Category Archives: Valheim

The Mistlands go live in Valheim

The Mistlands biome has gone live for everybody in Valheim.

The Mistlands at last

Since Valheim launched back in February of 2021 to immediate and almost overwhelming success, we have kind of been waiting for more biomes.  I mean, it took our group some time to get through the initial set that came with the launch, but eventually we hit the plains, which was the end of the road for advancement in the game.

Which is not to say that the game hasn’t improved since launch.  There have been a ton of updates, enough that another play through by our group earlier this year felt fresh, as opposed to being a repeat of what we had done already.  But we still ended up in the plains without next destination.

And you can’t satisfy Odin’s bloodlust and earn your way into Valhalla without some more of his forsaken to vanquish.  The wait for the Mistlands continued.

Then, late last month, we go news that the new Mistlands biome was available for testing.  And that gave people hope, but how long would testing last?  What is the timeline for a content beta for an early access game?

Two weeks I guess, because on Tuesday the developers announced that theMistlands were generally available.

Gather your friends and gear up, for it’s time to embark on the voyage to the Mistlands! We have worked hard on this update for the past nine months now, and we’re so happy to finally be able to share it with all of you.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has participated in the Public Test period for this update, as your feedback has been very helpful. Given that Valheim is in Early Access some things are still subject to change, of course, but right now we feel assured that the Mistlands update is stable and ready for all of you.

An important thing to note is that the Mistlands biome will only generate in areas you have not yet discovered. Therefore, if you have explored a lot of your world, you might be better off starting a new one in order to actually be able to travel to the Mistlands. As per usual, mods will also most likely cause the game not to launch, as they are only compatible with the latest Live version of the game. If you have mods, you will either need to remove them or wait for the mod to be updated before you can play.

The Mistlands have arrived!

Of course, the big caveat it that announcement is the whole map generation thing.  If you went and explored your current world thoroughly, as we did with our first world, you might be out of luck.  But starting a new world isn’t a horrible penalty, unless you’ve invested as heavily in building as you did in exploration.

There is a full set of patch notes available, split into spoilers and no spoilers sections.  The spoiler free patch notes give the high level sketch of what the update adds.

  • New biome – Mistlands:
  • New mechanics
    • 9 new creatures + Mistlands boss
    • More than 20 new crafting materials
    • new crafting stations
    • 3 crafting station extensions
    • 3 other resource/crafting constructions
    • 15 new food items
    • 3 new potions
    • More than 25 new craftable items (weapons, armours & tools)
    • More than 35 new building/furniture pieces for building, decorating and defending your base
    • New type of dungeon
    • New lore stones
    • New dreams
    • New music
  • Misc:
    • Fishing update
    • 12 new emotes
    • 9 new hairstyles and 7 new beard styles
    • Enabled Yule seasonal items (Yule tree, Yuleklapp, Yule wreath, Yule garland and Mistletoe
  • Fixes & Improvements:
    • Various console command improvements
    • Multiple animations have been updated and improved
    • Multiple VFX have been updated and improved
    • Various other tweaks

The full patch notes go into the gritty details, though I am not sure all of it really counts as spoilers.  The drop from killing the plains boss, Yagluth, for example, is now something else.

As for our world… we made an effort to not explore too far and wide.  At one point, while sailing, I was alerted that I was approaching the Mistlands, so I probably ruined that location, but otherwise we might be able to return without a restart.  We will have to see when the mood strikes the group.

And, of course, somebody will burn through the Mistlands this weekend I am sure and then will be waiting for the next two biomes, the Deep North and the Ashlands.  The waiting will continue and we had better be careful about not exploring too widely all the same.

Mistlands Available for Testing in Valheim

It has been almost two years since Valheim showed up and became a minor sensation, and in that time there has always been the promise of more biomes and, thus, more vertical progress to come.

Valheim on Steam

The Valheim team hasn’t been idle and they have provided quite a few good updates to the game since launch.  They also launched the game on XBox.  But game play has stopped in the plains since the first day it was available to us, and the hunger for MORE content in the game is real.

And the next biome on the list has been the Mistlands.

We’ve had hints and images of a possible future for that biome, but nothing really to raise much beyond curiosity until last week.  Last week we got a Mistlands game play trailer on YouTube, with a timer on it set to become available today.  And so we have it, our first minute or so glimpse into the new biome.

But that is not all.

In addition to that short video peak, the new biome is now available for public test.  There is an announcement about what it contains and how to access it.

Highlights of the update include:

  • New biome – Mistlands:
    • New mechanics
    • 9 new creatures + Mistlands boss
    • More than 20 new crafting materials
    • 2 new crafting stations, 3 crafting station extensions, and 3 other resource/crafting constructions
    • 15 new food items
    • 3 new potions
    • More than 25 new craftable items (weapons, armours & tools)
    • More than 35 new building/furniture pieces for building, decorating and defending your base
    • New type of dungeon
    • New lore stones
    • New dreams
    • New music

Some of that is unremarkable when listed out, things that you expect to find whenever you advance to the next biome in the game.  That is the progress template for the game.

What those items are, how they look, how you use them, and what the new biome will be like, that is the exciting bit.

Of course, if you stop and wonder what a “public test” of content in an “early access” game entails, you might start to doubt words have meaning anymore… so maybe don’t do that.

And remember the caveat as to how games like Valheim work with content updates.  Already explored areas will not generate the new content.  Also, be wary of mods.

