Category Archives: Steam

August in Review

The Site

Another month goes by.  I hit two minor meaningless milestones in August.  In addition to my 6,000th post I also managed to make it to 500 consecutive days of posting.

Quantity has a quality all its own

That was one that was easy up until I got past 400 posts and then it started to weigh on me.  But I made it.  In fact, today marks 521 days in a row.  But I probably won’t keep it going.  The pressure of starting over again at 1 is starting to be outweighed by inability to really care about that sort of meaningless milestone after a certain point.  500 felt worth it somehow, but beyond that is just yadda yadda yadda.

Otherwise it was kind of a slow month for traffic here, which was odd because Blaugust usually heralds a bit of a boost in page views and visitors.  I appear to have fallen out of favor with Google again, as search engine referrals have tanked over the last three months.  Such is life on the web.

One Year Ago

It was Promptapalooza Blaugust a year ago, a bit of a change up since we kind of did Blaugust as Blapril earlier in the year.  I wrote something about Quote of the Day and my alleged writing process.

The pandemic was still in full swing with no vaccine in sight.  I started writing about the shows we were binge watching around our house.  And then I did it again.

Twitter reminded me I had been on their site for a decade.

Facebook said you would need a Facebook account to log into your Oculus VR headset.

Epic broke the rules for the Apple Store and the Google Play store and, when Fortnite was removed due to this, immediately sued, which was their plan.  But what did Epic really want?

Daybreak bought Cold Iron Studios.  I think.  The press release about the acquisition has since been scrubbed… classic Daybreak, though still available at the Internet Archive… and Cold Iron has since gone on to ship Aliens: Fireteam Elite, which was not published by Daybreak or EG7 so far as I can tell.  Both Massively OP and MMO Fallout followed up on this for me though.

The pandemic was turning out to be quite lucrative for Activision Blizzard and the Shadowlands expansion was just two months out.

Over at SSG they were in danger of entering J. Allen Brack territory in warning people that they didn’t want “classic” LOTRO.  They’re probably right in the case of LOTRO, but it still gets people worked up.

I had returned to Diablo II, writing up my adventures in Act I.

In WoW Classic, which turned one year old, we were getting ready for Sunken Temple.  The road there takes some time.  Our first run went down stairs.

EVE Echoes, the NetEase mobile game based on EVE Online, launched.

In EVE Online CCP was introducing space weather in the form of metaliminal storms.  We got armor plating tiericide, Niarja fell to the Triglavians, and the promised metaliminal storms came out way before the month was out.

I hit my 14th anniversary with the game and wrote something about the spaceship meta.

World War Bee was in full swing.  I’ll just list out the posts on that:

Finally, Brian Green passed away and the community mourned his passing.

Five Years Ago

It was really Blaugust, so I was posting every… single… day even though it was supposed to be the “super relaxed” version of the event.

After spilling Mr. Yoshida’s delicious sauce over my ancient cell phone, I finally joined the smart phone boom with an iPhone 5S.  Of course, that meant playing Pokemon Go, something my wife does better than I do.

I tried to come to grips with the constant whine that every MMORPG should cater to every single play style by asking if any MMORPG had ever managed to find a new audience after launch.  I remain unconvinced that it has ever worked.

Blizzard was telling people that World of Warcraft was still the number one subscription MMORPG. But after their vow of silence on subscription numbers, that brag seemed a bit hollow.

In the game though things were looking up as the pre-Legion expansion event , the demon invasions, proved to be a boon to leveling up alts as they built up momentum.  And I still had that level 100 boost with the expansion to look forward to.

And then WoW Legion launched and it was on to the Broken Isles and class halls and what not.

I speculated what WoW expansions would look like if they were done like Pokemon games.

The Stormhold server in EverQuest II was facing a unlock voting crisis over the Rise of Kunark expansion.  It failed the first two votes, and failing a third would put votes in a moratorium for a while.  However, it passed on the third try.  I also shared my secret EQII shame.  Of course, with the coming of WoW Legion I was out of the game… like Legends of Norrath… just in time to miss some deals.

In EVE Online we had the YC118.7 update.  I was wondering if better PvE could save the game, though I remain unsure as to what “better” would really look like.

I was also celebrating my ten year anniversary with EVE Online.  Meanwhile CCP had a free to play plan lined up for New Eden.  It looked like it had some holes in it though… which we later learned it did.

Down in the southwest of New Eden the Imperium had set up shop in Sakht and was banging on the door of Delve, dropping citadels, blowing up citadels, and fighting LUMPY over sov timers.  Despite threats to keep the Imperium down for good, the locals in Delve got very little support in their fight and we were into the region shortly.

Back up north I was able to slip my last belongings out of the newly quiet system of Saranen.  Meanwhile, Executive Outcomes, which rode out the struggle as part of the Imperium, parted ways once the Casino War was over.

And somewhere along the line I found the time to get out Half-Life 2 and give it another spin.

Ten Years Ago

Blizzard announced some crazy idea that you would have to be logged on to Battle.net at all times to play Diablo III.  Glad that never came up again.  Oh, wait

SOE finally got a comprehensive server status page, and Scars of Velious opened up on Fippy Darkpaw.  I was wondering if they had “made good” with customers after the great hacking in April/May of the year.

I hit 70 million skill points in EVE Online and prepared to check out after the summer or rage.

I was back playing LOTRO for a bit.  I made it into Moria, then went looking for hoes.  I also wrote a post summing up my relationship with LOTRO up to that point.  It’s complicated.

Wargaming.net announced World of Battleships.  They have since changed the name to World of Warships, because we cannot have enough games we can shorted to WoW yet.  This got me musing on battleships and related games.

Meanwhile, World or Warplanes (another WoW) got a web site with cool pictures and stuff.

David Reid was telling people that Rift had ONE MILLION CUSTOMERS.  How one actually defines a customer was left as an exercise to the student.

I was still playing some Need for Speed World.  I was enjoying destructible terrain, though the weekend the police broke lead to some different destruction.

I mentioned some of the little things I liked in MMOs.

I was wondering about World of Warcraft Magazine issue 5.  It seemed to be very late.

And Namaste put out a Very Short History of MMOs video.

Fifteen Years Ago

This is the last month in review where I have to pull things from fifteen years ago without linking back to my own blog posts.

AOL, which is still a thing even today (I strongly suspect my mother-in-law still gives them money every month), bought the GameDaily site which, in a case of foreshadowing, was eventually disappeared into the Joystiq brand.

I started playing EVE Online on August 29, 2006.  It was my last “pre-blog” MMO start.  It was certainly another stepping stone on the way to the blog, as I felt I have to tell somebody about the horrible new player experience.  Some things never change.

Thirty Years Ago

Tim Berners-Lee released to the public the first browser for something he called the World Wide Web.  Geocities sites and pop-up ads and massive link rot are on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Linus Torvalds announced the operating system he was working on to the Usenet news group comp.os.minix.  While he wanted to call the OS Freax, it would eventually get the name Linux.

Forty Years Ago

IBM launched the IBM Personal Computer, perhaps the most influential and least IBM-like product the company has ever created.  After failing to come up with an internal design and feeling the market slipping away, IBM let a team working outside of the normal company hierarchy put together a machine with off the shelf parts and an open architecture that was the essential foundation of the PC market we have today.

IBM, seeing all the clones spawning in its wake, eventually decided to make a more proprietary model, so introduced the IBM Personal System/2 in 1987.  The rest of the market said, “No thanks!” and the clones became the standard and IBM no longer makes desktop or laptop PCs.  I think the most lasting legacy of that 1987 design is the PS/2 port.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. The Blizzard Name Will Go
  7. PAPI Begins Pulling Out of Delve
  8. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  9. Activision Blizzard, the Lawsuit, and the Q2 2021 Financials
  10. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  11. CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online
  12. Tempering Expectations with the Diablo II Resurrected Beta

Search Terms of the Month

Карта страны майнкрафт
[There are some map generators out there]

база майнкрафт
[I have made many]

симулятор секса игры на пк
[I get this search term in English a lot]

test alliance please ignore
[Easier to do these days]

ancient winter poncho
[No Ponchos!]

