft in that new features and updates don’t necessarily show up in places you have already explored, and I spent quite a bit of time in May of last year sailing and exploring.

I think, as a group, we’ve decided to roll a fresh world once we get some new content to play.  There have been other changes to the swamp and mountain biomes to change up the game that would give some additional spice to another play through.

But the question remains as to when we will get there.  This past Friday we got an update from the dev team about the next biome, the Mistlands.  But the message in the middle of that was that the release of that update was “quite some time away still.”

That makes it much further out than even the “soon” of developer legend.  When they can’t even promise soon, it is very far away indeed.

And so we wait.  Valheim is the third most played title in my Steam library, not far behind RimWorld… which has been pulling ahead this month.  The Mistlands release and a fresh start would push it into second place.

Carbot and Story in Lost Ark

I am not trying to become a Carbot Animations fan site, but then they put up another video in their Lost Ark series that hits things on the nose again and here comes another post about it.

Welcome to Lost Ark

I know Mailvaltar already posted this, but I just feel the need to stick it here as well because it covers both how I often play… hitting G to get through to the damn quest… as well as how the game itself plays at times.  I mentioned in my Friday post how we were running back and forth passing messages between NPCs that were standing within comfortable distance to make themselves fully understood by slightly raising their voices.

Which isn’t to say I am down on the game.  Not yet.  I still find the frenetic combat fun and I have played along with enough alts that the story is started to stick even though I keep bypassing so much dialog.

No More Words with Strangers

I wrote about Words with Friends not so long ago, a post titles Word with Strangers, since that is who I ended up playing 99% of the time.

I actually have had a number of things I thought I would write about when it came to the game.  The ads, the type of people you run into, the scammers who will chat you up (the game allows live chat, so I guess you can become friends), all sorts of things.

I was even considering a post dedicated to the various types of close buttons that ads have, ranging anywhere from an actual, human finger sized button that says “close” on it, to buttons that don’t work, disappearing buttons, buttons that looks like an “X” to close but which open up a web page, to those tiny “X” buttons that are so small that you are almost guaranteed to trigger the ad and open up the company’s web site a few times before you’re able to tap in exactly the right spot.

And then there was the creeping monetization.  The game shows you ads as a way to make money, but Zynga really, really wants you to give them some money and have over time added all sorts of dumb things to their cash shop as well as restricting what players can do to push them towards spending.

How about no? Also, that is the normal price, not 90% off.

For $12.99 I can get all sorts of new cosmetics that I’ll never use and get remove ads for a WHOLE WEEK?  Guess which finger I am holding up.  Go on, I’ll wait.

In the end though, all of that fell by the wayside because the game just stopped running on my iPad.  I was willing to make a game of the ad buttons and avoiding the monetization, but when the game crashes constantly, it is time for the end.

Now, I do have a rather old iPad at this point, and iPad Air 2.  That is about five years out of date now, so I cannot expect everything new to run on it… though I ran EVE Echoes on it and a few other more graphically advanced games as well.  And Words With Friends… it is a freaking Scrabble knock-off, how do you make that unplayable on any but the most out of date devices?

Well, that was actually pretty easy.  I watched it happen.  I could see it happening.

The Words With Friends team, like any live game team, and games like this are live games as much as any MMO is a live game, are constantly looking to update and improve and add to the game.  This is especially common in mobile games, a constant evolution towards something… or a chaotic grab bag of features thrown at the wall hoping something will stick… I can’t really tell which is a more accurate description sometimes.

Anyway, I could see the Word With Friends team piling on new features, especially over the last year, reworking how some older things played, but often just adding whole new features on top of the game as it stood.

The problem seemed to be in how things were queued up.  I would make a move in the morning and the game would want to tell me about a daily play reward, a weekly task I had accomplished, an achievement I had achieved, a different play mode that they would still like me to try, that it was my move with another opponent, and yet another person was trying to chat with me in hopes of getting me to buy then Google Play gift cards in exchange for naked pictures… all while trying to show me another ad, often of a game that wanted to load up a playable demo.

And it wouldn’t do this all nicely, one at a time.  It would pop a message for one thing, send me to another, then finally pop the ad for the last move I made… but not before freezing up for 5-10 seconds while it tried to get its act together.  (I want to say it would freeze up for 30 seconds or more, but I know that most people drastically overestimate how long they wait for something to load.  I’ve seen the studies on that sort of thing, and they are usually spot on… except for Lost ArkLost Ark does take freaking minutes to launch.  I’ve timed it.)

If had just be some lag, waiting for the app to sort itself out and get rolling, I could have probably stuck it out.  I had been a very regular player, generally play a bit in bed in the morning, then while watching TV in the evening, where I am generally only semi-attentive to the game so waiting out lag isn’t a big deal.

