Monthly Archives: November 2022

November in Review

The Site

The site crossed the six million page view mark earlier this month.

That took almost exactly four years from the previous time I mentioned total page views, outside of my annual blog summary post, which was when it five million page views.

TAGN Highlights – Nov 2022

I suspect, with the current rate of traffic decline, that I will never see page views hit the seven million mark.  My main hope on that front is Elon Musk and Mark Zukerberg making social media so unpalatable that blogging becomes a thing again.  But wishing good to come from evil is generally a forlorn hope.

You may, if you are one of those people who likes to try to reconcile data presented them (go you!), wonder about the imbalance of visitors versus views.  Visitors represent daily unique users, and any user that does something that causes another page to load generates an additional page view, so the ratio of page views to visitors has been, historically, between 1.6 and 2.3 on the site.

Yeah, those two numbers seem out of whack still, even with that bit of info, so I’ll ad some more. didn’t start counting visitors until the very end of 2012.  So the site had more than 2.6 million page views recorded before counting the first visitor.  If you deduct that from the six million you get about 1.8 page views per visitor, well within the zone.

And, since we’re on the topic, that ratio has been going down over the years.  2013 saw a 2.3 ratio, while 2021 was down to 1.6.  2022 looks to be up to 1.7, but total page views pretty much collapsed this year, so is in the running to be the lowest traffic full calendar year in the history of the blog.  Go me.

One Year Ago

I got an odd award for a blog I barely started.

Blizzard was in a place where literally anything they did looked bad or desperate.  In their earnings, WoW Classic and Diablo II Resurrected were keeping the company’s revenue going.  They were also trying to win some support by rolling out a community council. On other fronts the company was just looking bad.

They were also fiddling around with a Season of Master WoW Classic server option.  I didn’t feel I needed to go back to vanilla so soon, so let it launch without me.

We were playing D2R ourselves, rolling through Act III and into Act IV.  Meanwhile, I was soloing an necromancer into Hell difficulty while Carbot had ideas for new updates.

And then it was into New World, where we tried to group up and create a company of our own.  Honest Game Trailers had some insight on the game as well.

We learned that we would be getting a 64-bit client for EverQuest. EverQuest II turned 17 years oldLOTRO launched the Fate of Gundabad expansion.  Meanwhile, EG7 was talking about future plans including a Marvel Universe MMO.

In EVE Online I was trying to sum up the post-war view from Delve.

CCP announced the return of Fanfest after the Covid hiatus.  The Alliance Tournament was running.  I watched some of week one,

But all eyes were on the economy, were CCP’s delivery on promised prosperity seemed unlikely with the announced mining changesThere were protests in Jita. as it seemed like the company was going all in on permanent scarcity.  The MER showed things were still down.

I tried out Forza Horizon 5, something that cost me just a dollar.  I even got Potshot to come play with me, though linking up with friends was a typical Microsoft disaster.  We also did some World of Tanks.

It was also time for the launch of the Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remake that my daughter and I had been waiting for.

I looked into why Harry Potter: Wizards Unite failed.  There was also some more binge watching.

Five Years Ago

It was BlizzCon.  Blizzard, while pretty much ignoring the Diablo franchise, did announce the next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, as well as WoW Classic.  There was much discussion after BlizzCon wrapped up.  I brought up a list of things that would likely be different in WoW Classic compared to live.

Actually in WoW I was into Suramar and my class hall campaign, timewalking in Northrend, and picking up again with pet battles.  The WoW thirteenth anniversary event was timely as it gave a boost to faction gains, something I was working on to unlock flying.  Also, as predicted, I failed to get the headless horseman’s mount yet againThis is fine.

In EVE Online we were off on what would become a nearly year long deployment to the north of New Eden.  I was worried about these upcoming Alpha clone skill injectors.  CCP also had a screen shot contest.  And I did a write up about the Neocom II app for iOS and only got a few material facts wrong.

I was trying to get my copy of ZMud 7.21 up and working again.  This comes up every so often.

I had to get ZMud going so I could finish up my post about the Elemental Glades in TorilMUD.

EverQuest II became a teenager, turning 13.  For its birthday it got the Planes of Prophecy expansion.

In Minecraft I was touring our world looking at some of the epic structures.

There was some crazy talk out of EA.  And that was before the Star Wars: Battlefront II fiasco started to boil over, with Disney stepping in to check EA.

Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon launched, marking the end of new Pokemon titles for the Nintendo handheld line.

And a video on YouTube ended up prompting a long discussion about how much it costs to make a video game.  It no doubt costs even more now.

Ten Years Ago

We said farewell to City of Heroes.

Pong turned 40.

Star Wars: The Old Republic made their free to play transition.  Hot bars were for sale.

dipped a toe into GuildWars 2.

I was feeling in the doldrums about computer hardware.

The Register was wondering if Second Life was a failure.

SOE was on their usual autumnal roll.  They introduced Krono, their PLEX-like currency.

PlanetSide 2 went live.  I even patched up and tried it.  Pity about it becoming aim hack central so quickly.

EverQuest II Chains of Eternity went live, leading to some EQII reflection on my part.

The EverQuest expansion Rain of Fear launched, leading to one of my occasional ponderings about how long the game will go on.  Meanwhile, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Dragons of Norrath expansion was unlocked.  That marked the potential end of my coverage of the server as SOE seemed uninterested in promoting it or anything about it.  I was only getting updates when they went wrong.

Over in Rift we were patching up as Storm Legion went live.

The British tank tree showed up for the first time in World of Tanks.

We were running movie ops in EVE Online while I was wondering how the Retribution expansion might change events like Burn Jita.  As it turned out, it did not change things one whit.

Time Magazine wrote up their 100 Best Video Games of All Time while Complex Gaming gave us a list of 50 with EVE Online at the top.

