Category Archives: EVE Online

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:

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.

Probing and Hacking for Fun and Profit in the EVE Online Doctor Who Interstellar Convergence Event

Executive summary:  If you enjoy the probing and hacking mini games in EVE Online, the Interstellar Convergence is the event for you.  If, however, that gets old after a you’ve done it a couple dozen times… welcome to the reality of EVE Online PvE.  But there are some alternatives.

The event kicked off on Thursday and I went far enough into the Interstellar Convergence to blow up some Daleks, collect a few screen shots, and say that I had given the whole thing a shot.  But I have now probed down more cosmic signatures in a couple of days than I probably have done in quite a stretch and I have easily done the hacking mini game more times during the first two days of the event than I have done over all of my previous career in New Eden.

I did, however, see a Dalek.  You can too if you have the patience to probe and hack until you cannot stand it anymore.

Dalek spotted in New Eden

There are a few different paths you can take through the event.  The first is, of course, to do it all yourself.  Be the rugged individualist capsuleer and experience the full breadth of the event.  That flow looks a bit like this:

1 – Fit out a probing ship

I went with a Heron due to using a low skill point high sec alt.  This probably would have gone a bit faster with my max probing skills main in a Buzzard or Astero, but it wasn’t a lot worse in the Heron.  The community fitting example Heron worked for me, but you can roll your own so long as you can launch probes and have a Relic Analyzer fit.

Actually, first, make sure you have the skill training they recommend.  I covered that in a previous post.

2 – Probe down cosmic signatures in search of Warp Matrix Convergence Relic Sites

They are somewhat rare and often already in progress in high sec.

A site found

They are reported to be more plentiful in low sec, but you have to weigh the likelihood of being blown up.  The sites seem like a place pirates would haunt in search of easy prey.

3 – Hack the Peculiar Debris Fragments

On the bright side, you get 6 to 12 fragments per site, so even if somebody else shows up, you can still grab a few.  Out in regular space they come in small, medium, and large sizes, which represent the complexity of the hack.  There are also huge fragments, but those come later.

In one of the sites

The hacking game is random, sometimes unwinnable, but at least you get two shots at each fragment.  And sometimes it is an easy win.

Straight to the System Core this time

But either way you want the relevant skills as trained up as possible, as they influence your success quite heavily.

Just keep hacking until you are done.

4 – Loot the Fragments and Pray for Blueprints

The fragments contain a variety of items including collectible trash (I got my sonic screwdriver), things that can be sold to NPCs for ISK (the February MER will show this no doubt), filament blueprints, and components for building the filaments.

The blueprints seemed fairly rare on day one, though a little easier to find over the weekend after CCP adjusted things a bit.

5 – Build some Filaments

Go back to a station, preferably Jita, and use the blueprints you have found to build filaments.  I say Jita because you probably won’t have all the components you need and at Jita 4-4 they will be for sale at likely the lowest price you will find.

Also, you need to have some minimal industry skills to do this part.  The blueprint you have is likely for a Curious Warp Matrix Filament.

6 – Use the Filament

Undock in your probing ship and use the filament.  There are no Daleks or other hostiles at this point.

Ready to activate

This will send you into a single Abyssal pocket with an exit gate.  The pocket has a 30 minute timer before it collapses and destroys you and your ship.

7 – Gawk at the Scenery

It is pretty.  Congrats to the art team.

Dude, colors

Be sure to SKIN you ship for the maximum color effects.  The Biosecurity Responders SKINs are awesome, but not the only option.

The orange burst highlights my orange stripe

But don’t hang about doing that for too long.

8 – Hack Some More!

The main point of the pocket is yet more things to hack.  These will yield things that you don’t get out in regular space, including blueprints for more advanced filaments.

9 – Make Some More Filaments

If you’re like me you probably didn’t get much on your first try.  I did get a blueprint for another filament, built it, went back, and got a couple more blueprints, including one for a level 2 filament.

10 – Use More Filaments

The level 2 filament will put you in a 30 minute pocket with medium, large, and huge relics to hack.

Level 2 must be better

The scenery is a little different, so gawk some more, then get working on hacking.  The level 2 pocket has enough stuff that you might feel the time limit weighing on you.

11 – Eventually Build a Combat Filament

I received a combat filament on the first night, but one of the components for it wasn’t dropping, so I had to postpone any fighting for a bit.

But by the evening of the second day I had enough stuff that I wasn’t going to break the bank buying the items I was short on.  I built the filament and got my ship ready for combat.

12 – Enter the Precarious Warp Matrix

The level 1 combat filament sends you off into a single Abyssal pocket for a fight.  Once again, the pocket will last for 30 minutes, giving you time to fight and gawk a bit.

Ticket to Dalek City

You will note that the ship restrictions limit you to a set of T1 cruisers, though two people can fly together into the pocket, so you can bring along a friend.

I used the T1 Abyssal Caracal fit from the community fittings, which use heavy assault missiles.  I went with Caldari Navy Scourge missiles because back in the day the Caracal was damage locked to kinetic.  It no longer is, but I saw that after I bought the missiles.

Also, buy extra missiles and put them in your cargo hold.  The community fit only has enough for one full weapons load and it would be embarrassing to run out of them.  Also, your drones are going to die.  Accept that and move on.

13 – Blow Up Some Motherfucking Daleks

There are Daleks on the other side, including the quite recognizable to me saucer shaped Dalek combat ship.

Missiles Away!

In addition there were a couple of Daleks in their armored suits flying about as well.  I don’t recall from the Whovian lore if them flying about is a thing or if the event wanted you to see the classic Dalek form, but there they were.

Space Dalek One

I did need to run my shield booster a bit, but otherwise wasn’t in much danger.  They shot at me and were draining my capacitor, but I was never close to being low on power.  I blew up all three targets, looted the one wreck left after the fight, and went on my way.

14 – Do It All Again and Again

After all of that over the course of two days I earned a total of 110 points towards the event, leaving me 790 to go to claim all the prizes.

Such Progress

Something was borked with the event though and on the second day it wasn’t counting my actions, so that was all from the first day’s progress.  Welcome to EVE Online.  But they might have fixed that issue today.  I am not sure I care enough, having spent about 10 hours on the event so far, to carry on.

Alternate Paths

You naturally don’t have to do it all yourself.  You can just buy the components or the blueprints or the finished filaments.  There are entrepreneurs in Jita willing to sell them to you.  You can go straight to Dalek bashing right away if you have the ISK handy.

And, of course, you can make some money off of the event by being one of those entrepreneurs.  That is a bit more work, but there is ISK to be made, though the most lucrative point in the event in the first day or two when demand is high and supply is low.  Sell now while you have the chance.

Likewise, if you want to just buy filaments, waiting until next weekend when the market is saturated might be a cheaper path forward.

The team over at the New Eden Post has done a more detailed look into the mechanics and the fits if you are seeking more detailed information.

Friday Bullet Points for EVE Online about the CSM, the December MER, and Doctor Who

I am going to have to go back and check, but I think EVE Online has gotten the most Friday Bullet Points entries over the life of this particular feature.  No doubt at some point I’ll be bored and go back and do a summary of these summary posts, but not today.  Today, with the 59th edition of Friday Bullet points, we’ll just go straight to New Eden.

  • Progodlegend Steps Down from the CSM

In a surprise turn yesterday, Progodlegend (PGL) posted an announcement that he would be stepping down from the Council of Stellar Management, EVE Online’s elected player council.  The CSM has seen its share of membership drama, and there was a stretch where somebody got booted by CCP at least once a term.

This time however personal reasons were listed for the departure.  PGL has certainly had a full year.  He and Vily both led TEST into World War Bee and are often seen as the prime instigators of the war.  While the initial stages of the war went fine, the whole thing bogged down into a stalemate for months and led to the PAPI coalition tiring of the whole thing.  As a result TEST lost its old territory in null sec in addition to its captured holdings and ended up having to retreat to Outer Passage in the distant northeast of null sec, as far from the Imperium as they could go.  If you had to pick an alliance that lost the war, TEST would be a prime candidate.

