Category Archives: Minecraft

May in Review

The Site

The blog got a bit of an honor this month when it made the IBuyPower Top 60 MMO Blogs list.  There is even a badge for it.

I made the cut

I think 60 is an odd number though and, in glancing at the other entries, it is a bit of an odd list.  There are a lot of recognizable sites in there, though a number of them had shut down or have been quiet or don’t focus on just MMOs or have eschewed the whole MMO thing for some time.

And in looking at it you might think that somebody just used Google to quickly assemble the list.  However, the descriptions associated with the entries are detailed enough that clearly the person who made the list had some insight into each one.

And then there is the value of the list.  SynCaine dropped me a note congratulating me on making the cut before I got the official email and he had to send me a direct link because I couldn’t find it on the IBuyPower.com web site or blog or via Google search.

It is, apparently, a secret list.  Maybe I shouldn’t even be sharing this with you.

Anyway, my usual cynical world view aside, I should be happy to see that somebody still reads the site.  And I would say something nice about their products and pricing, except that I am in the “build my own gaming PC” camp, as posts from just last year would indicate.  You can see why my wife complains about me not being able to just say “Thank you” and stop at that.

In other site related news, I found that Goodreads provides an RSS feed of your book updates, so that is now way down at the bottom of what is now my probably too long by half side bar.  So if you’re dying to know what I am reading, there it is.  The only downside is that position on the list is only by last updated, which happens both when I start or finish a book. (I never give progress along the way.)  Given that I do, at times, have multiple books going, the ordering of the list can be… deceptive maybe?  Perhaps I am the only one that cares about that.

One Year Ago

My other blog turned ten years old, so I did a retrospective… here… since my other blog is a picture blog.

There was the big rumor post about plans at Daybreak that included winding down EverQuest and EverQuest II in favor of a new EverQuest game.  While some items on the list did come to pass ( Just Survive did not and PlanetSide Arena is effectively PlanetSide 3), the old school preservationist faction won out in Norrath and it looks like we’ll be getting expansions for some years to come.  Meanwhile, they were also giving out level 100 character boost in EQII again.

While I was on a WoW break of sorts, Blizzard seemed to be doing well enough in the financial report for Q1 2018.  Of course, they were feeding us tidbits to keep us interested while we waited for Battle for Azeroth, with pre-orders available since January.

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, an RTS from the turn of the century, was still getting expansions.  You cannot keep a good game down.

I objected to a silly post about making the MMO genre “more accessible.”  It was all either blindingly obvious or too specific to be practical as a general rule.

I was still mucking about in Rift Prime, having made it into Scarlet Gorge, though it felt like something was missing.

Microsoft was planning to discontinue support for Minecraft on some older consoles after the Aquatic Update was released.

On the Kickstarter front the was big success for the Empires of EVE Vol. II campaign and a huge flop for the ill advised Flower of Knighthood campaign.

CCP was celebrating the 15th anniversary of EVE Online and I was going on about the importance of all the tales that make up the ongoing story of the game.

I was over on the test server trying out the upcoming Abyssal Space content, which I likened to dungeons.  Why not?  CCP calls things dungeons in their patch notes.

At the end of the month we got the Into the Abyss expansion for EVE Online and people were losing ships to Triglavians almost immediately.

That was preceded by what I called the great third part apocalypse as CCP shut down the old API interface, killing any number of third party applications that depended on it.  I was also on about their New Eden Store scarcity policy.

We got an update on when the elections for CSM13 would be held, while with the MER I was wondering if anybody would challenged the might of the Delve economy.

And then, actually in game, we were still running ops against GotG in the north, exchanging citadel kills and chasing after them into Venal and mounting some ops from there before returning to Pure Blind.

Five Years Ago

EA killed off Mythic Entertainment.  They had already handed over Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot to Broadsword, so what was left in any case?

The news about post-Kickstarter Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen continued to be off-putting.

I got another seven day trial in Landmark.

The strategy group started in on our BIG map campaign in Civilization V.

Nintendo announced Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were coming in November. They also closed down the WiFi game services for the Nintendo DS and Wii, which led EA to shut down the server support for 50 games a month later.  Most of them were DS and Wii related, but EA used the opportunity to kill off some PC game support as well.

Nintendo also launched Mario Kart 8, one of the few bright spots on the otherwise disappointing Wii U.  Soon the Luigi death stare was everywhere.

In EverQuest the Fippy Darkpaw progression server wrapped up the Seeds of Destruction expansion.

In EVE Online I was wondering about the prospects for a summer war.  Everybody just assumed that there would be one, though in null sec the various empires seemed to be settling in and consolidating.  Sure, there was the trap at Daras… another on the list of reasons we shy away from low sec… the run down to Placid for a kill, and that op down in Syndicate (my post on which stirred up some sour grapes about day one players) but otherwise things were quiet.  That left plenty of time to go find my name on the monument.

As EVE Online turned eleven I was wondering if the alleged ‘learning cliff’ was still the biggest issue facing EVE Online.

Meanwhile CCP announced they were getting off the twice a year, huge update release pattern in order to have releases… named releases for a while… every month.  This led into a post about the pacing of content delivery.

