Category Archives: Neverwinter

Friday Bullet Points Vying for Medals

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

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

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

  • Blizzard Continues to Blow Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • California has Standards

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

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

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

Medal Status: 80 Plus Bronze score

  • Neverwinter Embraces Bards

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

Sing “heal” dammit!

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

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

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

Medal Status: Silver tongued

  • Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons Expansion

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

But we get to end them, right?

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

Medal Status: Golden dragon scale of hope

  • Crimson Desert Mirage

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

The desert is implied I think

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

Medal Status: Did not finish

Perfect Puts Paid to Player Projects

Sometimes I just want alliteration in my headlines.

The news today from Perfect World Entertainment, owners of Cryptic Studios, is that they will be killing off the Foundry, the player content creation portal, for Star Trek Online and Neverwinter.

Just down the street from EA HQ

The Foundry in both games will be discontinued come April 11, 2019.

Anybody who created or played in a mission from the Foundry before March 4, 2019 will get special in-game items in acknowledgement.

As for why the Foundry is being discontinued, the announcement says:

Our team at Cryptic strives to create excellent content and maintain a high standard of quality for our games. However, the legacy knowledge required to maintain the Foundry at our quality standards is no longer available.

Given that they describe the Foundry as a “passion project” elsewhere in the announcement, it sounds as though the person whose passion it was has left the company and PWE isn’t willing to spend the time and money to get somebody else on board to handle it.

This is unmistakably a blow to those who champion the idea of user created content as an answer to the age old problem of players consuming content faster than a studio can make it.  The Foundry was pretty much the poster child, the prime example, the proof that such a solution was viable.

And, of course, there are those who actually play Neverwinter and Star Trek Online and who look to the Foundry to provide interesting and diverse content as an adjunct to what the company provides.  That avenue will soon be closed.

PWE vows to continue to creating top notch content for these games, but it seems unlikely that the pace of such content, even were it stepped up, could off-set what will be taken away come mid-April.

Others on this topic:

October in Review

The Site

Not much has changed on the site and hasn’t mucked anything up of late, so I guess I will complain fruitlessly about Google a bit more.

I must remain in the bad graces of our friends over in Mountain View, as search engine related traffic continued to taper off this past month.  I think Bing is in danger of providing more traffic if this persists, and what does that say about the world? (Ha, ha, just kidding.  Who uses Bing here?  Raise your hand.  Even in decline, Google drives 50x the traffic to my site than Bing.)

Of course, Google continues to irk me on various fronts.  They will be making search private in the future, so say good-bye to the search terms of the month section of this post.  The Google+ interface continues to make Facebook look… well… not so bad in my eyes.  The Gmail interface only looks good when compared to the latest insanity taking over Yahoo’s mail interface.  And, of course, there was the demise of Google Reader and the impending end of iGoogle, which Google has reminded me about with a pop-up every single day this month.

So I've heard...

So I’ve heard…

With the demise of iGoogle I need a new default home page for my browser.  My start page was Yahoo for ages, before they turned their front page into a morass of ads and malformed JavaScript.  Remember those early days of Yahoo when the front page looked like this?

Yahoo, circa 1997

Yahoo, circa 1997

Then I moved to Google, which was the new thing.  And then came iGoogle, which let me put a couple of informational widgets on my start page… the calendar, headlines from a couple of news sources, and Google’s hilariously inaccurate weather widget… that struck a nice balance between minimalism and usefulness.

So I suppose it is back to just the main Google page as the default.  No more news headlines, I’ll just be aware of whatever obscure anniversary Google has chosen to commemorate in its logo.  Tomorrow is the 117th anniversary of the first bare female breasts shown on the pages of National Geographic Magazine.  That would make for an interesting doodle.

All of which is just me rambling, having little to do with this site… so carry on.

One Year Ago

The SF Giants won the World Series.  That makes twice in my lifetime, which was one more than I had any hope for.

Disney bought out Lucasfilm, claiming ownership of Star Wars.  Panic ensued.

Zynga was well into its troubles, leaving me to wonder how Lord British viewed his partnership with the imploding company.  Certainly the Zynga business plan seemed… childish?

I had a sudden crescendo of activity around World of Warcraft, culminating in Blizzard finally letting me cancel my subscription.  There was the Panda launch and people declaring success or failure.  I was off in the Emerald Dream attempting to relive what WoW was like back in 2006.  In involved a shovel.

The Project: Gorgon kickstarter kicked off.

I was invited on a pre-release tour of the Storm Legion expansion in Rift.  Then there was the big update to the soul system and some adventures in Lantern Hook.

In World of Tanks the word of the day was Sturmgeschütz.

Lord of the Rings Online launched the Rider of Rohan expansion.  I still don’t own it.

EVE-Kill was looking for donations to keep everybody’s favorite kill board up and running.  I was off on a CSAA killing mission that got me accused of cognitive dissonance.  I was feeling warm and cozy in null sec.  We were also pursuing our foes in Tribute and the Vale of the Silent.

I was wondering how EA Louse’s comments about Star Wars: The Old Republic were holding up two years later.

I was complaining about games (or, in my 30+ year old example, a game master) that try to impose their story on your character.   I don’t mind being a part of the overall story, but my characters have their own stories and motivations and I do not like it when games put their own words in my character’s mouth.

And, finally, there was the case for seat belts.

Five Years Ago

In one of the worst kept secrets, it was announced that BioWare’s MMO project was in fact Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Their subscription goals were, of course, quite modest.

I celebrated my 15 years of playing Sojourn/TorilMUD with the first in a series of posts.  Nostalgia FTW!  And I guess that makes this the 20 year mark.  My, how time flies!

And speaking of Nostalgia, Tipa was out looking for EverQuest blogs.  I’m not sure any were discovered.

