Tag Archives: Friday Bullet Points

The Friday Bullet Point is GameStop

January is almost in the rear view mirror and it has already been a strange year.  I figured it was about time for me to grab some smaller items from the month and do a Friday bullet points post.  Obviously, GameStop was the top item for me.  But, after that, everything else sort of faded into insignificance.

  • The Revenge of GameStop

A year ago, in my predictions for 2020, I said that GameStop was headed for bankruptcy.  That seemed like a gimme prediction given the company’s situation.  But then came the pandemic and we all needed video games and the company revived.

Still, things were not looking great for storefront video game sales.  The company’s stock price (ticker: GME) was around $4.00 a share a year ago and had buoyed up close to $20 thanks to holiday sales.  And then, earlier this week it was past $450 a share.

Melvin Capital Management (MCM) decided to short the stock… basically a bet that the price would go down… when it was sitting in the high teens, which the Reddit group Wall Street Bets decided to go all in the other way, driving the price up to punish MCM, costing them a lot of money as they had to cover their position.

As if many were not convinced already that the stock market has simply become a casino for the wealthy, Robinhood, E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade, all of which cater to small investors, stopped allowing their users to trade GameStop (along with AMC, BlackBerry, Nokia, and a few others which was also seeing unexpected movement).  Robinhood denied it was a political move, claiming problems with margin exposure and reconciliation, and they are kind of a dicey edge case in the market, being already under investigation by the SEC and some states.

But TD Ameritrade E*Trade are not.  They’re really in the Wall Street club first, and no doubt this move was to defend the extremely wealthy… which includes themselves… as much as anything.  The casino gets upset if the suckers start costing them too much money and start changing the rules.  And there have already been calls for the SEC to control this sort of outsider behavior so that the peasants can’t rise up again.  Populist politicians on both sides of the divide are already looking to make hay out of this and there may be congressional hearings… because political donations from Wall Street are all important.

As a rule, small investors are only safe… or not at complete risk… investing in index funds, usually through their 401k retirement program, because Wall Street can charge a recurring maintenance fee and then use the money to prop up the stocks that benefit them the most.  The little guy is allowed to benefit, but only if Wall Street can make its money first.

And people may be cheering that MCM lost a bunch of money on this, but other big firms either sold off or got in with their shorts when the price was high and made money on the backs of the Redditors.  Meanwhile, individuals who saw GME prices taking off and jumped in later and who didn’t sell before the dive will lose out.  As always, Wall Street wins in the end and the small investors mostly lose.

In the end, none of this helps GameStop  the company even one iota. (Though I wouldn’t be surprised to find some senior execs and board members sold off part of their positions.)  The stock price only matters when the company offers new shares to the public.  This was all people trading shares the company had already sold, so the price… $4.00 or $400… doesn’t mean much to their daily operations.  The company is still in trouble.  This is all people trying to make money from nothing but perception… it is straight up gambling.

This sort of thing happens every so often.  The NPR podcast Planet Money did a story earlier in the year about Hertz Car Rentals when declared bankruptcy earlier this year… due to the fact that they had no cash reserves to speak of because they have spending all their money on stock buy backs which are what most benefit the CEO, board of directors, and Wall Street in the short term, so were completely unprepared for the pandemic downturn… and how their stock suddenly shot up because people were playing the market and wanted to make a quick buck.  The GameStop thing was only news because Wall Street lost control of the situation for a brief moment.

And yes, I am a bit cynical about Wall Street after watching them wreck the economy with sub-prime mortgages fifteen years back only to pay no price and get handed billions of dollars in quantitative easing so they could pay themselves bonuses while many suffered.

After the great depression of the 30s a lot of regulations were put in place to keep a titanic event like that from happening again.  For a brief time in history the stock market was what my finance professor described back in college, a way for company to raise money in order to expand or invest in the business.  That has long since been chipped away and we’re not so far from the days of Joseph Kennedy bilking small time investors.

Anyway, this seemed like something worth noting, even if it is only tangentially gaming related.  I’ll be interested to see where things stand in a year when I review this post.

For those interested in more details about GameStop:

 

Friday Bullet Points on a Tuesday just to Catch Up

Basically, the month slipped by and ends tomorrow and there were several things I think I should have mentioned, if only to set their place in the timeline of what happened this month.  So on to summaries and links and bullet points.

