Category Archives: Friday Bullet Points

Friday Bullet Points about Lord of the Rings Online

Here we are at  Friday and once more it is bullet points on my mind.  But I am going to do future me a favor this time and keep it all focused on a single title.  This time around it is some tidbits about Lord of the Rings Online, ostensibly, according to my post on Monday, one of the five titles that I post about most around here.

  • Remastering Efforts

It has been more than a year and a half since Enad Global 7 acquired Daybreak, which included Standing Stone, and the announcement that the company was looking into doing a console version of Lord of the Rings Online.

That idea seemed like a huge lift back then… and it still does today.  I decided at one point that they would really have to build a new version from the ground up for consoles, and made that one of my predictions for 2022.

But we got word this past week that SSG is working on something of a remaster of the game’s graphics and user interface.  And I applaud that.  The fifteen year old game very much feels its age.  The UI was clunky and icons indistinct back when it launched, and in the age of wide screen monitors, it really looks bad when you try to scale up individual UI components.

The problem here is that it sounds like a superficial make over that will fall far short of what it would need to get the game onto consoles.  But maybe they have other plans for that as they are in a period of staffing up to tackle the challenges of a fifteen year old game that has suffered from no small amount of neglect.

Related:

I hope this ends up with an improved experience.

  • Anor Transfers as the First Legendary Server Shuts Down

The LOTRO Legendary server Anor is reaching the end of its time and will be sailing west at the end of the month.  Launched back in late 2018, it was SSG’s first try at a fresh start, nostalgia focused special server.  Readers of the blog may recall that I dove right in and played through the initial content and into Moria before the experience fell by the wayside.

Oversell much?

While I didn’t keep up with it after Moria, I found the initial content experience quite fun and will probably give it a try again some day… once they get that remaster thing above in gear because I have a wide screen monitor now and the UI looks like garbage on it… distractingly so.

But that is another tale.  For now, Anor is going away and if you want to keep your characters from that server you will be able to transfer them off between now and the end of the year.

A FAQ has been posted, which opens with:

The Legendary World of Anor will be closing to public log-in on August 31st, 2022, with the world formally becoming unavailable for log in after our regular weekly restart on the 31st. Through the end of the year free character and shared item transfers will remain available from Anor to any other non-Legendary game world. After December 31st, 2022, the Anor game world will be closed permanently, and any remaining characters will not be able to be transferred or accessed.

I do wonder at SSG’s in ability to do a server merge, the way that EverQuest does when its special servers reach the end of their lives and everybody ends up on the Vox server.  No doubt another example of the clunky nature of LOTRO‘s development.

I have one character I want to save from Anor, I just have to figure out where I ought to put him.

  • Echoes of a Cease and Desist

Also in the news over the last month or so was the private/pirate LOTRO server Echoes of Angmar, which was attempting to piece together the game as it existed in its early days. (Web site archived here in case it goes missing soon.)

A distant echo of a lost time

Having played the game from beta and through its launch, I am not sure I see the appeal.  Maybe my glasses are lacking in sufficient rose tinting, or maybe I like my nostalgia in a light form with some things, like that map of the Old Forest, available to hand.

But who am I to judge?  I have often said that there is no feature so bad that it isn’t somebody’s favorite thing in a game.

Because it was in the news it attracted the attention of Middle-earth Enterprises, which looks after the works of the late Dr. Tolkien and the related copyrights and licensing agreements.  They sent out a cease and desist letter to the team:

Dear Echoes of Angmar team,

We have noted the Echoes of Angmar game that you have posted and we appreciate and share your enthusiasm for the Tolkien works, and specifically for the developers and creators of the epic MMO, The Lord of the Rings Online. Judging from your website and Discord, you are individuals who possess a boundless enthusiasm for LOTRO, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. We’re here to acknowledge your enthusiasm, and thank you for your fandom. Unfortunately, we, as trademark holders and stewards of the Tolkien works, more often than we’d like, must deliver some potentially difficult news. As your business is using the Tolkien works and trademarks in an unauthorized manner without benefit of a license, we must ask you to cease.

As stewards of the Tolkien works, we take our role very seriously in order to protect the works for all time, on behalf of fans everywhere. As owners of the intellectual property rights, we are charged with protecting those rights both morally and legally. Unfortunately, Echoes of Angmar uses specific content from the books and from our Licensee for The Lord of the Rings Online without the benefit of a license. Honestly, it breaks our hearts to post letters like this one. It is not uncommon for fans to create things reflecting an affection for the Tolkien works. It is thus with a heavy heart that we must ask that you immediately cease all of your unauthorized use of Echoes of Angmar, and all other Tolkien-related IP on all platforms, including Discord, Youtube and on https://www.echoesofangmar.com/.

We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have on the subject, and wish you all the best in your future duly authorized endeavors.

