Category Archives: entertainment

Searching for the Starstone Barrows in New World

Having had a successful Amrine Excavation run, played around with the Winter Convergence event (which ended today), and run around looking for crafting supplies, we had found ourselves up into the 30s in level.  That, in turn, made us think about what might be next on the dungeon agenda.

Welcome to a New World

Lacking any other hints… nobody knew where the next dungeon was or what we needed to do to get there really… we decided to do what we did previously and go back to the main story line quests.  That would surely get us there, upgrading our Staff of Azoth along the way.

And the main story line provided.  We ran thither and yon, fighting this and talking to various people all over the map.  And the Staff of Azoth we all carried did indeed get upgraded.

New and improved

Yonas, the focal point of the main quest line, kept sending us off on tasks, never mentioning the next expedition or anything, and eventually moved up to Fort Alazar in Brightwood.  We followed suit.  His new digs, named after himself I guess, had a nice view.

Pardon me while I wipe my feet on the map…

From there we were sent out on a series of quests to unify the three factions in the game in their efforts against the corruption overtaking the world.  That sent us off on a series of colorful adventures.

New World offers grittier, more realistic poop jokes than WoW

We carried on with that until we had arm wrestled with each faction, done a few tasks for them, and got them all around the table.  At that point, when we got back to Yonas, the quest reward was yet another upgrade to our Staff of Azoth.

Cool mint uncommon flavored tier III

Then the next quest on Yonas’ agenda involved us getting to level 40.

Get to level 40 and get back to me…

It was about here that we started to think that maybe we had missed our exit, that the turn off for the next dungeon, was somewhere in the rear view mirror at this point.

I mean, we were on our way towards 40.  Oswald and Ulalu had both hit 36 and I landed at 35 just before we were headed back to Yonas.

Hitting level 35 down in Cutlass Keys

But it was my understanding that the next dungeon should be available around level 35, and thus getting to level 40 seemed like a bit of overkill.

It was then time to tab out and get on Google to look up the situation.  And, sure enough, the very first search we did revealed that the next expedition was the Starstone Barrows and that it was indeed targeted for a group around level 35.

The dungeon itself was located down in the Everfall, so we headed down there.  The brief summary I saw said that William Heron, who is upstairs at the tavern in Everfall, will give you a quest that will start you on your way towards the Starstone Barrows.

After some searching around… because the tavern and the inn are two distinctly different things in Everfall… we did indeed find William Heron hanging about, mug of ale in hand, and not much else on his mind.

Bottom up Bill!

While he had a mug to hand and a jaunty feather in his hat, what he did not have was any sort of quest for us.  And this is where things get kind of vague.

We started using Google for search terms like, “quest chain for Starstone Barrows” and didn’t find much useful.  There were a few posts that described getting to the dungeon, but they tended to yadda yadda over the whole lead-in quest chain aspect of it.

There seemed to be a general opinion that you needed to do some quests in Everfall in order to get on the William Heron quest chain, but which quests specifically was left unstated… though judging from the tone of some of the posts, that was because the author didn’t actually know.

This ambiguity was not helped by the fact that each of us had done some quests in Everfall at past points, including one of the core intro quests, so it wasn’t as though we could all find the same quests available.

So we set out to do quests that we could find.  Mudstone and I seemed to be the furthest behind on Everfall quests, but they were all low level, so we were able to get through them fairly quickly, though it just burned through more Azot to travel around even more.

Eventually we got to a point where three out of four of us had a quest from William Heron.  It wasn’t the quest that was mentioned in our online searches, but at least it was a quest.

Unfortunately, Mudstone could not get the quest, and we were trying to figure out why.  The first theory was standing with Everfall, but Ulalu was the lowest standing-wise and she got the quest.

It seemed possible that Mudstone wasn’t high enough level, as he was only level 32, but then I looked at the quest and saw that it was level 17.

Ancient Contemplations indeed

So there was some more grabbing of quests in Everfall until Mudstone happened to hit on the right one.

And then we were in a whole string of quests which involved us visiting what seemed to be every freaking structure in the Everfall region, three at a time… who built all these towers and why did they both… until, at last we had Center for the Stars, which seemed to be the one that would get us into… the Amrine Excavation again.

It doesn’t say that, but I think we end up there…

But I was already expecting that.  That was one thing most of the sites seemed to agree about, that we would have to go run that one more time before we got out invite to the Starstone Barrows.  But at least, after three and a half play sessions, we seem to be on track.

The EVE Online November and December 2021 Monthly Economic Reports, Technical Difficulties, and Mining Data Changes

We got a double tap of Monthly Economic Reports from CCP, with the long overdue November MER and the December MER both landing the week before last.

EVE Online nerds harder

The delay was blamed on “technical difficulties,” though that seemed to apply mostly to the December MER.  I am not sure what went wrong with November.

As for the December MER issues, those were around the mining yield, no doubt due to the changes that were part of the big New Dawn permanent austerity plan.

As I noted on the previous Friday Bullet Points post, CCP disavowed the mining numbers in the original December MER, which showed a huge drop in mining output since the patch, put up a chart without any data that showed mining was actually up, then promised to revise the December MER.

I will give them credit in that they did, in fact, publish a revised December MER.  What it tells us… well… I will get to that in the mining section, where I will review November, the original December numbers, and what CCP has given us since.  I’ll save that for last, since that is where things go off the rails.

Production

Dec 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

Production remains well below where it sat before industry changes made battleships and capital hulls much more expensive to produce.  CCP Ratatti remained confident at the “No Question Taken” Q&A stream after the tepid Winter Update that players would fall into line eventually.

Production in November rang in at 90.4 trillion ISK in value, about where it was in October, with the following regions in the top ten producers:

  1. The Forge – 17.15 trillion
  2. Delve – 9.55 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 6.3 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 6 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 4.82 trillion
  6. Fade – 3.58 trillion
  7. Sinq Laison – 3.55 trillion
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.1 trillion
  9. Domain – 3.03 trillion
  10. Placid – 2.28 trillion

December actually saw a bit of an uptick in production, coming in at 109.19 trillion ISK in value, though there were new blueprints and new modules to research and produce as part of the New Dawn “prosperity” patch.

  1. The Forge – 19.61 trillion
  2. Delve – 13.51 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 7.65 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 7.2 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 7.12 trillion
  6. Fade – 3.73 trillion
  7. Sinq Laison – 3.69 trillion
  8. Domain – 3.27 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.18 trillion
  10. Heimatar – 2.87 trillion

In addition, the Imperium also had an expensive new homeland defense fleet doctrine announced anchored on black ops battleships, so there was a ramp up in producing those, which no doubt had some impact.  I’ll probably return to the doctrine in another post as I bought one of those ships myself.

There was also the Winter Nexus event in play during the holidays, which tends to see a rise in player presence in the game.

Destruction

As always, the life’s blood of New Eden, the thing that keeps the economy alive and pumping out replacement ships and modules.

November saw 31.44 trillion ISK in destruction recorded, about on par with October, with the following regions in the top ten:

  1. The Forge – 1.97 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.46 trillion
  3. Pochven – 1.31 trillion
  4. Lonetrek – 1.25 trillion
  5. Pure Blind – 1.22 trillion
  6. Delve – 1.11 trillion
  7. Vale of the Silent – 1.05 trillion
  8. Metropolis – 1.02 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 963 billion
  10. Sinq Laison – 909 billion

December saw destruction rise slightly to 33.2 trillion ISK in value, with the top regions being:

  1. The Forge – 2.17 trillion
  2. Lonetrek – 1.76 trillion
  3. The Citadel – 1.65 trillion
  4. Pochven – 1.41 trillion
  5. Vale of the Silent – 1.31 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.08 trillion
  7. Delve – 1.08 trillion
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.03 trillion
  9. Metropolis – 990 billion
  10. Pure Blind – 910 billion

Regions surrounding Jita, along with Pochven, seem to be holding on to the top spots.

Trade

In November trade in New Eden was valued at 562 trillion ISK in value, down about 30 trillion ISK from the October number, which in turn was down about 16 trillion ISK from September, a post war trend where reduced destruction, increased prices, and CCP imposed scarcity continue make their combined weight felt.

