Tag Archives: Civilization V

My Games of the Decade – A Look Back from 2019

I have noticed that a number of people and gaming sites are taking a moment to celebrate the coming change in the tens column of the year to take a look back at the last decade, the teens, and to pick out high and lows and bests and worsts and whatever.  As an end of year summary post is an easy pitch, so too must an end of decade summary pitch.

I didn’t do this back at the end of 2009.  I know, I checked and back in December of 2009 my posts… all 38 of them… showed only a low level of reflection, and that involved reviewing my gaming goals and predictions.  But the blog was just past the three year mark back then and I had yet to settle down and recognize how a recurring topic makes an excellent writing crutch.

With that in mind and some empty days to fill I thought I would join in on the retrospective action and pick out a list of what I consider to be my games of the last ten years.  I do have a decade of blog posts to refresh my memory here.

How I picked them is vague mixture or memory, blog posts, and any measure of how much time I spent with a given title over the time frame.  And, just to make this a bit more difficult, I am going to try to break these out into categories like some sort of award show, which will allow me not only to pick a winner, but then ramble on about other possible choices.

MMORPG – EVE Online

MMORPG is a special category in this list.  First because MMORPGs are the main focus of this blog and, second, because MMORPGs constantly renew themselves with expansions and updates.  So, unlike the other categories, I am not limiting this to games that launched this decade.  I would be hard pressed to pick an MMORPG I cared about that launched since 2010.  Maybe Rift?  And Rift fell apart for me with the first expansion.

So, with that out of the way…

Based on hours spent playing, number of posts written, and amount of time continuously subscribed, it would be impossible to pick anything besides EVE Online.  I’ve been playing EVE Online in a continuous arc since November 2011, when I came back to the game to see if the Crucible expansion would get the game back on course after Incarna.  And then I got tied up in the tales of null sec, where the stories are all player created, and have stuck around as a player/tourist ever since.  And, to loop back on how MMORPGs change, 2019 EVE Online is a lot different than 2011 EVE Online was.  Better or worse is up for debate, but definitely different.

As for other choices, World of Warcraft would probably place second, but a distant second.  I might even make it third behind WoW Classic if that wasn’t barely four months old.  Three disappointing expansions (Cataclysm, Warlords of Draenor, and Battle for Azeroth) and an inability to make things better has left me flat on the game.  They heyday of WoW was last decade, which is what WoW Classic is telling us.

And after that, what other choices could I justify?  I spent stretches of time in LOTRO, EverQuest II, Rift, Neverwinter, SWTOR, and a few others, but not nearly as much as either EVE Online or WoW.  So New Eden gets the nod, as nothing else comes close.

MMO – World of Tanks

I will make the definitional cut between MMORPG, where you can see or interact with hundreds or thousands of players in a virtual world, and MMOs, which are just online titles where a bunch of people can be in the same lobby, but actual game play is in limited arenas.

This was kind of a tough one, as I have pretty clearly spent more time playing War Thunder and I haven’t spent any time playing World of Tanks recently.  But when I do play, I like the way World of Tanks looks and feels, even if I am bad at it.  Also, I am way worse at War Thunder.

Other potential titles for me here included World of Warplanes (where I am even worse than War Thunder) or maybe World of Warships, though that never really clicked with me so my time with it is pretty minimal.  I never did play Destiny or the sequel or anything else along those lines, so World of Tanks it is.

Action RPG – Diablo III

This could arguably fall under the MMO banner, but I have chosen to break it out because there was actually some competition here.  The ARPG race this decade included Diablo III, Torchlight II, Path of Exile, Grim Dawn, and even Titan Quest Anniversary Edition, all of which I played.

In the end though, I have to give the nod to Diablo III.  It started off badly, with the real money auction house yielding results predicted before launch and an itemization scheme that seemed designed to make that situation even worse.  But somebody at Blizzard finally got the memo and, with the Reaper of Souls expansion, things were turned around.  The good game play and simple story let me click away happily for many hours.  I have spent as much time playing Diablo III as all of the competition combined.

On paper Torchlight II ought to have been the winner, with offline play and mods and such.  But all the mechanics in the world couldn’t save it from simply feeling bland and aimless.  And Path of Exile, while it felt closer to the Diablo II source of the ARPG genre, died for me under latency issues that they never fully solved and the desire to be something of an MMORPG which made going back later a pain as they had added so many additional bits and pieces to the game.

Grim Dawn probably gets short shrift in all of this.  I feel like I should go back and play that some more, but I never quite get to it.  If I were CCP, Grim Dawn would be my Faction Warfare updates… always on the list, but never high enough to get the attention it deserves.

While I do not go back with every new season, I have ended up playing and enjoying Diablo III more than any of its competition.

Strategy Game – Civilization V

For me, Civilization V is pretty much the culmination of the series.  I have owned and played the whole run, plus the side paths like Alpha Centauri (good) and Beyond Earth (not good), and Civ V is it for the decade.  And I write that having played Civ II, Civ III, Civ IV, Civ VI Alpha Centauri, and Beyond Earth this decade as well.

Civ V isn’t perfect.  It has flaws, both unique to itself as well as the usual flaws of the series (slow and overweight at launch along with the whole mid-game drag), and it was controversial at the time, but it has weathered the decade for me.  I was annoyed I had to make a new Steam account to play it, having rejected Steam after Valve screwed up my old account in the early HalfLife 2 era.  But I got past that.  I played it in 2010 and I was still playing it in 2019.  Hard to argue with that.

Other possible picks were direct competitors like Stellaris, excellent war games like Vietnam 65 and Unity of Command, literally the rest of the Paradox strategic game catalog, which I own, as well as RTS titles like Age of Empires II HD and a good chunk of the Total War series, all of which played and enjoyed.  But for my strategy title of the decade I cannot justify anything besides Civ V.

