Category Archives: Friday Bullet Points

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.

Friday Bullet Points in the Dog Days of Summer

It is hot out, the price of everything seems higher, Covid infection rates are rising, and here in California we’re in a drought and the state is once again starting to catch fire again in a major way.   At least Friday Bullet Points is a category on the blog now, so they’ll be easy for future generations to find.

  • New World, New Delays

I suppose we ought to be used to this by now.

Just how new and how worldly?

After their final round preview beta over the last few weeks, New World was slated to ship on August 30th.  That date has been moved out to September 28th in an update from the company.

We are humbled by the support New World received from players around the world throughout Closed Beta. During Beta, more than a million adventurers entered Aeternum. Thanks to your support, New World became one of the most watched games on Twitch, and one of the most played games on Steam. The passion and enthusiasm you’ve shown for New World validates the work we’ve put in over the past year, improving the game based on your feedback.

Along the way, you’ve also given us a ton of feedback that we’ll use to make New World even better. We want New World’s launch to be a smooth and fun experience for all players, and that means making some improvements based on what you encountered during Closed Beta. So we’re going to take a few extra weeks to smash bugs, improve stability, and polish the game. New World’s new global launch date is September 28, 2021.

This was not an easy decision to make. We know this isn’t the first time we’ve changed our launch date in pursuit of quality, and that it can be disappointing to wait a bit longer. But we want to be sure we deliver you the highest quality game possible at launch. Thank you for your support and feedback. We’re listening. We’ll see you in Aeternum

Given past delays, another month probably isn’t going to change the launch day pile on very much.  I hope they use the time well.  A month seems like a long time when you’re waiting for something, but it can feel like a vanishingly brief interval when you have code to ship.

  • Switch Sales Hit 89 Million

Nintendo announced that total Switch units sold had passed the 89 million mark as part of their Q2 2021 financial update.  That is a lot of Switch units out in the wild.

My Switch Lite

Looking at the list of best selling consoles of all time, that number puts the Switch within striking distance of the Wii, a huge seller for Nintendo that moved over 100 million units during its reign.  The Switch is still quite a was from the top spots, occupied by the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo DS line, which solf 155 and 154 million units respectively.

Despite that big number, Nintendo said that sales were down some compared to last year, which was attributed to the fact that everybody and their brother bought a Switch and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic.  Hot vax summer strikes again.

  • FFXIV Subscribers are Up

We have suspected for a while that Final Fantasy XIV has been benefiting from discontent in the WoW player base over the delay in the release of the first major Shadowlands content update.  Anecdotal evidence was mounting, with major WoW streamers jumping ship and word that FFXIV was having to limit new players.

But with the Square Enix Q2 2021 financials, the company confirmed that FFXIV subscriptions were in fact up.  They didn’t say how much they were up, but I bet we’ll hear that they are up even more when the Q3 financials are announced.

  • Chinese Government Frowns Once More on Video Games

You can always count on totalitarian governments to let you know what their leader’s pet peeves are, and video games appear to be on the list.  The Chinese state media lashed out video games, comparing them to opium and declaring that video game addiction was harming children’s growth and eyesight.

For the Chinese “opium” is an especially loaded word as it is associated with western imperialism and interference in Chinese affairs due to the opium wars fought with the European powers that led to a dismemberment of the country.  So using that word about something tends to signal that the government is serious.

This new government displeasure with video games caused Tencent’s stock price to drop as the company, sensing which way the wind was blowing, vowed to implement stronger restrictions on video game abuse, restricting the time minors are allowed to play.  China already has strict limits on video games, and this will no doubt expand those limits.

  • EQII Free Character Boost

A new Producer’s Letter came out for EverQuest II which included an outline for their summer plans including yet another free level 120 character boost for players subscribed via the all access pass.  I am not sure I would have enough character slots, were I to subscribe, to find space for another level 120 character.

