Category Archives: EverQuest

Daybreak Revealed in Enad Global 7 Presentation

As I mentioned yesterday, we did not know much about Daybreak Game Company over its close to six years of existence.  It was a privately held firm and was reluctant to be straight with outsiders as to who even owned the company.  And before that, when it was SOE, its details were hidden within a giant conglomerate where it was such a small piece of the pie that it did not even get its own line item.

So having Daybreak purchased by a small public company, where it will be a large part of the pie and which needs to disclose details to the public means that we’re learning more about the company this week than we have known for ages.  Roll on Enad Global 7.

Enad Global 7

Yesterday’s press release about the acquisition gave us some fresh information and confirmed things we suspected, like the fact that Daybreak owned Standing Stone Games.  But there is more to be seen.  Over on their investor relations page you will find a presentation by EG7 about the state of Daybreak and its games that is stunning in its clarity after all these years.

It is so meaty that I downloaded it immediately lest it be posted in error and disappear.

The presentation starts by introducing EG7’s strategy and execution of their plan so far, which is an interesting read showing their acquisition pace up to this point.  And then there is the About Daybreak section, which starts with a nicely summarized history of the company.

Page 12 – a Brief History of SOE/Daybreak

Just enough detail I think.  A few side ventures are missing, and there is a whole book to be written about the strange path of H1Z1 over the last five years, but otherwise the basics are laid out.

They mention the licensed IPs the company has, as well as the valuable IPs Daybreak has created.

Page 14 – Valuable home grown IPs

EverQuest has booked about a billion dollars in revenue over its life.  Not bad.  A lot of games never come close to that number or 21 years of longevity.  The H1Z1 notes are a bit sad… inspired actually successful titles.  Sad enough that they stop mentioning H1Z1 after that.  And I still have a retort to that PlanetSide 2 world record which was a planned event and not any sort of organic player surge.

Cool stuff so far.  And then we get the real dirt!  Actual numbers about earnings and players.

Page 15 – Year to Date numbers as of Sep. 30, 2020

There are some surprises there, though not many.  We had been told that EverQuest was still pretty strong and it was implied that it was doing better than EverQuest II.  But now we know where EQII ranks in the overall lineup, which I guess is ahead of H1Z1, which doesn’t even get a mention.

And then there is DC Universe Online.  Smed, back in the day, told us that it was the top free to play game on PlayStation, and I guess it has held on to a solid base of players.  But if you want that all in chart form, there is a page for that.

Page 16 – Revenue and Earnings compared YTD through Sep. 30 2020

DC Universe Online has the highest revenues, but when it comes to earnings after expenses EverQuest is out in front.  That’s the joke.  A 21 year old game brings home the bacon.

Years ago Michael Zenke had been to SOE and was asking them about why they kept on with EverQuest when you could argue that EverQuest II was a better, or at least more up to date game.  He told me that EQ was so cheap to run that it was going to be profitable to keep going for a long, long time.  And here we are.

That DCUO isn’t at the top of the earnings is likely an indication that it remains strongest on the PlayStation, where it has to give Sony a cut of the revenue from the cash shop.

The presentation digs into further detail.  While the games still attract new players, a majority of the player base has been playing their game of choice for more than three years.

On the money front, the average monthly revenue per paying user for 2020 so far looks pretty strong.

Page 17 – ARPPU YTD through Sep. 30, 2020

Some whales out there spending money.  Of course, that is just the count among users that pay, and the conversion to paying user is important.

Page 17 – Payer conversion rate – YTD through Sep. 30, 2020

For EQ and EQII that probably translates largely to subscribers through the All Access program.  EQ just beats EQII on revenue because it has a lot more players.  Likewise, DCUO has the most players by far, so even at a much smaller conversion rate it makes more money.

I think the lesson here is more players is better if you want to survive.

The presentation also has some plans for the future.  They want to do an upgrade for DCUO to make it look and play better on the new generation of consoles by this time next year.  They also want to spruce up LOTRO as they see a possible boon in Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series.  There is even an unannounced new project.  Maybe it is related to the Marvel IP license Daybreak apparently holds.

The plans and view of the combined company are something as well.  As far as revenue goes, EG7 buying Daybreak pretty much doubles the size of the company in staff and revenue.

Page 27 – YTD revenue for EG7 groups

That is a big bite.  Daybreak’s ongoing success will very much influence EG7’s success.  They aren’t buying the company to neglect it.

While the era of the Jason Epstein Daybreak will end on December 31st, Daybreak will continue to exist as an entity withing EG7.  Within the corporate structure the Daybreak stuff will have its own area.

Page 28 – The Daybreak Structure

I am curious as to whether or not that was the actual structure within Daybreak today simply being grafted on to the EG7 tree.  I know Jen Chan let slip at one point about working with the SSG team on some things. (No location for Cold Iron Studios on that chart though, so no idea still if it was part of the sale and too small to mention, was folded in with Dimensional Ink due to the Cryptic background of both groups, or was retained by Jason Epstein.)

As for why keep that structure, that is certainly the best plan for the short term.  When you have an asset that needs to keep performing you do not introduce chaos as your first step in integrating.  Things will likely change over time.

Daybreak itself will likely remain a legal entity for a long time.  Having been through many mergers and acquisitions over the last 30 years… on average that has happened in a way that involved me directly about every three years over that time… there are a lot of reasons to not simply dissolve a corporate entity.  There are a lot of contracts and agreements made in the name of that company that have to be transferred over time, and the other side of the agreement doesn’t care about the change.  So you wait until a contract comes up for renewal and then you transfer it to the new owning company.  That can easily take a decade to work itself out.

And Daybreak, for all its foibles over the last six years, remains the unifying identity for the teams under it.  That is who they are in the EG7 ecosystem.

Page 24 – EG7’s world wide organization

That big owlbear eye that is the Daybreak logo will be looking out at us for a while longer.

