Friday Bullet Points with a Sore Arm

It is time for some bullet points again.  My arm is sore because I managed to get my first COVID-19 vaccine shot this week.  How easy it is to get an appointment for a shot varies from place to place, but here in Silicon Valley it was rather like trying to get Madonna or Lady Gaga concert tickets… only there were about half a dozen different web sites to check.  The state had one, my healthcare provider another, and then a few different store chains with their own.

Several times I had an appointment slot, but by the time I filled out the necessary form, all the appointments had been taken.  I finally lucked out on Safeway’s site and ended up getting my first shot on Wednesday at the store I worked at back in college.

I’m a bit tired still, which is a common side effect, and my left arm hurts.  But I still have enough in me to write up some bullet points.

  • Diablo II Resurrected Alpha

We first officially heard about Diablo II Resurrected at BlizzConline back in February, with a promise that it would ship at some point in 2021.  This weekend is the start of the technical alpha and it is getting some buzz.

The testing has begun

Some of the buzz is due to Blizz doing a give-away for access, but there does seem to be some general excitement about the remaster of this classic ARPG.  For this stage those invited to participate will be able to play the amazon, sorceress, or barbarian, single player, through acts one and two, with no level cap restrictions.  Acts one and two are the best of the game, so I am feeling a bit jealous that I opted in for testing and didn’t get picked. (Invites were all sent by 7am PDT and there was nothing for me.)  But I’ll be able to play soon enough I guess.

  • Enad Global 7 Completes Another Acquisition

I alluded to the fact that EG7 was buying another studio in my EverQuest at 22 post in March because Daybreak titles are now highlighted when EG7 speaks about the IPs they have.  They have now closed the deal, announced back in February, to acquire Innova, a publisher that runs MMORPGs in the EU and Russia.  The price was 109 million Euros (and not $109 million as was reported elsewhere.  The dollar amount is closer to $130 million.  But what’s ~$20 million between friends?)

Crowfall released in 2018? Who knew?

While the titles they have listed do not excite me, Daybreak having access to people on the ground to run games further afield than the greater San Diego metropolitan area might mean something good for them in the long term.  It would certainly be a better plan than selling their players to Pro.SiebenSat.1 or the like.

  • CCP Talks About A Shooter They’re Not Talking About

About two years back CCP said that their planned shooter, Project Nova, which they had been hyping up as late as EVE Vegas 2018, when we were encouraged to sign up for alpha, was going into a transitional stage.  It was going to get a new name and they would not be telling us the name or talking about it until it was ready.

Project Nova no more

Well, now CCP is talking about it, whatever it is now, again.  Sort of.  There are no details, but the new head of the UK studio that is working on the project, Adrian Blunt, gave an interview where he brags that they’re working on a “hugely ambitious” and possibly “genre defining” shooter.  The Nosy Gamer took a look at the whole thing and, so far as I can tell, the only solid information was that 40 people are working on the project.  I’ll be impressed when they have something to actually demo.

  • Runes of Magic has More Things for You

I wrote a bit about Runes of Magic and their twelfth anniversary on Monday, and they were soon back with an addition.  Later that day a message arrived with an offer of more goodies.

You actually have no idea how fast I have leveled up ever

Clicking on the “collect your gifts” link got me to a page that said they had given me a advanced experience charm, a potion of some sort, and 250 gold.  However, where all of that was delivered remains a bit of a mystery.  It wasn’t on my character on the super new EU server.  A friend suggested that it might be a US server thing, but it wasn’t on my character there.

At this point I suspect it went to my old account, which I mentioned they managed to block me from accessing, so the charm and the potion are probably hanging out with my lost diamonds wondering when I will return.

And that is all I have.  I get to head back for my second vaccine shot on the 28th.  Until then, I am still staying home and safe.

Little House on the Plains

Having defeated Moder in somewhat less time than we might have anticipated, Crowbar and I immediately set out to scout some plains biomes for a potential base.  I was ready for this, having spent some time out and scouting for a plains biomes for that very purpose.

Spying out the plains

While I had a few candidates, the best bet still seemed to be the base we had built up as a staging point to tackle Bonemass.  It had the advantage of being in a nice open meadows area… which I had since planted with trees for a wood supply… not too far from plain both north and south, connected to a mountain biome for stone, and a short sail from the swamp Bonemass was in, which also happened to have a select of crypts for iron scraps.

My camp across the straights from Bonemass

We would need to haul resources to this new base because of the whole “no metal through portals” thing and because the plants… barley and flax… we would need to cultivate only grow in the plains.  So we would have to commit to a full base/farm complex to get things done.

The first thing I had done after the boss fight was bring some Moder’s tears through to that staging base and build a blast furnace, mostly just to see it, but also to process some of the metal scraps we had collected from furlings.

The first blast furnace

I had thought for a bit that maybe we could just base in the meadows and simply farm in the plains, but the base was a bit of a hike from the plains in either direction, so it felt like we would have to at least move the base closer.  Fortunately it wasn’t much of a base, just a building, a portal, a smelter (for Bonemass iron), and that blast furnace.

So Crowbar and I set out to scout for a good site for a base, encountering some of the local wildlife almost as soon as we hit the line between meadows and plains.

Some more lox meat for the table

We’re still working on the best way to tackle a lox, but kiting them with bows seems to be pretty effective.  You just have to watch out for other things while you’re running around.

Deathsquitos no longer elicit the terror they once did, back when when we were younger and had just defeated The Elder and ended up having to die multiple times on a corpse run.  I still keep a sharp eye out for them to take them down at range with a bow, but my armor is good enough now and my hit points high enough from food that I can survive that first hit and turn to smack one as it comes in for another run.

