Category Archives: Diablo II

My Games Played for 2021 and Looking Forward into 2022

It is that time again, time to look back at what I played last year and maybe try to get an idea as to what I might play in the coming year.

2020 plus 1

Past Entries

Last year I wasn’t really feeling it for what I might play, probably because the list I made didn’t really pan out, so when I made the call for 2021 I kept it short and sweet.

The likely candidates were:

  • WoW Classic
  • EVE Online
  • Retail WoW
  • Burning Crusade Classic

I also threw out RimWorld, Civilzation V, and maybe World of Tanks as possible candidates to which I might return.

So now is when I look at what I actually played.  I don’t go as into as much detail as Belghast, but my chart is more colorful!  The top ten titles, which represent the games I spent 10 or more hours with in 2021, were:

2021 in gaming for me

Overall I tracked time for 20 games, so the bottom half of the list did not make it to the ten hour mark.

  1. WoW Classic – 29.61%
  2. Valheim – 23.10%
  3. EVE Online – 18.73%
  4. Diablo II – 7.18%
  5. New World – 6.67%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 3.68%
  7. Forza Horizon 5 – 2.36%
  8. RimWorld – 2.21%
  9. EverQuest II – 1.77%
  10. Pokemon Pearl – 1.21%
  11. World of Tanks – 0.92%
  12. War in the Pacific – 0.56%
  13. MMO Tycoon 2 – 0.49%
  14. The Fermi Paradox – 0.48%
  15. World of Warcraft – 0.38%
  16. Flashing Lights – 0.36%
  17. Runes of Magic – 0.18%
  18. Art of Rally – 0.13%
  19. Hearthstone – 0.05%
  20. LOTRO – 0.05%

EVE Online was the only title I played through all year, and even that was fairly light once World War Bee ended, which explains why it ranked in third in overall time played.

WoW Classic, which includes Burning Crusade Classic, topped the total time played, but petered out when we were reminded that we did not exactly love The Burning Crusade the first time around.  Our WoW Classic time probably peaked in Blackrock Depths, which we ran into a dozen times at least.  Leaving was made easier by having Blizzard’s behavior exposed.

Valheim, which came out of nowhere to become our obsession for a few months managed to come in second.  We got our money’s worth out of that title, though the content ran out of steam for us and the small team working on it was overwhelmed trying to just keep things going.

Diablo II Resurrected was also a good time for a bit.  New World showed up in September, but we didn’t really start playing it in earnest until more than a month had gone by and the login queues began to subside.

The two flavors of Forza Horizon were in there as well.  I combined them into one row on the chart, though they would have easily both made it on their own.

RimWorld made the cut when the Ideology expansion hit, giving your colonists their own belief systems to work around.

I wandered into EverQuest II for a bit, as I tend to do, but didn’t make a big commitment.

Once it arrived, Pokemon Shining Pearl was a hit for me, making it into the top ten for time played in just the last five days of the year.

And then there was World of Tanks, after which time played starts to drop off rather quickly on the chart.  I suppose my one regret was not being able to get into War in the Pacific, though honestly the biggest hurdle was how tiny the print was on my 34″ monitor.  It is a war game from an earlier age of small monitors with large pixels.

So of the four likely candidates, I did end up playing three of them.  Retail WoW quickly fell off the rotation for me in 2021 as the Shadowlands expansion turned into a repetitive grind for somebody not interested in raiding.  Technically I logged in for quiet a while into the year, but I am not sure you should count the monthly run at Darkmoon Faire as really “playing” the game.  I only did that because I was already subscribed and playing WoW Classic.

Which I guess brings us to the 2022 outlook.

2022 is what we get

Here is what I can see from where I sit this week.

Sure Things

  • EVE Online
  • Forza Horizon
  • New World
  • Pokemon Shining Pearl
  • Stellaris

I already have time logged for all of those this year.  I might give up on them sooner rather than later, but they will be somewhere on the list.  I certainly have much still to do in Shining Pearl and the group seems committed to New World for the time being.  And I just bought some of the DLC for Stellaris, so I’ll play a bit of that I am sure.

Likely Candidates

  • EverQuest II
  • RimWorld
  • World of Tanks
  • WoW Classic Wrath of the Lich King

I own the latest expansion for EQII and am subscribed for another two months, I’ll probably play some.  Likewise, it is easy enough to pick up World of Tanks whenever.

And, naturally,l I started thinking about RimWorld again since I started writing this, which makes it more likely that I will go back and play it.  It happens.

WotLK Classic though, that depends on Blizzard actually shipping it this year, though it feels like that is all the WoW team will manage in 2022, and Blizzard not being a complete shit show that makes me feel bad handing them money.  I am biased towards playing it, that expansion representing what is my likely peak in Azeroth, but I am also wary of Blizz and how they might screw it up or just make doing business with them so unpalatable that I’d rather just stick with the memories.

Maybe, Maybe Not

  • Age of Empires IV
  • LOTRO
  • Valheim

AOE4 is part of the XBox PC subscription, so I just need to download it.  I am just wary of another 100 megabyte download for a title that might not pan out for me.  I haven’t liked anything in the series since AOE2.

LOTRO I want to go back and play now and again, but it looks so bad on my big monitor that they have to do something for wide screen support before I will commit.  If they do that I’ll give it a shot, otherwise I’ll pass.

And then there is Valheim.  I am wary of this because any updates they ship will only apply to unexplored areas, and on the world we build up we explored a lot, including into biomes that should be getting content.  So going back for new content means started over again on a new world, abandoning all of our work.  That might be too much to ask.

Unlikely

  • World of Warcraft
  • Burning Crusade Classic
  • WoW Season of Mastery
  • Diablo Immortal

Okay, I might  try Diablo: Immortal when it arrives, having a phone and all that… though I’ll likely play it on the iPad instead.  But otherwise the theme here is clearly Blizzard games I would be likely to play in past years not drawing much appeal from me in 2021… and honestly it is as much because of their own lack of merit as much as because of anything Blizzard is up to.

And then there are the new games that might show up.  As I have noted in the past, in January of 2021 I wouldn’t have called Valheim, New World, or Pokemon Shining Pearl even being options, yet they all made the cut.  So I am open to some new things, but I cannot see far enough into the future to tell what might show up and tickle my fancy.

Looking Back at 2021 Highs and Lows

I think the best we can say about 2021 was that at least it wasn’t 2020 all over again.

2020 plus 1

Well, maybe that isn’t being fair, but after the eternity of 2020 and the election and the pandemic and staying at home, hearing that we were going to have a vaccine and a boring old guy as president gave us hope for some normalcy.

And then shit happened and I am worried I have reached that point in life where everything is just going to be worse every year.  But we’ll get to that.  First the usual round up of past years, because this in an annual thing and has been since been for more than a decade.

This year we are back to highs and lows, divided up into categories based on some criteria that represents how my brain sorts things or relevance to the theme of this blog or something like that.

Blizzard

Highs

  • Burning Crusade Classic launched, keeping the nostalgia party going
  • Diablo II Resurrected landed on PC and consoles to popular acclaim
  • Some actual serious talk about doing more with Diablo II Resurrected
  • We got another run at nostalgia with WoW Classic Season of Mastery
  • BlizzConline was a nice, solid online event that was FREE to all fans
  • Hearthstone carried on and came out with a new solo mode
  • The WoW Community Council could help things if Blizzard deigns to listen

Lows

  • There was the collapse of the WoW Shadowlands expansion as people lost interest and exited the WoW for greener pastures
  • I am pretty sure the big level squish was a sign that Blizz just wants people to get to level cap raiding faster rather than any attempt to make that between content more viable or accessible
  • Diablo IV is still more than a year away
  • Diablo Immortal, which they were letting people play at BlizzCon 2018, still didn’t ship
  • Overwatch 2 seems to be some sort of unsubstantiated myth at this point
  • StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm are on a shelf in the back room
  • No new WoW expansion announced… or any real tangible public plan for the one franchise that pays the bill
  • Tainted the Burning Crusade Classic experience with the bonus pack, with the lizard mount and special hearthstone that mostly marked people out for scorn, though I am sure it made money in the short term
  • So far the WoW Community Council has been a game of Space Invaders, where suggestions are the descending aliens that Blizzard feels they have to destroy before they get too close
  • And then there was the State of California lawsuit about Blizzard being a hostile work place, which seemed supported by some accounts even as Blizzard tried to deny there were any problems at the company, which then exploded as more and more revelations about the company were exposed, often supported by the social media accounts of the people who were the problem, aided and abetted by senior management and HR who all seemed eager to cover up and excuse bad behavior, tarnishing everybody from Mike Morhaime forward
  • Lots of empty promises to clean things up while ignoring employee issues and making sure to jump on top of any hint of a union with the usual round of anti-union lies
  • Eventually there was some cleaning out of those most obviously complicit, but the company was at odds with itself and began to drift like a ship without a rudder as those in the executive suite made sure that they were not held accountable for anything; leading by example is the most basic form of leadership and Bobby Kotick can’t even manage that
  • As bad as Blizzard and Activision corporate behavior has been, I bet only a small sliver of their fans would even care if the studio actually shipped something new and fun

Enad Global 7

Highs

  • 2021 opened with such optimism about what EG7 was going to do now that it had acquired Daybreak
  • Then CEO Robin Floodin seemed eager to invest in the Daybreak portfolio, though he seemed oddly obsessed with H1Z1
  • Even replacement interim EG7 CEO and former Daybreak CEO Ji Ham admitted that the Daybreak portfolio of games had been neglected during his time as leader of Daybreak
  • We got to see Ji Ham speak and, while he wasn’t a font of insight, he did okay for his first public engagement as CEO of a public company
  • Ji Ham actually admitting on camera that Daybreak had not been investing enough in their game portfolio and saying that EG7 wanted to rectify that
  • New expansions for EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Lord of the Rings Online
  • Continuing new content for DC Universe Online and PlanetSide 2
  • MechWarrior 5 released on multiple platforms
  • Ongoing promise of a revamped LOTRO and a console version of the game
  • An unannounced Marvel IP MMO in development that got more headlines than anything Daybreak has done in the last five years
  • Daybreak taking over running Magic: The Gathering Online also put the company in the spotlight, adding another very visible franchise to their portfolio