In World of Warcraft the Timeless Isle was still a thing.  The Warlords of Draenor expansion was still over the horizon and subscriptions were down to 7.6 million under the weight of wait.  That seemed like a big drop until Warlords of Draenor fell to 5 million two years later.   Meanwhile, our group was slowing down a bit even as we started in on dungeons in Pandaria.

In attempt to make plans for another summer hiatus, I gave Star Wars: The Old Republic a try, going through the Sith starting area.

And then there was the kick off of the 2014 Newbie Blogger Initiative.

Ten Years Ago

I was able to expose the true conspiracy behind the EuroGamer Darkfall review.  Powerful forces have been suppressing this story ever since.

EA lost a billion dollars.  This came after the CEO announced that recessions were good because they eliminate competitors.  They can also eliminate bad execs.

Meanwhile, EverQuest was celebrating its 10 year anniversary by putting up a new server.  Polled on what it should be, people chose the 51/50 rule set.  I’m sure that, somehow, that says something about MMOs and nostalgia.  I cannot recall how that server even played out at this point.

I went back and played some Blizzard classics, Diablo II and StarCraft, both of which have patches now that mean you do not need the CD to play.  This was prompted by Blizzard’s pushing people towards Battle.net and the announcement of the opt-in for the StarCraft II beta.  I opted in right away.  I hear that some people got in to the beta almost a year later. *cough*

In New Eden, it was new ship time, as I picked up both an Orca and a Buzzard.  I also managed to lose my Cerebus.   Oops.

And speaking of EVE Online, I announced my one year experiment, EVE Online Pictures.  That site is now eleven years old.

CCP put a new boxed version of EVE Online on store shelves.  I bought a copy and made a fabulous new character.

In World of Warcraft the instance group was moving along slowly.  We did hit Azjol Nerub, but vacations and such kept us down to four people, so we spent a bit of time back in Burning Crusade doing heroics and generally messing around.  That included our run into Ogrimmar to do Ragefire Chasm.

I also messed around with the Noblegarden holiday.  I actually got all the achievements for that.  However, Children’s Week was another story.

Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced.  The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release.

And then there was a little game called Minecraft that was first made available in early access back in May 2009.  Recent estimates put it as possibly the best selling game of all time.

Fifteen Years Ago

Nintendo announces a new console code named Revolution to follow from the GameCubeRevolution would latter be given the official name Wii.

Twenty Years Ago

Nintendo starts talking about Project Dolphin, the console to follow the Nintendo 64.  This would eventually become the GameCube.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  4. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  5. EVE Online Gets Daily Login Rewards Starting with Free Skill Points
  6. Body Blow to Blizzard Margins
  7. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  8. Who Gets Banned for Botting in New Eden?
  9. Was Cataclysm a Required Prerequisite for WoW Classic?
  10. Farewell to MMO Fallout
  11. Quote of the Day – Goblin Gets His Due
  12. Daybreak Rumor Review

Search Terms of the Month

daybreak lifetime membership refund
[Buyer’s remorse already?]

ccp mittani collusion
[#NoCollution]

does candy crush go on forever
[Yes, yes it does]

things that need fixing in tilligerry peninsula
[‘struth!]

Game Time from ManicTime

A couple more games on the list this month.  EverQuest  got no play in May, so I guess my 20th anniversary nostalgia is done.  Still lots of WoW played, but it wasn’t as dominant as it was in April.  Total hours played was actually up as well.

  • World of Warcraft 45.77%
  • Minecraft 26.08%
  • EVE Online 24.33%
  • WoW Classic 3.32%
  • EverQuest II 0.28%
  • Lord of the Rings Online 0.23%

EVE Online

War were declared, and we moved up and out of Delve to the boarder of Tribute.  I’ve been on a few ops, so my total for the month will likely end up higher than a month without a war, but I still had more fun dropping with Black Ops on things.  Plus the war is crowded… like WoW Classic crowded… a topic which I will get to next week.

EverQuest II

I actually meant to play some EQII this month.  One thing I did in March was move to a bigger house in Halas, leaving behind the base model apartment for much larger digs, because I was just running out of space to display all the junk I have collected in the game over the years.  However, the Minecraft update came along and that pretty much ate up my decorating play time.

Lord of the Rings Online

I logged in to make sure I got the anniversary gifts on at least one character.  I appear to have fallen off the wagon for LOTRO Legendary somewhere in Moria.  That might be the end of that because, while I was keen to get into Moria, getting into Mirkwood doesn’t motivate me at all.

Minecraft

I have carried on with the Village and Pillage update for Minecraft.  I haven’t actually found a panda yet, but I have spent a lot of time with villagers and met the pillagers… which got me back to fortifying villages.  A wall around your village keeps your villagers safer… unless they find a way to get out, in which case they will wander straight into death.

Pokemon Go

The leveling up process carries on ever so slowly.  I am about a third of the way to level 37, though I will admit I haven’t been optimizing for gaining xp.  It is possible to burst xp for a short bit, but the increments start to look small when lined up against the 2 million needed to level up.  Oh well.