The top ten regions were mostly the usual suspects:

  1. The Forge – 408.56 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 43.03 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Delve – 17.67 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Sinq Laison – 14.65 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Lonetrek – 14.17 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 9.22 trillion(Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 6.90 trillion (Rens)
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 6.43 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Insmother – 4.27 trillion (FI.RE)
  10. Vale of the Silent – 4.08 trillion (Fraternity)

December saw a reversal of the downward trend as players join in on the Winter Nexus, which injected quite a bit of ISK into the economy, as we’ll see in a moment.  So the total trade amount went up by 42 trillion ISK from November, totaling 604 trillion ISK in value, putting it about on par with the September number.

Again, the usual suspects inhabit the list, though there is always one wildcard region:

  1. The Forge – 428 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 49 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Lonetrek – 18.7 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Delve – 16.87 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Sinq Laison – 16.06 trillion (Dodixie)
  6. Metropolis – 10.21 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 7.45 trillion (Rens)
  8. The Kalevala Expanse – 6.54 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 5.16 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. Essence – 4.62 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

ISK Faucets

Time for two months worth of money talk… that means clips from two charts before I get going.

Nov 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

Dec 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

Once again, a curse on whoever made those charts with such tiny text.

But for the two months the big numbers, in trillions of ISK, were

  • November
    • Commodity – 38.6
    • Bounty Prizes – 22
    • Incursion Payouts – 12.2
    • ESS Bounty Payouts – 9.4
    • Trig Invasion Payouts – 7.6
    • Agent Mission Rewards 3.1
  • December
    • Commodity – 46.7
    • Bounty Prizes – 24.7
    • Incursion Payouts – 13.2
    • ESS Bounty Payouts – 9.2
    • Trig Invasion Payouts – 8.6
    • Agent Mission Rewards 3.1

That adds on to the sinks and faucets over time chart for December.

Dec 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

There you can see the effect of the Winter Nexus event as commodity payouts went up by about 8 trillion ISK in December.  With the commodity faucet chart below you can see that the Overseer Personal Effects were dropping from the event, so those became the top commodity in December.

Dec 2021 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

I expect that, come the January MER, should we get one, that commodities will be boosted once again, this time by the Doctor Who cross over event which, among other things, drops items you can turn in for ISK.

Meanwhile, on the NPC bounties front, November saw a total 29.28 trillion ISK paid out according to the regional stats, which are again not in alignment with the faucets numbers up above.  Missing regions from the data?  Maybe.  The top regions were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.22 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 1.88 trillion (Imperium)
  3. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.60 trillion (PanFam)
  4. Fountain – 1.49 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Detorid – 986 billion (FI.RE)
  6. Esoteria – 970 billion (AOM)
  7. Outer Passage – 891 billion (TEST)
  8. Malpais – 887 billion (PanFam)
  9. Oasa – 886 billion (Fraternity)
  10. Querious – 847 billion (Imperium)

December saw the NPC bounty payouts rise slightly to 30.09 trillion ISK, though again the regional stats are not aligned with the faucets listing above.  The top regions were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.17 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 1.77 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Fountain – 1.56 trillion (Imperium)
  4. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.35 trillion (PanFam)
  5. Tribute – 1.05 trillion (Fraternity)
  6. Malpais – 1.01 trillion (PanFam)
  7. Catch – 921 billion (Imperium/Others)
  8. Oasa – 919 billion (Fraternity)
  9. Querious – 918 billion (Imperium)
  10. Outer Passage – 811 billion (TEST)

We have a series of usual suspects here as well now I suppose.  Vale and Delve have been vying for supremacy for a while now, but there are some other regions in the running.

Mining

As noted above, I saved mining for last because it is the most complicated this time around.

Just for openers, CCP seems to have dropped the short term economic indices chart, which was a bit more granular, so I will swap to the all time chart, which at least gives a historical perspective.

Dec 2021 – Economic Indices

As you can see, mineral prices, while down from their peak, remain at an all time high thanks to scarcity.

And, when it came to mining, November was a normal month… well, a month in what had become normal with minerals being reduced by 90% over the last year.  37.77 trillion ISK in mineral value was mined, with the top regions being:

  1. Delve – 1.99 trillion (Imperium)
  2. Vale of the Silent – 1.93 trillion (Fraternity)
  3. Fountain – 1.52 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Insmother – 1.42 trillion (FI.RE)
  5. Detorid – 1.18 trillion (FI.RE)
  6. Malpais – 1.06 trillion (PanFam)
  7. Etherium Reach – 1.03 trillion (PanFam)
  8. Providence – 980 billion (somebody lives there I guess)
  9. The Forge – 961 billion (High Sec)
  10. Genesis – 935 billion (High Sec)

Then came December and the imposition of the New Dawn permenant austerity plan, and things start to get screwy.

First, the original December MER.

The regional stats showed that a mere 16.48 trillion ISK in value was mined in December, less than half of November’s total, with the top regions looking like:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 853 billion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 849 billion (Imperium)
  3. Fountain – 810 billion (Imperium)
  4. Outer Passage – 652 billion (TEST)
  5. The Forge – 651 billion (High Sec)
  6. Malpais – 648 billion (PanFam)
  7. Metropolis 546 billion (High Sec)
  8. Domain 545 billion (High Sec)
  9. Querious – 476 billion (Imperium)
  10. The Kalevala Expanse – 461 billion (PanFam)

Not a single region with over a trillion ISK mined, something of a milestone.

However, then there is the mined/produced/destroyed data, which is used to generate that chart I use every month to look at production.  That data says that 27.55 trillion ISK in mineral value was mined in December.

Quite a disparity.  There are a couple regions missing from the December regional data, but that would not come close to explaining over ten trillion ISK worth of mining output.  Could it have been the new waste mechanic in action already?  If so, it was a bigger nerf than expected.

People pointed this out to CCP as proof that the New Dawn continuing austerity plan was killing off mining.  The CCP response was surprise… because they never check the data before they post it… and then denial.  A chart was posted in the MER discussion thread to show that mining was in fact up, though what the chart actually represented was unclear and no underlying data was included.

CCP says mining was great in December

Then last Thursday we got the updated December MER and… well… some things changed and some things did not.  The mined/produced/destroyed chart and data were unchanged, still indicating that 27.55 trillion ISK in mining was done in December.

But there were some new, more granular charts.  Per the update:

The Mining Value by Region data has been replaced by eight new graphs showing Asteroid Ore, Moon Ore, Ice, and Gas Volumes mined – as well as the residue numbers. You can expect this information for all future Economic Reports.

My first thought was that this was going to turn this into an apples vs. oranges comparison where CCP could claim whatever they wanted.  But at least we were getting some new data to work with.  Or so I hoped.

However, the result was different than I had expected.  As part of the mining report change they altered the new charts so that they are measured solely in cubic meters mined.  Apples, meet oranges.

Now, I will say that makes some sense when compared to the ISK value previously used, which had to reflect both volume and price fluctuations.  However, it makes every cubic meter or ore mined equal to every other, regardless of value.  It also really draws a hard line in comparisons; there is what came before December and then there is everything going forward from December, and the two cannot really be compared because CCP says the old data is bad and measures the new data differently.

Also, the new data, sticking to the usual CCP script, is missing some regions.  I’m sure somebody must be mining at least one moon in Omist, while the list of regions for gas mining seems noticeably shorter than its sibling graphs.  And this is supposed to be the “good” data that CCP tells us they work with.

Also, as a further kick in the nuts, CCP did not include the raw data used to create these charts, so I had to pick the data out of the HTML versions.  It also makes getting overall totals quite arduous when compared to just summing up a column in a spreadsheet.  But that is the way that CCP wants it.

So now we have the following charts for December.

First there is asteroid mining by region.

Dec 2021 – Asteroid mining by region by volume mined

The top ten regions for asteroid mining:

  1. Sinq Laison – 2.47 billion m3 (High Sec)
  2. Metropolis – 2.14 billion m3 (High Sec)
  3. Lonetrek – 2.03 billion m3 (High Sec)
  4. The Forge – 2.00 billion m3 (High Sec)
  5. Domain – 1.67 billion m3 (High Sec)
  6. Heimatar – 1.64 billion m3 (High Sec)
  7. Delve – 1.63 billion m3 (Imperium)
  8. Tash-Murkon – 1.35 billion m3 (High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 1.28 billion m3 (High Sec)
  10. Essence – 1.18 billion m3 (High Sec)

Nine of the top ten regions are in high sec, but since CCP took away all the asteroid belts in null sec, Delve made the cut on mining anomalies I guess.  Otherwise, that is just a thing mostly done in high sec.

Then there is asteroid mining over time.