Game Time from ManicTime

The usual suspects top the list, though I was on EVE Online a lot more in the first couple weeks of the month.  Then, once Delve was recovered, that fell off somewhat.  The others I mention in their own entries below.

  • EVE Online – 45.29%
  • WoW Classic – 27.87%
  • RimWorld – 15.47%
  • Diablo II Resurrected beta – 6.20%
  • The Fermi Paradox – 4.96%

Diablo II

The Diablo II Resurrected beta was available for two weekends for some of us, so I was able to get a look at it.  It is good, though the team clearly still has some bugs to work out.  We’ll get to see if for real come the end of next month.

EVE Online

World War Bee is over.  The enemy has retreated from our territory, various parties are still finding new homes, Legacy Coalition is no more, PAPI has effectively been disbanded, and the threat of the dreaded blue donut has been averted once again.  There is lots of rebuilding left to be done and lessons to be absorbed.  Absent our Ansiblex jump gate network Delve has become a target for neutrals looking for easy kills and gates camps pop up all over, so the Home Defense fleet has been pretty active.  The jump gates will be back up again in less than two weeks though.  Then there will be a new transit network to learn.

Pokemon Go

My wanted Pokemon, Heracross, showed up in raids in August, so I got my wish and finished off the Johto Pokedex.  So what do I wish for next?

Otherwise the month was okay.  After the high of Pokemon Go Fest last month I haven’t been too excited about playing, and was all the more turned off when Niantic went back to the 40m radius for gyms and Pokestops.  It is nice that it is back to 80m permanently, but I need something to spark my interest.  Level 41 is dragging on and every level after is that much more of a grind.

Level: 41 (77% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 662 (+8) caught, 686 (+9) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 12 of 14
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat

RimWorld

I kept on playing with the Ideology expansion for RimWorld.  It is pretty neat.  I have been meaning to write up a little review of it, but the dev has been adapting it from player feedback and it has evolved some, so it is probably better that I have waited.

The Fermi Paradox

I wrote a post about this during the month.  I played it for a while, but it felt a little light to me.  As I noted, it is in early access, and just arrived there in July, so it has plenty of room to grow.  I will likely revisit it at a later date because I like the concept, even if the initial execution isn’t quite there yet.

WoW Classic

As I mentioned in a post this month, our group has decided to stick with WoW Classic despite the troubles at Blizzard.  It is just the game that brings us together and I am not sure another title would work as well in the long term.  We spent the month working on epic mounts and then finally finished up Hellfire Ramparts as a group of four.

Coming Up

It is rumored that we will be getting the Valheim Hearth & Home update mid-month.  Our server is still running, so we might have to log in and see what that brings us.

By the end of the month we should also see the launch of Diablo II Resurrected.  I’m down for that.  It even sounds like mod support might be in place for it.  There was a piece about how the Median XL mod would be ready to go for it at launch.

There is also a likelihood that Amazon’s New World will ship next month, though I am in kind of “I’ll believe it when it happens” state of mind there.

In EVE Online it will be a time of rebuilding and homeland defense fleets.  In WoW Classic it is time for us to try the Blood Furnace, the second dungeon in Outland.

And, of course, there will be the biggest of my annual meaningless milestones in about two weeks when the blog will turn 15 years old.

The Fermi Paradox in Early Access

I mentioned back at the end of the Steam Summer Sale, which somehow finished up over a month ago at this point, that I had purchased a few titles. I have played through them all a bit, so it is time to start writing, and the first on the board is The Fermi Paradox.

The basic idea is that you play the hand of fate, the galactic gardener, who helps guide intelligent life along their developmental path with an eye towards them eventually heading to the stars and possibly encountering other civilizations.

You get to influence multiple civilizations in your corner of the galaxy, making choices that influence their advancement or watching them collapse.  The Drake Equation plays into this.

Somebody fell out of the race again…

As you juggle the various budding civilizations, jumping from one to another as significant events occur, you earn “synthesis,” a currency of sorts that you can spend on your decisions, because not all choices are free.  You have often have to spend a bit to get somebody on what seems like the right path.

For example, one of my civs, the Prun, on Gliese, discovered radio.

Probably playing loud music all night

You have to decide where they should go with that.  Do you let it be, push them towards radio silence to avoid stirring up a neighbor that might be hostile, or get them to pump up the volume?  The fist is free, the second earns you some sythesis, while the last will cost.

The radio choices for their civ

I went for the last, deciding that there wasn’t much danger… after all, I know what the other civs are up to… and hoping it might spur another civ to look to the stars.  And then, of course, the Prun disappointed me.  They’re too much like us I guess.

Of course they did

You also get to collect “flares,” which look like little snowflakes on the screen, which are a bit like loot boxes I suppose, except that they don’t cost anything.  These bestow benefits or woes, give you some synthesis or cause some issue.  Some of them have a generic icon, others had indicators as to what they might influence.

So it goes.  You pop back and forth as events happen or new civilizations rise.  And naturally you get humans arising in the Sol system.

Early human civilization, with some flares to collect

So how is it?

I like the idea of it, and it is in early access… very early, as it just hit that in early July… so I want to give it some benefit of the doubt.  The concept seems like it has something to it.

On the other hand, what is there right now is very light.  If you’re expecting something like RimWorld or any of the Civilization titles, this is nowhere close to that end of the simulation spectrum.  Your choices are quick and general and sometimes go well and other times turn out poorly, but I always felt very much removed from the civilizations I was shepherding.  If somebody goes extinct, well you have some other options.  You root for one group or another, but there isn’t a lot there to get you invested in them.  And they regularly go down paths that you know won’t end well.

Occasionally you make a choice that has a large impact on a civilization, but most of it is light.  The flares give some sense of randomness to it, but there isn’t enough variation in them.  After a while you start seeing patterns and similar trajectories.

After a couple hours of play I wasn’t feeling all that invested in how the various civilizations were moving along.  There is a promise of depth that it cannot quite achieve yet and I felt like I was just clicking on things in a way that wasn’t very satisfying.

Still, I am interested and will keep an eye on it for now.  Maybe some big update to the game will grab me.

July in Review

The Site

There has been some discussion of the summer slump that EVE Online has been in, with the peak concurrent user numbers taking a dive over the last month or so.  There are several theories and lots of possible influences on that number, not the least of which is that it is summer and pandemic restrictions have been relaxed so some people just want to go on vacation after 15 months stuck at home.

EVE Online gets the focus here because they let people see their online numbers all the time and there is a site dedicated to tracking them.  Other games are less forthcoming with these sorts of stats, which makes it look like it might just be a New Eden problem.

Looking at my own blog stats however, I see a similar trend when it comes to pages view when I bring up the week by week stats.

Weekly page views – May – July 2021

The current week is a little low due to the measurement being from Monday to Sunday, but you can see the trend down from May to July, which lines up pretty well with the weekly peak concurrent user number I have been tracking in my weekly World War Bee updates.

This is not to say that CCP doesn’t have other problems, but it feels like there is a bit of a slump in interest in video games after more than a year of people binging on them.

One Year Ago

The 2020 Steam Summer Sale finished up.  I bought some things.

In TorilMUD, aging was abolished.

SSG was compensating people for outages in Lord of the Rings Online.

Minecraft gave us the Nether Update.  I went out and found a crimson forest in the nether.

I was reflecting on Diablo II at its twenty year anniversary.  We didn’t know for sure there would be a remaster at that point.

