Monthly Archives: April 2023

April in Review

The Site

This may be the last post to get auto-forwarded to Twitter.  WordPress put up a blog post about how Twitter API access was coming to an end due to Twitter charging a lot of money for that now.  May 1 is the deadline to sign up for the new pricing for the API.  An additional email went out stating that from April 30th forward the API link would be severed, which sounds like yesterday’s post might have been the last one.  We shall see. did say they were looking into adding more integrations to sites like Instagram and Mastodon.  They also suggested people could try Tumblr, which they own now, as a Twitter alternative.  Say what?

Meanwhile, the daily post streak goes on.

You know, I had the chance, a good number, to step off the daily posting merry-go-round.  Wouldn’t 1111 have been a good stopping point?

The streak went on !!1111

And then I forgot I had something queued up for the next day and was writing ahead and the opportunity passed.  So here, at the end of April in the year 2023, I am still on the daily post routine.

In other news, I turned off the ads on the site for now.  Hopefully you didn’t notice because you browse the web with an ad blocker turned on, something I believe is a security necessity.  I was just looking at the site on my phone without ad block and decided that the ads really sucked and turned them off.  Earning $250 in 18 months didn’t seem like enough of a payoff.

I was tempted to keep them on until I hit $300, because you only get paid out at $100 intervals, but the other thing is that the quality of ads WordPress has been delivering has been abysmal.  The number of ads served up has remained fairly constant while the payout has consistently eroded over time.

But that is the story of the internet, now isn’t it?

One Year Ago

Of course things kicked off with April Fools at Blizzard, though a strange one in the shadow of the Microsoft buyout offer and all the company’s troubles.  The announcement of the Dragonflight expansion was certainly no joke.

However, the coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic was what really had our eye.

Either way, Blizzard needed something new, their revenues were down hard.

Meanwhile in not an April Fools joke, decided free blogs would get no storage space.  They changed their mind, but never shouted “April Fools!”

Lord of the Rings Online hit 15 years.

Wordle was the latest thing, and Wordle-like clones were popping up, each with their own angle.

I was wondering what made housing worthwhile in MMORPGs.

The instance group took a break from its struggles in Outland to return to Valheim.  It was time for a new world with fresh epic voyages of discovery.  There were new features, like the cartography table, to learn about.  We also had to battle all the bosses again, starting with Eikthyr and then The Elder. We got ourselves a base on the coast to further our exploration and found something new in the swamps.

Along the way Valheim got controller support, in anticipation of its XBox debut.  I was going to try it out, but never quite got to it.

All that meant we were pretty much done with Lost Ark.  I wrote up some reflections on our run at the game and linked to more Carbot videos.

EVE Online was still doing monthly feature updates.  For April we got the Rorqual conduit jump and some nerfs to citadels.  We also got the plan for the CSM17 election even as Xenuria was spilling tea about the CSM and CCP.  Somewhere in there I hit the 240 million skill point mark.

Meanwhile, after getting lots of players riled up by his flirtations with crypto, Hilmar declared that NFT meant Not For Tranquility.  I mean, we had signs that crypto was doomed… in the form of Lord British jumping on board that train wreck with something that couldn’t be a more transparent attempt to cash in on his name and reputation.  Too bad for him that he had already wrecked the latter.

Oh, and then CCP announced that they were raising the subscription price for EVE Online to $20 a month.  That was a blow that didn’t make anybody happy and started people panic buying PLEX in Jita.

Then, in one of those Friday bullet point posts I noted that EG7 divesting from Russia, CCP gave us a history of the EVE Online database, RimWorld was legal again in Australia, Diablo II Resurrected was getting ladders, and Playable Worlds got $25 million in funding.

I was stuck in a gym in Pokemon Go for quite a while.

I was also on about using Discord as a source of gaming news and updates.

I told the story of how knowing too much history got me out of jury duty.

And, finally, Elon Musk said he wanted to buy Twitter.  I figured he wasn’t a complete idiot, that he wouldn’t burn the place to the ground or anything.  There is a post that hasn’t aged well.

Five Years Ago

April Fools at Blizzard was mostly about World of Warcraft.

Having unlocked the four allied races available with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order, I was set to take a break from Azeroth until the per-expansion events started.  The August 14th launch date had been announced.

Ultima Online‘s Publish 99 introduced a free to play option.

Speaking of things Lord British has touched, I also played some Shroud of the Avatar and then tried to figure out who it was really targeting.  That I uninstalled it later probably meant I wasn’t on that list.  I have not gone back to it since.

Pokemon Go got field research as a new activity.

On Rift Prime I was in Stonefield.  There was also a problem with claiming mounts.

There were two Kickstarter campaigns of note, one for Empires of EVE Vol. II and the other for the CIA agent training card game.  I backed them both.

For EVE Online Fanfest was on in Iceland, where the keynote announced the coming Into the Abyss expansion and the Triglavian menace.  There was a lot of other news and tidbits out of the event, which I tried to sum up on the following Monday.  CCP also got recognized by Guinness for the Million Dollar Battle.

Actually in game, we were busy up in Fade and Pure Blind, such that I am going to just list out all those posts as bullet points:

Good times in space.

But, in the end, the most bizarre moment of the month was probably when Daybreak, asked if Russian sanctions might affect them, went straight to declaring that they have never been owned by Columbus Nova, despite having told us they were for owned by them since the acquisition from Sony.  Then they went on to try and gaslight the internet (always a recipe for success) including editing their own Wikipedia page to remove all mention of Columbus Nova, then issued more statements, and then had a round of layoffs, all of which just succeeded in bringing more attention to their absurd situation, to the point that I had to write a summary post just to keep track what the hell was going on.

All of which could have been avoided if Daybreak had just said, “No, sanctions will not affect us.”  A warning to PR professionals everywhere.

That kind of took the air out of the announcement that the Angarr server on EverQuest had reached the Planes of Power expansion.

Ten Years Ago

I was remembering the SEGA Genesis and NBA Jams

Our Wii seemed to be collecting dust and destined for retirement.  Maybe one more round of Wii Bowling?

On the iPad I was fiddling around with Vinylize Me.

The Camelot Unchained Kickstarter had kicked off with a steep $2 million goal.  With only three days left to go the campaign was $400K short.  Not sure if Mark Jacobs’ dire vision of the future of F2P helped or hurt.

Meanwhile, Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign over the $2 million mark, having doubled its $1 million initial goal.

LOTRO turned 6 years old and I was wondering what lay it its future.

World of Tanks hit 2 years and I was pondering tank crew skills and finally driving the KV-4 along with some other new tanks.

Age of Empires II – HD Edition launched on Steam.

I took another run at Need for Speed: World, which had added achievements.

In Rift, I was wondering why the Storm Legion expansion just wasn’t grabbing me.  I tried to press on.  Meanwhile, the instance group spent evenings one person short trying to find something to do.

The Burn Jita 2 event kicked off.  People didn’t seem to be paying much attention to it before it started, but it got extended and ended up bagging 573 billion ISK worth of ships.

CCP launched its EVE Online timeline as part of its prep for the 10th anniversary of the game.  They’ve since thrown all of that away.  But the Dev Blog about it is still there.

I also had items from the mail bag about Darkfall: Unholy Wars, MegaWars IV, and World of Tanks Blitz.

And it was kind of a quiet April Fools at Blizzard.

Fifteen Years Ago

I made up something for April Fool’s Day, SOE’s Graphite Realms!  I thought it was amusing.

Homstar Runner was getting a game on the Wii.

Lord of the Rings Online celebrated a year of being live.  Book 13 introduced, among other things, fishing.  And my video problems with the game proved to be a bad video card, so I was actually able to get into the game.

Computer Gaming World/Games For Windows magazine ceased publishing as part of the ongoing demise of print media.

In EVE Online I made the big move from Caldari to Amarr space.  I also began producing Badger transports for fun and profit.  CCP introduced the whole Council of Stellar Management thing, which I dubbed The Galactic Student Council.  My opinion on it hasn’t changed much since.

I also managed to get my hauling rigged Mammoth blown up in low sec space, which got me thinking at the recent profusion of those new heavy interdictors.

Meanwhile in World of Warcraft one million people in China logged into the game at the same time.  There is still no report on what would happen if they all pressed the space bar in unison.  While that was going on, the instance group finished up the Slave Pens and the Underbog and began the long struggle with the Mana Tombs.

I was looking around for Tetris on the Nintendo DS.  You would think that would be easy to find, right?

And then it was Tipa’s turn to bang the EverQuest nostalgia drum, so I joined in yet again.

Twenty Years Ago

Enix Corporation and Square Co. Ltd. officially merge, forming Square Enix Co. Ltd. I am not making this up.

PEGI, the European video game content rating system, came into use.