Dec 2021 – Asteroid mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

First, the chart only goes back 12 months, so doesn’t provide as much insight as one might hope.  That puts the data set mid-mining nerfs and in the middle of a null sec war over one of the otherwise most active economic regions, Delve.

Also, it isn’t shaping up to be a big increase in mining overall since the patch.  Yes, some more mining was clearly done, but most of the increase went into residue, or waste as it ought to be called.

Then we have gas mining by region:

Dec 2021 – Gas mining by region by volume mined

This is more mixed, with null sec, low sec, and high sec regions in the top ten.

  1. Delve – 12.68 million m3 (Imperium)
  2. Aridia – 11.40 million m3 (Low Sec)
  3. Fountain – 10.46 million m3 (Imperium)
  4. Placid – 10.37 million m3 (Low Sec)
  5. The Forge – 9.72 million m3 (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 9.44 million m3 (High Sec)
  7. Vale of the Silent – 9.00 million m3 (Fraternity)
  8. Solitude – 8.63 million m3 (High/Low Sec)
  9. Cloud Ring – 7.94 million m3 (Misc Null Sec)
  10. Derelik – 7.03 million m3 (High/Low Sec)

Overall gas mining over time shows.

Dec 2021 – Gas mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

There is a spike in April as new gas mining options appeared and were part of the requirements for building battleships and capital ships.  Once again, the volume does not appear to be up that much in December unless you allow for the wasted effort of residue indicated at the bottom of the chart.

Then there is ice mining by region.

Dec 2021 – Ice mining by region by volume mined

The mix in the top ten is high and null sec regions, with the top ten being:

  1. Metropolis – 2.48 billion m3 (High Sec)
  2. The Forge – 2.42 billion m3 (High Sec)
  3. Delve – 2.34 billion m3 (Imperium)
  4. Vale of the Silent – 1.75 billion (Fraternity)
  5. Domain – 1.21 billion m3 (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 1.21 billion m3 (High Sec)
  7. Fountain – 1.20 billion m3 (Imperium)
  8. Kador – 938 million m3 (High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 676 million m3 (High Sec)
  10. Malpais – 631 million m3 (PanFam)

Overall ice mining over time shows the following.

Dec 2021 – Ice mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

September was when CCP put ice back in belts… which was timely because there was a huge capital fuel bind as thousands of capital ships were convoying home as World War Bee ended.  Again, December doesn’t look exceptionally up from November, and is weighed down by the amount of waste being shown.

The big dip at the start of December is said to be a combo of a problem with ice belts spawning after the patch and the fact that the Winter Nexus event offered ice to mine and was considerably more lucrative than normal belts.  The latter makes me wonder if CCP will attempt to steer the economy via events going forward in order to inject this or that into the economy.  I mean, they have already straight up handed out ISK for a login event when numbers were way down, so why not ice or ore or whatever?

Finally, there is moon mining.

Dec 2021 – Moon mining by region by volume mined

The top ten there were:

  1. Delve – 2.94 billion m3 (Imperium)
  2. Vale of the Silent – 2.49 billion m3 (Fraternity)
  3. Domain – 2.49 billion m3 (High Sec)
  4. The Forge – 2.02 billion m3 (High Sec)
  5. Outer Passage – 1.71 billion m3 (TEST)
  6. Fountain – 1.59 billion m3 (Imperium)
  7. Insmother – 1.54 billion m3 (FI,RE)
  8. Querious – 1.45 billion m3 (Imperium)
  9. Kador – 1.37 billion (High Sec)
  10. Genesis – 1.35 billion (High Sec)

Delve and Vale of the Silent are the top two regions, but they are followed by Domain and The Forge, which are both high sec regions, because moon mining is allowed in high sec in systems that have 0.5 security status.

Then there is the overall for moon mining.

Dec 2021 – Moon mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

Now here is the one segment where mining was, in fact, up.  CCP has made a blanket statement that mining was up overall since the patch, but the data they have provided seems more accurately stated as moon mining was up and other areas were reasonably flat since the patch, the wasted effort represented by residue.

Anyway, new charts, new data, and a new year under way.  We’ll see where this goes.

The Mail Bag Returns with Another Round of Headlines

I did a mailbag post back in mid-December just to display the sort of email and press releases I get on what was once the main blog email account.  It isn’t anymore, but it was during the peak of the blog and blogging, and nobody updates anything on the internet it seems, so I still get notes there daily.  The whole tale of that is in the post I linked.

I decided to go back because since the holidays there has been a bit of a surge in a couple of topics, and they probably won’t surprise you.  These are basically all of the unsolicited email subject lines for the last month that landed in my old inbox.

  1. Touchcast Launches MCity, the World’s First Enterprise Metaverse
  2. Gibson Brands Acquires GWW Guitar Case Company: Sets the Stage for Future Integration, Innovation, and Growth
  3. ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II Schedule Revealed for 2022/23
  4. E:Alert: Original Gaming Thriller “First Person Shooter” Premieres Today on Tubi
  5. Product Review: Lowest price entry-level Xbox on the market
  6. Display Social, Acquires 2 Companies- forms multi-billion dollar metaverse company
  7. Security 101. Don’t Bash Your Head Over Unsecured Credentials
  8. Expert Interview Opp or Guest Article: Managing NFT’s From Creation to Sale
  9. PR: Bitcoin electricity consumption is 8X that of Google and Facebook combined
  10. CryptoDragons Metaverse is starting on December 25
  11. Crypto company TacoCat announces new advisors
  12. Ho-ho-ho: Adult company selling cryptocurrency designed dildos for the holidays
  13. PR: NFT sales surge past the $4 billion mark in the last 30 days
  14. PR: USDT dominance among stablecoins plummets to 49% in 4 years
  15. How OpenSea’s Auction Valuation Confirms Independent NFT’s Role in Blockchain: Intv. w/ CEO of NFT Gaming Marketplace
  16. Expert Interview Opp or Guest Article: Metaverse Explainer
  17. Review/Feature: The Book of Greatest Leadership Quotations
  18. Evanescence, Grim and Umphrey’s McGee and More Go Meta with Soundscape VR
  19. GKIDS Releases Opening Scene for Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE – In Theaters This Friday
  20. How to Become a Gaming Influencer – Tips from CEO of leading gaming influencer agency
    PR: 23 NFTs Sell for Over $1m in the Last 30 Days
  21. Story: new game let’s kids build the metaverse
  22. PR: CryptoPunks Generated Nearly Half of Top 10 NFT Sales in the Last Month
  23. NEW PRODUCT: Dreo’s Air Purifier Dusts The Competition
  24. Shure Debuts New Look and Even Better Sound For Its Award-Winning SRH840 and SRH440 Headphones
  25. RESEARCH-NFT launches attract 50x more bots than hype sneaker sales
  26. Prime Video Releases Official Trailer and Key Art for THE LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA
  27. Federal regulations cracking down on internet privacy laws
  28. PR: Energy consumed by one Ethereum transaction could power over 100,000 VISA transactions
  29. PR: 257 NFT artists have generated over $1M in sales over the last 30 days
  30. [STUDY] Gaming addiction causing tech-related health issues
  31. Cute but demanding tactical masterpiece! Gem Wizard Tactics is coming to Nintendo Switch and Xbox
  32. PR: Bitcoin Treasuries Account for 7.2% of the 21 Million BTC Supply Cap
  33. PR: MicroStrategy and Tesla Command 80% of BTC held by top 10 public companies
  34. Accessing the Blockchain Can be Too Expensive for Some Developers – Web3 Visionary Explains How to Change That
  35. Blue Tiger Wins TWICE Picks Award for World’s First Solar-Powered Bluetooth Headset
  36. Almost 10k petition EA Sports to honor John Madden on next Madden NFL cover
  37. Intv. w/ XR Cinema CEO: VR Expert Weighs in On the Rise of Metaverse & Virtual Reality
  38. Almost 70% of People Can NOT Distinguish Gmail’s Real Login Page From A Scam – Can You?
  39. Physical release of Comic Coloring Book: Complete Edition for the Nintendo Switch console available now
  40. Activision Blizzard’s games ranked #2 & #3 most popular in gaming community
  41. PR: ETH average transaction costs 33x BTC costs in 2022
  42. Nooie Launches Versatile Smart Camera Featuring a Detachable Base
  43. Calling All Sonic Sculptors, the Legendary Brand Maestro Emerges with Five Pedals for Endless Exploration
  44. XGIMI Expands Versatile Halo Series With Smarter Halo+ FHD Portable Projector
  45. Study from Marmalade Game Studio finds one in four have developed mental health issues since Covid
  46. Connect Tolkien-like fantasy world with the 1920s and see what will happen. Pendula Swing is coming to Nintendo Switch
  47. PR: The average price of NFTs hits $50K in the last 30 days
  48. Reminder: 01/20 News Advisory – Doomsday Clock Update – Major Announcement on Clock’s 75th Anniversary
  49. PR: CryptoArt Market Cap Hits $2.3 Billion With Over 2 Million Total Sold Artworks
  50. [News] ZOAN Announces €100 Million Virtual Land Sale with Photorealistic Metaverse Cornerstone.land
  51. Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard to dominate the metaverse, says GlobalData
  52. Intv. W/ Crypto Creator & Expert – Microsoft To Enter The Metaverse After Purchasing Blizzard
  53. BREAKING: Doomsday Clock Set to 100 Seconds to Midnight, Scientists Call for Action to “Turn Back the Clock”
  54. Highrise City Playtest starts January 27th – New Feature Video and Screenshots released
  55. My Friend Peppa Pig Launches on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
  56. Call of Duty collectibles incoming from Koyo & Activision
  57. Join awe.live, submit an Auggie Nomination, get your Super Early Bird registration and find out what’s new in the XR community
  58. Gibson and Jake Kiszka -Guitarist in the GRAMMY-Winning Rock Band Greta Van Fleet- Celebrate the 61st Anniversary of the Iconic SG Guitar
  59. Intv: Is Meta increasing accessibility to NFT creation a good thing? NFT Expert Explains
  60. NFT Expert Available on Meta Considering Adding NFT Component to Facebook and Instagram