Blizzard was getting us more details about the Shadowlands beta and launch.

In WoW Classic the instance group was finishing up Zul’Farrak and then meandering about Maraudon, which we finished up on our second run.

Blizzard was banning botters in classic while getting ready to open up the Ahn’Qiraj war effort event.  As part of the anti-botting effort they were limiting the number of instances players could spawn in a day, but we were at least getting some extra bag slots.

CCP cancelled their San Diego player event as Covid did not look to be going away any time soon.

I also resigned myself to the fact that, despite past promises, CCP was going to keep selling skill points in EVE Online.  (I’d feel better if they stopped being so dumb about it.)

In game we saw the launch of the Zenith Quadrant, the first part which was a small update to command ships, and an official capsuleer cemetery at Molea.  The June MER showed that mining was shifting to high sec after the resource changes.

But the bulk of my posts in July were about the opening of World War Bee, which I am just going to list out rather than try to create a paragraph narrative:

Five Years Ago

Pokemon Go was everywhere after it launched.  Everywhere.

I listed out the NBI Class of 2016.  I haven’t gone to check how many survived the year.

Daybreak turned off the last PlanetSide server and the game was gone… though it lingered on the server status page for a while.

Daybreak did launch a pair of special event servers for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  I was keen enough to go earn the special mount on the EQII server.

There was strange news for Turbine as their parent company, Warner Brothers, announced that they were transitioning into a mobile app development studio.  We wondered what that meant for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

In Minecraft I was tinkering with maps and night renders while Aaron created a huge map room in game.

In World of Warcraft I managed to unlock flying in Draenor.  Just in time too, as the 7.0 patch was already pre-loading.  Soon the garrison gold mine would be turned off.  And then it hit, bringing new features.

In EVE Online the Casino War was winding down.  There was a Keepstar to chase, the alleged hellcamp, and some sovereignty exchanges in Pure Blind.  That wasn’t really going anywhere though.  We killed four titans in Okagaiken and blew up a CSAA just to show we were still fighting.  But in the end we admitted defeat and began packing for our trek to greener pastures.

Our destination was Delve, ever the region that calls to Goons.  But first we had to get through Rakapas.  I was there for a bit before I ended up soloing my carrier down to our staging in Sakht, accruing the maximum about of jump fatigue possible.

I also hit 160 million skill points while the Blog Banter spoke of malaise.

Ten Years Ago

Google+ was already starting to become annoying. (At the end of that post I also link out to an article that predicts that social media in general, and Facebook specifically, will start to fade by 2014.)

I tried Civ World, the Facebook interpretation of the classic Civilization series of games.  I didn’t like it.

In EVE Online, the results of the emergency CSM Incarna summit were released with CCP basically saying, “Ooops.”

I hit level 50 in LOTRO, got into Eregion, and actually saw the door into Moria.   Only a couple of years had passed since I bought the expansion. Gaff was ahead of me, as usual.   Meanwhile, Isengard was in beta, but nobody was supposed to talk about it.

Getting lost… rules.

EA, BioWare, and their new Origin service got together and combined my accounts without bothering to mention they were doing it in advance.  Just another day at EA as I understand it.  Customers come behind their own convenience.  Still, I was interested in their authenticator and how it stacked up against others.

Speaking of authenticators, SOE made one available as well that looked just like the Blizzard model.  But they cannot be swapped, one for the other.  I got the official line from VASCO on that.

And on the EverQuest II front, they announced that they were going to revamp Freeport, which I took as a waste of time.  (Plus, of course, Qeynos got shoved off until later.)  I am still not convinced that either revamp was worth the effort of the time spent downloading the assets.  But I am not sure Beastlords were either.  They seemed pretty broken when they launched.

The instance group wrapped up our last adventure in EverQuest II Extended.  There were a number of ways the game wasn’t right for us.  It wasn’t just the ugly mounts.

The pending closure of Star Wars Galaxies led to interest (and concerns) about SWG emulation.

But PlanetSide 2 news was coming.

I started playing Need for Speed: World, a driving MMO.  It wasn’t a bad game with the right music playing.

Zynga helped reveal the two faces of Tobold.

And World of Warplanes was announced, which got me wondering if this might not be a spiritual successor to Air Warrior of old. [The answer to that was “no.”]

Fifteen Years Ago

Twitter launched.  This blog has been entirely part of the Twitter era.

Microsoft was talking about a device to challenge the iPod and denying they would ship an XBox 360 with an HD DVD drive.  Being on the mark half the time is pretty good for them.

EA was trying to retain people by giving out more stock options and revising under water options while Take-Two Interactive was being investigated over stock grant shenanigans.

The ESA announced they were downsizing their yearly E3 conference.

The Civ IV – Warlords, the first expansion for the title, came out on Windows,

Twenty-Five Years Ago

The perhaps unfortunately named (and all the more so given the current scandal) CUC International purchased Blizzard Entertainment parent Davidson & Associates and Sierra Online, which became the heart of the new CUC Software.  The company later became Cedant Software, Havas Interactive, and eventually Vivendi Games.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. California Explores Gaming Power Usage
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  8. LOTRO Launches the Shadowfax and Treebeard Legendary Servers
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. On Immersion
  11. The End of Scarcity Foreseen in EVE Online in Q4 2021
  12. The Fraternity Alliance Update and the Direction of the War

Search Terms of the Month

is imperiume tech stock the one that bill gates called the holy grail
[Google says “no”]

how to get to the scarlet desert eq
[I actually have a whole post about that]

sylvanas x anduin wordpress
[The math doesn’t add up]

minecraft warm biome near cold biome
[I have screenshots of an ice biome taken from a desert biome]

Game Time from ManicTime

I came into the month working pretty hard on WoW Classic, or at least alts there.  Then the war started heating up a bit in New Eden and I tried a playing a few other titles.

  • WoW Classic – 51.04%
  • EVE Online – 24.36%
  • RimWorld – 12.44%
  • Flashing Lights – 4.64%
  • MMO Tycoon 2 – 4.51%
  • World of Warcraft – 1.06%
  • New World – 0.95%

EVE Online

Lots of little things going on in New Eden, but the war itself wasn’t very exciting.  PAPI decided to take the summer off at one point, then changes their minds and now are coming back for a final try to take our capitol.  They’ve only had a Keepstar next door since November.

New World

So yeah, I pre-ordered and have played a tiny bit in the beta.  Things have changed a lot since I was in one of the early betas a couple of years back at this point.  I am not sure I am happy with the direction the game took.  But more on all of that at a later date.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go Fest was the big deal this month.  My wife and I did a lot of that.  But the climb from 40 to 50… that’s a lot of xp.  To get from level 47 to level 48 you need 21 million xp, which is more than levels 1-40 combined.  You need to be pretty hard core for that, and yet I met a level 50 player during the event.  In talking to him, he just does everything I do, just a lot more often.  For example, he has caught almost 400K Pokemon, while my total is about 18K.

Level: 41 (69% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 654 (+8) caught, 677 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 13
Pokemon I want: Heracross would finish my Johto Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat

RimWorld

With the coming of the Ideology update for the game, I bought it and gave it a try.  I will no doubt have some words to write about what changed, but in general it is an easy game to sink back into even with the updates.

Steam Games

As I noted, I bought a few titles during the Steam Summer Sale.  You can see I’ve played them a bit in the Game Time section this post.  I plan to write something about each of them.  But plans often fall by the wayside.  I thought I would have a post up about at least one of them by this point, and yet here we are.

World of Warcraft

It was a bit more than the usual routine for retail WoW this month.  I did the Darkmoon Faire quests, but then I spent some time with pet battles when they had the bonus event running.  Still, over all, I didn’t spend much more than an hour with the game.

