Category Archives: World of Warcraft

November in Review

The Site

I got another WordPress.com achievement this month.

A thousand of you hit that button

A thousand of you hit that button

In the context of WordPress.com, a follower is somebody with a WP.com account that follows your blog so they can view updates in the WP.com reader.  This surprises me both because I am not all that fond of the WP.com reader and because I muted notifications about new followers a while back, so wasn’t really keeping track at all.  Also I turned off that little floating thing that has the “follow” button, so I am not sure how people even do the follow thing here at this point.

But now I have accrued 1,003 followers in the last 6 years, which is when “follow” became a thing on WP.com.  If you know how, you can find a list of all of your followers.  Mine is 51pages long and full of people I don’t recall.  But my third follower ever was Stargrace.  She has been pretty busy of late.  And follower 1,000 was Adam Harkus, who is a guitarist and travels.

Of course, a thousand isn’t all that many people and this month has actually seen another drop in page views.  The previous time I mentioned it, Google was the reason.  There was a date after which referrals from Google dropped by about 25% daily.

This month however Google has remained steady.  Instead the drop has come from referrals from other blogs and related sites.  I don’t know if the election and its aftermath has everybody otherwise occupied or if I am just wrote dull stuff this month… I certainly did not write much about WoW and haven’t been in a war in EVE… but on average a good 100 people a day simply aren’t clicking on links that lead to my site.  Life in blog lane.

One Year Ago

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

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

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

Then BlizzCon came and I had to score my list.

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

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

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

In New Eden, the Parallax expansion was released, the last named monthly update in Syndicate to be released.  From then on names were reserved for big expansions while monthly updates were simply know by their date.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Years Ago

I looked back at the Star Wars Extended Universe novel Heir to Empire, which turned 20 years old. That might be my most coherent piece on the site.

In EVE Online, the upcoming Crucible expansion had a chance to remove the Incarna stink from the game. Oh, and ship trails were back. And Hulkageddon V was announced… about six months early it turns out.

I reviewed my 2011 MMO outlook. Rift appeared to be the unlikely winner, while DCUO had already gone F2P.

Speaking of going F2P in under a year, I had my first peek at Star Wars: The Old Republic in the beta. Pre-NDA drop, I used Star Wars Galaxies to describe the game as nothing new. Then the NDA dropped and I bitched some more. I did not find the game fun, cancelled my pre-order, and went back to Rift.

And then there was EverQuest II going free to play on all servers, which made me wonder what else in the SOE line up might follow suit.

Then, suddenly, Vanguard started showing inexplicable signs of life.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Scars of Velious was complete and the Luclin expansion went live. Also, breaking the retro aspect, Fippy Darkpaw players got the same new hot bars that all EverQuest players got with the new expansion. They actually worked like hot bars in other games.

In Rift, we made it to Meridian and then faced our first boss while learning the rules of their LFG tool. Oh, and the damn Yule rifts were up before Thanksgiving. I swear, it gets earlier every year.

We learned of the real money auction house in Diablo III. An auction house focus for the game? I’m sure that will work out great.

And also on the RMT front was the Guardian cub pet in World of Warcraft. I did a couple of price checks on those, but somebody should probably go back and see how prices look a year later.

Oh, and WoW had lost 2 million subscribers. Remember when that was a big deal?  But it was still insanely profitable.

Torchilght II was delayed because we had other things to play, right?

AOL shut down Wow.com. That doesn’t mean what you think.

I announced the winners of my Azeroth travel poster contest.

Google was pissing me off by changing up Google Reader. I am still annoyed by some of the features they axed, but at least they fixed the layout so you could reduce the huge amount of white (read: wasted) space in the new default layout.

And we said farewell to LEGO Universe.

Ten Years Ago

Our World of Warcraft Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group finished up Blackfathom Deeps,The Stockades, Shadowfang Keep, and started in on Razorfen Kraul.

In EverQuest, I picked up The Serpent’s Spine and tried running a new character though some of the new level 1-70 content.  I also set out a minor goal of taking screen shots to compare Faydwer in EQ and Faydwer in EQII that lead to posts about Kaladim and Kelethin.

And in EverQuest II, the Echoes of Faydwer expansion came out.  Once I found a copy and got past the patching process and into the game, I made a fae swashbuckler and went to town.

the Revelations expansion hit in New Eden, my first expansion update in EVE Online.  I followed the general wisdom and made sure I had a long skill training the night before.

The Wii and the PlayStation 3 were both released in the US.

And the maker of the ubiquitous ZMud client announced a replacement product called CMud.  I tried the demo version, but since ZMud continued to work for me, I stuck with that.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Make My Alpha Clone
  2. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  3. EVE Online Passes 50K Players Online Again
  4. Election Night in Fountain
  5. The Demise of BattleClinic
  6. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  7. EVE Vegas – Like Finds Like and Other Things
  8. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  9. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  10. Projecting on BlizzCon 2016
  11. Ascension Day in EVE Online
  12. Scoring My BlizzCon Projections

Search Terms of the Month

why isn’t torchlight 2 more popular
[There is probably a long post in that. For me, it just wasn’t as compelling as Diablo III was]

eve online goonsquad war even when “alpha clone” -state
[I really want to know what they were looking for]

minecraft 1.11 were do you find the new woodland mansion
[I think I actually answered that one this month]

swg source code download for private use
[They try to limit that to just scoundrels]

Spam Comment of the Month

Thank you for sharing superb informations.
[I just like the plural at the end there. Give me all your datas!]

