Category Archives: Pokemon Go

March in Review

The Site

As of a post earlier this week I had a post up every single day for an entire year.  The last day here on the site without a post was March 27, 2020.

AYearOfPosts2021
Filled in the blocks for a full year

Like a lot of such achievements, I did not set out to do this, but once I noticed it was happening it became a thing.  I rolled into last April with a plan to post every day due to the Blapril event.  Making it through that I had enough momentum to bring me through May and into June.  Then a war started brewing in EVE Online, which was fresh and exciting in late June of last year, but which has grown routine by now.  That gave me a lot to post about and I decided to stretch my posting run into August for the Blaugust celebration.  And once I had gotten through that I had almost a half a year streak going, so why not carry on.

As for what it means… well, it doesn’t really mean anything.  It is my own little post streak.  I think the previous such streak went for four months.  I just have to decide how much it really means to me to have an unbroken run of daily posts, because once I let it lapse it will take me at least a year to get back.

I will say that it is a good thing  I made it to this milestone, such that it is, this week.  Because this week saw WordPress.com finally delete the old classic editor, which I have been using for more than 14 years at this point, in order to force users into their new block editor, which was designed by a sadist and implemented by people who clearly don’t have to use it.  It impedes my ability to write.

Seriously, it sucks.  Even the classic block, which they claim is the same as the classic editor, sucks.  Features are missing, it keeps asking me if I want to convert to other blocks, everything takes a few more clicks to accomplish, and it is rather insistent that 24 time doesn’t exist. And don’t get me started on what happens to a post if you accidentally click that persistent “convert to blocks” button if you’re working in the classic block tab. I had to throw away a post and start over it was so mangled.

And they also did away with the old dashboard and stats, so even managing posts and comments and such is a huge pain in the ass now.  And data I used for things like my annual review post… well, that is just no longer accessible.

It is all a punch in the gut that doesn’t make me enthusiastic to post every day.

I sent in a complaint detailing all of this and I expect to hear back from one of their “Happiness Engineers” ignoring everything I wrote and gushing about how wonderful the block editor is with a link to a video.  The next helpful response I get from them will be the first.

Addendum: I enabled the new “Advanced Dashboard Pages” option and got back the ability to use the old Classic Editor once more. So yay! Why it was linked to that option I cannot explain, but I’ll take it.

One Year Ago

Oh man, it was the start of the pandemic lockdown, the March that lasted forever as we all learned how to stay home.  Fortunately I received a Ninendo Switch Lite for my birthday to keep me busy.

I did another poll about which voice service people were using.  Discord swept the poll.

I summed up the Winter Fantasy Movie League run, but FML was soon put on a pause due to theaters being shut.

Gamigo CEO Remco Westerman was unironically going on about synergy.

I was still playing a bit of EverQuest II, though it was mostly the Overseer feature getting me to log in.  EverQuest turned 21, which brought with is new servers, server merges, and other special items.  We got a free heroic upgrade… to level 85… which I used on one of my characters.

The big news from Daybreak though was Holly Longdale, who had been running the Norrath franchise for the company, leaving for Blizzard.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working through Razorfen Downs before heading off to UldamanArchaedas was an issue, but with some suggestions we were able to finish him as a four person group.

I was also trying to farm the Hydrocane from Gnomeregan.

In EVE Online there was an early March update that brought us some changes, which was followed later with an update that included low sec and faction warfare changes as well as giving battleships a frigate escape bay.  CCP was also moving along with their economic privation plan, announcing the removal of minerals from moons.  The February MER was already showing mineral prices rising and this was expected to make them go higher still.

CCP threw more skill points at us.

There was a question as to whether of not there should be a shooter from CCP like Project Nova.

Out in space we were packing up to head home from VenalLiberty Squad was done as Terrifying League of Dog Fort corp, which was running the group, left the alliance to find adventure elsewhere.

There was a plan for Blapril, an early run at Blaugust, as we were all home with free time.

And there were some Friday Bullet Points from Gamasutra, including some more about CCP’s Project Nova.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak announced that they were giving up on EverQuest Next.  That left me wondering what the future looked like for Landmark.  It wasn’t going to have PvP.

I also wrote up a post about all of the SOE/Daybreak MMOs and their then current (and mostly closed) status.  Things still looked pretty good for EverQuest at 17, though I wasn’t sure how experience injectors were going to play out in EverQuest II.

Also in EverQuest II the PvP version of their retro nostalgia server, Deathtoll, was getting folded into the PvE version, Stormhold, due to lack of interest, thus ending open world PvP in the game outside of that Russian server.  I was looking for nostalgia on the Stormhold side of things again.

Voting kicked off for CSM 11 with Xenuria on the official Imperium ballot.  How things change.

The monthly EVE Online update introduced Project Discovery and made it so you had to be mutual friends in order to track somebody’s online status in your contact list.  The month’s blog banter wanted people to imagine other games based off of the EVE Online IP, so I went with something akin to Diplomacy.

There were a bunch of little EVE Online things, like server upgrades, downtime compensation, and skill injector fun that I put into one bullet points post.  I like those posts when I do them, I hate them a year later when I want to do my summary.  It is easier when each topic has its own post!

Fighting was going on as the Casino War widened.  Some of the coalition was staged in Saranen, which meant flying quite a ways to defend territory on the far side of Tribute, including an unfortunate event with a Higgs anchor rig on my Guardian.  There were things going on in several regions, including a really good brawl in Fade.

Then the weight in numbers began to tell as we had to fight fires on several fronts.  I wondered if we were going to have a last stand at VFK-IV.  The plan, however, was not to waste ships against the superior numbers arrayed against us.  Instead we gave up territory, announcing the abandonment of the Vale of the Silent region, occupied by Lawn and Bastion, with one constellation owned by Circle-of-Two.  CO2 decided to leave the Imperium over this in order to save their territory, which would soon be the front line in the war, betraying us even as the fight was still going on in M-OEE8.  Once the war was over their new friends turned on them and took their territory anyway.  Who says there are no happy endings?

The M-OEE8 fight was still a big one and got CCP some press.  That is one thing null sec is good for, bringing attention to the game.

Black Desert Online went live and much bitching about the cash shop ensued, so I couldn’t resist jumping on that bandwagon yet again.  The cash shop is a necessary evil at this point.

I was poking fun at VR, which is still struggling for relevance.  Meanwhile EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack went live with the official Occulus Rift launch.

Minecraft 1.9, the Combat Upgrade landed, giving us shields.  I stopped wearing one of those ages ago, as you can’t read maps, among other things, if you have one on.

In Minecraft Aaron’s zombie pig farm was causing MC Pro Hosting to lag out on us.  But we made the switch to the much more reasonably priced Minecraft Realms hosting option, which solved that issue.  Premium pricing was not getting us premium service.

In Diablo III I was chasing the Season 5 set dungeon.

And, finally, things looked grim for WildStar, with China cancelled, layoffs, and dwindling revenue.

Ten Years Ago

Rift officially launched.  And while I wasn’t playing, the social media options integrated into the game made it feel like I was there.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Pokemon Black and White came out, which became the theme for my birthday.

World of Tanks was talking about going live in April.  There was, of course, a pre-order offer.  There always is these days.

Potshot and I made it to GDC thanks to Darren, where we were able to hobnob with the likes of Brian Green and Damion Schubert.

March of ten years ago found me spending time in EverQuest.  It was on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, which at that point was still set in the original EverQuest zones.  Potshot and I were doing some classic things, like getting stuck in the Ocean of Tears and making alts.  And running out of money.

There were the newbie armor quests to work on, which required travel to Freeport at one point, something as hard as we remembered.  We also visited Unrest, North Karana, the Desert of Ro, and Najena.

It was also the 12 year anniversary of the EverQuest launch, and nobody was more surprised that I that I was playing the game 12 years later.  But no corpse runs please.

The instance group, still in Cataclysm Worgen form, spent a couple of nights in Scarlet Monastery and then went to Razorfen Kraul.

I put up a poll asking people which of several items in my drafts folder (current population: 88) I should buckle down on and finish.  I think almost everything on the list except the winner is still in my drafts folder.

And I came home one day to find the TV had died.  Emergency CPR (read: banging on the damn thing) brought it back to life temporarily, but clearly a replacement was going to be needed.  It was, after all, a few years older than EverQuest.