Lows

  • Time and reality seemed to crush that initial wave of optimism that the acquisition instilled in us, as it tends to
  • Difficult to find anything real (as opposed to promised) where one can accurately declarre, “This is better today, right now, because of EG7” since the Daybreak acquisition
  • Worrisome feeling of deja vu when Ji Ham replaced the popular Robin Floodin as CEO
  • Some clearly impractical promises like LOTRO on consoles or bringing back H1Z1
  • Even the more practical promises are still out in the distant future
  • Really kind of business as usual for most of the games, which isn’t bad, but we were hyped for more

CCP

Highs

  • Opened the year with another Guinness Book World Record internet spaceship battle at M2-XFE
  • World War Bee proved once again that things happen in New Eden that no other game comes close to achieving
  • Lots of work on the whole new player experience thing and making things within the game more comprehensible
  • Came up with not bad solutions to the endless complaints about warp core stabilizers and interdiction nullification
  • Server upgrades to raise bar on performance in New Eden
  • Return of the Alliance Tournament

Lows

  • Economic starvation policy directly contributed to the stalemate that marked the last six months of World War Bee
  • The economy, the dull end of the war, and the COVID vaccine combined to slam the weekly peak concurrent user count
  • The promise of “prosperity” by CCP turned out to define “prosperity” as “more scarcity”
  • The CCP plan to make capital ships rare by making them expensive after years of them being way too cheap was both way too late to fix the proliferation issue and made capital pilots much less likely to risk their now very expensive hulls
  • The new player experience work has been focused pretty strongly on the initial tutorial, after which new players are still sent into the mediocre and now comically out of date career agents
  • Introduction of NFTs into the Alliance Tournament with the promise that this is just the start of those shenanigans
  • For some reason CCP can’t even ship what seems like a slam dunk improvement, like the new skill management interface, without screwing it up on the first pass and having to go back and fix blatant issues that were reported on the test server… and which should have been obvious to anybody with eyes honestly
  • UI design team philosophy seems to always default to “what if we added an additional UI pane to the game?”
  • I guess EVE Echoes is still a thing… oh, look, it has become a horrible, cash shop focused vision of what might be the future of the main game
  • Weren’t they working on a first person shooter or something?

Amazon

Highs

  • New World was an undisputed success at launch
  • Server queues are bad for players, but they are a good problem to have to solve when compared to server merges
  • Huge player numbers in the first month, with almost a million concurrent at its peak
  • Even when things died down, low six digit concurrent numbers are something many live games would kill for
  • Actually an MMORPG that felt different from the WoW-centric experiences we’ve been having the last fifteen plus years
  • Being skill and not class based means your character can do it all… theoretically
  • Planned for the future with a very obvious server merge path

Lows

  • When you’re getting 5 digit server queues with a game that has a low four digit player limit per server, you have not launched enough servers
  • So many bugs, so many problems that won’t go away, so much time spent waiting for the damn game to load
  • A lot of “nice to have” features left on the cutting room floor
  • You know “Azoth” makes half of us think of “Azeroth” every time we see that word
  • Some very odd UI design choices… beyond the clearly “designed for consoles” aspect even
  • An attempt to forestall players leaving made crafting and high end content so grindy it accelerated players leaving
  • In reality, I desperately want an alt so my main doesn’t literally have to do it all and respec with every change
  • Also, alts aside, two freaking character slots per region?  I remember the EQII launch and being dismayed that they only gave us four character slots, and New World somehow topped that
  • Server merges already as it is a game that has a minimum population in order to be viable
  • Getting to the “so what are you going to do next?” phase in New World
  • Didn’t Amazon have some other games in development?

Pokemon

Highs

  • We finally got a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl
  • A great Pokemon Go Fest back in July
  • Pokemon Go keeps adapting and getting better

Lows

  • We will see how well a faithful remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl plays in 2022 I guess
  • Pokemon Go Fest was largely a success because they cut the price down to something reasonable
  • Sitting at level 42 in Pokemon Go it looks like a long, long ways to level 50

Other Areas of the Video Game Industry

Highs

  • Valheim came out of nowhere and was amazing
  • Forza Horizon 5 turned out to be the open world driving game I was looking for
  • Hey, Forza Horizon 4 was that also, but cheaper and with all the DLC shipped, so I went there instead
  • World of Tanks, still fun a decade later
  • Raph Koster was telling us about his visions of the metaverse and, while being quite coy with details, seemed at least grounded in the reality of the situation
  • Steam Deck looks like a very promising platform
  • XBox Game Pass for PC is a pretty darn good deal for gamers
  • TorilMUD is still around 28 years down the line and even has an active Discord server
  • Minecraft got some nice updates this past year
  • Final Fantasy XIV was well positioned to grab refugees from World of Warcraft
  • FFXIV also kicked off their highly anticipated Endwalker expansion

Lows

  • Pretty much impossible to buy a new mid-range video card for under $1K
  • Steam Deck delayed until February, so none under the tree for Christmas
  • The biggest problem with Forza Horizon is the integration into Microsoft, which makes tasks like finding your friends surprisingly difficult
  • I am still very bad at World of Tanks a decade later
  • A three person studio was basically incapable of both keeping Valheim going and getting out some updates, so it has stayed pretty close to the launch state for most of the year and new zones are off in the distance
  • As with Minecraft, updates to biomes in Valheim will only apply to areas you haven’t been to, so you if you explored a lot like I did, you’re left having to start over to get to see new stuff when we get it
  • Speaking of Minecraft, it still gives me motion sickness, a rare effect on me, on the big 34″ curved ultrawide monitor
  • If you thought the New World queues were bad, let me tell you about FFXIV and Endwalker
  • Mark Zuckerberg was threatening us with his dystopian metaverse vision, complete with VR mask strapped to our collective faces and forcing his legless, uncanny valley horror show into our optic receptors
  • Too much meaningless NFT and blockchain hype, and it has only just gotten started
  • UbiSoft trying to one-up Blizzard with toxic workplace issues AND getting on board with NFTs
  • Et tu Bungie on the toxicity?

Television, Books, and the Media

Highs

  • The binge watching continued into 2021 and there was a lot to watch
  • Some solid IPs hitting the airwaves with series based on The Wheel of Time and Azimov’s Foundation series
  • A new attempt at a Dune movie, as well as a new Bond and Matrix movies
  • Ghostbusters Afterlife was the sequel the original deserved
  • Actually went out to the movies a few times; the popcorn was excellent
  • Lots of new seasons for things we like previously
  • Managed to get through 28 books this year
  • I did a lot of podcast listening as well
  • Twitter remains a fairly hospitable place for me

Lows

  • The problem with binging TV is that you become very aware of the tropes of the genre and the clues indicating where the plot is going
  • A lot of what I call “next season” fatigue, where I find that shows I liked in past seasons don’t really live up
  • We watched such a breadth of shows that when a new season drops I cannot remember what the hell went on before
  • Some extremely crap “previously on X” 30 second recaps in front of a new season that don’t help at all
  • Not a lot of new movies interesting enough to risk going to the theater, and a couple I might have gone out to see were released simultaneously on streaming, and our couch at home wins by default even if the popcorn isn’t as good
  • The whole Dune “we’re hiding the fact it is only part one until you see the opening credits” thing bugged me
  • Bond should have stayed retired
  • A lot of my reading this year was re-reading books for comfort, so not a lot new managed to get on my list
  • A lot of what I call “podcasts” today, such as This American Life, I would have just called “shows on the radio” 15 years back, while I rarely if ever find time for the amateur affairs that represented podcasts back then

Blogging and Such

Highs

  • The blog, it lives still, fifteen years into the game
  • I once again posted more than once a day in 2021
  • For no good reason I have been on a post-a-day streak since April 2020, which puts me into the mid-600s for days in a row of posting
  • Blaugust was a thing again this year
  • The local blogging community still carries on

Lows

  • Finding something to write about that I also care to put the effort into… ideas are cheap and plentiful, time and enthusiasm are much more rare… is becoming more difficult
  • The backbone of the blog was MMORPGs, which lend themselves to blogging as they are very much progression based and tell the story of your character, and since I am barely playing any MMORPGs at this point, those tales of progression have largely gone missing
  • There is no feature that WP.com cannot screw up on the first three tries
  • WP.com tech support will tell you you’re wrong when you say they’ve broken something, then fix it two weeks later

Just Life

Highs

  • As I stated at the top, at least it isn’t 2020 anymore
  • Still hanging on; my wife and I combined made more money in 2021 than any year previous, so we’re not too worried about the immediate future and doing okay compared to many in these trying times
  • Managed to refinance our house, lower our monthly payment, and pull out enough cash to pay for the last two years of college for our daughter
  • Back to having a boring president is good for the blood pressure
  • Covid vaccines available for most everybody at this point; I got my booster just ten days back
  • Even Donald Trump says you should get vaccinated
  • Managed not to contract Covid myself yet
  • Going to the store was mostly back to normal, save for masks, and there was toilet paper and antiseptic wipes available
  • The news wasn’t one outrage or horror show after the another; we let things slide in 2020 that would have been headlines with two week life cycles in a normal year

Lows

  • 2021 would seem like a pretty bad year if it hadn’t followed 2020
  • The price of the final two years of college for our daughter is easily going to get into six figures
  • Oh, and everything else is more expensive, so we’re not actually gaining any ground, just holding on
  • Everything is still worse than before Covid; prices are up, quality is down, portions are smaller, supply is unreliable, and the chip shortage remains
  • I didn’t catch Covid, but I got an inner ear infection that made me deaf in my right ear for about a month, and I have still not fully recovered my hearing there months later
  • Delta and Omicron variants have made it clear than Covid isn’t going away any time soon
  • Covid boosters are likely to become like flu shots, something we’ll need to get every year it seems, and masks in enclosed public spaces are going to be a thing for the rest of my life it seems
  • Apparently the ONE thing Donald Trump’s fans cannot abide is him endorsing Covid vaccines
  • We have reached a point where billionaires have their own space programs like Bond villains
  • I’ve really had trouble recalibrating to a news cycle that isn’t one insane thing after another, so when the top story of the day is about Biden’s dog or Kamala Harris buying cookware my gut reaction is “who gives a flying fuck?”
  • Remember when we were worried about Democracy in Hong Kong?  Yeah, China stomped that idea out of existence
  • China is starting to seem impatient about bringing Taiwan under its control
  • Russia is still working on reconquering the old Soviet/Imperial Russian empire, with an invasion of the remaining unoccupied parts of Ukraine as a distinct possibility, and we know how well wars in Europe work out for everybody
  • Boring presidents don’t actually do much it seems, so the new James Buchanan we have now is just forestalling conflicts to come
  • The November 2022 elections could very well decide whether or not democracy is a thing in the USA
  • We’ll be close to 8 billion people on earth soon, well up from the 3.3 billion who were around when I was born; Thomas Malthus would be telling us, “told you so” if he were still around today

Anyway, I had better stop there before I get myself too down.  Bad news does tend to push out anything good, so I should be happy that the bad news hasn’t been as frequent or as close to home.