  • EVE Echoes Anniversary

EVE Echoes, the mobile spin-off of EVE Online created by NetEase is celebrating its one year launch anniversary.   The game has some big new content in place for the anniversary.

EVE Echoes

The game launched to some acclaim last August, but has its share of issues.  The fact that they started publishing weekly ban stats is a reminder of the perils of free to play I suppose.

  • Amarr Foundation Day

Finally, it is time for another holiday in New Eden, as the Amarr Empire celebrates Foundation Day.  That means specials in the shop, daily challenges, a themed proving grounds event, new monuments, and of course login rewards.

Your Federation Day login rewards

No ISK this time around, but the usual SKINs, fireworks, and skill points are on the menu.  There are five days of rewards and you have seven days to log in daily to claim one, so you can miss two days and still get them all.

Friday Bullet Points Vying for Medals

The Olympics are going on right now in Tokyo.  They’re a year late and the local population isn’t happy about having a bunch of strangers show up when we’re still in a pandemic, but if I turn on live TV… which I hadn’t done since January 6th… and find the NBC channel, there they are.

I saw some sort of skateboarding event, and I was surprised to find that women’s softball made a return to the games because the US women’s team is so dominant that they removed it as an event, so I am not sure what changed there.

Anyway, I have some “not quite a full post” items again, so I figure I will make them vie for medals as well.  Who will win the coveted Friday Bullet Points gold medal?

  • Blizzard Continues to Blow Up

After last weeks lawsuit and the company’s “nothing was broken and we’ve fixed it in any case” response, names from Blizzard’s past, including Morhaime, Metzen, and Street, popped up with minor mea culpas about their failings which both stirred things up and served as a counterpoint to Fran Townsend’s statement, which drew on her nearly four months of experience with the company to reject the results of the two year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

While more hostile workplace workplace stories continued to pop up about the company, many current employees… the people who have to put up with much of the bad environment that senior management and HR have allowed to fester… were very unhappy with both Ms. Townsend’s and the company’s response to the lawsuit.  Word was that work at the company had pretty much ground to a halt.  Around two thousand current employees signed a petition and a walkout was staged to protest the company’s response to the lawsuit and to demand that they fix the company’s toxic culture and roll back some of their more oppressive policies.

This got Bobby Kotick to finally release a statement apologizing for the tone deaf nature of the company’s response to the lawsuit along with a promise to do better, which included hiring a law firm to make sure any accusations were taken seriously.  And then somebody pointed out that the firm they hired was the same firm that Amazon uses to break unionization movements in their ranks and it all seemed like just more of the company trying to protect itself from its employees.  Employees getting organized makes management panic.

And then even more stories showed up, this time fueled by the social media accounts of male staffers who seemed quite unashamed about their behavior.  More just keeps showing up.

At least the WoW Team started removing mentions of former Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, who the company admitted was fired last year due to his behavior.

There’s a new field marshal in town… at least in retail

Meanwhile, institutional investors are mulling over a lawsuit about all of this.  Yes, you do have a fiduciary responsibility to not run a company like a frat house until the government sues you.

Medal Status:  Disqualified for doping… as in the place is run by dopes.

  • California has Standards

I was trying to figure out why a post I wrote early last year about a state of California sponsored study in to video game related power usage was blowing up in my stats earlier this week when MMO Fallout pointed to an article over at The Register about how Dell won’t ship certain computer configurations to California.  This caused a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth and headlines about gaming PCs being banned California.  How will gamers in the golden state survive?

The reality was a bit more nuanced.  Actually, The Register article was nuanced, but a lot of the follow on seems to be more fearmongering than reality.

The restriction isn’t even on peak power consumption, but how much power a configuration consumes when it is idle.  And it has nothing to do with building your own.  You can order your parts and put them together however you like.  Dell and other builders can figure this out.

