Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Was the WoW Level Squish a Good Idea?

It will be coming up on a year next month since Blizzard introduced the big level squish as part of the run up to the Shadowlands expansion.  I started thinking about it as part of the mudflation post earlier in the week and whether or not it was worth the effort.

Of course, I have no way of measuring its impact beyond my own perception, and I am not sure if even Blizzard could answer that question right now, there being so many other factors impacting their user base this year.  But a lot of work went into making it happen and details like not being able to answer a question has never stopped me from asking one.

So this is going to be more of a gut check I suppose.  An emotional response.

And even that isn’t going to give a clear answer.  I am of mixed emotions on the topic even a year down the road. (It feels like more than a year ago to me, but time is a blur.)

To start with, I didn’t even think Blizzard would do it.  I am on record a number of times thinking the idea was too risky for Blizz, which can be very conservative on game changes.

That conservatism was apparently outweighed by the growing absurdity of levels in between any new player and the current content.

So in I went to the level squish and… I did okay.  It took me a bit to figure out that there was both an old school path through to the level cap as well a series of parallel paths through to the cap.

My vision in Excel format

I got a couple of characters leveled up through the new system before Shadowlands.  It was definitely speedier than before.  So technically a win.  And I feel like making all the expansions viable paths through the game was a good idea.

On the other hand, the whole thing was more complicated that needed, which is kind of the traditional Blizzard method.  If you were a new player it put you on the Battle for Azeroth path, but if you were making alts you had to go find Chromie and get on the path you wanted, and you had a chance of accidentally ending up in the old layer cake path through the game.

The horizontal stack with level caps on each expansion

And if you made a Demon Hunter, as I did, you might not realize you were in that layer cake model until you found that the mobs all grayed out before you made it to 50.

So the whole thing seemed like it had some good ideas and clearly had the intent to serve both new players and veterans alike.  But did it?  Is it a long term win?  Was it worth the effort… and reworking every expansion to scale and be viable for levels 10 to 50 was a lot of work… make that a thing?

Part of it is hard to appraise because you’re viewing from the outside.  And when you add in the long content drought after the Shadowlands launch and then the company blowing up with the lawsuit it is easy to think that Blizz could have spent their time better.

So I am left feeling neither all that positive or all that negative on the change, which is odd because a year ago I it seemed like a big freaking deal.  So it goes.

Dealing with Mudflation

A few weeks back on The Meta Show The Mittani characterized CCP’s attempts to fix the EVE Online economy as an attempt to roll back mudflation.  And that seems to fit the bill as to what they have been attempting over the last few years really.

Mudflation goes back to… well, as the name implies, MUDs and their economies.

Much has been written about the economies of online games, but my early experience with mudflation was around TorilMUD, which was big enough to have a player economy, but not big enough to absorb the faucets over time.

Mudflation generally refers to the growth of both power in online games and the effects of the uninterrupted flow of cash from drops, quests, and what not into the player economy.

In TorilMUD both aspects hit the game.  Power creep was generally part of the introduction of new raid zones.  If somebody made a fancy new zone for players to attack, they would seed it with some desirable gear, a bit better than you could get in some of the older zones.  That made people run the new zone to get the drops that they wanted, but also made older raid zones a bit easier to run.

For example, way back in time, the City of Brass in the Astral Plane was a tough zone for a raid group.  It had some nifty stuff, but groups primarily went there because it had drops for a couple of epic spell quests, including one of the druid spells… creeping doom or moonwell, I forget which this far down the line.  You needed a fire protection item, you needed to have fly cast on you, several of the fights needed very specific group compositions.

As new raid zones came in and gear got better overall, City of Brass became a bit of a cakewalk.  Part of that was the raid leaders learned all the tricks over time, what you could skip and how best to approach various bosses, but a lot of it was that we were all just now over-geared for the zone, so that save for one boss fight a run was rarely in question. (Unless Mori was running the raid, in which case we might all wipe just traveling through the Astral Plane and spend the next three hours recovering from that.)

The TorilMUD solution to this over time was to redo gear, generally by hitting it vigorously with a nerf bat until zones were, if not hard, but at least not a walk over.  Often the devs came for specific things.  There was the great war on haste items.  I remember Meclin lent me a pair of grey suede boots, which were haste items when he took a break and I traded them for some gear that was a big upgrade for me and then, two weeks later the devs nerfed them into oblivion.  I offered to go buy a pair of grey suedes for him when he returned to the game.  They were cheap because nobody wanted them anymore.

Part of the issue for TorilMUD is that it has had a level cap of 50 since 1993, so adjusting gear was the go-to solution.

Then there was the economy.  For some time after a pwipe, and I went through four of those, a player economy would grow and flourish.  I wrote a post about how we used to handle sales by yelling about our wares back in the old days.