An important thing to note is that the Mistlands biome will only generate in areas you have not yet discovered. Therefore, if you have explored a lot of your world, you might be better off starting a new one in order to actually be able to travel to the Mistlands. As per usual, mods will also most likely cause the game not to launch, as they are only compatible with the Live version of the game. If you have mods, you will either need to remove them or wait for the mod to be updated before you can play.

As for diving in, our group is pretty invested in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, so we are not in a rush to find something new to play.  We can wait for the Mistlands update to hit the main release of Valheim.  When we need another break from Azeroth, it will likely be there waiting for us, and those who rushed in early will have found the bugs for us!

Friday Bullet Points while Twitter Burns

It has been a good couple of weeks to drop bad news while Elon Musk’s gross mishandling of Twitter has been grabbing all the attention on the tech front.  You might not have noticed Facebook or Amazon or some other tech firms laying off thousands.

Going around the Twitterverse

And this week’s Twitter fiasco was Elon’s great loyalty oath campaign.  The remaining employees had to sign the oath or, if the refused, be laid off.  Some huge percentage of the survivors are said to have not signed, leaving critical systems unattended.  This caused Elon to panic about sabotage or something and he had the offices closed and the employees locked out like the unhinged oligarch he aspires to be.

Twitter isn’t down, and there is no plan to shut it down, but if some technical hiccup brings it offline, getting it back up and running might not be easy.

Last night on Twitter was like the end of high school, with everybody signing each other’s yearbooks and promising to keep in touch.    It is still up today, but the threat looms.

But there are other things going on in the world, and not even all of it is bad.  Most of these items I learned about on Twitter, but I am reluctant to link there now.  I don’t need any more dead links on the site.

  • Blizzard and NetEase Part Ways

This was telegraphed in the Activision Blizzard Q3 2022 financials, but it feels like there should have been more emphasis on it if the collapse of the relationship was going to be announced a week later.  But the other shoe dropped this week with a press release.

NetEase is Blizzard’s partner in China, which means more than you might think.  Doing business in China means working with a company there as a joint venture (a term which always reminds me of late Soviet perestroika) where the local partner holds a controlling interest.

NetEase controls the business that runs games like World of Warcraft and OverWatch in China.  If you fall out with your partner you have to find a new one, which can be a convoluted mess in any circumstances, but much more so if it needs the approval of a totalitarian government.

Blizzard has been through this before, so if they want to keep doing business in China they need to find somebody new to work with.  Meanwhile, the deal with NetEase expires on January 23, 2023, after which point most Blizzard games will be turned off in China.  Diablo Immortal, which was made under a different agreement is the exception in this.  The horrible cash grab Diablo mobile game will remain active.

As for why this has come about, NetEase, following the example of its governments diplomatic policy, is aggressively blaming Blizzard and one individual in particular for the parting.  I don’t doubt Bobby Kotick is a jerk, but I don’t see any evidence that NetEase is somehow the victim in all of this.

  • EVE Online FanFest 2023 Announced

CCP has staked out the dates for EVE FanFest 2023, which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of EVE Online.  And it is going to be… in September?

Yes, the dates are September 21-23 in Iceland, which will put Fanfest a good four months past the games 20th birthday, but when you’re booking an event big enough to show a blip on the countries MER I suppose you have to work with multiple factors in order to find a viable time slot.

Early bird tickets are already on sale and should be much easier to obtain that Taylor Swift tickets.

  • CCP Embraces a Bullshit Metric

When is a bullshit metric even more bullshit?  When you use only at its peak without giving any context.  I have criticized Blizzard for moving from subscriber numbers to MAUs as a transparent attempt to hide the actual state of WoW from investors, but at least they give us a number every quarter so you have some context.

So when CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson came out and said that EVE Online had hits its second highest DAU count since 2016, there were layers of BS to unpack.  To start with, CCP never tells us MAU or DAU numbers, so how do we know?  Was the day a lot better, a little better, not really better at all?

The game is clearly seeing more players.  The daily concurrent user graph over at EVE Offline shows that.  The expansion has sparked fresh interest.  But those graphs also show the peak concurrent for 2022 landed in January during the Doctor Who event.  So what is going on?

Well, as I noted, CCP had a login event with the expansion and gave away 7 days of Omega time to all players, which is a double incentive to login, because you need to do so in order to claim your prizes.  So last Sunday may have been a good day, but was it really a “best in the last six years” sort of day?  I suspect not.

Anyway, glad the game is doing good, but talking about numbers you won’t share in front of a crowd armed with spreadsheets is always a risky move.

  • Enad Global 7 Q3 2022 Financials

Things continue to look good for EG7.  Daybreak continues to dominate revenues on the video game side of the house.  Daybreak executives continue to run the show.  Things are going well.

However, the presentation itself was somewhat terse compared to previous ones.  Few insights and no future statements or handy graphs about upcoming titles.  Just the bare minimum to get by this time around.  Which is fine.  But that doesn’t give me much to build a post around.

  • Pokemon Violet and Scarlet Launch

Hey, it is also a Pokemon launch day, as Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet go on sale today!

New Pokemon to catch, a new land to explore, and a new adventure to complete!

Nintendo very much has a cycle nailed down for these launches, landing just before Thanksgiving in the US which heralds the start of the holiday shopping season here.  Plenty of time for parents and grandparents to buy copies for the kids that haven’t gone out and bought it on day one already.  And, of course, lots of holiday free time during which to play.

This time around I am not joining in.  My daughter and I played the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl remakes last year, and they were a lot of fun.  But I am not feeling it for another new title.

  • Valheim Mistlands Preview

Finally, the dev team working on Valheim have a game play preview video for the Mistlands biome that we have all been so (im)patiently waiting for.  But we’re going to have to wait for it too, because the video doesn’t unlock until November 22nd.  Dammit!

