Category Archives: Nintendo

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are Launching on November 18th

Back in March we got the word about the next big entry in the core RPG thread of the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet.

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

Nintendo has their marketing strategy pretty well dialed after so many years of selling what is essentially the same game over and over.  They know us well and we respond to their messaging.

This time around the next drip in the informational build up to the launch got us a date.  November 18th is when the game will arrive.

November 18th is the day

Not that November was a huge surprise.  Getting things tee’d up and into the retail channel before Thanksgiving is a pretty common strategy, and one they have played repeatedly in the past.  That ensures everybody will have time to grab a copy to play over the holidays, or time to put it on their list so parents and grandparents can have a copy for whichever present exchanging event the winter holds for them.

In addition to the date, we also got an introduction into what our characters will start out like and the professors we will run into, because each version has their own professor this time around.

Professors Sada and Turo

Pokemon Scarlet will have you working with Professor Sada, while Professor Turo will be guiding your journey in Pokemon Violet.  Let the cosplay and erotic fan fiction begin!

And then, of course, we got to see some more of the special Pokemon that the titles will introduce.  We got to see the two legendary Pokemon, Koriadon and Miriodon, but they didn’t seem to generate much excitement.  I mean, we all love the legendaries, but they do tend to be a bit overwrought at times.  They aren’t the kind of Pokemon who inspire devotion.  Instead, three of the Pokemon to be found in the new game seemed to be generating excitement.

Pawmi, Lechonk, and Smoliv

Pawmi had some immediate fans, and I have already seen some Smoliv memes, but Lechonk seemed to be the star of the show.  That name alone is a winner and some were declaring that Lechonk was the one Pokemon you were never allowed to rename.

There was also some news about the world of the Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet.  They are attempting to make the whole adventure more of an open world experience, rather than the strictly gated progression that has been a hallmark of the series for most of its life.  They want players to be able to run around and explore.  We shall see how that plays out.

What we know for sure so far is over on the official Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet site, but there is a lot of speculation and wishcasting going on in the community… as there always is when we know so little.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are Coming

The announcement of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet this past weekend made me immediately ask if there is such a thing as too much Pokemon in a year?

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

I started in an era when getting a new Pokemon title every other year was seen as a bit of a luxury.  You used to get a new title, then a combo-remake title like Crystal, Emerald, or Platinum, and then a re-roll of an older version over a few years before getting something completely new.

But in November we got Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, in January we got Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and now Nintendo has announced Pokemon Scarlet and Violet for later this year.  Given past experience, that means some point in Q4 early enough to stuff the sales channel… consoles still depend a lot on physical sales… before Christmas, so early November seems likely.

Now, there is some nuance to this I suppose.  Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl weren’t even made by Game Freak, but by another studio using their framework, so it didn’t take away from Game Freak’s time.  (This was a first, by the way.)

And Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which was made by Game Freak, is something of a departure from the core RPG line of Pokemon games, so it could be argued that it isn’t really in the same mix as the other two.

Twitter, however, seems to disagree with that.

It still has until November…

And what does that say about Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and its lifespan as the newest game in the lineup?  That was about two months.  I still have to get the nation pokedex.

But here we are in an age of shortages and inflation (and war) and we have a bounty of Pokemon game options.  So I guess we have that going for us.

Anyway, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are coming.

And, first, I want to say that I am not in love with that name.  Not that it is bad, but “Scarlet and Violet” just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as “Diamond and Pearl” or “Sword and Shield.”  But it isn’t as awkward as “Black 2 and White 2” I guess, so there is that.  But it is what it is and we will live with it.

Nintendo is doing its usual routine of giving us a drip feed of information, something they will drag out through the summer to keep us all engaged.  But we did get that critical bit of initial information, the piece that we all crave, the tidbit that will start a thousand arguments online… we got the new starter Pokemon.   They are Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly, and are apparently meant to reflect in some way the setting of the new title, which is based on Spain this time around.

The Pokemon Scarlet and Violet starting Pokemon

I got a text from my daughter, excited that there was going to be a grass type cat Pokemon.  Others dubbed him “Weed Cat” online.