The instance group formed up a guild and was running in Warhammer Online.  We had our best night and our worst night, plus a few that were somewhere in between.  All in all though, things were not as exciting as we had hoped.

Mythic was trying out incentives to get better server balance while starting to talk about new stuff coming soon.  Not a word about the quest log however.

In EVE Online Potshot, Gaff, and I were playing with fleets and I was flying a shiny new ship.  And the EVE Blog Pack was defined.

And I stared logging into World of Warcraft again to get things lined up for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  I managed to survive through the controversial scourge event and was intrigued by the shiny new achievements.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  2. Steam and the Path of Exile
  3. Rift and the End of the Happy Time
  4. The End of the Road for EverQuest Mac
  5. Quote of the Day – Screwed by the Autopilot
  6. Archon Acquired
  7. Sneaking Into Curse
  8. CCP to Attempt to Explain EVE Online to New Players
  9. What You Get in the Absence of Actual Information…
  10. Going Bombing in War Thunder
  11. Hardware Updates – Headphones, Video Cards, and Connectivity
  12. Hallow’s End, Brewfest, and an Empty Feeling

Search Terms of the Month

a fake star system built on cheating people for one s own self satisfaction
[Welcome to EVE Online! Or Scientology! Whichever.]

martha stewart a mud shark pictures
[But is that a good thing?]

what causes tiny air bubbles to form on top of anaround the top edge of the water in a beta fish bowl
[The fish?]

my god its full on stars
[ I am so many pages into that search that I stopped looking. But I did make the reference.]

EVE Online

Well, there was the deployment to Curse and the return home, which I participated in, and the whole SOMERBlink thing, in which I completely declined to participate.  Meta game fail on my part I guess, but it didn’t stop some people from being a dick.  So it has been a relatively quiet month in New Eden for me.  There was a corp day where most of us got out and did some ice mining to gather fuel for our towers.  Potshot and I did a little mining on our own.  But not much else came to pass.  Null sec is like that.  Big wars for a bit, then some quiet while everybody adapts to what has changed.


The various members of our regular instance group have continued to participate in Neverwinter in various combinations.  Sometimes there are three, sometimes there are four, but so far all five of us haven’t been on.  Still, we poke away at the game.  I think our overall group is close to level 20.

Path of Exile

This claimant to the Diablo II crown finally went live this past month, and it certainly has done a good job in that department, feeling more true to the original than either Diablo III or Torchlight II.  I have been enjoying it for its faithfulness to the source, but I do wonder how long that feeling can last.  It is clearly nostalgia and a desire to relive the joy of the original, and if you are a long term reader then you know how quickly nostalgia can evaporate around these parts.

War Thunder

Driven here by my annoyance with World of Warplanes… which stemmed mostly from my own ineptitude and choice of input devices… I have actually found something of a home here.  It is probably driven by Air Warrior nostalgia, and I am barely beyond terrible in my abilities in the game, but with the right settings and in the lowest tiers, I can occasionally look good relative to complete noobs on their first flight.  I am probably good for another month here on my desire to fly a variety of planes alone.

World of Warcraft

Blizzard’s main game has kept me interested, though I have clearly been distracted by some other titles this month.  I log on a few nights a week, but I haven’t done anything really exciting, hence the lack of posts about it.  Brewfest and Hallow’s End certainly didn’t do much for me.  Like the lonely asparagus, it seems that my hollandaise are behind me. (obscure reference alert)  But the game is still comfortable and enjoyable and accessible in small doses.  And at some point I will wrap up what I have been doing, as there is a story there that explains why I have been working on three different characters who are all now in the 40s.  Meanwhile my mom is almost level 60.

Coming Up

Some things are happening in November.

In EVE Online, the Rubicon expansion will drop.  A new expansion usually means a new conflict, so perhaps things will heat up in New Eden.  There are also expansions slated for Lord of the Rings Online and EverQuest II, neither of which interest me all that much.  They will both introduce content well beyond my levels.  Though the big class/skill/trait/whatever revamp that is coming in LOTRO will likely have some impact on me when I go back to visit Middle-earth.

There are more holidays coming up in just about every game.  At least I will be able to get my cooking skills up with Pilgrim’s Bounty in WoW.

There is BlizzCon coming up, so we might get some news.  I expect that there will be either an announcement about the next WoW expansion or some sort of “half-step towards F2P” change in the game’s business model.

Then there is the possibility that we might actually get something tangible around EverQuest Next Landmark.

And… and… hrmm, I thought there was something else.  It has probably slipped my mind.  Anyway, bring on the 11th month!

Four for the Foundry Please

Finally, back to a post about actually playing a game.

Saturday night was upon us again and we actually had four of us online.  There was what has become the Saturday night core group at this point, Potshot, Mike, and myself, along with Ula… or Mrs. Potshot… or Chris.

Since I referred to people by their characters for so long, when they change character names I am sometimes at a loss at how to keep continuity.  I probably need a cast of characters page or some such.

Anyway, we had four of us, basically minus Earl.  Some day all five of us will log on and we will create another guild to add to my list.

The three of us had been poking our noses into the game… I think we did a Saturday night run the week before and I simply forgot to post about it… and had gotten ourselves up to level 16.  This left Chris in a character choice situation.  She had a level 11 trickster rogue and a level 23 guardian fighter to choose between, neither of which were really felt like they were in the right level range.  She opted for the guardian fighter.

Meanwhile, the three of us were figuring out how to invoke and running down the initial companion quest.  By the end of the night I think we all hand companions out, which explains the profusion of individuals in any screen shots.  Some of the companions look like just another player at our state of equipment.  I opted for the healing companion and gave it the name “Eddie Haskell” before I realized it was female.  I tried to rename her to “Edie Haskell,” thinking to stay with the theme, but that actually costs more RMT currency than I had at the moment, so renaming has be deferred for now.

