Category Archives: entertainment

EVE Online and the Madi Gras 2016 Release

CCP has given up on naming their seemingly now monthly releases (though I think YC 118.2 might be an option), but that doesn’t mean I can’t give them names myself.  Happy Madi Gras 2016 release!  Laissez les bon temps roulez, such that they are.

Anyway, the baby in CCP’s king cake today is likely a skill point extractor, as that is the big thing coming with today’s drop.  CCP riled up Noizy by doing their first reveal on Twitter, but they were also having some logon issues, so maybe that went out prematurely.  In any case, they followed up in the manner to which we have become accustomed and put out a Dev Blog-like post on the prices and the various methods by which you may obtain skill extractors.

Skill Extractors - Base Price

Skill Extractors – Base Price

If you want to skip the Aurum or ISK route and aren’t interested in the bonus extractors with subscriptions and what not, there is also a straight up cash price for them as well.

I can remember it for you retail...

I can remember it for you retail…

And, as is the way of things, all the essential information is spread out over three sources.  So in addition to the above post, you need to look at the Skill Trading Dev Blog and the Release Notes for today’s update.  The release notes give the most conscience round up as to how things work, including a short list of skills which may not be extracted.

While I am still not sure how I feel about the whole skill stripping thing, as with so much in the game these days it seems like a lot of complications for a limited amount of benefit, I am, as always, fascinated to see how this plays out.

The eventual pricing for skill injectors, once things settle down, seems to be contentious, with Noizy calling 300 million ISK a floor for the pricing (with a final price estimate of 720-750 million ISK per based on the injector pricing post) while Gevlon has declared that the ceiling price.

We shall see how that plays out.

Other than that, there are just small items in the release notes.

Wrecks, which uniformly had 500 hit points, will now have hit points based on the size of the ship which the wreck represents.  This is the new break down:

  • Frigate, Rookie Ship, Shuttle, Small NPC: 700 hp
  • Destroyer: 1000 hp
  • Cruiser, Mining Barge, Medium NPC, Generic NPC: 1500 hp
  • Battlecruiser, Industrial: 2500 hp
  • Battleship, Large NPC, Officer NPC: 3500 hp
  • Carrier, Dread, Rorqual, Orca, Freighter: 15000 hp
  • Supercarrier, NPC Supercarrier: 25000 hp
  • Titan: 30000 hp

If nothing else, nobody will be popping a titan wreck before it has been looted on accident.  I wonder how much extra ammo will be expended destroying wrecks now, something occasionally done to deny the enemy loot.  Somebody call CCP Quant.

Strategic Cruisers have been given the Pabst Blue Ribbon (Physical Based Rendering) treatment, so they will now look a little different… expect shiny gold trim on your pimp Legion now… display kill marks and may some day be eligible for SKINs.

T3s and cheap beer do mix...

T3s and cheap beer do mix…

Deep down in the list of user interface tweaks is a notice that the beta camera is now an opt-out option.  If you want to stick with the old, reliable, and slightly boring camera view we have grown used to over the years you will have to find that option in the setting.  Otherwise you will be using the new camera when you log in today.  If you want to use the new camera, there is a dev blog about that.

And there are some new skills on the market for the upcoming FAX machines (Force Auxiliary capital ships) and the fighters which carriers will use when the big capital ship change up comes in the spring.

There are a bunch of the usual tweaks and fixes in the Release Notes (and not much at all on the now somewhat neglected Updates page) but those are the things that mean something to me.  Well, all that and the usual musical number, the hallmark of every update.

 

H1Z2 or The Daybreak “Divide and Something” Plan

SOE, in cleaning up its act in order to get sold off and become Daybreak, cleared its decks of a number of titles.  The list of titles Daybreak has today is substantially shorter than what SOE had on offer just few years back.  Since 2012 it seems like they’ve shut down a lot more titles than they have launched.

It follows you as you move about the room!

The eye seems angry today…

I’m not sure how many people really miss Wizardry Online or Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures or a few of the other titles that have fallen by the wayside.  But Free Realms had a following and I have to think, with the current emphasis on nostalgia in Norrath, that closing down the EverQuest Macintosh Edition server rather than making that the basis of a classic server usable by a Windows client must be wistfully regretted in some corner of their office.

Anyway, once the company became Daybreak it had rid itself of a lot of baggage, but also had less to sell… and then proceeded to get rid of Dragon’s Prophet.

Meanwhile, new titles are few and far between.  EverQuest Next, more than five years since it was announced, seems no more likely to ship than it did two years back.  Landmark continues is desultory existence.  Planetside 2 remains dubious.  DC Universe Online, which just passed its fifth birthday, is getting ported to XBox One.  That was the big liberating factor in becoming Daybreak, that Smed would no longer be limited to the Playstation, but I am still dubious as to whether or not this will be a huge win.