Then they made a big change to the task and reward system, which was not only bloated and annoying compared to the previous system, but also had the side effect of crashing the app whenever I made some progress on one of the tasks.  And since one of the weekly tasks is always “score x points” any move I made besides passing caused an update and a crash.

And, frankly, that is too much.  I can put up with a lot, but the game actually running reliable is kind of a baseline expectation that they could not deliver.  So it got the Farmville response.

Happy FarmVille Memories

So it goes with Zynga.  That always seems to be the final play.

RimWorld Ideology

The Ideology expansion for RimWorld has been out for quite a while now, having launched back in July of 2021.  I know because I bought it when it came out and fully intended to write about it last summer.  But the expansion went through some needed changes based on feedback pretty quickly, so I waited for that to settle down then moved on to something else and forgot about it.

RimWorld Ideology

But I got RimWorld out again this month and played a bit… this week literally has three posts now about me looking for something to play… and I figured I ought to revisit my thoughts on the expansion.

RimWorld, just to dial back a moment, is a top down survival simulator that has been around for over five years now if we count early access.  My earliest post about playing was back in 2017.  Since then it has had the Royalty and then the Ideology expansion packs.

The basic scenario premise is that of three people having their spaceship crash land on a planet and having to get themselves off planet and home again.

From a mechanics based “win the game” point of view, there is a well established through path which SynCaine covered back in 2017; get food production up, build defenses, ignore missions, do the minimum to keep your people happy, and focus on tech to build that spaceship in order to get off the planet.

Even adhering to that, getting through the game has some challenges.  Raids become more common and more aggressive as you move through time, and when you have that ship built and are getting it ready for launch, the attacks become relentless.

But another way to look at the game is as a story generator.  Each of the people in your game, the colonists, have skills and personality traits that dictate what keeps them happy and how they get along with others.

The game has a whole system of possible interactions, including rivalries, relationships, couples falling in love, marriage, divorce, and simple animosity that can break out into fist fights.

Royalty and Ideology both add more layers to your colonists, though Ideology much more so than RoyaltyRoyalty you can basically play along with or ignore.  Ideology becomes a serious part of the game play.

So one of the first patches to the Ideology expansion was the ability to not use it once you had purchased it.  You cannot just ignore it like Royalty.  After that there was a lot of tuning.

From a pure mechanics “winning” point of view, Ideology makes the game harder because it makes your colonists more difficult to keep happy.  So if that is your gig, then this is hard mode.

For those who enjoy the story of their colonists, this adds in a whole new dynamic.

When starting up the game you can opt out of the expansion or, if you run with it, choose a pre-made ideology, go random, or roll up your own specific ideology.

Choose a path, or go without

The web page for the expansion has a list of the many memes and precepts that can be mixed into an ideology.

An ideology isn’t just a religion, though it can have religious rituals and symbols.  It is more of a total community belief system and, as you can see from the choices on that screen.  It can be anything from a criminal gang to cannibals to tree worshiping vegans.

Some of the pre-made sets you can choose

And with any ideology comes a list of expectations.  There will be rituals they expect, official positions to be filled, clothing to be produced, and activities they will demand, otherwise they won’t be happy.

For example, I had a colony of burka wearing female supremacist dominators who were quite unhappy unless I sent them out on the occasional raid in order to beat down on the locals and capture some of them to enslave.  Every raid gave them a temp happiness boost, every slave in the colony boosted their happiness by a bit, and the person who did the actual enslaving got a big happiness boost.

Interestingly, one of the people they enslaved had the masochist trait and their happiness was improved when the were forced to wear a slave collar and body strap.  That slave was never going to revolt.

Unfortunately, the other slaves were not so inclined and there was a bloodbath when they rose up.  (Pro tip: don’t put the slave quarters next to a storage room that contains weapons.) The slave rebellion left only one colonist alive, one of the slaves, and their wounds got infected and they died a few days later.

One of the reasons for the rebellion was that everybody on the planet has an ideology and if you want to bring people into your colony and keep them happy, then you need to convert them.  That takes time.

Another drug loving colony was wiped out when a raid hit while they were in the middle of getting stoned.  Granted, it was a big raid, but I am not sure all of them being huddled around the communal bong set the right tone for defense.

The expansion opens up a range of new items from apparel to ritual related furniture to quests that can change up your colony completely.

So, is it worth $20?  Certainly more so than the Royalty expansion.

If you like the story of your colonists more than building that spaceship, the Ideology expansion adds a lot of depth to the game.

Playing Alone Together with Prince Thirain and more Mokoko Seeds

Having ended up the previous week’s group adventure deep into Mount Zangoras in search of mokoko seeds, we got back together again on Saturday to carry on through that zone and into Lakebar.

