Category Archives: Pokemon Go

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.

November in Review

The Site

My latest anxiety about the blog revolves around screen shots.  Since I got the big monitor, the size of my screen shots has grown to 3440 pixels across.  That is considerably wider than the early days of the blog.  But the width of the text column remains about the same.  It grew a little bit about a decade back when I changed themes, going from ~450 pixels wide to ~700 pixels wide, but that still isn’t a lot.  I think my monitor for most of the life of the blog was 1,600 pixels across, so the width of screen shots has doubled.

Which means unless I crop screen shots down, the detail is lost as the site resizes them to fit in the text column.  That doesn’t seem so bad, because the image is always linked to a full size version, so if you click on the screen shot you can see it in its full glory.

The dramatic vista of Ardenweald

The problem is that, looking at the blog stats, almost nobody does that.  So now I fret a bit about images I post not having the impact I think they ought to.  To me the images are important, but that is because I am a visual person and the picture stirs up more memories than the written word, which tends to fill in some details that the images may not express.

This is aggravated by yet another WordPress.com change where, when you click on the first image after you arrive, they don’t show you the full image, but a smaller version in a WordPress.com frame that encourages you to blog at WP.com.

This is probably a bigger deal for my other blog, EVE Online Pictures which, as the name indicates, is just screen shots from EVE Online.  The lager images make for tiny ships in the preview image.

The titans are visible, the cruisers not so much

And, of course, having huge screen shots is a double edge sword even if I want to crop things down to be more visible.  There is a lot of space to crop and still have a decent size image, but sometimes I want so much of the image that it ends up still being huge even after some major cropping.

First world blogging problems I guess.  I’ll probably do a post about this to clarify my options.  Maybe with a poll.  I haven’t had a poll in a while.

One Year Ago

Brad McQuaid passed away.

Nintendo launched Pokemon Sword & Shield, the first real core RPG Pokemon games for the Switch.

BlizzCon was coming.  There was the apology and the big four announcements (Diablo IV, Shadowlands, Overwatch 2,  and something about Hearthstone).  Even with the pall of Hong Kong hanging over it, it still went better that BlizzCon 2018.  And Hong Kong?  Well, the new security law makes it unlawful for anybody inside or outside of China to criticize the government. No more protest, no more movement, just arrests.

World of Warcraft hit its fifteenth anniversary, which made WoW Classic all the more timely.  I charted out my own history with Blizzard and Azeroth.

WoW Classic was doing well, driving the biggest quarterly increase in subscriptions in the history of the franchise.  It also moved into Phase 2 of its progression.  The PvP fiasco that followed led to Blizz launching battlegrounds, slated for Phase 3, early.

Actually in WoW Classic the instance group took on Shadowfang Keep and the Stormwind Stockades, then started in on Gnomereagn.  We got in a second Gnomeregan run and also went after class quests.

I compared the four pending expansions from WoW, EQ, EQII, and LOTRO.

Standing Stone Games launched the delayed Minas Morgul expansion.

EverQuest II celebrated its fifteenth anniversary. Special servers were on the menu and I recalled my own journey with the game on my own fifteenth anniversary a couple days later.  I also joined in on the dragon event going on in the game.  That led to me playing more and leveling up… and getting side tracked, as tends to happen in Norrath.  But I made it to the level cap and learned to speak dragon along the way.

EVE Online got a series of updates, starting with a tiny one regarding login campaigns.  Then there was Team Talos and the Beat Around the Boosh update.  Then we got the Rapid Fire update that came with more Triglavian invasion changes.  And, finally, we got the HyperNet Relay update, which reintroduced gambling… or enhanced scamming… or maybe both… in New Eden.

The October MER showed NPC bounties rebounding after the chaos era blackout.

CCP had plans for more EVE Aether Wars tests while CCP Falcon left the company.

And, actually in in the game, we flew from Delve to Pure Blind to defend some sovereignty and I hit 210 million skill points.

Finally, Google Stadia launched and Bobby Kotick was talking up perpetual franchises.

Five Years Ago

The launch of Fallout 4 caused a dip in porn viewing on the internet.

Nintendo announced they were re-releasing Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on the 3DS Virtual Console.

BlizzCon was approaching and I laid out a “need vs greed” list of things I thought would happen at the event.  But before BlizzCon there had to be the Q3 quarterly results.  The big news was that World of Warcraft held steady and had 5.5 million subscribers.  However, Blizzard said they were not going to talk about subscription numbers any more.  They would be talking about Candy Crush Saga though, having purchased King for 5.9 billion dollars.