Since then the alliance has struggled to find its way, with some key groups leaving the alliance.  Vily abandoned the alliance to join Pandemic Horde and now PGL is stepping away from the game for a while as well.

As PGL has served most of his term, this cycle will count towards his eligibility if he chooses to run again for CSM17.

Arsia Elkin is the next in line for a seat based on the CSM16 election results, being the final candidate eliminated, and has been brought on board the council.

Coverage:

We should be coming up to the point where we’re talking about the CSM17 elections soon.

  • CCP Disavows the December MER

CCP released the Monthly Economic Reports for November and December this week, claiming that technical issues had delayed them.

The MER is this odd labor of CCP, where they care enough to post it every month, but don’t care enough to check it for errors before they do so.  So there are issues almost every month.  Often whole regions are missing from the regional data.

While the November MER had the usual spate of issues, the December MER was problematic enough for CCP to actually sit up and take notice after many complaints.

December 7th saw the imposition of the New Dawn Quadrant permanent scarcity plan mining changes… the economic beatings will continue until morale improves… so many eyes were on it to see just what impact the update would have.

The December MER, as published, showed an almost catastrophic drop in mining done in New Eden, undermining CCP’s “prosperity” promises yet again.  Again, I am not sure why CCP doesn’t even glance at the MER before they post it, but now they are promising an updated version.

Just a quick MER update!

The Mining Values in the December MER are inaccurate. Attached is a graph comparing Volume of Ore mined – that is ore that is successfully mined (aka after residue). Intentionally absent is the Winter Nexus Event Ice, so that a proper comparison can be made to previous months.

The teams are looking at what caused the issue for the December MER Mining Values and will have an updated MER with more accurate information as soon as it is available.

Included with that note was a graph showing mining was up in December, though no data or further context was provided.

CCP says mining was great in December

CCP’s performance on the economy and absolute determination to implement their plan while ignoring any feedback has led to mistrust on the part of many players.  We will see if we actually do get an updated MER.  CCP’s track record on that is fairly unsubstantial as well… I think they have done so once, and only because they included the wrong month’s graphs in the archive.

  • Updates for the Interstellar Convergence

The Doctor Who / EVE Online crossover event, the Interstellar Convergence, kicked off yesterday.

I actually got out there right away and… the going was a bit rough.  The event sites, which you need to scan down, were fairly rare on the ground and people were tackling those that appeared rapidly.  Since components and blueprints from these sites are required in order to advance into the event… as well as being part of the event that new players can access… their scarcity seemed like an odd design choice. (So does making new players learn how to probe down sites, but that is another story.)

I did manage to get a couple of blueprint drops and was able to get into the next level of the event twice.  It was very pretty, if elusive.

Out in one of the second level sites in my Heron

In addition, while I managed to grab three blueprints for the filament that brings players to the third round of the event, I was not able to manufacture any because the drop rate for one of the components, the Strange Matter Component Y-79, was so low as to make them almost unobtainable.  I say “almost” because somebody was finding them now and then, and they were going for a mint on the market in Jita.  I declined to spend a few hundred million ISK on the filament.

However, today’s patch notes promises some relief for those attempting to participate in the event.

  • Small miscellaneous balance updates have been implemented for the Interstellar Convergence combat filament encounters.
  • Improved the text describing the difficulty levels in the Show Info descriptions of the Warp Matrix Filaments.
  • Increased the spawn rates of the Warp Matrix Convergence relic signature for the weekend to help accommodate the initial rush in the event.
  • Fixed an issue that caused the Strange Matter Component Y-79 drop rate to be far too low, causing bottlenecks in Warp Matrix Filament manufacturing.

As always, we hope today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow better still.  I just hope they are not in a hurry to dial back the relic sites too quickly.  If you want new players in that part of the event, making them a pain to even find does not seem to be a winning strategy.

Then again, making them more available might not be representative of the reality of the game.

Doctor Who and Daleks Invade EVE Online with the Interstellar Convergence

The Doctor Who/EVE Online cross-over event, the Interstellar Convergence, begins today.

When galaxies collide

I went over some of the problematic aspects of the event last week, ranging from small items like lore problems, to the pernicious sense that CCP is like a cell phone company from 20 years back and only cares about new customers, to the as yet unproven drawing power of Doctor Who as an incentive to come and play EVE Online.

But that is all water under the bridge at this point as the event is live as of this morning, Daleks are in New Eden, and we will just have to see how it all plays out.

As with any EVE Online event there are the usual list of included items.  There are daily login rewards.

Skills are a good start to the event

There are also a few special SKINs in the New Eden Store.

SKINs only for expensive ships

And there is, of course, a set of special packs from the web store that range from $5 to $60 in price and offer up cosmetics, PLEX, skill points, SKINs, and event filaments that you might otherwise be scrounging around to find in game.  These are prominently displayed on the launcher.

Since the announcement CCP has started to take more seriously the new player aspects of the event.  CCP Swift stated earlier in the week that new players would have some access to it:

Great news! There will be elements of the event open to players who are just starting, as well as the option to join a more seasoned player in the more difficult areas.

This was reiterated at the top of the patch notes for the event:

  • The Interstellar Convergence event has begun! This limited time Doctor Who crossover event runs until downtime on February 1st.
    • This event includes significant elements designed to be accessible for new players, as well as advanced challenges for veterans. The main focus of the event is exploration, with significant elements of combat and industry gameplay.
    • The “Warp Matrix Convergence” relic signature is appearing all over New Eden, and probing it down is the starting point for this event.
    • Use a relic analyzer module to collect materials and blueprints to build new limited time jump filaments capable of bridging realities.
    • Explore peaceful and bountiful relic fields with the Curious, Enigmatic, and Mysterious Warp Matrix Filaments.
    • Face off against deadly biomechanoid adversaries with the Precarious, Hazardous, Dangerous, and Perilous Warp Matrix Filaments.
    • Special agency challenges and daily login gifts are available during this event.
    • Rewards include items that can be sold for ISK, new SKINs, unique character clothing, boosters and cerebral accelerators, fireworks, and special Doctor Who easter egg trinket items for collectors.

Saying it over and over doesn’t make it so however, and new players are still going to have to get through the intro story invested enough in what is, by all accounts, a complex and often unintuitive MMORPG.

On Tuesday of this week CCP put up a dev blog about how to prepare for the event, something clearly aimed at newer players.  It brings together some of the past informational videos along with suggestions as to what ships a new player might aspire to and training plans available in the new training UI.  I suppose this will be a real test of the latter.

Because this event is going to be so high profile, I figured I ought to at least give it a shot.  I only have one account subscribed right now and am not really sure about the viability of Alpha clones, so that gives me three characters to play with.  Two of the character on my account, my main and a combat alt, are in the Imperium and, as such, subject to enough war decs in high sec as to not be useful for the event.

That left me with a third, a character I created back in 2008 on a whim and did nothing with for over a decade.  I eventually trained him up to do some hauling and PI in high sec and to be able to fly a couple doctrine frigates that we use.  He had close to 6 million skill points trained and I was able to throw another million skill points at him from login rewards and such I had hanging around.

CCP’s post recommends finishing the explorer and enforcer skill plans.  Those will get you scanning skills, which are required for the event, and a jump on combat skills for one of the tier 1 abyssal cruiser fits that are in the community fitting selection that they are recommending for the event.  There is one for each faction:

  • Rupture: T1 Abyssal Rupture
  • Omen: T1 Abyssal Omen
  • Caracal: T1 Abyssal Caracal
  • Vexor: T1 Abyssal Vexor

My pilot is Caldari, so the Caracal will be my goal.  Getting there, however…

I realize that as a character rolled up in 2008, my pilot started out somewhat behind the curve when it came to skills available when created.  I ran him through the previous NPE and had to stop and buy a couple skills because the tutorial wasn’t built for characters with that old build.  He probably had to spend more ISK on skills to get rolling on these plans.

But I still ended up spending a fit cruiser’s worth of ISK on skills, and the plans as laid out end to end would have put me well into next week… and I have an Omega clone, so I train at double the speed of an Alpha.

