Monthly Archives: October 2022

October in Review

The Site

Happy Halloween for those of you who indulge… and, uh, welcome to another Monday to those who do not.

Seeking the Headless Horseman’s Mount back in 2009

I kept the daily posting streak going another month.  I just have to make it to Christmas to break into four digits.  Otherwise it wasn’t a very eventful October for the blog.  WP.com didn’t break anything.  No posts got any particular special attention.  Just another month of blogging.

One Year Ago

In a bit of irony I unleashed ads on the site in order to pay for the premium WordPress.com plan, otherwise they would be unleashing ads on the site.  But at least I am getting some of the money now I guess.

Facebook changes its name to Meta and Mark Zuckerberg announced they were going all-in on the idea of a VR based online metaverse.  John Carmack had some issues with the plan.

Acting EG7 CEO Ji Ham spoke about the company and its plans.  Meanwhile EverQuest announced the Terror of Luclin expansion and EverQuest II announced the Visions of Vertovia expansion.  It was also Panda time in EQII.

Those expansions got me on to a bit of a comparison between the EQ expansion machine and WoW.

Blizzard announced the WoW Classic Season of Mastery plan, set to launch in November, an attempt to give a slightly different vanilla experience… and a temporary one at that as it was closing down as I wrote this.

There would also be no BlizzCon 2022.

We were getting into Diablo II Resurrected as a group.  We remade our group after a bit, working our way through the first act.  We got stuck into Act II pretty quickly, making it through to the end.

On my own I played a necromancer through the first difficultly level.  I was playing on Battle.net for some reason, where there were queues to get online.

Carbot and Honest Game Trailers had their own special D2R videos.

Amazon Games’ New World was live and I was trying to play… though there were issues.

In EVE Online there was a bit of a mining boom in the wake of World War Bee.  CCP was also going back to native MacOS support.  CCP also introduced CRAB beacons to the game and changed the tax structure.  And then there was the return of the Crimson Harvest event.

the Reavers SIG turned seven years old.

I also did an EVE Online Friday Bullet Points post about Quasar, Totality Day, Faction Warfare, mega skill point offers, monocles, and an exploration of the new user experience.

In my series on immersion I tackled Minecraft.

I wrote something about Words with Friends 2.

At home we were getting ready for No Time to Die by watching the previous four Daniel Craig Bond films… and rating them.  And then we went and saw it and I wrote a bit of a review.

Likewise, with the coming of the new Dune movie (part I) we watched the 1984 version of the tale.  The new film got a bit of a review here too.

Five Years Ago

I wrote about how we used to yell and sell in Waterdeep back in TorilMUD, which predates that auction house stuff we have today.

RimWorld was eating up a bunch of my gaming time.

The then still in early access H1Z1 had King of the Kill removed from its name, reverting back to just H1Z1.  This was due to as-yet-still-unrealized plans by Daybreak to bring the game to China where they couldn’t have “kill” in the name.  They have since changed their mind and renamed the game again.  It is now H1Z1: Battle Royale, or maybe Z1 Battle Royale.  It is honestly hard to tell/care at this point.

In New Eden I had finished up my time with the Warzone Extraction event.  I also remapped my attributes, something that affects the learning rates of skill.  You don’t do that lightly as you’re stuck with the remap for a year.  I also went and rounded up data cores.  I should probably do that again.  It has been a year.

I was headed to EVE Vegas and wrote up my report when I returned.

The Reavers SIG turned three years old.

In space we went out to Aridia to clean up the neighborhood.

As the month headed towards its end CCP released the Lifeblood expansion for EVE Online which changed moon mining, upgraded The Agency, and added a bunch of PvE content.  There was also a joke about lighting farts to be made.

However, following EVE Vegas, where VR was heavily emphasized, and the Lifeblood expansion, CCP had a round of layoffs and effectively stopped developing for VR.  Among teams hit hard was the community team.

I hit level 30 in Pokemon Go.

And I returned to World of Warcraft, having taken a break.  I once again failed to get the headless horseman’s mount.  And I was wondering if Blizzard would announce the next WoW expansion at BlizzCon.  It seemed pretty likely.

Ten Years Ago

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  That made the second time in my life, which was one more than I had any reason to hope for.

Disney bought out Lucasfilm, claiming ownership of Star Wars.  Panic ensued.

Zynga was well into its troubles, leaving me to wonder how Lord British viewed his partnership with the imploding company.  Certainly the Zynga business plan seemed… childish?

I had a sudden crescendo of activity around World of Warcraft, culminating in Blizzard finally letting me cancel my subscription.  There was the Panda launch and people declaring success or failure.

Instead I was off in the Emerald Dream pirate server attempting to relive what WoW was like back in 2006.  In involved a shovel.  Vanilla WoW nostalgia drove a sudden surge of traffic to the blog.

The first Project: Gorgon kickstarter kicked off.

I was invited on a pre-release tour of the Storm Legion expansion in Rift.  Then there was the big update to the soul system, some adventures in Lantern Hook, and the Autumn Harvest Festival.

In World of Tanks the word of the day was Sturmgeschütz.

Storm Eagle Studios was again worried about my marriage.

There was some trolling about free to play.

