Category Archives: Nintendo

A Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Remake At Last!

My daughter and I have been hanging on and waiting for a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl for several years now, so we were both pretty hyped up when the announcement finally came.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl will be a thing in 2021.

Diamond and Pearl remade

There are a few reasons that we’re feeling some hype for this.

The first is, of course, that Pokemon Diamond & Pearl is where we started playing Pokemon games back in early 2008.  It is the foundational experience for us with the series.

Then there is the fact that the Pokemon remakes tend to be pretty good.  HeartGold & SoulSilver might be the titles I spend the most time with in the series… the one time I caught them all… and OmgaRuby & AlphaSapphire were great remakes with a ton of depth.

And, as I said, we’ve been waiting for this remake for a while now.  There has been a pretty well established pattern of remakes over the years, and Diamond & Pearl now sit as the oldest titles in the series that have not had a remake.  They are due.

We expected them to be the next title on the Nintendo 3DS hardware after Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon back in 2017.  Then GameFreak announced that they were done with the 3DS hardware… just after I bought a brand new 2DS model… and it was off to the Switch platform, where they first had the Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Let’s Go, Eevee! titles in 2018, rather light fare compared to where the core RPG stood at the end of the 3DS era, before giving us a full blown entry in the series with Sword & Shield in 2019.

I now have a Switch Lite… my daughter and I both do… and we played through some of Sword & Shield.  It was a solid entry in the series, but didn’t really grab us and neither of us finished it out.

But now, with Diamond & Pearl coming back, we’re ready to give it another go.  The ship date is currently slated for “late” 2021, which I am hoping will put it before Thanksgiving, or at least before Christmas.  Then my daughter will be home on break from college and can perhaps find some time to play with the old man.  Watching the trailer, I am surprised at how much I remember from the old game.

Nintendo also announced Pokemon Legends: Arceus today as well.  Due in 2022, it is a new style of Pokemon adventure set in Sinnoh like Diamond & Pearl, but in an earlier era.  As Nintendo put it, first we get the re-make, then we get the pre-make.  Details on that were somewhat scanty in comparison, but in its trailer it looks to be an open world style game, akin to the Legend of Zelda titles, which is not a bad thing.

This all comes as the Pokemon franchise is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  That is covered, along with a more information about games and events, in the Pokemon Presents video from today.

So there is plenty to look forward to on the Pokemon front it seems.

2021 and Questions for a New Year

Welcome to the first day of 2021.  A new dawn on a new year greeted us this morning.

2020 plus 1

Traditionally the first day of the year sees a post from me about the upcoming twelve months.  Usually it is predictions, but as the history of links shows, I occasionally diverge and try something else.

This year is going to be one of those “something else” years.  This year I have questions.

Oh, I have many questions about what 2021 will bring.  Many questions.  But for the purposes of this post, I am going to keep them focused on video games.  And, when it comes down to things, asking a question is just one step removed from a prediction.  A prediction is just an attempt to answer the question, but even formulating the question requires a bit of speculation as to what the future may bring.  You just look less wrong because, hey, you were only asking a question!

What will a return to normalcy bring to the video game industry?

I remember from my history classes that a return to “normalcy” was one of the campaign slogans of Warren G. Harding, which made it in to the word we have today.  And here in 2021, we have been offered a vision of normalcy. If the vaccines work, if the pandemic subsides, if some new horror doesn’t step in to fill the COVID-19 void, we could, come the summer, be back to some of our old pastimes.

Movie theaters. Restaurants. Sporting events. Family gatherings. Air travel.

All that and more may return.

That will leave less time for video games.  2020 was a story of success for many video game companies as we all stayed home.  Does the end of the pandemic portend a market crash and layoffs and all the other things that come with an industry down turn?

Also, some of us will likely have to go back to the office.  I know that some managers and most of HR hate having the employees out of sight.  Back to open plan fish bowls for some people. That will mean an increase in productivity for some, including in the video games industry, which has blamed the pandemic and work from home for some delays over the last year.  Will they get back on schedule or just find new excuses for delays?

Overall, what will the impact be?

This is probably the big general industry question.

Will Shadowlands hold players?

Blizz made a few risky changes last year, including the level squish.  But making Shadowlands an expansion where getting to level cap is basically the intro and the rest of the expansion is all what one might call “end game” is another level.  It is a change and a gamble and we will have to see how it plays out.

Will we get more classic WoW content?

The rumors and leaks seem to indicate that we will see The Burning Crusade Classic at some point this year.  However, there are serious questions as to when we’ll see it and how it will be rolled out.  There have been surveys asking players how they should handle TBC.  They won’t want to kill off the vanilla vibe that has worked so well for them, so transfers or new servers seem likely, but we don’t know anything really.  As for when, there was a rumor that May was a launch target, but that seems laughably quick for the slow and steady Blizzard bunch.  Maybe some time in the fall?

Will Diablo Immortal ship?

It has been two years now.  More of us have phone now.  Some of us have even upgraded our phones since BlizzCon 2018.  Are you going to ship this thing or what?  If it is any good at all it will do okay.  The BlizzCon 2018 reaction was largely due to you pitching to the wrong audience after having hinted about Diablo IV.  Just let people have it.  It couldn’t possibly be taking this long to finish it, could it?  This is just Blizz being conservative and not indicative of some horrible problem with the game, right?

Does Blizzard have anything new planned?

In a way, 2020 returned Blizzard to 2010, where so much of the revenue came from World of Warcraft that almost no other game really mattered when it came to the bottom line.  While Blizzard isn’t quite back to WoW being the only game in their portfolio that matters yet, but Diablo IV is years away, Hearthstone can only put out so many expansions per year, Overwatch is static, and they’ve put StarCraft on the shelf with Heroes of the Storm.  If they don’t have something big, then we’re back to all Azeroth all the time.