I hope there is a launch date in there, but I guess we won’t know until next week.

Anyway, that is what I had piled up for Friday.  Bring on the weekend.

Things Like Valheim in a Post MMORPG World

I watched a video the other day about how to save the MMORPG genre.  It was an hour reasonably well spent if the topic interests you.

 

The video brings up a lot of problems and contradictions that the community has long discussed and argued about, such as the importance of community, servers, end game content, and a whole package of other items that will no doubt sound familiar if you’ve been part of the discussion over the last decade and more.

And I will say that there isn’t anything critical that I disagree with when it comes to the discussion.  It is largely a quest to get back to the things that made the genre exciting and fun back in the early days without necessarily throwing out every single “accessibility” feature that has shown up since EverQuest was the booming vanguard of the genre.

The result, which is necessarily a bit vague, can charitably be called a tightrope walk over a pit of knives, suggesting as it does some sort of balance between contradictory goals.

In the end, it seems unlikely that anybody is going to come up with a perfect and sustainable mix of features that will bring back the early joys of the genre, if only because much of what we were willing to put up with nearly a quarter century ago will no longer fly now that we’ve experienced better, easier, or more relaxed versions of virtual worlds.

The novelty of the experience has passed for many of us and, while we want a lot of what virtual worlds bring us, the price we’re willing to pay in what can seem like sheer bloody minded inconvenience is nowhere as high as it used to be.

Yes, you can run a special server now and then catering to the nostalgia of the good old days.  But that is no more sustainable than it was the first time around.  People will clamor for the quality of life changes, only much more quickly as one of the quirks of redoing a game for nostalgia is that the experience runs in fast forward mode because the whole thing is already a solved problem.

I don’t think MMORPGs are dead, but they aren’t going to go back to the dawn of the 21st century in anything but indie niche form.  The mass market voted with their wallets for WoW in droves… and then asked for the rough edges to be smoothed down to the point we have arrived at today and the dichotomy of the whole fun vs effort thing.  In the end we do seem to favor low friction entertainment.

But I also wonder if the edge has been worn of the MMORPG experience by some of the alternatives.

Back in 1999 you couldn’t even run two EverQuest clients on a single machine.  Multi-boxing meant literally having two machines.   So the idea of being able to run your own personal persistent world was out of reach for most people.

That changed.  I think Minecraft gets some serious credit for popularizing running your own world for just you and your friends.  I am sure there are other games titles that pre-date it for that sort of thing, but Minecraft created an industry around hosting worlds, a big enough industry that Microsoft felt it was worthwhile to run part of it.

Minecraft isn’t the ideal replacement for MMORPGs.  It can lack that sense of purpose, which is why I have Valheim in the title of the post.  Sure, you could substitute in something else for it… there are other options… but it is the one that resonates most with me at the moment.

Setting sail

Having your own Valheim server with your friends gives you a lot of what MMORPGs offered back in the day.  A persistent server to share with friends, monsters to find, a major quest to follow in order to win Odin’s favor, a world to explore, bases to build… and you even get that holy grail of online adventures, the ability to change the world and have it persist.

Which leads me to wonder where the future of online gaming in the MMORPG sense ought to be heading.

Valheim is imperfect… and largely so right now because it is incomplete.  It is currently impossible to gain Odin’s favor and win or otherwise finish what you started.

But the promise of it?  Now there is something.  We have twice now spent three months and more going through the content of the game… and in a rapacious manner, throwing many hours into our efforts to explore and move ahead… when it isn’t even half done yet.

What happens when there is a year of content for an industrious group?  What happens when there are multiple titles such as that?

I don’t think the MMORPG is going away.  There is still something to be said for the big game with many people playing in parallel.  But the smaller world, the shared persistent space you and your friends can share… that feels like it has a long ways to go before it seems over populated as a genre.

Of course, that might be why Blizzard is looking into the idea.  Or maybe the devs there just liked Valheim as well.

My 2022 in Gaming So Far

One of the other things the Steam Summer Sale tends to spark in me is a review of my gaming so far in the year.  One thing that happened in the first half of 2022 was that a new title took over as my most played game on Steam.

My Steam top ten titles

I think Civilization V has been at the top of the list since I made my current Steam account back in 2010… and I did that because you had to have a Steam account to play.  I was kind of against Steam back then, but have clearly softened on it as an option over the years.

Now, however, Valheim has taken over the top spot, managing to do so in less than 18 months.  That says something about me or Valheim or both I suppose.

Anyway, Valheim got there by being my most played title so far in 2022 as measured by ManicTime.  Out of time spent gaming on my PC, this is how my play percentages break out.

  1. Valheim – 30.97%
  2. Lost Ark – 15.80%
  3. EVE Online – 15.70%
  4. EverQuest II – 11.78%
  5. Stellaris – 5.72%
  6. Pokemon Pearl – 5.07%
  7. New World – 4.10%
  8. Minecraft – 4.45%
  9. CM Red Thunder – 2.52%
  10. RimWorld – 2.04%
  11. FreeCiv – 0.59%
  12. Diablo Immortal – 0.39%
  13. V Rising – 0.34%
  14. EverQuest – 0.28%
  15. LOTRO – 0.16%
  16. World of Tanks – 0.09%

After Valheim we have Lost Ark and EVE Online pretty much neck in neck for play time.  I think Lost Ark got the advantage just because it takes so long to load.

Finally in double digits is EQII where I was playing the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.