Potshot pick an likely suspect from the Foundry and shared it with all of us and, after a bit of running around because our sparkly path guides seemed to be in disagreement where to go, we ended up together for another dungeon crawl.  Or sewer crawl.

Back in the sewers

Back in the sewers

Sewers seem to be an very popular location for adventure in Forgotten Realms these days.  But then whoever designed the sewers of Neverwinter clearly had some sort of occupancy in mind.  The ceilings are high, the corridors are wide, locations are well lit, and the whole thing is remarkably bereft of… well… sewage.  It made me want to rework that early line from Holy Grail about how you could tell Arthur was a king.  In our case it was more like “How can you tell this is a group of sewer adventurers? They haven’t got shit all over them.”

So dry and well lit

So dry and well lit

Still, the tile set from the Foundry was quite impressive.  That represents some of Cryptic’s finest work.  It just isn’t quite what I picture a sewer being like.  Maybe they should call something like the catacombs, or an underground wain-based subway system, or a shelter for the masses in case of godly wrath, or some sort of “parent’s basement” location writ large for evil societies that are not quite ready to strike out on their own.

Anyway, we were there chasing down wererats in search of some cheese and a spoon… or whatever our excuse was to go crash into somebody’s living area, slaughter beings, and seize stuff without a warrant.  If we could call in drone strikes it would be just like today.

One thing we did notice was that the mob levels in the instance were all keyed off of Chris’ character.  Basically, everything was level 23, which worried us a bit at the start, with three of us being level 16.  We made Chris go first and be the tank.  In the end though, we seemed to do okay, and merrily slaughtered all who gave us a sideways look while we searched for the missing cheese.  Eventually that lead us to an even bigger, taller, and more well lit area of the sewers.

Department of Public Works HQ?

Department of Public Works HQ?

There we faced a series of “build up to the boss” fights where the level gap began to tell.  I was actually knocked out and then killed during one fight, which I think was a first for the group.  We certainly did not seem ready for that to happen and fumbled about wondering if our cleric had anything that would bring me back and such.  Eventually I just released, which put me back at the last campfire with some injuries.  These, the system reported, would impact my fighting ability until I spent enough time (3 minutes per) standing by the campfire to be healed.

But who is going to let a bump on the noggin stop them?  I ran back and we took on the boss, ending up with another one of us getting slain.  Actual danger, of a sort!

We wrapped that up and checked out what we had gained.

Sewer luxury

Sewer luxury

On the bright side, the rewards at the end of the instance were geared towards higher levels, so three of us got items that we could grow into.  On the downside, the experience gain did not seem to go as we expected.  We thought that, in grouping with a higher level, we would be more likely to catch up if experience was handed out equally.  Instead, Chris’s level 24 character seemed to be getting a lot more experience relative to her level than we were.  She leveled up while we did not see much progress.

Still, that was where we stood and we had enough time for another run.  So back to the Foundry and another roll of the dice.

This time we were out in the open again in one of those chain of events quests where you need A, but to get A you need B, and you find that to even get B, you must first run off and do C, with the subtasks D, E, and F thrown in along the way.

The whole thing started off modestly, go find an antidote for a poison, which required getting the help of a shaman who had some tasks.  The first few were of the slaughter variety.  But then he sent us off on a spirit quest which turned out to have some interesting turns and use of the Foundry tool set.  And Efreeti.  Well, one of them anyway.

And he has a job for us...

And he has a job for us…

Back in TorilMUD, also based on Forgotten Realms, the City of Brass, the capital city of the Efreeti in the elemental plane of fire, used to be one of our regular raids.  And I always had a vision of the Efreeti that was… different than the one that the Monster Manual put forth.

Kind of a dullard, really

Kind of a dullard, really

But the vision of the Efreeti in Neverwinter, comes much closer to my own mental image of a planar being made up of basalt, bronze, and congealed flames.  Plus, a set of armor inhabited by flames is pretty cool just by itself.  Let’s see him again.

Pardon my stare...

Pardon my stare…

Yeah, that’s what I am talking about.

Anyway, this all took place in a series of floating islands and strange invisible platforms that was really well done.

We're standing on what now?

We’re standing on what now?

And, because we are who we are, we did find out that there are no invisible safety rails on platforms, invisible or otherwise.   First Potshot went over the edge, then my, and then Mike.  Time was spend running around on the forest floor below… we all survived the fall… until we found a portal to bring us back up.  The author of the instance clearly figured out that people would drop off the various high points in his creation.

After our spirit journey, the antidote was obtain, the poison victim saved, and our rewards granted.

As before, it seemed that Chris got the lions share of the experience.  The three of us did make it up to level 17, but she ended up level 25.

So, another exploration of what the Foundry has to offer came to an end.  I remain impressed with the quality of the tools that Cryptic has provided and some of the innovations that people are trying our with them.  But as a whole, things are still not all that engaging.  There is no sense yet of an ongoing tale, just a bunch of random encounters really.  Things in the Foundry hint at longer term connections.  Most of the Foundry encounters we have tried list themselves as the first or second in a series, but in almost every cases the series seems to incomplete at this point.

However, we will continue on in Neverwinter, as there are no other games calling out to us at this point.

September in Review

The Site

In an oft repeated story here, changed something, announced it in an irregular location (or not at all), broke stuff for users, and then acted surprised.

This time they retired a bunch of themes from  80 themes, mostly from the early days of… from which I now count my origin I guess… were junked because they didn’t want to have to update them to support new (for sale) features.  This was a detail you would think would be important enough for the news feed, to which I subscribe.  But it was not.

And, since I came from what is now the early days of the site, both of my active blogs used themes from the retired list.  However, we were told the themes just wouldn’t be available for new users, that those of us still using them would be able to continue on as before.  Until, of course, they started breaking them.