TorilMUD was a game of many faucets and few sinks.  As usual, life was hard when you were level 1 and could barely afford the copper needed to buy a ration to eat.  But as you went on and looted every coin and sold every bit of junk to a vendor… we used to race off to the Faerie Forest with every crash/reboot because there were things we could sell available at such a reset… you eventually could cover your needs, then buy a few luxuries, then had excess.

When everybody was hungry, the economy thrived.  When people got fat, when the streets were running with gold, then the economy would die.  Basically, gear had value and coin did not, and who trades something of value for no return?  And when somebody did want to buy/sell something, it was for an obscene pile of coin.

That problem was never solved, save through the community itself.  People were generous in donating gear and when there was no demand, people stopped farming low level gear to resell.  But if you wanted to buy gear, pay money for an item, you were likely out of luck. (Except maybe for that tinker’s bag in the Faerie Forest.)

Both of those aspects of mudflation have carried on into modern MMORPGs.

In fact the experience of early EverQuest was very much a replay writ large, right down to people shouting to advertise their wares in the tunnel in The Commonlands.

The Plane of Knowledge kills all this eventually

The EQ developers had a different way out… a route that actually ran with gear inflation… which was expansions.  If you pile on some levels or some AAs to earn, a bit of story, and a pile of new gear to grind for, then you kick the gear inflation can down the road.  As long as you keep making expansions… and the EQ team was doing two expansions a year at one point… and don’t go crazy, you can sustain this for quite a while.

The economy was still a bit nutty in Norrath.  They had to turn off gravity in the Bazaar, the official player economy center, because you needed to haul huge amounts of platinum coin around to buy things, and woe to anybody who forgot to bank their coins before stepping out of the Bazaar, because you would find yourself weighed down, unable to move.  I’ve done that.

World of Warcraft had adopted pretty much the same point of view, at least up through the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  They did a gear squish at one point, just to reign in numbers, but gear progression through expansions was still pretty much the same; new expansion green gear was likely better than your old expansion purples.

And the team at Blizz made old raid tourism a thing for pets and transmog gear, so your inflated power could be used to go back and collect stuff you missed in past expansions.

It wasn’t until Battle for Azeroth that they started to feel that the “more levels with every expansion” model might be reaching the point of absurdity, so we got the great level squish before Shadowlands hit.  For me the jury is still out as to whether that was worth the effort, though it is hard to judge due to Shadowlands growing stale in the first six months and then the hostile workplace lawsuit hitting the company.

Regardless, I suspect that a level squish like that is a luxury that few titles can afford.  I am sure the EQ team feels the pain of having a level cap at 115 and 27 expansions to sort through.  I am not sure how Neverwinter managed it, though I suspect their plan was not as ambitious.

On the economy front Blizzard has just run with the inflation model, even expanding the gold cap over time.  Each expansion hands out more gold, but they add in a few fancy gold sinks… mounts and bags and what not… to try and offset that.  I am sure that WoW Tokens helped at least redistribute some of the hoarded gold in the game.

But the player economy isn’t critical to the game.  There are servers where the economy is totally screwed up, where the auction house is bad, but you can mostly ignore it.  You do quests, get gear, earn faction, get enough gold to buy from NPC vendors, and go on with your life and adventures.

It has actually been a bit amusing to watch the economy change in WoW Classic with the unlock of Burning Crusade Classic.  We would go out of our way to finish a quest with a one gold reward in vanilla.  In Outland the quest rewards are throwing gold compared to what we’ve been used to, and the market reacted.  People got rich, prices went up, and things moved along.

Still, the auction house it options.

Which brings me back to EVE Online, where started about a thousand words back.  CCP has been doing something that I have not seen before in an online game.  CCP has been trying to stuff the economy side of the mudflation genie back in the bottle.

After introducing all the changes that led to the current situation, epitomized at one point by the Delve Time Unit, CCP had a change of heart/staff and started down a path to reduce the wealth being accumulated in New Eden.  Rorqual mining was repeatedly nerfed as was supercap ratting.  Taxes on commerce were raised.  Anomalies were nerfed some more, then the whole ESS nerf was put in place to put income at risk.

CCP then got serious and went after mining and minerals, the core of the manufacturing economy, reducing ore yields, limiting where some minerals could be found, reducing the number of asteroids, and generally trying to starve the New Eden economy.

Most recently CCP redid industry.  Ship prices were already on the rise due to mineral prices, but CCP made certain ships, battleships and above, much more expensive to produce which saw a large downturn in production back in April.

A lot of effort has gone into throttling the economy, though after all that CCP threw some ISK at people for an event when they unlocked the ESS reserve bank keys.