Related posts:

Daybreak to be Acquired by Enad Global 7

Enad Global 7 (EG7) announced in a press release earlier today that would be purchasing Daybreak Game Company for $300 million in a structured payout deal. ($260 million up front, $100 million in shares and $160 million in cash, plus another $40 million in cash if Daybreak makes its projected 2020 numbers.)  A bunch of news items have popped up about this today and I will link to them and other reactions at the end of the post.

Enad Global 7

That will get them the following games according to the press release:

  • EverQuest
  • EverQuest II
  • H1Z1
  • PlanetSide 2
  • DC Universe Online
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online

Not mentioned was Cold Iron Studios, which Daybreak was said to have acquired back in August.  But maybe that was Jason Epstein or Columbus Nova who actually bought it.

And I am not really kidding with that.  The nearly six year history of Daybreak has not been characterized by a close relationship with the truth when it came to the business, so a surprise twist or a revision of history would be right in line with past behavior.  Even now we’re just finally getting confirmation that Standing Stone Games was owned by Daybreak… or Jason… or Columbus Nova… after being told that Daybreak was merely going to be SSG’s “publisher.”  So I guess EG7 is buying Standing Stone Games as well.

The press release is also interesting as it lists out some of the Daybreak financials that were part of its due diligence.  We could barely find numbers about the company when it was part of Sony and never saw a thing since it was Daybreak.  For example, Daybreak has 178 million registered users of its games.  I’m sure they’re not all active, but that database alone has some value.

Anyway, the first question to leap to mind for me was, “Who the hell is EG7?”

The press release echoes the info on their web site which says:

EG7 is a group of companies within the gaming industry that develops, markets, publishes and distributes PC, console and mobile games to the global gaming market. The company employs 170+ game developers and develops its own original IP:s, as well as act as consultants to other publishers around the world through its game development divisions Toadman Studios, Big Blue Bubble and Antimatter Games. In addition, the group’s marketing department Petrol has contributed to the release of 1,500+ titles, of which many are world famous brands such as Call of Duty, Destiny, Dark Souls and Rage. The group’s publishing and distribution department Sold Out holds expertise in both physical and digital publishing and has previously worked with Team 17, Rebellion and Frontier Developments. The Group is headquartered in Stockholm with approximately 270 employees in 10 offices worldwide.

So, a Swedish company, something confirmed over at Bloomberg, without much more to add, though their summary is much more succinct:

Enad Global 7 AB operates as a game development studio. The Company develops, markets, publishes, and distributes PC, console, and mobile games. Enad Global 7 serves customers worldwide.

The company, founded in 2013, says it is a game developer and has very recently purchased a few small studios, but its biggest claim to fame seems to be that its marketing department has helped out with some famous brands, likely just for the Swedish market if I were to make a guess. (Though their online presence is pretty week. They discovered Twitter just this year.)  And now they’ll have a bag of MMORPGs to play with.

As for what it will mean for the games and employees of Daybreak, that remains to be seen.  The press release has the usual rosy optimism in its quotes, as all such press releases do.

I am thrilled to be welcoming Daybreak into the EG7 family today. Daybreak is a studio I have the utmost admiration for, not only for their games but the teams behind those games and services. Together we have bold and exciting plans for the future, and I look forward to making those dreams a reality for gamers all over the world.

Robin Flodin, CEO and Co-founder of EG7

This could be a boon for the company, or they could get the Gamigo treatment like Trion did when they were acquired.  Or EG7 might just want the data for the 178 million registered Daybreak users for marketing purposes… that actually gets a mention in the press release. (Bad news for them, at least three of those users are just me.)

But that will all come later.

We’re still in the phase where the deal isn’t done yet and both sides of the transaction are invested in keeping to the status quo going.  Expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II will launch this month (Dec. 8th and 15th respectively, the latter being announced today along with the acquisition).  Updates will keep coming out.  Nobody is going to lose their job just yet.

But the deal is expected to close by December 31, 2020, so the real situation likely won’t become apparent until next year.  Some people will no doubt be redundant and get laid off.  Plans may change.  And maybe the individual studios that Daybreak created earlier this year will end up being used to distinguish the groups.  But come the new year Daybreak, announced back in February of 2015, will likely cease to be a thing.

Related posts (Those with info beyond the press release marked*):

EverQuest Claws of Veeshan Expansion to Launch on December 8th

Daybreak announced that the upcoming EverQuest expansion, Claws of Veeshan, will launch on Tuesday, December 8th.

Dragons, always dragons

This, the 27th expansion to the 1999 title, is currently available for pre-order from Daybreak and is available in four price levels:

  • Standard Edition – $34.99
  • Collector’s Edition – $89.99
  • Premium Edition – $139.99
  • Friends & Family Edition – $249.99

The question is how much additional fluff do you want with your expansion?  The “Freinds & Family Edition” includes an in-game tradeable token that can be redeemed for a base copy of the expansion.

Interestingly, or oddly, the base package does not include the insta-level heroic character options, though the fact that the boost only gets you to level 85 still in a game where the level cap is now 30 levels beyond that does make one question Daybreak yet again.  When will they fix that?

The expansion, which was announced back in October, includes the following:

  • 6 Expansion Zones – Follow the chilling trail of ice into the lands dominated by the dragons of Velious. Find the source of the mysterious and restless ice and put an end to the dangers that have enveloped the entire continent.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Dragon’s Hoard – A dragon’s hoard for those that have collected so many items, it is nigh impossible to contain. This is an additional space to hold all those items you may need once more but do not need now.

That sounds about right for a Norrath expansion.

The EverQuest Team Announces the Claws of Veeshan Expansion

It is that time of year… actually, we’re a little past that time by my watch… but either way, the EverQuest team found the time to announce the next expansion, the 27th for the game, Claws of Veeshan.

