Category Archives: Pokemon

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are Coming

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

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

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

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

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

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

Twitter, however, seems to disagree with that.

It still has until November…

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

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

Anyway, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are coming.

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

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

The Pokemon Scarlet and Violet starting Pokemon

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

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

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

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

How some see the choices

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

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

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

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

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

February in Review

The Site

Another month flies by and we are at the 186th month in review post.  Part of getting older is wondering how time goes by so fast.

I did, however, get another meaningless achievement this month.

700 Days in a Row

We’ll see if I keep going.  If I get to the end of March I will have gone two years straight.

February was also a light month for traffic.  It is already a short month and world events seemed to draw people away over the last week.  I get that.

The odd bit is that ad revenue was way down relative to the dip in traffic, barely cracking the $10 mark.  And it seems a different problem from last month, where ads served was way up but revenue was down, reflecting low quality ads being pushed.

This time around ads served was way down as well, much more so than the down turn in page views might suggest.  Either more core audience all has adblock loaded up… and I commend your good sense in that… or ads simply aren’t being served up.  Some checking showed that there was at least some of the latter going on.

Checking from my iPad with Safari, which is not set up to block ads, I was seeing nothing come up for a couple of days.  I don’t know if that is WordPress.com’s problem or the ad broker they are using, but the well of ads was running dry at times in February.  That never seems to happen with Words with Friends.

We’ll see how next month goes.  I’m still on track with my goals even at $10 a month from ad revenue.  That is enough to pay for the premium hosting package.

One Year Ago

It had been a year since the first documented death in the United States from Covid-19.

It was also the end of Silicon Valley retail staple Fry’s Electronics.

Nintendo announced that they were going to finally do a remake of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

Out of nowhere, so far as I could tell, Valheim showed up.  I took a look and very soon our group was playing together.  We went out hunting deer, along with the first boss, set sail to find the Black Forest, stormed ashore and setup a base, fought trolls and smelted bronze, then set sail to find the Elder, the second boss, fought an epic battle with that, and wandered into the plains and died to deathsquitoes.  It was quite a time.

Then there was BlizzConline (and Blizzard’s 30th anniversary), which was spoiled a bit by leaks, but which featured the Burning Crusade Classic announcement along with Diablo II Resurrected and other news items.

The Activision Blizzard Q4 2020 earnings call showed WoW was carrying the ball for Blizzard, while SuperData Research showed WoW up on the Shadowlands launch and ongoing WoW Classic momentum.

Actually in WoW Classic, I was working on my paladin, who was catching up to the group, we spent some time getting materials for enchanting, and we were still working on Blackrock Depths, though we got down to the final quest there.

In EVE Online, World War Bee carried on, with PAPI starting to come out of their post M2-XFE slump and CCP’s economic changes sending mineral prices climbing.

And I went on a bit about the difficulty of entering the MMORPG market.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak shut down Landmark less than a year after it officially went “live.”  That’s what extended early access will do to you.

In EVE Online applications to run for CSM12 opened up.  The CSM itself was reduced from 12 members to just 10.  That allowed CCP to potentially fly all members to summits, but also reduced the likelihood of more voices outside of null sec being elected.

Blog Banter #79 explored the benefits and pitfalls of being a long time veteran of New Eden, while CCP posted a nice graph tracking the 25 largest corporations over time.  The graph only had starting numbers, so I provided the ending numbers.

We also got an update that introduced insurance to citadels and kicked off the Guardian’s Gala event.

Actually in game I was blown up by battle Rorquals as well as spending time moving my stuff to a new home system, sitting on a titan, sitting on a Keepstar, survived my first capital op, and dipped my toe into the spectacle that was Burn Jita 2017.  I also had a new favorite EVE Online screen shot.

I wasn’t playing World of Warcraft, but that didn’t stop me from trying to find information about it in Activision Blizzard’s annual financial report.  Good luck there.  I didn’t even bother this year.  Meanwhile, in an unexplained turn, SuperData Research divided WoW into East and West on its monthly Top Ten chart.  I still suspect that was an attempt to make Overwatch look better.

Not only was I not playing WoW, I wasn’t playing any fantasy MMORPGs.  Standing Stone was trying to get me to log into Lord of the Rings Online with the promise of a new mount.

I was confronted by a metaphor for a MMO Kickstarter projects when somebody decided they wanted to make an Apocalypse Now based MMO.

I was still working on the mansion road in Minecraft.  I hit a setback along the way… fell into lava surrounded by creepers… but still made it past the half way point.

And finally, after taking a bit of a break, I was back into Pokemon Sun, working my way towards filling the Alola Pokedex.

Ten Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site did not show anything for my guess for the 2008 expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO did show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which was mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title?

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard.

Meanwhile, SOE launched The Buried Sea expansion for EverQuest.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Mario Kart 64 launches, the second version and maybe the first truly great entry in the Mario Kart series of games.  This one is worth buying whenever Nintendo revives it on later platforms.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Guardians Gala Returns to EVE Online for YC124
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  6. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  7. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  8. Pearl Abyss Promises a Blockchain Economy while CCP Prepares for EVE Fanfest
  9. The CCP World War Bee Press Briefing
  10. Off to Another New World in New World
  11. Looking Into Lost Ark
  12. Opening Weekend with Lost Ark

Search Terms of the Month

john carmack create facebook horizon world
[I don’t think you can lay that all on him]

Разработчики установили в eve online стальной памятник девушке
[I’m not sure they were really a “girl” technically]

огромный дом в майнкрафте локация
[Where ever you want to build it]

everquest ruins of kunark back of box
[I don’t think I have that here]

Game Time from Manic Time

Well, there was a bit of a change up in the list this month.  Two weeks ago EQII was at the top and Lost Ark wouldn’t have made the list.  I did, at one point, think about playing Crusader Kings III.  There was an update, and I like the stories that come out of it for other people.  I even patched it up and got it ready, but didn’t end up playing.

  1. Lost Ark – 42.78%
  2. EverQuest II – 37.23%
  3. New World – 10.61%
  4. EVE Online – 5.92%
  5. Pokemon Pearl 1.80%
  6. EverQuest – 1.65%

EVE Online

The month started out with my account lapsing and me spending some time figuring out what I could do as an Alpha clone.  That developed into me mostly not logging on at all once the Guardian’s Gala login rewards were over.  I suspect there is a message in that.  Like many other aspects of the game, free to play hard mode is much harder in New Eden than it is in other MMOs.

EverQuest

The game turned 64-bit, which was a thing I guess.  It was enough to get me to update the client, create a new character, and play through some of the tutorial again.  I kind of enjoy that once in a while.  I had some mad vision of doing a year long event to run a character from creation to level cap, all in the 64-bit era… and then I wandered off and did something else.

EverQuest II

I came into February very strong on EQII, playing it more than anything else for the first half of the month.  I got several character up to the new level cap for both adventure and crafting and started working on the adventure signature quest line… and kind off fell off there.  Expect a post about that this coming week.

Lost Ark

This sort of came out of nowhere for me, and was a bit of a slow burn at that.  With EQII tapering off and not logging into EVE, I had a hole in my play time just when Lost Ark showed up.  I tried it on a lark, kind of liked it a bit, kept playing, and started getting into it.  Here, at the end of the month, it was my most played title.  I had to convert it from a tag to a category here on the blog because the instance group started playing it.

New World

Ah, New World… I don’t hate it, but it does manage to disappoint on such a regular basis.  Amazon games is working on it still, but their list of fixes for February was a bit underwhelming.  That, and being dropped into a new server where the bad things people have been talking about started affecting our game play… and it was time for a break.

Pokemon Go

The month ended with the Johto Tour, which was a good day’s fun.  My wife and I did the free part of the event, because $12.00 is kind of a big ask for a bit of content, and were happy enough with that as it took us nearly all afternoon to finish up.  The downside of the event was that it very much focused on past content, so was a good catch-up for newer players, but there were no new Pokemon out there for us.  I did get a shiny Raikou though.

Level: 42 ( 27.9% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 685 (+5) caught, 705 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Floette

Pokemon Shining Pearl

Playing this remake was a good time, but I have to admit that once I got through the Elite Four and Cynthia, I was kind of done playing.  That is the culmination of the story, the basic win scenario, and after that everything is somewhat self-directed.  I’ll do a final thoughts write up on the game at some point.  Overall though, I quite enjoyed it.