Then BlizzCon came and I had to score my list.

It also slipped out a bit early that the WoW Legion expansion would not hit until summer 2016, September 21 being the last possible date listed, which seemed a long ways off.  I wasn’t yet ready to return to the game.  I used gold to grab a WoW Token for 30 days of play time and spend the most of it just earning that money back running missions in my garrison.

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Voice, the final part of the trilogy launched.

dipped my toe back in Lord of the Rings Online for a bit.

Still playing Minecraft, I finished up the Great Northern Road and highlighted the guardian farm that Aaron built.

In New Eden, the Parallax expansion was released, the last named monthly update in Syndicate to be released.  From then on names were reserved for big expansions while monthly updates were simply know by their date… or New Eden date… or build number.  CCP can’t even hold the line on that naming scheme.

There was also the start of the ill-fated Fountain War Kickstarter campaign, which was plagued by hubris, gaffes, bad ideas, and “Grrr Goons” hostility.  Not that it didn’t deserve some of the latter as it was a clusterfuck and was not winning fast enough.  It was finally cancelled before the clock ran down, but it left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.

There was also a Fountain War video which was better received… but then nobody was asking for $150,000 to produce it.

Meanwhile, another member of CSM X got cut.  Not a Goon.

CCP Quant took his EVE Vegas presentation and made it the first of the monthly EVE Economic reports to be publish.

And actually in the game, the Reavers were down in Wicked Creek to spar with TEST.  We were not there long, but it was one of those deployments that generated its own legends in the SIG.  We were called back because a small war was brewing in Cloud Ring against some foes, old and new.  Some had no sov and were hitting us from low sec.  We fell on them when we could in what was being dubbed the “Kickstarter War.”  Herein lay some of the seeds of what would become the “Casino War.”

Over at Daybreak, EverQuest II got the Terrors of Thalumbra of expansion while EverQuest got expansion number 22, The Broken Mirror.  There was the Phinigel “true box” progression server coming up for EverQuest.  The EverQuest II server consolidation was wrapping up, on Stormhold the Kingdom of Sky expansion was voted down, and the game turned 11, all of which I covered in a single post.

Daybreak also shut down Dragon’s Prophet, which lived on in Europe under another publisher.

Smed, gone from Daybreak, wanted to stop talking about money when it came to video games.

And finally, I had a test… Star Wars test… for those wishing to date my daughter.

Ten Years Ago

I was talking about group size and roles.  That has come up again, especially since SWTOR groups seemed to be limited to four players.

On the retro front, I played some Total Annihilation.  Still one of the best RTS games ever.

took a look at the soon to be defunct EverQuest II Extended.  It seemed quite busy.  Of course, I went Station Access so I could peek into EverQuest II  (with some issues) and EverQuest as well.

The rump instance group was wrapping up another Summer in Middle-earth at the far end of the Lone Lands as well as in and around Ost Guruth.

At the same time, Turbine was putting crafting materials in the LOTRO Store.  Meanwhile, the OTHER LOTRO store, the real life one, wasn’t doing much for me.

CCP announced that they were removing learning skills from EVE Online.  I hit 60 million skill points and was going to get to reallocate some of them as part of the skill point refund.

The Cataclysm open beta was coming to an end at last. I think part of the problem with the expansion was how long people were freely talking about the expansion… and playing it… before it came out.  We all knew what the hot new hunter pet would be and how much the world was going to be changed.  Cheap copies of WoW were not going to fix that.

Back in pre-Cataclysm Azeroth, I was summing up my Wintergrasp experiences and moaning about missing the damn Hallow’s End mask quest achievement again.

On the Pokemon front, I finished the National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver.  In your face!  And the march to the release of Pokemon Black and White was commencing.

The Microsoft Kinect for XBox launched.

The news seemed to be confused as to whether or not flying cars had come at last.

And, finally, in the completion of a boyhood dream of mine, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, officially releasing me from caring about major league ball ever again.

Fifteen Years Ago

Guitar Hero launches for the PlayStation 2 and kicks off a series of games (and a competitor) for people who can play air guitar.

The New Game Experience, or NGE, hits Star Wars Galaxies, completely changing the character development path.  Landing just days after the Trials of Obi-wan expansion launched, players are enraged and SOE ends up offering refunds to players who bought the expansion.  The NGE becomes a weight around SOE’s neck and studio head John Smedley will end up being asked (and harassed) about the whole thing for many years.

