Monthly Archives: February 2023

February in Review

The Site

Traffic was down for a lot of the month, and not just because February only has 28 days.  Google traffic, which represents almost all traffic above and beyond the 100 or so regulars who hit the site every day or so, has continued to taper off.  I don’t know why, the algorithm just hasn’t favored me.  And, while Bing and its fellow travelers have once again acknowledged my existence once more, the 55 referrals they mustered didn’t really pick up the slack.

I did have a bit of luck with Facebook this month.  It is generally good for a couple views a day if I remember to go there and manually put items from the TAGN Facebook page into my main feed.  But I decided to post that CSM PvE post in the EVE Online Facebook group and it got some traction there.  I usually don’t post there or on Reddit because it attracts too much flak, but the Facebook group users kept all their comments on Facebook where I could easily avoid reading them.

Meanwhile, I got another lesson in how quality ads mean low value payouts.  At the end of January and start of February there was a five day run of absolute garbage ads.  For example, January 30th saw 2,900 ads displayed to people for a total earning of two cents.

Da Fuq were they showing people?

Now, I don’t make a lot on ads, just enough to pay for the hosting, but two cents a day is pretty bad for the number of ads served.  I know some days they simply don’t serve up ads because they don’t have anything in the queue, and I guess I appreciate them finding some ads, but those were some cheap ass ads.

The streak ended on February 5th when things got back to normal-ish.

Woo hoo, 36 cents collected!

But low traffic and low quality ads mean I might clear a good six dollars on the site this month.  Not exactly enough to let me retire early.  If I keep at that rate it won’t even pay the annual hosting fee.

One Year Ago

Nintendo was shutting down more remaining services for the 3DS, so I looked at my activity on that fading platform.

Blizzard was moving towards cross faction raids and dungeon groups and I was watching videos about how the game had changed since the vanilla days and what got left behind.

Blizzard was also down a bit in the Q4 2021 quarterly financials, but with the Microsoft acquisition in motion, Activision Blizzard had gone to the minimal level of effort for financial reporting.

I was playing EverQuest II and the Visions of Vertovia expansion and working on my mercenaries and mounts. I needed to up my game to wrestle with some of the level cap content.  There was also a new Lore & Legend server.

Meanwhile, just before its 23rd birthday, EverQuest was upgraded to 64-bit.

Enad Global 7 has a good Q4 2021, with Daybreak making up the lions share of the game revenue.

I reviewed the EVE Online + Doctor Who event, which was actually pretty good.  The it was on to the Guardians Gala event.

Dracarys member Satoshia found a CCP presentation about World War Bee on the CCP press site, a presentation that the company apparently never presented and disappeared from the site shortly thereafter.  But I grabbed a copy and pulled out some of the details.

Meanwhile, as CCP prepared for Fanfest with some big promises, Pearl Abyss was talking about how they were going to bring blockchain into their games.  CCP was also updating the MER data.

Meanwhile, I let main account lapse due to CCP being dumb about the economy, which led me to wonder what I could fly as an Alpha clone.  Alpha clones don’t get a lot of jump clones, this I learned.

The instance group was still playing New World and working our way towards Starstone Barrows.  However, server merges kicked us to a new world in New World as the population kept declining.  We did make it to Starstone Barrows and its pink beams, but being a group of four we couldn’t finish it.

I was also looking into Lost Ark, another title on Steam that Amazon was publishing.  I played through the opening weekend of the game on Steam.  It was good enough that the group abandoned New World for this new title.  That meant learning how to play together in another game.

Even CarBot got in on the Lost Ark hype.

I was reflecting on the fact that, viewed from the correct angle, I have sort of been playing the same game for 30 years.  Sort of.  And then I wondered what it would have been like if the games had been even more similar, like what if EverQuest had been based on Forgotten Realms?

People were talking about films they had watched at least seven times.  I had a list of titles that met that criteria.

And there was still binge watching happening at our house as I covered Yellow Jackets, Yellowstone, and a couple other titles.

Five Years Ago

I was wondering if EA might be a better company if they were owned by Microsoft.

Trion Worlds announced that Rift Prime would launch on March 7th, putting it a good two weeks ahead of the previous estimated “spring” opening.

SuperData Research released their review of 2017 and it seemed to be missing a key title.

In World of Warcraft it was Battle for Azeroth pre-order time.  I bought it so I could start unlocking allied races.  Not that I needed more alts.  I also did a little raiding with leashes and got the Mr. Bigglesworth drop.

In New Eden the Monthly Economic Report showed a dip in activity , at least in overall NPC bounties, as we all turned to the Million Dollar Battle that January.

CCP was also proposing changes to the CSM election process as well as updating their game news RSS feeds.

The February update for EVE Online saw a change that allowed players to attack Upwell structures at any time and changed it so that unfueled structures only had one timer after hitting the shields rather than two.  That led to a spike in destroyed citadels.  There was also the Guardian’s Gala event and CCP still calling mission spaces “dungeons.”  The coming March update promised players a new ship.

In game I hit the meaningless milestone of 190 million skill points.

Actually out in space, Pandemic Horde gave up their space in Fade and Pure Blind to move to the Vale of the Silent, leaving a hole in null sec for somebody to fill.

Daybreak finally declared H1Z1 out of early access, but the battle royale market had already moved on.  Fortnite, significantly, was now available on PC and consoles.

And Extra Credits was going over the whole lockbox thing some more… back when that channel was about video games.

Ten Years Ago

Raptr sent me a summary of my 2012 gaming.

Google changed how image search worked, causing a precipitous drop in page views.  Google giveth, and Google taketh away… though they have been heavy on the taketh front for the last couple of years.

I wrote of the problem with Bond villains.  And it wasn’t that they failed to drive Jags.  I also looked at the Netflix remake of House of Cards.

RuneScape joined the rare breed of MMOs with an old rules, nostalgia focused server. called Old School RuneScape.

I tinkered with Prose with Bros on the iPad.  That was amusing for about two weeks.

In something of a breath of fresh air in an argument dedicated to absolutes and bad analogies, with some game devs equating buying used games with piracy, EA admitted that the used game market wasn’t all bad and that the ability to trade in games might be propping up new game sales.  They still wanted to kill used games like everybody else in the industry, but at least they were attempting a moment of honesty about it.