Builder Sim – RimWorld

I created this category pretty much to find a place for RimWorld.  I mean, I guess it is something of a genre.  The direct competitors for this on my list included Stardew Valley, Oxygen Not Included, Medieval Engineers, Space Engineers, and Kerbal Space Program RimWorld was pretty much a lock here… and then I looked down the list of games and found Minecraft.

Minecraft isn’t an MMO or MMORPG and is a full on multi-player builder sim and holy cow I spent a lot of time playing it this decade.

But, technically, Minecraft became available to backers in 2009.  So it is really a last decade game, no matter how much I played it.  The early access thing muddies the water.  And while it gets updates, it doesn’t get the MMORPG exemption in my book.

So RimWorld gets the nod, but with an asterisk for Minecraft.

First Person Perspective – Portal 2

Another force category.  When I was looking down the list of shooters I had played over the decade, thinking that FPS could be a category.  But then there were also a few outliers that were not really shooters but which had the first person perspective.  That led me to expand the category, which then went from me trying to balance Sniper Elite III and Doom to just handing things over to Portal 2.

And I think that is the right answer.  I played the game, I own the sound track, my daughter and I know the words to some of the songs, and it had enough cultural influence that, of the games I played, it has to be the winner.  Also, it was a very good game.  But I also own none of the Call of Duty or Battlefield titles from this decade either, so I am not much of a first person perspective fan.

Racing Game – Need for Speed World

I actually own a few racing games.  More than I expected, such that I decided I had better make this a category.  This is one area where console titles might fit in.  But when reviewing what I played, the one game I miss is Need for Speed World.

It had a lot of problems, not the least of which was being published by EA, but its simplicity and bits of destructible terrain and shared world and excellent customization options made it something I spent a lot of time playing.  And, honestly, there hasn’t been anything quite like it since.

Console Title – Pokemon SoulSilver

Proof that I am not much of a console gamer.  Yes, we have still have a Wii and a PlayStation 3 still. The former is now in a box and out of sight and the latter has spent more time streaming or playing DVD or BluRay discs than actually acting as a game console.  I did put in some time with both, most commonly with the LEGO Star Wars titles.  But that was really a last decade thing.  The Nintendo DS and 3DS series was really the console I played this decade, and for me that console is all about the Pokemon titles.

And if I have to pick one of the DS titles… and I’ve played them all… it has to be Pokemon SoulSilver, where I finally caught them all.

Mobile Game – Pokemon Go

As with console games, I don’t really play all that many mobile games.  Stretching the definition to include things on the iPad I probably have a few options.  I played Neko Atsume (in Japanese, back when it was cool) and Monument Valley and DragonVale and Words With Friends and Prose with Bros and some less memorable titles.  Ticket to Ride got a lot of play time, though I’ve faded on it over the years.  And let us not forget all the time I spent hate-playing Candy Crush Saga just to try to beat it without paying.

But the one mobile game I get out and play every day is Pokemon Go.

It helps that it is the one and only video game my wife plays, so we play together.

Crowdfunded Title – Defense Grid 2

This was a depressingly easy pick because almost every crowdfunded gaming title I have been involved with either hasn’t shipped (e.g. Camelot Unchained, Star Citizen) or was kind of shit (e.g. Shroud of the Avatar, Planetary Annihilation).  Some I haven’t played (Project: Gorgon) and others fell apart (Hero’s Song). This decade saw the emergence of crowdfunding, along with early access, but it hasn’t really been a boon for my own game play.

But the one outlier was Defense Grid 2.  I played that and enjoyed it quite a bit.  Its only problem was that it wasn’t quite as good as the original Defense Grid: The Awakening.

Pirate Server – Nostalrius

I guess the polite term now is “emulator,” but they are still pirate servers.  They still exist by stealing somebody’s IP and work, and the noblest intentions in the world won’t change that.  These days every shut down online game that ever had half a dozen loyal customers seems to have an emulator project going for it.

That means there are lots of such servers out there to choose from.  There are even competing projects for games like Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes, not to mention the actual server software from CoH out in the wild.  I am still waiting for the legal shoe to drop on that one.

But Nostalrius, and the family of WoW emulators that preceded it, have racked up a special achievement.  They got a company as conservative as Blizzard to roll out the version of the game they were trying to bring back.  These servers were popular enough to get the company’s attention and had enough support that the idea managed to get past the obvious corporate reluctance to go there.

Basically, WoW Classic is a thing due to the work that went into pirate servers like Emerald Dream and Nostalrius.  Bravo!

Best Hardware Purchase – Blue Microphones Snowball

Not really a game thing, though something that helped with gaming.  Having gone through various headsets with good earphones but crap microphones I decided to opt out of the voice side of the headset thing by buying a decent desk mic.  So during the 2018 Black Friday sales found the Blue Microphones Snowball on sale and bought it.  And it has served me well ever since.  I am now free to use whichever headphones I like and nobody complains that they cannot hear me anymore.  I am fully ready to be a podcast or streaming guest!  Of course, I have also reached a point of irrelevance such that people have stopped asking me to be guests on such things, but I am ready if my topics ever begin to trend again!

Worst Hardware Purchase – Mineserver

I almost skipped this as a section, being unable to think of any gaming related hardware I bought in the last decade that was worthy of scorn.  And then I remembered the Mineserver.

Technically, I didn’t purchase this, I backed it as part of a Kickstarter campaign.  The campaign, launched by tech columnist Robert X. Cringely in Fall 2015, it was supposed to be delivered by Christmas that year.  The campaign funded successfully and we got rosy reports initially.  This was going to be easy.

And then it wasn’t.  This is what I get for trusting in the word of somebody who is not technical to assess the technical issues of a project.  I should know by now that things that look easy to those on the sidelines are often not easy down in the code.  Also, Cringely’s next successful business venture will be his first.  I had forgotten about that.

This was also a bad example, amidst many bad examples, of how not to run a campaign post success.  Communication was sporadic.  The excuse was that he only wanted to report when there was good news, but apparently there hasn’t been any good news for a couple of years now.