Thirty Five Years Ago

Origin Systems releases Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, the last of the Ultima series I ended up playing.  I had an Apple II at the time, but by the time Ultima V came along I had a Mac and the Ultima series never went there.  Also, I liked Ultima III better.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. The WoW Shadowlands Pre-Patch with the Big Level Squish Arrives Today
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  6. The Crimson Harvest Event Returns to EVE Online for Halloween
  7. Robbing Some Space Banks
  8. The EverQuest Team Announces the Claws of Veeshan Expansion
  9. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting
  10. WoW Tokens Five Years Later
  11. The Fall of Niarja and the Shape of High Sec
  12. The November Update brings Null Sec Nerfs and Supercarrier Clone Bays to EVE Online

Spam Comments of the Month

wow ive been squished to level 50
[wow, me too!]

no asset saftey without quantum core
[Nope]

level 85 and.now ? everquest
[I feel your pain]

Game Time from ManicTime

A week off work for the Thanksgiving holiday gave me more free time for game play.  That the new WoW expansion, Shadowlands, launched gave me something on which to focus much of that free time.  I still played EVE Online and WoW Classic, but I spent more hours playing this month overall, and those extra hours went into retail WoW.

  • World of Warcraft – 74.50%
  • EVE Online – 13.38%
  • WoW Classic – 12.12%

Over at Time to Loot Naithin was doing the Five Game Challenge for November, where you stick to just five titles over a month.  I seem to have done that inadvertently, keeping to four titles if you count Pokemon Go.

EVE Online

The war goes on.  It is much closer to home now, being next door to 1DQ1-A.  But that just means more action more quickly.  We will see who gets tired or runs out of money first.  CCP is certainly doing its best to make sure the latter happens.

Pokemon Go

Life at level 40.  We mostly raid, do whatever event happens to be up… though I gave up quickly on that endless Nidoran event on Saturday because… and try to get in gyms to earn coins to buy remote raid passes to keep raiding from home.  We did contribute to Niantic’s bottom when we ran out of raid passes during the Azlef, Mesprit, and Uxie event.  But we caught all three.

Level: 40
Pokedex status: 593 (+9) caught, 616 (+8) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 8 of 9
Pokemon I want: Need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Zwelious

World of Warcraft

In case you missed it, there was an expansion launched a week ago.  Shadowlands, and the run up to it, including exploring the dynamics of the level squish, got me back into the retail game.  There were plenty of posts here to reflect that.  I already have a character at level  cap.  But I think Blizz has kind of punted on the idea that level cap should be much of an achievement with this expansion.  More on that this week.

WoW Classic

While we continued on with the regular instance group runs, I don’t think any of us spent much time in Classic in between.  For a brief time I had characters in Classic that were higher level than any of mine in retail.  But I am still not to the level cap in old Azeroth.

Coming Up

There will no doubt be more posts about the WoW Shadowlands expansion.  I already have one in the can ready to post this week and another under way.  We shall see how long I stick with the new stuff though.

In WoW Classic we still have a couple of runs left for Blackrock Depths.  I suspect that there will be three more posts this month about that, if the group can get together over the holidays.

In EVE Online the war continues and I doubt there will be any resolution come December.  Just more fighting and destruction. (The 21 Weeks of World War Bee post will go up tomorrow, having been pre-empted by this Month in Review post.  I have not given up on that yet.)

Pokemon Go has announced its Pokemon Go Beyond plan, with seasons, Pokemon from a new region, and a level cap increase in the offing.  We got to level 40 just in time I guess.  We’ll see how that goes.

Maybe I’ll even play something besides those four games.  The Steam Winter Sale will show up and maybe I’ll launch that and get inspired to play something else.

And, of course, with December here you can expect the usual raft of year in review posts, though I have considered simply trying to forget 2020 altogether.  I will say that the events of the year upset my start of the year predictions.  I’m mostly wrong most years, but I ended up especially wrong this year.  We’ll get to that soon though.

In Search of Mesprit

Since we hit level 40 our Pokemon Go our play has largely been about raiding and catching new Pokemon for the Pokedex.  This week seemed like a good time for for raids as three Sinnoh Pokemon were up on the list, Azlef, Mesprit, and Uxie.