Lord of the Rings Online launched the Rider of Rohan expansion.  I eventually picked it up for Turbine Points… or LOTRO Points… or whatever.  I haven’t actually played through it yet.

In EVE Online we got the Retribution expansion that updated all that crime watch stuff.  At least visible timers ended up being cool.

EVE-Kill was looking for donations to keep everybody’s then-favorite kill board up and running.  It has since died, so I guess that didn’t work out in the long run.  Also in that post, there was a new EVE site up called The Mittani dot com (worst name ever), something about sound in EVE Online (who knew?), and the dawn of miner bumping.  This is why I hate those bullet point posts one, five, and ten years later.

I was off on a CSAA killing mission that got me accused of cognitive dissonance.  I was feeling warm and cozy in null sec.  We were also pursuing our foes in Tribute and the Vale of the Silent.

I was wondering how EA Louse’s comments about Star Wars: The Old Republic were holding up two years after he made them.

I was complaining about games (or, in my 30+ year old example, a game master) that try to impose their story on your character.   I don’t mind being a part of the overall story, but my characters have their own stories and motivations and I do not like it when games put their own words in my character’s mouth.

And, finally, there was the case for seat belts.

Fifteen Years Ago

For about 20 minutes the blog had a different theme.

In EVE Online I finally finished my training and was actually flying a Hulk!  Being mining focused, I went out and calculated which asteroids were the most profitable to mine.  Veldspar rated surprisingly high.  I was also calculating the cost of producing light missiles, probably the only time I really used a spreadsheet for EVE Online.  “Spreadsheets in Space” is a lie.

I also figured out that with 120 billion ISK and a year of training, I could fly a Titan, but I couldn’t fire the main weapon system.

Blizzard made its first big cut in the amount of experience needed to get to level 60 in World of Warcraft.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

There was SOE’s Station Access Savings Calculator.

EA announced it was buying BioWare for $860 million.  It seemed like MMOs might be in EA’s future again, as BioWare was already known to be at work on one.  Meanwhile, I was trying to work up a set of criteria on evaluating whether an MMO would be a success or not.

I was going on about THE REAL PROBLEM with voice chat in video games.

Mario Kart Double Dash was our Wii game of the moment.  My daughter was also playing Webkinz, though some of her friend’s got their mothers to play for them.

I found one of the rare Golden C-3P0 mini figures in a LEGO package.  I was also looking at the stack of old Dungeons & Dragons books at the used book store up the street from work. (Both my work and the book store are long since gone.)

The instance group finished up Zul’Farrk and went after one wing, then the other, in Maraudon.  We were closing in on level 50 across the group.  I also got a horde character to level 40… I think he is still level 40 today. I was also excited to get a 16 slot bag drop!  Also, being able to craft from items in the bank, as we now can, would have helped me a lot.  Meanwhile I finally read some quest text closely.

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising was put on indefinite hold, which lead to a headline contest.

In the post-launch downturn for Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine was out polling players about what they wanted… and what they would pay for.

As usual, with the coming of autumn, the rains, and a new expansion I again became nostalgic for EverQuest.  I was also playing around with some ideas for Secrets of Faydwer packaging.

Also, Team Fortress 2 launched as part of The Orange Box package from Valve.

Twenty Years Ago

The Planes of Power expansion for EverQuest launched.  The introduction of planar zones, and especially the Plane of Knowledge, changed the game dramatically.

Twenty Five Years Ago

Age of Empires and the first Grand Theft Auto launched.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Flight in Pre-Patch Outland
  2. The Level 70 Boost Question for Wrath Classic
  3. The RimWorld Biotech Expansion
  4. The Crimson Harvest and Related Halloween Events Return to EVE Online
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  7. RimWorld Ideology
  8. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  9. Meta Horizon Worlds Stands on Legs of Lies
  10. The Crimson Harvest Returns to EVE Online
  11. The New World Brimstone Sands Update Launches Today
  12. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price

Search Terms of the Month

lotro virtue farm
[I never saw that crop as a farmer]

wizardry online characters
[Probably long gone by now]

why does wintergrasp have a back door
[Escape?]

can thin clients play pc games
[Web games I suppose]

porn customized games
[Admission that we all have our own flavor of porn?]

Game Time from Manic Time

As I mentioned last month, a patch of ManicTime broke the ability to report summaries, at least for free accounts, so now it just groups by executable, which means WoW and WoW Classic end up the same on the summary list, even though they are broken out in the daily reports.

  • WoW Classic – 93.73%
  • EVE Online – 4.61%
  • World of Warcraft – 1.21%
  • New World – 0.45%

Fortunately, I didn’t play much beyond my core titles this month, so I was able to break them out even with this change.  But if I ever start playing both classic and retail WoW it will be a chore.

EVE Online

It was a quiet month in New Eden.  We started off with a Reavers deployment to some NPC null sec space with an eye towards getting mixed up in some conflicts up north.  But then very little came of it.  People were busy and targets of opportunity were rare.  So I mostly kept my PI going and logged in to collect the seasonal rewards.

