Monthly Archives: August 2022

August in Review

The Site

This month I want to ask if anybody has noticed any issues with getting email updates from the blog.  I bring this up because I sure have.

I monitor the email delivery mechanism on three different email accounts.  One of them, which is subscribed to get a weekly digest every Monday, has been going fine.  But the other two, which are supposed to get daily updates… something went way wrong at some point in July.  Here is the inbox for one of them.

Some gaps are apparent

It looks like delivery has picked back up again, at least on that account, but there were issues.

Meanwhile, on the other account setup for daily updates, those stopped on July 26th and have not resumed.

The main difference between the two is that the first is somewhat recent, having only run from about 2015 or so, while the other, which stopped on July 26th, has pretty much run since the earliest days of the blog.  There is a folder in there that has an email version of almost every blog post I have written over the last sixteen years.

So I am curious if anybody else noted an outage.

Or course, that might be a silly question to raise here.  If you subscribe by email and have stopped getting updates you likely aren’t going to get the update that includes this post.

Still, I thought I would try.

One Year Ago

It was Blaugust of course, and we had almost 50 participants as the event opened up.  I wondered if it was better to have one blog or multiple, I was on about my RSS feeds, and wrote something about motivation and passion.

Niantic relented on some of their post-COVID feature roll backs, most importantly the range at which you can access gyms and Pokestops.

The Enad Global 7 Q2 2022 financials included the announcement that Ji Ham, once acting CEO of Daybreak, would not be acting CEO of EG7.

The Q2 2021 results for Activision Blizzard came out.  It was hard to tell if the state of California lawsuit and the stories relating to it were having an effect on the bottom line for Blizzard yet.  I was fairly sure that Blizzard had beshat itself such that the company would drop their name from the company letterhead.  I mean, the stories were ugly.

That didn’t stop me from jumping into the Diablo II Resurrected beta however.

The instance group was getting its epic mounts in WoW Classic.  That done we went back to give Hellfire Ramparts another try as a group of four.  We also went back to Blackrock Depths (for probably the 14th time) to scare up some stuff for Ula to disenchant.

Honest Game Trailers and Carbot were doing videos about Burning Crusade Classic.

I continued my exploration of immersion, this time looking at EverQuest and then EVE Online.

I gave The Fermi Paradox a try.

In EVE Online the days of World War Bee wound down to an end.  PAPI tired of the siege and the Imperium was able to retake all of its space very quickly.

I also wrote two Friday bullet point posts.  Past me loves to do those just to annoy future me I am sure.

The first one covered New World being delayed, Switch sales numbers, FFXIV subscription numbers, the Chinese government being down on video games again, the one year anniversary of EVE Echoes, and another free EverQuest II character boost.  Kind of a lot in that one.

The second one brought up Richard Bartle’s Designing Virtual Worlds book being available for free, Quantic Foundry research about cross-gender play, EA making lock boxes slightly less bad, and a video looking at what happened with Vanguard and EverQuest Next.

Finally, there was the tale of the missing tree on our street.

Five Years Ago

ArenaNet announced the Path of Fire expansion for Guild Wars 2.

In Lord of the Rings Online the Mordor expansion went live with all sorts of new… activities.  I was able to get in and claim my expansion items.

In a Friday Bullet Points post I was looking at financial numbers from Blizzard, NCsoft, and SuperData.  I was also wondering if Raptr was dead.

Age of Empires IV was announced, or hinted at, or something.  I wasn’t sure it was a good idea.  And StarCraft Remastered was launched.

The summer blogger Fantasy Movie League wrapped up, with Liore winning.

I was feeling the urge to go play a flight sim game.  The problem is that I am bad at flight sims game and no longer having the patience to get good at them.

In EVE Online there was the Hakkonen deployment, where the Imperium went to go tangle with NCDot and Pandemic Legion on their doorstep.  I will just list out the post rather than trying to weave a narrative from all the links.

As part of the ops, and because of the seeming impending demise of POSes, I did a post about blowing up POS towers from each of the four empires.  As of this writing the Player Owned Starbase is still a thing in New Eden.

There was also an update for EVE Online in August, which among other things remove the captain’s quarters.  There was also the Alpha Strike event later in the month.  The monthly economic report showed Delve was still booming.  I hit 180 million skill points.

In other news, Vince Draken was asked to step down from CSM12 and Andrew Groen’s Empires of EVE came out in audiobook form.

I summed up my year of playing Pokemon Go.  I started late.  I was tempted to do that again this year… but I had too many posts already in August.

I was pondering replacing my aging Logitech G15 keyboard.  I haven’t yet, mostly because I would miss the LCD display… and because it still mostly works, even if it doesn’t light up quite the way it used to.  A year later and it is still there on my desk.

And, finally, a game dev was arguing that a good video game ought to cost $1,000,  which got me into rant mode as whiny entitlement tends to do.  And I was pretty sure we already had a game that expensive in the form of World of Warcraft.  Blizz was just smart enough to not ask for all the money up front.

Ten Years Ago

Star Trek Online was totally not dying and Star Wars: The Old Republic was totally not struggling as it shed more customers and announced it was going free to play.

Then Vanguard suddenly went free to play ahead of schedule, no doubt trying to get in early and avoid the crowd.

It was announced that NCsoft would be closing down City of Heroes.

Torchlight II gave us a launch date.  But not before giving us a date for a date.  But there was no date for the promised MacOS version.

Turbine delayed Riders of Rohan, but continued pushing the crazy stuff you would see.

SOE decided that you can afford integrity only after you pay the bills, and threw in with lockboxes.  What happened to the implied social contract?

Guild Wars 2 went live at last, thwarting Blizzard’s nefarious scheme.

Also live was Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the successor to the original Half-Life based Counter-Strike.

I was paid up on my 1 year subscription for World of Warcraft, but Blizzard wouldn’t let me cancel further payment.  They must have been concerned about subscribers, having dropped more subs than SWTOR had left.