The MOBA version of Warhammer Online was declared dead before it even left beta.  The good metacritic score for Warhammer Online remained of little value.

A group got together to create an Age of Empires II: Age of Kings expansion called Forgotten Empires.  This was before it was announced that Age of Kings would be updated and brought to Steam.

Blizzard and ArenaNet were both offering deep discounts on their MMOs.  I opted for Guild Wars 2, which had an awkward start for me.

The instance group was still without a quorum and a fantasy title to call its own.  We were playing a bit of World of Tanks, which gets awkward with four.  I also made some short videos about Crushing your VK and a cliff diving BDR GB1.  And I was working on my Soviet heavies as well as the French heavy tree.

In EVE Online we went back to EWN-2U, the scene of my first real epic null sec battle.  But null sec was pretty quiet, so we also spent time just flying in circles.  The Goons did produce a nice guide to EVE Online in the form of a .pdf called Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories.

I was considering the REAL problem with levels and was wondering why nobody else did in-game music the way Lord of the Rings Online did.

And I answered the magic question, just how many times do you have to sign or initial things when closing escrow on a home refinance?

Fifteen Years Ago

The month started out with our Pirates of the Burning Sea enthusiasm waning.

The instance group was kicking off its Outlands efforts, after running the required equipment upgrade quests, with Hellfire Ramparts, though first we ran through lower Blackrock Spire and got access to Upper Blackrock Spire.

In EVE Online I lost my Drake to pirates in Rancer.  I wasn’t going to pay any ransom.  And I managed to make a tech II blueprint as I was getting invention going.  I was also wishing for a few things from the game.

Turbine announced that Lord of the Rings Online had extended its agreement with Tolkien Enterprises out until 2014, with an option to go to 2017.  As a lifetime member I applauded this extension.

I went to GDC up in San Francisco and had dinner some members of the VirginWorlds Podcast Collective plus Alan “Brenlo” Crosby, and got pictures to prove it. (I had a beard then… and I have a beard now… this is becoming a winter routine for me.)

My daughter got a Nintendo DS for Valentine’s Day.

We played a little KartRider, which never made it to North America in its original form.

I defended myself against some slander about me being a dwarf.

I summed up the annual EverQuest Nostalgia Tour.

I decided that there was hope for a real science fiction MMORPG.

And I found out my blog was worth $61,534.86, though I couldn’t figure out how to cash in.  Since then, the value of the site has gone down.  A lot.  I blame social media.

Twenty Years Ago

EverQuest Online Adventures, the PlayStation 2 version of EverQuest, launched.

Meanwhile, EverQuest launched The Legacy of Ykesha expansion, which introduced the Froglok race.  It was also the first attempt at an all digital release.  Download demand was high enough that SOE went ahead and burned a CD version for retail sale.  Despite demand, it is generally viewed as a middling, low content expansion.  On progression servers Daybreak generally gives it very little time to itself or lumps it in with the next expansion, Lost Dungeons of Norrath in its release cycle.  That was part of the problem of them doing two expansions a year.

Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance SP, a GameBoy that looked like a flip phone.

And A Tale in the Desert kicked off with its first telling.  2021 saw the start of its 10th telling.

Thirty Years Ago

X-Wing launches on PC and Star Fox on the SNES, two influential space dogfight sims.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Views on Improving EVE Online PvE from the CSM Summit
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Blizzard Continues to Disappoint – Mike Ybarra Edition
  5. Still on Twitter
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. The EverQuest Team Expands on their UI Engine Roadmap Update
  8. The Cataclysm Classic Question
  9. Making the Grey Pit in Valheim
  10. The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap – No Consoles, No UI Updates
  11. The WordPress App vs the JetPack App
  12. What Was the Peak Era of WoW Crafting

Search Terms of the Month

lotro private service
[What happens in Bree stays in Bree]

eq night of shadows maps
[Got you with the image search, didn’t I?]

локации майнкрафт большой домик
[You have to buy a map from an NPC to find a mansion]

скачать игру на пк секс игра гей
[I’m pretty sure Putin would not approve… publicly]

Game Time by ManicTime

My ratio of game play went back to being dominated by WoW Classic this month.

  • WoW Classic – 79.21%
  • EVE Online – 12.54%
  • Diablo III – 8.25%

That said, I spent the less time playing video games this past month than I have since I started tracking my play time.

Diablo III

I poked my nose back into the game with the coming of Season 28.  We will see if this is the farewell tour before Diablo IV shows up and how I feel about the title more than a decade down the road.

EVE Online

I managed to get on a couple of homeland defense fleets over the course of the month.  They were to defend local ESSes from robbers.  The main doctrine for that is based on the Rokh battleship, something I haven’t flown since the war.  Trivia: most of the kill mails I was on this month were me in a Rokh without my rigs fit.  Classic “rigs in cargo” mistake.  But at least I didn’t accidentally link to the ESS like that one guy in a fleet.

Pokemon Go

The Vivillon hunt continues.  I have evolved four so far and, with my wife and I trading the scatterbugs we have collected from various friends, we can each evolve 15 of the 18 once we have enough candies.  The elusive regions for us remain Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow.

We also did a lot of raids during the Hoenn event, and actually went outside with some friends like Niantic demands.  A lot of raids and a lot of lucky eggs later and… we still have a long way to the next level.

  • Level: 43 (42% of the way to 44 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 756 (+6) caught, 771 (+4) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 23 of 34
  • Pokemon I want: Three specific Scatterbugs; Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow
  • Current buddy: High Plains Vivillon

WoW Classic

We got out there and finished up the Lunar Festival as a group… and then I at least let Love is in the Air pass without putting in any effort.  I guess I am only good for every other holiday achievement fest in WoW Classic.  And then it was back into dungeons.


It was a slow month for exercise.  I ride on the weekends and we were away on a trip for one weekend… and another weekend I just didn’t feel like it… and then I got sick and really didn’t feel like it.  Being on a trip is a legit excuse.  We even made up for it by walking a lot.  But that other weekend is a warning sign.  It is very easy to simply not get on the bike.

Anyway, I’ll try not to slack as much next month.