As you can see, NFT, crypto, and the metaverse continue to trend, though they have somehow managed to all mean the same thing thanks to the crypto scammers pushing their “ownership” agenda.

I am genuinely sorry I didn’t get a press release about the “rave” that took place in Decentraland, which was the saddest, most 2003 online event I have seen in ages.  But the pathetic nature of the video when compared to, say, concerts in Fortnite, haven’t stopped the cryto bros from trying to spin it as amazing.

That is practically a self-own… or yet another demonstration that crypto bros don’t know what they’re talking about.  That ain’t no Ariana Grande concert.

Probably the most interesting on the list… or at least the one I decided to go look at… was #40 about popularity in the gaming community.  It at least has an infographic, even if I am not exactly sold on their methodology.

The top six out of the 23 listed

The least inspiring was the the setting of the Doomsday Clock (entries #48 and #53) by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists because they didn’t actually change the setting… it was set to 100 seconds back in 2020… so the whole thing was, ironically, a bit of a damp squib.  I also feel like the name of the organization has become misleading.  While some towering atomic scientists helped found the whole thing… Einstein, Teller, and Oppenheimer were among the group… the whole thing has been trying to find its way since the end of the Cold War and, so far as I can tell, isn’t exactly the domain of many atomic scientists any more.  It would be more aptly titled the Bulletin of the Poly Sci Majors.

Also, they apparently bought a mailing list with some really out of date and/or inappropriate addresses.  Nice move Einstein.

Anyway, that is all I have.  The inbox has been cleared again, we’ll see what trends continue to find their way into it.

EverQuest is Getting its Community Resource Council Up and Running

The EverQuest Community Resource Council was mentioned in the roadmap that Daybreak put out for the title on Wednesday, and they have since wasted no time moving ahead on some of the early items.

EverQuest, the classic

Yesterday the EverQuest team posted a news item pointing towards a description of the council and a FAQ.

The council is described as:

The Community Resource Council is a program designed to give players and members of the development team a confidential space to discuss upcoming design decisions with the benefit of a non-disclosure agreement. This allows members of the development team to be able to discuss topics that are still in development and not yet ready for public scrutiny, with an audience of players, providing a degree of player feedback to assist in the making of development decisions. The Community Resource Council also assists members of the development team with research and provides a player perspective on topics where and when it is needed.

That seems pretty much par for the course for such player advisory groups.  A non-disclosure agreement is required and, in return for signing it, players on the council will get previews of plans and ideas that the company is working on.

What isn’t clear is how exactly one becomes a member of the council.  The post refers to an application process, set to commence on the 28th of this month, but there isn’t much beyond that.  The FAQ linked above has a rather circular question and answer for that process.

Q: How do I become a member of the CRC program?

A: Twice yearly we will review the current membership of the CRC program and see if there are any positions that need to be filled, or members who are not active enough in the program to contribute. During this period, we will reopen the application page to field and vet potential new members.

So every six months they will review the current membership, but how they pick members seems to be more than a bit opaque.

There are eligibility standards to which one must adhere in order to become a member.

Q: What are the eligibility requirements for becoming/being a member of the CRC program?

A: In order to be eligible for membership in the CRC program, players must have an active account* in good standing and must have a relatively clean forum history free of any significant incidents. Both your in-game history and forum history will be reviewed prior to potential acceptance into the program, as it is important that members have a history of positive contribution before being accepted. Substantial infractions in-game or on the forums may cause existing members of the CRC to lose membership privileges.

*Certain members who have a long history of positive contribution and who still actively contribute to the program may, on rare occasion, be retained as “advisors” to the program if their accounts lapse. Such cases are handled on an individual basis.

But, again, the “how” part of the deal seems to be missing.  I suppose we will have to wait and see what they say on the 28th.

Unlike the WoW Community Council, membership in the EverQuest Community Resource Council will not be disclosed by the company in order to maintain their privacy.  Individual members can out themselves, but the company will neither confirm nor deny membership.

Serving on the council also comes with no compensation, such as a free subscription or expansions.  Members are more likely to be picked for beta access to updates, but that is not a guaranteed perk of the position.

So, unlike the WoW Community Council or EVE Online’s Council of Stellar Management, this will be a low key affair, run out of the public eye, and not used for any promotional purposes.  But, as I have noted, the company has had such councils before and they have generally been low key affairs, so this seems in line with the history of the game.

Catching Palkia in Pokemon Shining Pearl

I had to delay my progress in the game for a few of days while my daughter was away so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of her.  But have been back on the trail in Pokemon Shining Pearl since the holidays.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

First up was taking on the the seventh gym up in Snowpoint city.

Truth in naming, unlike Greenland

The Snowpoint city gym isn’t difficult when it comes to the fights.  There were more fights getting to Snowpoint City, as you have to run the usual gauntlet of NPC Pokemon trainers eager for battles as well as the usual random encounters.  But the maze in the Snowpoint City gym… well, it is probably the most difficult of the bunch and one where, if you mess up, you have leave the gym then come back to start over again.

After a few runs at it I had to look it up.  I seem to recall having to do that back with the original as well, though in 2008 I had to go through the book to find out that the key to the whole puzzle was breaking the grid of snowballs in the center of the gym in the right order.

I beat the gym leader which got me the seventh gym badge and unlocked the ability Rock Climb.

I just said that

Rock Climb unlocks new areas of the map, including the heights of Mt. Coronet.  But my first stop was the Team Galactic Headquarters, where I had to find a key, defeat all the grunts, fight one of the bosses, and then release Uxie, Azlef, and Mesprit, three mythical/legendary Pokemon that had been captured by Team Galactic.

After the battles it just meant pressing a button

That done, I was off to the top of Mt. Coronet to face the leader of Team Galactic.

They were waiting for me

Up there, in Pokemon Shining Pearl, the boss is holding the Legendary Pokemon Palkia.  That is the Pokemon on the cover art for the title, so this is a big part of the story.

The boss, like all Pokemon bad guys, is a bit over the top in his ambitions.

He has to monologue for a bit

The bad guys in the classic Pokemon titles all have the ambition and budget of a Bond villain… and sometimes even the same goals… well, aside from money, which is the most common Bond villain goal… and yet tend to get overthrown by 10 year olds with neglectful parent.  I mean, my mom in the game gave me the thumbs up for this adventure with a pat on the head and an admonition to “stay safe” or some such.  I forget at this point, it has been a lot of steps since I left Twinleaf Town.

Before you get to the boss though, you have to fight his two minions… again, because you fought them before.  But your rival, I chose the name Barry for him from the list, comes to assist you for a doubles battle.

Barry is there for me

That battle was pretty quick, as was the fight with the boss.  Barry doesn’t join in on the boss fight, but it went by fairly quickly, monologuing aside.