What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?

It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.

-Gimli, The Lord of the Rings

Here we are in a new year with a new company running Daybreak and they sound like they want to be serious about video games and expand their holdings and invest in the titles and IPs they have just acquired.  But what will really come to pass?  Lots of people have been bitten hard by the reality of the video games industry.  You have to make enough money to maintain your current project as well as fund any new projects.  Daybreak was hard pressed to do that on their own, will EG7 be able to change that?

Will Norrath continue to boom?

As bad as Daybreak management could seem at times, there is an argument to be made that EverQuest and EverQuest II rolled right along, got an expansion every year, got a big updates, ran holidays, and did all the things expected of such games quite steadily during the Daybreak era.  It was, in its way, a golden era with little in the way of shake ups to disturb them.  Gone were dumb ideas like SOEmote… as well as any hope for a new EverQuest game.  What happens now?  EverQuest seems secure, profitable as it was, but EQII was the low earner with the smallest customer base in 2020.  Does EG7 keep pouring money into that?  Is there plan?

What happens with H1Z1?

Somewhere behind EverQuest II is H1Z1, which didn’t even get a mention in the EG7 presentation when it came to numbers.  The acknowledged it as a valuable Daybreak IP, but how much of that was fluff?

Where is Cold Iron Studios?

Not even acknowledged by EG7 so far, so the question about them remains.  Where are they in the EG7 corporate structure?

What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?

Yes, there is still a plan for another expansion for GuildWars 2, and the game isn’t going anywhere.  But when the leadership wanders off… usually for reasons of dissatisfaction… that is a bad sign.

Where does CCP go next with New Eden?

The Trigalvian invasion is over.  A new region, Pochven, has been carved out of New Eden.  The huge, two year event has come to its conclusion  So what is next?  What will be the next venue to expand the lore of New Eden and give players something fresh to explore?

Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?

CCP spent 2020 treating the player base like a bunch of ISK addicts and has been trying to dry us out.  The impacts of their efforts have been quite clear in the monthly economic reports.  The company has said that this situation is temporary, but how will they get to something less onerous without letting players return to old habits?  If they introduce new revenue streams that players reject, then things won’t get better… and CCP has something of a history of new ideas that don’t pan out… but if they restore the old streams then they might has well not have bothered.

How Will World War Bee End?

Assuming it ends in 2021.  We are about at the six month mark of the war and, while the invaders have pushed their way into Delve, the Imperium hasn’t rolled over and given up.  The great predicte evac has yet to occur.  The extermination goal, oft repeated by Vily, seemed unlikely to be accomplished at the start of the war and seems no more likely today.  That is especially true when Pandemic Horde, which has done the bulk of the work in the war, says that is not one of its goals.  At what point does PAPI declare victory and move on to other things?  And can TEST afford to see the war wind down with the Imperium vowing revenge on them for starting the war in the first place?

The war has set recorders for losses in both ship numbers and ISK value as well as total players participating in battles.  Will it end with a bang or a whimper?

Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

We’re overdue on this.  Seriously, one of my major gripes about Game Freak dumping development for the 3DS line of devices is that when it came to remakes Pokemon Diamond & Pearl were next on the list.  They are the oldest titles of the Pokemon main line RPG titles that have not had a remake.  My daughter and I are so on board with this as a game idea.  But Nintendo and Game Freak have a different play and Pokemon Sword & Shield looks to be taking its time to play out, with two expansions so far.  I fret that we’ll never get this remake and that the current title is being treated like an MMO and will carry on for years.

Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?

Seriously.  There seems to be three paths for crowd funded MMOs up to this point.  There are the quirky little hobbiest games like Project: Gorgon or Shroud of the Avatar.  There are the “we totally missed our promises and have no ship date in sight” titles like Star Citizen and Camelot Unchained.  And then there are the ones that just took the money and folded up shop.

Right now I wouldn’t back a crowd funded MMO, endorse one, or even write a post mentioning one to draw even an iota of attention to it because the track record on that front is so abysmal that I feel complicit by my past enthusiasm.

Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?

Yes, we have MMOs and games treated as services as pretty much the default way to deal with titles these days for a lot of studios.  Grand Theft Auto V, a game from 2013, appearing on the monthly SuperData Digital Revenue chart every month for the last five years of so is testament to that.

But I am talking about MMORPGs, where you play a character in a shared, persistent virtual world.  Ultima Online, EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online are key in defining the genre.  The problem is, all of those titles are still there.  Furthermore, WoW Classic and EverQuest retro servers, seeking to recreate the early experiences of those games, are significant draws in the genre.

Is it possible to create something new in the genre, something different?  Or would anything different enough to be interesting end up classified as something else?  Is WoW the unbreakable definition of the genre now?

Will I play anything new this year?

You think the MMORPG genre is stale?  Look at my posts about what I have been playing.  If it were not for WoW Shadowlands, you might mistake some of my posts from 2020 as being from 2006 or 2010.

I suppose I did play a couple of new things.  There was Minecraft Dungeons and Among Us.  But for the most part, it was the same titles long covered here.  Am I the problem with the MMORPG genre?

Will VR get a killer app this year?

I should go back and see if I still have any of those VR sales projections from a few years back which predicted everybody and their mother would have one of those devices strapped to their heads by now.  VR headsets have gotten better and cheaper and some good games have come out, but I have yet to see anything that would make me jump on that bandwagon still.  Consoles seem to be the way forward at the moment.  And now I get unsolicited email from analysts talking about “XR,” which is VR mixed in with AR, to give them a bigger market to talk about… and probably so they can make new projections that cannot be compared apples to apples with their old ones.

Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?