Dragons, always dragons

The brief producer’s letter that carried the announcement indicated that the expansion would contain the following:

  • 6 Expansion Zones – Follow the chilling trail of ice into the lands dominated by the dragons of Velious. Find the source of the mysterious and restless ice and put an end to the dangers that have enveloped the entire continent.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Dragon’s Hoard – A dragon’s hoard for those that have collected so many items, it is nigh impossible to contain. This is an additional space to hold all those items you may need once more but do not need now.

Most of those are pretty much core to any EverQuest (or EverQuest II) expansion.  Interesting that they are going with Velious as the setting for two expansions running.

Beta and Preorder for Claws of Veeshan will start on October 21, 2020.  This gives you a little bit more time to buy the last expansion, Torment of Velious, if you want any of the extras that came with that expansion.  It is 25% off… plus a 10% discount for all access members… until October 20th, at which point it will disappear from the store, replaced by the new expansion.

The producer’s letter also covers some technical updates they have made to improve server stability.

Now we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, the announcement of the next EverQuest II expansion.

Wide Screen

A very astute reader of the blog might have noticed that, recently, some of my screen shots included in posts were a bit… wider… than normal.  That last screen shot on my post about WoW Classic alts was different that the rest.

And some screen shots in the post about the battle at 46-U6U in EVE Online featured some screen shots like that as well.

This is because I recently was able to borrow a Dell U3415W monitor.  The “34” refers to it being 34″ diagonal in size.  It is a big monitor.  Perhaps the biggest one I have ever worked on, at least when it comes to screen resolution.

It displays at 3440 x 1440 resolution.  That is a lot of pixels to push.  My main monitor, a 24″ Dell U2412M was just 1920 x 1200 for comparison.

But the first thing was to find room for it on my desk.  The monitor is big enough that it is curved slightly, so that the whole screen stays in your peripheral vision.  I was able to squeeze it in there and still keep my little (1600 x 900) secondary monitor on the side, so I can play full screen and still be able to see IMs or pull up maps or quest info or whatever.

It fits there

The main problem is what to do with my Snowball microphone.  It used to sit off to the side of the old monitor, but cable reach and space constraints now mean it has to it somewhere in front of one of the monitors.  Unfortunately, it is just tall enough that it blocks something no matter where I put it.  So it moves around at need for the moment.

And once I had the monitor hooked up… well… let me tell you, your perceptions about desktop space and what windows need to be opened up full screen change.  It was kind of crazy, having that much room for stuff on the screen.  I wondered how I would get used to it… and then about an hour later I was.

You certainly don’t need to expand most things to take up the full screen.  Web sites, text documents, chat windows, they can all live in much smaller spaces.  Spreadsheets though!  Now there is some full screen magic.

But first I was on to games.

I wanted to know what games would actually support a 3440 x 1440 resolution.  What could I play full screen?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft was totally fine with the big screen.  In perhaps a bit of a surprise though, WoW Classic is also good with that much real estate.

A Plaguelands panorama

The UI scales fine, nothing is awkwardly out of place, no bits are stretched, everything is anchored in what feels like just the right spot, and playing in a world that extends to the edge of your vision is actually pretty cool.  I got used to that very quickly.

EVE Online, my other much have, likewise seemed fine with a big screen, though the client has been somewhat resolution agnostic for a while.  It will size to whatever screen you want.  The UI does get pretty small and things you need to click on… and you need to click on many things in EVE Online… can seem pretty far apart until you move around some of the UI, but it works.  And the view can be breathtaking.

In the slow motion scrum of battle

Games that are screen size agnostic, games like RimWorld, had not problem with the bigger monitor.  You just get to see more real estate.  I was a bit surprised to find that Age of Empires II HD was good with the resolution.

An RTS panorama

The awkward bit is that the game anchors the mini-map and the build controls at the lower corners, which are way far apart and distant from whatever you are likely doing on the main screen at any given moment.  Not so bad if you have memorized the key controls.  But if you’re like me and need to click, the sheer distance will slow you down.

Other games worked with varying degrees of success.  EverQuest II seemed good with the screen size overall, save for the experience and control bar at the bottom of the screen, which only scales to about half that width.

I guess it anchors on the left size of the screen

However, the view of the landscape, in the newer zones at least, was very nice.

It’s older sibling, EverQuest, gamely tried to follow suit.  Launching the game, the windows seemed disinclined to stretch and just stayed their usual defaults.  Once in the game, things opened up as it tried to accommodate the wideness of the new reality.

Let’s get wide in Norrath

The UI ended up getting stretched across the screen as things tried to remain relatively spaced. The UI settings acknowledged the screen size, but the view into the world felt a bit stretched across the horizontal plane.

Likewise, Lord of the Rings Online started up fairly awkwardly. As it started up windows were stretched, controls were stretched, and the signs looks bad. But once in the game, things settled down. The UI had a few quirks… when you open up your bags they all have unnecessarily space between them… but otherwise looked good.

From middle to wide earth

I was at least covered on some of the older games I play. I haven’t dug through them all yet, and some are up front about not supporting anything wider that 2560 x 1440. Diablo III falls in that category, not that I have played it recently.

Probably the only downside I’ve seen so far is Minecraft. It runs just fine and scales up to the right size without issue. And when looking out on the world it is quite a sight. But the moment I turn left or right, the way it handles motion blur at the edges of the screen starts to give me a bit of motion sickness. (I get the head ache sort, not the nausea sort.) That might be something I could get used to, but it was unpleasant so I stopped playing around with it pretty quickly.

And then, of course, there is my video card. When I built my current system about two years back, I went with an EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB video card. That was a decent choice as it appears to be just about able to handle the big screen when running some of these games. When I used the GeForce Experience to optimize my graphic settings for the new monitor, it did turn down the detail on some titles. Even with WoW Classic, which I had been running max settings on, needed a couple of settings dialed back a bit.

Of course, I immediately started looking into new video cards, but the timing is bad. Not only is there the whole “kid in college” level of expenses to deal with at the moment, but nVidia just announced a new lineup, but the older cards haven’t seen a price break yet. Maybe by Christmas time there will be a decent upgrade at a good price.

