Category Archives: Minecraft

July in Review

The Site

A few months ago I mentioned that I had decided to confront the spam comment problem on the site by closing down comments on posts more than 800 days old.  I was a bit hesitant to do that, because I really don’t mind comments on older posts, so long as they are from real people.  But the whole spam comment thing was becoming a pain to deal with and I was more concerned about losing the occasional legitimate comment in the spam filter when there were a couple thousand comments in there than somebody leaving a message on a post about Air Warrior that I wrote more than a decade ago.  Sorry man.

Meanwhile, I have also been noting that ad revenue has been down.  The first couple of months I had ads on the blog it was bringing in close to $20 a month.  More recently it has been down around $10 a month.  That is fine, as it covers the Premium hosting plan I have with WordPress.com, but I always just wonder why things like that change.

And then about mid-month some comment spam bot hit the site, targeting more recent posts, and suddenly there were more than a thousand comments in the spam filter to deal with.  Just like old times.

Then I was looking at the daily stats for the number of ads served and saw a big spike, but that spike did not correspond with any sort of increase in traffic.  How strange.

“Spike” is a relative term here

What I realized a while later was that the spike in the number of ads served corresponded with the day that I got the burst of comment spam.

Spam bot comments generate ad revenue!

And here I had turned off the spigot on my own revenue hose by closing down comments on older posts.  Oh well.  As I said, as long as the revenue covers my annual hosting cost, I am fine.  But if you want to make more money, leave those old posts open up for comments!

Anyway, as always, if you’re going to visit here regularly I suggest using an ad blocker.  Let the comment spam bots pay my annual hosting fee!

Meanwhile, on the Bing front, nothing I have done in the Bing Webmaster Tools has managed to shake their embargo of my site.  Their graph… which is a copy of the graph Google uses in their own Search Console Tools, right down to the colors of the lines… shows my site as a flat line from June 8th forward.

But my WordPress.com stats show some traffic.

Search Engine traffic for July 2022

Now, I have said in the past, web traffic stats are garbage, useful for trends but not accurate enough to be more than a hand wave.  Still, I do wonder how it came up with four Bing and two Yahoo referrals, since Bing is resolute in saying they have sent me nothing.

Meanwhile, it was a banner month for Yandex and Baidu, who made up for the missing Bing traffic.  I cannot explain that either.

One Year Ago

There was the usual Steam Summer Sale.  When it ended it turned out that I actually bought a few titles.  That led me to sum up what I had played so far in 2021.

At home we were still binge watching TV despite there being a lull in the pandemic.  We watched Community, Hacks, Manifest, and The Kominsky Method.

My wife and I completed Pokemon Go Fest 2021, in part because the cut the price to $4.99.

Lord of the Rings Online launched the Shadowfax and Treebeard special servers for a fast or a slow run through the game’s content.  I was also on about how much stuff ends up in my bags when I start a new character in LOTRO due to my having been around the game since launch and owning all the expansions.

The instance group was into Burning Crusade Classic and finally creating a guild tabard.  We finally had some gold, in part because I was scarfing up thorium in Frostwhisper Gorge.  Meanwhile, I was MIA from Outland leveling up alts back in the vanilla content due to the eased level curve and better traits.

Somebody once again claiming they could dictate what immersion meant to other people got me on a kick to explore what immersion meant to me.  It is a complex and somewhat less than tangible topic, but I wanted to go down that rabbit hole.  Middle-earth was one of my first stops on that exploration.

World War Bee was hitting its nadir, with a declaration that PAPI was going to take the summer off.  But lots of people were taking the summer off it seemed as the PCU, which had kept around 30K most weeks, dropped down to 25K.  Fraternity, however, was getting tired of the war and demanded and end to it, so PAPI came up with a plan to win in four weeks.  CCP also said that scarcity would be over in Q4, which turned out to be a flagrant lie.

Anyway, this is what I wrote about EVE Online in July of 2021:

Then, past me, whom I really hate, wrote four freaking Friday Bullet Point blog posts that were each all over the map.

The first was about Crowfall shipping, RimWorld Ideology, some stats from the Burning Crusade Classic beta, and Minmatar Liberation Day.

The second mentioned the Steam Deck announcement, Pokemon Go anniversary items, the Diablo II Resurrected alpha, and the reserve bank keys coming to EVE Online.

The third was on about the New World beta, the Path of Exile expansion, EverQuest offering old items, and Blizzard’s big harassment scandal starting to come to light.

And the fourth carried on with MORE about Blizzard’s scandal, the Guild Wars 2 expansion, bards coming to Neverwinter, Crimson Desert failing to ship, and a panic about California having some power consumption recommendations for gaming PCs.

It was quite a July.

Finally, there was the traditional announcement that Blaugust was coming.

Five Years Ago

We adopted a new kitten.  He is much bigger now.

The Steam Summer Sale wrapped up and I went over what I bought and what I considered buying, but then passed on.

Amazon Prime Day came and went and I realized I had been buying things from Amazon for 20 years.

I started using a dual monitor setup at home.  It took me a while to get used to it… I would turn off the second monitor a lot early on… but it seems natural enough now.

Gevlon was telling us about the corrupt game developer career path.  I bet you wish you knew it was just that easy to get rich.

The call of nostalgia got me to subscribe to EverQuest II for a bit to try the Fallen Gate progression server.  I got far enough to get the crazy mount.