A bugged bug

I shot that particular deathsquito about a dozen times before I was satisfied that it wasn’t actually there or active.  But I kept an eye on it all the same.

The furlings though, I can still get in over my head there.  A normal furling on the plains is no problem.

This guy? No problem

But you can take a shot at one and suddenly find out he had 3-5 friends and things can get out of hand very quickly.  And the one star and two star versions hit considerably harder than you might expect.  A miss-timed block against a two star furling is an invite to being one-shotted.

We’ll work on that.

We ran across a set of ruins on the edge of the meadows that had some base potential.  It even had the rune stone that revealed the location of the next boss, Yagluth.  So we had that marked down.

The ruins on the edge of meadows

But we kept on scouting until we found a little island not too far into the plains, just on the coast, which seemed a likely spot for a base.  It would be secure from the wandering residents and on the water so we could ship in metal that couldn’t come by portal.

The island spotted

So we walked back to the staging base and collected up some essentials… wood and stone and some iron and so on… so we could make workbenches and a stone cutter and a portal, piled it all into a Karve I had handy, and set sail back up the coast to the island.  The Moder power came in handy as the wind was straight against us so I was able to fix that.

We landed and got out hoes and picks and set about scraping out a level area.  Crowbar put up a small building and I built the connecting portal to the staging base.  We were then able to jump back and pull in more supplies.  The staging base also had a portal to a mountain base I had built.  I broke down that portal, brought the materials through to the new base, and set it up there so we could start hauling in stone for walls around the place.

We ended up working away for a few hours and then again the next day, until we had a nice little base built.  We built a causeway to the mainland once we were feeling secure.

Plains island base

I planted those trees because I had some beech seeds on me.  They were going to be a wood supply, but they actually make the base easier to spot when sailing by, so they will probably remain as they are.  The also look nice.

I then reworked the portals so that there was a direct connection from our main base at the spawn point to this new base, and from there you could jump to the staging base or the mountain base.

Portal routes to the new base

I should probably bring the Bonemass portal through to the plains base as well, as we’ll likely need to hop over there to harvest some iron scraps from the crypts the haul back.

I also did some scouting to get a sense of how much plains biome we have to work with.  In my journey I ended up circling our area and spotting quite a few furling camps.  We will need to assault those to find barely and flax.

Our plains area

You can also see the spot where I died to a two star furling while doing a scouting run around the mountain biome to see how big that was.  I ended up having to run back naked across the whole biome to grab my stuff, wolves chasing me.  Fortunately I ate a serpent stew, lox meat, and some sausage so I had a lot of hit points and stamina.  Then, at my corpse, a deathsquito latched onto me and chased me back.  Fortunately they cannot hit naked fleeing people.  Also, it decided to fight with the wolves once they caught up, so I was able to keep running and eventually put my gear back on.

So we have a lot of area to explore.  The furling camps feel like a group exercise.  Once we get some flax, which is suppose to be rare, and start growing it, we can begin upgrading our gear.

Life on the plains.

Tackling Moder

We had been ready to fight Moder for a while, largely due to the fact that not only was the largest, silver rich mountain biome yet found in the game happened to be right up the slope from a base we had built out ages ago, but Moder’s altar was in the middle of that as well.

Looking down at the altar

So all of that mucking about building up a staging base and setting up was largely dispensed with.  We built a couple of satellite bases up the mountain, so we could just portal ourselves there, but otherwise we were able to set right to work harvesting the bounty of the mountains.

Seriously, I have criss-crossed other mountain biomes and received nary a ping on the wishbone, while with our local mountains I have twice had to two silver nodes being so close together that the wishbone gives confusing feedback in its game of “hotter colder.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of our satellite bases was setup just above Moder’s altar, with a portal to get us there quickly.

Take the left portal please

The main problem with getting to the fight was just getting a group of us together with enough time to do it.  It has been a busy spring.  So while we’ve all been able to jump on and work on this and that, the fight took a while to materialize.  I didn’t want to go solo Moder.

Timing was such that Crowbar and I ended up doing a duo attack on Moder.  Fergorin had been on earlier on Saturday, but said that he might not be able to get back on, so we were clear to try if we had it in us.  And we did.

Among other things, I had already cleared out the area around the Moder altar, not wanting to get hooked up in terrain obstacles.

Looks at that nice clear altar area compared to the above picture

We got ourselves setup, but once out on the field Crowbar wondered if we might not be better served by having a bit of cover.  Since I had scraped off most of the cover that has been there before, we ended up putting some palisade wall sections about, with gaps in between from which to fire.

Some obstacles for cover

I had also collected up some better food to be sure we had enough hit points to weather the assault.  Sausages, lox meat, and serpent stew give you quite a bit of health and stamina.

The hit points

Both of us had been out and had experimented with slaying lox, the great plains bison, so we had some meat on hand.

After that, we just had to grab three dragon eggs.  As with silver, our mountain biome had an excess of dragon egg locations, so I had gathered up the three we needed and stashed them close by.  We just had to drop them in their respective spots.

Hiding eggs just before Easter

Or so I thought.  I put in the third egg and ran for cover… only nothing happened.  You have to click on the raised part of the altar in front of the eggs to summon Moder.  So I went back and did that, then ran for cover as Moder was on us.

Moder is not happy to see us

The fight itself was dramatic… the sky turns all sorts of colors and Moder flies around for a bit.  But mostly it was a matter of standing back and shooting Moder full of arrows.  We both carried a stack of obsidian and a stack of poison arrows, though the latter seemed the more effective.  I knew frost arrows would be a bad plan.

Moder on the ground

When Moder comes down to ground level, you can end up getting chased about, and there is a breath weapon involved that leaves some giant crystals on the ground.  But for the most part we had enough space to dodge and keep our distance.