  • Level – 18
  • Distanced cycled – 1,520 miles (+27 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 58,891 (+1,053 feet)
  • Calories burned – 47,599 (+765)

Coming Up

I try to force myself not to start each of these with something like, “is it March already?” but I am starting to feel that way more and more as I get older.  I used to think this was because a month is no longer as large a percentage of my life as it was when I was 35 or 20 or 8. But I am starting to believe it is just a memory condition of getting old.  What happened last month?  I guess that is why I write a blog.

But on to March 2023, when EverQuest will celebrate its 24th anniversary.

Blizzard will be out there trying to drum up some cash with a Diablo VI open beta.  Can then recognize pre-oder revenue for that?

There is a State of the Goonion planned for next Saturday, which usually means the Imperium is off to attack somebody.  We shall see if that means some action in EVE Online.

And, of course, I am going to get on that damn exercise bike every weekend.

Two Hundred and Sixty Million Skill Points

We are back again for another meaningless skill point milestone, and a bit sooner than I expected to be posting one.  At least it feels sooner.  In the past, if I kept training on my main and I sat in a training clone with +4 implants every once in a while, I would roll out 10 million skill points in about 7-8 months.

Now, however, with CCP throwing skill points at us as part of daily login rewards and event rewards and whatever else, that timeline has been somewhat abridged and I have seen 5-6 months being closer to the routine, depending on which skills I am training.  My attributes… and why do we still have attributes… are optimized for Spaceship Command skills, so when I train other things I am at a disadvantage.

But I am always hesitant to remap because you have to commit to a full year with the new attribute distribution.  It remains a mystery to me why a remap isn’t available in the in-game store for PLEX.  Then again, it remains a bit of a mystery to me why we still have attributes, so there we go.

Anyway, I will start with the timeline of these posts, done in 10 million skill point increments, over my time in EVE Online.

While my character total is now past the 260 million mark, my account total is well past 310 million skill points, as I do swap over to my alts now and then or, when CCP has a sale, I will grab and Omega + Multiple Character Training deal to get my main combat alt further along.

Two of my chars sitting in training pods in Jita

And then there is my skill point distribution as of this milestone.

Spaceship Cmd     82,896,201 (71 of 85)*
Gunnery           36,069,569 (50 of 63)
Drones            20,618,433 (23 of 28)*
Fleet Support     15,872,000 (14 of 15)
Missiles          12,252,872 (22 of 26)
Navigation        11,867,843 (13 of 13)*
Electronic Sys     9,821,179 (15 of 15)
Engineering        8,939,855 (15 of 15)
Armor              7,426,759 (13 of 13)*
Scanning           7,168,000 (7 of 7)
Neural Enhance     6,882,275 (8 of 9)* 
Shields            6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science            5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Resc Processing    5,639,072 (10 of 31)*
Trade              4,626,275 (11 of 14)
Planet Mgmt        4,352,000 (5 of 5)
Subsystems         4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Targeting          3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Rigging            2,576,865 (10 of 10)
Structure Mgmt     1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production         1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social             1,340,785 (5 of 9)*
Corp Mgmt             24,000 (2 of 5)

Total ~260,160,879

As has become the routine, skill groups which saw a change since the last update have been marked with an asterisk.

Spaceship Command grew because I trained up Minmatar dreadnought V.  It had been in progress for a while, I just finished up.  Of course, the Naglfar is no longer the preferred dread, the Revelation and the Phoenix now being the top choices, and I rarely if ever fly a dread… I do not actually own one at this time… but if the opportunity comes up, I am ready.

Drones saw me train up Amarr Drone Specialization to level V.  You never know when that extra 2% of damage will turn the tide.

Armor saw me training up Capital Remote Armor Repair with an eye on level V, because the one capital ship I am most likely to fly is a fax.

For Resource Processing I trained Scrapmetal Processing to V because when I rat I take most of the loot and turn it into minerals to sell on the market in 1DQ1-A.

When it comes to Social I trained Diplomacy up to V… I think it was just in my queue.  I don’t remember why.  It was a 4 day train.  Small by the standards of most of the skills in my queue these days.

But the biggest chunk of training out of the last 10 million points was probably in Neural Enhancements, where trained Elite Infomorph Psychology to V, giving me a total of 15 jump clones.  Do I need 15 jump clones right now?  Probably not.  But I have felt short of clones enough times over the years that I felt it was worth the investment.

At this point I have 362 skills trained, up one from last time but down from my peak of 367, which was trimmed back when they reworked the mining skills.  My skill levels are:

Level 1 -   1
Level 2 -   3
Level 3 -  14
Level 4 -  76
Level 5 - 268

That is six more skills at level V since last time.

Every time I do this I have to go find that level 1 skill I still have sitting around.  It is Advanced Small Ship Construction, which is required for creating Tech II frigate and destroyer blueprint copies, something I have never done nor ever attempted to do.  I suspect I trained that a long, long time ago when I was playing with industry and Tech II research.  I never got beyond Tech II ammo and a few ship modules.

As for where I’ll go for the next 10 million skill points… I will probably finish up on capital repair related skills, then go back to rounding up some of the Spaceship Command skills that are only level IV.

PLEX for Good Raises $26,140 for Earthquake Relief

Following up on the PLEX for Good campaign that CCP announced earlier in the month to raise money to help survivors of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit central Turkey and northwestern Syria, the EVE Online community raised $26,140.

PLEX for Good

That amount comes from individual donations as well as from fundraising events held in game including Twitch events and auctioning off rare bits of New Eden history and turning the ISK totals into PLEX for donation.

The money raised will be donated to:

  • Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides humanitarian aid to people affected by war, pandemics and natural or man-made disasters worldwide. MSF has been providing aid to victims of the earthquake since it struck, treating injured patients and providing invaluable medical aid and supplies to the area.
  • AHBAP is a Turkish local non-profit NGO (non-governmental organization) leading the support efforts in Turkey.

While the PLEX for Good event is over, those wishing to donate to help people still facing a humanitarian crisis in Turkey and Syria can still support the following organizations:

Is Season 28 the Last Diablo III Season?

I haven’t thought about Diablo III for a while.  It has been nearly 11 years since it launched and now Diablo IV is around the corner.  And yesterday Diablo III kicked off its latest season, number 28, which some suspect might be its final season, what with a successor coming.

Diablo III – Season 28

It has been a long run for Diablo III and, I will say, that Blizzard hasn’t let it languish the way it let Diablo II sit over a decade.  And while Diablo III doesn’t seem to evoke much in the way of emotion these days, it did have a turbulent launch back in 2012.