Thirty Five Years Ago

Gemstone launched on GEnie.  I played in the beta for it on GEnie and then was there for the launch.  It was the first command line MUD type game that I played.  I had played Stellar Emperor, Stellar Warrior, and Isle of Kesmai, but those were all terminal emulation focused titles.  Gemstone was more akin to Zork and titles like that which parsed text inputs for actions.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. Five New Eden Maps Better Than Either EVE Online In Game Map
  2. The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap – No Consoles, No UI Updates
  3. Twitter Verified User Marks Finally Disappear
  4. Blizzard April Fools No More
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. Who Should Have Bought CCP in 2018?
  7. CCP Closing Down EVE Anywhere on May 24th
  8. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  9. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  10. Making the Grey Pit in Valheim
  11. The Cataclysm Classic Question
  12. Fraternity’s Keepstar in X47L-Q Destroyed without a Fight

Search Terms of the Month

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Game Time by ManicTime

I said I was going to stop posting this last month, in part because it just points out how few titles I really play and in part because I felt that posting this might be inhibiting my desire to play more titles.  And then, in April, I did in fact play more titles… so now to show I was right maybe?

  • Civilization II – 27.63%
  • Civilization V – 19.26%
  • EVE Online – 15.99%
  • WoW Classic – 15.21%
  • Civilization VI – 10.16%
  • Civilization III – 3.91%
  • Civilization IV – 2.42%
  • Valheim – 2.27%
  • Alpha Centauri – 1.73%
  • Civilization – 1.42%

Civ II and Civ V were the winners in time spent, though I will say that I played Civ II through the whole move op from Pure Blind back to Delve, tabbing into EVE Online only when it was time to do something.  So CCP thinks I player 3 hours or so of EVE… 6 hours really, because I was running two accounts… but ManicTime thinks I mostly played Civ II.  That is a constant problem tracking EVE Online time, as I spend so much of it tabbed out of the game.


I played a lot of the Civilization series, both in the number of titles I played and in the number of hours spent.  It is still a strong series.  That said, I might have sated myself.  In all that play time I never quite got one of those games where you really want to see it through.

EVE Online

I came into April pretty active in New Eden, with the war going on in Pure Blind and all.  We had bagged three Keepstars in Pure Blind in March, and managed to kill the X47 Keepstar after winning the amour timer through downtime.  But that seemed to be the limit.  Those two Keepstars in Venal were let go.  You can only have people alarm clock so many times for a Chinese time zone fight.  So we hauled most of our toys back to Delve, left a couple fleet options up there, and Fraternity dropped a fresh new Keepstar in X47.

Pokemon Go

We continue to send gifts and collect postcards in order to further our Vivillon count.  I now have 10 of the 20 total, with 6 more I will be able to evolve one I have the candies.  And all those postcards mean friendship levels which deliver xp, so I actually made some decent progress towards 44.

  • Level: 43 (68% of the way to 44 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 767 (+9) caught, 781 (+10) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 23 of 34
  • Pokemon I want: Three specific Scatterbugs; Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow
  • Current buddy: Amaura


I did get out Valheim for a bit this month.  I was kind of looking for a game where I could just do some stuff that would pay off later, but the group hit a bit of a plateau after defeating the boss in the plains, and we have to go do that again to get the drops we need for new Mistlands crafting.  Meanwhile, I don’t quite have the energy to go all in on creating a Mistlands base.

WoW Classic

I have been slowing down a bit on Northrend front.  The instance group has only one dungeon left to do to have seen them all, at least before phase two shows up.  I have two characters at the level cap and I am losing momentum on the dailies and the like.


I did get back on the bike more so than I did in March, when I rode a rather uninspiring 27 miles.  My very modest monthly goal is 50 miles and I barely got half way there.  This month, however I managed to exceed my goal.  Not great, but better than my low ebb.  And it probably helped that the power wasn’t out and I wasn’t traveling, as was the case in March.

  • Level – 18
  • Distanced cycled – 1,602 miles (+88 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 61,624 (+2,7353 feet)
  • Calories burned – 49,920 (+2,321)

Coming Up

EVE Online turns 20 years old on May 6th.  I expect we’ll see something big from CCP on that front… though they have been pretty quiet about things up until this point.

I suspect that Twitter drama will continue.

Activision Blizzard drama as well.

And AI stuff.  That is everybody’s favorite thing right now.

Maybe we’ll hear something about Wrath Classic phase 2.  Or maybe Cataclysm Classic?  I don’t know.

Other than that, at least on the blog front, it seems like business as usual.

Answering Gaming Questions with AI – Finding a Warm Ocean in Minecraft

Back again with another edition of AI Question Time, where I ask the AIs a gaming related question that I have asked here on the blog in the past to see how the AIs answer it.

AIs thinking about video game questions… drawn by an AI

The questions so far:

This week I have decided to go a bit more specific, focusing on a question that brings a lot of traffic to this site.  That question is:

How do i find a warm ocean in Minecraft?

Seriously, almost every month the number one Google search that sends people here is the search for a warm ocean.  This is because I wrote a post about my own search for a warm ocean, which was kind of a big deal back when the aquatic update landed.

Minecraft under the sea

So Google sends a lot of people here looking for an answer.  Unfortunately, my post is about how I did it the hard way, sailing around all over until I eventually found a warm ocean and all the coral and cool stuff that goes with it.

After the traffic to that post continued, I eventually put an addendum at the top directing people to go find their world seed and bring it over to Chunkbase, which will then display where you can find the various biomes in your world.

So those have been my answers, either do it the hard way or cheat.  Those are not great alternatives, so we have a chance for the three starring AIs to show me up with some better options.

First up is Bing AI which, as usual, gets straight to the answers.

To find a warm ocean in Minecraft, you need to explore the Overworld and look for a biome that has a warm ocean. A warm ocean is a water biome that is filled with tropical fish, pufferfish, squids, and coral reefs². It has a light blue color and a temperature of 0.5¹.

There are a few ways to locate a warm ocean biome in Minecraft:

  • You can use a seed that spawns you in or near a warm ocean biome. For example, the seed 1404986100 will spawn you on an island surrounded by a warm ocean biome².
  • You can use the /locatebiome command to find the coordinates of the nearest warm ocean biome. For example, type /locatebiome minecraft:warm_ocean and press Enter. The game will display the coordinates of the nearest warm ocean biome in the chat window. You can then use the /tp command to teleport to those coordinates.
  • You can use an online tool such as Chunk Base to generate a map of your world and highlight the biomes. You can then look for the light blue areas that indicate warm ocean biomes and travel to them in-game.
  • You can use an in-game map or compass to navigate the Overworld and look for warm ocean biomes. You can also use a boat or an elytra to travel faster on water or in the air.

I hope this helps you find a warm ocean biome in Minecraft. Have fun exploring!

(1) Warm Ocean in Minecraft
(2) Ocean – Minecraft Wiki
(3) Around the Block: Lukewarm Ocean

We have my two responses covered, with Bing specifically mentioning Chunk Base (or is it Chunkbase?) as an option as well as giving some helpful tips on how to do it the hard way.

It also provides a world seed that will create a world where you start off in a warm ocean, which is good for those who are rolling up a new world and really want the warm ocean experience.

Finally it provides an in-game command to get coordinates for the nearest warm ocean and how to teleport to that location.  That is very direct, though I believe you have to have been granted admin level rights to be able to go that route.

All in all, a couple of options outside of what I had to offer, examples of what to do, names named, and even a command to try out.  Pretty comprehensive really.  My only wish is that it would have mentioned how to get your world seed if it was going to use that as an example.

Grade: A-

Then we have Google Bard.

Here are some tips on how to find a warm ocean in Minecraft:

  • Look for coral reefs. Warm oceans are the only biomes that have coral reefs. If you see coral reefs, you’re in a warm ocean.
  • Look for warm-water fish. Warm oceans are home to a variety of warm-water fish, such as tropical fish, pufferfish, and cod. If you see these fish, you’re in a warm ocean.
  • Look for the right biome temperature. Warm oceans have a biome temperature of 0.5 or higher. You can use a thermometer to check the biome temperature of your surroundings.
  • Use a biome finder. There are a number of online tools that can help you find warm oceans in Minecraft. These tools use your seed to generate a map of your world, which you can then use to find warm oceans.

Once you’ve found a warm ocean, you can explore it for all sorts of resources, such as coral, seashells, and fish. You can also build a home in a warm ocean, or even start a coral reef farm.

That isn’t very helpful really.  The first three points are things you would need to actually FIND a warm ocean first in order to see.  It might have been useful to mention that the coral reefs have things that glow at night, so they are much easier to find in the dark… but that didn’t come up.

Finally it kind of gives up and say you should take your map seed and go use a biome finder.  I suppose you could just go Google that to find one… be nice if it just mentioned one being you’re on Google already.

And then, having dispensed with that, it tells you that you can build a home in a warm ocean, which sounds wet.  I might build one on the shore.  But maybe this is Bard’s way of telling me to go jump in a lake… or ocean… or whatever.

Basically, it doesn’t get a failing grade because it wrote “biome finder” in its response.

Grade: D

Then there is ChatGPT.

To find a warm ocean in Minecraft, you need to travel to a specific biome that has the warm ocean biome. Here are the steps to find a warm ocean in Minecraft:

  1. Look for a world that has been generated with the Aquatic Update or later, as that’s when the warm ocean biome was added to the game. If you’re playing on an older version of Minecraft, you may not be able to find a warm ocean biome.
  2. Once you’re in a world with the Aquatic Update or later, look for an ocean biome. You can find oceans by looking for large bodies of water that surround the land.
  3. Once you’ve found an ocean, check the temperature of the water. Warm oceans are characterized by water temperatures of 1.5 – 2.0 degrees Celsius.
  4. If the water is warm, you’ll see a coral reef structure and various tropical fish swimming around. This is a sign that you’ve found a warm ocean biome.

