Monthly Archives: July 2022

July in Review

The Site

A few months ago I mentioned that I had decided to confront the spam comment problem on the site by closing down comments on posts more than 800 days old.  I was a bit hesitant to do that, because I really don’t mind comments on older posts, so long as they are from real people.  But the whole spam comment thing was becoming a pain to deal with and I was more concerned about losing the occasional legitimate comment in the spam filter when there were a couple thousand comments in there than somebody leaving a message on a post about Air Warrior that I wrote more than a decade ago.  Sorry man.

Meanwhile, I have also been noting that ad revenue has been down.  The first couple of months I had ads on the blog it was bringing in close to $20 a month.  More recently it has been down around $10 a month.  That is fine, as it covers the Premium hosting plan I have with WordPress.com, but I always just wonder why things like that change.

And then about mid-month some comment spam bot hit the site, targeting more recent posts, and suddenly there were more than a thousand comments in the spam filter to deal with.  Just like old times.

Then I was looking at the daily stats for the number of ads served and saw a big spike, but that spike did not correspond with any sort of increase in traffic.  How strange.

“Spike” is a relative term here

What I realized a while later was that the spike in the number of ads served corresponded with the day that I got the burst of comment spam.

Spam bot comments generate ad revenue!

And here I had turned off the spigot on my own revenue hose by closing down comments on older posts.  Oh well.  As I said, as long as the revenue covers my annual hosting cost, I am fine.  But if you want to make more money, leave those old posts open up for comments!

Anyway, as always, if you’re going to visit here regularly I suggest using an ad blocker.  Let the comment spam bots pay my annual hosting fee!

Meanwhile, on the Bing front, nothing I have done in the Bing Webmaster Tools has managed to shake their embargo of my site.  Their graph… which is a copy of the graph Google uses in their own Search Console Tools, right down to the colors of the lines… shows my site as a flat line from June 8th forward.

But my WordPress.com stats show some traffic.

Search Engine traffic for July 2022

Now, I have said in the past, web traffic stats are garbage, useful for trends but not accurate enough to be more than a hand wave.  Still, I do wonder how it came up with four Bing and two Yahoo referrals, since Bing is resolute in saying they have sent me nothing.

Meanwhile, it was a banner month for Yandex and Baidu, who made up for the missing Bing traffic.  I cannot explain that either.

One Year Ago

There was the usual Steam Summer Sale.  When it ended it turned out that I actually bought a few titles.  That led me to sum up what I had played so far in 2021.

At home we were still binge watching TV despite there being a lull in the pandemic.  We watched Community, Hacks, Manifest, and The Kominsky Method.

My wife and I completed Pokemon Go Fest 2021, in part because the cut the price to $4.99.

Lord of the Rings Online launched the Shadowfax and Treebeard special servers for a fast or a slow run through the game’s content.  I was also on about how much stuff ends up in my bags when I start a new character in LOTRO due to my having been around the game since launch and owning all the expansions.

The instance group was into Burning Crusade Classic and finally creating a guild tabard.  We finally had some gold, in part because I was scarfing up thorium in Frostwhisper Gorge.  Meanwhile, I was MIA from Outland leveling up alts back in the vanilla content due to the eased level curve and better traits.

Somebody once again claiming they could dictate what immersion meant to other people got me on a kick to explore what immersion meant to me.  It is a complex and somewhat less than tangible topic, but I wanted to go down that rabbit hole.  Middle-earth was one of my first stops on that exploration.

World War Bee was hitting its nadir, with a declaration that PAPI was going to take the summer off.  But lots of people were taking the summer off it seemed as the PCU, which had kept around 30K most weeks, dropped down to 25K.  Fraternity, however, was getting tired of the war and demanded and end to it, so PAPI came up with a plan to win in four weeks.  CCP also said that scarcity would be over in Q4, which turned out to be a flagrant lie.

Anyway, this is what I wrote about EVE Online in July of 2021:

Then, past me, whom I really hate, wrote four freaking Friday Bullet Point blog posts that were each all over the map.

The first was about Crowfall shipping, RimWorld Ideology, some stats from the Burning Crusade Classic beta, and Minmatar Liberation Day.

The second mentioned the Steam Deck announcement, Pokemon Go anniversary items, the Diablo II Resurrected alpha, and the reserve bank keys coming to EVE Online.

The third was on about the New World beta, the Path of Exile expansion, EverQuest offering old items, and Blizzard’s big harassment scandal starting to come to light.

And the fourth carried on with MORE about Blizzard’s scandal, the Guild Wars 2 expansion, bards coming to Neverwinter, Crimson Desert failing to ship, and a panic about California having some power consumption recommendations for gaming PCs.

It was quite a July.

Finally, there was the traditional announcement that Blaugust was coming.

Five Years Ago

We adopted a new kitten.  He is much bigger now.

The Steam Summer Sale wrapped up and I went over what I bought and what I considered buying, but then passed on.

Amazon Prime Day came and went and I realized I had been buying things from Amazon for 20 years.

I started using a dual monitor setup at home.  It took me a while to get used to it… I would turn off the second monitor a lot early on… but it seems natural enough now.

Gevlon was telling us about the corrupt game developer career path.  I bet you wish you knew it was just that easy to get rich.

The call of nostalgia got me to subscribe to EverQuest II for a bit to try the Fallen Gate progression server.  I got far enough to get the crazy mount.

In EVE Online Reavers were deployed in the east of New Eden where we helped blow up a Fortizar in the Great Wildlands.  CCP has used a picture from that fight a couple of times. It then took us two days to get back to Delve, during which we argued about BBQ sauce.

Back in Delve we covered the deployment of another Keepstar in the region.  I was also producing mechanical parts via PI.  And I tinkered around with one of my Alpha clones, running some of the profession quests and mining in a Vulture… I mean a Venture.