Down in single digits, after some single player stuff was the end of our run at New World.  I am not even sure what server I am on now.  There has been some talk about Amazon fixing some of the issues, but I am not sure there is a lot of desire to return there any time soon.

Then there is Minecraft, which has gotten a bit of a boost since The Wild update hit.  Below RimWorld are titles that have not been touched all that much.

So what will the back half of the year look like? Valheim is at the top of the list, but unless we get the update for the Mistlands, there isn’t much to do but muck about and build things.  Lost Ark and New World are unlikely to grow in play time, and EverQuest II, I left that unsatisfied with the last expansion.  That might need a break for another expansion or two before I find it on my list again.

EVE Online, of course, is going to carry on for now.  And Minecraft, which we only started playing in June, looks like it could keep going.

Solasta is something we just picked up this past week, and it has potential.

And then there is the coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic.  It looks to be a couple months away at this point, and we’re not really chomping at the bit for it right now… but give it some time and we might be primed to go back to Northrend.

That is where I stand at the mid-year check-in.

June in Review

The Site

I guess the only real news about the site is the whole Bing delisting thing I posted about this past Sunday.

Bing stats running into June 2022

As I poked at that further I found that even just “wordpress.com” did not return results related to that actual domain, so I suspect that Bing just decided blogs there were all trash and they shouldn’t bother indexing them.  But then they index Tumblr, so who knows what the logic is?

I opened up a support post in the forum about it and got the usual amateur hour, garbage response that I have come to expect from WordPress.com support.  I mean, it is better than when they used to use volunteers that treated their opinions as facts, but they still don’t bother to think about the problem before sending an answer.

But, after almost 16 years there is almost no upside to trying to drag my blog somewhere else.  The devil you know and all that.

The upshot of which is that if you’re one of those people hasn’t bookmarked the site and who just types TAGN into a search engine to get here… again, the most popular search term to bring people to the blog… then don’t use Bing or DuckDuckGo.  But if you are using them, you probably can’t find me now, so happy trails to the four people who were finding me that way.

One Year Ago

The inevitable Steam Summer Sale arrived again.

It was no surprise when Facebook announced that they would be forcing Oculus users to login with Facebook credentials eventually.

In old Azeroth renewed, all eyes were on the Dark Portal because Burning Crusade Classic was launching.  The masses poured through the portal, leaving Ironforge and Orgrimmar empty.

While we went through the portal, we still had some things to finish up, so Ula and the replacements went to StratholmeEven a week later I was still working with alts back in vanilla.

Eventually though we got on our way and took a run at Hellfire Ramparts.  It did not go well.  And neither did our second run, though we were doing the instance with a group of four.

But there were other things going on in Outland.

Amid all of that, I was wondering where “classic” would actually end for WoW and what were the general prerequisites to even launch a successful nostalgia server.  Of course, even with success, Blizz was somehow letting the air out of the experience.

We also got the word that Diablo II Resurrected would be launching in September.  A lot of hopes were pinned on that title. (Hopes well rewarded in my opinion.)

Elsewhere, it seemed like Enad Global 7 was actually advertising for EverQuest, a change from the Daybreak era.

And in EVE Online the pace of World War Bee seemed to be slowing.  All my New Eden posts in one list:

And on the telly we watched Army of the Dead on Netflix.  We were also binge watching more series.

Five Years Ago

Nintendo announced Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon as well as Pokemon Gold & Silver for the Nintendo 2DS/3DS Virtual Console.  Now it seems that the former were to be the last bit of Pokemon for the Nintendo handheld lineup.

Daybreak opened up the Fallen Gate progression server for EverQuest II.

There were Sega Genesis and Atari 2600 retro consoles being promoted, trying to milk a bit of that NES Classic magic.  I was not impressed, as there had been many Atari 2600 hardware and software retro options for ever.

Meanwhile Microsoft announced the Age of Empires Definitive Edition.  Nostalgia everywhere!

The Ashes of Creation Kickstarter campaign closed with a big take.

I tried out Atlantic Fleet, a ship combat simulator.  I also played some Mini Metro, which I picked up from the Steam Summer Sale.

Following my retro-flavor-of-the-month plan, I went back to give Guild Wars 2 a try.  Is GW2 old enough to be retro yet?  Anyway I rolled up a new character and followed the zone path, that being the most obvious thing to do.  I made it into the Harathi Hinterlands and level 40 before I wore out on the game.

Minecraft had its World of Color update, version 1.12 for those who like numbers.  Microsoft was talking about unifying all of the versions of Minecraft… except for the original, now called the Minecraft: Java Edition.  I was looking back at two years of playing Minecraft.

CCP released the June 2017 update for EVE Online, changing the naming scheme once again.  That update nerfed null sec mining some more, tried to reign in super carrier ratting without nerfing fighter PvP capabilities, launched the Rogue Swarm event, and gave the game a colorblind mode.  Also, it had music.  We would soon lose music with updates.

The New Eden Monthly Economic Report showed that Delve not only ratted and mined more than most, but also had a big market and a lot of production going on as well.  Aryth called the MER the best recruiting tool the Imperium ever had.  If you wanted to make ISK, the MER told you where you wanted to be.

In space I was there to shoot a Raitaru, get in on a Keepstar kill, and cover some tower repairs in Fountain.  My alliance joined the Keepstar club.    And I opened a controversial topic in asking whether or not EVE Online was a gank box or not. (My observation after that is, for some people, any PvP is too much.)

And that whole Blogger Fantasy Movie League thing started, initiated by Liore the ringer.  I sort of set a format in that first week that I carried on with.