Moder chasing Crowbar around while I take a screen shot

Moder ended up knocking down pretty much everything we built, and some of the local flora as well.

Breath weapon unleashed on a tree

In the end the two of us were able to defeat Moder without much drama.  Preparation helps again.  We only had one visitor show up, a Drake, which sided with us in the fight and got beat down with Moder for the trouble.  And then Moder was down.

The end of Moder

Tears is correct, as Moder drops dragon tears, which allow players to build the artisan crafting table which, in turn, allows the construction close by of the blast furnace, windmill, and spinning wheel, all of which are required to process the next tier of crafting materials from the plains.

Moder also drops the trophy, which we went back to hang on the appropriate stone near our main base.  That unlocked a new power which turns the wind your direction when sailing.

Moder’s power revealed

That is a surprisingly useful power, though it only lasts 5 minutes and has a 20 minute cool down.  But sometimes five minutes is all you need.

After that it was time to start scouting the plains.  Crowbar and I did some initial investigation in the plains near the meadows staging base we built up for the Bonemass battle, which is surrounded north and south by plains.

The camp across the straights from Bonemass

On the north flank we found an island on the coast that seemed like a place we could build up.  So our next task is to stage in the plains and start looking for furling camps, which is apparently the only place you can find flax and barley, which you need to cultivate in order to start working on the next level of gear.

Runes of Magic at Twelve Years

I am still on the Runes of Magic mailing list so still get updates from them about the game every so often.  Most of it isn’t of that much interest to me.  It is a game I know about and even pay attention to now and then, but not one I ever really got into.  I mainly recall it for its significance at its launch, of being purpose designed free to play MMORPG in an era where titles that went free to play had generally just failed at the subscription mode.  That and the whole ten dollar horse thing, which was quite the amusing controversy in hindsight.

Anyway, I covered a bunch of that in my post about the game’s tenth anniversary, if that interests you.

Instead, I want to poke into the state of things here at the twelfth anniversary, which was actually last month, but the celebration lasts through until April 22nd, so there is still time to join in.

The big incentive seemed to be a new server, the “largest server ever” according to the promo copy in the email.

Runes of Magic turns 12

This fresh start server offered some bonuses for faster leveling:

  • 50% bonus for XP and TP
  • 75% bonus for item drops
  • Special Bonus Pack of Goodies

I just had to log in and get going.

Logging in went… okay.

On the bright side, I was able to get the new launcher, which found my old files and updated them quickly… the horrible old 2009 patch is finally gone…  and I was able to use my email address to recover my account and log in.  Sort of.

When I last played you needed a user name to log in.  Now it is your email address.  However, on getting logged in with that it assigned me a new user name… because user names are still a thing, just not for logging in I guess… so ended up with no old characters.  Those I could live without.  The diamonds… them RMT currency… that I bought back in 2009 and which were still around the last time I played, those were gone too.  That I am kind of pissed about.  I couldn’t figure out how to inject my old and support was no help.

I doubt I was going to play seriously anyway, but that is the sort of thing that confirms it.

Anyway, I got logged in and… there were no special servers, just the two US servers.

But I expected that.  Fortunately I know somebody who actually plays the game and had already told me about the new servers, which were actually launched back in February.  They wanted to have them up and running and solid before the anniversary hit I guess.

My friend told me how to get to the shiny new server, which is hosted in the EU.  In the launcher you have to click on the settings button and change your game region from North America to Europe.  Then you have to create a new account for that region… so I guess my diamonds wouldn’t have followed me there anyway.

In the game settings

The odd thing is that, once in the game settings you cannot get out.  Or I couldn’t see a way out.  There was no visible way to close the window and return to the main launcher.  This seemed bad… but then there is a little launch button to start the game… the light blue square with the arrowhead in it… so I guess maybe this is a feature.  It seems odd… but if that is the price of doing away with their old patcher, then I will gladly pay it. (I was able to close it from the task bar, but it still seems like an odd UI choice.)

Once into the EU server list… and they have a bunch more servers… the two special servers, one international and one German, are highlighted.

Hard to miss

Once I created a new character… well, the game is pretty much the same.  The UI is still a bit too busy for my liking.

How many buttons can you fit around the mini-map?

But it still runs.  In fact, it runs pretty well.  And an addon I applied back in 2017… still up to date.  I was even a bit surprised to find that the game scales up to run on the wide screen monitor I got last year.  At first, when I got into the settings, it seemed to have me locked down to old HD dimensions.  But after I quit and came back, 3440 x 1440 resolution was on the list.  Something got updated.  And more real estate makes the UI feel a bit less cluttered.

As for the special server, it certainly seems to have the bonuses as advertised.  I ran through some quests on one of the US servers, just as a baseline, then did them again on the new server and you are certainly getting more XP and more TP to apply to your skills.  And the game hands you a bunch of stuff already, but getting even more on the new server was noticeable.  I grabbed the free stuff from the shop, but was starting to worry about bag space.

The free thing in the shop

And then it was a holiday weekend, so there was even more stuff, including a temporary bunny mount.

Easter in Taboria

I did not spend a ton of time playing, but I was there long enough to confirm that Runes of Magic has stayed true to whatever it is trying to be.  If you liked it before, it is still there for you… and if you didn’t, well it hasn’t changed, so unless you have you probably won’t change your mind.

39 Weeks of World War Bee

We’re around the horn and well into the back stretch of this war lasting a full year.  All we have to do is make it to July 5th and we’re there.

This past week saw PAPI offer the “Silk Road” exit plan for Imperium members looking to exit the war and extract their capital ships safely.