The July update for EVE Online brought us revamped Strategic Cruisers… the start of the reign of Loki supremacy… as well as an update to Project Discovery.

It was also announced that the captain’s quarters would soon be removed from the game.

We also got our first taste of The Agency in New Eden.  It was just an event at the time, though it would grow to be all things PvE soon enough.

And CSM member Jin’taan was advocating for cat ears in space.

I found that Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin still ran on my system.  A great old war game.

Albion Online launched.  I didn’t play it.

And, finally, Lord of the Rings Online got us to Mordor.  It only took ten years.  I bought in, but then there was the question of how to proceed… and with whom… and how to get back into the swing of a game I hadn’t played for ages.  I returned to one of my favorite places in the game, Annuminas

Ten Years Ago

In New Eden my heart went “Boum!

Elligium took its pandas and went home.

Blizzard set the date for Mists of Pandaria.

There was a Steam Summer Sale.

The Secret World launched.  I never played it.

I was wondering if Torchlight II could live up to its potential.

Ultima Forever!  A shot across Lord British’s bow.

Rift decided to sell mounts for cash.  It wasn’t like they were going free to play though… not yet, anyway.

Let it be noted that not all Kickstarters fail.  There was the Defense Grid expansion Kickstarter.  I kicked in, they built it, I played it.  Simple as that, and much better than any 99 cent app I have purchased.  And I still get a free copy of their next Defense Grid game when it comes out.

I wondered aloud if nostalgia servers… official ones… would remain the sole domain of EverQuest.

Meanwhile SOE was talking about Vanguard’s free to play plan.

I was underwhelmed at the so-called “reskin” of Qeynos in EverQuest II.  The sorrow of Qeynos knows no end.

In EVE Online, there was war in Delve… again… if only I could get there.  There were battles in 49-U6U, C3N-3S, and DSS-EZ, a conga line in 319-3D (where we also watched the alliance tournament), and a flying titan in F2OY-X.  The tiny Wallpapers Alliance held out longer than Nulli Secunda, before being crushed.

Then having done the heavy lifting for TEST, the CFC was asked to go home.  TEST was going to be its own alliance, but we would all remain the best of friends in the big blue donut of love.  Anyway, it was time for a convoy back to Deklein.  Somewhere along the way I got a warning from CCP for causing lag.

And there was also a link to a list of things to do in EVE Online.

Fifteen Years Ago

Hey, it was time for the Revelations expansion in EVE Online, and I was running through the updated new player tutorial. It was a huge improvement over what I went through when I started the game, though I ran into a glitch or two.

The instance group was still off in Lord of the Rings Online for the Summer, though we were having issues at The Great Barrow when we weren’t playing Truth or Dare.

Vanguard was already planning server merges. 13 servers were being reduced down to 4.

EverQuest II got its own magazine… again (okay, it was an SOE magazine for Station Access subscribers the first time around, but it had an EQ2 scantily clad dark elf on the cover!)… in the form of EQuinox. And they were offering Rise of Kunark beta access to subscribers!

Dr. Richard Bartle, keeping to his strict regime of “one controversial fanboi enraging quote every summer” said he would like to improve the MMORPG species by turning off World of Warcraft Seemed kind of mild after the next year’s entry and reaction!

Perpetual was making crazy-insane statements about Star Trek Online… like no Galaxy-class starships for you! Ships that size were planned to be “space cities” and quest hubs. Back then I told Cryptic take note: If I cannot aspire to be Captain Kirk, I am not sure I want to play! Or just go read Tipa’s post on the subject.

The end of Auto Assault was announced by NCsoft and I took note and pondered a (silly) solution.

I stopped in front of SOE headquarters for a picture. (Mirror universe Wilhelm, with goatee.)

Microsoft finally announced a warranty extension due to the “red ring of death” problem with the XBox 360.

And Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw did his fist Zero Punctuation video.

Twenty Years Ago

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos launched, the third and final major installment in the Blizzard Warcraft RTS franchise.  From a graphical and story perspective it was very much a prototype for World of Warcraft.

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, the proto-MMO that ran on AOL and not the BioWare game of the same name, was shut down after running for six years on the service.  Given the rate of change computers went through in the 90s, that was quite a run.

Forty Years Ago

Timex Sinclair released the TS1000, a modified version of the Sinclair ZX81 that was modified for US TV signal compatibility.  I had one of them for a brief period later that year.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Fruits of the Cultural Revolution
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. EVE Valkyrie, Gunjack, and Sparc All Coming to an End on August 5th
  5. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price
  6. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  7. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  8. The June Update Brings DirectX 12 Support to EVE Online
  9. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  10. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  11. Things Like Valheim in a Post MMORPG World
  12. CCP Promises “a very special offer” if you Link Multiple EVE Online Accounts to the Same Email Address

Search Terms of the Month

lm-composite molecular condenser
[That’s a new one… no idea]

to get to the elder in valhiem do i need a boat?
[Probably? Eikthyr is the only guaranteed walkable boss]

what happened to battleclinic.com
[All good things…]

rimworld crap game
[RimWorld no crap, RimWorld good]

rimworld dangerous bad game
[Seriously, where is this coming from?]

Game Time from ManicTime

July saw some new titles appear as well as an old title top the list.

  1. Minecraft – 36.33%
  2. Solasta – 25.70%
  3. EVE Online – 22.78%
  4. WoW Classic – 8.03%
  5. Raft – 6.99%
  6. World of Warcraft – 0.18%

However, July was also absolutely the lowest play time number of the year so far overall, running at just over half the time spent playing in June, which was the previously low ebb of the year.  But, as you can see, a perennial favorite here has reappeared on the list.  Will going back there get me playing more?