Zwift

Much to my surprise, I am still doing this regularly… three or four times a week… six month down the road.  It would be very easy to just stop, and there are times when I want to skip even my rather minimal routine.  But somehow I have carried on.  This must be what adulthood is like.

Meanwhile, my distance cycled puts me about from my driveway into the middle of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is where the Winter Olympics were held 20 years ago.  I didn’t watch them then, and I didn’t watch them this past month in China either.  Keep on peddling.

  • Level – 13 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 774.8 miles (+90.3 miles)
  • Time – 1d 16h 55m (+4h 45m)
  • Elevation climbed – 33,855 (+4,354 feet)
  • Calories burned – 25,924 (+3,113)

Coming Up

March is upon us and it is Mardi Gras tomorrow.  Most people won’t care, but a branch of my family is from New Orleans, so it will be jambalaya, red beans and rice, and king cake at our house tomorrow.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

March also brings my birthday.  Pokemon Legends: Arceus is on my list, so I might be playing that later on this month.

Then there is Lost Ark.  No doubt this will come up a few more times on the blog.

There is a possibility that CCP will makes some changes that might loosen up the economy and make larger scale warfare viable again in null sec.  I’ll go back to Omega for something interesting.  The battleship changes look interesting to a lot of people.  But EVE Online is still in kind of a messy state.

I might try to figure out what Elden Ring is.  A lot of people are suddenly into that in my Twitter feed, but telling me it is like Lost Souls doesn’t help me, because I never played that.  Also, it is $60, has some issues, and I don’t get how the co-op works, so I can wait.

Summing Up my Nintendo 3DS Play Time

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

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

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

Soon memories and some hardware will be all that is left

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

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

The final incarnation of the dual screen line

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

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

It is Pokemon all the way down…

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

The prime games for me

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

Other titles that they show beyond the top three include:

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

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

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

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

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

January in Review

The Site

Well, I got this achievement at least.

They said I had a satanic streak…

Otherwise is was mostly life as usual for the blog.  WordPress.com broke links, waffled about it for a couple of days, then fixed them again.  Pretty good for them, as they still sort of worked while they were broken.

And then there was the ad revenue.  This month the site served up more ads than ever, coming close to 125K ads displayed compared to 99K last month.  However, revenue was down.  December’s 99K ads were worth a little over $23, while the 125K ads this past month were worth just about $16.  Ad quality clearly plays into the revenue side of things, and I didn’t get high quality ads this time around.  Still, $16 keeps me on track to pay the annual hosting for the blog at the Premium service level, which runs $99 a year.

One Year Ago

For my new year’s post I chose to ask questions rather than make predictions.  I’ve always been told that there are no bad questions, though that statement usually precedes attempts to prove it wrong.

I also reviewed the games I played in 2020 and attempted to guess what I might play in 2021.

Twitch told me what I watched there in 2020 and I did that Quantic Foundry gamer profile thing again.

SuperData Research also did their review of 2020 which, along with its penultimate monthly chart, as their end was on the horizon.

There was that GameStop stock craziness.

I wrote a timeline of SOE/Daybreak Games.

The Steam Winter Sale ended with awards and stats.

I was wondering what LOTRO needed, since it clearly needed something.

People were wondering when we were going to get Burning Crusade Classic, with the current rumor being early May, which seemed too early to me.  But we ended up getting it in early June, so I guess it wasn’t that far off.

The instance group was still working on Blackrock Depths, this time for a love potion.  Then we went off to Dire Maul East for a change of scenery.  Dire Maul North proved too much for just the four of us.  We also hunted for recipes out in the Burning Steppes.  Meanwhile, my paladin was catching up to the group in levels.

And then there was World War Bee, which kicked off the new year with the another huge titan battle, though this time the results were much more one-sided.  The war bullet points:

Somewhere along the way I hit a year in KarmaFleet and the 230 million skill point mark.

There was also more binge watching and we had HBO max finally, so I took a look at it and its app.

And, finally, January 20th was a happy day.

Five Years Ago

As with most years here at the blog, it began with predictions.

Nintendo was telling us all about the Switch console, due in March.

I barely had predictions post before Daybreak announced they were closing Landmark, ticking one off the list for me.  That got people freaked out about other Daybreak titles, so I reviewed the list.

That also led me off onto a semi-sarcastic rant about an EverQuest successor.

It was also high noon for Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2.

With a new iPad I lost all my progress on Candy Crush Saga, so forswore the title forever.

I was also tallying up the results of my purchases from the Steam Winter Sale.  I don’t get why people like Stardew Valley so much.  Just not my thing I guess.  I did play a stretch of Train Valley however.

The long mansion road project was starting to hit home with me, but I kept on moving forward village by village.

In EVE Online I hit the 170 million skill point mark.  All those skill points and I still don’t use my capital ships.  After a false start we got the first update of YC119.  It had music.  It was also the kick off of the CSM election season.

In null sec there was a big battle at F4R2-Q that seemed to herald a new war.  However coordination problems with the local defenders saw us pulling back to Catch.

And in Diablo III we were waiting for the Darkening of Tristram event.  I ran through it quickly once, and then again to get some more achievements.  It was kind of neat, but it wasn’t the original Diablo.

Ten Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Riders of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we sometimes get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Twenty Five Years Ago

The original Diablo shipped, stirring up a new genre in its wake, the ARPG.  You can still find a playable version of the original at GoG.com.

Thirty Years Ago

Atari Corporation, as it then existed, dropped production, sales, and support for the Atari 2600, the Atari 7800, and the Atari 8-bit computer family.  The 2600 series was supported for 15 years from launch, and has since been renewed in emulators in software and hardware form many times.

Forty Years Ago

Sega launches Zaxxon, with modeled a 3D environment with an isometric perspective and was, as I recall at the time, amazing looking.  I could just sit and watch the demo run in the arcade.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Probing and Hacking for Fun and Profit in the EVE Online Doctor Who Interstellar Convergence Event
  3. Doctor Who and Daleks Invade EVE Online with the Interstellar Convergence
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  8. Microsoft Plans to Acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion, Promises Joy and Community
  9. Daleks are Coming to EVE Online
  10. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  11. Predictions in the Face of 2022
  12. The Army of Mango Alliance Attempts a Self Destruct to Flee Fraternity

Search Terms of the Month

goonswarm propaganda best
[I mean, it is pretty damn good at times]

eve fax
[Yes, though without the special paper]

eve minokawa
[See ‘eve fax’]

r-arkn aom keepstar
[Not anymore]

usnavy marauders
[Those are not like EVE Online marauders]

Game Time from ManicTime

The month saw New Eden back on top as I ran the Doctor Who event to see what it was all about.  I had a bit of a Stellaris binge and EverQuest II were not far behind.

  1. EVE Online – 26.29%
  2. Stellaris – 22.95%
  3. EverQuest II – 21.56%
  4. Pokemon Pearl – 19.10%
  5. New World – 9.11%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 0.66%
  7. World of Tanks – 0.34%

EVE Online

Things continue to churn in New Eden.  Even in peace there is always some destruction and drama going on.  I saw somebody complaining on /r/eve that null sec wasn’t warring hard enough to keep them entertained, but we blew up and looted a staging Keepstar that might have been the biggest loot pinata in video game history.  You just can’t please some people.

There was also the Doctor Who event, which I ran through.  I’ll have a write up on it as it ends at downtime tomorrow.  Safe to say, like the game itself, it had its ups and downs and was likely inscrutable to any outsider.

EverQuest II

I hit the level cap again playing through the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.  It actually wasn’t that hard, as I wrote late last week.  It was, however, very much an EQII experience, which is neither a good nor a bad thing necessarily, but it is a thing.  I also managed to touch very little of the actual expansion content, because the game is focused on instanced play.  However, they do tend to offer solo versions, so there is still more to explore.

Forza Horizon 4

Some driving was indeed done, but I have hit a point where I got the driving need out of my system for a bit and where I have done a lot of the easy things in the game and the map is such a mess of things to do now that when I do log in I spend too much time trying to figure out where I should even go next.  And then I drive around way too fast and crash through fences, hedges, trees, and whatever else gets in my way.  At least that never gets old.