New World

I did log into New World a couple of times as I noted during the month, just to see how things were playing out.  I didn’t feel any real compulsion to jump back into the game… Wrath Classic is the top of my list right now… and any return of the group might have been thwarted due to the fact that Ula’s house went missing in the server consolidations and there is no reimbursement for that right now.  That was most of her in-game cash taken, not something that will inspire a return.

Pokemon Go

We made some friends at the park while out playing, so I have some xp incoming from ongoing friend gift exchange milestones.  It looks like level 43 might be within reach next month.

  • Level: 42 (93% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 740 (+7) caught, 757 (+6) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 20 of 25
  • Pokemon I want: Pachirisu
  • Current buddy: Golisopod (just because he looks cool)

World of Warcraft

I did not spend a lot of time in WoW this month.  I logged in before the pre-patch to take a few tries at getting the Headless Horseman’s mount… and failed to get it yet again.  Every year since 2008 and no mount.  Then I went in after the pre-patch and didn’t know how to play my character and couldn’t read the tiny new UI and didn’t want to invest the time to figure it out because I had better things to do.

WoW Classic

As the time break above indicates, here is where I spent most of my gaming time.  We have the group playing together.  We even managed to finish the first dungeon, Utgarde Keep.  And then I have alts to work on, so lots of asynchronous game play options.  It is happy times in WoW Classic right now.

Zwift

I missed a weekend on the bike this month.  My routine has become to ride in the morning on the weekend, but I had to travel one weekend this month.  I had also hit a stride previously where I was riding well beyond my minimum goal, but I have fallen back to just hitting that number and stopping.  Not a great month for exercise.

  • Level – 16 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,301 1,244 miles (+57 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 51,640 (+1,988 feet)
  • Calories burned – 41,819 (+1,587)

Coming Up

There are some anniversaries in the offing, with EverQuest II and World of Warcraft both hitting 18 as the month goes by.

There is the mini-expansion in Lord of the Rings Online set to launch, plus we will no doubt be getting more information about the EQ and EQII expansion launches.

And the month will end on the launch of WoW Dragonflight, which I am sure will be huge.

Outside of video games, there will be the ongoing slow motion train wreck that is Twitter under Elon Musk to watch.  I expect that this will become a business school case study in how not to do a merger, but we shall see.

But my eye is most closely watching what CCP will be doing with EVE Online.  They have announced or started testing quite a few interesting things.  But CCP has ever been full of promise but problematic in execution.  They have a big chance to break free from what I called The Year of Disappointment.

The Results of the Orca War and a Glimpse into the Future of Suicide Ganking

Back at the beginning of the month I wrote a piece about high sec ganking was being a hot discussion topic yet again.  The cause seemed to be a particular streamer, HatelesS Gaming, refusing to stream EVE Online until CCP did something about it.

In response, Wrathful Hawk of Safety Alliance swore he would keep blowing up Orcas in high sec without collecting loot… something that was being called griefing by the streamer… until he went back to streaming EVE Online again.

CONCORD too late to save this Orca back at Burn Jita 2018

HatelesS Gaming is back to streaming EVE Online.  This is because he moved to null sec it seems, but still Wrathful Hawk got his demands met one way or the other, so called an end to his campaign.  The final score was:

  • Total Orcas Destroyed: 111
  • Total Value of Orcas Destroyed: 216.04b
  • Total # of Orcas Reimbursed Illegitimately: Unknown
  • Total Isk spent on Bomber Gank Squads: 71.04b
  • Total Isk Value of Loot collected: 0b
  • Total Profit: A Promise Kept

There was some controversy generated during the event as HatelesS was telling people they should ask CCP for reimbursement, which apparently some people got despite that being against the EULA.

Wrathful Hawk has a whole write up on what happened over on Reddit with details, quotes, and links, and even put together a video.

I am writing about this in part to close the loop on something I referenced earlier in the month and to highlight the sort of player made chaos that can happen in New Eden.

But also as a starting point for what is going to come.  CCP brought up some things at EVE Vegas that may be coming to the game soon which will impact life in high sec and suicide ganking.  Probably the biggest item on the list of possible changes is the proposal to not allow Alpha clones to change their safety status from green to red.

For those not familiar with the game, there is a safety system for your character which, when set to green, prevents your character from doing anything that would get it in trouble with CONCORD, including shooting other players who are not already flagged as suspects or under a war dec from your corporation.

That would basically be the end of using Alpha clones as throw away ganking characters.

Along with that you may no longer be able to safe up and tether in high sec if your sec status has fallen too low.

We won’t know what is actually going to make it to production, but some big things might be coming New Eden on this front soon.

Addendum: The Dev Blog about this has been published.

The End of Twitter as we Know It?

Elon Musk… backed by some sort of consortium of financiers, because there wasn’t $44 million in quarters in that sink he hauled into Twitter HQ this past Wednesday… has purchased Twitter.

Tweet, tweet motherfuckers

The sink was an attempt at a visual gag because Twitter had to “let that sink in,” one of those quips that he loves to append random statements that he thinks lend substance to his ignorance.

So there goes the neighborhood.  His publicly stated plan is to restore free speech by firing 75% of the company employees.  Anybody who has worked in tech knows that most companies over a certain size can shed 10-20% of their workforce and likely see a dramatic rise in average productivity.  But 75%, that might kill the company, because the high performers who can get another job quickly will walk the moment things get too bad.