Speaking of year long commitments, Trion liked that Blizzard idea so much, they did it themselves and gave us an ugly mount for it right away.  Oh, and they got rid of faction group restrictions.  What population problems?  The instance group started on its attendance slide, with just four of us trying Runic Descent.  At least we had instant adventures.  Or was that instant levels?

In EVE Online, there was a revamp of mining ships.  I listed them out and wondered which would become the most popular.  In the end, the Mackinaw won I think.  All the while CSM7 seemed intent on proving that the thing they loved most in EVE Online was themselves.

Meanwhile, having been asked by TEST to leave the war down in Delve, the CFC got into a scrap with Northern Coalition over moons.  We fought in Venal and some monkeys lost a titan.  We were staging in QPO for a thrust into Tribute with the goal of taking a forward base at UMI-KK.

AWESOMESAUCE.LIVE was announced.  Only the fact that it was later cancelled preserved my faith in humanity.

Finally, I took the crazy train out of Barstow and threw out a few movie reviews.

Fifteen Years Ago

I won something in a contest!  A Warp Drive Active Shirt!

And speaking of EVE Online, I started down the training path to get my alt flying a Hulk.  As with most such ventures, it began with mining in the modest Bantam frigate and the oddly shaped Osprey cruiser.  Also, our corp, the Twilight Cadre was founded.  I also wrote up a piece on how to find an agent in EVE Online (without external resources) that was one of the most viewed posts on this site for quite a stretch. It only took CCP four years to make the whole thing less convoluted.

I also had a wish list for the game that included ship skins and a training queue.  Got those… eventually!  And I was deep into learning skills. Then there was a post about RMT and how CCP was already selling ISK, if indirectly. And I was still doing the Revelations expansion new player tutorial.

The instance group was still in Lord of the Rings Online.  There were updates expanding the game and all sorts of offers to get people to subscribe.  I was more annoyed by that horse dialog you get when mounted and how understated leveling up could be.

I received a copy of the first issue of EQuinox, the official EverQuest II magazine.  It was… thin.  And it had a dark elf on the cover.  You would think there were no other races in Norrath with all the play dark elves get.

Meanwhile, Qeynos harbor was full of rumors about Sarnak!

Legends of Norrath was announced at SOE Fan Faire 2007.  I was not there, but I listened to the presentation live while IM’ing with Darren about what we heard.  I never actually played LoN during its existence, aside from opening up free packs I got hoping for in-game drops.  Other than that, I am just not the collectible card game kind of person.

I purchased the Richard Garriot’s Tabula Rasa Pre-Order box, only to find that getting into the beta, as was promised on the outside of the box, was not as easy as I had hoped.  You had to get access to the beta forum to get the information, and the beta forum was not letting people in!

In a strange turn of fate, I happened to take a look at PlayOn on the very day they posted their WoW Random Guild Name Generator.  So I posted a quick link to it, which in turn became my most viewed post for a long, long time.  The popularity was related to some Google algorithm which put up this site on the first page of searches related to guild name generators.

CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson stirred up the “why so much fantasy?” discussion about MMOs and I put out my own views, to which I now just link back whenever the discussion comes back up again.

I listed out five signs that would herald World of Warcraft becoming truly mainstream.  We did get an Azeroth version of Monopoly eventually.  I was presciently pessimistic about a Warcraft movie.

On the Guild Wars front, the final expansion for the game, Eye of the North, launched.  It differed from the previous two expansions in that you did not need to own any of the Guild Wars boxes in order to play.  Yes, everything came in boxes back then.  I still have the Eye of the North box.

Auto Assault, a strange and troubled MMO… vehicular MMOs are always troubled it seems… was shut down by NCsoft on this very day in 2007.

And, finally, it was ten years ago when TAGN hit the 100,000 page view milestone.  We have had a few more since then.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  3. New Eden and the Year of Disappointment
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. Why is there Not Another MMO Like EVE Online?
  8. Why Be Mad at CCP?
  9. Blaugust Begins 2022
  10. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  11. EVE Valkyrie, Gunjack, and Sparc All Coming to an End on August 5th
  12. Meta putting its Best Foot Forward in the Metaverse

Search Terms of the Month

эффективная ферма стражей в майнкрафте
[We had one of those in our world]

гнозис и праксис в еве
[The Society of Conscious Thought ships have low skill requirements]

еве онлайн эзотерика
[By some measures I suppose]

Sometimes I do Russian search terms to be funny, but this month that was all I had.  Yandex has me covered in a way Bing never has.

Game Time by ManicTime

Two games?  Is that all I played in August?

Well, on my PC, yes.  As I note down below, the group slipped back in to WoW Classic pretty smoothly, even if we are still in Outland.  Anyway, the time split between the two was:

  • WoW Classic – 77.12%
  • EVE Online – 22.88%

Part of the reason that WoW Classic has dominated is that it is easy for me to chill for a bit in the evening and run some quests on an alt while listening to an audio book or podcast.  That was my end of the day relaxation this month.  Even with only two titles, I did end up playing a few more hours than I did in July.

EVE Online

I think I spent most of my time in game moving from one place to the next.  I got some extra ships out to our staging in Tenerifis just in time to turn around and start moving them back.  But I’ll get to that in tomorrow’s post.  I did undock for an op or two, but nothing of much note.  I kept my planetary industry going, my only source of income these days outside of my Imperium bonds.

Pokemon Go

There were some events and new raids to

  • Level: 42 ( 75.8% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 725 (+8) caught, 746 (+7) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 22
  • Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
  • Current buddy: Quillfish (need to do 10 raids with him before he will evolve)

WoW Classic

The instance group landed back in Azeroth and it was such a comfortable and smooth return it is kind of hard for me to believe that we only returned this month.  I mean sure, The Burning Crusade is still nobody in our groups favorite WoW era and we are really just there to ramp up for Wrath of the Lich King Classic… but Nagrand is nice.  Seriously, we are reluctant to finish up there, because the next stop… the Blade’s Edge Mountains… another zone I am not in love with.  But we only have to get to 68 to be ready for Wrath, right?