New World

The holidays finally ended there last week.  Some people leave the tree up too long I think.  The groups spent a few play sessions trying to get to the next dungeon in the game, the one at level 35.  We’re not exactly speeding out way through the game, but we’re not in a big hurry either.

Pokemon Shining Pearl

I made it through to the Elite Four and defeated Champion Cynthia, thus pretty much completing the central story of the game.  But, in Pokemon, there is always more to be done.  I still have more to catch before I can even begin to claim I have caught them all.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.  I didn’t really do much out of the ordinary, a few raids, spun a Pokestop daily, and managed to get in one of the local gyms to earn some coins regularly.  I also managed to miss a day and got my daily catch and daily spin cycles out of sync, which always annoys me.  But I have them aligned again now.

Level: 42 ( 19w.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 680 (+3) caught, 700 (+3) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Inkay

Stellaris

Having purchased some of the latest DLC for the game, I dove in and played.  As I noted, I would consider it a classic “one more turn” game that can keep you up past your bedtime, but technically it doesn’t have turns.  But it will keep you up late dealing with each new update or event that comes in.  And if they’re coming in too slowly, you can just speed the game up.

World of Tanks

I poked about in this for a bit at the beginning of the month, so I have some stats for 2022 I suppose.  But once I got on the Stellaris binge in the evenings, my tank time sort of dried up.

Zwift

I have been at making sure I get on the bike 3-4 times a week.  I think the fact that I post this here is a motivator because, even though I am sure I am the only one that pays attention to my numbers, that they’re out in the open makes me self-conscious about them.

As for distance, I have now essentially gone from our house, though Portland, Oregon, and just over the Columbia river into Washington state.

  • Level – 12 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 684.5 miles (+100,1 miles)
  • Time – 1d 12h 8m (+5h 12m)
  • Elevation climbed – 29,501 (+5,088 feet)
  • Calories burned – 22,811 (+3,385)

Coming Up

We’re already a month into 2022 and, while it is cliche to say so, what the hell?  Time goes by too fast.

February should bring us the Activision Blizzard Q4 2021 and 2021 overall financials.  We’re all eager to see that I am sure… though with Microsoft buying them, I am not sure how much they really matter anymore.  And once Microsoft swallows them I doubt they’ll be more than an obscure line item on the MSFT financials.  Enjoy it while it lasts I guess.

Daybreak has a few things going on, including an odd new Lore & Legend special server for EverQuest II and a 64-bit upgrade for EverQuest.   Also, they’ll no doubt be picking the EverQuest Community Resource Council, but that is all hush hush.

Guild Wars 2 has the End of Dragons expansion slated to launch last I checked, and it will include fishing.  So keep an eye open for that.

Facing the Pokemon League in Pokemon Shining Pearl

Having caught Palkia and dealt with the Team Galactic menace, it was time to challenge with the Sinnoh Pokemon League.  That was always the end game in what I guess might be the “classic” era of the core Pokemon RPG games.  That got changed a bit in Pokemon Black & White, but there is almost always a way to become the champion in the local region.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

First things first though, I had to defeat the final gym in Sunnyshore City.  There Volkner runs the gym, which specialized in electric Pokemon.  While I had left behind a Graveler, which would have been an ideal Pokemon in my lineup, my current crew was enough to find the way through the maze of his gym and defeat him.  That got me the Beacon Badge for the gym and unlocked the final travel move for me.

Finished in Sunnyshore City

That gave me all eight moves, most of which you need to then make your way to the Pokemon League, which is a trip on its own.

All eight moves in my Poketech

The trip to the Pokemon League took a bit.  It is over water, then underground, then over water some more, and finally up a waterfall… that last move lets you ride up one… before I arrived at the league.

Having made the journey once, you are able to fly there directly going forward, though there are things hidden along the way that you might want to go back and pick up once you’ve made the trip once.

Of course, your rival is up there, so you have to battle with him once more.

Barry Again

He is the most good natured rival of the series I think.  He is just keen to get out and conquer the world.  But once you beat him you are left to face the Pokemon League, where you have to take on five successive battles against the Elite Four and then the Champion.  They are:

  • Aaron – Bug Type Pokemon
  • Bertha – Ground Type Pokemon
  • Flint – Fire Type Pokemon
  • Lucian – Psychic Type Pokemon
  • Cynthia the Champion – Mixed Set

The types are more of a suggestion than a rule.  As with some of the gym leaders, they slip in things that can use, say, fire type moves, but which are not fire type Pokemon.

While you cannot leave the challenge between battles, you can stop to apply potions and such. So I had spent some time at the resort outside Pastoria City where you can battle the rich patrons daily, doubling my take by making sure I had a Pokemon with the Amulet Coin in each fight.  I built up a war chest of coins to lay in a supply of heals and revives and other items I might need.

And then, once supplied, there was nothing for it but to go give it a try.  My lineup for the first run was:

Crew for the First Run

And, I did not do so badly.  Bertha’s ground Pokemon took me a while to get through, which was a bit of a surprise due to my having two water types in the mix, but that was what I said about the types they favor not making up their whole teams.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised I made it all the way through to Cynthia, having gone in without much of a plan.  I didn’t even have some of my Pokemon holding items.  I started in on what became almost an hour long battle.  I had a lot of trouble with her Gastrodon, a water/ground type that I did not have a good handle on.  But she didn’t have anything too strong that I couldn’t counter, so there were lots of swaps and I tossed out quite a few potions and not a few revives.

It seemed like I was finally getting the upper hand, though I had clearly not purchased enough potions, when Cynthia brought out her big gun, the Garchomp.  That proceeded to one-shot my team until it was all over.

Garchomp takes me down

At that point you lose 8K in coins and you’re sent back to the Pokecenter to revive your team.

Well, at least I knew what I was facing now.

There are essentially two ways to beat the Pokemon League.  You can assemble just the right team of the right types with the right moves that can handle every Pokemon that will get thrown at you, or you can just level you Pokemon up to the point where they can handle it.

Cythnia’s team was in the low 60s for levels, but that Garchomp was level 66, which put him a couple levels above my highest.

I didn’t think I necessarily had a bad lineup, so my first plan was to make sure I had the right moves for the fight.  Also, I went to earn some more coins so I could fill up my bag with more heals.

So back I went for a second run with the same lineup, just a little more prepared and with a couple more levels.

Back for the second run

And the story was about the same.  I struggled with Bertha a bit, but got past here, then, once I got to Cynthia things slowed down.

The battle wasn’t as long, but it ended the same way; once Garchomp was set loose on me, he proceeded to eat my party, sending me packing.

I decided that perhaps I needed to change my lineup a bit to take on Cynthia, as her Garchomp was killing me.  I needed something that would be able to stand up to it.

In searching the web I found a couple of recommendation, the easiest of which to obtain was a Weavile.  I had seen some level 50 Sneasels in the underground, which evolve into Weavile.  Catching one wasn’t too tough, but actually evolving it took another search.  To get it to evolve you need to give it the razor claw item to hold and have it level up at night local time, which starts at 8pm.

I actually missed the 8pm part of the description, so leveled him up twice before checking on the time requirement.  But the third time was a charm.

Sneasel evolving into Weavile

Having evolved him and gotten him the Ice Beam move that was supposed to be a Garchomp killer, I needed to level him up a bit as he was still in the low 50s.

I started by doing random encounters along the route to the final four, but that was kind of slow going.  So I went back to the Pokemon League, because one of the best ways to gain experience to level up your Pokemon is to battle them.

While I wasn’t aiming to beat the champion this time, I still loaded up on potions and revives, and went in to gain some levels.  I also gave my Weavile a lucky egg to hold, which would double the experience he received.  I was going there to level him up.

Of course, by this point my team had leveled up since my first try, so the Elite Four were somewhat easier and I soon found myself facing Cynthia again.

Once again I was locked in a long, drawn out battle.  Every one of her Pokemon I knocked out was a bit more experience for my team, so I kept on going until I found myself once again facing Garchomp.  Facing him was my starter Pokemon, Perry.