Tomorrow is the last day of the year.  Enjoy it.  2022 is coming, and I am sure it is keen to leave its own mark on our collective hides.

Answers to My Questions for 2021

Back at the start of the year I eschewed the usual predictions post and instead went in for a round of questions.  After 2020 I was clearly feeling unprepared to predict anything, though this was not the first time I went down that path.  Now we have hit the middle of December and it is time to see if any of my questions got answers we like.

2020 plus 1

There is a long pattern of me making such posts on the first of the year.

Anyway, let’s get tucked in and see what I can come up with.

What will a return to normalcy bring to the video game industry?

Right off the bat I am going to have to object here to the assumption that we’ve returned to anything like normalcy.  We’re not in 2020 anymore, but we’re not not in 2020 anymore either.  The shadow of that year lay heavily over this one, its poison seeping in.  People who can are still working from home, Covid is still spreading, the economy is still in a bind from the pandemic, and the world still seems to be going to hell at a rapid pace.

Will Shadowlands hold players?

Well, at least we have an easy one here.  The answer is “no.”  There are a few reasons, not the least of which is Blizzard not releasing much in the way of additional content and Blizzard being revealed as a nightmarish Dickensian workhouse of misogyny and intolerance.  Also, maybe “run Torghast every day for the next two years” wasn’t the winning plan that somebody thought it was.

Will Diablo Immortal ship?

Another easy one!  And another “no.”   Wyatt Cheng once asked if we had phones.  Many of us probably have new ones since he asked that question at BlizzCon 2018.  Now does he have a game?  That seems to be a more pertinent question at this point.

Does Blizzard have anything new planned?

Three for three here on the easy questions, with another big “no” on the tally.  Diablo II Resurrected is about as “new” as they got, and they had Vicarious Visions do the remaster of a twenty year old title for that.  It was a good remaster, but it wasn’t new.

Along with that we had Burning Crusade Classic and WoW Classic Season of Mastery, also not new.  Even the solo mode for Hearthstone didn’t feel very new.  I guess their bigger company issues got in the way for some of that, but it still feels like they came into 2021 just winging it and hoping something would come up.  And, honestly, they don’t seem to have much lined up for 2022.  How can such a big studio… more people work on WoW than most MMO studios have total employees… deliver so little?

What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?

A reverse merger, with Ji Ham now at the helm?  I wouldn’t have called that one.  Otherwise there has been some promises for the future, but the first year really seemed like business as usual for Daybreak… except maybe they didn’t lay so many people off in 2021.  That’s a plus.

Will Norrath continue to boom?

Kinda, maybe, sorta.  As noted above, things were mostly business as usual.  That has generally been good for the Norrath titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II, which get an expansion in November/December and a major content drop in late spring/early summer every year.  So things roll on there.

But when it comes to doing anything new, it is LOTRO they want to put on consoles, DCUO they want to update, and an unannounced Marvel IP MMO that gets all the headlines.  They even keep bringing up H1Z1.  But EverQuest as a franchise?  Any plans for that look to be dead.

What happens with H1Z1?

Nothing.  As I wrote above, EG7 keeps bringing it up when they talk about the important IPs they control.  There is clearly some wishcasting going on about the title returning to the top of the battle royale genre. But actual progress?  There was some mention that they had a few people look into being able to run a build, but otherwise nobody appears to be working H1Z1 in any meaningful way.

At least they stopped renaming it I suppose.

Where is Cold Iron Studios?

Not with Daybreak and EG7, we know that much.  Somewhere between the announcement that Daybreak was purchasing Cold Iron and the launch of their game Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Cold Iron went somewhere else.  Details are hazy, the story is mostly inferred, but Cold Iron never made it into the EG7 stable of studios.

What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?

Pretend nothing has changed and announce an expansion?  This is the problem with bringing up studios and games I do not watch closely.  A bunch of key people left ANet last year, but back in August they announced the End of Dragons, slated for February 2022, so I guess everything is good.  Maybe?  I don’t really know.

Where does CCP go next with New Eden?

Nowhere?  Seriously, after the Triglavian story cycle the company has been been focused on the new player experience and trying to force the in-game economy into a form that they believe is best for the long term survival of the game, ignoring the short term “hey, can you give us something fun?” requests from the players.  Short sheeting the economy isn’t fun.  Even if you don’t care about the economy and mock miners and industrialists who are complaining, you have to admit that there is very little fun in what CCP has been doing for the last year.

Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?

No.  There was a promise over the summer that the end of scarcity was coming.  But the Q4 quadrant, New Dawn: Age of Prosperity, involved very little prosperity.  For every relaxation of the economic restrictions there was some matching nerf to offset things, often hidden behind some oppressive new game mechanic.  CCP said they were listening to feedback, but they mostly slowed their roll a bit (compression will be in 2022 now) and tried re-arranging the deck chairs some (“waste” got renamed to “residue”) as they carried forward with the goal of resetting the economy to some past halcyon state.  I am sure this will end well.

How Will World War Bee End?

The side with the 3:1 numbers advantage got tired and went home.

There are many ways to spin who “won” the war.  PAPI can claim that they forced the Imperium down from four regions to one constellation and destroyed trillions of ISK in ships and structures.  The Imperium can claim that they held out, denied PAPI their stated victory conditions, and in the end destroyed as much in ships and structures as PAPI did.

As for losing the war, that award generally goes to the group that loses their space and has to move elsewhere.  That makes Legacy Coalition, the main instigators of the war under Vily, the losers.  TEST, the leading alliance in Legacy, lost their old space, couldn’t hold their new space, and ended up trying to live as far away from the Imperium as they possibly could.  Brave gets a special mention for losing hardest of all, as not only did they lose their old space and their new space, but now the rest of PAPI is attacking them because Brave sold structures to the Imperium so they could at least asset safety their stuff and get some seed ISK in the bank to carry on.

Really though, the honor of ending the war goes to CCP.  It was already somewhat obvious after the second battle of M2-XFE that their servers were not going to be up to a final mighty battle.  And then CCP made changes to resources and production that made capital ships too valuable to expend freely, so the attackers were limited to subcaps.  In the choice between investing a lot of time and effort in a real blockade of the final Imperium constellation or just going home, they opted to go home.

Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

Yes, goddammit, yes they did.  About freaking time.  And it has shipped and there is a copy for me and my daughter under the Christmas tree.  We’ll see how that plays out soon enough.

Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  I mean, Crowfall went live I think.  I am not sure it will survive, but it shipped.  And they are a stand out in the stable of crowd funded MMOs, which mostly promised things they couldn’t deliver.  Don’t spend money on things that you cannot play today.

Project: Gorgon is the right path, as it was in playable form from the day of the first monetary ask. Camelot Unchained is the wrong path, asking for money, blowing through every promised date ever, and starting a new project before the promised one is even in beta.  And then there is Star Citizen… well, they certainly know how to milk a community.  Star Citizen is a lot of things, but being an actual video game seems to be a few bullets down the list.

Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?

The metaverse maybe?  That seemed to be the topic for 2021.  I don’t know if it is Raph Koster’s desire to remake the simple days of MUDs in the 90s or Mark Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of an all controlling metaverse that turns our very desires against us, but I guess either might be something new… at least for MMORPGs.

Oh, and something about crypto and NFTs.  But we’ll probably burst that bubble in 2022.

Will I play anything new this year?

Valheim.  That was a bit of a left field star, but ended up being our main game for about two months earlier this year.  New World showed up and, once the initial chaos settled down, the instance group got into the game.  And then there was Forza Horizon 4 & 5.  Open world driving for the win.  There were a couple of other small titles that were new, but nothing that I invested more than a couple of hours in.

That I played three new games made 2021 a departure from the usual routine.  In 2020 80% of my game time was spent in WoW, WoW Classic, and EVE Online.  The year isn’t over yet, but so far those three titles represent less than 50% of my tracked play time.

Will VR get a killer app this year?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  VR will remain a niche so long as it requires a real world obscuring mask strapped to your face… oh, and the motion sickness issue gets addressed.  Ready Player One and Zuckerberg’s idea that we’re all going to live in his ad laden VR metaverse hell is a pipe dream.

Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?

Not really.  The industry’s best defense so far has been regulators being interested in other things to further their own interests.  It has to be a slow news day for lockboxes to make the headlines of late, so politicians and regulators have mostly been busy elsewhere.   Except for Blizzard.   Yeah, Blizzard is having some regulatory issues, though not over lockboxes and that sort of thing, just mundane things like running a hostile, discriminatory work place.  The usual corporate thing.

But the industry keeps on trying to get the government to come down on them hard, with cryto and NFTs on their list of things to try next.

Will We lose Section 230 Protection?

Not yet, though Facebook seems to be pushing to have that taken away, because they have the money and the staffing to deal with any new regulations which would help them cement their place in creating our dystopian future… and present… and recent past.

What will I do when the blog turns 15?

Write a post about it.  That is my answer for most things I suppose.

So that was the list for 2021.  As those were just questions rather than predictions there is no score.

I think I’ll be able to warm up to doing some predictions for 2022.  I have a couple of weeks to get on it.  But first I need to make a 2022 graphic.

November in Review

The Site

Spam comment bots will hate you if you know this one special trick!  Or they would if they had the capacity to hate.