Zwift

I have gotten into a new rhythm with Zwift now.  I had been doing short rides three or four times a week for a stretch, then we hit the great disruption of a new job and a new schedule.  Now I have settled down into longer rides on the weekends.  I am still not riding as much over all, but I am back to getting in at least an hour a week on the bike.

  • Level – 16 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,179.9 miles (+75.4 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 47,612 (+3,275 feet)
  • Calories burned – 38,435 (+2,220)

Coming Up

Wrath of the Lich King Classic launches on the 26th of September.  The month will be a road to Northrend with the pre-expansion events kicking off, starting with the pre-patch, which landed YESTERDAY, which means we’ll have to figure out/remember what the class specs were like.

CCP should be returning to work after summer vacations.  Perhaps we’ll start getting some of the stuff they brought up at EVE Fanfest back in May.

Today is the last day for the Anor server in LOTRO.  I have to think about where to transfer characters from that or if I should even bother.  My main is probably worth moving.

And the blog will be celebrating another milestone next month, but we’ll get to that when the time comes.

The Wrath of the Lich King Classic Pre-Patch is Here

We’re playing with fire now… or ice… or something… because the Wrath Classic pre-patch has landed!

The classic comes to classic

I was clearly not paying close enough attention, because this came as a bit of a surprise to me this morning.  I mean, I literally have a post about this being the day… but that was almost two weeks ago.  I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.  (Lunch though was a turkey sandwich on a Costco croissant, which are better than they have any right to be.)

So it is time to get started.  The path to Northrend has kicked off.  Today we have:

  • New specs
  • Fresh start realms
  • Death Knights
  • Level 70 boosts
  • Dual spec
  • Inscription profession
  • Flying mounts at 60
  • Achievements

There is a lot going on suddenly.  A pity I don’t have much gold handy.  The flying mount skill is way out of my price range at the moment, and even the dual spec option costs 1,000 gold.  Oh my.  I’ll be interested to see what the level 70 boost gets you.  If it comes with basic flying, that might be an alt-worthy purchase. [Edit: it does include expert riding, which is flying]

Anyway, the cinematic is in the launcher now.

Arthas stabbing some trash with his pig sticker

The road ahead to Northrend has the following dates:

The Wrath Plan

  • September 6–13
    • Zombie Plague Event: A mysterious affliction begins to make its way through the capital cities. Players must be vigilant to avoid falling victim to its deadly effects.
  • September 13 – Launch
    • Scourge Invasion Event: In several locations throughout Azeroth, players must coordinate a defensive stand against the attacking Necropolis and defeat Scourge forces to gain powerful rewards.
  • September 20–October 6
    • Brewfest Begins: Do you love eating delicious fair food, drinking bountiful beverages, and riding rams around barrels of apples? Partake in activities and timed events to earn Brewfest souvenirs and achievements during this brewtiful holiday event.
  • September 26
    • Wrath of the Lich King Classic Launches: At 3:00 p.m. PDT, Wrath of the Lich King Classic will launch, and players are welcome to log in.
  • October 4 and 5
    • Arena Season 5 Begins: Season 5 will begin with the weekly reset.
  • October 6
    • Naxxramas, The Eye of Eternity, and The Obsidian Sanctum are Available at 3:00 p.m. PDT
      • Naxxramas, the giant Necropolis and the seat of the dreaded lich Kel’Thuzad, floats over Wintergarde Keep in Dragonblight, eager to aid the Lich King and his deadly machinations.
      • Located in the center of Coldarra, the Eye of Eternity will challenge players to defeat the blue dragon aspect, Malygos.
      • Dragonblight is home to the Obsidian Sanctum where players must venture below Wyrmrest Temple to bring an end to Sartharion and his lieutenants, Shadron, Tenebron, and Vesperon.

Now the race to Northrend really begins.  Now to figure out my pally spec.

Related:

Reflections on What Keeps You in New Eden for Sixteen Years

We are here again at the anniversary of my start in New Eden.  16 years ago today I created my account and logged into EVE Online for the very first time.

My New Eden birthday in the old character panel

It has become a tradition for me to write about some aspect of the game… because I can only recount my first day of play so many times.  My frustration helped prompt me to start this blog, its anniversary being less than two weeks distant.

Some of the topics I have covered in the past on my anniversary.

But here, at year sixteen, I am struggling a bit for a topic.

It has been a something of a bad year for the game, as I wrote about previously.  But bad times and bad decisions by the company are hardly unique, and they tend to bring out more opinions from me rather than less.

It isn’t like I couldn’t drag out a topic.  There are a multitude of things that I could potentially run on about related to sixteen years of playing EVE Online.  The problem is that post like this, opinions and remembrances and going on about what a strange and wonderful place New Eden can be, that comes from the emotional part of me.

And my feelings for the game are a little flat right now.

I know, I know, it has been a down year for the game, and that no doubt enters into it.  It is much easier to find some passion for writing when things are happening.  Even when things are not going your way.

Especially when things are not going your way.

I am sure I have said this before, but it bears repeating; being on the losing side isn’t all bad.  Being on the defense in Saranen during the Casino War or backed up into that last constellation in Delve during World War Bee, those were some of the most active times in the game.  It gave things an edge… and it is convenient when the enemy brings content to your front step on a daily basis.

There are a couple of reasons for that.

First, it is a video game, so the stakes aren’t really that high.  Nobody dies, everybody respawns in a fresh clone to undock and fight again another day.  Ships are expendable.  Losing them is what we do every day.  If you haven’t lost a ship, you aren’t really playing the game.

Second, the odds being against you can really heighten the experience.

You don’t want to be completely overwhelmed.  There is no fun in extremely long odds.  But when the chips are down and there seems like there is no way to win and a fleet gets pinged and you and a hundred or more other members of your space tribe log in, ship up, and undock all the same.

That comes as close to a “This is Sparta!” sort of moment as you can get with an internet spaceship simulator.