Cringely was blowing smoke up our collective asses with some pie in the sky “maybe this will turn into a business and I’ll give you all shares” nonsense, but then his house burned down in the Santa Rosa fire and he has declined to update the Kickstarter campaign page or send anything directly to the supporters since.  Instead he occasionally makes reference to the campaign, mostly to blame people who are angry about the whole thing for the lack of any progress. In his world, all of the problems are the fault of the backers.  Money down the drain.

Best Game Purchase – Minecraft

This was a tough one.  There have been a lot of games I have bought and gotten a ton of play out of, that ended up being great and bargains at the price I paid.  Defense Grid: The Awakening was a candidate, as was the Mists of Pandaria expansion for WoW and even the first year of Rift.

In the end though, I am going to call Minecraft the winner, because the criteria here is purchase during the last decade, and while Minecraft became available in 2009, I didn’t buy it until 2015.

Even with renting a public server for a shared experience, the dollar per hour value of the game was pretty damn high.

Worst Game Purchase – Star Trek Online Lifetime Membership

There were a lot of competitors on this front, like every single game in my Steam library that I purchased and never played.  But none of them could measure up to the cost and impact of Star Trek Online.

I pinned such hopes on Star Trek Online and it ended up being so not the game for me.  While many will point to Warhammer Online as the end of hope for a MMORPG that would eclipse WoW or Star Wars: The Old Republic as the last gasp attempt at a big budget MMORPG, Star Trek Online was the boiling pot of hope that burned my hands and convinced me not to get invested in an MMO before it is live.  And no more up front lifetime subscription purchases ever.

Disappointing at launch with mundane and repetitive game play (even for an MMO), I probably ended up paying the most per hour played for it since the time of CompuServe and GEnie and hourly connection charges.  I tried to return to the game a couple of times, but Cryptic just piled on features to try and keep the game going, turning it into a confused jumble that still held no seed of attraction for me.  It was so bad I was surprised when it went free to play mostly because I was sure it must have already gone that route.

So if you want to know why I am such the cynic now, occasionally mocking those who get excited and invested in games based on a vague feature list and a few artists concept drawings, Star Trek Online is a big factor.  And yes, I know it is somebody’s favorite game.  Everything, no matter how bad, is somebody’s favorite.  If you enjoy it, carry on.  But for me it is an example of the kind of garbage, half-assed MMORPG effort that tarnished the genre and sped up its decline.  And none of that was helped by the game embracing things like lock boxes.

STO will be mentioned in the next few month in review posts as we get through its 10 year anniversary, but I doubt I will ever post about again until I write an obituary about it.  I generally don’t waste my time on games I do not like.  This post was an exception.

A New Decade

And so it goes.  I made it through this post and only had to reach into the past decade twice.

Soon it will be 2020 and a new decade will be upon us.  Not that an arbitrary changing in numbering means anything really, but we like to put things into nice neat categories even if we have to make them up.  I certainly made up a couple above.

I do wonder what the video game industry will be ten years down the line.  Mobile has become the big money maker while things like VR, hailed as the future, languish due to various technical and physiological reasons. (The puke factor is real.)

I especially wonder about games in my MMORPG category, the shared world online experience that seem to go on and on.  Ultima Online and EverQuest are still going past the 20 year mark, while World of Warcraft and EVE Online are now past 15.  Will we be celebrating 25 and 30 year anniversaries when 2029 is coming to a close?  Will I still even care?

July in Review

The Site

I wasted a perfectly good rant about the new WordPress.com mobile app and its many flaws in last month’s review post, tacking it on to the end of an already sufficient ramble, so this month I’m going to write about search engine traffic.

As I note in every anniversary post, the vast majority of traffic that lands here comes via search engines, and the lions share of that comes from Google.

Google also wishes me a happy birthday, something I find oddly disturbing

Bing, in second place, provides 3% of the search engine traffic and all other search engines combined… Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, Yandex, Baidu, AOL, MyWay… total up to 2%, which leaves Google with 95%.

Basically, when Google doesn’t show me, traffic takes a hit.  When they changed their parameters in early 2013, traffic here was cut in half and has been trending down ever since.  And, for whatever reason, traffic from Google has been way down over the last few months.

Until the Darkpaw Games thing from Daybreak came up and the blackout hit EVE Online null sec.  Then there was a sudden pop in search engine related traffic, which the Google console tells me was drive by the search terms “Darkpaw Games,” “EverQuest 3,” and “Battle Clinic.”  The latter was the old site that used to host a kill board alternative to ZKillboard.   “Battle Clinic” only lasted for a couple of days, but “Darkpaw” and “EverQuest 3” just keep on going.

And, you can see down below in the most popular posts section, that the post about Darkpaw Games led the way.  We’re not back to 2012 levels of traffic… or even 2016 levels of traffic… but it was interesting to see some search terms suddenly take off.

One Year Ago

I built my daughter her first Windows PC.  It was so cute!

Amazon was giving Prime members a free copy of Pillars of Eternity.

The annual Steam Summer Sale came to a close.  I reviewed what I purchased, or almost purchased, as well as some of the stats that Valve provided.

I was on again with my Leuthilspar Tales from TorilMUD., this time writing about the Sylvan Glades zone, which was something of a disappointment.

In Minecraft there was the Aquatic Update.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing and I ended up downloading our world and batch updating it before uploading it again.  And then I was off to find a warm ocean.

I was back in World of Warcraft and finishing up some Legion stuff and getting on with the lead-in for Battle for Azeroth.  I went over some of what Legion did for us, then the 8.0 update hit and I had to get used to new stuff with BFA.

There was also a Kickstarter campaign for Stay Awhile and Listen – Vol. II, about the development of the Diablo series.  Kickstarters for books tend to work out pretty well.