WoW Classic

I went into July strong on Burning Crusade Classic.  Or, at least the vanilla content as re-worked by the Burning Crusade updates.  I leveled my rogue from 21 to 37 while working on crafting and some other things.  And then the giant harassment scandal blew up at Blizz and, while my subscription hasn’t lapsed yet and our group is still playing a bit… we have paid for the privileged… we’re also discussing what we ought to do.

Coming Up

August means we will be getting some Q2 2021 financial reports.  Activision Blizzard should be interesting because it ought to give some insight into what the end of the lockdown in many places has meant to video games.

When it comes to WoW specifically the 9.1 patch came out at the very end of Q2, so the impact of that and the flow of players from retail WoW into FFXIV won’t be reflected until Q3 results.  And Q3… well, now that the state of California is after Activision Blizzard for creating and abetting a hostile workplace, I can only see things getting worse for the company.  They’re just another Riot and all their words about diversity and inclusiveness were just BS.  If you needed an actual example of virtue signalling… trying to ride on a popular wave that you don’t really care about… this might be it.  The question time for the Q2 call should be lit.

Then there is EVE Online.  August is traditionally a slow month for CCP as it is the nicest weather all year in Iceland, so they tend to emulate the French and go on vacation if possible.  But World War Bee still… rages?  I am not sure it has “raged” at all in the last six months.  But PAPI has promised an all out assault on the Imperium capitol, so maybe the rage will return to space, rather than hanging out in r/eve.

And, of course, it is the start of Blaugust, the annual blogging celebration.  It is not too late to join in.  There will be more about that tomorrow.

Friday Bullet Points on Deck for Summer

Back in the day I used to have a regular “mail bag” feature that took items from the blog inbox… reader submissions and press releases… that I thought might be interesting.  I don’t get much reader email these days and the press releases… where to even start?  Leaving aside the non-gaming updates, and the interview offers for random “experts” on even more random topics, the best one I’ve seen in months was about a Hello Kitty mobile app.  It even has a video, if that is your thing.

Bullet points though… I can pull those from anywhere.  All of which was a too long way of saying we’re back to the Friday Bullet Points thing again.

  • Steam Deck

Probably the big PC gaming announcement of the week was the Valve announcement of the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck hardware

Basically it feels like Valve looked at the Nintendo Switch and said, “Yeah, we can do that and then some.”  No doubt experience garnered with the failed Steam Machine helped them along

It runs on the Linux based SteamOS, plays games directly from your Steam library, has a docking option that allows you to hook up a keyboard, mouse, and monitor if you so desire, and is supposed to be available by December, with pre-orders opening up today.

Pricing is “aggressive” according to the company, starting at $399 for the 64GB base model and rising to $649 for the 512GB top end unit.  It seems pretty cool.  There are games in my Steam library that certainly favor a controller for input, and $400 for a mini gaming PC seems like a pretty good deal.  But I’ll probably wait and see on this one all the same.

Picking additional coverage to link to is tough as literally any web site that has any connection to video games has an article up by now, so there is plenty out there about the device.  Still, IGN’s article links to a FAQ they put together with Valve, so I’ll link to that.

  • Pokemon Go Fest

Pokemon Go turned five this month and the annual Pokemon Go Fest is this weekend to celebrate.  I haven’t really felt the need to buy the $14.99 in-game ticket to join in on the event in the past.  Some things, like all the special raids, are there for everybody.  But this time around they knocked the price down to $4.99 and have a pile of thing available for those who buy in, so my wife and I spent the money.

the 2021 event price

It is summer, we can go outside again, and it isn’t like the war in New Eden will miss me for a couple of afternoons.  I also have to go feed somebody’s cat on Saturday, a walk which will take me past at least three gyms.

  • Pokemon Go Five Year Collection Event

It is lucky for Naintic that we bought the event tickets before we finished the warm up event.  For the five year anniversary there was a run to collect all of the starter Pokemon from the first six generations of the game.  They were out in the wild, so the first dozen or so were easy enough to collect.  But there are always a few who seem reluctant to show up.  We found out that the daily tasks related to the event always had one of the starters, so the night before the deadline we were out at the community center, which has a a bunch of Pokestops, doing tasks to try and get the last two we needed.

Take 5 pictures of a wild Pokemon was a common task

After some persistence, my wife ended up getting her final catch.  I got my final one the next morning… a totodile if you are interested… so we were able to collect the rewards.

All of the starters checked off

They were some Pokeballs (yawn), a few rare candies (decent), and a special encounter.  The hope was that it would be something good.   Instead it was the anniversary Pikachu.

5 year Pika

That would have been cool… had that Pikachu not been littering the pavement throughout the event.  They were everywhere.  I wasn’t even bothering to catch them.  My wife about exploded when she saw the reward for the effort.  So here is hoping we get a bit more from the weekend’s run.

  • Pokemon Go Raid Achievements

Earlier this month, in advance of the anniversary, Pokemon Go got some big updates on the graphical front.  It is no longer either day or night.  Dusk and dawn see the light change as the sun moves through the sky.  Shadows are also more realistic.  When joining a raid there are some splashy new graphics.  And, there are now raid level achievements for things like most damage, final blow, and best dressed.

My wife got the final blow, but I just make this look good

There are, of course, badges for getting raid achievements… achievements for achievements are my favorite achievements I guess.

I can hit hard when I want

The interesting one is the traveler award, which goes to the remote raid pass person furthest from the gym.  I’ve had one friend from Japan get the furthest I’ve seen so far.

That is pretty far away… I was about 1km from the gym

  • Diablo II Technical Alpha Updates

I am trying to be cool about Diablo II: Resurrected.  We’re not getting it for a while, so no need to get all excited about it.

The return of the classic

But then we get updates from the company about how the technical alpha is going and it becomes hard to sit on my hands.  I want to play.  As a pre-order I will get a chance in about a month I guess.  That isn’t too far down the road.  Time flies.

  • Reserve Bank Keys are Coming

Back when CCP was nerfing ratting by forcing the ESS on it last November, they setup a main bank, which can be stolen from ratters, and a reserve bank, which would require special keys that were not yet available.  Since then trillions of ISK has built up in the reserve banks across null and low sec space.

CCP has announced that the reserve bank keys are finally coming.  They have put the keys, which can be found in low sec sites, up on the test server so people can try them out.

I expect comedy will ensue.  A few keen players will get in, figure out the system, keep quiet about whatever flaws there are, and otherwise position themselves to act the moment that the keys are released on the live server, at which point there will be a rush for them.  The winners will likely be the preppers and large groups that will rob their own reserve banks.

I expect that the reserve bank keys will be live on July 27th unless some tragic flaw is found, reported, and actually investigated by CCP.  At least they put the ISK payout flow on a timer,  made the keys specific to a particular quadrant of New Eden, and gave us two flavors (5 minute and 15 minute) so all the reserve banks won’t be empty in a week of furious activity like they did with structures a while back.  And, like the main bank, the payout is in bonds that need to be redeemed at an NPC, so they can be lost even after the heist.

 

What I Have Played so far in 2021

2021 is past the half way mark now and, as usual, the months seem to have slipped by.  But it did seem like a good time to maybe stop and look at what video games I played in the first six months of the year.  Thanks to ManicTime I have a handy list to work with.

Unfortunately, ManicTime can only tell me what I have played.  It cannot make my list longer or more interesting.  Still, let’s see where I spent my play time budget.