I am looking at you EA.  You managed to make lockboxes a headline issue again in the middle of 2020 by putting an ad for them in a children’s toy catalog.  Once the pandemic is in the past… and I dearly hope it will be some time this year… legislators looking to make some headlines for attention may turn back to lockboxes and gambling and the safe refrain of “won’t somebody think of the children?” yet again.

Will We lose Section 230 Protection?

Not strictly a video game issue, but it would have its impact on that industry as well as others.

You can read all about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of the United States over at Tech Dirt, which has a post about it and the many bogus arguments against it, but in a nutshell it protects people hosting sites on the internet from liability for what users may say or write.

For example, if I post something libelous on Twitter, Section 230 says you can sue me but not Twitter.  Easy to understand, right.  Twitter, or Facebook, or Massively OP, or you on your blog, are not liable for the wrongs of users.  It essentially allows the internet to be interactive.

And it is under political assault here in the US, most visibly by Trump, who is angry about the fact that Twitter very occasionally tries to make him comply with the terms of service he agreed to abide by when he signed up for the platform.

Those assailing Section 230 like to pretend they are defending free speech, but the opposite is actually the case.  There is a high correlation between rich people against Section 230 and rich people who like to sue anybody who says anything negative about them.

If Section 230 is repealed, if you write something objectionable on the internet, the hosting site can be sued.  They will then have the choice between spending money to fight a legal case over your dumbassery or deleting what you wrote and promising to keep you and anybody else from posting such things.  How do you think that is going to work out?

Removing Section 230 would basically give the litigious veto power over internet content and hosting services would start to behave in ways to avoid getting sued, which would mean disallowing comments in many places and preemptively deleting most anything political.

And if you don’t think that is going to spill over into your favorite online video game forum, you are wrong.

The only bright side is that while many people hate Twitter and Facebook, other tech and telecom companies are starting to realize that this would affect them as well, so they’re beginning to pull the appropriate strings on the politicians they’ve paid for in order to keep things as they are.

What will I do when the blog turns 15?

I mean besides write a long post full of stats and start including a “Fifteen Years Ago” section into my month in review posts?  Having almost 5,800 blog posts gives me data set of information that I always feel I could do more with.  Though, that said, you’ll get a bit of historical data next week, driven largely by the tenuous historical record that is this blog.  We’ll see how that flies.

What Else?

That is all I have right now.   am sure there are a lot more questions I want the answers to in 2021.  What did I miss?

Anyway, we shall see if I get answers this year. Some of them are clearly going to have simply “no” as an answer which, while unsatisfying, is still an answer.  At least I do not have to score questions, just figure out what happened with them.  Roll on 2021.

The End of the Line for the DS Series at Nintendo

The Verge reported that at some point in the last week or so Nintendo updated their Japanese site to indicate that the remaining units in the DS lineup, the 3DL XL, 2DS, and 2DS XL are “out of production.”

If you go the US Nintendo site, mention of the DS line of handheld console has been completely scrubbed, save for the support area, where it now lives in the “Other Systems” category with the Wii, the Wii U, and older generations of the DS line.

So ends Nintendo’s dual screen handheld line.  The Switch was not supposed to replace it, not according to Nintendo at least, and the initial Switch model was certainly bulky enough compared to the pocket sized DS line to support that argument.  But then came the Switch Lite and the writing was on the wall.

Though, to my mind, the real death knell of the DS line was Game Freak moving core Pokemon RPG development to the Switch.  In our family we played some other games on the DS, but it was primarily the Pokemon console, and those core titles were always best sellers on the platform.

The end was always coming some day, and I haven’t really played anything on my 3DS XL for ages, but it is still a bit of a sad note.

On the flip side, the DS line had a hell of a run.

Released in late 2004, when the PlayStation 2, original XBox, and GameCube were the current console generation, it persisted through to pre-orders for the PlayStation 5.  The hardware went through a series of revisions, starting with the DS, then the DS Lite, then the DSi and DSi XL.  Then came the 3D plan, with the 3DS and 3DS XL, the latter getting a couple of revisions during its time.  Finally, in order to satisfy the budget end of the spectrum, there was the 2DS, unique in its form factor, and the final entry in the lineup, the 2DS XL.

That last entry, which was also the last model I owned, was basically the 3DS XL with some improvements and a the 3D option remove.  It was, in its way, the pinnacle of the line, 3D ending up being more of a gimmick than a serious feature for most people.

But we had a number of the various models along the way.

Back in early 2008 we bought a pink DS Lite for our daughter to keep her entertained on a trip that included a six hour flight.  Later that was joined by a cobalt blue DS Lite of my own, since Pokemon seemed like a lot of fun.  My daughter and I played a lot of Pokemon together.

Pokemon Diamond and the DS Lite

The WiFi features of the early units were ahead of their time.  It could be a bit finicky, but it was a deep feature.  Pokemon Diamond and Pearl had its underground feature that allowed players to interact in the caves and visit each other’s bases. (And steal their flags!)  There was online trading between players around the world.  And I was extremely impressed with the WiFi integration with the Wii as demonstrated by games like Pokemon Battle Revolution and Pokemon Ranch.

And my little cobalt blue DS Lite was, and remains, a solidly built unit.  It went on a lot of trips and I never had a problem with it.  Battery life was excellent.

My daughter got a DSi at one point, then a DSi XL, which I thought was a great improvement.  Age was creeping up on me by then and the little DS Lite screen was starting to be blurry to me.

Then the 3DS line came along.  We skipped that initially, there being no real incentive to go to a little 3DS from the big DSi XL, but Nintendo eventually came out with the 3DS XL.  My daughter wanted one for Christmas and, once she had one, I got myself one for my birthday a couple months later.  We were back and playing Pokemon again.

And Pokemon was always the main game for us.  I think the peak for my daughter and I, the point when were were the most into it, was during Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.  The game was good and the tropes of the core RPG series still felt fresh to us.