EVE Online

Well, that was a month in New Eden.  We had the downfall of The Mittani, which constitutes a major change in the political landscape of null sec.  The Imperium got a harassment policy and reporting process as a result of the fallout.  And even CCP woke up from their usual summer snooze to remind people they shouldn’t be bad and… well, they went back to sleep after that.

I didn’t exactly blaze a trail in game either in July.  I went on a couple of ops, but overall I didn’t spend a lot of time playing.

Minecraft

The month started out strong with Minecraft.  It seemed like something that would keep our attention for a while, what with all the new things that came into the game since we last played.  And that lasted for about two weeks.  Minecraft is an excellent game when you have a project in mind.  I can play for hours listening to an audio book or some pod casts.  But if I don’t have something driving me it can feel kind of empty.

Pokemon Go

I kept plugging away at Pokemon Go, though the fact that I now leave the house about once a week has slowed me down somewhat.  If it wasn’t for remote raid passes and the fact that incense now works decently, I would be even further behind my wife.  She’s a sales rep, so she leave the house all the time while I work from home.

Level: 42 ( 66.6% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 717 (+3) caught, 739 (+4) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 21
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Wimpod

Raft

We spent some time with Raft.  As I said in my post about it, not a bad game.  It didn’t grab me and it doesn’t seem to be a fit with for the group, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its merits.  And hey, I played another new game.

Solasta

Potshot and I spent some time playing this, and it has its merits.  It is very much a representation of table top fantasy role playing games.  But, in our group, I think that might be just a thing the two of us like.  It wasn’t an easy sell… or any sort of a sell… to anybody else.

World of Warcraft / WoW Classic

Yeah, I have resubscribed.  We’ll get to that in the coming week I am sure.  But all of the play time counted above was pretty much just yesterday.

Zwift

At some point I am going to write a post about where all my gaming time went over the last few months, but it has been at low ebb, with July ringing in the fewest hours spent playing so far this year.  This has also had an impact on exercise.  I still get on the bike, but not as often as I might like.

  • Level – 15 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,104.4 miles (+64.5 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 44,337 (+2,044 feet)
  • Calories burned – 36,215 (+2,002)

Coming Up

It is Blaugust tomorrow… so you can probably expect tomorrow’s post to be something Blaugust related.

There is, of course, the return to Azeroth to ponder.  I still really haven’t made a plan, so it seems like I’ll be improvising until I figure one out.  But the group seems keen to return after having been away.

New leader of the Imperium Asher Elias is trying to get the coalition serious about our war in the southeast against FI.RE.  That could be interesting and, if his call is heeded and it draws a response from our traditional foes, might even help the currently sagging online numbers for the game.

I do wonder if we’ll get the EVE Online monthly economic report tomorrow.  CCP Estimate has been on top of that.  But, more so, I wonder what the numbers will tell us given the state of the PCU in July.

We’ll no doubt be getting some financial results from Activision Blizzard.  They’ll short and to the point without a call or a slide deck, but they still have to report something.  They can’t hide in Microsoft’s financials yet.

And I am sure there will be more.  It will be August already, and I am not sure how that happened.  But there we are.

Asher Ascendant and the New Age of Risk for the Imperium

insure your supers

-Asher, just before Operation Enho

On Thursday we got a big announcement.  Asher Elias, long time bloc level fleet commander and the Imperium sky marshal during World War Bee, was stepping up to lead Goonswarm Federation, and by extension the Imperium, filling the leadership vacuum left by the departure of The Mittani.

Welcome to the new regime.

You think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark.

I can’t actually remember why I threw together that Asher/Bane mash up image last year… there was probably some running gag on one of his fleets… but it was the only image of his character I had readily to hand.  And a new leader has to project a fearsome image, right?

Long time readers of this blog might find the name familiar.  Including this post I have 105 posts tagged with “Asher Elias” going back to a rupture fleet he ran back in 2014 where we got bombed into oblivion.

He has more positive mentions as leader of the Reavers SIG within the Imperium, founded back in 2015, which I happened to stumble into just as it was being formed, something that changed the game for me.

Reavers forum bee

I blame Asher and Reavers for my continuing to play EVE Online for the last seven years or so because going from main fleet to a SIG that did special operations and its own doctrines kept null sec alive and interesting for me.  A couple of times over the last few years I have thought it might be time to take a break… and then a Reavers deployment comes up and I am back in the game again.

In addition to being sky marshal and running the Reavers SIG he has run the Goonswarm alliance tournament team and currently stands as the pilot on the most kill mails in all of the Goonswarm Federation alliance, standing at 26,691 kills as I write this.

The GSF top five pilots based on kill mails – GinFOX is catching up

Known for his meticulous planning and audacious schemes… which includes trying to boosh subcaps into optimum range of a HAW dread to helping put together Operation Ehno, the attempt to trap and kill PAPI supers at YZ9-F6… he play the null sec fleet operations game at the highest level.

If there was anybody more unlike The Mittani when it came to the game, it would be hard to find them.  Mittens bragged about never logging in and playing the meta game, using the weekly Meta Show to harangue our foes and call them names in order to enrage them and get them to come at us.

Asher, while he has his own Twitch channel, is probably better known there and on YouTube for his League of Legends videos.  He is mild of temper and not prone to throwing insults or creating bad feelings.

In a prepared speech he read today (which you can listen to here or read here or at the end of this post) after TheAdj announced he would be taking over the reigns of the alliance and coalition, he charted out a different path forward.  Rather than going on weekly shows to mock our foes in order to get them to hate us, he said we would be pursing an in-game strategy of actually attack them and taking their space in order to get them mad at us.

As part of this the Imperium will be taking more risks, because risks lead to the type of fights that make this game memorable, that make ongoing tales of null sec worth writing books about.