Finally, Blizzard gave us a date for the Necromaner mini-expansion for Diablo III.

Ten Years Ago

I was asking people about voice software again.

I went on about the ridiculous nature of material tiers for MMO crafting.

My daughter finally found a game she liked on the PS3.

I was ranking how I liked to get my gaming news.

The first Civilization V expansion came out offering, among other things, a performance boost to those who paid.  Meanwhile, the story about the decade long game of Civ II came to light.

Everything we knew about EverQuest Next was declared obsolete.  It wasn’t all that much really.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Gates of Discord expansion was finally unlocked, but not before there was a tie vote.

Turbine announced the Riders of Rohan expansion, the first LOTRO expansion I declined to buy.  For somebody still in Moria, it seemed to offer few benefits for its increased price relative to past expansions.

In Rift I hit level 50, which is a special thing in game, and started tinkering with the then new instant adventure option.  Trion also announced the Storm Legion expansion, a sign of success for most subscription based MMOs.

In EVE Online I hit 80 million skill points and was playing Lemmings in DBRB’s fleet.  We also ganked a Chimera that was scammed into jumping to the VFK beacon.  This upset people.

And, finally there was Electronic Arts which, as part of its ongoing mission to be seen as the most arrogant company in gaming, tried to tell people that Origin was the Nordstrom to Steam’s Target level business model, unintentionally insulting Nordstrom, which actually cares about customer service before the fact, not just after it has screwed the pooch yet again.  EA says they “get it” but I had my doubts.

Fifteen Years Ago

I got all Buddhist on the subject on the raiders vs. non-raiders rift. I think what I said could be applied to some current controversies.

I ran down my list of complimentary comment spam.

I did a poll asking which software people used for voice coms.  At the time, almost nobody who responded was using game-integrated voice software.  Most people were using Ventrilo.

I took a picture of my gaming setup.  Still the same table and mouse fifteen years later.  The monitor and keyboard were upgraded not that long ago.

We heard that Pirates of the Burning Sea would not only be published by SOE, but would be available via a Station Access subscription.

We were still playing Lord of the Rings Online.  Hitting level 20… not for the last time… I was out at the Forsaken Inn… also not for the last time.  The instance group, minus Earl, finished the first epic book… again, not for the last time.  And server queues, something common at launch, were starting to disappear after just two months.  This was odd, since the last great server queue experience was with WoW, where queues went on for over a year on some servers.

Vanguard, which announced server merges… again, not for the last time… gave rise to a discussion about future proofing games.  I held that just making system requirements huge… something that was an issue with Vanguard… was not the same thing.  I did wonder what would have happened had WoW had higher system requirements back in 2004.

After letting Blizzard’s announcement of StarCraft II sink in, I put up a post about the original StarCraft back when it was our office game of choice.

Darren was all worked up about crafting being the suck, so I started trying to list out all the things that might be wrong with crafting. Then Tobold suggested the whole “figure out recipes by trial and error” idea and I ran screaming from the room.

I said nice things about “Opinions of the Misinformed.”  Elsewhere in EVE Online the Revelations II expansion launched.

Also, the iPhone launched, moving smart phones from a curiosity into mainstream, indirectly enabling the “Don’t you guys have phones?” comment at BlizzCon 2018.

Twenty Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, a BioWare title that would create many an aspiring game designer, launched.

Forty Five Years Ago

Budding Apple Computer launched the Apple II computer.  A successor to the Apple I, which came as a build-it-yourself kit, this was iconic beige case that ruled school computer labs for a decade.  A year later I would go to middle school at a campus that backed up to their Mariani Drive facility, and they setup a computer lab for us.  It wasn’t the first computer I ever used, but it was the one that set my mind towards owning a computer.  I would managed that eventually.

Atari, now five years old, opened the first Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater.  In its initial incarnation you paid a flat fee for a wrist band that let eat all the cheap pizza and play all the video games you wanted for a set time limit.  Honestly, kind of a dream come true for me at that age.  The business model changed over the years, going to more traditional arcade tokens, though the pizza remained substandard.  But kids don’t care.  Most recently the rodent mascot was being given the heave-ho as the chain remodeled all of their store fronts for a new look.  But it will always be a wristband, all you can eat/play place with animatronic entertainment to me.

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, rich from having sold Atari to Warner, the first of many owners of the brand, bought the rights to the Chuck E. Cheese idea from Warner/Atari before the month was out.

Fifty Years Ago

Atari corporation was founded in Sunnyvale, California.  An early commercial success in video games, I am pretty sure Pong was the first video game I ever played.  A little over five years later they would dominate the home video game market with the introduction of the Atari 2600.  I wheedled my way into getting one for Christmas that year.  It also made inroads into home computers with its Atari 400 and 800 models.  And then came the great video game crash… which Atari precipitated by pushing some really sub-standard titles and the company was sold and sold again to the point that the name today has been slapped onto everything from gimmicky hotels to crypto currency.  A sad destination for a once powerful brand, but it remains a name that attracts attention no matter what dumb ass scheme somebody tries to use it for.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. Gallente Federation Day and the Federation Grand Prix Return to EVE Online
  2. CCP Promises “a very special offer” if you Link Multiple EVE Online Accounts to the Same Email Address
  3. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  4. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  7. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  8. A New Kind of Blackout Comes and Goes for EVE Online
  9. Josh Strife Hayes and The Immoral Design of Diablo Immortal
  10. EVE Fanfest 2022 Keynote Hot Take – Meh
  11. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  12. EverQuest Launches the Vaniki and Yelinak Progression Servers

Search Terms of the Month

how to find tropical ocean in minecraft
[It is a warm ocean, and I supply a link in that post now]

jinthalor altar safely
[Probably not unless you’re level 60]

eve online how to get biosecurity skins
[Project Discovery or buy them in Jita for cheap]

eve plex prices dying
[Do you mean getting more expensive?]

eve online rising plex prices
[Yeah, what this person said]

Game Time from ManicTime

Valheim held the top of my play time numbers again in June, but wasn’t as dominant as it was in the previous two months.  Meanwhile, Minecraft… well, it is very easy to slip into it and spend a lot of time doing not much.