If you were there and paying attention you probably remember outrage because it was too brightly lit or too colorful, it lacked LAN play, it was going to be always online, it was going to have an auction house… and a real money auction house… and what was Blizzard thinking?

And even as all that was coming up, the team that had made Diablo and Diablo II were rolling up Torchlight II, which many claimed would be the REAL successor to the Diablo franchise… an idea the team making it, still bitter about their split with Blizzard, were happy to encourage.

Then there was the dark horse contender, Path of Exile, which promised to be free to play and had all sorts of crazy ideas about talent trees.

It was a pretty crazy time for Diablo-esque action RPG titles.

And then there was the Diablo III launch and the memes about error 37.

One theory…

That doesn’t even begin to account for the problems like how the auction house, both gold and real world currency, distorted player motivation, helped along by the awful itemization curve… every drop seemed to be far too low level for you… that seemed made by design to drive you to the auction house.

Wyatt “don’t you guys have phones” Cheng to this day bristles when people suggest Blizzard designed it that way on purpose, but the alternative is that Blizzard was really dumb on two things that went together, and I am not sure which is less flattering.  I might opt for the evil over dumb.

It was not a smooth path for the game.

But, to Blizzard’s credit, they did get things right eventually.  With the Reaper of Souls expansion update the auction house went away and itemization was fixed so that the simple reinforcement mechanism of the Diablo series… pick up cool loot and find upgrades that make you more powerful… was back on track.

I still think I like Diablo II more, but Diablo III became fun and much more viable.

It made it to multiple platforms, sold a lot of copies… though 1.2 million of those copies were via people like myself who bought the WoW annual pass to get it for free… and, as noted, it has been maintained and updated and moved to new consoles and had new seasons with new gear and new goodies going for quite a few years.

Which brings us to season 28.  Will it be the last season?

Somehow I think not.  Among other lessons, Blizz has learned over the years that some people will stick with a game and will buy new copies for new platforms as the years wear on.

I am tempted to roll out with the new season.  It has been quite a while since I played Diablo III.  My problem is that I generally only like a couple of the classes and do I want to play yet again as a barbarian or a paladin?  I could try something else, but I have done that in the past and always end up with the classes that suit my own play style.

We shall see.  I am getting a bit ahead in Wrath Classic, so I could use something else to fiddle with.

If you want to see what Season 28 offers, Blizzard has a post with the patch notes to tell you all about it.

Through Violet Hold and Gundrak

When we got together this past weekend it felt like we had a lot of choices.  Having done sections of several dungeons as part of the Lunar Festival achievement run to get our titles we could have carried on at any one of several instances.

We didn’t have to stick to the strict order levels, we could go where we wanted!  We could have gone back and faced Skadi again just to show him who was boss.

Here’s Skadi!

However, we also happened to be standing in Dalaran practically in sight of Violet Hold and it was next on our list, our past attempt having gone badly, and nobody had a strong opinion in favor of going elsewhere… so we went to Violet Hold.

Our group for the afternoon was as follows.

Waiting for Beanpole to find the instance

We have worked on a level to get through Utgarde Pinnacle for Lunar Festival… and I had been doing Argent Tournament dailies… so we found ourselves a bit more beefed up than our last run at the instance.  We were all literally two levels up on that last run.  That, and the knowledge we had gained on the last run, made things a little easier.

You do six portal waves, keeping an eye to make sure nobody is attacking the door, then you get a boss.

Lavanthor shows up to disturb our pre-fight picnic

Then you do six more portal waves and get another boss… and I didn’t take a screen shot beyond the next boss appearing.

Zuramat the Obliterator announces his arrival

Zuramat the Obliterator announces his arrival

And then you do six more waves and end up with Cyanigosa, the final boss, who is a dragon and a slightly tougher fight… you have to get positioned to avoid the breath cone and tail cone… but ended up being doable without too much effort at our levels.

Prison riot put down

That got us the achievement and, according to the clock readings in my screen shots took us all of 20 minutes to accomplish.  I spoke to Lieutenant Sinclari at 16:26 and took the achievement screen shot at 16:45.

Violet Hold Achievement Done

That was so quick that it felt like a warm-up, so we decided to head to the next dungeon on the list, which was Gundrak.  That meant some flight time, during which cats were fed, and then we met up at the stone for the next run.

As noted, we had been here for the Lunar Festival, but we were not required to fight any bosses, the elder in Gundrak being in an area where you could sneak around the boss if careful.

At the elder behind the boss

We ended up fighting that boss… and winning… once… but this time around we were there to fight all the bosses that were available rather than just bypassing them.

You run Gundrak by slaying the bosses around the periphery, after which you work your way back to the center to make your way to the boss.  There are two ways in, so you can go clockwise or counter clockwise, but the clockwise entrance is close to the summoning stone, so we went that way.

Gundrak Map

Ignore where my marker is on the map, that is the side we did not come in through.

There is also another boss, down in the lower left of the map, who is only there when it is run in heroic mode.  We’re not there yet.

The first boss, down in the Den of Sseratus at 3 o’clock, is Slad’ran.  He has a bunch of snakes around him and, is a snake himself.  We cleared out his area and then had at him.

Doing the pull with my wrist mounted rocket launcher… an engineering item I made

His big thing is that he… summons snakes.  But we were already killing snakes, so it didn’t make for much of a change.  We managed to finish him without much effort.

Then we moved around clockwise to the 6 o’clock position to the Drakkari Colossus.  We had fought him before and had learned, along the way, not to stand in the purple goop that his elementals leave behind.  His routine is you fight him, then an elemental he summons, then him again, then an elemental, and then you finish him off.

With that knowledge… and the additional levels… the fight was much less dramatic.  We took him on the first go.  It was then I noticed that behind him there was an altar with a cog wheel if you moused over it.  Clicking that unlocked a beam that dropped a peg into a hole in the center of the instance.

The altar does its thing

Looking at that it was obvious that there were holes to be filled at 3 and 9 o’clock, which meant we must have missed the altar behind Slad’ran.  So we ran back and got that.  Then we moved back around to get to the boss at 9 o’clock, Moorabi.