The starting point was the executive staff, which was probably to be expected, including Vijaya Gadde, who was in charge of the company’s legal policy and who probably did more for free speech on the platform than we will likely ever see during Elon Musk’s stewardship.

Basically, protecting their users personal information from litigious rich people and foreign governments by going to court rather than just handing over the data was far more important as a free speech concept than being able to harass people and use the n-word about anybody with a dark skin tone.

But now Elon owns the place and, as I said last time this threat seemed to be looming, he can’t just burn the place down.  He isn’t the sole owner.  He has financing from other sources, including loans, and his backers will be pissed if he takes this $44 billion boondoggle… probably double the price it was really worth… and devalues it through stupid egoistic blundering.

The problem is, that is kind of his brand in public.

I mean, he may actually be the technical genius his fanboys claim he is, but as this article over at The Verge points out, the problems with Twitter are not technical.

I mean, not that he doesn’t believe somehow there is a technical fix to perfect Twitter.  Leaked internal email says that he wanted to personally review code with all of the developers on the team, actually asking them to print out their last 30 to 60 days of code submissions so they could review it with him… only to have that order countermanded later in the day, with instructions to shred all those print outs.

The problem with content moderation is that it always seems like an easy problem to solve with code… right up until you start trying to actually do it.  And I speak as somebody who spent half a decade working with attempts to automate responses to support request email messages.  That was summed up nicely by a Stanford grad student who interned with us over a summer to do research on text analysis.  His grand summing up was to announce that the fewer sorting categories we had, the more likely we were to route messages to the right one.  He was not amused when I asked if that meant if we just had a single “miscellaneous” category we would achieve 100% accuracy.

But I digress.  There is no technical solution to what ails Twitter… though that won’t stop somebody suggesting blockchain to make everything worse.

There is no problem so bad that blockchain can’t simultaneously make it worse, dumber, and more expensive in one go.

No, the problem, as The Verge points out, is political, and even Elon knows that is the real truth.  While he may be yanking the collective chains of his developers, probably looking for people to fire as much as anything, his first outreach as head of the company was to advertisers promising them he wouldn’t be turning Twitter into a free-for-all hellscape.

Twitter is barely a break-even situation even on its best day, so driving away advertisers willing to spend money on promoted Tweet would only make things worse for the whole enterprise, no matter how many people he lays off.

Still, laying people off is every the tech company’s solution to budgetary problems.  He’ll do that, probably move the HQ to Austin, and freely hand over user information to any subpoena or  totalitarian regime that requests it.  That last will save a lot in legal fees.  Expect more people getting jail sentences in dictatorships.

Content moderation though… even he is backing off of his grandiose pronouncements.  Nothing is being changed today, Trump hasn’t been unbanned, and as much as the MAGA “own the libs crowd” has been crowing, it still looks more like Elon got taken to the cleaners his, chained as he is to this $44 million albatross.

But I am going on about the absurdity of the situation, which I find both funny and horrifying in various measures.

The question I should probably get to is what am I going to about it?

Probably very little right now.

To start with, as with every takeover or merger, not much is going to happen after the first few dramatic firings.  And it will be hard to look away from the train wreck, should it come to pass.  I don’t plan travel to totalitarian states, so I should be safe.

But mostly I am going to stick around because I don’t have a good replacement for Twitter.

Everything else is either too siloed up into little friend groups (Mastodon, Discord) or are worse hell holes than Twitter has ever managed to be (Facebook, NextDoor, Reddit).

Twitter is kind of a strange mix of people I know and follow, people who are interesting to follow, and random reactions to news and events, often before I hear about them elsewhere.  It works for me in ways other options do not.

So I will continue hanging out, at least until something really stupid happens.

The Arrival of the WoW Dragonflight Pre-Patch

We’re here in the final days of the Shadowlands expansion… which, by the way, is now part of your base subscription package.  No, you can’t give it back.

The dawn of the Dragonflight expansion is upon us.

WoW Dragonflight is almost here

Whether it will be good or not remains to be seen.  I’m too busy in Northrend reliving the past to worry about it.  But I wouldn’t begrudge it any popularity.  Retail WoW kind of needs it.

The update was off to a bit of a rough start, with downtime being extended on Tuesday well past the initially promised time.  I don’t want to say Holly Longdale brought any bad vibes over with her from Daybreak, but that is usually their patch day story, not Blizzard’s

On the other hand, Tuesday was just the start of the run up to the November 28th launch of the Dragonflight expansion.  If they were going to have a hiccup, this was a better day to have it.

The dates for Dragonflight

As for what the pre-patch brought, the list includes increased system requirements, a new UI system, the expansion of rogues, mages, and priests to all races, and a skills and talent rework for all classes.

The latter is pretty much something we get with every expansion, though this one was a bit harrier than most.  I logged myself in just to peek around and I am not even sure what to do with this screen.

Is that a talent tree or a board game on its own?

I mean, I am sure it is comprehensible if I took the time to sit down and figure it out.  But at first glance I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I felt the way I often feel when I open up one of the many Alternate Advancement talent trees in EverQuest II.  There is a whole lot going on there.