I had a summary of Abyssal Pocket stats that CCP Fozzie presented at EVE Down Under.  We also got an update that removed wagering on duels, killed off the dread “Fozzie Claws,” and fixed some Abyssal deadspace bugs.

I also noted the tenth anniversary of the EVE Blog Pack, a group I have been kicked out of more than once.

Also turning ten was DOTLAN EVE Maps.

Out in Null Sec space, Mordus Angels folded up shop and Circle of Two moved into their space in Fade.  This was enough to rouse the Imperium, previously content to let SIGs and Squads harass the north, to roll up on Fade and drop a Keepstar on the doorstep.  We went immediately after the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I, but were thwarted when it turned out we didn’t know how cyno jammers worked.  But we were there for the long haul.

Anyway, we had a distraction down south, where PanFam was going after TEST.  They blew up a TEST Keepstar and TEST responded by just dropping another one.  That one lived.  Meanwhile the PanFam fleet was trapped in bubbles cover where they would login.

PanFam did escape a couple days later.  Also, there was the alliance tournament.  That was all in a summary post.

And then we were killing Keepstars in Aeschee and Kinakka.  No end of destruction in New Eden.

Finally, Blaugust was almost upon us, and it was set to be a combo of Blaugust and the NBI, a festival of blogging.

Five Years Ago

There was a site put up by eBay about game return on investment.  Unsurprisingly, it indicated that used games are a deal in that regard, so you should go buy some on eBay.

There was the passing of yet another Steam Summer Sale.

SOE forgot to pay their domain name registration.  Meanwhile, Landmark was available for a deep discount after the Steam Summer Sale, leading to speculation about its future.

SuperData Research was listing out the Top Subscription MMOs while not defining what they really meant by the term.

Anarchy Online introduced a PLEX-like currency, GRACE.

The community manager for LOTRO was busy telling raiders and PvMP players that they weren’t getting any new content because they added up to less than 10% of the player population.

finished up Pokemon Y on the 3DS.

In my attempt at the loremaster achievement in WoW I ran through Desolace, Feralas, and Thousand Needles one week, Felwood and Un’goro Crater the next.  Then it was Winterspring, Swamp of Sorrows, and the Blasted Lands, the Cape of Stranglethorn, and the final bit of the Eastern Kingdoms.  I was on a roll.

in EVE Online we were commuting to Delve, where maybe there was going to be a war, and chasing Brave Newbies around (then getting pipe bombed) when there wasn’t anything going on.  That was back when we owned Delve.  Fights went on sporadically for a while and many a Rupture was sacrificed simply try a fresh doctrine.  So many Ruptures.  Apocs did better.

Meanwhile the Crius expansion hit New Eden, making industry better… it did get better, right?

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server, the vote to unlock the Underfoot expansion failed, making it the second expansion ever to get voted down, the first being Gates of Discord nearly two years before.

With that I was wondering what other MMOs might go for the retro nostalgia server thing.  Not WoW, I was sure of that at the time.

I was also on about housing in MMOs, what has really worked for me and what has fallen flat and why.  This included some projection as to what garrisons might end up being in WoW.

Our epic game of Civilization V saw expansionism and direct conflict with the Aztec empire.

Ten Years Ago

I won a contest.  Granted, all I got was a T-shirt.  But that was probably more than you got.  And it was due to a video game.

Mythic announced a version of Warhammer Online for the Mac.  Not sure that helped anything at all.

I was, as usual, asking silly questions like why does Tetris gets faster.  Okay, it was an analogy, but it was still silly.

Oh, and then there was the horse.  Remember the $10 horse?  I did a poll about it and everything.  Boy, that seems like small potatoes these days.  I mean, that was a cash shop game selling a horse for $10.  Now WoW and EQ2 will sell you mounts that cost much more.

Gary Gannon announced that GAX Online was going to close in August, bringing to an end that experiment in gamer community building.

I asked what people considered cheating in an MMO.  It included another poll.  I was doing polls that July.

I did a parody of Tipa’s Daily Blog Roll feature.  That is some pretty rich stuff in hindsight.

In EVE Online I got another step closer to mining perfection.  I was also fiddling around with a fit for a Dominix.

In World of Warcraft the instance group hit Violet Hold and Gundrak, but couldn’t get the team together for Halls of Stone, so went back and did some Burning Crusade heroics just for kicks.

Then the instance group took a run at Onyxia.  The old school Onyxia.  She’s since been remade.

My daughter somehow got to Dalaran at level 16… without having the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

And even as we were doing all that, we were starting to mull over what we should do once we were level 80 with no new expansion in sight.  It only took us a year to try another game.  At about that time, my hunter alt hit level 80.

I also dredged up the old Alamo Teechs U 2 Play Druid post from the WoW forums.  Philosophical question:  Would Alamo have posted that if RealID had forced him to use his real name?

And, finally, my daughter was trying to get me to help her make WoW videos to post on YouTube.

Twenty Years Ago

Billy Mitchell got the first perfect score in Pac-Man, though his record has since been expunged due to accusations about cheating.

Forty Years Ago

The Sony Walkman was introduced and portable music has not been the same since.  A pair of classmates of mine had a father went to Japan on business regularly and who brought them each one of the brand new devices back from one of his trips.  Those were the first two I ever saw.

I think I still have a late 80s/early 90s model with dual tape decks and recording capability sitting in a drawer somewhere.  But now my phone does all that and more.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Is Darkpaw Games the New Future of EverQuest?
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. EVE Online Summer Season of Skill Points
  6. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  7. Local to be Blacked Out in Null Sec Soon
  8. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  9. Pondering all these Free Skill Points
  10. Null Sec Blackout to be Maintained Indefinitely
  11. Hilmar and the Chaos Era of EVE Online
  12. How do you solve a problem like the Drifters?