If you’re having trouble finding a warm ocean biome, you can also use the “/locate” command in Minecraft to locate the nearest warm ocean biome. Simply open the chat window and type “/locate biome minecraft:warm_ocean” to get the coordinates of the nearest warm ocean biome.

Hrmm… with the past prompts ChatGPT has generally excelled because it has been creative… at least compared to the other two.  This time… maybe it doesn’t do details.

It starts out rough with that first sentence, stating essentially that to find a warm ocean you need to find a warm ocean.  I thought we could take it as read that it was a biome, but silly me and my assumptions.

Then it does make sure you know you need to at least have the Aquatic update.  I will hand it that, as that was another thing I though could just be assumed, but I see the wisdom in checking.

Then, in what I would assume would be the actual meat of any response, it basically says to go find a warm ocean biome.  Not helpful.  That I am sure could be assumed.

Then we’re on about the temperature.   I get it, all three list out the temperature, that being an obvious characteristic of an ocean we deem to be “warm” I guess.  But there isn’t a thermometer in game… or wasn’t when I last checked… and there are about a dozen obvious visual cues that would serve a user better… like all the stuff in the next point.

Then, after all of that it finally goes with the /locate command to get the coordinates of the nearest warm ocean.  A solid response, though I believe you have to have sufficient rights if you’re on somebody’s server to use that command.

Basically, that is all the game it brings.  Like Bard, it didn’t fail, but it didn’t exactly shower the user with useful information either.

Grade: D-

So, in a surprise turn after the previous questions, Bing AI is the clear winner, literally shaming the other two AIs and doing better than I could manage, with a couple of creative options that wouldn’t have necessarily occurred to me.

It has been noted that Bing AI is geared more as an AI search engine assistant rather than something to help you craft notes from Epstein’s mother.  It is not as expressive, even though I run it in the most creative setting, but it does pull up facts and provides some sources.

So if you need to find a warm ocean, or a forest mansion, or a desert temple, Bing AI should be your choice.

Blizzard Q1 2023 Financials were Both Up and Down while the UK Rejected the Microsoft Deal

Activision Blizzard (ABK) released their Q1 2023 financials on Wednesday… they were supposed to land yesterday, but we’ll get to that a bit later… and was quite chipper about how well they did when compared to their Q1 2022 numbers.

Activision Blizzard

As has been the case since the Microsoft acquisition was announced, ABK once again declined to talk to investors, give a presentation, or take any questions.  They have a deal that says Microsoft will pay them $95 a share, what the hell else do you want?  Nothing else matters besides making that deal go through.

But until the deal happens they are still an independent, publicly held company, so they have to give investors something every quarter.

Overall the company’s revenues were $2.38 billion, up from the $1.77 billion seen in the first quarter of 2022.

Likewise, when breaking out Blizzard, the company was quick to point out that their revenue was up by 62% over 2022 in the first quarter, ringing up $443 million in sales.  Not bad, but that 62% year over year calculation is both accurate and deceptive at the same time.

The company doesn’t exactly go out of its way to remind anybody that Q1 2022 was the recent nadir of Blizzard earnings.  Let’s do a quick review of the last two years:

In that selection of quarters, Q1 2023 is decidedly mid-pack.  $443 million is literally the median number, in the exact middle of those nine quarters.  So it was a good quarter, given recent history, but I wouldn’t exactly be spiking the football and doing an end zone dance on the year over year metric.

That said, it could have been worse.  As I noted with the Q4 2022 report, Blizzard had nothing set to launch in Q1 2023, so the whole quarter was going to be something of a judgement on the quality and stickiness of Dragonflight as a WoW expansion.  So good on that.

But… it is $40 million shy of Q2 2021, which was a similar situation where revenue was largely driven by the residual subscriber effect of the Shadowlands expansion.  So I am somewhat mixed on how much praise Blizz should get.

Yay, Dragonflight didn’t die off right away, but neither did Shadowlands and if you want to lay the blame for Q1 2022 on anything, Shadowlands would be your go-to choice.  And Blizz did suggest that Dragonflight hadn’t started off as strongly as expected.  We never got a “Dragonflight exceeds past WoW expansion sales” press release, which was a staple of the game for every expansion up through and including Shadowlands.

So good, but not great, with the weight of the past seeming to weigh down on WoW.

Likewise, the Monthly Active User count, about which I rely on MOP’s reporting, was down bigley, dropping to 27 million in Q1, way down from the 45 million seen in Q4.  Again, that isn’t the low point for Blizz MAU numbers, which were down to 22 million in Q1 2022… that cursed quarter… but it does indicate that some of their holiday boost for their buy to play games like Hearthstone and OverWatch were transitory.

As for what else was said about Blizz, here is the excerpt:

  • Blizzard segment revenue increased 62% year-over-year in the first quarter, with each of Warcraft, Overwatch and Diablo contributing to growth. Segment operating income was broadly stable year-over-year, reflecting higher development and marketing costs, including launch investment ahead of the second quarter release of Diablo IV.
  • The Overwatch and World of Warcraft teams delivered substantial in-game content and live operations to excite and sustain their communities following major product launches in the fourth quarter. Following the November release of the DragonflightTM expansion for the Modern game, our World of Warcraft team is delivering more content faster than ever before, and subscriber retention in the West is higher than at the equivalent stage of recent Modern expansions. While Overwatch engagement moderated versus the Overwatch 2 launch quarter, hours played were approximately twice the levels seen prior to the release of the free-to-play experience. Season 3, which launched in February, drove strong retention and consistent player investment versus the prior season.
  • Diablo ImmortalTM on mobile and PC also contributed to Blizzard’s first quarter net bookings growth, with the game experiencing stable trends across engagement, retention and player investment. Elsewhere on mobile, Warcraft: Arclight RumbleTM, an action strategy game internally-developed at Blizzard, continues to progress well through regional testing.
  • Diablo IV, the next major installment in the genre-defining series, will launch on PC and console on June 6. Public testing of the game in March saw very high engagement and positive feedback, and pre-sales are strong. This ambitious title will serve as the launch for a compelling live service, with regular seasons and story-driven expansions planned to drive engagement for many years to come.

That strikes me as a whole lot of hand waving about other things, while the hope for sales in Q2 and Q3 are pretty much pinned on Diablo IV being a huge success.  Basically, that is all they have on their road map.

I do not doubt that Diablo IV will be a big success, and we should see a big revenue spike in Q2 2023.  We shall see how it matches up with Q4 2022 and the Dragonflight launch.

Then there is the Microsoft deal.  I kind of expected this to be the final ABK quarterly report, that the deal might close before we got to a Q2 2023 report in late July or early August.

Then the bad news started to roll in on the deal, with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announcing early on Wednesday that they had decided to block the Microsoft acquisition, which I am pretty sure is what got the financials released a day early, so it could include an immediate counter to that decision.

The CMA decision naturally has Bobby Kotick spitting nails and threatening to kick puppies all the way to Westminster where he’ll demand to speak to the manager about how big business isn’t getting the service they expect from the Tory government they purchased.

He has become some sort of Gordon Gecko/Yosemite Sam cross over character in my head at this point, but he is sure he can fix this.

The odd bit was the CMA highlighting the need to protect the emerging cloud gaming market as a key part of its criteria for blocking the deal, something that got a very quick “wut?” reaction from me… and apparently from ABK.

On April 26, 2023, the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) announced a decision to block the merger, stating that competition concerns arose in relation to cloud gaming and that Microsoft’s remedies addressing any concerns in cloud gaming were not sufficient. Activision Blizzard considers that the CMA’s decision is disproportionate, irrational and inconsistent with the evidence. Microsoft has announced its decision to appeal the CMA’s ruling, and Activision Blizzard intends to fully support Microsoft’s efforts on this appeal. Activision Blizzard continues to believe that the deal is pro-competitive, will bring Activision Blizzard content to more gamers, and will result in substantial benefits to consumers and developers in the UK and globally. The parties continue to fully engage with other regulators reviewing the transaction to obtain any required regulatory approvals.

I mean, I am extremely dubious about this deal being “pro-competitive” in any reasonable sense of the term.  It will do what most such mergers do; lead to layoffs, increase costs to consumers, limit consumer choices, and raise the barrier to competition.

It will, in short, enrich large stockholders to the detriment of nearly everybody else.  Welcome to America, where we have returned to the 19th century era of corporations and nested trusts (which we now call “Capital Management Groups”) and the Pinkerton company… Pinkertons are still a thing for fuck’s sake… and railroad conglomerates destroying towns while getting the government to fight unions over simple requests like sick leave… it is the freaking Gilded Age all over again.

So to have all that to work with and then to lead with cloud gaming…

Cloud gaming?

Like the thing that nVidia, Sony, and Microsoft… you know, the main player in this deal… have been trying to make happen for quite a while now?  The thing that Google just gave up on with Stadia?  The thing that CCP just gave up on with EVE Anywhere?  The pipe dream that various companies have gone bankrupt pursuing for a couple of decades?  THAT cloud gaming market?  That is the big worry?

Am I missing some other cloud gaming option here?