Perry versus Garchomp

This turned into a battle of attrition.  He hit me with an Earthquake, which had previously been enough to one-shot Perry.  Now though, he had leveled up enough to be able to ride it out, though just barely.

I hit Perry with a potion to heal him up again while Garchomp did sword dance, which boosted his attack.  The next round I countered with charm, which lowered his attack while he did another sword dance.  We went through a series of round of that, until he ran out of moves for that, so I got a charm off again before he hit me with another earthquake.  I used a potion and got hit with another earthquake, again, over and over, round after round, until he ran out of earthquake moves.

At that point Garchomp fell back on a lesser attack and I was able to get an ice beam off… I had also trained that on Perry just in case… and boom, Garchomp went down.  I had won.

Perry left standing

My goal was to level up my Weavile in order to face off against Garchomp, but I ended up not even needing him.  In assembling a better team I had leveled up enough to win.

From there Cynthia congratulates you on your victory.

Champion gracious in defeat

Then Professor Rowan shows up and they take you to the room where they record you team in the hall of fame.

Everybody healed up and in their Pokeballs

And then you get a show that displays each member of your team, then the final victory shot.

My winning team

After which, the credits for the game roll on by.  Then the game restarts and you’re back in your room, where the game all began.

Back where it all began

The game is not done though.  When you go down stairs your mother tells you that your rival was looking for you.  Then there is the Pokedex to finish up.  I went by and Professor Rowan said I had 145 found so far.  Just a few more to go.

And then there are the legendary Pokemon Uxie, Azlef, and Mesprit, still to catch, which I recall being a bit of a pain.  You have to find them on the map and then get to them before the move on.

So there are still things to be done.  But the main narrative, the story of the game, is complete.  40 hours is about par for the course for me.

Catching Palkia in Pokemon Shining Pearl

I had to delay my progress in the game for a few of days while my daughter was away so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of her.  But have been back on the trail in Pokemon Shining Pearl since the holidays.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

First up was taking on the the seventh gym up in Snowpoint city.

Truth in naming, unlike Greenland

The Snowpoint city gym isn’t difficult when it comes to the fights.  There were more fights getting to Snowpoint City, as you have to run the usual gauntlet of NPC Pokemon trainers eager for battles as well as the usual random encounters.  But the maze in the Snowpoint City gym… well, it is probably the most difficult of the bunch and one where, if you mess up, you have leave the gym then come back to start over again.

After a few runs at it I had to look it up.  I seem to recall having to do that back with the original as well, though in 2008 I had to go through the book to find out that the key to the whole puzzle was breaking the grid of snowballs in the center of the gym in the right order.

I beat the gym leader which got me the seventh gym badge and unlocked the ability Rock Climb.

I just said that

Rock Climb unlocks new areas of the map, including the heights of Mt. Coronet.  But my first stop was the Team Galactic Headquarters, where I had to find a key, defeat all the grunts, fight one of the bosses, and then release Uxie, Azlef, and Mesprit, three mythical/legendary Pokemon that had been captured by Team Galactic.

After the battles it just meant pressing a button

That done, I was off to the top of Mt. Coronet to face the leader of Team Galactic.

They were waiting for me

Up there, in Pokemon Shining Pearl, the boss is holding the Legendary Pokemon Palkia.  That is the Pokemon on the cover art for the title, so this is a big part of the story.

The boss, like all Pokemon bad guys, is a bit over the top in his ambitions.

He has to monologue for a bit

The bad guys in the classic Pokemon titles all have the ambition and budget of a Bond villain… and sometimes even the same goals… well, aside from money, which is the most common Bond villain goal… and yet tend to get overthrown by 10 year olds with neglectful parent.  I mean, my mom in the game gave me the thumbs up for this adventure with a pat on the head and an admonition to “stay safe” or some such.  I forget at this point, it has been a lot of steps since I left Twinleaf Town.

Before you get to the boss though, you have to fight his two minions… again, because you fought them before.  But your rival, I chose the name Barry for him from the list, comes to assist you for a doubles battle.

Barry is there for me

That battle was pretty quick, as was the fight with the boss.  Barry doesn’t join in on the boss fight, but it went by fairly quickly, monologuing aside.

Yes, yes, yes, you keep telling me these things…

Once the boss has been dispatched… and he is done cataloguing his plans and whatever… it is time to face Palkia.  Professor Rowan and Dawn are both there to support you as you go to face the main Pokemon in the game.

Getting last minute advice on the battle

This is a tense moment in the game, because you don’t want to blow it.  You want to catch Palkia, not defeat it in combat or cause it to run away.  This is a point where a lot of people save the game, before they start that fight, in case they screw up.  If you do blow it, you power down your game and launch it again to start from the save point.

Unless, of course, you have the master ball that you picked up back at Team Galactic HQ, in which case you just throw that and catch Palkia on the first round.

We won’t be taking any chances here

I mention all the other stuff because there is a school of thought that says you should save the master ball for later catches, but I wasn’t going down that path.  I wanted Palkia and got them.

Having caught Palkia, the confrontation on Mt. Coronet is over.  Team Galactic has been defeated, their story line has been wrapped up, and you, Dawn, and Professor Rowan are able to head off to other tasks.

So, we just walk back now?

From there it is off to Sunyshore City and the eighth and final gym.  Getting there had been blocked by a power outage… a reference to the fact that the Sunyshore gym leader is into electric Pokemon… but once you have come down from Mt. Coronet, power has been restored and you can proceed.  Yet another content gate.

But I now had Palkia in my party and was planning to make them part of my group to face the Pokemon League.

Palkia and friends

The other three in that picture… catching them comes later.

The 500 Hour Mark

I saw a question going around Twitter last week asking people to list out video games that they had played for 500+ hours.

Artwork provided by my daughter

This apparently stemmed from the developers of Dying Light II saying that the game would require 20 hours to play through the main story, 80 hours to finish the main story and all side quests, and 500 hours to “max out” the game by going down all possible choices and whatever, which generated some minor controversy and whatever.  Articles have been written, posted, and probably forgotten by this point.

I honestly don’t even know what the game is about.

But, as tends to happen, a side discussion about time spent with games came up with people listing out games they have spent 500+ hours playing.

And that is where I want to go with this.  After playing video games for more than 45 years I have to have more that a few titles with which I have hit the 500 hour mark.

Here is the thing.  I kind of want to be sure about it.  There are a lot of games I have spent a lot of time playing, but have I really spent 500 hours?  That is equal to a full time, 40 hour a week job for about three months.  And people, myself included, often wildly overestimate how much time they really spent with a game.

For example, I figured that Civilization V would make the cut.  I played a ton of that in the last decade.  But Steam clocks me in at just 425 hours played.  That is a lot, but it isn’t 500 hours.

And Civ V is the game I have the most time with on the Steam platform.  I have several games there I feel I have played thoroughly which only have 20-40 hours recorded.

But then there is something like Valheim.  I played that for a few months just a year ago.  I have 280 hours played on it, which still isn’t 500 hours, but is over half way there in under a year.  So it doesn’t have to be a title that I have played for a decade, it can be a title I focused on a lot in a limited time frame.

So I am going to break my titles out into confidence levels.  Some things I have numbers for.  My monthly ManicTime measurements enter into things as well.  I started using that to measure game play time back at the start of 2019, and there are titles I have hit 500 hours with since then.

Verifiably Have 500+ Hours Played

  • TorilMUD

I played this regularly, with a few breaks, from 1993 until late 2004.  The current running version, which represents the third one I have played, shows I have over 100 days played, which gives me 2,400 hours played at least, and that came after the last pwipe in 2002.  So there could easily be more than double that invested in the game.  Would I bet on having played 5,000 hours?  Maybe not, but it seems possible.

  • World of Warcraft

Yeah, pretty easy on this one.  Given all the time spent with the instance group, having played through WotLK from launch until Cataclysm, and time devoted to later expansions like Mists of Pandaria and Legion, I am probably past the 500 hour mark at least four times over, if not more.

  • WoW Classic

I am going to differentiate this from WoW, in part because they have different clients, but also because all of my WoW Classic time has been tracked by ManicTime.  And ManicTime puts me in at 775 hours played.  Yikes.