EVE Online Pictures, which used Redoable Lite, basically stopped displaying posts on September 4th and I had to scramble to find a new theme for it that I felt fit the style I had set.

Now I am worried that Regulus, the theme for this blog, for which I have never been able to find an acceptable replacement, might have its days numbered as well.  I like the theme I grabbed for EVE Online Pictures, which is called Piano Black if you are interested.  If I could find a light version of that, I would use it here.

And, as if to prove my point, then changed how images were displayed in blog posts and every image on the site with a vertical orientation was suddenly outsized relative to its border/caption. They all looked like this.  Again, no warning, just a change that happens to break things only on some of the old themes, followed by some very general suggestions and a promise to look into things at some point after locking the thread and deleting all the complaints.   To be fair, it does appear that they fixed the problem since that point, though no mention was made when it happened.  Things just went back to normal.  Now I am just waiting for the next change to go in and break something on my out-dated theme.

In other news, I went into full “piss off the neighbors mode” here and took advantage of the new integration with Google+., in announcing this feature, implied that Google would like me better if I did this.  Now every post here and at my other site generates a Google+ entry.  Have you evicted me from your circles over this atrocity yet?

The traffic increase from this change has been exactly one page view per day.  On my other site.  Somebody clicks on each new EVE Online spaceship picture.  Meanwhile, Google search traffic has plummeted… right off a cliff, an 80% reduction… giving lie to the implied promise of Google liking me better.  Seriously, on my other blog, traffic is so low I am now getting alerts if somebody looks at too many pictures.

Up From 2!

Up From 2!

Of course, maybe I just misinterpreted that implied promise.   Maybe Google just likes me better on Google+.  Or as a person in general.

Google remains a mystery to me.

In any case, we may be getting down to traffic numbers that represent the actual number of people who read this blog, as opposed to people mistakenly sent here by bad search engine results.

The only bright news there is that I stopped my summer experiment of posting a new EVE Online picture daily, dropping to three pictures a week.  I worked through much of my picture backlog.  So less spam for everybody.

One Year Ago

Mists of Pandaria launched, adding a panda race to Azeroth, right on Ultima Online’s 15th anniversary.   I think the shark jumping trope jumped the shark that day.

I was falling out of WoW myself, though still not allowed to unsubscribe. Being locked out of the Theremore event due to item level helped kill any enthusiasm I had for staying with the game.

Torchlight II showed up.  Still waiting for the Mac OS version.

In the land of EverQuest, the Rain of Fear expansion was announced, while EverQuest II went straight to truth in advertising and revealed an expansion called Chains of Eternity.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, Omens of War went live and was finished.

SOE was talking about some form of Wizardry that was Online.   PlanetSide 2 was planned for the end of the year… sort of.  And then there was Player Studio and all that implied.

The next chapter in the Darkfall saga was announced.  And they had a new game/expansion or some such.

In EVE, the CSM was looking for a way to… well… screw most of the people who actually vote for the CSM.  I stranded my null sec Drake in Jita.  I compared Traffic Control to a hostile FC.

In a more serious vein, the real world reached into our game took a fellow player.  Even tragedy cannot displace idiocy though.

My goal to get my fourth class in Rift, a mage, to level cap before Storm Legion had me in Stonefield.

BioWare, not done with their trend of announcing public metrics they eventually failed to meet, committed themselves to a new content schedule for SWTOR.  Later we found out that “adding items to the cash shop” counts as new content.  Meanwhile, I pondered the SWTOR lore choice.

The Lord British saga continued as he opted to jump in bed with Zynga!  He, of course, expressed great fondness for Zynga, while I wondered what his sith name would be, since he was clearly going the Anakin Skywalker route.

I remembered Spaceship Warlock.

Free to play was still under discussion.  An article in Game Developer Magazine included the warning to not assume profitability just because people are going on about revenues.  And yet all I hear about are revenues when it comes to free to play.

The people at Stormpowered started in against marriage.

And the blog turned six and felt very clever about it.

Five Years Ago

Warhammer Online went live, first with the head start and then for everybody.

As we just saw with other MMOs, there were issues coordinating with friends about which server to choose, leading to yet another gripe post about the whole sharded existence we have to put up with in MMOS.  I did wonder if the EverQuest II mechanism of multiple versions of a given zone might be worth it to get everybody on a single server.

The instance group was game was into WAR (after escaping from Durnhold Keep), though as a group we have some parameters that we had to work within.

In Warhammer itself, war were declared on gold sellers and Mythic was being very demonstrative about it.  Of course, it did not appear to stem tells from gold seller bots that seemed to sit active for days.

I went on about those tips you see on the loading screen of many MMOs, spurred by a couple less than helpful tips in WAR.

In EVE Online I hit a major ISK milestone.  But I was building up ISK because I had my eye on a freighter.

The Empyrean Age 1.1 update was upon us, which included 2 changes designed to reduce the scourge of suicide ganking.

Meanwhile CCP was offering up battleships for sale… model battleship for real cash, not ISK.

But the most important EVE Online event was probably Yahtzee Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation review of EVE Online.  Much shoe-on-head wearing and talk about tactical logistics reconfiguration ensued.

In EverQuest II, the Living Legacy promotion was ending.

LEGO Batman showed up.