  1. Valheim – 40.18%
  2. WoW Classic – 39.50%
  3. EVE Online – 17.89%
  4. War in the Pacific – 0.97%
  5. Burning Crusade Classic Beta – 0.43%
  6. World of Warcraft – 0.39%
  7. Runes of Magic – 0.31%
  8. MMO Tycoon 2 – 0.24%
  9. LOTRO – 0.09%

Not even an even ten games, though these are just games on my PC.  We can add Pokemon Go if I need the round number I suppose, but I don’t have times for that, so we’ll skip it.  Anyway, looking at that list we have:

  • Valheim

Proof that I do play new games now and again.  It came out of nowhere in February and distracted the instance group from WoW Classic for more than two months.  It is actually in second place now in my Steam library based on hours played, just barely ahead of RimWorld and out in front of Age of Empires II and War Thunder, but still quite a ways behind Civilization V.

  • WoW Classic

The title I expected to be in first place, though it isn’t far behind Valheim.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it making the list is probably no surprise to you

  • EVE Online

I am sure it is a sign of the current state of World War Bee that my time spent in New Eden is less than half of the time played in either of the first two titles.  Still, it is in the top three that together make up about 97.5% of my PC gaming time so far this year.  I do wonder sometimes if I should give EVE a multiplier for play time because there is no other game I spend so much time playing while tabbed out in a browser looking something up, and ManicTime only counts the time when the game has focus.  Then again, I do also sit docked in a hangar doing nothing a good chunk of time too.

  • War in the Pacific

My apparent attempt to prove that I no longer have the patience to get into a complicated war game title.  22 year old me would have managed it.  Even 35 year old me might have made it.  But far side of 50s me isn’t getting there it seems.  I blame the tiny text and the lack of a zoom feature.  And even as a failed experiment it makes it into 4th spot, so I tried!

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta

You can argue that this ought to be under WoW Classic, but it had its own executable and was tracked on its own line.  Plus, given how little time I spent in beta, about which I have posted, there is a statement on how little I played anything below this.

  • World of Warcraft

Oh retail WoW, I was so into your Shadowlands expansion right up until I got my first character to level cap and decided I didn’t want to do dailies and grind anima or whatever it is.  I was seriously excited about some of the zones.  I’ll probably come back next year when the catch up mechanics kick in and make everybody who did it the hard way feel like a schmuck.  I mean, unless you enjoyed the journey.  I don’t want to take that away from you.  Anyway, my time spent here is mostly the monthly Darkmoon Faire login… and I even missed a month of that.

  • Runes of Magic

This isn’t a bad game, and it even works on my big monitor.  It suffers from the fact that there are just half a dozen other games at least that I would rather play.  I got hooked up into it for its anniversary for a bit.  Actually, it is probably for the best I didn’t carry on, because I never got as far as having to rent bag space or the dreaded $10 horse, which would have made me pissy about them having converted my account somehow causing me to lose all my diamonds.  Maybe it is a bad game.

  • MMO Tycoon 2

A single player game?  Whaaaaa?  Purchased this on a bit of a whim at the end of last month.  It seemed like it might be a bit of a laugh.  How meta, the one game on my list that has no MMO characteristics is about simulating the creation of an MMO!  Me so crazy!

  • Lord of the Rings Online

Grumble, grumble, monitor size and UI scaling.  I do log into the game once in a while, though I suspect if I went back into ManicTime and added up the time spent in the launcher patching and added that to the list, it would push LOTRO down another position.  Some day SSG will get around to supporting large screens.

What an entirely predictable list!

The good news, I suppose, is that I have picked up a couple items on Steam so the list ought to be a bit deeper before year’s end.  Everything won’t be “the siege of 1DQ carries on” and “the instance group rides again!”

Wrapping Up the Steam Summer Sale 2021

By the time this post goes live the Steam Summer sale should be about 15 minutes in the past.  Another one for the books.

There we go again!

My enthusiasm for the sale was at pretty low ebb, as it has been for a few years now.  Steam puts things on my wishlist on sale as often as Safeway discounts canned corn, and both generate about the same level of excitement these days.

So it is probably a bit of a surprise that I actually bought a few games during the sale.  Though, to be fair to Steam and its sale, I did not purchase anything that was on my wishlist or anything that they were pushing at me during the sale.  These came from outside recommendations.

Anyway, what did I buy?

  • MMORPG Tycoon 2

I mentioned this in the June month in review post already, but Lum was playing this and posting about it on Twitter.  It is in early access and wasn’t even on sale, but seemed meta enough to take a shot at.  My initial game, Attractive Nuisance, would tend to suggest that the title of the game perhaps ought to be WoW Clone Tycoon, but I haven’t dived into hard mode yet, which is launching a free to play game with monetization fun to deal with.

  • Art of Rally

This came up as part of a post on Ars Technica about the best titles in the Steam summer sale for under $25.  It also happened to coincide with me starting up on the whole immersion topic when I was making a mental list of games I missed and Need for Speed: World popped into my head.  I was able to achieve some serious “in the zone” time with it and the TRON: Legacy sound track.  This is a cool little game set in the golden age of rally racing in the 60s and 70s.  However, it really needs a controller to play it, so I am going to try and dig out the one I have for my PC before I pass judgement on it beyond the fact that you shouldn’t bother with just keyboard and mouse.

That said, it is a very nice, stylized racing game.  Could be a winner.  We shall see.  It will also be available on consoles soon, including the Switch, so it might be a better choice there… controllers being part of the bargain.

  • The Fermi Paradox

One of my favorite episodes of This American Life involves David Kestenbaum talking about why the Fermi Paradox, summed up as “where is everybody?” in the universe, makes him sad.  It makes me sad too, though so does the immense size of the universe and the relatively slow speed at which light travels.  We can barely get to the moon and Mars seems like a distant dream still, so how do we even consider other stars?

Anyway, The Fermi Paradox lets you play God over the rise and fall of sentient life in a corner of our galaxy where you make choices that guide civilizations along the path up the technology tree and get to see who fails or goes extinct and who, if anyone, makes it to the stars.  This is also in early access and is currently pretty raw, but there could be the germ of a good game here.

  • Flashing Lights

This is more of a special mention, because I purchased it on sale during a previous sale, but only started playing it during this past summer sale.  This went on my list because I was interested in the Grand Theft Auto V mod that let you play as the police, but I wasn’t up to getting into GTA V that deep.  This sat on my wishlist for quite a while before I eventually bought it.  It lets you play as fire, medical, or police responders, but the fun is running around in a police cruiser.  This is also in early access.

Play Time

I did follow my current Steam rule, which is not to buy a game unless I plan to play it that day.  I have between 30 minutes and 3 hours on each of these titles.  Not enough to write a review yet, but close enough to an initial impression blog post I suppose.  I am sure I will get to those.

June in Review

The Site

After a bit of a traffic boom in mid to late May, something I mentioned in the May review, search traffic fell off quite a bit on June 1st.

Peak Search Impressions in May

Google is the main variable in my traffic.  Without that my daily visitors and page views are pretty flat.  The same few people show up here regularly, so if you’re one of those… Hi!

Anyway, I am always a bit curious as to what attracts Google results, and for the back half of May my position in Google search was related heavily the Dire Maul summoning stone.  Google gives you a nice little report about the last 28 days if you know where to find it in their search console stuff.

When you need that summoning stone

Nice positioning too.  I am the top result for most of those search terms.

Bing also has a search console that tells you about your traffic, and I likewise saw a spike from Bing for “Dire Maul summoning stone.”  However, traffic from Bing is approximately 5% of the Google traffic, so not as big of an impact on my stats.  Still, some traffic.

So my guess is that once the Dark Portal was open and we were all rushing into Hellfire Peninsula, the need to summon people to Dire Maul fell off and my search traffic went with it.

Here at the end of June “Dire Maul Summoning Stone” is still my top search term, but it is just not as popular.  “Jintha’alor Altar” is still there in 4th spot with about the same amount of traffic.  But “How to find a Warm Ocean in Minecraft” is on the list now as are two variations of “EVE Online cloak stabilization,” which relates to the cloaky camping nerfs CCP introduced this month.