  • EVE Online

After fifteen years, this is pretty easy.  Once again, even my ManicTime measurement for the last three years puts me past 500 hours, and that is impressive given how much time I spend tabbed out of the game when I play.  I swear I am logged in twice as long as ManicTime tracks.

Almost Assuredly have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest II

I could probably get EQII into the above category if I went in and did /played on half a dozen characters.  I played it a lot in the first year and then have come back to it at various times.  I have a lot of alts spread over the few remaining servers at this point.

  • Civilization II

I have absolutely played more Civ II than Civ V, and since I have a benchmark for Civ V via Steam, it stands to reason that I have the hours in for it.

  • Minecraft

Have you seen how much time I spent building roads and rail systems?  Minecraft had the advantage of being something I could play for hours while listening to podcasts or audio books.

Pretty Sure I have 500 Hours Played

  • EverQuest

I mean, come on, I must have 500 hours in for this.  This one gets into the mists of time though.  I did play a lot back in 1999 and 2000.  But  I no longer have the account I used back then and I am fairly confident I haven’t put in that much time with my current account.  So I feel like it is over 500 hours, but I don’t have anything to really anchor it to.

  • Lord of the Rings Online

While I really never get far beyond Moria, I have been back into the game enough times now that I must be well past the 500 hour mark.  I have played through the original content many times at this point.

 

It is Quite Possible I have 500 Hours Played

  • Rift

I wasn’t even thinking about this, then I went back and looked at some old posts about Raptr and the time tracking it did, and I hit Elite in Rift for hours played.  It was the WoW replacement for quite a stretch.  Add in the Rift Classic experiment and I feel pretty sure I am there.

  • Civilization

I played the original pretty obsessively back when it came out.  I never went back after Civ II came out, but it was a few years before that happened.

  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

This came after Civ II and there was quite a stretch between that and Civ III where this was the big strategy game.  I liked this a lot more than Civ III and a bit more than Civ II, but it had problems in the long term as it was locked into a few full screen resolution sizes from the 90s, while Civ II was just a window that even today resizes to the fit my current huge monitor

  • Age of Empires II

I think I make the cut on this one just due to longevity.  I have played this off and on since it came out more than 20 years ago.  It used to be a staple at work on a Friday night back in the day, and Steam say I have about 100 hours played with the HD remaster.

  • Pokemon Go

The math works here for the most part.  My wife and I have been playing for almost five and a half years at this point, so 500 hours requires less than 15 minutes a day on average.  The only thing keeping me from being completely on board with this is figuring out what really constitutes “playing.”  Me tapping on my phone screen, yes.  But how about me going for a walk to get steps?  Does the walk require intent?  Does spinning a Pokestop make the whole duration of the walk count as playing, or just when I have eyes on the screen?

The Mists of Time are Thick, but I think I made 500 Hours

  • Wizardry

Have I mentioned the annotated, hand drawn maps I made of the game back in the day?  I have a couple of Apple II titles that probably make the cut, but this one left behind physical evidence.

  • Ultima III

The last in the Ultima series before Lord British got all moody and introspective.  I played this to death, and then bought an editor that let me make my own modded version of the game, which I then played some more.  Also, my girlfriend at the time wore makeup with the Ultima III brand, completely unrelated.

  • Lode Runner

There are a lot of Apple II games that I played for a bit, and then there are a few that I played for ages.  I played a lot of Lode Runner, solving all those levels and then making my own levels.

  • Stellar Emperor

I spent a lot of time… and money… playing this back in the day.  I won the game once.

  • Klondike

This was the first really good solitaire game that I found on the Mac back in the day.  I used to play it obsessively at times.  It had a scoring system that rewarded smart, efficient play, and I developed a whole philosophy of play to adapt to it.

  • NetHack

Maybe, sort of, if you count the time I spent digging through the code and modifying it to see if I could make the game better… better for me at least.  It was a bit of an obsession for me in the early 90s.

Missing From the List

  • Diablo Series

While I have played all the titles from the Diablo series, often intensely at times, it has tended to be in short bursts.  I might have played them all for a combined total of 500 hours, but no single title has hit that mark.

  • Pokemon

Again, my combined time playing Pokemon, by which I mean the core Pokemon RPG games on the GameBoy, DS, and Switch, no doubt adds up to more than 500 hours.  But I have not spent 500 hours on any single title.  The champion was probably Pokemon SoulSilver, when I caught them all.  My blog post of that shows I invested 243 hours getting there.  Nearly half way to 500, but half way doesn’t count.  I probably spent closer to 50 hours on most of the ones I finished.

  • Atari 2600 Games

From 1977 to 1983 the Atari 2600 was my only real home video game outlet, so I am sure I played many more than 500 hours.  But did I play any one game that much?  Maybe Adventure or the Indiana Jones game… but most likely the Blackjack cartridge.  The fourth game on that was Poker Solitaire, and I could sit and play that for ages.  But that was so long ago, I really can’t commit to saying I have 500 hour into any of those cartridges.  They were not deep games.

So that is my guess at the games I have invested 500 hours into.  But when you’re into the back half of your 50s, you’ve had a lot of time to get there.

My Games Played for 2021 and Looking Forward into 2022

It is that time again, time to look back at what I played last year and maybe try to get an idea as to what I might play in the coming year.

2020 plus 1

Past Entries

Last year I wasn’t really feeling it for what I might play, probably because the list I made didn’t really pan out, so when I made the call for 2021 I kept it short and sweet.

The likely candidates were:

  • WoW Classic
  • EVE Online
  • Retail WoW
  • Burning Crusade Classic

I also threw out RimWorld, Civilzation V, and maybe World of Tanks as possible candidates to which I might return.

So now is when I look at what I actually played.  I don’t go as into as much detail as Belghast, but my chart is more colorful!  The top ten titles, which represent the games I spent 10 or more hours with in 2021, were:

2021 in gaming for me

Overall I tracked time for 20 games, so the bottom half of the list did not make it to the ten hour mark.

  1. WoW Classic – 29.61%
  2. Valheim – 23.10%
  3. EVE Online – 18.73%
  4. Diablo II – 7.18%
  5. New World – 6.67%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 3.68%
  7. Forza Horizon 5 – 2.36%
  8. RimWorld – 2.21%
  9. EverQuest II – 1.77%
  10. Pokemon Pearl – 1.21%
  11. World of Tanks – 0.92%
  12. War in the Pacific – 0.56%
  13. MMO Tycoon 2 – 0.49%
  14. The Fermi Paradox – 0.48%
  15. World of Warcraft – 0.38%
  16. Flashing Lights – 0.36%
  17. Runes of Magic – 0.18%
  18. Art of Rally – 0.13%
  19. Hearthstone – 0.05%
  20. LOTRO – 0.05%

EVE Online was the only title I played through all year, and even that was fairly light once World War Bee ended, which explains why it ranked in third in overall time played.

WoW Classic, which includes Burning Crusade Classic, topped the total time played, but petered out when we were reminded that we did not exactly love The Burning Crusade the first time around.  Our WoW Classic time probably peaked in Blackrock Depths, which we ran into a dozen times at least.  Leaving was made easier by having Blizzard’s behavior exposed.

Valheim, which came out of nowhere to become our obsession for a few months managed to come in second.  We got our money’s worth out of that title, though the content ran out of steam for us and the small team working on it was overwhelmed trying to just keep things going.

Diablo II Resurrected was also a good time for a bit.  New World showed up in September, but we didn’t really start playing it in earnest until more than a month had gone by and the login queues began to subside.

The two flavors of Forza Horizon were in there as well.  I combined them into one row on the chart, though they would have easily both made it on their own.

RimWorld made the cut when the Ideology expansion hit, giving your colonists their own belief systems to work around.

I wandered into EverQuest II for a bit, as I tend to do, but didn’t make a big commitment.

Once it arrived, Pokemon Shining Pearl was a hit for me, making it into the top ten for time played in just the last five days of the year.

And then there was World of Tanks, after which time played starts to drop off rather quickly on the chart.  I suppose my one regret was not being able to get into War in the Pacific, though honestly the biggest hurdle was how tiny the print was on my 34″ monitor.  It is a war game from an earlier age of small monitors with large pixels.

