Category Archives: Pokemon

Pokemon Go and Remote Raid Passes

I will say that Niantic has worked pretty hard to keep Pokemon Go viable and interesting during this era of pandemic, when people are spending a lot more time at home.

They have thrown a lot of small changes against the wall to see what sticks and have not been afraid to change them up as time has gone on.  My personal favorites have been having eggs hatch in half their usual distance walked and for allowing double the amount of gifts to be stored in your inventory.  Also, they made incense actually useful for now.

At least another month of these

But the best new item so far for me has been the remote raid pass.

My wife and I together can handle 1-3 star raids, and maybe a 4 star raid if we’re doing pretty well, but a 5 star raid needs more people and, of course, five star raids are where the legendary Pokemon show up.

We had managed a few in the past.  We’ve been at the mall… remember the mall… when a 5 star raid hit and have been able to join in with a larger group.  But you have to be there at the right moment or it just isn’t going to happen.

With the remote raid pass we can now jump into raids that are within range of our location.  Given that there are six gyms within range of the couch in our living room, that means more opportunities than ever.  We have both been able to catch the latest legendary Pokemon in the rotation.

Reshiram and Zekrom from Pokemon Black & White

As somebody who has always been more of a “Gotta Catch ’em All!” player, this has been something of a boon when it comes to filling out the Pokedex.

Of course, remote raid passes cost coins.

Remote Raid Passes in the Store

But I am willing to spend coins on things that are useful.  Generally I save up and buy whatever the latest box is that has the most incubators for the price, but now I am good with remote raid passes as well.

Now we just have to wait for the rotation of featured Pokemon in the 5 star raids.  There are a lot of them I had missed in the past, so I have a chance at them if Niantic puts them back in the lineup.

May in Review

The Site

I managed to break the blogger feed on the side bar.  It actually stopped working on its own and as I dug around I noticed that Pinboard said I had 32,768 entries there, which is exactly 2^15, which I suspected meant that I might have hit an upper limit on entries.  So I cleared all entries and… then nothing there has worked reliably since.

So I have an alternate feed now in the side bar which was, honestly, much easier to setup and get going, and seems more reliable.  However, I have less control over the feed so I cannot, for example, inject the blog name into the feed, so it is just post title, date, and author.  There will no doubt be a blog post about this when I get it settled.

Meanwhile, the blog has seen a bit of a traffic boom this month.  As usual, this traffic bump appears to be completely based on the whims of Google search, which suddenly doubled in impressions and clicks for my site.

Google’s own graph

Things were about normal in March, then there is the usual big April 1st spike, after which traffic and impressions taper off.  And then, suddenly, on May 6, they about double and I couldn’t tell you why.  It might be related to the Activision Blizzard financials.  There are a bunch of searches for “wow subscription numbers.”  But that should have tapered off after a few days.  Instead things appear to have kept going.

Also, in the usual post-Blaugust tradition, I have carried on after Blapril and posted every single day in May as well.  I am not sure that has an effect, but historically the September after Blaugust is usually a pretty good month for traffic as well, so maybe that plays into it.  Mysteries of the internet.

One Year Ago

Back in May of 2018 there was a rumor leak about Daybreak, so a year later I went back over them to see what came to pass.

Blizzard revenue margins dropped considerably.  As if to prove the point, WoW dropped off of SuperData’s digital revenue chart.

To hide that in the news cycle Blizzard gave us a date for WoW Classic. I wondered if the Cataclysm expansion was a necessary prerequisite for WoW Classic.  I also was speculating as to what would happen with WoW Classic as it aged.

The beta for WoW Classic had been up for a while, but they decided to do a stress test, so they let everybody in for a bit.  Of course I went!  And I did the following week as well.

In what we now call retail WoW I was off collecting the Children’s Week pets.

Blizzard also gave us a peek at their 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

The Mittani uttered the words, “Gevlon was right” in a public forum.

EVE Online celebrated its sixteen year anniversary with a sixteen day login campaign.  The Invasion expansion was slated for the end of the month.  Its arrival brought more Triglavian fun to the game as well as the big revamp of The Agency interface and some war dec changes.

CCP Peligro Tweeted out a chart about who gets banned for botting in New Eden.  CCP had also been trying to nerf ratting and mining, so that was the focus of my MER review that month.

The CSM14 election was coming up and Jester did a Reddit AMA about his time on the CSM as his NDA had finally expired.  I also had a bullet points post about CSM14 candidates and rewards and a coming war and such.

Out in Delve I got to undock my dreadnought.

With Liberty Squad I went on ops to Amamake and into Etherium reach that resulted in explosions.  I also got to drop on some Rorquals with Black Ops.

But people were focused on the coming Imperium attack on the north and where it would land.  Even as we formed up and moved vast fleets to the north of null sec, our target was still speculation, though once we set up shop in the east of Pure Blind it looked like Tribute was the target.  There was a rush to see if we could kill the PanFam staging Keepstar, but when that failed we settled in to burn down the region.

In Minecraft I was growing bamboo and looking for the new village types that came in with the Village & Pillage update.  The I went looking for pillagers.

Connor at MMO Fallout announced that the site was winding down… and then he changed his mind.

And I watched the Catch-22 miniseries on Hulu.  I liked some of it, but there were issues for me.  There always are.

Five Years Ago

A bucket list item achieved.

There was another Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I wrote a post.

The whole World of Warcraft “flying in Draenor” explosion started when Blizzard announced that they probably wouldn’t allow flying in that, or any future, expansion.  Lots of people spoke up.  I linked to a bunch of them.