That assumes I’ll get to hang on to the monitor for a while, though it might be one of those things where once you have had this much screen space you can never go back.

[This post was written in WordPress.com’s new “block editor,” about which I will complain at a later date. It is not only awkward to use, but makes the post look different from other posts if you look closely. WP.com deployed the block editor while I was writing this, and I thought I was trapped with it, but I have since figured out how to continue to use the “classic” editor going forward.]

July in Review

The Site

Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

This is the most common spam message over the last couple of months.  I believe it translates to “Thank you. How do I log in?” and it shows up dozens to hundreds of times a day in my spam folder because Akismet isn’t sure if it is spam or not.  Welcome to the problems of programmatic moderation, where the algorithm cannot pick up on a single repeated phrase because the IP address that they spoof or the user name or the email address change every time so it cannot say for sure if this time this person is really asking a legitimate question.

see what we’re working with here?

A false positive is seen as much worse than just piping thousands of messages into the spam folder for me to review.

Life in tech.

Meanwhile, I noticed that, for not particular reason, I have posted every single day for four months straight.

March wasn’t quite there

April, which was Blapril, which was Blaugust come early, is explainable.  After that, I guess I was just on a roll.  (That one last empty square in July is covered by this post.)

One Year Ago

There was a Steam Summer Sale to write about, with its odd contest.

Daybreak was fiddling around and registering studio names with the USPTO.

Pokemon Go hit its third birthday. StarCraft got cartooned.

And it looked like Blizz was going to give people a mount every six months so long as they subscribed to the six month renewal plan.

CCP, after saying they would change the 1 million skill point starter pack, just kept on selling it so long as there was sufficient demand.  But at least it was limited to one per account.

Out in null sec space, it was all about the Drifters as the month opened up.  They changed up a bit, but the war we had in progress was already ruined.  We tallied up the damage and headed home.  We had chased PanFam out of Tribute and Vale of the Silent.

But the Drifters were just the start of what would be dubbed the Chaos Era.  CCP announced that local would soon be blacked out in null sec.  We got warnings it was coming.  And then it hit and CCP said it would remain in place indefinitely. (Which some people took to mean permanently.)  The idea came from Hilmar, though many people were going on about null sec being risk averse.

The big VNI nerf hit in there as well.  And a tax increase!  Good thing devs don’t need to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, CCP was trying to keep people in the game during the blackout with skill point handoutsSo many skill points.  And they had to clarify what they meant even.  But the online player count suffered all the same.

And I was on CCP about maybe building their own killboard or at least making SKINs for all the things.

Still, I did get some play time in New Eden.  We did a Triglavian roam with DBRB.  I went on a blackout roam. I moved a dreadnought around to a new deployment on my own, then lost it.  It was a suicide dread.

I tried out DOTA Underlords.

I had been fiddling around with tracking my game play time for six months.

And, finally, we were getting ready for Blaugust once again.

Five Years Ago

I was feeling a bit of the summertime MMO ennui blues.

Windows 10 launched, bringing with it the Microsoft Solitaire Collection.  This wasn’t your Win 3.1 Solitaire or Freecell, and more is the pity.

Project: Gorgon was off with another Kickstarter campaign.  Would the third time be a charm? (Spoiler: yes.)

Need for Speed: World shut down, so I said farewell to Palmont.

Derek Smart began what would become is crusade against Star Citizen, detailing why he felt we would never see the game that was promised.  It could have ended there, but RSI responded in a way guaranteed to turn it into a fight and took away his Rear Admiralty.   Game on!

In Minecraft I was learning about not falling off of thingsbringing light to dark places, and accumulating materials.  Also, sheep stole my mine cart.

I was mucking around in War Thunder for a bit.  It is a pain to return to the game because there is always a huge update required.

Over at Daybreak, there was a vote up for the EverQuest progression server Ragefire about speeding up the unlock of Ruins of Kunark, as well as talk about raids and such.

On the EverQuest II side of the house, there was a beta for its first nostalgia servers.  I avoided the beta but was there when the servers went live… for the big surprise, the return of the Isle of Refuge, adding to the nostalgia experience.

And while that was going on, it appeared to be the end of Smed at Daybreak.

In New Eden my alliance, TNT, handed over its last system in Deklein. We then lived in Tribute.

The Aegis expansion hit… but there was a delay between that and other bits of what we now call Fozzie sov to be deployed.  But entosis link modules were finally able to take sov as the month rolled along.  So we started to learn by doing.

There was a plan in the Imperium to bring in care bears to mine and rat in order to raise ADMs so that our now much reduced space holdings would remain secure.

At one point Mordus Angels managed to claim some sovereignty in Pure Blind!  Can you imagine?  Crazy times!

Meanwhile, in the cash shop… erm… New Eden store, more skins were being rolled out.  Or, rather, the same skin on more ships.  The blog banter of the month was on about attributes, and I was bitching about never having enough jump clones.

On the Azeroth front, Blizzard said they would be announcing the next World of Warcraft expansion… right after the Q2 quarterly report was released, which raised some suspicions in me.  What would the subscription numbers look like if they felt they needed a big announcement to distract from them?

And I finally got my copy of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls from the Kickstarter… only two years late.

Ten Years Ago

The late Paul the octopus created the largest page view day ever in the history of the blog, later to be surpassed by Cats playing Patty Cake and Alamo.

I was told I write like Cory Doctorow… or maybe Ian Flemming.

My daughter was Banned from Club Penguin.  Tears were shed, lessons were learned.

EverQuest II Extended, the free to play EverQuest IIwas announced.  I wondered whether trying to play it without paying at all would be a challenge in and of itself.  Meanwhile, there was some evidence that EQII accounts had value.  That stunning news no doubt got them going on the authenticator they announced at Fan Faire this year.

I completed 100 levels in The Agency: Covert Ops.  I was unemployed, what can I say?

StarCraft II launched.  I never bought a copy and the base edition eventually went free.

