Tag Archives: Forza Horizon 4

My 2022 in Gaming So Far

One of the other things the Steam Summer Sale tends to spark in me is a review of my gaming so far in the year.  One thing that happened in the first half of 2022 was that a new title took over as my most played game on Steam.

My Steam top ten titles

I think Civilization V has been at the top of the list since I made my current Steam account back in 2010… and I did that because you had to have a Steam account to play.  I was kind of against Steam back then, but have clearly softened on it as an option over the years.

Now, however, Valheim has taken over the top spot, managing to do so in less than 18 months.  That says something about me or Valheim or both I suppose.

Anyway, Valheim got there by being my most played title so far in 2022 as measured by ManicTime.  Out of time spent gaming on my PC, this is how my play percentages break out.

  1. Valheim – 30.97%
  2. Lost Ark – 15.80%
  3. EVE Online – 15.70%
  4. EverQuest II – 11.78%
  5. Stellaris – 5.72%
  6. Pokemon Pearl – 5.07%
  7. New World – 4.10%
  8. Minecraft – 4.45%
  9. CM Red Thunder – 2.52%
  10. RimWorld – 2.04%
  11. FreeCiv – 0.59%
  12. Diablo Immortal – 0.39%
  13. V Rising – 0.34%
  14. EverQuest – 0.28%
  15. LOTRO – 0.16%
  16. World of Tanks – 0.09%

After Valheim we have Lost Ark and EVE Online pretty much neck in neck for play time.  I think Lost Ark got the advantage just because it takes so long to load.

Finally in double digits is EQII where I was playing the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.

Down in single digits, after some single player stuff was the end of our run at New World.  I am not even sure what server I am on now.  There has been some talk about Amazon fixing some of the issues, but I am not sure there is a lot of desire to return there any time soon.

Then there is Minecraft, which has gotten a bit of a boost since The Wild update hit.  Below RimWorld are titles that have not been touched all that much.

So what will the back half of the year look like? Valheim is at the top of the list, but unless we get the update for the Mistlands, there isn’t much to do but muck about and build things.  Lost Ark and New World are unlikely to grow in play time, and EverQuest II, I left that unsatisfied with the last expansion.  That might need a break for another expansion or two before I find it on my list again.

EVE Online, of course, is going to carry on for now.  And Minecraft, which we only started playing in June, looks like it could keep going.

Solasta is something we just picked up this past week, and it has potential.

And then there is the coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic.  It looks to be a couple months away at this point, and we’re not really chomping at the bit for it right now… but give it some time and we might be primed to go back to Northrend.

That is where I stand at the mid-year check-in.

January in Review

The Site

Well, I got this achievement at least.

They said I had a satanic streak…

Otherwise is was mostly life as usual for the blog.  WordPress.com broke links, waffled about it for a couple of days, then fixed them again.  Pretty good for them, as they still sort of worked while they were broken.

And then there was the ad revenue.  This month the site served up more ads than ever, coming close to 125K ads displayed compared to 99K last month.  However, revenue was down.  December’s 99K ads were worth a little over $23, while the 125K ads this past month were worth just about $16.  Ad quality clearly plays into the revenue side of things, and I didn’t get high quality ads this time around.  Still, $16 keeps me on track to pay the annual hosting for the blog at the Premium service level, which runs $99 a year.

One Year Ago

For my new year’s post I chose to ask questions rather than make predictions.  I’ve always been told that there are no bad questions, though that statement usually precedes attempts to prove it wrong.

I also reviewed the games I played in 2020 and attempted to guess what I might play in 2021.

Twitch told me what I watched there in 2020 and I did that Quantic Foundry gamer profile thing again.

SuperData Research also did their review of 2020 which, along with its penultimate monthly chart, as their end was on the horizon.

There was that GameStop stock craziness.

I wrote a timeline of SOE/Daybreak Games.

The Steam Winter Sale ended with awards and stats.

I was wondering what LOTRO needed, since it clearly needed something.

People were wondering when we were going to get Burning Crusade Classic, with the current rumor being early May, which seemed too early to me.  But we ended up getting it in early June, so I guess it wasn’t that far off.

The instance group was still working on Blackrock Depths, this time for a love potion.  Then we went off to Dire Maul East for a change of scenery.  Dire Maul North proved too much for just the four of us.  We also hunted for recipes out in the Burning Steppes.  Meanwhile, my paladin was catching up to the group in levels.

And then there was World War Bee, which kicked off the new year with the another huge titan battle, though this time the results were much more one-sided.  The war bullet points:

Somewhere along the way I hit a year in KarmaFleet and the 230 million skill point mark.

There was also more binge watching and we had HBO max finally, so I took a look at it and its app.

And, finally, January 20th was a happy day.

Five Years Ago

As with most years here at the blog, it began with predictions.

Nintendo was telling us all about the Switch console, due in March.

I barely had predictions post before Daybreak announced they were closing Landmark, ticking one off the list for me.  That got people freaked out about other Daybreak titles, so I reviewed the list.

That also led me off onto a semi-sarcastic rant about an EverQuest successor.

It was also high noon for Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2.

With a new iPad I lost all my progress on Candy Crush Saga, so forswore the title forever.

I was also tallying up the results of my purchases from the Steam Winter Sale.  I don’t get why people like Stardew Valley so much.  Just not my thing I guess.  I did play a stretch of Train Valley however.