The three featured Pokemon

When the raids started on Tuesday afternoon, our regular group lit up my phone with texts when the first one of them was spotted.  We bagged Azlef pretty quickly.  What I didn’t realize until somebody mentioned it in the text stream was that each of the three were only available in specific regions.  According to Pokemon.com:

  • Trainers in the Asia-Pacific region may encounter Uxie
  • Trainers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India may encounter Mesprit
  • Trainers in the Americas and Greenland may encounter Azelf

So we were only going to ever get Azlef locally.

As it so happened, one of the friends who had picked up my friend code when I posted it to Twitter happened to be in Japan and sent me an invite for an Uxie raid when I had Pokemon Go up on my phone in front of my face.  I jumped in and managed to catch Uxie, so I had two of the three.  (I’ve posted my friend code here before. It is 3216 2939 2424.)

From Japan

Getting Mesprit though, expecting to catch a random invite at just the right moment seemed unlikely to happen twice in a week.  I have a few people on my friend’s list in Europe, but what are the odds of lucking out again?

One of the more intrepid members of our local raid team suggested using one of the raid servers on Discord.  That was what she was doing to try and get the two out of region catches.

So I looked up servers and found a likely suspect called Pokemon GO Raids.  You can click on that link to join the server if you have a Discord account.  I am playing under my usual handle, in this case WilhelmArcturus because the game doesn’t allow spaces.

Once I sorted through the instructions and rules, I got myself ready to try and get in on a Mesprit raid… which basically adds up to sitting in the “mesprit-only” channel and waiting for somebody to post a raid.  Then you have to be one of the first five to respond… you can only remote invite five friends… and get acknowledged.  Then the person who posted the raid shares their friend code, you send a friend invite, get accepted, then they go into the raid and invite the five people picked.

All of this means being quick to respond in the channel.  I made it into one raid, though I did not manage to catch Mesprit on the first try, so I have to go again.  It also means being in the channel at the right time of day.  Raids in Pokemon Go only seem to run from about 8am to 10pm locally, which is all EMEA times in this case, which means the mornings into the early afternoon my time are the likely points when I might get a raid.

So I am staring at the channel, waiting for somebody to announce a raid.

Addendum:

Of course, almost as this posted I managed to get into a Mesprit raid and actually caught it this time.

Got em!

This one came all the way from the UK.

An English Pokemon

Now I have my wife’s phone to see if I can catch one for her.

Second Update:

Caught one for my wife as well.  It was from Malta no less.

SuperData Sees WoW Rising and Crusader Kings 3 Holding On

SuperData Research published their monthly digital revenue chart for October so it is time to see what is up in video games.  As has become almost standard so far in 2020, their report opens up with another statement about how much video game revenue is up over the previous year.

  • Consumers spent $10.6B on digital games in October 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Consistent with ongoing trends, console spending grew the fastest, with earnings up 18% over 2019. This was especially impressive growth given that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched in October 2019 and many of the biggest titles of the 2020 holiday season were not released until November. Earnings on other platforms rose as well, with mobile up 15% and PC up 10%.

Again, people staying home, or trying to, has led to more consumption on the video game front.

And then there is the chart itself.

SuperData Research Top 10 – October 2020

On the PC end of the chart the usual top four remain in place, swapping spots but otherwise the same crowd as always.  But in fifth position, or the first actually competitive position most months, World of Warcraft shows up.  This is not unexpected as the warm up for the Shadowlands expansion was in play.

Then there is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in sixth and Roblox in seventh spot.

And then we find Crusader Kings III still on the chart for October in spot eight.  It is down from fifth spot last month, but the surprise is that it stayed on the chart at all.  Games that are not online subscription or cash shop based tend to peak quickly and fade, usually just appearing for a single month.  But CK3 breaks the mold again.

That is followed by Fornite and Valorant, while World of Tanks fell off the list again.

On the console column, NBA 2K21 tops the list, followed by FIFA 21.  And down at the bottom of the list is Grand Theft Auto V.  It has been a regular on the list since it began, can it hold on much longer?

And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go is back at the top of the chart.  It passed the 4 billion dollar total revenue mark during the summer and just keeps on going.

Then there is Genshin Impact, which made both the console and mobile charts.  SuperData has a bullet point about it:

  • Genshin Impact from miHoYo was October’s highest-grossing game. The title, which was released on September 28 on mobile, PlayStation 4 and PC, is an unprecedented international success for a game made by a Chinese developer. Genshin Impact features monetization mechanics commonly found in mobile games like collecting characters through gacha (where users pay for the chance to get random in-game items) and limited-time events. However, gameplay inspired by console role-playing games and action-adventure titles attracted players who may have avoided mobile gacha games in the past.