Fifteen Years Ago

World of Warcraft hit 6 million subscribers.  Eventually it would double that number.  And later it would sink below that number.  WoW Classic seemed to get it back up to that number again, though all such numbers from Blizzard are pretty vague these days.

Twitter launched, but who in the hell wants a platform limited to just 140 characters?  Or 280 characters now I guess.

Brent, going by the “Prognosticator” handle back then, launched the VirginWorlds podcast which began what was, for me, the golden age of MMO podcasting and eventually nudged me into blogging.  Trust me to pick up the old trend when a new one starts.  His site had fallen into disrepair over the years and, recently, disappeared altogether.  Time to pull it from the side bar I think.  I still have all the podcasts in my iTunes library, and you can peruse the site and descriptions over at the Internet Archive.

Twenty Years Ago

Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance, the handheld model between the GameBoy Color and the Nintendo DS.  Games for the GBA were still available when I eventually got a Nintendo DS as it had a GBA cartridge slot to allow backward compatibility.

Thirty Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, an online multiplayer Dungeons & Dragons themed game launched on AOL.  In an age of text and MUDs, it was an online graphical multiplayer RPG and either one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs, depending on how you want to define the “massive” part of the acronym.

Sierra Online launched The Sierra Network… their name having “online” in it before they had an actual online presence was a mistake in hindsight I suppose… which includes the title The Shadow of Yserbius as part of the package, which was also an online graphical multiplayer RPG (or a graphical MUD as they called it), which also gives it a claim to either being one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. The Federation Grand Prix Starts in EVE Online with Events and Login Rewards
  2. Death on the Plains in Valheim
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  6. Robbing Some Space Banks
  7. SupreData says WoW Jumped in Subscribers and Revenue
  8. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  9. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  10. CCP Now Just Baby Steps from Selling EVE Online Skill Points Directly
  11. Diablo II Act Five and some Thoughts
  12. What Does LOTRO Need?

Search Terms of the Month

valheim keep dying in black forest
[Wait until you walk into the plains!]

i came upon fulings and died valheim
[Yeah, though the deathsquitos are worse]

why cant i buy large skill injectors with plex?
[Sell the PLEX, use the ISK, problem solved]

eve online casino
[That was the war five years back]

eve online what is really going on in null
[Damn if I know]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Let me know when you undock]

why it’s all about money just bomb ccp get rid of them
[What were you even searching for?]

making fake favebook profit for oculus
[Favebook is like that]

how to clean pokewalker
[Don’t put it in the washing machine!]

Game Time from ManicTime

Once again this month saw Valheim take up most of my focus. The time split was as follows:

  • Valheim – 84.71%
  • EVE Online – 10.90%
  • WoW Classic – 4.30%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.10%

At this point Valheim is where I have spent about half of my gaming time so far this year. In the first half of the month I had more time on it that in my main browser. (Though, to be fair, I have to split between Firefox and Chrome for work related items.)

EVE Online

The war carries on.  I’ve said that a few times, haven’t I?  This past month was a bit lighter for me that January and February.  My participation status shows over 100 ops in the last 90 days, but only about 15 of those were in the last 30 days.  Blame Valheim a bit, but more it is the fact that no grand events have been happening really.  I did do the Federation Grand Prix for the SKINs on an alt, but that was another story.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I both made it to level 41.  It wasn’t that tough of a climb.  We were helped along by the fact that we had accumulated some xp after hitting level 40 but before the new levels were announced.  Not as much as some… I have people in my friends list who have as much as 60 million xp pre-done… but it boosted us along a bit.  Now for level 42.

Level: 41 (15% of the way to 42 in xp, 2 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 628 (+9) caught, 656 (+9) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 12
Pokemon I want: Need Eevees for the level 42 tasks
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

As you can see from the ManicTime numbers, this is the title that dominated my gaming time again this month.  Right now on our world we’re ready to slay Moder once we can get on together and then we will be moving towards the plains. 

World of Warcraft

I did log into retail WoW, though only for Darkmoon Faire and a few pet battles.  I did nothing out in the Shadowlands expansion.  The events there have skipped far enough ahead of me that I likely won’t ever catch up.  My renown remains meager and such.

WoW Classic

While the instance group has been mostly focused on Valheim, I did find a bit of time to run around with my paladin alt.  I’d like to get him up to 60… or at least 58… before Burning Crusade Classic shows up.

Coming Up

Well, tomorrow is April Fools, so I am pretty sure some of you can guess what the post of the day will be about.  It is the same thing every year.

In Valheim we have two bosses left to take on.  We might actually accomplish that and get back to spending a bit of time in  WoW Classic, though I suspect we’ll keep the Valheim world up and keep building and such.  It has a Minecraft-like appeal in that.

I expect that we’ll start getting some news about a timeline for Burning Crusade Classic.

And in EVE Online CCP is ready to turn industry upside down by changing dramatically how all ships larger than a battlecruiser, plus all T2 and faction ships, are built.  When even the devs are predicting chaos and things taking 4-6 months to settle down you know we’re in for a wild ride.

Arriving at Level 41 in Pokemon Go

Back in December of last year Niantic unlocked the next ten levels in Pokemon Go.  The game, having been capped at level 40 for over four years, was finally going to give people some new advancement goals.

The catch for the next ten level was that, in addition to the usual exp grind, players were going to have to complete some specific tasks along the way.  For some, those who had been at level 40 for a long time and who had continued to accumulate exp, the tasks were the real gates to the next levels.

For people like my wife and I, who hit level 40 less than a month before the new levels were unlocked, the exp hill was going to be the main limiting factor.  I finished the four tasks, which included catching 200 pokemon in a single day, long before I was even close to level.  We both managed to tip over into level 41 this month, with the exp being the final gate as expected.

A level up at last

With the level you get some prizes.

Some gifts for your level

But then you are quickly back to looking at the exp curve to get to level 42.

The tasks to get to level 42 are not too tough.  They are:

  • Evolve Eevee into each of its forms
  • Use items to evolve Pokémon 15 times
  • Make 3 excellent throws
  • Use 200 berries to help catch Pokémon

Only the Eevee evolution task is going to take some effort really.  And part of that is because the basic evolves are random chance. (The naming trick only works on your first evolve, which I did years ago.)  I had been saving up some Eevees for this, and then got seven Jolteons in a row.  Time to catch some more Eevees.

In the end though, the exp will be the final gate for most levels.  The level gradient looks like this:

  • levels 1-39 – 15 million exp
  • level 40 – 5 million exp
  • level 41 – 6 million exp
  • level 42 – 7.5 million exp
  • level 43 – 9 million exp
  • level 44 – 11 million exp
  • level 45 – 13 million exp
  • level 46 – 15 million exp
  • level 47 – 18 million exp
  • level 48 – 21 million exp
  • level 49 – 25 million exp
  • level 50 – 30 million exp

There are ways to speed up gaining exp.  My biggest score was when I used a lucky egg, which doubles all exp earned, then had somebody transition to a best friend, another to ultra friend, finished my weekly pokestop spin and pokemon catch, did two five star raids with our group, and had some evolves along the way.  That was worth about 350K right there, though that was the stars aligning just right as the best friend was somebody in our raid group, so we were able to coordinate.  Otherwise, a good day gets us a raid and the usual catch and stuff, often rings up less that 20K exp and there are a lot of days where it isn’t even 5K.

As for the tasks, looking at the list posted over at Polygon, only the tasks for levels 49 and 50 seem like they are big enough to be a significant barrier to level.  And, even then, the exp curve for those are so big that you will likely have plenty of time to work them out.

But we’re still just working on level 42, which for the most part means working on exp and catching every Eevee that shows up.

February in Review

The Site

I haven’t complained about WordPress.com in a while, so let me get stuck into them.  They broke the classic editor… again.  Not drastically, but the break made it much more annoying to use.  When I wrote to their support… they call them “happiness engineers,” which sounds like a title the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would use… the response was pretty much “LOL, use the block editor dummy!” followed by a long, cut and pasted entry about how wonderful it is.

I do not like the block editor.  It feels like a software dev’s view of a word processor, with each paragraph in its own block, as though people somehow felt a need to re-arrange paragraphs so often that they made it a feature.  Object oriented writing isn’t really a thing.  My paragraphs cannot be re-ordered at will and make sense.  They barely make sense when correctly ordered.