The long mansion road project was starting to hit home with me, but I kept on moving forward village by village.

In EVE Online I hit the 170 million skill point mark.  All those skill points and I still don’t use my capital ships.  After a false start we got the first update of YC119.  It had music.  It was also the kick off of the CSM election season.

In null sec there was a big battle at F4R2-Q that seemed to herald a new war.  However coordination problems with the local defenders saw us pulling back to Catch.

And in Diablo III we were waiting for the Darkening of Tristram event.  I ran through it quickly once, and then again to get some more achievements.  It was kind of neat, but it wasn’t the original Diablo.

Ten Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Riders of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we sometimes get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Twenty Five Years Ago

The original Diablo shipped, stirring up a new genre in its wake, the ARPG.  You can still find a playable version of the original at GoG.com.

Thirty Years Ago

Atari Corporation, as it then existed, dropped production, sales, and support for the Atari 2600, the Atari 7800, and the Atari 8-bit computer family.  The 2600 series was supported for 15 years from launch, and has since been renewed in emulators in software and hardware form many times.

Forty Years Ago

Sega launches Zaxxon, with modeled a 3D environment with an isometric perspective and was, as I recall at the time, amazing looking.  I could just sit and watch the demo run in the arcade.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Probing and Hacking for Fun and Profit in the EVE Online Doctor Who Interstellar Convergence Event
  3. Doctor Who and Daleks Invade EVE Online with the Interstellar Convergence
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  8. Microsoft Plans to Acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion, Promises Joy and Community
  9. Daleks are Coming to EVE Online
  10. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  11. Predictions in the Face of 2022
  12. The Army of Mango Alliance Attempts a Self Destruct to Flee Fraternity

Search Terms of the Month

goonswarm propaganda best
[I mean, it is pretty damn good at times]

eve fax
[Yes, though without the special paper]

eve minokawa
[See ‘eve fax’]

r-arkn aom keepstar
[Not anymore]

usnavy marauders
[Those are not like EVE Online marauders]

Game Time from ManicTime

The month saw New Eden back on top as I ran the Doctor Who event to see what it was all about.  I had a bit of a Stellaris binge and EverQuest II were not far behind.

  1. EVE Online – 26.29%
  2. Stellaris – 22.95%
  3. EverQuest II – 21.56%
  4. Pokemon Pearl – 19.10%
  5. New World – 9.11%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 0.66%
  7. World of Tanks – 0.34%

EVE Online

Things continue to churn in New Eden.  Even in peace there is always some destruction and drama going on.  I saw somebody complaining on /r/eve that null sec wasn’t warring hard enough to keep them entertained, but we blew up and looted a staging Keepstar that might have been the biggest loot pinata in video game history.  You just can’t please some people.

There was also the Doctor Who event, which I ran through.  I’ll have a write up on it as it ends at downtime tomorrow.  Safe to say, like the game itself, it had its ups and downs and was likely inscrutable to any outsider.

EverQuest II

I hit the level cap again playing through the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.  It actually wasn’t that hard, as I wrote late last week.  It was, however, very much an EQII experience, which is neither a good nor a bad thing necessarily, but it is a thing.  I also managed to touch very little of the actual expansion content, because the game is focused on instanced play.  However, they do tend to offer solo versions, so there is still more to explore.

Forza Horizon 4

Some driving was indeed done, but I have hit a point where I got the driving need out of my system for a bit and where I have done a lot of the easy things in the game and the map is such a mess of things to do now that when I do log in I spend too much time trying to figure out where I should even go next.  And then I drive around way too fast and crash through fences, hedges, trees, and whatever else gets in my way.  At least that never gets old.

New World

The holidays finally ended there last week.  Some people leave the tree up too long I think.  The groups spent a few play sessions trying to get to the next dungeon in the game, the one at level 35.  We’re not exactly speeding out way through the game, but we’re not in a big hurry either.

Pokemon Shining Pearl

I made it through to the Elite Four and defeated Champion Cynthia, thus pretty much completing the central story of the game.  But, in Pokemon, there is always more to be done.  I still have more to catch before I can even begin to claim I have caught them all.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.  I didn’t really do much out of the ordinary, a few raids, spun a Pokestop daily, and managed to get in one of the local gyms to earn some coins regularly.  I also managed to miss a day and got my daily catch and daily spin cycles out of sync, which always annoys me.  But I have them aligned again now.

Level: 42 ( 19w.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 680 (+3) caught, 700 (+3) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Inkay

Stellaris

Having purchased some of the latest DLC for the game, I dove in and played.  As I noted, I would consider it a classic “one more turn” game that can keep you up past your bedtime, but technically it doesn’t have turns.  But it will keep you up late dealing with each new update or event that comes in.  And if they’re coming in too slowly, you can just speed the game up.

World of Tanks

I poked about in this for a bit at the beginning of the month, so I have some stats for 2022 I suppose.  But once I got on the Stellaris binge in the evenings, my tank time sort of dried up.

Zwift

I have been at making sure I get on the bike 3-4 times a week.  I think the fact that I post this here is a motivator because, even though I am sure I am the only one that pays attention to my numbers, that they’re out in the open makes me self-conscious about them.

As for distance, I have now essentially gone from our house, though Portland, Oregon, and just over the Columbia river into Washington state.