The UI changes look interesting… though, again, I feel like there is some documentation I need to read before I could begin to get the most out of it.  And the default is… tiny.

I mean, I like a UI that doesn’t get in the way of you looking out the window and enjoying the scenery.  But on my 34″ monitor the default size of everything was vanishingly small in places.

There is some level of irony in this.  I finally have a big enough monitor that the UI never feels like it is crowding in on what I can see and they have gone and made it so small that I have to look around to find bits of it.

Again, there is probably a cure for that somewhere in the guide, but i tend to try to stick to the defaults to maintain compatibility and… that just isn’t going to be a thing.

Also, going back to EverQuest II, the default action bar layout looks very much like my EQII setup, with three action bars stacked up in the center bottom of the screen.

The default action bars in the new WoW UI

I am not kidding.

My EQII Paladin action bars

Granted, my EQII paladin has about 700 various skills and three action bars isn’t anywhere close to enough… and the EQII UI doesn’t handle my 34″ monitor all that smoothly, those action bars being in the middle of the screen while the XP bar extends from the left of the screen to just past the middle, ending just below the action bars, leaving the right half of the window to fend for itself.  But the similarity is there.  I saw the new WoW UI and made a mental connection.

Once more, not necessarily good or bad, just an observation.  Dare I suggest another Holly Longdale connection?  Hah!

Meanwhile, the last couple of weeks of Shadowlands content is now winding down.  I liked it when it launched, but felt I was done with it in about a month.  At least leveling up through it was quick, and probably quicker now, so it won’t get too much in the way of people wishing to skip past it… though Blizz would happily sell you a character boost to solve that issue.

Returning for Ingvar’s Head

We were back for our third run at Utgarde Keep, and I wasn’t sure we were even going to make it all the way through. It was Sunday afternoon and we hadn’t really setup a time so while I got online and was playing from about 2pm forward, we didn’t get the whole group together and rolling until almost 4pm.

The place where we were headed once again

We generally have dinner by about 6pm at our house and, while time is an illusion and dinner time doubly so, that doesn’t mean that the food is going to stay warm if we are still in a dungeon trying to figure out a boss fight.  So I was a bit motivated to get moving forward.  Potshot and I were the first to the dungeon so went over to the summoning stone to pull the rest of the group in.

Once we figured out how to work the summoning stone

Once the whole group was there we distributed treats and health stones and buffs and got straight to business.  Our group for the run was as follows.

Almost all level 71

Being a tank in a hurry, I led the group through, bypassing any mobs we didn’t absolutely have to take on.  So we left behind that last group in the Furnace of Hate and about half the mobs in the Dragon Flayer Pens and were soon enough in the room with Prince Keleseth once more.

Having defeated him on the first go last time, we were going to find out whether it was skill or luck (or maybe just knowledge) that got us through.

We either had the latter or experienced the former again, because we brought Keleseth down without loss on the first try once more.

Keleseth sleeping on the job again

He was good enough to drop the Reinforced Velvet Helm again, so Beanpole got it this time.

Reinforced Velvet Helm

Then we were off and moving once more, clearing our way up to the second boss set, Skarvald and Dalronn.  We took a few tries to take them last time around but, as with Keleseth, we thought we had the answer to this fight… and it was pretty much the same answered as the once for Keleseth; stick close and burn them down.

Most of us in close with the boss pair

They moved around a bit and Fergorin managed to get just out of melee range, which was enough to earn him a thumping and a knock down from Skarvald, but we managed to hold it together.  We got Skarvald down to 50%, then changed to Dalronn and, with and the AOE going off, we managed to drop them both again within a heartbeart of each other.

They were less rewarding on the loot, offering up a fist weapon.  That went to Ula, our enchanter, to disenchant later on.

Those two down it was time to press on.  We were moving pretty well through the instance.  It was up the stairs and around to the top of the instance and were soon approaching Ingvar once more.

On our way again

We had made good time, though we still had to defeat him, something we failed to do in three tries last time around.

The failure on my part last time was not seeing when his big cone of damage attack was coming so I could step out of the way.  My solution was to get an AddOn to move the casting bars of our target down to a location above my hotbars so I could watch both cool downs and incoming attacks.

It is one thing to get the addon, another to test it our and see how it works.  We ran through the video I linked last week in order to get a refresh on how the fight progresses, and then went in to give it a shot.

The first round went okay, we managed to bring him down though I used my healthstone just at the end, when I didn’t really have to.  I panicked a bit and was now down a heal when I could have just waited and bandaged myself during the interval before the arrival of undead Ingvar.

That was the test.  We had made it through the first half of the fight every time.  The second half was the trick.

As it kicked off I kept my eye on the cast bars and called out each special attack as Ingvar wound them up, jumping out of the way of both the ones I needed to and the occasional one I didn’t.  Better safe than sorry I suppose.

Things seemed to go very well and when he was at about 35% I started to wonder how the wheels were going to come off, how we were going end up losing the fight.

And then he was down and the achievement popped up and we were done, we had slain Ingvar on the first run as well.

Ingvar down

We had made it through the instance with only one death.  Bjorid managed to get offed in a fight earlier in the instance that was an accident.  So we had won and went to loot the boss.