Welcome to Lost Ark

No changes to our group, so we went off again with the following tear:

  • Sanperre – Gunlancer
  • Uladae – Sorceress
  • Greenjeans – Sorceress
  • Nandru – Artillerist

Moving into Lakebar put us into the part of the story line where Prince Thirain shows up.  He is kind of a big deal in Luterra.

Probably

Young Prince Thirain is the rightful heir to the throne of Luterra, but he was a bit too young when his father passed or went missing or something… I clicked through a lot of the story… and a regent had been appointed to rule in his stead until he came of age.  That sounds good enough.

However the regent, Albrecht Philipp Schenk Freiherr von Scherrit, kind of likes his position and all the power and wealth it affords him.  Of course, he is in bed with the demons and that guy from the first act who seems to show up every time evil is afoot.  Also, I made most of his name up because just Scherrit didn’t seem to evoke enough bad guy menace.

The audience hisses as Scherrit twirls his mustache and lays out his evil plan

So we spent some time setting up that Thirain is good and Scherrit is bad.  We also spent a chunk of time acting as a messaging system to convey ideas between various NPCs standing so close together that they should have heard everything we were just told to transmit to the next person.

But that is how they transmit the story to us… or try to.  As noted above, I am a bit story immune.

The game also attempted to break through my defenses and get me interested in the story by making us run several instances in which various dramatic events are played out.

Unfortunately, the story focused instances are all solo.  So the group would run off to some location as directed, then arrive to find the question mark of solo floating where we hoped we might run something together.  And at least one of these solo encounters is a big enough deal that it becomes accessible as a real dungeon once you’ve done the solo story version.

The direction of all of this was to set the conflict between the regent and the newly crowned King Thirain… hey man, we had to learn the mining harvesting skill in order to mine ore to make that crown… which I am sure will become something of a big deal at some point.

Armen is always in the middle of things too…

From there we went on to Medrick Monastery, which also turned into a bit of a bust when it came to group content, though there were at least some mokoko berries to be found.

It wasn’t until we made our way half way through the next zone, the Bilbrin Forest, that we got offered the opportunity to jump into the Grayhammer Mine.  An instance at last.

Not the most exciting of instances,  It was no Morai Ruins certainly.  And it was very linear, as the instances tend to be.

The Grayhammer Mine Map

The exciting bit is that when you get to the end of the first part, the large section at the bottom of the map you get to board a mine cart and go for a ride.

All aboard for the mine cart ride

The ride is kind of neat.  You go zipping around on some track that seems very unlikely for any legitimate mining operation not being conducted at a theme park, but you enjoy what the moment has to offer.

Greenjeans and Sanperre on a ride

The thing is, with a full group, you go on two carts, and each cart has its own path, so each half of the group had its own mine cart experience.

You are deposited in a crash at the next section of the dungeon, and from there it wasn’t far until the final boss, who we managed to defeat.  He wasn’t a push over, and we were in hard mode for the run, but in the end every boss so far has been about knowing when to get out of the way and when to run in and smack him, and this was no different.

The boss dispatched, we got onto the important part of the dungeon, finding all the mokoko seeds.  The map indicated that there were a dozen in the instance and by the time we defeated the boss we had only found five of them.

We eventually searched out a total of five seeds at the top section of the dungeon, but couldn’t get back to the lower section to search out any we had missed there.  The mine cart trick only goes one way.

So we played the song of escape, left the dungeon, then re-entered in normal mode to search through the lower half of the dungeon again.

We ended up finding one path off the map that led us to a pair of mokoko seeds.  One we could grab, but the other was out on a little island.

It sits outside of our reach

This is where one my suggest we swim for it but, while Lost Ark has boats, swimming is strictly off limits.  After some mucking about we figured we would get back to that one and carried on down the path.

Further up the instance we found another side path where you could wander off the map which not only got us two more mokoko seeds, but also a container of fireflies… fireflies being something you have to collect for a quick moment at the start of the dungeon.

The firefly lantern was clickable

Nandru picked up the firefly lantern and we headed out to explore a bit more, but ended up back at the first side path where, on arriving, the empty pedestal there, which is just off to the left and cropped off of the first image of that area, was now clickable.  And clicking on it opened up a firefly path to the last mokoko seed.

The firefly path is lit, you may cross

And with that we all had the dozen mokoko seeds from the instance… except for Greenjeans, who somehow missed getting one of the five at the top half of the instance, so we had to fight our way through and run the mine cart ride again.

Still fun though

I was disappointed I got the same car two times in a row.  I wanted to see both runs.  Oh well.

We fought our way through about half way, at which point he got his last mokoko seed.  The seed cheat map if you are interested.

The mokoko seed locations in Grayhammer mine

And, after that we once more played the song of escape and left the instance.

There was time for quest turn ins and then I had to run because dinner was ready at our end.

Next time we start our approach to Luterra Castle.