He said during his speech that the Imperium had previously been following a line of simply not losing.  As an example, he said that after the twin battles on the Keepstar at M2-XFE he said our foes were demoralized, their titans trapped, and were worried that we would take out their Keepstar in NPC Delve, cutting their safe route into Delve.  They were alleged to be surprised that we did not move against them, choosing instead to abandon our defense of the Helms Deep systems and any pretense of attack in order to sit and camp their titans until they revived the morale of their line members and resumed grinding down Delve, and freeing most of their trapped titans in order to resume the offensive.

Asher, sky marshal of the Imperium, whose job was to coordinate and plan the strategy of the war, was forbidden by Imperium leadership from attacking the PAPI Keepstar in Delve.

The war could have been won, decisively, with an explosive battle, rather than being dragged out for months and months until the enemy finally retreated in dismay, undefeated in battle, but worn down by the long siege of 1DQ1-A.

The reason for the decision to leave the Keepstar alone was that to attack it contained an element of risk.  It would have been a gamble, and nobody at the top wanted to roll the dice.  So the war went on.

So part of Asher’s comments were that we would, as an organization, be taking more risks and committing more heavily to war.  His speech was followed up by a call to deploy more forces to the front in the war against FI.RE in Tenerifis and Immensea.  Capitals and supers were being moved.  The war was going to be dialed up, with the possibility that this escalation might bring a response from other groups.  We shall see.

But it is a different message with a different tone.  We will let the weight of our forces do the talking.

The only downside to this is that the responsibilities of state will likely keep Asher from being able to lead Reavers ops.  But I can say that the leader of the Imperium knows who I am.  And if you tackle my jump freighter, you can be sure I’ll mention that I know Asher Elias.

We don’t know how long he will remain in charge, though he did say in an interview on Theta Thursday that he wasn’t going to stick around for a dozen year like The Mittani did.

Related:

Text of Asher’s speech after the cut:

Continue reading

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, Plans, and Producer’s Letters

Another Friday in July and time for another bullet points post.  I am going to have to go back and check, but July seems to be the most popular month for bullet point posts here.  My guess is based on my having done the “one year ago” section for the month in review post and seeing that I did four of them last July and the fact that this is my fourth one this month.

At least I have been trying to go easy on future me who will have to write that month in review post in a year by keeping them mostly on related topics in a single post.  And this week it is Daybreak.

  • EverQuest Producer’s Letter

There was a producer’s letter for EverQuest and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the team is still sticking to the roadmap format they introduced at the start of the year.

Classic EverQuest

I fully expect companies to do something like that then forget about it in two months and never reference it again.  But here they not only have it front and center, they took the time to put links in the line items so you could go read about the output of a given item.

There honestly wasn’t much in the current producer’s letter that was of interest to me.  Another special rules server is being retired and merged into the Vox server, the designated home for retro refugees.

But coming up in September we’re supposed to get an update to heroic characters… the insta-level option in EverQuest and EverQuest II… so that they will no longer start off at level 85, where they have been for almost a decade at this point.  The update will raise them to start at level 100… which isn’t exactly stellar when the level cap is already 120, but it is something I guess.

Also, there are some hints about the upcoming expansions… which to me mostly confirms that we will be getting the usual annual expansion.  This year will be the 29th in the series.  How many is too many?  I guess we don’t know yet.

  • EverQuest II Producer’s Letter

As with its older sibling, EverQuest II got its own producer’s letter which also stuck to the roadmap from back in January.  There the update was focused on game update 120, called Myths and Monoliths, which is their big mid-year content drop for the current expansion.

The aging second entry, no longer so young compared to the original

There were also some hints about the next expansion, number 19, which we can expect to see by the end of the year if they are sticking to the usual plan… and I don’t see anything to suggest that they are not.

  • LOTRO and Support’s Packs

Lord of the Rings Online also had a producer’s letter, which drew attention to the update 33.1.1 and the adventures of the sons of Elrond, Elladan & Elrohir.

However, their 15th anniversary plans do not include and expansion.  They haven’t been on a solid annual schedule over the life of the game, so I suppose that isn’t a huge surprise.  But they would still like some money from you, so they have introduced Supporter Packs, where you can spend some money on unique cosmetic items along with some LOTRO points.

The packs are $35, $60, and $100, so it is like buying an expansion, just without the content.

I am not the best person to judge the community reaction, but I got the impression “underwhelmed” might be in the ballpark.

Supporter packs, the departure of some staff, and the emergence of a pirate retro server raised the question What is going on? over at Contains Moderate Peril.

  • DDO and Perma-death Again

Dungeons & Dragons Online… I don’t know if they do expansions or producer’s letters frankly.  I haven’t tried to play it in over a decade.  Put I do see news and headlines about it now and then, and it does come under the Daybreak banner, so I might as well add in something about it.

The latest update is the return of the Hardcore League for its sixth season.  This is a perma-death server experience where players compete to complete as much content as possible while staying alive.  Unlike special servers for other Daybreak classic titles, you do not need to be a VIP subscriber in order to join in on the experience.

As an added bonus, season six has some special dangers waiting for players who might have otherwise mastered the routine in the last five runs.

  • PlanetSide 2 goes Under Water

Now I am really out of my depth as what I know about PlanetSide 2 could be written into the margins of a standard trade paperback book without distracting the reader for more than half a page.

But I can read well enough myself to see that they made a big splash with the Surf and Storm update earlier this month which introduced the island continent of Oshur and features under water game play.

Sturm und Drand

Underwater content tends to be one of the few things to disorient me and give me a bit of motion sickness in 3D MMOs, so I am not all that excited about this, but it does indicate that they are carrying on trying new things with the title.  And hey, it might even be stable by the time this post goes live.