Need for Speed World, an MMO version of the Need for Speed series, launched.  I ended up playing it for a bit.  But, being an EA MMO, it was doomed to be shut down.

In EVE Online Hulkageddon III ended, and it even had a video wrap-up.  And then PLEX was made transportable in space.  I wonder if they waited for Hulkageddon to be over for that?

In another Summer hiatus season, the instance group started another run at LOTRO.  This time it was Bung who was out, having the dual issues of moving and having a new baby to care for.  Those of us in Middle-earth hung out with old friends.  That put off deciding who my main character was, by letting me roll another one!

Blizzard gave up on some of their RealID plans thanks to much public kvetching.  Shortly there after, the ESRB came out against Real ID as being bad for consumer security while proving they too were bad for consumer security.

Blizzard revamped Parental Controls again.  As much as I have griped about them, they are better than any comparable controls I have seen, even in games that offer that as a feature.

World of Warcraft Magazine issue #2 showed up.  Issue #4 would arrive 9 months later, which is kind of a long time for an alleged quarterly publication.  Once issue #5 was finally out, the whole thing was shut down.

And somebody was trying to make yet another flying car that failed to live up to our expectations.  Have none of these scientists ever seen The Jetsons?

Fifteen Years Ago

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gets rated adults only (AO 18+) and the company faces sanctions when the hot coffee mod unlocks a hidden mini-game that existed in the product which allow the protagonist to have sex with his girlfriends.  Unlike some other infamous graphic mods, this one was not fan created content, but something the company put into the game.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  3. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  4. Day One of World War Bee
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  7. Lurking in Catch
  8. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting
  9. EverQuest II at Fifteen and the Memories of What Could Have Been
  10. Opening Moves in the War
  11. Two Weeks of World War Bee
  12. Theaters of Operation

Search Terms of the Month

is lotro fun
[When it is running it can be]

bloodmyst isle tedious
[Yes]

classic wow peoplle arent doing shadowfang keep
[It is kind of low level, most people are past it I bet]

minecraft burning forest
[guilty]

nfs diggy donuts
[Hell of a file system]

story of babylon in swahili
[Let me get back to you]

Game Time from ManicTime

EVE Online pretty solidly dominated my play time in July.  Diablo II was probably the surprise entry.  I wasn’t planning to play it, but then I wrote something about the 20 year anniversary and decided I ought to take a look.

  • EVE Online – 72.36%
  • WoW Classic – 15.83%
  • Minecraft – 6.53%
  • Diablo II – 4.43%
  • EverQuest – 0.74%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.11%

Diablo II

With the 20th anniversary I downloaded the game again and spent some time playing.  I never did find a mod solution for screen resolution, but the game is still very playable in 800 x 600 and you get used to the graphics pretty quickly.  It still holds up pretty well.  I doubt I’ll do a full play through, but I did get through Act I, so we’ll see how far I go.

EVE Online

The war in null sec, World War Bee (or World War Bee II, depending on your narrative), has been raging and, as the ManicTime numbers indicate, that is where I spent most of my gaming time.  There are quite a few posts this month about the war, something I expect will carry on for a while.

EverQuest

My time with the Overseer option slackened quite a bit.  I had been logging in a couple of times a day to keep that going, but with the war in New Eden and other things vying for my attention, something had to fall off the list, and that was the Overseer. (Along with Swarm Simulator, which I forgot to backup before I purged my browser cache, which reset me to the beginning.)

Minecraft

There was the Nether Update, which I wanted to explore.  I did manage to find one of the new nether biomes.  The whole thing makes the Nether more interesting… and even more dangerous.

Pokemon Go

I did not pay the $15 for Pokemon Go Fest.  That seemed like a lot for something I didn’t quite understand.  But the side effects of the event were still beneficial, including some returning legendary raids.  Thanks to that and remote raid passes, my wife and I picked up Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina.

Level: 39 (51% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 556 (+11) caught, 589 (+12) seen
Pokemon I want: Some more good legendaries from raids
Current buddy: Fraxure

World of Warcraft

As usual I have been wasting the double experience opportunity in retail WoW, which I am sure I will regret at some later date.  But not today.  So all I did again this month was log in and do Darkmoon Faire on my main to get those five points of trade skill experience.  And, at this point, I am not sure that is even worth the effort.  Will it matter when the big squish hits that I got close to 150 points in BFA engineering?

WoW Classic

This remains my Azeroth focus.  The instance group got out and finished up Maraudon and we are going to get ourselves ready for Sunken Temple and our class quests next.  We are all past level 50 now, but there is still a ways to go before we are done.  I remain surprised at how well we have done as a group of four.  I suppose it just indicates how bad we were back in the day as a group of five.

Coming Up

August means school is starting and our daughter will be off to college.  My wife and I will be without a common foe.  Not sure what this will mean for our home life.  It will be different.

The month usually hosts the Blaugust event as well.  But, since we had Blaugust in April… Blapril… Belghast came up with a different event, Promptapalooza.  Instead of everybody posting as much as possible, we will be putting up a chain of posts from a prompt list starting tomorrow.

We should be getting the Activision Blizzard Q2 results.  We will see how much the pandemic helped their bottom line and hurt their shipping schedule.

WoW Classic will celebrate a year since launch.  I still don’t have a character at level 60, and I likely won’t by then.  I do have two in their 50s though.  Not too far off.

The war will carry on in EVE Online, and the front lines are moving closer to home as we try to fight off most of null sec.  They want to stomp us out, we just need to survive.

EQ Aradune Server and Trading One Problem for Another

I almost wrote a post this past week about how queue times had disappeared from the EverQuest Aradune server.  After all, that was the problem when it launched late last month, the problem that Daybreak was focused on addressing.

Nostalgia is live

Unfortunately, in opening up the server to allow more people to get into the game led to different problems.  Something is always the bottleneck, so when you fix one you often end up finding the next one.