It was not a good month for World of Warcraft.  Subscriptions were down to 7.1 million… and then they banned 100K accounts, so make that an even 7 million.

In the Warlords of Draenor expansion itself I was mostly going garrison stuff and pet battles.

Carbine announced that WildStar would be going free to play after continuing poor financial performance.

EVE Online turned 12 years old.  CCP was offering fan site the option of a free account OR receiving a PLEX every month.  I actually attempted to opt-in for the PLEX, but never heard back.  Was that option ever really a thing?  Did anybody get PLEX?  Is the fan site program still around?

The war in Fountain and Delve was over, NCDot had been pushed back yet again, and we were moving back north as our empire contracted.  Entosis stuff was looming.  Black Legion caught us taking a badly planned convoy through KVN-36.

Meanwhile, down in Querious, the Reavers were playing with Ravens.  Up in the north, TNT was moving out of Deklein and into Tribute as part of our Fozzie Sov plans.  And I hit 140 million skill points.

Then Daybreak went for a crowd pleaser by launching a new time locked expansion server named Ragefire. It was such a crowd pleaser that it couldn’t handle the crowd.  In addition to some first night problems, you simply couldn’t log in most of the time.  They worked on a login queue and some zone instancing technology from EverQuest II and eventually opened up another server named Lockjaw to take care of the crowding.

TorilMUD, the MUD on which EverQuest was largely based, softened its death penalty.  A sign of the times.

There was word of Warhammer Online private/pirate server for those who missed the departed game.

And I was playing LEGO Star Wars on the PlayStation 3 while the freshly minted Imperium was going to try and play H1Z1.

Ten Years Ago

I was unemployed thanks to the great mortgage meltdown, which you would think would leave me a lot more time for gaming and blogging.  But the anxiety of looking for a job for the first time in 12 years… and the first time in 20 years where there wasn’t just one out there waiting for me… made for a quiet gaming and blogging month.

Yes, I did start to poke my nose back into LOTRO.  A game where I didn’t have to pay a subscription seemed about right. (I have a lifetime subscription.)  That meant getting back into the swing of the game and figuring out what had changed.

We actually got THE DATE for the release of StarCraft II.  How did that turn out for everybody?  I skipped the whole thing.  Maybe when the StarCraft II warchest version comes out with all the expansions I’ll look into it.

The Agency came to Facebook, in the form of The Agency: Covert Ops.  A Mafia Wars-like game, without the multi-level marketing aspect, it had its good and its bad.  I liked the puzzles.  The dogs with guns… and the submarine fight… not so much.  Who knew that would be all of The Agency we would ever get?

Meanwhile SOE was transcending bad taste with their EQII PWNZ marketing campaign.

EVE Online got the Tyrannis expansion, though I wasn’t paying much attention there.  Something called EVE Gate was introduced… later closed and now being proposed again I think… as well as integration with DUST 514… also later closed and effectively proposed again with Project: Nova. Pattern here?

There was some Pokemon fun going.  I was twinking the Pokewalker while our cats worked against me.  The cats won in the end.

We also went to see the Pokemon Video Game Championships in our area.

And the Horde remix of the instance group was wrapping up Dire Maul and Stratholme.  Then, having hit 60, we let the Dungeon Finder guide our way into the Outland.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sony unveiled the PlayStation 3 in a pre-E3 announcement while Microsoft announced the XBox 360 on MTV.

Pokemon Emerald, the final third generation Pokemon game and the last GameBoy Advance Pokemon release, arrives in North America

Forty Years Ago

The Empire Strikes back, arguably the best movie in the whole series, debuts.  Or, as I sometimes think of it, the last great Star Wars movie.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is Coming
  7. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  8. EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start
  9. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  10. Where is the Scenario Mod for This?
  11. Burn Jita 2020 Seems Unlikely
  12. Hints of a Diablo II Remaster

Search Terms of the Month

iowa wooden deck
[You’re far from Iowa friend]

robert jordan wheel of.time repetitive writing
[Clip that and you’d lose a book worth of text]

eve online auction house no more undercut
[Well, no more .01 ISK undercut]

how to make bamboo grow faster in minecraft
[You’re kidding, right?]

wve onlune mist active cirporations
[Your fingers are on the wrong keys]

mmo when you can play as kobold
[Uhh… I don’t know]

where’d holly windstalker go?
[Blizzard]

Gaming Time from ManicTime

A bit of a surprise for times this month.  If you had asked me on the first I would have probably guessed that EVE Online would be at the top, with WoW Classic maybe not too far behind.  And then I launched Minecraft.

  1. Minecraft – 43.20%
  2. EVE Online – 32.22%
  3. WoW Classic – 16.58%
  4. EverQuest – 6.65%
  5. World of Warcraft – 0.69%
  6. RimWorld – 0.66%

It is really easy to put on a podcast or an audio book and while away the hours with Minecraft.  Meanwhile, WoW Classic has languished a bit as the group has been busy so hasn’t had a chance to get back to Zul’Farrak.

EVE Online

With the Goon Expeditionary Force deployed, there has been some opportunity for fun in space.  I am definitely in a mood where I only log in for fleets and not much else.  I have gone on some fleets, but perhaps not as many as I thought I would.  But we’re still out there in Cloud Ring.

EverQuest

I have been mostly poking along with the Overseer feature here, though I did log in and make a character on one of the new progression servers.  The Overseer got some updates, and there is a post about it in the making.  It remains, to my mind, superior to the EverQuest II version of the feature.  As for the progression servers, I am likely going to give this round a pass.  I poked my nose in for a first day glimpse, but without a group already stood up and ready to go it is more than I care to take on.