As I said, I had the advantage of having a million skill points laying around, so I sped him up a bit with an eye to being able to dig into the event this weekend.  I got the enforcer plans run through and most of the explorer skills done.

The skill planning window

Then I looked at the recommended Caracal fit and realized that the skill plans suggested were not enough to get me there.  So I bought some more skills threw them on the queue, including a couple just to deal with the CPU needs of the fit.  And then I added a few more to the end of the list just to make the fit a little more viable.  I could technically fly it with only Caldari Cruiser I trained, but I figured I ought to follow the old rule and get it to at least III before undocking in it.

At some point I will be done, at some point we all have to undock or give up.  It is always strange for me, with my main sitting at 230 million skill points, having to try to make things work on a new character.  I just have it all in the bag already on Wilhelm.  Rare is the subcap skill he doesn’t have at V already.

Leaving aside the knowledge aspect of all of this, I do wonder where a new player is going to come up with the ISK to acquire skills and buy a ship.  The Caracal fit runs 24 million ISK in Jita as I write this on Tuesday night which, while not an insurmountable amount of currency, is still a chunk for a new play.

A more cynical person than myself might suggest that the company is setting this up to sell some PLEX to eager newbies wanting to shoot Daleks.

At least the scanning ship is free if know to go run the career agent for exploration.  I won’t have the Magnet they recommend, but a Heron will suffice I hope.

Addendum:  Now that the event is live, CCP has put it up the, their solution to all PvE questions, though it doesn’t even begin to tell you how to accomplish the tasks.

It is in the Agency, so no further info is needed

I remain quite interested to see how brand new players in their rookie ships will participate in the event when it isn’t clear to somebody who has been around for 15 years.  I’ve been at it for over an hour and have yet to find a single “Warp Matrix Convergence” signature.

Related:

The Army of Mango Alliance Attempts a Self Destruct to Flee Fraternity

World War Bee has been in the past for months now, but that doesn’t mean null sec space is quiet.  Nobody is assaulting Delve at the moment, but there are still many stories unfolding in the space noir epic that is the wilds of null sec as we settle into the post war reality.  Brave has been trying to establish a home, TEST has been falling apart in Outer Passage, and for some reason we’re fighting with Triumvirate in Cloud Ring.

It has all been relatively low key, at least when compared to the war, and out away from Delve, which means I haven’t seen much of it in person.

And then this past weekend The Army of Mango Alliance got caught trying to reverse merge themselves into the Imperium and… well… I’ve read the reporting over at the New Eden Post and have heard The Mittani try to explain it twice, once on the Meta Show and once at our weekly fireside and I am not sure I understand how the plan was supposed to work or who exactly they thought it was going to fool.

But let me reel that back in for a minute to set up the situation.  One of the post war events that had comes to pass recently was a war breaking out between Fraternity and Army of Mango.

This was not a huge surprise to anybody paying attention… or even people like me who were simply not asleep that day in class.

Faternity and Army of Mango are, along with a few other corps and alliances, part of the great exodus from Serenity, the mainland Chinese EVE Online server, which occurred when one group, the Pan-Intergalactic Business Community, won the game by becoming the single unassailable dominate power in null sec.  The influence map was them and those who paid tribute to them.

Some of life on the Serenity server was covered by the Rooks & Kings videos Message in a Bottle and First Light on the Fifth Day, the latter covering a final battle in wormhole space.  But the end of the war led many to exit the server… though, as I understand it, the Chinese company that had been running it at the time wasn’t helping much.

And many pilots who liked the game on Serenity came here, where there was not a single dominant power.  (So, among other things, the player count on Tranquility was boosted by players from Serenity.)

Those players brought with them the grudges from Serenity and can generally be sorted out into the winners and losers camp if you know who is who.  Fraternity and Army of Mango have generally been the two groups most at odds, and while they managed to cooperate during World War Bee, joining the PAPI coalition against the Imperium, things have been tense and some wondered if they might start fighting each other there on the front lines.

But at week seventeen of the war Army of Mango stepped back from the front lines to assume stewardship of the Legacy Coalition’s backfield, trying to tamp down the then incipient harassment as The Bastion rolled into Esoteria to take a few systems and be an annoyance.

When PAPI gave up the invasion and turned for home, Army of Mango managed to scoop up much of the territory TEST left behind as Vily and PGL sought shelter as far away from angry Goons as they could.  There AOM began to form a new coalition with some remnants of Legacy, bringing back the Pan-Intergalactic Business Community name from the Serenity server, which was pretty much the same as waving a red flag and shouting “come get me” at Fraternity.

Once alliances were settled and rested, Fraternity went straight for Army of Mango and, though they were rebuffed on their first assault, the writing seemed to be on the wall that Frat was going to win over time.

Army of Mango decided they needed an out and sought to sneak into the Imperium.  They transferred some structures, including their main staging Keepstar, to GSF and told their members that they were going to disband the alliance and fold themselves into Ranger Regiment, another of the Chinese diaspora groups from the Serenity server.

Ranger Regiment, which joined the Imperium as a candidate member back in February of 2020 when they were driven out of their space by Fraternity, was already in a bad odor in the Imperium for low participation in the war.  To hear the leadership of Army of Mango go on about it to their members, it seems that Ranger Regiment was at least aligned with, and possibly being run by, Army of Mango.  Kind of a bit of interesting post war news.

So the plan, as explained by the leadership of Army of Mango, was to ditch their alliance and move their existing structure, including their leadership, into Ranger Regiment, taking over the alliance and carrying on from there, safe from Fraternity.  How very sneaky.

Unfortunately for Army of Mango, the leadership of the Imperium did not just fall off the back of a turnip truck, so this did not go unnoticed as the structure transfers were noticed and spies reported back with with what was going on and, soon enough, full translations of what was said.

Pancake Wolf got a medal for work on intel

Once the attention of the Imperium was focused on what was happening, updates began flowing back in near real time as Army of Mango tried to carry on, then found themselves in a bind as the Imperium wasn’t having it.  We were not going to be a patsy for Army of Mango or allow ourselves to be dragged into the middle of their war with Fraternity.

The Imperium honored a short period that had been negotiated to allow Army of Mango line members to evacuate from their staging, and then the hammer fell, zapping the clones left in the Keepstar.

3,277 clones about to be destroyed

(image courtesy of The Mittani, who pressed the “yes” button.)

Meanwhile, Ranger Regiment is being kicked from the Imperium for their part in this.  They were already in trouble, but being involved in this scheme was too much.  This has led to a scramble for homes for a large number of players from both alliances.

Army of Mango down 3,800 and counting

Dracarys, another Chinese alliance in the Imperium, has picked up quite a few new members due to this shift.  They put in a strong performance in World War Bee and hold some former Legacy Coalition space in Catch along with connecting space in Querious.  However, the word is that groups coming into the Imperium must be vetted thoroughly and nobody in the Army of Mango or Ranger Regiment leadership team is welcome.

So there looks to be a shake up coming on who owns what in the south end of null sec as it does not seem like Army of Mango and Ranger Regiment are going to be able to hold onto that space.

South null sec – Jan 10, 2022

Ranger Regiment is set to disband and Army of Mango, which now has no place to land so has to carry on existing, is planning to head to low sec space for now.  The Pan-Intergalactic Business Community coalition has effectively been destroyed. Fraternity wins this round.

This has also led to what is set to be a major null sec event.

The Imperium pulled the fuel from the Keepstar in R-ARKN so it will go into an abandoned state and will be blowing it up this coming weekend.  Unlike an normal Keepstar destruction in null sec, this will lead to everything left in people’s hangars being ejected into space when the structure blows up.

This could turn out to be the ultimate New Eden loot pinata.  Every player’s stuff gets launched into space in a station hangar and people will be rummaging through them looking for ships and modules and anything of value.

I’ve seen something like this before in wormhole space when we got to go along with The Initiative to blow up a couple Hard Knocks Keepstars back in 2018.  There, in the J115405 wormhole, sometimes known as Rage, we first blew up Fort Knocks.

The loot ball with markers on

Then we blew up Unassailable Wealth.

The Initiative showing off with their logo in spaceships

That was a huge amount of loot on the field, and it was a crazy time.