One Year Ago

My daughter graduated from high school.  It was a pandemic graduation, but we made do.

My poll about voice chat indicated that Discord now rules that roost.

Pokemon Go gave us remote raid passes since we all had to stay home.

I was giving Minecraft Dungeons a try.  I finished the main story fairly quickly and found the game to be light and fun, but not very deep or replayable.  Other reviews were even less charitable.

Daybreak was still having problems with their Aradune progression server.

We were getting down to the final days of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in World of Warcraft and I was wondering how it would rank in the pantheon of expansions and how much the previous expansion plays into how people feel about the current or next expansion.

WoW Classic was still going strong enough that Blizz had to turn layering back on for several realms.  There was also the Summer Bowl and the campaign against bots.

The instance group was still working on Zul’Farrak, failing the stairs when Sergeant Bly and his crew died.  Then, the next time, Bly and his crew survived, but disappeared as we looted the field.

My hunter became my first character to hit level 50 in WoW Classic.

In EVE Online I was reminding people about why CCP gave Upwell structures asset safety… because they took it away with the Forsaken Fortress update.  Another case of people foolishly believing in company promises.  So we went out and shot our own abandoned state structures in Delve just to keep other groups from coming along and doing it.

Meanwhile, the CCP mineral starvation plan was driving mineral prices to an all time high.

We did, however, get new ships for the EDENCOM faction as part of the Triglavian invasion event as well as a Project Discovery update that moved its focus onto the coronavirus.  And we got character log off!  People had only been asking for that since forever.

The CSM15 elections kicked off, with the results being announced by mid-month.

Also a little something about how opaque the game UI can be.

Actually in space the GEF was still up north fighting over various objectives.  But that all came to a screeching halt when we we found out that most of null sec was planning to gang up against us and invade.  They denied it, but then the evidence was found.  Our deployment up north ended and we began consolidating the empire into our core space, pulling down the last Keepstar in Cloud Ring before the month was out.  World War Bee was coming.

We were playing some Minecraft and seeing how villages had changed.

I was getting promotions for an Atari branded online casino complete with its own crypto-currency.  I guess, as a brand, Atari still has some value.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak’s Landmark finally went live just a few days short of summer.  However, it was the end of the road for PlanetSide and Legends of Norrath.

There was also the launch of the Isle of Refuge free trade server for EverQuest II.

There was a Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I put up a post.

It was reported that Minecraft had sold more than 100 million copies.

Minecraft put out the Frostburn Update, version 1.10.  I was building the last stretches of what would become the 22km rail loop.

I also reflected on a year of playing Minecraft, then added in some statistics.

Blizzard had the Warcraft Movie open.  I didn’t like it, nor did that many people outside of China.  Meanwhile Blizzard was also explaining that WoW expansions were just going to take time.  While WoW Legion was still weeks away, my daughter and I went back to finish up Warlords of Draenor and get ready for the new expansion.  Meanwhile the whole Nostalius thing was still simmering.

And I was playing EVE Online.  There was the YC118.6 update, which brought us more overview tabs and the Shadow of the Serpent event, among other things.  Recurring opportunities, in which you could earn some skill points by undocking and shooting an NPC, were removed after their short runDX9 was also dead in EVE.  And there was Blog Banter 76, which was about FC’s and how vulnerable they should be.

But mostly I was flying in fleets out of Saranen as we kept up the tempo of operations in what would become the final full month of the Casino War.  There were just too many posts about that to try and sting them together in a single paragraph narrative, so I will just list them out:

Ten Years Ago

I had to get out my Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD.

Team Fortress 2 went free to play.  Begin the hat-based economy!

I was wondering if people were picking on Lord British.  This was before he started talking about his “ultimate RPG” and made picking on him a very entertaining sport.

We were not playing WoW, but guild accounts were being hacked.  And we were not even among those 600K WoW players that supposedly went to Rift.

LOTRO announced the Rise of Isengard expansion and offered up a exp boosting item for pre-orders.

I was wondering what launch conditions would be like for SWTOR.  Of course, I sort of figured it might launch before mid-December.

LEGO Universe announced it was going free to play.  At our house, my daughter enjoyed it for a bit, but eventually dropped it for Animal Jam.

CCP began a slow and deliberate campaign of alternating between shooting itself in the foot and sticking said foot in its mouth, all in the name of the Incarna expansion.  And my sentry drones were still boring.  And then LulzSec brought them down.  At least they had finally made it much easier to find an agent in the game.

SOE announced a new version of Station Access, its “all games for one low monthly price.”  Called SOE All Access, which had a price of $19.95 a month.  This was a welcome drop from the previous $29.99 a month price.

However, by this point, SOE had dropped The Matrix Online and had just announced they were killing Star Wars Galaxies, so there were certainly fewer games to play.  Of course, that was also back when they had some games that were not free to play already.

At least SOE was up and running after the PSN/SOE outage.  A pity they fumbled the marketing opportunities offered by their make good plan.

The instance group had finally gotten out of the damn starter zone in EverQuest II Extended, but the game still wasn’t sitting well.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, the Ruins of Kunark expansion was opened up and then “finished” in short order.

And finally, on June 29, 2010 I created a Reddit account so I could reply to something on /r/eve.  Apparently I have yet to learn my lesson on that front.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sonic the Hedgehog turned 15, which I guess means it is 30 now.  Maybe I shouldn’t do call backs to birthdays.

Bill Gates announced that he was planning to relinquish his remaining full time positions at Microsoft in order to focus on his foundation.  Though Steve “Uncle Fester” Ballmer had been CEO since 2000, Gates was still Chief Software Architect and Chief Research & Strategy Officer (along with being chairman of the board).  More recently he’s been accused of trying to microchip us via vaccines and is in the midst of a divorce.

EverQuest II got the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack, the last such pack until 2015’s Rum Cellar.

Nintendo finally shipped the Nintendo DS Lite in Europe, though $3.2 million worth of them went missing en route from China.

Half-Life 2: Episode One was released as Valve briefly tried to pay attention to the core of their biggest franchise at the time.  Still waiting for Episode Three.

Titan Quest, one of the great post-Diablo II ARPGs launched.  It even got a remaster way before Diablo II.

Twenty Years Ago

Anarchy Online launched in what became one of the more tragic opening day break downs in early MMO history.  I mean, they were always bad back then, but AO had to introduce a free tial program, which eventually became a free to play option, to recover, making it one of the early free to play conversions.  The game recovered and carries on to this day, but it was a shaky start.

WWII Online launched as well and was also another troubled title.  And yet somehow it still survives to this day.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. New Eden and the Death of the Subscription Model
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Robbing Some Space Banks
  6. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  7. EverQuest Launches the Mischief and Thornblade Servers
  8. CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  11. Where Does WoW Classic End?
  12. Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend

Search Terms of the Month

dcuo pay for skill points
[I think that is more an EVE Online thing]

eve online female characters
[They’re mostly men]

ancient winter poncho
[No Ponchos!]

everquest 2 pvp server 2021
[Get there fast before it closes]

Game Time from ManicTime

This month ManicTime shows a pretty solid trend in my play time.

  • WoW Classic – 89.21%
  • EVE Online – 9.07%
  • MMO Tycoon 2 – 1.41%
  • Valheim – 0.19%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.12%

The launch of Burning Crusade Classic was clearly the focus of my play time in June.

EVE Online

Stalemate in the war, CCP’s ongoing economic starvation plan, the end of Covid restrictions, and the coming of summer have conspired to make New Eden a bit quiet.  Well, quiet save for the bits of the game where people are angry.  There was some desultory shooting of the monument in Jita at one point of packs and pop-ups, but that seemed to fade pretty quickly.  There wasn’t enough anger to sustain it, which means CCP successfully pushed monetization forward another step or tow.