Minecraft

I mentioned Minecraft and a new world appeared.  My post about exploring our old world inspired Skronk to roll up a fresh on on Minecraft Realms, so we’ve been playing with that for about a week or so now.  I guess I had best move it up into the “games I play” list again.

Pokemon Go

Having hit level 39 at the end of last month I am still in the midst of the long climb to level 40.  Niantic’s quality of life changes to support pandemic play, like remote raid passes, have helped out.  I caught my first raid legendary, the Terrakion.  However, for every legendary I catch, four more seem to get away.  Oh well.

Level: 39 (19% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 541 (+10) caught, 569 (+9) seen
Pokemon I want: Some of these Unova Pokemon where I only have one
Current buddy: Axew

Pokemon Sword

I made no progress this month.  I didn’t even pick up the Switch Lite except to move it when it was in the way of something.  I think it is a nice little unit, but I haven’t worked in where it fits in my play time.  I used to sit on the couch when nobody was home, turn on a TV show I had seen before (reruns of The Wire FTW) and play, but now there is never a time when nobody is home.

World of Warcraft

I thought at the start of the month that I would totally get my Horde alt out and to level cap now that I have unlocked flying and there is double XP available until the next expansion.  It should be easy mode, a quick tour of the Horde story.  And then all I did was a bit of Darkmoon Faire.  I guess I can recycle that plan.  Maybe next month.

WoW Classic

Things slowed down some in WoW Classic, mostly due to the group being busy with other things in life.  We managed to get started in Zul’Farrak, but haven’t managed to get back for a return trip.  It is still on our agenda though.  Maybe next month.

Coming Up

A preview of June’s month in review: I will no doubt be complaining about the new editor WordPress will be forcing on us.  I’ve been using the old editor for over a decade and have heard little good about the new one.  But the old one may be dead tomorrow, so expect some curse words. (They say it will still be there, but in the past they have broken things like that on purpose to force people to change.)

It seems likely that, should I be able to still write posts, there will be some updates about the deployment in EVE Online, something about the instance group in WoW Classic when we get back to ZF, and maybe a further thought or two about Minecraft.

The CSM15 elections start tomorrow for EVE Online.  I bet you can already foresee that post coming.

I did buy a copy of the new Minecraft Dungeons, which I will probably try out later today, so perhaps something about that will pop up in June.

Otherwise, summer is coming, my daughter is graduating from high school, the weather is warm, and we’re coming up on three months of “stay at home” and even I am feeling like I need to go to the mall or something.  We shall see how we manage.

April in Review

The Site

April is usually a big month for page views.  The Blizzard April Fools post usually gives me a boost in search engine traffic for a day or two.

Googly eyes at the hero select screen in Overwatch was the big item

August generally sees a boost in page views as well due to Blaugust.  So turning that into Blapril ought to have been a double whammy.

The Blapril commeth

And I suppose I did get a boost from the both.  Traffic was up noticeably from March, this month being the most active for page views since last September when WoW Classic traffic was driving people here.  But it was down from last April, which was down from the April before, and so on.  My peak page view date is April 1, 2013, and it has been a slow decline ever since.  Even the pandemic and stay at home orders can’t make blogs popular again.  But I persist.  If I wrote for page views I wouldn’t write how I do currently.  Sometimes it is better to quietly write what you want than to write to seek attention.

One Year Ago

April Fools, once a grand tradition at Blizzard, was pretty sparse.

Google Plus went away.

The Minecraft Village & Pillage update landed.

CCP loudly announced the removal and banning of CSM13 member Brisc Rubal.  And then in what I described as the “nightmare scenario,” CCP hedged, promising to investigate further.  And then they exonerated Brisc and restored him apologizing for all the trouble. A disastrous example of “measure once, cut twice” by CCP.  And Brisc didn’t get his reputation back.  I still see people who think he must have been guilty and somehow worked a deal or threatened to sue in order to get CCP to back down.

CCP also announced the CSM14 election timeline.  Brisc opted to stay away from that.  And the April update brought capital nerfs, especially for the Rorqual.  Hilmar was starting on something about player retention.  And CCP unveiled the Katia Sai monument in Saisio.

Actually out in space myself in EVE Online, I was flying with Liberty Squad as we visited The Spire for a fight over a Sotiyo as well as busting some other structures and setting some timers.  There was also an op from Delve to Lonetrek and another Reavers Race.

NantWorks handed H1Z1… or Z1 Battle Royaleback to Daybreak, having failed to make a go of the challenge of reviving the game.

I reviewed a bit of the coverage the EverQuest 20th anniversary got.  There was also some changes to the Selo progression server, which reflected on what players wanted versus what Daybreak was offering.

I was also playing World of Warcraft, binging on pet battles and catching some new pets.  We got some news about the approaching update, which would unlock flying in Battle for Azeroth.  That promoted me to get the first part of the pathfinder achievement done.  I also got my first alt to level 120, though he hadn’t even been to Zandalar or Kul’Tiras.  Pet battles will do ya.

And I came up with a guide to criticizing games you do not like.

Five Years Ago

As ever, it was April Fools at Blizzard and elsewhere.

Elsewhere, EA was still selling lots of Sims titles, but were cutting online games like Need for Speed: World.

In what I thought must be an April Fools joke, Daybreak said they were not going to do any more expansions for EverQuest II.  Instead it was going to be DLC like the Rum Cellar.  A rum idea if ever there was one.  Likewise, though EverQuest was getting a new progression server, it seemed like it was the end of the road for expansions in old Norrath.  Also, that logo, totally not stolen.