I suspect that the Keepstar in R-ARKN will throw a few times as many station containers into space when it blows.  It seems likely that the server will just crash when it happens.  But if the server holds, we’ll be out there scooping loot for a long time.  Imperium leadership is already planning out how to deal with it.

Of course, other groups might want some of that loot as well, so the whole thing could simply devolve into an ongoing slap fight over who gets what.

I wonder if CCP should contact Guinness Book for this.  Is there a world record category for most loot on the field in a video game?

Related:

 

Daleks are Coming to EVE Online

Yes, this was news on Tuesday, but I had other posts in the can already and the actual event doesn’t start for a week, so it didn’t feel like something about which I had to get a hot take out right away.  There were plenty of those out there already.

Besides which, I wasn’t really sure how the whole thing made me feel.

But let’s back up, because history shows that somebody will be reading about all of this for the first time here.

On Tuesday CCP did a mass mailing along with a news post to announce that EVE Online was doing a cross promotion with the BBC’s long running Doctor Who series.  Dubbed the “Interstellar Convergence,” (not to be confused with the “Winter Convergence“), reactions to the whole thing were… mixed.

When galaxies collide

I mean, my daughter thought it sounded great, but she doesn’t play EVE Online and thinks the presence of The Doctor improves every social situation, so there is that.  Others were less enthusiastic.

The event, which is set 400 years before The Last Great Time War in the Whovian timeline, brings Doctor Who to New Eden, promising to be “…unlike any other EVE event before it.”

I think it gets there by just bringing another, more popular IP into the game lore.  I’m not sure we’ve jumped that shark crossed that bridge before.

Unearth Doctor Who-related artifacts and use them to track down the Dalek menace. Face off against the infamous evildoers in an interstellar battle of the ages and claim Doctor Who-inspired rewards to take back to New Eden.

After the announcement the reactions and hot takes were rife… so op success if one believes there is no bad publicity.  It got a bunch of people reacting to the news.  The question is whether or not the right people were reacting in the right way I suppose.

There is even a video, the comments on which are all you might expect.  It was nice of YouTube to turn off the down vote counter recently.

 

Where to begin?

This event is, without a doubt, an attempt to promote the game.  Though the BBC has shown it loves EVE Online in the past, with its news division covering New Eden events that most mainstream news wouldn’t touch, the popularity coefficient between the game and the series is decidedly tilted in favor of The Doctor.  I doubt anybody is expecting that Doctor Who will get any more viewers out of this promotion, so the hope has to be to bring attention, and new players, to EVE Online.

In my bag of emotions there is some positive hope that maybe this will end up helping the game by feeding more people into the new player experience and the almost immediate disappointment that playing EVE Online brings to 95% of the people who start it.  If more people get fed the machine, more players will end up sticking with the game.  It’s just math.

But then there is the game lore.  CCP has its own dedicated faction of lore hounds who track, dissect, and occasionally add to the foundational tale of the game.  After 18 years of nailing down what it means to be in New Eden, suddenly having a Dalek invasion was no doubt a bit of a shock.

I won’t declare that CCP is breaking the lore, but they are certainly bending it in strange and new ways.  Objections to the impact this will have on the lore are being met with what is now the standard CCP approach to everything, denial.

CCP has taken the position that this event isn’t at all lore breaking because they dictate what the lore of the game is and if they simply say that this is not canon, then we are obliged to treat it as such. If the event wraps up and you have a sonic screwdriver, a Tom Baker scarf on your avatar, or some other bit of ephemera hanging about, what’s the harm?

My reaction to that is simply to ask if they have ever met the lore focused fan base.  Because I am willing to bet that to them bit of boilerplate won’t wash.  EVE Online isn’t WoW.  It isn’t already so laden with pop-culture references such that introducing a hand grenade that gives you a Mr. T appearance just seems like another day at the office.

I pity the… eeew… you’re creeping me out

While the real world, the community, the rare nod to pop culture, and the occasional Icelandic tradition have worked their way into the game now and then, throwing Daleks and Time Lords into the mix seems like a much bigger step.  For the life of the game we have avoided aliens.  All intelligent life is on the tree that started somewhere on Earth.  The empires are human, the pirates are human, the strange cults are human, and even the Jovians and Triglavians are humans, if heavily modified or divergent.

But now, suddenly, after 18 years, aliens exist… Time Lords and Daleks are things in the timeline of New Eden, which feels like somebody opened a door.  Maybe CCP will slam it back shut once they’re done, but they’ve already proven they’ll throw the lore in the air for a promotional event, so who knows.  As we have seen, CCP saying something on Monday doesn’t mean they’ll live up to it come Friday.

In the end I am sure the lore will survive, but I think this will still be a bigger deal for some than CCP thinks.

And then there is the disappointment factor.

I think it is fair to say that at the end of 2021 there was a vocal chunk of the community angry at CCP over a variety of issues related to their handling of the economy.  CCP’s objective and repeated demonstration that they believe that scarcity must be made permanent by essentially codifying it in the mechanics after promising that scarcity was not going to be a permanent state ,and briefly suggesting that the game was entering a new age of prosperity, has left people bitter and distrustful.  We were angry already.

Add on to that the encroachment of NFTs and crypto into the Alliance Tournament and Hilmar out and about extolling the wonders of blockchain and play to earn in video games. (The article says there are no “concrete” plans to add this to EVE Online, but CCP has exactly one video game right now, so unless there is going to be a new crypto version of Hættuspil launched, New Eden is the destination.)

That has rightly made the community suspicious about the company and its plans as it seems quite possible that CCP, perhaps at the prompting of Pearl Abyss, might just drag New Eden into the dystopian libertarian hellscape that is cryto because it will make a few quick bucks now, and the long term be damned.

Then you can pile onto that all of the other things that players have been grousing about for ages, like Faction Warfare, low sec, PvE, and all the things that come up whenever we start examining the game, which has led to a general annoyance about CCP ignoring work that people feel needs to be done.  Players that have been simmering close to a boil about long neglect are unlikely to be appeased by a splashy cross-promotion that reminds them just how far down the priority list they are.

Finally, there is the chemistry, or complete lack thereof, between the two IPs, EVE Online and Doctor Who.

Sure, there is some crossover between the fan bases.  I used to watch Doctor Who back in the day (Tom Baker, best Doctor) and have poked my nose in with the relaunch over the last couple of decades.  But the two are cut from very a very different cloth and they do not mesh well in my eyes.  They each scratch a very different itch in the pantheon of scifi IPs.  There isn’t a huge draw for the EVE community in this, and the Whovians seem somewhat taken aback by the whole thing as well.

All of which has managed to ignite responses online, and especially in /r/eve, hostile to the whole endeavor.  The kindling was all out there and CCP managed to throw a match right in the middle of it.

Welcome to EVE Online.  It must be a day that ends in Y.

The whole thing just makes me feel like I need a nap.

It is a half-assed cross-promotion that breaks the lore and doesn’t really appeal to either fanbase, and feels like it could have been done better.  But CCP apparently needed something to boost the new player count, and you make deals with the IPs that are available to you.  It could have been a worse IP I guess.  At least we don’t ammo for our festival launchers that burst into Mr. T shaped fireworks I guess… though, I might be down with that.

The thing about New Eden is that it is on our timeline, just way out in the future, so you can find a lore reason for capsuleers to discover Mr. T or KPop or Doctor Who.  You could have somebody dig up some holoreels of Doctor Who reruns… if the BBC didn’t copy over them… and have a burst of in-game mania for the subject that leads to ship SKINs or apparel or jelly babies or whatever.  As somebody pointed out, we already have a knock-off sonic screwdriver in the game.  Maybe even have the Guristas steal them and send us off to retrieve lost episodes.  Sillier things have been done.  Instead we’re going to fight actual Daleks.

And the reaction of the EVE player base has been over the top, though that largely due to this promotion sitting on top of a host of other issues that have stirred up capsuleers.  It is another reminder that nothing happens in a vacuum.  CCP is drifting perilously close to the situation Blizzard has found itself, where nothing they do seems to make the base happy.  They are not there yet.  There are still a host of concrete things they could do for the game that would make people happy.  CCP just doesn’t appear to be all that interested in any of them.