  • H1Z1 Has Absolutely Nothing New

I looked to see what was up with DC Universe Online and H1Z1 to see what they had to report and… well, DCUO is an even bigger mystery to me than PlanetSide 2, but I could at least go to the game’s site and see that there were recent news items and updates.

H1Z1 however… the most recent news item on the game’s web site is from October of 2020.

Remember when this was a thing?

So it goes, another bullet point post comes to an end.

Summer Reruns – Delve 2012

Ten years ago this month I went to Delve for the first time… the first of a number of times as there seemed to be an almost annual Drang nach Delve tradition in the CFC and Imperium, at least until we got thrashed in the Casino War and went there to live full time.

But back in 2012 Delve was a whole new region for me.  I had never visited.  I had been in null sec for about six month and had gone through the war with White Noise and Raiden, so I wasn’t a complete novice anymore; I had seen capitals, taken titan bridges, been on fleet ops, suffered through that brand new time dilation mechanism, and learned to wait two beats before following any instruction DBRB shouting into voice comms.  But I was still prone to getting lost and the naming convention for null sec systems meant I constantly had DOTLAN EVE Maps open… though that is still mostly true a decade later.

It was also a different landscape in New Eden null sec.  A coalition map of the time.

Null Sec Power Blocks – July 2012

There was Southern Coalition with AAA and Nulli Secunda among their numbers… and also the defiant Walltreipers Alliance, who are now a part of The Initiative… whom we were attacking.

There was Solar Fleet in the east holding the traditional Russian regions and fighting with Northern Coalition, which held Geminate, Vale, and Tribute.

Of course there was Provi Bloc doing its thing in Providence.

And then there was the Bropact, the combo of the Clusterfuck Coalition, or the CFC… Goonswarm Federation, Gentleman’s Agreement, Circle of Two, Executive Outcomes, Fidelas Constans, Get Off My Lawn, RAZOR Alliance, SpaceMonkey’s Alliance, Fatal Ascension, and Tactical Narcotics Team… and the Honeybadger Coalition, or HBC… TEST Alliance Please Ignore, Pandemic Legion, The Initiative, Tribal Band, and some more I cannot remember… who got together to invade Delve and have a good time.

Delve – Summer 2012 Poster

Viewed from 2022, that is kind of a strange mix.  TEST and Pandemic Legion from the HBC… along with RAZOR from the CFC… were part of the PAPI tide that tried to wash us out of Delve in World War Bee.

At the time Vily, who led the war against the Imperium in 2020, was a Goonswarm FC and the captain of the GSF Alliance Tournament team.

But this was the beginning of the estrangement of TEST from Goonswarm.  When TEST arrive in null sec Goons the two were pals after a false start. (TEST heard Goons were bad, so decided to go to the part of null sec furthest from Goons when they arrived in 2010.  But, due to an ongoing competence problem they have the map upside down and planted their first flag 9 gates from the Goon capital.)  TEST grew up in the “Testagram,” the five pointed star in the RFY-QB constellation.  By the time the Delve 2012 war had begun that had moved to Fountain and were making new friends and growing apart from their CFC allies.  They actually asked the CFC to go home once Delve had been taken while they pursued AAA into Stain and Querious.

As things would work out we would eventually take Fountain and Delve from them in the Fountain War and, after World War Bee, TEST would finally move into the region of null sec furthest from Goons, their initial ambition finally achieved.

Meanwhile, some of our enemies in Delve 2012 would end up on our side come World War Bee.  The Stain Russians preferred us to TEST and PAPI.

Anyway, it was a new war for me back then.  It was a time of MWD Drakes and station camps and fights over a region that would eventually become our home.

Posts from Delve 2012:

Adrift with Raft

In our ongoing search for the next group game Potshot found the game Raft on Steam and thought it looked interesting.  Ever willing to go along for a ride… look how well that raft worked out in Valheim… I grabbed a copy as well and we went sailing.

Raft was chosen because it was another co-op survival title and because we’re clearly done with Valheim again for now and Minecraft… it just isn’t grabbing us.  So it seemed like it might be time to set sail with Raft.

Fooling around on something like a boat…

True to the title of the game, you start out on a raft.  You have a 2×2 raft and a plastic hook.

The Hook

You’re just out there in the middle of open water without much in the way of instructions.  Not that instructions were really necessary off the bat.  You got that hook and there is a bunch of trash floating in the ocean for you to grab.  You throw the hook out and reel stuff in.  That gives you resources to craft other things… like another hook when yours breaks, which it is almost sure to do the moment you see something special floating past you want to grab.

Also, you can repair your raft… because there might be issues to deal with on that front.

He’s eating my raft

There are, of course, sharks in the water, so you want to avoid falling in.

So you float along grabbing wood, plastic, palm fronds, and the occasional bounty that is a barrel or chest.  One of the key bottlenecks for my initially was rope, which I only ever saw in the occasionally barrel.

The lack of rope kept me from crafting a paddle along with a few other essentials.  I found enough to craft a hammer, which let me repair and expand the raft a bit.  Otherwise I kept on drifting, watching the occasional island float past.

There goes one now

It wasn’t until I had been at it for a while that I found the recipe for rope in the crafting menu.  It turned out that palm fronds become rope, which quickly loosened up that constriction.

I also found the intro… most of which I had figured out before I stumbled upon it.

Welcome to the raft

By that time Potshot had joined me, the whole point of the exercise being to play this as a co-op title.

He has a hook too

So together we gathered trash from the ocean and built up our supplies and collection of tools, even managing to get to an island now and then… though that went comically bad at one point as we had not yet crafted an anchor, a one-use item that will hold your raft in place while you root about ashore.

So Potshot went drifting off while I was stuck on the island, though I was eventually able to rejoin him through the medium of death.  In addition to collecting sea trash, you have to keep your health up, which means finding food and drinkable water.  The health bars begin to loom.

