Category Archives: Friday Bullet Points

Friday Bullet Points with World of Warcraft and the Lunar New Year

The lunar new year is upon us, or will be officially this Sunday.  And with that in mind there are a few things that have come up with WoW related, and not, to the celebrations.

  • Year of the Six Month Rabbit

It is the year of the rabbit… unless you’re Vietnamese, in which case we’re talking year of the cat… and Blizzard has a special mount to celebrate the year.  For just $25 you can get the Bright Foreseer mount… or, if you subscribe in six month billing cycles you get it as part of that package.

Year of the Rabbit in Azeroth

In addition, if you are playing Wrath of the Lich King Classic, you get the Hoplet bunny pet for being on the six month plan as well.

  • Lunar Festival 2023

Today is also the start of the Lunar Festival in Azeroth, a chance to seek out the elders scattered throughout Azeroth, earn some achievements, and even get an easy ride to that Moonglade flight point if you do not already have it.  It is in both retail and classic, so choose you’re lunar new year destination.

  • Wrath Classic Phase 2 is Live

Blizzard has launched Phase 2 of Wrath Classic, which for raiders means that Ulduar is live, and it even has a trailer.

For non-raiders like me, it means that the Argent Tournament is now live.  I’ve flown past the empty space where it lives a few times already, but now construction is under way and the tournament is open.

Approaching the Argent Tournament

This is where I spent a lot of time back during original Wrath, where I went exalted with all of the alliance factions, and where I picked up my favorite flying mount, the Argent Hippogryph.  It is my flying mount of choice in retail WoW to this day.

The Sun Was Cooperating For Once…

We shall see if we have the wherewithal to do any of that again.

The downside of Phase 2 is that is broke pretty much all of my addons.  Now I am waiting around to see which ones will get updated and which authors have wandered off to other games.  Always the hazard of addons and mods.

  • WoW Closed in China

Meanwhile, things are not so hot for WoW players in China at the dawn of the lunar new year.  We heard back in November that a deal between Blizzard and NetEase might not be forthcoming, a situation that has come to pass.  As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, NetEase has been very aggressive and confrontational when it comes to the Blizzard deal, blaming Blizzard for any fallout, heaping scorn on their attempts to get an extension, and distancing itself from any attempt for current WoW players ability to save their current player data declaring that Blizzard’s download toolset, used to archive player characters, may contain security risks and could lead to loss of virtual items.

None of this is good for WoW players in China, who are suffering due to friction.  I remain a bit surprised at NetEase’s behavior.  They clearly are not interested in any goodwill from their former customers.  But this performance may be as much a warning to its other Western partners that if they don’t get what they want they are prepared to go for a scorched earth policy as it is a strike against Activision Blizzard.

Friday Bullet Points about EVE Online in the Wet New Year

Did I mention that it is raining here in California?  We don’t have hurricanes out here because… they call them cyclones or typhoons in the Pacific.  Anyway, it has been wet with a dose of high winds out here.  But hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, and tempests are all ships in EVE Online as well, so maybe I’ll just go there.

  • A New Rifter for a New Decade

We’ll enter the third decade of EVE Online come May and CCP has chosen this moment to update what is arguably the signature ship of the game, the Rifter. From the patch notes:

The Rifter, as well as it‘s variants: Wolf, Jaguar, Freki and the upcoming Geri have been completely rebuilt featuring texture updates, high polygon count, warp animation and added visual effects.

That made me a little antsy.  CCP’s touch had not always been deft or light. (I miss the old Cormorant and Badger models frankly.)  But CCP went very conservative on the rework, so it feels like the Rifter still.

1v1 at the sun!

There are some extra frills, and the warp animation is a bit odd, but don’t worry, even if those changes are too much they’ve painted its name on the side of the hull so you’ll know what it is.

R1F73R is online

  • New SKINs for 1 PLEX Each

In the New Eden Store in-game there is currently a selection of new SKINs for just 1 PLEX each.  Theses are SKINs for some of the old, classic destroyer hulls.