Medal Status: 80 Plus Bronze score

  • Neverwinter Embraces Bards

The Bard class is one of those MMORPG things that, when done right, can be magical.  Bards in EverQuest, for example, were incredible, and all the more so because players figured out how to push them beyond their expected limits.

Sing “heal” dammit!

So when I saw that the next Neverwinter expansion included a bard class, I was immediately interested.  I haven’t touched the game in years and I doubt that will change, but I am curious about how bards will work out.  Their promo reads:

A versatile adventurer, the bard commands the power of song to be a powerful healer or a stylish combatant. Regardless of their path, it is a bard’s ability to perform that determines how far they can go

Seems in tune, but I will wait for the reviews.  The game is also undergoing a level squish, always a daring venture.  I wonder if the effort that goes into it will be worth the reward.

Medal Status: Silver tongued

  • Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons Expansion

ArenaNet has announced the target launch date for the next Guild Wars 2 expansion.  Called End of Dragons, it should be arrive in February of 2022.

But we get to end them, right?

As with Neverwinter, I don’t really pay much mind to GW2, but an expansion is worthy of note and Bhagpuss says it will even include fishing.  Sounds interesting.

Medal Status: Golden dragon scale of hope

  • Crimson Desert Mirage

Meanwhile Pearl Abyss, known for Black Desert Online and, to a lesser extent, their ownership of CCP and EVE Online, announced this week that their next bit title, Crimson Desert, has been delayed indefinitely.

The desert is implied I think

While Peal Abyss has other titles in the pipeline, Crimson Desert has been the big focus, so its delay may impact how the company does on the market.

Medal Status: Did not finish

Friday Bullet Points from a Leading Smoke Exporter

Fires have begun burning on the west coast of the US as predicted, thanks to droughts, record heat, and dry lighting strikes.  But the smoke from the fires, which in past years has settled in on top of the SF Bay Area where I live, has decided that it too wants to travel this summer and has been hazing up sunsets back east.  So while we’re sending out smoke I thought I would cover another set of things that I didn’t want to work up a full post around.

  • Blizzard Blows Up

Already foundering for being unable to bring home a win with retail WoW and the 9.1 update, causing many players to head for Final Fantasy XIV, the company took another body blow this week when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the Activision Blizzard for creating a hostile work environment.  While Activision got most of the headlines, the complaint is full of examples of how Blizzard specifically let a wide range of egregious behavior go unchecked and failed to respond to complaints.

Singled out in the complaint was Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, who had been with the company since 2004 and who had left quietly last summer.  He is referenced in WoW in a number of places, including as Field Marshal Afrasiabi out in front of Stormwind.

Welcome to Stormwind baby!

The disturbing nature of the issues detailed in the complaint was topped by the company’s response to the suit.  With the Blitzchung affair they didn’t seem to know what to say, but this time around they lashed out immediately (text at the end of this post) at the state agency, decrying government overreach and complaining about unaccountable State bureaucrats driving companies from the state, very much politically motivated talking points.

Otherwise the company statement claimed that while some of the things detailed may have been true in the past, the company is all better now, everything is fine, and nobody needs to be held accountable for anything.  They want to have it both ways, saying both that the state is wrong and that they’ve fixed everything in any case.  It is usually better if your statements don’t tend to contradict each other.

Any adult that has worked for a big company knows that corporate culture doesn’t change quickly.  It takes a lot of effort, and the word is that the company hasn’t gone there yet.  That references to Afrasiabi remain in the game is a testament to the lack of progress they have made.  And the internet is compiling testimonials about the company’s problems.

Anyway, the Q3 2021 Activision Blizzard financial report ought to be a real charmer after this.  Massively OP, in their coverage, rehashed the litany of problems the company has been facing in recent years.  It ain’t pretty.

  • A New World Beta

Amazon’s MMO New World went into what is supposed to be a final, pre-launch beta this week.  I don’t think they’ll yank the game back from the precipice this time around, but you never know.  I have been interested in the game and was in one of the big early NDA protected test runs a couple of years back

Just how new is it at this point?