Kind regards,

Middle-earth Enterprises

I have seen a number of comments about the gentle and even conciliatory tone of this letter, relative to what one sees coming from the likes of Nintendo or Square Enix or Blizzard or Disney when somebody is running loose with their copyrighted material.

And it is true, this is a kinder and gentler approach.  And perhaps that will mollify some fans, as no doubt the company has to issue this sort of thing on a reasonably regular basis.  But the results are the same in the end.  Their heart may be heavy, but not heavy enough to balance out the weight of the pocketbook that keeps them all paid.

So it goes.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, Plans, and Producer’s Letters

Another Friday in July and time for another bullet points post.  I am going to have to go back and check, but July seems to be the most popular month for bullet point posts here.  My guess is based on my having done the “one year ago” section for the month in review post and seeing that I did four of them last July and the fact that this is my fourth one this month.

At least I have been trying to go easy on future me who will have to write that month in review post in a year by keeping them mostly on related topics in a single post.  And this week it is Daybreak.

  • EverQuest Producer’s Letter

There was a producer’s letter for EverQuest and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the team is still sticking to the roadmap format they introduced at the start of the year.

Classic EverQuest

I fully expect companies to do something like that then forget about it in two months and never reference it again.  But here they not only have it front and center, they took the time to put links in the line items so you could go read about the output of a given item.

There honestly wasn’t much in the current producer’s letter that was of interest to me.  Another special rules server is being retired and merged into the Vox server, the designated home for retro refugees.

But coming up in September we’re supposed to get an update to heroic characters… the insta-level option in EverQuest and EverQuest II… so that they will no longer start off at level 85, where they have been for almost a decade at this point.  The update will raise them to start at level 100… which isn’t exactly stellar when the level cap is already 120, but it is something I guess.

Also, there are some hints about the upcoming expansions… which to me mostly confirms that we will be getting the usual annual expansion.  This year will be the 29th in the series.  How many is too many?  I guess we don’t know yet.

  • EverQuest II Producer’s Letter

As with its older sibling, EverQuest II got its own producer’s letter which also stuck to the roadmap from back in January.  There the update was focused on game update 120, called Myths and Monoliths, which is their big mid-year content drop for the current expansion.

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

There were also some hints about the next expansion, number 19, which we can expect to see by the end of the year if they are sticking to the usual plan… and I don’t see anything to suggest that they are not.

  • LOTRO and Support’s Packs

Lord of the Rings Online also had a producer’s letter, which drew attention to the update 33.1.1 and the adventures of the sons of Elrond, Elladan & Elrohir.

However, their 15th anniversary plans do not include and expansion.  They haven’t been on a solid annual schedule over the life of the game, so I suppose that isn’t a huge surprise.  But they would still like some money from you, so they have introduced Supporter Packs, where you can spend some money on unique cosmetic items along with some LOTRO points.

The packs are $35, $60, and $100, so it is like buying an expansion, just without the content.

I am not the best person to judge the community reaction, but I got the impression “underwhelmed” might be in the ballpark.

Supporter packs, the departure of some staff, and the emergence of a pirate retro server raised the question What is going on? over at Contains Moderate Peril.

  • DDO and Perma-death Again

Dungeons & Dragons Online… I don’t know if they do expansions or producer’s letters frankly.  I haven’t tried to play it in over a decade.  Put I do see news and headlines about it now and then, and it does come under the Daybreak banner, so I might as well add in something about it.

The latest update is the return of the Hardcore League for its sixth season.  This is a perma-death server experience where players compete to complete as much content as possible while staying alive.  Unlike special servers for other Daybreak classic titles, you do not need to be a VIP subscriber in order to join in on the experience.

As an added bonus, season six has some special dangers waiting for players who might have otherwise mastered the routine in the last five runs.

  • PlanetSide 2 goes Under Water

Now I am really out of my depth as what I know about PlanetSide 2 could be written into the margins of a standard trade paperback book without distracting the reader for more than half a page.

But I can read well enough myself to see that they made a big splash with the Surf and Storm update earlier this month which introduced the island continent of Oshur and features under water game play.

Sturm und Drand

Underwater content tends to be one of the few things to disorient me and give me a bit of motion sickness in 3D MMOs, so I am not all that excited about this, but it does indicate that they are carrying on trying new things with the title.  And hey, it might even be stable by the time this post goes live.

  • H1Z1 Has Absolutely Nothing New

I looked to see what was up with DC Universe Online and H1Z1 to see what they had to report and… well, DCUO is an even bigger mystery to me than PlanetSide 2, but I could at least go to the game’s site and see that there were recent news items and updates.

H1Z1 however… the most recent news item on the game’s web site is from October of 2020.

Remember when this was a thing?

So it goes, another bullet point post comes to an end.