Around the corpse

He naturally had a head for all of us to loot for the dungeon quest.  Ingvar of the five heads, as the joke goes.

Grabbing quest items off of the corpse

The loot drop, however, was less useful.  It was Int/Sta mail, shaman gear.  Something else for Ula to disenchant.

We lined up to take a final victory shot with Ingvar.

Ingvar defeated

Then it was down the shaft back up the way for the easy way out of the instance, dropping down into a pool of water by where we came in.

It smells like wet dog in here

We went back to Valgarde and turned in the quest.

After that we had a bit of time still… my wife was not yet back with take out in tow, so we went on a run to pick up some flight points.  Not all of us had the nearby locations, so we ran over to Westguard Keep to grab that flight point, then Kamagua for the next.  From Kamagua we took the turtle boat to Moa’ki harbor at the southern end of Dragonblight.

Taking the Turtle boat

The flight point at Moa’ki harbor gave us the connection so we could now fly from Borean Tundra to Howling Fjord if we wanted.

The southern flight points

It is kind of a long flight, but it is lower effort than going back to IF or SW then taking the flight between them in order to take the boat to the other side of Northrend.

Of course, what we really need to do is get to 74 and make our way to Dalaran, which would make a lot of our travel needs much simpler.  And it would give us access to a bank.  But we’ll get to that soon enough.

Finding I have No World in New World

With all the fuss about the latest update for New World and how the company has had such fun listening to players, I figured I would go take a peek at the game.

Brimstone Sands

Now, I want to make clear up front, there was absolutely zero chance that I was going to suddenly become enamored with the game again and go back to the group and declare we should dump Wrath Classic and go back to New World.  There will be no such surprise twist at the end of this post.

This was just a run in to see how things were playing out.

The first thing I had to do was patch up… which meant launching Steam, which itself had to patch up.  I don’t launch Steam by default, so if I am not playing a title on Steam regularly it can be weeks or months between starting it up.

Fortunately I had not uninstalled New World.  I we weren’t “done” with it when we stopped playing, we were just off to do something else.  I had, however, disabled updates, so I turned those back on late in the evening, set it to updating, and went to bed.

Some gigabytes and hours later, I returned to my computer to launch the game.  It did seem to launch a bit faster than it did when last I played, though that might be getting mixed up with my memories of Lost Ark, which was the only title I know of that took longer to launch than New World.

Then it was time for splash screens to tell me about the new update, Brimstone Sands, the holiday event, and then a message about world mergers.  That last was exactly the same splash screen they were using the last few times I was in a merger.

The merger impacts explained once more

That splash screen also turned out to be… I won’t say a lie, because I doubt there was intent to deceive behind it… somewhat inaccurate.

I had no world.

Left without a home

That was a bit of a mixed blessing.

On the bright side, I was not going to be stuck on a world with a long queue, those being a thing I read about, a result of the cascade of server merges over the last nine months that left the game with only a few servers available to absorb any players returning.

Somehow my characters, both of them, fell off the merger wagon… probably when their two servers were merged together and a red flag was thrown as you’re not allowed more than one character per server.  That may have changed, but at some point I would have to guess it was still in play.

On the down side of this turn of events, I had to pick a new server.  I had four choices, including one the game recommended.

My server options

It was recommending Aukumea which, in hindsight, I should have chosen.  But I was just running ahead to get into the game and only thought through the implication of both of my characters being with a world selection AFTER I had already selected.

I chose Camelot, because why not?  El Dorado was the only one with a queue, but Camelot had a name I could remember because I figured I might have to tell the rest of our company at some point where we ought to move.

Except that the rest of the company is probably on Aukumea unless they too had characters on different worlds that ran into a merge conflict.

So I opened up into Camelot and found I was without a company, a stranger in a strange land… or a vaguely familiar land at least.

The territory control map

In fact the whole thing because very familiar over a few minutes as I figured out again how to access my inventory and look at my character details and such.

I was back in some town I knew the layout of and was able to run around and find things.

I had an alert up about being at the maximum amount of xp with my faction and needing to do something to advance to the next tier or rank or whatever.  I stumbled over to the local faction representative, but he didn’t have any information for me, so I would guess that aspect of the game hasn’t been made any clearer.

But otherwise things that were mentioned here and there had been fixed or improved.  I was, for example, able to access storage in other towns from the town I was in… which was a good thing as my inventory was full of crafting material, an artifact of the change early in the game when they raised the requirements for leveling up crafting dramatically.

I also fiddled around a bit with some of the cosmetics I had collected from Prime Games.  There was also a new set for those showing up for the new update, one with a Roman theme.

Romanes eunt domus

And then my interest in the whole thing faded and I went off to do something else.

But New World is still there, plugging away.  And while they aren’t anywhere close to their launch day peak, they probably helped Steam hit their all-time record of players online.

I won’t say I’m never going back, but I am not going back any time soon.

CCP Relents on the Dynamic Bounty System for Unknown Reasons

A little over two years ago CCP hit null sec with their final big nerf on ratting by introducing the Dynamic Bounty System.  That and the mandatory Encounter Surveillance System spelled the end to the gravy train of anomaly ratting in null sec.  Commodities became the main ISK faucet in New Eden thereafter.