July 2021 – Money Supply Over Time (with highlight)

While the money supply is down a bit from the June 2019 high, that last injection seems to have undone much of what they were attempting to achieve.

And CCP has promised that the starvation economy will be ending with changes slated for Q4 of 2021.  We do not know what those are yet, but I am very curious to see if there will be any tangible change resulting from these months and years of squeezing the economy.

For example, CCP loves when null sec goes to war.  Big battles with expansive ships set records and make headlines that help promote the game.  But this big economic squeeze has clearly impacted the war.

Yes, PAPI is claiming that the tax changes killed off their Tranquility Trading Tower revenues, which meant they could no longer finance the war, but that feels more like an excuse than major factor.

That said, making capitals and supercapitals more expensive to produce means that both sides in the war were much more careful about putting hard to replace assets on the line.  The tax change may not have ended the war, but the production change loomed large over how it was being fought and made those big battles CCP loves less likely.  Nobody wants to risk their big toys if they can’t be sure they can replace them.

CCP is in a tough corner, I will admit that.  If they think the economy is getting out of hand they cannot just add some more sinks in with the next expansion, a spiffy new mount or some such.  And the economy is vital to EVE Online in a way that few other games have ever managed.  Life goes on in New Eden because you can go to Jita and buy a new ship to replace the one you lost.  ISK has value in the economy.  Screw that up and the game breaks hard.

But I am still wondering if this effort will end up being an object lesson to other developers about how to, or how not to, deal with mudflation.

August in Review

The Site

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

Quantity has a quality all its own

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

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

One Year Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifteen Years Ago

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

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

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

Thirty Years Ago

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

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

Forty Years Ago

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

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

Most Viewed Posts in August

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

Search Terms of the Month

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

база майнкрафт
[I have made many]

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

test alliance please ignore
[Easier to do these days]

ancient winter poncho
[No Ponchos!]

Game Time from ManicTime

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

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

Diablo II

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

EVE Online

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

Pokemon Go

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

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

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

RimWorld

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

The Fermi Paradox

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

WoW Classic

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

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

Hunting for Disenchants in Blackrock Depths

After our Hellfire Ramparts run Ula announced that she had finally made it up to 301 in enchanting and wanted to know if there were any gear enchants we might want.

Fergorin started looking at enchants that would be available to us at that skill level, and the common denominator seemed to be large brilliant shards, with a couple to a dozen being needed depending on the specific enchant.  Some investigation over at WoW Head showed that we might be in luck for some of those shards if we were willing to go back to Blackrock Depths to kill a few bosses.  And why not.  We’ve been there a dozen times in WoW Classic already, it isn’t like we don’t know the layout by now.

But it was Sunday and there was only three of us, so we’d have to see how well we could manage against bosses in the low 50 level range.  Our group was:

  • Ula – level 62 gnome mage
  • Wilhelm – level 63 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 63 human paladin (holy)

We met up at Thorium Point and rode the familiar path to the instance.

Off towards Blackrock Depths

There was a question as to where we ought to go first… and if we even had the keys to the place.  Both Fergorin and Wilhelm are Outland replacements, so neither of them were on the dozen BRD adventures, and so neither of them have the Shadowforge Key.  Fortunately Ula had it, so we were able to move about.

The nearest boss seemed to be Lord Roccor, who wanders around outside the Ring of Law.  Fortunately for the sake of speed, our aggro radius was small enough to allow us to thread the needle and bypass a lot of mobs, though we had to knock out a few groups.  We were able to grab Lord R in between two groups who just sat there and ingnored the fight.

After Lord Roccor

His drop only yielded a small brilliant shard, not a large.  We went into the Ring of Law and did the event there, drawing the big spider, whose drop also disappointed when disenchanted.  Still, we pressed on, heading around the corner to find Pyromancer Loregrain.  His loot included the recipe Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon.  Not a shard, but something pretty cool for Ula. (Moronae got that last time we found Loregrain, but I don’t think he ever got his enchanting high enough to use it before he swapped out to Beanpole.)

From there we wound our way back, set the bridge/gate so we could cross it, and went looking for General Angerforge next.  He was a bit of a pain at level back when we did him.

There is General Angerforge

At level 63 and geared up from Outland, the three of us were able to handle him, with AOE taking down his non-elite minions when he summoned them to fight.

Then it was across the way to Golem Lord Argelmach.  Here we had a bit of trouble.  We were able to slip through the manufactory well enough, but we had forgotten that if you don’t clear it out, Argelmach runs out there and summons help.  So the fight seemed to be going off the rails pretty quickly.  But we held it together and were able to muscle through the boss, his two minions, and the adds he summoned.