  • Level – 12 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 684.5 miles (+100,1 miles)
  • Time – 1d 12h 8m (+5h 12m)
  • Elevation climbed – 29,501 (+5,088 feet)
  • Calories burned – 22,811 (+3,385)

Coming Up

We’re already a month into 2022 and, while it is cliche to say so, what the hell?  Time goes by too fast.

February should bring us the Activision Blizzard Q4 2021 and 2021 overall financials.  We’re all eager to see that I am sure… though with Microsoft buying them, I am not sure how much they really matter anymore.  And once Microsoft swallows them I doubt they’ll be more than an obscure line item on the MSFT financials.  Enjoy it while it lasts I guess.

Daybreak has a few things going on, including an odd new Lore & Legend special server for EverQuest II and a 64-bit upgrade for EverQuest.   Also, they’ll no doubt be picking the EverQuest Community Resource Council, but that is all hush hush.

Guild Wars 2 has the End of Dragons expansion slated to launch last I checked, and it will include fishing.  So keep an eye open for that.

Forza Horizon with a Controller

Playing Forza Horizon 4 & 5 on the PC with the keyboard comes with its own special challenges, which I have mentioned in previous posts.  But, to summarize, there are no half measures on the keyboard.  If you press the W key for the throttle, it is full throttle.  If you press S to brake, it is slamming on the brakes.  And steering is a an exercise in yanking the wheel all the way in one direction or another and then letting go.

Forza Horizon 4

Which honestly isn’t as bad as it sounds.  I played Mario Kart on the DS, which had just a d-pad for steering and a button for acceleration and did well enough, learning the “Mario Kart tap” method to stay on course.  But Forza Horizon has been designed with analog input in mind, so while I wasn’t horrible at the game, and did improve over time, the keyboard as a controller was always going to be a barrier.  Drifting, for example, requires a subtlety of control not possible with the keyboard, so far as I can tell… though we cannot discount me simply being bad.

Analog sticks, with their variable range of input, make a difference… or such was my theory.

I have/had a UBS game pad controller around the house somewhere, a Logitech Dual Action that was $4.99 back in 2011 when the offer for it came up.  I used it a couple of times over the years, but with no great success.  And, since I couldn’t find it after some desultory searching, I decided to buy a new game pad.  XBox compatible seemed to assure compatibility with Windows, so I went to Amazon and…

Well, there are a lot of choices, enough to thwart any decision on my part.  I faced the paralysis of too many choices and not enough information.

And then Belghast tweeted something a few days later recommending the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ Blluetooth gamepad being on sale at Amazon and I jumped on that, getting the black model.

The gamepad in question

Since it was already December, this became a gift from my wife under the tree, to match the Lancome La Vie Este Belle gift set she bought as a present that I could give her.  This is sort of where things end up after 25 years together, though we both still cheated and bought something else for each other, as we do every year.

Anyway, once I had the time to play with my gift, I got it connected to my system via Bluetooth and Forza Horizon 4 recognized it right away when I launched it.  So off I went, to try driving with a controller.

And boy did I suck.

Imagine that, a new controller didn’t magically make me better at the game.  In fact, it made me quite a bit worse.

The thing is, there were bad habits to unlearn.

When you’ve been playing on the keyboard with its binary on/off control mode you have no opportunity to learn any finesse in control, or at least not the control that an analog input gives you.  So it took a couple hours of play to learn to not just jam the throttle all the way down with the R2 button and to not just jam the left analog stick back and forth to its extreme positions while driving.

And then it took a bit longer to grow past my abilities with the keyboard while using the controller.  But it wasn’t bad.  I was already used to driving wildly off the road, through trees, fences, hedges, front yards, construction sites, and whatever other bits of destructible terrain was in the game.  Forza Horizon supports bad game skills quite well really.

So learning some control meant playing no worse that I was used to playing and occasionally getting better.

It was also nice to see how transparently the game moves from controller to keyboard input, depending on what I am doing.  There are still some things that are easier done on the keyboard.  Sometimes it is just quicker to reach up and hit the big Enter key that try to remember which key I need on the controller.

The physical controller itself is nice and solid, if a bit small for me.  I have big hands, so it isn’t like that doesn’t apply to almost any gamepad I pick up.  As I have said in the past, I thought the Wii Remote system was kind of goofy, but it was very good for a big guy like me.

The only odd or objectionable thing about the unit is that, unlike the pictures of it I have included above, which came from the 8BitDo web site, the markings on my controller are completely unreadable.  They are flat black characters in a black font on a black background that it the same texture, lettering or not.  If I hold the controller under a very bright light at an angle I can see lettering in the light reflected off of the places where there is supposed to be writing, though it is still too much black on black to discern what any given section is supposed to say.

I thought for a while that maybe the unit I got was missing its face plate.  But, as I noted, I could discern writing under close, well lit examination.

This was actually a bit of a problem for me for a while, as I don’t use a controller very often, so I had to put up a key layout on my second monitor until I got used to where they buttons were.

Still, if I were to buy another one, I might opt for one of the models in a lighter color with dark lettering.

Anyway, I now have a controller to play Forza Horizon, and it has made me a bit better at the game.  I still haven’t figured out drifting, but you cannot expect hardware to perform miracles I suppose.

December in Review

The Site

Here we are, once again facing a new year.  2022 is just hours away and… well… not much is going to change.  We imbue the artificial construct of time with magic properties, like one more turn around the sun will change us, the world, or human nature.