Over the years I have mentioned how many spam comments that Askismet racks up and how many I end up having to clear out of the spam filter because it isn’t sure.  And then, in looking through yet another thousand spam comment day, hoping to find any false positives in the mix, I noticed that almost all of the spam comments were on old posts, in the 8-12 year old time frame.

Then I was hit by a blinding flash of the obvious and went and set WordPress to not allow comments on posts over a certain age.

The setting I was looking for

Once I clicked the check box it actually worked.

This was not an completely slam dunk idea for me as I don’t mind comments on old posts, and there are a few, like an old one about the Kesmai game Air Warrior that attracts somebody new now and then.  But eventually real people stop showing up.  So I set the timer to turn off comments on posts once they were up for 800 days.  That should give anybody looking to leave a comment plenty of time and I am now much more likely to find false positives in the spam bucket.

And then there are the ads.  Despite serving up only slightly more ads than last month, the total amount earned was over $20, up from $15 in October.  I won’t be able to give up my day job, but the Premium account option will at least pay for itself.  I also think the quality of the ads might be getting better, though I don’t check often enough to make a blanket statement on the topic.

As always, I encourage you to use some sort of ad blocker to keep your browsing safe.  I have on a number of occasions hit a site that demanded I turn off my ad blocker to be able to view their content, only to the have Malwarebytes, my virus protection software of choice, throw an alert that it had to block an ad due to malware.  I never want to be that site.  Be safe on the internet friends.

One Year Ago

EverQuest II celebrated its sweet sixteen with some unexpected downtime.  Oops.  EverQuest was getting ready for the Claws of Veeshan expansion.

World of Warcraft was spinning up for the Shadowlands expansion, and I was getting in a few tasks before it landed.  There was also the beta and something about multiboxing software and the fact that BlizzCon Online being free.  I was also wondering if anybody really needed a level booster after the big level squish.  The ride to 50 was pretty fast.

We were still playing around a bit in the level squished Northrend, trying to do a three person with Prince Keleseth.  That did not end well.  I also started a demon hunter to try the run to 50 in the level squish.  It was a quick run, though it got strange because I wasn’t in quite the right timeline.

Then there were the pre-events in Northrend… and I always love going to Northrend.  There was plenty to do up there.

And then there was the pre-launch calm before we were finally let into Shadowlands.  It seemed like a pretty smooth launch once you got past the crowd in Stormwind.  The zones were quick and fun and I was soon making my debut in the theater of pain. and then off into Ardenweald.

Meanwhile, in WoW Classic, we were working out way to the detention block in Blackrock Depths and then Shadowforge City after which we went walking with Marshal Windsor.

On the WoW Classic front Blizz was talking about plans and bans.

I hit level 40 in Pokemon Go.  I was also using Discord to get overseas raid invites to catch special legendaries.

There were some more shows to write about in the great pandemic binge watch.

And of course there was EVE Online and World War Bee, which I will just sum up in a list of posts:

And so it went.

Five Years Ago

I got back from EVE Vegas and reviewed a bit of what I saw including SKIN changes.  I also borrowed CCP Rise’s Vegas Alpha fit for a trial run.  Of course the Ascension expansion and Alpha Clones were the big deal.  Logging in when the expansion hit wasn’t always easy, but the PCU passed the long distant 50K user mark.

Then suddenly it was election night.  I was in a fleet during which the winner projections turned on their head.  At least we got a tower kill.

Meanwhile back in our old home in the north, the war in Tribute started to come alive.  Sort of.  A bit.  Well, there was some propaganda.

BlizzCon was underway a week after EVE Vegas, and I first projected what I wanted to see/thought I might see and then reconciled that with what I actually saw.  It took a while for me to see Weird Al though.

Project: Gorgon was back to crowd funding.

Pokemon Sun & Moon were coming and I got ready by wrapping up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.  I took Pokemon Sun while my daughter went with Pokemon Moon.

In Minecraft Aaron was using the in-game maps to create art to hang on his walls.  Then there was the update with forest mansions… and llamas!  That meant going on an expedition to find my own mansion.  And once you have your own mansion, you have to do something with it.  Like burn it down.

Daybreak, in looking after Norrath new and old, launched the Kunark expansion twins, with Empires of Kunark going live for EverQuest and Kunark Ascending going live for EverQuest II.

And, finally, in a bullet points post on Black Friday it was death to The Mittani, a new Google widget in my side bar, and some Pokemon news.

Ten Years Ago

I looked back at the Star Wars Extended Universe novel Heir to Empire, which turned 20 years old. That might be my most coherent piece on the site.  Also, it is 30 years old now.

In EVE Online, the upcoming Crucible expansion had a chance to remove the Incarna stink from the game. Oh, and ship trails were back. And Hulkageddon V was announced… about six months early it turns out.

I reviewed my 2011 MMO outlook. Rift appeared to be the unlikely winner, while DCUO had already gone F2P.

Speaking of going F2P in under a year, I had my first peek at Star Wars: The Old Republic in the beta. Pre-NDA drop, I used Star Wars Galaxies to describe the game as nothing new. Then the NDA dropped and I bitched some more. I did not find the game fun, cancelled my pre-order, and went back to Rift.

And then there was EverQuest II going free to play on all servers, which made me wonder what else in the SOE line up might follow suit. (Turns out the answer was “everything,” or at least everything that they didn’t shut down.)

Vanguard started showing inexplicable signs of life.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Scars of Velious was complete and the Luclin expansion went live. Also, breaking the retro aspect, Fippy Darkpaw players got the same new hot bars that all EverQuest players got with the new Veil of Alaris expansion. They actually worked like hot bars in other games.  Amazing!

In Rift, we made it to Meridian and then faced our first boss while learning the rules of their LFG tool. Oh, and the damn Yule rifts were up before Thanksgiving. I swear, it gets earlier every year.

We learned of the real money auction house in Diablo III. Actually, the real money part wasn’t the bad bit, it was that there was an auction house at all… and crap itemization.

And also on the RMT front was the Guardian cub pet in World of Warcraft. I did a couple of price checks on those, but somebody should probably go back and see how prices look a year later.  Can you even find one on the market these days?

Oh, and WoW had lost 2 million subscribers. Remember when that was a big deal?

Torchilght II was delayed because we had other things to play, right?

AOL shut down Wow.com. That doesn’t mean what you think.

I announced the winners of my Azeroth travel poster contest.

Google was pissing me off by changing up Google Reader. Still, I’d take bad UI Google reader over no Google Reader.

A little game called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launched.  A pity nobody played it and it never got ported to very many platforms or got several remasters.

And we said farewell to LEGO Universe.

Fifteen Years Ago

Our World of Warcraft Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group finished up Blackfathom Deeps,The Stockades, Shadowfang Keep, and started in on Razorfen Kraul.

In EverQuest, I picked up The Serpent’s Spine and tried running a new character though some of the new level 1-70 content.  I also set out a minor goal of taking screen shots to compare Faydwer in EQ and Faydwer in EQII that lead to posts about Kaladim and Kelethin.

In EverQuest II, the Echoes of Faydwer expansion came out.  Once I found a copy and got past the patching process and into the game, I made a fae swashbuckler and went to town.

The Revelations expansion hit in New Eden, my first expansion update in EVE Online.  I followed the general wisdom and made sure I had a long skill training the night before.

The Wii and the PlayStation 3 were both released in the US.

I was talking about Diablo II, because that comes up every few years.

And the maker of the ubiquitous ZMud client announced a replacement product called CMud.  I tried the demo version, but since ZMud continued to work for me, I stuck with that.

Also, I was apparently hosting my blog screen shots on Image Shack back in 2006 and they’re all gone from many of those posts now.  I went back and fixed all the WoW instance groups posts at some point… probably five or ten years ago… but the EQ and EQII posts are just going to require you to use your imagination.

Twenty Years Ago

EverQuest went to the moon with its third expansion Shadows of Luclin.

Nintendo released the Game Cube in North America.

Microsoft launched its first game console, the original XBox, also in North America.

IL-2 Sturmovik, one of the more important combat flight sims for flight sim nerds, launched.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. The Crimson Harvest Returns to EVE Online
  3. The EVE Online New Dawn Quadrant to Start With Mining Changes
  4. Life on the M2 Hellcamp
  5. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  6. A 64-bit EverQuest Client is Coming
  7. The LOTRO Fate of Gundabad Expansion Targets November 10th Launch
  8. Protests in Jita Over New Dawn Changes
  9. Robbing Some Space Banks
  10. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  11. Why Harry Potter Wizards Unite Failed
  12. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor

Search Terms of the Month

eve online [barghest]
[The flying griddle!]

defeat the lord of flies in this java game
[No, u]

is there supposed to be a fence with torch on top of it in minecraft in the savanna village
[An oddly specific question. Yes?]

гипер врата в космических играх
[There are jump gates in EVE, but they aren’t hyper]

(Google made some change and now so few search terms make it through that I am down to single digits to pick from.  This might be a dying feature, and just when I killed off spam comments as well!)

Game Time from ManicTime

For the first time in a long stretch there was no significant WoW or WoW Classic play time recorded.  Basically my six month subscription expired at the end of October and that was that.  I did log in quickly to get the 17th anniversary achievement with a level 18 character, so I guess I will boost their MAU for November, but I have spent my last cash on Blizzard for a while.

  1. New World – 35.56%
  2. Forza Horizon 5 – 30.95%
  3. EVE Online – 12.83%
  4. Diablo II – 9.68%
  5. World of Tanks – 8.76%
  6. EverQuest II – 2.20%
  7. World of Warcraft – 0.02%

Considering how far into the month I grabbed FH5, you can see I spent a lot of time on the road.

Diablo II

I managed to get a necromancer through nightmare and into hell difficulty, and the instance group carried through and defeated Diablo, before we ran out of steam on the game.  It is a solid game still, 20 years down the road, though it could use some improvements.  But for purposes of nostalgia I own it and can go back and play some more whenever I want.

EVE Online

I did not spend much time in EVE Online this past month.  I got in, went on a fleet op or three, got on my requisite kill mail for the month, and even lost a ship… which was fine because my hangar has more ships in it than I will ever fly unless PAPI invades Delve again.  So at least losing a ship meant SRP and some more ISK back in my wallet.  Otherwise I let all but my main account lapse into alpha status.