We also got the upgraded Jita back then, where much of the PLEX trade happens that I will get to shortly

The way the Dynamic Bounty System (DBS) works is that the more ratting activity that goes on in a system, the lower the payout for that system would be over time.  If there was combat in the system, the payouts would go up.  As it was summarized in the dev blog about the DBS:

  • Excessive ratting? Multiplier goes down
  • High level of player combat and death? Multiplier goes up
  • Empty system? Multiplier stabilizes at an equilibrium value.

Though that third point was broken for about a year and it isn’t clearly that CCP fixed it fully.

A system that saw a lot of ratting might drop down to 30%, so that million ISK Blood Raiders NPC battleship would only give you 300K ISK… though, really, it would give you 150K ISK now and put 150K ISK in the main bank of the ESS, where it could be stolen over the next few hours.

Dank ticks were no more.

CCP’s plan for the system… a plan built on false hope… was that this would force people to rat in systems that were active, leading to more ratters getting blown up.  Active systems were where the DBS value would be the highest.  Risk vs reward and all that!

What CCP constantly forgets to factor in is that simply not doing something anymore is also an option.  We don’t live in New Eden, so if some change makes an activity no longer valuable to us, we don’t have to carry on like it was our job.  We can go do something else.

And people did.  Abyssals, for example, are pretty much a solved problem, like almost all PvE, were much safer and paid out more reliably.  If it wasn’t for the occasional bad RNG roll or suicide ganker catching a bling fit Gila exiting an Abyssal, it would be about as safe as possible.

So null sec ended up with a bunch of out of the way systems with low DBS values, which pretty much guaranteed zero PvP would occur because there would be no ratters and no more in the main bank of the ESS.  Typical CCP two dimensional solution to a three dimensional issue.

CCP has tinkered with the system.  They raised the floor value to 50% and they tried to fix the empty system process, but it has otherwise remain mostly untouched despite many complaints.

Until today.

Today there were a few brief sentences in the patch notes about changes to the DBS.

  • The DBS thresholds are now reduced and the system DBM will be more reactive.
    • The minimum output of the DBM is increased to 100% from 50%.
    • The minimum output of the DBM is now set as 110% temporarily.
    • The DBM will regenerate to the new threshold.
  • Changes will take place during the DBS updates, so solar systems with modifiers below the floor may take some time to adjust.

Assuming they have actually fixed the regeneration mechanism, the floor value for NPC bounties in a bunch of low used, dead-end systems should be going up in the near future.

The question, of course, is what the change?

This has been the reality of null sec for two years now and people have complained about it, and about how it was broken (see above about empty system regeneration) for almost that entire time.  But suddenly now they have a change of heart?

It wasn’t due to player feedback.  CCP has this thing in the patch notes, an icon they put next to items they would like you to believe were changed due to player feedback because, like Amazon Games, they like to talk about how much they listen.

Who is listening?

The little icon did not find its way to today’s update.

Now, it is quite possible that CCP simply forgot to mark that item.  It is totally on brand for them to start some routine and then drop it as soon as everybody is used to the pattern.  I have a lot of dead links on this blog due to them changing their mind about various updates and information pages.

Or it could be that they have some other reason for making this change.

Conclusions beyond this point are all pure speculation based on very little data, and none of that first hand.

I am going to go back to the great PLEX pricing crisis of last month.  I had written a post about how PLEX prices had been rising since the subscription price increases that had hit back in May.  Then CCP did an in-game sale where 30 days of Omega time was available for 300 PLEX, down from the usual 500, which caused a run on PLEX in the game, something you could see in the September MER.

But there was something else that came up as part of that, something I noted in passing but didn’t really explore, which was the introduction of Game Time packages in the New Eden Store that gave a discount depending on the amount of time the player purchases.

Game time in the New Eden Store – Sorting is theirs

Buy 24 months of game time and knock 45% off the price.  Not a bad deal.

But, as Kazanir pointed out on The Meta Show two weekends back, this change meant that people who PLEX their accounts got a potential reduction in the price of maintaining their accounts at a time when the price of a subscription had gone up by as much as 25% and the price of PLEX for real world money had gone up by similar amounts.

Why go with this New Eden Store discount now?

It could be an attempt to get those multi-account players back in the game with discounts that will make them commit to longer.  People who PLEX their accounts are just as valuable, if not more so, than people who pay a subscription as PLEX costs more than a subscription.  So giving them a discount would drive more PLEX buying and keep the market going.

Or it could be an attempt to weather the strange economic times, where one US Dollar is now worth one Euro and one British Pound was down to being worth about a dollar recently.

But either way, opening up the ISK faucet again to let players get more out of ratting and mining might drive more people to PLEX additional accounts with the new discounts.

So could CCP actually have a plan here?  Will it work?

Eight Years of Reavers

Every October I stop and note the anniversary of the founding of the Reavers SIG, a group within the Imperium in EVE Online.  I usually forget the actual founding date (October 15th) and have to go look it up, but a post always appears.

Reavers forum bee

It is, by reputation, the SIG that does not exist or talk in local… except when it does.  Or when we have Brisc Rubal along.  He talks in local and flaunts the dress code, but when you’re a space famous CSM member you can get away with that sort of thing.