Of course, why would you even need an official progression server, since Daybreak declared Project 1999 totally legit.

And speaking of rum ideas from Daybreak, they were also pushing people off of their forums and on to Reddit.  How were they going to lock threads and delete posts there?

CCP was talking about ship skins in EVE Online, in hopes of finally finding the right formula for the Mosaic expansion.

In New Eden the war was still going in Delve, including a big fight at ZXB-VC, while the Reavers were doing their work in Querious.  Not only that, but we were also decked out in our spiffy new jackets… well, some of us were.  I was trying to be in both fronts of the war. The Reavers front was the place to be though.

The Imperium was declared, with Max Singularity VI as our spiritual leader.  Also, Karma Fleet was launched and Xenuria got in and was a Goon for like ten minutes!  How crazy was that?   I’m sure that will never happen again.  Right? [Narrator: Xenuria has been in KarmaFleet since August of 2015.]

Blizzard’s WoW Token idea went live, and the US regional version immediately dropped below the opening price.  It recovered and went up eventually, but it took a while.  They also had a beta for the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion for which I was not prepared.

The instance group was doing Auchindoun and Skyreach in Draenor… after which we were fresh out of dungeons until we all hit 100.  After that I was leveling up some characters and complaining about little things in WoW.

Meanwhile, the war of the rings in Lord of the Rings Online was dragging out into its eighth year.  Is this Mordor or Afghanistan?

While we’re there, Guild Wars turned ten.

And there was this Liebster thing, which feels like it happened a lot further back than it did.

Ten Years Ago

Video games as art?  Did we flay Roger Ebert enough over that?

Turbine was purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.  No word on a Harry Potter MMO as yet, though we did get LEGO Harry Potter.

Crimson Leaf Games brought out their rework of Megawars III / Stellar Emperor.  1986 style online game play at a much cheaper price.

SOE announced a new subscription plan for EQII, the EQII Passport.  Framed by at least one person as “1/3 the price for 1/10 the access” it surely must have been the right plan for somebody.

And speaking of paying for games, I wondered where Facebook credits were headed.  They seemed like a bad deal for games relative to paying companies like Zynga directly.  Despite speculation that they would be the ONLY currency allowed on Facebook, that has still not to come to pass.

And while talking about Facebook games, I couldn’t bring myself to play Mafia Wars, so I secured a deposition about the game from a friend.

In EVE Online somebody was trying to blackmail Gaff’s corp.  This was an out of game threat though.

Blizzard introduced the Celestial Steed (aka the sparkle pony or the greed steed) to the Blizzard Store.  Blog reactions were mixed, but the queue to buy the mount on day one got 140,000 transactions deep.  That is a lot of horsies, which meant they were everywhere in the game pretty soon.  The Lil’ XT companion pet that was introduced at the same time also made its own mark on the world… until Blizzard toned it down.

The instance group was in WoW still, playing horde characters on the Lightninghoof RP-PvP server.  We we working on Dire Maul, attempting a successful tribute run after having run around Blackrock Depths.

Since the instance group was getting close to finishing up the classic WoW dungeon and wondering if we should press through the Burning Crusade content (as short as it passes), we started exploring other games as possible alternatives.  This lead us to try out Runes of Magic for a bit.

There was April Fool’s.  I had a contest while Blizzard went over the top, as used to be the case.

And, finally, the cruelest 2010 April Fool’s tease, the iPad arcade stand.  On the bright side, while it started as a tease, it ended up becoming a real thing.

Fifteen Years Ago

Guild Wars: Prophecies launched, with ArenaNet going with a “buy the box, play for free” business model for its new MMO, though they wouldn’t call it one at the time.

Twenty Years Ago

The first expansion for EverQuest, The Ruins of Kunark, launches.  We got ten more levels, new races, and a new continent to explore.

Nintendo sold its 100 millionth GameBoy/GameBoy Color.  That total eventually passes 118 million units sold, only tapering off with the arrival of the GameBoy Advance a year later.

Sony announced that the PlayStation 2, which launched the month before, was so sophisticated that the Ministry of Trade would place export controls on it as it could be used for military applications.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2020 is Centered on Overwatch
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. The Hunt Goes Live in New Eden with New Implants
  4. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. I Fly a Titan At Last
  8. CCP Launches a Surgical Strike on New Eden
  9. WoW Tokens Five Years Later
  10. CCP Quietly Starts a New Login Campaign in EVE Online
  11. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  12. My Actual First Computer vs My First Real Computer

Search Terms of the Month

“world of warcraft” “subscriptions” “2020”
[“sorry” “just” “MAUs” “now”]

is dragonvale dead
[It is dead to me]

sto game sexiest female uniforms in the game
[It is Star Trek]

eve online apparel account wide
[No. In fact, it has to be in your current station to use.\

Game Time from ManicTime

I played, or at least logged into, more games in April than in March, with the time break down looking like this:

  1. WoW Classic – 38.49%
  2. EVE Online – 25.29%
  3. World of Warcraft – 12.57%
  4. RimWorld – 8.91%
  5. EverQuest – 7.45%
  6. Pokemon Sword – 4.89%
  7. EverQuest II – 1.98%
  8. LOTRO – 0.42%

WoW Classic remained the top choice, though not by the long margin it was last month.  I go into the reasons below, but overall I spent less time playing games in April than I did in March as well, which I mentioned in a post earlier this week about motivation.

EVE Online

I did get out and on a few ops at the start of the month, though even the tempo of ops has slackened with the changes that CCP applied mid-month.  Super carriers being more vulnerable means that they don’t undock, so there are fewer to save and/or blow up.