Some of the SKIN options

I bought the lot, because I like SKINs.  If you want yours, grab them soon as I am sure the offer won’t be around forever.  The SKINs can only be purchased once per account and are locked (but not injected immediately) to the character that buys them.

  • A New Patch for a New Year

We also received the first patch update for the year.  In addition to the two bullet points note above, there are a whole rash of fixes, adjustments, and updates listed in the patch notes.

  • The Capsuleer Chronicles in Hardcover

More graphic novelizations of the lives of New Eden came from Dark Horse late last year, which they described as:

Explore never-before-seen stories from the world-record breaking EVE Online game, featuring fictional accounts of real in-game space battles, deep personal stories, death, and being reborn–again and again and again!

Those are now available as a hardcover volume for those who like tales that can be held in the hand.

  • Goons as Pokemon Cards

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, a post up on r/eve announced the creation of a set of Pokemon cards using Imperium leaders and luminaries as the characters.  Made with an online Pokemon card creator, if you know the cast, then you’ll probably get the joke.

And that is all I have.  Today another “atmospheric river” is passing through my part of the state.  So far we’ve only had the power out for half a day due to a power line that fell across the road around the corner from us.

Friday Bullet Points About EVE Online as Winter Nexus Events Return for 2022

Winter is coming… next week to be exact.  The winter solstice is Wednesday the 21st, the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere.

And that means Christmas and other holidays which, in turn, means in-game events.  And EVE Online is no different where, despite Earth being a distant memory and there being no reason to stick to our particular calendar, New Eden still celebrates. Bring on the Winter Nexus!

The Winter Nexus 2022

Also, there are a couple other tidbits related to the game I wanted to bring up, so this is a bullet point post.

  • The Winter Nexus

The holiday events are live, having dropped into the game yesterday.  There are login rewards and challenges and all the usual stuff that makes up the holiday routine in New Eden.

The login rewards for the first 7 of 13 days

You have 19 calendar days to login and collect the 13 rewards, one per day.  SKINs, fireworks, event items, and skill points are on the menu as usual.  New on the list are EverMarks, the currency used to by ship personalizations.  That is good for me, because I was never going to go to low sec and run those missions.

The big payoff on the 13th day is 250,000 skill points!  In real world cash value that is worth… five dollars.

Available at the EVE Online web store

This is your regular reminder that CCP straight up sells skill points.  I’m not even going to link back to long dead promises on that front.

But enough negativity… for this bullet point at least.  Enjoy the holiday event.

All the info is available at the Winter Nexus dev blog.

  • Multiple Overviews

In addition to all of that, this week’s patch (scroll down) brought updates to the Photon UI, including the ability to have multiple overviews active in your UI.  That is a huge feature for a lot of people.

We have added the ability to have multiple Overviews when using Photon UI. This can be done by right-clicking an existing Overview tab, or by checking the ‘In New Window’ checkbox when adding a new Tab.

The Photon UI still has issues… and performance under load seems to be one of them… but the ability to have multiple overviews up makes it worth switching over if you have not done so already.  Certainly CCP thinks so, because they reset the opt-out for the Photon UI again, forcing everybody to use it unless the go back and opt-out again.  There are other improvements, but nothing that would steal the headline from multiple overviews.

  • Blue Star Mining

As I mentioned in my post about the November Monthly Economic Report, CCP is finally addressing the mineral shortfall around asteroids bound to low sec only by introducing some new asteroids.

From the patch notes:

  • The new rich asteroid belts may be found in Blue A0 star systems in null security space and in wormhole space.
  • Additionally, these new asteroid belts may also appear in high security 0.5 systems bordering low security systems, and nullsec systems which border low security space.

Now you may be wondering where in the hell are all the Blue A0 type stars?  Well, somebody has made a list of them over on r/eve.  That list includes ALL the Blue A0 type stars, so you can discount the ones in high sec, low sec, Jove space, and so on.  But when you parse that data it looks like most null sec regions have between two (sorry Fade) and four (congrats Fountain) such stars, which will no doubt become mining nexuses for those of you looking for places to hunt.