  • Valheim – 44.27%
  • Minecraft – 32.09%
  • EVE Online – 19.51%
  • Diablo Immortal – 2.85%
  • V Rising – 1.28%

In addition, two new titles made the list, Diablo Immortal, which I have already written about and uninstalled, and V Rising, which I will mention below.

EVE Online

The CSM17 election was held and the results came in.  In a surprise to nobody, null sec candidates won a majority of the seats, eight in all.  In addition a war has started up in the south east of null sec around Catch and Impass.  Otherwise, all was normal in New Eden.

Minecraft

Our group decided to give the new 1.19 version of Minecraft a go.  Things have changed quite a bit since we last played.  We started a new world with a specific seed, but still need to find our way back into the groove of the game.

Pokemon Go

Another slow progress month in Pokemon Go.  Not a lot of time to get out and take gyms or do raids or even spin a Pokestop.  Real life is just been in the way too much.

Level: 42 ( 58% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 714 (+3) caught, 738 (+4) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 21
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Lycanroc

V Rising

I alluded to V Rising, a recently in early access base building survival title in another post, because it seemed like it might be the next thing for our group after we finished the plains in Valheim.  But once I bought it, I didn’t get very far because I hated the movement/camera control system.  It reminds me of the Wizardry Online method, which I complained about in a post almost a decade ago.  WASD movement is relative to the camera, which doesn’t move automatically, but which can be moved, at least horizontally. I hated it.  And there was no map or mini-map in the starting area, which combined with the movement scheme meant I felt lost and then the sun came out and whatever.  It is early access, maybe that will get better some day.  But for now it is on my list of Steam titles I have played for about an hour.

Valheim

Our second run at the game took us through about two and a half months of play before we defeated the boss in the plains and finished up the progression the game had to offer.  The second run was good, and I will have some more to say about it.  The game has progressed, but it still ends where it did last year.

Zwift

As with Pokemon Go, the change in home routine has disrupted my exercise routine.  I did finally cross the one thousand mile mark.  That puts me at an average of about 100 miles a month, so you can see how much that has tapered off.

  • Level – 15 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,039.9 miles (+51.8 miles)
  • Time – 2d 6h 57m  (+4h 52m)
  • Elevation climbed – 42,293 (+2,093 feet)
  • Calories burned – 34,213 (+1,643)

Coming Up

It is summer… so not much I guess?

CCP will go into summer vacation hibernation.  The Steam Summer Sale will end next week.  Wrath Classic is probably still two months away.

I guess I’ll be posting about Minecraft and whatever happens in the latest war in null sec.

Frost Caves in Valheim

In my writings about our most recent run through Valheim, I skipped right over frost caves.  Though, to be fair, as a group we skipped right over them as well, leaving the mountains and heading for the plains at the first opportunity and never really looking back.

We got up there, made an outpost, found some onion seeds, grabbed a bunch of silver, killed Moder (twice), collected a bunch of wolf pelts and meat, some obsidian, and a few other items we needed, the went to our plains base and didn’t really look back.

At least we didn’t look back until we started trying to maximize comfort.  Ula’s hot tub was a step on that journey.

I went to the wiki to find the different things that could boost your comfort number and found the red jute carpet listed, the ingredients for which come from frost caves.  So we got together and headed back to the mountains.

I had marked a few on my explorations, so we had a couple near to hand.

Frost caves are essentially the mini-dungeon content added to the mountain biomes since we last played, the equivalent of the crypts in the swamps and the burial chambers in the black forest biomes.

They are, however, much more scarce than either of those.  I found two in the one big mountain biome where we fought Moder, and one each in two other mountain biomes.  It is possible I missed some, the can be hard to spot from any direction besides the front.  They either blend into a cliff side or they look like rock lumps, like troll caves, from behind.

Anyway, once we heard that frost caves held something we wanted, we spent and afternoon digging about in them.

Into the frost caves

As with the crypts and burial chambers, they are dark, with some lighting here and there.  It is advisable to have a torch to hand.

They are divided up into areas of rough hewn caves, covered in frost with icicles hanging down, and finished stone areas where the residents of the caves hang out.

We’re into the cultist area now

The caves look pretty good.  There is a lot more vertical going on in them, though that isn’t always all good.  Leaving aside when Ula fell down the middle of one of the rough hewn spiral stair cases, the random nature of the frost cave generation means you can go down and down and down various descents and end up in an empty area, making the trip pointless.

Ula went down the hole there

And then there are the creatures.  Bats are the most annoying, but least deadly.

Bats all over

They are just a pain to hit, behaving a bit like deathsquitoes, fluttering about, going in and out of melee range, but without the big damage.  They are also a bit tougher than the deathsquitoes, though they still died with one solid hit.

Then there are the Ulvs and the Cultists, neither of which I managed to grab a screen shot of.  Ulvs are kind of wolves, down on all fours… while the Cultists are like werewolves, up on their back legs.  Also, the Cultists have flame throwers, which is part of the reason I don’t have a screen shot because we were all busy trying to kill them or not get torched.