In this case, people could log into the game, but moving between zones began to take as much as 15 minutes at times and often simply led to the game client getting disconnected or crashing.  Tipa declared her Aradune adventures over based on this state of the game.

The cure seeming worse than the disease, Daybreak announced that they were rolling back the population cap increase and would be working on server stability.

We wanted to update players on Aradune with some changes made recently. Since launch we have been working on solving the issues with server performance that has affected game play for many of you. In the interim we have reduced the server capacity slightly as a short term fix. Disconnects while zoning have been greatly reduced, and some of the sources of crashes while zoning will be addressed in the upcoming June update.

While the server is at a reduced capacity it is likely that you might see a queue during peak times, we know this can be frustrating and thank you for your patience while we continue to work on the outstanding issues.

So the server is back to queues again.  Those are more palatable than problems once you are in the game.  Tipa even suggested that she might return to Aradune, since queues were at least a consistent issue to deal with.

Darkpaw Games studio head Jenn Chan also put out a note to the EQ community (and the EQ2 community as well) last week about the problems that had hit their games last month when they did the server merges and add the new servers.  Players of both games got something for the problems.

So it goes.

On the bright side, being too popular to handle all the people who want to play on a new server is a good problem for a 21 year old game to have.

May in Review

The Site

I managed to break the blogger feed on the side bar.  It actually stopped working on its own and as I dug around I noticed that Pinboard said I had 32,768 entries there, which is exactly 2^15, which I suspected meant that I might have hit an upper limit on entries.  So I cleared all entries and… then nothing there has worked reliably since.

So I have an alternate feed now in the side bar which was, honestly, much easier to setup and get going, and seems more reliable.  However, I have less control over the feed so I cannot, for example, inject the blog name into the feed, so it is just post title, date, and author.  There will no doubt be a blog post about this when I get it settled.

Meanwhile, the blog has seen a bit of a traffic boom this month.  As usual, this traffic bump appears to be completely based on the whims of Google search, which suddenly doubled in impressions and clicks for my site.

Google’s own graph

Things were about normal in March, then there is the usual big April 1st spike, after which traffic and impressions taper off.  And then, suddenly, on May 6, they about double and I couldn’t tell you why.  It might be related to the Activision Blizzard financials.  There are a bunch of searches for “wow subscription numbers.”  But that should have tapered off after a few days.  Instead things appear to have kept going.

Also, in the usual post-Blaugust tradition, I have carried on after Blapril and posted every single day in May as well.  I am not sure that has an effect, but historically the September after Blaugust is usually a pretty good month for traffic as well, so maybe that plays into it.  Mysteries of the internet.

One Year Ago

Back in May of 2018 there was a rumor leak about Daybreak, so a year later I went back over them to see what came to pass.

Blizzard revenue margins dropped considerably.  As if to prove the point, WoW dropped off of SuperData’s digital revenue chart.

To hide that in the news cycle Blizzard gave us a date for WoW Classic. I wondered if the Cataclysm expansion was a necessary prerequisite for WoW Classic.  I also was speculating as to what would happen with WoW Classic as it aged.

The beta for WoW Classic had been up for a while, but they decided to do a stress test, so they let everybody in for a bit.  Of course I went!  And I did the following week as well.

In what we now call retail WoW I was off collecting the Children’s Week pets.

Blizzard also gave us a peek at their 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

The Mittani uttered the words, “Gevlon was right” in a public forum.

EVE Online celebrated its sixteen year anniversary with a sixteen day login campaign.  The Invasion expansion was slated for the end of the month.  Its arrival brought more Triglavian fun to the game as well as the big revamp of The Agency interface and some war dec changes.

CCP Peligro Tweeted out a chart about who gets banned for botting in New Eden.  CCP had also been trying to nerf ratting and mining, so that was the focus of my MER review that month.

The CSM14 election was coming up and Jester did a Reddit AMA about his time on the CSM as his NDA had finally expired.  I also had a bullet points post about CSM14 candidates and rewards and a coming war and such.

Out in Delve I got to undock my dreadnought.

With Liberty Squad I went on ops to Amamake and into Etherium reach that resulted in explosions.  I also got to drop on some Rorquals with Black Ops.

But people were focused on the coming Imperium attack on the north and where it would land.  Even as we formed up and moved vast fleets to the north of null sec, our target was still speculation, though once we set up shop in the east of Pure Blind it looked like Tribute was the target.  There was a rush to see if we could kill the PanFam staging Keepstar, but when that failed we settled in to burn down the region.

In Minecraft I was growing bamboo and looking for the new village types that came in with the Village & Pillage update.  The I went looking for pillagers.

Connor at MMO Fallout announced that the site was winding down… and then he changed his mind.

And I watched the Catch-22 miniseries on Hulu.  I liked some of it, but there were issues for me.  There always are.

Five Years Ago

A bucket list item achieved.

There was another Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I wrote a post.

The whole World of Warcraft “flying in Draenor” explosion started when Blizzard announced that they probably wouldn’t allow flying in that, or any future, expansion.  Lots of people spoke up.  I linked to a bunch of them.

It was not a good month for World of Warcraft.  Subscriptions were down to 7.1 million… and then they banned 100K accounts, so make that an even 7 million.

In the Warlords of Draenor expansion itself I was mostly going garrison stuff and pet battles.

Carbine announced that WildStar would be going free to play after continuing poor financial performance.

EVE Online turned 12 years old.  CCP was offering fan site the option of a free account OR receiving a PLEX every month.  I actually attempted to opt-in for the PLEX, but never heard back.  Was that option ever really a thing?  Did anybody get PLEX?  Is the fan site program still around?

The war in Fountain and Delve was over, NCDot had been pushed back yet again, and we were moving back north as our empire contracted.  Entosis stuff was looming.  Black Legion caught us taking a badly planned convoy through KVN-36.

Meanwhile, down in Querious, the Reavers were playing with Ravens.  Up in the north, TNT was moving out of Deklein and into Tribute as part of our Fozzie Sov plans.  And I hit 140 million skill points.