Suddenly quite on point

As I have written in the past, big corporations have been trying to bring back the thin client, terminal connected to a mainframe, version of computing since the first desktop PC escaped into the wild.  It is all about controlling, and the fear of, the end user.  The problems and costs facing the idea still outweigh the benefits, as we have been reminded over and over.  “Fetch” will be a thing long before cloud gaming is anything to worry about when it comes to video game market share.

Also the CMA is pretty sure that Call of Duty won’t run on a Switch, probably because somebody’s nephew saw a post on Reddit about it, so they’ve said “No” to the whole thing.

All of which might just be a tempest in a teapot… which is the generally accepted metaphor to describe UK post Brexit… because the EU and the US FTC haven’t give their responses yet.  The former is due later this month and the latter not due until August.  We know the EU simply hates US tech firms… not without reason, but they go beyond reason… to the point of making up specific regulatory categories mostly focused on them. (China gets a nod too, but they couldn’t find an EU company anybody had heard of for a fig leaf to show they aren’t just targeting the foreigners.)  So that might be a bigger worry than the UK.

Meanwhile, even with a Democratic president in the White House the bar Microsoft needs to clear to be approved is about 2mm higher than the nothing it was under the last administration because I won’t claim that UK politics are bought and sold at the corporate suite level and then pretend that the same isn’t true in the US.  Still, maybe we’ll be surprised.

So when Microsoft is out there pouting publicly that this CMA announcement represents its darkest day, I can only suggest that the horizon may hold even darker days still.

Also, is nobody at Microsoft old enough to remember the late 90s and early 2000s when literally EVERY government agency in the world hated the company and wanted to drop it for Google Sheets or Open Office or whatever?  JFC Microsoft, get a grip!


A Look into March 2023 Destruction in EVE Online

While I said I was giving up on the Monthly Economic Report posts for New Eden, destruction is both a little more interesting and a little less accessible than some of the other economic numbers CCP provides.  And these are economic numbers.  Nothing drives the New Eden economy like destruction.

EVE Online nerds harder

So once again into the killdump.csv file in the MER.

According to those files there was a total of 461,239 losses in New Eden in March.

That was up from the February number of 400,617 and the  January total, which was 425,629.

That gives a destruction per day, which I think is going to be my new activity metric for these posts, of 14,878.67 kills per day in March.  Using that metric the year so far looks like this:

  • January – 13,729.96 kills per day
  • February – 14,307.75 kills per day
  • March – 14,878.67 kills per day

The daily destruction has been trending up.  I am sure the war up in Pure Blind is part of that, but there is always activity all around New Eden.

The top 20 types destroyed by hull classification were:

Type  Count
Capsule                        122,313
Frigate                          80,096
Cruiser                          36,219
Shuttle                          36,138
Destroyer                          31,001
Corvette                          17,973
Combat Battlecruiser                          14,368
Heavy Assault Cruiser                          12,924
Mobile Tractor Unit                          10,148
Interdictor                            9,294
Hauler                            8,885
Interceptor                            8,167
Assault Frigate                            7,351
Battleship                            7,321
Stealth Bomber                            5,217
Tactical Destroyer                            4,746
Mobile Warp Disruptor                            4,640
Mining Barge                            4,090
Strategic Cruiser                            4,046
Covert Ops                            3,397

I had been separating out capsules and corvettes previously, but I changed my mind on that.  If nothing else it keeps me from having to write an additional line about them and there is the top 20 data unfiltered.

I am also experimenting with formatting, just using the paste from Excel for the data rather than trying to turn it into a ranked list.  Feedback on whether that is better or worse would be appreciated.

When we dig into specific hulls, the top 20 looks like this:

Type  Count
Capsule        121,085
Caldari Shuttle          12,075
Venture          11,892
Amarr Shuttle            9,758
Mobile Tractor Unit            9,687
Heron            8,041
Ibis            7,409
Gallente Shuttle            6,701
Minmatar Shuttle            6,371
Ishtar            6,208
Caracal            5,392
Vexor            5,338
Thrasher            5,046
Sabre            4,792
Tristan            4,431
Velator            4,294
Merlin            4,091
Catalyst            3,736
Atron            3,657
Punisher            3,492

Now, I like those two lists, but they still feel very incomplete to me.  They give no sense of the economic impact of those losses.  I mean, we know that the corvette losses don’t mean anything, and shuttle losses are microscopic in the economy compared to many other hulls.

So I used Power BI to make myself a new list.   This is the top 20 hulls, the number lost, the total amount of ISK lost they represent (by which the list is sorted), and the average ISK amount per loss at the end.

Type  Count ISK lost sum ISK lost per
Capsule                121,085 3072.33 billion 25.37 million
Paladin                    1,009 1993.65 billion 1975.86 million
Vargur                       791 1625.23 billion 2054.65 million
Ishtar                    6,208 1474.05 billion 237.44 million
Golem                       516 1136.01 billion 2201.56 million
Loki                    1,516 1114.96 billion 735.46 million
Tengu                    1,404 1049.21 billion 747.30 million
Gila                    1,777 835.82 billion 470.35 million
Praxis                    2,285 642.44 billion 281.16 million
Athanor                       331 596.73 billion 1802.80 million
Orca                       274 464.80 billion 1696.35 million
Revelation                          82 457.31 billion 5576.98 million
Legion                       591 398.92 billion 674.99 million
Fortizar                          37 385.93 billion 10430.61 million
Proteus                       535 384.82 billion 719.28 million
Kronos                       218 379.92 billion 1742.75 million
Rhea                          32 376.51 billion 11766.00 million
Astero                    2,000 347.05 billion 173.53 million
Nestor                       168 344.69 billion 2051.72 million
Sabre                    4,792 324.31 billion 67.68 million

So that is the economic impact of those losses.  Capsules do, in fact, belong at the top of the list because, while an empty capsule is valued at just 10K ISK, people do insist on plugging in shiny expensive implants.  And Paladins… that is the war up in Pure Blind driving that.

And, just to flip that around, I also sorted it by average amount of ISK loss per kill, just to show what hulls represent the most expensive average losses.  The results are, perhaps, unsurprising.

Type  Count ISK lost sum ISK lost per
Avatar                            2 160.93 billion 80.46 billion
Leviathan                            1 74.08 billion 74.08 billion
Victor                            1 52.54 billion 52.54 billion
Wyvern                            1 34.85 billion 34.85 billion
Nyx                          11 295.64 billion 26.88 billion
Hel                            6 139.67 billion 23.28 billion
Aeon                            1 18.47 billion 18.47 billion
Nomad                            8 105.52 billion 13.19 billion
Laelaps                            1 12.94 billion 12.94 billion
Ark                          18 219.68 billion 12.20 billion
Rhea                          32 376.51 billion 11.77 billion
Anshar                          11 118.61 billion 10.78 billion
Fortizar                          37 385.93 billion 10.43 billion
Tatara                            4 34.60 billion 8.65 billion
Azbel                          12 82.79 billion 6.90 billion
Rorqual                          43 271.94 billion 6.32 billion
Revelation                          82 457.31 billion 5.58 billion
Moros                          19 101.06 billion 5.32 billion
Moros Navy Issue                            7 36.30 billion 5.19 billion
Bowhead                            6 29.88 billion 4.98 billion

Hey, guess what, capital ships are expensive!  If you lose one it is kind of a big deal, economically speaking.  So are freighters and jump freighters if you fill them with stuff.

Also, Alliance Tournament ships are extremely expensive.  There are two on that list and I have linked to the kills on ZKill.  CCP is dramatically undervaluing those ships in its own world, though they are tough to value because they rarely, if ever, appear on the market.  Those two should really be at the top of the list.

Then, of course, there is the question of where all of this destruction was going on.  The kill dump file shows these as the top ten regions:

Region ISK lost sum
Pure Blind 2.85 trillion
Delve 1.57 trillion
Metropolis 1.36 trillion
Lonetrek 1.27 trillion
The Forge 1.24 trillion
The Citadel 1.17 trillion
Vale of the Silent 1.17 trillion
Sinq Laison 1.17 trillion
Fade 1.06 trillion
Heimatar 1.03 trillion

The war in the north and the battles and the destruction of Keepstars would make you hope that Pure Blind would be at the top of the list, but sometimes it is nice to have that confirmed.

Delve also ranks because, while the war was going on the north, Pandemic Horde was trying to divide Imperium attention by sending fleets into Delve.  There were quite a few fights in Delve and even a couple of structures lost… and the usual capital lost because the pilot in question hadn’t really been paying attention to the war news and the warnings.

For simple loss count, the top ten regions were:

Region  Loss Count
Pure Blind                   36,476
Pochven                   29,315
Heimatar                   24,552
Essence                   21,889
The Forge                   21,064
Delve                   16,821
Metropolis                   16,753
The Citadel                   16,066
Fade                   14,020
Vale of the Silent                   12,965

Pure Blind remains at the top of the list, but the fights in Pochven… which is 12th on the value list, so didn’t make the top ten… burned enough hulls and capsules to jump to second place here.

Interesting is The Forge, home of Jita and often the top region, is a ways down the list in March.