Last months number one, Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, carried on in third position in October.

Perennial list member Candy Crush Saga held on another month, securing seventh position.  And down at the bottom of the list is Honour of Kings, which had a run in first place for much of this year.  Still, don’t cry for its fall, being in the top ten overall still means it is probably raking in the bucks.

Other bullet points from the SuperData report:

  • FIFA 21 sold 1.5M digital units. Compared to the launch month of FIFA 20, launch month digital sales and revenue were both up (1.2M vs. 1.5M for sales). However Electronic Arts had a significantly shorter launch month period in which to sell FIFA 20 since it was released only at the end of September, while FIFA 21 went on sale at the start of October.
  • Watch Dogs: Legion from Ubisoft broke franchise records, selling 1.9M digital units.  Even though the game was only on sale for the final three days in October, its first month sales were significantly higher than Watch Dogs 2, which was released on November 15, 2016 and sold 431K digital units. The latest game likely benefited from several free giveaways of Watch Dogs 2 earlier in 2020, which built up the franchise’s audience.
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from Activision Blizzard sold 402K digital units, a smaller total than recent remakes of titles in the franchise. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy sold 520K digital units in June 2017 (it released on the last day of the month), while Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled sold 552K copies in June 2019. There was likely less pent-up demand for Crash 4 and the title was also released during a more crowded release period than its predecessors. First-month earnings were, however, the highest of modern Crash games since Crash 4 launched at a standard $59.99 price point instead of $39.99, like the recent remakes.
  • Star Wars: Squadrons sold 1.1M digital units in October, putting it ahead of the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II (1.0M) and behind Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2.9M).
  • The Star Wars IP attracted a sizable audience to the title even though it belonged to the niche space combat subgenre. In contrast to Crash 4, Squadrons earnings were lower than those of other modern Star Wars games given its lower $39.99 price.
  • SuperData will now regularly be reporting on the performance of game subscription services, which give users access to a library of premium titles at a fixed monthly price. Publishers and platform holders have invested heavily in Netflix-style subscription services in order to generate recurring revenue. SuperData is currently covering Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now and EA Play.* Combined revenue for these services in October was up 142% year-over-year and subscriber numbers rose 113%. Xbox Game Pass accounted for the majority of growth in both cases.

Level 40 in Pokemon Go

As I mentioned in the month in review post, I managed to make it to level 40 in Pokemon Go at last.  My wife got here too, though about a week behind me.

The big four oh

In support of the whole idea that Pokemon Go is an MMO, hitting the level cap had both that climactic and anti-climactic feel to it that reaching the level cap does in a game like WoW.

On the one hand, you’ve climbed the xp mountain.  The goal has been achieved.

And, as I mention, the way the level curve in Pokemon Go is setup, the gap between level 39 and level 40 represents 25% of the total xp needed to go from 1 to 40.  That last step is a big one, and since I hit 39 back in April I have noted not just my level in the month in review posts, but the percentage of the way I had made it towards that final goal.

There was a lot of anticipation running through me as to how long it would take to reach the summit, so when I arrived it was kind of a big deal.  I got my moment, the big 40 on my phone screen, the pile of goodies that come with the level, and all of that.

But then there is the inevitable realization that once you’re at the top of the mountain, the climb is done.  As often happens to me in MMOs, I get focused pretty hard on getting there as I get closer and closer… and then suddenly the last bit before level zips past and it happens so fast that you feel like you never had a chance to savor those last moments.

And then after all the time focused on one primary aspect of the game, you’re done with it and left feeling a bit empty as your goal is suddenly reached.

I took a screen shot of my basic stats just after I hit level 40.

Status as of level 40

It is interesting to note that you keep accumulating xp even after you hit level 40.

My wife was a bit irked to hit level 40 after me as the account on her phone is a month older than the one on mine, so she had been ahead of me in levels for most of the chase up to level 40.  I caught up around level 36, then she passed me again, then I pulled out in front for the final stretch.

Part of the reason she is irk is that her stats on that page, for Pokemon caught and PokeStops visited, are more than 10K higher than mine on both counts.  That is few million points of xp she should have over me.