Golem Lord Argelmach’s golem friends down

That goes us a good shard plus, on the ground near where he spawns, was the engineer recipe for the Field Repair Bot 74A.  You cannot even pick it up unless you’re a level 300 engineer, but Wilhelm was at 305, so a happy new recipe for him as well.  While the bot is one use and a bit pricey, requiring a dozen thorium bars and two fused wiring, the latter being the more painful item to provide, having one along if we need to repair or sell to empty bags some day may well save us some day.  I’m working on sourcing more fused wiring so I can make backups.

From there it was over to the Grim Guzzler, where we picked off Ribbly Screwspigot and the mobs that show up to defend the kegs when you break them.  The drops were now starting to disenchant nicely into the shards we wanted.

At the far end of the Grim Guzzler I bought the ale to feed to Private Rocknot to get him to start the fight with Phalanx when we had ran into a bit of trouble.  Once Phalanx went active I hit him with my taunt to pull him onto me, but it has a 15 second cool down, and in that time Ula unloaded on him, pulled aggro, then did her AOE freeze to hold him down so she could step away, not remembering that bar patrons were right behind her.  So the bar went aggro on us.

Melee in the Grim Guzzler

Ula got stomped and, as things started to really go bad, Fergorin pulled out the Divine Intervention card, sacrificing himself to bubble me, take me out of combat, and let me walk off to ress and restore the situation.

Time for a ress

We were able to get back together and slay Phalanx and move on around the corner to knock out Ambassador Flamelash.  He was another one that summons a bunch of minions where consecrate takes care of business.

We were not keen to go much further in.  The lyceum felt like more work that we wanted to do, though I suppose we could have tried threading the needle again.

So we turned around and jumped off the platform we were on to go after Lord Incendius.

Lord Incendius down again

After that we went up the ways a bit and knocked out Fineous Darkvire for good measure.  That done, we had the vault and a couple more small things we could have done, but it felt like enough for the afternoon.  I had a couple of real life chores calling, so Ula got us a portal to Ironforge.

Once there I asked about what materials were needed for the Fiery Weapon enchant.  It needed different shards and an essence of fire.  I bought the shards off the auction house and had the essence of fire handy, so she enchanted my blade.

Fiery Enchant Active

That is a good looking enchant.  I had just upgraded my weapon earlier, so I will get to see that fiery glow for a while.  And, of course, it throws an extra 40 points of fire damage regularly, which means it both looks good and is a practical addition.

We might have to go back for some more shards, but that was a pretty nice run back… again… to old Azeroth.

Return to Hellfire Ramparts

After some time away from the game and then some mucking around in old Azeroth in search of a guild tabard and some epic mounts, we finally had to get back to the business waiting for us in Outland.  It was time to go back and finish Hellfire Ramparts.

I wasn’t sure faster mounts were really going to help us, but we did get a level each in our wanderings since the last attempt on the instance.  A couple in some cases.  Our group for the venture was:

  • Ula – level 62 gnome mage
  • Beanpole – level 63 gnome warlock
  • Wilhelm – level 62 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 62 human paladin (holy)

And even after our warm ups in various Azeroth dungeons, getting back into Ramparts was going to be a bit of a chore for us.  If nothing else we were going to have to get used to having a somewhat larger aggro radius.  So we got ourselves to Honor Hold and rode on out to the instance.

Our fate lay beyond the instance swirl

Once in and buffed up we were able to take out the first few groups without too much problem.  Another residual issue from doing Azeroth instances was the amount of sloppiness we could endure.  Pull a few extra mobs?  No problem!  Here, the aggro radius and the mobs more geared to our level meant when we managed to aggro not one but two additional groups, it was a race to the zone line when the tank went down.

Beanpole almost made it. Warlocks don’t have blink

The comedy of errors continued as we towards the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar.

Even there, a boss we had brought down twice before without incident, we ran afoul of aggro radius, taking him on before clearing all the way around, and thus managing to bring two groups of guests to the fight.

Dead again in Ramparts

I think Ula made it out of the instance, or got close at least.  But the rest of us had to get a ress.  Fortunately we had the soul stone handy.

After that we decided to be a bit more thorough.  We pulled everything around the boss, so when we got him the next time it was just him and his two minions.  The minions went down quick, so when he called for healing there was none coming.

Watchkeeper Gargolmar getting his now

After that we started doing better.  The high point after that was the group of five at the top of the ramp which we have managed to wipe on every time.  As we got ready for that fight, I looked at my exp bar and realized I would level after we killed two or three of the group, so when we pulled them around the corner I did not hold back on mana.  I kept consecrate going and anything else I could throw at them.

Just as the third one was about to die I announced that I was out of mana… then he died, I leveled up, and was suddenly full again.  We had not problem that time around.