EverQuest

I am not really “playing” EverQuest in anything like the traditional sense.  I have been messing around with the Overseer feature instead.  It does, as some have noted, seem to have more in common with a phone game than an MMORPG, but they gave it just enough depth and progression to keep me logging in every day.

EverQuest II

I am really not playing this, not even the version of the Overseer they have.  Darkpaw updated the feature, actually giving it a bit of progression.  But it still lacks what depth the EverQuest version has, seeming to be more of a magic prize machine rather than a game.  Oh well.  I also used my level 110 trade and adventure boosts on a new character, and then haven’t played them.  But they are geared up.

Lord of the Rings Online

I patched this up and logged in for a short bit.. I was certainly in for a lot less time than the patch process took.  The patcher hs never been a strong suit of the game.  I was primarily interested in purchasing the Minas Morgul expansion with my LOTRO points, SSG having said it would be available in the online store come March.  Here it is, the day before May and it is not yet available.

Pokemon Go

I hit level 39 at last just a couple of days ago.  That sounds like I am almost 98% through the leveling game, but since the gap between 39 and 40 is five million points, or 25% of the total points to level cap, I suppose I am only 75% of the way there.

Level: 39 (2% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 531 (+5) caught, 560 (+4) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Servine

Pokemon Sword

I did play a bit of this, though not as much as I intended.  As a game on the Switch Lite, it is something I can play away from my desk, where I now spend all day for work.  However, I need a kind of quiet place to focus.  I used to go play on the couch when nobody else was home, but we rarely achieve the state of “nobody else home” these days.  Still, I made it through the sixth gym.

RimWorld

I thought I was going to play a lot more of this in April.  It is, in its way, a pretty good game to play while you listen to an audio book or a podcast or whatever, and I am pro multitasking in that way.  And I did play some.  Just not as much as I thought.  Part of that was just not feeling like playing anything, but the fact that RimWorld suffers from the classic mid-game problem added to my lack of play time as well.

World of Warcraft

I did actually play some retail WoW this past month.  As I posted, I unlocked flight in Battle for Azeroth.  And with flying now available on all my alts as well as the 100% xp boost that will be available until the Shadowlands expansion hits, I have been tempted to play more.  I did work on a Horde alt some, but I am not really invested yet.

WoW Classic

As with most of the past six months, WoW Classic continues to top the play time chart.  But it also has the biggest month over month drop in time played.  It has a double whammy in that not only to I sort of have to stoke myself up to log in and play, I also have to figure out what I want to do as my prime alts, who are all in the around level 40 trough where quests ramp up faster than you do.  It wasn’t so bad with my hunter, as it is easy to just grind mobs with him, especially if I can skin them as well.  But my pally… he is sitting at 40 and I now remember why my pally back in vanilla seemed stuck at 40 forever.  The instance group is carrying on, but on the whole we’re not logged in nearly as much.

Coming Up

Another month.  Isn’t that enough?  So tired.

Well, there is the Blapril roundup for sure.  One last time to link out to everybody.  If history is any guide, the title of that post will be The Labors of Blapril.

There are some EverQuest bits and pieces coming up.  I’ll probably get to that tomorrow.  I also want to write something further about the Overseer feature.

There are updates and such for EVE Online expected as well.  Maybe that rather dry login campaign will wrap up and be replaced with something a bit more engaging.

In World of Warcraft Classic it seems likely that the instance group will enter Zul’Farrak.  It is also possible that I will hit level 50 with at least one character next month as well.  Maybe I’ll even figure out where to go with my level 40 paladin.

I am still tempted by the double xp in retail WoW now that I have unlocked flying.  I could maybe get my blood elf paladin to level 120 without much effort beyond seeing the story on that side of the game.

What else is coming up… Mother’s Day and Memorial Day in the US…the Activision-Blizzard Q1 earnings call… and probably a few other things I am forgetting.  Oh, another month of stay at home here as they have apparently have been under counting cases where I live.  Apparently in suburbia we just die at home and don’t tell anybody.

To the Series Born

There is a bit of a topic trend going on for Blapril, started by Krikket, where people name their top four or five favorite video game series.

The Blapril commeth

This is week four, which has its own topic, but since I haven’t come up with anything else I took “series appreciation” as falling under the “developer/creator appreciation” umbrella and decided I should run with it.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

Looking at video game series seems pretty reasonable.  In the last decade or so especially the large video game publishers have gone all in on series and sequels for games, eschewing much new in favor of a reliable return on investment that churning out annual change ups on standard formula has proven to bring.

So I started thinking about which series I might put on a list… and I sort of ran into a bit of a wall.  This is different than, say, picking my 15 most influential games.

Part of that was I immediately put bounds around the possible answers.  It is just what I do out of habit.  First, to my mind, a “series” requires there to be three or more games.  So as much as I may have enjoyed  Defense Grid and Defense Grid 2, they are only a game and its sequel and not really a series.  And that along knocks off a lot of possible entries listed over on Wikipedia.

I also felt that unless I had played a substantial and representative number of titles in a series… arbitrarily I figured I needed at least half to cover… I couldn’t really count that series as a favorite.  Playing only Need for Speed: World or Dirt 3 does not really give me enough to make a claim on either series.  I can say I love Mario Kart, but I only ever played Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, and that version on the DS.  I never even bought the Wii version!  Can I really complain about the blue shell if that is all I have experienced?

Likewise, although I had played four of the nine games in the Ultima series, those were the first four games of a series that expanded quite a bit from humble origins.  I enjoyed Ultima III the best out of what I played, which probably means I am not down with the series as a whole.