But I did better with Pokefriends.  I have 34 “best” friends in the game, and you earn xp for each of the four friend stages, the last two being worth 50K and 100K respectively.  She had about half that many when she hit 40, so that gave me a couple million extra xp on my own.  Plus, I managed to pop a lucky egg for a couple of best friend events, which doubles the xp.

Now that we’re both 40 and the xp race is done, the question is what to do now?  After all this time, it is kind of our thing, something we do together.

In the grand tradition of the mainline Pokemon RPGs, there is always the quest to catch them all.  There are still a bunch of Pokemon we’re missing.

And, more in the MMO tradition, there is raiding.  One of my wife’s friends has been including us in a group that coordinates to do gym raids, something that is also helping us fill in the missing Pokemon.

We did talk about trying one of the other Niantic games, specifically Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.  However, that didn’t seem to be taking off… or be much more than a re-skin of Pokemon Go with a Hogwarts motif… so we stuck with the our current game for now.

Pokemon Go has been upping its game this year too, with a lot of events.  And there is talk about either raising the level cap or adding another form of progression.

For now though, we’re working with the game at the level cap.  We can finally boost up our Pokemon to their max CP.

October in Review

The Site

I had a scare at the start of the month.  I mentioned that WP.com was planning to push their new block editor on users a while back.  Well, it hit me on the first, as a post I had left open in the old editor was suddenly floating in this white void of a web page.

I seriously have a problem understanding the philosophy of this new editor.  It looks like some pretentious design student’s wet dream, but it lacks practicality.  Or maybe just don’t get why every paragraph of text needs to be in its own special edit box that can be moved around the post.  Do people juggle paragraphs like that?

Fortunately the update push from WP.com hadn’t fully settled and later in the day I found that I could still use the classic editor if I made sure to click on the right options.

Classic is as classic does

The Add New button by default brings you to the new block editor horror, but you can still find the classic if you want.

And then there is the side bar.  IFTTT, which is part of the kludge that drives the dynamic blog links update, has decided to start charging, though you can have up to three simple items running for free still.  However, the day they announced their subscription option all three of mine broke.  They fixed the issue, but the subscription plan will be in place tomorrow and I won’t be surprised if all three stop working again.  I have a backup plan for two of them.

One Year Ago

BlizzCon was coming, so I spent some time speculating about what I wanted to see and what I thought we might actually get.  There was a lot in play.  Blizzard was also talking about WoW Classic and getting realms down to a single layer.  Layering carried on, but Dire Maul was added to the game.  Also free transfers and Hallow’s End.

And then the whole Blitzchung thing happened, casting a pall overBlizzCon and making #boycottblizzard the theme of the day.  Blizzard then took a few days to finally respond officially, and their response pleased nobody.

In WoW Classic we carried on, exploring the Ogre area in Loch Modan and starting our first run into the Deadmines, which became a two part post, with the follow up about getting to Van Cleef.  From there it was off to wander the Wailing Caverns.  We also did the running of the gnomes event.  Ula made a video about it.

Over at Daybreak it was time for more layoffs.  But Holly was on the EverQuest Show to talk about the game, expansions were announced, special servers were discussed, and there were still custom UI issues, all summed up in one bullet points post.   The pre-orders for EverQuest Torment of Velious were live.

Meanwhile, it was declared that PlanetSide Arena was just a stepping stone to PlanetSide 3.

CCP brought back the Skilling Spree event top EVE Online, which let you earn skill points by completing a daily task.  They were also straight up giving away skill points again.  Many skill points were there to claim.

The October update expanded the Triglavian invasion and updated the tutorial.  They also raised warp speeds on some ships to help us get around New Eden.  We also got a Halloween event and the howling interceptors update.

More importantly, the meeting minutes from the first CSM14 summit were released, in which CCP laid out its top four priorities for the game.  I couldn’t decide if “fix the stupid” was okay as the second item or if it covered so much stuff that we might never get to the third.  Certainly the MER showed that the “Chaos Era” might have fallen under that.  And I was wondering if gating missions behind standings was falling into that as well.

Of course, it isn’t a real CSM if somebody doesn’t step down or get kicked.  This time Killah Bee dropped out and Sort Dragon returned to the CSM in his place.  Meanwhile, there was always somebody out there ready to take CCP at their worst.

It was also time for the annual vision quest to EVE Vegas.  We learned about many things, like Team Talos and plans and what not.  We also learned that this would be the last CCP sponsored EVE Vegas event.