In EVE Online Reavers were deployed in the east of New Eden where we helped blow up a Fortizar in the Great Wildlands.  CCP has used a picture from that fight a couple of times. It then took us two days to get back to Delve, during which we argued about BBQ sauce.

Back in Delve we covered the deployment of another Keepstar in the region.  I was also producing mechanical parts via PI.  And I tinkered around with one of my Alpha clones, running some of the profession quests and mining in a Vulture… I mean a Venture.

The July update for EVE Online brought us revamped Strategic Cruisers… the start of the reign of Loki supremacy… as well as an update to Project Discovery.

It was also announced that the captain’s quarters would soon be removed from the game.

We also got our first taste of The Agency in New Eden.  It was just an event at the time, though it would grow to be all things PvE soon enough.

And CSM member Jin’taan was advocating for cat ears in space.

I found that Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin still ran on my system.  A great old war game.

Albion Online launched.  I didn’t play it.

And, finally, Lord of the Rings Online got us to Mordor.  It only took ten years.  I bought in, but then there was the question of how to proceed… and with whom… and how to get back into the swing of a game I hadn’t played for ages.  I returned to one of my favorite places in the game, Annuminas

Ten Years Ago

In New Eden my heart went “Boum!

Elligium took its pandas and went home.

Blizzard set the date for Mists of Pandaria.

There was a Steam Summer Sale.

The Secret World launched.  I never played it.

I was wondering if Torchlight II could live up to its potential.

Ultima Forever!  A shot across Lord British’s bow.

Rift decided to sell mounts for cash.  It wasn’t like they were going free to play though… not yet, anyway.

Let it be noted that not all Kickstarters fail.  There was the Defense Grid expansion Kickstarter.  I kicked in, they built it, I played it.  Simple as that, and much better than any 99 cent app I have purchased.  And I still get a free copy of their next Defense Grid game when it comes out.

I wondered aloud if nostalgia servers… official ones… would remain the sole domain of EverQuest.

Meanwhile SOE was talking about Vanguard’s free to play plan.

I was underwhelmed at the so-called “reskin” of Qeynos in EverQuest II.  The sorrow of Qeynos knows no end.

In EVE Online, there was war in Delve… again… if only I could get there.  There were battles in 49-U6U, C3N-3S, and DSS-EZ, a conga line in 319-3D (where we also watched the alliance tournament), and a flying titan in F2OY-X.  The tiny Wallpapers Alliance held out longer than Nulli Secunda, before being crushed.

Then having done the heavy lifting for TEST, the CFC was asked to go home.  TEST was going to be its own alliance, but we would all remain the best of friends in the big blue donut of love.  Anyway, it was time for a convoy back to Deklein.  Somewhere along the way I got a warning from CCP for causing lag.

And there was also a link to a list of things to do in EVE Online.

Fifteen Years Ago

Hey, it was time for the Revelations expansion in EVE Online, and I was running through the updated new player tutorial. It was a huge improvement over what I went through when I started the game, though I ran into a glitch or two.

The instance group was still off in Lord of the Rings Online for the Summer, though we were having issues at The Great Barrow when we weren’t playing Truth or Dare.

Vanguard was already planning server merges. 13 servers were being reduced down to 4.

EverQuest II got its own magazine… again (okay, it was an SOE magazine for Station Access subscribers the first time around, but it had an EQ2 scantily clad dark elf on the cover!)… in the form of EQuinox. And they were offering Rise of Kunark beta access to subscribers!

Dr. Richard Bartle, keeping to his strict regime of “one controversial fanboi enraging quote every summer” said he would like to improve the MMORPG species by turning off World of Warcraft Seemed kind of mild after the next year’s entry and reaction!

Perpetual was making crazy-insane statements about Star Trek Online… like no Galaxy-class starships for you! Ships that size were planned to be “space cities” and quest hubs. Back then I told Cryptic take note: If I cannot aspire to be Captain Kirk, I am not sure I want to play! Or just go read Tipa’s post on the subject.

The end of Auto Assault was announced by NCsoft and I took note and pondered a (silly) solution.

I stopped in front of SOE headquarters for a picture. (Mirror universe Wilhelm, with goatee.)

Microsoft finally announced a warranty extension due to the “red ring of death” problem with the XBox 360.

And Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw did his fist Zero Punctuation video.

Twenty Years Ago

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos launched, the third and final major installment in the Blizzard Warcraft RTS franchise.  From a graphical and story perspective it was very much a prototype for World of Warcraft.

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, the proto-MMO that ran on AOL and not the BioWare game of the same name, was shut down after running for six years on the service.  Given the rate of change computers went through in the 90s, that was quite a run.

Forty Years Ago

Timex Sinclair released the TS1000, a modified version of the Sinclair ZX81 that was modified for US TV signal compatibility.  I had one of them for a brief period later that year.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Fruits of the Cultural Revolution
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. EVE Valkyrie, Gunjack, and Sparc All Coming to an End on August 5th
  5. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price
  6. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  7. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  8. The June Update Brings DirectX 12 Support to EVE Online
  9. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  10. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  11. Things Like Valheim in a Post MMORPG World
  12. CCP Promises “a very special offer” if you Link Multiple EVE Online Accounts to the Same Email Address

Search Terms of the Month

lm-composite molecular condenser
[That’s a new one… no idea]

to get to the elder in valhiem do i need a boat?
[Probably? Eikthyr is the only guaranteed walkable boss]

what happened to battleclinic.com
[All good things…]

rimworld crap game
[RimWorld no crap, RimWorld good]

rimworld dangerous bad game
[Seriously, where is this coming from?]