Then Daybreak went for a crowd pleaser by launching a new time locked expansion server named Ragefire. It was such a crowd pleaser that it couldn’t handle the crowd.  In addition to some first night problems, you simply couldn’t log in most of the time.  They worked on a login queue and some zone instancing technology from EverQuest II and eventually opened up another server named Lockjaw to take care of the crowding.

TorilMUD, the MUD on which EverQuest was largely based, softened its death penalty.  A sign of the times.

There was word of Warhammer Online private/pirate server for those who missed the departed game.

And I was playing LEGO Star Wars on the PlayStation 3 while the freshly minted Imperium was going to try and play H1Z1.

Ten Years Ago

I was unemployed thanks to the great mortgage meltdown, which you would think would leave me a lot more time for gaming and blogging.  But the anxiety of looking for a job for the first time in 12 years… and the first time in 20 years where there wasn’t just one out there waiting for me… made for a quiet gaming and blogging month.

Yes, I did start to poke my nose back into LOTRO.  A game where I didn’t have to pay a subscription seemed about right. (I have a lifetime subscription.)  That meant getting back into the swing of the game and figuring out what had changed.

We actually got THE DATE for the release of StarCraft II.  How did that turn out for everybody?  I skipped the whole thing.  Maybe when the StarCraft II warchest version comes out with all the expansions I’ll look into it.

The Agency came to Facebook, in the form of The Agency: Covert Ops.  A Mafia Wars-like game, without the multi-level marketing aspect, it had its good and its bad.  I liked the puzzles.  The dogs with guns… and the submarine fight… not so much.  Who knew that would be all of The Agency we would ever get?

Meanwhile SOE was transcending bad taste with their EQII PWNZ marketing campaign.

EVE Online got the Tyrannis expansion, though I wasn’t paying much attention there.  Something called EVE Gate was introduced… later closed and now being proposed again I think… as well as integration with DUST 514… also later closed and effectively proposed again with Project: Nova. Pattern here?

There was some Pokemon fun going.  I was twinking the Pokewalker while our cats worked against me.  The cats won in the end.

We also went to see the Pokemon Video Game Championships in our area.

And the Horde remix of the instance group was wrapping up Dire Maul and Stratholme.  Then, having hit 60, we let the Dungeon Finder guide our way into the Outland.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sony unveiled the PlayStation 3 in a pre-E3 announcement while Microsoft announced the XBox 360 on MTV.

Pokemon Emerald, the final third generation Pokemon game and the last GameBoy Advance Pokemon release, arrives in North America

Forty Years Ago

The Empire Strikes back, arguably the best movie in the whole series, debuts.  Or, as I sometimes think of it, the last great Star Wars movie.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is Coming
  7. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  8. EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start
  9. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  10. Where is the Scenario Mod for This?
  11. Burn Jita 2020 Seems Unlikely
  12. Hints of a Diablo II Remaster

Search Terms of the Month

iowa wooden deck
[You’re far from Iowa friend]

robert jordan wheel of.time repetitive writing
[Clip that and you’d lose a book worth of text]

eve online auction house no more undercut
[Well, no more .01 ISK undercut]

how to make bamboo grow faster in minecraft
[You’re kidding, right?]

wve onlune mist active cirporations
[Your fingers are on the wrong keys]

mmo when you can play as kobold
[Uhh… I don’t know]

where’d holly windstalker go?
[Blizzard]

Gaming Time from ManicTime

A bit of a surprise for times this month.  If you had asked me on the first I would have probably guessed that EVE Online would be at the top, with WoW Classic maybe not too far behind.  And then I launched Minecraft.

  1. Minecraft – 43.20%
  2. EVE Online – 32.22%
  3. WoW Classic – 16.58%
  4. EverQuest – 6.65%
  5. World of Warcraft – 0.69%
  6. RimWorld – 0.66%

It is really easy to put on a podcast or an audio book and while away the hours with Minecraft.  Meanwhile, WoW Classic has languished a bit as the group has been busy so hasn’t had a chance to get back to Zul’Farrak.

EVE Online

With the Goon Expeditionary Force deployed, there has been some opportunity for fun in space.  I am definitely in a mood where I only log in for fleets and not much else.  I have gone on some fleets, but perhaps not as many as I thought I would.  But we’re still out there in Cloud Ring.

EverQuest

I have been mostly poking along with the Overseer feature here, though I did log in and make a character on one of the new progression servers.  The Overseer got some updates, and there is a post about it in the making.  It remains, to my mind, superior to the EverQuest II version of the feature.  As for the progression servers, I am likely going to give this round a pass.  I poked my nose in for a first day glimpse, but without a group already stood up and ready to go it is more than I care to take on.

Minecraft

I mentioned Minecraft and a new world appeared.  My post about exploring our old world inspired Skronk to roll up a fresh on on Minecraft Realms, so we’ve been playing with that for about a week or so now.  I guess I had best move it up into the “games I play” list again.

Pokemon Go

Having hit level 39 at the end of last month I am still in the midst of the long climb to level 40.  Niantic’s quality of life changes to support pandemic play, like remote raid passes, have helped out.  I caught my first raid legendary, the Terrakion.  However, for every legendary I catch, four more seem to get away.  Oh well.

Level: 39 (19% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 541 (+10) caught, 569 (+9) seen
Pokemon I want: Some of these Unova Pokemon where I only have one
Current buddy: Axew

Pokemon Sword

I made no progress this month.  I didn’t even pick up the Switch Lite except to move it when it was in the way of something.  I think it is a nice little unit, but I haven’t worked in where it fits in my play time.  I used to sit on the couch when nobody was home, turn on a TV show I had seen before (reruns of The Wire FTW) and play, but now there is never a time when nobody is home.