EVE Online

I did not end up playing very much EVE Online this past month, which is odd, because we got the Ascension expansion. That was a big deal, with Alpacas and new explosions and such.  But it was also a month where the Imperium was mostly at peace.  I went on a couple of ops into Fountain where we take pot shots at The-Culture.  But otherwise Delve has been pacified, Querious filled, and anybody who wanders into our space gets caps dropped on them.  Since I often only log in for strat ops, quite times can often lead to low play times.

Minecraft

The surprise entry this month, as my activity there of late had been rather listless.  But it too got an expansion which spurred an exploration drive as I sought out a woodland mansion of my own and then worked to link it up with the rest of our infrastructure.  It is a game where having a project can make all the difference.  Now what to do with that mansion?

Pokemon Go

The double experience holiday event helped push things along for me, as have the new daily first and seven day streak bonuses.  And I got a Snorlax from a 10km egg, which is now my highest CP Pokemon, ringing in currently at 2,185.

Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 24 (+2)
  • Pokedex status: 99 (+20) caught, 129 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Ditto
  • Current buddy: Ivysaur

Pokemon Sun & Moon

A new game for the core Pokemon RPG fans.  And a pretty decent entry in the field, as it walks the tightrope path between sticking to the core essentials and bringing new things to the franchise… besides new Pokemon.  My daughter and I have been playing it, though I think she is up on it because a couple of her friends at school play Pokemon as well.  My influence wains, but I’ll take any play time I can get with her.  And at least one of her friends has said it is so cool that her dad plays Pokemon too.  Hah!

Stellaris

I started out this month gangbusters on Stellaris.  And then I got past the hump and figured out the early game, only to fall into the abyss of the mid-to-end game that can really drag on as empires settle in and wrestle with each other over the scraps, form federations, and then stare at each other while the victory conditions remain way out of reach.  The Civilization end-game problem writ on a galactic scale.

World of Warcraft

Azeroth has been rapidly falling out of favor around here.  I certainly played less WoW than any other game I called out this month, and at least one I did not. (I played some Age of Kings at one point.)  Part of that has been something of a reaction to the pre-flying achievements needing mythic dungeon runs or a crazy rep grind, depriving me of the sort of longer term goal that might keep me going.  And then Blizzard has been breaking things.  I was getting back into pet battles, right up until a patch broke the PetBattle Teams addon.  Without that, sorting through 500+ pets to make a team for a given fight is just too annoying.  And for some reason, I can no longer send things via email to my alts, breaking a crafting thing I had going on.  So WoW may be on its way out for me very soon.

Coming Up

The final month of 2016, the year that will be that year for some time to come, looms.  There is still time for and additional disaster and a few beloved celebrity deaths.  But still, there is limited time left, though I am still predicting some sort of horrible New Year’s Eve ball dropping fiasco that will take out Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, Carson Daly, and Ryan Seacrest live on national TV.  Guy Lombardo never faced such peril.

Otherwise, what have we got for December?  Probably a Steam holiday sale, even though we just had a Steam autumnal sale.  Steam sales have lost their edge.

I’ve got the usual five posts to write, looking forward and back, reviewing predictions and making new ones, and generally wrapping things up for the year.

There is a rumor that Pokemon Go will get new Pokemon in December.  No Man’s Sky is supposed to get an update to make things better, though the current $60 price makes it too pricey for me to gamble on just yet.  There will likely be the usual EVE Online monthly update, maybe with a holiday event.  Holiday events will be going on in all the usual games.

And for some of us it will be wet and cold out, which will give is a fine excuse to stay inside and play video games.

Scoring My BlizzCon Projections

The tenth BlizzCon has come and gone.  It always seems short at just two days.  Even wee EVE Vegas ran into Sunday.  But Blizzard knows how to pack a bunch of stuff into two days.

blizzcon2016

Granted, most of what was packed into those two days wasn’t of interest to me.  If you got the Virtual Ticket as I did you found out pretty quickly that four of the six available streams were devoted exclusively to “esports.”

The schedule - smaller dives into products not streamed

A schedule snippet – smaller dives into products not streamed

I was also mildly amused at the confusion over this being the tenth BlizzCon, as announcers kept saying “ten years of BlizzCon,” which is incorrect.  The first BlizzCon was in 2005, but they skipped 2006 and 2012.  So ten BlizzCons, not ten years.

However I was not amused at all to find out that the “Weird Al” concert at the closing ceremony was only viewable live with the Virtual Ticket.  We were out when th concert kicked off, but I figured I could watch it the replay the next day.  Blizzard makes a point of saying that we get to view replays for 14 days.