The news was reported here with the details in the patch notes. (Scroll down, again.)

  • Faction Warfare News and Review

The centerpiece of the Uprising expansion last month was Faction Warfare.  CCP seems determined to not repeat a common past mistake of launching something new then forgetting about it… though they could still do that.

So they have been posting about their changes just to remind people.  They have also announced a new page, Frontlines, that will give status and news about the state of the Faction Warfare struggles.

And Faction Warfare does seem to be getting more attention in the game.  In the Imperium we have a thread for people who want to participate.  The first step is to have an alt, because Faction Warfare requires you to commit to a side and join a dedicated corp for your faction, after which you might have trouble in empire space if, say, you chose Gallente and now want to fly to Jita.  That was always a tripping point for me, and it remains so.

  • Alliance Tournament Official Results

In a previous bullet points post I poked a bit of fun at CCP for not posting the final results of Alliance Tournament XVIII, which ended back before Thanksgiving.  They seemed to drop off their coverage with almost indecent haste.

Alliance Tournament 18

It took them a few weeks, but they did eventually get around to it.  There is a dev blog recounting the tournament, its winners, the prizes, and stats and tidbits about the event.  So if you want to know, you know where to go.

  • The End of Ship Models… Again

I got all ranty about four years back because MOP was chiding CCP for not having a decent merchandise shop (Also, walking in stations, but don’t get me started.) as though that was going to a tool for profitability.  Merch shops, like live events such as Fanfest, are marketing exercises and most companies are happy if they break even.  CCP had tried to sell ship models in the past, one of the things the piece was demanding, but it was a complete flop.

Still, players keep asking for ship models, so CCP gamely gave it another try, partnering with a 3D printing outfit to produce a range of ships.  And now that partnership is also ending.

Sales stop on December 31st

Why?  Because I’m going to guess that for every hundred people who say they totally want to buy models of EVE Online ships, maybe five actually do… and the player base for the game is noticeably smaller than when I wrote that piece, so there are fewer players who say they will buy such models, and correspondingly fewer who will actually do so.

The reasons for not buying are manifold, including expense, not having the ship you really want, the ships not looking right, deciding you have too much junk in your office already (my excuse), and just never getting around to it.

So this round of EVE Online ship models is ending on December 31st, which means that if you are in that “never getting around to it category” now is your chance.

Details about the end of this option and a link to the storefront are available here.

And so it goes, another Friday bullet points blog post comes to an end.  Enjoy the weekend.

Black Friday Bullet Points about New Eden

It is Black Friday today here in the US, so called because the post Thanksgiving shopping spree is alleged to be the date when many retail outlets become profitable for the year… go into the black.  So the day has become something of an obnoxious tradition, both offline and online.

You cannot escape it even in New Eden

Meanwhile, CCP has been tossing out tidbits of information left and right, so much so that they are posting their own summaries of the week.  But I will persist with my own version, which has both more and less than what they have covered.

  • Team Security Rules and Policy Clarifications

When the CCP security teams posts it is often wise to take heed of what they say, and earlier this week they posted a new item going into details about account sharing, botting, and illicit ISK buying and selling.  Some common misconceptions are explored and there are some stats and graphs on the topic.

Find it all here.

  • Permaband is on Spotify

The in-house band might be the most successful CCP venture after EVE Online itself, having given us original songs like HTFU and Warp to the Dance Floor, which are legitimately good tracks.  The band’s music has appeared on a number of services and now Spotify has been added to the list.

Take that Elite Tauren Chieftain.

  • PGL Joins Goonswarm Federation

Progodlegend, a leadership figure in TEST second only to Vily in the PAPI led attempt to purge Goons from the game… known as World War Bee or Beeitnam… is now in Goonswarm Federation.

He has joined us

I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but it does speak to the flexibility of relationships in New Eden and perhaps how the Imperium is a bit different since the departure of The Mittani.

I found out about this via a Jabber ping:

Attention Goons, we now have an immediate job opening in alliance leadership. The job is stressful and very demanding, yet simple. Make sure every ship progodlegend undocks has rigs fit. Apply in elysium. That is all.