Still, it is almost the last time I get to use this graphic.

2020 plus 1

This is my 397th and final post of the year.  And you know what I haven’t done yet?  I haven’t uninstalled Adobe Flash.  I still get this alert every few weeks.

The end of Flash is here

I don’t know why I haven’t removed it.  It isn’t like I am invested in Flash.  I’m just being stubborn I guess.

Also, the ad experiment carries on.  The goal of it was to cover the cost of the Premium hosting plan which I switched to due to WP.com threatening to inject sponsored posts into those not paying for hosting.  The goal is to get paid, which means making at least $100 before the next payment comes due.  Three months in and revenue is closing in on $60.  I am not quitting my day job, but at least the blog is revenue neutral.

One Year Ago

Pandemic binge watching was still under way, which led me to summarize how it felt.  Somewhere in all that binging I found time to read, so had five books to talk about.  I was also promoting the ability to read the blog via FlipBoard.

Then there were predictions to be reviewed, though 2020 was beyond predicting really.

The Steam Winter Sale kicked off yet again.

I played Among Us for an evening.  I have yet to to play it since.

We got the news that Daybreak was set to be purchased by a Swedish company called Enad Global 7.  As part of that we got a look into Daybreak’s financials.  We learned that DC Universe Online had the most players and highest gross revenue of all their titles, yet EverQuest still managed to eke out the highest net profit.  The deal closed before the month was done.

EverQuest also launched the Claws of Veeshan expansion, the 27th for the title, while its younger sibling, EverQuest II, released the Reign of Shadows expansion, its 17th since launch.

In Pokemon Go, the update had arrived that raised the level cap from 40 to 50, so I was sizing up what it was going to take to get to level 41.

In WoW Shadowlands I hit the level cap… which was back to level 60 after the big squish… after which I had to choose my covenant.  We got a look at how Shadowlands stacked up against past launches.  SuperData, in what would be one of its final reports, said WoW subscribers were up with the expansion.

In WoW Classic the instance group was wandering Blackrock Depths and Stormwind with Marshal Windsor, then went back in to go after a couple more of the bosses in that dungeon.  That done, we made it through the bar only get get stopped cold in the lyceum.   But I was working on my blacksmithing skills as well, though I couldn’t tell you why now.

While CCP was still fruitlessly trying to work out how to create an FPS based in New Eden, in EVE Online, their one and only successful ongoing title, World War Bee was raging, and would soon lead to yet another Guinness world record setting battle.  News from EVE Online summed up:

Finally, I tried to sum up 2020 by shooting only for the high points.  It wasn’t easy.

Five Years Ago

As happens every December, I reviewed my predictions for the year, assessed the highs and lows, and made some attempt at a gaming outlook for 2017.  For the last I was feeling somewhat adrift… which turned out to be right on the money for most of 2017!

At Daybreak we found out that Russel Shanks had been replaced as CEO.  Still not sure what changed with that, if anything.

A little later former Daybreak CEO John Smedley announced the end of Hero’s Song and PixelMage Games.

Meanwhile Turbine was losing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online to a spin-off called Standing Stone Games.  Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 were to be closed and Turbine was slated to become solely a maker of mobile games.  Standing Stone Games also had some deal with Daybreak, they were even mentioned in the EULA, so maybe that was what changed.

In New Eden we had Blog Banter #78 which asked the pwipe question about EVE Online.

Then there was the rumor that CCP might be up for sale for ONE BILLION DOLLARS!  I followed that up with my thoughts as to what would happen to EVE Online if certain companies bought CCP.  EA, for example, would end up shutting down the game and closing the studio, if history is any guide.

I also listed out what I felt were the top five problems with EVE Online, then added a bonus item, because EVE is like that.

There was also the traditional Yoiul gifts, if the launcher would let you into the game and the last update for YC118, which included music.

Then there was null sec, where I was celebrating my fifth anniversary.  Down in Delve we managed to lose 600 billion ISK on our own cyno beacon.

In space the war in Tribute was heating up.  Asher led us up there to shoot targets of opportunity in M-OEE8 as Pandemic Legion and friends contested the timer on CO2’s Keepstar.  That was also the second day that the PCU passed 50K since the Ascension expansion.  I went back north on my own to be there for the death of that Keepstar.  The heralded the exit of TEST and CO2 from the north.

That in turn led to the opening of a Winter war down south, a war that eventually fizzled when the participants decided nobody wanted to fight a Fozzie Sov war, so new boundaries were negotiated instead.

Reavers went out to help one side in a structure fight in Catch and went to join in on yet another Keepstar fight.  That one survived but another one got popped.

I was mucking around a bit iEverQuest II, trying to find my way in new content.

In Minecraft my mansion road project required the application of TNT to blast a road through a jungle.  Minecraft also had nice packages and Skronk made me a cobblestone generator for Christmas.

And no December would be complete without a Steam Winter Sale, and no such sale would be worth its name without issues!

I didn’t notice it at the time, but a German gaming site called Plarium put me on their list of the 8 best MMO blogs.  Of course they also put Tobold, who doesn’t actually write about MMOs anymore and Tipa of West Karana, who hasn’t been updating for a while now (and who has since lost her domain!), and themselves, which seems like a bit of ego, but still it was cool to find.

Finally I was going on about companies making MMOs… and the people playing them… feeling that every single title had to be all things to all people, leading to dissolute efforts and titles that do a lot of things but don’t really stand out in any particular aspect.