Everything is find now, but wait a bit…

As you health diminished the world grows dim and, eventually you fall over.

Now you’ve done it

Once you cast off this mortal coil we call life, you respawn back on the raft… which is how I got back together again with Potshot after he sailed off.

Unfortunately, one of our mistakes was kicking off the game in “normal” mode rather than one of the easier settings, because when you die you lose a bunch of your collected trash.

Talk about a death tax

It doesn’t seem to go after your tools, but it can knock down your ocean plastic supply pretty quickly.  So our focus became that of staying alive… well that and not getting eaten by the shark and keeping the raft in decent repair.

There he is again

We slowly built up our infrastructure.  To avoid too much loss due to death, a chest was crafted to hold some supplies.  It didn’t hold much, but it was better than nothing.

I had crafted a plastic cup early on, but never found any fresh water to put in it.  But Potshot managed to put together a small desalinizer in order to create some fresh water on the raft.

Just add fire and some salt water

That kept us alive somewhat longer and allowed us to bicker over who forgot to refill the thing with sea water after having drank all of the available fresh water.

Meanwhile we mostly drifted, stopping at the occasional island to find some food, and collecting trash from the ocean.

We’re never going to clean this all up

At one point we spotted another raft, a much better looking one than ours, and paddled towards it, then jumped overboard and swam to it.  But it sank when we climbed aboard and we ended up having to scramble back to our raft as the shark went after us again.

I did eventually realize that  our raft was the only thing moving on the ocean, drifting ceaselessly forward, which everything else was pretty much still in the water… except for that shark.

Things might have gone more smoothly if, as I mentioned above, we had chosen the easy setting.  We eventually hit a state of semi-equilibrium, where we could stay alive if we just didn’t do anything dumb.  But we never seemed to be making any headway towards raising our standard of living of setting ourselves up like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.

It doesn’t seem like a bad game, and I am sure we haven’t explored it enough to give any sort of definitive judgement.  But it also didn’t really grab us.  Or at least it didn’t grab me.  I wasn’t thinking about when I could get back in and play some more.

And, of course, it lacks that persistent world aspect that Valheim and Minecraft allow.  You can join your Steam friends when they are playing, but if they leave the world goes away.

Yes, Wrath of the Lich King Classic will Launch on September 26th

The rumor from last week… more than a rumor really… turned out to be true and Wrath of the Lich King Classic will launch on September 26th as the gypsy woman foretold.

I am starting to suspect that Blizzard is engineering these “leaks” just to stir up more attention for the actual announcement.  They certainly got an extra blog post about it out of me, and I am sure that made all the difference in the world.

He’s back… again… because he was in Warcraft III as well…

There is, of course, a full page announcement about the upcoming launch, including a retrospective section about what the expansion brought to Azeroth in its turn.

  • The Grim Frozen North – Heroes will begin their journey in one of two zones in Northrend—Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord—and adventure through some of the most epic vistas and beloved storylines in all of Warcraft before breaching the seat of the Lich King’s power in Icecrown.
  • The Rise of Death Knights – Available to both factions and starting at level 55, Death Knights—World of Warcraft’s first hero class—harness the powers of darkness to help combat the evil that threatens Azeroth. While Death Knights are limited to one per server and require a level 55 character on that server to create, in Wrath Classic, we will be bypassing that requirement for a player’s first Death Knight.
  • New Profession—Inscription – This new profession allows players to scribe mystical glyphs that modify the properties of spells and abilities (cooldowns, damage, etc.), and craft powerful trinkets and off-hand items.
  • Achievements Unlocked – Achievements are coming to WoW Classic, giving players new rewards for their exploits and accomplishments.
  • Dungeons & Raids – Relive seminal 5-player dungeons like Azjol-Nerub and the Culling of Stratholme, and lay siege to Naxxramas as a 25- or 10-player raid—an update of its original iteration as a 40-player raid in pre-expansion World of Warcraft.
  • Included With Existing World of Warcraft Subscriptions – As with previous WoW Classic releases, anyone who subscribes to World of Warcraft can also play Wrath of the Lich King Classic at no additional cost.

There is also a brief trailer in case you forgot what the Lich King looked like.

I am sure we will get a more comprehensive trailer when we get closer to the launch date.

This goes along with the main WoW Classic page, which is all about the upcoming expansion and a nice long article about Wintergrasp.

As I said last week, it might be time to start making a plan for Northrend.  Added into the mix, Blizzard has implemented a 50% XP boost so that those who ended up adrift in Outland can power through and be ready for the Lich King.

More XP for you and me

There will also be fresh start realms, for those who want to go all the way from 1 to 80 with the WotLK rules and talents, and there will be the usual boost to level 70 option for those who want to skip by the previous content and go straight into Northrend.  There will also be more open transfer options for classic servers.

The next question is likely when we will see the first fresh start realm.  According to past communications there was a list of things Blizzard had to do:

  • PvE to PvP transfer restrictions removed
  • Wrath Classic closed beta test
  • Classic Era clone service retired
  • Existing realms consolidated
  • New Fresh Start Realms with Wrath Classic pre-patch
  • Wrath of the Lich King launch

Beta testing seems to be under way, but I am not sure where we stand with the rest of the list.

Blaugust 2022 Commences in One Week

So you still have plenty of time to get ready and join in.

Blaugust time is coming to town…

Belghast announced Blaugust 2022… more than a week ago now… and I am sure most of you have seen a post somewhere about it already.  But here I am to add my blog to the news cycle.  Maybe somebody will see it here first.

The pattern of the event is familiar, drawing once more on the relaxed format of later years of the event.  It is no longer a challenge to post every single day in August.  But if you want to, you can… and there are the usual awards for posting.