Search Terms of the Month

stuck in wow waterfall
[They’re trying to move to agile, but it takes time]

eve online starter pack 250k skill points or one million
[One million]

what does everquest get in god expansion
[ummm?]

eve where to find missions
[See, the UI is fail]

eve online untraceable bot
[you wish]

Game Time from ManicTime

Definitely more titles on the list this month.  Still, when it comes down to it I played EVE Online a lot and then everything else a little bit.

  1. EVE Online – 60.34%
  2. Dota Underlords – 11.99%
  3. Defense Grid – 6.97%
  4. StarCraft – 6.73%
  5. RimWorld – 4.97%
  6. World of Warcraft – 3.75%
  7. Civilization V – 2.35%
  8. Age of Empires 2 – 1.48%
  9. GTA V – 1.43%

Age of Empires 2

We have been talking about AOE2 at the office some of late, which got me to launch the game and see if I could still manage something of a build order.  My ability to focus on multiple things at once has diminished significantly in the last 20 years or so.

Civilization V

I mentioned last month that I got out Civ V largely because the Steam summer sale events rewarded you for playing games that had achievements.  I am not great at Steam achievements, but Civ V is the game where I have earned the most.  It didn’t do me any good though, the Team Corgi still won.

Defense Grid

As with Civ V, I got out Defense Grid largely because of the Steam summer sale event.  However, Defense Grid is still a great tower defense game and, while I have “won” the game, it remains full of achievements I have yet to unlock and modes I have yet to beat.

Dota Underlords

On Steam but not related to the Steam sale, I ended up trying one of the titles in the new genre of the month, auto battlers.  It is in early access, so it is free and changing and in need to tightening down.  But it remains oddly compelling.  Also, once I was losing badly, so walked away to answer the door to come back and find I had won the four rounds unattended. It is strange like that.

EVE Online

What didn’t happen in EVE Online this month?  Triglavians, Drifters, the null sec blackout, skill point handouts, crazy talk from the CEO, and a proposed tax increase.  The Chaos Era is upon us.  I spent a lot of time writing about EVE Online, though I did manage to log in for long enough to go on a few ops as well.

Grand Theft Auto V

This was my one Steam Summer Sale purchase.  After starting off in the tutorial for a bit, I decided that this was the sort of game where I needed a chunk of time and the right mood in order to get into it.  Sometimes that works out.  But then there is the Valkyria Chronicles, about which I said the same thing.  Steam says I played 9 minutes of that back in 2015.  Haven’t hit the right mood yet I guess.

Pokemon Go

Had a good month here, with my wife and I getting to run around to find Team Rocket Pokestops.  I have a post about that brewing.  I also added a bunch of friends by posting my friend code on Twitter in order to satisfy one of the special task requirements.  Now I keep running out of gifts to give them.

Level: 36 (+0 but so very close to 37)
Pokedex status: 432 (+7) caught, 457 (+4) seen
Pokemon I want: Luxray, which was my daughter’s favorite Pokemon back in the day
Current buddy: Bronzor

RimWorld

RimWorld remains my go-to quiet time want to play and listen to a podcast or audio book game.  It is also a game you play over the long term and one that is pretty easy to pick up after you have been away for a bit.  I still have a post brewing about it, and with a need to post every day next month I will probably get to that in August.

StarCraft

I bought the StarCraft Cartooned graphics pack.  I didn’t need it.  I don’t play that much StarCraft.  But it was very cute and the Carbots team gets some of the money.  That is about the only financial support they’re going to get from me, but at least they got that.  And I did end up playing through the campaign some again, so I got some use out of it.

World of Warcraft

A slow month for me in WoW as the play percentage above shows.  We got the Rise of Azshara update and I pretty much fell off the horse when it came to Azeroth.  I think that was mostly made up of me doing Darkmoon Faire stuff.  But maybe it was time for a breather before WoW Classic.

Coming Up

August seems to be shaping up as a busy time.

First, there is Blaugust.  I know Bel’s calendar say that this whole week is “Prep Week,” and that some people have posted about it already, but I don’t start in on Blaugust until it is actually August.  You will get my contribution towards prep week tomorrow.

The Chaos Era looks to carry on in EVE Online.  We will see if Hilmar’s forecast of weekly disruptions or CCP Falcon’s desire for a dystopian hellscape of an internet spaceship game comes to pass.  Meanwhile the null sec blackout and the free skill point dispensing continues unabated.

SynCaine and my daughter’s boyfriend have both suggested I try Riot’s Teamfight Tactics as an alternative to Dota Underlords.  Both have said TFT is better, simpler, shorter, or whatever.  However, both of them have played a lot of League of Legends, from whence the TFT units come, so that might be swaying them.  Still, I may give it a try.

But the biggest thing of all coming up in August is WoW Classic.  I expect it to be crazy crowded with long queues and the usual launch circus.  Once that hits it will likely overshadow most other topics for at least a week.

June in Review

The Site

I was excited momentarily when I saw another WordPress.com blog had a switch on their side bar that allowed you to turn on and off “night mode” on your blog.  This mode makes your blog dark, which solves the war between those who want black text on a white background and white text on a black background.

The magic switch

On seeing that I immediately started looking up how to add that to TAGN.  And I found out how.  It is a plugin, and to be able to add plugins you need to have a business level account with WP.com, which runs past $300 a year.  Given that is over 10x what I pay today (I have a no longer available “No Ads and CSS editing” plan for $30 a year), night mode won’t be here any time soon.  I just don’t care about you, the reader, that much.  Sorry.

I did also see that WP.com had re-arranged their plans yet again.  I hadn’t gotten a note about that, but the range now includes some more reasonably priced options.

The June 2019 personal plans

The Blogger plan is only slightly more than what I pay now, so I might be tempted by that for the other site, if only to remove ads.  The Premium plan would even be within my means for this site, if I had any use for most of the features.  Therein lies the problem.  I don’t even want a custom domain name.  After more than a dozen years as tagn.wordpress.com, why would I want to mess with that.  All I really want is ads removed and enough storage space for my many screen shots.