I did wonder for a bit if MMORPG expansions ought to count.  Is EverQuest one game, or a series of 27 games churned out over 21 years?  But I decided that way lay madness and discarded the idea. (Also, how many expansions would I have had to have played to be legit in counting EverQuest?  More than I have I am sure.)

This would have been much easier if I had been a big console gamer.  Or a sports focused gamer.  There are so many series there.  But as an online and/or MMO gamer, series haven’t been a huge thing for me and, as I have noted here in the past, I have been playing online games since 1986.

So what series of games had I played enough of to meet my own criteria?

Cilivization This series of games came up on a some lists and I am good here.  I have owned I-VI and a couple of the side games in the series, like Alpha Centauri.  I played the hell out of the original, the first sequel, and the fifth entry, along with Alpha Centauri.

Pokemon Or at least the main line Pokemon RPG titles.  I think I am covered on that, having played every title on the DS/3DS handheld series as well as Pokemon Sword on the Switch.  I even played two of the GameBoy Advance titled back on my original DS Lite, because it had the GBA cartridge slot.  And I played the re-release of Pokemon Blue on the 3DS and have the blog post to prove it.  I’ve even played Pokemon Ranger and a couple of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles.

Age of Empires – The RTS winner here, though of the three core games I was only really a fan of Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings.  That was the pinnacle of the series to my mind, though I owned and played all three.  The original was a bit rough and unbalanced and the third seemed like Ensemble had lost its way.  But I have Age of Empires II in my Steam library.

Diablo –  There are three games there, so meets the bar for a series and I have owned and played all three games plus their expansions… multiple copies of a the first two even.  I owned a copy of Diablo II and the expansion for both home and work because we could play games on the work network after hours back around the turn of the century.  Those days are long gone, but if Blizzard made a credible Diablo II remaster I would throw money at my computer screen.

LEGO Star Wars – I thought I was done when I hit four series, and then this run of games finally popped up into my conscious thought.  There are six titles and we own four of them… more if you count the combo edition that reworked and repacked the first two games when Traveler’s Tales got the vibe right on the series.

And that’s it.

By my own criteria I cannot really come up any more, though at least I made it to five.  I can declare these as my five favorite series by virtue of being the only five.  I imagine if I rack my brain I can probably shake out one or two more… but it would be stuff from the 90s, things long forgotten.

Oddly, I have the games listed in the order to which the series came to mind, which corresponds roughly to a the descending order for both how much time I have spent playing them AND how I would probably rank them.  Seems natural enough.

Others who have posted their lists, some of whom felt less self-constrained than I:

March in Review

The Site

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

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

My new Switch Lite

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

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

One Year Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Years Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifteen Years Ago

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

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

Twenty Years Ago

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

Most Viewed Posts in March

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

Search Terms of the Month

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

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

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

null sec infrastructure to spawn mining belts
[infrastructure hub]

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

wilma flintstone memes
[I don’t even]

Game Time from ManicTime

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

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

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

EVE Online

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

EverQuest

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

EverQuest II

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

Pokemon Go

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

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

Pokemon Sword

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

RimWorld

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

World of Warcraft

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

WoW Classic

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

A Nintendo Switch Lite

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

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

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

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

The core RPG line continues

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

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

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

My new Switch Lite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Sword and Shield

But when I grew up, I put away childish things

-1 Corithians 13:11

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

The core RPG line continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October in Review

The Site

Well, that was a month, wasn’t it?

Because I write this end of month summary, part of which tries to bring together what happened a year ago, I am often sitting here writing this and thinking about how big that year ago section is going to be twelve months down the road.  The October 2020 month in review will have quite a sizable “One Year Ago” section.

And next month promises to be even bigger.  But today it is Halloween.

Fifteen year old pumpkins

Looking through old digital pictures, there was a time when I put a lot of effort into carving pumpkins every year.  These days, I let the kid do it, and she has such the active social life that we’re lucky to get one pumpkin.  Oh well.

One Year Ago

Gamigo bought the games of Trion Worlds, leaving not much behind.

We heard that a lot of people play Minecraft, that there would be no Minecraft 2, and that pandas were coming.

We were told that Google Plus would be going away.

We learned that Mike Morhaime would be stepping down as CEO of Blizzard to be replaced by J. Allen Brack of the infamous quote.

Standing Stone decided to farm nostalgia with the LOTRO Legendary server idea.

We learned that the 25th EverQuest expansion would be The Burning Lands.  For EverQuest II the Chaos Descending expansion was coming.

I was on a nostalgia tour of EverQuest II that involved a quest chain that was literally a nostalgia tour of EverQuest II.  That got me geared up to run through The Withered Lands.  I made it to level 100 even.

There was a hint that Just Survive might.  And then we were told it would not.

In New Eden the Keepstar War was over and a massive move op got me back home to Delve.  There was even a video.  Then it was back to shooting stuff around home.

The Reavers SIG turned four years old.

We seemed to be headed to war in high sec in Perimeter, and shot the Panfam trading Fortizar.  That ended when TEST dropped a Keepstar, the Perimeter Trading Tower.

The October update was about balance, which meant killing ECM really, while the CSM 13 summit minutes mentioned how war decs were killing high sec.

I was headed to EVE Vegas where we would see Pearl Abyss, CCP’s new owners, for the first time.  Much info was shared and swag gathered.  I even gave a presentation.  But it was about blogging, so nobody saw it.  I summed it all up when I got home.  I was dubious about the announced FLEX structures.