The CCP team however went through its periodic routine of setting themselves on fire, this time with the “New Dawn: Age of Prosperity” dev blog, then denying there was even smoke while the player base yelled at them.  They appeared to acknowledge that, perhaps, there was some sort of combustion, but we won’t know what they’re really thinking until we get the next dev blog.  The only thing that is sure is that “prosperity” won’t be on the agenda for any reasonable definition of the word.

Also, what is going on with the algorithmic false positive bans?  CCP seems to have it in for certain activities.

EverQuest II

I played a bit more of EQII, finished out the Days of Summer/Panda quests, did a little mucking about with some alts, and then drifted off to play something else.  Unless there is something seriously unexpected in the new expansion next month, my account there will likely lapse as well.

Forza Horizon 5

Bought this on a lark for a freaking dollar… well, I didn’t really buy it so much as rent it for three months via XBox Game Pass for PC… and have played the hell out of it at times over the month.  A fun driving game with a lot of different options to suit anybody from the casual to the hard core.

New World

The instance group has found its way into New World and we are trying to move through it as a group.  The game itself seems to be deep in a new crisis every week and more than a few of them could be on the list of “why does this happen with every MMO launch?” But it is good looking and the combat is different and the trade skills are… well, there is a lot there to be done.  We’re all at level 20 at this point, so we might be able to do some group things soon.

Pokemon Go

The big event in November for me was hitting level 42 at last.  A big enough deal that I am including a picture!

Level 42 level up graphic – what I did on my way from 41 to 42

The downside is that now the mountain of xp needed to get to level 43 seems all the taller.  9 million experience will take a while.

Level: 42 (+1, 1.5% of the way to 43 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 673 (+3) caught, 695 (+1) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 13 of 17
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat, but not for long

World of Tanks

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I cranked this up again to have something quick to drop into and play.  I started in at the beginning of the month and played quite a bit… then I got Forza Horizon 5 and play time fell off a cliff as I binged on that.  But I have come back and played some more since.  I have enough coins and bennies that I can drop in and out for a few days at a time and still play in premium mode most days.

Zwift

Another month in with Zwift.  I am a bit surprised I have kept up as well as I have, as one of my defining attributes is laziness. I haven’t really lost any weight, though I have redistributed some of it.  I know this because I need to cinch my belt up one notch further.

My distance cycled at this point is almost exactly the distance between my house and the happiest place on Earth; Tijuana!

  • Level – 11 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 487.9 miles (+115.5 miles)
  • Time – 1d 1h 48m (+5h 48m)
  • Elevation climbed – 20,013 (+4,875 feet)
  • Calories burned – 16,141 (+3,845)

Coming Up

Last month I had a list of things that were due in November or seemed likely to arrive and… a few didn’t make it, so I guess I get to rerun them.  The FFXIV expansion is now set to land on December 7th, while EverQuest and EverQuest II have expansions that should land on the 7th and the 1st respectively.  You can probably foresee tomorrow’s post in that.

Also, for those who know the blog, December means a series of end of year posts to sum things up and check on things like predictions and all of that.  Those posts are coming.

Otherwise it seems like there will be more New World in the offing and maybe things will heat up a bit in EVE Online after the post-war slump.

Oh, and there is a a sequel to The Matrix landing in December, The Matrix Resurrections.  I might have to go see it.  That is probably one you need to see on the big screen.

Facing Diablo without our Skeletal Front Line

Having moved forward into Act IV in Diablo II Resurrected, the group was now on the path straight to Diablo himself.

The return of the classic

However, the shine was fading from the apple that is Diablo II for the group.  We had been talking about other games to play and the click action of D2R was coming up a bit shy on the challenge front in normal mode and I am not sure the group was willing to bet that Nightmare mode would improve things.

So our necromancer Kevin, who was going to be away last weekend, let us know that we could carry on and slay Diablo without him.  That seemed to be the sign that this would be the last hurrah for D2R for now, so the three of us around set out to at least finish off the boss whose name adorns the box.

The question was, were we up to it?

For the past runs we had always had Kevin and his army of skeletons there to bear the brunt of any fight, with the rest of us working behind the wall of bones that were our front line.  Now it would be just the paladin, the amazon, and the druid to face the boss fight.

Assembled in the Pandemonium Fortress

We had our mercenaries to help us along, and Ulfar the druid could summon three wolves, a pair of crows, and that glowing floaty squid thing to assist us, but it seemed like it might be a challenge.

And our first steps out of the fortress and into hell did not seem fortuitous.  We ended up in a fight at the bottom of the stairs that saw all of our minions and one of us fall, and we had barely set foot into the first zone of Act IV.

We revived, re-summoned, and regrouped after that first onslaught, then set out at a careful pace.  The theme of the mobs in Act IV are “Hey, surprise!” and a dozen or so of them suddenly run up at you.  We stayed together and managed to push through the first area, finding the steps down to the Plain of Despair fairly readily.

In the plains we were able to find Izual, the mob for the first of the three quests in Act IV.  He was tough, and ran around quite a bit, which invited his neighbors to join in the fight.  But we held on and managed to bring him down via persistence and judicious use of Ulfar’s fissue area attack spell.  Izual’s spirit gave us a message for Tyrael.

Izual’s spirit mocks us

We took a portal back to the fortress and got the quest update and reward.  Then it was back out into the field, where we found the steps down to the City of the Damned.

Our luck on maps seemed to be with us, as we were not there for very long before we spotted the waypoint and the path down to the river of flames, which was where the next quest lay.

Our goal was the hellforge to destroy Mephisto’s soul stone.  We pressed on and in what seemed like a very short run, managed to find and clear out the hellforge and the area around it.  The hellforge hammer dropped Hephasto, the guardian of the hellforge and Ulfar picked up to destroy the soul stone.

At the Hellforge

Then we had kind of a strange update.  Ulfar destroyed it, but only he got the quest update.  Both Talon and I got an odd message in the quest log indicating that we would have to complete it in a different game.

Sorry, the quest you have reached is disconnected or no longer in service…

I don’t recall this from the old days, but I barely recall anything from 20 years ago at this point, but it seemed like an odd oversight by somebody that only one person can do the Mehpisto soul stone quest per game instance.

Still, only one of us needed to do it to press on.  Back in town all of us, soul stone or not, got the quest to go forth and slay Diablo.

We returned to the river of flame fought our way onward, looking for Diablo’s sanctuary.  We did end up having to backtrack a bit, but eventually found our way to Hadriel, who is at the entry to the chaos sanctuary where Diablo lives.  He didn’t seem happy to see Talon or I due to the whole quest thing that we couldn’t complete.

Yes, we know, we didn’t do the quest

Fortunately Ulfar was able to get us through and we ventured in to find the big guy.  That involved some more clearing of mobs and a few fights with mini-bosses as we unlocked the five seals.  But with the fifth seal undone, Diablo was unleashed and looking for us.

At that point we took a minute to make sure everybody was full up on potions, had their minions to hand, and a portal up to get back from the fortress should they fall.  Three portals, just in case.  I decided to put up my fire resist aura, which I had put a few points into, since a couple of Diablo’s attacks are fire based.  And then we ran over to the big pentagram and got ourselves stuck into the fight.

Diablo engaged!

It started off pretty well.  The first resist aura seemed to shake off most of Diablo’s AOE fire attack, though Ulfar’s pets didn’t last long.  His other fire attack seemed to be stymied as well, and his melee wasn’t doing much to hurt me.

And then came the red lightning, always the worst of hist attacks and our mercenaries started to get swept away.  A full on hit from that was enough to take any of us down, so I tried to keep on him in melee range and, as soon as Diablo would start that attack, I would use a health potion and start running in a circle around him, as his tracking turn rate isn’t fast enough to keep up with you and you’ll be ahead of his attack… if you get an early enough start.

I kept getting froze by him, which made my movement slow, and a couple of times I got penned in against something and barely got away.  The fight took a while and we all ended up dying a couple of times.  Then it was back through a portal and back to a corpse to get back into the fight.

Diablo Poisoned as I keep him in melee range

Ulfar found a lightning enhanced crossbow at the vendor and swapped that in for his melee weapon and laid down his fissure spell and shot at Diablo with bolts.  Talon was throwing lightning enhanced javelins and dodging Diablo’s lightning as he sprayed it about the room as I circled him.

As the fight got close to the end, Ulfar and I both got a bit greedy and stayed in close to try and finish him, but Diablo has a lot of health and we both died one last time.  We ran back, retrieved our corpses, then went back to our more conservative attack style, staying safe until Diablo went down.

And that was it, we defeated Diablo.  I suspect it would have gone considerably smoother with Kevin’s army of skeletons, having done the fight with a necromancer myself, but we managed it.

Amazon, paladin, and druid at the end

Diablo didn’t drop anything special for us.  There were five items, but none of them worth keeping.  We went back to the fortress, wrapped up the last quest, then stepped through the portal into Act V.

On to Act V and the barbarians

Act IV hadn’t taken that much time, so we went in and finished up the first quest in Act V, getting the first waypoint out in the field.  But Baal will have to wait until we’re in the mood again.  Act V is a long one, being a whole expansion worth of content, and maybe we’ll get back to it some day.

But for now the group has its eye on another game.  But that will be tomorrow’s post.

 

Through Nightmare and into Hell in Diablo II Resurrected

As I posted previously, I have been running a necromancer through Diablo II Resurrected, to see how far I could get playing a class I had previously ignored.  And it has been going pretty well.

The return of the classic

Having made it through Normal mode I launched myself into Nightmare.  It is a pity that the difficulty modes are hard coded to your character progression… mobs don’t have visible levels, but under the covers the effectively do… so you have to play through normal mode before turning the notch up a bit.  I think the group run through Diablo II would have been better for that.

In addition to mobs being high level and hitting a bit harder, you also start running into a lot of mobs that have default resists to various magic damage types.

Among other things, he is also immune to fire

Meanwhile, your own resistance to lightning, poison, fire, and cold damage start at a deficit, a negative percentage, which means that you take even more damage from them.

Fortunately I had collected enough gear with resist bonuses that I wasn’t hit too hard by that.  Still, I did end up dying more often that in the pass through normal.