One of the memes of the war was about PGL forgetting to fit the rigs on his ships, and kill mails with evidence of that were widely circulated.

In addition to alliance leadership experience, PGL has sat on the CSM multiple times.

  • Somebody Won Alliance Tournament XVIII

I kind of expected a news item out of CCP on this one.  They seem to be posting news about literally everything else this week.  I watched a bit of the AT, and actually won a SKIN during a give away, but once things were over CCP seemed to pack up and head out.  They didn’t even update the spreadsheet they were using to track the tournament.  I guess they were too busy writing all of the other news updates they did this past week.

Apparently Truth. Honor. Light. won the final round in a 3-0 sweep over Odin’s Call, so congratulations to them.  There is also a recap of their journey to the title posted to Reddit.  There is some insight into what it takes and what it means to compete in that post.

  • Faction Warfare Stuff

CCP keeps posting things about the empires and faction warfare and, if I read the most recent one correctly, the Caldari have grabbed a constellation in Syndicate, an NPC null sec region adjacent to Placid, where the Caldari and Gallente have been facing off.

The DS-M4Q constellation

CCP has been adjusting the battle lines for faction warfare and if there was space less well utilized than low sec in the game, it would have to be NPC null regions.  But the burning question here is really whether or not Poitot will remain the only named system in Syndicate.

Meanwhile, the faction warfare updates have brought a lot of attention to low sec, though there do seem to be some issues left to iron out with the changes.

  • Further with the Photon UI

CCP has been pushing their updated Photo UI, though bragging about an adoption rate when they forced it on for all player seems a bit hollow to me.  They seem to have fixed the more egregious bugs like my Neocom issue, but the big problem for many seems to be that the UI doesn’t offer anything new aside from having to learn a new notifications paradigm. (At least we didn’t get more red dots!)

Now, however, CCP has finally announced what might be the killer feature for the Photo UI, multiple overviews.  The overview is one of the critical aspects of the game’s UI and seemingly the most neglected.  It shows you what is in space near you and allowed you to filter or display based on specific criteria.  We’ve long been allowed multiple overview tabs, so you could swap between say, celestial objects in the system and hostile capitals on grid, but having both of those views up in their own windows in the UI would be a huge change.

Of course, the flip side of this is the question of whether or not I want even MORE windows open and hiding space in my UI… but utility will win out in the end I suppose.

  • New Default Overview Coming

Evidence for my statement above about neglect is that the default overview options haven’t changed in over a decade and those defaults are… kind of crappy.  You get something like”Show all the things” and “show mining asteroids” and a couple more, which serve you well for about the first week and then your life gets more complicated and they end up holding you back.

So CCP has put a new default overview on the test server for people to try out.  It comes with some new tabs setup as well as a range of pre-sets a user can apply to their tabs for specific scenarios.

The overview is one of the most complicated features to explain to a new user… I’ve been around the game for 16 years and I mostly understand the overview, but wouldn’t bet money on my knowledge… so giving new players defaults that actually do useful things could be a huge boon to the game.

  • Black Friday Omega Discounts

And, just to end on the Black Friday theme, CCP does have some Black Friday deals on Omega subscriptions available in the web store.  The pricing isn’t back down to the pre-increase numbers, but it is still a discount if you’re like me and buy in 3 or 6 month increments only when there is a sale.

Friday Bullet Points on Veterans Day

It is Veterans Day here in the US, though it was Armistice Day at one point because my grandparents used to call it that.  It is a day set aside to honor those who served in the armed force, which includes my brother, who managed to serve in both the army and the navy.  There is a story in that, but it his to tell.

For the first time I can remember I get the day off.  Most companies in the US give you the day off after Thanksgiving and if you ask them about Veterans Day HR will tell you that the former is a stand in for the latter.

Anyway, I will probably spend much of the day looking for a car to buy… another story in that I might get around to telling.  In the mean, there are a few small items I want to cover.

  • Crowfall Going Offline

Well, that didn’t go so well.

Is this even still their logo?