There was the Pokewalker, the pedometer which allowed you to unlock Pokemon by getting out and walking… or, you know, cheating.  It communicated with the DS Lite via the IR port.  Only one Pokewalker went through the wash.

Pokewalker on my Belt

There were many download events, the ones where you had to go out to Toys R Us or GameStop to collect.  We event went to the regional championships just to see what was going on.

And, of course, Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver was the game where I caught them all for the first and only time.  I got the National Pokedex first, which qualifies you for the achievement in the game.  But that was only 485 Pokemon, because they don’t make you get the rare, event Pokemon.  But I managed to hunt them down, getting the final one by playing Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs to get an egg that could be transferred into Pokemon SoulSilver , which would then hatch a Mamphy, with could be bred with a Ditto to get an egg that would hatch  a Phione, the last Pokemon I needed.  I had 493 Pokemon registered, back when that was all there was.

Back when 493 was all there was

I think we might have burned ourselves out on Pokemon with that run.  We played Pokemon Black & White, but were never that into it, as we skipped Pokemon Black 2 & White 2 when they came out, though I went back and played White 2 later.  It was a decent entry, and actually bucked a few of the tropes of the series.

Then there was the dead time, when the new Pokemon titles were on the 3DS, but we didn’t go there until the XL models came out.  Those saw a return to Pokemon for us and a modest revival of our passion for the games.

We played through Pokemon X & Y, Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, and Pokemon Sun & Moon, though we stumbled a bit with Pokemon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon.  We bought it, but neither of us finished it.  We were again in the “too samey” phase again.  But my daughter did devote a lot of time to Animal Crossing: New Leaf after Pokemon faded.

And that was it.  Literally the day after my wife bought me the 2DS XL for Christmas, Game Freak announced that there would be no more Pokemon games on the DS platform.  The Switch was the future.

The 3DS hung around, and even saw a bit of a sales spike at one point after that, but without Pokemon there to anchor the platform, it seemed like time was drawing down on it, which brings us to this past week.

The units are still here.  I can still play Pokemon if I want.  But the support services have been fading since the Switch came out.  None of the DS series Pokemon games can use their global trade center or other connectivity that made the games so vibrant.  That has all been turned off.  And soon enough the store and all the other bits that Nintendo has to maintain will go away.  Like the Wii before it, the DS series will become isolated, stand alone game consoles.

Still, as I said, a hell of a run.  Almost 16 years have gone by since the first units shipped, and you can still play games made for the very first DS on the final 2DS XL units.  And it was a platform for some crazy ideas.  Let’s just start with the whole two screens idea, one being a touch screen.  Then there were the IR ports and the cameras and then 3D support, which included freaking 3D camera capabilities along with AR support along with all the things Nintendo did with WiFi along the way.

Seriously, they got Netflix to make an app to stream their video service on the 3DS series.  I tried it.  It was crap quality, but you could watch stuff.

So it goes.

If I want to play Pokemon today I have a Switch Lite.  It is a nice little unit.  The screen quality is very good.  But it won’t replace the DS series in my heart.  There is too much of my life tied up in that.

Other eulogies for the DS platform:

Honest Game Trailers does Animal Crossing New Horizons

All the rage on the Nintendo Switch these days… to the extent that I have been feeling the pressure to join in… is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

All the rage

So naturally it was deemed a prime topic for Honest Game Trailers, who explore the game in their own special way.

Sold out in most stores… as is the Switch itself… and now soft-banned in China because people have been sharing their Hong Kong protest themed decor and apparel… I am tempted to join in.

My daughter has been way into this.  But she only asked for a Switch Lite for Christmas because she heard there was was going to be a new Animal Crossing title out for the platform.  Animal Crossing: New Leaf was her favorite non-Pokemon title on the DS series, so she was very keen the new game.

I am less certain.  I never played it on the DS and, while my Twitter time line was filled with talk about the game, I am not sure it would fit in with my gaming needs.  I used to play a lot of Pokemon on the DS at specific times, like when watching sports on TV. (Wife is a hockey fan.)  But now there are no sports and not a lot of quiet time with everybody stuck at home all the time and working from home where there is no longer the hard cut-off of getting up to go home.

And, of course, others have had mixed relationships with the title.

Business Insider is of several minds…

If it were not $60, I’d be more inclined.  Likewise if I had finished up Pokemon Sword already, but I am only at the 6th gym there.  Again, finding time/place/peace to play it can be a challenge.

But my daughter is all-in and enjoying it still.  I am trying to get her to throw together 500 words about it, but she is simultaneously too busy for that and chafing for something to do.

March in Review

The Site

What a month.  There was nothing much of note new on the site, but gaming life and blogging time and all of that was subject to some changes as the COVID-19 pandemic confined so many of us to home.  Fortunately my job is doable from home, but being there at my desk all day long does suck some of the joy out of gaming or writing.  If I’ve already been in my chair for nine or ten hours, there isn’t a lot of joy in staying there for a few more to play a game or write.

At least I can go sit on the couch and play Pokemon Sword.

My new Switch Lite

Good thing I got that for my birthday early in the month, as they are sold out now.  I have not yet succumbed to the mounting pressure to get Animal Crossing: New Horizon though.  My daughter loves it, but she isn’t sure it is a game I would like.

Otherwise it has largely been a constant series of, “Wait, did that happen this month? It seems so long ago now.” moments as the world falls further into whatever it is that we have going on now.

One Year Ago

I dug up my old Macintosh PowerBook 190cs, which I didn’t even remember I still had, and thought about writing about some of the games still on it.  However, I was unable to get it onto the network, so screen shots were difficult to obtain and I ended up running out of steam on the whole thing for the time being.

Activision Blizzard was hedging a bit on what effect their layoff of 8% of the company might produce.

Perfect World Entertainment officially killed of the Foundry in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, ending their player made content experiment.