I liked what I saw back then… it seemed like what H1Z1 ought to have been before they went all-in on battle royale, but I guess John Smedley being at Amazon Games now might explain that.  I did not pre-order, so no beta invite for me, but Bhagpuss seemed happy with how things looked.

The one thing that seems to be dominating the press coverage is a problem where high end video cards seem to be failing in the beta.  We’ll see how that works out.

  • EverQuest and the Ghost Collector’s Editions Past

EverQuest pretty much lives on nostalgia, with their retro and special servers keeping a good portion of their players invested in a $15 a month subscription.  But they have to farm the live servers as well, so they get an expansion every year an a cash shop that is always looking for something new to sell.  Now they are trying to farm a bit of nostalgia from the live server players by offering a pack that features items from the collector’s editions of no longer available expansions.

Missed out? Fear not!  But act fast or you WILL MISS OUT!  AGAIN!

For just 7,999 in Daybreak Cash, which is about $80 in real world cash depending on your purchase quantities, a selection of no longer available items can be made available to you.  It is like nostalgia for fear of missing out!

  • Path of Exile Expedition

I have something of a checkered past with Path of Exile.  On paper I should enjoy it, and I am always into it when I start out.  But something… network performance, bugs, no knowing what to do next… always seems to stymie me.  But I think about it every time the offer up a new expansion, and one if launching today.

Play the Expedition Expansion Today

This one is interesting in that Grinding Gears Games has decided to try and roll back player gear and power in an attempt to revitalize the feel of the game and to give it an overall more satisfying experience.  But it is always a risky move, taking power away from players.  Destructiod’s headline about the expansion is an illustration of that risk:

Path of Exile is nerfing everything, and players are unhappy

We shall see how it plays out I suppose, but a power reset might be a good time to jump back in.  Maybe? I took a look at the patch notes, which are a freaking book, but can’t tell either way.

Friday Bullet Points on Deck for Summer

Back in the day I used to have a regular “mail bag” feature that took items from the blog inbox… reader submissions and press releases… that I thought might be interesting.  I don’t get much reader email these days and the press releases… where to even start?  Leaving aside the non-gaming updates, and the interview offers for random “experts” on even more random topics, the best one I’ve seen in months was about a Hello Kitty mobile app.  It even has a video, if that is your thing.

Bullet points though… I can pull those from anywhere.  All of which was a too long way of saying we’re back to the Friday Bullet Points thing again.

  • Steam Deck

Probably the big PC gaming announcement of the week was the Valve announcement of the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck hardware

Basically it feels like Valve looked at the Nintendo Switch and said, “Yeah, we can do that and then some.”  No doubt experience garnered with the failed Steam Machine helped them along

It runs on the Linux based SteamOS, plays games directly from your Steam library, has a docking option that allows you to hook up a keyboard, mouse, and monitor if you so desire, and is supposed to be available by December, with pre-orders opening up today.

Pricing is “aggressive” according to the company, starting at $399 for the 64GB base model and rising to $649 for the 512GB top end unit.  It seems pretty cool.  There are games in my Steam library that certainly favor a controller for input, and $400 for a mini gaming PC seems like a pretty good deal.  But I’ll probably wait and see on this one all the same.

Picking additional coverage to link to is tough as literally any web site that has any connection to video games has an article up by now, so there is plenty out there about the device.  Still, IGN’s article links to a FAQ they put together with Valve, so I’ll link to that.

  • Pokemon Go Fest

Pokemon Go turned five this month and the annual Pokemon Go Fest is this weekend to celebrate.  I haven’t really felt the need to buy the $14.99 in-game ticket to join in on the event in the past.  Some things, like all the special raids, are there for everybody.  But this time around they knocked the price down to $4.99 and have a pile of thing available for those who buy in, so my wife and I spent the money.

the 2021 event price

It is summer, we can go outside again, and it isn’t like the war in New Eden will miss me for a couple of afternoons.  I also have to go feed somebody’s cat on Saturday, a walk which will take me past at least three gyms.

