Category Archives: YouTube

Four Hours for a Foothold in Immensea

I don’t know what to call our war with FI.RE and its allies yet, but operations have been ongoing out of Catch to attach Tenerifis for a while now.  We’re even starting to get a bit of propaganda about the war.  FI.RE put out this video.

If nothing else, the ending lists up the alliances that make up FI.RE coalition, which is not something I have committed to memory.

On Friday things were setup to contest the first system in Immensea, another FI.RE region adjacent to Tenerifis.

Late in the work day for me on Friday I saw a ping go out calling for an Eagle fleet.  FI.RE decided to put up cyno jammers in the constellation where the sovereignty contest would take place.  Cyno jammers, which would keep us from being able to bridge fleets or reinforcements into the contested area would give the defenders some help, so the fleet was sent out to go stop that and blow up any jammers that might have been deployed.

That seemed like it would be a quick and easy fleet.  I figured we would show up, the locals would run away, we would shoot a jammer or two, then head home.  So I logged in, got on coms, and into the fleet.  I was there just in time and we were quickly off to take care of business.

Flying out for trouble

We did, in fact, catch the locals working on deploying jammers and ended up in a few skirmishes before settling down to shoot one of the jammers they had dropped.

Cyno Jammer EVE Online

A cyno jammer is an awkward structure to take a screen shot of

We blew that up and continued to chase around the locals.  They were not out in force, but had numbers to make the entosis contest over the system annoying.  And the timer had come for that, so rather than going back to Catch to stand down, we ended up staying out to support the event.

This was not so popular with the Euro TZ players who had joined the fleet late in the evening hoping, as I did, that it would be a quick op and then home.  But how long could this take?  We had been out an hour or so already, I had popped some drugs from my redemption queue that had a four hour duration, surely we would be done long before those ran down.

I wish.

Our fleet was sent out after various target of opportunity in between chasing around the locals whenever they showed up.  Structures, including Ansiblex jump bridges, were on the list.  We spent time shooting them.

This Ansiblex won’t be delivering reinforcements

At one point we were shooting another Ansiblex and a hostile Munnin fleet showed up on grid with us.  We had the Ansiblex bubbled from a couple of directions and were spread out around it waiting for them to come engage.  But they just wanted to go home, so they warped around until they found an optimal path into the Anisblex and jumped through before we could shut it down.

We also spent time just camping gates, waiting to see if the enemy would come in to go after our hackers.  We got one or two people who bumbled into range of our guns, but most it was just sitting and waiting.  Some minor excitement occurred when  some Sleeper Seeker drones landed on the gate and somebody decided to shoot them.

This only makes them angry

And they kept shooting the damn drone.  That can be a hazard because they call for reinforcements beyond what a single fleet can reasonable expect to deal with.

Eventually we got word to the person shooting them… he may have been German… and they had to leave to avoid being blown up.  We shoot rats on gates so often… because that is where rats live now in null sec… that it becomes automatic to shoot the red markers.   But these ones you don’t want to shoot… even if they are the same name/model as the seekers in the NPE. (Or did they fix that with the latest NPE?)

Then we got called over to cover one of the hackers as the locals, deciding not to take us head on, formed up some Jackdaws to try and slow things down through hit and run and harassment. (The allowed kind of harassment.)

You can bring your Drake if you want to hack entosis nodes

The contest was clearly going to end out way at that point.  Once our friend in the Drake finished and was clear, we went back to camp another gate to keep the locals from getting at our entosis team.

Once we won the sov contest and blew up the ihub in Y-FZ5N it seemed like we might be done… and then we were sent off to cover the hacking of a couple more ihubs because the locals were not putting in much effort to defend so it was time to setup the next operation.

A Sigil hacking an ihub

After that we finally turned for home.  The drugs from my redemption queue lasted for four hours and had been gone for a while by that point.  It was a long day in space.  The saving grace, for me at least, was we sat in various locations for extended periods of time using drones to chip away at various structures.  I was able to step away and cook dinner, clean up, change laundry, and a few other tasks.  Only once did I find we had been warped off to another target.  I arrived back at my computer to see my ship sitting at a gate with the fleet a couple of jumps away.  I was not the only ship idling on the gate either.  If the enemy had known how AFK we were, they might have been less elusive.