And, finally, the site hit the two year mark.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. Nostalgia Starts in Azeroth This Time
  4. In Space You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Well Tanked
  5. Sweet Home Azeroth – Summing Up a Bit
  6. LEGO Legend of Chima Online – A Second Try at a LEGO MMO
  7. The Dreadmines and the Scarlet Something or Other
  8. Small Features I Want MMOs to Copy
  9. Warhammer Online to Shut Down in December
  10. Neverwinter – The Foundry Comes Through
  11. Blizzard Killing The Diablo III Auction House
  12. Delve on a Saturday Night

Search Terms of the Month

raptr keeps emailing me stupid
[The internet is in the business of stupid most days, what did you expect?]

the french resistance online game
[Is that the one everybody claims to have played when they were playing a competitor most of the time?]

timelist island wow
[Is that the Dalaran train station?]

gank proof procurer
[You can get to “gank resistant,” but nothing is “gank proof.”]

running civ2 on windows 8
[Sorry, I go with the “skip a version” policy with Windows, and 8 is clearly the version to skip.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Club foot amateur money talk porno
[This came with a link, but I was afraid to click on it.]

EVE Online

As the conquest of Delve wound down, so did my time in New Eden.  I focused more on where I wanted my training plan to go than how I was going to get all those ships, now scattered about Fountain, Delve, Querious, and Cloud Ring, back to Deklein.  My time in-game did pick up some as we formed the new corp, Black Sheep Down, and went trying to build on that.

And my procrastination around getting ships home might pay off in any case.  The latest GSF CEO update asks that the alliance, and the coalition in general, be ready to fight from VFK-IV, 4-EP12, and F20Y-X with ships for the coalition doctrines in each.  If anything, I might not have enough ships strewn about the galaxy.  Then there is the call to also form up in G-0Q86 in Curse in order to crush the remnants of TEST.  The rumor is that TNT is going to give that a pass and go off on a camping holiday of its own.  We shall see.

On the bright side, I only lost a single ship in EVE this month, an Ibis that I was using to scout ahead while moving things back to Deklein.


Not enthusiastic at first blush, this game continues to gain ground in my eyes.  It still sits too far down my list of things to play to get much attention, but explorations with the Saturday night group has shown it to have merit.  Of course, as a group, we are still in the shallow end of the pool, being all of level 14 in a game that goes to level 60.  So we have been more sightseers than dungeoneers I suppose.  We shall see how things play out as we progress.  And it looks like the game is moving to a single shard, so maybe you will see us… if you’re on at the right time on a Saturday night.

World of Warcraft

This is where I spent the majority of my gaming time over the course of the month.  As I noted in a post, it is fun, familiar, and comfortable.  But things haven’t quite worked out as well as I had hoped.  We ended up not making the guild due to having only four friends on the server.  Attempts to keep the four of us within a couple of levels of each other so we could do things together fell apart pretty quickly.  Various people, including myself, raced ahead at times.  I am actually on my third serious character now, having stopped the other two in hopes of playing with other people.  But Kihei has been off with her level 90s exploring the 5.4 patch while my daughter… who actually suggested this whole outing… has been more interested in Team Fortress 2 of late.

So things have not been bad.  WoW is what it is and tends to be very good at it.  But it has not quite been the revival I was hoping for, and it certainly isn’t inspiring much in the way of blog posts.

Coming Up

It will soon be October and the lead-in to the end of the year frenzy, with in-game events and expansion and BlizzCon and what-not coming at us from now through until January.  That will give us all something to chat about I suppose.  But will it mean playing anything new?  There seemed some hope of getting EverQuest Next Landmark by the end of the year, though SOE seems to be in full “bore the player base with tangential questions” mode still.  Seriously, every poll question they have had so far has either been a complete non-issue for me or makes me think that the vision of the game is incomplete.  Oh well.

It might be time to look at those goals I set myself back in January.  Or maybe not.  I don’t seem to be doing very well with them.

There will likely be some sort of deployment for us in EVE Online.  That should fuel a few posts.

EverQuest II has some changes coming up.  Should I buy a level 85 character with all that Station Cash I have rattling around, of should I sit on it just in case there is some movement on EverQuest Next?

There is also some sort of permanent floating New Blogger Initiative that is going on.  I will have something about that I am sure.

And… and… well… business as usual I suppose.

The Dreadmines and the Scarlet Something or Other

Not a World of Warcraft post.

Saturday night rolled around again, as is its habit, and it found three of us online and looking for adventure.  I think we might be ready for a game like Borderlands 2 or such at this point.  Needing to accommodate five people is slipping as a requirement.

So there we were.  I think we have actually settled on characters now, so I will start listing them out.  We had:

  • Fergorin Ironhelm – Level 12 Guardian Fighter
  • Regulos – Level 12 Devote Cleric
  • Sans Serif – Level 12 Trickster Rogue

I actually went and played some Neverwinter on a weeknight to catch up, which I suppose is a good sign for the game.  Though, in doing so, I ran a quest that gave me another bag, thus removing from immediate contention possibly the only item in their store I would consider buying.  Nice move Cryptic.  I was this close *holds up two fingers very close together* to pulling the trigger on a buying some Zen, and then you handed me an out.

I also gained my stealth skill, another attack, and some upgraded equipment.  I was ready… or more ready… to go.

After our previous venture into Neverwinter, where the Foundry came through for us, we chatted a bit afterwards about the Foundry tool set and what it was possible to build.  During that conversation I demonstrated what an unoriginal hack I was by declaring that if I was going to make dungeons in Neverwinter, I would just remake the good ones from WoW.

That got a chuckle and few comments before we logged off for the night.

This past weekend however Potshot, who is our Foundry expert and scout, said he had a special surprise for us.  He had been exploring the Foundry and had a couple of dungeons lined up for us.

More after the cut because of too many pictures which I probably think are more amusing than they really are.  My apologies in advance.

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Expansion Watch – A General Lack of Excitement

Normally I would say it was just me, content in my little gaming routine, that was feeling a lack of excitement about MMO expansions right now.

But after working for a good minute or two on the subject, I began to see some signs, and get a general sense, that I might not be alone on that front.  Certainly the game companies haven’t been doing much to light a fire.  And I say that while noting we are headed straight into the last quarter of the year when some companies traditionally ship, or at least announce, expansions.