Meanwhile, WordPress.com pushed a new version of their mobile app last week that not only shows less information, but insists on showing stats based on the time zone you happen to be in as opposed to the time zone to blog is set to.  My attempts to engage with WP.com have been met with the usual blank looks and unhelpful replies.  This does not make me want to give them more money.

On another front, I got sick of the Blog Roll Feed in the side bar failing to load.  It was always a bit problematic, but of late it seemed to be failing to load almost all the time.  So I dug into my Rube Golberg setup and found a problem that should have prevented it from loading ever.

This comes up more often in software than you might hope in software.

Anyway, I redid how everything connects and it seems to be much more reliable now.  So op success for what is now v.7 of the sidebar feed.  It isn’t bullet proof… it is still a hack… but it shows data now more often than it did previously.

One Year Ago

I was done with DragonVale.

Blizzard picked the version of the game that would become WoW Classic.  Version 1.12 would be the destination for nostalgia.

With Pokemon moving on to other platforms, it was clear that the Nintendo DS/3DS/2DS platform was on its way out.

In New Eden it was time for the CSM13 election.  Surprise!  Null sec candidates won most of the seats yet again. #NoCollusion

Running Abyssal pockets seemed to be all the rage.  The Federation Grand Prix, on the other hand, was something of a disappointment… unless you were selling shuttles I suppose.

I was also time for the great outpost conversion, where all those stations dropped in null sec over the years were converted to faction Fortizars.

We were also wondering what EVE: Project Galaxy was.  I guess we still are, since it hasn’t shipped yet.

Somebody said something dumb about PvP in EVE Online, then went on to get banned.

Star Citizen was roundly trolled for rolling out a ship that looked a lot like an EVE Online ship, and they took that trolling badly.  It happened to be the same ship that we used for a race.

I also went on a main fleet op, which is something I do every so often to remind myself why I do not go on main fleet ops.

And then there was the return of the Mystery Code in EVE Online.  There was a lot of stuff going on at CCP.

And it was a year ago that Steam announced that they weren’t going to judge games, they were just going to let everything onto their service… unless they considered it “trolling,” which sounds like a judgement to me… or if it was on the version of their service in China.  The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China pretty much demands curation of all aspects of life.

But the Steam Summer Sale was on, so who really cared about all that?

I wrote something like a review of the game Vietnam 65.

Daybreak gave us all another free character boost in EverQuest II.

I did a summer reruns post about 80s video games.

Finally I did a Friday Bullet Points post that included Star Citizen, Diablo IV, Apple killing support for OpenGL, the pending Aquatic Update for Minecraft, free video games for Amazon Prime subscribers, and perhaps my last Pokemon download even post ever.

Five Years Ago

I toasted the Newbie Blogger Initiative class of 2014.  Long may they post… those that remain in any case.

WildStar launched… and started its journey to F2P and eventual closure.

SOE finally broke its ties with the ill-fated and ill-conceived ProSiebenSat.1 deal.

Derek Smart was telling us why to charge for beta.  Lord British was getting serious with virtual real estate.  Meanwhile, DC Universe Online was doing well on the PlayStation.

It was summer and the short lived strategy group was looking to the Steam Summer Sale for a new game.  Meanwhile we were still playing our epic game of Civilization V.

We heard about how CCP handled/mishandled World of Darkness.

CCP launched the last of its expansions with a six month lead-time.  Kronos was the end of the line for twice yearly expansions.  I set off on the training plan to be a wing/fleet booster in EVE Online.

I also did a summer reruns post about the Fountain War in EVE Online.

In Azereoth, my attempt at the Loremaster achievement had me in Darkshore and then on to Ashenvale and the Stonetalon Mountains .

Meanwhile the Warlords of Draenor alpha was starting, so I had to avert my eyes.  So I started pondering things like how Blizzard should change the starter edition of WoW.

The instance group, heading towards its regular summer hiatus, was hitting the Mogu-shan Palace.

I took a look at a long history of gear obsession.

And I was wondering if authenticators were still a thing.

Ten Years Ago

People were upset about Blizzard not including LAN play in StarCraft II.  It looks like Blizzard stuck to that plan company-wide, as every game since has been always online.

The NeuroSky MindSet was released, but I still cannot cast fireballs in WoW using only my brain.

Then there was that Wii Bowling Ball controller.  Seemed more like a lawsuit magnet.

There was a new definition of hard core gamers.

I was complaining about the local newspaper being made up of 8 pieces of paper.  I have since stopped getting the daily paper.  We still get the Sunday paper however.

There was an attempt to get Age of Empires II: Age of Kings going while people in the instance group were on vacation.  We did end up getting connected via a service called Game Ranger.  Now you can play it live on Steam.

The in-game map in EVE Online was showing me where I had been and where all my stuff was.  Pretty neat.  CCP added a new map since, but they had to leave the old one in because the replacement still hasn’t achieved feature parity.

And then there was World of Warcraft.  They changed when you got mounts in the game allowing people to (literally and figuratively) fly through The Burning Crusade.  There was that whole WoW/Mountain Dew cross promotion which, if nothing else, got me another in-game pet.  I spent all my gold on the artisan flying skill, and then they lowered the price with the mount changes.  I got the achievement The Explorer, but that didn’t mean I was necessarily an achiever.  And I bought an authenticator.  Viva account security.

And then there was the Midsummer Fire Festival.

The instance group was deep into Wrath of the Lich King.  We did Ahn’kahet: the Old Kingdom and Drak’Tharon Keep when we were all available.  When not we went back to TBC and did some heroics with four of us just for kicks.

And then there was FarmVille, a Facebook game that had our attention for a brief moment.  It went live ten years ago.  It won awards and faced criticism from a range of sources.  Even Martha Stewart was on Zynga’s case for a bit.  And, of course, it set the standard for spammy, cash hungry crap games on social media.