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it! You joined Blaugust for the very first time and we are extremely happy to welcome you into this raucous community. As a result, we are going to recognize your efforts just for signing up.
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the month of August 2022.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the month of August 2022.
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the month of August 2022.
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You beat the challenge and posted 31 times or more during the month of August 2022.

There is also the usual schedule of events, with each week having a theme.  August

The Blaugust Calendar

August nicely starts on a Monday this year, so we can get right to it in the first week.  There are more detailed descriptions about what each week’s theme means in Belghast’s post.

New for Blaugust 2022 are Blaugchievements.  There is a series of badges you can unlock and display by participating in various aspects of Blaugust 2022.  You can find the full list of them here.  I unlocked “spreading the madness” with this post.

And so it goes, we’ll be off to another Blaugust soon.  So it is time to get your act together and get your blogging persona ready to go.

Blaugust 2022 information:

Crypto and NFTs Still Trying to Undermine Video Games

This past week we saw a very strong stand against the scam that is crypto and NFTs when Microsoft, through their Mojang subsidiary, announced that NFTs and blockchain would not be allowed to interface with Minecraft in any way due to the speculative nature of the technology and the dubious practices of its proponents.

This follows on… a bit late, but at least it happened… from companies like Valve not allowing crypto on its Steam platform to CCP walking back their rather obvious desire to hook blockchain in EVE Online.

This has been a good trend, since we kicked off the year with things like the buffoonish declaration from the president of Square Enix about serving an audience that wants games to be work rather than fun.

And you would think, with crypto crashing hard for the last couple of months, companies might want to bail out of the who thing, or at least keep a low profile.  And some clearly are… while others, not so much.

Epic Games Store

First up is Tim Sweeney.  I really don’t know that much about him other than he is a smart guy, that Fortnite has made him rich, that he hates giving money to Valve, Apple, and Google, but doesn’t mind handing it over to Sony and Microsoft, and that he wants to dislodge Steam with his own Epic Games Store.

Oh, and he comes across as somebody who really wants to be the good guy, even when he is clearly reading from the wrong script.

So, naturally he was out there after the Minecraft announcement, replying directly to that announcement on Twitter, declaring that the Epic Game Store would not be banning cryto and blockchain on its platform and that developers should be free to do anything that is legal.

Naturally, when previously asked if Epic itself was going to get into crypto, he said they wouldn’t be touching NFTs, the market being mostly scams.

I remember when Valve said they didn’t want to get into dictating what kind of games developers could put up on Steam.  They have since quietly dropped that stance and spend quite a bit of time banning titles that do not meet their own standards.  Nobody will think you’re a hero if you let scams and garbage into your store.

GameStop

It is 2022 and I am honestly surprised that GameStop is still a thing.  But there was that who stock market thing that I still don’t quite understand, save for the fact that I am sure somebody got rich out of it… and not anybody who wasn’t wealthy already.

Anyway, having survived that GameStop went hard into crypto and NFTs recently, selling things like callous rip-offs of famous photographs from 9/11.

True to the trend for the company in the last few years, this strategy to go all in on crypto just as it was crashing might not be going as planned.

Square Enix

While SE had to assure people that they wouldn’t be injecting blockchain into their beloved titles like FFXIV, they were still bound and determined to get in on this crypto fad.  And so the plan became to sell collectibles with associated NFTs.

Why you need an NFT is you have a physical item seems like a tough question to answer, but at least they didn’t go with their initial “all work and no fun makes Square shareholders richer” plan.  There is no play to earn video game in the mix.

Entropia Universe

I like Entropia Universe, if only because it has been running the play to earn game for almost two decades now and never needed blockchain, crypto, or NFTs to make its way.

It is still, by all reports, a tedious and unfun game to play unless you are willing to spend money, but at least it was a shining example of why play to earn needs crypto the way a fish needs a bicycle.

But, apparently, if you’re already in the play to earn space and see a bandwagon to jump on, you do it.  And so they will be auctioning off five unique in-game eggs that… somehow are not supposed to be about speculation.  I guess I have to give them credit for at least understanding scarcity and fear of missing out… and for no doubt getting that blockchaining all the things is a bad idea.  Still, they couldn’t resist at least a taste of that NFT hype.

Atari

I have been over the degradation of Atari before.  They were minting a cryto currency two years ago.  Still, I got an offer from them to buy a limited edition T-shirt to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company and was completely unsurprised to see the company’s current logo and focus.

Two of these are correct

People have been abusing the decomposing corpse of Atari for more than 30 years.  They sure as hell are not making any games, just recycling whatever part of the company’s history can be turned into a buck.

Anyway, even in the wake of crypto’s big fall, you still have things you can throw your money at if you want to help destroy the environment and enable various scams.

Rumors of Wrath of the Lich King Classic coming on September 26th

Blizzard apparently updated the WoW Classic web site to include an image that had the launch date for Wrath of the Lich King Classic on it.

Now you see it, now you don’t

The image was quickly removed, but such retractions are never quick enough to hide what happened and if you know how to sort through your browser cache, you can retrieve such images even if you have refreshed or navigated away.  WoW Head was on it right away, and the word has since echoed across the land.

September 26th is a little later than I had pegged the start, thinking late August to early September might be the zone where it landed, putting it in before we changed from summer to fall.  But it is still in September, which puts it in Q3 2022, which I was pretty sure was a hard barrier for launch.  They need to get subscribers back in and paying before the the end of the quarter.

Now, of course, I am starting to realize that time is growing short.  I mentioned planning for the launch previously, but I haven’t actually done anything of the sort.

I am, however, warming to the idea… no current weather pun intended.  I might be getting past my initial “It will never be as fun as the first time” reaction to Wrath Classic.