  • LOTRO Planning a “Mini” Expansion

Standing Stone Games announced that Lord of the Rings Online will be getting a mini expansion pack titled War of the Three Peaks next month.  SSG will be treating it like an expansion in that it will be available in three different versions:

  • Normal Edition – $20
  • Collector’s Edition – $59
  • Ultimate Edition – $99

SSG has been less than forthcoming as to what players will get for the extra $39 or $79, aside from the possibility of boar mounts.  Reaction to this mini expansion has been mixed.

I’m holding my own opinion on value until SSG comes out with more details, but my past experience with Adventure packs, an idea that shows up at Daybreak every so often, only to be disavowed, places my expectations low.

  • EVE Online Mineral Redistribution Plan

CCP put out a dev blog on Friday about the next steps in their economic work, calling it a “redistribution” plan.  However, it reads much more like a continuation of the “starvation” plan that they have been working on so far, with more things being removed from various areas of space and reducing yields on what remains.  The forum thread regarding this change exploded, which was no surprise.  Likewise, the chat in the live stream discussing the changes blew up as several devs tried not to pour gasoline on the fire and failed. (You can watch a re-run of the live stream or read a transcript if you’re that interested.)

Cutting through much of the general rage about the changes, it seems like CCP is trying to solve super capital proliferation via minerals.  However, supers use the same minerals as T1 subcaps, so T1 stuff is going to feel the same resource squeeze.  Updates that are all pain for no gain never fly well with the base.

The changes are supposed to come mid-October, so look for people to be mining heavily until that happens in an effort to try and insulated themselves from the already spiking mineral prices.

  • EVE Online Ship Models

CCP has a deal going with Mixed Dimensions to make models of EVE Online ships that players can buy, who have just added more hulls to those available.

I have always been a bit dubious about the ship models thing since the battleship models from more than a decade ago, not to mention the floating Nyx model that was a bust.  But maybe this time enough players… who always say they want these sorts of things… will actually pony up and buy them.  For me, however, the prices are a bit rich.  And I have that Rifter model from the 10th anniversary special in any case.

  • Microsoft buys ZeniMax Media

Microsoft agreed to pay $7.5 billion to acquire ZeniMax Media.  That name might sound familiar as they own id Software (Doom franchise), Arkane Studios (Prey, Dishonored), MachineGames (Wolfenstein franchise), Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within), Bethesda Softworks (Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises), and ZeniMax Online Studios (The Elder Scrolls Online).

While there will be no immediate change to any of the studios or their titles, it does raise the question as to what in the future will be exclusive to XBox and what will be available on other consoles or even on the PC.

  • Sony PlayStation 5 Pre-Orders Open Up, Hilarity Ensues

As foretold by every similar experience in the past, the pre-order process was swamped by people looking to get the new PlayStation 5 console, slated to ship in November, and by people looking to grab one to scalp on eBay to take advantage of desperate consumers as the holiday shopping season begins.  If you Google what happened, the word “fiasco” seems to be a common thread in much of the reporting.  Some of the confusion was caused by retailers putting pre-orders up for sale a day early.  Sony apologized for what happened and promised to do better in the future.

  • Microsoft XBox Series X and S Pre-Orders Open Up, Hilarity Ensues

Later in the week Microsoft opened up pre-orders for the coming XBox Series X and S consoles, slated to ship in November, leading to another rush to get in first to claim a unit, either to own or to scalp later.  While things were less chaotic (the news stories rank the event somewhere between “mess” and “debacle,” which is better than a “fiasco” I think) there were still issues and all units were quickly sold out.

The added dimension here is that the XBox One X, a previous generation console, saw a spike in orders at the same time, so it is quite possible that at least a few people are going to be very disappointed to find out that they were duped by Microsoft’s naming scheme into ordering the wrong unit.

  • Foreclosing on your Farmville

Zynga announced that they will be shutting down Farmville at the end of the year.

Farmville, the big break out game for Mark Pincus and Zynga and the poster child for Facebook “social gaming,” which at its 2011 peak had more than 80 million players, was also the standard bearer for annoying garbage games that made you pester your Facebook friends or straight up pay cash to advance and help define the whole genre as spammy pieces of shit.

Of course, that is what you get when your founder doesn’t even really like games all that much.