Game Time from ManicTime

July saw some new titles appear as well as an old title top the list.

  1. Minecraft – 36.33%
  2. Solasta – 25.70%
  3. EVE Online – 22.78%
  4. WoW Classic – 8.03%
  5. Raft – 6.99%
  6. World of Warcraft – 0.18%

However, July was also absolutely the lowest play time number of the year so far overall, running at just over half the time spent playing in June, which was the previously low ebb of the year.  But, as you can see, a perennial favorite here has reappeared on the list.  Will going back there get me playing more?

EVE Online

Well, that was a month in New Eden.  We had the downfall of The Mittani, which constitutes a major change in the political landscape of null sec.  The Imperium got a harassment policy and reporting process as a result of the fallout.  And even CCP woke up from their usual summer snooze to remind people they shouldn’t be bad and… well, they went back to sleep after that.

I didn’t exactly blaze a trail in game either in July.  I went on a couple of ops, but overall I didn’t spend a lot of time playing.

Minecraft

The month started out strong with Minecraft.  It seemed like something that would keep our attention for a while, what with all the new things that came into the game since we last played.  And that lasted for about two weeks.  Minecraft is an excellent game when you have a project in mind.  I can play for hours listening to an audio book or some pod casts.  But if I don’t have something driving me it can feel kind of empty.

Pokemon Go

I kept plugging away at Pokemon Go, though the fact that I now leave the house about once a week has slowed me down somewhat.  If it wasn’t for remote raid passes and the fact that incense now works decently, I would be even further behind my wife.  She’s a sales rep, so she leave the house all the time while I work from home.

Level: 42 ( 66.6% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 717 (+3) caught, 739 (+4) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 21
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Wimpod

Raft

We spent some time with Raft.  As I said in my post about it, not a bad game.  It didn’t grab me and it doesn’t seem to be a fit with for the group, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its merits.  And hey, I played another new game.

Solasta

Potshot and I spent some time playing this, and it has its merits.  It is very much a representation of table top fantasy role playing games.  But, in our group, I think that might be just a thing the two of us like.  It wasn’t an easy sell… or any sort of a sell… to anybody else.

World of Warcraft / WoW Classic

Yeah, I have resubscribed.  We’ll get to that in the coming week I am sure.  But all of the play time counted above was pretty much just yesterday.

Zwift

At some point I am going to write a post about where all my gaming time went over the last few months, but it has been at low ebb, with July ringing in the fewest hours spent playing so far this year.  This has also had an impact on exercise.  I still get on the bike, but not as often as I might like.

  • Level – 15 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,104.4 miles (+64.5 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 44,337 (+2,044 feet)
  • Calories burned – 36,215 (+2,002)

Coming Up

It is Blaugust tomorrow… so you can probably expect tomorrow’s post to be something Blaugust related.

There is, of course, the return to Azeroth to ponder.  I still really haven’t made a plan, so it seems like I’ll be improvising until I figure one out.  But the group seems keen to return after having been away.

New leader of the Imperium Asher Elias is trying to get the coalition serious about our war in the southeast against FI.RE.  That could be interesting and, if his call is heeded and it draws a response from our traditional foes, might even help the currently sagging online numbers for the game.

I do wonder if we’ll get the EVE Online monthly economic report tomorrow.  CCP Estimate has been on top of that.  But, more so, I wonder what the numbers will tell us given the state of the PCU in July.

We’ll no doubt be getting some financial results from Activision Blizzard.  They’ll short and to the point without a call or a slide deck, but they still have to report something.  They can’t hide in Microsoft’s financials yet.

And I am sure there will be more.  It will be August already, and I am not sure how that happened.  But there we are.

Minecraft Says No to NFTs

…blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our Minecraft client and server applications nor may they be utilized to create NFTs associated with any in-game content, including worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods.

-Company blog post Minecraft and NFTs

NFTs have been the scam of choice for crypto enthusiasts in 2022.  They have been up and hyped and then have crashed and generally fallen out of favor, but there is always somebody out there looking to find a new sucker to bilk with a rug pull scam.  These schemes never fully go away and NFTs are just another variation of the Greater Fool Theory.

But the last couple of months have been so bad for crypto and blockchain… look at the headlines from my mail bag post last Sunday… that one might assume that we’re past the whole thing as a mainstream scam and the need for companies to take a stand… or, in some cases, walk back previous flirtations with the technology.

I mean, we have established over the last 20 years that if Lord British is all in on some fad or bubble, then it is already over, and he has jumped on the crypto scam train.

So I was a bit surprised to see Mojang come out with an official blog post announcing their stance on NFTs, crypto, and blockchain with regards to Minecraft.

The Wild update is the latest version as of this writing

As they quote up at the top of the post indicates, they are not down with it.  That part was not at all a surprise, it was more the timing that got me.  I feel like they could have come to a conclusion on this at least four or five months ago.  I mean even VentureBeat, a site that gave crypto uncritical, promotional coverage for months was, by late January, starting to seem at least a bit skeptical.

But everybody works at their own pace.