There is the “classic” block in the block editor, which is almost tolerable, but lacks some of the features of the classic editor.  And trying to explain the omissions to a “happiness engineer” was like trying to explain tea to a robot.

Fortunately, Paeroka at Nerdy Bookahs noticed that the classic editor was only broken in Firefox, not Chrome.  Another typical dev problem, and one I run into at work a lot, where everybody only ever uses Chrome despite the fact that our customers are often on locked down work machines that only have Edge or IE11 on them.  I personally prefer Firefox, though I can complain about most browsers for one reason or another, but I can use Chrome to write if I have to.

Otherwise it was a pretty good month.  Traffic was up as the swell of Valheim players looking for information about the game sent a bunch of people my way.  I was also enthusiastic to write about the game.

Valheim on Steam

The traffic tapered off towards the end of the month as every gaming site in creation jumped on the Valheim bandwagon.  But you can see from the most viewed posts list that it generated some interest here.  And I am sure I will have more to say about the game.

One Year Ago

The anticipated Torchlight Frontiers MMORPG was demoted to Torchlight III, another action RPG with multiplayer support.

Daybreak was warming up for the EverQuest 21st anniversary.

Blizzard reported a decent Q4 for 2019, at least compared to the rest of the year.  WoW Classic helped.  A lot.  But the Warcraft III Reforged fiasco was not likely to help Blizz for Q1 2020.

Over at CCP Project Nova, the latest attempt at a first person shooter, was transitioning into some other project.  But they were going to keep that quiet until the had something real to bring to us.  They also cancelled FanFest in Iceland over corona virus fears, and rightly so.

For the February update in EVE Online we got the Guardians Gala, new implant sets, and the start of what would become a year of nerfing mining into oblivion.  CCP gave us some skill points for being down due to a DDoS attack.  The also announced a plan to fix undercutting in the market.

Out in New Eden the Goon Expeditionary Force was formed and went out on its first deployment.  I managed to get on a bunch of kill mails in my ECM burst interceptor.  We were also out shooting structures and

As fall out from the death of Guardians of the Galaxy coalition, Ranger Regiment joined the Imperium.

I also compare raids, where up to 40 people need to coordinate, with fleet ops in EVE Online, where up to 255 people work as a team, facing off against another group generally of equal size.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working on the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral wing, then we were back again to finish up a quest.  Then I summed up all of our Scarlet Monastery time over the years in a post, including a mock version of the place in Neverwinter.

The we were off to Razorfen Downs.

As we were getting to level 40, I wondered how close we were to being half way to level cap.  There are a variety of ways to measure that.

I was also still playing the EverQuest II expansion, and even bought a couple Krono as my cash resources were rather meager.

And then there was Camelot Unchained, where City State Entertainment announced that they were working on another game which would somehow magically speed up delivery of the game that was already four years past the promised date, prompting people to ask for refunds, myself included.  Of course, getting a refund was not easy, and City State was not at all inclined to be helpful, with Mark Jacobs himself showing up to tell me I must be dumb to not have all the details of a seven year old credit card charge close to hand, but I ended up finally finding the transaction ID from the 2013 pledge and got a refund, minus processing fees.

Five Years Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moonfor the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two gamesH1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Ten Years Ago

I was accidentally declared influential.  That was the first and last time that ever happened, and in an era before “influencers” were even a thing.  We got over that pretty quickly.

Hulkageddon IV came and went.  We all survived.  And then there was the new character creator in EVE Online.  It had… options.

LOTRO had a welcome back event… even though it was free to play, so coming back wasn’t all that hard… unless you count time spent waiting for the patcher.

There was yet another sign of the coming apocalypse.

NetDevil got pulled out of LEGO Universe.

Nintendo was banging the drum for Pokemon Black and White.  We were certainly ready for it at our house.

Van Hemlock was slumming back in MMOs for a bit.

I was taking a look at the holy trinity of roles through a historical lens.  It wasn’t always exactly Tank/Healer/DPS.

The instance group was still playing World of Warcraft Now we just get nostalgic about it.

World of Tanks.  It was in beta and set some sort of bogus record.

Rift was getting ready to launch.  People were freaking out in the absence of calm words.  Personally, I wasn’t buying into the game.  Who needed a WoW clone when we had WoW?

Nostalgia was officially on with the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  Characters were rolled.  Low level zones were crowded and experience was slow.  But the tour was a go.  We hit the Qeynos HillsBlackburrowWest Karana, and the Qeynos Sewers.  Important spells were rediscovered and camping trips were planned.  Not everything was as we remembered it, but it made for a pretty darn good nostalgia adventure.

And while that was going on, SOE shipped the Destiny of Velious expansion for EverQuest II.  But I couldn’t be bothered.

And, finally, one of our cats was on top of the refrigerator.

Fifteen Years Ago

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach launched.  Based somewhat on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set it set out to be the best dungeon crawl experience in the MMORPG genre, and featured no dragons at launch.  It also unapologetically required required player grouping, something declared right on the box.  That made me put it back on the shelf at Fry’s.  It has since become solo friendly, free to play, and toned down the name to just Dungeons & Dragons Online.

SOE lauched the Kingdom of Sky expansion for EverQuest II, which raised the level cap to 70 and introduced alternate advancement, a mechanism long familiar to EQ veterans by that point.  This was also at a point of peak performance issues in the game, including the height of the Qeynos Harbor lag problem.  I was on board with WoW by then and declined to buy the expansion.

EVE Online reached the 100,000 subscriber mark, back when companies talked about such things publicly, and launched the Bloodlines expansion.  That expansion, which basically complicated character creation and made everybody go Caldari, would be the current state of the game when I made my first character in New Eden a few months down the road.

James Cameron was jumping onto the MMO bandwagon with Multiverse Network, which was going to lower the barrier to entry for MMO creation.  The plan was for there to be an MMO released alongside his next movie, but Avatar had to go it alone in the end, while Multiverse Network shut down in 2011.

Twenty Years Ago

Civilzation II, perhaps one of the oldest games I can still play, and which I have invested many hours into, launched on leap day 1996.

Pokemon Red & Green, the genesis of the Pokemon franchise, launched in Japan.

Thirty Years Ago

The Legend of Zelda launches on the NES, the first game in the long running franchise.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. The Guardians Gala Event Returns to EVE Online
  5. A First Look at Valheim
  6. Traveling to the Black Forest in Valheim
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Robbing Some Space Banks
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. Time to Earn some ISK
  11. What Does LOTRO Need?
  12. Titan Massacre at M2-XFE

Search Terms of the Month

goons papi eve meta explained
[Good luck with that]

keepstar meme
[Yes]

keepster broom
[What?]

how do keepstars protect themselves
[Memes, brooms]

eve echoes burn jita
[One can only hope]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Again, good luck with that]

Game Time from ManicTime

When the month started off it looked very much like WoW Classic would be at the top of the list.  I was serious about my paladin alt, the group was finishing up Blackrock Depths, and things were going well.  And then Valheim showed up and ate up all my free time.  Well played.

  • Valheim – 63.16%
  • WoW Classic – 22.85%
  • EVE Online – 13.52%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.47%

EVE Online

The was carried on.  There were a few big clashes, but nothing like the titan battles or the Keepstar drops from the end of 2020.  I got into a few fights, but mostly spent my time on the M2 hellcamp, which carries on.  Both sides are grinding away at each other and trying to keep their side motivated.  The side that loses interest first loses.

Pokemon Go

There were some fun events for the Kanto celebration that got my wife and I out of the house.  Lots of raids and tasks.  We’re slowly closing in on level 41.

Level: 40 (88% of the way to 41 in xp, all tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 619 (+6) caught, 647 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 11
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

The surprise hit game of 2021 so far.  I went from, “Why no, I have never heard of this new early access game on Steam” to it consuming all of my gaming time over the course of a week.

World of Warcraft

WoW has really fallen down the list.  As I said in my BlizzConline summary, it isn’t so much that Shadowlands is bad, it is just always the 3rd or 4th thing on my list to play.  I forgot to log in and do the Darkmoon Faire tradeskill quests even this month.  I am really falling off the retail WoW wagon.

WoW Classic

We finally finished up the last quest for Blackrock Depths on our twelfth run.  Doing it as a four person group was often a challenge.  And, for a four person group I am not sure we have the optimum class balance.  Had I to do it over again I might have tanked with a paladin.  The raid meta won’t allow pally tanks, but for the 5 person dungeons it would have worked.  Now we just have to decide what to hit next.