Out in space, the Reavers deployment was out looking for things to shoot.  When in doubt, shoot structures.  That’s the way we roll.  But that wasn’t panning out, so we took a wormhole back home and were in Delve before the Reavers turned five.

Meanwhile, Liberty Squad was still out as well, and we took a fight in FDZ.

And, finally, Raph Koster announced his new venture, Playable Worlds, while Mike O’Brien, formerly of ArenaNet, announced his new venture, ManaWorks.  Daybreak also released the EverQuest and EverQuest II sound tracks for purchase on most major platforms.  All of this was covered in yet another bullet points post.

Five Years Ago

I opened up the month with a post about the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign, a little box that promised to make hosting easy!  A pity is never came to anything… and that I basically threw money into nothing.

Then there was the now perennial complaint about customers being too cheap to by any and every 99 cent game.  It is because your 99 cent game sucks.

In EverQuest II, the Desert of Flames expansion unlock votes passed on Stormhold and Deathtoll, which made me ponder the pacing of nostalgia.  Daybreak seemed to want to go faster.

Daybreak also have expansion announcements for EverQuest and EverQuest II that included pricey special editions.  Milk ’em while you got ’em I guess.  But PlanetSide 2 was having problems attracting subscribers.

EverQuest II was consolidating servers, so it was farewell to Crushbone.

In Lord of the Rings Online, server consolidation was just getting under way as well.

Crowfall was still in development, but had announced some costly RMT castles.

Guild Wars 2 launched the Heart of Thorns expansion.

I picked up the Reaper of Souls expansion for Diablo III and made it through Act V.

My wife and I went to EVE Vegas where we partied and heard about the planned Citadel expansion.  I brought some give-aways for the trip, which I covered, along with Pirate’s Little Helper, in a Friday bullet points post.

Meanwhile, in New Eden I was very impressed with the multi-buy feature that came in with the previous month’s Vanguard release.  I was also wondering if space priests were a problem.  I also went pipe bombing for the first time.  The month’s Blog Banter wanted to know about my PC.  And Reavers celebrated their first anniversary.

Over in one corner New Eden SpaceMonkeys Alliance (SMA) stole ISK from EVE Online casino I Want ISK who, in turn, hired low sec mercenaries to camp SMA space, starting the embers of what would become the Casino War.

And the sad tale of CCP and White Wolf came to an end as CCP sold off the subsidiary and its neglected IP, World of Darkness.

Finally, in Minecraft, Aaron began his draining of an ocean monument, and I was interested in bases, several of which sprang up as I worked on the Great Northern Road.

Ten Years Ago

I had some hopes and expectations for BlizzCon.  They were pretty much unmet.  But Blizzard had already announced the Cataclysm ship date, so what else did I expect?

I asked if people ever look at the items in the blog side-bar.  People mostly do not.

EverQuest launches the House of Thule expansion.

I finished building my new computer.  Windows 7 64-bit was the wave of the future… unless you wanted to take that LOTRO survey.

The EVE Online screen shot contest wrapped up, winners were declared and prizes were sent out.

I was playing Lords of Ultima innocently enough and then somebody attacked me! Oh noes!

I was suddenly determined to “catch them all” and finish the National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver.

The instance group was playing in LOTRO, which had been live as a Free to Play game for one month. In-game, we were subjected to the disturbing habits of some of the residents of the Lone Lands, while I indulged in one of my own habits, the mid-game character swap.  And then I made one post completely unreadable by making anagrams out of all the proper nouns.  I had to repost a corrected version.

bought Civilization V, which like every Civilization launch, had issues with my current computer.  The unwritten rule of Civilization is that you need to upgrade your machine in order for the game to play well.

LEGO Universe launched.

My daughter and I were drinking new and interesting sodas. and was really hoping that the SF Giants could make it to a World Series victory.

Fifteen Years Ago

Club Penguin, the browser based, kid friendly MMO, launched.

Civilization IV launched and, as with all Civ launches, the game really needed the next generation of hardware to run in its full glory.  I recall submitting a bug and getting a response telling me to stop trying to play with so many civilizations in a single game.

Age of Empires III also launched.  While it was well reviewed, and we all bought a copy, it never really eclipsed Age of Empires II in my heart.  The second game remains the pinnacle of the series for me.

Twenty Years Ago

The PlayStation 2 launches in North America.