Win at the top of the ramp

We then managed to clear the mobs ahead of us until we had a choice.  We could go do Omor the Unscarred, who is generally the second boss, or we could just go straight for the final bosses, the duo we had yet to defeat, Nazan and Vazruden.

We went for the big boss pair.

This duo again

And we came close on the first fight.  A slip up on my part… late on a health stone… and I was dead, leading to a wipe.

The soul stone got us back in action again and we went right at them once more… and wiped again.  This was not going to plan.

We took a break to refresh drinks and feed cats, during which time we read up on the fight.  We were getting close, but we had been close before.  I was staying under Nazan’s snout to avoid as much of his fire breath as I could and we were burning down Vazruden pretty easily before turning on Nazan.  And then it came out of the guide.  Vazruden wasn’t really a threat.  We needed to focus all fire on Nazan as early as possible.  Ranged attacks and DOTs on him while he was still in flight, then all in when he landed.

With that bit of info we changed up our tactics and… won the fight at last.

Victory in Hellfire Ramparts

After looting the chest and posing for a screen shot, we ran around the corner and gave Omor the Unscarred a shot.  He went down very easy when compared to previous fights.  A couple levels and some gear upgrades will do that.

And the run helped us with a few more gear upgrades.  There was something for everybody along the way, and even more with the quest turn ins back at Honor Hold.

One instance down, many still to go.  We’ll see how far we get as a group of four.

The next target is the Blood Furnace.

Honest Game Trailers does Burning Crusade Classic

One of the problems with playing mostly old games is that Honest Game Trailers is mostly videos of games I probably won’t ever play.   But not this time.  This time they had Burning Crusade Classic.

Before the Dark Portal

And their assessment all feels pretty true to me.

 

I have a a few posts already from WoW Classic in the Burning Crusade era that have us still back in Azeroth taking care of unfinished business, including getting our epic mounts.  But I also leveled up my druid from 36 to 60 and, that done, started in on my level 21 rogue rather than spend my free time playing my mains.

Some of that was, in part, because of the instance group taking a bit of a summer hiatus.  We do go places now then.  But some of it is just reminding me that, over the years, I have said that I wasn’t too keen on the overland questing in Outland and that I might not have been mis-remembering how I felt at the time.

Still, I am not getting on the refugee boat to FFXIV.

Nope, not going there.  I can hold out for Wrath of the Lich King.  I swear.  I’ll level up in Outland eventually.

Finding our Epic Mounts in WoW Classic

We had wrung our hands a some about the state of affairs at Blizzard.  A couple of us cancelled our accounts with pithy remarks in the comments.  But the fact that WoW Classic is the game that brings us together every week overrode our anger at the company, salved a bit by the ramp up in firings of key individuals.  And with the state all over them about this, they’ll be under a microscope for a long while.  Just go ask the Riot management team, which has been under investigation for a few years now and still has the government calling them out for bad behavior.

The upshot, however, is that we are still playing and we have actually spent the last three weekends running around in Azeroth rather than Outland because we wanted our epic mounts.

In the revised Outland lineup, where UIa fired the old team, two of the replacement, Wilhelm and Fergorin are paladins, while Beanpole is a Warlock, which means the three of us have special quests for our mounts.

The quests require a number of special items and 350 gold to pay off one NPC or another.  Much of it can be done solo, but the first thing on this list for the group was to head to Stratholme again because I needed to get four vials of Stratholme holy water.

Back in Strat

You need five for the quest and I had picked up two in our last visit, but they look like mana potions in my bag so I accidentally drank one during the Omor fight in Hellfire Ramparts the last time we were there.  Oops.

So in we went to find some more for me.  They drop from crates that are scattered liberally throughout the instance.  However I would estimate that less than 1 in 5 crates actually contains something, with the other four unleash some minor mobs or a poisonous malady, so we had to go a ways into the instance in order to fill my order.  Far enough to wipe when an old friend showed up.

One of the more memorable vanilla catch phrases

Ula had actually substitted her level 58 booster warrior Scscla into the group for this run, so we were running a different dynamic with warrior DPS rather than a mage.  Still, the soul stone was to hand and we were able to ress and get back to it pretty quickly, finding my final vial shortly thereafter.

Then we ran out to Dire Maul, after hitting Stromwind for some quest updates, to go into the west wing to find the ancient equine spirit, the next quest update.

The spirit of the venture

You can see dual wielding warrior Scscla in that shot.

That didn’t take too long, since you just have to get in and defeat the first boss, after which we decided to head up to Felwood to help Beanpole with the next stage of his quest, down in the underground of Jaedenar.  Getting there was a bit comic as three of the members of the group were boosted, which meant that they got the new flight point at the south end of Felwood automatically, while Wilhelm leveled up the hard way and only had the north flight point.  So we went to the north flight point and rode on down the zone to get where we needed to go.