Moorabi awaits

His thing is that he turns into a mammoth mid fight, which is visually interesting I suppose, but a bit awkward if you have pulled him back onto the steps so he ends up standing at an angle.

Mammoth with two short legs I guess

Like the previous two bosses, there was an altar behind him, which I activated, which was the final one to unlock the way to the final boss.

It was at that point I recalled something about not going back around to the Drakkari Colossus or where ever the ramp to the center was, but just bypassing some mobs by jumping off of Moorabi’s altar and swimming to the center of the instance.

Looking at where we needed to be

So I moved closer to the edge to see where we might land and took a step too far and fell off.  We were now committed to my half remembered strategy.

There are, of course, mobs in the water and they attack and some of almost died (me) because getting ashore on the other side means getting up a very steep incline that I picked the wrong spot to try and ascend.  But we ended up making it without loss despite my efforts.

Then there were just a few guys on rhinos between us and the final boss.  That seems to be the end boss motif, as even the final boss, Gal’darah, summons a spirit rhino to smack people in the party at random.

Facing the gauntlet of rhinos

Fortunately all the rhino riders were content to let their fellows die solo and were not all that tough.  And then it was time for Gal’darah, who like his henchmen, was not too tough.  It was a boss fight, but we powered through on our levels and that was that.  Soon he was down and we had the achievement.

And that is where he fell

He did drop a nice ring for me.

Gal’darah’s Signet

In fact, while there were a couple of items for the casters, the run seemed very much like an “upgrade the tank” event.

We took out final group picture… Gal’darah’s area seemed a much more epic background than his little corpse sprawled out on the floor… though you can still see him there.

Victory in Gundrak

And so we were done with Rhinos and the instance.  That took us about an hour to run, so neither it nor Violet Hold were exactly Sunken Temple or Wailing Caverns level commitments.  Still, they made for a decent afternoon’s fun.

Looking back at how we ran it in 2009, for some reason we went in the other side and did Moorabi first then moved around from there.  Something about snakes.  We also wiped once, but did run it a level below this run.

Next on the list is the Halls of Stone and then Utgarde Pinnacle again.  We’ll soon all be high enough to use the summoning stone there.

Southeastern Null Sec Declared Open to Non-Bloc Alliances

With the exit of FI.RE from the southeast of null sec, the open question has been what will happen to the territory that they evacuated?

Null Sec Coalitions Map and the FI.RE exit route

Neither adjacent bloc, PanFam in the northeast and the Imperium in the southwest, seemed interested in the space and but were unhappy with the idea that it would fall under the control of the other.  Meanwhile the area has already started to fall apart after FI.RE’s departure looking at the sov maps.

The Coalition map of the southeast

It was announced yesterday that PanFam and its allies and the Imperium have come to an agreement, along with WinterCo, and signed a treaty that will limit bloc expansion into the southeast of null sec.

The treaty covers the following regions in the southeast:

  • Scalding Pass
  • Detorid
  • Wicked Creek
  • Immensea
  • Omist
  • Feythabolis
  • Insmother (partial)
  • Tenerifis (partial)

The partial zones are due to Pademic Horde and Slyce taking some systems on their boarder in Insmother.

PanFam’s cut of Insmother from DOTLAN

Likewise, the Imperium is taking some systems in Tenerifis that are adjacent to its territory.

The Imperium’s grab in Tenerifis from DOTLAN

The agreement states that Those regions are now open for unaffiliated alliances to use, meaning alliances that are not affiliated with any of the four major blocs (B3, Imperium, PanFam, Winterco).

The major blocs can still roam through the area for content, but they have agreed not to take sides in any conflict within the area and to not attack sovereignty or structures of those who take up residence in the area.

In addition, no rental activity of any sort will be allowed within the designated region.

The agreement is slated to last for one year, at which point those party to the agreement can decide whether to extend it or not.

The signatories to the agreement are:

  • Asher Elias of The Imperium
  • Dark Shines of The Initiative.
  • Gobbins of Pandemic Horde
  • Hedliner of Pandemic Legion
  • Noraus of Fraternity, leader of WinterCo
  • Riotrick of Slyce
  • Vince Draken of Nothern Coalition

Not represented as signatories were any of B3 coalition’s leadership.  B3 resides in the northeast of null sec and includes many of the former FI.RE members who fled the southeast, so perhaps their agreement to leave the area alone was implied already.

The idea seems to be to allow space for smaller groups to come to and explore sovereign null sec.  How it will play out remains to be seen.

Before World War Bee the Imperium used to use Querious as an incubator region for small alliances wishing to try and spread their wings.  Querious Fight Club, as it was called, had specific rules to keep groups from being destroyed quickly, enforced by the long arm of the Imperium.  However the war washed all of that away and Querious has since become a home to core Imperium members.

How the southeast will fare under the new treaty remains to be seen.

A Look into January Ship Destruction in EVE Online

Once again I am playing with data analytics tools… Microsoft Power BI now since, as I noted in my post about the MER, I couldn’t justify a Tableau license at work… and so I went digging into the kill_dump.csv file again.  That file, which comes with the MER, lists out all the kills CCP recorded for the month.

EVE Online nerds harder

I did this for the December data as well, but later realized I made a mistake.  I did not discern the difference between the ISK destroyed and ISK lost data and reported on the former as if it were the later.  I believe destroyed is what is taken out of the game.  That is always the hull and some, but not all, of the modules and cargo.  ISK lost looks to be what the value taken from the person whose ship or structure was destroyed.

So the total value lost was 41 trillion ISK in value, which lines up with the MER for January, or at least the total from the produced, destroyed, mined chart data.  The regional data shows a bit more, which is odd because doesn’t include WH space.  Once again, different data from different sources.

The total destroyed was 30 trillion ISK in value, so the loot fairy granted about 11 trillion ISK in drops in January.