So of the four likely candidates, I did end up playing three of them.  Retail WoW quickly fell off the rotation for me in 2021 as the Shadowlands expansion turned into a repetitive grind for somebody not interested in raiding.  Technically I logged in for quiet a while into the year, but I am not sure you should count the monthly run at Darkmoon Faire as really “playing” the game.  I only did that because I was already subscribed and playing WoW Classic.

Which I guess brings us to the 2022 outlook.

2022 is what we get

Here is what I can see from where I sit this week.

Sure Things

  • EVE Online
  • Forza Horizon
  • New World
  • Pokemon Shining Pearl
  • Stellaris

I already have time logged for all of those this year.  I might give up on them sooner rather than later, but they will be somewhere on the list.  I certainly have much still to do in Shining Pearl and the group seems committed to New World for the time being.  And I just bought some of the DLC for Stellaris, so I’ll play a bit of that I am sure.

Likely Candidates

  • EverQuest II
  • RimWorld
  • World of Tanks
  • WoW Classic Wrath of the Lich King

I own the latest expansion for EQII and am subscribed for another two months, I’ll probably play some.  Likewise, it is easy enough to pick up World of Tanks whenever.

And, naturally,l I started thinking about RimWorld again since I started writing this, which makes it more likely that I will go back and play it.  It happens.

WotLK Classic though, that depends on Blizzard actually shipping it this year, though it feels like that is all the WoW team will manage in 2022, and Blizzard not being a complete shit show that makes me feel bad handing them money.  I am biased towards playing it, that expansion representing what is my likely peak in Azeroth, but I am also wary of Blizz and how they might screw it up or just make doing business with them so unpalatable that I’d rather just stick with the memories.

Maybe, Maybe Not

  • Age of Empires IV
  • LOTRO
  • Valheim

AOE4 is part of the XBox PC subscription, so I just need to download it.  I am just wary of another 100 megabyte download for a title that might not pan out for me.  I haven’t liked anything in the series since AOE2.

LOTRO I want to go back and play now and again, but it looks so bad on my big monitor that they have to do something for wide screen support before I will commit.  If they do that I’ll give it a shot, otherwise I’ll pass.

And then there is Valheim.  I am wary of this because any updates they ship will only apply to unexplored areas, and on the world we build up we explored a lot, including into biomes that should be getting content.  So going back for new content means started over again on a new world, abandoning all of our work.  That might be too much to ask.

Unlikely

  • World of Warcraft
  • Burning Crusade Classic
  • WoW Season of Mastery
  • Diablo Immortal

Okay, I might  try Diablo: Immortal when it arrives, having a phone and all that… though I’ll likely play it on the iPad instead.  But otherwise the theme here is clearly Blizzard games I would be likely to play in past years not drawing much appeal from me in 2021… and honestly it is as much because of their own lack of merit as much as because of anything Blizzard is up to.

And then there are the new games that might show up.  As I have noted in the past, in January of 2021 I wouldn’t have called Valheim, New World, or Pokemon Shining Pearl even being options, yet they all made the cut.  So I am open to some new things, but I cannot see far enough into the future to tell what might show up and tickle my fancy.

Diving into Pokemon Shining Pearl

As I mentioned previously, copies of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl were underneath the tree for my daughter and I Christmas morning.  My daughter took Brilliant Diamond while I got Shining Pearl.  We were not able to jump right into the game on Christmas Day, it being a busy family day, including a 5 hour round trip drive up to my father’s place, but we got going soon enough.  I dove in first and had to prod my daughter a bit to follow suit, but once she got into the game, it was a return to a fun, old school experience.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

And, as I noted in my month in review post… and will no doubt repeat… the old school aspect of it is kind of what makes the game so far.  There is the simple intro, the immediate send-off from your character’s mother who seems happy to send a 10 year old off into the world on their own, the hyperactive rival, and the pre-analog stick grid-like layout of a game designed for the DS series D-pad.  It was enough to put nostalgia in play.

Of course, the whole thing is very much on the same engine as Pokemon Sword & Shield… what choice did they have with it being on the Switch hardware… and with that there come some changes.  Yes, you can play in old-school DS mode and move with the D-pad while holding down the B button to run… or you can move with the left analog stick, always in run mode, to make your way around the world.

I honestly find the analog stick both a blessing and a curse.  You are not limited to the four cardinal directions and are always in run mode when you use it.  But that ability to run off at an angle means that lining yourself up for things like doors in the grid designed world can be a bit of a challenge at times… and all the more so when you get your bicycle and are moving much faster.  Sure, the bicycle’s speed always made overshooting your target an issue, but the analog stick seems to amplify it.

And you can’t just ignore the stick, because I’ve found a couple of places in the caves where you need that diagonal movement to hook a corner without dropping off a step and having to run back around to try it again.  So I mostly use the stick unless I am trying to thread a needle somewhere.

The new engine also renders everything in 3D, so while the game runs you around in a flat, 2D looking mode for much of the time, it cannot resist reminding you that this is not just old school sprites on a flat background.  You will have some 3D at various points.

Warm and kind and in three dimensions

I guess it is 3D all the time really, but out in the wild grass or in the caves it still really feels like the old 2D mapping.  But running around town you do have a sense of that third dimension, even if the camera is locked in place.

Running around town with my lead Pokemon in tow

There are other changes you get with the new hardware and engine.  As with some later titles in the series, experience share is on all the time for all Pokemon in your party, as opposed to it being keyed off of an item held by a single Pokemon.  I actually like that change as it does make keeping a party somewhat close in levels much easier.  Back in the day it was some work to not just have one all powerful, fight all the fights leader in your party who got all the exp and then five more Pokemon 15 to 20 levels behind.  I remember having to correct that imbalance, which you can bowl through most of the game with, once I got to the Pokemon League and the final battles in the game.

There is also the Poketech, the utility smart watch with a bunch of apps on it… the iPhone was launched after the original Diamond & Pearl, so smart phones show up later in the series… which on the old DS occupied the lower screen.  But the Switch only has one screen, so the Poketech UI became a window you can pull up with the R button (and dismiss by holding down the R button for a few seconds) if you need to use it.

Mostly you don’t need to use it.  A lot of the apps on it are just for show, like an analog clock.  But you do need it some of the time for things like hidden moves.

Which brings me to another change, which is that hidden moves, or HMs, are gone, at least as items in the game.  They went away in the series at some point way down the road, but in the Diamond & Pearl era they were still canon.  The core Pokemon RPG titles are essentially a series of gated content areas through which you need to advance.  Levels are a gate they use, as the Pokemon you face as you advance rise in level.  But there are also various puzzles and challenges, one of which is defeating the local gym leader.

On defeating a gym leader you are given the ability to use a hidden move which allows you to overcome a type of terrain obstacle, which is one of the content gates.  You can’t just skip the gyms because you can’t cut plants or break rocks or climb or fly without the hidden moves, and you’ll need them to get places.  In the old game you were given an HM, an item that was put in your bag, which let you train a Pokemon to have one of those moves.  Once trained, an HM was permanent for a Pokemon, unlike the technical machine, or TM, abilities.  You had to train the skills you needed to get about the world to a Pokemon in your party, which meant creating travel mules with those skills because they would be otherwise limited by those skills in battles.  Not that the HM skills were bad, but they were not always optimal for a given Pokemon.

Honestly, I didn’t even notice that HMs were well and truly gone until I got a few gyms in.  I did see that you no longer got HMs.  Instead a stack of a few TMs with the skill in question would be available to you, but I went and made a travel skill mule out of a trusty Bidoof, loading him up with cut and rock smash and surf.  I did this because this is the way it was done back in the day.

And then my daughter pointed out that you no longer needed to have a Pokemon in your party, that after defeating a gym leader the move would be added to an app on your Poketech which would allow you to use it without having trained it.

All the moves are right there dad…

The TMs we were being handed were just in case we happened to like a particular move.  Surf and fly, for example, are pretty good moves even without the travel element.

This is another case of me needed to wear my glasses when I play now, because I was kind of skipping past a lot of the dialog at the end of gym battles, including the bit about those moves.

The gym leader literally telling me about the move

There are a few other items that have changed or that are new.  I seem to think the game telling you where you ought to head next on the utility screen is new, though maybe I just forgot that after all these years.