Friday Bullet Points about Maps, Asteroid Belts, and Player Safety in EVE Online

It is Friday again and I have several items about EVE Online rattling around in my drafts folder.  I could have worked each and every one into a blog post I am sure, but it is hot, I am tired, and it is the end of the week, so I am just going to lump them all into a bullet points blog.

Future me will me angry about me being lazy and doing a single post on all of this a year from now, but who cares about that guy?

  • Addressing Community Safety

After last week’s events where a female player who was being stalked and harassed both in and out of game blew up in the Imperium’s face and led to the downfall of The Mittani as its leader, CCP has followed up with a dev blog about community safety and its own policies on harassment in game and at CCP sponsored events.

The forum thread opened up to discuss this dev blog saw… its own sort of discussion.  I suppose it was once again proof that you don’t have to go to r/eve to find bad opinions.  It isn’t a real New Eden forum thread unless somebody brings up Ayn Rand I guess.

CCP said that anybody found in violation of its terms of service or code of conduct would not be allowed to be a part of any CCP sponsored activities, including events and things like the partnership program, with a promise that this was only the start of their initiatives to ensure player safety.  That prompted more than a few, “Wait, you’re not doing that now?” responses, but maybe they are just warming up to some bigger plan.

Related:

We shall see if this ends up going anywhere.

  • The Imperium Gets a Harassment Policy

Meanwhile, the caretaker leadership of the Imperium posted the new harassment policy last weekend based on the events of the previous week and feedback from its membership.  I cannot link you to it, as it is on an internal site, but it sets forth behavior not allowed, includes a reporting system designed to keep the identities of those using it confidential, and will be staffed by an appointed group of volunteers (now called the “Bee Keepers”) who will review complaints.  Included in the announcement is a primer on what evidence would be helpful and how to find and submit things like logs and screen shots.

Why does a space guild, even one with ~7K people in it, need an HR department?  Because CCP has not been historically fair or consistent when policing its own game, often depending on unpaid volunteers to do the investigation.  And, let’s face it, it took them a week longer than the Imperium to even acknowledge something happened, and that included a strong statement that rule breakers wouldn’t be allowed in the partnership program.  Oh noes!

As for whether or not the new Imperium policy and reporting mechanism will work as hoped… we’ll only know the next time something happens, and likely then only if the system fails.  Hopefully it will not fail the next person who needs support.

  • Desolate Asteroid Belts

In addition to depressing the in-game economy and making capital ships too expensive to build, CCP’s great economic disruption plan led to a number of strange circumstances in New Eden.  One of them was the removal of asteroid belts from null sec, which gave NPCs no place to spawn.  Since those NPCs included some officer drops, CCP did a quick fix and move NPC spawns to jump gates in null sec.

This has not made people happy.  Gate rates are fine if you’re in battleships or HACs, but if you have a frigate gang on a gate looking to tackle somebody the gate rats can ruin your plan.

CCP put up a forum post outlining their plan to spread out the rats in null sec by introducing desolate asteroid belts.  The summary:

  • This means that it will be possible for players to raise ADMs in systems in nullsec with no regular asteroid belts present without having to rely on random anomalies and gate rats.
  • This means that players will be able to find the highest tier officers in this location in Curse which currently has no asteroid belts.
  • Players should encounter NPCs on gates far less frequently.
  • There should be no more instances of ‘hell spawned’ gates where an asteroid belt NPC spawn could share the same gate as a gate rat spawn.

This is currently available for testing on Singularity, the test server, and will likely move to the main server in the next few weeks.

  • NetEase and the New Map for Serenity

Meanwhile, over on Reddit, CSM17 member Angry Mustache posted a summary of some changes that NetEase, which runs the Serenity server in China, has planned for a major revamp of the game.  The summary for what is being called the New Dawn update:

  • Map is a donut, with empire on the outside, sov null in the middle, and NPC/lowsec inbetween
  • Number of systems have been roughly cut in half to increase player density
  • Topology of the map is maintained closely, regions will still have the same neighbors but they are arranged differently in space.
  • A bunch of other shit that completely changes how the game is played

The “other shit” includes alliances being limited to 4 corporations of 255 players each and safeties being locked in the green state in high sec to prevent new players accidentally losing their ships due to ignorance of the game.

There is a lot to digest in that post, but the map is the wild bit for me.

The proposed New Eden map for Serenity

For those eager for some of these changes, they are all being developed by NetEase and are strictly for the Serenity server at this time.

  • Battle of the Bricks Results Today

The Star Citizen development team challenged the EVE Online team to see which community could create the best LEGO based models of in-game ships as a way to money for the Extra Life charity.

A LEGO Noctis

The results of the competition will be announced today… in about 45 minutes from when this posts… on the Star Citizen official Twitch channel.

If you want to read about the challenge, though it is too late to enter, go here.  Otherwise, tune in if you can to see what people came up with.

  • Team Security 2021 Update

The security team at CCP posted a dev blog about their performance in 2021.