Twenty Years Ago

The Half-Life mod called Counter-Strike had its first public beta release.  Valve hired the two people who developer the mod, acquiring the code and name as well, and it was developed into the stand-alone title Counter-Strike.

Thirty-five Years Ago

The first version of Tetris was released.  It might have made an appearance on more platforms than any other commercial title, and variations on it are still appearing.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  4. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  5. Is New Player Retention Fixable in EVE Online
  6. Drifters Hitting Null Sec Upwell Structures
  7. Three Problems MMORPGs are Never Going to Solve
  8. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  9. That EVE Online Starter Pack Controversy
  10. WoW Classic Stress Test Redux
  11. The Alleged Purity of Leveling
  12. Failed Headshot in Tribute

Search Terms of the Month

best way to raid with mouse/keyboard in eq2
[Can you even do so without mouse/keyboard?]

redeeming starter pack eve online
[There wasn’t much redeeming about it]

wow classic support 32 bit?
[A big negative on that]

Game Time from ManicTime

Overall time was down by 30% this month.  I must have been doing other things, like writing blog posts about everything that happened last week.  WoW also seemed to be down, though I’ll get to why in that section.

  • EVE Online 40.10%
  • WoW 27.47%
  • RimWorld 21.79%
  • Civilization V 6.16%
  • Minecraft 3.99%
  • LOTRO 0.50%

EVE Online

There was quite a lot going on in New Eden in June, what with EVE North, CSM14 elections, selling skill points, and the war in Tribute and Vale, I had lots to write about.  And then the Drifters started hitting our structures, future war plans were suspended, and we all went back to Delve to PvE.  Oh well.  The 64-bit client seems to work though.  I used that all month.

Lord of the Rings Online

I did, in fact, play a bit of LOTRO this month.  I wanted to grab the 64-bit client, which didn’t take too long, relatively speaking.  LOTRO updates always take longer than they should because the patcher is archaic.  But I managed it.  Then I logged in and was in Bree and had to remember how to get back to Moria.  And then Mirkwood opened up a few days later on the Legendary server and my interest waned completely.

Minecraft

I ran out of steam somewhat when it came to the Village and Pillage update.  I found villages, improved them, fought pillagers, did a bunch more exploring, and then came to the usual “now what?” part of the game, at which point I tend to stop logging in so much.  We’ll see if the bug hits again.

Pokemon Go

I had a pretty good month with Pokemon Go.  I didn’t level up, but I got some break throughs, such that there is a blog post in progress on this, that would have gone last week… but last week managed to fill itself up.  So I’ll get to that.  Otherwise, the usual stats:

Level: 36 (+0)
Pokedex status: 425 (+6) caught, 453 (+6) seen
Pokemon I want: Togekiss
Current buddy: Prinplup

RimWorld

As Minecraft faded, RimWorld came back into the picture.  Both are games you can sit and play while listening to podcasts or audio books, which I find relaxing.  Having won the original scenario a couple of times, I wanted to do the next more difficult scenario.  You start with five colonists and almost no technology.  That led to a some restarts as all my colonists died again and again.  But I got past that finally.  There is a blog post in the works as to where that led.

World of Warcraft

What with the war in EVE Online and not much new happening in Azeroth, WoW time slid quite a bit.  The percentage shown even includes the WoW Classic load test, since the final WoW Classic client registers with ManicTime as the same as the live client.

Actually, something big did happen.  We got the 8.2 update and more content and the chance to unlock flying.  Due to EVE Online, I haven’t even started on any of that.

Steam Summer Sale

Despite my guess last  week, the Steam Summer Sale is not the same old thing.  No, they have some new ideas, and some old ones, and they have had odd results.  First, you have to choose a team and nearly everybody decided to go with Team Corgi because corgis are cute.  So Team Corgi wins a lot.  I went with Team Tortise, which won a day after Valve gave us a way to sabotage other teams effectively and everybody hit Team Corgi.

Then there was the chance to win something from your wish list.  They did this years back, and it got people to add games to their wish list.  Now we all have so much crap on our lists that Valve threatening to give us a random game from it for free triggered a mass wish list purge, much to the horror of devs, who get stats on that.  That was amended so that you will now win the first game on your wish list, so you don’t have to banish all the five dollar indy crap from your sight.  I did so anyway, paring my wish list from 71 to 11 games.

Finally, to earn points and such in the event you have to buy games (duh), play some specific games and complete special tasks within them, or play a game that has Steam achievements.  I did the latter, which is how Civilization V made it onto my ManicTime list this month.   I would have just played RimWorld, but it does not have Steam achievements.  Oh well.

Coming Up

We have another week or so to run with the Steam Summer Sale, so we shall see if I end up buying anything.  My daughter is pestering me about a couple of titles.

In World of Warcraft I have the whole Rise of Azshara update to explore.  With almost two months to go before WoW Classic I should have enough time to unlock flying.

With null sec wars in EVE Online called off on account of CCP, there will likely be a return to SIGs and Squads being the place to actually play the game.  We’ll see what CCP has planned for this Drifter invasion, but it isn’t making people in null sec happy.  The Drifters aren’t actually killing structures and don’t even drop loot.  They are just a plague sent to afflict us.  We’ll survive, but there had better be a point to this.

And, otherwise, it is July.  People used to say August was the dead month for video games, but then Blizz started launching things in August, so now July is it I guess.

Extra Credits and the Steam Data Leak

Back in July there was, for a brief time, a way to see some interesting data on a whole bunch of games available on Steam.  The total number of players for games on Steam that met certain criteria, such as having Steam achievements, was visible.  Naturally, people jumped on that while the opportunity existed.  There is an article over at Ars Technica about the whole thing which includes a downloadable .csv formatted file with all the data if you are interested.

The achievements portion means that a lot of games don’t make the list.