Yes, yes, yes, you keep telling me these things…

Once the boss has been dispatched… and he is done cataloguing his plans and whatever… it is time to face Palkia.  Professor Rowan and Dawn are both there to support you as you go to face the main Pokemon in the game.

Getting last minute advice on the battle

This is a tense moment in the game, because you don’t want to blow it.  You want to catch Palkia, not defeat it in combat or cause it to run away.  This is a point where a lot of people save the game, before they start that fight, in case they screw up.  If you do blow it, you power down your game and launch it again to start from the save point.

Unless, of course, you have the master ball that you picked up back at Team Galactic HQ, in which case you just throw that and catch Palkia on the first round.

We won’t be taking any chances here

I mention all the other stuff because there is a school of thought that says you should save the master ball for later catches, but I wasn’t going down that path.  I wanted Palkia and got them.

Having caught Palkia, the confrontation on Mt. Coronet is over.  Team Galactic has been defeated, their story line has been wrapped up, and you, Dawn, and Professor Rowan are able to head off to other tasks.

So, we just walk back now?

From there it is off to Sunyshore City and the eighth and final gym.  Getting there had been blocked by a power outage… a reference to the fact that the Sunyshore gym leader is into electric Pokemon… but once you have come down from Mt. Coronet, power has been restored and you can proceed.  Yet another content gate.

But I now had Palkia in my party and was planning to make them part of my group to face the Pokemon League.

Palkia and friends

The other three in that picture… catching them comes later.

Daybreak Posts 2022 Roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II

In a bit of a surprise, yesterday Daybreak posted their 2022 plans for their two remaining Norrath based titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II.

EverQuest was, of course, the foundation of SOE and its success, launching back in 1999, and was a benchmark for success before WoW came along.

EverQuest II came along five and a half years late as their heir presumptive, though the original game never ended up going away, so there has been a bit of a Queen Elizabeth/Prince Charles relationship going on here, with the newer title never really growing out of the original’s shadow.

Anyway, the real surprise was Daybreak being so forthcoming about their plans for 2022.  Daybreak’s reputation has not been one of “over communicating.”  There have been years when we have know that some things are coming, like new special servers, and we have assumed that things like Q4 expansions would be a thing because they always are.  But getting a plan up front is a rather drastic departure, and one I would like to encourage.

I just hope that fans remember that any roadmap is subject to change,  something that grows more likely past the six month mark.  But as long as Daybreak communicates changes, we should be fine.  People generally get more angry when a date comes and goes without a word than if they get notification that things have had to change.

A lot of the roadmap items are pretty common fare, things we expect from the company, like expansions and updates and events.

One standout item for both games is the migration to 64-bit clients and servers, something required to ensure the long term viability of both games.  EverQuest, which got an announcement about this back in November, is slated for 64-bit next month, while EverQuest II has July on its timeline.  With one team handling both games, the titles being done individually is probably a requirement.

EverQuest, the classic

EverQuest

EverQuest has a couple of big items on its list, including finally updating Heroic Characters, which is their level boost option, to be level 100 rather than level 85.  Level 100 still seems a bit stingy for a game where the level cap is 120 and expansions tend to jump only 5 levels, but it is still better than 85, where the boost has been stuck for the last seven years or so.

Mercenaries are also getting a rework to simplify them, a new progression server is slated for May, and the 29th expansion for the game will arrive in December.

Then, tacked on at the end, there is a promise of a new UI engine at some point beyond 2022.  Again, another item that might help preserve the game for a new generation of players.  What that really means and the actual timing will be something for the future, but it is nice to see it on the roadmap at least.

Oh, and then they are attempting to reboot their community council thing again.  I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly represents a new direction for the Daybreak era of the game.

But SOE had guild and community groups in the past and their influence has always been a bit of a mixed blessing.  They have tended to be drawn from the rarefied high end raiding elements of the game, because that group tends to be the most engaged with the game.  As with EVE Online’s CSM or the WoW Community Council, over representation of high engagement groups tends to toss more casual elements by the wayside.  We’ll see how it goes… maybe…. maybe Daybreak will remain communicative… once this comes together.  I haven’t seen how you can apply to be on the council or any other details about it and it is already the 20th.  This could be the first item to slip.

The full posted 2022 timeline for EverQuest is:

  • January:
    • Community Resource Council Application Relaunch – Your chance to help advise on the future of EverQuest.
  • February:
    • 64-Bit Servers and Clients Release to Live Servers
  • March:
    • 23rd Anniversary – New quests, missions, and a new raid.
    • New Content for Bristlebane’s Day
    • New Content for Stomple’s Day
  • April:
    • New Classic Achievements – Adding achievements for many original quests in EverQuest’s starting cities.
  • May:
    • New Progression Servers – Rulesets to be announced at a later date.
    • Mercenary Rank Simplification – Simplify mercenaries down to the two ranks primarily in use and remove the quest line requirements for obtaining them.
    • New Tempest Festival Event
  • June:
    • Server Merge – Merging the Phinigel and Miragul servers to Vox.
  • July:
    • New Scorched Skies Event
    • New Overseer Achievements and Reward Improvements
  • September:
    • Heroic Characters Update – New Heroic Characters will start at level 100.
  • October:
    • 2022’s Expansion Beta + Preorder
    • New Content for Nights of the Dead
  • November:
    • Extra Life – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • New Content for Feast of Giving
  • December:
    • 2022’s Expansion Launch
    • New Content for the New Year’s Event
  • Throughout the Year:
    • Raid Zone Performance Improvements
    • Class Tuning and Balancing
    • Anti-Cheat Improvements
  • Beyond 2022:
    • New UI Engine

The aging second entry, no longer so young compared to the original

EverQuest II

The younger sibling doesn’t have as much big stuff on its list as EverQuest, but it is also in a better state when it come to things like level boost options and mercenaries.

As noted above, the 64-bit update for client and server is slated for July, and the game will be getting a new special rules server along with the annual expansion in December.

The one item I am interested to see is Heroic Opportunities getting a rework.  Those were a thing back at launch, but like Fellowship Maneuvers in LOTRO, fell out of favor as time went on.  They are still in there, and I still kick them off when I play, but I couldn’t tell you if they were worth the effort.  From the timing, it looks like the HO update will be part of the expansion in December.

The full EverQuest II timeline as posted:

    • January:
      • Kaladim Unlocking Age of Discovery – Opening up the Withered Lands and Skyshrine zones.
      • Improvements to the Test Server – Recipe books from old expansions added to the bookworm and level boosts setup to scale correctly to max level.
    • February:
      • Server Merge – Rivervale into Antonia Bayle
      • Lore and Legend Server – Every piece of content in the game is appropriate for your character.
    • March:
      • Chronoportal Phenomenon Updates – The annual commemoration of EverQuest’s anniversary will bring a new throwback dungeon as well as new items to attain during this timely event.
    • April:
      • Game Update 119 – Includes a new Overseer season, an Overseer Inventory system, new raid dungeons, new heroic dungeons, and new collections.
      • Stat/Number Wrappers – In game combat numbers (damage and heals) are visually abbreviated and commas are added into damage logs.
    • May:
      • New Time Locked Expansion Server – A brand new server called Varsoon that will be very similar to the Kaladim ruleset plus the Free Trade ruleset.
      • Tinkerfest Updates – The gears of time have been wound a little tighter, bringing the celebration of all things gnomish and clockwork a little earlier than in previous years. A new dungeon, new rewards, and new merchant items will be available exclusively during this event. You’ll also start earning Jubilation Medals, coins that can be earned and exchanged during the three summertime events for desirable items!
    • June:
      • Scorched Sky Celebration Updates – A red-hot new dungeon and new items will be available for those looking to join the devotees of Flame in their annual fiery festivities. Get more Jubilation Medals!
      • New Patches of Pride Items – New LGBTQIA pride familiars arrive!
    • July:
      • 64-Bit Servers and Clients Port Launch
    • August:
      • Game Update 120
      • Oceansfull Festival Updates – Join the loveable othmir as they give thanks to Prexus with this annual celebration. A new dungeon will be cracked open and new items will be available during the event. Get more Jubilation Medals to exchange for desirable items!
    • September:
      • Swag Store
      • 2022’s Expansion Prelude – A new expansion deserves a new prelude, complete with new items and new quests!
      • Panda, Panda, Panda Updates – The Hua Mein event of the year returns! You never know what they’ll ask of you, or where it’ll require you to go.
    • October:
      • 2022’s Expansion Beta + Preorder – Preorder of EverQuest II’s 19th expansion begins! Purchase your copy and join us in beta.
    • November:
      • Heroes’ Festival – Celebrate our 18th Anniversary!
      • Extra Life – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • December:
      • 2022’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest II’s 19th expansion launches, bringing new zones, new quests, and new adventures to Norrath!
      • Heroic Opportunity System Update – Making heroic opportunities fun and relevant again!
    • Throughout the Year:
      • Item Reward and Merchant Updates to Events – Your favorite live event wasn’t listed above? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten it. It’ll get new items and a bit of a refresh, too.