The concert appears to be an exception though, as it is not available in the video archive.  Since that was one of the key reasons I bought the damn virtual ticket, I am pretty unhappy with that.  I am sure it says something about the concert in the fine print somewhere, but if it had been more obvious I would only have the one chance to see it, I would have made an effort to be home for it.

Anyway, enough carping about that I guess.  Did Blizzard cover what I thought they would?

World of Warcraft

There was a time when BlizzCon could have been called “WoWCon.”  A decade back World of Warcraft was pretty much their only going concern, the company having been practically swallowed by the overwhelming success of the game.  The next release after WoW was StarCraft II, six years later.

For long time observers of BlizzCon, the event has gone from WoW being the only story to now having to share the stage with five siblings.  And since WoW is clearly past its peak, it is in Blizzard’s interest to promote other titles.  The Azeroth gravy train isn’t dead yet, but some alternative revenue streams are clearly part of the plan.

So WoW, which just got an expansion (along with a movie) recently, did not get much attention at the keynote.  I saw some bitter comments on Twitter about Blizz passing over WoW, but it is to be expected.  You had to get into the “Legion – What’s Next” panel to get any details about the game.  Here is what I thought Blizz was going to talk about when it came to WoW:

expect to see:

  • How great the Legion expansion is doing
  • Some hint about the next content drop
  • WoW in other media (film, TV, graphic novels, etc.)

want to see:

  • Details about the plan for 7.2, 7.3, and, one would hope, 7.4
  • When we will get flying in the Broken Isles
  • Something about retro/nostalgia/legacy servers – Yes, I know, the have already explicitly said they will NOT talk about this, but a man can dream right?
  • Nothing whatsoever about Mark Kern, who is still trying to inject himself into the legacy server thing so he can disrupt BlizzCon with it
  • Tom Chilton saying something he shouldn’t about WoW just one more time

We got a bit of the “woo hoo! Legion!” at the keynote (fastest selling blah blah), along with a mention that Blizz would continue delivering content for the expansion, and a plug for the film (now available on DVD and Blu-Ray).

At the Legion panel they went much deeper and covered what will come before 7.2, 7.2 itself, and and eye to what 7.3 will bring.

Coming soon-ish

Coming soon-ish

So what I would consider the minimum was pretty well covered.  I do wish that Blizz was still announcing subscriber numbers, if only to see if a constant stream of content really does make a difference.  After all, Warlords of Draenor may have left people high and dry for a year, but the big dive in subscriber numbers started well before we hit the 6.2 patch that opened up new content and, eventually, flying.

Speaking of flying, 7.2 patch is also supposed to bring us to the point where we will be able to unlock flying in the expansion.  That will give us all something to work on when it hits.  I doubt I will move a single alt in the Broken Isles until I unlock that with my main.  So that point was covered.

I saw nothing about any special, nostalgia, or retro servers, so pretty much as expected.  This did not sit well with the Nostalrius crew, which vowed to return.  I don’t think they understand how slowly (and conservatively) the wheels grind at Blizzard.

And I didn’t hear any Tom Chilton quotes, regrettable or not, so I guess Blizz kept him busy elsewhere.

All in all, not a ton of news about WoW, but about the minimum amount of news that Blizz needed to provide to keep fans going.

Diablo

Here is where I had high expectations.  With the 20th anniversary of the franchise just weeks away, I expected the announcement of Diablo IV or, at a minimum, a new expansion for Diablo IIIDiablo III is well past the four year mark, and the Reaper of Souls expansion is 2.5 years old now.  As a franchise that makes money by selling boxes, it sounds like it needs a new box on the market.  Anyway, this was what I put down:

expect to see:

  • Positive but vague words about how popular the game remains
  • The Diablo 20th anniversary plan
  • MEUs and China [Edit: MAUs, we are not sending Marines to China!]
  • Something new coming for Diablo III seasons

want to see:

  • Diablo IV announced… Reaper of Souls setup the next game
  • A new expansion for Diablo III announced… if not a new game, at least this
  • Something about that remastered version of Diablo II they were talking about a year ago
  • The original Diablo either remastered or on iOS and Android… I would throw money at the screen for a good remaster of the original

We didn’t get anything about MEUs or China, but the Diablo 20th anniversary was covered and we are getting something new.

Just not a new game or an expansion.  Well, “sort of” on the expansion front, but I’ll get to that.  And there will be new zone content coming to appease the people doing season runs.

Instead, to feed the nostalgia hungry, they are remaking the original Diablo in Diablo III.

I think this is something I actually put forth as an option in a previous post.  Yes, here it is“Diablo and/or Diablo II being ported to the Diablo III engine.”

So that sounds pretty interesting, especially since they are attempting to simulate the more primitive graphical style, movements, and sounds of the original.  I am very interested to see how this ends up playing.