Coming Up

More Valheim I bet.  We’re kind of moving slowly on our world, but base building is satisfying.  We still haven’t found the damn vendor, so hopefully that will happen next month.  I’ve explored a lot of black forest biome on foot so far and that is getting a bit old.

World War Bee will carry on in EVE Online.  Neither side seems ready to crack yet as the war enters its eighth month.  Meanwhile, CCP is carrying on with strangling the economy along with a couple more odd ideas that I might explore.

The instance group might get back to WoW Classic.  We’re all playing Valheim together at the moment, but that isn’t as structured as a dungeon run, which is both good and bad.  We’ll see.

EverQuest will turn 22 in March.  Are there any good birthdays after your 21st?  I think the last real birthday party I had was when I was ten.

I will also expect that we will start getting a drip feed of news from Blizzard about their projects for this year, including The Burning Crusade Classic and Diablo II Ressurected.  Likewise from Nintendo around Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.   And I am still waiting for some new on LEGO Starwars: The Skywalker Saga, which was delayed into 2021.

January in Review

The Site

We are already a month down for 2021 and it has seemed… a bit less crazy.  Or, at least we seem to be confining big events to Wednesdays… insurrection, impeachment, inauguration, GameStop… to give everybody time to catch up.  It is a welcome change from the last four years of “what new outrage will I awake to in the morning?”

I mentioned a while back that I had setup the blog as a magazine on the Flipboard app, so if you wanted to read the blog in a handy way on your phone or tablet you now had that option.

Flipboard

As I said, I find it a nice way to flip through headlines with the ability to dive into the news story about which I want to know more.  Well, last week I received a note from Flipboard saying that my configuration had been approved and TAGN was now available generally on the app.  So you can find it if you search on TAGN.  I would still be interested to hear if anybody uses it or likes the format.

One Year Ago

A new year meant predictions.  Also, there was the end of another Steam Winter Sale complete with stats and my own gaming outlook for 2020.  I also had a list of things I wanted to see in the year and my game time played for 2019.

SuperData Research had their own review of 2019.

A research group published a paper exploring the electrical usage impact of video games in the state of California.  It was more than hot tub pumps.

Daybreak finally did their studio split thing, though what it really meant was left unanswered.

In EverQuest II I was gearing up for the moon.  I also leveled up my crafting by doing things other than crafting, though I had our guild hall open for actual crafting.  Leveling up was quick and I soon had three characters on Luclin.

In EVE Online there was the “My Year In EVE” video thing.  GDC also had a video about EVE Online and how they fixed the ghost training problem.

The January game update buffed heavy missiles and added Nirvana implants, the “shield slaves” that people had been asking about for years.

CCP introduced new player packs that were essentially selling skill points… again.  They were also handing out more skill points for logging in, doing a PLEX for Good for the Australian wildfires as well, and finishing the 64-bit client transition.

Our long time corp, Black Sheep Down, was going away, which led me to join Karma Fleet.

Blizzard pushed out Warcraft III Reforged, broken, berefet of expected features, and with restrictions on user created content, all of which made it an object of scorn and an item on many “worst releases of 2020” lists.

World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth was getting down to its final content drop.  There was a lot of stuff with it.  Also, they were offering a flying rat to six month subscribers.

In WoW Classic the instance group was in the Scarlet Monastery.  We took a shot at the library and the armory, then ran off to Stranglethorn Vale for a bit of xp.  After that we went back and did the library and the armory again.  I also ended up with my first level 40 in WoW Classic.

Five Years Ago

I had 16 predictions for 2016. (Results for those who need to know.)

I was also included on some sort of MMO info page thing.

It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.

I was wondering what Early Access should really be.  I was also checking out which MMOs made PC Gamer’s latest list.

Smed was going to Kickstarter for Hero’s Song.  It got cancelled before I could finish the post about all the problems it had.  More than a bit of foreshadowing in that I guess.

People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.

The price for the Occulus Rift was announced, which led to quite a sum if all I wanted to do is play EVE Valkyrie.

In EVE Online I ran my first incursion boss.  We also got the first of the “no name” monthly updates.  Karma Fleet turned one.  CCP told us about skill extractorsBlog Banter 71 was about spaceships.  Also, there was some sort of conflict going on between I Want ISK and SpaceMonkeys Alliance.  It started in mid-December 2015.  The bankers of I Want ISK were banned then unbanned and eventually the whole thing spiraled out to become the Casino War.

In space we reinforced a tower and ran about in Typhoons and Jackdaws.  At the end of the month Reavers headed south to Wicked Creek to tangle with TEST.

Outside the game Battle Clinic, long a staple of the EVE Online third party universe, was set to shut down while the election process for CSM XI was kicking off.

Daybreak announced that they were going to port the five year old DC Universe Online to the XBox.

I went in to Diablo III to try out the Season 5 content.  I ran through the story quickly, but there was more to do.

wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.

Finally, I was marveling at all the movies from 1986 that I remembered.  Aliens! Top Gun!  Platoon!  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!   It was a hell of a year for movies.

Ten Years Ago

Eschewing the predicting convention, I issued demands for 2011. and then tried to figure out the scale used for the Blog Health-o-Meter that WordPress.com sent out to various sites.

The blog was listed at a Vietnamese gaming site in a top 10 post that looked suspiciously like one from Massively.

TERA was trying to win notice by telling people how they had boars in their game!  BOARS!  Can you imagine?

EuroGamer tried to tell us PlanetSide 2 would be out by Q2 2011. (It eventually shipped in November of 2012.)

Rift, on the other hand, gave us a more believable release date.

It was time to start messing with the then new EVE Online character creator.

DC Universe Online launched.  I played in the beta just long enough to remind myself I am not a superhero kind of guy.  Sales of the game were pretty evenly split between Windows and PlayStation 3, but play time seemed to be impacted by American Idol when it came to the console side of the house.

Of course, that was back during the subscription era of MMOs, when Smed was telling us what paying a subscription to lead us to expect.

Meanwhile, competing superhero game, Champions Online, went free to play after less than a year and and a half as a subscription title.  This would end up being foreshadowing for DC Universe Online.

I used Google to tell me World of Warcraft’s five most pressing issues at the time.

Meanwhile, the Twilight Cadre was back in Azeroth in force and checking out Cataclysm.  We got our first guild achievement.  Our group of new characters, four worgen and a gnome, went through Westfall and all its phasing magic, wailed in the Wailing Caverns, before settling down to a pattern of doing three instances every Saturday night.  I wasn’t sure if we had skilled up a lot or if the game had been dumbed down that much, but clearly the 1-60 game in Cataclysm was proving to be not much of a challenge.

The official World of Warcraft magazine was asking me to renew my subscription, though they weren’t really up to mail merge technology it seems.

There was some cool stuff in Cataclysm.  I like the balloons.  Redridge, never one of my favorite places, got turned into a fun solo experience.  And there was the Murloc combat ability.  But otherwise, the game was starting to lose us.

I was muttering about rebates.  My daughter and I were rounding up LEGO minifigures.

And, finally, Pokemon was coming to town.

Fifteen Years Ago

SOE announced that they were going to merge EverQuest II servers a little more than a year after the game went live, trimming the server count down by folding 10 low population servers into 10 low to medium population servers.  The reason given is that the world was sooo big that the population was too spread out.  I’m pretty sure most people thought that the game had just lost too many players to WoW to make that many servers viable since MMO populations are rarely evenly spread but tend to form a bubble in the latest content.

Nintendo, which was still selling the GameBoy Advance (and would continue to in the US until 2008) announced the first major update to their crazy two screen DS handheld platform.  The new Nintendo DS Lite would end up being, in my opinion, one of the finest handheld consoles ever, with sharp screens, a compact form factor, excellent finish, and great battery life along with continuing the backward compatibility with the GBA.  The only problem I ever had with my cobalt blue unit involved me getting old and being unable to read text on the screen without glasses.

Twenty Years Ago

RuneScape launches as a Java based browser game.

Phantasy Star Online launches on the Sega Dreamcast, one of the first proto-MMOs on consoles.