That moves us along to a solar system view, with the top ten by ISK value losses being:

System ISK Lost sum
Auga 608.34 billion
X47L-Q 589.28 billion
5ZXX-K 498.41 billion
Ahbazon 448.76 billion
Gheth 448.02 billion
Nalvula 393.35 billion
1DQ1-A 358.88 billion
Finanar 316.16 billion
Jita 312.50 billion
Sivala 278.47 billion

Auga, a low sec system in Amarr/Minmatar Faction Warfare topped the individual system list, with X47 and 5ZK, both in Pure Blind, following along..  Jita was way down in 9th position, and had 166 billion ISK fewer losses than in February.  People must have been busy elsewhere.

For raw kills the top ten solar systems were:

Solar System  Count of Losses
Nalvula        20,410
Auga        15,035
Jita           9,805
Ahbazon           9,479
Deven           9,159
X47L-Q           7,948
Ouelletta           7,335
1DQ1-A           5,185
Tama           4,983
Rancer           4,946

For sheer numbers Navula, takes the top spot.

And, finally, there is the monthly top battles data from CCP which generates this less than useful map.

Mar 2023 – Battles in New Eden by Participants

I will say, looking at the data they did seem to move towards some reconciliation between the CCP value of a battle and the ZKillboard value.  It isn’t perfect.  The totals have CCP with 38 trillion in losses and ZKill at 47 trillion.  But the top battles on their list are at least not off by orders of magnitude this time around.

Solar System ISK Sum – CCP ISK Sum – Zkill Day
5ZXX-K 316.75 billion 323.45 billion 15
Nalvula 201.74 billion 218.97 billion 17
Finanar 147.80 billion 152.50 billion 3
KLY-C0 132.42 billion 128.58 billion 21
Nalvula 107.12 billion 108.44 billion 15
5ZXX-K 105.41 billion 111.82 billion 26
X47L-Q 104.49 billion 136.55 billion 12
Reblier 103.47 billion 112.11 billion 15
X47L-Q 87.29 billion 101.49 billion 12
O-BY0Y 83.60 billion 83.89 billion 1
Auner 82.58 billion 83.23 billion 30
2D-0SO 82.41 billion 83.77 billion 1
Farit 81.02 billion 80.43 billion 11
Manjonakko 79.90 billion 79.64 billion 11
KQK1-2 76.71 billion 75.97 billion 1
Egbinger 74.08 billion 74.10 billion 16
Istodard 69.45 billion 78.17 billion 4
AB-FZE 67.46 billion 72.06 billion 13
Ouelletta 64.19 billion 73.22 billion 11
F-QQ5N 57.08 billion 63.01 billion 26

This is where CCP’s map doesn’t help me much, even the HTML version that you can mouse over slowly and carefully to find the battles.

The 5ZXX-K Battle data from the HTML map

They are done as a heat map by participant, but then they don’t give me that data, only the loss values, so it is some work to tease out what really happened.

If I was feeling really motivated, with the data I have, I could go build up a battle report for the dates given… but I am not there at the moment.

Anyway, this was a look into the losses.  If nothing else, you can see that mobile tractor units remain a favorite target out in space.

Once again, all of this was drawn from the kill dump files you can find in the Monthly Economic Report for March 2023.  And, as always, feedback on what might be useful or interesting things to look into with a post like this is welcome.

Some Small Gripes About Wrath Classic

We have been having a good time in Wrath Classic.  We are almost done with the current set of dungeons, have done a few events, chased some achievements, and generally enjoyed ourselves.  Wrath Classic has been good.

But not perfect.  Not that it was perfect back in the day.  There are always problems.  For about a year in the original I had an issue where my client would crash if I was in Dalaran for more than about five minutes.  It only went away when I upgraded my video card, but I didn’t have a bad video card to start with.

So I though I would take a moment to drag out the things that irk me.  None of them are game breaking… well, not completely… but they are things that get on my nerves.

  • Draw Distance

This isn’t new to Wrath Classic.  It has been an issue throughout the WoW Classic era.  The draw distance for live interactable objects and mobs is ridiculously short.  While it comes up as an issue all the time trying to see even bosses in dungeons, on if my favorites is up in Ulduar where the summoning stone is just a short walk from the flight point… but you cannot see it.

Invisible Summoning Stone

I can even see a couple of other players around that stone, but cannot see the stone.  The trees beyond it, fine, the stone, no.

I doubt Blizz will do anything about it at this point, but it is one of those things that manages to be surprisingly annoying on a regular basis.

  • The Launcher still says Play

This is more of an “has it always been this way?” sort of gripe, but when I click on the “Play” button to launch WoW Classic it changes for a moment, then goes back to saying “Play” pretty quickly.  Meanwhile, the app itself takes its sweet time doing anything, no doubt taking a deep breath and psyching itself up a bit before committing to a launch, an interval that is just long enough to make me question whether the whole launch has been scrubbed and I might need to click the button again.

And the button is sitting there saying “Play,” which only compounds my doubts to the app’s commitment to the whole venture.

The app generally does something just before I go for the button again, but the interval is enough to make me think about it.

I thought perhaps the button returning to “Play” might be something for multi-boxing, but you have to go swap accounts to do that.  Maybe Steam has just spoiled me with the states of its “Play” button.  Or maybe the gripe here should be that the app takes a little too long to launch.

  • The Way WoW Names Screen Shots

I am following the format I learned in college, which recommended sticking your weakest points in the middle of your presentation.  That way they get lost or forgotten between your big opening point and your strong closer.

Anyway, the fact that WoW names screen shots in such a way that they don’t show up in chronological order when you sort by name is something I find irksome.  I don’t get into arguments about how the US does its dates versus the EU because it generally doesn’t matter. (BTW, we write the dates that way because that is the way we speak them.  Stop trying to apply logic, it is a language thing and the English language defies all logic.)

But when we’re doing things on the computer you will do dates in file names that makes them sort chronologically even if you sort by name.  I do not want to see shit like this.

WoW Screen Shot Sort

I know, somebody will say “just sort by date then!”  And I do.  But my apps don’t always follow suit.  In particular Windows Photo Viewer can only order files by name.

My graphics apps

I could use another app, but WPV is so light and fast and allows me to flick through screen shots so quickly and easily that I won’t give it up.  Alternatives take seconds to render images while WPV is as close to instantaneous as one could reasonably expect.

So at the start of every new year I rename my WoW screen shots folders by prefixing them with the year so I won’t find myself with screen shots from different events mixed together.

But seriously, lots of other titles do this correctly.  EVE Online has done it right since before WoW launched.  I suppose I should be happy that Blizz at least gave up on the .tga file format of the early days of the game.

  • Starting Quests from Items that Drop

We’re still in minor annoyances, but this one comes up regularly.  If you get a drop that gives you a quest, when you click on that item and the quest window pops up, it doesn’t go away when you accept the quest.

I clicked accept and it is still there

Yes, I can just close the window.  This isn’t a “stop the presses” bug.  But quests from drops became more common in Wrath… or it feels like they did, maybe because of this bug… and the quest window isn’t behaving as designed.

  • Looting Stacks of Items

One that you’ll see if you do the daily Dalaran cooking quest.  Your reward is in a package and when you open it you generally get a small stack of Northern Seasoning.  But auto-loot will only loot the first two, so if you get three to five in a stack, the loot window just sits there making everybody feel uncomfortable until you drag your cursor all the way up to the upper left hand corner of the screen to click on the rest of the stack and finish the transaction.

Playing this on a 34″ monitor makes this just annoying enough to put it under gripes.

  • Water in Wintergrasp

Not the open world Wintergrasp, which HAS to have water in it because there is a fishing daily that requires it.  No, it is when you go into a Wintergrasp match you find that all the water is missing.

Just riding down this frozen empty stream bed

Again, not exactly the crime of the century, but it does change the dynamics of the battlefield by removing barriers that can slow people down and also depriving Death Knights the ability to show off with their Path of Frost skill.

  • Memory/stability problems in the client

And the big closer, which isn’t even something I can take a screen shot of because it just sort of happens.

It feels like if I play for two hours or more I will eventually hit a state where the WoW Classic client will stop responding to input.  At first it will be unreliable, requiring me to do something a couple of times until it responds.  But not long after that it will stop taking most inputs.  I’ll still be in game, I will still be able to move around and such, but vendors won’t open up, my bags won’t respond, clicking on things in the world won’t get the expected action.

Now, this could be crappy AddOns… I have Questie, which gets its fingers into everything, and Auctioneer, which has seen better days… but the strange decaying of responsiveness still feels like the client isn’t managing resources correctly.

And, unlike the “client crash if I am in Dalaran for more than 5 minutes” routine I mentioned at the top, other people in our group see this crop up as well.

So those are my gripes, my minor complaints about WoW Classic at the moment.

Are there any other small grievances I should be aware of?  I threw this together off the cuff… like almost every other post here… and feel like I’ve forgotten one or two.  I didn’t have enough for a top ten, but I thought I would be closer than to it than seven.

The Road to Alliance Tournament XIX

Amid all the other silly stuff going on last week… and on 4/20 specifically… CCP also got around to announcing the next Alliance Tournament.

Alliance Tournament 19

The primary point of the first announcement was to get the schedule out there and note that this year the Gallente Federation would be the sponsors of the tournament, as the prize ships will be revisions of the Adrestia and Utu, which were rewards for a past tournament.