Turbine, grasping at straws at this point, relaunched Asheron’s Call 2, a decade after it first launched.  Or maybe it was in December of 2012.  I have conflicting sources.  However in the end, different decade, same result, abject failure.

And I was rambling on about motivation and what makes a good story in an MMO.

Fifteen Years Ago

I was going on about MMOs on a single server again, focusing on EVE Online and why its unique set of circumstances allows CCP to get away with everybody on one shard.

CCP also changed the name of player groups from gangs to fleets, befitting a game about ships.  Player usage of the terms took a while to catch up.  I think I still heard people talking about “gang links” at least five years later.  CCP also announced that their Power of Two campaign boosted subscriptions past 300,000 and broke a record when the game passed 50K players online at once.

I was still mining away in New Eden, trying to optimize my yields.  I also hit 10 million skill points in EVE and bought my first Drake.  Also, the Trinity expansion launched.

I found an old parody screen shot from the early days of Air Warrior.

I was thinking about all that vendor trash that just disappears.

I was moaning about EverQuest and accessibility again.

Also it was time for the Rise of Kunark expansion, if I could find a copy.  You had to buy that stuff at retail stores back then.  But I eventually found a copy and took the boat out to Kunark.  I hit 58, 59, and then level 60 for the first time in EverQuest II.  I was also claiming my four year veteran rewards.

SOE was still working on fixing Vanguard.

My daughter and I were playing LEGO Star Wars: The Compelete Saga on the Wii.  I even put together a review of it.  Still one of my favorite games on the Wii.

And in World of Warcraft the instance group was finally all level 50 and taking on the remains of Maraudon. Then we were off to up Sunken Temple in a way that gave us a before and after snapshot of the WoW 2.3 patch. (Which took forever to download back then.)  I was also trying ride on the outside of a boat.  I hate missing the boat.

Tabula Rasa launched, beginning its short run before being shut down by NCsoft.  The cover shown in the Wikipedia article still makes me want to say, “Multipass.”

Also launching a decade back was Rock Band.  You could now play the drums.  Take that Guitar Hero!

Finally, Perpetual announced that Star Trek Online would be delayed leading to another headline contest.

Twenty Years Ago

Bungie put out their RTS Myth: The Fallen Lords, which I remember being pretty excited about after seeing a demo.  And then I went off and played Total Annihilation and forgot about it, while Bungie eventually went off to create Halo and mostly forgot about it as well.  Now I suddenly want to play that RTS again.

Also, the last episode of Beavis & Butt-head aired and the bladder testing epic Titanic opened in theaters. (I had a large soda and the last hour of the movie is constant water moving and flowing…)

Fifty Years Ago

Atari launched Pong, the arcade console title that would make the company famous and rich.  Many memorable titles would come later, but Pong and all its variations (including Breakout, which Steve Wozniak designed) were at the root of the company’s success.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Flight in Pre-Patch Outland
  2. Faction Warfare Updates Kicking Off in EVE Online
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  5. The RimWorld Biotech Expansion
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. The Level 70 Boost Question for Wrath Classic
  8. A Week of Musk Era Twitter
  9. The Uprising Expansion comes to EVE Online
  10. RimWorld Ideology
  11. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  12. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online

Search Terms of the Month

superdata top grossing games 2022
[Nielsen shut down SuperData in 2020]

eve online uprising destroted munnin
[It certainly isn’t Muninns Online anymore]

dyson sphere program мощность сферы
[The star in the middle provides the power]

minecraft bases 2015
[They sure were fun back then]

особняк вход майнкрафт
[The front door worked for me]

Game Time from ManicTime

Another month where I played just the same two games… well, I have three on the list, but I only farted around in retail WoW to see the changes the Dragonflight pre-patch brought, and to peek in on launch day.  I didn’t really “play” for any serious definition of the word.

  • WoW Classic – 90.76%
  • EVE Online – 7.66%
  • World of Warcraft – 1.58%

EVE Online

I really did not do much in New Eden in November.  You would think, what with the big Uprising expansion hitting, that I would find lots to do in the game… and I guess you would be wrong.  Faction Warfare isn’t my thing… and there wasn’t a lot else in the expansion for me.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Every update doesn’t have to be about me.  But I only logged in to keep the training game going and to update my PI for most of the month… and to collect login rewards.  Lots of skill points to be had there.

And I blew all those skill points right away, so I now have five additional jump clones.  Totally worth it.

I was also at risk of blowing my “be on at least one kill mail every month” streak, which I have managed to keep going since April of 2014, having not undocked in anger all month long.  But then, on the last day of November I was at my desk and a homeland defense fleet came up and I was able to log in quickly and help blow up a half a dozen Pandemic Horde pilots that were running around Delve.  And thus my streak was maintained for another month.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I finally hit level 43 in Pokemon Go.  I mentioned hitting level 42 in last year’s November in review post, so that took 12 months to accomplish.  And now the path to level 44 is even longer.  We’ll probably get there in 2024.

  • Level: 43 (1% of the way to 44 in xp, 0 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 744 (+4) caught, 761 (+4) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 21 of 25
  • Pokemon I want: Pachirisu
  • Current buddy: Golisopod (just because he looks cool)

WoW Classic

We have been carrying on pretty well in Northrend, in our own slow and steady way.  People have been level 80 for weeks and weeks now and we’re just hitting 74.  We’re in no hurry… though maybe we should be.  Retro servers tend to be fast moving and I am not even sure what the phases are for Wrath Classic.  Still, we’re happy for the moment.


I did manage to gain a level.  I think that unlocked some new socks or some such.  Zwift does cosmetics, but they are all earned the hard way and I am not that big into the whole scene.  Still, I have hit a few milestones in the game.  I have a blog post brewing about it.