The downside is that they are going to make this a special event called “The Darkening of Tristram.”  This event will only be available every January in order to mark the launch of the series.  So I hope you are in the mood for nostalgia then, because you won’t get to play it for the rest of the year.

The other big announcement was the addition of a Diablo II class to Diablo III, the necromancer.  Blizzard has a post here about it.  Interesting, and a clear nostalgia play, but the necromancer was never a big deal for me.  This will be part of a Rise of the Necromancer “pack” which will be available at some future date with some unspecified amount of content (or not) for some unspecified price.

So you can say they announced an expansion… they just didn’t tell us enough about it to get a feel for what it will really be.  If it is just a “buy a new class” thing that they have announced so far, then it doesn’t really count as much of an expansion in my opinion.  If it ends up including more levels (which will be awkward after paragon levels and all that) or a new story line, then we are there.

Finally, we did not hear anything about the Diablo II remaster that they were advertising for last year though.

StarCraft

My interest starts to wane about here.  I like StarCraft for nostalgia reasons, I played a lot of the original back in the day.  But I don’t even own StarCraft II, much less any of the expansions, so my opinions here are dubious at best.  All I know is what I heard at the keynote.  What I said:

expect:

  • General “Woo, StarCraft!” stuff
  • Reassurance about the third part of Nova Covert Ops shipping
  • A DLC pack for 2017
  • Tournament play

want:

  • Remastered original StarCraft because, honestly, I would much rather play the old version if it wasn’t locked into 640×480 resolution (because this)

There was a firm date announced for Nova Covert Ops part III.  Previously listed as “before December 1” it will be available on November 22.  There was also something about StarCraft II being used in conjunction with AI research, a new story line, new maps, and “War Chests” coming to the game.

There was also plenty of tournament play.  There was, however, no mention of the original StarCraft being remastered.

Other Titles

And then we get to the three Blizzard titles where I have no investment.

expect:

  • Everything is Awesome playing on continuous loop, at least metaphorically
  • New hero and/or map for Overwatch
  • Positive Overwatch play time stats
  • A new card pack for Hearthstone that will make all previous packs obsolete
  • Some over the top stats for how many games of Hearthstone have been played
  • Some new play mode for Heroes of the Storm to try and make it at least visible in the market after League of Legends and DOTA2
  • Tournament plans or some such that make it sound like a lot of people play Heroes of the Storm
  • A mobile game from Candy Crush Saga division using Blizzard IP; Manic Murloc Melodrama or some such

want:

  • Overwatch on MacOS so my daughter will stop complaining about Blizzard betraying her
  • Any mention of the original Warcraft RTS games being remastered
  • Report on how that Cho’gall plan from last year turned out for Heroes of the Storm
  • A “Weird Al” song about any Blizzard product

No Manic Murloc Melodrama mobile app.  No Overwatch on MacOS either.

On the other hand, SynCaine’s suggestion that Blizz might not mention Heroes of the Storm was totally unfounded.  They are still fully behind the game and, as you can see by the schedule snippet I have at the top, it had a whole channel dedicate to league play.  They even mentioned the Cho’gall unit from last year, though they did not say if it ended up being all that popular or not.

In fact, most of the keynote seemed to be devoted to these three titles and all of the new stuff they are getting, with Overwatch even getting a new league devoted to it, and how much Blizzard has been paying out in prize money over the last year.  None of that interested me as I am not an “esportsball” fan.

And, of course, I may never know if “Weird Al” had a song about a Blizzard product.

So that was that.  It was interesting to see the keynote and a couple of the panels, but without the concert I feel like I wasted $40 as I could have gleaned all that information and more by just reading the gaming news.

Remind me of that in a year when BlizzCon returns.

Projecting on BlizzCon 2016

I must admit that this year’s BlizzCon doesn’t have much going for it in my book.

blizzcon2016

The only game of theirs that I have played in the last six months is World of Warcraft, and that got an expansion just about two months back, so there didn’t seem to be much in it for me.  I wasn’t going to actually GO to BlizzCon or anything, which would be a totally different experience, if only because I just got back from EVE Vegas… and, also, tickets to BlizzCon sell out in seven seconds.

So I was tempted to simply ignore the whole thing and ready about it in the funny papers next week.

Then Blizzard went and announced that “Weird Al” Yankovic was going to be the closing musical guest and I decided I kind of wanted to see that.  I mean, he isn’t Permaband, but he does have more than five songs.  With my daughter keen to see the costume contest and my wife always amused by the dance contest, I subscribed to the pay per view version of the event.

So there we are.

And if I am paying for the event, I am certainly going to pay attention to it and get at least two blog posts out of it, so here we go with the first one.  As with previous years, my mostly uninformed preview of the event will include what I want to see and what I actually expect to see.