I am not sure what to make of Fuecoco, aside from wondering why he has a Kraft single stuck to his chest.  Was he making a grilled cheese sandwich and lost track of it.

And then there is Quaxly.  I am good with a duck Pokemon I guess, though at first I thought he was wearing a policeman’s hat.  But on closer inspection, I guess that is his hair, a blue coif set to rival Donald Trump.  Sure, I guess.

Anyway, branding these new starters became an immediate obsession online.

How some see the choices

Fan art about the new starters is everywhere.  Again, we all love a new set of starting Pokemon, even if we are initially put off by any of them.  Fans tend to grow to love them.

And then we’ll see the horrible monster they will evolve into eventually and feel a bit betrayed.

Seriously, they do not have a good track record on that front.

There is also a trailer available, which people have been dissecting for clues.

While the announcement was a bit of a surprise to me at least, there is still plenty of time left to finish up Shining Pearl and maybe work my way through Pokemon Legends: Arceus before it arrives on the scene.

Summing Up my Nintendo 3DS Play Time

Nintendo is making it clear that the Wii U and 3DS gaming platforms are coming to the end of their supported life.  As with the Wii before them, they are turning down services and trying to make it clear that the future, as far as their platform exclusive titles are concerned, is on the Switch.

This past week it was announced that the Nintendo was set to turn off Virtual Console support as of March 2023, after which no new purchases or fresh downloads would be allowed.  This set off some wailing and gnashing of teeth, but if history is any sort of lesson, this was inevitable.  Even Sony, which supports their hardware long after it has been supplanted by newer models, eventually ends that support… though push back got them to extend support for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita stores after they initially announced those were to be turned off last year.  But that is merely a stay of the inevitable execution.  The PlayStation 3 launched in 2006.

Anyway, in order to soften the blow or to turn the pending demise of the platform into a moment of nostalgia, Nintendo has put up a page that allows you to explore your Nintendo 3DS and Wii U memories.

Soon memories and some hardware will be all that is left

I saw that Aywren had posted about her memories, so I went to check out when the site had to say about my own play time.

Of course, I never had a Wii U, so that part of the report was not much use to me, but I did have a Nintendo 3DS XL.  In fact, I had… have… still have sitting on my desk, still charging… a pair of them, including the final revision of the line, the 2DS XL.

The final incarnation of the dual screen line

I’m still a tad bitter about that, having bought and moved onto the unit at just about the exact moment that Gamefreak declared that there would be no more core Pokemon RPG titles on the platform.

Why would that irk me?  Well, I think the play time report they provided illustrates that.

It is Pokemon all the way down…

The top three on the list are Pokemon Sun, Pokemon Y, and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.

The prime games for me

Those three titles alone add up to 440 of the 518 hours of play time I recorded on the console.

Other titles that they show beyond the top three include:

  • Pokemon Omega Ruby
  • Pokemon Ultra Moon
  • Pokemon Blue
  • Pokemon Silver
  • Pokemon Bank
  • Pokemon Sun & Moon Special Demo
  • Poke Transporter

Given that it takes 30 or so hours to play through the main story of a Pokemon game, there is enough time left unaccounted for to have played a couple of those titles through.  I know I played through Pokemon Blue for the 20th anniversary of the series, there being a blog post about it.

Pretty much the only non-Pokemon apps on the list were YouTube, Netflix, StreetPass Mii Plaza, and Mario Kart 7.  I doubt I spent much time with any of them on the 3DS.  I certainly only tried Netflix and YouTube to see what watching video was like on the unit.  It was no substitute for an iPad… or even the average smart phone.

So that is my time spent on the Nintendo 3DS.  That might have been past my peak of Pokemon play times… I put 243 hours alone on Pokemon SoulSilver on the old cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite… but it was still an era that saw a decent amount of play time.

The Switch Lite I now own hasn’t seen anywhere close to that much play time, but the platform is still young.

Answers to My Questions for 2021

Back at the start of the year I eschewed the usual predictions post and instead went in for a round of questions.  After 2020 I was clearly feeling unprepared to predict anything, though this was not the first time I went down that path.  Now we have hit the middle of December and it is time to see if any of my questions got answers we like.