In the end I just hope it was worth the cost in Dollars or Euros of Pounds as well as the cost in goodwill from the community.

Related:

My Games Played for 2021 and Looking Forward into 2022

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

2020 plus 1

Past Entries

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

The likely candidates were:

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

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

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

2021 in gaming for me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which I guess brings us to the 2022 outlook.

2022 is what we get

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

Sure Things

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

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

Likely Candidates

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

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

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

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

Maybe, Maybe Not

  • Age of Empires IV
  • LOTRO
  • Valheim

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

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

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

Unlikely

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

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

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

Predictions in the Face of 2022

We’re here again at the arbitrary start of another year.  I remember a time when New Years Day was a day of optimism, a day of resolutions about making yourself a better person.  Now… now I am reminded of a Life in Hell comic where Bongo prays every night for tomorrow to be better than today despite the fact that his prayers are never answered.

2022 is what we get

So, yeah, welcome to the new year.  It is an even numbered year which means national (but not presidential) elections in the US and some sort of Olympics… I think we get the cold kind this year, but they’re in China, so time to celebrate repressive regimes I guess.  I’m sure the year will be just dandy.

I am going to go with predictions this year, after having taken a year off with questions for 2021.  As I always point out, I have a history here, checkered and/or dubious and mostly wrong.  But as my boilerplate for this post says every year, I’m fine being wrong if the discussion is interesting.  Anyway, past events:

I was tempted to run with questions yet again, but I made a bold prediction back in 2021 and promised that I would include it in any New Year’s predictions post, so let’s get straight to that.  You will probably be able to tell from the tenor of some of my predictions that I am not exactly in a happy, optimistic, “everything will be great” sort of mood.  So be it, maybe the new year can step up and prove me wrong.  I would be happy enough to let it do so.

1 – Activision-Blizzard will drop “Blizzard” from the Corporate Name

I made this call back in August, when things seemed really bad for Blizzard, and committed to making it a prediction, so here it is in the first spot.  There was a possibility that they could have straighten up and fixed their issues, but I have such confidence in the indelible nature of corporate culture… every time somebody says “we’ve always done it this way” they might as well add “because this is who we are” to it… that I remain unsurprised by the company’s inability to clean house effectively.  Even when they admit that there might be a problem, it is all they can do to keep from fighting that idea, pushing back on the state and, by proxy, all the complaints against the company.   If you cannot candidly admit there is an issue then you cannot fix it.

And the problem has damaged their brand, damaged their income, and alienated them from a chunk of their once loyal fan base.  Meanwhile, Activision, having finally figured out how to milk the Call of Duty cow year round, doesn’t really need to be dragged down with all those problems which, outside of Bobby Kotick’s connivance, seem to be focused just on Blizzard’s team.

The prestige of leading the Blizzard brand has already been downgraded over time.  Morhaime was CEO, Brack was President, then it was Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra were “co-leaders” of the studio… until Oneal left because the company sill pays men more for the same jobs.  I think Ybarra became Office Manager at that point.

All of that points to the Blizzard brand not being as big of a deal.  The only counter to this slide in the brand is how Bobby Kotick has taken center stage of late in the company issues.  It is possible that his bad behavior, and endorsement of the bad behavior of others, could draw enough heat directed solely at Blizzard so far.

Overall though the trend for Blizzard has been to be third of three when the quarterly reports come out, so even if the Blizzard name isn’t gone I’ll give myself a small partial credit win (2 points) if the company name is officially Activision Blizzard King by the end of 2022.

2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022

I am going to go out even further on a limb when it comes to Blizzard and suggest that the disruption they have been facing and the need to retool things a bit to look better when compared to FFXIV are going to slow down their development process even more than usual. As such I think we’ll be seeing the largest gap between expansions in the history of the game as the next expansion wanders out into 2023.

3 – The Arthas Hail Mary

Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be announced to great fanfare.  This will be the big 2022 announcement for the WoW franchise, and it will be as stale as you expect.  While I love the whole retro server scene, and WotLK as well, there is a reason that Daybreak doesn’t put out a press release every time an EverQuest progression server unlocks a new expansion.  And it will be tainted by the same things that hurt Burning Crusade Classic, like a special deluxe package with a horrendous mount to single you out for ridicule.  It will be more popular than whatever is going on with Shadowlands, an admittedly low hurdle, but it won’t launch until Q4 so we won’t see any financial impact during the 2022 calendar year. (Q4 financials won’t show up until February 2023.)

4 – Immortality is Overrated

Diablo: Immortal will finally ship in time for summer… after all, NetEase is the one doing the work here.  It will get a lot of hype from the company because WoW Classic and Hearthstone updates can only carry so much water for them.  It will be briefly popular, because we do in fact all have phones, combining as it will everything Blizzard promised (something like Diablo) and everything fans feared (cash shop from hell), but the Q3 2022 financials will only mention it in passing.

5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California

The cost of fighting on multiple fronts… the company is being assailed in various ways by the government, its employees, customers, and shareholders… will wear the company down because none of it is good for business.  Somebody on the board will eventually force the issue and make the company do something to make these problems go away… something besides denial, platitudes, and union busting tactics, which has been the Activision tack so far.

Riot, which played the same game for years, largely due to being able to turn a big profit for Tencent even as the fight went on, eventually settled and agreed to pay out $100 million, $80 of which went to compensate employees and contractors mistreated by the company.  The state is tenacious and the price of fighting eventually becomes more of a burden and it will make sense to simply not be discriminatory jerks as a matter of policy going forward.

As a public company Activision, and with Blizzard development seemingly moribund in the face of the crisis, won’t be able to diddle as long as Riot.  A year of this will be too long for stockholders.  The company will have to pony up double what Riot did, so they will have to write a check for at least $200 million in penalties and compensation, agree to mandatory training for management (though everybody VP and above will just have their admins do the training for them, so no change there), and agree to let the state keep an eye on the for a few years.

6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision

I feel I have to remind people now and then that these are predictions, not wishes, and this is one of those times.  Bobby owns too much stock and is in too deep with the board, which has backed him all the way, to lose his seat.  Any sense of irony is completely lost in the executive suite, so the fact that he knew about and endorsed what was going on that caused the company so many problems won’t disqualify him from continuing to collect a huge compensation package for running the company.

7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online

Maybe they won’t call it exactly that, but there will be a new MMO from them based on the Marvel IP, which Daybreak had the rights to make before EG7 purchased them, that will look suspiciously like DC Universe Online to those who know where to check.

And it will be on the PC and consoles and it will be kind of a big deal when it ships.  But I’m only saying they’ll announce it in 2022.

8 – H1Z1 Will Remain in Limbo

Of all the titles in the Daybreak portfolio, none must be as vexing for EG7 as H1Z1.  It sold a ton of copies, it was huge for a season or two, and it was the type of brand that Daybreak always dreamed of creating.  Then Daybreak screwed it up and has spent a few years now trying to catch that lightning in a bottle again.  And with Fortnite and PUBG out there still making bank, there is always that hope for a comeback, yet the chances are so sketchy that the company can’t bring itself to actually invest in it.  They simultaneously know it won’t happen and yet still believe it could.  So they’ll keep talking about H1Z1 in 2022 yet do nothing new.

9 – LOTRO Old and New

There won’t be a console release for LOTRO, but there will be news.  We will find out that, in order to support current generation consoles, the game needs to be re-written, a process that will end up with there being an old LOTRO, the current game, and a new LOTRO, for PC and consoles.  This will put old LOTRO in semi-maintenance mode, with limited updates and no new expansions, while the team focuses on the new LOTRO.

10 – Nothing New in Norrath

And that won’t necessarily be a bad thing.  Despite being the foundation of the company, EverQuest and its younger sibling will just continue on as before, with an expansion each in Q4.  EG7 talks up the original IPs it owns, but it only sees potential in the popular IPs which it has licensed.  EverQuest Next, EverQuest III, or EverQuest the small group RPG, those are all still dead until Amazon or Netflix wants to make a Norrath streaming series.