Steam decided that they really did need to curate games on their site, a decision pushed by their inept handling of Rape Day.  The Epic Game Store, always eager to capitalize on Valve’s foibles, declared that there would be no porn in their store.

Gamigo killed off the Rift Prime retro server due to lack of popularity.  It remains my opinion that the Storm Legion expansion killed the game the first time around, so having it do it again was no surprise.

A data center move brought down and kept offline Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online for longer than expected.

Over at Massively OP they were talking about “niche MMORPGs,” a term as ill-defined as most in the gaming world.  Honestly, one could argue that MMORPGs are a niche genre.

Over at GoG.com we got a version of the original Diablo, and while it felt primitive it was still very playable and pretty damn good.

Niantic finally allowed players to change teams in Pokemon Go, allowing me to swap from Team Mystic to Team Instinct.

I was giving Path of Exile a shot again with their Synthesis update.

On the LOTRO Legendary servers the Mines of Moria expansion opened up.  That sent me off to Eregion in search of legendary weapons and such.

In EVE Online the March update brought new restrictions to Alpha clones.  They could no longer run level 4 or 5 missions.  People could buy skill books straight from their character sheet… for a bit of a markup.  CCP was also tinkering with null sec anomalies.  They were worried about too much ISK in the economy.  Skill Points though?  They were just handing those out.

There was a video of Burn Jita 6 in full 4K.

CCP Guard announced he was leaving CCP after 16 years of service.

In New Eden there were two notable ship losses, the first Komodo titan to die and a rare Gold Magnate.  I also got a ship blown up as part of my Myrmidon Experiment, though that was a much less expensive loss.

There was also the EVE Ather Wars tech demo, which went well enough, even if it did not get as many players in space as the company had hoped for.

But Katia Sai was being celebrated for visiting every system in New Eden.

I was pondering the proposed level squish for World of Warcraft.  My guess was that Blizzard would be too risk-averse to do it, but I was proven wrong later in the year at BlizzCon.  Blizz also revived Wintergrasp, the huge battleground from Wrath of the Lich King, which was fun to visit again.

Runes of Magic turned ten and I reflected on its place in the tale of the genre.

But the big news was EverQuest turning 20 years old.  I reflected on its history and celebrated its anniversary.  I covered what the team had to say, which included some good news as well as a bit of hubris.

And I was still doing my own play through of some EverQuest content.  I got a mercenary for my cleric, traveled to distant zones via dangerous paths, and even hit level 50.  It was a lot easier to get there than it was back in the day.  It was quite the tourist excursion!

Five Years Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Ten Years Ago

With the March 2010 month in review I was able to announce that the site had passed the one million page view mark.  A minor milestone.

FarmVille.  We all tried it as research for Shut Up We’re Talking #60.  We didn’t inhale.

ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

EA was saying very stupid things about how many subscribers Star Wars: The Old Republic would need.  It is never too early to set the bar for failure.  Also they were threatening to taint 38 Studios.

I was also wondering about greater challenges in MMOs.  Must all paths be equally easy?

I held an April Fools contest, which got a few entries.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver launched and, after some delay,  I was picking that initial Pokemon.

I was still invested in Star Trek Online… I was trying…. well, they were giving us lifetime subscribers some perks.

In EVE Online I hit 50 million skill points.  I also had my first Tengu.

World of Tanks was staring to announce some of their progression trees, starting with the Russian and American sets.  Those have changed a lot since then.

The instance group was beginning to embrace the Dungeon Finder.  However, after Mauradon we found we still had to do a chunk of external legwork to prepare for our Sunken Temple run.  I also got a chopper along the way, on my birthday no less.

And, finally, that whole Derek Smart/Alganon thing was just kicking off.

Fifteen Years Ago

Monolith, backed by Sega and Warner Brothers, launches The Matrix Online in the US.  It hits Europe a month later. The title is soon taken over by Sony Online Entertainment, which runs it until its closure in 2009.

The Bloodline Chronicles adventure pack is released for EverQuest II.  It is free for Station Access subscribers.  Among other things it gives the game destructible walls.

Twenty Years Ago

Sony launched the PlayStation 2. Available initially only in Japan, it had ten launch titles.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary
  4. The State of Voice in 2020 with a Poll
  5. The March Update Brings Market and Moon Changes to EVE Online
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. The Windstalker Leaves Norrath
  8. The Passion of the Overseer
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. An Uldaman of Vague Memories
  11. Blizzard in the Badlands
  12. Seeking the Hydrocane

Search Terms of the Month

camelot unchained massive refund requests after terrible announcment
[Somebody knows what they’re looking for]

online rpg apple iie
[That is going to be a bit or a stretch. A MUD maybe?]

does concord intervene during killing spree in eve online
[All normal CONCORD rules apply]

null sec infrastructure to spawn mining belts
[infrastructure hub]

what plane in war thunder has the most bombs
[Going to guess it is the B-29]

wilma flintstone memes
[I don’t even]

Game Time from ManicTime

Time tracking shows I spent most of my play time with WoW Classic.

WoW Classic – 64.13%
RimWorld – 13.25%
Pokemon Sword – 10.93%
EverQuest – 5.10%
EVE Online – 4.32%
EverQuest II – 1.92%
World of Warcraft – 0.34%

You would think I would be further along, but I always find time to potter about.  Also, Pokemon Sword isn’t tracked by ManicTime, being on the Switch and all, but the save page in the game gives you an elapsed time played report with each save, so I can include it in the mix.

EVE Online

While I did not spend that much time in New Eden in March, the time I did spend was fairly active.  There was a move op north to Venal, followed by some fights, and then a move op home.  Structures were shot, ships exploded.