It is almost as though a certain amount of difficulty or adversity makes the game more interesting.

I am sure I have mentioned this before.  It is certainly more fulfilling to write about heavily contested battles, bloody clashes, and close run defeats than it is to try to spin a tale about an uncontested structure shoot.  Not that I haven’t done the latter, it just isn’t as interesting.

Of course, there is adversity and then there is adversity.  CCP having made it more difficult to earn ISK or harvest resources, putting a strangle hold on the economy of New Eden, that isn’t the good sort of adversity.  Making ships expensive to replace does not drive conflict.

I’d much rather have the assets to throw ships into a desperate defense, like the ones we had at FWST-8 almost two years ago, or betting some assets on a clever trap that goes bad, like the one at YZ9-F6, than to be wondering if my PI yield this month is going to keep me in enough ISK to invest in whatever the latest doctrine is.

But that is sort of the Tao of EVE Online.  The interesting bit can come upon us unexpectedly, and nobody is guaranteed a good time just for logging in.  But if you don’t log in you’ll never get that special high that arrives when things come together and events are suddenly swirling and you are in the moment in a fight and, while you want to win, the whole thing will still be memorable and worth talking about even if you don’t.

So, even in the face of the last year and then some, I am still subscribed.  I still log in.  Something interesting is bound to happen even as another year goes by.

Blaugust and What to do with a Popular Post

In which I try to pass on some sort of a lesson learned.

Every Blaugust I try to impart some of the wisdom I have acquired over my now long journey in blogging… which can be difficult, because I don’t have a lot new to offer on that front.  Fifteen years doesn’t make you a lot wiser than five years doing this, so I don’t have any big revelations stored away anymore.  I think I wrote, “be the blog you want to read” back in the first Blaugust, and that was about the peak of my wisdom.  Everything else is bickering over details.

Blaugust time is coming to town…

Still, this week’s theme is something about lesson’s learned according to the calendar, and I am not going to get the achievement if I don’t write something at least tangentially related to the topic.

The Blaugust Calendar

I generally save the event summary post for September, so now is the time to try and dig into whatever bits and pieces I have learned over the years.  And I think I have something.

Occasionally I will write a post that will gain traction with Google’s algorithm for some reason and will feature on the first page of results for some specific search term that people seem to be drawn to.

This never happens with a post I have worked on diligently or one that necessarily contains a lot of useful information.  As I have mentioned in the past, there is almost an inverse relationship between effort put into a post and its popularity.

And even when I do manage that rare feat, it is often a moment of fading glory as other sites and their SEO plans work out how to get the top spot over whatever search term I happen to be the king of at the moment.  I had a good streak with “April Fools at Blizzard” for a few years.  The high water mark of page views for the site was April 2, 2013.

So most of the posts I write, whether or not Google shows a shine to them, have similar life cycles.  They generally get the most single day page views they are ever going to get on either the day they are posted or the day after.  Then that traffic fades off, usually pretty sharply on day three, and somewhere between day seven and day thirty that post will stop getting any but the most desultory traffic going forward.

Once in a while though, once in a blue moon on a Tuesday, a post will get stuck on the first page of Google’s search results due to whatever arcane algorithmic rules determine that sort of thing and, hey presto, I have a post that just keeps getting traffic every day for weeks, months, even years.

I have had a variety of posts like that about things from WoW Guild names to finding an agent in EVE Online to Alamo teaching you to play durid.

Some of them, by their very nature, are useful to people.  Some, not so much.

For example, one of my current popular posts is about trying to find a warm ocean in Minecraft.

Apparently I was not alone in looking for one and Google has favored me with traffic.  Unfortunately, my tale about finding a warm ocean isn’t a “how to” as much as a narrative about my efforts.

However, once it became clear that Google was sending people to it who were seeking help in their search to find a warm ocean, I added a blurb at the top with a link to show them where they might find actual help on their search.

And sometimes my helpful posts… the few that I write… become obsolete.  The post above about finding and agent in EVE Online, CCP actually made that much easier by putting in a button that said “Find an Agent.”   Later, they moved to The Agency interface.  So I have a note at the top of that post as well.

I don’t feel like I have to go back and re-write everything as the world changes, but if I see something gets traffic and is out of date, I try to direct people to something more in line with their needs.

Anyway, here it is, the last few days of Blaugust.  This is likely my penultimate Blaugust post for 2022.  So I will, once more, link out to all the participants.

  1. A Day in the Life of Flash
  2. A Geek Girls Guide
  3. A Missioneer in Eve
  4. A Nerdy Fujo Cries
  5. A Vueltas Por los Mundos
  6. Ace Asunder
  7. Alligators And Aneurysms
  8. Aywrens Nook – Gaming and Geek Blog
  9. Battle Stance
  10. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  11. Bio Break
  12. Blogging with Dragons
  13. Book of Jen
  14. Breakingwynd
  15. Casual Aggro
  16. Chasing Dings!
  17. Cinder Says
  18. Contains Moderate Peril
  19. Cubic Creativity
  20. Dice, Tokens, and Tulip
  21. Digital Visceral
  22. Dispatches from Darksyde
  23. Dragons and Whimsy
  24. Endgame Viable
  25. Everwake
  26. Everything is bad for you
  27. FOB IV: A Blog
  28. Frostilyte Writes
  29. GamerLadyP – Gaming, Books and Musings of a Lady Gamer
  30. Gaming Omnivore
  31. Glittering Girly Gwent Gaming
  32. Going Commando
  33. Hundstrasse: Rambles About Games
  34. I Have Touched the Sky
  35. Indiecator
  36. Inventory Full
  37. Just Call Me Roybert
  38. Kay Talks Games
  39. Kaylriene
  40. Knifesedge Blogs
  41. Leaflocker
  42. Ludo Llama
  43. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  44. Many Welps
  45. Meghan Plays Games
  46. MMO Casual
  47. Monsterladys Diary
  48. Mutant Reviewers
  49. Narratess
  50. Nerd Girl Thoughts
  51. Nerdy Bookahs
  52. NomadicGamersEh
  53. Overage-Gaming
  54. Priest With a Cause
  55. Shadowlands and getting back into the game
  56. Shadowz Abstract Gaming
  57. StarShadow
  58. Tales of the Aggronaut
  59. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  60. The Friendly Necromancer
  61. The Ghastly Gamer
  62. The Last Chapter Guild
  63. Time to Loot
  64. Unidentified Signal Source
  65. WelshFox on YouTube
  66. Welshtroll – Point, Click, Repeat
  67. Words Under My Name

Take some time and visit a few of them.