  • Pokemon Go Five Year Collection Event

It is lucky for Naintic that we bought the event tickets before we finished the warm up event.  For the five year anniversary there was a run to collect all of the starter Pokemon from the first six generations of the game.  They were out in the wild, so the first dozen or so were easy enough to collect.  But there are always a few who seem reluctant to show up.  We found out that the daily tasks related to the event always had one of the starters, so the night before the deadline we were out at the community center, which has a a bunch of Pokestops, doing tasks to try and get the last two we needed.

Take 5 pictures of a wild Pokemon was a common task

After some persistence, my wife ended up getting her final catch.  I got my final one the next morning… a totodile if you are interested… so we were able to collect the rewards.

All of the starters checked off

They were some Pokeballs (yawn), a few rare candies (decent), and a special encounter.  The hope was that it would be something good.   Instead it was the anniversary Pikachu.

5 year Pika

That would have been cool… had that Pikachu not been littering the pavement throughout the event.  They were everywhere.  I wasn’t even bothering to catch them.  My wife about exploded when she saw the reward for the effort.  So here is hoping we get a bit more from the weekend’s run.

  • Pokemon Go Raid Achievements

Earlier this month, in advance of the anniversary, Pokemon Go got some big updates on the graphical front.  It is no longer either day or night.  Dusk and dawn see the light change as the sun moves through the sky.  Shadows are also more realistic.  When joining a raid there are some splashy new graphics.  And, there are now raid level achievements for things like most damage, final blow, and best dressed.

My wife got the final blow, but I just make this look good

There are, of course, badges for getting raid achievements… achievements for achievements are my favorite achievements I guess.

I can hit hard when I want

The interesting one is the traveler award, which goes to the remote raid pass person furthest from the gym.  I’ve had one friend from Japan get the furthest I’ve seen so far.

That is pretty far away… I was about 1km from the gym

  • Diablo II Technical Alpha Updates

I am trying to be cool about Diablo II: Resurrected.  We’re not getting it for a while, so no need to get all excited about it.

The return of the classic

But then we get updates from the company about how the technical alpha is going and it becomes hard to sit on my hands.  I want to play.  As a pre-order I will get a chance in about a month I guess.  That isn’t too far down the road.  Time flies.

  • Reserve Bank Keys are Coming

Back when CCP was nerfing ratting by forcing the ESS on it last November, they setup a main bank, which can be stolen from ratters, and a reserve bank, which would require special keys that were not yet available.  Since then trillions of ISK has built up in the reserve banks across null and low sec space.

CCP has announced that the reserve bank keys are finally coming.  They have put the keys, which can be found in low sec sites, up on the test server so people can try them out.

I expect comedy will ensue.  A few keen players will get in, figure out the system, keep quiet about whatever flaws there are, and otherwise position themselves to act the moment that the keys are released on the live server, at which point there will be a rush for them.  The winners will likely be the preppers and large groups that will rob their own reserve banks.

I expect that the reserve bank keys will be live on July 27th unless some tragic flaw is found, reported, and actually investigated by CCP.  At least they put the ISK payout flow on a timer,  made the keys specific to a particular quadrant of New Eden, and gave us two flavors (5 minute and 15 minute) so all the reserve banks won’t be empty in a week of furious activity like they did with structures a while back.  And, like the main bank, the payout is in bonds that need to be redeemed at an NPC, so they can be lost even after the heist.

 

Friday Bullet Points about Things Old and New

Here it is, another Friday bullet points post that future me will curse as I try to write up a month in review.  But I live for the day, and there are some things I wanted to mention but couldn’t really work up into a stand alone post.  How have I not made this a blog category yet?

  • Crowfall Ships!