Ten Years Ago

There was the usual looking back at the Highs and Lows of 2011.  And, hand-in-hand with that, there was the look forward at games I might play in 2012.

One of those games was Diablo III and another Torchlight II, while Path of Exile represented a dark horse third. They were all vying for the mantle of successor to Diablo II.  So I tried to define the essence of Diablo II.

I also had some demands for 2011 and had to look at how that worked out.

I was back in EVE Online and I began my journey into null sec appropriately, by killing myself.  Then I saw titans, lit cynos, and got blown up.

But hey, a ship blows up every six seconds in EVE Online.

There was a war on, and it was announced we were going to be driven from Deklein.  And there was something about ganking tourism and three flavors of ravens.  Also, pretty new nebulae.

Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP declared that the era of the Jesus Feature was over for EVE Online.

There was the end of Star Wars Galaxies, though people were saying it had been dead for years.

Star Wars: The Old Republic went live, completing the changing of the Star Wars MMO guard, for all the lack of actual change that brought about.

EverQuest II and its free to play twin, EverQuest II Extended, were merged into a single fighting force of extraordinary magnitude or something.

Richard Garriott de Cayeux went a little nuts talking about his Ultimate RPG, his great fondness for EA, and the failure of Tabula Rasa and Ultima 8.  He seemed to try to be getting EA to join with him by talking to the press… and not to EA.  And then it was the Mayans.

Closer to planet Earth, the instance group was in Rift running the Realm of the Fae.

Toril MUD was still alive and had just added nine more zones to the game.

Playboy Manager the MMO.  Never ended up being a thing.

And I proved my laser tag prowess against a bunch of little girls.

Fifteen Years Ago

The short-lived Massive Magazine, dedicated to our chosen niche video game genre, put out its first issue.  I bought a copy.

I told a Christmas story from 1977 about video games.

I followed up on my initial Stellar Emperor post with one about how I won the game.

My daughter and I were chasing Rudolph across the Frostfell zone in EverQuest II.

Digg starting listing podcasts and there was a call to help Digg some of the MMO related podcasts. These days I am surprised when I see that Digg is still a thing.

The Commonlands in EverQuest got a make over. The two zones also got combined into a single zone.

compared the Butcherblock chessboard in EQ and EQ2. I was also running around Runnyeye with Gaff.

correctly predicted the venue for that year’s EQ2 expansion, Kunark, which I will never let anybody forget.  I was also wondering about SOE’s trajectory given the changes that came in with Echoes of Faydwer and The Serpent’s Spine.

And in World of Warcraft the instance group did Gnomeregan and started in on Scarlet Monestary.  I also noted that gold spammers were using in-game mail in WoW.

I also had five features I wanted WoW to steal from EQ2.  I think we got one of them in the form of the WoW Armory.  But no, housing was not on the list.

Derek Smart came up as a topic for the first time on the site.

In a bit of EVE Online history I didn’t write about at the time, though I was vaguely aware that it had happened, the first titan built, an Avatar named “Steve,” owned by Ascendant Frontier, became the first titan destroyed when it was lost to Band of Brothers in C9N-CC on December 11, 2006. The pilot, CYVOK, logged out with aggression, was probed down, and the titan was destroyed.

The Wreck of Steve

There is a memorial wreck in the system to mark the event.

And, finally, just to make this section even longer, the top ten best selling games on the PC in 2006 were:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. The Sims 2: Open for Business
  3. The Sims 2
  4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  5. Star Wars: Empire at War
  6. Age of Empires III
  7. Civilization IV
  8. The Sims 2: Nightlife
  9. Guild Wars Factions
  10. Zoo Tycoon 2

That was back when Sims ruled the list.  I had forgotten that Guild Wars sold as well as it did too.

Twenty Years Ago

The Shadows of Luclin expansion for EverQuest, the third for the game, brought the Val Shir race, the beastlord class, alternate advancement mechanics, mounts, and a renewed game engine with updated player appearances, and the ability to customize the UI.  It was kind of a big deal.

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. I Don’t Know What I Expected from the WoW Community Council
  3. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. The EVE Online New Dawn Quadrant to Start With Mining Changes
  6. WoW and the Endwalker Excuse
  7. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  8. Life on the M2 Hellcamp
  9. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  10. The Winter Nexus Holiday Events Begin in EVE Online
  11. The State of New Eden at the End of 2021
  12. CCP Begins Inflicting the New Dawn Austerity Plan on EVE Online

Search Terms of the Month

fury at fwst-8 winners
[Everybody who had fun… and CCP]

when was the darkrai event in platonim held
[It was held in 2008]

when is viable run ragefire chasm
[For Alliance players, any time you’re ready to die]

сурамар таверны
[Somewhere in the town I think]

Game Time from ManicTime

The December games look quite different from my January games, except for EVE Online I guess, which has been the one title that I’ve played all year.  While Pokemon Brilliant Pearl seems like a distant third there, all of its play time has been since the day after Christmas.  So it has been top of the stack for the last week.

  1. Forza Horizon 4 – 37.30%
  2. New World – 36.62%
  3. Pokemon Shining Pearl – 12.26%
  4. EVE Online – 8.30%
  5. EverQuest II – 2.98%
  6. World of Tanks – 2.54%

EVE Online

In game it was a modest month of activity.  The Winter Nexus holiday event got people to undock, there login rewards and sales and such.  Out in space the usual low level conflicts persisted.  I went on a few small ops, tended my PI, and spent way too much ISK on a black ops battleship.