World of Warcraft

I thought at the start of the month that I would totally get my Horde alt out and to level cap now that I have unlocked flying and there is double XP available until the next expansion.  It should be easy mode, a quick tour of the Horde story.  And then all I did was a bit of Darkmoon Faire.  I guess I can recycle that plan.  Maybe next month.

WoW Classic

Things slowed down some in WoW Classic, mostly due to the group being busy with other things in life.  We managed to get started in Zul’Farrak, but haven’t managed to get back for a return trip.  It is still on our agenda though.  Maybe next month.

Coming Up

A preview of June’s month in review: I will no doubt be complaining about the new editor WordPress will be forcing on us.  I’ve been using the old editor for over a decade and have heard little good about the new one.  But the old one may be dead tomorrow, so expect some curse words. (They say it will still be there, but in the past they have broken things like that on purpose to force people to change.)

It seems likely that, should I be able to still write posts, there will be some updates about the deployment in EVE Online, something about the instance group in WoW Classic when we get back to ZF, and maybe a further thought or two about Minecraft.

The CSM15 elections start tomorrow for EVE Online.  I bet you can already foresee that post coming.

I did buy a copy of the new Minecraft Dungeons, which I will probably try out later today, so perhaps something about that will pop up in June.

Otherwise, summer is coming, my daughter is graduating from high school, the weather is warm, and we’re coming up on three months of “stay at home” and even I am feeling like I need to go to the mall or something.  We shall see how we manage.

EQ Aradune Server Remains Over Crowded

In addition to launch day problems on Wednesday, the Aradune “Truebox Dedicated Progression” server remains over crowded.

Nostalgia goes live

Rather than being able to simply log in and adventure, players are finding long queues most hours of the day.  Daybreak has spent some time in the past creating a structure that could absorb more players on these special servers, adding the ability to spawn multiple versions of popular zones and creating a login queue for the launcher.  But the draw of a fresh new, true box progression server remains a bigger draw than they can handle.  The following statement was issued on the forums this morning:

We know lots of you are excited to play on Aradune, and wanted to provide an update. We’ve been monitoring queue times for the server closely and at this time we’re at the maximum capacity it can safely handle. We have noticed, If you have a flexible play time, there have been little to no queues between 12 AM and 7 AM PDT. We have made changes to the AFK timer to improve queue flow and are continuing to look at further improvements to reduce queue times during peak hours.

This does not apply to the Rizlona server, which also launched on Wednesday.  Logging into the game on that server is not nearly as difficult.

Aradune is, of course, a special name, being the handle EQ developer Brad McQuaid used in game, and was no doubt chosen to remember his passing last year.  That no doubt drives a bit of the desire to be on that server.

Also, the Rizlona server is not a “True Box” server, allowing players to multi-box if they like, a practice that has angered some players who have been quite vocal in the forums about Daybreak needing to do something about this sort of thing.  That has probably driven people to choose Aradune over Rizlona as well.

The question now is whether the pressure on the Aradune server is something Daybreak can manage until the population spreads out and the initial enthusiasm wears off, at which point the queues will likely disappear, or if they will need to add an additional server, the old school way to solve this sort of problem.

Adding a new server inevitably ends up with the second server being low population after a while, necessitating a server merge down the road.  We shall see which path Daybreak chooses.

 

EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start

Yesterday was the big day, the day that saw the launch of the two latest EverQuest progression servers, Aradune and Rizlona.  You can read more details about these servers at a previous post.

Nostalgia goes live

And things looked to be going better than normal, with the server launches hitting the promised noon Pacific Time launch window unlike so many past launches so that Daybreak was able to post the news on time.  I was even able to peek in and see that they were up and going.

The launcher shows them live

Of course, as the situation often unfolds, there was a rush to get on the servers and into the game as soon as the servers went live, though it appeared that Daybreak’s somewhat opaque queuing system might be up to the task.  Some people got in while others had to wait.

19 minutes isn’t a bad queue… it just doesn’t update

And then things fell over.  I saw an update pop up indicating there were problems and bringing up the launcher seemed to confirm that all was not well.

Yeah, that is not looking good

That apparently sent people scurrying to the forums to find out what was going one, so that they too promptly fell over.  Too many connections.

These are not the forum messages you were looking for…

The forums were available again after not too long, but all the forums are interconnected, so it seems that the EverQuest II forums were seeing problems.  And, apparently, the EverQuest II login servers as well.  I did not know they were connected, but I guess since the games share accounts that makes some sense.

Twitter updates not too far apart

Once the forums could handle the load there was a note about working on the issues followed by updates.

I am loathe to blame the user base for believing that Daybreak could successfully launch two new servers on time and without issue… but really, it is the same story every launch, isn’t it?  Delays, crowds, problems, they are all part of the authentic experience here now.

This is one of the three problems I feel MMORPGs are never going to solve, or bother solving at least, because it is transitory.  A week from now the crowds will have thinned and in a month any additional hardware applied would be sitting idle.

On the bright side, it does speak volumes about the ongoing popularity of EverQuest, now past the 21 year mark, and the desire to get back to a more primeval state of the genre.

As we got into early evening Pacific Time it seemed like Daybreak had finally gotten a handle on the problem and that things would finally kick off at about the usual time for these servers.  Logins were allowed and the queues quickly swelled up t about an hour.

And then something fell over again and all the servers were taken down once more and stayed down until around midnight, when the situation seemed to finally be settled.

This morning the servers appear to be up and running.  Maybe they should always launch at midnight?

The Aradune server, the true box progression server, had a queue this morning when I checked, once again running close to an hour in length.

The Rizlona server, which allows multi-boxing, seemed less in demand and I was able to pop right in and make a character to try out.

Halas on a crisp May morning

I ran out to Everfrost where I almost immediately had somebody train a red con skeleton onto me, which stunned me then killed me before I could do anything.  So all is normal in the world.

I haven’t really decided if I will give either server any sort of real effort.  I am always a bit interested, but I am not sure I am up to the task.  We shall see.  And if I let it pass, there will likely be a new server next year.

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