Holy crap!  Color me shocked!

Seriously, I was interested enough in Crowfall to have created a category for it… something generally reserved for regular features and titles I play a lot of here on the blog… back when the Kickstarter campaign launched… which was in February of 2015.  So, its been about six and a half years.

Is this even still their logo?

This was back when I had stopped backing MMO Kickstarter campaigns but still held out hope that something might come of them, before the great cynicism fell on me after every date offered by an MMO Kickstarter campaign winded up being as much a fantasy as their IP.  The ship date projected during the campaign was December of 2016, and it featured in a number of my annual prediction posts as an easy “this won’t ship” call.

But here it is.  Live.  That puts it well ahead of titles like Camelot Unchained, a title that has helped sink backer confidence almost as much as Star Citizen by this point.

Anyway, congrats to the team.  I have no idea what they ended up shipping or if it is anything close to the “Game of Thrones meets EVE Online” catch phrase they were bandying about, but at least I could find out if I had even an ounce of inclination left in me.

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta Stats

Blizzard sent out an email to those who participated in the Burning Crusade Classic beta back in April and May.  I was invited a bit late to that party, and honestly wasn’t all that into it, but I logged in long enough to find a few issues and to feel concerned about whatever Blizz was up to.  The beta felt pretty wonky in a way that belies the stability now that it has shipped.  But I apparently reported seven bugs… mostly related to hunter issues.

What I did in the beta… not much

Overall the community reported quite a few things.

The stats for everybody

It seemed to do some good I guess, because Outland has been pretty stable, at least on our server, though I am still a bit annoyed at the whole draw distance thing, but that was in WoW Classic as well.

  • The Next 6 Month Mount From Blizzard

Those of us on the six month subscription plan for WoW got a new mount for being such dedicated customers.  This time around it is the Sapphire Skyblazer.

The latest in a series

Part of me isn’t all that impressed. I have a few hundred mounts now, so another blue bird… eh.   Then again, at least it isn’t some cosmetic pajamas this time.  I am pretty sure Blizz learned their lesson on that front.  I’ll take a mount every time, thank you.

Six month subscribers also got a special prize in Burning Crusade Classic, the Imp in a Ball.

Available at an Inn near you

The Imp in a Ball toy actually went into the game with the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch, so I have had one on my characters for quite a while now.  They come from a quest that the city innkeepers have, and are basically an Azerothian Magic 8-Ball… ask it a question… say it out loud or whatever… then activate it for a comically indecisive answer.  Your mileage may vary.

  • New Switch Disappointment

Rumors have been floating around about Nintendo possibly launching a new Switch model with 4K or a faster processor or whatever.  So there was some disappointment apparent when Nintendo announced a new model with an OLED screen.  Yay higher quality screens of the same size?

The Switch line up

It does have double the RAM built in and some other improvements, but it was very much an incremental upgrade to the product line… which is a very Nintendo move, really.  But it does mean that demand has slowed down enough since the pandemic rush on units that they feel they can tinker with the new models.

  • RimWorld Ideology

It was announced earlier this week that the survival game RimWorld, number three on my list of Steam titles I have played the most, will be getting a new DLC package soon.

A new drama generator

Called RimWorld Ideology, it will allow your colony or clan to create a belief system, allowing the configuration of things such as rituals, veneration, dress, adornment, and social roles.  You can play as a tribe of tree worshiping cannibals if you want.  I am sure this will crank base drama up a few more notches.

  • Minmatar Liberation Day

It feels like we just finished up Gallente Federation Day and we’re already on to Minmatar Liberation Day.  They always have the cards and decorations out so early.

Have a Brutor Libre, the official drink of Minmatar Liberation Day!

As is the usual pattern these days, there are login rewards (12 days worth), in game events, SKINs in the New Eden Store, and some SKINs you get as an add on when you buy some PLEX.  There is a full run down of events and rewards over at The Nosy Gamer.

