Author Archives: Wilhelm Arcturus

About Wilhelm Arcturus

I started playing online, multiplayer games in 1986. I expect to get the hang of it any time now.

Null Sec goes to High Sec for a War Dec

Weren’t we just talking about war decs?

Okay, this isn’t that sort of griefing war dec that drives high sec care bears from the game.  In fact, this is exactly the sort of thing CCP wants war decs to be.

With the ending of the war in the north there was supposed to be a month of peace.  However, Pandemic Horde took great exception to the peace payoff that sent the Imperium on its way and loudly declared it was not bound by it in any way and heading off, along with Black Legion, after Guardians of the Galaxy in a war that seemed set to disturb any recovery peace might bring.

Pandemic Horde setting themselves apart from the peace terms left the door open to further conflict before the month long timer ran down.  And while there is combat going on in null sec space as each side drops on the others ratters and miner, a new front opened up over the weekend in Perimeter, a system one jump over from Jita, the central trade hub of New Eden.

Jita and Perimeter and the general area

Perimeter has been the system of choice for attempts to setup trading citadels since they were first introduced.  While not much trade has moved to those citadels… nobody is going to buy hulls or ship modules there when their market alt is in Jita 4-4… certain commodities like skill injectors have found a market home there.

If you are sitting in Jita 4-4 and you look at the market for skill injectors sorted by price, the lowest prices are in the Perimeter citadels.  Since you can activate them remotely, you should probably buy them there.  The lower tax margins allow for lower prices, though that still doesn’t stop people from buying them from Jita 4-4.  I’ve sold a couple dozen skill injectors, always in Jita, and always for much more than the current going rate in Perimeter, without issue.  People will pay more to buy from the station they are in, often much more, just to avoid having to undock and travel.

This is one of the special features of EVE Online.  There is no magical delivery service.  If you buy something remote you then have to go get it or pay somebody to bring it to you.  Travel is a burden in New Eden, but it makes market segmentation possible.  There is not a single, unified auction house that will pop your purchases in the post.  Distance matters.

CCP, in their usual techno-Viking libertarian madness, despite having seen how we generally behave, wants players to control as much of the economy as they can get away with, so this citadel market operation is their plan working as designed… for once.  Player owned citadel markets haven’t taken over the economy.  Gevlon citing this as a corrupt developer game-killing excuse to leave the game was yet one more sign of his self-deception.  But they are a thing and can make some groups a decent amount of money.

And, in the case of Perimeter, Pandemic Horde is a big player both directly and through their neutral alt alliance, IChooseYou Holding.  So this weekend a new front was opened against Pandemic Horde via high sec war declarations.

Declaring against Pandemic Horde

Both GSF and TEST got in early with their war declarations.  While the Imperium reset standings with TEST and its allies with the peace in the north, high sec is a different story.  We can work together and not be blue as standings between alliances do not matter in high sec, only war decs do.  And so both groups declared against PH and their alt alliance right away, with a few additional groups trailing in late.

Probably at war by the time this post goes live

Those mirror the war declarations against IChooseYou Holdings as well.  You can check their info in-game and see the same list.

So we may be working with Darkness, the lead alliance of Guardians of the Galaxy, in this war.  Black Legion, sided up with Pandemic Horde, was also included in the whole thing.

Black Legion’s war plan

Null sec alliances are used to having war declarations against them.  This is usually done by groups like P I R A T, which you see there on Black Legion’s list, that camp the undock in Jita (and sometimes Amarr) hoping to catch the unwary and the unknowing leaving the station for an easy kill.

If you look at Pandemic Horde’s status in-game, you’ll see they have no shortage of war decs running.  But none of them are quite like what they are facing now.  And TEST was quick off the mark to get the party started.  Once their war dec went active they immediately hit the trading Fortizars in Perimeter.

Pandemic Horde Fortizar reinforced

With the first timers down those using the market in either the PH or the IChooseYou Holdings face a choice.  If TEST comes back and wins the armor timer, then the market functions will be shut down and sellers may end up having to wait for asset safety in order to recover their goods.