Otherwise I have been quite enjoying the retro Pokemon experience in Pokemon Shining Pearl.  It is a bit easier than I remember it, though I am sure that is much more a function of having played most of the series since then than game itself.  The gyms and the puzzles to get through them are even better than I recalled.

I did get stumped for quite a bit at the Snowpoint City gym, which was just like the old days.  You have to do things in just the right order there.  On the other had, solving all the puzzles in the Hearthome City gym, which were math an memory related, left me feeling I had missed out on some fun.

The answer was 15

The problem is that if you get the answer right and go to the door indicated… and the problems are all simple math… you end up missing out on all of the build-up fights, and the xp and rewards that go with them, and just fight the gym leader Fantina.

Express ride to Fantina

And, once you defeat her, the rest of the gym won’t battle you.  Oh well.

And, of course, there is Team Galactic, the villains of the tale.  While not as iconic as Team Rocket, they are every bit as haughty and arrogant when you encounter them, and they have the usual Bond villain style plan to take over.

Never a nice word from them…

I am six gyms into the game, but am taking a break for a bit.  Well, sort of a break.  I could keep on blitzing through, but my daughter is off to visit my aunt and cousin for a couple of days and asked me to stop getting so far ahead of her.  She is a couple of gyms behind.  So I said I wouldn’t collect any more gym badges until she got back.

But that doesn’t mean I have stopped playing.  I have been going back to make sure I didn’t miss anything on my play through so far. (I did a just before bed run to a new town and was in such a hurry I am sure I missed a bunch of stuff.)

Need this to make some money…

And I am also training up a couple of new Pokemon as once I get to the Pokemon League and the final battles I am going to need a range of Pokemon up past level 50 to win.  I have been working on the Jirachi that the old couple gives you early on in Florama town as well as raising up a Magikarp in to a Gyrados, always a good Pokemon to have on your team.

No longer content to merely splash!

And once my daughter is home I’ll be off the leash and able to carry on.  Of course, finishing the main story and defeating the Pokemon League won’t mean the game is over.  There is always a lot of post-story activities.  I might have to dig out the original Pokemon Diamond & Pearl guide book that is on my shelf.  I wonder if the information in it is still an accurate guide as to where to go and what to do in this remake.

December in Review

The Site

Here we are, once again facing a new year.  2022 is just hours away and… well… not much is going to change.  We imbue the artificial construct of time with magic properties, like one more turn around the sun will change us, the world, or human nature.

Still, it is almost the last time I get to use this graphic.

2020 plus 1

This is my 397th and final post of the year.  And you know what I haven’t done yet?  I haven’t uninstalled Adobe Flash.  I still get this alert every few weeks.

The end of Flash is here

I don’t know why I haven’t removed it.  It isn’t like I am invested in Flash.  I’m just being stubborn I guess.

Also, the ad experiment carries on.  The goal of it was to cover the cost of the Premium hosting plan which I switched to due to WP.com threatening to inject sponsored posts into those not paying for hosting.  The goal is to get paid, which means making at least $100 before the next payment comes due.  Three months in and revenue is closing in on $60.  I am not quitting my day job, but at least the blog is revenue neutral.

One Year Ago

Pandemic binge watching was still under way, which led me to summarize how it felt.  Somewhere in all that binging I found time to read, so had five books to talk about.  I was also promoting the ability to read the blog via FlipBoard.

Then there were predictions to be reviewed, though 2020 was beyond predicting really.

The Steam Winter Sale kicked off yet again.

I played Among Us for an evening.  I have yet to to play it since.

We got the news that Daybreak was set to be purchased by a Swedish company called Enad Global 7.  As part of that we got a look into Daybreak’s financials.  We learned that DC Universe Online had the most players and highest gross revenue of all their titles, yet EverQuest still managed to eke out the highest net profit.  The deal closed before the month was done.

EverQuest also launched the Claws of Veeshan expansion, the 27th for the title, while its younger sibling, EverQuest II, released the Reign of Shadows expansion, its 17th since launch.

In Pokemon Go, the update had arrived that raised the level cap from 40 to 50, so I was sizing up what it was going to take to get to level 41.

In WoW Shadowlands I hit the level cap… which was back to level 60 after the big squish… after which I had to choose my covenant.  We got a look at how Shadowlands stacked up against past launches.  SuperData, in what would be one of its final reports, said WoW subscribers were up with the expansion.

In WoW Classic the instance group was wandering Blackrock Depths and Stormwind with Marshal Windsor, then went back in to go after a couple more of the bosses in that dungeon.  That done, we made it through the bar only get get stopped cold in the lyceum.   But I was working on my blacksmithing skills as well, though I couldn’t tell you why now.

While CCP was still fruitlessly trying to work out how to create an FPS based in New Eden, in EVE Online, their one and only successful ongoing title, World War Bee was raging, and would soon lead to yet another Guinness world record setting battle.  News from EVE Online summed up:

Finally, I tried to sum up 2020 by shooting only for the high points.  It wasn’t easy.

Five Years Ago

As happens every December, I reviewed my predictions for the year, assessed the highs and lows, and made some attempt at a gaming outlook for 2017.  For the last I was feeling somewhat adrift… which turned out to be right on the money for most of 2017!

At Daybreak we found out that Russel Shanks had been replaced as CEO.  Still not sure what changed with that, if anything.

A little later former Daybreak CEO John Smedley announced the end of Hero’s Song and PixelMage Games.

Meanwhile Turbine was losing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online to a spin-off called Standing Stone Games.  Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 were to be closed and Turbine was slated to become solely a maker of mobile games.  Standing Stone Games also had some deal with Daybreak, they were even mentioned in the EULA, so maybe that was what changed.

In New Eden we had Blog Banter #78 which asked the pwipe question about EVE Online.

Then there was the rumor that CCP might be up for sale for ONE BILLION DOLLARS!  I followed that up with my thoughts as to what would happen to EVE Online if certain companies bought CCP.  EA, for example, would end up shutting down the game and closing the studio, if history is any guide.

I also listed out what I felt were the top five problems with EVE Online, then added a bonus item, because EVE is like that.

There was also the traditional Yoiul gifts, if the launcher would let you into the game and the last update for YC118, which included music.

Then there was null sec, where I was celebrating my fifth anniversary.  Down in Delve we managed to lose 600 billion ISK on our own cyno beacon.

In space the war in Tribute was heating up.  Asher led us up there to shoot targets of opportunity in M-OEE8 as Pandemic Legion and friends contested the timer on CO2’s Keepstar.  That was also the second day that the PCU passed 50K since the Ascension expansion.  I went back north on my own to be there for the death of that Keepstar.  The heralded the exit of TEST and CO2 from the north.

That in turn led to the opening of a Winter war down south, a war that eventually fizzled when the participants decided nobody wanted to fight a Fozzie Sov war, so new boundaries were negotiated instead.

Reavers went out to help one side in a structure fight in Catch and went to join in on yet another Keepstar fight.  That one survived but another one got popped.

I was mucking around a bit iEverQuest II, trying to find my way in new content.

In Minecraft my mansion road project required the application of TNT to blast a road through a jungle.  Minecraft also had nice packages and Skronk made me a cobblestone generator for Christmas.

And no December would be complete without a Steam Winter Sale, and no such sale would be worth its name without issues!

I didn’t notice it at the time, but a German gaming site called Plarium put me on their list of the 8 best MMO blogs.  Of course they also put Tobold, who doesn’t actually write about MMOs anymore and Tipa of West Karana, who hasn’t been updating for a while now (and who has since lost her domain!), and themselves, which seems like a bit of ego, but still it was cool to find.

Finally I was going on about companies making MMOs… and the people playing them… feeling that every single title had to be all things to all people, leading to dissolute efforts and titles that do a lot of things but don’t really stand out in any particular aspect.

Ten Years Ago

There was the usual looking back at the Highs and Lows of 2011.  And, hand-in-hand with that, there was the look forward at games I might play in 2012.

One of those games was Diablo III and another Torchlight II, while Path of Exile represented a dark horse third. They were all vying for the mantle of successor to Diablo II.  So I tried to define the essence of Diablo II.

I also had some demands for 2011 and had to look at how that worked out.