  • Level – 17 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,352 miles (+51 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 53,022 (+1,382 feet)
  • Calories burned – 43,140 (+1,321)

Coming Up

It will be the last month of the year once more and the holiday season will be in full swing.  Every online game will have some sort of event, there will be holiday sales, and all sorts of stuff going on.

It will also be time for the usual gamut of end of year posts.  I will be summing up all sorts of thing as well as reviewing my predictions.  I went back to take a peek at them and… I think I was in something of a mood when I wrote them.  I got a few right, most wrong, as usual.  But was I wrong on the things I wanted to be wrong about?  We shall see… somewhere around the 15th if I follow the usual pattern.

The Renewal of Ro Expansion Launches for EverQuest II Tomorrow

You would think that the EverQuest II team might retain some institutional memory about launching straight into the teeth of World of Warcraft. But here we are, 18 years down the road and EverQuest II is launching an expansion not just in the same month as WoW, but pretty much the day after WoW is launching its latest expansion, Dragonflight.

On the other hand, the days when anybody realistically viewed these two games as being competitors in any but the most vague, genre based sense, are long gone.  We had five years or so of “what if” discussions around bizarro world scenarios where EQII came out ahead in that match up.  The odds were never going to favor anybody but Blizzard in that fight.  SOE made a lot of mistakes, but even if they hadn’t, WoW was going to win big.  I mean, they converted a lot of EQ stalwarts.

So the reality is, it doesn’t matter if EQII launches an expansion tomorrow, today, or yesterday.  The overlap in customers is probably minimal.  A lot of people pick their game and stick to it.  So tomorrow Renewal of Ro will launch and there will be a whole new range of content available in EverQuest II.

Renewal of Ro

This will be the 19th expansion for EQII, putting it well ahead of WoW on at least one front.

EQII expansions are a lot more focused than WoW expansions tend to be.  They tend to be much more about a change in the scenery, story, and villains and much less about borrowed power, class revamps, and throwing the game up in the air to change things up in an attempt to keep things fresh, a strategy that has not always served Blizzard well.

So tomorrow EQII will go back to the Desert of Flames, the first expansion, to unearth some new tales and explore some additional terrain.

While on a valiant quest to help aerakyn return to their original thread of reality, adventurers find themselves going back to the brutal island of Ro, but this time on the southern half of the flaming desert. Here, with the help of a local tribe of Hizite nomads, they will make their way across the unforgiving Raj’Dur Plateaus, to explore what is left of the Elddar Empire’s cursed city, the long Buried Takish’Hiz, before finding themselves within the renewed Takish Badlands, as they are led into the treacherous Sandstone Delta by the machinations of a notorious foe. They will come face-to-face with Raj’Dur bandits, power-hungry djinn, desert madmen, cursed Elddar, Dunetooth goblins, the Mhyt-moo school of Yha-lei, the Stormfury and Swordfury cyclops clans, and the Ortallian zealots of Ro, not to mention the glorious heroes they will team up with along the way.

There is more information available on the expansion page.

The content falls into most of the usual categories.  There is no adventure level increase, but the game has several parallel progression paths, so they can skip bumping the level cap.

  • Rise above the rest with 5 new Ascension levels and spells.
  • Epic Spell Quests – Embark on an adventure to discover and upgrade an all new powerful epic spell for your class.
  • Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests in the unexplored regions of the deserts of Ro.
  • Conquer all new Solo, Heroic, and Raid content. Return to the flaming desert! Rediscover Takish’Hiz!

That means more of all the things for the regulars.  For me, not so much this time.

I do like to go back to the game now and then, and each expansion comes with its own catch up mechanic, so it is possible for me to skip an expansion or two and still get up to speed when the mood strikes me.  This time around it really doesn’t.

But Dragonflight doesn’t strike my fancy either, so I won’t be playing either in the near future.

WoW Dragonflight Arrives Today

Today is the day for retail WoW, that rare bi-annual event when Blizzard ships an expansion to the cornerstone game of their portfolio.  Today sees the launch of WoW Dragonflight.

WoW Dragonflight

Today at 3pm Pacific Time or Midnight Central European Time, the world-wide launch of the expansion kicks off.

Dragonflight World Wide Launch Times

Dragonflight is the 9th expansion in the eighteen year life of the game… again, bi-annual is the pattern here, though there is some variation in the times between expansions.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 779 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 656 days
  • Legion to Battle for Azeroth – 714 days
  • Battle for Azeroth to Shadowlands – 832 days
  • Shadowlands to Dragonflight – 734 days

But saying “about every two years” is close enough to the mark to cover it.

And there is quite a bit riding on this expansion.  I don’t think it is exactly controversial to suggest that the previous expansion, Shadowlands, was less popular than previous entries in the series.  There are a few reasons for that.

Every expansion shakes up the meta of the game to some extent, though it at least appears at first glance that those that change the least seem to do better than those that go all out to be different.  And, in that spectrum, Shadowlands was one of the more extreme examples.

To start with, it was built on top of the great level squish, which made the rest of the game a level 1-50 experience… or a series of parallel 1-50 experiences… that still has me wondering if the whole thing was worth the effort.

Then, of course, there was the usual borrowed power mechanics, this time involving pledging yourself to a faction, which generally negatively effect all past content and builds you up into something that is going to be taken away from you the moment the next expansion drops.

Finally, Blizz decided to toss the normal leveling experience in the air and try something new.  The traditional multiple zone effort to work through that might take a couple of months of casual play to make it to the ten levels to cap was discarded.  Instead they made the journey to level cap a short run for even very casual players and bet the farm that everybody would just love doing faction dailies and running the same instances over and over again for the next 18 months.

It was the ultimate “we’ll make raiders out of all of you” by making even you solo play a raiding-like daily grind.  As with the Battle for Azeroth “we’ll make all servers PvP servers” debacle, this did not work out as planned.  (And at least BfA didn’t mess with the normal 10 level casual curve.)