2020 plus 1

There is a long pattern of me making such posts on the first of the year.

Anyway, let’s get tucked in and see what I can come up with.

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

Right off the bat I am going to have to object here to the assumption that we’ve returned to anything like normalcy.  We’re not in 2020 anymore, but we’re not not in 2020 anymore either.  The shadow of that year lay heavily over this one, its poison seeping in.  People who can are still working from home, Covid is still spreading, the economy is still in a bind from the pandemic, and the world still seems to be going to hell at a rapid pace.

Will Shadowlands hold players?

Well, at least we have an easy one here.  The answer is “no.”  There are a few reasons, not the least of which is Blizzard not releasing much in the way of additional content and Blizzard being revealed as a nightmarish Dickensian workhouse of misogyny and intolerance.  Also, maybe “run Torghast every day for the next two years” wasn’t the winning plan that somebody thought it was.

Will Diablo Immortal ship?

Another easy one!  And another “no.”   Wyatt Cheng once asked if we had phones.  Many of us probably have new ones since he asked that question at BlizzCon 2018.  Now does he have a game?  That seems to be a more pertinent question at this point.

Does Blizzard have anything new planned?

Three for three here on the easy questions, with another big “no” on the tally.  Diablo II Resurrected is about as “new” as they got, and they had Vicarious Visions do the remaster of a twenty year old title for that.  It was a good remaster, but it wasn’t new.

Along with that we had Burning Crusade Classic and WoW Classic Season of Mastery, also not new.  Even the solo mode for Hearthstone didn’t feel very new.  I guess their bigger company issues got in the way for some of that, but it still feels like they came into 2021 just winging it and hoping something would come up.  And, honestly, they don’t seem to have much lined up for 2022.  How can such a big studio… more people work on WoW than most MMO studios have total employees… deliver so little?

What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?

A reverse merger, with Ji Ham now at the helm?  I wouldn’t have called that one.  Otherwise there has been some promises for the future, but the first year really seemed like business as usual for Daybreak… except maybe they didn’t lay so many people off in 2021.  That’s a plus.

Will Norrath continue to boom?

Kinda, maybe, sorta.  As noted above, things were mostly business as usual.  That has generally been good for the Norrath titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II, which get an expansion in November/December and a major content drop in late spring/early summer every year.  So things roll on there.

But when it comes to doing anything new, it is LOTRO they want to put on consoles, DCUO they want to update, and an unannounced Marvel IP MMO that gets all the headlines.  They even keep bringing up H1Z1.  But EverQuest as a franchise?  Any plans for that look to be dead.

What happens with H1Z1?

Nothing.  As I wrote above, EG7 keeps bringing it up when they talk about the important IPs they control.  There is clearly some wishcasting going on about the title returning to the top of the battle royale genre. But actual progress?  There was some mention that they had a few people look into being able to run a build, but otherwise nobody appears to be working H1Z1 in any meaningful way.

At least they stopped renaming it I suppose.

Where is Cold Iron Studios?

Not with Daybreak and EG7, we know that much.  Somewhere between the announcement that Daybreak was purchasing Cold Iron and the launch of their game Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Cold Iron went somewhere else.  Details are hazy, the story is mostly inferred, but Cold Iron never made it into the EG7 stable of studios.

What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?

Pretend nothing has changed and announce an expansion?  This is the problem with bringing up studios and games I do not watch closely.  A bunch of key people left ANet last year, but back in August they announced the End of Dragons, slated for February 2022, so I guess everything is good.  Maybe?  I don’t really know.

Where does CCP go next with New Eden?

Nowhere?  Seriously, after the Triglavian story cycle the company has been been focused on the new player experience and trying to force the in-game economy into a form that they believe is best for the long term survival of the game, ignoring the short term “hey, can you give us something fun?” requests from the players.  Short sheeting the economy isn’t fun.  Even if you don’t care about the economy and mock miners and industrialists who are complaining, you have to admit that there is very little fun in what CCP has been doing for the last year.

Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?