Level: 36 (+0)
Pokedex status: 419 (+9) caught, 447 (+6) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have to catch a damn Aerodactyl to get one
Current buddy: Luxio

World of Warcraft

Given how much WoW I played over the course of the month I feel like I should have more to say about it.  I did a lot of pet battles and world quests.  I started on another character in Kul Tiras… or carried on with one I started previously.

WoW Classic

WoW Classic is such a different game from current WoW that I expect it deserves its own listing, seeing that it gets its own time tracking category as well.  This month it was just the two stress tests, which was enough to whet my appetite for the August launch.

Also, it was kind of a big month for WoW Classic.  It ended up getting five posts here in May.

A lot of coverage… for me… for something that isn’t live yet.  I’m not even in the beta.

Coming Up

In EVE Online the war in Tribute will continue on, perhaps spreading to other regions.

The CSM14 elections will also go live come the 10th, with results to be announced at EVE North (is Toronto “north” enough when compared to Iceland or Leningrad St. Petersburg?) by the end of the month.

Maybe we will get that 8.2 patch for World of Warcraft by the end of the month.

Since summer will be arriving, it seems likely that there will be a Steam summer sale.  I haven’t actually logged into Steam this month.

Oh, and as I mentioned yesterday, summer FML time.  Now I’ll be blathering about movies once a week yet again.

Finding the Pillagers

I mentioned at the end of the last Minecraft post, where I was searching for freshly generated villages, that there was something interesting on the map I rendered with Minecraft Overviewer.

What I saw was a tower.

From the map

Naturally I was keen to run out and check out that tower in person, unconcerned about what function the tower might serve.  So I got on my horse and rode out to see what I could see.

As I got within sight of the tower I noticed that there were a few pillagers in the way.  I had seen pillagers wandering about already, so this was nothing new.  I had slain some before, avoided others.  Just another hostile mob.

I dismounted and left the horse to wander… we’ll get to that… to go pick off the pillagers.

The tower is just over yonder, a pillager band in between

I stormed in and started killing off the pillagers only to find more arriving.  I ran towards the tower when things started to get a little overwhelming, finding even more pillagers as I got closer.

I ran in one of the openings in the base of the tower and quickly filled it up with some cobble stone to keep the pillagers out.  The I ran to the far side and did the same to the other opening, then filled in the window opening along the other two sides of the base to stop the crossbow wielding pillagers from shooting me.

I used to be an adventurer like you…

So for the moment I was safe, but I seemed to be in deep with the pillagers.  It was about then that I went to the wiki to see what might be up with this tower only to find that it was a Pillager Outpost, literally the place where pillagers spawn.

I went up through the tower, checking out each level.  There was a chest up at the top with a few items in it, but not much else.  Night was also falling, so I went to one of the lower levels that was enclosed… exposing yourself only draws more arrows from the pillagers… and built myself a bed.

However, it was already night and there were already zombies and skeletons spawning around the place, so I spent the night awake and sniping at the pillagers.  Come the morning I was still firing away at pillagers whose numbers seemed to replenish and remain above my ability to run out and solo.

And they all had eyes for me

In my inventory I have a stack of a dozen units of TNT.  I considered how best to use this to cover my escape.  I leaned out the second floor and placed some above where the pillagers were congregating, then some more lower down, and one right in the center where the door was.  I then hit one of them with a fire arrow to detonate them while opening up a hole on the other side of the building through which to make my escape.

I did seem to have thinned out their ranks as I ran to where I left my horse.  However, try to form, it had wandered off beyond line of sight.  Meanwhile, the remaining hostile pillagers were giving chase, so I headed back north to the village, turning to fight… or to drop a block of TNT to detonate amongst them… every so often.

The pillagers are persistent and would not give up the chase, but I was able to knock off the last of them by the time I got back to the village.  However, on entering the village I learned about the bad omen curse.

When you kill the pillager captains, the guys with the banners, you get the bad omen and as soon as you walk into a village it triggers a raid.  The bad omen effect stacks, and the more you have the more waves you get in your raid.

So it was a further fight, during which most of my villagers were wiped out.  Pillages go straight for them if they can.  They also open normal doors, so just being inside is no safety.  That also introduced me to the ravager, the pillage beast/mount, which has a lot of hit points and hits like a truck.  Fortunately it is too big to fit through a single door, so I was able to find a spot from which to fire away at the one that spawned during one of the raid waves.

Eventually I prevailed, though I was close to death a few times… and, as I said, most of my villagers died.  But I got the achievement for defeating a raid.

Hero of the Village also gets you a discount on buying items from villagers and makes giving them things to increase their level more effective.  This would have been useful had I had many villagers left.

Meanwhile, there were still pillagers lurking about on the route to the pillager camp, though no captains, so I could knock them down without having another raid hit.

Pillager lurking by my village – Also, Hero of the Village effect icon at upper right

That done I headed back to find my damn horse.  I found him up the hill overlooking the pillager camp.

The horse could pretty much see me the whole time

From up there I could also move around to get a look into how much damage I had done.