So, as I said, there is a lot riding on Dragonflight.  Did Blizzard learn the right lessons?  The historical trajectory of the game tends to favor the answer “no,” and the whole “let’s go all-in on everything dragons” doesn’t fill me with a ton of confidence.

But I also haven’t been interested enough to read up on the expansion or join the beta, even though I was extended an invite without even opt-ing in.

That is largely because I am playing Wrath of the Lich King Classic, the last expansion to hold its numbers rather than having a second summer… or first summer… population crash.  I am enjoying that and Blizz is getting my subscription money, but I have no interesting in buying Dragonflight on day one.

I am sure that a lot of people will buy it however.  I am equally sure that we will get a post-launch press release that will frame the launch in a way to show it was the best launch ever.  We will see if they have to come up with a new metric to do that… my skepticism abounds since Blizz stopped talking subscription numbers and adopted MAUs across all products as their metric. (Though even that went down regularly since they adopted it, so good work on that front.)

People will enjoy it.  Despite my not sticking around, I enjoyed Shadowlands quite a bit for the month it took me to get to level cap.  Then the prospect of 23 more months of faction grinds and instance dailies left me cold.  And while I won’t be playing, at least initially, I will be watching to see how the new round of Blizzard ideas, from UI changes to another round of class revamps to flying for everybody from the moment of launch, plays out for them.

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home

The fourth entry in our Star Trek movie marathon, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which debuted 36 years ago yesterday, has left me in something of an odd position.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The previous two films we watched in the series were actually both much better than I remembered.  They were not without fault, but not as awkward as expected.  And even the first film in the series was at least no worse than memory told me.  But now we’re at what many consider “the good one” in the series and… I’m not feeling it all the way.

The film picks up immediately after the events of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  The crew of the recently destroyed Enterprise are on Vulcan with recreated/reborn Spock and their stolen Klingon bird of prey.  Meanwhile, back on Earth charges are being leveled against Kirk and his crew for a variety of crimes, including stealing the Enterprise and then blowing it up.

The crew gets aboard their pilfered Klingon prize, now with HMS Bounty painted on the side, a reference that will be forgotten almost immediately, to head back to Earth in order to face the music.

Meanwhile, in the footsteps of Nomad and V’Ger, yet another space probe is headed towards Earth disabling ships and stations that cross its path, and broadcasting an indecipherable message.  For a small unregarded yellow sun far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy, Earth sure seems to be the center of attention to random undiscovered alien civilizations and their various space probes.

Anyway, as usual, the crew of the Enterprise has to save Earth once more.  Unlike anybody else, they figure out that the message is being beamed at Earth’s oceans and are able to modify it to what it would sound like under water, recognizing it as the song of a humpback whale.  But whales are extinct on Earth, so the logical option is to go back in time to get some.

So, in a bit of dramatic hand wavery, they accelerate past warp 9 to zip around the sun in order to go back in time because… well, doesn’t Superman do it that way?  Now, leaving aside that warp 9 in supposed to be 729 times the speed of light, at which speed navigating around something as small as our star seems ludicrously unlikely, they do manage to get flung back in time, to 1986… because the plot demands it…  which also just happens to be when the film was made.  For once everything will be authentic when somebody goes back in time.

It just makes me wonder if it was possible the for crew of the Enterprise to see the film crew… or something.  There has to be a paradox in there somewhere.

Of course, there are problems.  The cheap WorfMart dilithium crystals the Klingons had been fueling the ship with ran out of juice traveling back in time, so they only have enough power for a day cloaked, unless they can find a way to recharge them.

In the mean time they land in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and then spend to wandering around and getting into absurd situation… like taking a bus to Sausalito only to end up at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The crew seems to magically teleport around various SF Bay Area locations, including a scene below the Golden Gate Bridge that appears to be a reverse of a shot in Vertigo.

Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak stood in front of a green screen just like this

This is, again, my own baggage, having lived all of my life in the SF Bay Area and having been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium at least a half a dozen times.  I could mark out on a map where their short jaunts took them in reality based on their filming locations.

Anyway, there are ever so many comic misunderstandings and at one point Spock jumps in a tank at the aquariums to mind meld with a whale as McCoy and Scotty go off in search of a travel carrier big enough for two humpback whales while Uhura and Checkov seek out the nuclear reactor of the 1986 version of the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier CVN-65 in order to recharge the Klingon ship… something that requires Checkov to say “nuclear wessels” about five times beyond the point when it was funny.

At that point the whole thing is just one goofy situation after the next, not the least of which is Uhura and Checkov not knowing where Alameda is when we had already established the fact that Star Fleet Headquarters is in 23rd century San Francisco, a place they have no doubt spent some time at, from which you could probably see Alameda across the bay.

Anyway, everything works out, they grab some whales and get back to the 23rd century, drop them in 23rd century San Francisco bay, which must be much warmer that the current bay, because nobody jumps into that water happily in our time and the whole crew seems glad to wade on into it.  The whales sing, the space probe gets the message, packs its bags and heads off, repairing the things it broke on the way out.  Earth is saved and the status quo is restored… though no explanation is ever given as to how the space probe knew about whales or what it wanted or anything like that.  I mean, at least we got some sort of motivation from Nomad and V’Ger when it was there turn.  Oh well.

After everybody calmed down from Earth being saved yet again, court is finally back in session and the crew is on trial, but all charges but one are dismissed, the remainder being disobeying orders, leveled solely at Kirk.  As punishment he is reduced in rank to captain once more and given command of the new USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.  That will teach him to obey orders!

So my problem is, after trashing Star Trek: The Motion Picture for being ridiculous, how can I possibly give this film a pass?  It is objectively a less plausible, with more hand-waving “space magic” than the first picture.  It is practically the script of the first film, with time travel, whales, and no Enterprise.  And don’t get me started on glib dismissals of time travel paradoxes.  Is the 23rd century they return to even the same one they left after they stomped around Earth for a few days, handing out advanced technology like candy at Halloween?  How can I possibly rank it as anything but last in my running tally?