The post is fairly straightforward, with some marvelously simple descriptions as to how this might all be a scam.  This paragraph alone is such a gem that I want to have it written out as an illuminated text, have it framed, and put it up on my wall:

We are also concerned that some third-party NFTs may not be reliable and may end up costing players who buy them. Some third-party NFT implementations are also entirely dependent on blockchain technology and may require an asset manager who might disappear without notice. There have also been instances where NFTs were sold at artificially or fraudulently inflated prices.

May not be reliable!  Might disappear without notice!   Artificially or fraudulently inflated prices!

Do tell!

Part of me wants to believe that they had to think over the word “blockchain” carefully, the humble block being the basic component of the game.  Eventually they had to make a decision though.

Anyway, if you were thinking about some venture to combine blockchain and Minecraft… maybe don’t try it.  The company might be late to the party on this, but they have taken a stand against blockchain and all that goes with it.

Related:

Map Mods for our Minecraft Venture

As I wrote previously, we are being a little more direct and focused with our run into Minecraft 1.19.  It started with the world itself, where I wanted a peek into what we were getting, sifting through recommended seed values before picking one.

The map based on the seed value we chose

That set, and the world generated on Minecraft Realms, I gave some thought to maps.

If you were here during the first big world experience with Minecraft, you might recall I spent quite a bit of time fiddling around with maps.  It is one of those blank spots in the game.  While there are in-game maps you can create, they are very small, displaying just 128 x 128 blocks.  So I spent quite a bit of time with things like Minecraft Overviewer, which takes a copy of your world and renders it into the Google Maps format so you can view it in a web browser locally.

I ended up with some interesting maps, like this one with the stations on the mine cart rail loop I built.

Stations… you may want to click to enlarge that…

I would copy and update my local map regularly, though as we carried on with the world and explored further and further afield, it started taking longer and longer to render the maps and the map itself grew in disk space required as the world did, taking dozens of gigabytes on my drive.  Us going after those forest mansions didn’t help with that.

Aaron, straight west, me, northish…

That will increase the size of your world directory.

I wasn’t really keen on going down that path again, but I still wanted some mapping.  Skronk suggested a couple of client mods he had tried, Xaero’s Minimap and Xaero’s World Map.

I had previously avoided mods, in part because when we went to Realms server mods were no longer an option, and I wasn’t keen to start screwing around with .jar files for local mods… no doubt a reaction to the fact that at that time I worked on a Java based development environment and spent my share of time screwing around with .jar files.

There was also… and always is… something of a desire to keep mods to a minimum, both to experience the game as intended and not to get hooked on some great mod only to have the author wander off because they stopped playing the game.

This time around I was a little more willing to go after mods, mostly because I find the map thing somewhat indispensable.

It took a bit to get setup.  I had Overwolf/Curse Forge already installed as I use it to manage my World of Warcraft addons, so I spent some time figuring out how to use it for Minecraft client mods.

It wasn’t too tough.  You create a profile for a specific version of the game you want to mod and then just go to the Curse site, find the mod, tell it to install the mod, and then let it activate the client to do it.  Theoretically I should be able to find the mods from the client, but the search seems broken in a few ways and it was just easier in the end to use the web site.

The profile screen with the mods installed

Once you get the profile setup you have to launch it from the Overwolf client and it has to assemble the .jar file each time, which means it takes much longer to launch the game than it does with just the vanilla client, though nowhere as long as it takes to launch New World or Lost Ark, so I can manage… though if I want to just pop in and check something quick, I’ll launch the vanilla client.

The .jar it builds also, for whatever reason, doesn’t trigger Discord to show that I am playing Minecraft via its activity status option.  But it works.

The mini-map is nice, though I am not a fan of mini-maps that rotate with you rather than keeping a fixed “up is north” perspective.  But that is just me I am sure.  It shows what is around you and, if you hit the TAB key, it displays mob types and players.

Mini-map default and with TAB key

The map, however, is excellent, all I could have asked for.  It is every bit as detailed as the maps I used to render, and accessible within the game by pressing the M key.  It shows you the section of the world you have explore so far and updates automatically as you pass through a location you have already seen.

Where I have been in our new world so far

As with the rendered maps, I can zoom in and see greater detail.  The map isn’t especially high resolution, but it doesn’t have to be as the game is made up of 1 meter square blocks, so no resolution greater than that is needed.  I can zoom right in and see the layout of our town.

The center of our current world

And, if I want to play around with the map offline, it even has an export button that allows me to save off a copy in PNG format to work with.

So I am pretty happy with the map options I have at the moment.  One of the problems with Minecraft and its graphics is that it is often tough to distinguish landmarks at ground level because one forest looks like another and one green plain isn’t all that distinct from the next.  Having a map is pretty much essential for me not to be completely lost whenever I explore.

Returning to Minecraft

With the latest update to Minecraft, which I posted about previously, I was reminded that it had been a couple of years and a few updates since I last really dove into the world of one meter blocks.  So I decided to see what The Wild update… and the other two since The Nether update… had brought to the game.

The Wild update arrives

I wasn’t really ready to commit to a rolling up a whole new world, but I didn’t want to play solo either.  So I went and played on the AOKayCraft server, which is run by one of what I consider the extended family of our corner of the blogesphere.

I have, in fact, see the giant recycling center and the hospitality center shown on the site.  I even claimed a room.

And running around there helped get me back into the mood for Minecraft.  I was able to fiddle with the field of vision settings to get it to the point where it wasn’t causing instant motion sickness on my 34″ monitor every time I turned around quickly.