The surprise here isn’t so much that the game is shutting down but that it was still up and running.  Then again, literally the most profitable thing that Zynga has done during its entire existence was buy property in the SF Bay Area.  I am told that selling their building earned them more than all of their games combined over the last decade.  And, as they lucked into the social gaming on Facebook trend, they managed to luck into the peak, pre-pandemic real estate market in SF.  Good for their investors I guess.

I expect I will come up with a few choice words for the game, the company, and the genre to mark the final passing of the game in December.

  • EA Secretly Craves Lockbox Regulations

Electronic Arts – Fun is Made Here

I’m throwing this one in here at the last minutes just to keep me from writing another two thousand word screed on the self-destructive behavior that greed drives this industry towards.

According to a story over at Massively OP, EA decided that advertising their FIFA 20 lockboxes in a children’s toy catalog (Smyths’ Magazine) was a good idea.  My bullet point for this section is obviously sarcasm, but only just.  The only other reason I could imaging EA thinking it was a good idea to effectively throw some red meat in front of legislators keen to declare lockboxes gambling targeted at children is that they believed that the current pandemic and political unrest would provide sufficient cover for their plan… their plan to target lockboxes at children.

This is so dumb, like a dumb sandwich with a side order of dumb and a 16oz cup of dumb to wash it all down level of dumb, that I had to stop and check other sources to make sure this wasn’t a hoax because somewhere in the back of my head something was saying that even EA could not be this dumb.

And yet, here we are.

I mean sure, I guess that the ESA declaration on lockboxes last year, who among the signatories you will find EA, didn’t specifically say that targeting children was bad. But I guess I didn’t think that needed to be said.  As I wrote a year ago, this is how you get your industry regulated.

Friday Bullet Points about WoW Classic Again

I’ve done this topic before, but WoW Classic is the gift that keeps on giving in so many ways and there are a few items I felt deserved a mention but maybe not a whole post.

Classic is as classic does

So on with the list.

  • Holly in Azeroth

For me the big news of the week here was the announcement that Holly “Windstalker” Longdale has moved to Blizzard as a “Principle Game Producer” to work on WoW Classic.  Per her LinkedIn profile:

Recently joined Blizzard to focus on World of Warcraft Classic!

We got the news in early March that she was leaving Daybreak/Darkpaw in order to pursue a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”  Well, it is hard to argue with her choice now, or Blizzard’s.

The optimist in me… and I am by nature very optimistic, at least until the facts land on me… see this as a possible huge win for both.

On the one side we have Holly, who has experience running classic/nostalgia servers, successfully leveraging them to grown EverQuest‘s player base over the last five years now able to work with a company that has the budget and staff and technical capability to make shit happen.  No more layoffs looming every year, making do with a team stretched too thin, and whatever shenanigans Daybreak gets up to running the show.

On the other side we have Blizzard, which has finally learned that nostalgia sells… WoW Classic arguably having saved their bacon as Battle for Azeroth faded quickly… but which is clearly struggling with what to do with this new found success.  They need somebody who has made the mistakes and learned from them.

What will come of this match up?  Who knows.  It might be magical and unlock a wide range of possibilities, or it might be “Because SOE” meets “New Blizzard.”  But at least it is a sign that Blizzard is serious in this area and it may be the height of Holly’s career so far.  I wouldn’t have said “No” to Blizzard had I been in her position.

  • Phase Four Fully Functional

The fourth phase of the WoW Classic unlocks finished opening up this week.  Arathi Basin was unlocked early, but now there is the Zul’Gurub raid available as well as the Green Dragonflight Dragons for your raid group entertainment.

Also now available is the Stranglethorn Vale fishing tournament.

And the precursor actions to the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj event have started up in Silithus.

I will say that, while Zul’Gurub as a raid is way beyond anything the instance group will end up doing, one of the highlights of the Cataclysm expansion was getting 5 person heroic instance version of the raid.

And there was already a world first event as part of the raid in WoW Classic as the final boss, Hakkar the Soulflayer, was slain without killing the five high priest bosses.  Each priest left alive give Hakkar a special ability, ratcheting up the difficulty of the fight.  Are we all better 15 years down the road or does modern equipment and connections enhance our abilities?