 

CCP’s New Eden First Person Shooter is Looking for DUST 514 Vets

Every once in a while we’re reminded that CCP is still hot to trot with the idea of making an EVE Online themed first person shooter.  I know, it is right there on the CCP Games web site under products, but CCP has said they are not going to talk about it until it is ready, so I supposed I might be excused for forgetting the whole idea is a thing after a stretch.  The thing is, CCP can’t seem to help talking about it now and then, and I am suddenly jerked awake to the realization that they’re funding a development team in London with the expressed intent of building a first person shooter.

The FPS future that CCP wants

The current text for the game on the CCP site reads:

CCP Games’ London studio is focused on developing an upcoming tactical FPS game in the epic sci-fi setting of New Eden.

We recognize that an online FPS game set in the EVE Universe is a popular concept among our community and CCP is committed to offering an innovative multiplayer shooter with atmospheric visuals.

The game is in active development and does not yet have a release date.

So they are still making something.  And I would feel a lot more confident in their plan if I believed either of the following:

  • CCP had some unique insight into the FPS market
  • The EVE community represented a large enough audience to sustain such a venture

You don’t have to take my word for it that there is perhaps some legitimate doubt on that front.  If you just Google the phrase “CCP EVE FPS” you will come across some rather underwhelming headlines from the gaming press:

Not exactly a series of affirmations in that lot.

Anyway, I mentioned a reminder… as it turns out CCP is out looking for people to participate in closed play testing.  A post appeared over on Reddit with the link to sign up for the play test and CCP Convict showed up in the thread to clarify what the company is currently looking for:

Hey folks,

There are indeed a series of external playtests taking place for our London studio-based FPS project over the next several months. Each playtest will invite applications from different cohorts of players. eg. non-EVE playing FPS fans, non FPS-playing EVE fans, or in the case of this particular playtest: Dust veterans.

The purpose of breaking up the groups of playtesters this way is so we can compare apples to apples when it comes to evaluating the feedback from each test.

If you’re a Dust veteran then by all means put in an application, please just be aware that it doesn’t guarantee automatic acceptance into the test especially since the response to this has far exceeded our expectations.

For those of you who aren’t Dust vets but would still like to participate in a playtest there will be one specifically for FPS-curious EVE players sometime in the future and we’ll let you know when that happens!

So there it is, if you’re looking to get in on CCP’s FPS for some testing.

I know there is a cohort of Dust 514 players out there with fond memories, and the excuse has always been that putting that game on the PS3 at the end of its life cycle was the biggest problem.

I remain skeptical.  Putting the game on console at all was a mistake when EVE Online‘s audience was all on the PC certainly.  But I also know that successful games on the PS3 managed to get ported to the PS4 before too long.

Maybe the window for Dust 514 wasn’t big enough for that… or maybe it was a niche title that was never going to attract a mass following.  Which ever it was, CCP continues to carry the torch for a FPS.

Musing on Old MMOs Going to Steam

One bit of news that has popped up over the last week or so is that Guild Wars 2 is now available on Steam.

Still a damn fine logo

The immediate benefits are obvious.  This is a press release moment for the game, getting them a few headlines here and there.  The game is now available on what is arguably the most popular internet store front for video games, so the potential audience has grown a bit as it is now findable on Steam.

More exposure, greater access, both wins.

And this is a fairly well trod path for an older MMO… and Guild Wars 2 is turning 10 this weekend, so isn’t it time to start asking for a “classic” server… with titles like EverQuest, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and EVE Online having already blazed that trail.

So something of an obvious move really.

But is it worth the effort?

Superficially, yes.  Getting some more customers, even if you have to cut in Steam for 30% of the revenue, is no doubt a worthwhile venture.  As the argument for Steam sales goes, once you have sold all the copies you can at list price, you can only benefit from a sale if it will bring more people in.  You likely were not going to get those purchases without the sale, and 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

However, there is more to it than cutting Steam in on a percentage of sales.  The company has to integrate with Steam for things like account management, something that can present a technical challenge and lead to some odd compromises.

For example, if you already have a Guild Wars 2 account, you cannot use that to play the Steam version of the game.  You need to make a new account via Steam that will be forever linked to the platform.

And “start over” as I call it, is not an uncommon approach.  CCP allows you to connect your current EVE Online account to Steam, but once you do that there is no going back.  You are locked into making your purchases through Steam, while the benefits of being there are somewhat dubious, at least in my opinion.

I don’t dislike Steam, but I’d rather more of my money go to CCP.

Being on Steam with a live free to play game also has some overhead.  You can still use your own launcher, so you don’t have to patch the game through Steam, but you still have to keep the launcher patched through that route, which requires some work and approvals.

You also have to keep all your special offers and such in sync.  Steam isn’t happy if you give your direct players a discount and forget to off the same to your Steam players.  Pretty sure there is a line or three in the contract about just that sort of thing.

There is a reason that studios that are deeply tied to Steam, like Paradox, have their summer sale in their direct sales store at exactly the same time as the Steam summer sale.

Finally, there is the question of numbers.  How many new players will this bring in?

There is often a surge of players initially, following the press release and the company buying ads on the Steam front page.  Steam Charts shows that SWTOR, for example, got to nearly the 35K mark for concurrent players via Steam at one point.  Give the nature of MMOs, that probably means that 2-5x as many were playing overall.