The timeline to the tournament is as follows:

  • 25 April – Rules announced & sign-ups open
  • 9 May – Sign-ups close
  • 11 May – Team Roster (and merc) submissions open
  • 13 June – Roster (and merc) lock concludes (ad submission deadline for the Feeders)
  • 24 & 25 June – Feeders Tournament weekend 1
  • 1 & 2 July – Feeders Tournament weekend 2
  • 4 July – Post Feeders roster lock begins
  • 18 July – Post Feeders roster lock concludes & flagship submissions begin
  • 25 July – Flagship lock deadline (ad submission deadline for the main tournament)
  • 12 & 13 August – Alliance Tournament XIX weekend 1
  • 19 & 20 August – Alliance Tournament XIX weekend 2

That puts the tournament a little earlier in the year than usual.  Last years road to the tournament did not have sign-ups until August, leading to the traditional November finals. (Meanwhile, the next CSM elections have yet to be mentioned, so things seem to be up in the air what with the 20th anniversary and all.)

This year the big matches will land in August, traditionally a time of near silence from CCP… and a point in time when they will be getting ready for EVE Fanfest, which is in September rather than the usual May time frame.

It is a year of changes I guess.  And that includes how you get your team into the tournament.  Gone is the silent bid auction.  Instead, the feeder tournament will determine who goes to the big match.

During last year’s tournament, we introduced a unique format for the “Trials Tournament”. This year, however, we are making a few changes in relation to the entry process into the tournament. Whilst there will be spots reserved for the top 4 alliances that finished last year, the remaining 28 slots will be earned through the Feeders Tournament this year with NO teams earning entry via silent bid auction. This also means that we will be increasing the entry cost slightly from 2,500 PLEX to 3,000 PLEX. The details of the Feeder Tournament format and the draw will be shared on 23 May 2023, so keep an eye out!

Maybe CCP doesn’t want to disturb the price of PLEX, a sensitive topic over the last year or so, or maybe they just want that meritocracy that so many talk about, but few can seem to achieve.  But you’ll have to fight your way in if you were not one of the top four alliances in last year’s tournament.

Otherwise the usual list of expected changes and tweaks have been announced.

  • The IGC thanks the Minmatar for their sponsorship in the last tournament! We will be adjusting their revised point values whilst making a few of the Gallente ship costs a little more favorable.
  • The new navy faction ships released to the public last year have been added. In addition, a few Triglavian ships have had their points reduced.
  • Scripted sensor dampeners and weapon disruption will remain. However, only ships that have a hull bonus that is applicable to those effects will be able to equip those modules, i.e the Maulus, Keres, Velator, Celestis, Lachesis and Arazu for sensor dampeners, and the Pilgrim, Arbitrator, Impairor, Sentinel, Curse, Crucifier, and Crucifier Navy Issue for weapon disruption modules.
  • You can look forward to the full list of changes and point values being released on 25 April!

It is April 25th today, which means there should be another announcement post coming along.  I’ll add that once it shows up… and once I see it.  They seem to be running behind today and have been somewhat inconsistent as to which channels they actually broadcast news through.  I try to monitor them all, but I have only so much of my limited attention span to spare.

Edit: Rules posted, linked below.

Otherwise, you can enjoy the teaser video they did.

I am not sure what disturbs me most about that video; the weapons systems making sound in space or the suggestion that EVE Online has sound.


The Imperium Dials Back Operations in Pure Blind

I made it to the weekly coalition fireside talk on Saturday, and it was a good thing I did.  I haven’t done much since I alarm clocked for that last Keepstar kill.  The word passed down was that we were pulling back in our commitment to the war.

We are not done up in the north, but rather than having capitals and a half a dozen or more doctrines to hand and everybody’s death clone set in the DO6H-Q Keepstar, the whole thing was going to be reset to be a jump clone effort with two doctrines left behind and everything else being hauled home.

And move ops home were to commence after the fireside, once a cyno vigil to a fallen member of the coalition was concluded.  That gave me enough time to get back to the Keepstar and get packed, because I had parked my main and my alt out Venal at 92D-OI and WLF-D3, a good dozen gates away from our staging, in anticipation of there being another set of Keepstar fights.

But Fraternity has been getting its act together, working to get gate and grid control going in advance, making it unlikely for us to succeed.

Warp bubbles deployed in WLF to hinder attacker movement

That and the whole time zone difference… you can only get your coalition to alarm clock so many times before it becomes a real drag… were big parts of why we were dialing things back.

I got both my characters back to the Keepstar safely, the route home being fairly empty.  I was even back in time to fly around the cyno vigil for a bit.

When the ping for fleets went up there were three, which filled up pretty quickly.  I had to leave one to get both characters in the same fleet.  We were told to have at least 60K of isotopes, the fuel that capital ships expend for jump travel, to be sure we could make it home.  I had 100K on each of my capitals, because I had TWO capital ships up in Pure Blind, an Apostle and a Ninazu.

The Apostle had been in Pure Blind for a Reavers deployment that never really came together.  It turns out that if your SIG leader is also the coalition leader, then your SIG doesn’t end up doing much… though we are always around for special tasks.

The Ninazu, meanwhile, is what I flew up to this deployment, a fleet hangar full of sub caps, most of which I never undocked.  So it goes.

The move op home was… well… exceptionally smooth.  It is almost like we’ve learned something since the trail of tears and the doomed convoy op at KVN-36 back in the day.

The classic Trail of Tears move op, an obligatory reminder for every cap move op

Once in the fleet there was already a cyno target in the MOTD.  We were told to undock and jump right away.

That put us at another Keepstar where we waited a bit for red timers to count down, then it was time to undock and jump again.

Jumping from the undock

We had to stop along the way at a couple of Fortizars, which meant that the supercarriers and titans had to sit out on tether while the rest of us docked up.

Landing on a Fortizar

Fortunately, the capital ship bumping mechanics have changed over the years.  I remember back in Delve in 2012 witnessing two titans bumping at a POS and that causing one of the titans to be flung more than a hundred of kilometers out of the safety of the forcefield.

Sent way down town

Now, while there is still bumping and you can get pushed off of tether quite easily, bumps are not that crazy.

Supers around a Fortizar in Cloud Ring

The whole thing was very low key, though I was sitting in the No Chatter channel which meant I only heard orders from the fleet commander, Apple Pear, about when to dock, undock, and jump.

I spent the intervals while we waited for jump timers to run down playing Civ II.  ManicTime says I spent a lot more time playing that than in EVE Online during the move op, which is a good sign for a move op in my opinion.

Apple Pear was encouraging people to get at least as far as J5A-IX in Fountain on the move, because that would put them back in friendly space.  Also, there was a surprise for us once we gated from Cloud Ring into that system in Fountain.

We got through and were bubbled on the gate, which is usually a serious faux pas on a capital move op.  Cap pilots get very anxious when unexplained bubbled pop up.  And then we were told to lock up a titan with the pilot Voltran and shoot him.  He wasn’t broadcast in our fleet and I couldn’t find him, get him locked up, and drop some drones because he was dead before I cold get my act together.

Voltran destroyed

Apparently Voltran was one of Pandemic Horde’s big spies in our super capital group and we were using this moment to purge him.  The bubbles were up to keep him from getting away.  It all happened so fast I didn’t even get a screen shot of the explosion, just the greasy smudge of smoke in space where his Avatar had been.

What remains of Voltran is a dissipating cloud of black smoke

If you go find his character in game you will see that he did, indeed, end up in Pandemic Horde once he was purged.  I would link his EVE Who profile, but the API end points are still disabled, so nothing is getting updated.

Other spies were reported purged as well, but none so dramatically.

Then it was to the Keepstar to wait for another jump timer.  We had two more jumps until we ended up in Delve on a Keepstar one jump from 1DQ1-A.  We were left there, but that was fine.  I had a long jump timer at that point and there is a safe cyno on the 1DQ Keepstar most days.  I came back later that evening and jumped myself home.

I ended up using about 47K isotopes, oxygen for the Ninazu and helium for the Apostle, because each NPC empire powers their jump drives with their own special fuel.  I am sure that makes logistics lots of fun.

Now we are back at home.  I have a couple of ships and two jump clones still up in Pure Blind should something happen, but most of my assets are now back down in Delve.

Answering Gaming Questions with AI – Why So Many Fantasy MMORPGs?

Once more into AI Question Time with another gaming question challenge.

AIs thinking about video game questions… drawn by an AI

Following up on last week’s question I figured I would dig out what used to be a common chestnut in MMORPG discussions.

Why are fantasy based MMORPGs much more common than science fiction based MMORPGs?

This is one of those points that used to come up quite regularly back in the early days of the MMORPG phenomena at the start of the century.  People would look, first at EverQuest then at WoW, and ask why people kept making more fantasy titles and when the big science fiction MMORPG success story was coming?

I have written a few posts on the topic, going back to 2008, and my conclusion back then, as it is now, was pretty much:

  • There is a ton more fantasy out there than science fiction, with a much longer history of cultural influence.  Beowulf is pretty much 11th century fantasy.  And that brings a level of familiarity that science fiction doesn’t.
  • Dungeons & Dragons took the plethora of fantasy and gave us a framework that influences how we think about fantasy in games.  Science fiction lacks a similar yet distinct prototype and, in fact, tends to just be D&D with lasers.
  • The concepts are easy to understand and implement; sword hurts you, armor stops it from hurting so much, numbers in the stats tell you how much of each.  You can also get hit and hurt and believably still carry on while phasers and blasters tend to be one-shot kills.