  • Population Pressures

The surge in online gaming that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on the WoW Classic servers again, with full realms and queues showing up.  Because of this Blizz has put a couple things in place currently. First, they have restricted new character creation on three US servers:

  • Arugal
  • Faerlina
  • Whitemane

You can only create new characters there if you already have a character on those servers.

In addition, some free character transfers are available from three servers that have been seeing queues recently:

  • Incendius (Alliance Only)
  • Faerlina
  • Whitemane

The free character moves are likely available only so long as the queues last, so if you want one do it sooner rather than later.

  • Burning Crusade Poll

This one is a bit old at this point, but I meant to bring it up previously… and may bring it up again… but Blizzard sent our a survey to some players asking what option they might prefer if The Burning Crusade were to become a practical reality as a classic server option.  The choices were:

  1. Continue playing my current Classic character on my existing server as it progresses to the Burning Crusade expansion, with the option to transfer to a Classic server that will never progress past level 60.
  2. Start a brand new character from level 58 on a new Burning Crusade server.
  3. Start a brand new character from Level 1 on a new Burning Crusade server.
  4. Continue playing my current Classic character on my existing server that will never progress past level 60, with the option to transfer to a Burning Crusade server.

Polls like this might be familiar to some who saw them as part of EverQuest and EverQuest II retro server development over the past few years.  I’m not saying that Holly was already at work for this… a poll is a pretty easy go to idea… but it could be.

As for which I would choose, I would rank them 1, 4, 2, 3, though I am not really fond of either of the last two, with three being a bit of a non-starter for me.  For a server focused on The Burning Crusade, slogging through those 60 levels again would seem more of a barrier than anything.  I’m enjoying it now, but I am not sure I want to start over again right away.  TBC was deep enough as an expansion already.

Friday Bullet Points about EVE Online and Bonus Skill Points

It is Friday and, despite not playing much in New Eden myself this month, I have accumulated a few items I want to mention about EVE Online.

  • More Bonus Skill Points

Another bonus skill point event starts today.

Bonus skill points are the best skill points

Log in daily from today through Monday and get some free skill points to spend on skills you need… or to hoard  for some potential future need.  Alpha pilots will get 75,000 skill points if they claim every day while Omega pilots will be eligible for 250,000 skill points.

  • PLEX For Good

The PLEX for Good campaign to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross is still going.  You can donate PLEX, the cash value of which will be donated, through until January 26th.  Details on how you do this are at the link.

PLEX for Good

There is also a Stream Fleet event coming this weekend to raise awareness for the efforts and drum up more donations.

  • Download Your Year in EVE

I wrote about the Your Year in EVE videos CCP produced already.  You can see one of mine again if you need a reminder as to what they were.

If you enjoyed your video and want to keep it, you need to download it by January 30th.  CCP will be purging them after that date.  Fortunately, each video has a link included that downloads an MP4 copy of the video to your system.  That format is pretty much ideal for uploading to services like YouTube, which is what I did.

Everybody who got a video should also be getting a reminder in the email about the videos going away, but it you don’t check that email account very often here is another reminder.

  • 64-Bit Client Transition Complete

Last year saw the introduction of the 64-bit client which promised to make EVE Online a better experience when it came to big space battles, or even smaller ones as you would no longer have to go into “potato mode” just to be sure the old client wouldn’t exceed the 32-bit memory limit and crash. (64-bit was also necessary for ongoing MacOS compatibility.  Apple doesn’t hang about supporting legacy features the way Microsoft does.)

Getting people to move to 64-bit went better than expected according to a Dev Blog from CCP, such that they have declared the transition complete.

Every dev blog gets a graphic

Because of this the old 32-bit client will be officially sunsetted on February 26, 2020.

In addition, the system requirements for EVE Online will be raised, with 4GB becoming the new minimum RAM requirement and 23GB being the new minimum drive space allocation.

  • December MER

The Monthly Economic Report for December 2019 is out at last, so now people have all the data for the year so they can explore what went on.

December 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time – Everybody’s favorite chart

The Nosy Gamer has already been at it.  I don’t have much to say myself and am giving up the monthly posts about the MER.  They got tedious when I was reporting on them generally, so I went to focusing on specific items each month, but I think most people find the whole thing a snooze, so I’ll just play with the data on my own.

  • I Won a Thing

In conjunction with the Year in EVE videos I mentioned above CCP ran a social media contest around the hash tag #MyEVE2019.  Winners were picked at random and so I managed to make the RNG cut with this tweet.