Out of game CCP publicly declared to continue the economic beatings until the PCU improved, saying that players will eventually do as they were told and play the game correctly if the company just keeps suppressing the economy.  The promise of “prosperity” earlier this year, like the promise with last year’s economic outlook that scarcity was to be temporary and not the new reality, turned out to be a lie.

If that were not enough, Hilmar has been running around talking to the press about blockchain, crypto, NFTs, and play to earn.  Since CCP has exactly ONE game they could implement those buzz word bingo ideas in, you can expect that to hit New Eden in 2022.

EverQuest II

I remain subscribed to the game and I even bought the new expansion and have been into it for a couple of levels.  The problem has been that there are a few games ahead of EQII in my interest queue, so it gets left out most evenings.  It isn’t bad, there are just things I would rather work on now.

Forza Horizon

Happy, fun, open world driving and racing.  Changing from FH5 to FH4 was a nice change up.  I like the car choices a bit better and England is a bit more varied in terrain and seasons than Mexico.  I even got a controller for Christmas to play it, so I will have to do a post about how that turned out.

New World

The group had a pretty good month in New World.  We managed to get ourselves through the Amrine Excavation after a few tries, which meant figuring out how to actually play as a group.  There is still lots to do and see in the game as we move along at our own pace.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.

Level: 42 ( 11.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 677 (+4) caught, 697 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 14 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Sliggoo

Pokemon Shining Pearl

REAL Pokemon!  My daughter and I broke out the retro-Pokemon games on our Switch Lites the day after Christmas and have been having fun in Sinnoh.  I will probably repeat this every time I write about these titles, but there is such a nice mixture of simplicity (compared to Sword & Shield) and nostalgia going on that it is quite pleasant.  It isn’t perfect, but is has been good so far.  We’ve only been playing for a few days at this point, so the final four are still off on the horizon.

World of Tanks

I got in there and played a bit, but WoT suffered from the same problem that EQII did in that there was something else that was filling its niche further up the stack.  In this case, Forza Horizon 4 was my go-to game for light, short term play.  Still fun, still has its appeal, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Zwift

I managed to keep on peddling in our living room in December, adding another 96.5 miles to my total distance as measure by Zwift.  That gets me to… well… nowhere interesting really.  That distance by road puts me in the middle of Nevada or Oregon, in some empty place south of Ensenada, or in Quartzsite, Arizona.  I need to keep going to get somewhere I guess.

  • Level – 12 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 584.4 miles (+96.5 miles)
  • Time – 1d 6h 47m (+5h 59m)
  • Elevation climbed – 24,413 (+4,400 feet)
  • Calories burned – 19,426 (+3,285)

Coming Up

2022 which, as somebody pointed out, is pronounced like “2020 – 2,” which I hope just ends up being a humorous aside and not some horrible premonition of things to come.

Also, I need to come up with a “2022” graphic at some point today because tomorrow will be post one of the year, the inevitable predictions post where I prevent things from happening by publicly declaring that they will.

There are still a couple of 2021 posts I mean to get to including the summary of 2021 gaming and the books managed to read and that sort of thing.

Otherwise 2022 starts off with the group playing New World, my daughter and I playing Pokemon, and the pandemic still hanging around making any return to “normal” as unlikely in the new year as it was in the old.

Forza Horizon 4 as a Destination Today

In exploring the similarities between Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5, one concern of mine was that the older game might not be as good.  This did not end up being an issue as, at their cores, both titles are twins, both fun, open world racing games with lots to do and explore.

Forza Horizon 4

A secondary concern of mine was the fact that I was taking on a title that the studio was apparently done with.  With FH5 out early last month and selling like gangbusters, there was a bit of worry in the back of my mind that it might be a bit late to jump on board with FH4.  What happens to the older sibling when a brand new baby shows up in the house?

So far that worry has been groundless.  In fact, it might be a bit of a boon.

The game is, I suspect, “done” for whatever value you assign to an online title that won’t be getting any new DLC but which is online and supported and still being played regularly by many.

In fact, it is likely giving me a peek at how FH5 will develop as the DLC and additions are already all in place and I can kind of see how things might develop for the newer title.

I am also happy I opted for the FH4 Ultimate Edition, which had been marked down from $100 to $35 for the Steam Autumn sale, which means that I appear to have the great bulk of the additional items available with the game.

The only real problem I have, which isn’t really a problem at all, is that there is so much to do and explore in the game that I do feel like I’ve barely dented the game in a few weeks of play.

Some of that is how I approach the title.  Often it is something I launch at the end of the evening to play, something relaxing, and I just drive around, chasing down some of the minor achievements, like driving all the roads on the main map.

How many roads must a man drive down? 531 I guess

Or I will re-run races I have already done, but in a different class of vehicles.  FH4 mostly does a good job of filling up a race grid with cars of comparable rating and class.  If you go in with big American iron, you generally end up facing the same, for example, though I am not sure if a 58 Plymouth Fury is really in the same league as an American Motors Javelin AMX, which is more than a decade newer.

I say that and yet the Plymouth is beating me

Having run down the roads on the main map I traveled to Fortune Island, some additional content in the game.