World of Warcraft

As I noted above, WoW just released an expansion, so the options are limited.  It likely won’t be a WoW year on the main stage.

expect to see:

  • How great the Legion expansion is doing
  • Some hint about the next content drop
  • WoW in other media (film, TV, graphic novels, etc.)

want to see:

  • Details about the plan for 7.2, 7.3, and, one would hope, 7.4
  • When we will get flying in the Broken Isles
  • Something about retro/nostalgia/legacy servers – Yes, I know, the have already explicitly said they will NOT talk about this, but a man can dream right?
  • Nothing whatsoever about Mark Kern, who is still trying to inject himself into the legacy server thing so he can disrupt BlizzCon with it
  • Tom Chilton saying something he shouldn’t about WoW just one more time

Diablo Franchise

Unlike WoW, the world of Diablo is prime for something new.  Diablo III is going to turn five next May and even the expansion will be three in March.  Presumably, with more than 30 million copies sole, Blizzard isn’t going to let there be another decade gap between releases.  Plus, the 20th anniversary of the original Diablo is coming up.  They have to do something.

expect to see:

  • Positive but vague words about how popular the game remains
  • The Diablo 20th anniversary plan
  • MEUs MAUs and China
  • Something new coming for Diablo III seasons

want to see:

  • Diablo IV announced… Reaper of Souls setup the next game
  • A new expansion for Diablo III announced… if not a new game, at least this
  • Something about that remastered version of Diablo II they were talking about a year ago
  • The original Diablo either remastered or on iOS and Android… I would throw money at the screen for a good remaster of the original

StarCraft

The StarCraft franchise is in an awkward place as Blizz has sort of finished up what they initially planned to do for StarCraft II.  Last year the big news was DLC missions to come after Legacy of the Void shipped.  We got a three part module in this year in the form of Nova Covert Ops.  The first two parts have been released and the third is promised for December 1.

expect:

  • General “Woo, StarCraft!” stuff
  • Reassurance about the third part of Nova Covert Ops shipping
  • A DLC pack for 2017
  • Tournament play

want:

  • Remastered original StarCraft because, honestly, I would much rather play the old version if it wasn’t locked into 640×480 resolution (because this)

Other Titles

I don’t play the other Blizzard titles so I will lump them under a single heading to hide the paucity of entries about individual games while condensing the cynicism into a single, bitter pill.

expect:

  • Everything is Awesome playing on continuous loop, at least metaphorically
  • New hero and/or map for Overwatch
  • Positive Overwatch play time stats
  • A new card pack for Hearthstone that will make all previous packs obsolete
  • Some over the top stats for how many games of Hearthstone have been played
  • Some new play mode for Heroes of the Storm to try and make it at least visible in the market after League of Legends and DOTA2
  • Tournament plans or some such that make it sound like a lot of people play Heroes of the Storm
  • A mobile game from Candy Crush Saga division using Blizzard IP; Manic Murloc Melodrama or some such

want:

  • Overwatch on MacOS so my daughter will stop complaining about Blizzard betraying her
  • Any mention of the original Warcraft RTS games being remastered
  • Report on how that Cho’gall plan from last year turned out for Heroes of the Storm
  • A “Weird Al” song about any Blizzard product

And that is about it.  I hope it will be a big year at BlizzCon for Diablo, give the 20th anniversary and all, but I have been disappointed on the Diablo front so many times in the past that wouldn’t bet on it.

What else should I expect to see… and what do you want to see at BlizzCon?

October in Review

The Site

I just flew in from Vegas and boy are my arms tired.

What I am calling Version 6 of the MMO Blogger feed in the side bar seems to be working.  At least it is not “down” more often than not, which was an issue with the previous version.

Of course, I was feeling pretty proud of it, and then at one point in the middle of the month, the feed totally missed about 20 posts that it should have picked up for no reason I could determine.  I wondered if one of the feeds I had added in recently might have caused the hiccup, but there hasn’t been an issue since then.

Meanwhile, over at my other site I got this badge from WordPress.com.

1000 posts

1000 posts

This struck me as a bit odd as I the site is well past the 1,200 post mark.  And then I remembered that, as part of the experiment when I started it, I used a different name to post under so as to not influence it from this blog.  And then… after about 200 posts I guess… I decided to stop doing that.  So there we are, 1,000 posts since I made that change.

One Year Ago

I opened up the month with a post about the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign, a little box that promised to make hosting easy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guild Wars 2 launched the Heart of Thorns expansion.

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

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

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

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

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

Five Years Ago

We all said farewell to Steve Jobs.

Tobold was predicting that CCP would go bankrupt in 2012.  Not there yet.

I summed up what I liked and disliked about Need for Speed: World.

I got Civilization II running on Windows 7 64-bit.  People still come here for that article.  I am not sure it even still works.  But it didn’t work back then with my 16-bit copy, I had to get the 32-bit version, Civilization II Gold Edition.

I started another contest, this time for Azerothian travel posters.

And I recalled the start of the alien invasion!

EA was planning to unify all of its free to play online games to use the same in-game currency… something that never actually happened… also, I think all the games on the list are dead now.

Nintendo was talking about augmented reality on their new 3DS console.  Five years later we got Pokemon Go… on iOS and Android.