Forty Years Ago

The first DeLorean rolled off the production line.  Not really game related, but very much pop culture related.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Titan Massacre at M2-XFE
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. PAPI Thwarted at Final M2-XFE Keepstar Timer by the Early Bird Imperium
  6. Time to Earn some ISK
  7. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  8. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting
  9. Do You Need a Level Booster for Shadowlands?
  10. Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend
  11. Life on the M2 Hell Camp
  12. My Year in EVE Online 2020

Search Terms of the Month

elf heroes with flying.mounts
[not asking for much]

dawn rhea eve online
[Over at Theta Thursdays on INN Twitch]

eve online is npc station safe to store my assets?
[with CCP I am hesitant to say yes]

does trion still exist
[Only in our hearts]

звёздные войны буквы уход
[Some nuance there Google translate lacks]

Game Time from ManicTime

Two games dominated my PC play time this month for sure.  It was pretty much a neck in neck tie between WoW Classic and EVE Online all month.  I also spent a little bit of time logged into retail WoW and was in and looking at LOTRO for a bit though, as I mentioned, on the big monitor it is almost unplayable due to tiny, indistinct icons on the hot bar and in inventory.

  • WoW Classic – 50.36%
  • EVE Online – 49.30%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.19%
  • LOTRO – 0.16%

EVE Online

The war goes on.  For a short stretch of time after the battles at M2-XFE the invaders seemed dismayed and their participation was way down, allowing the Imperium to push them back in Delve, retaking several constellations and saving a few Keepstars.  PAPI has since recovered, building up to a more aggressive tempo, and in the last week has been able to field their overwhelming numbers again to grind down our gains.  More on that tomorrow though.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has had some weekly events that we have been doing.  With wind and rain and the pandemic, Pokemon Go is often the only excuse to leave the house some days.

Level: 40 (65% of the way to 41 in xp, all tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 613 (+2) caught, 642 (+7) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 9 of 10
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Froakie

World of Warcraft

I did not spend a lot of time in Shadowlands this month.  It isn’t so much that the expansion is bad than I would simply rather spend my time in WoW Classic again.  Since one subscription gets me both, I am not sure it matters too much, the way it would if I were playing a different MMO.  I did, however, keep up with my usual standard of at least doing Darkmoon Faire.

WoW Classic

The instance group has been doing its thing every week, but if I was playing a game this past month and it wasn’t EVE Online, then it was probably WoW Classic.  I will likely have at least one character up to level 60 before Blizzard starts talking about The Burning Crusade, and I will likely have three well before anything based on that launches, even with the most optimistic schedule.

Coming Up

BlizzConline will be coming up on the 19th.  After no BlizzCon in 2020 and relatively few announcements since the Shadowlands launch, it is time to get some news.  If there isn’t an announcement and a plan for The Burning Crusade Classic I expect riots in the street.

It would also be nice if Blizz could come up with something else… and not just another Hearthstone expansion.  2020 was a retro year for Blizz as we once again reached the point where World of Warcraft was the game that mattered and everything else felt neglected.  It isn’t necessarily bad to have just one main game for a stretch… look how long Riot ran on just League of Legends… but Blizz actually has other franchises.

In EVE Online the war will continue no doubt.  Both sides still see a path to some sort of victory, and given Vily’s temperament war aims, it is very likely that both sides will claim victory unless there is a very dramatic end to the war.

Meanwhile, CCP continues to hold the screws to the economy, so prices are rising.  They sent out a survey about their handling of the economy.  I’d like to see the results and comments from that.  I doubt they will share however.  But they will need to do something because the one main threat to the ongoing war is supply and replacement, which is running up against CCP’s belief that if they make us all poor we’ll fight more rather than less.

Otherwise… maybe I will play something beyond EVE Online and WoW Classic next month.

SuperData Shows WoW was Still Going Strong in December

SuperData Research released their digital revenue numbers for December last week, so it is time once again to see what they say.  Overall it was another big month for video game revenue.

  • Digital games closed out 2020 with $12.0B in December, which was an 15% growth from the prior year and the highest monthly revenue total ever. Mobile earnings were up 5% year-over-year and console earnings grew 16%. PC games revenue, however, jumped 40% largely thanks to the release of Cyberpunk 2077.

The chart for December:

SuperData Research Top 10 – December 2020

On the PC side of the chart the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 topped the chart, which despite many issues, still raked in a ton of cash.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 had the biggest game launch of all time based on digital revenue and digital units sold (10.2M). A successful marketing campaign and the reputation of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt provided the hype necessary for the CD Projekt Red title to break records despite issues including performance problems on consoles, widespread glitches and the indefinite removal of the game from the PlayStation Store. An extremely high share of digital sales (80%) were on PC, likely due to the delisting on PlayStation and overall state of the console versions. Regardless of the short-term financial success, the critical backlash means the developer will now have to invest significant resources fixing the game in order to rehabilitate its image before the launch of its next title. [total subtracts refunds issued]

That ruled the roost on the PC side, which kept League of Legends down in second place for another month.

Then we see World of Warcraft in third place, indicating that they at least held people with the Shadowlands expansion into the first full month.  Generally WoW tends to live on the lower half of the chart, so third place is pretty good.

After WoW we get the rest of the usual top four entries on the PC list, Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online.

CS:GO saw a surge, ending up in seventh spot for December, followed by Fortnite and its return to the top ten on the PC stack.  Fortnite was doing well in December according to SuperData.

  • On PC and console, Fortnite earnings were at their highest since August 2020, and player numbers were larger than at any point since August 2019. High-profile events and collaborations continue to draw people to the shooter. December began with a limited-time Marvel Comics event that brought in a record 15.3M concurrent players. This was followed by the release of cosmetic items from franchises including Star Wars, Halo and The Walking Dead. 

After that is the redoubtable Roblox and World of Tanks to wrap up the PC side.

On the console column Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which released in November, carried on in first place, followed again by NBA 2K21 again.

Cyberpunk 2077 only managed third place on the console chart, which while respectable, makes me wonder if the refunds for PS4 and XBox One users might have been a drag.

After that there was the perennial list member GTA V.  It had another release that pushed sales up yet again.

  • The release of the Cayo Perico Heist for Grand Theft Auto V resulted in the game’s highest monthly digital earnings ever.  The update for the multiplayer Grand Theft Auto Online mode marked the first time the seven-year-old game received a new open-world area for players to explore. Player numbers also grew 46% from November levels but did not exceed totals achieved earlier in 2020.

And then we find Fortnite, up from tenth spot last month.

On the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go topped the list, swapping spots with Free Fire, which went down to second position in December.  Candy Crush Saga managed to take fifth position on the list, while the long time first place champion, Honour of Kings, remained down in the 9th spot.

Finally, while it did not make the list in December, SuperData once again has a bit to say about Among Us and its success in 2020.

  • Among Us player numbers fell from their November peak, but the game was still 2.8 times as popular as the next most-popular game, Roblox. The title also launched on Nintendo Switch in December. This edition sold 3.2M copies and was the highest-earning version of the game for the month.

And that is what SuperData had to say for December.

My Games Played for 2020 and Looking Forward into 2021

I am a little behind on my usual end of year posts with this.  Generally I have a wrap up and a looking forward post at some point in late December… but then I found a bunch of other things to write about.  I was only reminded of it when Belghast posted his charts.

2020 banner by my daughter

There is a history here, as there is with so much on this blog.  It started with something akin to goals, a list of games I wanted to play, often very specific games.  Then it became games I was likely to play.  Then it turned into something like a long term weather forecast with some easy calls (it will be warm in the summer) and some possibilities.

And so it was that I wrote a post way back when about what I might play in 2020.

The list was broken up into several categories:

The Sure Things

  • WoW Classic
  • EVE Online
  • EverQuest II

The Likely Candidates

  • WoW Shadowlands
  • RimWorld

Possibilities

  • Civilization V
  • Stellaris
  • World of Tanks
  • Minecraft
  • The Witcher

The Long Shots

  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • EverQuest
  • Diablo III
  • Elite: Dangerous
  • New World

I Should Make Time

  • Project: Gorgon
  • Grim Dawn

So, now that the year has gone by, what did I actually play?  ManicTime has some numbers for me.  I am only listing the top ten because after that the times drop down to mere minutes played.