Beanpole had to get to the end of the underground, talk to Lord Banehollow, kill a few mobs for him, then get his reward and update.

Lord Banehollow

We had some help getting through as somebody else was working on quests and had cleared the way… we then cleared the way for them as we caught up.  They were doing that escort quest, so I was happy to help.

We finished up there and then Beanpole went off to update his quests and we were done with that run.

The next week our target was Scholomance.  Both paladins and warlocks need to visit Scholo and Dire Maul West for their mount quests, just not in the same order.  We were there to move Beanpole’s quest along and finish the quests for Fergorin and Wilhelm.

We flew up to Chillwind Point and ran over to the instance only to discover it was locked.  You need a key, something that had slipped our mind since we last did this instance back in early 2008.  It has been a while.

For the key we had to go back to Chillwind Point to get a quest which required you to be honored with the Argent Dawn to pick up.  Fortunately both Fergorin and Wilhelm were at Honored because you have to be so for a couple steps in the quest before Scholo.  So we ran around, did our quest, got the key, then got into the instance.

Into the instance

We had some problems early on.  We needed some warmup and there were only four of us, though we were all also level 62 at this point and mostly geared up from Outland, so I suppose I should be happy we didn’t try this before Burning Crusade Classic dropped.

Still, we managed to get into the groove after a wipe and a few close calls (and one of the best threading the needling moves I’ve ever managed), fighting our way to the lab first in order to grab the update for Beanpole’s quest.  We killed the boss too, but we didn’t really need to.

We were there already, so why not

Then it was down into the basement where you must slay Rattlegore, then drop an item to start an event.  Fergorin went first, dropped his relic, and the event kicked off.  We managed to wipe on the third round of the event because they mobs all spawn together right where I was standing, but once again the soul stone let us revive and carry on.

Wipe in the basement

We got back up, fought the final guy, and Fergorin was able to claim his mount.

The charger redeemed

We didn’t get a two-fer on that one, the way we did the ancient equine spirit, so I dropped my relic to start the event… and nothing happened.  You cannot do it twice in one run I guess.

Ula opened a portal back to Stormwind and I went back to the quest giver, abandoned the quest, got the quest again with a new relic, then we all went back to Scholo to do it just one more time.

Fortunately we had things kind of figured out for the second run and no wipes occurred and I got my summon charger spell as well.

We didn’t have enough time left for Beanpole’s final run, but we went to Ironforge and collected together enough gold so Ula could head down the hill and buy the riding skill and a Swift Yellow Mechanostrider.

Down at the mechanostrider dealership

That was week two.

Week three had a very clear goal, to finish up Beanpole’s quest.  Having now done the Scholo part of it, we were headed back to Dire Maul West to slay Immol’thar, who we found fairly quickly.

There he is

What took time was bringing down the forcefield surrounding him.  We had to clear all around his pen to turn off two pylons, which were protected by a lot of wandering mobs.  Then, when we did that and nothing changed, we looked up the instance and found that we had to turn off three additional pylons elsewhere in the instance.  So there was some backtracking and and run in with another boss Illyanna Ravenoak to go get that squared away.

The last pylon on our list

Fortunately being level 62 reduced our aggro radius enough that we were able to slip by quite a few groups.

Once that was done we were back down to Immol’thar, who we brought down handily.  Then it was time to setup for the event.  Beanpole had to keep three items active while waves of non-elites, with occasional elites, came at us.  Unfortunately things got out of hand.  We didn’t really have a plan, mobs were being pulled this way and that, and the corpse of Immol’thar was blocking the view of one of the items Beanpole needed to watch.  The wheels came off and we wiped.

That corpse is really in the way, we should have pulled him elsewhere

Late in the first run I had actually settled into a pattern that seemed sustainable.  I had seal of wisdom up, which feeds me mana on each hit, with wisdom judged on my current target, more mana, which gave me enough regen to keep consecrate going pretty much non-stop which, in turn, kept all the mobs who ran in focused on me so we could take them down.

So for round two the plan was to bring everything to me while I kept the consecrate times flowing.

Consecrate for the win!

That was enough to get us through… and get me top damage, hahaha… to the end of the event where we slew the final guy and Beanpole was able to claim his new mount.

The fight done

Beanpole had his new summon mount spell, but you cannot mount up in the instance, so Ula once again opened a portal for us and we hopped through to Ironforge and got out all our shiny new mounts for a screen shot.

The group, only faster now

Now, after a few weeks of distraction we might need to turn our attention to Outland again.  We still have a boss to kill in Hellfire Ramparts.

Activision Blizzard, the Lawsuit, and the Q2 2021 Financials

You don’t want to do that either. You think you do, but you don’t.