Now we have a foothold in Immensea, in Y-FZ5N, with The Initiative holding the ihub.

Southeast Immensea

And my Eagle made it back to our staging safely despite having been rolling without a pilot for a good 20% of that op.

Eagles headed for home through Tenerifis

There were not nearly as many people in fleet when we finally got back.  We had structures not too far away that they could dock up in.  For some reason I decided to stick it out to the end.

Things Like Valheim in a Post MMORPG World

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting sail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back on Tatooine with Old Ben

More Star Wars, more Tatooine.  I say yet again, this planet is so important in the galaxy that I don’t know why the Republic or the Empire don’t keep it constantly staffed with masses of troops.

And Disney+ brings us back, this time to follow in the footsteps of Obi-wan Kenobi in order to fill in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, because the company is sure we don’t want any NEW adventures in the galaxy, just an ongoing attempt to fill in any possible gap in the Skywalker narrative.  What did Obi-wan get up to while waiting for Luke to grow up?

More Star Wars because more is better

Ten years down the road from the rise of Darth Vader, Obi-wan is living in a cave in the desert and making ends meat by working at the local Hormel meat processing plant where they are stingy with wages, but don’t seem to mind him cutting off a slice at the end of the day to feed his mount.  Maybe it is in the union contract.  He doesn’t really hide what he is doing.

He tries to keep an eye on Luke, but uncle Own isn’t too keen on that, so Obi-wan becomes a creepy middle age guy with binoculars.

Then there is Leia, a precocious 10 year old on Alderaan, who is living the good life while her twin brother helps eke out life on a moisture farm in the desert.

And, finally, there are the inquisitors, under the command of Darth Vader, who spend their time tracking down Jedi because, as I have suggested elsewhere, the success of Order 66 seemed to be mostly imperial propaganda.

All three of these intersect and Obi-wan has to dig up his lightsaber, leave Tatooine, and get mixed up with the empire again.  He and Darth Vader meet up, Obi-wan discovers that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, which I guess could have been a thing… though Anakin getting left for dead and a week later the Emperor has a powerful new Sith Lord by his side seems like it would raise at least a few “so where did he come from?” question in the tabloids… they fight, and then part ways because the beginning and end states of the stories were already set in stone.

Some interesting characters pop up, a few people die, but in the end Obi-wan is back on Tatooine hanging around waiting for Luke to grow up while desert life changes him from 51 year old Ewan McGregor into 63 year old Alec Guinness… I guess that age gap kind of works, which kind of worries me because I am the middle of those two ages… while Darth Vader… I guess completely forgets this whole episode?  I don’t know.  Again, in his place I might have kept a closer eye on Tatooine going forward given how much shit seems to just happen there.

Was it any good?

Sure, it was fine.  I enjoyed it.  There were some very good performances.  It was originally slated to be a movie, which is how I suspect it got such a good cast… though maybe just being in a Star Wars series is enough.  The story kept my interest despite being bound within the constraints to the overall story arc.  There were a few insights into the characters that might have been worth the effort.

It didn’t grab me like The Madalorian, where a new and interesting character led us through a different aspect of the Star Wars universe.

But it was much better than The Book of Boba Fett, where we spent four episodes being force fed a dull, and eventually inconsequential, backstory before The Mandalorian came in and dragged the story away from bacta tank flashbacks into the present day.

Anyway, if you’re into it you’ve probably already watched it as well.  I mean, the next season of Westworld didn’t even start until the last episode was already live.  But, if you decided to give it a miss, you can get the summary with some good visuals from the Honest Trailer.

And, if you’re like me, you’ll watch the commentary for that as well, where they dive into discussing the series.  I wasn’t engrossed enough to watch the weekly episode discussion videos, but an overall run through I was good for.

Related:

Josh Strife Hayes and The Immoral Design of Diablo Immortal

Diablo Immortal has been out and about for more than two weeks now and has gotten a lot of flak for its monetization.

The push starts small, but it starts right away

I made my own post about the game after playing it for a little over two hours and pretty much walked away from it.  It is uninstalled and I have no plans to go back to it.  I certainly didn’t have any plans to post about it again.

And then I watched the Josh Strife Hayes video about the game and thought I ought to post that as well.