Winners all got 500 PLEX which was delivered this week and the promise of a special SKIN to arrive at some future date.  I am going to keep the SKIN of course, but I am sending off the PLEX to the PLEX for Good campaign mentioned above.

Friday Bullet Points About Aether Wars, Stadia, and Other Things

It is Friday and, as often happens, I have a few items which I want to note but which I do not really want to create whole blog posts about.

  • Aether Wars

Tomorrow is the day, the time for the big attempt at the world record for most players together in an online battle… or so CCP and Hadean keep telling me.  They have had a count down all week on Twitter.  But it is tomorrow, Sat 23 Nov 2019 at 20:00 UTC.

Aether Wars Tech Demo

As I mentioned in my previous post, the client is available on Steam.  It is a quick and easy download and you don’t have to register or sign up or anything, just launch the game when the time for the event comes up.  The event itself has not changed much since the summer version, which I wrote about here.

See you there tomorrow?  What if I told you there was a Steam achievement for joining it?  Because there is.

You could also win an all expenses paid trip to Fanfest 2020 in Iceland by just showing up, but I am betting the achievement will have more influence on who plays.

  • Stadia Launches

Google’s cloud gaming service, Google Stadia, went live this week.  Reports were that the phone app required to configure the service and buy games was downloaded 175,000 times, which doesn’t exactly put the launch into the realm of unqualified successes.  However, the launch was only for people who pre-ordered the $129 Chromecast Ultra package.  Numbers will no doubt go up when the free version is released next year, but the press has not been kind to it and data usage could still be a problem for some.

Like some others, I don’t really get why Stadia is even worth considering relative to any of the possible alternatives, which might just mean I am not the target audience.  Still, there was an excellent long Twitter thread comparing Stadia to a similar product design from the past that stirred up my own lingering feeling that Google was doing this more because they can than because they believed there was a market.

But the real pessimists have started a countdown clock to Stadia’s expected demise, a number reached based on the average life of Google products.  And they do have a point.

  • Minecraft Plans

I was going to mention this previously… and then forgot.  Such is my life.  But back at Minecon it was announced that the next update for Minecraft will focus on the Nether, adding new biomes and structures and mobs.  There are some basic details here  However, if you put a bed down in the Nether and try to sleep in it, it will still explode.

As usual, the update will only affect new worlds or areas explored after the update drops.

  • Pokemon Sword & Shield Sells Big

I mentioned last Friday that Pokemon Sword & Shield was launching.

The core RPG line continues

While I wasn’t buying a copy… we don’t own a Switch… it turns out a lot of people were on board with the new game as it sold around six million copies in the first week, making it the fastest selling Nintendo Switch title so far.

Announce you’re making a real core Pokemon RPG game and people will line up.

  • Mobile WoW When?

Bobby Kotick was up talking about the idea of perpetual franchises, which I guess is the line you take when you cannot make anything new that outsells the stuff you already have.  Seriously, the Activision Blizzard big money makers remain World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush Saga.

As part of that he said that the growth would be staggering once they brought all of these to phones.  That makes me want to ask where Diablo Immortal is, but never mind.  However it sure sounds like we’re going to get some flavor of Warcraft on mobile.  Maybe.  Some day.

Friday Bullet Points Return to Norrath

There has been some news coming out of Daybreak since the layoffs announced last Friday.  I do not have a huge amount to say about any of them at this time, which makes them all perfect for another Friday Bullet Points post.

  • Holly Longdale on the The EverQuest Show

The EverQuest Show finally posted their previously teased interview with EverQuest and EverQuest II Executive Producer Holly Longdale.

For those not interesting in watching the 23 minute long interview, the EverQuest Show has also kindly posted a transcript on their site.

While Bhagpuss has a deeper look at the interview, things that popped out for me were:

    • EverQuest population is currently half on live servers, half on retro servers
    • Expects EverQuest to be around at least for another decade
    • The size of character database entries is a limiting factor
    • There will be another Norrath title some day

There is more in there, especially about the passion of the team, but that is what stuck in my brain and made nice bullet points.

  • Torment of Velious

The EverQuest team announced the next expansion for the game, Torment of Velious.