Welcome to Fortune Island

It has its own roads and races and achievements to conquer, plus its own cryptic treasure hunt where you have to figure out the car you need to drive and the feat you need to perform in it in order to unlock a treasure chest… which you also have to go find.  But the treasure chest has a million credits in it, which is a lot.

A Million Credits!

Given that some of the more rare vehicles on the market can be priced at 10 million credits or beyond I’ll need some big cash influxes like that if I want to own them all.

Even though I am well past the 30 hour mark for playing the game and am closing in on level 100… content unlocks with levels as a surprising rate, and levels come from just running into stuff at times, which makes me very prone to leveling up… I still have a lot of things to discover.

Fortune Island vista

So a pretty good purchase for me.  I’ll me interested to see if the game goes on sale again for the Steam Winter Sale, which should show up next week.  At a discounted price it is a pretty good deal, all the content is now available, and FH5 isn’t going anywhere while I play this.

Forza Horizon in the UK

My experiment/investment in trying Forza Horion 4 has been something of a success… success being defined as having fun end basically enjoying myself.

Forza Horizon 4

My basic premise was that FH4 was similar FH5 with just a different setting, story, and a slightly different set of vehicles… which was just about right.

I can see why some people have been complaining that FH5 is a lot like FH4 because they are a lot alike.  But they are not exactly alike, and having played the two back to back in a pair of two week sprints, I am perhaps well positioned to spot the differences.

The core of the game is the same… because why would you mess with that?  And the differences, aside from the setting, can be a but subtle, but they are there.

To start with, it seems to take a while longer to get into FH4 and be unleashed on the open world core of the game.  I am sure it felt even longer because I immediately wanted to jump into the menus to do things only to find most of they grayed out until I progressed far enough.

You also start with just one car, rather that the trio you get at the start of FH5, and I picked the 69 Dodge Charger, thinking I would get something more appropriate for the next race, only to find myself driving that through the whole intro to the game phase.  That wasn’t horrible, but as a street racer the Charger is much better on the straight away than in any situation where lateral G forces come into play.

One of the reasons I wanted to get into the menus right away was that I hit Enter by mistake when customizing my license plate intially, so spent some time driving around with “WORIZON” on my back bumper.

Also visible, virtual Potshot… your XBox buddies show up

But it did get me into my initial game persona, which was that of the Kevin Kline character in A Fish Called Wanda, diving on the right side of the road in a big American car and shouting at the unwitting locals… because, being the UK, they’re all driving on the left, which was a bit more disorienting at first than I thought it would be. (I even found a black baseball cap to wear while I did this.)

Later on in another big American car… with corrected license plate

Eventually I got to the open world and was able to go freely about my business.  The basics are the same, with the big map and all the things you can do, find, and race.  There are some UK-centric items, like a race against a hovercraft (eel status: unspecified) or The Stig from Top Gear.

You even jump the hovercraft, because of course you do

And, of course, it isn’t Mexico, so there are a lot of forests and it snows.  In facts, it seems to be stuck on winter for me most of the time.  It occasionally switches to spring or autumn, but mostly it seems to be snowy, though at least that means I can drive across frozen lakes.

The levels and progression and what not, which I don’t fully understand and really can’t be bothered with most of the time, seems more complicated in FH4.  It feels like they went through a streamlining process in developing FH5, which was probably a good thing… though, with both games, as you level up you map ends up becoming so cluttered it is hard to tell what is going on unless you use the filter… and know what it is you want to exclude.

Finally, I think the RNG in FH4 is against me.  I suspect that somewhere in the code there is a statement like:

if (platform = Steam) {
wheelspin = Suxor;
}

or some such, because in FH5 the random Wheelspin give away was awesome.  I won a lot of cars in it, and when I didn’t win cars I mostly won money with which I could buy cars.  In FH4 the Wheelspin… and especially the Super Wheelspin… seem set on making me cry.  I’ll see a bunch of awesome cars, some of which you can only get via a Wheelspin (or at the auction house), roll on by, but in the end the wheel will settle on cosmetics, horn sounds, or emotes.

Even my avatar is wincing at that result

In the end though, the game plays the same, which means I am not very good at it.

Part of that is because I have never been very good at driving games, and part of that is because I am playing with keyboard controls.  When using the keyboard most controls, like the accelerator, are either completely off or, when pressed, opened up to the extreme.

Let me tell you about driving in snow when you can only stomp on the accelerator.  That is its own flavor of wheel spin.  Likewise, when every turn input is “crank the wheel hard” you start to appreciate long straightaways.

So, for me, a lot of the game is finding the right car and the right kind of events to run… or finding the wrong car and going very fast until I hit a sharp turn and Newtonian physics takes over and I slide through a hedge, a stone wall, some trees, and whatever else happens to be in my way, until I shed my velocity or run into something solid, like a building or mountain side.

And part of the point of my going to FH4 was to drive Italian and British (and a few French) vehicles.  I had some good luck at first with the Fiat 131 and the Triumph TR6.

A clear race until we get to a corner…

But the car I wanted, the car that drew me to FH4 in the first place, was the Lancia Delta HF integrale Evoluzione.  However, that wasn’t a car you could simply buy on the main market.  In looking it up, I found you could only get it as a wheelspin prize… and you’ve seen my rant above about how well that has worked out for me.

But I did find it finally in the auction house, though there it is listed as the Lancia Delta S4, which is actually the Group B rally car version, which was totally what I wanted.