The offer – You will probably need to click on the image to make it legible

The claim is that one Imperium pilot has already moved a faction titan out of the war zone, though it almost died along the way because PAPI wasn’t communicating well enough to cover safe passage.   This offer is akin to the Golden and Silver ticket offers that the Imperium offered PAPI members when their titans were trapped in M2-XFE and seems about as popular.

This led to a parody offer from low sec appearing on Reddit shortly thereafter.

There was plenty of time to contemplate offers and write parodies because the actual war has largely devolved into a series of structure bashes.  In Delve (and Querious) that has meant PAPI getting some more high profile Keepstar kills in systems they were able to cyno jam to prevent Imperium capitals and supers from intervening.

Keepstar Kills in Week 39

Meanwhile, the Imperium has been racking up its own tally of structure kills in the territories that Legacy Coalition abandoned, Catch, Immensea, and Impass.  There haven’t been any keepstar kills yet there, but there are a few on the menu that Legacy will either have to let die or move to defend.

Delve Front

PAPI has reiterated their desire to burn down the Imperium capital in 1DQ1-A once they get done with bashing structures outside of the O-EIMK constellation… which could take them a while.

The view from 1DQ1-A

Meanwhile, The Mittani called for an increase state of readiness in case PAPI does decide to assault the Imperium capital.  Members of the coalition were asked to stock up on ships likely to be uses in a defense of the constellation, to make sure that fittings on dreads, carriers, faxes, supers, and titans were up to date, and that people had bookmarks setup for various locations in the constellation that could be useful if a fight develops.

The ihub in 9O-8W1, which had been unclaimed for a while, was picked up by Already Replaced, so I can’t just re-use the previous map this week around.

Delve – Apr 4, 2021

I also had to update the map because the metaliminal storm that had wandered off towards Fountain, reversed course and headed back into Delve again, and was centered in T5ZI-S as of yesterday.  Being an electrical type storm, systems affected (highlighted in shades of purple) do not allow cloaking.  This storm covering most of the Imperium capital constellation, it is something of boon for the Imperium, as it means that cloaky camping eyes have to stay logged off or get scanned down.

Other Theaters

The battle over ihubs is over now in Catch, Immensea, and Impass, so I feel freed from having to post maps of those regions for now.  These former Legacy Coalition home regions were no longer being defended and the Imperium and its allies have been blowing up structures without opposition.

Likewise, the situation in Querious appears to be settled for now, with Brave, Severance, Sentinel Dawn, and TEST holding most of the ihubs.

The only hot spots in the war outside of Delve… which isn’t all that hot of a spot right now… are Esoteria and Fountain.

In Esoteria The Bastion and its allies have been in a back and forth struggle with Army of Mango and Evictus over the remains of TEST’s holdings in the region.

Esoteria – Apr 4, 2021

And then there is Fountain, where Federation Uprising continues to push into the region, taking ihubs from The Initiative and Siberian Squads, both of whom have been busy elsewhere.

Fountain – Apr 4, 2021

My Participation

I responded to a few op pings, undocked once, and neither had to rep nor fire a shot in anger as the enemy had run back to their staging by the time we were pointed their way.

I did get my monthly dividend payment from the Imperium war bonds I purchased.

There is a notification for that now

I spent that… 41 million ISK… and about 2 billion more stocking up on some ships for the coming battle.  2 billion ISK doesn’t go as far as it used to.  The rise in mineral prices and the scramble to buy things before CCP implements their next big change has found its way down the supply chain to me.

Anyway, as such my losses for the war remain unchanged this week.

  • Ares interceptor – 17
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar logi – 4
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Drake battle cruiser – 4
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 3
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

CCP launched The Hunt event, which includes Guristas sites to run, login rewards, and the usual round of sales promotions.

Live now in New Eden

That has another week to run, so you still have time to start logging in to collect the daily rewards.

Then there was April Fools where CCP did a bit of knife twisting.  For as long as I can remember… which honestly isn’t all that far back at my age… people have been asking for a low sec gate connection to the Stain region, which is otherwise an NPC controlled null sec area that is farmed for LP for implants and BPCs.  To get to stain you have to run what has been at times a pretty well camped gauntlet of systems in Catch.  CCP decided to yank the chain of those who have been asking for a low sec route into the region by announcing the gate on April Fools.

No gate for you

The Stain Russians are once again thwarted.

Meanwhile, the peak user count for the week settled back down a bit.  With an event going on there is often a bit or a spike in the count, but this week a fight didn’t break out right at the usual peak time of the day to help goose the numbers a bit.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)
  • Week 34 – 35,626
  • Week 35 – 35,379
  • Week 36 – 35,085
  • Week 37 – 34,394
  • Week 38 – 36,319
  • Week 39 – 35,597 (Saturday)

Related

No More SuperData Monthly Charts

Information about the business side of video games in general, and MMORPGs in particular, has grown more and more scarce over the years.  Everybody likes to put out a press release and announce at earnings calls when business is up and subscriber numbers are booming.  But when they’re down all of that becomes “not interesting” and companies reach for bullshit metrics or data without sufficient context to cover their tracks.

In the middle of that SuperData Research gave us something of a peek into digital revenues with their monthly charts and annual reports.

The monthly ranking lacked numbers, but at least gave us some sort of relative feel for how a certain small set of higher earning titles were doing.  We argued about how accurate their rankings actually were, but even flawed data collected consistently can demonstrate trends over time.

We will have to do without even that monthly tidbit of data going forward, as it appears that Nielsen, which has been cutting staff since last summer, decided to shut down their SuperData group that they had acquired back in 2018.  A crowded field and under performing revenues are reported to be why Nielsen decided to shut down the unit.  There has been no official press release from Nielsen up to this point, though they have been notifying their customers, which is apparently how word got out, and confirmed the closure with a statement.