So I turned this question loose on the AIs to see what their data would suggest.

Bing was up first and, as usual, provide sources for its answers.

That’s an interesting question. There is no definitive answer, but I can share some possible reasons based on the information I found.

One reason could be that fantasy themes are more popular and familiar among MMORPG players, as they are often inspired by traditional role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons⁵. Fantasy MMORPGs can also offer more variety and creativity in terms of races, classes, magic, and monsters³.

Another reason could be that science fiction themes are more challenging and costly to develop and maintain for MMORPGs, as they require more advanced graphics, sound, and physics to create immersive and realistic worlds². Science fiction MMORPGs may also have to deal with more complex issues such as balancing futuristic weapons, technology, and lore⁴.

A third reason could be that fantasy and science fiction themes are not mutually exclusive, and some MMORPGs combine or replace elements of both genres to create hybrid settings that appeal to a wider audience⁵. For example, some MMORPGs feature spaceships, aliens, and robots alongside swords, magic, and dragons¹.

These are just some possible explanations, but there may be other factors that influence the prevalence of fantasy-based MMORPGs over science fiction-based ones. Ultimately, it may depend on the preferences and tastes of the developers and the players.

(1) Massively multiplayer online role-playing game – Wikipedia
(2) Science Fiction vs. Fantasy: How Are Science Fiction and Fantasy
(3) The 7 Best Sci-fi MMORPGs to Play & Enjoy in 2023 – The Cursed Crusade
(4) Fantasy vs Science Fiction – Page 3 –
(5) The Best Sci-Fi MMORPGs, Ranked – Game Rant
(6) MMOs exploded this year, but not in the ways you’d expect – PC Gamer
(7) The Best Fantasy-Based MMOs To Play In 2023 |

That is… kind of bland. Also, most of the time when somebody says a question is “great” or “interesting” they really mean, “WTF? How am I supposed to answer this nonsense?”

On the first set of points I obviously agree about D&D, though the idea that fantasy offers more creativity in terms of races, classes, or monsters seems pretty easily dismissed.  If anything, fantasy seems very much constrained as a genre.  It is always elves or dwarves isn’t it?  It is always fighter, rogue, mage, and cleric of some sort.

The cost to develop I cannot really speak to directly, but it doesn’t seem to ring very true all the same.  It really depends on what one is attempting to convey.  You could have low budget sci-fi and expensive fantasy if you wanted.  Balancing futuristic weapons though, I guess I could buy that… but it still feels tangential.

The third set of points seems neither here nor there.  I mean, I get that there CAN be a melding of the two genres, but I am not sure that is really on point with the question.  That hunters in WoW have guns and engineers can make devices that might be science fiction adjacent does not go very far in explaining why there are more fantasy MMORPGs than science fiction unless you believe that everybody who plays a hunter, as an example, feels they are really filling their sci-fi needs.

And then it wraps up with a hand wave about the taste of the players and developers, like that means much.  Fantasy is popular because it is popular isn’t the argument you think it is.

So, while Bing seemed to get close to an answer here and there, it doesn’t feel like it really got to anything convincing.

Grade: D

Then there is the aptly named Google Bard, which goes in for some bullet points of its own.

There are a few reasons why fantasy based MMORPGs are much more common than science fiction based MMORPGs.

Fantasy is more familiar to people. Most people are familiar with the tropes of fantasy, such as knights, dragons, and magic. This makes it easier for people to get into a fantasy MMORPG, as they don’t have to learn a whole new set of rules and concepts.

  • Fantasy is more visually appealing. Fantasy settings are often more visually appealing than science fiction settings. This is because fantasy settings can be more fantastical and creative, while science fiction settings are often more grounded in reality.
  • Fantasy is more timeless. Fantasy settings don’t rely on current technology or trends, so they can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Science fiction settings, on the other hand, can quickly become dated, as new technologies and trends emerge.
  • Of course, there are also some successful science fiction MMORPGs, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and EVE Online. However, these games are the exception rather than the rule. Overall, fantasy is simply a more popular genre for MMORPGs.

In addition to the reasons above, there are a few other factors that may contribute to the popularity of fantasy MMORPGs. For example, fantasy settings often have a more clear-cut sense of good and evil, which can be appealing to players. Additionally, fantasy settings often allow for more creative freedom, as players can choose to play as a variety of different characters, such as knights, wizards, and elves.

Ultimately, the popularity of fantasy MMORPGs is due to a combination of factors. These games offer a familiar and visually appealing setting, as well as a sense of good and evil that is appealing to many players. Additionally, fantasy settings allow for more creative freedom than science fiction settings, which can be a major draw for players.

Bard jumps right in with what I feel is the strongest point, the familiarity with the tropes of fantasy and how putting them in a game eases people into the game.

Also, the timelessness aspect of it is underrated.  Science fiction can be overtaken and regularly is.  Read any of Isaak Asimov’s robot works from the 50s and 60s where his protagonists insist that getting a robot to speak, for example, is extremely hard but that understanding the spoken word is easy.

On the flip side, I am not buying that fantasy is necessarily more visually appealing nor the idea that fantasy offers more creative freedom.  Those seem provably incorrect.

Meanwhile, stating that there are, in fact, some successful science fiction MMORPGs seems like embroidery, on the topic but not necessarily a proof related to the question at hand.

It sums up by going with familiarity and the sense of good vs evil, which I think are strong points in its case, but the creative freedom and visual aspects still don’t sit with me.  Its best arguments are undermined by those two points.

Grade: C+

And, finally, ChatGPT chimes in with this entry

There are a few possible reasons why fantasy-based MMORPGs are more common than science fiction-based MMORPGs:

  • Historical precedence: Fantasy has been a popular genre in literature, film, and other forms of media for centuries, whereas science fiction as a genre is relatively new. This historical precedence has likely influenced game developers to create more fantasy-based games than science fiction-based ones.
  • Relatability: Fantasy settings often draw upon familiar cultural motifs and archetypes, such as medieval Europe or mythical creatures, which can be easier for players to relate to and immerse themselves in. Science fiction, on the other hand, may involve unfamiliar worlds and advanced technology that can be more difficult for players to understand and engage with.
  • Accessibility: Fantasy-based MMORPGs typically have lower hardware requirements than science fiction-based MMORPGs, as they can rely on traditional graphics and gameplay mechanics. Science fiction-based MMORPGs, however, may require more advanced technology to create immersive environments and simulate futuristic technology, which can limit their accessibility to a wider audience.
  • Market demand: Fantasy-based MMORPGs have been more commercially successful than science fiction-based MMORPGs in the past, leading game developers to continue creating more fantasy-based games. However, this could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the lack of sci-fi MMOs might limit the demand for them, and therefore, their profitability.

Of course, these are just a few possible factors, and there may be other reasons why fantasy-based MMORPGs are more common than science fiction-based MMORPGs. Ultimately, the popularity of these genres depends on various factors, including cultural trends, technological advancements, and player preferences.

ChatGPT starts off strong with the historical aspect, fantasy having a long standing in our culture while science fiction is the new comer.  I agree both because of the newness of Sci-Fi and the depth of the fantasy field.  There was fantasy before Tolkien.

Relatability seems on point as well and aligns with one of my own points.  The dynamics of fantasy are pretty familiar, while science fiction is often projected into the future where one can lose that sense of the familiar and have to explain basic concepts that you wouldn’t need to in a fantasy context.

Accessibility though, that point seemed off in past answers and ChatGPT does nothing further to support it.  The idea that science fiction requires better, faster, or more advanced hardware seems unproven.

And then for its last point ChatGPT declares that consumer demand is why there is more fantasy than science fiction in the MMORPG market, which is one of those things that I will admit, given the question, is technically correct but which also comes close to begging the question.  It certainly doesn’t add any depth to the WHY aspect of things.  It is essentially saying fantasy is more popular because fantasy is more popular.

So I think ChatGPT was on to a couple of solid ideas with the history and relateability aspects, but fell off with accessibility and consumer demand.  Over all, its answer felt like it took fewer risks than the other two AIs… it went into less detail, preferring to avoid specific examples… which made its good points land more softly, but also meant that its off points did not detract from the answer as much as they might have.

Grade: B-

So those are the three answers I got.  I actually order the answers Bing/Google/ChatGPT up front and then go evaluate them afterwards.  That they seem to rank in ascending order down the page is only apparent to me after I go back to grade them.

And, as always, I only take the very first response they give, which can be kind of tough.  ChatGPT got an update after I asked it this question and, on letting it run again, gave me a slightly better answer.  It still had the same faults, but threw in an extra point about fantasy bringing a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time, which is not only a valid point, but one which I had not included in my own view.

But I only got that response after I had written my evaluation of its first response.  So your answers may vary by session.  And if you ask multiple questions in a session, that will also influence the response you get, which is another reason I like to go with the first cold answer from a new session.  My updated response from ChatGPT was also likely influenced by some follow on questions I did.

Anywhere, there we go.