We don’t know how many people have played EverQuest or EVE Online on Steam, for example. We do have a number for EVE Valkyrie.  That came in 4376th place with 15,182 players.  And DC Universe Online made the cut and has had 2.8 million players on Steam.  But free is a pretty big advantage and that number doesn’t have anything to do with how long people played or if they ever used the cash shop or otherwise spent a nickel on the game.

The crew at Extra Credits did a video looking at the list and exploring some of the tidbits they found.  It is fun and worth a view.

 

One of the disparities they point out but do not fully explore is the difference in players between Civilization V and Civilization VI.

Civ V sits in 14th place with 12.7 million players while Civ VI is down in 90th position with 3.6 million players.  Their proposition is that people are waiting for all the DLC to hit before making their purchase, something I don’t quite buy.   Having played both, I don’t think Civ VI brought much to the table aside from even greater graphic detail that you’ll want to shut off to make it run well.

But you would only really know this is you played it.  So I think this might also reflect the somewhat divisive reception that Civ V has received.  I know some old Civ fans who were not happy with Civ V and who thus probably never moved on to try Civ VI.

Add in the problem with Civilization: Beyond Earth (2.6 million players on Steam) which was… well… it wasn’t the second coming of Alpha Centauri, that’s for sure… and you can imaging that Civ VI might have been fighting against Sid Meier’s previous games as much as the reviews it got.  My gut says that Civ VI getting all of its DLC done won’t get it to Civ V levels of sales.

It does warm my heart that the HD remaster of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings has had 5.8 million players on Steam.  That is both the peak of the series as well as possibly being the peak of the RTS genre… leaving aside StarCraft of course.

And, of the more than 13K titles on the list, over 8K of them have less than 10,000 players, with last place on the list going to Disco Elysium, which has had three players.

Somebody had to be last

But it has achievements!  And, of course, it hasn’t even been released yet, so those three are probably just the Steam or dev staff.  But I thought it deserved a mention since it was last on the list.

Anyway, there is some data to play with if you are interested.

Civilization – The Glorious People’s Victory over Imperialist Aggression!

All good things must come to an end… and even the dentist will eventually decide he has gotten the last bit of plaque from your gum line with that iron hook and cease his infernal gouging and scraping… and so it was with our game of Civilization V, entering into its 14th week of play.   As I mentioned last time, a number of victory conditions were beginning to hove into view and become distinct possibilities.

Things picked up as they had left off the previous week.  Mattman, Potshot, and I were online and in the game, ready for turn 751 to commence.  We were expecting Loghound as well, but as the appointed hour rolled around he wasn’t online, so we pressed on.

I managed to hold on to Babylon for the first turn, thwarting Nebuchadnezzar’s feeble counter-attack, and went on to take Akkad, the next city in line.

Rolling over Babylon

Rolling over Babylon

Potshot managed to roll over another Babylonian city to the north at the same time, so it was starting to look like the end of their empire.  After the mountainous terrain past their former capital was an open plain, the perfect venue for my combined arms assault.  It looked like Nebuchadnezzar would be joining Harun al-Rashid of Arabia as a leader without any cities left to lead.

Arabia was still nominally in the game, as we had not tracked down his final units.  Choosing the option that kept empires alive so long as they still had units was such a mistake.

Meanwhile, Mattman and his Chinese empire were buying influence with city states again.  With the world leader election about 10 turns off, one of the victory conditions I mentioned, his ambition was transparent.  So I decided to liven things up with a little ploy of my own.

More after the cut as we work towards the end of the game.

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Civilization – The Fall of Babylon

The more people smoke herb, the more Babylon fall.

-Bob Marley

Babylon falling was certainly one of the possible scenarios as we went into the 13th session of our game of Civilization V.

Did you hear about the Netherlands?

Babylon awaits

This time around Loghound was off at a family event, but Mattman was back from camping, so he joined Potshot and I in the resumption of our campaign to reach some sort of victory condition.  But first we had to have trouble with Google.

In an attempt to avoid the problem last time, where Google seemed disinclined to let me join the event hangout, I went ahead and created the even for this week, stealing that job from Loghound.  However, while I created an event, I somehow did not attach a hangout to it and so… it was just an event.  I am not sure what good an event is in Google+ without a hangout.  It is more than a meeting reminder, since you can check in and such.

So Mattman, spotting my error, created a hangout and invited Potshot and I and, of course, Google wouldn’t let me join.  No idea why still.  Eventually I created a hangout and invited the other two, at which point we were joined together in all the audio/video splendor that this digital age allows.  Basically, three middle-aged guys on the a video conference call.

Finally we were able to get started, which meant letting the first turn drag out for a while as Mattman came to grips with how the AI had been handling his empire while he was away.  The phrase, “Deep, cleansing breaths” was muttered a number of times between sounds of exasperation.  But eventually he was able to reign in the AI’s deficit spending and “600 ship navy” plan so we could move on with the game.

More after the cut.

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Civilization – The Battle for Yaroslavl

We returned for our twelfth round of this game of Civilization V, which started back in early May.  Joining me this week was Potshot and Loghound, it being Mattman’s turn for a week away.

I had a very simple goal for this round.  I wanted to knock out two, or maybe three if we were lucky, of the AI civilizations.  I figured that the fewer AIs gumming up the works, the more responsive the game would be.  And we had two very likely candidates.  Morocco, which had been hanging around without actually possessing a city since week 8, was first on the list.  Last week I had spotted what I had hoped were his last few units and I was ready to dispatch them as soon as we got going.

See you in hell Morocco!

See you in hell Morocco!

And then there was Russia, which had been reduced to a single city on a two hex island, hemmed in by Loghound and his Celts, and just waiting for the dagger to be driven home.

Yaroslavl Under Siege

Yaroslavl Under Siege

The potential third empire headed for destruction was that of Montezuma and the Aztecs.  With Potshot back it looked like we could renew our joint offensive and drive the Aztecs to the brink of destruction.

But first we had to start the game already.  More after the cut.

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