Meanwhile, we were taking on the plains in Valheim and slaying Yagluth and kind of reaching an end to our journey there.  There were still things to do, and I am not pulling down that server quite yet.  There is still some slim hope that the mistlands biome might show up some day soon, given how much the devs have been teasing it. (And because they’ve also got the game on XBox live for PC and XBox… which Microsoft did the dev work for… so they will have even more customers eventually hitting a wall after Yagluth.)

I will have more to post about when it comes to Valheim, but it really felt like we might need to find another title to occupy us.  Of course, there is a promise of Wrath of the Lich King Classic, but Blizz has not been forthcoming with dates on that.

Meanwhile, we all knew Minecraft and there isn’t a co-op server world easier to roll up than doing one on Minecraft Realms.  At least not one that I know of.  So I put that in motion quickly enough.

The main delay was that I wasn’t interested in a random world.  I kind of wanted something good, something with some resources nearby that we could dive right into.  So I went Googling around for the best 1.19 Java Edition world seeds.

I came up with one (seed 5636173029472278327) that starts you near a village that is next to a ravine with a large mining complex in it.  It was also close to an ocean, so boat exploration was an option.  I figured that would be a decent start.

But them I went over to the Chunkbase to their seed mapper to see what else was close by.  There were warm oceans and badlands biomes not too far away, easily reachable by boat.

The map based on the seed value

So I fired up the Minecraft Realms account, created a fresh new world with that seed, and the group joined in.  The village is nice.  I still have to get used to the earth opening up right next door.

That is a heck of a drop

I wasn’t in early on the Minecraft thing.  I didn’t play until Father’s Day seven years ago.  But the game has actually changed a lot since then.  People were worried about Microsoft taking over, and I was worried at one point that they were going to dump the Java edition, which doesn’t have a cash shop like the Bedrock edition, but things are still moving along.

Anyway, that is our home for the moment.  A fresh new world is always fun.

What do you do with Your Old Worlds?

One of the attractions of MMORPGs… and MUDs before them… and role playing games before that I suppose… has always been, for me, that when you make progress, you keep that progress.  Unlike, say, an RTS where every game starts you over at the beginning, you get to pick up where you left off and carry on.

Not always obviously.  I can tell you about losing levels on deaths and other horrors that came out of the 90s.  But for the most part when you made some progress, accumulated a bit more wealth, got that next piece of gear, it was an accumulation that added up over time.

It is why wise developers are very hesitant about purging the player database.  Would I be interested in playing EverQuest II if I didn’t have 18 years of this and that piled up on various characters?  Perhaps not… and all the less likely if I had stuff that got taken away.

Anyway, that is all well covered ground, part and parcel of the sunk cost fallacy that keeps many of us going back to the same old MMORPGs.

But in the last decade or so we have had some games that are MMO-like, titles like Minecraft and Valheim, where you get your own persistent world.  You can share it with your friends and play together and still get that MMO feeling, on a smaller scale, with the progress fix that keeps us going.

But the small scale of those worlds, the limited groups we venture into them with, mean that they are also more disposable.  Sometimes we like to start again fresh.  That can be fun.

And sometimes we have to start over again because the games in question add new content which cannot be accessed unless you start over with a fresh world.  That can be okay too.  I started fiddling around with Minecraft a bit on my lunches because of The Wild update that hit last week.  And, of course, we re-started out adventures in Valheim again to try some of the new things that were added since we left off a year ago.

But then we are left with the old worlds, the places where our efforts went, where our progress gets left behind, where to monuments to our creative time wasting linger while we go on to newer versions of the world and the game.

And, again, sometimes that it fine.  Sometimes we don’t have all that much invested.  Sometimes there wasn’t anything special or meaningful completed.  But sometimes there was.  I tend to think of Skronk and Ula and the Italian town they built in the big Minecraft world we played in for several years.

The work of Skronk and Ula

And that is just one of the highlights.  Other people constructed amazing machines or giant monuments across the land.  Even I spent ages building kilometers of roadways and minecart tracks, bother overland and in the nether.

We move on because we want to see the new content, but I always wonder what to do with the old worlds.  I have backups of a few Minecraft worlds and our original Valheim world.  I hate to delete them.  But I always have trouble letting go of things like that… sunk cost fallacy again, the thing that keeps me playing MMORPGs.

The Wild Update comes to Minecraft

I haven’t written anything about Minecraft for quite a while.  I haven’t even thought about it much, what with Valheim taking up the exploration and survival niche in my gaming cycle once again.  But a friend I follow on Twitter was excited about the coming of the latest update, dubbed The Wild, and was resetting their world over on Minecraft Realms to give the new changes a try.

The Wild update arrives

The update, which is version 1.19 for the game, comes with a host of new things to look into.

There are new mobs, from frogs to the Warden, new biomes like the mangrove swamp and the dark deep, the latter which can new ancient city structures within it.  Then there are the usual host of new blocks and things to craft that go with the introduction of new materials.

And, as I was looking this up, I realized that I hadn’t actually done much at all with Minecraft since the Nether update back in 2020.

In poking around I found out that I missed both of the Cliffs and Caves updates, version 1.17 and version 1.18 of the game, which naturally introduced a host of other features I haven’t seen.  So there is actually a lot more to be explored than I though.

One other thing came along with this weeks update, something of a unification of the Java and Bedrock editions of the game.  The two have always be separate, and at one point Microsoft seemed eager to divide the two further, downplaying the Java version in hopes of pushing the Bedrock version which not only runs on more platforms, but which has a cash shop.