There are charts and bullet points full of details about who Team Security is and what they get up to and how you can help fight the bot menace.  But, in the end, you want to know the big number, which is 70,492.

That is how many accounts Team Security banned in 2021.

And that is what I have for this Friday.

Friday Bullet Points about Blizzard and BlizzCon and Overwatch and Other Items

Activision Blizzard remains in the limbo between its scandals and its future as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft.  In this interim period, Bobby Kotick remains firmly at the helm and the company has to keep making money or they might pooch the deal.  And, while we get abbreviated quarterly financials from the company, they still have to keep enticing us so we have gotten some news from Blizzard.

  • BlizzCon in 2023

There was an interview in the LA Times with Mike Ybarra, head of Blizzard that contained some interesting tidbits.  It is behind a paywall, but other sites have picked up the stories, so they get links instead.  One of the things that came up was the return of BlizzCon.

BlizzCon in Blue

Blizzard would like to go back to having a live BlizzCon event, starting back up in 2023 when, presumably, the Microsoft acquisition is over and some bad actors in the executive suite at Activision have been paid off and sent on their way.

  • Immortal Defense

In the same LA Times article Ybarra went to bat to defend the predatory monetization practices in Diablo Immortal, telling the press that 99.5% of the game is free to play and that the paid part is in the end game.

My most charitable thought on that was maybe he hasn’t played like… a minute into the game? Because that is about how long it takes before it starts hitting you up to buy things.

It will just take a minute of play to show you

Anyway, this did not cement much credibility for the head of Blizzard with those who know the truth… but it is always spin and disinformation that wins with those unfamiliar with the situation.

  • Blizz Buys Out the Proletariat

The proles will now be a wholly owned subsidiary of Blizzard, which is an oddly appropriate frame for the company’s labor relations.  Proletariat is/was an independent game studio that produced the title Spellbreak.  Blizzard has bought them to boost the workforce focused on developing content for World of Warcraft.

Blizz needs WoW to perform, because even Diablo Immortal bringing in a million dollars a day doesn’t match Azeroth’s ability to bring in a billion dollars annually as recently as 2020.  Even Ybarra said in that LA Times interview that Blizzard needs to increase their content output, and Blizzard has had success with groups outside of Irvine reviving their products.  Diablo II Resurrected is a prime example of that.

In a no-doubt related story, Spellbreak will be shutting down.

  • Blizz Spending Money on Making More Developers

Also announced was Blizzard’s plan to spend some of its $250 million diversity fund to start a 12-week program called Level Up U with a goal of creating more full-time game developers.

As with the above item, this is no doubt related to Blizzard’s desire to increase content output in order to sustain its bottom line.  I have opinions about “more” being “better” and “n+1” being able to increase output in any sort of predictable, linear fashion, but if you have the budget and some patience, you can make something happen.

  • WoW Freebies on Prime Gaming

Speaking of needing WoW to perform, Blizz is pushing promotions for the game as well.  I brought this up somewhere else, but I figured it deserved a mention on

its own.  So now, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber and you go to Prime Gaming, you can get some free transmog items over the next few weeks.

Just link your account to claim

They aren’t great transmog items.  At least I don’t think they are.  And they certainly are not new ones.  They are three of the head transmog items that have been in the Blizz store for ages now.

The trio of head gear

Two out of three of those are literally vying for the ugliest head transmog items ever in my book, and the third only excels in comparison to the other two.  I remember these landing in the shop and thinking they were garbage and I would never buy them.  But now I can own all three for free I guess.

I found this worth noting because, first, it is not something Blizz has done before with WoW.  And, second, the Prime Gaming give-aways tend to be the domain of free to play titles, with League of Legends and World of Tanks/Warships often in the lineup, along with online games without a subscription fee, like Grand Theft Auto V Online.

  • Warcraft III Reforged Might Be Finally Ready

Maybe?  The early 2020 launch of Warcraft III Reforged was a master class in how to piss off the core audience for your nostalgia focused project.  At launch it lacked critical feature parity, contained onerous new agreement to make sure nobody would create another DOTA mod that Blizzard didn’t fully own, and forced all owners of the original title to upgrade to the new version, basically stealing functionality from their installed base.

Blizzard acknowledged their complete screw up by offering a no questions asked refund policy for those of us who pre-ordered a copy before it was clear what a fiasco the whole thing was.

But Blizz didn’t kill the project.  They kept working on it.  And now, two and a half years after it launched, the game finally has ranked play and leader boards.  They are finally achieving parity with a 2003 title!

  • Overwatch Surges on XBox

NPD put out their June sales numbers and Overwatch jumped up to fifth place in sales according to their numbers.