Well, the prime defense I have of it is that being boring isn’t on its list of sins.  It is silly and nonsensical and just plain dumb at points, and the script just yadda yadda yaddas past a host of issues, but is always a bit of a laugh… and it helps that it was filmed at locations I recognized.

If I had to rank this based on damage to Star Trek canon it might be at the bottom of the list.  But as an entertainment vehicle, it does hold its own.  You keep watching even if the whole venture is difficult to take seriously.

So, with that in mind, my ranking of the films so far is:

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  3. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

I had to wrestle over whether The Voyage Home got second or third place, but it edged out The Search for Spock based on entertainment value and the fact that the other film did not lack for its own set of extremely goofy moments and was itself based on the premise of bringing Spock back to life to carry on as before.

Now we’re on to the fifth film in the series, where we will attempt to answer the question, “Why does God need a starship?”

Cooking Amnesty with Pilgrims Bounty in Wrath Classic

As I mentioned in my post about working on my harvesting skills with my Death Knight, my hope was that we would get the Thanksgiving Holiday event that would allow me to catch him up on cooking more easily that it has been to get him into Northrend levels of harvesting.

And that hope was fulfilled.  The Pilgrim’s Bounty event in Wrath Classic was all that I had hoped for.  Irondam, my DK, was only level 1 in cooking, but went out to the Pilgrim’s Bounty area in front of Stormwind on Thanksgiving and set out to get into Northrend levels of the profession.  350 cooking is all you need.

The first part, the stuffing recipes, are easy and can be done at any of the major cities, but after that each of the three alliance cities has their own specialty.  Cranberries are only available out in front of the gates of Ironforge, sweet potatoes are exclusive to Darnassus, and Stormwind has all the pumpkins for pumpkin pie, so I traveled between the cities, using the recall to Dalaran and the portals there when I could.

There are some daily quests that send you along with specific dishes to each of the cities.  You need 25-30 of each item to cover all of those quests, but Irondam was making a lot of each to level up, so he had plenty of everything on hand.

There is a handy cooking trainer at each city event area so I was able to train up quickly as I leveled up.

The last recipe on the list is slow roasted turkey, and turkeys are the one item you cannot just buy from a vendor.  You have to hunt them in Elwyn Forest.  They are critters, but have a 100% drop rate for the ingredient you need, so I ran wild trying to collect enough to get me all the way to 350.  In doing so, I managed to get a turkey kill streak… less than 30 seconds between turkey kills for 40 consecutive turkeys… which netted me another achievement.

Turkey Triumph gets you the Turkinator achievement

Then it was back to the cooking area to start working on that last stretch of training.

Cooking turkeys

I ended up needing every single turkey I grabbed because the recipe goes green at 240 and you only get occasional skill ups after that.  But I had enough to cover my needs.  After that I was able to recall back to Dalaran and go to the cooking trainer to get Grand Master Cooking.  There were a few achievements on the way to that.

The most recent of the cooking related achievements

So my plans for Pilgrim’s Bounty were met.

Of course, there are other things to be done.  We went out as a group to get some of the other achievements, like Terokkar Turkey Time.

Terokkar Turkey Time

That one requires you to slay the final boss in Sethekk Halls in Outland while wearing event costumes.  Fortunately we were geared up enough to managed it.

Turkey team in Sethekk Halls

There are a few other achievements I need to work on in order to get the meta achievement for the event, but I do not have any characters that lack for cooking skills now.

Black Friday Bullet Points about New Eden

It is Black Friday today here in the US, so called because the post Thanksgiving shopping spree is alleged to be the date when many retail outlets become profitable for the year… go into the black.  So the day has become something of an obnoxious tradition, both offline and online.

You cannot escape it even in New Eden

Meanwhile, CCP has been tossing out tidbits of information left and right, so much so that they are posting their own summaries of the week.  But I will persist with my own version, which has both more and less than what they have covered.

  • Team Security Rules and Policy Clarifications

When the CCP security teams posts it is often wise to take heed of what they say, and earlier this week they posted a new item going into details about account sharing, botting, and illicit ISK buying and selling.  Some common misconceptions are explored and there are some stats and graphs on the topic.

Find it all here.

  • Permaband is on Spotify

The in-house band might be the most successful CCP venture after EVE Online itself, having given us original songs like HTFU and Warp to the Dance Floor, which are legitimately good tracks.  The band’s music has appeared on a number of services and now Spotify has been added to the list.

Take that Elite Tauren Chieftain.

  • PGL Joins Goonswarm Federation

Progodlegend, a leadership figure in TEST second only to Vily in the PAPI led attempt to purge Goons from the game… known as World War Bee or Beeitnam… is now in Goonswarm Federation.

He has joined us

I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but it does speak to the flexibility of relationships in New Eden and perhaps how the Imperium is a bit different since the departure of The Mittani.

I found out about this via a Jabber ping:

Attention Goons, we now have an immediate job opening in alliance leadership. The job is stressful and very demanding, yet simple. Make sure every ship progodlegend undocks has rigs fit. Apply in elysium. That is all.

One of the memes of the war was about PGL forgetting to fit the rigs on his ships, and kill mails with evidence of that were widely circulated.

In addition to alliance leadership experience, PGL has sat on the CSM multiple times.

  • Somebody Won Alliance Tournament XVIII

I kind of expected a news item out of CCP on this one.  They seem to be posting news about literally everything else this week.  I watched a bit of the AT, and actually won a SKIN during a give away, but once things were over CCP seemed to pack up and head out.  They didn’t even update the spreadsheet they were using to track the tournament.  I guess they were too busy writing all of the other news updates they did this past week.