First, this video has a pretty good and detailed look into the monetization scheme for Diablo Immortal.  I didn’t have the patience to go this deep, so it is nice to have a video example that does go far and explains clearly what is going on.

Second, it is actually a reasonable look at the game play of the game, which has its good points.  JSH does see some good in the game and he is always willing to acknowledge when something is done right.  That is part of why I enjoy his videos.

Third, while he likes the basic game, he also manages to pick out almost every issue with the port to windows, beyond just the mobile terminology that is still in the game, that bugged me, and even clarifies one or two problems I saw but couldn’t quite nail down.  But it solidifies what I wrote myself, that Diablo Immortal on Windows is not the solid, polished Blizzard title we have come to expect over the years.

Overall, worth a view if you want a dive into the game and a reminder of what happens to your reputation if you place it in the hands of somebody who doesn’t share your values. (Cue jokes about Blizzard values.)

Blizzard has had to go out of its way to state that Diablo IV will NOT be monetized the way Diablo Immortal has been.  It doesn’t matter that the scheme was the model NetEase uses.  It was launched under the Blizzard banner.  The Blizzard logo is all over it, so Blizzard owns it.  They don’t get to say, “It wasn’t us.”

Diablo Immortal on Windows

The TL;DR – It’s kind of okay, until it starts asking you for money.

If this were a $20 indie title with no cash shop, people would be praising it.

But it isn’t.  Instead it is a mobile title ported to Windows from a company that has previously prided itself on polish and who has set the benchmark for ARPG titles.  And while it is free to start playing, that state only lasts for so long.

Granted, it is still in beta, but the cash shop is fully up and running and, as I have said before, if you are doing that you are effectively live and should be treated as such.

Diablo Immortal on Windows

As such, there are still some issue and oddities that are no doubt artifacts of translating the game from the phone to the PC.  I keep getting told to tap on things and I don’t have a touch screen.

Tap? How? Also, clicking doesn’t seem to work reliably, or the hot spot is off or something

It also feels oddly sterile for some reason, the way Minecraft Dungeons did, where there is nothing particularly wrong with the title, I just don’t feel compelled to keep playing.  It has the sort of vibe you might get from a low budget clone of a Diablo title that repurposed the artwork and some ideas.

NetEase?  Is that you?

So things look familiar but don’t always feel right.

Kill streak

And the world is a bit weird.  You see other people on your server.

Other players with me

But out in the world things can seem oddly out of sync.  You’ll go fight an overland boss and see other people obviously fighting their own version of the boss but visibly attacking nothing from your perspective.

But if you’re dying for a freebie ARPG clicker, it isn’t bad.   And it has the usual online things to try and keep you coming back every day.

A reward for your first kill of the day

As long as it is free everything is fine.  And hell, even early on when it is offering you some low price items, it isn’t a big deal.

Spending some beginner money on a beginner pack for 800% EXTRA VALUE

Even with the one offer only, huge value pressure I was able to say “no” to that, though the fact that the game was very insistent on telling me about this offer was probably a sign.

Okay, game, can I just hang out with Juicybumbum for a moment in peace?

But it does get more persistent as you progress.  There are other items, a battle pass, and the whole “you could spend over $100,000 to max out a character” aspect of the game, which would really tick me off if the game was strong and compelling enough that I wanted to keep playing it.  But after a couple of hours playing over the last week… Diablo Immortal isn’t that.

I suppose, intellectually I appreciate a game I can put down at a moment’s notice and not feel deprived.  But playing… and paying… lives in the emotional part of my brain.  A game that is easy to put down is also easy to simply not pick up again.

So, barring any new controversy or big change, this will probably be my one post about playing Diablo Immortal.  It is okay, and not much more.

Others those, who have found it compelling enough to go deep on… well, they are kind of pissed.  Carbot has a video about the game already that, in his usual style, sums up the feeling of the masses.

Meanwhile, others have written more about the game than I will, so it is a chance for me to be community oriented and link out to others.  Go me.

Related:

Josh Strife Hayes Plays Lord of the Rings Online

Josh Strife Hayes first came to my attention for his videos about New World, which was then going through the many problems… and poorly considered fixes… that seemed to plague its opening wave of popularity.  In particular, his What Went Wrong? video, which chronicled the timeline of the game and the problems and responses was a real eye opener.