The tower after my first run

I blew a pretty big chunk out of the side of the tower, and a tree that was there, against which I had placed some of the TNT, had gone completely missing.  But I saw that at least one block of TNT remained.  That seemed like an invite to return.  So I went back in, placed the last of my TNT at various points around the tower, all while avoiding pillagers who began to chase me yet again, and started blowing things up.  Releasing the iron golem they had caged up helped some, as they fought with him for a while.

Then I set the tower on fire, just for good measure before running off again.  Again, a bunch of pillagers were following me.

Not happy with me

I managed to kill off the followers and avoid the captains, leading them into the ocean and out swimming them.  No bad omen this time.

Then it was back to the village to start fortifying it against pillagers, first by building a wall around it.  I also found a few of the pillager banners in my inventory from my fights.

Banners of my defeated foes

I decided to hang some of those up on my defensive structures.

Fortifying my village

Later, I went and rendered a fresh copy of the map to see what was left of the tower.

Tower after the TNT and burning

There are still two blocks of unexploded TNT around the tower, so I might have to go back.  We’ll see if pillagers stop spawning there if I tear the whole thing down.

Finding New Villages

With the launch of the big Village and Pillage expansion for Minecraft I went back to our server, now almost four years old, in order to see some of the new things.  Pandas are, and remain, and item on my list, though I did at least manage to find some bamboo.

Villagers and Pillagers

I have also spent quite a bit of time in villages that I had previously found.  Villages and villagers got a bunch of changes and I was able to see some of them by just visiting familiar villages.

Love is in the air

The new villager skins were there, and it was quite apparent that Mojang increased the density of villagers that a village would support since the villagers started breeding immediately upon my arrival.

This introduced me to all of the new crafting elements that are now part of the game.  Unless a fresh villager finds an appropriate crafting location they won’t choose a profession.  I ended up with a lot of them in plain brown attire in old villages that had just a crafting table and a furnace.

Young villagers, without occupations, sleeping in the new dorm

But building those, some new like the cartography table and some old like the brewing stand, changed that.  Professions were mostly adopted by the new villagers.

I was also able to find some of the new items, like the town bell, available for sale from some villagers who had been leveled up previously.

Basically I spent a lot of time working on villages, which is something of an obsession of mine at times.  It was certainly something that slowed down the road and rail work I did in the past as I felt the need to stop at every village I passed in order to improve it.  This time around I was also making a lot of beds, since villagers sleep in them now and you cannot if a villager gets to the bed first. (And villagers seem to be able to go to bed before you can, so you won’t get that one bed in the village!)

But one of the things that came with the expansion was new villages overall.  After tinkering with old villages for a while I decided I wanted to find a new village or two in order to see the new buildings and new layouts.  As it happened I was in one village with a portal to the nether, which had branch line off of it to a place I couldn’t recall off hand.

The Western Isle?

I couldn’t remember where the location of the “western isle” was or who built that spur line, just that it didn’t seem to be my handiwork, something confirmed when I arrived at the far end of the line and went through the portal there.

The Western Isle house

There was a house built there which was very nice, meaning it was most certainly not mine.  My building style tends to be awkward, blocky, and utilitarian.  That works well enough on the big public works style projects like building a 22km rail line.  But my houses four years in look about like my houses from day one.

I got the coordinates for the location and looked it up on my last map rendered with Minecraft Overviewer.  It lay on something like an exploration peninsula jutting out from the main explored area.  From here I could set out in a boat in any direction save east and almost immediately be in unexplored territory.  So I built a boat and headed northward.

And, naturally, I ran into a warm ocean area in about two minutes.  There is nothing wrong with that, except that when the Aquatic Update came out for Minecraft last year I spent a long time searching for a warm ocean.

Still, I carried on for a bit and found some land not too far off and started sailing around the shoreline until I caught sight of some buildings.  I was along a savanna biome, so got to see what a fresh village there looked like.

Savanna Village

It was a few releases back that villages began to reflect the materials of the biome in which it was located, but now there are a whole set of new building models unique to each biome.

New buildings in the savanna

In addition to new buildings they also incorporate some of the new materials.

Something fresh in the savanna

I camped there for a bit then started exploring further afield.  The savanna opened up into a grassland biome in which I found another village not too far away.

Grassland village building

This also had not only new building layouts, but bits of construction new to the release.

Town bell and some stalls

Crops in each village also seem to depend on the biome.  The grassland village had the traditional crops laid out in the wood bordered planters with water between the plants.  In the savanna the crops were just wheat and watermelons laid out in little patches around a square of water.

The second village also had pen with some animals, including a pair of horses.  Back at the savanna village you’ll see a desert temple adjacent to it… so close that one of the buildings juts into the temple… which yielded a saddle when I cleared it out.

Pretty sure there is a zoning violation here

So I tamed one of the horses and used it to ride around in order to explore.  Doing so I found a third village as well as another desert temple.

Structures such as villages seem to spawn much more densely than they used to before the expansions.  I can look at the maps I have rendered previously and see the gaps between them.  However, when I rendered the area I had explored I saw that things were noticeably closer together than I had expected.