Sources:

Quote of the Day – The Passenger and the Sailor

A player-driven economy isn’t about the money. It’s about having every way to play the game serve a role in the ecosystem. It’s about all the wonderful and weird ways we choose to live and play, and how we find out that our silly hobbies are vital necessities to someone else.

Raph Koster – Player Driven Economies

Last week’s nothing ball of a vision message, which sounded like the intro to an actual presentation rather than a presentation on its own, left me wondering left me wondering if Raph had anything actually up his sleeve.  It is unlike him to be so empty of depth in a post.

But he is back, so maybe that past post was just the intro, and this time there is some actual meat to chew on. He jumps right in on his vision of an MMORPG player-driven economy.

Raph on the economy

Getting to the end of the post and that quote above brought Guy Kawasaki to mind and his book The Macintosh Way.  I still have a copy sitting on my book shelf, which I never managed to get him to sign even though he used to roll into the computer store I worked at for a while during a low spot early in my career.

The book is a tale of his time at Apple and after, and the vision of product development and marketing that came of his experiences.   When in comes to product, he was a proponent of DICE, products that are deep, indulgent, complete, and elegant.

It was an era when companies shipped complete products because they couldn’t assume you could update.  Imagine that!

But “deep” gets to what Raph is going for here, which is that a it should have appeal for a wide range of users, from the passenger to the sailor, as the metaphor in the book puts it.  And that range of users, or players, from casual to hardcore, should be able to provide something to the greater economy of the game and benefit from their contribution.

Seems solid enough and certainly evokes some of the Star Wars Galaxies player economy, which I have no doubt will rouse the keepers of that sacred flame.  That Bree, one of those keepers, used an image from SWG featuring the entertainer profession in the post about this over at MOP was no accident I am sure.

Raph loses me a bit when he writes “OK, enough lofty theory stuff. Let’s get concrete” and then presents a diagram of the macro economy he has planned, which has been obfuscated into a meaningless flow chart, then carries on as though he has delivered actual support to his assertion.

Playable Worlds and their unreadable macro economy chart

I get why he doesn’t want to show the details, but give me 30 minutes with Visio and I’ll crank out something that looks meaningful if you zoom out far enough too.  That chart is just as empty as his last post.

So it is all philosophy.  Not that philosophy is a bad thing, and Raph is very good at philosophy.  Have you read his book?  But the translation from philosophy to mechanics is another thing altogether.

And it is clear Raph, despite the earlier empty virtual world vision, is making a game.  But we knew that almost a year ago.  It will be a sandbox game, and not a “gankbox” (which, following the usage of the term, means no non-consensual PvP I guess, that being the only consistent defining metric of the term), but will have constructs in it that will give people purpose and frame the mysterious macro economy almost pictured above.

Overall, a more worthwhile read than the previous post, and you can lose quite some time diving into the linked post about trust relationships and game design, but it is all still just vision.  Vision can get people excited and keep people going, but execution is where the rubber meets the road.  And this is still the MMORPG genre, which has a history of being long on vision and short on execution.  Promises abound, delivery not so much.

Finally, in my experience over the years, any system that allows more casual play styles to thrive or be competitive or add value tend to be abused by the more hardcore end of the spectrum and end up being nerfed into oblivion.  So I remain skeptical.

Scouting the Plains in Valheim

While we’re all set up to take on the next boss, Moder, the group has been busy over the last couple of weekends so we haven’t been able to get together to finish that off.

Meanwhile, I think I’ve hauled in and refined enough silver ore and iron scraps to serve us for the immediate future, so I have spent my time lately exploring and building outposts, with a bit of an eye towards the next stage of the game for us, which will take place in the plains.

That has meant getting in the Karve… the longboat is too big for exploration in my opinion, I’ve already done an Ever Given in a stream with it… and sailing further and further from our main bases in search of new lands with some potential.

I have noticed, out at sea, that I will occasionally get a flight of drakes passing by.  If they spot me, they come after me.

Drake attack

Fortunately, they are not too difficult to deal with.

Exploring up and down coasts and every river passage though is fraught with some danger.  Like this troll, for example.

Oh yeah, he’s seen me

My first thought was, “Pink troll?”  But them he got close enough for me to see the two star rating on him.  A normal troll is a push over at this point, but the last troll to kill me was one star rated, and got me because I was getting complacent.  A two star troll called for some caution, especially since off camera to the right was a  standard troll looking to join in fun.

I hopped out of the boat and kited the pink guy around until I managed to bring him down.  Then I knocked off the other one because he had destroyed my boat.  I had to go fish everything out of the river, which was just deep enough to make the bronze nails tricky to grasp.  Fortunately the first fight had knocked down enough trees that I had the wood for a workbench to build a new boat.

I managed to sail out far enough to run into my first Mistlands biome.

The last biome on the list

The wildlife for those is not yet implemented, but it looks dark and spooky none the less.

But what I was really after was plains biomes, and specifically plains biomes with more gentle, preferably meadows, biomes adjacent to them.

Spying out the plains

We’re going to need plains biomes for our next stage, and as I understand it, we’ll need to set up a base on the plains to take full advantage of the new resources that will be unlocked once we slay Moder.  That means getting a foothold some place where we can set up a base and a portal and what not to support such an effort.

Plains are much more common and I have found a few likely landing spots where I have set up outposts, like the one we used for staging for Bonemass.  It is sandwiched in between plains, north and south, with mountains to the west, which are in turn also hemmed in by plains.

I went over the mountains and found more plains

That actually is a pretty good spot, since there are swamp crypts over on Bonemass side of the straights, so I was able to haul some scrap iron over in case we want to set up and make stone walls.  You need some iron for the stone cutter.