  1. WoW Classic – 33.33%
  2. EVE Online – 32.69%
  3. World of Warcraft – 14.02%
  4. EverQuest II – 6.03%
  5. Minecraft – 5.25%
  6. EverQuest – 2.16%
  7. RimWorld – 2.08%
  8. Diablo II – 2.02%
  9. Pokemon Sword – 1.24%
  10. Minecraft Dungeons – 0.75%

At the top is a close race between WoW Classic and EVE Online, with a gap smaller than ten hours played total between them.  I guess Azeroth wins over New Eden overall, since retail WoW is in third place.  Everything else shakes out from there.

As has become the custom of the neighborhood, I have a chart.

2020 games timeline

At the top are WoW Classic and EVE Online, both of which I played throughout the year.  I also put Pokemon Go on the chart.  It isn’t tracked by ManicTime, being on my phone, but I played every day in 2020.

Technically, looking at my times, I also played retail WoW every month, but there were months where that did not represent a significant investment.  I have made those months where I pretty much just did Darkmoon Faire and some pet battles as a narrow streak.  And once the level squish came and then the Shadowlands expansion launched, I spent quite a bit of time there.

EverQuest II and Minecraft had their runs.  The former was me finishing up the Blood of Luclin expansion to the extent I felt I needed to, and Minecraft was a bit of a pandemic diversion setup by Skonk.  I played a bit of EverQuest after the anniversary gave us another heroic character boost, though I ended up mostly tinkering with the Overseer feature.

RimWorld had an update that I wanted to try out.  That was good for a bit of a run, though like so many build and conquer games, it suffers from the mid-game malaise once you get your base setup well enough.

I had a great run through Diablo II to celebrate its 20 years.  The game still lives up to its legend, though I would like it to run at a resolution higher than 800×600.

I received a Nintendo Switch Lite for my birthday with a copy of Pokemon Sword, which I played for a stretch.  I just wasn’t that into it.  For a Pokemon game to grab me I have to be in the right mood and have a real goal.  I couldn’t quite get either this time around.

And then there was Minecraft Dungeons, which is a serviceable and solid but shallow ARPG whose main attraction is being set in the Minecraft IP.  I played through the story, but it doesn’t have a lot of replay value save to boost up stats so you can face harder monsters that drop gear that let you boost up your stats further.

So that was 2020.  What of 2021?

As with last year, there are some sure things this year, games I am actively playing right now so that has already been decided.  They are:

  • WoW Classic
  • EVE Online
  • Retail WoW

And, given the news, we can add one slight variation to that list:

  • WoW The Burning Crusade Classic

After that, however, the future is a bit fuzzy, and part of the problem is hardware related.

As I wrote about last year, I have a 34″ 3440 x 1440 wide screen monitor now, and I love playing games on it full screen.  But not every game I have plays nice with it.  The three titles I am playing now all happen to work great with it, but others struggle and have issues or won’t run at all.  I actually tried to play Grim Dawn, which was on my “should make time” list for 2020, but it was not having it at all.  It would not even launch correctly with the new monitor hooked up.

And there is a further constraint, which is my video card.  I currently have a EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB card and, given the price of college and my wife being somewhat under-employed for the last year, spending a few hundred bucks on a new one is way down the priority list right now.  So whatever I play needs to work on the big screen with that video card.  WoW Classic and retail WoW both manage very well, with a few settings dialed back a bit, and EVE Online works like a champ, all settings maxed out, save for fights where the ships on grid get past the 2,500 mark.

But most newer games require a lot more horsepower to drive all those pixels.  There is no way I am getting something like Cyberpunk 2077 or Red Dead Redemption II or Black Desert Online or anything like that to run well.

Meanwhile, a lot of older stuff is a bit shaky.  As I wrote back when I got the monitor, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and LOTRO all sort of work, but have some issues, while Minecraft gives me motion sickness on the wide screen unless I dial back the field of view so far that I might as well just play it on my phone.

First world problems, I know.

Another angle is strategy games.  Things like RimWorld not only run fine, but the large screen improves the experience.  Maybe it is time for a bit of Civilzation V again. (I’m, betting Civ VI has too much going on visually to work with my video card at that resolution.  It is the way.)  Maybe I’ll pick up World of Tanks again when I need something fresh.

Of course, the lack of desire for something fresh is part of the problem as well.  I’ve been kind of okay playing the same stuff all year.  We shall see how I feel in 2021.

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.

December in Review

The Site

Well, I made it to the end of 2020, and I should be happy about just that I suppose, though it isn’t like the world will change dramatically tomorrow, or the next day, or on January 20th, or whenever.  The same problems will face us and the same people will block whatever solutions might help people or alleviate problems.

2020 banner by my daughter

One thing that happens today is that Adobe officially stops supporting Flash.  You might have seen a few messages like this of late.

The end of Flash is here

This has absolutely nothing to do with the blog, but it is a moment of passing for a bit of code that had a huge influence on the web.  It has its roots back in the 90s in tech that powered games like Spaceship Warlock and Myst and was a gateway for many budding game devs to create projects that could be played by others.  There was a whole era of crappy Flash games in the early 2000s, some of which were not all that crappy really.

And it was the underlying tech for a lot of web animation of that era as well.  Homestar Runner was entirely done in Flash, as were many other greater and lesser known projects. (Shout out to Chris Coutts’ Tales for the L33T: Romeo + Juliette back in the day.)  It got into a lot of places.

Some of those bits of the web have been converted, preserved, or moved to other mediums.  Homestar Runner is on YouTube if you want to watch Trogdor again. (Also, Chris Coutts)

But a lot of stuff will just fall by the wayside and disappear.  Flash got a bad reputation, especially for security issues, but it helped build the web as we know it today.  And so we say farewell to it and the games it fostered.  This is why Farmville is also going away today.  Marc Pinkus went on at length on Twitter about the game, leaving out the bits where he stole it from another company and did a bunch of dodgy stuff for revenue and helped create the aura of Facebook games as “spammy pieces of shit.”  So it goes.

Anyway, here we are at the end of the year and post number 405 for 2020.  It was going to be post 404 with a cute “not found” joke, but then that titan fight happened last night.

405 puts 2020 behind 2019, which had 412 posts, but one ahead of 2018, which hit the 404 mark.  Did I make a joke about it back then?

One Year Ago

After many slipped dates and fan push back, Daybreak decided to shut down PlanetSide Arena, their attempt to re-capture some of that battle royale lightning that H1Z1 held briefly when it launched.

On the bright side, EverQuest launched its 26th expansion, the Torment of Velious.

I also made a pilgrimage of my own in old Norrath.

CCP experimented with a day of no downtime.  I heard later that this caused problems and the next downtime had to run long.  You just have to reboot New Eden once a day I guess.

CCP also brought in the HyperNet Relay gambling mechanic, the new wallet UI, and the Kicking over Castles update to make blowing up structures a bit easier.  We got the Naughty or Nice holiday event which included a station to refurbish melted snowballs.

The holiday season also came to WoW Classic and EverQuest II.

Blizzard introduced battlegrounds to WoW Classic early to stem the completely predictable carnage that came about from the introduction of the honor system.  We also got the key chain and paid character transfers.

In WoW Classic we hit our peak group size as six of us ran off to the Scarlet Monastery graveyard.  Back in vanilla a bunch of dungeons allowed raid groups of 10 players.  Skonk and I also got our paladins out for the Test of Righteousness class quest.

We were also back in Gnomeregan for some quest clean up with Earl.  I had to swap to my pally so he could tank.  And then we went back with a different group mix.  Then we went back in again to get Moronae the Crowd Pummeler 9-60.    Finally, we went back to Scarlet Monastery to run through the library.

Then I reviewed my WoW Classic characters four months into the launch.

On the retail WoW front I broke the story of the rejected squish ideas.

I was still running around tuning up my main in EverQuest II until the Blood of Luclin expansion launched.  Getting to Luclin was a bit of a chore, at least the first time through.  From there the run to level cap was pretty quick.

And, it being December, there were the usual reflection on the year gone by.  I looked at my games played, reviewed my 2019 predictions, looked at the books I read, and reviewed highs and lows of the year.

I also did a Decade in Review post about gaming related stuff.

And then 2020 hit.  But that is another tale altogether.

Five Years Ago

Thanks to The Force Awakens coming out, George Lucas was in the news and rationalizing his “Han didn’t shoot first” change.  I wasn’t buying it.  There were certainly other things he could have changed.