I was back in EVE Online and I began my journey into null sec appropriately, by killing myself.  Then I saw titans, lit cynos, and got blown up.

But hey, a ship blows up every six seconds in EVE Online.

There was a war on, and it was announced we were going to be driven from Deklein.  And there was something about ganking tourism and three flavors of ravens.  Also, pretty new nebulae.

Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP declared that the era of the Jesus Feature was over for EVE Online.

There was the end of Star Wars Galaxies, though people were saying it had been dead for years.

Star Wars: The Old Republic went live, completing the changing of the Star Wars MMO guard, for all the lack of actual change that brought about.

EverQuest II and its free to play twin, EverQuest II Extended, were merged into a single fighting force of extraordinary magnitude or something.

Richard Garriott de Cayeux went a little nuts talking about his Ultimate RPG, his great fondness for EA, and the failure of Tabula Rasa and Ultima 8.  He seemed to try to be getting EA to join with him by talking to the press… and not to EA.  And then it was the Mayans.

Closer to planet Earth, the instance group was in Rift running the Realm of the Fae.

Toril MUD was still alive and had just added nine more zones to the game.

Playboy Manager the MMO.  Never ended up being a thing.

And I proved my laser tag prowess against a bunch of little girls.

Fifteen Years Ago

The short-lived Massive Magazine, dedicated to our chosen niche video game genre, put out its first issue.  I bought a copy.

I told a Christmas story from 1977 about video games.

I followed up on my initial Stellar Emperor post with one about how I won the game.

My daughter and I were chasing Rudolph across the Frostfell zone in EverQuest II.

Digg starting listing podcasts and there was a call to help Digg some of the MMO related podcasts. These days I am surprised when I see that Digg is still a thing.

The Commonlands in EverQuest got a make over. The two zones also got combined into a single zone.

compared the Butcherblock chessboard in EQ and EQ2. I was also running around Runnyeye with Gaff.

correctly predicted the venue for that year’s EQ2 expansion, Kunark, which I will never let anybody forget.  I was also wondering about SOE’s trajectory given the changes that came in with Echoes of Faydwer and The Serpent’s Spine.

And in World of Warcraft the instance group did Gnomeregan and started in on Scarlet Monestary.  I also noted that gold spammers were using in-game mail in WoW.

I also had five features I wanted WoW to steal from EQ2.  I think we got one of them in the form of the WoW Armory.  But no, housing was not on the list.

Derek Smart came up as a topic for the first time on the site.

In a bit of EVE Online history I didn’t write about at the time, though I was vaguely aware that it had happened, the first titan built, an Avatar named “Steve,” owned by Ascendant Frontier, became the first titan destroyed when it was lost to Band of Brothers in C9N-CC on December 11, 2006. The pilot, CYVOK, logged out with aggression, was probed down, and the titan was destroyed.

The Wreck of Steve

There is a memorial wreck in the system to mark the event.

And, finally, just to make this section even longer, the top ten best selling games on the PC in 2006 were:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. The Sims 2: Open for Business
  3. The Sims 2
  4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  5. Star Wars: Empire at War
  6. Age of Empires III
  7. Civilization IV
  8. The Sims 2: Nightlife
  9. Guild Wars Factions
  10. Zoo Tycoon 2

That was back when Sims ruled the list.  I had forgotten that Guild Wars sold as well as it did too.

Twenty Years Ago

The Shadows of Luclin expansion for EverQuest, the third for the game, brought the Val Shir race, the beastlord class, alternate advancement mechanics, mounts, and a renewed game engine with updated player appearances, and the ability to customize the UI.  It was kind of a big deal.

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. I Don’t Know What I Expected from the WoW Community Council
  3. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. The EVE Online New Dawn Quadrant to Start With Mining Changes
  6. WoW and the Endwalker Excuse
  7. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  8. Life on the M2 Hellcamp
  9. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  10. The Winter Nexus Holiday Events Begin in EVE Online
  11. The State of New Eden at the End of 2021
  12. CCP Begins Inflicting the New Dawn Austerity Plan on EVE Online

Search Terms of the Month

fury at fwst-8 winners
[Everybody who had fun… and CCP]

when was the darkrai event in platonim held
[It was held in 2008]

when is viable run ragefire chasm
[For Alliance players, any time you’re ready to die]

сурамар таверны
[Somewhere in the town I think]

Game Time from ManicTime

The December games look quite different from my January games, except for EVE Online I guess, which has been the one title that I’ve played all year.  While Pokemon Brilliant Pearl seems like a distant third there, all of its play time has been since the day after Christmas.  So it has been top of the stack for the last week.

  1. Forza Horizon 4 – 37.30%
  2. New World – 36.62%
  3. Pokemon Shining Pearl – 12.26%
  4. EVE Online – 8.30%
  5. EverQuest II – 2.98%
  6. World of Tanks – 2.54%

EVE Online

In game it was a modest month of activity.  The Winter Nexus holiday event got people to undock, there login rewards and sales and such.  Out in space the usual low level conflicts persisted.  I went on a few small ops, tended my PI, and spent way too much ISK on a black ops battleship.

Out of game CCP publicly declared to continue the economic beatings until the PCU improved, saying that players will eventually do as they were told and play the game correctly if the company just keeps suppressing the economy.  The promise of “prosperity” earlier this year, like the promise with last year’s economic outlook that scarcity was to be temporary and not the new reality, turned out to be a lie.

If that were not enough, Hilmar has been running around talking to the press about blockchain, crypto, NFTs, and play to earn.  Since CCP has exactly ONE game they could implement those buzz word bingo ideas in, you can expect that to hit New Eden in 2022.

EverQuest II

I remain subscribed to the game and I even bought the new expansion and have been into it for a couple of levels.  The problem has been that there are a few games ahead of EQII in my interest queue, so it gets left out most evenings.  It isn’t bad, there are just things I would rather work on now.

Forza Horizon

Happy, fun, open world driving and racing.  Changing from FH5 to FH4 was a nice change up.  I like the car choices a bit better and England is a bit more varied in terrain and seasons than Mexico.  I even got a controller for Christmas to play it, so I will have to do a post about how that turned out.

New World

The group had a pretty good month in New World.  We managed to get ourselves through the Amrine Excavation after a few tries, which meant figuring out how to actually play as a group.  There is still lots to do and see in the game as we move along at our own pace.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.

Level: 42 ( 11.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 677 (+4) caught, 697 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 14 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Sliggoo

Pokemon Shining Pearl

REAL Pokemon!  My daughter and I broke out the retro-Pokemon games on our Switch Lites the day after Christmas and have been having fun in Sinnoh.  I will probably repeat this every time I write about these titles, but there is such a nice mixture of simplicity (compared to Sword & Shield) and nostalgia going on that it is quite pleasant.  It isn’t perfect, but is has been good so far.  We’ve only been playing for a few days at this point, so the final four are still off on the horizon.

World of Tanks

I got in there and played a bit, but WoT suffered from the same problem that EQII did in that there was something else that was filling its niche further up the stack.  In this case, Forza Horizon 4 was my go-to game for light, short term play.  Still fun, still has its appeal, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Zwift

I managed to keep on peddling in our living room in December, adding another 96.5 miles to my total distance as measure by Zwift.  That gets me to… well… nowhere interesting really.  That distance by road puts me in the middle of Nevada or Oregon, in some empty place south of Ensenada, or in Quartzsite, Arizona.  I need to keep going to get somewhere I guess.

  • Level – 12 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 584.4 miles (+96.5 miles)
  • Time – 1d 6h 47m (+5h 59m)
  • Elevation climbed – 24,413 (+4,400 feet)
  • Calories burned – 19,426 (+3,285)

Coming Up

2022 which, as somebody pointed out, is pronounced like “2020 – 2,” which I hope just ends up being a humorous aside and not some horrible premonition of things to come.

Also, I need to come up with a “2022” graphic at some point today because tomorrow will be post one of the year, the inevitable predictions post where I prevent things from happening by publicly declaring that they will.

There are still a couple of 2021 posts I mean to get to including the summary of 2021 gaming and the books managed to read and that sort of thing.

Otherwise 2022 starts off with the group playing New World, my daughter and I playing Pokemon, and the pandemic still hanging around making any return to “normal” as unlikely in the new year as it was in the old.