MMORPG Tycoon 2

A Steam purchase, though not because it was on sale.  I saw Lum tweeting about it last weekend and asked if you could play with business models and monetization.  He said you could, so I grabbed a copy.  It is early access, but seems pretty solid so far.  At some point I will write a post about it and my first game, Attractive Nuisance.

Pokemon Go

I am a bit concerned about how much Niantic is planning to pull back from the changes put into the game during Covid.  Specifically, how close you need to be to a gym or Pokestop to interact with it is going to get cut way back, which seems a bit dumb.  It isn’t like you can spin one from a mile away, the change is a matter of yards/meters, but for a few gyms it means the difference from parking my car close by to get in or having to get out and walk across some grass.  Not a huge hassle, but enough to make it less likely that I will bother at all.

I did see a level 50 at last.  The highest person on my friend’s list is level 44 and they seem to be running out of steam.  But I was in a raid last weekend and saw this person:

Level 50 among us

I hadn’t even seen the requirements for levels 49 and 50 yet, as Niantic held them back when the new levels were unlocked.  But I guess they are in now.  So that person is starting to accumulate xp for the next level cap increase I guess.  Meanwhile I am not even half way to 42 yet.

Level: 41 (47.5% of the way to 42 in xp, 3 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 646 (+3) caught, 675 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 13
Pokemon I want: I accidentally transferred my Vanillite before I evolved it
Current buddy: Event Slowpoke wit a special evolve

Valheim

I did log in for a bit to check out the latest update and to make a maypole.  Still waiting for a major update before I resume a more active focus on it.

World of Warcraft

Once more my venture into retail WoW was just to run the Darkmoon Faire crafting quests in order to boost those skills up another 5 points.  At some point as the expansion is winding down and everything has been unlocked I will probably come back and finish things up.

WoW Classic

As noted above, the launch of Burning Crusade Classic dominated June for me though, given how much I have played, I certainly haven’t gotten very deep into the expansion.  My highest level character is 62 and is only just into Zangarmarsh.  Meanwhile I am already angry at level 70s with flying mounts swooping down to grab harvest nodes while I am fighting a mob that was blocking me from grabbing it.  Some things never change.

Coming Up

Umm… what is coming up in July?  Vacation?  I know some people are going on vacation.  My wife was at the mall the other day and told me that there wasn’t a piece of luggage to be had at any department store.  But I’m not going anywhere.  We have vacation plans for later in the year when, one hopes, the immediate rush might be over.

Otherwise what do we have?

More Burning Crusade Classic for sure.  Maybe something will happen in the war in New Eden.   A new pair of Legendary servers from LOTRO.  All this and more I suppose.  Maybe I’ll even buy something else at the Steam Summer Sale.

The Steam Summer Sale 2021 Arrives

It is that time of the year… or one of those times of the year… when Steam has a bigger than usual sale.  Welcome to the Steam Summer Sale 2021.

Here we go again!

In addition to most everything on my wishlist or in my library being discounted… hey, Valheim is even 10% off… Valve has a little Forge Your Fate feature for the sale that is supposed to help guide you towards titles you might appreciate.  I will have to see if it has any influence.  So far it has just guided me to pages that suggest things already on my wishlist.  Maybe I am doing it wrong.

Anyway, the sale is here.  At this point I post about the sale more out of habit than actual enthusiasm.  Steam has long since cured me of being excited about video game discounts, instead making them something I expect.  But at least it got me to log into Steam I suppose… boy, do I have a lot of updates queued.  Maybe I will see something new and interesting.

May in Review

The Site

Activity-wise, it was kind of an odd month.  Page views were falling at the end of April and that led to a very weak showing at the beginning of the month.  And then the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch hit and suddenly daily traffic doubled.  You can see from the most viewed posts list that people were interested in things that might help them level up their brand new Draenei or Blood Elf characters.

I also managed to continue on with the post a day record.  That doesn’t seem like a big deal… I this will be post 43 for the month of May… and it probably isn’t, but the way things work out I often end up with a week of multiple posts per day due to timeliness of a topic, then get to the weekend with nothing to hand.  Still, I made it.

The streak continues

I guess my goal now is 500 days in a row, which should happen before the fifteen year anniversary of the blog.  Go me.

One Year Ago

As Blapril came to an end I did a post about my top five most viewed posts over various points during the life of the blog.  After that there was the usual summing up of the event.  I also joined in and did my gamer profile again and did that “have you ever” quiz thing.

Daybreak was changing up the plan for the Rizlona and Aradune progression servers they had planned for EverQuest.  They launched, but not without the usual issues and overcrowding.  They also finally merged the Fippy Darkpaw server into the Vox server after its nine year run as a progression server.

Blizzard revenue and margins were starting to look up and we were getting hints of a Diablo II remaster.  However, BlizzCon 2020 was not going to happen.

The instance group made its first run into Zul’Farrak.

I went out and explored a bit in our old Minecraft world and we started tinkering around in a new world.

CCP was celebrating 17 years of EVE Online.  They also gave us PLEX trading in the companion app for… reasons.  We got the candidate list for the CSM15 election and the Forsaken Fortress update that made Upwell structures easier to kill.  Then there was the MER which showed mineral prices starting the rise and ratting numbers starting to fall.

I correctly predicted Burn Jita was unlikely to happen.  I also was looking to earn some ISK.

Out in space were up north defending structures in a couple places.  That led to the GEF moving to Cloud Ring for some action for fights.  We even got to fight in Notoras, the best system in low sec.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was announced, which sounded great.  It was later delayed.  There was also a promise of more Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn.

The regional groups forming in the US in response to the pandemic were starting to look like some post-US strategic game.

Five Years Ago

Overwatch went live.  Still haven’t played it.

DUST 514 went offline.  Never did play it.

Landmark’s official launch date was announced.  Never did buy it.

There was word about Pokemon Sun & MoonCivilization VIEverQuest II prestige servers, the tribulations of WildStar, and the WoW Legion Beta, all in one bullet points post.

One thing I did end up playing was Stellaris, which launched back in 2016 as well.

In EVE Online I saw my first citadel.  Now they’re everywhere.  There was also a free weekend on Steam that got a lot of accounts created, but which still faced the wall of the new player experience.  There was a Blog Banter about Project Nova and that brief experiment with recurring opportunities that granted skill points. There were also details from the CSMXI election and that whole 85% thing, which did not add up for me.

In space the Casino War was still a thing.  We were huddled up in the back room of the Quafe Warehouse in Saranen plotting ways to strike back and keep the war going.  We threw industrials at sovereignty.  That got us a foothold back in Fade for a bit.

Mostly though it was battles in low sec.  Asher led us out to battle in his Phantasm, we squared off against capitals, blew up some fax machines.  There were battles over structures in Saranen and we managed to anchor an Astrahus to face the citadels arrayed against us.  Lots of shooting, but not much changed.

Oh, and SynCaine joined KarmaFleet.  I even saw him on an op.

Outside of New Eden Blizzard could only talk about MAUs after renouncing discussion of subscription numbers.  Given the whole Nostalrius situation I was wondering what Vanilla WoW really was.  And the Warcraft movie was approaching.

In Minecraft I was planning a rail line and finding a path for it to run.  Aaron’s project of the month was a facility in the nether to make the collection of Ghast tears easier.

I was also momentarily nostalgic for Starsiege: Tribes… or for what I could remember of it.

And in TorilMUD the elves were no longer restricted to the isle of Evermeet until level 20.

Ten Years Ago

May 2011 was the time of the great Sony outage, with the PlayStation Network down for 24 days and Sony Online Entertainment down for 13 days.  It was a communication fiasco from start to finish, with bad updates almost daily.  About all they could do was promise us all goodies for when they finally came back up.