But TEST was also in to setup their own trade hub.  There was a TEST alliance hub being spun up, using a Draccous faction Fortizar no less.  A bit of showing off in that I am sure.

TEST branded sales

But bigger still was the Keepstar they dropped in Perimeter under an alt corp.

A Keepstar in Perimeter

INN says that this is the first high sec Keepstar and it is right there on the Jita gate in Perimeter if you want to see on up close.

The Keepstar managed to slip past the initial vulnerability period when it was deployed, but anything that big is too sweet of a target to ignore.  War decs on the alt alliance went out immediately and we shall see what happens when it goes into its initial repair cycle after 19:00 today.

Fortizar with the Keepstar in the distance

So for those who were asking, “Now what?” when the war in the north ended, here is the answer, and likely not one many expected.  We will see if Pandemic Horde can be thrown out of the market hub business, something reported to be a serious source of income for the alliance.  The proximity of Jita, still the undisputed trade hub of New Eden, makes for fairly frictionless logistics, so both sides in this conflict could hang on for quite a while.

And, as null sec pilots prepare to enter high sec, the usual comedy will no doubt ensue.  If you live in null sec, where pretty much anything goes, the rules of empire space can be arcane and confusing.  There are already warnings going out for people to check the security status lest they find themselves a target of CONCORD and I am sure the locals will take advantage of anybody’s suspect status.

Finally, with war decs in the spotlight and loud calls to turn the feature off resounding around the community (if only until a better solution is found), there is the possibility that whoever can control the Perimeter trade might have their supremacy locked in by CCP.

Draccous Fortizar anchoring

That is, if you believe CCP will actually turn off war decs.  Somehow I doubt that will come to pass.

Further information:

Honest Trailers does Doctor Who

The crew at Screen Junkies took on the Herculean task of making an Honest Trailer about Doctor Who, which involved sitting down and watching a lot of old TV.  This ended up being broken out into two videos cover classic and modern versions of the show.

Classic

Modern

Both videos try to get to the heart of each era.

Being a big fan of Screen Junkies as well as a peripheral fan of the Doctor, I also went and watched the Honest Trailers Commentary for both the classic and modern trailers where they talk about the trailer and spending lots of time watching, digesting, processing, and, in the case of the classic era, just finding seasons and episodes of the show.

There is about an hour and a half of time spent.  I enjoyed it, but I like that sort of thing.  I am the type that used to listen to the director’s commentary audio track on DVDs until the idea became mandatory for video releases and they started all getting pretty samey and dull.  Some, like the discussion track with Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh on the DVD for Catch-22 are wonderful.  And if you haven’t listened to both audio commentary tracks for Monty Python and the Holy Grail you cannot consider yourself a true fan.

But I digress, as usual.

Back on the topic at hand, I will say that in my own personal timeline of Doctor Who it is Tom Baker who is the Doctor, bordered by Peter Davison at the more recent end, who I think of as the guy from All Creatures Great and Small and who I sometimes mix up in my head with Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Jon Pertwee at the distant end, the old guy who I don’t recognize from anything else unless I go read his bio.

This pretty much corresponds with the primary age of television in my youth, starting with getting a small black and white Sony TV in my bedroom and ending when I got a personal computer.  After that I became a much more deliberate watcher of television.  I turn on the TV to watch something specifically and rarely just sit and watch whatever is on.  There wasn’t a TV in my dorm room in college and I went through about half the 90s with no live TV at all, just a VCR and a membership to the video rental store around the corner… and a girlfriend who recorded episodes of The Simpsons for me now and then.

And, in one final digression, what is up with that League of Legends ad that has been playing in front of videos on YouTube lately?  I guess the casual art style is open and friendly, but is it really depicting the game being advertised?  I don’t expect them to say up front that random strangers will swear at you constantly, but the whole thing doesn’t show anything about the game itself.  But I am always suspicious of ads for a product that don’t actually show the product.