Crowfall, which raked in $1.7 million in their 2015 Kickstarter campaign, then shipped back in July of 2021, only to have to find a new home at Monumental last December, where additional funding was expected to improve the title, has decided go offline on November 22nd for a rework.

From the official announcement:

Over the past few months, we’ve been evaluating the current state of Crowfall. One of the biggest challenges has been the sheer amount of development effort required to build new campaigns and keep the game running daily. In order to refocus our efforts from live operations to development, we have decided to take the Crowfall live service offline for the time being.

On November 22, 2022, at 11 AM CST Crowfall will go dark, and the game servers will be unavailable. Until the service goes offline, take this time to try out all of the cool buildings, mounts, and emotes for free in the Crowfall store.

We’re going to use this time to map out the future of the game. We have yet to determine what that looks like, but we are investing in and rethinking every part of the game – from the core technology and tools to art, design, and gameplay. Nothing is off the table.

We’ll share the plan with the community as it shapes up.

It is not impossible it will comeback better and find success.  Some titles do come back.  Multiple times, if you count Hellgate: London.  But it is a rare thing.

  • New World Spike

New World has been enjoying a bit of a revival with the Brimstone Sands update that launched last month.

Brimstone Sands

But the real win seems to have been the fresh start servers they launched, letting players get that new New World world smell in their nostrils, boosting concurrent player counts on Steam beyond the 100K mark for the first time in almost a year.  That is still well shy of the 900K peaks of launch, but is much better than the doldrums that the game has been in for most of its run so far.

I have always said that half of the draw of retro servers of the sort we see with EverQuest or WoW Classic is the chance to start anew in a fresh world.

  • EverQuest II Anniversary Mount

I mentioned the EQII 18th anniversary already this week, but it was only after I had written and posted that I got the email about a special mount for players as part of the celebration.  The… uh… Stomposaurus Thunderstrider is available for all players for 1 silver from vendors in various cities.  I got mine out in the Frostfang Sea… or New Halas… or whatever that place it.

My own Stomposaurus

The mount will be available until November 22nd.  Details about where to buy the mount are in the 18th anniversary round up post on the EQII site.

  • Retroactive Recruitment in EVE Online

The recruit a friend option in EVE Online will get the friends who click on your link a quick 1 million skill points, a non-trivial amount when you’re just starting out.  But what if they made their account and forgot to click the link?  CCP has added retroactive recruitment.

When somebody clicks on your link and lands on the account creation page, there is now an “Already Have An Account?” option at the bottom of the form that lets you just log in and collect the reward… so long as you have not been recruited previously.

one meeelllion skill points

I have five accounts and, as it turns out, four of them were never recruited, so I just added 4 million skill points to the New Eden ecosystem.  I was even able to cross-recruit between two accounts.  What a country!

  • WoW Character Stories

Blizzard has been trying to build up hype for the upcoming World of Warcraft Dragonflight expansion and its own 18th anniversary in a number of ways.  One them is on Twitter.

Yes, Twitter is a spectacular dumpster fire as Elon Musk… very much the Tech Trump these days… careens from one bad move to the next.  However, the site is still up and running and honestly probably more popular at the moment due to the complete debacle unfolding as people discuss it on the site.  It is as if the passengers on the Titanic suddenly began discussing and debating maritime safety regulations, the effects of hypothermia on the human body, and the correct method of filling and deploying lifeboats, with great vigor.

But I digress.  If you tweet at the @Warcraft account with your WoW Character name, server, and region, along with the hashtag #WarcraftStory, a bot will reply to you with an image and a little tale about your character.  So I did it with Vikund, my main of mains, and got this.

Vikund, pet battler

The algorithm it uses will draw from the database the most rare or outstanding of your achievements… based on a list of possible options… and throw that back at you.  So, pet battles were my main thing on retail I guess.

And if you don’t like the result, you can try again and it will go down the list.  So I went again and got this instead.

Vikund and his dungeon achievements

I feel like 116 is both a big and a small number.  Dissatisfied with that, I rolled again and got this.

Vikund the raider? Yeah, right!