Coming later this year

The producer’s letter that contained the new describes some of what we can expect from the expansion including:

    • Level cap raised from 110 to 115
    • 6 new zones
    • All the usual more quests, more raids stuff

Pre-orders will go live this coming Wednesday and there will be the usual array of collector’s edition goodies.  Beta for it is coming up soon and a December launch is expected.

  • Miragul Server

Also in the above linked producer’s letter it was announced that there would be a new progression server launched on November 5th to help celebrate the rapidly approaching EverQuest II 15th anniversary.  Named Miragul after the lich of Everfrost, it will start players at level 85 in the House of Thule expansion.

  • Blood of Luclin

There was also an EverQuest II producer’s letter which also announced the next expansion for that game, Blood of Luclin.

No expansion splash screen yet.

As with the EverQuest expansion it features some of the same expected items:

    • Level cap raised from 110 to 120
    • All the usual more zone, quests, more raids stuff

Not a lot of details there.

Pre-orders for Blood of Luclin will go live on November 5 with, as expected, plenty of collector’s edition goodies for those willing to spend the extra cash.  The expansion is slated for a December launch, with a beta period coming up.

  • Rivervale Server

As with EverQuest, the EverQuest II team is also launching a special server.  The Rivervale server will have no locked content and will allow players to start a level 90 heroic equipped character if they so desire.  It basically sounds like a fresh live server that requires a subscription.  Not that it is a bad idea.  Some people like fresh servers and not everybody likes the timed content unlocks.  No word on exp rate or other details.

  • Anniversary Events

As noted, next month sees the 15th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest II.  The producer’s letter also mentioned that special anniversary events will kick off on November 7th.

As with the interview on The EverQuest Show, Bhagpuss has also has a post about what we know about the expansions, servers, and events so far.

  • EverQuest II Custom UI Outage

No all is peaches and cream in Norrath.  They grim reaper of the layoff may have passed them over, but problems still lurk.  In an effort to track down a server lag problem that has been plaguing the game, all custom UI addons, including the ubiquitous EQ2maps, will be turned off this coming Tuesday, October 22.

The outage is not permanent, but how long it lasts depends on how quickly any problem is found.  It is hoped the outage can be turned off as early as Friday, but it will remain in place as long as it is needed to debug the problem.

Details and compensation are in a forum post.

And so it goes in Norrath.  More information on most of the above will likely be arriving soon.

Friday Bullet Points about Playable Worlds and ManaWorks and Other Things

Another Friday with just some tidbits to share.

  • Playable Worlds

Raph Koster announced his latest venture yesterday.  Called Playable Worlds, it got $2.7 in seed capital to start making it a thing.

As jaded as I am, $2.7 million doesn’t seem like a lot of money.  Thanks Star Citizen!   But it is seed capital, so the team has to make some progress before they will get any more I suppose.  At least it is not being crowd funded. The description though… that is wide open.

As you might guess, with the online world, we are going to build a massively multiplayer world where all sorts of players can come together and find ways to regardless of whether they like exploring or adventuring or socializing or player-versus-player (PvP). It’s a sandbox world that supports many ways to play.

-Raph Koster, VentureBeat interview

All things to all people much?  It won’t be a themepark I guess.  But what will it be?  Possibly` another MetaSpace, Raph’s previous venture, where you got tools and had to make your own content.  That did not end well.  But there is a solid team signed up to give it a shot, and Bhagpuss has run down the backgrounds of some of them already.  Massively OP also has a post up about it.

As for when it will show up, you had best find something else to occupy yourself for a few years, this is going to take some time.  But you can sign up for the email list on the Playable Worlds site.  Or follow them on Twitter or Instagram or whatever.  You can also apply for a job there.

Also another article over at Games Industry Biz about MMO lessons learned that may be applicable.

  • ManaWorks

Another new studio was announced this week, ManaWorks.

Good for those looking for something from a new studio, but perhaps bad news for fans of GuildWars 2.  As Kotaku notes, the lead of the new studio is Mike O’Brien, who was up until now president of ArenaNet and quite possibly involved in whatever would come next from the studio.  With his departure, along with other members of the GW2 team, the future of ArenaNet projects is very much a matter of speculation.  There are posts up about this at Massively OP, Inventory Full, and Nerdy Bookahs that are worth reading if this topic is of interest.