It was December, so I had to go over the usual posts, scoring predictions, looking back at the highs and lows of the year gone past, looking forward to what I might play 2016, and something about the inevitable Steam holiday sale.  I also made a chart to show what MMOs I was playing in 2015 because everybody else was doing it.  I totally forgot to make that chart again this year.

There was the Operation: Frostline expansion in EVE Online.

In New Eden I got blow up trying to slip a Caracal out of Fountain.  It happens.  On the other hand, I did get my first kill mark on another solo op.  I also hit 150 million skill points, an achievement soon to be made trivial by skill injectors.

The much reviled Fountain War Kickstarter was finally cancelled, as it was clearly not going to get anywhere close to its $150K target.  But was that going to bank the flames of the brightly burning Goon hate? (hint: no)

The recently rebranded Imperium was taking its plans to low sec, either to generate content or display its arrogance depending on who was describing it.  We were also waging a war in Cloud Ring.

Turbine finally got their head screwed on right when it came to insta-levels in Lord of the Rings Online.  I was stomping around in the Mirkwood expansion trying to see in the dark.

In Minecraft I was building a prismarine outpost along the great northern road.  Aaron and I also killed the End Dragon.

On the EverQuest front, the Phinigel “true box” server opened, a retro progression server that was supposed to keep people from multi-boxing groups.

I summed up five years of Raptr tracking my game play with my top 20 played games.  There was LEGO’s somewhat nonsensical online name policy.  And I was playing Monument Valley on the iPad.

Ten Years Ago

That December I had one of my all-time most popular posts, Talking Cats Playing Pattycake!  You can thank me for not taking the hint and going all talking cats, all the time.  Or hate me for not doing that.  Take your pick.  And We Didn’t Start the Fire?  Nothing.

But I still had kitty pictures.  Awww.

I still think that if you label a window “Currency” it ought to show all your currency, not just the odd-ball stuff.

I was still feeling the sting of ThinkGeek teasing us with the iCade at April Fools, all the more so because some pretenders were on the scene.

Turbine was giving away 10,000 Turbine Points, which comes out to real, and possibly taxable, value in real world dollars.  The comments on the post were obviously not from tax professionals.

I visited EverQuest for long enough to find a house.  And then I was out of money.

In EverQuest II they were starting the run up to vampires.

And I summed up what we knew about The Agency to that point… which was bupkiss.

In World of Warcraft, Cataclysm launched.  If you weren’t in the beta, there were still scams promising to get you in.  There was the digital pre-order, which worked for me.  And one final hardware upgrade we needed at our house before the expansion launched.  And then there was picking a new character for the re-rolled instance group in Azeroth.

The U.S. release date for Pokemon Black and White was announced at last.

Finally, I wrote something that looked sort of like a review of Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s book Mogworld.  And then there was something about zombies vs. werewolves vs. vampires vs. unicorns.

Fifteen Years Ago

CCP dropped the Red Moon Rising expansion on EVE Online, introducing a host of new ships including titans and motherships.  They also introduced a new tutorial and new player experience, so some things never change.

Asherons Call 2: Fallen Kings, the sequel to Asheron’s Call, was shut down by Turbine.  Revived again some years later, it and its predecessor were both shut down when Jeffrey Epstein, Columbus Nova, and/or Daybreak Game Company acquired the MMO portion of Turbine and created Standing Stone Games.  The open question remains as to who might own the AC/AC2 IP at this point.  Warner?  Daybreak?  EG7?  Jeffrey Epstein?  The Russians? [Edit: Massively OP says that WB still owns it, which means it is as dead as any IP can be.]

Twenty Years Ago

The second EverQuest expansion, The Scars of Velious, launched.  The icy continent of Velious brought frost giants, Coldain Dwarves, and more dragons to Norrath.  It also introduced The Sleeper, a once per server event.

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. Daybreak Revealed in Enad Global 7 Presentation
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. Minecraft Village Population
  4. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting
  5. WoW Shadowlands Sales Stacked Up Against Past Releases
  6. Robbing Some Space Banks
  7. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  8. EVE Online Ushers in the Holidays with Winter Nexus Events Starting Today
  9. Do You Need a Level Booster for Shadowlands?
  10. Drone Aggression Nerf and Tech II Salvage Drones Arrive in EVE Online
  11. Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend
  12. Daybreak to be Acquired by Enad Global 7

Search Terms of the Month

what were brad’s aradune stats in everquest
[All 18s?]

velius porno 69 ano 14
[Make up your mind]

will scaling kill wow boring
[It wasn’t the best feature in BFA certainly]

how to rush through all wow expansions
[You don’t even have to do that any more]

eve dodixie losing status
[I’m not sure it had much to begin with]

can you buy skill points in eve online?
[Yes.  Next question.]

eve skill pints per isk comparison
[That’s a bit more difficult]

Game Time from ManicTime

My game play time went in something of a reverse flow in December.  I came off the big WoW Shadowlands binge at the start of the month, focused a lot on WoW Classic in the middle, and then World War Bee activity picked up in the back half of the month, culminating in last night’s titan slaughter fest.

  • EVE Online – 53.14%
  • WoW Classic – 34.20%
  • World of Warcraft – 11.78%
  • About Us – 0.88%

Oh, and I played About Us for about 90 minutes in the middle of all of that.

EVE Online

There was still World War Bee to keep me busy.  With the enemy camped on our doorstep fights have been easy to come by.  Somebody is always trying to provoke the other side into doing something dumb.  I’ve seen fights over anything from bait titans to a bait Raven in T5ZI-S.  And then there was the Catch deployment, where Reavers went out to join in with The Initiative to lay siege to Legacy Coalitions backfield… some more.  And then there was the battle in M2-XFE yesterday and early this morning.  We will have to see how that affects the war.

Pokemon Go

We got released to start working our way to level 50 this month.  The xp climb is very steep, but there are also a series of tasks, sort of feats of strength, to accomplish before you can level up, even if you already have the xp.  The big one for level 41 is to catch 200 Pokemon in a single day.  I managed that sitting in the parking lot at the ER at just after midnight where a couple of Pokestops were close by. (Daughter is fine, but why do these things always happen so late at night?)  They don’t let people hang out in the ER due to COVID-19, so I had little else to do while I sat and waited for a few hours.

Niantic also started releasing Pokemon from the Kalos region (Pokemon X & Y) into the game.

Level: 40 (50% of the way to 41 in xp, all but one task complete)
Pokedex status: 611 (+18) caught, 637 (+21) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 9 of 9
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Zwelious

World of Warcraft

What else was there beside the Shadowlands expansion?  I made it to level cap, chose a covenant, and have messed around with that some.  I am not as taken by the whole thing as some… I don’t feel compelled to log in every night… but I am not unhappy with it either.

WoW Classic

I think “Blacksmithing and Blackrock Depths” sums up much of my time in WoW Classic this month, though I did spend some time with my alts as well.  Doing the blacksmithing stuff got me to get my druid out to harvest kingsblood and my pally out for any spare iron, and I ended up playing them as well.  I also did a bit of the Winter Veil activities, though not the whole routine.

Coming Up

2021!

But, as noted at the top, a change of arbitrary numbers won’t change the plight we’re in.  Tomorrow is just another day and it is quite possible the new year will vie with the old when it comes to total misery caused.

Here you can expect the usual.  There will be a post tomorrow looking into the new year.  I have a 2020 games post still brewing.  Otherwise I will likely play the same games, write about them in the same style, and report and comment on bits of news that are related.

We still need to go back to Blackrock Depths in WoW ClassicShadowlands is still calling.

There is a rumor that PAPI might try to make a big push against the Imperium come January.  I suspect if they can break into 1DQ1-A or Helm’s Deep they will have destroyed enough of our stuff to declare victory and go home to rest for a bit.  It has been a long war of sustained combat.  And, as mentioned in my earlier post today, there was that big titan battle over a Keepstar timer.  Will that change anybody’s plans?

Looking Back at 2020 and Trying for Highs

2020.  What a year.

Every year I try to distill a bit of the world I focus on into highs and lows.  There is a history of posts here.

Sometimes I include a “middling” category, but usually not.  This year though I have had enough lows.  This year I am going to make a list of highs.  And I am going to try… though I make no guarantees… not to include sarcastic highs that are back handed jabs to highlight actual lows.  Your mileage may vary.

Video Games Overall

  • 2020 has been a banner year for video games.  SuperData Research has reported every month since the pandemic began in earnest that sales have been up over last year by double digits.  Lots of new releases, lots of good games, lots of revenue to keep the industry going.