Also, I kind of want a WoW-like MMO to play.  That is missing from my lineup.

We have kind of played through Valheim already and Minecraft hasn’t really been a big hit after the first week or two.  It isn’t a bad map and our base is nice, but I haven’t really been driven towards a project that would keep me invested and logging in.

And, while Potshot and I have been playing Solasta, and will likely continue, that is a different bird altogether and doesn’t scratch the same itch.

And WoW does scratch a particular itch, the one about being able to log in and spend 30 to 90 minutes playing, making some progress, and then logging out.  It has structure, progress, and it does lend itself to play sessions from bite sized to all day and into the night.

Friday Bullet Points about Maps, Asteroid Belts, and Player Safety in EVE Online

It is Friday again and I have several items about EVE Online rattling around in my drafts folder.  I could have worked each and every one into a blog post I am sure, but it is hot, I am tired, and it is the end of the week, so I am just going to lump them all into a bullet points blog.

Future me will me angry about me being lazy and doing a single post on all of this a year from now, but who cares about that guy?

  • Addressing Community Safety

After last week’s events where a female player who was being stalked and harassed both in and out of game blew up in the Imperium’s face and led to the downfall of The Mittani as its leader, CCP has followed up with a dev blog about community safety and its own policies on harassment in game and at CCP sponsored events.

The forum thread opened up to discuss this dev blog saw… its own sort of discussion.  I suppose it was once again proof that you don’t have to go to r/eve to find bad opinions.  It isn’t a real New Eden forum thread unless somebody brings up Ayn Rand I guess.

CCP said that anybody found in violation of its terms of service or code of conduct would not be allowed to be a part of any CCP sponsored activities, including events and things like the partnership program, with a promise that this was only the start of their initiatives to ensure player safety.  That prompted more than a few, “Wait, you’re not doing that now?” responses, but maybe they are just warming up to some bigger plan.

Related:

We shall see if this ends up going anywhere.

  • The Imperium Gets a Harassment Policy

Meanwhile, the caretaker leadership of the Imperium posted the new harassment policy last weekend based on the events of the previous week and feedback from its membership.  I cannot link you to it, as it is on an internal site, but it sets forth behavior not allowed, includes a reporting system designed to keep the identities of those using it confidential, and will be staffed by an appointed group of volunteers (now called the “Bee Keepers”) who will review complaints.  Included in the announcement is a primer on what evidence would be helpful and how to find and submit things like logs and screen shots.

Why does a space guild, even one with ~7K people in it, need an HR department?  Because CCP has not been historically fair or consistent when policing its own game, often depending on unpaid volunteers to do the investigation.  And, let’s face it, it took them a week longer than the Imperium to even acknowledge something happened, and that included a strong statement that rule breakers wouldn’t be allowed in the partnership program.  Oh noes!

As for whether or not the new Imperium policy and reporting mechanism will work as hoped… we’ll only know the next time something happens, and likely then only if the system fails.  Hopefully it will not fail the next person who needs support.

  • Desolate Asteroid Belts

In addition to depressing the in-game economy and making capital ships too expensive to build, CCP’s great economic disruption plan led to a number of strange circumstances in New Eden.  One of them was the removal of asteroid belts from null sec, which gave NPCs no place to spawn.  Since those NPCs included some officer drops, CCP did a quick fix and move NPC spawns to jump gates in null sec.

This has not made people happy.  Gate rates are fine if you’re in battleships or HACs, but if you have a frigate gang on a gate looking to tackle somebody the gate rats can ruin your plan.

CCP put up a forum post outlining their plan to spread out the rats in null sec by introducing desolate asteroid belts.  The summary:

  • This means that it will be possible for players to raise ADMs in systems in nullsec with no regular asteroid belts present without having to rely on random anomalies and gate rats.
  • This means that players will be able to find the highest tier officers in this location in Curse which currently has no asteroid belts.
  • Players should encounter NPCs on gates far less frequently.
  • There should be no more instances of ‘hell spawned’ gates where an asteroid belt NPC spawn could share the same gate as a gate rat spawn.

This is currently available for testing on Singularity, the test server, and will likely move to the main server in the next few weeks.

  • NetEase and the New Map for Serenity

Meanwhile, over on Reddit, CSM17 member Angry Mustache posted a summary of some changes that NetEase, which runs the Serenity server in China, has planned for a major revamp of the game.  The summary for what is being called the New Dawn update:

  • Map is a donut, with empire on the outside, sov null in the middle, and NPC/lowsec inbetween
  • Number of systems have been roughly cut in half to increase player density
  • Topology of the map is maintained closely, regions will still have the same neighbors but they are arranged differently in space.
  • A bunch of other shit that completely changes how the game is played

The “other shit” includes alliances being limited to 4 corporations of 255 players each and safeties being locked in the green state in high sec to prevent new players accidentally losing their ships due to ignorance of the game.

There is a lot to digest in that post, but the map is the wild bit for me.

The proposed New Eden map for Serenity

For those eager for some of these changes, they are all being developed by NetEase and are strictly for the Serenity server at this time.

  • Battle of the Bricks Results Today

The Star Citizen development team challenged the EVE Online team to see which community could create the best LEGO based models of in-game ships as a way to money for the Extra Life charity.

A LEGO Noctis

The results of the competition will be announced today… in about 45 minutes from when this posts… on the Star Citizen official Twitch channel.

If you want to read about the challenge, though it is too late to enter, go here.  Otherwise, tune in if you can to see what people came up with.

  • Team Security 2021 Update

The security team at CCP posted a dev blog about their performance in 2021.

There are charts and bullet points full of details about who Team Security is and what they get up to and how you can help fight the bot menace.  But, in the end, you want to know the big number, which is 70,492.

That is how many accounts Team Security banned in 2021.

And that is what I have for this Friday.