11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7

His acting career pretty much demands it at this point.  The search for a suitable candidate will come up dry and he will be the default choice.  Things could be worse.

12 – CCP will Circle the Wagons to Defend Against Player Feedback

The last year has demonstrated that CCP will stick to its own pet theories when it comes to the game, ignoring player feedback by covering its collective ears and repeating over and over that everything is fine, that the players don’t understand, that the company can dictate the correct way to play, and blah blah blah “I can’t hear you!”  Angry players should be ignored, where “angry” is defined as anybody who disagrees with the company line.  Nice players agree wholeheartedly with everything the company says.

To further support their position 2022 I predict that we will see the company start cutting back on the data players have been using the assail the company.  The Monthly Economic Report will cease to be published.  The data feeds that EVE Offline uses to create its PCU charts will be turned off.  The current online player count will disappear from the launcher.  Dev blogs will be more message, less substance than we’ve been used to.  Then CCP will be able to control the message without having their own data constantly contradicting them.  How can you say “EVE is dying!” if you don’t have any data to back it up?

13 – New Eden Economic Times

To make it abundantly clear, scarcity is not the new reality, this is a temporary phase and it will end.

-CCP, December 2020 Economic Outlook

While taking measures to silence dissent, CCP Rattati will continue to lead the charge against the economy.  The tenants of their economic outlook from 2020 remain unchanged.  They were:

  • Abundance breeds Complacency and Scarcity breeds War
  • Predictable Inputs lead to Stagnant Outputs
  • Autarky is Anathema to Free Trade

And while they appear to have had the opposite effect… scarcity ended a war for a starter… CCP will continue to fixate on the idea that if they just keep putting the screws to players and making them poor and miserable that we will all snap to and play the game the correctly sooner or later.  The idea that the game should be fun, that players might not want to fret about losing ships they can no longer afford to replace, or that the economy is the critical aspect of the game will not enter the company’s philosophy in 2022.  More of the same, the economic beatings will continue until subscriber numbers improve.

14 – New World on Consoles Announcement

One of the odd things to master in New World has been the UI, which is decidedly different that the WoW-centric UI conventions of the MMORPG genre.  It isn’t bad, though it sometimes seems a bit awkward, but for the most part it just takes some getting used to.

And then I started playing Forza Horizon 4 and 5, which is a title designed to play on Windows PCs and XBox consoles, and some similarities clicked for me… the New World UI is setup to be playable on consoles (in a way that, say, LOTRO is completely not).  They have minimized the keys used for many things, movement and positioning can all be done via the analog sticks, special combat moves map to buttons, the main attacks… I guess the shoulder controls.  It all pretty much fits.

This is probably a blinding flash of the obvious for some of you, but to a non-console player it didn’t spark until I had another cross platform title in my face.

Add to this the fact that Amazon seems fine letting Steam host its front end and the XBox or PlayStation store aren’t likely to get in the way either.

The official stance is that there is no plan for consoles, but it sure feels like it was made to be on consoles, so that might just be Amazon playing coy after getting pestered for five years about when the PC launch was going to happen.  As with above, the announcement only is being predicted, though I wouldn’t be completely surprised by a Q4 2022 ship date.

15 – New World Store Update

New World did very well on box sales in 2021, and I am sure they plan to repeat that on consoles as well, but the in-game store will still change in 2022 as the pressure to keep bringing in cash begins to mount.  Those AWS servers don’t pay for themselves.

The store has been entirely focused on cosmetic gear, the one in-game store item that seems the least objectionable.  It is kind of expensive to my mind, but some people seem to be buying the stuff.  I see it around Windsward now and then.  But it won’t be enough in the end.  Every MMORPG with a cash shop goes down the same path in the end.  So before the end of 2022 I predict that at least three of the following will be available in the cash shop:

  • Premium Housing
  • Fast Travel Tokens
  • XP Boosters
  • Faction Boosters
  • Trade Skill Learning Boosters
  • Learning Speed Boosters for Weapon Mastery
  • Cosmetic Items with Stats
  • Mounts
  • A second character slot on your server

16 – Crypto Mania will Continue and yet Yield Nothing of Value

UbiSoft, EA, Pearl Abyss, and a host of smaller studios and studios started for the express purpose of jumping on the bandwagon, will continue to talk about crypto, blockchain, play to earn, and NFTs.

And it will all net out to nothing a year from now because, despite the bleating of the crypto bros and the sheep following them, there is really no upside for a studio like EA to hitch its titles up to somebody’s block chain and give up income when there is nothing crypto could do that they couldn’t already do… or haven’t already done… themselves.

And the downsides? Whoa Nelly, if you think lock boxes look like gambling, I am pretty sure when they become NFTs with the intent that they can be bought and sold for real world money that even the government will suddenly agree that it is gambling.  Even skirting that, there are tax implications for “play to earn” if it gets too lucrative… and that will fall outside of the studios hands… that make the whole thing a nightmare.

The UbiSoft test case will fall flat because they will end up having to impose such restrictions to stay within the law and away from expensive entanglements as to end up not achieving any of its promise, and no studio with live games will see fit to follow suit.

17 – Metaversary Rhymes

Then there is the whole fairy tale metaverse aspect of crypto that people are on about.

The main item here are the crypto bros who think NFTs are the future and will act as transferable tickets for virtual goods so that you can buy a car in Need for Speed and drive it in Forza or Mario Kart.  That ain’t gonna happen.  Leaving aside the complexity of getting different studios with different motivations needing to get together on some sort of agreed upon standard for… well… literally anything anybody would want to move from game to game, no studio is going to buy into that.

Any game that makes money selling cars, using the example above, wants you to buy their cars.  That is how they make money.  If you can just bring all your Mario Kart stuff into Forza Horizon… again, leaving aside the huge elephant in the room issue of standards… Forza loses.  So Forza isn’t going to join that venture.

And we’ve been to the internet, right?  How long do you think it would take for somebody to mass produces knock-off cars for a buck that could be used in all those metaverse titles?  This is a dead end as there is no upside for the development studios that would need to implement it.

So this will go absolutely nowhere in 2022, despite the myriad start ups jumping on board the bandwagon trying to milk a bit of that sweet venture capital by throwing around buzzwords.

18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos

Even with the above pair of predictions I know that some company’s won’t be able to help themselves and will stick their hands in the fire and get burned.  I predict crypto/NFT/play to earn nonsense will at least get an official announcement and plan for the following titles (2 points per correct call):

  • EVE Online
  • Star Citizen
  • Black Desert Online
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Wild Card: Some Gamigo Title

I am not saying that any one of them will be implemented… player push back will be huge… but the blue sky press releases will go out.

19 – Chapter and Metaverse

Meanwhile, there is the other metaverse story, where Mark Zuckerberg, who apparently missed out on Second Life, wants to create a VR world that he controls.  He is so bent on it that he renamed the company Meta… and totally not because Facebook has a horrible reputation and he needed to distract from that.

In his metaverse there is none of this NFT movement nonsense, because you won’t ever leave his domain once you strap the VR headset onto your face and log in.  In Zucktopia you will see what he wants you to see, which is generally the right wing propaganda that pays top dollar.

The problem is that you can’t goose-step around with your neo-fascist buddies if you don’t have legs, which means all torchlight rallies will be limited to less than a dozen people.  Limitations of the platform I’m afraid.

And so this too will go nowhere in 2022.  At best we’ll see some more creepy demos with uncanny-valley Mark Zuckerberg… and I leave you to decide if I mean his avatar or himself… talking up his dystopian future where all the bad parts of Facebook will be injected straight into your eyeballs via a VR mask strapped to your face like something reminiscent of Clockwork Orange.

20 – A Better Metaplace

The year started out with me poking at some of the vague statements that Raph Koster was making about his own multiverse plan, wondering at how his new company was going to address some of the more obvious issues, like who would be paying for all of it.

But that was me quibbling over details.  Here at the dawn of 2022 I don’t know anybody else I would trust as much as Raph to speak of a future vision of virtual worlds.  Most of the metaverse talk is castles in the sky, next to which Raph seems to be a guy with wood, nails, and a hammer, ready to build something real.