And the tab for dying keeps going up, plus the cost to ress your merc

Act I wasn’t too much tougher, and and I even got a bit of a boost going into later on because I remembered, kind of late, that in Nightmare mode you can hire a mercenary with the Might aura, which boosts skeleton damage.  That had a noticeable effect and, while mobs were tougher, my own pack of nine skeletons were able to cut a swathe through most groups that showed up.

Act II went fairly well, and going into Act III I had maxed out my skeleton skills and was raising hostile dead to help fill my ranks.  They don’t last for long, but they can add some heft to a fight in a pinch.

Taking on Mephisto… and I still have the rogue merc, hrmm

Act IV was its usual short self, and in facing off against Diablo my biggest problem was keeping my aura mercenary alive.  I had to go in with a wave of skeletons, let them battle Diablo until they were whittled down to just a few, then portal out to the Pandemonium Fortress, from where I would use the waypoint to go back to an earlier act to kill some mobs to raise more skeletons for a return fight.

Early on against Diablo, when there were still some dead to raise against him

That is the hook with the necromancer, he isn’t a lot of use until he has some skeletons backing him up.  And if you left them all die, it just makes it harder to go fill your ranks again because the golem isn’t all that tough and I was in danger of going broke raising the merc over and over.

I managed it, and moved on to Act V, where skeletons and the Might aura and the occasional raised dead kept me going.

In the ice caves in Act V

I also have a trio of skeletal mages in that shot.  I picked up a piece of gear that, in addition to other benefits, gave me +3 to skeletal mages.  They are weak, so die quickly, but add a little but of damage on top of everything else.

I think one of the things that drags me through Act V quickly is that the waypoints are a bit awkwardly placed.  You get to one and you’re still so far from the next objective, and the next waypoint, that I end up just pushing on in very much the Diablo II version of “just one more turn.”

So I ended up doing a bit of a marathon run through most of Act V, breaking in to fight Baal who, most annoyingly, comes at you in a room with no other mobs, which is quite inconvenient for a necromancer looking to raise some replacements.  There was, once again, portals out to use waypoints to raise another group of skeletons… and to pay to revive my mercenary yet again… as I used them to chip away at Baal.

This time around I did get the clone version of Baal, so was facing the pair for a bit.  But the clone was gone when I came back from one of my skeleton recruitment runs, so he still seems to be a bit bugged.  And so I persisted… it didn’t actually take that many runs at him… and brought down Baal.

Baal defeated so Tyrael is back to give his speech

That got me the end game screen for Nightmare mode and the title Champion.

Victory over Nightmare mode

That put me into the reach of Hell mode, which I immediately jumped in and tried… and immediately died in.  Seriously, the first group that I hit after leaving the rogue encampment killed me, my golem, and my mercenary.  Mobs were tougher, and all the more so when I was out there without and skeletons.

I took more care on my next venture out of camp, cornering single mobs if possible until I built up a few skeletons.  Once I hit critical mass of skeletons, mobs out in the field were generally manageable.  I was able to get on my way, clearing out the Den of Evil and chasing down Bloodraven.

Hell-o Bloodraven

But on Hell not only are the mobs harder and your base resists even lower, but mobs often have multiple resists and mini bosses can be very tough if they have the right (or is that wrong?) setup against your build.

A tough cookie indeed

That guy in the screen shot has Stone Skin, which deflects a large percent of physical damage and is immune to physical damage.  I have a curse that can reduce mob resists, so they are no longer immune, but with my physical damaged focused pack of skeletons, that combo was too much.  I burned through a few groups and barely chipped away at him.  I eventually called it a night on him.

But I have a necromancer in Hell mode now, which is honestly as far as I think I have ever gone in the game.  I played it a lot back in the day, but there were not nearly the resources about for builds as there are now.  We’ll see if that information is enough to get me through Hell.

Carbot and Ideas for Diablo II

As we learned last Tuesday, Diablo II Resurrected was pretty much the one bight spot in Blizzard’s Q3 2021, lifting the studio through an otherwise difficult quarter where there wasn’t much else to talk about.

The return of the classic

Unfortunately for Blizzard, D2R is a buy and play game, so the majority of the income they will ever get from it came in one big bubble in September.  They will sell more copies over time, but it won’t have the legs to save Q4 2021.

One obvious thought is basically, gee, could we have some more D2R content?  That probably isn’t viable, at least in the short term.

But they could add a few things to make the game a longer term prospect.  Again, that won’t sell a bunch more copies, but making it a game with even more too it might sustain the remaining sales cycle longer.  And that is where Carbot comes in, because he has a video up about additions he would like to see for D2R.

The video kicked off with a bit of silliness with the first idea, but seems pretty solid from there forward.  I personally like the second idea about mercenaries, or at least having a way to put your mercenary away for a fight because the price of a ress starts getting a bit crazy at higher levels.

I am not sure how much more Blizzard can do with D2R.  But the original Blizzard North team seemed to think that a remaster wasn’t possible, much less porting it to consoles, so you never know what they might come up with.

The Group Rolls Through Act III and Mephisto in Diablo II

When it comes to Diablo II, Act III is kind of the misfit.

In coming from the original Diablo, Act I puts you back in the world and connects the two games.  Act II then raises the bar, showing you new places, while Act IV is the “Go directly to hell and slay Diablo” big finish.

And, in the middle, there is Act III and Kurast and jungle and a series of quests that are mostly skippable.  It feels like the team had to meet a quota for six quests and six waypoints, so kind of made some stuff up quickly and moved on.  Though, honestly, with Act IV only having three quests, it is as though a lot of work went into the first two acts and then time was running out and they had to get things ready to ship… which is, in fact, the story I have heard before.

The other thing that came up around Act III was we were starting to feel like things were a bit too easy.  The necro with nine skeletons and a golem, the paladin with the might aura buffing up the skeletons, the druid now featuring the “mobs be gone” spell that is fissure along with three wolves, the amazon stabbing like crazy, and two Act I mercenaries providing ranged support and two Act II mercenaries providing two additional auras was a group that went into Act III bowling over any groups of mobs that cared to show their faces.  We have forged our spirits in the traditions of our ancestors and built a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude.

As noted previously, our horde frequently outnumbered the locals as we moved through zones.  We looked a bit into difficulty settings, but to get to nightmare you have to make it through normal, so off we went.  I thought that at least Mephisto, the boss at the end of Act III would give us a challenge.

It isn’t that, as a group, we never die.  But when we do it is usually because somebody is off on their own or gets ahead to the skeleton flying wedge that clears our way through most situations.

On getting logged in we did a bit of work on our gear.  I found some mail and a helm upgrade at the vendor, allowing me to join Ulfar in the horned helm club.

I’m not just a member…

But the best thing we came up with was an actual piece of runeword gear.  I had been telling the group to be on the lookout for a chest piece with two sockets because I had found a Tal and an Eth rune along the way.  Despite having played the game on and off for years, I had never managed/bothered to actually make any runeword items.  But for most of the time I was playing seriously there were not the plethora of resources on the web to look all of that up.

But now even WoW Head has a page listing out all the runeword items you can make.  So we put all of that together and made the Stealth armor item.

The first I have ever seen

I am not sure it was the bestest best gear ever, but it was an upgrade for Talon, our Amazon.  She seems to have to run a lot to get in there and stab people with her spear.

Gear set, we headed out into Act III.

We had actually gone to the first waypoint when we were done with Act II, so we popped in there and began looking for the Spider Cavern, the first necessary stop on the way to Mephisto.

Thus began the wandering in the jungle part of Act III, which is not a favorite of mine.  Lots of up and down paths, across bridges and logs, only to find dead ends.  We did find the Great Marsh waypoint along the way, but never used it.  The layout this time made the Great Marsh completely optional.

We eventually found the Spider Cavern which was, as advertised, a cavern full of spiders.

In the spider cavern, look at all those skellies

From there it was another stumble through to find the Flayer Jungle.  More running up and down paths and storming through crowds of pygmies until we found the Flayer Jungle waypoint and then, finally, the Flayer Dunegon.

Many pygmies died trying to block our way

That got us the second pieces we needed… a brain, or maybe an eyeball… and set us looking for Kurast proper at the far end of the jungle paths.

Once you hit Kurast navigation becomes simple.  The three main sections are just rectangles laid out in a grid.  We made it through lower Kurast into the Kurast Bazaar where we found our way into the sewers to get the next piece on our quest shopping list.  We also made a couple of side trips into the smaller dungeons along the way.

Making a side trip

The loot drops, while as chaotic as they tend to be in the game, did yield us up a few good items.  You can see in the screen shot above that we found a barn door sized shield drop for a paladin.

Also along the way we managed to hit most of the side quests, which was a bit surprising, but it somehow worked out that way.

Then it was to Upper Kurast and then across the Kurast causeway into Travincal, which none of us could pronounce on comms.  Another one of those words I’ve seen many times over the years and have never once had the chance to say aloud… and when the chance finally came I stumbled.

Travincal is one of the places in the game that is always laid out the same, so after we broke through the first couple layers of defenders I led the group over to where I knew the waypoint to be.  Best to have that in our pocket in case something went wrong.

From there it was time to take on the city council there on the steps of the main government building in Kurast.

A vote of no confidence is in progress

Solo this fight can be chaos and usually involves my mercenary dying a few times.  As a group we pressed on through at the cost of a couple of skeletons.

At that point it was time to talk to Deckard Cain, use the cube to create the flail that would let us into Mephistos dungeon, and get started finding him.  We came back and beat on the orb to get in.

The orb awaits

We got into the Durance of Hate, the final dungeon for Act III and had our usual luck, finding our way through in what seemed like record time to me.  I have spend long stretches trying to find my way through that dungeon, but as a group we found our way to the waypoint and then down to level three, where we put up a portal in order to unload and resupply in town.

That done we put up two town portals, just in case, then launched ourselves into the main chamber, hacking our way through the restored town council again, then working our way around to Mephisto.

The Mephisto fight was soon on.

Fighting Mephisto

And, honestly, soon finished.  Once again the might and size of our group were more than a match for the final boss.  We lost five skeletons and my minion, but otherwise came through intact.  Having brought him down, we sorted through his loot.