And even now, when the 24 hour peak is closer to 7K players, that is probably still very worthwhile.  EA biting the bullet and putting SWTOR on Steam rather than their own Origin was probably worth the effort.

EVE Online peaked a bit past 10K concurrent and still pops up to 5K now and then, which is a significant portion of the player base logged into the single server, where 25K players total has been the weekly high water mark of late.  No doubt worth it… as long as most of those were new players and not people who converted their accounts.

EverQuest though… it has never passed 1K concurrent players on Steam.  If the title wasn’t so low overhead I might question whether or not they should have bothered.  But there it is.

Which brings us back to Guild Wars 2.  I read that 25K Steam users had put the title on their wish list when it was first posted.  It will be interesting to see how the game kicks off this weekend and what it eventually settles down into as a pattern.

The weekend so far, with some other titles

The base game being free will no doubt help it find new players, even after the initial promotional push subsides.  However, the free base game will also mean that a lot of the new players won’t be paying customers, so whether or not the effort pays off remains to be seen.  I somehow doubt there will be a big spike in the NCsoft financials for Q3 2022 over this, but I could be wrong.

Friday Bullet Points about Enad Global 7 and Q2 2022

Nobody said I couldn’t do a Friday bullet points post about just one topic, so here I am.  Future me will no doubt like this post.  And the topic of the day is going to be Enad Global 7, their Q2 2022 financials, and a few related tidibits.

Enad Global 7

There are a few sources of information about their earnings and I will list out all the links at the bottom of the post for those looking for more.

  • Hey We Made More Money

Enad Global 7 reported some serious year over year returns, though that number is helped along by the fact that Q2 2021 wasn’t lighting anybody on fire.  Still, the numbers look good and have been on the rise since that low point.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Net Revenue

Games seem to be taking on a bigger role in the revenue mix, which was about split with services a year ago.  Also, it is about 10 SEK to the USD right now, so you can just divide by ten to get the approximate value in dollars.  I guess that works for Euros now that there is parity between the Euro and the dollar.  For GB Pounds, though, you’re on your own there.

When we look at the game revenue it looks like Daybreak rules the roost, bringing in 75% of that particular pie.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Game Revenue Segments

  • LOTRO hits a Recent High

The EG7 future game plan still rides a lot on Lord of the Rings Online, referencing Amazon’s Middle-earth saga and the coming revamp in the middle term plans.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Looking Forward

They also mentioned that the 15th anniversary of the game raised number of players logging into the game to its highest level since 2016.  It is hard for me to judge exactly what that means.  Sure, more is always better, but was 2016 a benchmark year?  A high water mark of some sort?  Or just a point on the graph downward from the initial free to play conversion numbers?

Left unmentioned was whether the recent acquisition of the Tolkien IP rights by the Embracer Group would have any impact on the future plans for the game.

  • Norrath Expansions

Not that I doubted there would be expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  They are there in the game roadmaps for the year.  But it is nice to get that in writing from the company.  Daybreak… I mean EG7… has changed their minds on things suddenly in the past.

In addition, in the Q&A transcript, the following was said about the expansions:

And the upcoming annual expansion packs for EverQuest and EverQuest II, large updates that perform well every year.

They perform well every year, eh?  That financial insight we got from EG7 before the acquisition, that was cut off in 2020 before the expansions for either title shipped.  I wonder how much that would have boosted their numbers.

  • Done with Acquisitions for Now

The word “organic” comes up a lot in their presentation and the investors call.  Organic growth refers to growing the revenue for their current titles and services, as opposed to driving it up by acquiring other companies.

During the investor call they didn’t say that more acquisitions were out of the question, but they did declare it was a very different market than it was over the last couple of years, so it sounds like they’re not going to be pursing other companies the way they did in 2020 and 2021.

Instead, they will be focused on growing the current titles… and becoming some sort of consulting business or something.

  • Reverse Merger Complete

Finally, one of the big announcements on the agenda was the ascension of Jason Epstein, the second largest shareholder in the company, the the position of chairman of the board, where he will take a more active roll in the overall running of the company.  Meanwhile, Ji Ham continues to hone his dramatic talents as Acting CEO of Enad Global 7.

I speculated last month that Daybreak was in the process of completing a reverse merger, that the company that was acquired was going to end up owning the company that did the buying.

This is what the end game of such a move looks like, with the players in the former taking over key positions in the latter.

All I can says is, “Epstein, you magnificent bastard!”  I did not, however, read his book.

Related:

Caldari Union Day 2022 Celebrations Commence in EVE Online

Today marks the beginning of the Caldari Union Day celebrations.  Barring the sudden appearance of a “Triglavian Conquest Day” or a “Jovian Singularity Day,” this is the final of the four NPC empire holidays.

CBD Corporation Union Day Parade in Muvolailen (try the oil!)

Caldari Union Day celebrates the separation of the Caldari corporate state from the Gallente Federation as well as the pledge to once again possess Caldari Prime, the homeworld of the nation, which is still part of Gallente space.

As is the norm, there is a series of login rewards available during the 12 day run of the event.  You must log in for 8 of the 12 days in order to claim them all.

Union Day 2022 login rewards

Naturally, there are better rewards for Omega accounts, which fits in nicely with the theme of the Caldari corporate state, where money talks and nobody walks if Lai Dai has a vested interest in planetary vehicles.

The celebration includes a series of events.  With the Minmatar Liberation Day celebrations players had to select one of the tribes to compete for.  With Union Day you must carry the banner of one of the mega-corporations in order to join in fully.

Pick which corporation reflects you nature

(Edit: Your Merlin SKIN reward depends on on which corp you pick. See the choices here.)

Events that are part of the celebration include combat and resource harvesting sites, military parades representing each of the mega-corporations, and things to buy.  Again, the corporate state would heartily approve.

The in-game New Eden Store has special Union Day SKINs for select hulls as well as the coveted police SKINs for a few hulls as well.  In the web store there are some special event packs offering PLEX, skill points, and other in-game benefits.