The only bright points over the first year of Daybreak’s existence (we heard about the merger just about a year ago) have be the super awesome legacy Norrath team, which runs EverQuest and EverQuest II, and which has worked hard to give players some things they have been asking for, and H1Z1, which managed to sell a million units in early access.

So I guess the email note I received while in Hawaii shouldn’t have come as a great surprise.

CUSTOMER SERVICE NOTIFICATION
Notice Regarding Your H1Z1 Account!
Hi
On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, H1Z1 will be branching off into two separate games: H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill. Since you previously purchased an Early Access copy of H1Z1, your account will be upgraded to include both H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill.
Your existing keys, crates, and items will be also duplicated and available in both games.

H1Z1 is splitting into two games, H1Z1: Just Survive, which is the zombie horror survival game, and H1Z1: King of the Kill, which is an arena cash cow that Daybreak has convinced itself is going to be some sort of esport.

On the bright side, at least you get a copy of each if you already purchased H1Z1 via early access.  Of course, there is one more unplayed game in my Steam library because, while the base H1Z1 had some comedic co-op survival charm to it, Daybreak’s whole “pay to compete” battle royale thing had no appeal to me whatsoever.

I think we can safely predict Daybreak will have to change the name of one of these games in a month or two once the whole brand confusion thing finally dawns on them.  My own pick would be H1Z1 and H1Z2, but even those two might be too close in name to avoid the inevitable confusion.

Was this split a surprise?  I suppose so.  It certainly wasn’t without a bit or irony, at least when compared to this motivational quote from the Daybreak web site.

Was this a left turn then?

Was this a left turn or a risk then?

But in hindsight, I guess trying to package the different needs of the two modes of play together might have become an obstacle to one branch of the game or the other.  I doubt, however, that this split means that there will be any more people working on the combined projects, despite the statement about two development teams, so one branch will likely languish as the other gets attention.  My bet is that Just Survive will see its advance towards release… whatever that means to Daybreak these days, since they put our a press release indicating that H1Z1 had already been launched a year back.

But the act of splitting titles in order to beef up their catalog isn’t exactly a new thing at Daybreak.  We of course had the EverQuest Next and Landmark split, where Landmark was just going to be a dev tool for people to use to make things for EverQuest Next, but which got turned into an early access project as well as all we’ve ever really seen of the EQN code.

And H1Z1 itself started life as a branch from the PlanetSide 2 code base, a way to use work already done to make a new game… though I am not sure if the time that has gone by says more about the state of H1Z1 or PlanetSide 2.

I might even argue that DC Universe Online being ported to XBox One at this late date is something of a split, since it will be its own code base by necessity, will draw of resources from the other branches, and won’t be able to play cross-platform.

Finally, we are seeing this sort of thing in what I would consider the core Daybreak, the legacy Norrath team, which has gone from something of a tepid relationship with special rules servers to embracing them fully.  There is now a pretty clear divide between the free to play servers and the subscribers only, special rules servers, splitting up the audiences for both EverQuest and EverQuest II.

That sort of split was something SOE decided was a bad thing back during the EverQuest II Extended experiment.  But there you had two different client applications and the fear that the old servers would wither and die because all new players would be steered towards the free version, from which they could not transfer.  Now the spin is different, with the free servers being the old news and the shiny new special rules servers drawing off a significant percentage of the long-term fans of the game.

Aside from a hunch about the two H1Z1s needing more distinct names, I am curious to see how this will play out.

Of course, the hidden bit of news in the FAQ is this little gem:

At this time, we do not have any plans to make either H1Z1: Just Survive or H1Z1: King of the Kill Free-to-Play titles.

I knew that early access was simply too lucrative for them to let go of to depend on free.  “Free to Play. Your Way” seems to be dead at Daybreak.  H1Z1 is not a free to play game.  It will be buy to play, with a subscription, and an overbearing cash shop, complete with lock boxes.  Expect no less from anything else coming out of Daybreak.

At least they will be dropping the early access moniker this summer, or so the FAQ alleges:

H1Z1: King of the Kill will be coming out of Early Access and will launch on PC, the PlayStation® 4, and Xbox One in summer 2016

We shall see.

Others on this topic:

Friday Bullet Points from Waikiki

  • Sunny and warm; February in Hawaii is about perfect summer weather
  • Umbrella drinks in plentiful supply
  • About as Vegas-like as Hawaii can get, in a good way
  • Lots of Japanese tourists wielding selfie sticks
  • Jellyfish warnings at the beach
  • Taxi fares all end up being about twice what people tell you they will be
  • Wife’s birthday planned for Farrell’s
  • No Super Bowl craziness to deal with
  • Headed to Pearl Harbor tomorrow
  • Will be arriving back home when everybody is finally leaving

Also, we can see Diamond Head from our hotel room.

Diamond Head in the evening light

And, having climed up to the peak of the crater rim, I can confirm that you can see our hotel room from the summit.