-J. Allen Brack, BlizzCon 2013

I am pretty sure that J. Allen Brack would be pretty happy just being known as the guy who arrogantly pissed all over, and probably helped delay, the huge money maker that WoW Classic turned out to be.

I am also pretty sure both he and the company wish that statement was worst thing to come out of BlizzCon 2013.

But yesterday saw him step down as President Blizzard… a polite way to say he was the first big sacrifice in the wake of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing hostile workplace lawsuit.  He was joined by the SVP of HR, Jesse Meschuk

Not that he didn’t deserve it.  Sure, a lot of the most egregious behavior happened on Morhaime’s watch, but Brack was still in the thick of things, still a leader in the company during that time as well.

Brack was replaced by new Blizzard “co-leaders” Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, both of whom have roots outside of Blizzard.

For those of you who like the “Bobby Kotick is cementing his dominion over Blizzard” narrative, it has been noted that Morhaime was CEO of Blizzard, Brack was President of Blizzard when he replaced Morhaime, and Oneal and YBarra are co-leaders now, whatever that means.

And the Brack announcement went out in advance of the Activision Blizzard Q2 2021 financial results announcement, no doubt following the theory that you get bad news out of the way before and hope that you have good news during and after.  So was it a good thing that Kotaku pointed out that the company is losing T-Mobile as a sponsor of their Call of Duty and Overwatch esports league before the call as well?  And then there was the expected shareholder lawsuit.

Which brings us to the report.  You can find the detailed financials, the presentation, and the recording of the call over at the investor relations page.

The presentation opened right up with five actions the company is taking in light of the lawsuit and the protests both from outside and within the company.  They are:

  1. We have asked Jennifer Oneal and Mike Ybarra to assume responsibility for development and operational accountability for Blizzard.
  2. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and complaint that we receive. When we learn of shortcomings, we will take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we will be adding additional staff and resources.
  3. We will terminate any manager or leader found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences.
  4. We will be adding resources to ensure and enhance our consideration of diverse candidate slates for all open positions.
  5. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We will be actively reviewing that content and removing it, as appropriate.

Again, this is a change from the stubborn defiance that was the hallmark of the initial response from the company, but is unlikely to be enough in itself to soothe anybody.  The employee organizers are still not buying the company’s new tack.

When it came to the numbers, all three pieces of the company saw a decline in revenue from Q1 2021, though that is not unexpected given the roll back in pandemic restrictions we saw midway through the quarter.  People went outside and did things, a trend that will no doubt continue into Q3 if the price of airline tickets and rental cars are any indication.

Activision Blizzard Q2 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 11

Blizzard alone was down $50 million in revenue when compared to Q1, which was a direct hit to margins.

When it came to singing Blizzard’s praises, the song remained the same, a tale of Azeroth making the money while other franchises languish.

Activision Blizzard Q2 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 7

WoW bookings doubled year over year, with much of the credit going to the launch of Burning Crusade Classic.  A lot of people bought that pack with the lizard mount.

Hearthstone kept on rolling as well, cranking out yet more expansions.

And while Diablo II Resurrected holds promise for the company, Diablo IV is still on the distant horizon and Diablo Immortal has been pushed back again, this time to the first half of 2022.  We could see a four year gap between when it was announced at BlizzCon 2018 with a playable demo and when it finally ships.

Meanwhile over at Massively OP, where they have been keeping score, the running tally of monthly active users for Blizzard continued its downward trend, with the company shedding another million users.  We don’t know where they came from or where they went, but they aren’t hanging out in Blizzard games anymore.

After being down in revenue and players in Q2, we have yet to reckon with Q3 and the iceberg that is the California lawsuit.  The only thing Blizz has in the near future is Diablo II Resurrected and some likely misguided hope about “stronger engagement” with the Shadowlands expansion.  But people were already leaving retail WoW for FFXIV before the shit hit the fan.

I appreciate that Activision Blizzard seems to have finally decided that they need to clean house, though the cut off for responsibility is clearly enforced before you get to the C-level suite, but the company clearly needs to step things up a couple notches or the Q3 results will be a bloodbath.

July in Review

The Site

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

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

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

Weekly page views – May – July 2021

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

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

One Year Ago

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

In TorilMUD, aging was abolished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Years Ago

Pokemon Go was everywhere after it launched.  Everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

Getting lost… rules.

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

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

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

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

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

But PlanetSide 2 news was coming.

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

Zynga helped reveal the two faces of Tobold.

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

Fifteen Years Ago

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

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

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

The ESA announced they were downsizing their yearly E3 conference.