The event runs from today through until down time on September 6th.

Related:

Around Nagrand to Durn the Hungerer

This past weekend once again found the group together out in Nagrand.

Hanging out in Nagrand

As somebody pointed out in the comments last week, it really is the nicest zone in the expansion in a number of ways.  And, not the least of those ways is the quests, their organization, and quality.

Beanpole and I were on first and were eyeing the quest up the road from Telaar that has you grabbing an egg out of a tree for a hungry NPC.

Promise me a bit of gold and it is yours!

Wazat there wants one of the eggs up in the tree behind him there.  He also has the Jump-a-tron, a typically goblin device, that will bounce you up in the air and then let you slow fall down into the giant nest where the eggs are.  In theory.

In practice, the Jump-a-tron is kind of all over the map as a delivery mechanism.

Too far past the eggs again…

It is also a bit of a hazard if you aren’t paying close attention.  The Jump-a-tron gives you a three minute slow fall buff, which doesn’t refresh when you use it again if the buff is still active, so it is quite possible to get thrown in the air, have the buff expire, and come crashing down and die.

Saw it happen even as we were futzing around trying to figure this out.

I had not done this quest in so long that I had no real idea how to land in the nest, but a passing druid in flight form shouted, “no no no, jump off the cliff” at us, then flew on to where ever they were headed.  But the druid was right.  You get the buff, run up to the cliff that overlooks the tree, and ride on off.  If you do it right, you will land in the tree.

In the nest at last

It took a few tries, and I rode my charger off the cliff at least twice after the buff expired, but I managed to survive.  Once up there though, I wasn’t going anyway until Ula and Fergorin logged on.  I didn’t want to do that twice.

When the did log on though, they confirmed that they had done the quest already, so I grabbed one of the eggs, which summons the mama bird, which we then fought and defeated.  You get a nice cloak as a reward.

That got us all together and we rode back to Telaar to vacuum up all the quests there, which required a bit of quest journal management for some of us.  Our group was:

  • Ula – 66 mage
  • Fergorin – 66 paladin (holy)
  • Wilhelm – 66 paladin (protection)
  • Beanpole – 65 warlock

There had been a little bit of extra-curricular activity to get some of us to 66.  Ula got there last week and Wilhelm and Fergorin ran around in Zangarmarsh doing some now down-level quests for the cash and the xp, which still isn’t bad with the current buff.  Beanpole was still 65 and had been on vacation all last week, so was a bit behind.  But we had a sack full of quests and a free afternoon to work on that.

So we started on Telaar and moved clockwise around the map, hitting one target after another.  We found close by.

Tusker waiting for us

Then there was Gava’xi across the way.

All in on Gava’xi

There were some things to collect and mobs to kill around there before moving on around the map to Sunspring Post where we cleared out more mobs and set others on fire.

Questie sings out for us all

As you can see, I decided to load up the Questie AddOn, joining the rest of the group.  I actually got through all of vanilla without any quest AddOn help.  But then I was doing some quests in Zangarmarsh and got tired of trying to find things on my on and gave in.  I am more trying to get through Burning Crusade than experience it at this point, so it isn’t ruining my experience or immersion.

Then we had trolls in the hills, elementals around the Throne of Elements, then more trolls… and more trolls… and then some other guys whose taxonomy I cannot quite recall.  I only remember they were dropping marks of Kil’jaden.

And after all of that we were back at Telaar for the big quest turn-in.  I think I had 23 quests in my log when we set out and 7 after we cashed in and got fresh quests.

One of the quests we picked up was for Durn the Hungerer, who marches around in a great circle around Oshu’gun, just west of Telaar.  The quest said it needed five players, but we figured that meant five normal slackers, not advanced slackers like us.  So we decided to go out and do that as our last quest of the day.  It was right there.

Ready to waylay Durn

We got out there and found Durn and got him to a fairly open spot in his circuit, where adds didn’t seem to be a problem.  It was, “There he is, get him!” and off we went.

And we wiped.

But we were kind of just winging it, and we didn’t do too badly.  So we decided to give it another go.  We waited for Durn to walk all the way around again then, having buffed up and come up with a plan, went after him again.

This time it was close.

Working on Durn

I was out of all healing options by the time he got under 10% and died.  But the group carried on, getting him down to 3% health before Fergorin was down.  We had wiped again, but we were so close it felt like we could do it.

So we sat and waited for Durn to come around again.  As we waited, a level 67 hunter rolled up to us and wanted to join in.  We were fine with that.  We sat around, got ready, and killed off any mob that got anywhere close to us until Durn showed up once more.  In to battle once more.

I died once again, but Durn was almost down… and then he began evading, reset, and was full health again.  That sucked, but only I had died.

So it was time to wait yet again.  The fourth time we managed it, we brought him down.

Questie announces Durn is down

But we had a little help, a group of three had shown up as we were fighting and joined in, helping us bring him down.  That was fine with us.

The helpers around Durn

They asked if we could stick around and help them get Durn.  They had helped us and, even though the evening was wearing on and we thought we were done, we opted to help them, waiting for Durn to respawn.  We had picked a point where Durn shows up, so that was easy.

The next fight went well and we killed Durn again.  Happy days!

And then it turned out that Beanpole did not have the quest.  You need to be level 66 to get it and he was only 65.  I’m not sure why this didn’t come up before, but by this point he only had to kill a couple more mobs to hit 66.  So we asked the group that showed up if they would wait and help us kill Durn just one more time and they agreed.

So we waited for Durn to spawn then all went after him for a final go.  He went down with no complications.

Durn has had a busy day and is down for a nap

That done I thanked people for hanging out.  It is good to find nice people willing to help out in the game.

Hail and farewell

And then it was back to Telaar to turn that in and call it a day.

We still have some quests to do in Nagrand… there are still many ogres to be killed… so I suspect we’ll be back to finish them off.  We’re on a roll and the next zone on the list, the Blade’s Edge Mountains, isn’t anybody’s especial favorite, so why not stick around where it is nice.