Just Survive Might

There was little in the way of shock or surprise when, back in August, Daybreak announced that their long neglected zombie horror title, Just Survive, was going to go dark on October 24.

The night is dark and full of dead SOE games

The gaming world moved on without so much as a ripple.

Then in early September came the announcement that Daybreak and NantWorks would be creating some sort of joint venture, NantG Mobile, to reboot the battle royale title H1Z1 in some way in which we might end up with a new Windows version of the game, along with a mobile version, under the name Z1 Battle Royale.

Also, EverQuest might be involved somehow.

The whole thing was more than a bit opaque as people tried to piece together all the things mentioned and the parties in play, which included, among other things, the LA Times and some sort of esports event center.

Left out of all of that however was Just Survive.  It was not part of the deal.  It was still dead.

Only now it might be part of the deal.  Maybe.  Could be.  If things align.

As noted over at MMO Fallout, Jace Hall said on a twitch stream that, while Just Survive was not part of the deal as it was originally cast, they are looking for a way to bring it into the joint venture.

There is nothing set in stone yet, but it could happen and, in anticipation of that, Just Survive will be put in some sort of “maintenance mode,” though I dare you to tell me how that differs from the support mode the game has been in for the last year, until the details can be worked out.  But the idea is to move Just Survive back into H1Z1… or Z1 Battle Royale… as a play mode for the game.

Jace Hall seemed mostly concerned about the skin situation and not diluting the skin market in H1Z1, from which I took that there is a skin market in H1Z1 and not much more.

So Just Survive might carry on.  I am sure this is a ray of hope to the small but dedicated fan base that follows the game.

The follow on conversation also seems to makes clear that Daybreak and the joint venture NantG Mobile are two completely separate entities, so it sounds very much like NantG Mobile it trying to figure out how to get Just Survive from Daybreak in a way that makes financial sense all around.

Of course, that just brings up more questions in my mind as to what this means for EverQuest and any future title in that domain, as that was clearly mentioned back in the original NantG Mobile announcement.

Remember, as Jace Hall said slowly and clearly on the stream, Just Survive is not a done deal yet.

Hat tip: MMO Fallout

Four Years of Reavers

Another year has gone by and somehow I have managed to not get kicked out of the Reavers for either lack of effort and marginal competence.  It must be my strict adherence to the dress code and a willingness to fly whatever doctrine that Asher dreams up that has saved me.

Reavers forum bee

As I do every year at about this time, since I still haven’t bothered to nail down an official founding date for the SIG, I review what we have done since last anniversary.  I probably should hold this post for Monday, as the 15th is probably the right date.  But I don’t have anything else set to post today, so here we go.

For those wishing a fuller history of the SIG, past anniversary posts.

To quickly sum things up:

The first year was the glorious start, with deployments deep in enemy space that early members still talk about.  It also saw us adjusting to null sec changes including jump fatigue and Fozzie sov.

Year two was tumultuous as the Casino War occupied the coalition from January through June of 2016, followed by the conquest of Delve once we fled the north for a new home.  Both events called for lots of fleet ops, but left little room for the traditional Reavers role.

Year three saw us ranging out again as our home in Delve was secure.  We camped CO2 in Impass and based out of Curse to find fights.  Then there was the Hakonen deployment where Reavers had some special tasks during the big Fortizar fights.

Which brings us to year four, with the usual map comparing the year as it started and ended.

October 2017 and 2018 compared

A lot changed in the east over the year, but most of our time was spent in the northwest.  But there were changes there as well and some parties came and went in between those to map time points.

Not too long after the three year anniversary post the SIG deployed north to an NPC station in Pure Blind.  I was a bit late to the party.  I have moved all of my stuff out of Delve and was thinking about taking a break from the game.  But I figured there was a deployment going on and I could take a peek in on that.  I caught up quickly, flying a bomber up to join in the fun.  This became the “Zungen Ops” era for us.  It developed into a combined deployment with Reavers and Black Ops.  Inspired by Bigbillthaboss3, who didn’t want to move his suicide dreads back to Delve after Hakonen, this ended up being our focus for most of year four.