This is what I have noted down so far.

EVE Online

CCP has been on the “about two a year” track for ages now.  Just look at the list up to June of this year.  Sometimes they slip one way or another, with their expansions running early or late.  And I am not sure if Revelations II should be counted as its own expansion or not.  But for the most part CCP has a system and it has worked.

Yet here we are into September and we just got Odyssey 1.1 with a whole pile of changes.  That seems awfully close to the margin when you want to start off rolling new features into the main code branch for integration and sanity checking reasons.  There is a hazard in changing things up too frequently.

On the flip side, CCP has not been very successful with the long wind-up for things.  See DUST 514.  And EVE expansions tend to have a pretty short cycle between announcement and go live.  So they may still be operating as normal.


The big news maker at SOE Live was EverQuest Next.  That was what everybody was talking/writing about.  But, somewhere amongst the sand art the talk of voxels was an announcement about the next EverQuest expansion.  The 20th expansion.  A big, fat hairy deal, making it to 20 expansions one would think.  And so this important milestone was named…

um…  where did I put those notes…

It was named Call of the Forsaken!  There is even an official title/logo/graphic thing, which puts it well ahead of the game compared to most other expansions at this point.


Given how much press it has been getting, that name might give the Chains of Eternity expansion a run for its money in the unintended irony department.

SOE has announced beta and pre-orders for the expansion, but as far as I can tell has not bothered to post a feature set or other details on the main EverQuest site.  I suspect that this is in part because the name of the expansion does not follow the standard naming format of “Something of Something,” which has lead to some internal rebellion by the web team.  Or they were part of the layoffs.

EverQuest II

Like its older brother, EverQuest II had an expansion announcement at SOE Live which was likewise completely overshadowed by EverQuest Next.  The new expansion, Tears of Veeshan, was announced in a hallway somewhere and hasn’t been heard from since as far as I can tell.  Unlike the EverQuest site, the EverQuest II web pages appear to have no mention of the expansion whatsoever.  Remember what I said about SOE and keeping excitement going?

The expansion is planned for November, so SOE has some time.  But it is starting to feel like past versions of Norrath are on the back burner while EverQuest Next hogs all the excitement by… uh… talking about whether female dwarves should have beards or not.  Jesus wept.

Guild Wars 2

No expansion for Guild Wars 2 has been announced or even discussed to my knowledge.  But when you are clearly making most of your revenue from selling boxes, and you have a history of selling boxes, it seems like you might want to get another box on the shelves at some point.

Lord of the Rings Online

At last, somebody who has an expansion in the works, who has announced it, and has followed up with… something.  They have a press release posted on their site at least.   And a logo.


And I guess they showed some stuff at PAX.  But if you were just me poking around on the web trying to find information about it, you might wonder if they were really serious.  Usually Turbine is out with the per-order incentives and such about now.  So far it seems pretty quiet for the Helm’s Deep expansion.

[Addendum – There is now an announcement for the expansion release date.]

Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR already had an expansion this year, Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  That came out six months back.  But now, if you are a subscriber, you get it for free.  I am not sure what that says about how well it was doing.  And I have to guess that, if you’re a subscriber, it means you really like the game, so you probably bought it already.  Well, They have a little something for your trouble at least.

World of Warcraft

Ha ha ha, I know.  They just released Mists of Pandaria like a year ago.  That is practically yesterday in World of Warcraft terms.  And they just gave us the Siege of Orgrimmar update with all sorts of new features.  Even Kihei was on her level 90 reaping the rain of loot that is the Timeless Isle at the moment.  I am sure that will be nerfed significantly before I get there, while all the best noodle cart locations will be taken.  Yes, we got noodle carts with the patch as well.  I am not making that up.  Go read the patch notes I linked there, you’ll see.

Anyway, will the new stuff in patch 5.4 be enough?  Can a patch, no matter how feature rich, have the same draw or get the same attention as a full blown expansion.  As much as expansions expose the ludicrous nature of the level based system, often stacking the shiniest new content as far out of reach of new players as possible, it is the sort of thing that will get people to buy boxes and resubscribe.  So I will be surprised/dismayed/annoyed if Blizzard does not announce something like a WoW expansion at BlizzCon this November.  Hints about character remodels are not enough.

As slow as they are, Blizzard did get a Diablo III expansion into the queue for next year, so there should be something.


That is just the stuff that springs to mind.  Are there any other expansions that ought to be noted?

I figure that Final Fantasy XIV and Neverwinter are too new.  Trion is probably too busy with the free to play conversion and their own internal turmoil to have anything set for Rift. And who else is there that might ship an expansion?

I am not sure how well selling expansions mixes with free to play in any case.  LOTRO has kept it up, and SOE is trying.  But other players in the space seem to be just dropping semi-regular content updates in the hopes that they can tempt you into spending at the cash shop, or at least annoy you into returning to the subscription model that I suspect some free to play developers still secretly love.  Why else would you sell hot bars at your cash shop?

But expansions have been, in the past, a community focal point, a way to get both your current and former customers excited about your game again.  Only I am just not feeling it this season.

Am I alone in this?  Are things different this year?  Or is it just too early in the season?

Neverwinter – The Foundry Comes Through

Saturday rolled around and, for a brief period of time, it looked like we might have the whole group online.  Everybody reported in.  So we had to figure out what to play.

By default, all five of us online should mean Rift.  However, Rift seems to be fading from the interest of the group.  Plus, by the time we were about ready to get into a game, we found out that Mike has only patched Neverwinter, so that seemed to dictate the choice.

Of course, I had been playing WoW all afternoon and hadn’t bothered to patch anything, so I had to hurry up and get the Neverwinter patcher going.  Fortunately, it seemed to be pretty efficient and I was able to get half a gig of updates secured without delaying the party too much.