There was some joyful hysteria as a DCMA exception was made for MMO preservation.  However, it required the owner of the source code give it over voluntarily, which seemed like a huge stumbling block to me.  Creating emulators was still verboten.

And then there was that Rules for Rulers video, which prompted me to read the source material on which it was based, which made me even more cynical about politics than I already was.

Five Years Ago

The SF Giants won the World Series for the third time in five years.  I was just happy when they won it once in my lifetime.  Of course, they haven’t done much in the time since, but I had my moment… three times!

I was wondering about guild progression and whether they should have levels.

I was disappointed at Trion installing HackShield on my system and only deigning to notify me of this after the fact.  That got their Glyph launcher off my system.

EA put a new twist on insta-level by introducing a limited 12x experience bonus offer that would essentially let Star Wars: The Old Republic players level up via just their class story, without indulging in the myriad side quests the process would otherwise require.  Basically, you could play just the good bits of the game.  Imagine that!

The strategy group was doing city assaultsriver crossings, and ambushes in Total War: Rome II.

At EVE Vegas there were development plans for the coming year, which included Tech III destroyers.  Jump fatigue was also announced.  But at least we were also getting a much longer skill queue. (Limited to 50 skills or ten years of training, whichever you reach first.)  That was much on my mind as I crossed the 130 million skill point mark.

The Reavers, a group within The Imperium dedicated to living in hostile territory and attacking enemy infrastructure, was formed.  Our inaugural operations went to Insmother , where we blew up plenty of stuff, and then went to Feythabolis.

Closer to home there was a capital brawl in our staging system.  That was part of some battles with Black Legion, where they would visit us and then we would visit them.  Or blob them.  I also experienced one of the classic EVE mistakes for the first time.  People seemed anxious to use their capital ships before the Phoebe expansion changed everything.

In World of Warcraft I summed up my summer campaign for the Loremaster achievement.  It was not a success.  I did get my Sha’tari Skyguard reputation to exalted though.  More mounts!

Meanwhile, the WoW 6.0 patch dropped and the count-down to Warlords of Draenor began in earnest.  I was looking at the new features in that.  The instance group also stirred in anticipation of the new expansion, mostly finishing off Mists of Pandaria.

Finally, Planetary Annihilation arrived at last, and proved once again that recreating past fun isn’t as easy as it should be.

Ten Years Ago

League of Legends launched, going on to become the most successful rip-off of Defense of the Acients MOBA, topping online gaming revenue charts and spawning a long chain of failed copy cats.  I still don’t get the appeal of the game or its genre.

Torchlight came out, giving a lot of people a Diablo-like injection of fun.  It didn’t have a lot of replay value for me.  Once I burned through the game once I was pretty much done, which made it unlike Diablo II, which I returned to a number of times.  But it was just $20 and gave us a taste of what Runic might be able to deliver going forward.

I was on a MUD history kick, with tales of exciting ways to die in Kobold Village, the Kobold Temple of the Unholy, getting lost in the Faerie Forest, and all the rooms in TorilMUD.

It was also the three year anniversary of the regular Saturday night instance group, and I presented a summary of what we had done.

A couple of us scouted the then newly Free to Play Dungeons & Dragons Online as a possible next game for the instance group, but it didn’t stick.

I was able to buy the Adventurer’s Pack for Lord of the Rings Online and get the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for free.  Not as good of a deal as monthly subscribers got I understand, but a decent deal.  Of course, LOTRO has changed a lot since then.

In World of Warcraft October that year saw me finish off both the Brewfest and Hallow’s End meta achievements.  I was still left with one achievement for each holiday though.  Fun was had with pumpkins and the Headless Horseman.

The instance group returned to Utgarde Keep to take on Utgarde Pinnacle, at that time the last five-person dungeon in Northrend.  We were victorious and gained the Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement.  But otherwise we were deciding on where the group should go next.

And Blizzard was busy merging everybody’s WoW account into a Battle.new account because… well, it wasn’t because of better security.

Fifteen Years Ago

The first Star Wars Galaxies expansion, Jump to Lightspeed, was launched, adding space combat to the game.

Thirty Years Ago

Prince of Persia is launched for the Apple II. It later becomes a hit and kicks off a franchise when ported to other, less dying platforms.

Maxis launches SimCity, which was a big success, but which led to people at the time to argue about whether it was really a game since you cannot necessarily “win” it.  Not the last time this topic would come up.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  3. Ashenvale and the Stonetalon Mountains
  4. Visions of a Sunken Temple
  5. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  6. China Reckoning
  7. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  8. Blizzard Speaks
  9. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  10. Running of the Gnomes in WoW Classic
  11. Looking for Offense
  12. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?

Search Terms of the Month

does daybreak game company have any ties china?
[They only wish they could prostitute their values for money]

everquest old times
[Old time, aye, old times…]

is torment of velious going to be the last expansion for everquest
[Probably not, but we shall see]

how to watch star wars in order
[Lots of alcohol will help]

Spam Comment of the Month

Weblog feedback are often the nightmare that by no means ends.
[You read the comments, didn’t you?]

Manic Time

While WoW Classic continues to dominate my play time, I did spend less time playing.  Some of the freshness has worn off, so total time was about half of what I played last month.  Still, it is my nightly go-to game.  EVE Online saw a bit of a boost.  I doubled the number of hours played, though that did not add up to much.  With no SIG/Squad deployments going on I probably spent more time on utility tasks and login rewards than fleet ops.  And I patched up LOTRO and logged in to see if the new expansion was in the LOTRO Store yet.  It was not, but I have more than enough in-game cash to buy it when it is.  So the gaming time tracked was:

  • World of Warcraft – 84.16%
  • EVE Online – 15.72%
  • Lord of the Rings Online – 0.12%

EVE Online

As noted just above, I spent more time in EVE Online this month, just not that much on operations.  Reavers came back from its Cache deployment, after which I went on a few main fleet ops.  But mostly I was logged in for the login rewards, to tinker with alts, and to move my stuff from one Keepstar to another as we changed our staging Keepstar.  Logistics… actual logistics, moving stuff around… remains a big part of the game.  There are no banks that magically have all your stuff in every town.