EverQuest

With the 21st anniversary going on I decided to poke my nose in while my all access subscription was still running.  I used the heroic upgrade on my cleric from last year’s anniversary, which promptly made his spells an unfathomable mess.  But I did end up playing with the new Overseer feature.  While it has a mobile game air to it, the EQ version has more depth than the EQII one does, so I do keep logging into play it.

EverQuest II

I fear my momentum has faded in EQII.  After grabbing the expansion last year and driving a few characters up to the level cap, both for adventure and crafting, I sort of lost interest and wandered off.  I did a bit of the Overseer thing, but it isn’t all that compelling.

Pokemon Go

My drive to the level cap slowed down somewhat.  The friend rewards, which are worth 100,000 points when you hit the highest level, drove me the last couple of months.  However, daily gifts have tapered off as people hole up at home and can’t get out to Pokestops.

Level: 38 (83% of the way to level 39)
Pokedex status: 526 (+14) caught, 556 (+11) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Dewatt

Pokemon Sword

As noted previously, I got Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Pokemon Sword for my birthday, which was about a week before we all had to go into hiding, so that is some timing.  I am three gym leaders in so far and it is shaping up to be a pretty solid entry in the genre.  The villainous team is a little more buffoonish than normal, but we’ll see how that plays out.  I just have to get myself setup to pull screen shots from the game so I can post about it.

RimWorld

RimWorld got the Royalty expansion, which adds a new dynamic to the game.  I have that out and played through some.  But even if you do not get the expansion, the launch of it also brought a bit update patch for the base game that includes a lot of nice improvements.

World of Warcraft

As usual, my time spent in retail WoW was mostly around Darkmoon Faire, though I did log in to grab a map of Gnomeregan for a post, and found that I had forgotten that they had nerfed some of the outside area as well.

WoW Classic

A lot of time spent playing WoW Classic.  I was grinding for a mount and working on some alts, but the big effort was around UIdaman where, after three weeks, we took down Archaedas.  Now comes the time to prep for Zul’Farrak.

Coming Up

It is Blapril, so expect some blogging reflective posts and as much linking out to other participants as I can manage.

It is also April Fools tomorrow, though given the current state of the political scene in the US, I am not sure anybody will notice.  Much of the last couple of months has involved public figures saying things that should have ended with “April Fools!” but somehow did not… more so than usual.

EVE Fanfest should have been kicking off soon, but that was cancelled in what seemed like forever ago, though it was just a month back.  Still, it has been reported that CCP will have some news and a new trailer for us.

And it seems like a fine time for video games, especially online games.  But April promises to be as relentless with bad news as March was, so the end of the month will probably feel like another year has gone past.

A Nintendo Switch Lite

I had a whole post brewing in the back of my head for this week about the Nintendo Switch.

That was largely driven by my daughter, who got one for Christmas.  She, like myself, had been somewhat blasé on the console.  But when Nintendo announced Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the device, she changed her mind.  Leaving aside Pokemon, Animal Crossing was probably her favorite title on the DS series.

So she asked for a Switch Lite, the more portable variation of the Switch Console, and found one under the Christmas tree back in December.

However, Animal Crossing: New Horizons wasn’t out yet.  It is still two weeks away even as this post goes live.  So, to give her something to do I threw in a copy of Pokemon Shield, the latest of the core Pokemon RPG titles, which launched back in November.

The core RPG line continues

She has quite enjoyed the game and has told me that it is a solid title within the framework of the core RPG series. (I think the fact that her boyfriend also got a copy and that he had never played a Pokemon title before helped with her enjoyment.)  She finished the main story and I have been bugging her to crank out 500 words for me about it to post here, because I haven’t played it.

But her response has been such that I was going to write up a post committing to the idea and would buy a Switch Lite myself if Nintendo announced that the next core RPG title ended up being a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.  I was hoping for that on the DS line, it being the oldest titles yet to be remade, and I was deeply disappointed when Nintendo and GameFreak abandoned the 3DS before they got there.

And then my wife and daughter got me a Switch Lite for my birthday this past weekend and of course I had to go buy a copy of Pokemon Sword to have something to play on it.

My new Switch Lite

Also pictured, a Kirkland Mister Meeseeks keychain and a vintage MAD Magazine from 1969, both from my daughter.

So now I am all-in with Pokemon on the Switch I guess.

The hardware is nice.  The unit is light, though it does not feel as solid as any of the DS/3DS units we have owned.  I sort of miss the second screen and the built-in stylus of the old hardware as well.  But the screen on the Switch Lite is very good, though it isn’t big enough to keep me from having to wear my reading glasses when I use it.  And it is a touch screen and works with a couple of the third party styluses that I keep around for pecking out anything of length on my iPhone as my big hands and sausage-like fingers are not ideal for precision clicking.  So I have that going for me.

Possibly best of all, the Switch has a button on the front, recessed to you don’t click it by accident, that allows you to take screen shots.  Pokemon Sword screen shots mean Pokemon Sword posts… at least once I get an SD card for the Switch.  So expect that.

And, finally, there is Pokemon Home, the Switch platform replacement for Pokemon Bank.  I have a bunch of Pokemon in Pokemon Bank, including a large collection of legendaries.  All of those can make a one-way journey to Pokemon Home, from which they can be accessed in Pokemon Sword & Shield.  So I am going to have to work on getting Pokemon copied over.  Pokemon Bank is/was a subscription servers (though it was only $5.00 a year), but they’ve given lapsed returning users like myself a five day free access period.  We’ll see what I can get copied over.

I have Pokemon that came from earlier generations (I played Pokemon Emerald and Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen on the DS Lite, as it had a GameBoy Advance cartridge slot) that have gone through a variety of copy and transfer processes just to get to Pokemon Bank.  Nintendo is pretty conscientious about that, even if it is sometimes like jumping through hoops. (There is even a rumor of Pokemon Go connectivity.)  So I am not going to leave anybody behind if I do not have to.