As for why to go to the frost caves, there are the resources, including red jute.  I am still not exactly sure where the red jute comes from, as it was dark and we were just knocking the crap out of everything and then some appeared.  It might be a cultist drop.

There are also crystals, which are the same crystals that stone golems drop when you kill them.  These are much easier to gather, so if you want to make that crystal battleaxe that is now in the game, this is the quicker path to that.

And then there is fenris hair, which is hanging all over the place.  If you collect enough of this, and you need a lot, you can make the fenris armor set.  I made the hood with what we collected, which actually looks pretty cool.

Glowing blue Fenris eyes

In hindsight, the fenris set might have been useful for our Yagluth fight.  While it doesn’t have the outright protection of the padded armor set, it is lighter, so you move faster, and it comes with fire protection, which would have been huge against Yagluth.

The fenris hood stats, with set bonus listed

Fast and fire resistant seems like a good plan.  We’ll have to remember that for next time.

Overall, they look good, even if the random generation does end up with some awkward layouts.  A decent addition to the game.

And, of course, we got our red jute rug.  That was the point of the expedition, to raise out comfort level up another notch.

Facing Yagluth at last in Valheim

The one thing we ended up not doing as part of our first pass through Valheim was fight the final boss of the plains, Yagluth.  I had set us up for it… and I even did a test run with another group on their server… but we ended up never getting to Yagluth on our server.

A year later, and making another run at Valheim, we had once again reached the point where Yagluth was an option, and this time we were going to do it.  Enough resources had been harvested in order to get everybody into the padded armor that represents the plains tier, weapons had been upgraded, and we had found Yagluth’s altar.

That latter was a bit of an accident.  As with Moder, we never ran into a rune stone that would display the location of Yagluth.  Brynjar stumbled across the altar during an exploration run.  He and Lugnut had created a small base nearby and cleared the fuling camps that were close to hand, so we were about set.

Then there were the fuling totems.  You need five of them to summon Yagluth, but we had only found three so far.  We did a preliminary run at a big fuling camp, but which I mean I tried to solo it, got in over my head, died, then everybody had to come rescue me and everybody died a couple of times before we finally got things under control.  But we got the totems we needed.

So we grabbed some food and a couple of fire resistance meads each… they last 10 minutes, so we figured we might need two each… and headed out to the plains.  Our portal was kind of a run from the altar, so we moved it up to a big rock that was just within sight of the altar, then went to the altar.

Morning at Yagluth’s altar

It is on a raised rock in the middle of five stone pillars that stick up like fingers of a hand coming up to try and grab the altar and pull it into the earth.

We were geared up, had our fire resist meads, along with some stamina an health meads… the meads don’t share timers, so you can run them all at once… along with a stack of 100 frost arrows, said to be the best ranged weapon to use, along with the totem.  We felt like we were ready, so I started setting out the totems.

Getting out the totems for Yagluth

You can see some platforms that Lugnut built in the two screen shots above.  Platforms have had mixed results for us in boss fights.  They seemed very useful for Bonemass, but less so for other fights.  You can also see Lugnut on the platform, glowing Dragur Fang bow out and ready to go.

I put the last totem in its slot and activated the altar, summoning Yagluth.

Yagluth Arises

We got our bows into action and started plinking away at him.

For the most part his attacks… he swats at those close by and has a fire breath beam weapon that you can move out of fairly easily… were not too bad.  And then we got to his fire meteors, which rain down out of the sky like an artillery strike, landing on somebody who Yagluth is not facing.  The first to take a hit was Lugnut, whose platform was wiped off the rock spire with the attack.

As an attack it was survivable, if you were not low on health, moved out of it right away, and had the fire resist buff on you.  If you failed on any of those three, however, it could prove quickly deadly, which it did.

We started having problems with adds, as fulins, lox, and the occasional growth from a distant tar pit started showing up, dividing out attention, beating down our health, and making us susceptible to Yagluth’s meteor strikes.  We started dying.

Running back to the fight, the five finger stones around the altar visible

We started dying enough that we eventually pulled Yagluth back to our portal, which promptly got hit by his meteor strike and broken.  Now that would have been a disaster, because we were set to spawn back at the plains base and the only way to get back if it was down was a boat trip.

Fortunately we were taking turns dying, so somebody was always around to rebuild the portal, if they had inventory space.

Rebuilding the portal behind the rock this time

Meanwhile day turned into night and the plains became an active place for roving fuling gangs, which again occupied our attention as we fought to stay alive and chip away at Yagluth when we had the chance, all while avoiding his meteor attack.

The fulings were a double menace.  Groups of three or four could be quite deadly.  But even when you killed them, they dropped the black metal scraps which I was auto picking up, and having one on you means you cannot use a portal.  I died at least twice unable to jump through the portal because I kept picking up black metal scraps, which were strewn about the field at that point.

And then it became clear that we didn’t have enough fire resist potions to go around.  After a few rounds of death there were none left in the supply chest, so we started to brew some more, but were otherwise going to have to do without.

And doing without meant dying even more often as that fire resistance was pretty much the only margin between living and dying when hit by the meteors.

After an hour of this, with Yagluth having about one third of his health left, I had to go and get dinner ready, so logged off with a promise to return.  About 30 minutes later I was back on and Yagluth was still alive.  He was down to about 10% health, but more deaths had occurred.

We had also apparently burned through all of our frost arrows.  We had 500 in the supply box when we started, and each of us took a stack of 100.  But Ula had to go back and make 300 more to sustain the battle.