Map of the area around the first village

Minecraft Overviewer is mostly working with 1.14, but there are some issues, as you can see with the black squares over the savanna village.

Anyway, four villages and three temples in that somewhat restricted area seems like a lot compared to what I have become used to.  It isn’t a bad thing, though it likely means me spending more time “fixing” villages.

And I will feel the need to fix them because while some things have changed, others remain the same.  As before the expansion, villages are just set down on the terrain as it was laid out, leading to odd and awkward building placement.  Also, in the savanna village, the agriculture plots seemed to be dropped haphazardly, ending up in the middle of paths or intruding into buildings.  Also, while the new buildings are neat, there are a couple of designs that end up with villagers getting stuck in them.

Such is life in a world of procedural generation I suppose.  And I remain impressed with the changes.  But when I rendered the map of the area I noticed something else that I had to go check out.  That will be the topic of the next Minecraft post.

Bamboo Proliferation in Minecraft

The Village and Pillage update has me back and running around in Minecraft.

Villagers and Pillagers

While the first day login issues seem to have passed for Minecraft Realms, the world does still seem to be loading up slowly.  If I jump in a mine cart and take a ride it does seem to take some time for the world draw to catch up with what I am doing.

Not that it isn’t interesting.  The draw routine seems to start way down at bedrock and often I am treated to a glimpse of what is going on underground and can see the shadow outlines of all the usual dark dwelling mobs.

Something going on down there

It is occasionally disconcerting as my mine cart rolls on into empty space, but since I keep on rolling and the world eventually catches up, I guess it is okay for now.  I am still not sure if this is because the 1.14 update is that much harder on the CPU or because Minecraft Realms is just over burdened by people coming back to the game for the new stuff.

New stuff was certainly one of my goals.  And at the top of that list was finding a bamboo forest and some pandas, because of course it was.  But, as I have mentioned in the past, having an old world is a burden at times since a lot of new stuff only spawns when the area you are in is first generated.  So any place I have already been won’t have bamboo forests or pandas or the new villages or other things like that.

That mean that, as with the warm ocean, I was going to have to go exploring.  So I got out the last render I did with Minecraft Overviewer to fine a likely direction to head off towards.  As a group those of us on the server have wandered about pretty far, so finding unspoiled country is a challenge without the map.

With the map though I was able to spot a potential place to start.  There was a bit of coastline up off of the great northern rail line that I had not explored beyond, and it was not too far from an outpost I had already provisioned.

Just past an ocean monument that has been cleared out

So I headed there, grabbed a boat, and set sail.

Some stuff beneath the ocean floor visible

Boats are pretty much the ideal exploration vehicle in Minecraft these days.  They are now pretty durable, they move as fast as mine carts, and they don’t wander off like horses.  Also, open water is reasonably safe at night, even with the sea zombies (the drowned) about, so you can just keep on rowing… and a number of underwater things are lit, so much easier to spot at night.

Of course, it is still a crap shoot as to what you will find if you head off in any given direction.  But I got lucky.  Not too far into my rowing I ran across an island that had a shipwreck at one end.

I added the torches to it

Shipwrecks have chests on board that have a chance of having a number of items.  From one chest I got a few items, including a buried treasure map.  But from another I got three pieces of bamboo.

That wasn’t the bamboo forest I was looking for, but it was something new to work with.  I turned around to bring this new item home… and then my boat got caught in a bubble column above some magma and sucked down to the bottom of the ocean.

Note to self: Don’t stop and stare at bubbles under your boat.

But I had some wood with me, so I built a new boat and headed back towards the mainland.  There I jumped back on a mine cart and headed to the nearest town where I started experimenting with planting bamboo.

Bamboo is planted the same way you plant trees.  No need to cultivate soil or anything, just stick it in the dirt or sand or whatever it seems.  Unlike trees, bamboo doesn’t seem to care about being in the shade of its neighbors or anything.  I played with spacing and found it would grow no matter how densely you packed it, though moving around through it was much easier if I left some empty row.

And it grows fast.  Very fast.  And tall.

A couple of my doggos in a bamboo patch

You harvest it the way you harvest sugar cane, which means chopping it off and the second block up from the ground if you want it to grown back.  While you can chop at it with an axe, one swipe with your sword will work if you’re in a hurry.  The only problem with that is it does seem to wear out your sword pretty quickly.

Though maybe I was just chopping a lot of bamboo.  My three pieces soon turned into a dozen then a couple dozen then a stack then a few stacks.  I decided to move along from the village I was hanging out in, and as I passed through the nether transit hub I left a stack in a chest for Panadar to grab.  Now he has bamboo to plant as well.

As I move around I keep planting some bamboo as I hit each new village.  Those three initial pieces have now been spread far and wide as I carry a bit with me to plant where every I go.

Of course, there is the question as to what one should do with all of this bamboo.  You can make sticks out of it, which isn’t useless if you need a lot of sticks, but isn’t something I need a lot of.  It also makes a quick to obtain, if inefficient, fuel source for furnaces.  I might need that in a pinch.

But the key thing you make from it is scaffolding, which is what you think it is, a temporary, easily removed structure that you can climb around on as you build your real structure.