It was enough to get me to click “subscribe” and keep an eye on his other videos.

Among his videos is a long running series called Worst MMO Ever, where he attempts to play a wide range of titles allegedly in search of the titular worst of the genre.  I have watched a few of the entries in that series, and they are generally pretty fair and charitable, as opposed to being a quest to tear down every title he plays.

Still, I was a bit nervous when I saw Lord of the Rings Online come up as the focus of a recent video in the series.  Something to spoil the 15th anniversary?

The fifteen year celebration

This was because my own relationship with the game is somewhat mixed.  There is a lot in LOTRO to like and even love.  There is a reason I still care about the game despite having spent 99% of my play time in the base game and Moria, and I feel keenly the failings of the game despite my investment… or because of it, take your pick.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I went into watching the video.

Here’s the thing… I really liked it.

He has a very upbeat approach to titles and he took a lot of time to recognize, up front, how much charm the game has and how good some of its early player experiences are and how the story isn’t strictly in the mold of the genre.  There were aspects of the early game he mentioned that I had forgotten about.

I mean, sure, it does dig into some of the issues… things like the responsiveness of the UI… but people have been harping on that since 2007.

And I felt for him and how lost he was when he used the free level boost he got.  It is definitely not something for new players without high level friends around to help guide them.  My one level boost, back when it sent you into Rohan, was pretty much a disaster, a character dead ended and never to be played again.

But it was still a good look at the early game and a lot of the pluses that it has going for it overall.  It made me want to go back and roll up a new character and enjoy the early game.

In the end, clearly not the worst MMO ever.

On The EVE of Fanfest

Tomorrow is the big day.  Everything is in place.  The fans have all arrived in Iceland.  The schedule has been published.  Things will start happening soon enough.

EVE Fanfest 2022 Schedule

There are a lot of things going on at Fanfest, presentations from both CCP and players, roundtables, the crazy CCP Games Games, and the big party at the end of the event.

But the make or break is likely to come at 12:00 UTC, when the 90 minute EVE Online Keynote address is slated to begin.  There is pressure on CCP right now.  They are raising the cost to play the game and, in return, as a reward or justification, we have been led to believe that we will be witnessing what might be the biggest content update CCP has ever announced for EVE Online.

I have speculated as to some possibilities, but those of us looking in from the outside won’t really know until Hilmar or CCP Burger or whoever gets up to speak for the game tells us what it is about.

And it is making me a bit nervous for the game.  I have been hard on CCP over the last year or more, though not without justification to my mind.  They grabbed on to an economic philosophy back at the end of 2020 that seemed to seek to punish the player base and make everything more difficult and expensive, all in the name of some distant future vision for the game.  But the reality of business is that tomorrow doesn’t matter if you screw up too much today.

So the pressure is on.  I hope they have something big to announce, because I am afraid of the backlash if they don’t.  Overall I want the game to succeed.

This week also sees the 19th anniversary of the launch of the game, with is celebrated with Capsuleer Day, and event with login rewards, in-game content, and the usual round of other activities.

Celebrating 19 years

The event was also covered in the latest video from The Scope, the in-game news service that reports from within New Eden.

Also mentioned in the video are rising tensions between the Caldari State and the Gallente Federation over the disputed Intaki system.

Now I wonder if this is the lead-in to some new story line content in the game.  Could this pertain to the big announcement?  We shall see tomorrow at 12:00 UTC I suppose.

Or maybe you will see.  That will be at about 5am local time for me, so I am pretty sure I will still be asleep.

Reflecting on Lost Ark

Well, Lost Ark was certainly a flavor of the month.  Or two months I suppose, as half of my recorded play time in February and March was invested in it.  But so far for April it has pretty much fallen off of my list.

Welcome to Lost Ark

In fact, when a hint of a suggestion came up to play something else… like Valheim… there was not a single protest from our group.  A couple of other titles were suggested (though Valheim won out quickly), but nobody said they wanted to get just a little bit further or run another dungeon or stick around for the great big siege of Luterra.   Lost Ark was kicked to the curb with little ceremony or regret.

Was Lost Ark a bad game then?

I don’t think so.