Still, even at low health Yagluth was still deadly and I managed to get hit by a meteor strike and die pretty quickly upon my return.

Running back towards the now broken fingers

Lugnut had a pattern he was working with Yagluth that was whittling him down, but eventually got caught by the meteors as well.  I was picking up to carry on for Lugnut when Brynjar got in there with the Frostner mace, the cold damage from which seemed to hit pretty hard on Yagluth, and finished him off.  He was down at last.

Defeated at last

That all took close to two hours to wrap up, with too many deaths to count.  We used up almost all of the 800 frost arrows we had made, drank up most of our potions, and put a severe dent in the food supplies we had back at base.  It was an effort, made more difficult by some of our own missteps, but we made it.

Yagluth’s giant head was ours now

The area around the altar was pretty ripped up from the fight.  The world does change in Valheim when you break stuff.

Then it was back to base and then to the stones at the spawn point to hang up the trophy on its spot.

The trophy mounted, the buff unlocked

After which we had kind of hit the end of our journey.  Back at our main base we sat down and thought about how far we had come in the last couple of months that marked our return to the game.

Ula lost her pants somewhere in the fight… they were in the potion chest

There are still many small things to be done.  Base building is an endless pursuit, and compared to our last run, we have barely explored as much of the world.  But, while the devs are still teasing us about the eventual Mistlands update, it isn’t there yet and we don’t want to invalidate another world by ranging too far and wide.

So we drank a toast to our efforts.

Raise a tankard to Odin

And we were then reminded that using a tankard consumes a mead from your inventory.  Oh well.  Now to consider where to go next while we wait for the giant ticks of the Mistlands to be made ready for us.

What do you do with Your Old Worlds?

One of the attractions of MMORPGs… and MUDs before them… and role playing games before that I suppose… has always been, for me, that when you make progress, you keep that progress.  Unlike, say, an RTS where every game starts you over at the beginning, you get to pick up where you left off and carry on.

Not always obviously.  I can tell you about losing levels on deaths and other horrors that came out of the 90s.  But for the most part when you made some progress, accumulated a bit more wealth, got that next piece of gear, it was an accumulation that added up over time.

It is why wise developers are very hesitant about purging the player database.  Would I be interested in playing EverQuest II if I didn’t have 18 years of this and that piled up on various characters?  Perhaps not… and all the less likely if I had stuff that got taken away.

Anyway, that is all well covered ground, part and parcel of the sunk cost fallacy that keeps many of us going back to the same old MMORPGs.

But in the last decade or so we have had some games that are MMO-like, titles like Minecraft and Valheim, where you get your own persistent world.  You can share it with your friends and play together and still get that MMO feeling, on a smaller scale, with the progress fix that keeps us going.

But the small scale of those worlds, the limited groups we venture into them with, mean that they are also more disposable.  Sometimes we like to start again fresh.  That can be fun.

And sometimes we have to start over again because the games in question add new content which cannot be accessed unless you start over with a fresh world.  That can be okay too.  I started fiddling around with Minecraft a bit on my lunches because of The Wild update that hit last week.  And, of course, we re-started out adventures in Valheim again to try some of the new things that were added since we left off a year ago.

But then we are left with the old worlds, the places where our efforts went, where our progress gets left behind, where to monuments to our creative time wasting linger while we go on to newer versions of the world and the game.

And, again, sometimes that it fine.  Sometimes we don’t have all that much invested.  Sometimes there wasn’t anything special or meaningful completed.  But sometimes there was.  I tend to think of Skronk and Ula and the Italian town they built in the big Minecraft world we played in for several years.

The work of Skronk and Ula

And that is just one of the highlights.  Other people constructed amazing machines or giant monuments across the land.  Even I spent ages building kilometers of roadways and minecart tracks, bother overland and in the nether.

We move on because we want to see the new content, but I always wonder what to do with the old worlds.  I have backups of a few Minecraft worlds and our original Valheim world.  I hate to delete them.  But I always have trouble letting go of things like that… sunk cost fallacy again, the thing that keeps me playing MMORPGs.

Hot Tub on the Plains

On Friday I made reference to Ula’s hot tub in my post about our new base on the plains.

I want to assure that a hot tub is indeed a thing in Valheim now.  The tar pits on the plains drop bits of tar which open up a range of new “darkwood” building materials that can be used to give your home a new and interesting look compared to the original options in the game.

The darkwood gate on our plains base

There are also some trim and furniture items, including a table, chair, and a hot tub, which all look good and can spice up any decor.

The hot tub and some trim items in Ula’s suite

The hot tub takes ten bits of tar, which is more than most of the new items which generally require just one, but I guess you have to seal it to keep the warm water in.

In return, it raises the comfort level in its proximity… the higher the comfort level the long the “rested’ buff you get for being comfortable lasts when you go out in the world… by 2, which you need if you want to get to the current maximum comfort level of 19. (Without the two rare seasonal items, which can bring that up to 21.)

Our plains base currently has locations where you can get level 16 comfort, which gives you the rested buff for 23 minutes, enough to get through a full game day, which runs 21 minutes.

To get those 2 points out of the hot tub you do need to keep it fueled.  A tepid tub is no benefit, it must be kept hot, and there is a little heating stove on the back that takes wood as fuel.

When you first encounter the hot tub, Hugin makes a special appearance, in the hot tub, to tell you about it.

Bird bath time

Ironically, the one thing you do not want to do is jump in the hot tub.  Getting in the tub just lands the wet effect on you, which lowers health and stamina regeneration and which also keeps you from getting the rested buff if you do not have it already.

So the hot tub is nice to look at, but don’t climb in.