Go figure, right?

It felt for a while that the Java version might be neglected.  But Microsoft has decided to take a different tack these days.  With the launch of 1.19 if you own or buy either Java or Bedrock editions of the game, you end up owning both versions.

It still feels like they want to get more people on the version with the cash shop, but at least they are making the Java version feel more on par in their priorities, and the Java version is the one that you can mod up.

Anyway, it might be time to go take a peek back at Minecraft to see what is new.  I mean, unless there is some open world, co-op, survival game based on something crazy like… I don’t know… being a vampire maybe… that could pull our group in another direction.  We’ll have to see.

The 500 Hour Mark

I saw a question going around Twitter last week asking people to list out video games that they had played for 500+ hours.

Artwork provided by my daughter

This apparently stemmed from the developers of Dying Light II saying that the game would require 20 hours to play through the main story, 80 hours to finish the main story and all side quests, and 500 hours to “max out” the game by going down all possible choices and whatever, which generated some minor controversy and whatever.  Articles have been written, posted, and probably forgotten by this point.

I honestly don’t even know what the game is about.

But, as tends to happen, a side discussion about time spent with games came up with people listing out games they have spent 500+ hours playing.

And that is where I want to go with this.  After playing video games for more than 45 years I have to have more that a few titles with which I have hit the 500 hour mark.

Here is the thing.  I kind of want to be sure about it.  There are a lot of games I have spent a lot of time playing, but have I really spent 500 hours?  That is equal to a full time, 40 hour a week job for about three months.  And people, myself included, often wildly overestimate how much time they really spent with a game.

For example, I figured that Civilization V would make the cut.  I played a ton of that in the last decade.  But Steam clocks me in at just 425 hours played.  That is a lot, but it isn’t 500 hours.

And Civ V is the game I have the most time with on the Steam platform.  I have several games there I feel I have played thoroughly which only have 20-40 hours recorded.

But then there is something like Valheim.  I played that for a few months just a year ago.  I have 280 hours played on it, which still isn’t 500 hours, but is over half way there in under a year.  So it doesn’t have to be a title that I have played for a decade, it can be a title I focused on a lot in a limited time frame.

So I am going to break my titles out into confidence levels.  Some things I have numbers for.  My monthly ManicTime measurements enter into things as well.  I started using that to measure game play time back at the start of 2019, and there are titles I have hit 500 hours with since then.

Verifiably Have 500+ Hours Played

  • TorilMUD

I played this regularly, with a few breaks, from 1993 until late 2004.  The current running version, which represents the third one I have played, shows I have over 100 days played, which gives me 2,400 hours played at least, and that came after the last pwipe in 2002.  So there could easily be more than double that invested in the game.  Would I bet on having played 5,000 hours?  Maybe not, but it seems possible.

  • World of Warcraft

Yeah, pretty easy on this one.  Given all the time spent with the instance group, having played through WotLK from launch until Cataclysm, and time devoted to later expansions like Mists of Pandaria and Legion, I am probably past the 500 hour mark at least four times over, if not more.

  • WoW Classic

I am going to differentiate this from WoW, in part because they have different clients, but also because all of my WoW Classic time has been tracked by ManicTime.  And ManicTime puts me in at 775 hours played.  Yikes.

  • EVE Online

After fifteen years, this is pretty easy.  Once again, even my ManicTime measurement for the last three years puts me past 500 hours, and that is impressive given how much time I spend tabbed out of the game when I play.  I swear I am logged in twice as long as ManicTime tracks.

Almost Assuredly have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest II

I could probably get EQII into the above category if I went in and did /played on half a dozen characters.  I played it a lot in the first year and then have come back to it at various times.  I have a lot of alts spread over the few remaining servers at this point.

  • Civilization II

I have absolutely played more Civ II than Civ V, and since I have a benchmark for Civ V via Steam, it stands to reason that I have the hours in for it.

  • Minecraft

Have you seen how much time I spent building roads and rail systems?  Minecraft had the advantage of being something I could play for hours while listening to podcasts or audio books.

Pretty Sure I have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest

I mean, come on, I must have 500 hours in for this.  This one gets into the mists of time though.  I did play a lot back in 1999 and 2000.  But  I no longer have the account I used back then and I am fairly confident I haven’t put in that much time with my current account.  So I feel like it is over 500 hours, but I don’t have anything to really anchor it to.

  • Lord of the Rings Online

While I really never get far beyond Moria, I have been back into the game enough times now that I must be well past the 500 hour mark.  I have played through the original content many times at this point.

 

It is Quite Possible I have 500 Hours Played

  • Rift

I wasn’t even thinking about this, then I went back and looked at some old posts about Raptr and the time tracking it did, and I hit Elite in Rift for hours played.  It was the WoW replacement for quite a stretch.  Add in the Rift Classic experiment and I feel pretty sure I am there.

  • Civilization

I played the original pretty obsessively back when it came out.  I never went back after Civ II came out, but it was a few years before that happened.

  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

This came after Civ II and there was quite a stretch between that and Civ III where this was the big strategy game.  I liked this a lot more than Civ III and a bit more than Civ II, but it had problems in the long term as it was locked into a few full screen resolution sizes from the 90s, while Civ II was just a window that even today resizes to the fit my current huge monitor

  • Age of Empires II

I think I make the cut on this one just due to longevity.  I have played this off and on since it came out more than 20 years ago.  It used to be a staple at work on a Friday night back in the day, and Steam say I have about 100 hours played with the HD remaster.