Where was that when I needed it a couple years back?

Anyway, should I decided to build more structures I will have scaffolding as an option.  But I still have to find a panda first.  Back to exploring.

April in Review

The Site

As is usually the case, my post on April 1st about what Blizzard was up to for April Fools was the traffic peak of the month, and likely the traffic peak for the year, largely driven by Google throwing me a bone and showing me in the search results for related terms.  You can see my Google search stats below.

April 1st is always a spike

That is an enviable click through rate as I understand it.

April second saw an increased level of activity as well as people continued to check in on what Blizzard was up to.  But after that traffic slowed back down to the usual reality of 2019, which is about 500 page views a day.

Even April 1st was down, ringing in at roughly one fifth of the amount of traffic I got on the best April Fools, which was back in 2013.  But I was getting a lot more traffic back in 2013, averaging about 1,500 page views a day.  I am coming to the point of view, looking at old traffic and search terms, that writing about Pokemon was the secret to traffic.  Writing about WoW isn’t bad, and all the better if you have a rant about the game as shaking your angry fist at Blizzard still gets people stirred up, but Azeroth can’t really hold a candle to Pokemon.

Hell, even with April Fools the month of April barely had more page views than March, even accounting for one less day.  Maybe writing about EverQuest trumps WoW as well.  There is certainly a lot less competition on that front.

One Year Ago

April Fools at Blizzard was mostly about World of Warcraft.

Having unlocked the four allied races available with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order, I was set to take a break from Azeroth until the per-expansion events started.  The August 14th launch date had been announced.

Ultima Online‘s Publish 99 introduced a free to play option.

Speaking of things Lord British has touched, I also played some Shroud of the Avatar and then tried to figure out who it was really targeting.  That I uninstalled it later probably meant I wasn’t on that list.  I have not gone back to it since.

Pokemon Go got field research as a new activity.

On Rift Prime I was in Stonefield.  There was also a problem with claiming mounts.

There were two Kickstarter campaigns of note, one for Empires of EVE Vol. II and the other for the CIA agent training card game.  I backed them both.

For EVE Online Fanfest was on in Iceland, where the keynote announced the coming Into the Abyss expansion and the Triglavian menace.  There was a lot of other news and tidbits out of the event, which I tried to sum up on the following Monday.  CCP also got recognized by Guinness for the Million Dollar Battle.

Actually in game, we were busy up in Fade and Pure Blind, such that I am going to just list out all those posts as bullet points:

Good times in space.

But, in the end, the most bizarre moment of the month was probably when Daybreak, asked if Russian sanctions might affect them, went straight to declaring that they have never been owned by Columbus Nova, despite having told us they were for owned by them since the acquisition from Sony.  Then they went on to try and gaslight the internet (always a recipe for success) including editing their own Wikipedia page to remove all mention of Columbus Nova, then issued more statements, and then had a round of layoffs, all of which just succeeded in bringing more attention to their absurd situation, to the point that I had to write a summary post just to keep track what the hell was going on.

All of which could have been avoided if Daybreak had just said, “No, sanctions will not affect us.”  A warning to PR professionals everywhere.

That kind of took the air out of the announcement that the Angarr server on EverQuest had reached the Planes of Power expansion.

Five Years Ago

Spacewar! for the PDP-1 was up via emulation on the internet archive.

The Elder Scrolls Online launched, hitting its planned April 4th date.  I did not play.

I was diving in to Pokemon X & Y, having returned to Pokemon at last.

The strategy group played a game of Civilization V that ended with a win via nuclear terror.

The Kickstarter campaign for the book A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online kicked off.  We were also watching Pantheon: Rise of the Something was splutter along after failing its Kickstarter campaign.

In EVE Online proper there was Burn Jita 3, which seemed like less of a thing the third time out.  There was a video.  Then there was the CSM9 vote.  At least there were only 36 candidates on the ballot.

In null sec we were shooting Black Legion things, because that is what we did in the CFC.  I was just happy to be using lasers, those skills having been trained up amongst my 120 million skill points.  There were also some posts about being space famous and an attempt at in-game blackmail.

But on the broader CCP front, World of Darkness was officially cancelled.

On the iPad I was playing Hearthstone and QuizUp… for about a week.

Turbine announced that Beornings were coming to Lord of the Rings Online.

SOE gave me a key for seven days of Landmark, so I went and tried it out.  SOE also announced H1Z1 and began their love affair with Reddit and got their new All Access plan running.  While on the old school front, Dave Georgeson said SOE never plans to shut down EverQuest.

Warlords of Draenor was still a long ways away.  But Blizzard was doing well on other fronts.  The instance group finished up Zul’gurub.  And there was the usual April Fools stuff.

Ten Years Ago

Dave Arneson passed away.  He was, with Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, that so-influential gaming system that has shaped how we view fantasy swords and sorcery games for over 30 years now.  There would be no World of Warcraft as it is today without Dungeons & Dragons.