Our area of operation for most of the deployment was Pure Blind, Fade, and some of Deklein.  As you can see from the map, when we started out Mordus Angels owned much of Pure Blind and Pandemic Horde was living in Fade, while Guardians of the Galaxy was up and Deklein.

Things started mostly with bomber drops on ratters and miners, cynoing in a dreadnought now and again to help skill larger things.  There was also Asher’s VNI fleet doctrine, where we went after the locals in the same ships they used for ratting.

There was something of a break for a bit towards the end of the year, though we did do a special Blaze Fleet in Armageddons as well as running the first of our races, organized by Ranger Gamma.  I won a Naglfar in that race.

January saw us distracted by the Million Dollar Battle in 9-4RP2 while in February Pandemic Horde moved from Fade to Geminate, leaving a hole in the north and removing our most persistent adversary.  We also got changes to citadels, making them quicker to kill if unfueled as well as letting us shoot them any time we wanted, at least for the first timer.

Returning to NPC space in Pure Blind found our citadels gone and our station bubbled.

The situation upon our return

Guardians of the Galaxy tried to step in and suppress us on our return, going almost a full week trying to bubble us and camp us before wandering off.  There were also POS towers on every single moon in the system, which we slowly killed off.  But not before we spent time annoying the enemy by hitting them at random over and over to set off alliance wide alerts.  There were lots of little operations around that activity.

Somewhere around then the theme of the year emerged, which was Asher bringing up delicious Kirkland protein bars.  I don’t recall exactly when or why that became a thing, but it very much became a thing.

After trying to expand into Fade, Mordus Angels collapsed not too long after our return, with a couple corps defecting to the Imperium.  There was also the brief but odd exchange between Asher and Strange Juice over a video of GotG shooting an undefended tower.  Also, 3 2 1 Kenshin!

TNT, which had been staging in the North for a while began working with us more regularly and Space Violence decided to join the party in Pure Blind, which eventually led GotG to adopt a policy of not forming to fight us in the hope we would get bored and go elsewhere.  But Reavers love nothing more than shooting undefended structures and deploying our own.  We even chased them into Venal for a couple of days.

Along the way we discarded the VNI doctrine and swapped to Ishtars, starting with a shield tank then swapping to an armor tank.  That meant sending my Basilisks back to Jita and shipping out Guardians and an Oneiros, the latter of which managed to survive through the rest of the year.

Of course, the biggest issue for Reavers was that CCP took our trademark jacket out of the New Eden Store.  We have appealed for its return, but have had no luck.  The remaining jackets on the market are very, very expensive.

Wilhelm with the jacket

Meanwhile, the foundations of the next war were being laid.  TEST evicted Pandemic Legion from Providence in week, reversing PL’s long campaign to take the region.  That left PL looking for revenge.

Providence changed over the course of a week

As that was happening the Imperium was clearing out Fountain,  Federation Uprising ended up owning some of Cloud Ring as The Culture collapsed, and the number one target on the Imperium hit list, Circle of Two, moved into Fade.

Reavers had its third race… I missed the second one… where we ended up racing through TEST’s space. Asher asked Vily to blue him so he could use their jump bridges.  Soon enough we’d all be blue to TEST.

Then war opened up, with PL and the Winter Coalition attacking TEST and Legacy Coalition in the south.  That led to the struggle in UALX-3 where TEST lost a Keepstar, but trapped a host of the attacking fleet while dropping another Keepstar in the same spot.  That one lived.  And while the hostiles broke their fleet out, that set of battles pretty much ended their drive in the south.