  • Pokemon Go

The math works here for the most part.  My wife and I have been playing for almost five and a half years at this point, so 500 hours requires less than 15 minutes a day on average.  The only thing keeping me from being completely on board with this is figuring out what really constitutes “playing.”  Me tapping on my phone screen, yes.  But how about me going for a walk to get steps?  Does the walk require intent?  Does spinning a Pokestop make the whole duration of the walk count as playing, or just when I have eyes on the screen?

The Mists of Time are Thick, but I think I made 500 Hours

  • Wizardry

Have I mentioned the annotated, hand drawn maps I made of the game back in the day?  I have a couple of Apple II titles that probably make the cut, but this one left behind physical evidence.

  • Ultima III

The last in the Ultima series before Lord British got all moody and introspective.  I played this to death, and then bought an editor that let me make my own modded version of the game, which I then played some more.  Also, my girlfriend at the time wore makeup with the Ultima III brand, completely unrelated.

  • Lode Runner

There are a lot of Apple II games that I played for a bit, and then there are a few that I played for ages.  I played a lot of Lode Runner, solving all those levels and then making my own levels.

  • Stellar Emperor

I spent a lot of time… and money… playing this back in the day.  I won the game once.

  • Klondike

This was the first really good solitaire game that I found on the Mac back in the day.  I used to play it obsessively at times.  It had a scoring system that rewarded smart, efficient play, and I developed a whole philosophy of play to adapt to it.

  • NetHack

Maybe, sort of, if you count the time I spent digging through the code and modifying it to see if I could make the game better… better for me at least.  It was a bit of an obsession for me in the early 90s.

Missing From the List

  • Diablo Series

While I have played all the titles from the Diablo series, often intensely at times, it has tended to be in short bursts.  I might have played them all for a combined total of 500 hours, but no single title has hit that mark.

  • Pokemon

Again, my combined time playing Pokemon, by which I mean the core Pokemon RPG games on the GameBoy, DS, and Switch, no doubt adds up to more than 500 hours.  But I have not spent 500 hours on any single title.  The champion was probably Pokemon SoulSilver, when I caught them all.  My blog post of that shows I invested 243 hours getting there.  Nearly half way to 500, but half way doesn’t count.  I probably spent closer to 50 hours on most of the ones I finished.

  • Atari 2600 Games

From 1977 to 1983 the Atari 2600 was my only real home video game outlet, so I am sure I played many more than 500 hours.  But did I play any one game that much?  Maybe Adventure or the Indiana Jones game… but most likely the Blackjack cartridge.  The fourth game on that was Poker Solitaire, and I could sit and play that for ages.  But that was so long ago, I really can’t commit to saying I have 500 hour into any of those cartridges.  They were not deep games.

So that is my guess at the games I have invested 500 hours into.  But when you’re into the back half of your 50s, you’ve had a lot of time to get there.

Immersion in the Blocks of Minecraft

This one should be fun.  I am back on the immersion hobby horse and I am going to dive into Minecraft next… survival mode… which I am sure is going to be a breaking point for somebody because… well… the game looks like this:

fountain time

Villagers congregate at the town center in a world made up of one meter cubes

That was kind of a random screen shot I had to hand, but there are plenty more on this site and the web in general, that will illustrate that nobody in their right mind is going to be fooled into thinking that is the real world or anything like it.

And yet… and yet… I have experience various physiological reactions to the game that indicates that my brain can indeed be fooled into reacting to a world made up of unconvincing one meter cubes.  That, for me, is the purest form of immersion.  My body taking the input from my eyes and reacting cannot be faked.

So when I feel a tinge of acrophobia when I unwittingly walk up to the edge of a high cliff and realize how far up I am or when I am digging around in the roof of the nether and find myself in a thin portion and break through to find myself many meters above a lake of lava and just shy of stepping into this air, that means my brain is somehow convinced at a base level that this might be real, even if at higher level my brain knows this is all just images rendered on a screen and isn’t a threat at all.

But what gets my brain there?

I am going to skip ahead a bit on this one and, rather than meandering through a half a dozen tales… most of which I have probably written about here already in any case if you’re interested… and jump straight on what has become the through line for this series, which is a sense of place.  I think that is what helps convince my brain that it should flutter up my guts a bit when I loom over a cliff.

Now, “sense of place” is its own can of worms.  I’m in my fourth post and I am going to spin that in a fourth way.  With LOTRO is was the familiarity of Middle-earth.  With EverQuest it was the sense of worldliness and danger.  With EVE Online it was the overlay of player events on locations in the game that gave then meaning and history… and danger.

So what is it with Minecraft?

Well, it certainly has worldliness going for it.  There is all the world you could care to find and more over the next hill or across the next ocean.  Procedural generation for the win.

And, naturally, there is a sense of danger at night, where the world presses back against you.  You don’t get it all your own way and eventually some creeper is going to slip in and you’ll just hear that dreaded “hissssss” sound before it blows up and wrecks something you’re been working on… or kills you.

But I think more than either of those, there is the mutability of the world, the fact that you can make it your own, shape it as you will… if you have the time and patience… to be what you want.  You can build a house, a castle, or an Italian city.

The work of Skronk and Enaldi

The fact that you have changed the world, created something within it, transforms it and gives it a sense of place that the bare wilderness lacked.  And the effort of gathering the resources and building something grand or complex only ads to that.