Then I got on and there was no Earl.  He was not responding to pings, so the guess was that he fell asleep.  After nearly seven years of the group, none of us is quite as able to stay up late as easily as we once were.  And with Earl on the East coast and starting at midnight… well… it is understandable.  We might have to look into a Sunday brunch instance group at some point.

Anyway, there were four of us, my level 6 rogue, Potshot’s level 10 guardian, Mike’s level 10 cleric, and Ula’s level 23 wizard.

That did not seem like the ideal group.  Clearly one of us is much more into the game.

We got Ula to trade out for a level 12 rogue and then started poking around for something to do.

Potshot went to the Foundry listing and started looking through the recommended and highly rated modules in the hope that we would draw something better than our last attempt.  He found a likely candidate that was chapter one of a series, shared it with us, and off we went.

More words along with pictures after the cut.

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Neverwinter – Enormous Red Tape in the Bush

In theory Neverwinter ought to be a slam dunk winner for me.

It is based on Forgotten Realms, my favorite D&D campaign setting.  It has beautiful scenery.  Classes are distinct and have a limited number of skills available at any given time.  The UI is responsive.  While being free to play, it does not remind me every minute of the day that I should visit the cash shop.  And the game includes a good deal of instanced, small group content so our regular group can go off and do a dungeon crawl whenever we get together.

And yet this past weekend I spent nearly every available gaming moment playing Lord of the Rings Online.   While LOTRO does have perhaps the one setting that trumps Forgotten Realms in my book… Middle-earth… and the scenery is good, objectively you could conclude that Neverwinter is a better game for me.  If nothing else, LOTRO seems absolutely determined to remind me that it has a cash shop at every possible moment.  It is like a small child with a new toy, every conversation must be turned to discuss it.  I am sure Neverwinter will get there as well… it seems to be the way of things… but for the moment I can play for long stretches of time without being asked for a buck.

But I have kept Neverwinter patched up all the same.  It is part of the matrix of possible games for Saturday night, the choice of which is driven by who happens to be online and available to play.  And I have put my nose into the game a few times since I was last there with the group.

One of the first things I did was trade in my great weapon fighter, Sven Sverdsk for a trickster rogue.  I named him Sans Serif.

Surprised that names was available

Surprised that names was available

He is based somewhat on Sean Connery of the Zardoz / Man Who Would Be King era for no good reason.  A balding guy with distinctive facial hair.

I rolled him up, got him through the tutorial and well into level 4 before leaving him be for a while.  But last Saturday when the “who’s online” came up with me, Potshot, and Mike (the guy in our group without a consistent character naming pattern who is not me), Neverwinter was the pick.

They had both been playing a bit more than I had and were up to level 8, though that did not seem to be an impediment really.  We first ran through a couple of quests that Mike had, and I had no problem keeping up, doing damage, or surviving any hostile intent from mobs.  He was able to share them and we all go credit.  Then we turned towards the quests I had, which I was able to share with everybody and which we blazed through.  That the whole thing was designed to be soloable no doubt helped speed our progress.

Camp fire stop

Camp fire stop

After basically blitzing through four different quests, we decided to roll the dice with some user created content.  Last time around this worked out well for us.  We ended up with a connected series of a few adventures that at least showed off the potential for the foundry tool.  This time around we were less fortunate.

The first choice sent us off to an inn because… well… D&D!

Room at the inn?

Room at the inn?

And a fine looking inn it was.  However, from there the adventure seemed to be broken.  Our first attempt to advance beyond the “hanging about” stage of things dropped us from the game.  And upon returning, things did not recover well.  I was still at the inn but Mike was not and couldn’t get back.  We all dropped the quest, went back to where we started, and tried again.  This time we all got to the inn, but then could not activate whatever was required to move things forward.  After a bit more poking around we gave up.

The second one we tried was created by somebody who clearly felt that actually getting to your destination in these adventures was far too easy.  And, admittedly, things are often on a pretty clear set of rails path.  This person had a solution though.

One word: Foliage!

One word: Foliage!

This was an outdoor instance where the author went nuts with nature in an attempt to simulate crossing a dense forest.  At night.  I had to lighten these screen shots up a bit so you could see what we were facing.  Then imagine that you couldn’t really see it because it was dark and there was no path, and you immediately got separated from the rest of your group.

Uh, guys...

Uh, guys…

And it was just “okay, we’ll hide the trail underneath bushes.”  There were some serious log jams where it took a lot of jumping and turning and trying to find the right perch to get through.  I fell into a pit and one point and spent several minutes trying to get myself unstuck.  And I don’t mean that in the “GuildWars 2 jumping puzzle” way, where you know you have to hit the space bar at just the right moment to get to that next ledge.  This was “it’s dark, I can’t see shit, so I am just spamming the space bar and turning in hopes that I will land on something that will help me move forward.”

We would occasionally reach a quest objective, or fight a couple of mobs.

Oh, look, a light!

Oh, look, a light!

But for the most part the whole thing seemed be designed around the premise, “Make movement difficult.”  After what seemed like a long time of fighting foliage… but which was probably only about 20 minutes… a motion was made and seconded to “fuck this shit” and we left.

We decided to move back to the quests that were part of the game, which lead us to chasing a series of glowy lined in search of sludge samples.

Sludgeward ho!

Sludgeward ho!

That moved us back into a path of very little resistance as the three of us jumped on and destroyed anything that happened to cross our path with very few mouse clicks.  More satisfying that being stuck in a bush, granted, but still not quite as fulfilling as one might hope.  After a bit of that, which wasn’t all that engaging, I declared myself the party pooper and called it a night.  It was past 11pm, so I wasn’t parking the bus too early, but I was clearly the first one who wanted out.