June 2022 – NPD’s Top 20 US Video Games by Revenue

I tend to be dubious of NPD.  As I often noted back in the SuperData Research era, their numbers are US only, heavily influenced by physical retail sales, with only some digital sales being counted, and very console platform focused, as well as focusing only on “Premium” games, whatever that means.  I used to compare/contrast NPD and SuperData to demonstrate how their collection methods yielded very different results.

So the June overall number reflects strong sales on XBox and PlayStation, where the title hit 3rd and 7th position respectively.

As for why Overwatch jumped in June, the following was noted:

Overwatch returned to the top 20 best-selling titles chart for the first time since October 2019, ranking 5th overall. This jump was driven by the release of the Overwatch 2 Beta on June 28th.

So, within the scope of what NPD tracks, Overwatch has a very good June… or last three days of June, if sales jumped on the 28th.

  • Heroes of the Storm Officially Done

Finally, this is the end of the tale for the long troubled title Heroes of the Storm.  July 8th was the seven year anniversary of the title’s launch and Blizzard marked the moment with an update about its future status.

Heroes of the Storm from early 2015

It isn’t getting shut down.  Blizzard does try to keep its products alive and available in some form long past the time when most other companies would bother.  But eventually the new content and regular updates tap gets turned off.

And so it goes for HotS, which will join Star Craft and Star Craft II in the Blizzard maintenance mode club.  The lights will stay on and the store will remain there to take your money, but there are no new features or heroes planned going forward.

So it goes.  Another bullet point post is done.

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, 64-bit, and the End of the Drunder Server

It is Friday and I don’t have anything worth a full post, so here are a few tidbits mostly about Daybreak.

  • 64-bit EverQuest II

I was actually thinking about writing a full post about this, but there isn’t that much to say at this point.  Server and client have been upgraded to 64-bit, which was pretty much necessary to ensure the long term viability of the game.

There wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the launch.  It just showed up at the top of the patch notes and got a short news item on the site.  But they have done 64-bit upgrades for the other titles in the Daybreak stable already, so it doesn’t seem all that exciting.

The system requirements for the game have changed, and if you’re still running on 32-bit Windows XP then your days of playing the game are over until you upgrade.  But otherwise, just another day at Daybreak.

  • Drunder Goes Under

It seems like ages ago when Daybreak announced the unique “special” server that was Drunder.

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

It was almost seven years ago when they hit on the idea of collecting all the problem children together. Anybody busted for breaking the game’s rules wasn’t to be banned, they were to be banished to the Drunder server.  There they could hang out with all their fellow miscreants and reflect on their crimes.  Also, they would get no customer service support and would have to pay a subscription to keep playing.  It was a strange idea.  I wrote a whole post about it when they announced it, with links out to like posts.

Well, the Drunder era is over.  It was announced on the forums that the server was no more.

We are announcing today that Drunder has been retired. This also means all accounts associated with Drunder will no longer be accessible.

It was strange to think that somebody might continue to play, or even subscribe, when they had been banished.  But if somebody was doing so, they can play no longer as their accounts are not longer accessible.

In an ironic twist, the forum message ends with:

Please contact Customer Service with all questions or concerns here: https://help.daybreakgames.com/

Since they were not supposed to get any customer support once banished, I wonder what they should expect now?  Or if there was anybody left to expect anything in any case.  I have a feeling that if the server was active with still paying customers it wouldn’t have gotten the chop.

Related Coverage:

It seems they banned Daybreak accounts and not just the EverQuest II access.  Oh, Daybreak.

  • Robin Flodin Paid Off

This isn’t strictly a Daybreak thing, and it happened more than a month ago at this point, but it has been in my notes to bring up at some point.  Robin Floodin, one time CEO of Enad Global 7 and the enthusiastic face of the company that bought out Daybreak, was bought out of the company.  Per the statement published back at the end of May:

On May 25, 2022, the EG7 executive team and select board members purchased 2,446,592 shares, representing 2.8% of outstanding shares, from Robin Flodin, the former CEO of EG7. The purchase price was SEK 16.25 per share and amounted to almost SEK 40 million. After this transaction, Mr. Flodin will no longer be a shareholder in the company. The purchasing group was led by Jason Epstein, a current board member and the proposed new chairman of the board who acquired 1.1 million shares; Ji Ham, the acting CEO, acquired 900,000 shares, doubling his stake; and Alexander Albedj, the current chairman of the board, acquired 250,000 shares. Additional participants in the group included the deputy CEO and CFO, IR-responsible and independent board members.

A nice payday for Mr. Flodin I suppose, but it does make one wonder if Enad Global 7 really acquired Daybreak or if it is ending up the other way around.  As noted over at MMO Fallout, “acting” CEO Ji Ham doesn’t appear to have an replacement waiting in the wings many months after taking on the center stage role.  One might begin to think that it is less an act and more a fait accompli.

Friday Bullet Points on a Chilly Spring Saturday

[This was supposed to be yesterday’s post, but then I woke up to a big news event, so it is a day late.]