Previous anniversary posts:

Unlike past years, I don’t have any posts here about the SIG to fall back on to help flesh out what happened over the last twelve months.

Then again, the last year or so hasn’t exactly seen EVE Online at its best.  I wrote about the year of disappointment, where CCP promised to make things better… and then under-delivered, made things worse, or have yet to deliver.  That is how you end up with charts like this one from Jester.

2019-2022 comparison

And I have a tough time seeing that trend being reversed with what CCP has promised, even if they deliver above and beyond.

Meanwhile, the Imperium has been off its game as well.  Two attempts to get stuck into something in the southeast led to us being over extended and needing to retreat.

And Asher, the leader of the SIG, has his own set of responsibilities.  He was sky marshal, leading the Imperium’s military through World War Bee, which kept him busy enough.  But after the downfall of The Mittani, he became the overall leader of the Imperium… at a time when the game was seeing a decline in players, putting a bit more pressure on him to “do something.”

It isn’t as though Reavers have been completely dormant.  There have been experiments and plans and we are even now deployed and looking for things to do.

Testing out… AOE ratting

The Imperium itself is in peacetime mode right now.  The main fleets are back in 1DQ and homeland defense is the majority of pings these days.  It is the time for the small groups, the SIGs and squads, to find their own missions.

So, while we haven’t been as active as back in the days when Asher only aspired to be the 23rd best FC in the Imperium, Reavers… like EVE Online… aren’t dead yet.  We will see what the next year brings.

The RimWorld Biotech Expansion

RimWorld, that copious consumer of my play time whenever I turn my attention to it, is back with a new DLC/Expansion called BioTech.

Making babies

With this update children will be introduced into the game.  From the update:

With Biotech, colonists (and outsiders) can become pregnant and give birth. Pregnancy can begin naturally, or via technological means, and can be controlled by a variety of methods.

Babies bring joy, but also challenges. Colonists’ hearts will melt when the baby coos and giggles in their arms. But it takes effort to keep a baby happy and healthy and loved – create a safe haven for them in a cozy pastel nursery where there is always warm milk, a comfortable crib, overflowing toy chests and kind caregivers.

They grow up fast (especially if you use a growth vat) – soon your child will be walking, talking, and getting into trouble. They’ll soak up knowledge in the classroom and tag along with adults to watch them work. Kids find many ways to entertain themselves with art, exploring nature, playing with technology, and more. Teach them lessons and they’ll learn how to survive, cook, make friends, create art, build, craft, hunt, and fight. Watch as they grow up and make mistakes, lose loved ones, and survive hardships.

I have always been interested in the relationships between colonists in the game, and have played out otherwise dead-end or solved games just to see how they evolve over time. A colonist who has had sex recently is a happy colonist.

And now sex will have consequences.  Your colonists will be able to have kids the old fashioned way… or you can genetically engineer them, grow them in vats, and create your own clone army.  This is RimWorld, a sandbox that lets you choose your path in many ways.

The expansion also introduces mechaniods, semi-living machines that can be controlled by colonists with a special brain implant.  Mechanoids can be for menial labor or combat and will have their own technological research track.

Or you can go right into genetically modifying your colonists.  This will also be a thing.  That furry cult you created with the Ideology expansion, now you will be able to modify the members so they can reach their ideal state.

I expect, as with past updates, there will be a series of fixes and revisions as a larger audience starts playing and giving feedback.  By the time we hit the holidays, when I hope to have some more free time, it ought to have settled down so I can give it a try.

The Road to the WoW Dragonflight Expansion

Blizzard has announced their launch plans for the Dragonflight expansion for World of Warcraft.

The company has taken to making handy infographics which make the information easy to absorb.

The dates for Dragonflight

We will get the pre-patch next week, with the new Dracthyr race being unlocked on November 15th so you can start in on fresh character in order to be ready for the expansion, the way the unlocked Death Knights early in the run up to Wrath Classic, which is kind of handy.

My experience after the level squish two years ago was that getting at least up into Shadowlands was no big deal, something you could accomplish in a few evenings of play… if you pick the right path.  (Battle for Azeroth seemed quicker than other choices.)  But, if the path wasn’t short enough already, there is word that an xp boost will land on retail as well so everybody can be level 60 in time for the big day.

And then, or course, as we had already been told, the expansion itself will launch on November 28, another world-wide launch event.

Dragonflight World Wide Launch Times

And then we’ll be fully into the Dragonflight era.

Or some of us will be.

I have no plans to purchase or peek in on Dragonflight at this time.  Wrath Classic dropped less than a month ago, and will be two month in when Dragonflight arrives.  Our group is committed to that Northrend.

I suppose there is something to be said for the every other year pacing of WoW expansions, even classic expansions.  Launching Wrath of the Lich King Classic and Dragonflight two months apart seems like a less than ideal solution.  It will only make Blizz more eager to move on to Cataclysm Classic next year, when there is no retail expansion to launch.  An I am in no hurry to get to Cataclysm.

Anyway, the only thing I am likely to do in retail is take a couple runs at trying to get the Headless Horseman’ mount.  This will be my 14th year of trying.  You would think I would have given up hope by now.