  • EverQuest Show Daybreak Teaser

The EverQuest Show traveled to San Diego to talk to the Norrath team and has promised to share the interviews in the next episode of the show.  Until then there is just a teaser video up featuring a short chat with executive producer Holly Longdale.

  • Norrath Soundtracks

Daybreak has announced that the original soundtracks for EverQuest and EverQuest II are now available for purchase from Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, and maybe Pandora.

Sound Tracks for Both

I’ve not been a big fan of the Norrath music myself.  It tends to run between too brassy and too few strings on the lute for me.  But I barely like anybody’s soundtrack and generally turn the music off and listen to my own while I play, so Norrath is hardly an outlier for me.

  • Skywalker Speculation

And, completely off the video game topic, a new Star Wars movie is coming this December, the third film of the third trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker.  I am sure it will make many people angry and/or happy, while making Disney just that much more wealthy.  Not a lot is known about the story, or even the meaning of the title.  Over at How it Should Have Ended on YouTube they have put an episode of Villain’s Pub that speculates on what is really coming for this entry in the saga.

It is as least as good as any of the fan theories you’ll find on Reddit.

Friday Bullet Points NOT About WoW Classic

I have been all about WoW Classic for a stretch now.  The run up to the launch, less than two weeks ago still, probably made that seem even longer.  But other things have been going on, a few of which I want to note in passing, which gets us to another Friday Bullet Points post.

  • Fallen Earth Falling

I had to dig around a bit to find anything here about Fallen Earth.  I have some very vague recollections in the back of my brain and some references in a post to playing in the beta just before the launch.  I also recall it going free to play at some point, but that happened to almost every MMO at some point between 2009 and now, didn’t it?

Since I paid so little attention to it over the years since then, you might have been able to convince me that it had already shut down.  But it hasn’t, though it is planning to.  The CEO put out a message in the forums that the state of the game was such that they plan to bring the game down come October 2, 2019.  There is hope that the downtime will allow the team to repair the game so as to bring it back at an unspecified future date.  We shall see if it returns from the dead or succumbs to the apocalypse.  Hell of a way to celebrate a decade online though.

  • LOTRO Legendary Carries On

Late last year my nostalgia obsession was the LOTRO Legendary, a fresh start experience from Standing Stone Games.  While very low effort when compared to WoW Classic, it too had queues, problems it had to patch, and ended up having to double its server count, though here it meant going from one to two servers.

A legend in its own something or other

I was enamored with it through the original content, but fell off the nostalgia wagon somewhere in the depths of Moria.  Not the first time that has happened to me.  But it carries on without me, having announced this week that the Rise of Isengard expansion has been unlocked on Anor and Ithil servers.

  • Homeworld 3 is Coming

In the pantheon of classic RTS games Homeworld and Homeworld 2 stand out as high points in the space based branch of the genre.  I never played either, but I swear every time half a dozen Naglfar’s undock in EVE Online somebody brings up the game as they look like a ship from it. (Some Nags shooting a Nyx for reference.)

In the everything old is new again way of video games these days, both titles have seen a remastered to bring them up to current standards.  But that isn’t enough.

Gearbox Publishing is working on Homeworld 3, which includes a crowdfunding campaign.  And, as down as I am on video game crowdfunding at this point, this looks to be of the better of the breed, being for a game that is mostly done… and which isn’t an MMO.  They asked for a dollar as a minimum and are now through the $600K mark.  It is basically a pre-order mechanism that lets you buy your way into possibly influencing the game some.  The game will ship and we’ll get a crack at it… and they haven’t announced it is an Epic Store exclusive or anything… this just allows you to get some special things early if you simply cannot contain yourself.  There is also an investment option if you care to drop $500 on the game and think it will do well.

There is also a trailer for the game up now as well.

  • Google Stadia is Coming to Fail

Google Stadia is still coming, being due out at some point in November, no doubt timed for the holiday shopping season.  It still isn’t for me, but the question is starting to become who is it really for?

Over at Gamasutra there is a blog post exploring that very question with the optimistic title Google Stadia Will Fail at Launch – Here is Why.  It brings up some of the initial questions about the service and then piles on a few more.  I suppose we’ll see when it launches.

  • EVE Echoes Alpha

Word is out that the alpha for the CCP/NetEase joint venture mobile game based on EVE Online has begun.  The progress toward alpha was announced early in August and it sounds like it kicked off on the 26th of last month.  Something else in the shade of WoW Classic.