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

Twenty-Five Years Ago

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

Most Viewed Posts in July

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

Search Terms of the Month

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

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

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

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

Game Time from ManicTime

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

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

EVE Online

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

New World

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

Pokemon Go

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

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

RimWorld

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

Steam Games

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

World of Warcraft

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

WoW Classic

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

Friday Bullet Points Vying for Medals

The Olympics are going on right now in Tokyo.  They’re a year late and the local population isn’t happy about having a bunch of strangers show up when we’re still in a pandemic, but if I turn on live TV… which I hadn’t done since January 6th… and find the NBC channel, there they are.

I saw some sort of skateboarding event, and I was surprised to find that women’s softball made a return to the games because the US women’s team is so dominant that they removed it as an event, so I am not sure what changed there.

Anyway, I have some “not quite a full post” items again, so I figure I will make them vie for medals as well.  Who will win the coveted Friday Bullet Points gold medal?

  • Blizzard Continues to Blow Up

After last weeks lawsuit and the company’s “nothing was broken and we’ve fixed it in any case” response, names from Blizzard’s past, including Morhaime, Metzen, and Street, popped up with minor mea culpas about their failings which both stirred things up and served as a counterpoint to Fran Townsend’s statement, which drew on her nearly four months of experience with the company to reject the results of the two year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

While more hostile workplace workplace stories continued to pop up about the company, many current employees… the people who have to put up with much of the bad environment that senior management and HR have allowed to fester… were very unhappy with both Ms. Townsend’s and the company’s response to the lawsuit.  Word was that work at the company had pretty much ground to a halt.  Around two thousand current employees signed a petition and a walkout was staged to protest the company’s response to the lawsuit and to demand that they fix the company’s toxic culture and roll back some of their more oppressive policies.

This got Bobby Kotick to finally release a statement apologizing for the tone deaf nature of the company’s response to the lawsuit along with a promise to do better, which included hiring a law firm to make sure any accusations were taken seriously.  And then somebody pointed out that the firm they hired was the same firm that Amazon uses to break unionization movements in their ranks and it all seemed like just more of the company trying to protect itself from its employees.  Employees getting organized makes management panic.

And then even more stories showed up, this time fueled by the social media accounts of male staffers who seemed quite unashamed about their behavior.  More just keeps showing up.

At least the WoW Team started removing mentions of former Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, who the company admitted was fired last year due to his behavior.

There’s a new field marshal in town… at least in retail

Meanwhile, institutional investors are mulling over a lawsuit about all of this.  Yes, you do have a fiduciary responsibility to not run a company like a frat house until the government sues you.

Medal Status:  Disqualified for doping… as in the place is run by dopes.

  • California has Standards

I was trying to figure out why a post I wrote early last year about a state of California sponsored study in to video game related power usage was blowing up in my stats earlier this week when MMO Fallout pointed to an article over at The Register about how Dell won’t ship certain computer configurations to California.  This caused a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth and headlines about gaming PCs being banned California.  How will gamers in the golden state survive?

The reality was a bit more nuanced.  Actually, The Register article was nuanced, but a lot of the follow on seems to be more fearmongering than reality.

The restriction isn’t even on peak power consumption, but how much power a configuration consumes when it is idle.  And it has nothing to do with building your own.  You can order your parts and put them together however you like.  Dell and other builders can figure this out.

Medal Status: 80 Plus Bronze score

  • Neverwinter Embraces Bards

The Bard class is one of those MMORPG things that, when done right, can be magical.  Bards in EverQuest, for example, were incredible, and all the more so because players figured out how to push them beyond their expected limits.

Sing “heal” dammit!

So when I saw that the next Neverwinter expansion included a bard class, I was immediately interested.  I haven’t touched the game in years and I doubt that will change, but I am curious about how bards will work out.  Their promo reads:

A versatile adventurer, the bard commands the power of song to be a powerful healer or a stylish combatant. Regardless of their path, it is a bard’s ability to perform that determines how far they can go

Seems in tune, but I will wait for the reviews.  The game is also undergoing a level squish, always a daring venture.  I wonder if the effort that goes into it will be worth the reward.

Medal Status: Silver tongued

  • Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons Expansion

ArenaNet has announced the target launch date for the next Guild Wars 2 expansion.  Called End of Dragons, it should be arrive in February of 2022.

But we get to end them, right?

As with Neverwinter, I don’t really pay much mind to GW2, but an expansion is worthy of note and Bhagpuss says it will even include fishing.  Sounds interesting.

Medal Status: Golden dragon scale of hope

  • Crimson Desert Mirage

Meanwhile Pearl Abyss, known for Black Desert Online and, to a lesser extent, their ownership of CCP and EVE Online, announced this week that their next bit title, Crimson Desert, has been delayed indefinitely.

The desert is implied I think

While Peal Abyss has other titles in the pipeline, Crimson Desert has been the big focus, so its delay may impact how the company does on the market.

Medal Status: Did not finish