Oddly, going back to the MER and the regional stats, the kill file tells a different tale.  The MER regional data gave the following for the top ten regions for destruction:

  1. The Forge – 2.04 trillion 4.99% (Caldari High Sec)
  2. Lonetrek – 1.78 trillion 4.36% (Caldari High Sec)
  3. The Citadel – 1.67 trillion 4.10% (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Syndicate – 1.58 trillion 3.88% (NPC Null Sec)
  5. Pure Blind – 1.57 trillion 3.83% (B2 Coalition)
  6. Delve – 1.54 trillion 3.77% (Imperium)
  7. Sinq Laison – 1.31 trillion 3.21% (Gallente High Sec)
  8. Vale of the Silent – 1.30 trillion 3.17% (Fraternity)
  9. Metropolis – 1.27 trillion 3.11% (Minmatar High Sec)
  10. Tenerifis – 1.26 trillion 3.08% (FI.RE)

However, the kill data sorts the top ten for ISK lost as:

  1. Syndicate – 1.54 trillion
  2. The Forge – 1.53 trillion
  3. Pure Blind – 1.52 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 1.37 trillion
  5. Tenerifis – 1.21 trillion
  6. Vale of the Silent – 1.15 trillion
  7. Insmother – 1.15 trillion
  8. Perrigen Falls – 1.13 trillion
  9. Delve – 1.13 trillion
  10. Genesis – 1.06 trillion

This leads me to make another assumption, that possibly the kill_dump is only PvP destruction.  I certainly don’t seen CONCORD on the list of corporations with kills.  Then again, I do see Vigilant Tyrannos, which are wormhole and abyssal NPCs, so I am not sure what to think.  They are on the list for 827 billion ISK in kills.  I hate when the data raises more questions than it answers.

Anyway, the numbers are different and I am just going to roll with that.

Still, we know why Syndicate is at the top of the kill dump list.  That is where FI.RE got caught in its move ops to the northwest of null sec to join B2 coalition.  Sorting out value lost by system shows that very clearly.  Here are the top ten systems with the most destruction by value lost:

  1. KFR-ZE – 1.11 trillion
  2. Jita – .76 trillion
  3. Ahbazon – .75 trillion
  4. Q-5211 – .71 trillion
  5. MJ-5F9 – .38 trillion
  6. RH0-EG – .35 trillion
  7. Miroitem – .28 trillion
  8. J-RXYN – .26 trillion
  9. J-ZYSZ – .25 trillion
  10. Gheth – .25 trillion

You can see on the move op route map that is where FI.RE took a big hit.  The battle report listed 850 billion ISK lost for that one ambush alone, and I am sure there were more stragglers killed along the way.

When I turn the data to just look at raw number of kills per system, the top ten are:

  1. Deepari – 12,805
  2. Jita – 9,729
  3. Ahbazon – 9,499
  4. Auga – 6,879
  5. Aldranette – 6,455
  6. Nagamanen – 5,686
  7. Tama – 5,247
  8. Miroitem – 5,222
  9. MJ-5F9 – 4,878
  10. Sujarento – 4,557

I kind of expected Jita to be at the top, but now I wonder what the hell is going on in Deepari?

Digging into the data, 12,799 of those losses were corvettes.  Is somebody staging newbie ship battles in there?  It was second on the list last month, so clearly something happens there.

This is why I don’t include corvettes or capsules in some of my stats… though only 2 capsules were lost in Deepari.

Jita, second on the list, is a little more diverse.  The top ten ship groups lost there in January were:

  1. Shuttle – 2,881
  2. Capsule – 2,577
  3. Frigate – 1,089
  4. Corvette – 965
  5. Destroyer – 509
  6. Attack Battlecruiser – 469
  7. Hauler – 245
  8. Blockade Runner – 237
  9. Cruiser – 170
  10. Combat Battlecruiser – 116

People think they can move through hostiles in a shuttle learn the hard way that there is no safety once you undock.

Overall there were 425,629 kills recorded in the kill dump for January.

Of those, 115,904 were capsules and another 27,221 were corvettes.

Excluding those two gives us a total of 282,504 losses, with the top 20 ship groups being:

  1. Frigate 69,831
  2. Cruiser 32,777
  3. Destroyer 32,330
  4. Shuttle 20,005
  5. Combat Battlecruiser 14,423
  6. Mobile Tractor Unit 10,741
  7. Heavy Assault Cruiser 9,913
  8. Hauler 8,847
  9. Interdictor – 7,464
  10. Interceptor – 7,387
  11. Battleship – 6,990
  12. Assault Frigate – 5,623
  13. Tactical Destroyer – 4,488
  14. Strategic Cruiser – 4,145
  15. Stealth Bomber – 3,935
  16. Mining Barge – 3,895
  17. Mobile Warp Disruptor – 3,740
  18. Covert Ops – 3,205
  19. Force Recon Ship – 2,479
  20. Marauder – 2,385

When we get down to specific hulls, the top 20 losses by total count were:

  1. Venture – 12,318
  2. Mobile Tractor Unit – 10,215
  3. Caldari Shuttle – 7,765
  4. Heron – 7,030
  5. Caracal – 5,445
  6. Ishtar – 5,306
  7. Thrasher – 4,962
  8. Amarr Shuttle – 4,441
  9. Catalyst – 4,202
  10. Sabre – 4,171
  11. Tristan – 4,166
  12. Vexor – 4,101
  13. Gallente Shuttle – 3,991
  14. Merlin – 3,413
  15. Cormorant – 3,391
  16. Punisher – 3,383
  17. Rifter – 3,370
  18. Atron – 3,035
  19. Algos – 2,942
  20. Minmatar Shuttle – 2,734

Ventures continue to top the list while MTU hunters are still very active.

Meanwhile, capital losses, which totalled up to just shy of 7 trillion ISK in losses, saw the following types destroyed:

  1. Dreadnought – 516
  2. Freighter – 198
  3. Carrier – 141
  4. Force Auxiliary – 90
  5. Capital Industrial Ship – 47
  6. Supercarrier – 44
  7. Jump Freighter – 41
  8. Titan – 12
  9. Dreadnought – 11

I’m guessing that the second Dreadnought entry might be faction dreads.

Over a trillion of the capital ship losses, including 7 of the titans, were part of FI.RE’s losses in KFR-ZE, and 3 more of the titans lost were their’s in other systems along the way.

So it goes.  Another month goes by.


The Blizzard Q1 2023 Plan is… Early Diablo IV

After Blizzard’s record setting revenue results in Q4 2022 the big question was; so what will Q1 2023 be like?

Wall Street (and probably Microsoft) only cares about what you’ve done for them lately.  Blizz roared through Q4 on the backs on the late Q3 launch of Wrath Classic, Team Fortress 2 Overwatch 2, and the Dragonflight expansion for WoW.