The auction house is… odd… and behaves like eBay in the old days, where somebody snipes your low bid at the last second of the auction.  I can’t tell if sellers are working the system to bid up prices or if somebody just always wants when I have bid on exactly ten seconds before the end of an auction that has seen no bids at all, but the results are generally a loss for me.

So I just did a buyout on the cheapest one I could find on the auction house.  I had my car.

The Delta S4 in a rally skin

And I was immediately disappointed.

I had, perhaps, built the car up a little too much in my head based on our Need for Speed: World shenanigans from a decade back.

Three in a row in NFSW

I had imbued it with an almost magical aura in my brain.  But it isn’t Superman.  It cannot do everything better than anything else on the road.

It is, however, a Group B rally car, so if you put it in the right race and handle it correctly, it can do great things.  Not that I am claiming I know anything about handling the car correctly… my main plan coming into turns is generally to hit somebody else and bounce off in the right direction… but on cross country races I have been winning regularly against above average computer drivers.

I missed him, but still managed to make the turn

So the Lancia has been my go to vehicle as I run down the various off road and cross country races.

I still have a lot to explore in the game… it is jammed packed with things to do… and I keep telling myself I am going to settle down and concentrate and learn how to make car skins or do tuner upgrades… but then I log in and just drive around or race.  Just driving can be quite relaxing as I listen to a podcast or an audio book.

I think, overall, FH5 is a slight improvement over FH4… and it seems to be easier to just go cross country in Mexico than in the UK… but they are so close that little things like the cars available can tip the balance.

Downgrading to Forza Horizon 4

One of the big complaints I have heard about Forza Horizon 5 since I started playing it last month has been that it isn’t very different from its predecessor, Forza Horizon 4, which also happened to be the first title in the series to be available on PC. [Edit: Or the first in the series available on Steam maybe, as I am informed FH3 was on PC as well.]

Forza Horizon 4

Now, since I have been enjoying FH5, hearing that FH4 is mostly the same stuff in a different setting seems like something of an endorsement.  In fact, it was one of the first things I heard about FH5, such that before I even went down the XBox Game Pass route I checked out FH4 on Steam thinking that it might be cheaper, being the older title.

It was not cheaper.  It was the same price, $59.99, as its younger sibling.  Faced with that, I opted for the new title on the game pass.

And then Steam has a sale around Thanksgiving.  Their autumnal sale.  They have a sale for each season at this point, and some big sales events in between, no doubt to keep us all from simply waiting for the Winter and Summer sales, but those two tend to be the big ones in my mind, the Winter sale especially, which comes grouped with the Steam awards, the annual statistics at the end of the sale, and the holiday season when people tend to have some free time and are in a buying mood.

And, as part of the sale there was FH4 for just $20.

Now, I was already playing FH5 for a buck, at least until February, so it wasn’t like I was dying for, or even needed, another driving game, and especially one that is very much like the one I already had access to.  But there was the whole renting versus owning… such that it is when we’re talking about software… plus the idea of not having to deal with the console-centric XBox Live software… that made me start to ponder it.

So I started looking into the differences.  FH5 is set in Mexico, while FH4 is set in the UK.  The list of cars that both offer is fairly comparable…  again, one of the complaints I have heard… but as I was digging into the FH4 list I found it offered a wealth of British and Italian cars that FH5 had omitted.

And that kind of sold me.  For a game like this, the cars are important, and once I get my fix of pre-2000 Nissan models… all of which are in FH4… Fiats and Lancias and Alfa Romeos along with an assortment of Triumphs and MGs are on my list.  I mean sure, big American iron is on my list too, but my taste in style tend to run to the Italians at times.

I asked a couple of people about the title, then poked Potshot to see what he thought, and we both figured we should buy it.

And then, of course, I didn’t buy the $19.99 base option, but opted for throw in another fifteen bucks for the Ultimate Edition, which had been marked down from $99.99 to $34.99, and included all the car packs that had been added to the game, including a range of Hondas, Mistubishis, some Hot Wheels models, and the James Bond collection.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Potshot threw down for that as well.

Then came the big install, as another 100GB of data had to find space on my computer.

Of course, my desire to be rid of the XBox PC client was still thwarted.  You don’t have to dive into it, but you do have to link your Steam account to your XBox PC account.  The game won’t start until you do.

It wasn’t a horrible process… not as bad as trying to get from buying XBox Game Pass PC in the Microsoft Store then trying to get it setup outside of the store… but there was still some stupidity involved.

When asked to link your Steam account to your Microsoft account, my Microsoft account was actually presented in the dialog as an option.  My PC is linked to that account through the OS as is the Microsoft Store and the XBox PC client.  Linking the accounts should have been as simple as clicking on that account.  But it wasn’t.  For whatever reason, that was not allowed and I had to click on the “select account” option and then remember my password for the login, which is unique to Microsoft, so I never remember it.

And since I didn’t remember it I had to go to the password managed where I couldn’t find it because the URL for logging into your Microsoft account doesn’t have the word “microsoft” in it.  Instead it is “login.live.com” because Microsoft secretly hates us.

Still, that was only a 10 minute frustration loop rather than the one hour loop with FH5.

But now I have it install and running and can compare the two.  We shall see just how similar the two games are!

Meanwhile, the sale is over and FH4 is back up to being the same price as FH5.  But the Steam Winter Sale will soon be upon us.  The price might be $20 again soon.