On the DS/3DS front, as expected, all of the back end services have been shut down.  I am not sure how Nintendo can still sell Pokemon games on the 3DS platform now that a lot of the promised functionality has been cut off, but whatever.  Time to abandon that ship I guess.

So there we are.  On to the Pokemon trail yet again.  I still want the remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.  But I can bide my time until then.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

But when I grew up, I put away childish things

-1 Corithians 13:11

Today is the launch date for for Pokemon Sword & Shield, the first new, “real” Pokemon game to come to the Switch since Nintendo and Game Freak pulled the franchise from the Nintendo 3DS handheld platform.

The core RPG line continues

Unfortunate KGB reference aside (the sword and shield of the party), the impending release of this game and the launch of the Switch Lite got my daughter and I discussing a potential return to the franchise.

The Switch Lite, an actual attempt at a handheld version of the Switch (because the Switch is way too big to qualify in the DS/3DS or PSP league… I present the Switch Lite as supporting evidence of this) was really the trigger event for this. My daughter and I have a long history together with Pokemon games, starting back with Pokemon Diamond on the DS Lite in 2008 and carrying on through into the 3DS era.  And portability… along with wireless connectivity… was always a big part of the experience.  Our solid little DS Lite units traveled with with us many places.  They were brought to Pokemon events, played in airports and hotel rooms and on cruise ships when there was idle time as well as around the house.

As somebody who pretty much always plays video games sitting at a PC there was definitely a liberating aspect to having a small, handheld gaming console that could be played where ever we went.

So my daughter and I talked about the idea of a Switch or Switch Lite and the new Pokemon game off and on over the course of the summer.  In the end, there was no conclusion reached… which was essentially a negative conclusion by default; we would not be buying a any new hardware just to play Pokemon Sword & Shield.

There were a bunch of little reasons that held us back; pricing, the way the new game was coming together, uncertainty about features.  However, none of those would have really stood in our way, except for the big reason, the real reason.  And that is the fact that my daughter has almost grown up.  She will be 18 soon.  She already has her first college acceptance notification. (University of Oregon)  She has a driver’s license and a car and a job and a boyfriend and a social life and all the dreams and worries and ideas that come with that time in your life.

And in the mix of all of that there isn’t a lot of time for Pokemon.

About six years back I wrote a farewell to Pokemon, thinking at the time that we probably wouldn’t make the jump to the 3DS platform.  But then my daughter came around and we played the games for a few more years.  There won’t be a similar reprieve this time.  A year from now she will be off to college and the seriousness and growing which that entails.

But there is always a future for childish things, once you’ve gotten past that embrace of adulthood and the seriousness that goes with it.  This blog is a testament to that.  And, after talking with my daughter about this, she did decide to start a fresh game of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on her old 3DS.

Three Years of Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go celebrated its third anniversary last month, but I started playing a month late.  That was still early enough to have witnessed the huge initial popularity of the game, though possibly without a few of the initial teething issues.

And I have been playing it pretty much daily ever since.  Granted, it probably helps that our office campus has five Pokestops and a gym, which makes playing daily pretty easy.  The field research thing also puts a little pressure on to play daily as well, so my wife and I still go out on weekends together to go do a raid or two or to spin some Pokestops downtown or around the community center.  That my wife plays too has also helped its longevity around here, especially since we’re now on the same team.

As a game it has evolved and grown over the last three years, mostly for the better.  The change up to gym battles and the expansion of gyms to more locations was a pretty big deal when it hit… almost two years ago now wasn’t it?  And the events have gotten better over time.  The recent Team Rocket event was interesting, if a bit confusing for me at times.  I spent some of my Pokecoins on the Team Rocket outfit for my avatar, so there were a couple of times where I was wondering why there were two Team Rocket grunts hanging out by a captured Pokestop.

Oh yeah, that is me

One thing that Pokemon Go has that will be familiar to MMORPG players is inventory management.  You have limited bag space, though it can be expanded by spending coins.  Yet somehow, no matter how much bag space I have, I always managed to fill it all up.  I am currently at 950 slots and I still end up getting a message about my bag being full when I spin a Pokestop now and then.  Oddly, I don’t have a similar problem with the Pokemon storage, which likewise has limited space.  I have upgraded that a couple of times, but mostly I am pretty harsh about who gets to stay and who gets transferred.  But in my inventory, I cannot bring myself to delete  any of my huge pile of full revives and full heals.  I might NEED those some day!  As it always goes with inventory management.

What I haven’t managed to to in three years it get to level 40, the level cap for the game.  It took me a bit over a year to hit level 30, but as I pointed out in a post about that, the exp required to get there was only 10% of the total required to get to level 40.  At that pace, getting 10% of the way in 14 months, it should take me nearly twelve years to get to level 40.

I think I am a bit ahead of the twelve year pace though.  I currently stand at about 10% of the way into level 37.  That is largely due to Niantic adding in additional ways to earn experience.  The friends list, where you can exchange gifts with your friends daily, is of particular note, since you earn 100,000 exp when you achieve maximum friendship.

I don’t really focus too much on exp.  I remain, as in the core Pokemon games, focused on catching and evolving Pokemon.  My stats there are not too bad, since the other thing I don’t do much of is big raids.

Pokedex Stats

The game also gives you a bunch of other stats, which I suppose you can compare with my one year post.  Where I stand.