But the forward looking statements in the financials had Diablo IV in Q2, leaving something of a launch gap in between now and then.  Unless somebody was hoping for Warcraft Arclight Rumble to appear out of nowhere, Q1 looked like it might depend on holding WoW subscribers at all costs and selling more copies of Dragonflight at a discount.

And, honestly, we’re almost to the end of February here, so Blizz has between now and March 31st to make stuff happen for the Q1 results. (And yes, I know that arbitrary timelines are no true measure of a company, but I don’t make the rules.  I’ve just lived through them for the last 30+ years.)

So this past week Blizzard came out and announced that Diablo IV would be available in March for early access and open beta weekends. (All the details here)

It is coming in March

Is it just me, or is it weird that early access is before open beta?  I feel like that is not the way things should work… but, as noted, I don’t make the rules!

All you need to do in order to join in on this early look at the game is BUY A COPY NOW!

The most expensive one is pre-selected, in case you were wondering which option Blizz favors

Also, I guess they had early access and open beta in mind… and in that order… back when they announced the June 6th launch date.

So yeah, they are clearly looking to boost those Diablo IV sales right now dammit.

“But Wilhelm,” I hear you asking, “What good is this push to get people to pre-order in Q1 if they can’t recognize revenue on any of this until they ship on June 6th?”

Yeah… I mean, I can imagine a scenario where they might try to sneak “early access” in as a product delivery for the sake of revenue recognition, but that seems likely to be challenged.  If it were that easy the CFO at a company I used to work for wouldn’t have been subjected to an FTC investigation for fudging revenue numbers before an IPO. (Though that was back in the 90s when the FTC still pretended to give a shit.)

But here’s the thing.  As Blizzard has been demonstrating with their perfunctory quarterly earnings announcements, they’re not really worried about the market and what Wall Street thinks.  Microsoft already has an offer on the table at a set per share value for Activision Blizzard, and that has a lot more influence on the stock price than Blizzard botching Q1 by once again not having anything new to ship.

No, the only audience that Activision Blizzard needs to impress is Microsoft, and they can go to Redmond and say, “Sure, Irvine didn’t do so well on the Q1 results, but look at all the pre-orders and interest they have built up for Diablo IV.  Look at all those sales on XBox!”

Hell, if you were to believe a word Bobby Kotick said, you might think that the Microsoft acquisition could be a done deal before Activision Blizzard even has to announce their Q1 2023 financials.  Yes, they’ll still have to do it, but if you think their current reports have been perfunctory, I suspect we’ll hit a new level of not giving a shit about any audience beside Microsoft.

And if they close the deal before June 6th it won’t even matter if Diablo IV ships late.  Activision Blizzard will be part of the Microsoft financial numbers and they’ll disappear, absorbed into general line items that will make even their final kiss-off report seem like a wealth of information about the company.

So we shall see how it goes.  But Blizz would like you to please go buy a copy of Diablo IV.

Enad Global 7 Celebrates My Singing Monsters in their Q4 2022 Financials

When I get around to talking about Enad Global 7 and their financials, I am usually quick to point out that the place has effectively become Daybreak Sweden, what with the old Daybreak owners expanding control of the board and putting one of their own in the role of CEO.

His acting career continues

And, of course, the fact that revenue from the gaming side of the business has been pretty heavily dominated by Daybreak in the past has helped sell me on that point of view.  They’re running the show in part because they bring in the cash, being responsible for about 75% of the revenue most quarters.

But in the Q4 2022 financials a new hero arose.  The Big Blue Bubble studio and its My Singing Monsters franchise has exploded over the last year, delivering amazing growth and the revenue that comes with that sort of thing.

Much reason to sing!

I may never have heard about My Singing Monsters outside of these financial reports, but clearly word is getting around somewhere.  Is this another TikTok phenomena?

You can see in their 2022 earnings summary that Q4 just exploded for Big Blue Bubble.

Big Blue Bubble Goes Wild

Meanwhile, the Daybreak chart… and while EG7 keeps talking about all the studios they have, the do consistently roll Darkpaw Games, Dimension Ink, Standing Stone, and Rogue Planet up into under the Daybreak banner… tells a somewhat different tale.

Daybreak 2022 revenue numbers

Daybreak stayed ahead, contributing more to the revenue side of things than Big Blue Bubble, but when it came to profit BBB was at a screaming 60% margin while Daybreak had a meager 21% margin, which is kind of low for a software as a service company, and down from past quarters where it was closer to 30%.

Oh, and even their total revenue dropped in Q4 2022, which I find surprising because Q4 is when at least some of the Daybreak studios launch their paid expansions, so it is when money is spent on games like EQ, EQII, and LOTRO as well as bringing people back as subscribers to see the new content.

In the report they try and wave away the situation by mentioning unfavorable comparisons to conditions during the pandemic, which were extremely favorable for many video games, but that seems unlikely.  So while Daybreak brought in 47% of the revenue, when it came to profit Big Blue Bubble was the champ.

Q4 2022 Game Studio Revenue

Of course, I have no sense of how big the My Singing Monsters mania really is.  Was Q4 a quirk?  Dare we wonder if it was a… *cough*… bubble?  Or was it just the start of the My Singing Monsters era?

We will have to wait until we see the Q1 2023 financials in May to get a sense of how durable this performance was.

Meanwhile, Daybreak, despite the margins crunch it saw in Q4, has a pretty steady track record of financial performance.  Big Blue Bubble had a big quarter, but that only brought it in line with what Daybreak has been delivering for a while now.

So in the financial report and presentation the company still calls out all the IPs that Daybreak has to back them up.  They even keep mentioning H1Z1 on the original IP list, wistfully mentioning how it kicked off this whole battle royale thing as though they feel if they keep bringing it up in conversation we’ll suddenly decide to give it another try.  H1Z1 isn’t completely dead, just mostly dead.  But there is no Miracle Max around to revive it.

But now Big Blue Bubble and My Singing Monsters has earned its place on the list of valuable IPs that the company has.

Overall, it was a good quarter and a good year for EG7 despite the fact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine forced them to divest from one of their key service subsidiaries, Innova, getting jsut 32 million out of a company they paid 109 million for previously.  Then there was Daybreak fumbling on the Marvel super hero MMO thing, which was an opportunity they’ll not likely get again.