The announcement of their Unity release got Gaff and I back to TorilMUD to mess around with the Tako Demon.  I have to remember some MUD command syntax to get his corpse afterwards.

Then there was BlizzCon.  The instance group was already bemused by Cataclysm, and the mention of Pandas did not revive our spirits.  Pet Battles seemed interesting at the time.  In coming to grips with the Pandaria announcements, I assumed that I would end up buying the expansion.  Another bad prediction from last year.

And then there were other WoW related things, like the announcement of the Guardian Cub, which some people predicted would be like PLEX in EVE Online.  Not quite, but it probably provided test data for the eventual WoW Token idea.

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, after much complaining, SOE seemed to suddenly wake up and start doing things.  Problems were, you know, solved!  It was becoming a kinder, gentler server.  Sort of.

And then there was Rift.  We started scouting it as a potential home for in instance group after the disaster in EverQuest II.  The scouting went well enough that we all ended up in Telara.

Finally, I was sorting through many press releases and wondering where this so-called GDC Hall of Fame was.

Ten Years Ago

The site got a mention in VirginWorlds Podcast episode 33 while Blessing of Kings was telling me how to be a raider in World of Warcraft.

I was defending instancing and game company forums as well as moaning about the fact that I couldn’t find a decent video card for my AGP motherboard.  Also, Blizzard’s WoW patcher was pissing me off as well while Lore was mocking WoW groups.

Our Saturday night World of Warcraft instance group completed our first full dungeon run in the Deadmines.  That meant my first dungeon run write up.  And my second.  But we got it on our third try.  Then it was off to The Wailing Caverns.  Did anybody have a five player dungeon adventure path like WoW back then?

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

When it came to the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online, I was up in arms about pointy ears and monster play, while the approaching Age of Conan made me think more about Barsoom.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest,  no doubt prompted by another EQ nostalgia post, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occurred during the 10 months I was away.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans and wondering what pen and paper games might make good MMOs.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Legion So Far…
  2. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  3. *BOOM* Headshot! Gambling Down with the EVE Online EULA Changes for Ascension
  4. Make My Alpha Clone
  5. The Economy of New Eden Without Gambling
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Amazon’s New World
  8. The Schadenfreude War
  9. World of Warcraft Reported to be Sitting at 10.1 Million Subscribers
  10. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  11. Fighting the Blood Raider Menace or How I Rat
  12. Civilization VI Launches

Search Terms of the Month

is everquest still active 2016
[2016 says yes!]

trion worlds vs ea
[Trion has better quality, but are still punching up in that fight]

Spam Comment of the Month

For some reason tactical flashlights and hardcore porno got superseded for a few days by spam comments with the name “metal building erection” which makes the 12 year old in me giggle… which is why I got beat up as a 12 year old, as giggling wasn’t generally accepted at my middle school, the social structure of which was modeled on Lord of the Flies.

EVE Online

In New Eden I have been reviving some old skills, learning some new ones, building up my ISK reserves, and generally enjoying not being at war or moving everything I own across space.  There is a small conflict brewing in Fountain where we can find fights and there is Asher’s fight club plan for Querious to implement.

Minecraft

I have been working on a project now and then in Minecraft.  There is a humorous post in it, I just haven’t gotten around to finishing the project… though sometimes I am not sure any Minecraft project is ever done… or writing it up.  Some Day.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I carry on playing.  She is still ahead of me, at level 25.  A few changes went in this past month.  You now get a bonus when attempting to capture a Pokemon of a type for which you have a gold medal… the gold medal you get for catching 500 of that type, which must mean you are well practiced.  And then there is the change to “seen” Pokemon in the Pokedex.  Previously you got credit for having seen a Pokemon only if you attempted to catch it but then had it escape.  Not, in line with the core RPG titles, you get credit for having seen a Pokemon even if you have only seen it in a local gym.  This is how my “seen” number jumped by 50.

Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 22 (+4)
  • Pokedex status: 79 (+18) caught, 113 (+50) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Snorlax
  • Current buddy: Bulbasaur

Stellaris

While everybody was playing Civilization VI, I finally bought Stellaris, which came out back in May.  That seemed to be sufficient time to let it mature, because it seems pretty good.  That ate up most of my free gaming time for the last week or so of the month.

World of Warcraft

As noted, I have been dragging my feet in the WoW Legion expansion.  I made it through Stormhein, hit 110, and then started wandering off to older content just because.  Not sure why the malaise, but there it is.  Here at the end of the month I have been getting on daily to run the Headless Horseman instance in the vain hope that maybe, this year, the mount will drop for me.

Coming Up

November is going to be a pretty big month in my favored corners of the video game world.

First, there will be BlizzCon, which is this week, November 4th and 5th.  I don’t think we will hear very much about World of Warcraft… and there won’t be any Chris Metzen there to rally the fans… but there is hope for other things.  We shall see.

Then on the following week the EVE Online expansion Ascension goes live with a huge amount of changes and new things to shake up New Eden, not the least of which are Alpha Clones, the CCP version of free to play.  I expect chaos and exploits and extended down time. [The Ascenion expansion has been moved to November 15 now, so at least it won’t be hit by the expected election day DDoS attack.]