It did suffer from some of the free to play issues, a primary one being that it was both easy to get into and easy to leave.  Not having to buy a box or have a subscription took away the sunk cost fallacy that can keep some people playing other titles  (I think EVE Online is largely sustained by that these days.) so it is easy to walk away from.

Lost Ark was fun in its way.  It was both kind of silly and frenetic while being built around an overwrought and somewhat ponderous story line.  It looks good, it plays well, and has a lot of things going on, but at times it edges towards almost being a parody of an MMORPG.

Some of that is the seriousness of the story fighting with some of the dialog, which can be very silly.  The NPCs in the game are very chatty, and the reads the voice actors gave for some of the lines are unintentionally funny.

My favorite vendor in Pridehome… he tells me this every time I walk by

Some of them are just silly on their own, while others, the reading just makes it so.

You really have to hear this guy say it

And then there are the odd standouts.  While most NPCs have just one line they repeat over and over, there are a few with more than one, including the woman in the tavern in Pridehome, who has a series of things to say, all related to getting drunk.

She has the most varied dialog in town

But the mechanics are also on board with the idea of parody.  You are a very powerful character in the early game, and might be swinging a weapon literally longer than you are tall.  Combat often revolves around you taking on waves of mobs that you dispatch with moves that rain down destruction.

I kept posting the Carbot Animations videos about the game because they were so spot on.  But that was largely because they didn’t have to exaggerate very much beyond actual game play to him the sweet spot of comedy.

The fourth installment remained on that curve.

 

As I have noted, the brilliance of these videos is that if you have played through the content being covered, you identify with what is happening, it clicks with you and you see the absurdity of it, and this latest video is no exception.

Again, not a bad game, but not really a game for our group either.

Part of the problem was that, as a game, it is one of those titles that takes longer as a group than solo.  At least the run up to level 50 does.  So our progress was plodding and the content that was really playable as a group was somewhat irregular.

I know that changes after level 50, that group content becomes primary, and perhaps the best plan would have been to have everybody get to 50 on their own and group up there.  But I don’t think all of us were invested enough to make that run, and it is not a trivial trip as the game throws a lot of new things at you along the way like boats and your stronghold and the whole crafting system.

If you’re invested, that is all great.  If you’re just on your way to 50, not so much.

So Lost Ark is in our rear view mirror for now.  Again, not a bad game, just not the game for us at the moment.  It does have a lot going for it, and a lot of people still play it, so I am not knocking it.  We’ll see if I get back to it at some future date.

Carbot Goes to the Morai Ruins in Lost Ark

I know, last week I wrote that I was not going to become a Carbot fan site, and yet here we are again with another Sunday post to celebrate a Carbot Animations video.  But come on, not only is it about Lost Ark, but it is about the Morai Ruins, which I have done a few times at this point, including a run with the instance group.  I have to at least say SOMETHING about it.  I am not made of stone.

So here it is.

 

Once again, I do identify with my own relationship with Armen the plot vehicle in this video, though his entrance into the final fight was a bit more dramatic in the actual dungeon.

He came in like some sort of wrecking thingy

It really is one of the stand out dungeons in the run up to 50, but it does still fall into the mass slaughter mode that the game seems to thrive on.  If wiping out waves of foes with a big AOE attack isn’t your thing, this might not be the game for you.

I do wish the video had gone into some of the other things in the dungeon, though I only say that because I think I have now done all the deed therein, including finding all of the mokoko seeds.  Always have to find those mokoko seeds.

And, of course, the berserker at the end trying on his dainty new earrings, his loot reward, was a chuckle as well.

Anyway, Carbot carries on getting at the essence of things.  For those not playing Lost Ark, there is also an Elden Ring series running as well.

Carbot and Story in Lost Ark

I am not trying to become a Carbot Animations fan site, but then they put up another video in their Lost Ark series that hits things on the nose again and here comes another post about it.

Welcome to Lost Ark

I know Mailvaltar already posted this, but I just feel the need to stick it here as well because it covers both how I often play… hitting G to get through to the damn quest… as well as how the game itself plays at times.  I mentioned in my Friday post how we were running back and forth passing messages between NPCs that were standing within comfortable distance to make themselves fully understood by slightly raising their voices.

Which isn’t to say I am down on the game.  Not yet.  I still find the frenetic combat fun and I have played along with enough alts that the story is started to stick even though I keep bypassing so much dialog.