I am pretty sure my raiding prowess is made up by maybe half a dozen LFR runs over the years and then farming old raids solo for specific pet, mount, and transmog drops.  It that even a thing anymore with the level squish?

I tried doing the story thing with alts, but since pet battles are shared across accounts, the first thing I got back was the same as my first one with Vikund.  And subsequent stories were all pretty disappointing.  But, still, it is a neat little gimmick.

I almost didn’t notice it too.  I saw Blizz tweeting about it, but figured it was something Dragonflight exclusive.  But then I saw the post about it over at Blessing of Kings and gave it a try.  I think Shintar saw my responses on Twitter and has a post of her own about the stories of her characters.

Friday Bullet Points about Enad Global 7 and Q2 2022

Nobody said I couldn’t do a Friday bullet points post about just one topic, so here I am.  Future me will no doubt like this post.  And the topic of the day is going to be Enad Global 7, their Q2 2022 financials, and a few related tidibits.

Enad Global 7

There are a few sources of information about their earnings and I will list out all the links at the bottom of the post for those looking for more.

  • Hey We Made More Money

Enad Global 7 reported some serious year over year returns, though that number is helped along by the fact that Q2 2021 wasn’t lighting anybody on fire.  Still, the numbers look good and have been on the rise since that low point.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Net Revenue

Games seem to be taking on a bigger role in the revenue mix, which was about split with services a year ago.  Also, it is about 10 SEK to the USD right now, so you can just divide by ten to get the approximate value in dollars.  I guess that works for Euros now that there is parity between the Euro and the dollar.  For GB Pounds, though, you’re on your own there.

When we look at the game revenue it looks like Daybreak rules the roost, bringing in 75% of that particular pie.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Game Revenue Segments

  • LOTRO hits a Recent High

The EG7 future game plan still rides a lot on Lord of the Rings Online, referencing Amazon’s Middle-earth saga and the coming revamp in the middle term plans.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Looking Forward

They also mentioned that the 15th anniversary of the game raised number of players logging into the game to its highest level since 2016.  It is hard for me to judge exactly what that means.  Sure, more is always better, but was 2016 a benchmark year?  A high water mark of some sort?  Or just a point on the graph downward from the initial free to play conversion numbers?

Left unmentioned was whether the recent acquisition of the Tolkien IP rights by the Embracer Group would have any impact on the future plans for the game.

  • Norrath Expansions

Not that I doubted there would be expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  They are there in the game roadmaps for the year.  But it is nice to get that in writing from the company.  Daybreak… I mean EG7… has changed their minds on things suddenly in the past.

In addition, in the Q&A transcript, the following was said about the expansions:

And the upcoming annual expansion packs for EverQuest and EverQuest II, large updates that perform well every year.

They perform well every year, eh?  That financial insight we got from EG7 before the acquisition, that was cut off in 2020 before the expansions for either title shipped.  I wonder how much that would have boosted their numbers.

  • Done with Acquisitions for Now

The word “organic” comes up a lot in their presentation and the investors call.  Organic growth refers to growing the revenue for their current titles and services, as opposed to driving it up by acquiring other companies.

During the investor call they didn’t say that more acquisitions were out of the question, but they did declare it was a very different market than it was over the last couple of years, so it sounds like they’re not going to be pursing other companies the way they did in 2020 and 2021.

Instead, they will be focused on growing the current titles… and becoming some sort of consulting business or something.

  • Reverse Merger Complete

Finally, one of the big announcements on the agenda was the ascension of Jason Epstein, the second largest shareholder in the company, the the position of chairman of the board, where he will take a more active roll in the overall running of the company.  Meanwhile, Ji Ham continues to hone his dramatic talents as Acting CEO of Enad Global 7.

I speculated last month that Daybreak was in the process of completing a reverse merger, that the company that was acquired was going to end up owning the company that did the buying.

This is what the end game of such a move looks like, with the players in the former taking over key positions in the latter.

All I can says is, “Epstein, you magnificent bastard!”  I did not, however, read his book.

Related:

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.