Then on the week after that we get the one-two punch as EverQuest II and EverQuest both launch their annual expansions on November 15th and 16th respectively.  Kunark, long a favorite place in Norrath, is the theme of both expansions.

After all of that, there will be the Pokemon Sun & Moon launch.  I already have that pre-orderd from Amazon, so it should show up on the 19th.

And finally it will be the Thanksgiving holiday and maybe I will be able to catch up with everything.  I am sure there is more going on in November, but that will likely be enough for me.

WoW Legion Gets Its First Content Drop with Patch 7.1

What we will focus on at BlizzCon is how the team is committed to making sure we bring you a steady stream of content going forward, and we can’t wait to share what’s next for Legion.

-J. Allen Brack, WoW Community Manager forum post

We’ll get back the the top part of the post that quote came from on another day.

The promise from Blizzard, explicit, implied, or otherwise, was that the WoW Legion expansion would not leave players hanging for a year without any new content.  You might have thought they would have learned this after Mists of Pandaria, but I guess the subscriber count didn’t drop low enough during that drought, so they let it happen again with Warlords of Draenor.

The problem was compounded by some of the choices made with Warlords of Draenor .  I know, everybody likes to beat up on garrisons, but the subscriber numbers indicate that they were not a big hit.  We’ll never get any sort of “real” player housing in WoW after garrisons.

But that was the last expansion and we are now eight weeks into WoW Legion and the first post-launch content drop, WoW 7.1 – Return to Karazhan. The date has arrived, the patch notes are final, and the content is upon us.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

The headline item for the release is a five person mythic run set in the Burning Crusade era raid Karazhan.  While being a mythic level dungeon means I probably won’t see it until we get a couple more expansions down the road, I still think this is a good use of their time.

Then there is a new Trial of Valor raid opening up in normal and heroic modes, with mythic and LFR tourist modes opening up some time down the road.  Again, content for a core demographic in WoW.

For the rest of us, there is the continuation of the campaign in Suramar and more world quests.  Eventually I will actually START on Suramar and world quests, but I cannot hold my lagging behind against Blizz.  Both of those do sound like “things to do” for players out in the open world.

So, more content with the first patch out.  But I think Blizz has always managed to do that in the past.  They will manage a 7.1 and a 7.2 based on past experience.  But will we see a 7.3, 7.4, and even a 7.5 patch and beyond with content as the expansions ages?

Meanwhile, the patch notes are full of other little items, including changes to classes, changes to professions, to some of the skills new players get for levels 1-10, to a quick join feature that will let you see what people on your friends list have queued up for and allow you to join up with them in the queue.

My own personal favorite line item from the patch notes is:

  • Nameplate options made less confusing.

I like that because nameplates were the first thing I noticed when I logged in on day one of the expansion.  I generally have them set off as much as possible, but the redid the configuration and, as part of that changed, turned everything on by default.  So I was standing in Stormwind in a sea of green nameplates.  I eventually got it back to my usual minimalist setting, and I suspect that I will have to do that again with this change… but it should be less confusing now, right?

And finally, I guess this is the Chris Metzen emote for the game.  Gone (from Blizzard) but not forgotten:

  • Added new “For the Horde” and “For the Alliance” emotes.

I am a bit surprised this wasn’t a thing much sooner.

My Slackening Pace in the Broken Isles

I made it through the main quest lines of Stormheim over the weekend.  It actually seemed to go by pretty quickly, with a diversion into hell for a bit.

The management explaining how we were not leaving

The management explaining how we were not leaving

Finishing the main quest lines got me the achievement which I assume will count towards unlocking flying in the Broken Isles at some future date.

Another off the list

Another off the list

That wrapped up my initial clockwise run through the initial four zones of WoW Legion.

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

That still leaves me with Suramar and the Broken Shore to tackle… I guess… and whatever else the expansion offers at level 110.  But, while I have been enjoying the quest lines and such, I haven’t been feeling any real drive to finish them up.  I could have finished up Stormheim a couple weeks back had I a mind to do so.  I was finishing up Highmountain about three weeks back.

I was even starting to fall off when it game to those last couple of shipyard missions from the Draenor garrison.  I let almost all of last week go by without even logging in to do that or collect hexweave for bags.  Again, I got back to it over the weekend, and even got two of the final three achievements I was shooting for.

Earned me the title "Captain"

Earned me the title “Captain”

Meanwhile, I still have a pile of level 100 characters that haven’t really done much of anything.  Vikund is 110, but there are five more characters sitting around PLUS there is that level 100 boost that I have yet to use.  I have not dove into Legion the way I did into Warlords of Draenor, though the design of Legion seems to be as much to blame as anything when it comes to alts.

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

So, I started down the path that I often follow when the main thread of the game isn’t holding me.  I started looking for something from past releases that I missed which I could go back and work on for a bit.  I ran down the now very long list of faction reputations in my character sheet, looking for somebody I could bump up to exalted.