We also saw the launch of SOE’s Free Realms, which stuttered a bit on day one.  Soon though they had millions of people signed up for the game, but since it was free to play, not a common thing at the time, that was no indication of revenue.  My daughter tried to sign up four times, so that was at least four out of the millions.  SOE was advertising the game heavily on Cartoon Network.  But FR did not run on MacOS, and my daughter was running on an iMac at the time.  I knew she has signed up because her email used to get routed to me.

In EVE Online I was mulling over the Apocrypha expansion and configuring up a Cerebus to try out as a mission runner.  I was also doing invention to make tech II missiles, which meant data cores and research agents and such, and pondering the idea that maybe using your skills should increase your skill points or something.

As usual, there was much ado about World of Warcraft.

I was sniggering like a pre-teen about Cornhole.  Also, there was something about Honest Scrap that was a meme, back when memes weren’t just pop culture references.

I was looking back on two years of the Wii and the games we played on it.

On the TV we were apparently watching Castle and Dollhouse.

And then there were new comers as we brought home two wee kittens.

Fifteen Years Ago

City of Heroes launched in the US.  Closed down by NCsoft in 2012, the game has been much in the news this month past month regarding emulators and such.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2019 is Pretty Much No Fools
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  5. April Fools at Blizzard 2018 is Mostly Just World of Warcraft
  6. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  7. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  8. WoW Dance Battle System!
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. Brisc Ban Nightmare Scenario
  11. A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like
  12. Brisc Rubal Exonerated

Search Terms of the Month

does tetris get faster
[Ladies and gentleman, somebody who has never played Tetris!]

is fortnite popular still
[Fortnite is popular still]

orcs gay game pc download
[Not willing to play a gay orc online game?]

“everquest 3”
[You are well advised to put that in quotes]

what did brisc rubal do
[Won in the end]

лего хогвартс
[Google says that is Russian for “LEGO Hogwarts”]

Game Time from ManicTime

There are a lot fewer games on the list this month.  March had ten games on the list, while April has just four.  And I didn’t leave any off just because they had a tiny percentage.  I appear to have played just these four on my computer.

  • World of Warcraft 72.52%
  • EVE Online 15.21%
  • Minecraft 9.78%
  • EverQuest 2.49%

The total hours played was down a bit, but not by much.  I just played a lot of WoW in April.

EVE Online

The low key conflict in the east against Pandemic Horde, NCDot, and the rental areas of both carries on.  I did not spend as much time on ops as I did last month… some nights you cannot just jump in not knowing if an op will last 30 minutes or 3 hours… but I did get in and play.  I got my PAP links and on a couple of kill mails to prove I am still alive.

And, of course, there was the whole CSM13 drama where Brisc Rubal and two other players were banned in a very public way only to have CCP roll back the whole thing based on further investigation.  This was all apparently because somebody thought it was odd that somebody else was selling their Molok titan and felt the need to report it.

EverQuest

After the big 20th anniversary Norrath nostalgia binge that was March, EverQuest fell a bit by the wayside.  I logged in a few times, as the anniversary experience bonus carried on into April a bit, and was revived for Easter weekend, but otherwise there wasn’t much to report there.  I suspect EQ will not make the list for May.

Minecraft

This came up because we got the Village and Pillage update which added a bunch of new stuff to the game.  My daughter helped hype this up a bit in our house, as a group of her friends have a server.  That got me going on figuring out the new stuff and exploring yet again.

Pokemon Go

We had a reasonably good month of Pokemon Go at our house.  My wife and I being on the same team now helps.  Thanks to the luck of simply being at the right place at the right time we even managed to participate in a few level 5 raids.  That was exciting.  However, I wasn’t aware how hard actually catching the legendary Pokemon after those raids can be.  I threw a stream of Golden Razz Berries to try and help, but did not catch a single one.  Ah well.

Level: 36 (+0)
Pokedex status: 410 (+9) caught, 441 (+10) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have to catch a damn Aerodactyl to get one
Current buddy: Luxio

World of Warcraft

I guess if you wanted to summarize my April play time, you could just say I played WoW.  I got in with Darkmoon Faire, then hit the pet battle bonus week, and then there was the WoW 8.2 Rise of Azshara preview that got me on board to unlock flying and there we go.  Also, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was big on pet battles.  I did potter around a bit with at least one allied race alt.  My Highmountain Tauren is now in his low 30s.  But he started at level 20 and the prospect of getting him up to level 120 currently fills me with boredom.

Coming Up

EVE Online will turn 16, so there will be the usual gifts and giveaways and such.  There was also some speculation that we might get the named expansion in May, but now that seems like it might come in June.

Around mid-month we should get the Q1 2019 quarterly results for Activision Blizzard.  We shall see if it brings good news, and if good news means laying more people off.

In WoW we will probably hear more about the Rise of Azshara update.  I suspect they will have the achievement unlock requirements for flying set.  But the speculation is that it won’t release until June or even July.

I will carry on some with pet battles… on a new alt… and getting my rep up to exalted on my main.  Maybe I will actually bring an alt into BFA.  Probably my hunter.

LOTRO… I sort of fell off the wagon when it came to LOTRO.  I got into the Mines of Moria on the legendary server and actually made my way through the first couple of areas.  Then all those other games I played in March sprang up, so I never made it back.  I think I missed the 12 year anniversary in April.  Oh well.  Maybe I will make in back in May.