The loot of Mephisto

From there it was through the portal and into the Pandemonium Fortress and Act VI.

We did use the waypoint to go back to Kurast to wrap up the sixth and final quest, so we managed to knock them all out, which is something I almost never bother with.

Then it was back to Act IV where we sold loot and went shopping for better gear.  Talon joined the horned helm club, finding a deal on one at the shop.

The might of our horns

Now just hell lays between us and Diablo.  We will see how tough he is.  The game is supposed to scale up in difficulty as your group size grows, but I think we might have picked a sent of complimentary classes that let us scale up more than the difficulty.

Nostalgia and the Legacy of Blizzard North Keeps Blizzard Strong in the Q3 2021 Results

For Diablo, our plan to enter an era of unprecedented content scale for the franchise has experienced a strong start with the September release of Diablo II: Resurrected, the return of one of the most acclaimed titles in PC gaming history. First week sales of the title were the highest recorded for a remaster from the company.

-Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 Presentation

As anticipated, yesterday saw the Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 financials announced, which covers the period from July 1 through September 30 2021.

I put those dates in there just to be clear as to why I expected at least a little drama on the Blizzard front being that is the timeline when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing hostile workplace lawsuit was headline news in the gaming community.

If players were really mad at Blizzard for being a horrible company, then it feels like there should have been some pain on their bottom line.  Instead, Blizzard posted its strongest quarter in 2021, bringing in $493 million, up $60 million from the $433 posted in Q2 and $10 million ahead of the $483 million posted in Q1.

Those were not “launch a new WoW expansion” numbers like Q4 2020, but they were still ahead of “its a pandemic and we’re all stuck at home playing video games” numbers.

Activision Blizzard Q3 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 13

Margins were down a bit, 38% in Q3 compared to 43% in Q1, but still up when measured against Q2, when they dipped to 33%.

Overall, things were looking up for Blizzard in Q3, which might have been expected to have been the summer of their discontent.  What saved Blizzard’s bacon?

Apparently Diablo II Resurrected is a very popular title.  According to the earnings call it was a huge hit in South Korea, which might explain why I see Battle.net queues close to midnight Pacific time.  While people have been upset about BNet’s performance, it is apparently one of those problems related to being too successful.

That, however, was the extent of the good news at Blizzard as their achievements slide in the presentation deck shows.

Activision Blizzard Q3 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 8

It opens with the quote I have at the top of the post, which honestly could have been taken as faint praise given how the Warcraft III remaster went.  Even the StarCraft remaster wasn’t a huge of a deal.  But Diablo II Resurrected, which launched on PC and consoles in September, was enough to carry the quarter, because the rest of that slide is excuses and qualified successes.

Diablo Immortal, which I keep reminding people had a playable demo at BlizzCon 2018, is now slated for some point in the first half of Q2 2022, while Diablo IV is nowhere in sight.  It seems unlikely for 2022.

The Overwatch 2 entry is likewise vague on when it might be a thing that can generate revenue.  2022 doesn’t seem to be the target anymore.

Hearthstone is hard to judge, so whatever “stable” means, that was what it was.  We’ll see if the new game mode warrants a big mention when they review Q4.

And World of Warcraft, which is running both retail and classic modes now, recorded the strongest engagement for a non-expansion year which, given the cliffs the subscriber base has been driven off of for some of those years, might not be as big of a brag as you might think, especially when they’re running Shadowlands and Burning Crusade Classic in parallel.  That the Monthly Active Users for Q3 2021 stayed stable at 26 million for Blizz while D2R was booming probably means WoW was down by quite a bit.

So I guess a qualified good quarter for the Blizzard side of the house, even if they are the third place studio, such that people are starting to refer to the company as “ABK,” for Activision Blizzard King.

It also seems that bad behavior didn’t harm them as much as it might have.  But gamers are not, as a larger group, an especially politically aware group I imagine.  I noted yesterday that Riot didn’t seem to suffer from bad behavior, with League of Legends remaining hugely popular even as headlines haunted them.  Maybe being a bad place to work doesn’t hurt your bottom line, which I am sure will make everybody toiling in the video games industry happy.

You can certainly argue that the lack of a strong plan for Shadowlands and having no other fresh titles on deck hurt them as much, if not more than, the investigation by the state of California did.

We will see have to see what Q4 looks like, with the new Hearthstone game mode, WoW Classic Season of Mastery, and the cat mount being the only big items visible.  I’m surprised the cat mount didn’t get a mention on the Blizzard slide.

But we won’t get the Q4 news until February, so we’ll see what happens then.

Related:

October in Review

The Site

It is the last day of the month and I know what you’re all dying to hear about.

You want to know how a month of ads went, right?  RIGHT?

Well, you’re going to hear about it anyway.  It is Halloween and that is my trick.  Treats come later, if at all.

For the month of October, up through yesterday, the ads on the blog earned a total of Fourteen Dollars and Eighteen Cents, not counting today, because the ad calculation for a given day only shows up the next day.

Results through October 30th

Not bad.  Better than I expected honestly.  It I can keep that going the Premium hosting plan will pay for itself.  Each ad served up is apparently worth about 0.0176 cents, so quantity matters.

I hope that all of the regulars have some sort of ad blocker running all the same, because some of the ads are a little too on the point relative to my writing I think.

This is an image of an ad, not an actual ad

Ula told me that she saw an ad for New World on the site at one point.  She even sent me a screen shot.

Once again, an image of an ad, not an actual ad

That sort of ad appearing here would greatly please me.

But I mostly see old people ads, which might be because the algorithm knows I am an old person.

Anyway, feedback on ads is always welcome.

In other site related news, after five weeks of going back and fourth with a random series of WordPress.com Happiness Engineers… they just put your email responses in a queue for whoever is up next… it looks like polls are working again and that the issues I pointed out have been mostly fixed.  Of course, the Happiness Engineers kept telling me I was wrong and everything was as it was supposed to be almost the whole time… when they were deigned to respond to my actual issue rather than just linking me to a help file that was not at all helpful… so I would send them an “I told you so,” but it would just go to some random person with no history on the topic.

Okay, one Happiness Engineer did, in fact, acknowledge the issue… actually multiple issues… I was bringing to them and even said they could reproduce them.  But my response went to somebody else and that was the end of all helpfulness.

Still, the whole experience was better service than I used to get when they just let rando unpaid volunteers do their support, which generally resulted in somebody giving an opinion about your blog rather than dealing with the actual issue.

One Year Ago

I started using that 34″ ultra-wide monitor.

Somebody at Google Stadia was ranting about making streamers pay.

Blizzard delayed the Shadowlands expansion.  But they were building up for the AQ war supply event in WoW Classic.  And we got a late November launch date before the month was out.  WoW seemed to be hanging on according to the Q3 2020 results.

I was also wondering if we were going to get a level squish with every WoW expansion going forward.  And then the big level squish patch hit and all our level 120 characters were suddenly level 60.  The only thing was to try it out, though it was a bit strange.  The new Exile’s Reach starter area was… new.  We put together a little group to try the level squished Northrend.

Ula made us an instance group video about our time in Sunken Temple.  Then there was the running of the Gnomes.  And then we started some prep for a little instance called Blackrock Depths.

Meanwhile, StarCraft II fell off of Blizzard’s active development list.

The EverQuest team announced the Claws of Veeshan expansion, the EverQuest II team announced the Reign of Shadows expansion, and the  Lord of the Rings Online launched their War of Three Peaks expansionette.

And in EVE Online World War Bee was in full swing, with PAPI finally trying to gain a foothold in Mother Delve.  That led to Guinness World Record setting battles, which CCP got us ready for by introducing a UI Only mode to the game.  That was some timing.  I’ll sum up the war as a list:

And outside of the war I did a bit of quiet mining in the new ore distribution plan.  The Reavers SIG turned six years old.  We got a Crimson Harvest event for Halloween.  The Howling Interdictors update gave us stasis bubbles.  And then there were the Triglavians.  They captured 27 empire systems and, with another update, they were yanked into a new Triglavian region named Pochven.  Farewell Niarja.

Sean Connery, the favorite James Bond of many, passed away.

Finally, there was the tale of the Canadian visitor.

Five Years Ago

Amazon’s game studio announced some games including the alleged MMO New World.  Being given almost no information about New World did not stop some people from banging the hype drum, boosting expectations, and generally setting themselves up for disappointment.  I wonder how that turned out?

Also announced was the Nintendo Switch, which would allow millennials to play video games at roof-top parties, if the trailer was to be take literally.

Civilization VI launched and became the first Civ title I did not acquire at the soonest opportunity.  It just didn’t excite me.  Instead I was getting my strategy game fix with Stellaris.

I reviewed the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign a year after its launch.  The units were nine months late at that point, with no end to the wait in sight.  The whole thing eventually failed to get off the ground.  Another Kickstarter crash and burn.

I made it to level 20 in Pokemon Go.  There was also a Halloween event.

Tom Chilton, of unfortunate quote fame, let out another one when he said that World of Warcraft had over 10 million subscribers again after the Legion expansion launch.  Blizzard, having taken a vow of silence on subscription numbers the year before, denied everything and claimed he was mis-quoted.

Over at Daybreak they were discontinuing game cards and taking H1Z1: King of the Kill off of Station Cash as an RMT currency.  They did give us firm dates for the two Kurnak based expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

In EVE Online, while we were fortifying Delve our foes in the Casino War began to turn on each other, with Pandemic Legion and their followers declaring their intention to take Tribute and Vale of the Silent away from Circle of Two and TEST.  All I could do was give a Nelson Muntz, “Haw-haw!” at that turn of events.

Still, that wasn’t half as much fun as CCP declaring casinos against the EULA with the coming of the Ascension expansion.  Our foes would have to actually earn ISK in-game.  I wondered what that would do to the economy.

We also got the YC118.9 update which, among other things, meant the death of the in-game browser.  We did get breast cancer awareness skins.  Yay, pink skins!

At our end of New Eden there was a lot to do.  I was fighting the Blood Raider menace with my Ishtar and looking for ways to help the coalition.  Reavers turned two years old and were blowing up citadels and fighting over timers in Querious.  The coalition itself was ranging up into Fountain with a new doctrine.