Deep down I found that I still had a number of factions still available for work from the Burning Crusade era.  Honor Hold was deep into revered, so I decided to start with that.  I think I had been working on that previously, then lost interest and went elsewhere.  To get that running meant heading to Outland to run Shattered Halls.  Being just a five person instance, that went pretty quickly.  I did not get a ton of faction from it, but enough that I only need a couple more runs to hit revered.

That having gone quickly, I looked at what else was on the list and came upon the Violet Eye faction, which was barely into friendly territory.  I had to go look that faction up and found that to boost it you had to go run through Karazhan.  Over at WoW Head the comments said that a full run through the old raid instance was worth about 10K faction for a full clear, which sounded good.  It wouldn’t take that many runs to boost up the Violet Eye then.

Of course the trick is that you have to actually find your way through Karazhan to do this.

I never went to Karazhan back in the day, and can only recall going there once… maybe during Cataclysm… and getting pretty thoroughly lost. (We also tried to go visit at one point in the distant past, but found you needed a key back then.)  Or, not lost, because I always ended up back at the front door, but unable to move find my way beyond the first couple of areas.

If you have been there, you know that Karazhan is a large, sprawling raid instance, the sort of “just got carried away” thing that Blizzard just doesn’t do much anymore.

Anyway, with nothing else on my list to do and no ops running in New Eden, I headed to Karazhan to start exploring.

The last time I went there were no in-instance maps, which probably explains my lack of progress.  There are now maps in the instance, and while they don’t exactly hold you by the hand and direct you forward, you at least get a hint as to where connections to other areas might be as well as getting the various bosses marked on the map.

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

And so I have managed to stumble through the place, exploring, killing large groups of mobs for faction, collecting items for transmog (Maybe something from Burning Crusade looks good?), and occasionally getting a surprise drop.

A pet! I didn't even know about that.

A pet! I didn’t even know about that.

So that has given me something to do, though because it is a raid I cannot log in and run through every night.  The lockout timer keeps me away for a few days.  I’ll be finished with Honor Hold rep much more quickly.

However, I did wonder if I was going be able to finish my Violet Eye faction run.  A change is coming next week, one that features Karazhan.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

In the past changes to old instances, such as Onyxia, have meant that the old versions have gone away.  The patch notes I have seen for the public test realm seem to indicate that this will not be the case with Karazhan, the the update will just add an additional instance that will take place within the old raid zone.  But it isn’t clear to me how that will affect just walking in the front door of the place once 7.1 hits.

Anyway, I will have at least one more chance to run through it this weekend based on my current timer.  And while I wait for the timer to run down, Hallow’s End is upon us again so I can take the daily run at trying to get the mount drop.  Maybe this year I will get lucky!

World of Warcraft Reported to be Sitting at 10.1 Million Subscribers

About two months back, when Activision Blizzard announced their Q2 2016 results, I was speculating that they might be anxious to start talking about subscription numbers after vowing to not report on them about a year back.

ActiBlizz450

That was an easy thing to vow when the game had bottomed out after the Draenor exodus, hitting subscriber numbers not seen since 2005.  But with the last quarterly report things were starting to look rosy again with the Legion expansion coming up, Blizzard was beating around the bush, trying to say how wonderful things were going without actually bringing out the number that would prove it.  Sure, the Legion expansion sold well on day one, but how many subscribers were there in the game?

Well, somebody couldn’t hold their tongue… somebody being Tom Chilton.  According to a report over at PvP Live, he said, in an interview with the Polish gaming magazine Pixel… well… the following:

Pixel: You guys reached your peak by capturing 12 million users. By the end of 2015 it was only 5.5 million, and after that Blizzard stopped providing statistics. Can we ask, about how many users currently have a paid subscription?

Chilton: As we speak, it’s about 10.1 million. It’s hard to say what future will bring. We have an internal competition in form of Overwatch, but it’s possible we will reach 12 million once again. The potential is there as there are over 100 million registered accounts.

Pixel is apparently a magazine is of the old school print variety, so no link to the original source in Polish, but translations have been popping up on Reddit and forums like NeoGAF. [Edit: Picture of the Polish text.]

So there it is, out in the open again, a subscriber number.  Another data point in the cycle of life that is MMORPGs.

Did Tom Chilton get advance clearance to talk about that number?  The man has blurted out some unfortunate things in the past that have come back to haunt the company, things like equating garrisons to housing and such.  Ah well.

And what does that number mean.  Blizzard’s partner in China recently changed over from an hourly to a monthly subscription model.  Did that change how the count was done?  Is it more accurate or less?

Finally, if he did get the okay, is this how it will be going forward, with Blizzard?  Are they going to tell us about peaks but go silent when it comes to valleys in the subscriber wave?

Hat tip to Liore for sending this my way.

Addendum: Blizzard denies everything.

“Our policy for almost a year now is that we do not talk about subscriber numbers,” said the Blizzard spokesperson. “And Tom did not do that with this publication.”