Addendum: Our rental car for a drive around the island, a mid-life crisis worthy bitchin’ yellow convertible Camaro.

My daughter asked me to "do donuts" in the car...

My daughter asked me to “do donuts” in the car…

 

Pokemon 20th Anniversary Download Events Kick Off with Mew

Later this month Pokemon will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

There will be all sorts of things going on to mark the occasion, but for the serious Pokemon player, the download events will be a key element of the whole show.  There will be 11 special mythical Pokemon to download this year, starting this month with Mew.

The Mew you can have...

The Mew you can have…

To get Mew you have to run out to a participating GameStop to get a code that will enable the download.  My daughter and I have already been to our local GameStop.  This is what the card looks like, front and back.

Mew GameStop Card

Mew GameStop Card

This download event is limited to the 3DS versions of the classic Pokemon RPG series, Pokemon X & Y and Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.

For more about what they are doing to celebrate 20 years of Pokemon visit the Pokemon 20 site.

  • March – Celebi
  • April – Jirachi
  • May – Darkrai
  • June – Manaphy
  • July – Shaymin
  • August – Arceus
  • September – Victini
  • October – Keldeo
  • November – Genesect
  • December – Meloetta

LEGO Star Wars – The Force Awakens Sounds Pretty Cool

Okay, the trailer for LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has me a bit excited.  I have gotten a bit jaded on the whole Traveller’s Tales LEGO games in the last couple of years.  While they add in new mechanics with each generation, the new stuff hasn’t always sat well with me while the old stuff hasn’t changed much.  But then I watched this.

That was pretty cool, very much in the sort of humor that Traveller’s Tales like to inject into their games.

And the whole thing got a bit better when I noticed at the end of the video, the supported platforms include the PlayStation 3.

Look at all the platforms on which it will be released...

Look at all the platforms on which it will be released…

That is pretty much the only platform I have that could run the game, since their LEGO games are really unsatisfying for me on the PC.  I suppose I could get it on the 3DS.  That probably wouldn’t be so bad.  But it likely wouldn’t be as satisfying as having it on our TV.

And, finally, there was this bit of news that the game would bridge some of the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

That is not as crazy as it might sound.  Playing the original LEGO Star Wars games was not only fun, but it was a really good way to bone up on locations, characters, and events.  Playing through the now incorrectly named LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga was almost like taking an undergraduate course in Star Wars.

Anyway, it is coming our way on June 28th.  We might have to get this at our house.

DUST 514 to Shut Down on May 30, 2016

And so it goes.  It seemed like an odd idea to create an adjunct to EVE Online on the PlayStation 3.  We all had PCs, right? (Plus PlayStation 3 support is going away at the end of 2016 if I recall correctly.)  Anyway, it officially launched back in May of 2013. (Open beta started in January of that year.)

Dust514Trans

Now the time has finally come to say good-bye, the game lasting just over two years.  Something on the PC will follow on at some point it seems.

Here is the announcement from the forums:

Dear DUST 514 Community,

CCP’s development team in Shanghai has been working on a prototype for a first-person shooter for PC with the goal of building a great FPS set in our sci-fi universe of New Eden (the universe in which EVE Online, DUST 514, EVE: Valkyrie, and Gunjack are set). Their experience is being utilized to build a new game from scratch using Unreal Engine 4 while harnessing all our learnings from DUST 514. This is in many ways an evolution of Project Legion, the concept we announced at EVE Fanfest 2014, but without the limitations of technical debt and development paths we quickly discovered in that effort that could never serve as a future-proof technology base for a full production game. This new project is still in an early phase of production, and we feel like we’re on the right track and plan to give an update at EVE Fanfest on April 21st as a part of the free livestream of the event. Since this new game will be different from DUST 514 (although keeping many of its great parts), we will provide tiered recognition rewards to our loyal DUST customers, details to be announced.

We are very proud of what we’ve learned and accomplished with DUST 514 on PlayStation 3 over the past three years and it is an honor to be a part of such a dedicated community. We consider DUST 514 one of the best free-to-play offerings on the platform, but the years have caught up with us. It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that DUST 514 will be shutting down on May 30th, 2016. We therefore will not be releasing the 1.3 update as we had planned. Players will continue to be able to play for free on our servers until then, but all further PSN packs and purchases have been removed and disabled from the in-game marketplace and the PlayStation Store. Players with existing Aurum will be able to continue to purchase items from the in-game marketplace.

Thank you for being a part of DUST 514 on the PlayStation 3. We look forward to the next chapter, and hope you’ll be a part of it and continue the journey with us.

I’m still annoyed I never got to kill anybody in DUST 514 via orbital bombardment in EVE Online.  I suppose somebody can be smug today as DUST 514 joins World of Darkness on the unfulfilled dreams list for CCP.  I hope that VR stuff is working out for CCP, because otherwise it is just us capsuleers keeping CCP afloat still.