You can see the smelter poking up from the inner compound

Also, there are surtlings in that swamp, so a supply of coal and surtling cores as well.  I didn’t even need to tap our home base supply to build the smelter.

But I am not betting everything on that one outpost, so I have set up a few more, all near plains.  We have a portal tagged “Explore” in the main base, so I go out with the supplies to build a connecting portal, then set it up when I have a likely spot.

Of course, to carry on from there I have to make another portal back at one of our primary bases to connect it, so I can use the explore portal again.  I have started farming those out to the secondary bases, like Dieppe and Elder, as the portal room upstairs in the main base is getting a might full these days.

The portal room – not visible, one around the corner and three more down stairs

There is a hole in the floor because somebody got tired of going down stairs.

One of my likely candidates is off to the east of Elder base and has a nice buffer area of meadows then black forest around it before you get into the plains.

Eastmarch Base in the meadow

Of course, I have been nosing into the plains as I have been exploring.

A furling tower near the edge of the black forest biome

I am getting a little less paranoid when I get close to the plains.  I am now able to knock down a Deathsquito with an arrow shot as soon as I spot one.  I am not confident enough to take a screen shot while doing so, and I am always looking and listening, but I am getting there.

And the furlings seem manageable, even though they come in groups of two or three most of the time.  The Dargur Frang bow with even a wooden arrow will take one down if I get the drop on them.  And fighting them can be done.  Of course, I got over confident at one point and a two star furling came in and one-shotted me.

Death on the plains again

That happened where the little skull and cross bones are on the map.

Fortunately I had cleared the way there pretty thoroughly.  I was able to eat some sausage and serpent stew for a big hit point and stamina total, jump through the portals, and make the naked run out there to collect my stuff successfully.

I have yet to take on the bison who wander the plains however.  I haven’t seem them out in groups of less than three and am worried about something like a triple troll scenario.  Crowbar managed to slay one, though he said he did it by building a platform up in a tree then shooting them from there until they were dead.

We’ll get to those soon enough.

April Fools at Blizzard 2021 is a Very Quiet Affair

It is once again the first of April, that day of fools, beloved by few, hated by some, and ignored by most. Its arrival means it is time for yet another peek over at Blizzard to see what they are up to.

So I got online and checked their various web sites and whatever they have up for news in the launcher, and there wasn’t much there to spot.

In fact, the only thing I saw was in the World of Warcraft forums.

Over on the Azeroth front there is the usual joke patch notes are up in the forums, an April Fools staple, featuring a proposed new raid, class changes, new professions, and more, all wrapped up in some pop culture references.

The most consistent Blizzard April Fools feature

Otherwise there was nothing else I could spot.  Blizzard has followed their usual plan of avoiding posting any news lest it be construed as an April Fools prank.  Even the start of the next Diablo III season is set for tomorrow.  I can’t even find the old April Fools archive page on their site now, though they did reorganize the whole thing, so it might still be in there somewhere.

Of course, it is early in the day still, so I’ll check back to see if anything else gets posted.  And, if I have missed anything, you can drop a note in the comments.

Addendum:

Not from Blizzard, but related, Carbot has a video announcing their Diablo II skin pack, a mock follow on to the real StarCraft Cartooned skin pack from two years back.

If that isn’t enough, you can still revel in some April Fools humor from Blizzard, with elaborate new features or whole new games, you will have to go back to previous years.

Past April Fools

Meanwhile, over in the world of EVE Online, they have an April Fools post up that rather twists the knife for a long requested feature; a gate from low sec to the Stain region.  Bittersweet that one is.

March in Review

The Site

As of a post earlier this week I had a post up every single day for an entire year.  The last day here on the site without a post was March 27, 2020.

AYearOfPosts2021
Filled in the blocks for a full year

Like a lot of such achievements, I did not set out to do this, but once I noticed it was happening it became a thing.  I rolled into last April with a plan to post every day due to the Blapril event.  Making it through that I had enough momentum to bring me through May and into June.  Then a war started brewing in EVE Online, which was fresh and exciting in late June of last year, but which has grown routine by now.  That gave me a lot to post about and I decided to stretch my posting run into August for the Blaugust celebration.  And once I had gotten through that I had almost a half a year streak going, so why not carry on.

As for what it means… well, it doesn’t really mean anything.  It is my own little post streak.  I think the previous such streak went for four months.  I just have to decide how much it really means to me to have an unbroken run of daily posts, because once I let it lapse it will take me at least a year to get back.

I will say that it is a good thing  I made it to this milestone, such that it is, this week.  Because this week saw WordPress.com finally delete the old classic editor, which I have been using for more than 14 years at this point, in order to force users into their new block editor, which was designed by a sadist and implemented by people who clearly don’t have to use it.  It impedes my ability to write.

Seriously, it sucks.  Even the classic block, which they claim is the same as the classic editor, sucks.  Features are missing, it keeps asking me if I want to convert to other blocks, everything takes a few more clicks to accomplish, and it is rather insistent that 24 time doesn’t exist. And don’t get me started on what happens to a post if you accidentally click that persistent “convert to blocks” button if you’re working in the classic block tab. I had to throw away a post and start over it was so mangled.

And they also did away with the old dashboard and stats, so even managing posts and comments and such is a huge pain in the ass now.  And data I used for things like my annual review post… well, that is just no longer accessible.

It is all a punch in the gut that doesn’t make me enthusiastic to post every day.

I sent in a complaint detailing all of this and I expect to hear back from one of their “Happiness Engineers” ignoring everything I wrote and gushing about how wonderful the block editor is with a link to a video.  The next helpful response I get from them will be the first.