It is cold out, considering it is spring here in California.  It has even rained here in the last 24 hours.  I am wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, which isn’t exactly the gear of arctic explorers, but by this late in April I have generally been well into the “I will wear shorts every day until I have finished off the Halloween candy” state of affairs that working from home forever has brought me to.

Not that the weather has anything to do with the rest of this post, but I needed a headline and the weather will serve when nothing else comes to mind.  So on with another bullet points post or items I thought worth noting but which weren’t worth a whole post on their own.

Enad Global 7

  • EG7 Dropping Russia

On the trend with western companies bailing from Russia after its brutal invasion of Ukraine, Enad Global 7 has announced that they will selling off their Innova subsidiary to the management of the team for a total of 32 million Euros, quite a haircut for the company considering they shelled out 109 million Euros for the company when they closed the deal for it a little over a year ago.  Innova was primarily acquired because they held the license to run a number of MMOs in the EU and Russia.  The current state of the Ukraine conflict puts Innova in a tough spot.

Meanwhile EG7 also announced that they would Toadman Interactive, another acquired studio, would be relocated from its current location in Russia to somewhere in the EU.

Database evolution

  • EVE Online Database History

CCP has posted another of the dev blogs that makes them a standout on the communications front in the industry.  Every time I think that they could do better, I have to remind myself how poorly the industry handles this sort of thing.

New database server upgrades have arrived and that has prompted the team to write a history of the databases of EVE Online, spanning from the early days when they had to solve lag problems with people just warping across systems, to being able to cope with 100 vs 100 fights, to the monster servers that they have today which make the original 2003 game look as powerful as a digital watch by comparison. (Though I still think digital watches wee a pretty neat idea.)

Anyway, if this is your sort of thing… and I am all over these sorts of posts… you can find the whole thing on CCPs news site here.

A new drama generator

  • RimWorld is Legal in Australia Again

It was noted previously that, after the Ideology expansion for RimWorld landed, it seemed like maybe the thought of feminist nudist cannibals was too much for the faint hearts in Canberra.

And that could have been it, though the whole thing came up due to the fact that there was a console version of the game on the horizon, which was what got the Classification Review Board taking a look at RimWorld again.  And they didn’t like what they saw, so flagged it as “Refused Classification” which made it unsalable down under.

That was undone earlier this week… on 4/20 if you think there is any significance in that… allowing the people of Australian to once again purchase RimWorld or redeem Steam keys for the game.

And, speaking of console support, RimWorld also announced that the game now has full support for Steam Deck, so perhaps that was what triggered the whole thing.

The return of the classic

  • Diablo II Resurrected Gets Ladders and more

Diablo II Resurrected has gotten its 2.4 patch, which is the biggest update the game has received in a long long time.

The lead story for the update is the unlock of the ladder seasons for those who want a competitive Diablo II experience, but there is so much more in the update such as class updates, mercenary fixes, new rune words, new Horadric Cube recipes, quality of life updates, and even some new levels of legacy graphics emulation for those who play with the old school look.

The great thing is that Blizzard has gone all in on this 22 year old game to make it better and fix things that has been problems for decades.  The sad thing is that this might be the peak of Diablo news this year unless Diablo Immortal is a lot better than I suspect it will be.

Playable Worlds

  • Playable Worlds gets $25 Million in Funding

Finally, news got out this week that Playable Worlds, Raph Koster’s sandbox cloud MMO venture, managed to pick up $25 million in financing for the project from a group that includes Korean video game publisher Kakao Games Corp.

That got Raph Koster to speak a bit more about the vision for the title:

“It’s about having environments that are more alive,” Koster said. “Players can affect things that evolve and change rather than being static. Most games build their maps out of static meshes. Ours are dynamic and come down on the fly from the server. It’s about enabling worlds to feel more alive. That’s really what it comes down to.”

“Offering truly and fully persistent shared environments and massive scale is something else that is really important to us,” Koster said. “These aren’t just theme parks that you ride through, right? Where the developers are the ones who are in control. Giving full persistence also unlocks the ability for players to have far more impact. If you chop down a tree, it is permanently gone from the world for everybody.”

Specifics about the project were not forthcoming.

And we have heard a vision like this before, with the EverQuest Next project, which was eventually shelved by Daybreak, in part because of the processing requirements such a dynamic and player changeable world entailed.

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.

Friday Bullet Points about Acquisitions on Christmas Eve

At this point it is probably too late to worry about whether you’ve been naughty or nice in 2021, but there is still some time left before the fat man flies to touch on a few items I wanted to bring up but which didn’t seem worth a full post.

  • Daybreak and Magic the Gathering Online

The news hit yesterday that Daybreak, now always highlighted as a fully owned subsidiary of Enad Global 7, though with the Daybreak boss in as CEO you might ask who really owns who at this point, made a deal with Wizards of the Coast (owned by Hasbro now) to take over publishing and operational duties for Magic: The Gathering Online, the virtual version of the classic collectible card game.  The deal also includes the right to “develop” the title.