The Imperium teamed up with TEST and borrowed a Keepstar to drop in Cloud Ring in order to open up a second front in the north.  I am not sure we asked FedUp in advance if we could set that up in their space, but the fight over it in 6RCQ-V was the first real chance for the coalition to demonstrate is super cap power.  The Imperium won, the Kirkland Protein Star was deployed, we had a foothold on the doorstep of Fade, and the war was on.

Asher, as Skymarshal of the Imperium forces, which put him in charge of all the toys, was kept busy for most of the war, though he found time now and again for Reavers.  Zed Starshine ended up leading us out on ops in the north as Reavers did their bit to help with the war effort.  But there were plenty of coalition fleets to go on as we destroyed hostile citadels, including a number of Keepstars.

Eventually we wore down the north.  They lost multiple Keepstars in a single day.  Circle of Two announced that it was evacuating from Fade.  And GotG paid us in faction Fortizars to go away.  That included all SIGs and squads in the north.  So Reavers packed up and went home with the rest of the coalition for a break.

That isn’t all that Reavers did, but that is all I ended up posting about.  It is at times like this where I wish I had done some more posts about smaller ops, but I think I at least captured the theme of the year, which was spent in Pure Blind attacking the north.

And our break ends up being at just the right moment to close off year four of Reavers.  Asher already has plans for the start of year five, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

Chaos Descending Expansion Coming November 19th with Pre-Orders Available Now

In its way it is a bit more interesting to be talking about a new expansion when I am actually playing EverQuest II pretty regularly at the moment.

Of course how I get from where I am now, which is somewhere in the Destiny of Velious expansion from 2011, to the new stuff isn’t at all clear to me.  Given how far behind I am, and that I just picked up last year’s Planes of Prophecy expansion for half price in last month’s sale, it is pretty unlikely I am going to be in a rush to pre-order.  But I will go on about it all the same.

Just a month away

After announcing the upcoming expansion in the middle of last month, along with the half price sale, Daybreak was finally ready to reveal more information about what to expect.  This came in the form of a live stream using Facebook, a choice that, along with its mid-morning timing, made it extremely unlikely that I would watch it.  Fortunately they had the foresight to record the whole thing and upload it to YouTube so we could review it at our leisure.

Given the advent of video editing software like 30 years ago, once wonders why we much endure more than four minutes of “Broadcast Will Begin Shortly,” but I guess that gives you the full streaming experience.

When the stream does start nobody begins talking about actual game content until the 13th minute, spending the opening time with the underwater prestige home and other items that you get when you order the premium edition.  Have to pimp the upsell I guess.

Eventually they start in on the hub area and the new zones, though the whole thing moves along at such a leisurely pace that I wandered off at some point after the 25 minute mark. Everything doesn’t have to be a snappy, well-rehearsed BlizzCon style announcement, but this was very low energy and life is too short for videos that can’t even meet me halfway when it comes to engagement.

I was probably better served by the blurb on the pre-orders page.

The Elemental Planes of Order have been thrown into chaos! Thrust in the middle of a mystery of Celestial proportions, you must return to the Planes of Power to help restore balance to the Planes of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Accomplishing this will be no small feat, and you will need to make new allies such as Maelin Starpyre, the Grand Librarian of Myrist, who resides within the Plane of Knowledge, as well as learn the fate of infamous characters from Norrath’s past by traveling to the Plane of Justice.

I could see how they were getting to some of that on the stream now.  There were some bullet points to go along with that.

  • Face the trials of the Elemental Planes with all new adventure, tradeskill, and public quests!
  • Get ahead with new achievements, collections, and more.
  • Conquer all new Solo, Heroic and Raid challenges, including a new contested Raid Dungeon!
  • Mount Gear – Mounts can now be equipped with gear to bolster their rider’s power!
  • Mount Levels – For the first time your mounts can now level! They can level to 10.
  • Ascension Levels – Ascend 5 levels to 20.
  • Mercenary Levels – Gain another 10 levels, for a maximum of 20!