Friday Bullet Points from Outland

Bullet points posts are often tidibits of news that I want to mention.  This time around it is mostly just about me and Burning Crusade Classic, with a couple of news items mixed in, just to get them all into a single post.

  • A Druid for Outland

I have somehow managed to get my druid, who was level 36 when the pre-patch hit, all the way to level 58.

Level 58 out in Silithus

I will say again that the leveling path from 36 to 58 has been smoothed out considerably with the 2.5.1 patch.  The dead spots seem to be taken care of with new, or newly visible, quests.  I know the stuff in Theremore is new, but the fact that available quests appear on the mini-map means I probably picked up more quests that I likely missed the fire couple of times through the content.

This now gives me four characters available for Outland.  I suppose that means I should stop screwing around so much and go play in Hellfire Peninsula.  I do wonder if my druid should bother at level 58 or wait until 60 to go through.  There are still plenty of quests for him in Azeroth.

Plenty of quests at Lights Hope Chapel still

On the flip side, there is a lot of hugely improved gear if I go through the portal.  We shall see.

  • Hot Market

I mentioned previously that the pre-patch before Burning Crusade Classic was clearly pulling people back into the game, with my primary evidence being the number of pages of auctions that were coming up in Auctioneer.  That number had sagged down into the mid-to-low 200s towards the end of WoW Classic, but jumped into the 600s with the pre-patch.  And now with the Dark Portal open and Outland at our feet, that number can reach into the mid 700s over the weekend.

There is a lot of economic activity going on, at least on the Bloodsail Buccaneer server, with demand for commodities that aid in leveling up trade skills being particularly in demand.  As such I have managed to make a bit of gold in the game for once.  Not a ton.  I am just not that invested, so to speak, but before the pre-patch I was worrying about scraping together the 350 gold for the Paladin Charger quest, thinking I would need to loot my other characters.  Now, a few weeks later, I have that much gold just on my pally, so I am happy with that.

  • Fast Market

For a bit there after the patch, and even more so after the opening of the Dark Portal, the auction house was starting to drag quite noticeably when it came to searches.  People were complaining and Blizz looked into the issue, applying the following hotfixes:

  • Implemented settings changes intended to lower the time it takes to search the Auction House.
  • Players who list, bid, buy out, or cancel a very large number of auctions may now incur a delay between consecutive actions.

The latter is one of those annoyances that keeps coming up.  I am not sure what advantage is bestowed by listing dozens of the same thing, often a commodity that would sell fine as a stack, as a bunch of singles, aside from maybe trying to obscure your competition by driving them off the first page of results.

Anyway, Blizz says they are monitoring the situation.

  • Falling for Shattrath

I have already fallen to my death in Shattrath trying to run for the elevator out in front of the inn in the Aldor area.  This is one of those “seriously, why did I just do that?” recurring events that I remember from the expansion back in the day.

I’ll step out of the Aldor inn, get on my mount, and as I ride towards the elevator, it will already be at the top so that, just as I get close it starts to drop and I instinctively jump for it.  The descending platform and my forward motion then carries my over my  target and I fall to my death.

I did this often enough back in the day that with my pally I got good at hitting Divine Protection to save myself.  But this time I did it with my hunter who has no such option.  A passing priest ressed me, which saved me the run back at least.

As for “Why Shattrath?” that is where the portals back to the main cities are, which include the auction houses.  Shat isn’t one of my favorite cities in the game, but it is the transit hub for Outland.

  • Arena Season 1

Finally, Blizzard announced the start of Burning Crusade Classic Arena Season 1 for those who were waiting for more PvP options.  Available to teams of 2, 3, or 5 players, rewards include gear, titles, and even a special mount.  Not my thing, but everything doesn’t have to be about me.

Blizz did make a mistake and enabled some season 2 rewards, then had to track down the 81 players who cashed in on that.  The transactions were reversed and the honor refunded.