  • Level – 37
  • Total XP – 9,710,552
  • Pokedex – 436 unique caught
  • Pokedex – 460 unique seen
  • Total Pokemon caught – 8,721
  • Highest CP Pokemon – Slacking, CP 4,163
  • Total Pokemon evolved – 1,157
  • Pokestops visited – 9,401
  • Distance walked (with the app open) – 1081.7 km
  • Eggs hatched – 858
  • Gym Battles won – 1,638
  • Hours of Gym Defense – 4,462
  • Berries fed at Gyms – 1,884
  • Field Research Tasks Completed – 430
  • Best Friends with – 9 trainers
  • Gym Raids won – 100
  • Pikachu caught – 119
  • Pokemon Traded – 18

I suspect that my wife and I will carry on until we at least hit level 40 due to habit or sunk cost theory or some such.

We did consider jumping on Niantic’s latest game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but the large similarity to Pokemon Go, including the need to keep the game open on your screen in order to play, pretty much meant choosing between one or the other, so we decided to stick with Pokemon Go for now.

DC Universe Online comes to the Switch

Alternate headline: Daybreak ports 8 year old game to Nintendo platform

It is always nice to see some proof of life from Daybreak now and then, and here we have something of a big item with the team in San Diego supporting another platform.

And so, today, DC Universe Online is available on the Nintendo Switch.

I even made a special graphic just for this

So why do I care?  My own relationship with the game was brief at best and, as the alternate headline above (which was the first headline I considered), I am not above a bit of cynicism when it comes to Daybreak.

Also, I don’t own a Switch.  That too would seem to limit my interest.

As I said, proof of life and expanding the business seems to be a good sign these days with Daybreak.

To start with, given that Daybreak probably has fewer people on its overall payroll than Blizzard has just working on World of Warcraft, porting a long running MMORPG to a new platform is fairly impressive.

Granted, the game was designed up front with consoles in mind, as the control scheme clearly demonstrates. (A minor factor in my decision to stop playing the game shortly after its launch.)  That means that there was groundwork laid to help support new consoles in a way that some of their older games lack. (No console controller save one with a full keyboard could support EverQuest.)  Still, supporting the game across Windows, PlayStation 4, XBox One, and now the Switch is a decent feat.

It is apparently more than EA can manage for most of its titles..

But further, the move to the Switch also sounds like something of a success story, that Daybreak is doing something right.  You do have to assume that the company isn’t simply throwing good money after bad (see Turbine and Infinite Crisis, also a DC Comics based title), but the fact that DCUO was the top revenue free to play game on the combined PS3/PS4 platforms about five years back gives one hope that the game remains viable.  While I have heard via back channels that DCUO remains profitable, it is nice to see something that looks like a confirmation that it remains a viable product.

Of course, this also helps feed the rumor mill about a possible break up of Daybreak.  When word of this first started to spread, I assumed that DCUO would necessarily be lumped in with the other non-EverQuest games largely due to it being on consoles.  Why would a the Norrath team want that in their house?

But now, with Golden Age Studios also on the list of trademarks and Twitter accounts, as well as DCUO expanding on its own to a new platform, perhaps it will be going its own way, leaving behind both the Norrath and the PlanetSide teams.

Or maybe none of that will come to pass.  We will have to wait and see.

Frozen Friday Afternoon Bullet Points

There is no polar vortex going on out here on the left coast, but it is raining and chilly enough that the roses might take a rest from their otherwise year around blooming.

The previous post about Steam started as a bullet point last night, then grew into its own post.  That happens.  It was pretty much the anchor of the post too.  Now I’m left with the other items hanging about.  Might as well just post them and move on.

  • A Smaller Switch

While there are no details out yet, Nintendo has said they have a revised version of the Switch they plan to launch this year.  It is supposed to be smaller so as to emphasize portability.  The hope is, no doubt, to get the remaining Nintendo 3DS/2DS users to consider it as an option.  Nintendo 3DS/2DS sales were pretty well strangled by Nintendo over the last year, undoing a sales surge in 2017.  We’ll see if the new Switch unit will hit the price, size, and durability metrics that would be required to replace the durable dual screen models.

  • Wii Unplugged

This past week saw the Wii Shop channel turned off.

Memories

This closed the door on getting any digital content onto you Wii.  Yes, the Wii has been around since 2006, and is now two generations behind, with Wii U having stumbled before Nintendo hit pay dirt again with the Switch.  But our Wii is still hooked up to the TV in the family room and still gets an occasional play.

  • New EVE Launcher Coming

CCP has a new launcher coming in February for EVE Online.  It will support new features, like “launch groups,” which will allow you to log on all your associated alts for specific tasks.  It will also make tasks like saving logins a little more obvious.  We’ll see if it remembers them, a chronic issue with the current launcher.

The 2019 launcher

Looking at the design though, the primary goal seems to have been better announcement placement.  Probably not a bad idea.

  • Esports Trying Too Hard

There was an article up in the games section at Venture Beat about how the top ten mobile esports players had roped in $8 million in prizes in 2018.  And seven out of those ten were women.

Infographic from that post

At least that was what the headline said.  Most of the article was yet another attempt to prove that esports was a legitimate competitive arena by comparing esports to various professional sports.

I was actually interested in the topic in the headline, but that was barely covered.  Of course, it is hard to blame Venture Beat, since the press release they were working from… and which they pretty much regurgitated word for word, so maybe they get some blame… was just as scant when it came to details.  If you have to spend that much copy establishing that esports are a thing, you don’t sound convincing.

  • Esports Denied

Of course, there might be a reason to feel defensive.  There was a forum to discuss bringing esports to the Olympics in some sort of exhibition capacity that fell through once the International Olympic Committee saw just how violent the most popular esports were.  Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

But then the president of the German Olympic Federation Alfons Hörmann said that esports do not exist and that people should stop using the term because esports have nothing to do with sports.  He seemed quite determined that esports should never be a part of the Olympics in any way.

While I’m not in league with Herr Hörmann, I do find the pushing of the parallels between competitive professional video game leagues and sports to reach the level of the absurd at times.  Again, the burning desire to be seen as a legitimate competitive event seems to get the best of those promoting esports.