The company came out with 559 million in Q4 2022 revenue and 1,865.9 million for the whole of 2022, both number up substantially from 2021.  I haven’t bothered to put a currency unit on those numbers because they’re in Swedish Krona (SEK), but the ratio is about 10 SEK to 1 USD, so just move the decimal point over one place the left and you’re at a close approximation of the dollar value.

The company also highlighted that following aspects of the business:

  • Debt free
  • Strong liquidity with SEK 304 million of Net Cash balance as of December 31
  • Clean balance sheet after the writedown of assets with potential downside risks
  • Solid momentum to kick off 2023

Having no debt during a time of rising interest rates and cash in the bank is a pretty good way to start the year, especially after some of the rough patches in the last year.


Blizzard Continues to Disappoint – Mike Ybarra Edition

If you think that executives are making a lot of money and you aren’t, you’re living in a myth.

-Mike Ybarra attempting to gaslight Blizzard rank and file

I don’t know why I keep thinking that Blizzard will turn the corner and come back to being a company we can respect.  It isn’t like there are a lot of examples out there for them to emulate.  Like some mockery of the Newtonian laws of motion, a company that sucks will continue to suck no matter how many external forces act upon it.  Case in point: UbiSoft.

Actual footage of Mike Ybarra practicing for this Q&A

And, of course, we know now that Blizzard was just very good at hiding its internal issues behind the facade of World of Warcraft for a long time.  Earning about a billion dollars a year buys a lot of looking the other way.  Slip off the top of the charts and people start noticing the blemishes.

Anyway, back to Blizzard’s dirty laundry being aired once again.  One time Co-Leader of Blizzard and now President of the organization, Mike Ybarra, held a company-wide Q&A to address issues and employee satisfaction problems and came away having made everything worse.

This immediately leaked to the press and I woke up Friday morning to find Game Developer spilling the tea on the failed pep talk where leadership, despite having pre-screened and prepared for the questions they would be asked… they learned from the Diablo Immortal 2018 BlizzCon affair I guess… managed to simply sow more discord.

Chief among the issues being discussed was the return to the office plan.

Ah, remember the heady days of mid-2020 when Covid sent us all home and companies discovered that not only did this not kill employee productivity, it increased it in many cases.  A lot of companies thought they had found a magic bullet for facility costs; there is no need to rent all that office space if you can make people do the job from their kitchen table. (Literally the case for my boss in 2020.)

I worked in a satellite office for a mid-western company that had its lease due in September of 2020 and the company opted not to renew it, forcing all of us to convoy through the falling ash of the uncontrolled forest fire just a few miles from our building to collect our stuff and cart it home so they didn’t have to pay one more day’s rent than they had to. (Due to Covid worries we were all assigned days and times to show up, and the people immediately after my time slot were told to stay home due to the fires.  Lucky me.)

However, no panacea lasts forever and we all know some managers who feel they have to keep a close eye on their team lest they slack off on the company time (the joke is on them as “looking busy” in a tech job is remarkably easy), and these types seemed to be ascendant in recent months.  I won’t say I was laid off a year back because there was no office for me to return to… I was laid off because I was old, as explicitly noted in my severance package, which required me to sign away any right to sue or be a witness against the company if I want to collect that package… but being far from the corporate flag pole certainly didn’t help my situation.

So we have seen a lot of companies that were gung-ho on remote work suddenly deciding they needed to see their staff toiling in the data mines in person and not at home, and Activision Blizzard is on that list.  The problem is that working from home is really good for a lot of people… over my career I have managed to repeatedly sit in locations near unofficially designated places where things had to be discussed loudly, the point that I once put up “no loitering” signs… and even those who were tentative about the idea… I do like a bit of social activity… managed to adapt and reshape their lives based on the idea that this whole thing was going to be a permanent transition.  I’m pretty sure HuffPo or Salon had a headline that declared this to be so.

And now those people who had adapted or moved so they could adapt or moved because they could afford a much better quality of life an annoyingly long drive from central Irvine, they all have to get back into the traffic nightmare that is the OC and the LA Basin along with all the other workers at other companies being called back.  Once again, traffic will be a topic of conversation on par with the weather.

This was all handled ineptly and inconsistently and in the ham fisted way we have become accustomed to, with some people being off the hook for the requirement, some people not knowing why they are on the return list, and some people who were hired during the pandemic explicitly to work remotely being told their presence is expected in Irvine if they want to keep getting paid.  And nothing at this meeting settled any of that.

Then, speaking of getting paid, it was also announce that, on the heels of record setting Q4 revenue numbers and multiple products being successfully shipped in 2022… which is saying something for Blizz, which occasionally looks from the outside to have problems walking and chewing gum at the same time… that people would only be receiving 58% of their potential bonus.

Hard work and success?  Sorry, not enough.

Blizzard is not known for its high salaries, even relative to its industry, which itself doesn’t pay well for the skill levels required, but they have bonuses as a potential off-set.  Except when they skimp on paying out on them.

That got a justifiably negative response… they do like to do things like this right at peak moments of success… and Ybarra apparently tried to commiserate by complaining that bonuses were cut up and down the ranks and that executives weren’t making a lot of money.  When your QA and support staff make $22 and hour and you’re bringing in $300K, it is a little hard to feel anything but the contempt management obviously has for its staff.

Although, one has to admit that Ybarra has had problems seeing equity in pay before… as when his former co-leader, Jen Oneal, was getting paid less for literally the same job, something he tried to say wasn’t actually so.

And then there was the whole stack ranking thing, that relic of Jack Welch, who felt you needed to fire 10% of your staff annually to keep everybody motivated.  Literally the devil take the hindmost.  That completely failed to get addressed in any sort of adequate way.

If there is a good look to be had out there, Blizz does seem to go out of its way to avoid it.

Add in the threat that Bobby Kotick is going nowhere if the Microsoft merger fails and it wasn’t a good week.

The tricky bit is going to be what he says after we see the Q1 2023 results.  Blizz has nothing in the queue to ship, with Diablo IV, the next big launch, being out in June, and the usual post launch worry about whether the current WoW expansion has staying power or if WoW Classic will need to doing something to hold the line.  Maybe they’ll put the Dungeon Finder into the Wrath now that we’ve had time without it.  It would sure make leveling alts through TBC easier.