No.  There was a promise over the summer that the end of scarcity was coming.  But the Q4 quadrant, New Dawn: Age of Prosperity, involved very little prosperity.  For every relaxation of the economic restrictions there was some matching nerf to offset things, often hidden behind some oppressive new game mechanic.  CCP said they were listening to feedback, but they mostly slowed their roll a bit (compression will be in 2022 now) and tried re-arranging the deck chairs some (“waste” got renamed to “residue”) as they carried forward with the goal of resetting the economy to some past halcyon state.  I am sure this will end well.

How Will World War Bee End?

The side with the 3:1 numbers advantage got tired and went home.

There are many ways to spin who “won” the war.  PAPI can claim that they forced the Imperium down from four regions to one constellation and destroyed trillions of ISK in ships and structures.  The Imperium can claim that they held out, denied PAPI their stated victory conditions, and in the end destroyed as much in ships and structures as PAPI did.

As for losing the war, that award generally goes to the group that loses their space and has to move elsewhere.  That makes Legacy Coalition, the main instigators of the war under Vily, the losers.  TEST, the leading alliance in Legacy, lost their old space, couldn’t hold their new space, and ended up trying to live as far away from the Imperium as they possibly could.  Brave gets a special mention for losing hardest of all, as not only did they lose their old space and their new space, but now the rest of PAPI is attacking them because Brave sold structures to the Imperium so they could at least asset safety their stuff and get some seed ISK in the bank to carry on.

Really though, the honor of ending the war goes to CCP.  It was already somewhat obvious after the second battle of M2-XFE that their servers were not going to be up to a final mighty battle.  And then CCP made changes to resources and production that made capital ships too valuable to expend freely, so the attackers were limited to subcaps.  In the choice between investing a lot of time and effort in a real blockade of the final Imperium constellation or just going home, they opted to go home.

Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

Yes, goddammit, yes they did.  About freaking time.  And it has shipped and there is a copy for me and my daughter under the Christmas tree.  We’ll see how that plays out soon enough.

Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  I mean, Crowfall went live I think.  I am not sure it will survive, but it shipped.  And they are a stand out in the stable of crowd funded MMOs, which mostly promised things they couldn’t deliver.  Don’t spend money on things that you cannot play today.

Project: Gorgon is the right path, as it was in playable form from the day of the first monetary ask. Camelot Unchained is the wrong path, asking for money, blowing through every promised date ever, and starting a new project before the promised one is even in beta.  And then there is Star Citizen… well, they certainly know how to milk a community.  Star Citizen is a lot of things, but being an actual video game seems to be a few bullets down the list.

Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?

The metaverse maybe?  That seemed to be the topic for 2021.  I don’t know if it is Raph Koster’s desire to remake the simple days of MUDs in the 90s or Mark Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of an all controlling metaverse that turns our very desires against us, but I guess either might be something new… at least for MMORPGs.

Oh, and something about crypto and NFTs.  But we’ll probably burst that bubble in 2022.

Will I play anything new this year?

Valheim.  That was a bit of a left field star, but ended up being our main game for about two months earlier this year.  New World showed up and, once the initial chaos settled down, the instance group got into the game.  And then there was Forza Horizon 4 & 5.  Open world driving for the win.  There were a couple of other small titles that were new, but nothing that I invested more than a couple of hours in.

That I played three new games made 2021 a departure from the usual routine.  In 2020 80% of my game time was spent in WoW, WoW Classic, and EVE Online.  The year isn’t over yet, but so far those three titles represent less than 50% of my tracked play time.

Will VR get a killer app this year?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  VR will remain a niche so long as it requires a real world obscuring mask strapped to your face… oh, and the motion sickness issue gets addressed.  Ready Player One and Zuckerberg’s idea that we’re all going to live in his ad laden VR metaverse hell is a pipe dream.

Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?

Not really.  The industry’s best defense so far has been regulators being interested in other things to further their own interests.  It has to be a slow news day for lockboxes to make the headlines of late, so politicians and regulators have mostly been busy elsewhere.   Except for Blizzard.   Yeah, Blizzard is having some regulatory issues, though not over lockboxes and that sort of thing, just mundane things like running a hostile, discriminatory work place.  The usual corporate thing.

But the industry keeps on trying to get the government to come down on them hard, with cryto and NFTs on their list of things to try next.