In that was Minecraft is different from LOTRO or EQ.  Those worlds are essentially immutable.  You must take them as they are and find the place that they offer.

And EVE Online, where you can own space, build structures, influence resources, and fight wars over territory, even that only lets you build essentially temporary little sand castles in the vastness of space.  I live in Delve now, and the system of 1DQ1-A, the capital of the Imperium, shows the influence and power of that coalition, with Keepstars and Fortizars strewn about a grid as a show of power.

But we haven’t always lived there and we won’t always live there.  The tides of diplomacy and war have washed over Delve many times, scouring clean any sign of past residents.  And someday we too will no doubt decline and be washed away.  So goes the history of New Eden.

So Minecraft has a more permanent state of change.  I mean sure, somebody can come by and undo what you have done.  Creepers can blow up your stuff.  But it takes a lot of time and even in destruction the land remains changed.  Your impact remains even in ruins or a hole in the ground.

But Minecraft has its downside as well.  Having built castles, fortified towns, thrown up towers, build water spanning bridges, and laid down many kilometers of minecart track to create a transportation network both in the nether and on the main world, in the end I always end up feeling a bit empty at the end of a project.  The joy and the purpose is in the creation, but when you build a huge structure you quickly find yourself with not much left to do when it is done.

You have changed the face of the world, but then what?  There just isn’t a lot to “do” in Minecraft once you’ve built all your structures, explored as far as you care to, made your way through the nether and the end.

I have often felt pride in what I have built and, at the same time, a sense of emptiness in being done.  You only need one room and a bed and a bit of storage, so I’ll have a multi-story castle and all my stuff in one room off the main door.  It feels like there should be more.  Mojang has tried to address that a bit.  We have the ravagers now wandering the world.  But that becomes more of a maintenance routine after a while.

And then there is the world itself.  While there is a variety of biomes and no two places are exactly the same, there remains a tiring sameness in the world all the same.  There are only so many types of trees and hills and mountains all have similar essential elements.

Finally, there is the day/night cycle, which gives you the sense of danger in the world, but also becomes quite oppressive over time.  When you’re working on a big project, especially a rail project where you are moving along the world, leveling terrain, digging tunnels, laying track, and carrying supplies forward from your most recent base, the daytime starts to feel very short.

You get up and start working and soon that big square sun is past its zenith and you have to start planning what you’re going to do when night comes.  Do you roll on back down to your last camp?  Do you start working on a new camp?  Do you dig a quick hole in the side of a hill and set up a bed and carry on?

It really cuts both ways.  I wouldn’t want to do away with the night cycle.  It is part of the game pushing back on you which makes your accomplishments fulfilling.  But even with the night quickly over when you hit your bed, I still find the day too short to the point that it hinders getting things done.

Pro immersion:

  • Feeling of place within the world
  • A wide world to explore with many biomes
  • New things being added regularly
  • Ability to change the world, to leave your mark
  • Able to share your creation with friends in a shared world
  • A sense of danger, or the world pushing back against your efforts
  • The fulfillment of effort in creation

Immersion breaking:

  • A world of sameness until you’ve made your mark
  • New things usually don’t apply to areas already generated
  • Few real “game like” things to do
  • Having created feels less fulfilling than it should
  • Lack of a sense of purpose
  • Resource management can become a grind
  • The world pushes back in a very “samey” way
  • The oppression of the day/night cycle

And some of those latter are not unique to Minecraft.  There isn’t a lot you can “do” with towns or towers or encampments in LOTRO or EQ.  But there is also a game with a story and advancement and other activity built into the mix.  I can admire the Bree or the run down Forsaken Inn out in the Lone Lands or Hobbiton, but I also have a series of tasks to take care of, levels to gain, monsters to slay who drop loot and coin and which earn me status and what not.

If I went and created Bree in Minecraft I’d just have a town where not much was happening.  It would be neat to look at, but once I was done it wouldn’t be useful for much and I’d go on to work on something else.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Minecraft, which reflect the way I have chosen to play it.  I prefer survival mode and haven’t done anything with mods.  I just explore and build and farm and mine in the randomly generated world and look for meaning.

So four posts and four variations on a feeling or sense of place.  I suppose, ideally, this series would end with me finding the ideal mix of ingredients when it comes to that.  I think that will be a long journey though as no such destination is anywhere on my map so far.

The immersion series so far:

Wide Screen

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

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

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

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

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

It fits there

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

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

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

But first I was on to games.

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

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

A Plaguelands panorama

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

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

In the slow motion scrum of battle

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

An RTS panorama

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

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

I guess it anchors on the left size of the screen

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

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

Let’s get wide in Norrath

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

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

From middle to wide earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

July in Review

The Site

Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

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

see what we’re working with here?

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

Life in tech.

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

March wasn’t quite there

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

One Year Ago

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

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

Pokemon Go hit its third birthday. StarCraft got cartooned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I tried out DOTA Underlords.

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

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

Five Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifteen Years Ago

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

Most Viewed Posts in July

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

Search Terms of the Month

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

bloodmyst isle tedious
[Yes]

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

minecraft burning forest
[guilty]

nfs diggy donuts
[Hell of a file system]

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

Game Time from ManicTime

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

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

Diablo II

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

EVE Online

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

EverQuest

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

Minecraft

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

Pokemon Go

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

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

World of Warcraft

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

WoW Classic

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

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