So, to try and turn this editorial into a prediction, I am going to say Raph Koster and Playable Worlds will deliver something tangible in 2022.  Not a complete product, but enough to get past the vague teases that have gone before and cement the company as serious in a sea of pretenders.

21 – Non Starters

I have to have a couple of gimme predictions on the list, so lets run down the quick list of things that won’t ship in 2022 (2 points per correct guess):

  1. Crimson Desert
  2. Star Citizen
  3. Squadron 42
  4. Camelot Unchained
  5. Pnatheon: Rise of the whatever will get us a headline

Extra Credit Guesses

A bonus 10 points each if these come to pass

  • CCP will go really overboard on defense and decide that electing the CSM is a bad idea, since that process tends to fill the seats with people who have independent ideas.  Instead, taking a cue from Blizzard, they will let players apply to be on the CSM, picking the candidates that most suit the company needs.
  • Meanwhile, the WoW Player Council will be a one-time production.  After a year of shooting down ideas from the current council, Blizzard will thank members for their service, declare the whole thing a wonderful success, then not ask for applications for a new council as the team goes off to do whatever they were planning to do in the first place.

Scoring

As I usually do, each prediction is worth 10 points if I get it correct, with partial credit available.  I have already marked some of the predictions with “points per correct call” for multi-title guesses. With 21 predictions, that is 210 possible points.    Extra credit predictions don’t count against my win percentage, which I assume will be very low, as it is most years.

Again, I want to remind some readers that these are predictions, not wishes.  My wishes for would be sunshine and lollipops compared to what I have laid out above.  This is just what I think could happen after having been through both 2020 and 2021, a pair of years that saw fit to try and beat any cheery optimism out of me.

Which isn’t to say I don’t want to hear any contrary positions.  As I said at the top, discussion is an aspect of the whole thing and  I expect to be right on 30% of these tops, so in disagreeing with any one of my predictions you are more likely to end up correct in the end.

Anyway, the coming twelve months will reveal the truth and I’ll be back in December to count up the score.

December in Review

The Site

Here we are, once again facing a new year.  2022 is just hours away and… well… not much is going to change.  We imbue the artificial construct of time with magic properties, like one more turn around the sun will change us, the world, or human nature.

Still, it is almost the last time I get to use this graphic.

2020 plus 1

This is my 397th and final post of the year.  And you know what I haven’t done yet?  I haven’t uninstalled Adobe Flash.  I still get this alert every few weeks.

The end of Flash is here

I don’t know why I haven’t removed it.  It isn’t like I am invested in Flash.  I’m just being stubborn I guess.

Also, the ad experiment carries on.  The goal of it was to cover the cost of the Premium hosting plan which I switched to due to WP.com threatening to inject sponsored posts into those not paying for hosting.  The goal is to get paid, which means making at least $100 before the next payment comes due.  Three months in and revenue is closing in on $60.  I am not quitting my day job, but at least the blog is revenue neutral.

One Year Ago

Pandemic binge watching was still under way, which led me to summarize how it felt.  Somewhere in all that binging I found time to read, so had five books to talk about.  I was also promoting the ability to read the blog via FlipBoard.

Then there were predictions to be reviewed, though 2020 was beyond predicting really.

The Steam Winter Sale kicked off yet again.

I played Among Us for an evening.  I have yet to to play it since.

We got the news that Daybreak was set to be purchased by a Swedish company called Enad Global 7.  As part of that we got a look into Daybreak’s financials.  We learned that DC Universe Online had the most players and highest gross revenue of all their titles, yet EverQuest still managed to eke out the highest net profit.  The deal closed before the month was done.

EverQuest also launched the Claws of Veeshan expansion, the 27th for the title, while its younger sibling, EverQuest II, released the Reign of Shadows expansion, its 17th since launch.

In Pokemon Go, the update had arrived that raised the level cap from 40 to 50, so I was sizing up what it was going to take to get to level 41.

In WoW Shadowlands I hit the level cap… which was back to level 60 after the big squish… after which I had to choose my covenant.  We got a look at how Shadowlands stacked up against past launches.  SuperData, in what would be one of its final reports, said WoW subscribers were up with the expansion.

In WoW Classic the instance group was wandering Blackrock Depths and Stormwind with Marshal Windsor, then went back in to go after a couple more of the bosses in that dungeon.  That done, we made it through the bar only get get stopped cold in the lyceum.   But I was working on my blacksmithing skills as well, though I couldn’t tell you why now.

While CCP was still fruitlessly trying to work out how to create an FPS based in New Eden, in EVE Online, their one and only successful ongoing title, World War Bee was raging, and would soon lead to yet another Guinness world record setting battle.  News from EVE Online summed up:

Finally, I tried to sum up 2020 by shooting only for the high points.  It wasn’t easy.

Five Years Ago

As happens every December, I reviewed my predictions for the year, assessed the highs and lows, and made some attempt at a gaming outlook for 2017.  For the last I was feeling somewhat adrift… which turned out to be right on the money for most of 2017!

At Daybreak we found out that Russel Shanks had been replaced as CEO.  Still not sure what changed with that, if anything.

A little later former Daybreak CEO John Smedley announced the end of Hero’s Song and PixelMage Games.

Meanwhile Turbine was losing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online to a spin-off called Standing Stone Games.  Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 were to be closed and Turbine was slated to become solely a maker of mobile games.  Standing Stone Games also had some deal with Daybreak, they were even mentioned in the EULA, so maybe that was what changed.

In New Eden we had Blog Banter #78 which asked the pwipe question about EVE Online.

Then there was the rumor that CCP might be up for sale for ONE BILLION DOLLARS!  I followed that up with my thoughts as to what would happen to EVE Online if certain companies bought CCP.  EA, for example, would end up shutting down the game and closing the studio, if history is any guide.

I also listed out what I felt were the top five problems with EVE Online, then added a bonus item, because EVE is like that.

There was also the traditional Yoiul gifts, if the launcher would let you into the game and the last update for YC118, which included music.

Then there was null sec, where I was celebrating my fifth anniversary.  Down in Delve we managed to lose 600 billion ISK on our own cyno beacon.

In space the war in Tribute was heating up.  Asher led us up there to shoot targets of opportunity in M-OEE8 as Pandemic Legion and friends contested the timer on CO2’s Keepstar.  That was also the second day that the PCU passed 50K since the Ascension expansion.  I went back north on my own to be there for the death of that Keepstar.  The heralded the exit of TEST and CO2 from the north.

That in turn led to the opening of a Winter war down south, a war that eventually fizzled when the participants decided nobody wanted to fight a Fozzie Sov war, so new boundaries were negotiated instead.

Reavers went out to help one side in a structure fight in Catch and went to join in on yet another Keepstar fight.  That one survived but another one got popped.

I was mucking around a bit iEverQuest II, trying to find my way in new content.

In Minecraft my mansion road project required the application of TNT to blast a road through a jungle.  Minecraft also had nice packages and Skronk made me a cobblestone generator for Christmas.

And no December would be complete without a Steam Winter Sale, and no such sale would be worth its name without issues!

I didn’t notice it at the time, but a German gaming site called Plarium put me on their list of the 8 best MMO blogs.  Of course they also put Tobold, who doesn’t actually write about MMOs anymore and Tipa of West Karana, who hasn’t been updating for a while now (and who has since lost her domain!), and themselves, which seems like a bit of ego, but still it was cool to find.

Finally I was going on about companies making MMOs… and the people playing them… feeling that every single title had to be all things to all people, leading to dissolute efforts and titles that do a lot of things but don’t really stand out in any particular aspect.

Ten Years Ago

There was the usual looking back at the Highs and Lows of 2011.  And, hand-in-hand with that, there was the look forward at games I might play in 2012.

One of those games was Diablo III and another Torchlight II, while Path of Exile represented a dark horse third. They were all vying for the mantle of successor to Diablo II.  So I tried to define the essence of Diablo II.

I also had some demands for 2011 and had to look at how that worked out.

I was back in EVE Online and I began my journey into null sec appropriately, by killing myself.  Then I saw titans, lit cynos, and got blown up.

But hey, a ship blows up every six seconds in EVE Online.