It is nice to see the company being out in front with this sort of information, it being, as I noted above, a rather radical change from the days of Daybreak when the company seemed to fret about providing any information.

I just hope they don’t get burned for it.  Players remember company promises, and anything said in public counts.  Roadmaps are plans, and plans don’t always come together.  We’ll see if we get updates when something inevitably slips and if that will build trust with the community.

Related

The Battle of the Loot Pinata at R-ARKN

As I posted last week, the Army of Mango Alliance (AOM) got themselves into a bind and tried to escape it by transferring a couple Keepstars, including their main staging Keepstar, to the GSF in an attempt to reverse merge themselves into the protective arms of the Imperium by joining Ranger Regiment, which they may or may not have controlled. (More null sec spy drama.)

This did not work out well for AOM as the Imperium was not favorably disposed to being dragged into their war with Fraternity.  Again, lots of back story there which I at least briefly covered last week.

So the Imperium agreed to allow AOM 48 hours to get the stuff out of the main Keepstar before the cloning serviced were turned off and the fuel removed, the latter putting the structure on a 7 day timer to the abandoned state.

The abandoned state was introduced by CCP as part of the Forsaken Fortress update back in May of 2020, which streamlined the ability to kill unfueled structures.  The abandoned state also removed asset safety, a feature they had said was very important to have if players were going to trust Upwell structures.  And then CCP changed their mind.  Without asset safety, all items in hangars, personal, corp, or otherwise, get ejected into space in containers when the structure is destroyed.

This led to an orgy of structure killing, where some organizations were killing structures on the test server, where most everything is unfueled, to find the ones with the best loot so they could target their efforts.  The Imperium went around its own territory shooting friendly structures to keep outsiders from looting neglected corp help citadels.

So lots of loot has spilled from abandoned structures in New Eden, but there had yet to be a staging Keepstar in abandoned state show up.

Okay, there were a couple of Keepstars in wormhole space.  The J115404 wormhole adventures saw not one, but two Keepstars blown up.  But even as packed as they were, being in W space limits what can get to the and how much can be carried off… and if you have control of the hole, who can even participate.

But a staging Keepstar in normal space, packed full of stuff and in a location that any determined group could reach… that was a new set of circumstances.  And the time for this event was Sunday morning USTZ, late afternoon EUTZ.

Waiting on the abandoned Keepstar for the order to shoot

Fraternity had been out in R-ARKN helping us camp the Keepstar once the fuel had been removed, as they were very interested in keeping AOM from extracting anything once their evacuation window had closed.  They were still on scene in great numbers, despite the early hour for them, when I arrived.  We had a truce with them for the camp, though that was set to end as soon as the Keepstar shoot began.  We did not want to share loot with them.

Also, due to organization shifts due to the AOM shenanigans, Fraternity had a war declaration against us, so their members were easy to spot as they were all flashing red in my overview.  Frat had attempted to end the war, according to my notifications, but it was still in effect when I got to R-ARKN, for all that mattered in null sec space.

Frat says, “Let’s call the whole thing off”

I ran out to R-ARKN in an Ares interceptor most out of habit.  I was several jumps along the route when somebody said I should use a shuttle as they now have warp bubble nullification, but I carried on.  The Ares would end up having some use later.

I was joining up with some Reavers in system who had been given a special task.  We were to fly some jamming Scorpions and do… something.  I wasn’t quite clear on the plan, which was expressed in a hand-waving sort of way.  But I got on the target Keepstar and minded the hostiles coming and going, trying to get on the kill mail.

Just hanging out mostly

I had some drones, so I put one on the Keepstar to get on the kill mail myself and mostly just watched.  I set off the ECM burst jammer once, when I was in the middle of a bunch of Frat shuttles and rookie ships, and got a scolding because the 71km range of it meant that I broke lock for a lot of Imperium pilots.  But I got on a few small kill mails, because I was too slow to lock up anything otherwise.  We had a Cormorant fleet hovering around picking off small stuff.

The shoot itself was just another structure shoot really.  It took a lot longer than normal as we had to go from shield through structure in one sitting.  Usually you make three trips for shield, armor, and structure.  And time dilation was kicking in.  There were about 2,500 people in system when it started, but the number kept growing as people tried to squeeze in for the big loot fest.

I’ve done this a few times before

You can see that The Initiative brought some titans in to helps speed things along.

Somebody bought a Doctor Who SKIN for their Avatar

All told it took about three hours from when shooting started until we got a kill mail… which was good, because sometimes we don’t get a kill mail if too many people are involved.

And then the fun began as the structure disappeared and hangar containers began popping out into space in a ball around the wreck.

Cans appearing as the explosion starts

By then we were past 3,500 people in system and headed to the peak of about 4,100, and everybody was crowding in to the loot field.

The ball of chaos

You can barely see the containers due to so many people being on grid around the wreck, digging through ones that appears, ejecting ships… which added to the bracket chaos… and trying to grab what they could.  I did have an overview setup for objects, and got a better screen shot once I found it.

The ball of hangar containers

And, more amazingly, the node did not crash.  The belief is that this was because the system only loads hangar containers when it has the capacity to do so, which meant that the containers were spawning for a couple of hours after the kill, but it kept the system stable… if at 10% time dilation.

Past 4K in system

It was actually a busy day in New Eden, with 35,479 logged in at the peak on Sunday.  While there was the Doctor Who event going on, more than 11% of those logged in were in system with us.

The loot frenzy turned out to be the high point of the whole event.  Several groups including TEST, NCDot, and Fraternity, attempted to get away with valuable items.  Frat, who had a structure nearby, was especially persistent, warping in shuttles or rookie ships and then abandoning them to jump in more valuable hulls.

Our group of Scorpions had been told we could stand down, so I went back to the Fortizar we had on grid and contracted mine back.  Then I got in my Ares and went flying around to see what I could see.  I didn’t have any room for loot really, and people were grabbing with both hands, so unless I was dying for a cargo hold full of cap batteries, I wasn’t going to find much.

But I had a fast interceptor and could go tackle some bads trying to make off with loot.  The first I managed to grab a Kikimorra and help hold him down.  Then I put up my capital overview and saw a Frat pilot trying to make off with a Rorqual.  I flew over there at full speed and help shut him down.

A Rorqual tackled

Then I saw somebody board a Nyx and try to warp off.  I went after him.

A Nyx being stolen from the loot pile

I did not get there in time, but he ended up getting trapped in a bubble on the way out, eating some doomsdays for his trouble.

A Nyx caught and shot

I chased a few others around, but the titans in the center of the ball had the range and firepower to zap most capitals that were being stolen.

Another Rorqual being hit

The battle report run up for the event shows nearly half a trillion ISK in ships and such destroyed, with lots of capitals blown up as non-Imperium groups tried to swipe them.

With the in-game map set to highlight ship kills it wasn’t hard at all to spot the system way down in Esoteria.

It kind of stands out there at the bottom

The map put the last 24 hours of kills at over 9K

That is ships in the last 24 hours

Meanwhile, over at DOTLAN EVE Maps, R-ARKN topped the charts.

Ships and capsules destroyed

I think the difference is that the in-game map counts ships currently being flown while DOTLAN may include unoccupied ships that were destroyed, and there were a lot of those on the field getting blown up.

It looks like both sides lost a lot of stuff, but the thing to remember is that it was all a giant slap fight mostly using AOM’s assets.  They are the ones who are out that half a trillion, plus whatever people got away with.

And people got away with plenty.  I saw a couple of supers grabbed by hostiles warp off or jump out successfully.  The Imperium is still counting its loot, but it looks like the state, which claimed all caps and structures, got a titan, a dozen and a half supers, more than 30 other capital ships, a Sotiyo, four Fortizars, and piles of fuel and related stuff.