And in World of Warcraft the Legion got its first post-launch content drop while my own enthusiasm for the expansion was starting to wane.

Finally, I was at EVE Vegas, but since it lasted through Halloween I didn’t post about it until November.  Also, a new version of my blogger feed was operating in the side bar.

Ten Years Ago

We all said farewell to Steve Jobs.

Tobold was predicting that CCP would go bankrupt in 2012.  I am never going to let that one go.

I summed up what I liked and disliked about Need for Speed: World.

I got Civilization II running on Windows 7 64-bit.  People still come here for that article.  I managed to get it to run on Windows 10 since then.  But it didn’t work back then with my original 16-bit copy, I had to get the 32-bit version, Civilization II Gold Edition.

I started another contest, this time for Azerothian travel posters.

I recalled the start of the alien invasion!

EA was planning to unify all of its free to play online games to use the same in-game currency… something that never actually happened… also, I think all the games on the list are dead now.

Nintendo was talking about augmented reality on their new 3DS console.  Five years later we got Pokemon Go… on iOS and Android.

The announcement of their Unity release got Gaff and I back to TorilMUD to mess around with the Tako Demon.  I had to work to remember some MUD command syntax to get his corpse afterwards.

Then there was BlizzCon.  The instance group was already bemused by Cataclysm, and the mention of Pandas did not revive our spirits.  Pet Battles seemed interesting at the time.  In coming to grips with the Pandaria announcements, I assumed that I would end up buying the expansion.

And then there were other WoW related things, like the announcement of the Guardian Cub, which some people predicted would be like PLEX in EVE Online.  Not quite, but it probably provided test data for the eventual WoW Token idea.

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, after much complaining, SOE seemed to suddenly wake up and start doing things.  Problems were, you know, solved!  It was becoming a kinder, gentler server.  Sort of.

And then there was Rift.  We started scouting it as a potential home for in instance group after the disaster in EverQuest II.  The scouting went well enough that we all ended up in Telara.

Finally, I was sorting through many press releases and wondering where this so-called GDC Hall of Fame was.

Fifteen Years Ago

The site got a mention in VirginWorlds Podcast episode 33 while Blessing of Kings was telling me how to be a raider in World of Warcraft.

I was defending instancing and game company forums as well as moaning about the fact that I couldn’t find a decent video card for my AGP motherboard.  Also, Blizzard’s WoW patcher was pissing me off as well while Lore was mocking WoW groups. [Damn, that was done in Flash, so I guess it is gone now.]

Our Saturday night World of Warcraft instance group completed our first full dungeon run in the Deadmines.  That meant my first dungeon run write up.  And my second.  But we got it on our third try.  Then it was off to The Wailing Caverns.  Did anybody have a five player dungeon adventure path like WoW back then?

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

When it came to the then upcoming Lord of the Rings Online, I was up in arms about pointy ears and monster play, while the approaching Age of Conan made me think more about Barsoom.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest,  no doubt prompted by another EQ nostalgia post, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occurred during the 10 months I was away.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans and wondering what pen and paper games might make good MMOs.

Twenty Years Ago

Dark Age of Camelot launched.  While I never played it… we were about to have a new baby in the house and we were having internet issues, and the world was falling apart due to 9/11… I had some friends who gave it a try.  I remember it being billed as “EverQuest without the suck” at some point.  Anyway, it is still alive, which is surprising because EA owns it.

Civilization III also showed up back in October of 2001, and I most definitely bought a copy of that.  I liked a lot of the ideas it brought, but it lost some of the raw simplicity of its predecessor.  I ended up playing a lot more Civ II even after Civ III was around.

Then there was Motor City Online, which was a bit of a precursor to Need for Speed: World.  I am kind of sad I missed it.  Of course, it was an EA MMO, so they scrapped it in less than two years, opting to go all in on The Sims Online.

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Marathon Infinity, the last of the Marathon series of shooters from Bungie came out.  That was the era of the awkwardly shaped software boxes.  I owned a copy.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. The Crimson Harvest Returns to EVE Online
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. The LOTRO Fate of Gundabad Expansion Targets November 10th Launch
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. A Week in New World
  8. Watching Dune Part One
  9. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  10. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  11. Word Ad Unleashed
  12. A Necromancer in Diablo II Resurrected

Search Terms of the Month

soe-game-today
[Not as many as there once were]

play civ 2 on windows 7
[Old OS and an older game]

ancient winter poncho
[I must insist, no Ponchos!]

всадник без головы 2.4.3
[Good luck with that, I never caught him]

Game Time from ManicTime

One game stands out on the list, and I will get to the reason why in its section below.  But it was generally a light month for me.  I did not play as little as I did last month, which was the least I played games since I started tracking my time, but it might be in contention for second place in that regard.

  1. Diablo II Resurrected – 83.52%
  2. EVE Online – 6.60%
  3. EverQuest II – 4.82%
  4. New World – 2.60%
  5. World of Warcraft – 1.07%
  6. Hearthstone – 0.76%
  7. WoW Classic – 0.44%
  8. EverQuest – 0.18%

I am not going to bother writing a section below about Hearthstone.  I played its new mode just long enough to earn the rat mount in WoW.  That is pretty much the sure fire way to get me to play.  And I really only logged into EverQuest to compare its version of the Overseer mini-game to the EverQuest II version.

Diablo II Resurrected

Clearly the game of the month for me.  That was in a large part because the inner ear infection I had after our trip to Hawaii just didn’t want to let go.  Even as I write this I still cannot hear very well out of my right ear, though the pain and most of the ringing has subsided.  The doc says it will get better over time, but you learn as you get older that your body takes a lot more time to recover from these sorts of things.

Anyway, with my head hurting I was really only good for a game that I could sit and click on, and that is where Diablo II Resurrected came in.  I am still playing it, even feeling better because it is still a game I enjoy, but at the start of the month it was all I could handle.

EVE Online

The post war quiet period continues.  I did actually get into a fleet and run off to a structure shoot late last week (kill here) just to keep up my record of getting on a kill mail every month for however many months I have managed that in a row.  If zKillboard is to be trusted, I have been on at least one kill mail every month since April of 2014.  That is kind of a streak.  Otherwise I have been logging in to check on events, get login rewards, and to keep up by PI stuff, though I have been pretty lax on that front.  Still, even with my low effort it netted me about 200 million ISK.

EverQuest II

As I mentioned in a post last week, I was suddenly filled with enthusiasm for EverQuest II, then I did the things I wanted to and kind of fell off.  I am still undecided about the next expansion, though that won’t come until late November or early December.  I also have to say that I still greatly prefer the EverQuest version of the Overseer mini-game.  I have no idea, for example, how to get new agents in the EQII version, while that is pretty much built in to the EQ version.

New World

The strange thing about New World is that I read a lot of news and blog posts about the game, and they almost all make me want to not play it.  That is generally the opposite of the norm, though I may very well have become more curmudgeonly with age.  Almost everything anybody writes about FFXIV makes me not want to play that either.

Still, I did log in a couple of times, if only to check out what Amazon gave me through their Prime Games program.  I haven’t even given a thought to transferring to a new realm or whatever.  At least there are no queues on my server, though the general lack of queues might point towards the direction the game is settling down into.

Pokemon Go

As with much else this month, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Pokemon Go, though I did go out and get a Pokestop daily, just to keep that streak bonus going.  It would have been a light month but last weekend our raid group binged on raiding and I ended up getting almost 150K xp out of that thanks to a timely luck egg.  I spent most of my Pokecoins on remote raid passes, but what else was I going to spend them on?

Level: 41 (92% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 670 (+5) caught, 694 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 13 of 15
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Magikarp because he earns candy in 1km which I need for a task

World of Warcraft

It was Hallow’s End so I once more put forth a desultory effort to try and get the Headless Horseman’s mount.  I wasn’t all that into it, but I ran that dungeon at least once a day looking for that long denied drop.  It did not drop.  And so my record of failure on that front remains pristine.

WoW Classic

Since I detailed the instance group off into Diablo II Resurrected I haven’t spent much time in Burning Crusade Classic.  Though, as I pointed out in the D2R section above, I was also not really up to playing it for some of the month.  We’ll get back to it at some point.  We have not yet hit the point where we cannot overcome instances as a four person group.

Zwift

My attempt to exercise regularly has carried on fairly well so far.  My minimum goal remains a 20 minute ride three days a week and I have not fallen below that, though I have depended on the weekend, my makeup days, when work has been too busy for me to break free for a ride and a shower.

My distance so far is almost exactly the same as the drive from our house in Silicon Valley to Disneyland, at least if you could ride your bike down Interstate 5.  My stat totals:

  • Level – 10 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 372.4 miles (+107.5 miles)
  • Time – 20h 0m (+5h 32m)
  • Elevation climbed – 15,138 feet (+3,786 feet)
  • Calories burned – 12,296 (+3,513)

Coming Up

The Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 earning call is on Tuesday, which should be interesting.  Will they cop to their problems on the Blizzard front or will they go with the usual anodyne phrases about post-expansion cycles and something about people going outside finally?  That will no doubt lead to a post here on Wednesday to cover how hard Blizz has been hit.

Some things are launching.  There might be an EverQuest and EverQuest II expansion, though at least one of those will likely wait until December just for the sake of timing, and the November one will no doubt come late in the month to avoid stepping on the LOTRO expansion, which will hit on November 10th.

The WoW Classic Season of Mastery will launch on November 16th.  There is also something called Endwalker that is going live on the 23rd.  That will probably be pretty quiet, right?  There won’t be a million blog posts about that I am sure.

Then, probably most important in my book, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl lands on November 19th.

Also on the list for November are new Call of Duty and Battlefield titles and the remaster of the original Grand Theft Auto trilogy,

Finally, an Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim Anniversary Edition launches on November 11th to celebrate a decade of Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim being ported and remastered for every platform known to man.  It seriously feels like the game has been out much longer than that given how often something new comes out about it.  I’d better go make sure I note that launch in the “Ten Years Ago” section of next month’s review.

Oh, and I am reminded that it is also IntPiPoMo, or International Picture Posting Month, in November.  The idea is to post 50 images to your blog, which I’ll probably do by just continuing to operate as normal.  Take the wins where you can find them.