Blizzard

  • The Shadowlands pre-patch events went well.
  • Shadowlands launched to big numbers.
  • WoW Classic remains strong despite the pull of the retail expansion.
  • The instance group’s return to WoW via WoW Classic has kept on rolling throughout the year.
  • Bobby Kotick says WoW is a billion dollar a year franchise.
  • Shadowlands and WoW Classic combined have revived the fortunes of WoW… though the pandemic helped some too.
  • The retail WoW level squish clearly did not drive too many people away and made getting into the latest content less of a chore.
  • It seems likely we’ll at least get some news about a classic The Burning Crusade server.
  • Had a fun run through Diablo II, which still plays pretty well 20 years down the line.
  • Blizz has been quietly fixing Warcraft III Reforged after its bad launch.
  • We got some scraps of information about Diablo IV.

Daybreak Game Company (now including Standing Stone Games)

  • The games are set to be run by EG7, a company optimistic about being in games.
  • The company actually makes money.
  • The games they still have all actually make money too… well, maybe not H1Z1, but most of them.
  • The mystery of who really owns Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online was finally revealed.
  • EverQuest and EverQuest II both got updates and expansions this year.
  • EverQuest was able to play the special server card successfully yet again.
  • We learned that DC Universe Online has what would have been considered a huge player base in the pre-WoW era.
  • LOTRO got a 64-bit client.

CCP

  • The EVE Online franchise is a resilient part of the Pearl Abyss portfolio.
  • EVE Echoes, the mobile version of the game, has grabbed a lot of new players, and took less time to get out than Diablo Immortal.
  • The pandemic helped boost the PCU over 40K for the first time in a couple of years.
  • Hilmar said at the Youil Fireside that 1.9 million new people logged into EVE Online this year, more than the past three years combined.
  • World War Bee got enough players together organically to set two Guinness World Records.
  • Andrew Groen delivered Empires of EVE Vol. II, another great installment in the history of the game.
  • That Triglavian event wrapped up with an epic finale that tore systems out of New Eden to create a new Triglavian region.
  • CCP seems really, really serious about fixing the in-game economy.
  • PLEX for Good ran for both the Australian wild fires and pandemic relief.
  • Tech II salvage drones.  At least one person got their Christmas wish.
  • CCP finally rolled out the replacement for the old fansite program.  I did not make the cut, but a lot of streamers now how free accounts and extra PLEX to spend.
  • CCP still has hopes for an EVE Online based shooter game.
  • The CSM15 election saw a peaceful transition of power and nobody has been kicked off the council… yet.  Seriously, it is a rare CSM when somebody doesn’t get voted off the island.

Pokemon

  • Pokemon Sword & Shield launched at just the right time before the pandemic to become a staple of play.
  • The new Pokemon model on the Switch is expansions after the main game drops, and Pokemon Sword & Shield had The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra this year, which helped keep the game a hot property.
  • Pokemon Home showed up to provide a link to bring Pokemon forward from the DS era and transfer them in from Pokemon Go.
  • Niantic changed up Pokemon Go to adapt to the pandemic, giving us things like remote raid passes to keep us playing when we had to stay home.
  • Niantic also raised the level cap on Pokemon Go in a way that didn’t toss your accumulated xp by tying levels 41-50 in with both xp and special tasks.

Other Areas of the Video Game Industry

  • TorilMUD carries on for another year, making it a total of 27… and even added a new class this year.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons landed just in time to give many a shared virtual experience as we stayed home for the pandemic.
  • Minecraft got a big update to make the nether a more interesting place to explore.
  • Minecraft Dungeons launched, and was a nice, if somewhat simple, clicky ARPG.
  • EA managed to ship another decent Star Wars title, Star Wars: Squadrons, which is supposed to be quite good in VR.
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator had an excellent launch.  Again, another title that was supposed to be good in VR.
  • There was a Half-Life game.  That almost never happens.  And, one more time, Half-Life: Alyx was good for VR.
  • Crusader Kings III gave people the medieval royal soap opera simulator that they didn’t know they needed.
  • GuildWars 2 has an expansion coming.
  • A two year old game, Among Us, suddenly exploded onto the scene thanks to streamers.
  • New consoles!  The Xbox Series X/Series S and PlayStation 5 came out!

Blogging and the Like

  • Hey, the blog is still here!  Both of my blogs.
  • This blog is also experiencing a bit of a revival… or a dead cat bounce… as traffic has been up a lot over last year.  It is still a far cry from the heady peaks of 2012, but I guess the pandemic didn’t just boost video games.
  • I wrote a lot of posts in 2020.  This post number 403 for the year.
  • I actually got close to 800 followers on Twitter… and then they purged a bunch of bots and I fell back down.  Also I strayed into the political with the election and no doubt scared some people off.
  • We had a double event year with Blapril and Blaugust.
  • Lots and lots of plumbing related spam comments this month… like tens of thousands. If your comment got stuck in the spam filter I probably never saw it due to that.  Hrmm, that wasn’t a high, was it?

Television, Books, and the Media

  • I watched a LOT of television this past year.  There is probably another post on that coming, though I have done those Pandemic Binge Watching posts along the way.  While not everything was great, there were a lot of good shows available.
  • My reading routine was disrupted by the changes the pandemic brought.  I have to find a regular time in my schedule for that or it won’t happen.  But still I managed to read a lot of books in 2020.
  • I spent a lot more time reading the news… and I do not shirk on that front on a normal year.  No doubt this is some attempt to foster a feeling of control in the world, but I suppose I learned a lot.
  • Podcasts and YouTube content kept me going at times, with new faces popping up like Julie Nolke and Sarah Cooper.

Personal Life

  • We’re in the back half of December and I still have a job and haven’t caught COVID-19.
  • I have somewhat adapted to my new life where I spend 23 hours a day, seven days a week inside at home.  Nothing tests your introvert status than forced isolation from the world I suppose.
  • Daughter made it through her first semester of college living on campus and came out with both good grades and good health still.
  • I bought an exercise bicycle for home and have been very good about using it regularly… except over the holidays when my now weak grasp of time fell completely apart and I only know what day it is when I open up the blog.
  • I started depositing checks via my phone.  This was largely because my credit union finally added that feature to their mobile app.
  • Let me reiterate; family still healthy and safe.

This ended up being a somewhat shorter list than past years.  In part that is because the scope of my game knowledge has been funneled down to a few titles of late.  But mostly it is because I am better at writing negative entries I bet.  The post would be more than double in length if I let go on that front.  But we’ll let sleeping dogs lie, for now at least.  There will be plenty of time for that in 2021.

But if you’re dying for some 2020 sick burns, Honest Trailers has you covered.

Take that 2020!

Aiming for Level 41 in Pokemon Go

It looks like we made it to level 40 just in time at our house.  We got there, had a few weeks to hang out at the level cap, not worrying about the whole level grind thing.  But the new levels are now upon us.  The level cap has been raised to 50.

Level past 40 are now here

We knew it was coming.  We even got some hints as to what would be required in order to make it to the new levels.  It wasn’t going to be strictly xp based.  There were going to be some tasks to accomplish.

But yesterday afternoon the time finally came, the new levels were unlocked, and we could see what it was going to take.

Here he comes to tell you about the new stuff

First, there is still an xp competent to the whole thing.  To get to level 41 you will need to earn six million xp.

I’m on my way

Fortunately, players kept accruing xp even after they hit level 40.  I am going to bet more than a few players are already close to or at the xp requirement for level 41.

But then there are the tasks.  There are four of them and you have to do them all before you get that next level.

The task list

Apparently I had one of the tasks done before I even started.  That happens with events some times.  I’m going to guess it was something like “earn a platinum medal,” which are also new with this update.

Of the other three, two are just things that will take a bit of time.  30 raids will happen and powering up 20 legendary Pokemon just takes the candies.

Catching 200 Pokemon in a single day though, that will take some planning and inventory management.  You will probably need to collect up 300+ Pokeballs, since you don’t always catch on the first throw.  Maybe make that 400+.  And then you have to find and catch 200 Pokemon.  Some combo of incense, lures, or events will probably make that practical.  It is mostly having enough balls that worries me.

So we’ll see.  And past level 41 the xp count continues to grow, as one would expect, and the tasks change with each level.