Next time around I am going to move from away from broad, somewhat opinion based questions to something more specific, something where the response can be objectively evaluated.  Will the AIs do better on that more solid ground?

Twitter Verified User Marks Finally Disappear

Or maybe they haven’t disappeared.  The story is both complicated and exceedingly dumb.

Of course this kicked off on 4/20, because Elon Musk (or “Harry Bolz” as his profile read for a while this past month) is more concerned with trolling people than running a business. He has had workers paint over the “W” on their building sign so it now says “Titter.”  That is who we are dealing with here.

Unlike the Space X launch this week, we seem to be witnessing a slow motion, completely predictable disassembly of a business in which we get to participate with in real time.

In case you didn’t get that reference

(Also, Elon’s need to have that launch on 4/20 meant the launch pad wasn’t done, leading to a bunch of problems after the fact.)

So what is the big deal?

The original verified check mark system was put in place to validate that somebody claiming to be a celebrity or organization was verified as actually being that person.  Stephen King on Twitter had a blue check mark on Twitter because he was able to prove he was Stephen King.  Likewise the New York Times, LeBron James, NPR, the BBC, William Shatner, the presidential account, and so on.

There was always the claim that it was elitist, and it was in the way that celebrity always is.  Fame and celebrity are an exercise in elitist behavior in which we all participate. (Here is where somebody might be tempted to mis-use that Andy Warhol quote.)  Even those who claim to be against it adhere to it for the people they believe should be famous, like Elon himself.

But Elon, having scared off a chunk of his advertising base, which was all that was keeping Twitter viable as a business venture, by embracing and amplifying right wing extremists, had the brilliant idea to charge for blue check marks, the price of $8 having been arrived at when Stephen King opined that the original $20 ask was too high.

I am not making this up.

So Twitter started selling the blue check mark, identical to the verified version, and immediately somebody bought one for an account which was setup to look like Eli Lily’s account, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, and announced that insulin was going to be free from now on, causing the real company’s stock price to take a hit.

That was going to be a never ending problem, and the solution was to remove any innate value associated with blue check marks.  And that meant taking them away from those not paying. (This is where that 15 minutes of fame quote actually fits.)

This has been billed as an egalitarian move, a blow against the elites by taking away their privilege or some such nonsense.  Now Joe Six Pack can have a blue check mark!

Except now that anybody can have that mark it simply means “I pay $8 a month so my tweets get a special boost by the algorithm.”

This was supposed to come to pass on April 1st… again, Musk the troll… but the company said it was too hard to get done so quickly.  But they managed to get it done by 4/20.

So now the people who have blue check marks are all people who paid to get injected into your timeline. Mostly.

Stephen King disavows his blue check mark

Once again, this is Elon the troll in action.  He said that he has paid for Twitter Blue for some celebrities, which just happens to correspond with celebrities who loudly stated they would never pay.

Meanwhile, since the blue check marks now, as a group, tend to be of the right wing extremists that Elon likes to amplify, seeing a blue check mark has become a pretty good indication that you should just block that account.

Mostly true at this point

I am not saying you have to go block all blue check marks.  There are a few accounts I enjoy that have decided to pay and I won’t hold that against them.  I am just saying that the check is a pretty good indicator most of the time as to the type of person you are dealing with.  The replies on this Bette Midler tweet lines the type up for you.

Those type of responses, trying to characterize not buying into Musk’s $8 bond as being cheap and vain, has led to a full on “block the blue” campaign from some, including Twitter staple @dril.

This led Elon to ban the account driving this because…

There is a Dril tweet for all occasions

He could have just given them a blue check mark like he did Stephen King to make a mockery of the whole thing, but he went angry.  He wants to be a troll, but even fails at that.

Still, this must be an economic win for Twitter, right?  All them blue checks are paying to be there now.  Those doing research via the API don’t have great news for Elon.

The count from the API

So approximately 407,000 accounts HAD blue check marks, and now somewhat fewer than 20,000 do.  And, as the legacy check marks went away, only 28 more people signed up.  And are those the ones Elon paid for?

That sub-20K number at $8 a month totals up to almost $1.9 million annually, which would be pretty great for an solo indy video game title, but is less than spectacular for something you recently invested $44 billion into.

Of course, Elon has also been looking for other ways to make money.  So now if your ad budget isn’t big enough on Twitter you will need to buy a check mark for your account.

Twitter blue ad policy

That could generate more revenue… or it could just deter small advertisers from considering Twitter as a platform.  We shall see.

Then there was the whole “charging for access to the API” thing, which got Microsoft kill its Twitter advertising plan to turn off access to the Twitter API from its platforms, such as XBox.  Elon has threatened loudly to sue… for “reasons.”

Then this abomination showed up in my timeline this week.

Greg of all the numbers

Yes, blue check mark people can, among other things, have subscriber only content.  All of Greg16676935420’s top secret tweets can be revealed to you for just $4.00 a month!

For the low low price of way more than it is worth

I mean, I won’t give the New York Times or the Washington Post one dollar a month for actual content I might actually read.  What sort of half-wit thinks I would subscribe to this garbage?

Oh, right…

And I certainly won’t subscribe to this

I suspect the alert that somebody I follow subscribed to Elon is something Elon himself pushed to make it look like he is popular.  After all, he has had the engineers tweak the algorithm to get his tweets to the top of the list.  Soothing his ego needs is always on the agenda.

So that is what is going on at Twitter this week, though I didn’t even get to major accounts that left the platform, including NPR, which stepped away because they said something Elon didn’t like and so he had their account labeled as “State Sponsored Media” despite the fact that NPR was literally an example of news organizations that do not count as such in their own documents. (They edited the documents and NPR has left.)

It isn’t dead yet, but at some point all of these decisions are going to have to be paid for… unless this was the plan all along, to simply destroy Twitter as a center for political discourse and turn it into chaos where you are no longer sure who is who and where even paying for it as a service has become a political litmus test.  Kind of an expensive way to get that result, but no doubt worth it to some.


Friday Bullet Points from the Worldle-verse

The BBC is concerned that we may have fallen out of love with Wordle, though I still play it every morning and post it to our Discord channel where we share the misery of words that eluded us… plus remain mystified how hard it is to NOT guess the word with Anti-Wordle.

  • Wordle 666

We may have fallen out of love with Wordle, but it is still part of my morning routine.  I wake up before my alarm goes off… an old person feature… pick up my iPad, put on my glasses, and do the Wordle every morning.  Some days I am better than others.

Wordle game 666

I did not try to get Wordle 666 in 6 guesses, but there it was.

Look, if Elon can constantly use 420 as his go to number I can have some fun with 666.

Also, that is from our Discord channel where Potshot and I post our scores.  I should probably update my handle, as “Stannislav” is from New World, and we haven’t played that in a year.

  • Heardle Going Away

Meanwhile, on the Worldle-like front, it seems that Spotify has fallen out of love with Heardle, the musical version of the daily game that they paid an undisclosed amount for last year.  When I logged in the other night… as I do the Wordle when I awake, so my wife and I do the Heardle when we get into bed at night… I got this pop up.

Heardle is going away

Over at Tech Crunch Spotify is quoted as saying:

After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Heardle as we focus our efforts on other features for music discovery

Basically, they thought this would make them money and it didn’t, so they are throwing it away.

Now I have to see if there is a Heardle replacement out there.

  • DOS Wordle

Stuck back in the world of pre-Windows technology?  Still working from a DOS prompt and feel left out of the Wordle thing?  Well, WorDOSle has you covered!  Yes, somebody has brought a clone of the game to DOS.

WorDOSle for my friends

The question remains, do you store it on a floppy or do you waste some of that 10MB hard drive to keep it handy on your machine?

  • Guess the Game

Anything can be made into a Wordle-like game it seems.  And so we have Guess the Game, which gives you screen grabs from a title and you have to guess which game it is.

No luck for me guessing this

You might think, writing a video game blog, I might be at least okay at this.  But no, I am awful.  I play the same games over and over, rarely branching out.  That said, I did get Untitled Goose Game when it came up, and on the first guess.  Some games get enough press coverage that you just absorb them.  (And no, the first image did not actually have the goose in it.  It was just the art style that triggered my recognition.)

  • WoW Wordle

Okay, what if they made a Wordle knock-off that was about one of the games into which I have hundreds of hours of play time invested.  I would be good at that, right? seems set to prove that hypothesis wrong.

I did not even get close

The problem is that it isn’t words per se, but WoW names, locations, and related action words.  I struggle to even come up with options it will accept because it turns out I don’t pay a lot of attention to what is going on in Azeroth.  Kezan, for example, I had to Google:

Kezan is a tropical and volcanic island located in the South Seas, not far from the Lost Isles, southwest of the Maelstrom, and northwest of Zandalar.

Was never going to get that.

  • Digits Looks to Replace Wordle

Finally, the New York Times has a new puzzle game that they are hoping will capture the Wordle enthusiasm from the days of Covid.  It is called Digits, and it requires you to do math.  Specifically, you have to use some numbers provided and mathematical operators in order to come up with the number displayed.

Digits explained in some way

You do not, however, have to use all the numbers, a detail I missed on my first pass.  I manage to get this right fairly often so far, though it is not exactly the sort of thing my waking brain is really built to deal with.