Will We lose Section 230 Protection?

Not yet, though Facebook seems to be pushing to have that taken away, because they have the money and the staffing to deal with any new regulations which would help them cement their place in creating our dystopian future… and present… and recent past.

What will I do when the blog turns 15?

Write a post about it.  That is my answer for most things I suppose.

So that was the list for 2021.  As those were just questions rather than predictions there is no score.

I think I’ll be able to warm up to doing some predictions for 2022.  I have a couple of weeks to get on it.  But first I need to make a 2022 graphic.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Launch Today

The day of the remake of the original Pokemon Diamond & Pearl has finally arrived.

Sinnoh is returning

For me this remake has been a long time coming.  It seemed like it was going to be the next after Game Freak finished up their work on Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon in 2016.  There was a cycle to their releases.  But after that… and after I bought the new Nintendo 2DS XL… the word came that they were done with Pokemon on the that hardware.  The Pokemon era with the DS series was over.  Pokemon would be moving to the Nintendo Switch hardware.

That reset the schedule as Game Freak first put out a light Pokemon title, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, before committing to a full blown Pokemon RPG title in with Pokemon Sword & Shield.

Sword & Shield set a new standard for Pokemon titles, running through two DLC expansions as the story wound through the Galar region.

I bought and played through some of Sword & Shield, having purchased a Switch Lite, but it didn’t really stick with me.

Now though, there is the return to the Sinnoh region, which is where Pokemon began at our house, back when we bought our daughter a pink Nintendo DS Lite to keep her occupied on regular flights to visit family in Hawaii.  Watching her play got me invested and soon I had my own cobalt blue DS Lite, a solid piece of hardware that is still sitting on my bookshelf.

We played through that game together, bought the guide books, battled the gym leaders, caught and traded Pokemon, built bases in the underground, and caught the legendary Pokemon.  It was the gateway to us playing through almost all of the titles that came out on the DS series. (We bought them all, though I don’t think either of us finished UltraSun & UltraMoon.)

I am not running out and buying it today.   Well, I might buy it soon, but I will be buying two copies and saving it for the holidays.  We’ll see if my daughter and I can find some time to play when she is home from school.

Friday Bullet Points in the Dog Days of Summer

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

  • New World, New Delays

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

Just how new and how worldly?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Switch Sales Hit 89 Million

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

My Switch Lite

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

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

  • FFXIV Subscribers are Up

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

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

  • Chinese Government Frowns Once More on Video Games

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

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

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

  • EQII Free Character Boost

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

  • EVE Echoes Anniversary

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

EVE Echoes

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

  • Amarr Foundation Day

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

Your Federation Day login rewards

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

Friday Bullet Points about Things Old and New

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

  • Crowfall Ships!

Holy crap!  Color me shocked!

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

Is this even still their logo?

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

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

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

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta Stats

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

What I did in the beta… not much

Overall the community reported quite a few things.

The stats for everybody

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

  • The Next 6 Month Mount From Blizzard

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

The latest in a series

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

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

Available at an Inn near you

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

  • New Switch Disappointment

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

The Switch line up

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

  • RimWorld Ideology

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

A new drama generator

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

  • Minmatar Liberation Day

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

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

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

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl Coming November 2021

We heard back in February that the next Pokemon title for the Switch would be remakes of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, something my daughter and I had been waiting for.  As a follow on, we have now been given a date for the launch of the remake.

Sinnoh is returning

The launch date for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl is November 19, 2021.

The Nintendo site has an updated descriptions of how they plan to recreate the original Nintendo DS experience and what to expect.

In addition, the other upcoming Pokemon title, Pokemon Legends: Arceus also got a launch date this past week.  We will be able to experience this “bold new direction” for the Pokemon series come January 28, 2022.

So we have some old and new Pokemon experiences coming up.  I am definitely up for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl, though I hope the release doesn’t overlap too closely with Diablo II: Resurrected.  While we don’t have a firm date for the Diablo II remake, it was said that it would be available near the end of 2021, and no studio wants to launch after Christmas, so November seems a likely time for it as well.  We shall see.

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.