So another night in Neverwinter and I remain unconvinced.

Now clearly part of the problem is I have not invested all that much in the game.  Expecting to find great challenges in a group with a level 5 and two level 8 characters in a game where the level cap is 60 is probably asking a bit much.  Judgement should probably be withheld until we get further along.

Still, everything killed was very very fast.  Fast enough to make Diablo III battles seem like protracted combat.  My rogue was clearly Mister Click-Click, Kill-Kill.  Nothing offered anything like a fight, even what I was levels down.

Except, of course, all of that foliage.  Defeated by plants.

Neverwinter at First Blush

With the summer hiatus upon us, we have begun looking at other games.  Gaff and I have been back in Middle-earth.  Potshot, on the other hand, was keen for fresher, if maybe not greener, pastures.  He has been been poking his nose into Neverwinter.

Ah, Neverwinter.

A new MMO-ish sort of game based on the Dungeons & Dragons campaign environment of Forgotten Realms.  What is not to love?

Well, there is the Cryptic Studios factor.  I haven’t liked their last three games.  Two of those were super hero games, City of Heroes and Champions Online, and super heroes are not my thing.  But then there was Star Trek Online, which I really, really wanted to like.  And which I cannot bring myself to play.

So my approach to Neverwinter has been half-hearted.  I did download the client during the first weekend of open beta.  And then I proceeded to let it sit untouched until last weekend, when it was just I and the Potshots on to play.  So I got into the game at last.

And, for the moment, it reminds me a lot of Dungeon & Dragons Online.

Certainly the parallels are there.  Character creation shows you in an epic armor set.

Meet Epic Sven Sverdsk

Meet Epic Sven Sverdsk

And then the game tosses you on a beach and forces you to scavenge for equipment in what is becoming the video game equivalent of the of starting your D&D campaign in an inn.

Why can't I get the stein?

Why can’t I get the stein?

You get some gear, learn a few of the game mechanics, finish up the intro quest, and end up in town.  This is where I met up with Potshot, in the guise of Fergorin, the dwarf guardian.

Sven and Fergorin

Sven and Fergorin

And, continuing the DDO parallel, the town is pretty much a lobby.  There is no world to explore.  Rather, the game is made up of a series of instances and shared zones.

Where Neverwinter starts to break the parallel is in how good the game looks.  DDO is into its seventh year and the graphics, especially the character models, were really feeling their age the last time I played.  For Turbine, DDO was the game before LOTRO, and while I love the Middle-earth environments, the character models were never award winners, and they were an improvement on DDO.

Neverwinter though looks marvelous.  Character models look good, environments are rich, and animations seem to be mostly spot on.  My warrior’s first attack animation seemed to go off without his weapon a good portion of the time.  He would whack somebody with an invisible sword first, then his giant two-handed sword would materialize in his hands.

As a group we ran through the first instance together, clearing out a vault in town.  Adventures seem to be built in stages.  You fight your way through some bad guys, avoid some traps, and make your way to a camp fire, where you heal up and start the next stage.  Okay as far as it goes, though the camp fires do show up in odd spots.  who builds a fire in the middle of a vault.

Game mechanics took some getting used to.

Neverwinter combat is very active.  Common MMO style combat is face the bad guy and press buttons.  Neverwinter ends up closer to the Diablo series, where it is click to kill.  You primary attack abilities are mapped to the left and right mouse button, and movement is in the FPS style, where you steer by aiming the camera.  You also have to aim your character at an enemy to attack.

That meant me stumbling over the controls for quite a while, and even when I started getting used to it, I still kept setting of secondary abilities that were mapped to the Q and R keys, because I use those keys to strafe left and right normally.

We made it through the first instance.  The game is good about showing you where the loot it.

Treasure chest highlighted

Treasure chest highlighted

That done, we decided to go see what The Foundry had to offer.

The Foundry could be the big draw for Neverwinter, as it allows people to create their own campaigns.  We picked one that was rated high and which had several stages and gave it a try.

Overall it was well done.  It had indoor and outdoor segments.  Things looked good, including some very nice lizardman models.

Now THAT is a lizardman!

Now THAT is a lizardman!

And there were even good, old fashioned traps, highlighted in red once detected or tripped… in our case it was mostly tripped.  We should have brought a rogue.

That was a painful room to cross

That was a painful room to cross

All in all, the adventure we chose, which had a few follow-on segments to continue the story, was very good, to the point of not being obviously different from the initial quests that the game itself offered.  I am not sure if we chose from a particularly talented author or if the tools offered by The Foundry are just that good, but it seems to bode well for the game.

Which brings us to the inevitable catch.

I am just not feeling it.

And I cannot tell you exactly why.  I just do not feel any big pull to go back and play.

Maybe I just haven’t played enough.  I am past about the three hour mark (Raptr says I have less than that, but it didn’t notice I even had the game installed until after our group night), which is not a lot of time.  But I have been hooked on games in far less time than that.

Or maybe it was the lack of edge to the game.  At no time did I feel my character was in any real peril.  He seemed to be able to kill stuff as he was.  He got a couple of item upgrades along the way, but I couldn’t tell how much of a difference they made.

Again, it is too early to call the game “easy.”  We were just doing starter things, which should be on the easy side, and Foundry stuff with a group of three, which may have been too many.  I don’t know.

And then there is the lack of worldliness.  I appreciate the game getting us straight to the action.  You jump into an instanced adventure and it is go time.  But, while I complain about pointless or repeat travel at times, at times travel has been part of the adventure.  Even out short time with Neverwinter Nights 2 involved some tales of the road.

Anyway, that is where I stand at the moment, though the jury is still out.  While I am not hooked on the game yet, neither am I fed up with it and ready to move on.  We shall see where I end up in the next few weeks.