Some of that is the same thing you could say about every expansion.  And Ascension levels going to level 20 doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t have any Ascension levels yet so far as I can tell.

Mounts get gear and levels though, that is new.  I wonder what that really means though.  Is this just a new way to inflate player stats as a way to gate content in the usual overkill method?  I guess mounts have had stats for a while now.  But gear and levels… I don’t know.

And I guess I know what mercenary levels are, having just blown a good chunk of my Daybreak Cash reserves boosting one of mine to level 10.  I will likely use the “set and wait” method for those additional ten.

So there are your progression options, in addition to the usual gear inflation.

In addition, when you buy the expansion you will get access to all previous expansions.

Last year Daybreak was saying something about maybe not including past content along the way with new expansions, but I guess that madness has passed.  Their web site only allows you to buy the most recent expansion.

As noted, pre-orders are available now at the usual price points.

Premium packages available for premium prices

I get to use that same graphic every year since they don’t change the pricing, though the higher priced packages now say “Buy or Upgrade Now” in a nod to the fact that some people might change their minds later and want that under water house, maybe as a memento to remember the 2008 financial crises or something.

As usual, All Access subscribers get 10% off the price, which always makes me wonder how many non-subscribers actually buy the expansions.  Whatever.  Probably best not to think too hard on that.

The standard edition gets you the new content and a character boost to get you to level 110.  Given the way of the world, that is not a bad deal for the content you’ll get plus the inevitable mid-point game update mini-expansion that will likely show up next year.

The pricier collector’s and premium editions get you additional boosts for things like trade skills and ascension levels, plus an array of other items including the under water prestige home that featured so prominently at the start of the video above.  I am less inclined to favor those choices for the price.

In addition, if you pre-order you get a special cosmetic illusion as well as access to the beta, which is happening right now and which offers all sorts of rewards if only you’ll come test the expansion.

As somebody who just got the last expansion at half price, and who is nowhere near that content, much less the coming content, I don’t have much incentive to pre-order.  Had I not, I might have considered it to get the content I do not have yet, but now I’ll likely wait until this time next year when the pre-order for the next expansion is available… if there is one… and skip this one entirely.

Unless I keep on with my Norrath adventures and actually finish the content I have.  But since I’m still back in 2011, I am not sure how likely that is.

Anyway, there it is, EverQuest II expansion number 15 going live in about a month.

Fall Movie League – Reviews Do Not Matter

We are now past week five of our Fall Fantasy Movie League and it was an odd week.

The lineup for the week looked like this:

Venom                    $799
A Star is Born           $546
Smallfoot                $190
Night School             $170
The House with a Clock   $92
A Simple Favor           $46
The Nun                  $34
Crazy Rich Asians        $30
Hellfest                 $26
The Predator             $20
White Boy Rick           $15
Peppermint               $10
The Hate U Give          $8
Free Solo                $7
The Meg                  $6

Unlike with week four, there did not appear to be an obvious anchor candidate.  There was no badly priced Smallfoot sticking out like a sore thumb.

Instead, there was a toss up between Venom and A Star is Born.  Or it sure seemed like a toss up, even when the Thursday night previews showed up.  Smallfoot was a potential anchor, and there was an argument to be made that, as a kids film, it was unlikely to be affected by the other two, but I wasn’t buying into that.  In my mind there were only two choices.

The argument for Venom was basically that it was another Marvel superhero movie, something that the box office over the last couple of years says we are not totally sick of yet.  That was about it.

The argument against Venom was that it was not in the Marvel cinematic universe with the other marvel movies of late, such as Black Panther and Avenger: Infinity War.  Instead it was a Sony Marvel movie, and the Sony side of Marvel movies is basically the X-men, some part of Spider-Man, and this Spider-Man spin-off.  That is still pretty popular and all, but not main MCU popular.

Also, Venom is about a somewhat icky second tier anti-hero that managed to get a 35% score on MetaCritic. (Up from 33% last week.)   So yeah.

Whatcha gonna do when they don’t like you?