CCP was starting the build up to the Incarna fiasco with the introduction of Aurum.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, there was agitation to vote NO on unlocking the Kunark expansion.  Such agitation shows up with every unlock vote.  But no vote failed until Gates of Discord came along.

The instance group was in EverQuest II… when it was up… and trying to get the hell out of the starter area.  We managed it, but it took a lot more time than I would have thought.  We started in on some dungeons and got ourselves a guild hall.

World of Warcraft subscriptions started to decline, down to 11.4 million (those were the days!) while Trion started offering free server transfers in Rift.

My daughter was asking me about Dungeons & Dragons.  There was a thread going around about making better MMO players.  There were clearly some bad players about.

And finally, as hot as things seemed to be around here, there was no rapture.  You just couldn’t buy a break that month.

Fifteen Years Ago

World of Warcraft lead designer Rob Pardo was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2006.

The Wii “steals the show” when it comes to the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.  Despite a drop in attendees, there are long lines to try out Nintendo’s new console.  This was the last E3 before the “new format” of 2007 and 2008.

The ESRB changed the rating for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from “Teen” to “Mature” in part due to topless female art assets in the game that could be accessed by mods.  Former California Assemblyman Leland Yee (later Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate number 19629-111) took time out of his organized crime activities to slam the ESRB for missing these hidden art assets.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Robbing Some Space Banks
  3. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  4. Bloodmyst Isle – The Worst Zone in WoW
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online
  7. Mischief is Coming to EverQuest
  8. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  9. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  10. CCP Changes to Nullification and Warp Core Stabilizers hit the Test Server
  11. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  12. How Long can the Fifteen Dollar Subscription Hold Out?

Search Terms of the Month (Yandex Edition!)

летящие буквы как в звездных войнах фш
[Not sure, you mean like this?]

как украсить стену дома в майнкрафте
[Paintings?]

подводный риф 3.3.5 на карте
[Warm oceans are work to find]

схема Аннуминас kjnh
[I like Annuminas]

особняк майнкрафт данж
[I have a couple of posts about that]

забытый город камень встреч
[The Lost City of the Tol’vir?]

ферма призмарина майнкрафт
[Aaron made a whole farm for that]

cat is 4 fite
[Dude, speak English]

Game Time from ManicTime

May saw us hit the end of our hype cycle with Valheim.  I logged in and did a bit of exploring.  But focus clearly turned to WoW Classic and getting ready for the coming of The Burning Crusade expansion.

  1. WoW Classic – 63.39%
  2. EVE Online – 29.64%
  3. Burning Crusade Classic Beta – 2.90%
  4. Valheim – 2.22%
  5. World of Warcraft – 1.19%
  6. War in the Pacific – 0.66%

EVE Online

The war carried on into its eleventh month, with forces stalemated at the Imperium capitol constellation.  The enemy can still bring double our numbers if they ping for operations in advance, but haven’t been able to break into our home.  We, on the other hand, are somewhat limited by how far we can reach from that constellation.  TEST miners and ratters in Delve get dropped on regularly in their new home, but operations beyond that require groups to find bases far off, which takes them out of the Delve fights.

Pokemon Go

I set a new personal record for the longest time defending a single gym, managing 19 days, 1 hour, and 24 minutes.  We drove up to Portland to drive our daughter home from her first year at college and I got into a gym on campus… and then nobody kicked the defenders out for almost three weeks.  Other than that we managed to do all the events in May, which meant fighting a lot of Team Rocket grunts and leaders.

Level: 41 (38% of the way to 42 in xp, 2 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 643 (+10) caught, 673 (+11) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 13
Pokemon I want: Still need Eevees for the level 42 tasks
Current buddy: Eevee

Valheim

We still have another boss to slay, but that wouldn’t buy us anything, so our efforts have tapered off.  The small team that made the game can only manage a monthly patch for bug fixes while serious updates still seem far away.  I have no doubt we will return, and I do log in to do a bit of base building now and then, but our goals have pretty much been completed.

War in the Pacific

I put some more effort into this, grabbing a more focused scenario about the 1942 Burma campaign to see if that would get me up to speed more quickly.  It is hard to tell what I am doing still however.

World of Warcraft

As usual, not much time spent in the retail side of Azeroth.  I did Darkmoon Faire on my main, then actually did a few pet battles during the week that they had the xp bonus, getting a few more battle pets up to level 25.

WoW Classic

May was prep for Burning Crusade Classic.  Three characters to level 60 now, new specs explored, and some work on a fourth character who managed to go from 36 to 45 over the last week or so.  Plus I spent a bit of time in the beta.   Basically all eyes on Outland and the changes that come with it.

Coming up

Tomorrow at 3pm my time we transition into Outland as Burning Crusade Classic opens the Dark Portal.  Expect a report on that I suppose.

In EVE Online the war carries on, heading towards its one-year anniversary.  PAPI, the blue donut coalition, will continue to camp us in the south with their numbers advantage while also rolling over any small groups in the north to expand their own ratting and mining empires, basically doing what they allege the Imperium did.

Meanwhile, CCP has the CSM16 elections coming up on June 8th and their cloaky camper fix is likely to hit us suddenly next month as well, if recent company behavior is any indicator.

And… I am sure other things are coming up in June, but the war and the Dark Portal are both immediate and of interest to me.

Decorative Trophies for our Valheim Main Base

Work on the current round of construction on out main base has about wrapped up.  I am sure once we get the promised “hearth and home” update, which is set to expand building options, there will be further plans.  But for now it has settled and have a roof over out head… something missing during a stretch of the construction.

The main base as it currently stands

The problem with our base is that I built the first survival hovel right next to the trophy runes and that is a protected area that you cannot encroach into with your building.

The early hall seen from about the same spot

Now, with a main hall setup to maximize comfort in order to grant the maximum rested buff timer, we were looking for some more decor.  It was long the plan to hang up trophies of the various bosses in the main hall.

The first up on the wall was Eikthyr, the lightning stag, whose trophy is quite handsome.

Eikthyr in Chains

We also had an extra Bonemass trophy sitting around, though it is mostly just a blob and not very attractive.

That left The Elder and Moder to find.  We had only done Moder once, and just Crowbar and I, so we decided to head out and do the fight again.  I had marked a number of spots where dragon eggs could be found and we had actually set up the barricades again at the end of the last fight, so we were able to summon Moder pretty quickly.

Everything in place for Moder

We even went ahead and did it as night was falling.  Our gear was pretty much all upgraded to the plains level, so we felt we were ready.  Moder was summoned and off we went.

A poison arrow hits as Fergorin jumps out of Moder’s way

Despite a couple of interruptions by other mobs and the fact that Moder flattened all of our construction, we were able to bring her down without too much drama.  It just takes a bunch of arrows.

So we had the Moder trophy as well as some more Moder’s tears to store away in the crafting boxes.

Moder up in the main hall

That done, we decided we needed The Elder.  That took a minute to get settled because we had to think a bit about where The Elder was even located.  The now neglected Elder Base was the destination once we found the portal there.  Portal proliferation is an issue.

We had a pile of the seeds needed to summon him, plus a resupply of arrows, so we kicked off the event and went after him.

Return of The Elder

Being the second boss, we were more than geared up for him.  There was no drama like our first run at him.  I eventually eschewed the bow and just waded in and started beating on him with Frostner.  He was soon down and his trophy up in the main hall, though he didn’t seem all that happy about his fate.

Quiet you!

Of course, twenty minutes later, when digging through the storage boxes to try and find the serpent trophy I had nabbed some time back I ran into another trophy of The Elder, so the trip wasn’t really all that necessary.  (And I never did find the serpent trophy, which is sad, because it was very nice.  We’ll have to get another.)

The only trophy missing from our collection is Yagluth.  We’ll get to him when we’re ready.  There is a spot waiting for his immense crowned skull.