Apparently Truth. Honor. Light. won the final round in a 3-0 sweep over Odin’s Call, so congratulations to them.  There is also a recap of their journey to the title posted to Reddit.  There is some insight into what it takes and what it means to compete in that post.

  • Faction Warfare Stuff

CCP keeps posting things about the empires and faction warfare and, if I read the most recent one correctly, the Caldari have grabbed a constellation in Syndicate, an NPC null sec region adjacent to Placid, where the Caldari and Gallente have been facing off.

The DS-M4Q constellation

CCP has been adjusting the battle lines for faction warfare and if there was space less well utilized than low sec in the game, it would have to be NPC null regions.  But the burning question here is really whether or not Poitot will remain the only named system in Syndicate.

Meanwhile, the faction warfare updates have brought a lot of attention to low sec, though there do seem to be some issues left to iron out with the changes.

  • Further with the Photon UI

CCP has been pushing their updated Photo UI, though bragging about an adoption rate when they forced it on for all player seems a bit hollow to me.  They seem to have fixed the more egregious bugs like my Neocom issue, but the big problem for many seems to be that the UI doesn’t offer anything new aside from having to learn a new notifications paradigm. (At least we didn’t get more red dots!)

Now, however, CCP has finally announced what might be the killer feature for the Photo UI, multiple overviews.  The overview is one of the critical aspects of the game’s UI and seemingly the most neglected.  It shows you what is in space near you and allowed you to filter or display based on specific criteria.  We’ve long been allowed multiple overview tabs, so you could swap between say, celestial objects in the system and hostile capitals on grid, but having both of those views up in their own windows in the UI would be a huge change.

Of course, the flip side of this is the question of whether or not I want even MORE windows open and hiding space in my UI… but utility will win out in the end I suppose.

  • New Default Overview Coming

Evidence for my statement above about neglect is that the default overview options haven’t changed in over a decade and those defaults are… kind of crappy.  You get something like”Show all the things” and “show mining asteroids” and a couple more, which serve you well for about the first week and then your life gets more complicated and they end up holding you back.

So CCP has put a new default overview on the test server for people to try out.  It comes with some new tabs setup as well as a range of pre-sets a user can apply to their tabs for specific scenarios.

The overview is one of the most complicated features to explain to a new user… I’ve been around the game for 16 years and I mostly understand the overview, but wouldn’t bet money on my knowledge… so giving new players defaults that actually do useful things could be a huge boon to the game.

  • Black Friday Omega Discounts

And, just to end on the Black Friday theme, CCP does have some Black Friday deals on Omega subscriptions available in the web store.  The pricing isn’t back down to the pre-increase numbers, but it is still a discount if you’re like me and buy in 3 or 6 month increments only when there is a sale.

Star Trek III The Search for Spock

We have made it to the third entry in our Star Trek film festival of sorts.  After the uptick in quality we saw with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it was time to hit another odd numbered film with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

We’re at another point where I think I have only seen this film once, probably back in the theater, back when it premiered in 1984.  That I saw it in that particular context meant my reaction then was considerably different than the way I responded it to it last week.

To start with, Christopher Lloyd is the Klingon commander, Kirk’s main nemesis. At the time I only knew him from his role in the show Taxi (also my baseline for Danny Devito) where he played the erratic Reverand Jim, a character whose unique personality traits I projected onto the Captain Kruge character in the film.  This, of course, pre-dates many of the roles that would influence my views about him, including the Back to the Future series of films.  So 1984 me saw him as Reverend Jim the Klingon, while 38 years down the road… well, if not Reverend Jim, then sort of the expansive and slightly loony mix of the many characters he has since played.

And then there are some other actors I probably wouldn’t have noticed at the time, like John Larroquette… another Klingon for pete’s sake… or Miguel Ferrer who would later gain notice in RoboCop.

Anyway, the movie itself picks up immediately in the wake of Wrath of Khan, framing the situation with a few clips from the end of that film, with the Enterprise safe but damaged, Kirk headed back to base, and the photon torpedo case used to bury Spock in space sitting happily and fully intact on the surface of the planet created by the triggering of the Genesis device.

On the voyage home McCoy breaks into Spock’s quarters and has an episode where, in Leonard Nimoy’s voice, he chastises Kirk for leaving him behind on Genesis, which is now what we call the planet that was created from the device.  Kirk thinks McCoy is just drunk or suffering from PTSD and has him committed to the psych ward when they get back to Star Fleet.

There they also find that the Enterpise, now 20 years old… in reality and Star Fleet years I guess… is to be decommissioned.  As Kirk and his bridge crew are getting drunk at Kirk’s bachelor bad, where Kirk himself is wearing some leisure wear that the 70s called him to say they did not want back, when Sarek, Spock’s dad, shows up to speak with Kirk.  Sending everybody away Sarek wants to know what Kirk did with Spock’s consciousness… because, as we learn, any Vulcan that knows they’re going to die will implant themselves in another person… only to find out that Kirk doesn’t have it.

Eventually they figure out McCoy has it, so they have to break him out of the psych ward, steal the Enterprise, fly it to Genesis with just the main cast, fight a Klingon bird of prey captained by Reverend Jim, find Spock’s body, collect everything together and get to Vulcan where in some “are you sure you want to do this?” ceremony, Spock can be put back together so he can be in the next film.

Roll credits and cue the time travel whale hunt in the next film!

I previously compared this movie to Spock’s Brain, the opening episode of season 3 of the original series, and widely regarded as the worst episode in the bunch.  Seriously, the plot line is literally somebody STEALS Spock’s brain and the crew of the Enterprise has to go find it and put it back.

But The Search for Spock is not that bad.  I must be feeling incredibly charitable towards the film series, because I enjoyed the film.