Magic the Gathering Online

Daybreak has had experience in the past with collectible card games, though those have all since been shut down.  According to the coverage at Massively OP, the deal means that the development team responsible for the title will become a studio under the Daybreak banner, as opposed to being folded into one of the current studios.

  • Crowfall Finds a New Home

In a classic “hide the message” move, it came out last Friday after the US markets had closed (the press release hit my inbox at 4:20pm Pacific time, so dude!) that Crowfall, a crowdfunded MMO that actually went live earlier this year, making it an exception to the rule for MMOs choosing that financing route, was to be acquired by Monumental, the studio which runs Mythgard.

Is this even still their logo?

Despite the after hours on a Friday press release, the news seemed promising for the title. While the Crowfall team ran a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2015, bringing in more than $1.7 million, and managed to launch earlier this year, the game appeared to be struggling to find an audience.

According to coverage over at Massively OP, Monumental will be providing resources to improve the game and keep it going, as the title seemed to be foundering after its launch.

  • Perfect World Entertainment embraced by Embracer Group

Also in for an end of the year acquisition… companies are out doing their holiday shopping before the end of the fiscal year I guess… was Perfect World Entertainment, which had itself acquired Cryptic Studios (which created Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Champions Online, but which is probably best known for the late City of Heroes) and Runic Games (which did the Torchlight series, Hob, and Mythos) over the years.

Just down the street from EA HQ, though Cryptic is less than 2 miles from my house

The buyer is the Embracer Group, which also acquired Gearbox earlier this year.  PWE will be slotted in as part of Gearbox in the organization.

Since Embracer is publicly held, they had to do a report on the acquisition, which included fresh new details about some of the titles.  Not as in depth as what we got about Daybreak when EG7 acquired them last December, but still some data points including lifetime revenue and total player counts.

I suspect that format was chosen to give the titles the best possible look financially.  Star Trek Online, for example, was reported as having made $240 million over its life so far, with 4 million players trying the title.  That means the nearly 12 year old title has made about $20 million a year, but I imagine a good chunk of that was early on and includes box sales.  No word on what it, or any of the other PWE titles have been pulling in recently.  That the price was $125 million in cash and equity, less than half of what Daybreak sold for a year ago, one might infer that PWE titles would rank closer to the lower end of the Daybreak titles in gross revenue, and maybe even less in net profit due to some of them being licensed properties.

Friday Bullet Points Once Again from Space

It is Friday and there are a few EVE Online items I want to bring up but that don’t quite merit a full post at this time.  Not included in this is the September Monthly Economic Report, which I’ll get to on Monday.  That I can string out into 1,500 words easy.  Meanwhile, CCP it trying to outdo me with their own Community Beat post today.

  • Introducing Quasar

CCP posted a dev blog this week titled Introducing Quasar, which is a look at the changes CCP has made, and further changes that they are contemplating, to improve server performance of EVE Online by getting around Python’s Global Interpreter Lock that keeps the game running on a single thread.  Basically, if you take some housekeeping items off of the server’s to-do list, like skill plans, there is more bandwidth to track ships in space.  As put in the post the goals are to “dodge the GIL and clear the table for moar lasers.”

There is some additional insight into this over at TNG.

  • Totality Day Celebration

Come October 13th it will have been a year since the Triglavian Collective took the 27 systems they had conquered from the four empires and disconnected them from the previous gate network to for the new region of Pochven.  (Which, among other things changed the shape of travel in empire space with the removal of Niarja.)

So… time for an anniversary celebration I guess?  CCP thinks so and has some events planned according to this dev blog.

The Triglavians are still behind the other empires of New Eden as they don’t seem ready to offer login rewards for their event.  Maybe contact with the other empires will lead them to this technology at a later date.

  • Faction Warfare Report

Faction Warfare is often mentioned as one of the neglected aspects of low sec space in New Eden.  You don’t hear much about it unless somebody is complaining that it is broken… or noting CCP’s neglect.  But a group of Gallente pilots have started up a podcast, the Federation Frontline Report, to give some insight into that aspect of EVE Online.  They also have a guest post up on INN about their efforts and what Faction Warfare is.

  • SSO Endpoint Deprecation

For those who use the CCP APIs for various things, they are deprecating the old security authorization token interface, so if you are connecting to the using ESI or using the EVE SSO for user authentication, you need to update to the v2 versions of the API by November 1st.  Details are available in a third party developer blog post.

  • Mega Skill Point Packages

There was a post over in r/eve this week from a player with an account that had been dormant since 2010 who received an offer from CCP to buy 50 million skill points for the low low price of $999.99.  Another user reported an offer for 12.9 million skill points for 229.99 GBP.