Then there are the individual hauls.  Some people did quite well.  There were plenty of nice items on the field if you could grab them in time.  I saw quite a few faction ships get scooped up.  It was quite the event and not your every day structure shoot.

Backlit Keepstar being shot

I personally made off with nothing, save for screen shots.  But I was there for the spectacle, to be there when another New Eden player event came off.  Maybe not one for the record books, but it was quite the sight all the same.

Related:

Microsoft Plans to Acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion, Promises Joy and Community

The news that will be dominating the video games headlines this week will be this morning’s announcement that Microsoft intends to purchase Activision Blizzard for, as the headline says, $68.7 billion.

XBox plus Activision Blizzard equals something

That’s it, that’s the joke.

It will also be an opportunity to see which online media sites even understand how public companies work or how the merger dance is performed.  I have already seen headlines and stories that say that the deal is already done.  But if those sites had bothered to even read the official Microsoft press release on the subject, the might have seen:

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. The deal is expected to close in fiscal year 2023 and will be accretive to non-GAAP earnings per share upon close. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

The boards can approve what they want, but a lot of people have to get involved before it is done, and even Microsoft is putting the close of the deal out in fiscal year 2023.

The price, which has been reported as being “all cash” is no doubt subject to some performance incentives, so Bobby Kotick and crew will have to keep things going… and likely “solve” their problems with the state of California and their disgruntles employees… if they want the full, big bucks payout.  It isn’t the announced number that matters, it is what the final price is when the deal closes.

Remember CCP?  Pearl Abyss was set to acquire them for $425 million, but the final price ended up being $225 million because CCP fumbled their performance requirements.

As for why this acquisition… well, Microsoft’s biggest problem for the last 25 years has been what to do with the giant pile of money that its twin behemoths, Windows and Office, earn for it every year through almost complete domination of the desktop market.  You can’t just stick it all in a bank account, and for a long stretch tech companies were loathe to pay dividends as they felt they could earn more money by just re-investing.  And while they have had to pay dividends since, or buy back stock to inflate share prices, companies like Apple and Microsoft are still sitting on huge war chests of cash they hold aside for such opportunities.

So Microsoft needed to spend some money and they have been big on XBox and video games of late, so that was the direction they went.  That’s my initial take.  I am not sure if the state of affairs at Activision-Blizzard helped or hurt the idea.

Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s XBox group, which owns all video gaming at the company, and who has been publicly critical of Activision-Blizzard’s behavior, will get his chance to run that show as the company will report up into him when acquired.

Microsoft says it wants to bring the joy and community of gaming across all devices, though I am sure the XBox console will be first among equals should a list of devices actually be ranked.

More specifically, the press release says:

This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse.

Growth and getting into mobile are probably the key items here.  King’s Candy Crush Saga will mean a Microsoft product on a lot of mobile devices.  Nothing about the deal helps along cloud gaming… Micrsoft already has Azure for cloud… the “metaverse” is just a buzzword that makes investors happy but which has no substantial meaning when a company like Microsoft uses it.

No, the reality seems to be Microsoft seeking to bulk up their gaming portfolio and getting deeper into mobile… which makes business sense.  For all of its troubles, Activision Blizzard brings a lot of brand heft with it.

At least they didn’t throw in crypto and NFTs just to get attention.

For those of us who have been paying attention to what has been going on at Blizzard for more than half a year now, the fate of Bobby Kotick seems set; he will be sent packing.

Granted, he will get to walk away dragging a giant sack of money like the goblin he is… sorry, that might be unfair to goblins… but he will still be gone in the end.

Yes, I know the press release says he will stay in place for now, but the deal isn’t done yet and Microsoft can’t send him away until they own his company.  So my New Years prediction about him still being in the company seems secure… even more secure than it was before.  He has just effectively boosted the stock price to $95 a share.  he is a shareholder hero.  Hell, even if the deal falls through Micrsoft might have to pay them $3 billion for the effort.  So if he is still there on December 15th I’ll have made at least one accurate guess… erm, prediction for 2022.

In 2023 though, if the deal goes through, he is out for being as useful as a nipple on a bull in the Microsoft organization. (Available as needed I guess, which means he’ll probably have to stay on the shelf somewhere rather than jumping in to form a competitor.)  Until then though he has to make sure the company performs, so I am still looking forward to that Q4 2021 earnings call next month.

Anyway, lots of people have been writing up wildly inaccurate assessments of the deal this morning, obviously having to get to work before their first cup of coffee.  We’ll probably have to wait a few days before somebody somebody finds something truly insightful to say about the proposed deal.  Until then, I have a few links.

Related:

The 500 Hour Mark

I saw a question going around Twitter last week asking people to list out video games that they had played for 500+ hours.

Artwork provided by my daughter

This apparently stemmed from the developers of Dying Light II saying that the game would require 20 hours to play through the main story, 80 hours to finish the main story and all side quests, and 500 hours to “max out” the game by going down all possible choices and whatever, which generated some minor controversy and whatever.  Articles have been written, posted, and probably forgotten by this point.

I honestly don’t even know what the game is about.

But, as tends to happen, a side discussion about time spent with games came up with people listing out games they have spent 500+ hours playing.

And that is where I want to go with this.  After playing video games for more than 45 years I have to have more that a few titles with which I have hit the 500 hour mark.

Here is the thing.  I kind of want to be sure about it.  There are a lot of games I have spent a lot of time playing, but have I really spent 500 hours?  That is equal to a full time, 40 hour a week job for about three months.  And people, myself included, often wildly overestimate how much time they really spent with a game.

For example, I figured that Civilization V would make the cut.  I played a ton of that in the last decade.  But Steam clocks me in at just 425 hours played.  That is a lot, but it isn’t 500 hours.

And Civ V is the game I have the most time with on the Steam platform.  I have several games there I feel I have played thoroughly which only have 20-40 hours recorded.

But then there is something like Valheim.  I played that for a few months just a year ago.  I have 280 hours played on it, which still isn’t 500 hours, but is over half way there in under a year.  So it doesn’t have to be a title that I have played for a decade, it can be a title I focused on a lot in a limited time frame.

So I am going to break my titles out into confidence levels.  Some things I have numbers for.  My monthly ManicTime measurements enter into things as well.  I started using that to measure game play time back at the start of 2019, and there are titles I have hit 500 hours with since then.

Verifiably Have 500+ Hours Played

  • TorilMUD

I played this regularly, with a few breaks, from 1993 until late 2004.  The current running version, which represents the third one I have played, shows I have over 100 days played, which gives me 2,400 hours played at least, and that came after the last pwipe in 2002.  So there could easily be more than double that invested in the game.  Would I bet on having played 5,000 hours?  Maybe not, but it seems possible.

  • World of Warcraft

Yeah, pretty easy on this one.  Given all the time spent with the instance group, having played through WotLK from launch until Cataclysm, and time devoted to later expansions like Mists of Pandaria and Legion, I am probably past the 500 hour mark at least four times over, if not more.

  • WoW Classic

I am going to differentiate this from WoW, in part because they have different clients, but also because all of my WoW Classic time has been tracked by ManicTime.  And ManicTime puts me in at 775 hours played.  Yikes.

  • EVE Online

After fifteen years, this is pretty easy.  Once again, even my ManicTime measurement for the last three years puts me past 500 hours, and that is impressive given how much time I spend tabbed out of the game when I play.  I swear I am logged in twice as long as ManicTime tracks.

Almost Assuredly have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest II

I could probably get EQII into the above category if I went in and did /played on half a dozen characters.  I played it a lot in the first year and then have come back to it at various times.  I have a lot of alts spread over the few remaining servers at this point.

  • Civilization II

I have absolutely played more Civ II than Civ V, and since I have a benchmark for Civ V via Steam, it stands to reason that I have the hours in for it.

  • Minecraft

Have you seen how much time I spent building roads and rail systems?  Minecraft had the advantage of being something I could play for hours while listening to podcasts or audio books.

Pretty Sure I have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest

I mean, come on, I must have 500 hours in for this.  This one gets into the mists of time though.  I did play a lot back in 1999 and 2000.  But  I no longer have the account I used back then and I am fairly confident I haven’t put in that much time with my current account.  So I feel like it is over 500 hours, but I don’t have anything to really anchor it to.

  • Lord of the Rings Online

While I really never get far beyond Moria, I have been back into the game enough times now that I must be well past the 500 hour mark.  I have played through the original content many times at this point.