The Minecraft Village and Pillage Update Lands

The Minecraft 1.14 update, the “Village & Pillage” release, landed for both the Java (old school) and Bedrock (Win10 and consoles) editions this week.  It has been described by the team as the biggest update to villages ever.

Villagers and Pillagers

And, given the list of new items and changes, I won’t argue with that description, even extending it to the biggest update overall I have seen for the game.

The list of just “new” things added to the game is already pretty impressive:

  • Bamboo jungles with bamboo trees and pandas
  • Barrels
  • Berries
  • Blast furnaces
  • Town bells
  • Campfires
  • Cartography tables
  • Composters
  • Crossbows
  • Fletching tables
  • Foxes
  • Leather horse armor (dyeable)
  • Lanterns
  • Lecterns
  • Looms
  • Pillagers
  • Raids
  • Ravagers
  • Wandering Traders
  • Scaffolding
  • Smithing tables
  • Smokers
  • Stonecutters
  • New flowers
  • New dyes
  • New decorative blocks

Back over the summer, when they first started talking about this update I thought pandas were going to be the big deal.  But now there is so much more.

And those are just the new things.  The Minecraft team has also changes up how a lot of things work in the game.  Cats are now their own thing, separate from ocelots, villages now work differently, and all of that new stuff has it own mechanics as well.

In addition, textures were updated as well, so the world even looks a bit different.  And all of that is just scratching the surface of what is listed out for the update.

As usual, I face some of the “old server” problems.  New biomes do not appear in already discovered areas, so if I want to see pandas I am going to have to mount an expedition to find one, the way I did for the warm ocean.

However, this time around a lot of the new stuff is right there in front of me.  I went to a village near our server spawn point, literally the first village we discovered almost four years ago when my daughter and I started out with a fresh server, and found the newly updated villages… well… making new villagers I guess.

Love is in the air

The villagers have new textures, as do a lot of things in the game.

Villagers doing it in the new wheat texture

They also have some new behaviors.  They need some of the new work stations to go about their business, which will appear automatically if you discover a new village but which you need to build for them in an old one.  The villagers also all now sleep in beds, which I discovered when night fell and I went to use the one bed in the village only to find it occupied.  So I had to make beds for everybody.  It is a good thing I had some sheep within the walls of that village.

Young villagers, without occupations, sleeping in the new dorm

I also collected a few cats.  Cats are now strays and they spawn around villages.  You have to sneak up on them and give them fish to tame them.  The wall around this village helped me corral them as they couldn’t wander off, but I understand that if you village is open they will spawn and move away.

A calico kitty caught

There is still a lot to do and a lot to explore with this Minecraft update.  There were some initial problems with people logging in and, as is often true with new updates, Minecraft Realms servers seem to be struggling under the weight of the changes… taking a mine cart anywhere leads to some ragged movement… but the update is live.  Time to go play.

April Fools at Blizzard 2019 is Pretty Much No Fools

There have been points in the past where April Fools was a pretty big deal at Blizzard and each game would have a special joke, a silly new game or outrageous feature, on their respective sites.

Blizzard Outcasts from 2014

Things are no longer that funny around Blizzard these days I gather.

There are a variety of reasons likely for that, but they all add up to declining fortunes.  World of Warcraft, still huge, isn’t as huge as it once was.  Overwatch has seen a decline over the last year and reports are that Hearthstone is suffering from franchise fatigue.

As such, this year’s entries are pretty much non-existent, somehow managing to be a step down from even last year’s low turn out.  I have logged below what I found on the US sites, which I will update if new items show up.

Blizzard Overall

There is a translator up that will show you Blizzard sites in the Murloc language.

The Murloc language is, of course, Nerglish.  This was also part of the Hearthstone April Fools last year.

World of Warcraft

The annual April 1st patch notes are up, titled Patch 8.6.7 Build 5309, a nod to a bit of 80s pop culture.  Some traditions never die.  Still, it is a somewhat tepid listing this year, featuring entries such as:

  • Feral Druids can now be crowd-controlled by throwing a slice of cheese on their head.
  • Groups of 5 Feral Druids can come together to form one super-bot.
  • Due to noise complaints, Stonebark has been fitted with a shock collar.

But that is it.  The WoW site has no new entries for April 1.

Overwatch

Nothing

Hearthstone

Nothing

StarCraft

Nothing

Diablo III

Nothing

Diablo: Immortal

Already confirmed as not an April Fools joke at BlizzCon.

Heroes of the Storm

It is still there… but no April Fools joke.

Past Years

If this year’s lack of effort leaves you longing for bigger or better gags, you can always look back at past years:

I think it might be telling that the official Blizzard April Fool’s archive stops at 2015.

We may be at a point where we can declare April Fools no longer really a thing for Blizzard.

But if you’re dying for something on April Fools, I guess you can go play Minecraft 3D.  The over-the-top April Fools spirit has hit Mojang… though I am not sure that their impression of a 1994 version of Minecraft is all that different from what they have today.