I mean sure, it is still a glorified original series episode, stretched out to two house.  And yes, there are some incredibly goofy bits in it, like when McCoy goes to what I can only describe as the Star Fleet version of the Mos Eisley cantina, complete with framing shots of strange aliens, or when half the bridge crew breaks McCoy out of the detention block and shoot up the coms station in a way very reminiscent of another Star Wars scene.  Then there is stealing the Enterprise, losing the Enterprise, stealing a Klingon bird of prey, and the fact that on reassembly Spock remembers something he said to Kirk that we established earlier happened AFTER he backed up his brain in McCoy.  I mean, is that how brain backups work?  Are they like jump clones in EVE, getting a constant update feed until the being dies?

Anyway, in summary, it was goofy and had its flaws, but not in a huge immersion breaking way.  It wasn’t as tight as Wrath of Khan, though that has its own level of goofiness, but it wasn’t bad. So for the ranking so far we’re going to put it in second place.

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  3. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Next up, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  We’re watching that tonight after Thanksgiving dinner has been finished and cleared away.

The Persistent Death Knight in Northrend

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my Death Knight, Irondam, has become my main “level through the game and see all the things” character.  There are some advantages to having a DK in that roll.

This is why they had to give us that water mount in Pandaria

One of the aspects of him being in that role is that I have held him to finishing up the main quest lines to the point of getting the quest achievement for each of the zones he has worked his way through.

You don’t have to do ALL the quests in a zone for the achievement, but you end up doing most of them, usually leaving off the group quests, and the total rings up at a hundred or so for some of the zones.  So, while he has gotten himself to 75, he has really only worked in three zones so far.  They are:

Borean Tundra

This is kind of the lesser of the two starting zones.  It certainly feels like the zone where you should start if you’re running into the Northrend at level 68… like I did with four characters.

Welcome to Borean Tundra

There is a lot going on with the Borean Tundra map and you run into a few different groups, each with their own sets of quest lines.  With each little area pretty much sticking to itself and the various story threads not really intertwining, the place feels like a bit of a patchwork.  That isn’t bad, but aside from Coldarra perhaps you don’t come out of it feeling like “well, there was a story!”

I mean, there are stories there, some even related to the main thread of the expansion.  But they are a bit jumbled together.  Mostly it feels like the zone you show up in dressed from the last expansion and leave with all your gear updated to a new look and an appreciation into how to play your class.

I made my way through and didn’t have any problem finding enough quests to get the achievement.

So you say

It has its moments, but isn’t as memorable as later locations.

Howling Fjrod

While you can start in Howling Fjord, unless you’re in a hurry to get to the first dungeon, there isn’t a lot of advantage to it.

Welcome to the Fjord

Having played through both the start of Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord on three of four characters, you don’t get any especially different gear.  I sent my hunter over there hoping to get a gun rather than the bow that is the first ranged weapon in the tundra quest chain, but found myself offered a crossbow instead.  There is a gun further down the line in Howling Fjord, but there is also one in Borean Tundra, so whatever.

And the initial quests are a bit of a trial.  They aren’t hard, just kind of a pain and maybe a bit opaque in description.  But you have to run back and forth through a gauntlet of mobs to keep reporting back in.

Once you get through that though and out of the pit that is Valgarde, it is also where you start getting into some of the meat of the story as well as getting to experience the new vehicle mechanics that Blizz introduced.  You are flying around in planes, playing sky crane with a helicopter, shooting harpoons at dragon riders, and riding a flaming harpoon across the Fjord.

Never did this in Outland

There are also some goofy mechanics and some quests with rather unhelpful descriptions that kind of just assume you’re going to go look it up I guess, because I had to in the end.  Still, I made it through without having to beat the bushes for additional quests.

I've been all over

I’ve been all over

I am glad I started into the expansion at 68, because even though those first two levels were quick, they did burn off a layer of quests so that Irondam didn’t get ahead of them too far in levels.

Both of those zones converge into Dragonblight.


These feels like the zone that Blizz said, “Here, here is where we will dig into the story and play with some of our new ideas.

Dragonblight in the middle

It is also where you run into many more quests with some dubious quest text descriptions.  Also, there is the whole Winterguard Keep series of quests where you have to run back and forth through fields of mobs to get to various quest objectives.  It isn’t too bad if you steer your mount around things, but err in that and get dismounted and you end up having to take down the half dozen mobs that were most recently chasing you.  Again, DK for the win with just enough self healing to keep going.  My druid would have been toast.

But it is also story time and in a big way.  It is here, in Dragonblight, that the devs are suddenly ready to tell you all about Arthas and his army and how he gave into his need for revenge at any cost.  You see his ghostly army still haunting the shores where they landed.  You also follow a vision of Arthas as he picks up a handy sword he found just sitting in a cave.

Frostmourne? Cool name for a cool sword

And then there is the foreshadowing event at the Wrathgate, where you get a cinematic in the middle of a zone that includes the steamiest chemistry between two WoW characters outside of the Goldshire Inn.

Get a room you two!

The Wrathgate is a big enough deal that you get an achievement for just being there to see the cinematic.

Veteran of the tour, in anyway case

But as I wound up the various quest lines, I found myself coming up nearly 20 short of the 115 quests needed for the zone achievement.  Eventually I ran down one quest that sent me to Stormwind to the king who had Jaina portal me around and then we ended up outside of the Undercity, ready to run in and figure out who was behind… something… I sort of lost the thread of the tale as I was trying to keep up.

Anyway, you’re outside the Undercity with the king, ready to attack.

Whenever you’re ready Varian

This was actually a bit of a slog, not helped by the vague quest description, the need to wait around for five minutes before anything happens, and the ongoing fights where you’ve been given a buff so you likely won’t die unless you AFK, but is just one empty fight after another until you reach the guy at the end deep in the Undercity for one last big fight.