 

It is Quite Possible I have 500 Hours Played

  • Rift

I wasn’t even thinking about this, then I went back and looked at some old posts about Raptr and the time tracking it did, and I hit Elite in Rift for hours played.  It was the WoW replacement for quite a stretch.  Add in the Rift Classic experiment and I feel pretty sure I am there.

  • Civilization

I played the original pretty obsessively back when it came out.  I never went back after Civ II came out, but it was a few years before that happened.

  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

This came after Civ II and there was quite a stretch between that and Civ III where this was the big strategy game.  I liked this a lot more than Civ III and a bit more than Civ II, but it had problems in the long term as it was locked into a few full screen resolution sizes from the 90s, while Civ II was just a window that even today resizes to the fit my current huge monitor

  • Age of Empires II

I think I make the cut on this one just due to longevity.  I have played this off and on since it came out more than 20 years ago.  It used to be a staple at work on a Friday night back in the day, and Steam say I have about 100 hours played with the HD remaster.

  • Pokemon Go

The math works here for the most part.  My wife and I have been playing for almost five and a half years at this point, so 500 hours requires less than 15 minutes a day on average.  The only thing keeping me from being completely on board with this is figuring out what really constitutes “playing.”  Me tapping on my phone screen, yes.  But how about me going for a walk to get steps?  Does the walk require intent?  Does spinning a Pokestop make the whole duration of the walk count as playing, or just when I have eyes on the screen?

The Mists of Time are Thick, but I think I made 500 Hours

  • Wizardry

Have I mentioned the annotated, hand drawn maps I made of the game back in the day?  I have a couple of Apple II titles that probably make the cut, but this one left behind physical evidence.

  • Ultima III

The last in the Ultima series before Lord British got all moody and introspective.  I played this to death, and then bought an editor that let me make my own modded version of the game, which I then played some more.  Also, my girlfriend at the time wore makeup with the Ultima III brand, completely unrelated.

  • Lode Runner

There are a lot of Apple II games that I played for a bit, and then there are a few that I played for ages.  I played a lot of Lode Runner, solving all those levels and then making my own levels.

  • Stellar Emperor

I spent a lot of time… and money… playing this back in the day.  I won the game once.

  • Klondike

This was the first really good solitaire game that I found on the Mac back in the day.  I used to play it obsessively at times.  It had a scoring system that rewarded smart, efficient play, and I developed a whole philosophy of play to adapt to it.

  • NetHack

Maybe, sort of, if you count the time I spent digging through the code and modifying it to see if I could make the game better… better for me at least.  It was a bit of an obsession for me in the early 90s.

Missing From the List

  • Diablo Series

While I have played all the titles from the Diablo series, often intensely at times, it has tended to be in short bursts.  I might have played them all for a combined total of 500 hours, but no single title has hit that mark.

  • Pokemon

Again, my combined time playing Pokemon, by which I mean the core Pokemon RPG games on the GameBoy, DS, and Switch, no doubt adds up to more than 500 hours.  But I have not spent 500 hours on any single title.  The champion was probably Pokemon SoulSilver, when I caught them all.  My blog post of that shows I invested 243 hours getting there.  Nearly half way to 500, but half way doesn’t count.  I probably spent closer to 50 hours on most of the ones I finished.

  • Atari 2600 Games

From 1977 to 1983 the Atari 2600 was my only real home video game outlet, so I am sure I played many more than 500 hours.  But did I play any one game that much?  Maybe Adventure or the Indiana Jones game… but most likely the Blackjack cartridge.  The fourth game on that was Poker Solitaire, and I could sit and play that for ages.  But that was so long ago, I really can’t commit to saying I have 500 hour into any of those cartridges.  They were not deep games.

So that is my guess at the games I have invested 500 hours into.  But when you’re into the back half of your 50s, you’ve had a lot of time to get there.

Map Updates and Seeking Salt in New World

We are still playing some New World, though I did not play all that much over the holidays when everybody was away.  I mean, I did get to the highest level of the Winter Convergence, though as an event it has been going so well that Amazon has extended it until January 25th, so everybody has time to join me as a Holiday Regent.

Why stop the party if everybody is still having a good time?

But still, between Pokemon Shining Pearl and a fresh round of Stellaris playtime, I wasn’t spending much time in New World.  So when we logged in this past weekend, the first surprise was the map.  I had mentioned that the Syndicate’s claims on the map were pretty small when our server was merged into another back before Christmas.  And, while the Syndicate immediately go busy assaulting the two other groups, the Covenant seemed to have the upper hand and the map turned more orange than before.

The Covenant spreads out further

But when we returned after New Years, the Syndicate seemed to have rebounded somewhat, grabbing a few more areas including the key central town of Windsward.

The Syndicate resurgent

We will have to see how that plays out.  The Covenant has been working to retake Windsward and the last time I was on the fortress in the region was changing hands back and forth between the Syndicate and the Covenant every half hour or so.

The only group that seems left out in the cold are the Marauders, who have been relegated to Cutlass Keys for a while now.

Our company is still too low level to get involved in any of that right now.  Instead three of us, Mudstone, Oswald, and myself set out on Saturday in search of one of the rarest of cooking ingredients… salt.

Yes, we’re on an island in the ocean, which is salt water, and you can literally make salt from that, but in New World salt can only be obtained from provision crates in certain zones.

There is a lot to complain about when it comes to crafting in New World, but cooking is in its own special zone of annoyance.  Advanced recipes, ones that give you stat boosts, all require some rare in the world ingredients where you can, say, harvest a couple dozen sets of herbs and maybe have one show up.  But salt, you cannot even harvest that, despite the ocean being close at hand.  And salt is used several recipes that would add con and str, which would help me out.

So having a nice tier 5 kitchen in Windsward doesn’t help us much if we’re chronically short on ingredients.

The kitchen… also, the Winter Convergence Tree

In our division of labor, Oswald has taken on the primary cooking role, so we have been handing him rare ingredients when we come across them.  But salt has been the hardest, so on Saturday he announced that he was off on a quest to find salt.  He had looked it up, came up with a map of provisions crates that yield salt, and was going to go run the loop of them.

Mudstone and I both offered to come along as the planned loop was in Everfall and Brightwood, so we thought we could at least speed the journey by helping cut down mobs.  And then we realized that crates are not competitive for looting, and that for each provisions crate we found we would get three bites at the apple, so to speak, in our search for salt.  So off we went.

Setting out for salt

There were some issues finding the right locations.  The map is vague enough that you can be close and still out of sight of what you are looking for.  But the provisions crates tend to be in similar locations… also, we weren’t going to ignore other supply crates.  I never have enough sand flux for armor working, so we were grabbing everything we saw in passing, going into every structure and looking behind every wall.

We did hit a bit of comedy when we stumbled into the location Daybreak Borough.  There are more than a few mobs and items in there that will no doubt make for video game humor in the days to come.

EverQuest fans now that EG7 is all about licensed IPs

And I’ll be saving this one for a particularly rainy day.

I do feel like I’ve already read this

Meanwhile, our salt quest was going slowly.  We had hit a few crates that yielded up salt for one or two of us, but it wasn’t very consistent.  I seemed to have the worst luck with the salt, though I had quite a stack of green beans by the time we were done.

Still, we carried on, moving from spot to spot, clearing out buildings in our search.  But it was quick enough work, at least until we got into Brightwood.  There were supposed to be a few choice crates around the location Brightwood Island.  However, not only were the mobs higher level in Brightwood, but the area we were looking around seemed to be a haven for some especially tough mobs.

A bad area of Brightwood

I haven’t sat down and figured out the difficulty levels indicated by the name plates of various mobs, but the system doesn’t seem to be anywhere as complicated as EverQuest II was back in the day.  And the only place I can recall seeing mobs with two gold bars on either side of their level marker was in the Amrine Expedition instance.  So we were getting into some tough mobs for overland content.

We managed to get through the area and hit all of the crates, but it was some work and we lost Mudstone at one point, though the revive system in the game meant that wasn’t too much trouble.  But I had been lolling about with my great axe for funsies up until then.  In Brightwood I had to get out my sword and shield and Oswald his staff of life because tanking and heals were suddenly a thing for us.

In the end we did manage to collect up a few dozen units of salt along with some other ingredients.  After making a big loop we recalled back to Windsward to divide up the loot.

While we got some cooking supplies, the stuff I needed for armor work seemed to be more prevalent.  I ended up with so much sand flux, crossweave, and tanin that I had to go store some in another town.  But we should have some good food handy for our next full group outing.