Pokemon Go

I had a pretty big month with catching and evolving Pokemon.  I am still way behind on the Sinnoh Pokemon and the seasonal events have pushed the usual round of spooky breeds, all of which I have, into the forefront.

Level: 37 (+0)
Pokedex status: 463 (+19) caught, 488 (+21) seen
Pokemon I want: I have yet to see an Oshawott
Current buddy: Tepig

World of Warcraft

As with last month, I did log into the main game for a bit.  However, it was just to run the Darkmoon Faire quests with my main to notch his trade skills up by another 5 points.  Otherwise I remain as far from things like unlocking flying in Battle for Azeroth as I was a month ago.  At least that kept me from the fruitless hope of getting the headless horseman’s mount.

WoW Classic

Still my main game, still playing with the reconstituted instance group.  We are still moving slowly and there are many alts in our guild.  But Earl now has internet access, so is catching up to the group while we meander about with our alts.

Coming Up

November will be a busy month.  I get to this section and start thinking not only about what is coming up but what I will feel I need to write about.

BlizzCon is literally tomorrow.  There are probably two, maybe three, posts in that.

We have the 15th anniversaries for both EverQuest II and World of Warcraft this month, along with related events and such.  Multiple posts there.  I’ve already written two of them.  Back in March, during the EverQuest 20th anniversary I got it in my head to write the 15th anniversary posts for EQII and WoW.

LOTRO has the Minas Morgul expansion coming out… I hope… and I’m expecting an update on the next EQII expansion, Blood of Luclin.

EVE Online has their last Invasion World Tour event in London, which will have some announcements, a couple of Team Talos updates, and the usual MER to write about.

Add in the usual SuperData post and the month in review and of the 21 weekdays in November most of them will have a post already.  And I might want to write about other things.  There is a Liberty Squad deployment in the offing and the usual updates about what I am playing.  It seems likely I will come close to a post a day in November.

Of course, things have a way of changing up as you go, so we shall see what November brings.

Pokemon Go Crowds in the Unova Region Pokemon

The latest big update to Pokemon Go was the release of the first Pokemon from the Unova region into the game.  That was the region that served as the setting for Pokemon Black & White and was the first setting for the game not based on a Japanese locale.  But location doesn’t mean the same thing in Pokemon Go, at least not in the sense it does in the core RPG series.

What it does mean is that players get new Pokemon to catch.

Including Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott

If you have caught them all, then having more to catch can be enough motivation to get out in the world again.  But what if you haven’t caught them all yet?

It has been about a year since Niantic started putting the fourth generation Pokemon, from the Sinnoh region, into the game.  Doubtless with an eye towards slowing down their release, lest they run out of official Pokemon to put in the game, staggered the release of those Pokemon.  They also put in a bottleneck in the form of the Sinnoh Stone mechanic, which I mentioned previously.

The elusive Sinnoh stone

That has left me with a backlog of Pokemon waiting to be evolved.  But at least I have those Pokemon and it is only a matter of time before the weekly task lottery finally delivers the required item enough times to wrap that up.  But I am still quite a ways from the gold medal for the Sinnoh region, much less catching them all.  After a year that seems a bit odd.

Meanwhile, the new Unova Pokemon are not exactly easy finds.  In seeing that, the problem seems to be how Pokemon Go is structured.

The core RPG Pokemon titles all have a base number of Pokemon in each game, usually around 150.  That gets you the regional Pokedex completion.  After that there is the National Pokedex, where you have to catch all known Pokemon, but that is really an end-game task.  There are usually special mechanics and the ability to trade in the online Pokemon auction house to get what you are looking for.

Pokemon Go, on the other hand, is a single game.  It now has to contain five generations of Pokemon within a single game.  After all, if you’re a new player who just downloaded the game, you want to be able to catch up.  And so if you look around you’ll still find Bulbasaur and Charmander and Squirtle roaming about with their first generation companions.  You will also see second and third generation Pokemon out as well.  And then the Sinnoh region Pokemon.  And finally, somewhere in the mix, the new Unova Pokemon.

In my experience seeing half a dozen wild Pokemon on you phone screen at the same time constitutes a “crowd” as far as Pokemon Go is concerned.  In that situation, where the new Pokemon represent less than one in five of the total Pokemon population, seeing something from Unova can be a bit of a challenge.

Which, I guess can be good from some angles.  It does make you pay more attention to the hunt.  But it also makes catching them all somewhat less likely.  If I am still behind on Sinnoh Pokemon a year later, the prospect for Unova doesn’t seem all that great.

And don’t get me started on the egg situation.  The 7km eggs you get from friends as gifts still seem oriented on the Alola Pokemon, which are just graphical variations of first generation Pokemon that don’t even have their own spots in the Pokedex.

Anyway, so it goes.  Pokemon Go remains popular and profitable and a lot of the changes made to the game over the first three years have been pretty good.  But there are three more generations of Pokemon still out there, so the crowding looks like it will only get worse as time goes on.

 

Three Years of Pokemon Go

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

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

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

Oh yeah, that is me

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

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

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

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

Pokedex Stats

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

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

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

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