Addendum: I enabled the new “Advanced Dashboard Pages” option and got back the ability to use the old Classic Editor once more. So yay! Why it was linked to that option I cannot explain, but I’ll take it.

One Year Ago

Oh man, it was the start of the pandemic lockdown, the March that lasted forever as we all learned how to stay home.  Fortunately I received a Ninendo Switch Lite for my birthday to keep me busy.

I did another poll about which voice service people were using.  Discord swept the poll.

I summed up the Winter Fantasy Movie League run, but FML was soon put on a pause due to theaters being shut.

Gamigo CEO Remco Westerman was unironically going on about synergy.

I was still playing a bit of EverQuest II, though it was mostly the Overseer feature getting me to log in.  EverQuest turned 21, which brought with is new servers, server merges, and other special items.  We got a free heroic upgrade… to level 85… which I used on one of my characters.

The big news from Daybreak though was Holly Longdale, who had been running the Norrath franchise for the company, leaving for Blizzard.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working through Razorfen Downs before heading off to UldamanArchaedas was an issue, but with some suggestions we were able to finish him as a four person group.

I was also trying to farm the Hydrocane from Gnomeregan.

In EVE Online there was an early March update that brought us some changes, which was followed later with an update that included low sec and faction warfare changes as well as giving battleships a frigate escape bay.  CCP was also moving along with their economic privation plan, announcing the removal of minerals from moons.  The February MER was already showing mineral prices rising and this was expected to make them go higher still.

CCP threw more skill points at us.

There was a question as to whether of not there should be a shooter from CCP like Project Nova.

Out in space we were packing up to head home from VenalLiberty Squad was done as Terrifying League of Dog Fort corp, which was running the group, left the alliance to find adventure elsewhere.

There was a plan for Blapril, an early run at Blaugust, as we were all home with free time.

And there were some Friday Bullet Points from Gamasutra, including some more about CCP’s Project Nova.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak announced that they were giving up on EverQuest Next.  That left me wondering what the future looked like for Landmark.  It wasn’t going to have PvP.

I also wrote up a post about all of the SOE/Daybreak MMOs and their then current (and mostly closed) status.  Things still looked pretty good for EverQuest at 17, though I wasn’t sure how experience injectors were going to play out in EverQuest II.

Also in EverQuest II the PvP version of their retro nostalgia server, Deathtoll, was getting folded into the PvE version, Stormhold, due to lack of interest, thus ending open world PvP in the game outside of that Russian server.  I was looking for nostalgia on the Stormhold side of things again.

Voting kicked off for CSM 11 with Xenuria on the official Imperium ballot.  How things change.

The monthly EVE Online update introduced Project Discovery and made it so you had to be mutual friends in order to track somebody’s online status in your contact list.  The month’s blog banter wanted people to imagine other games based off of the EVE Online IP, so I went with something akin to Diplomacy.

There were a bunch of little EVE Online things, like server upgrades, downtime compensation, and skill injector fun that I put into one bullet points post.  I like those posts when I do them, I hate them a year later when I want to do my summary.  It is easier when each topic has its own post!

Fighting was going on as the Casino War widened.  Some of the coalition was staged in Saranen, which meant flying quite a ways to defend territory on the far side of Tribute, including an unfortunate event with a Higgs anchor rig on my Guardian.  There were things going on in several regions, including a really good brawl in Fade.

Then the weight in numbers began to tell as we had to fight fires on several fronts.  I wondered if we were going to have a last stand at VFK-IV.  The plan, however, was not to waste ships against the superior numbers arrayed against us.  Instead we gave up territory, announcing the abandonment of the Vale of the Silent region, occupied by Lawn and Bastion, with one constellation owned by Circle-of-Two.  CO2 decided to leave the Imperium over this in order to save their territory, which would soon be the front line in the war, betraying us even as the fight was still going on in M-OEE8.  Once the war was over their new friends turned on them and took their territory anyway.  Who says there are no happy endings?

The M-OEE8 fight was still a big one and got CCP some press.  That is one thing null sec is good for, bringing attention to the game.

Black Desert Online went live and much bitching about the cash shop ensued, so I couldn’t resist jumping on that bandwagon yet again.  The cash shop is a necessary evil at this point.

I was poking fun at VR, which is still struggling for relevance.  Meanwhile EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack went live with the official Occulus Rift launch.

Minecraft 1.9, the Combat Upgrade landed, giving us shields.  I stopped wearing one of those ages ago, as you can’t read maps, among other things, if you have one on.

In Minecraft Aaron’s zombie pig farm was causing MC Pro Hosting to lag out on us.  But we made the switch to the much more reasonably priced Minecraft Realms hosting option, which solved that issue.  Premium pricing was not getting us premium service.

In Diablo III I was chasing the Season 5 set dungeon.

And, finally, things looked grim for WildStar, with China cancelled, layoffs, and dwindling revenue.

Ten Years Ago

Rift officially launched.  And while I wasn’t playing, the social media options integrated into the game made it feel like I was there.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Pokemon Black and White came out, which became the theme for my birthday.

World of Tanks was talking about going live in April.  There was, of course, a pre-order offer.  There always is these days.

Potshot and I made it to GDC thanks to Darren, where we were able to hobnob with the likes of Brian Green and Damion Schubert.

March of ten years ago found me spending time in EverQuest.  It was on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, which at that point was still set in the original EverQuest zones.  Potshot and I were doing some classic things, like getting stuck in the Ocean of Tears and making alts.  And running out of money.

There were the newbie armor quests to work on, which required travel to Freeport at one point, something as hard as we remembered.  We also visited Unrest, North Karana, the Desert of Ro, and Najena.