For A Star is Born the highlights were good reviews (see above) and the fact that it stars Lady Gaga.  What else do you need?

The only things going against it were an R rating, which keeps out the kids, and the fact that it was the third remake of the same movie.  But being a remake isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The Judy Garland version of The Wizard of Oz was something like the seventh or eighth attempt to put that story on screen, and that is the one most of us know.

So even when the Thursday night previews came out showing Venom at $10 million and A Star is Born at $4.55 million, the choice was not obvious.  Venom was pre-loaded with fans who were going to see it no matter what, but for a strong weekend some word of mouth was going to have to be in play.  Bad word of mouth could have stifled the film.

With less than 10 minutes to go and competing lineups anchored on both films ready to be copied across, I decided to bet on Marvel.  I filled in with Hell Fest which, with Halloween in the offing, seemed like it might be good for best performer.  So I was 1x Venom 7x Hell Fest.

Come Saturday morning estimates it seemed like Venom was the safe choice, though a lineup with Free Solo, which then had the best performer nod, would keep you in the running if you anchored on A Star is Born.

Then Sunday rolled around and the estimate for Venom jumped up, giving it the best performer nod, leaving A Star is Born in the dust as an anchor.  And then the estimate jumped up again, landing at $83 million on Monday morning, before the final numbers dropped it back to $80 million.

The perfect pick run was so tight that it changed with about every new final number that came on Monday.  In the end it was 1x Venom 1x House With a Clock, 1x The Nun 2x Hell Fest and 3x Free Solo.

Nobody in the TAGN league got the perfect pick, and the results for the week shook out like this:

  1. I HAS BAD TASTE – $96,886,446
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $96,842,069
  3. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $96,842,069
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $96,202,870
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $96,202,870
  6. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $77,389,267
  7. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $77,389,267
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $76,746,743
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $76,694,291
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $76,678,834

Out of the sixteen people who picked, five went with Venom, ten went with A Star is Born, and one went with Smallfoot.  The results were stratified by anchor, though the Smallfoot pick was better than one A Star is Born lineup.  Isey got the top spot by a mere $44K, followed by three pairs of identical picks, with ties decided by the FML tie breaker option.

That left the overall season scores looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $364,940,448
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $341,242,583
  3. I HAS BAD TASTE – $333,407,717
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $331,163,002
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – $330,236,294
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $330,213,456
  7. Goat Water Picture Palace – $329,582,823
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $317,341,987
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $316,998,683
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $312,521,699

Corr and I are battling for first place while everybody else on the list is pretty much in a close race for third and anybody on that list could reach first place with a strong week.

The alternate scoring ended up like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino 33
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex 32
  3. I HAS BAD TASTE 27
  4. Too Orangey For Crows 24
  5. Goat Water Picture Palace 23
  6. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex 22
  7. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party 21
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex 19
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite 19
  10. Ben’s X-Wing Express 13

Only one tie this week in the top ten.  While Corr and I are at the top, a bad week for one of us or a first place win for most of the rest could change that.

And so it goes.  Week five is gone and now we must look forward to week six and the new options it brings.

Venom                    $501
A Star is Born           $412
First Man                $371
Goosebumps 2             $265
Smallfoot                $150
Bad Times                $149
Night School             $109
The House with a Clock   $57
A Simple Favor           $27
The Nun                  $21
Colette                  $21
The Hate U Give          $21
Crazy Rich Asians        $19
Free Solo                $14
Best of the Rest         $12

This time around we lose The Meg, Hellfest, The Predator, White Boy Rick, and Peppermint.

Coming in to replace them are First Man, Bad Times, Goosebumps 2, Colette, and Best of the Rest.

First Man is a biopic about Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.  It stars Ryan Gosling and has strong reviews, but is probably limited by the topic at hand.  How exciting is three guys traveling a quarter million miles to a barren moon when we’re getting like two Star Wars movies every year lately?  Estimates put it in the $20 million range.