There was a war on, and it was announced we were going to be driven from Deklein.  And there was something about ganking tourism and three flavors of ravens.  Also, pretty new nebulae.

Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP declared that the era of the Jesus Feature was over for EVE Online.

There was the end of Star Wars Galaxies, though people were saying it had been dead for years.

Star Wars: The Old Republic went live, completing the changing of the Star Wars MMO guard, for all the lack of actual change that brought about.

EverQuest II and its free to play twin, EverQuest II Extended, were merged into a single fighting force of extraordinary magnitude or something.

Richard Garriott de Cayeux went a little nuts talking about his Ultimate RPG, his great fondness for EA, and the failure of Tabula Rasa and Ultima 8.  He seemed to try to be getting EA to join with him by talking to the press… and not to EA.  And then it was the Mayans.

Closer to planet Earth, the instance group was in Rift running the Realm of the Fae.

Toril MUD was still alive and had just added nine more zones to the game.

Playboy Manager the MMO.  Never ended up being a thing.

And I proved my laser tag prowess against a bunch of little girls.

Fifteen Years Ago

The short-lived Massive Magazine, dedicated to our chosen niche video game genre, put out its first issue.  I bought a copy.

I told a Christmas story from 1977 about video games.

I followed up on my initial Stellar Emperor post with one about how I won the game.

My daughter and I were chasing Rudolph across the Frostfell zone in EverQuest II.

Digg starting listing podcasts and there was a call to help Digg some of the MMO related podcasts. These days I am surprised when I see that Digg is still a thing.

The Commonlands in EverQuest got a make over. The two zones also got combined into a single zone.

compared the Butcherblock chessboard in EQ and EQ2. I was also running around Runnyeye with Gaff.

correctly predicted the venue for that year’s EQ2 expansion, Kunark, which I will never let anybody forget.  I was also wondering about SOE’s trajectory given the changes that came in with Echoes of Faydwer and The Serpent’s Spine.

And in World of Warcraft the instance group did Gnomeregan and started in on Scarlet Monestary.  I also noted that gold spammers were using in-game mail in WoW.

I also had five features I wanted WoW to steal from EQ2.  I think we got one of them in the form of the WoW Armory.  But no, housing was not on the list.

Derek Smart came up as a topic for the first time on the site.

In a bit of EVE Online history I didn’t write about at the time, though I was vaguely aware that it had happened, the first titan built, an Avatar named “Steve,” owned by Ascendant Frontier, became the first titan destroyed when it was lost to Band of Brothers in C9N-CC on December 11, 2006. The pilot, CYVOK, logged out with aggression, was probed down, and the titan was destroyed.

The Wreck of Steve

There is a memorial wreck in the system to mark the event.

And, finally, just to make this section even longer, the top ten best selling games on the PC in 2006 were:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. The Sims 2: Open for Business
  3. The Sims 2
  4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  5. Star Wars: Empire at War
  6. Age of Empires III
  7. Civilization IV
  8. The Sims 2: Nightlife
  9. Guild Wars Factions
  10. Zoo Tycoon 2

That was back when Sims ruled the list.  I had forgotten that Guild Wars sold as well as it did too.

Twenty Years Ago

The Shadows of Luclin expansion for EverQuest, the third for the game, brought the Val Shir race, the beastlord class, alternate advancement mechanics, mounts, and a renewed game engine with updated player appearances, and the ability to customize the UI.  It was kind of a big deal.

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. I Don’t Know What I Expected from the WoW Community Council
  3. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. The EVE Online New Dawn Quadrant to Start With Mining Changes
  6. WoW and the Endwalker Excuse
  7. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  8. Life on the M2 Hellcamp
  9. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  10. The Winter Nexus Holiday Events Begin in EVE Online
  11. The State of New Eden at the End of 2021
  12. CCP Begins Inflicting the New Dawn Austerity Plan on EVE Online

Search Terms of the Month

fury at fwst-8 winners
[Everybody who had fun… and CCP]

when was the darkrai event in platonim held
[It was held in 2008]

when is viable run ragefire chasm
[For Alliance players, any time you’re ready to die]

сурамар таверны
[Somewhere in the town I think]

Game Time from ManicTime

The December games look quite different from my January games, except for EVE Online I guess, which has been the one title that I’ve played all year.  While Pokemon Brilliant Pearl seems like a distant third there, all of its play time has been since the day after Christmas.  So it has been top of the stack for the last week.

  1. Forza Horizon 4 – 37.30%
  2. New World – 36.62%
  3. Pokemon Shining Pearl – 12.26%
  4. EVE Online – 8.30%
  5. EverQuest II – 2.98%
  6. World of Tanks – 2.54%

EVE Online

In game it was a modest month of activity.  The Winter Nexus holiday event got people to undock, there login rewards and sales and such.  Out in space the usual low level conflicts persisted.  I went on a few small ops, tended my PI, and spent way too much ISK on a black ops battleship.

Out of game CCP publicly declared to continue the economic beatings until the PCU improved, saying that players will eventually do as they were told and play the game correctly if the company just keeps suppressing the economy.  The promise of “prosperity” earlier this year, like the promise with last year’s economic outlook that scarcity was to be temporary and not the new reality, turned out to be a lie.

If that were not enough, Hilmar has been running around talking to the press about blockchain, crypto, NFTs, and play to earn.  Since CCP has exactly ONE game they could implement those buzz word bingo ideas in, you can expect that to hit New Eden in 2022.

EverQuest II

I remain subscribed to the game and I even bought the new expansion and have been into it for a couple of levels.  The problem has been that there are a few games ahead of EQII in my interest queue, so it gets left out most evenings.  It isn’t bad, there are just things I would rather work on now.

Forza Horizon

Happy, fun, open world driving and racing.  Changing from FH5 to FH4 was a nice change up.  I like the car choices a bit better and England is a bit more varied in terrain and seasons than Mexico.  I even got a controller for Christmas to play it, so I will have to do a post about how that turned out.

New World

The group had a pretty good month in New World.  We managed to get ourselves through the Amrine Excavation after a few tries, which meant figuring out how to actually play as a group.  There is still lots to do and see in the game as we move along at our own pace.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.

Level: 42 ( 11.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 677 (+4) caught, 697 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 14 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Sliggoo

Pokemon Shining Pearl

REAL Pokemon!  My daughter and I broke out the retro-Pokemon games on our Switch Lites the day after Christmas and have been having fun in Sinnoh.  I will probably repeat this every time I write about these titles, but there is such a nice mixture of simplicity (compared to Sword & Shield) and nostalgia going on that it is quite pleasant.  It isn’t perfect, but is has been good so far.  We’ve only been playing for a few days at this point, so the final four are still off on the horizon.

World of Tanks

I got in there and played a bit, but WoT suffered from the same problem that EQII did in that there was something else that was filling its niche further up the stack.  In this case, Forza Horizon 4 was my go-to game for light, short term play.  Still fun, still has its appeal, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Zwift

I managed to keep on peddling in our living room in December, adding another 96.5 miles to my total distance as measure by Zwift.  That gets me to… well… nowhere interesting really.  That distance by road puts me in the middle of Nevada or Oregon, in some empty place south of Ensenada, or in Quartzsite, Arizona.  I need to keep going to get somewhere I guess.

  • Level – 12 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 584.4 miles (+96.5 miles)
  • Time – 1d 6h 47m (+5h 59m)
  • Elevation climbed – 24,413 (+4,400 feet)
  • Calories burned – 19,426 (+3,285)

Coming Up

2022 which, as somebody pointed out, is pronounced like “2020 – 2,” which I hope just ends up being a humorous aside and not some horrible premonition of things to come.

Also, I need to come up with a “2022” graphic at some point today because tomorrow will be post one of the year, the inevitable predictions post where I prevent things from happening by publicly declaring that they will.

There are still a couple of 2021 posts I mean to get to including the summary of 2021 gaming and the books managed to read and that sort of thing.

Otherwise 2022 starts off with the group playing New World, my daughter and I playing Pokemon, and the pandemic still hanging around making any return to “normal” as unlikely in the new year as it was in the old.