Pokemon Gold & Silver arrive in North America.  Regional launches were a thing back then.

Forty Years Ago

Berzerk arrives in arcades.  I remember this game showing up and dropping a lot of quarters to play it.  It said things.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. The WoW Shadowlands Pre-Patch with the Big Level Squish Arrives Today
  2. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  3. The EverQuest Team Announces the Claws of Veeshan Expansion
  4. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. A Costly Imperium Victory at FWST-8
  7. A Tale of Two Keepstars in FWST-8
  8. LOTRO War of Three Peaks Launches Today
  9. The Fall of Niarja and the Shape of High Sec
  10. The EVE Online October Update Changes Space and Commerce
  11. Are We Going to Get a Level Squish with Every WoW Expansion Now?
  12. EVE Online Blazes a New Trail with UI Only Mode

Search Terms of the Month

do warp core stablizers help with intradiction bubbles
[Legit question, answer is “no”]

eq upgrading an old character, will i lose anything?
[Just your self-respect]

warcraft orcs vs pirate
[Sure, I guess]

lotro cracked server
[They seem that way lately]

everquest the scalet desert from pok
[don’t get me started]

Game Time by ManicTime

A lot more time spent playing this month than the last couple, and I ended up launching a lot more titles this month as well, mostly due to the new monitor.

  1. EVE Online – 44.01%
  2. World of Warcraft – 36.26%
  3. WoW Classic – 15.02%
  4. RimWorld – 3.33%
  5. Age of Empires II – 0.92%
  6. Minecraft – 0.16%
  7. LOTRO – 0.12%
  8. EverQuest – 0.08%
  9. EverQuest II – 0.06%
  10. Grim Dawn – 0.05%

Of course, the war kept EVE Online high on the list.  But WoW Classic fell off quite a bit owing to the group not getting together as well as renewed interest in retail WoW due to the whole level squish thing.  Almost everything else on the list is due to my doing a test run to see if they would work with the new wide screen.  The only failure was Grim Dawn, which stubbornly refused to work.  A pity because, after finishing up with Diablo II (which absolutely won’t work on the new monitor) I was thinking about a return to Grim Dawn.  It will not be.

EVE Online

The war carries on, now about to reach its fourth month.  The start of October saw some of the largest battles in the game for ages, including one that set new records according to Guinness.  After almost two weeks of that the war settled down to a less exhausting pace.  But the war is far from done.

Pokemon Go

Both my wife and I made it to level 40 in October.  There is a blog post under way about getting there and what you do once leveling is no longer part of the obsession.  It does take a bit of the pressure off of the need to maintain daily streaks or to do things just for xp.  But there are still plenty of Pokemon left to catch.

Level: 40
Pokedex status: 584 (+7) caught, 608 (+6) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 7 of 8
Pokemon I want: Need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Farfetchd

World of Warcraft

For once I can say I did more than just run the Darkmoon Faire quests for the trade skill advancement this month.  The great level squish came and changed retail WoW for everybody.  It remains an ambitious experiment as to whether or not it was worth the effort.  It is easier for new players to level up, it is easier to experience old expansions (though with the current class and talent structure), and it is easier to level up alts.  But is that all core to the main player base, or do most long term players just care about the latest expansion?

WoW Classic

Slow times for us after wrapping up Sunken Temple.  Ula and Skronk bought a new house and moved while Moronae had to build a new computer.  That meant not a lot of play time for the group, and my solo play time was focused on retail WoW.  But Blackrock Depths still beckons.

Coming Up

The WoW Shadowlands expansion launch is likely going to be the biggest of deals next month, at least for those with an interest in WoW.  Pre-expansion events start on the 10th, the expansion goes live on the 23rd.

The war carries on in EVE Online, but CCP has another series of changes set for November.  They plan to kill off the NPC bounty faucet by reducing payouts and forcing the ESS system that allows others to come in and steal your bounties before they’ve been paid.  CCP celebrated the Guinness records being set, but perhaps has failed to note that we’re willing to throw in ships into such battles because we can afford to.  When ISK tapers off and with minerals already more dear, there is no doubt a point at which groups won’t commit the numbers they have in the past as they will be too expensive to replace.  We shall see.

There will also be more news on the EverQuest and EverQuest II front for their respective annual expansions.

And, of course, this coming Tuesday is kind of a big deal here in the US, being a literal struggle over the future of the country.  The fate of the republic and any remaining faith in a representative government rides in the balance.