Goosebumps 2 is a sequel so we’ll apply the 85% rule to it.  The original opened at $23 million, so the sequel should be good for just under $20 million.  Long range tracking is calling it at about $17 million, give or take.

Bad Times at the El Royal, to give it its full title, has an ensemble cast and is some sort of mystery set in 1969.  The early estimates are all over, but the floor seems to be about $10 million for it given the decent reviews and the cast.

Colette is a biopic about a French author of the same name who penned the novella Gigi.  It stars Keira Knightley, but otherwise my insights are limited.  Pricing is likely due to a limited scope of release.

And finally our old friend Best of the Rest is back in play, which means that anything that fell off the list this week, or never made it to the list in the first place, is in play.  Best of the Rest often has a good chance at the best performer spot, though only if FML doesn’t mess up the pricing elsewhere on the list.

So I am in my usual state of not having a lineup I feel strong about.  My Monday Hot Takes pick ended up being 1x First Man, 1x Goosebumps 2, 2x Bad Times, 1x A Simple Favor, and 3x Best of the Rest.  But that feels like a bet on red, trying to be safe at a time of limited information.  Certainly how well Venom seems to hold will play into my picks.  I suspect my lineup will change a lot between now and when the league locks on Friday.

Google Plus Ungood Securewise

Alternate Headline: Users unbellyfeel Google prolefeed, becomes unservice.

It is probably just me that saw the Newspeak potential in the demise of Google Plus.

That attempt at humor aside, the word has gone out from the Googleplex in Mountain View that Google Plus will be no more.  Or that the consumer version of the product will be no more following a 10 month wind down, meaning that it will be gone at some point in August of 2019.  Google says that the enterprise version of Google Plus will continue.  Color me surprised that there was such a thing or that any enterprise outside of Google actually uses it, but they say “many” do.  I guess it is likely better than whatever Microsoft is pushing lately.  It is certainly better than anything Cisco has on offer.

The reason given for the closure in the news headlines involves a security flaw that could have potentially exposed the data for over half a million accounts.  The data exposed was limited to optional items entered in your Google profile (which is semi-public to start with unless you lock it down) and Google says it has no evidence that the flaw had been exploited.  But data breaches make for more views, so you may find your local news source pitching this as a stolen data panic.

The real reason for the closure is a little less dramatic.

Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

Basically, so few people use Google Plus that it isn’t worth the effort needed to keep it secure.  They didn’t just say “low” usage but “very low” usage.  You’ll probably get no greater admission of failure than that.  If it has been popular they would have kept it open.  But now they have an excuse to shut it down.

Of course, part of me cheered at the news.  I am old, have a long memory, and have been prone at times to carry resentments long past their expiration dates, so I continue to see Google Plus as the reason that Google killed off the much loved and still missed (by me at least) Google Reader.  It has been more than five years since that happened and I am still annoyed by it and I still haven’t found a replacement that did all Google Reader did at its peak.  Some twisted logic in the back of my brain sees this as justice for the late idolized RSS reader.

But a bit of me is bemused by the change.  As it turns out, I actually check Google Plus pretty much daily.  There are a few people I follow there, including Richard Bartle, that make it worth the effort. The updates aren’t rapid, so it is something I check once or twice a day at most, but I do check it.

I also syndicate my blog feed there as well and get the occasional response, so there is life out there still.  But the activity isn’t anywhere close to what it was during the early days of the service, which in itself wasn’t that much compared to the competition, which is and always was Facebook.  Nobody is saying Google Plus influenced the last election or anything else.

So I suppose I will miss it.  And I know that it going away won’t magically bring back Google Reader, so my missing it will be genuine.  You can’t blame a company for shutting down a service that few use and which brings in no revenue.  The same goes for Google Reader as well.  And iGoogle.  And Google Insights.  And Orkut.  Man, what is it with me and dead Google products?

And so it goes.  We’ll see how it winds down between now and August.