Then the king sends you back to Dragonblight and you get a reward with a serious gear upgrade, and an easy dozen or more quests because the whole event is a series of short milestone quests.

After that I was still a couple of quests shy of the mark, but realized I hadn’t done any of the quests in Mo’kai harbor yet.  So I flew down there and was soon over the mark.

It is quite a fright, especially at night

A lot of the quests I recognized, though I have no memory of that assault on the Undercity.  But it was both a discreet and slightly dull event, so maybe my memory just let go of that one.

That put me ready for the next zone.  I wasn’t sure whether Sholazar Basin or Grizzly Hills was the right choice, but I was closer to the latter and had picked up the flight point from that one quest in Winterguard Keep that basically throws you on a bird and flies you there without warning the moment you accept it.  So that is where I am headed next.  I don’t remember much about it, besides some bees or something and maybe chasing a heard of horses.  I guess I’ll see when I get there.

Mistlands Available for Testing in Valheim

It has been almost two years since Valheim showed up and became a minor sensation, and in that time there has always been the promise of more biomes and, thus, more vertical progress to come.

Valheim on Steam

The Valheim team hasn’t been idle and they have provided quite a few good updates to the game since launch.  They also launched the game on XBox.  But game play has stopped in the plains since the first day it was available to us, and the hunger for MORE content in the game is real.

And the next biome on the list has been the Mistlands.

We’ve had hints and images of a possible future for that biome, but nothing really to raise much beyond curiosity until last week.  Last week we got a Mistlands game play trailer on YouTube, with a timer on it set to become available today.  And so we have it, our first minute or so glimpse into the new biome.

But that is not all.

In addition to that short video peak, the new biome is now available for public test.  There is an announcement about what it contains and how to access it.

Highlights of the update include:

  • New biome – Mistlands:
    • New mechanics
    • 9 new creatures + Mistlands boss
    • More than 20 new crafting materials
    • 2 new crafting stations, 3 crafting station extensions, and 3 other resource/crafting constructions
    • 15 new food items
    • 3 new potions
    • More than 25 new craftable items (weapons, armours & tools)
    • More than 35 new building/furniture pieces for building, decorating and defending your base
    • New type of dungeon
    • New lore stones
    • New dreams
    • New music

Some of that is unremarkable when listed out, things that you expect to find whenever you advance to the next biome in the game.  That is the progress template for the game.

What those items are, how they look, how you use them, and what the new biome will be like, that is the exciting bit.

Of course, if you stop and wonder what a “public test” of content in an “early access” game entails, you might start to doubt words have meaning anymore… so maybe don’t do that.

And remember the caveat as to how games like Valheim work with content updates.  Already explored areas will not generate the new content.  Also, be wary of mods.

An important thing to note is that the Mistlands biome will only generate in areas you have not yet discovered. Therefore, if you have explored a lot of your world, you might be better off starting a new one in order to actually be able to travel to the Mistlands. As per usual, mods will also most likely cause the game not to launch, as they are only compatible with the Live version of the game. If you have mods, you will either need to remove them or wait for the mod to be updated before you can play.

As for diving in, our group is pretty invested in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, so we are not in a rush to find something new to play.  We can wait for the Mistlands update to hit the main release of Valheim.  When we need another break from Azeroth, it will likely be there waiting for us, and those who rushed in early will have found the bugs for us!

Catching up on Harvesting in Azeroth

I have been enjoying playing my Death Knight in Wrath of the Lich King Classic.  As I have said multiple times at this point, it is over powered, but in fun and engaging ways.  It is a hero class that feels like it has the power to be an actual hero, and it has been fun to level mine up.  So, good times.

We have a small orchard here

On the other hand, he does come with some challenges on the trade skill front.

I don’t really need another crafting alt, and I am not into the absolute grind it can be to get up into and through Outland in order to be useful.  But I wouldn’t mind another harvesting alt.  Having a character out there than with mining and herbalism that could gather for my actual crafting accounts would be very handy.

Here’s the thing.  Death Knights start at 55, and they even get a boost with first aid so they don’t have to go back and start with linen cloth.  But if you want a gathering profession, like herbalism or mining, it is back to skill level 1.

It isn’t the hardest thing in the game to do, especially if you’re already past level 70.  You can run around the old zones with impunity, one-shotting any mob that looks at you sideways.

And, since I have had a gathering marker addon installed throughout WoW Classic, I have map references for a lot of the older zones as to where various herbs and ore can be found.  I have that going for me.

The problem is that it takes time.  If I have an hour or so in the evening, do I want to spend it in an old world zone

Mining some iron out in Arathi

Most evenings I would rather focus on Northrend and the quest chains and seeing the story, experiencing those zones, and leveling up.

Occasionally I will have an evening where I want something really mundane to do while I listed to a podcast or an audio book and I will bring him back to the old world and run around one of the zones where I can get some skill ups.  I am currently at around 170 for both herbalism and mining.  Herbs are generally more plentiful, so the skill ups in the field are more frequent, however you do get some mining skill ups from smelting your ore, which allows that to catch up.

I would like to have mining and herbalism active while I am running around in Northrend doing quests, but I just haven’t felt like investing the time yet.  I still have a long ways to go before I even hit Northrend.

The one saving grace is that at least with the two skills trained, while I cannot harvest anything in Northrend, I can harvest locations on the map.  I’ll get a message that I need a much higher skill level in order to collect the herb or ore, but it will be on the map for my other characters.  And doing that marking doesn’t even dismount me.

As for the other skills, fishing and cooking, I am not sure.  Fishing is likely never going to happen.  I have one character that can fish in Northrend and that is all I really need I suppose.  And on the cooking front, it is my hope that we’ll the harvest festival holiday event that allows you to catch up on cooking all in once concentrated go.  I think that came in with Wrath, but I supposed I will find out soon enough.