Why Is There Not Another MMO Like EVE Online?

Last week I wrote a couple of post about EVE Online, one about the cycle of the last year with CCP and the game and another about why players stick with the game even when CCP is doing things we don’t like.

In that latter post, one of my points was that there really is not a title out that that delivers the same, or even vaguely similar, experiences as EVE Online.  I ran through some examples of things that you can only find in New Eden in order to support my case.

A good day to see doomsday weapons firing

And then Bhagpuss showed up in the comments to ask why nobody had made something like EVE Online once the title had shown it was a success.  He made the parallel between EverQuest, which achieved what seemed like huge success back in the day, surpassing 550K subscribers, only to be eclipsed by World of Warcraft, which took the EverQuest idea and enhanced it such that it hit 12 million subscribers at its peak.

My response to his comment, to sum it up, was that the business plan for EVE Online was pants on head level crazy, even back in the day.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t completely crazy back in the day, because when it was conceived the genre was still young and people were not sure what would work.  But still, by the time it had become a success… which took a few years, 2006 being something of the breakthrough year… the industry had decided that some things were just not as popular as they thought.  Also, World of Warcraft.

For example, PvP.  I think that here, in 2022, we can all pretty much agree that an open world ‘PvP everywhere’ title, and EVE Online is very much that, has a limited potential audience.  That was the lesson of Ultima Online nearly 25 years back.  There is always somebody declaring it a must-have feature, but PvP is not good for long term player retention in a persistent world MMO.  EVE Online is surprising in its longevity given that alone.  How many attempts to go there have flamed out and died in the last 20 years… or, like UO, made a hard turn into PvE focus?

As with PvP, being a skill based game is one of those things a vocal minority of players is always asking for, but which has its problems.  You end up with the fighter/wizard min/max issue.  I will admit that CCP went its own way on this by making skill training completely time based rather than use based.  And EVE Online doesn’t have the same sort of skill min/max issues that fantasy titles end up with, the time base training can be a mixed bag, both a hook to get people to stay around and a frustration a you wait for skills to train to do what you want.

Then there are attributes which, unlike any other title you’ve probably experienced, have zero impact on the actual performance of your character in the game.  Maxing out charisma doesn’t make anything even 1 ISK cheaper nor does maxing out perception make my probes scan even 1 second faster.

Bizarre, right?

Attributes only impact the speed at which you train those time gated skills I mentioned, which means what you pick had better line up with your training plan because you can only reset your attributes on a one year cycle.  Why CCP doesn’t see an attribute reset token for PLEX in the game remains a mystery. (Except they keep saying maybe they’ll do something with them, but then they never do.)

Oh, and then there is gear.  I always let out a little sigh when somebody says they won’t play EVE Online because it is “full loot” PvP and they don’t want to lose their epic gear.  Gear, which is ships and modules and consumables and implants and whatever, is all completely replaceable in-game with ISK.  Nobody is going to take the raid gear you spent months farming for because there is almost no such gear.  If you lose your ship, and if you never lost your ship then you’ve never really experienced the game, you get your insurance payout and you go back to Jita or another trade hub and you buy a new ship and modules that will be exactly the same setup as you had before.

Pretty much everything you need is a commodity you can buy in bulk on the market.  All you need is ISK, which is why ISK faucets are so important to many players.  ISK enables you to do what you want in the game.  And even the rare exceptions, like Alliance Tournament ships, can be had if you have enough ISK.  But if you undock and lose one, there will be no replacing it. (But nobody will loot it, because the hull is always destroyed.)

That is all great and makes EVE Online what it is today, but how do you sell a game where gear is generic and replaceable?  How can you tell who is ‘leet if there are no rare drop world unique raid rewards that the creme de la creme can lord over the peons by standing around in the public square.  Even if the game had something like that, if you sat on the undock in Jita with it somebody would gank you just to have the shiny kill mail.

This talk of gear brings me around to the economy, which is both the most important aspect of the game in my opinion… I don’t write about the MER and complain about CCP messing with the economy because I feel it is trivia… and the one that CCP should thank players and whatever favorable omens they were born under in that it actually worked out, because that wasn’t a given.

It is easy to talk about wanting a player run economy, but how do you create one?  How do you make that happen without creating a bunch of false incentives and crutches and NPC work-arounds to ensure that there is an economy without making the economy dependent on them?

Add in the fact that there is really no central story line to take you through the game… there is lore, but lore isn’t game play it is just framing… and that there is no avatar play… something people moan about incessantly but which defines EVE Online… and wrap that all up in a business plan and tell me how you think that would fare.

Seriously, even putting the modest amount of thought I have towards what CCP pulled off given their starting point… which was also a lot rougher, more obscure, and less forgiving than it is today… and pondering all the ways it could have gone wrong and you start to appreciate how unlikely a game EVE Online really is.

So you have that business plan, all those features laid out, most of which I think are likely essential to creating something that would give you the feel of EVE Online (you could change skills and attributes and work in some more story, but PvP, the economy, and the replaceability of gear are non-negotiable to my mind) and you’re looking for somebody to give you the ~$100 million it would take to turn that plan into a live game.  Who is going to invest?

Nobody.

There isn’t a serious investor today that would look at EVE Online and say, “I want to make more of that, only bigger and better.”  No gaming company with the resources to make it happen, no investment company with the capital to burn, no angel investor still taking their meds is going to put money into that.

Short of somebody with a Chris Roberts level of influence over a a dedicated audience willing to throw money at their collective screens to make another EVE Online happen… and are there any big enough names in video games that haven’t squandered whatever good will they had going down that path already… I can’t see this being a viable business proposition, unless you decide to load it up with blockchain, crypto, pay to earn nonsense, and then you know what kind of shady investor you would end up with.

TL;DR –

CCP in 2022 – Here is my business plan for an internet spaceship MMO!

Every sane investor: LOL, wut?