I didn’t get an offer, but I dug around in an account that was last Omega maybe three years ago and found I had a special offer for 8.1 million skill points for $199.

Skill Point Offer

I am sure we could find a few other data points and figure out how many skill points you get offered based on how long your account has been dormant.

  • Monocle Offer

It has been a little over a decade since the Incarna expansion, which got the player base to explode over a variety of issues.  Often referred to as the “summer of rage,” the name that stuck for a lot of people outside of the game was “monocle-gate.”  I covered the anniversary in a post earlier this year, including the fallout, resolution, and how things went forward from there.  But monocles became the symbol due to a pricey eye piece that was added to the in-game store with the expansion.

While the monocle stuck around long after things simmered down, it remained a trigger for some, which is why it was a bit of a surprise to find CCP offering special monocles again in the in-store ten years down the road.

Monocular times are here again

I can’t tell if this is CCP just looking for some new cosmetic item to sell or if they’re just trolling us a decade after their first monocle.  And the monocles are only available until downtime on October 14th, so they’re trying to push the FOMO button as well… if anybody has any actual fear of missing out on a monocle I guess.

  • New Player Experience Explored

Shintar sent this video to me, so credit to her.  CCP apparently went out looking for streamers who had never played EVE Online to go through the recently revamped new player experience and give their response.  They were supposed to go in without reading up or getting external help and just let the game guide them.  Preach Gaming took on the challenge and put together a video about the experience.

It is kind of fun to watch as somebody who knows the answers.  There are a few places where I don’t know how he ended up with a particular idea, but otherwise it seemed to go pretty well.  Something that will come as a surprised to exactly nobody is that the problems began when he hit the now very out of date career agents, but I remain impressed that he figured out how to use probes and scan something down in under two hours with no external help.

Anyway, that is what was on my list.

Friday Bullet Points From the Empty House

Summer must be coming to an end because the new semester starts for my daughter next week.  She and my wife left Wednesday morning to drive up to Oregon to get her moved into the dorm and settled, while I stayed behind.  It took about a day before working from home and having nobody to sync up with on meals before all structure fell away from my existence and I began to live like the cats.

My wife will be back tomorrow to help return me to a more normal cycle, but until then it is time for another nap.  But before I snooze, a few items that came up of which I wanted to take note.

  • Designing Virtual Worlds

On Monday this week Richard Bartle announced on his personal blog that he had asked for the rights for his 2003 book Designing Virtual Worlds to be reverted to him and he has now made it available as a free download in PDF format.

Something like the book cover

I actually found out about this via a tweet from Raph Koster:

Naturally I grabbed a copy as soon as I could.  Even if you are not interested in the design aspects, the book includes a run down of the history of virtual worlds from MUD1 up into speculating about the launch of EVE Online.

As is noted constantly, the whole thing predates the launch of World of Warcraft, but is still remarkably relevant 18 years down the road.

  • Men Who Play Women

Nick Yee’s group, Quantic Foundry, emailed be about the release of a new publicly available report on the genders people choose to play when they have an in-game avatar.

home of gamer research

Among the findings were that while only 9% of women play male avatars, 29% of men play female avatars.

The report goes on to try and explain why men play female avatars and comes up with some good points.  But I suspect that the fact that so many games hyper-sexualize female avatars plays into it a lot as well.  The game designers are very much in on the objectifying of the female body.  I would be interested to see if there was any variation in the numbers between games that are all in on boob bounce physics and titles that don’t go down that path.

  • Esports in Asia

Niko Partners, which covers the video game trends in Asia, has a new report on the size and trends in esports across Asia, which makes up 54% of the global market.  While the full report will set you back $5K, the intro page has some tidbits about the market that you might find of interest.

  • EA Making Loot Boxes Suck Slightly Less

In their quarterly earnings call EA said that they were seeing more engagement and more spending when they let players peek at what was in a loot box via special “preview packs,” which you could open before committing to buy.  These were apparently received very well by the community and a lot of players who otherwise had not purchased loot boxes spent money on these new packs.

EA has literally discovered that if you tell people what you’re selling, more people are likely to actually buy.

  • More Bonus Skill Points in EVE Online

A quick one to slip in because it is time sensitive.  CCP has a skill point login event going on this weekend.  For Omegas that log in  and claim the rewards on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there is 50K skill points in it for you.  For Alphas, it is just 15K, but that is still better than nothing.

  • Reminiscing About EverQuest and EverQuest Next

Finally, last week aLovingRobot had Jeff Butler, one of the original EverQuest team members, on the show where they chatted about EverQuest Next, EverQuest, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the early days of SOE, and the MMORPG market.

aLovingRobot’s channel has more than a few videos dedicated to the history and lore of EverQuest and related titles, so if the subject interests you, then you can certainly find some more to watch.  There are a number of names from the past that appear in the series.

Hat tip to Feldon for finding this.