It was also the 12 year anniversary of the EverQuest launch, and nobody was more surprised that I that I was playing the game 12 years later.  But no corpse runs please.

The instance group, still in Cataclysm Worgen form, spent a couple of nights in Scarlet Monastery and then went to Razorfen Kraul.

I put up a poll asking people which of several items in my drafts folder (current population: 88) I should buckle down on and finish.  I think almost everything on the list except the winner is still in my drafts folder.

And I came home one day to find the TV had died.  Emergency CPR (read: banging on the damn thing) brought it back to life temporarily, but clearly a replacement was going to be needed.  It was, after all, a few years older than EverQuest.

Fifteen Years Ago

World of Warcraft hit 6 million subscribers.  Eventually it would double that number.  And later it would sink below that number.  WoW Classic seemed to get it back up to that number again, though all such numbers from Blizzard are pretty vague these days.

Twitter launched, but who in the hell wants a platform limited to just 140 characters?  Or 280 characters now I guess.

Brent, going by the “Prognosticator” handle back then, launched the VirginWorlds podcast which began what was, for me, the golden age of MMO podcasting and eventually nudged me into blogging.  Trust me to pick up the old trend when a new one starts.  His site had fallen into disrepair over the years and, recently, disappeared altogether.  Time to pull it from the side bar I think.  I still have all the podcasts in my iTunes library, and you can peruse the site and descriptions over at the Internet Archive.

Twenty Years Ago

Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance, the handheld model between the GameBoy Color and the Nintendo DS.  Games for the GBA were still available when I eventually got a Nintendo DS as it had a GBA cartridge slot to allow backward compatibility.

Thirty Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, an online multiplayer Dungeons & Dragons themed game launched on AOL.  In an age of text and MUDs, it was an online graphical multiplayer RPG and either one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs, depending on how you want to define the “massive” part of the acronym.

Sierra Online launched The Sierra Network… their name having “online” in it before they had an actual online presence was a mistake in hindsight I suppose… which includes the title The Shadow of Yserbius as part of the package, which was also an online graphical multiplayer RPG (or a graphical MUD as they called it), which also gives it a claim to either being one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. The Federation Grand Prix Starts in EVE Online with Events and Login Rewards
  2. Death on the Plains in Valheim
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  6. Robbing Some Space Banks
  7. SupreData says WoW Jumped in Subscribers and Revenue
  8. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  9. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  10. CCP Now Just Baby Steps from Selling EVE Online Skill Points Directly
  11. Diablo II Act Five and some Thoughts
  12. What Does LOTRO Need?

Search Terms of the Month

valheim keep dying in black forest
[Wait until you walk into the plains!]

i came upon fulings and died valheim
[Yeah, though the deathsquitos are worse]

why cant i buy large skill injectors with plex?
[Sell the PLEX, use the ISK, problem solved]

eve online casino
[That was the war five years back]

eve online what is really going on in null
[Damn if I know]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Let me know when you undock]

why it’s all about money just bomb ccp get rid of them
[What were you even searching for?]

making fake favebook profit for oculus
[Favebook is like that]

how to clean pokewalker
[Don’t put it in the washing machine!]

Game Time from ManicTime

Once again this month saw Valheim take up most of my focus. The time split was as follows:

  • Valheim – 84.71%
  • EVE Online – 10.90%
  • WoW Classic – 4.30%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.10%

At this point Valheim is where I have spent about half of my gaming time so far this year. In the first half of the month I had more time on it that in my main browser. (Though, to be fair, I have to split between Firefox and Chrome for work related items.)

EVE Online

The war carries on.  I’ve said that a few times, haven’t I?  This past month was a bit lighter for me that January and February.  My participation status shows over 100 ops in the last 90 days, but only about 15 of those were in the last 30 days.  Blame Valheim a bit, but more it is the fact that no grand events have been happening really.  I did do the Federation Grand Prix for the SKINs on an alt, but that was another story.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I both made it to level 41.  It wasn’t that tough of a climb.  We were helped along by the fact that we had accumulated some xp after hitting level 40 but before the new levels were announced.  Not as much as some… I have people in my friends list who have as much as 60 million xp pre-done… but it boosted us along a bit.  Now for level 42.

Level: 41 (15% of the way to 42 in xp, 2 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 628 (+9) caught, 656 (+9) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 12
Pokemon I want: Need Eevees for the level 42 tasks
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

As you can see from the ManicTime numbers, this is the title that dominated my gaming time again this month.  Right now on our world we’re ready to slay Moder once we can get on together and then we will be moving towards the plains. 

World of Warcraft

I did log into retail WoW, though only for Darkmoon Faire and a few pet battles.  I did nothing out in the Shadowlands expansion.  The events there have skipped far enough ahead of me that I likely won’t ever catch up.  My renown remains meager and such.

WoW Classic

While the instance group has been mostly focused on Valheim, I did find a bit of time to run around with my paladin alt.  I’d like to get him up to 60… or at least 58… before Burning Crusade Classic shows up.

Coming Up

Well, tomorrow is April Fools, so I am pretty sure some of you can guess what the post of the day will be about.  It is the same thing every year.

In Valheim we have two bosses left to take on.  We might actually accomplish that and get back to spending a bit of time in  WoW Classic, though I suspect we’ll keep the Valheim world up and keep building and such.  It has a Minecraft-like appeal in that.

I expect that we’ll start getting some news about a timeline for Burning Crusade Classic.

And in EVE Online CCP is ready to turn industry upside down by changing dramatically how all ships larger than a battlecruiser, plus all T2 and faction ships, are built.  When even the devs are predicting chaos and things taking 4-6 months to settle down you know we’re in for a wild ride.