From the sound of things, the functionality is quite limited, with docking and undocking, flying about, and simple combat being the focus of the test.

Image from a Reddit post about the alpha.

You have to create a solid foundation on which to build, so a simple start seems reasonable.  If you are interested in being part of the testing you can still sign up on the EVE Echoes site.

  • Origin Sells Out

Over at the Digital Antiquarian this week there is a post up about the acquisition of Origin Systems, the company founded by Richard “Lord British” Garriott, by Electronic Arts.

Rightly called Origin Sells Out, it is another in the line of tales I put under the heading of “The Madness of Lord British.”  He tried to work with EA, pulled out of that agreement, vilified EA for years, then sold the company to them for a boat load of cash.  The story covers the immediate impact of the sale, which wasn’t all bad, but which saw the Origin change and sets up for follow on posts about some titles that came out later.  Worth a read as a piece of video games history.

Friday Bullet Points about Pokemon Go

I have several minor things I keep wanting to write about when it comes to Pokemon Go, so here I am on a Friday lumping them all into one bullet points post.  At least this will all be about one topic.  For once I am being considerate of future me writing that month in review post I guess.

  • Three Years

Pokemon Go launched three years ago this month, which seems strange.  It does not feel like the game has been around that long, yet here we are.

Three years of Pokemon Go

While there aren’t the crowds out playing the game the way there were in the summer of 2016, it still seems quite popular.  It is a fixture on the SuperData revenue chart and my wife and I run into people playing fairly regularly.  They are often people our age… you know, old people.  There is probably a message in that.

My own anniversary with the game is in August, as I started a month late.  I didn’t have a smart phone up until that point, Luddite that I can be.  Expect a post about that next month.

In order to celebrate the anniversary, Niantic has a series of events planned for the summer.

  • Meltan at Last

After months of hoping to be able to finish off the special research task I was finally able to catch an Aerodactyl, the last step I needed.  The Aerodactyl came up as a reward from a daily research task.  I never actually spotted one in the wild.  But that meant that I could collect the special Pokemon Meltan.

Meltan is finally here

Of course, when one door closes another opens.  Now that I have Meltan I can work on evolving him into his final form.  However, that requires 400 Meltan candies and Meltan doesn’t spawn in the wild so the only way you can earn them is by walking with him as your buddy.  But, as a double bonus, you only earn a candy every 20km you walk with him.  That would be 8,000km for all 400 candies.  I like to walk, but not that much.  I’ll have to save up my rare candies for him.

  • Hail to the Slaking

Last month the Pokemon Go community day featured Slakoth, which was good for me because Slakoth almost never appears in our area.  My wife and I were out at the mall when the event hit and took full advantage, catching many a Slakoth, including a few shiny ones.

Shiny Slakoth, Best Slakoth

I caught enough to be able to finally evolve Slakoth through both of its variations into Slaking.  Not only was that another pair of Pokemon off the list, but the Slaking I got is now the highest CP Pokemon in my bag.

Slaking is not lacking

He isn’t as painful to fight as a Blissey would be at that CP, but he does make people work if you want to kick him out of a gym.

  • Sinnoh Stone Drought

Niantic, in an attempt to slow people down as they worked to “collect them all” introduced the Sinnoh Stone as part of the fourth generation Pokemon in the game.  It applies to some, but not all, of the Pokemon of that generation.  You have a chance to get on when you finish seven daily research tasks.  However, in my estimation, that “chance” is no higher than 1 in 4.

The elusive Sinnoh stone

So now I have a queue of Pokemon ready to evolve, lacking only the Sinnoh stone ingredient.  And every week, when I get to that seventh day research task, I swear when I don’t get one.  Oh well.  This week I got one, so Togetic got evolved at last.

Togetic getting stoned

Gotta collect em all!

  • Raid Pass Deletion

Where I work I can walk a 500m path that takes me past 5 Pokestops and a gym.  This means that my bag is always full and that I am pretty good about earning coins regularly.  I end up buying bag space and gift boxes that have lots of incubators.  One of the things that you often get from gift boxes are premium raid passes.  I am sure these are important to people who raid often, but they don’t really come into play unless you do more than two raids a day regularly.  I don’t raid very often, so they tended to just collect in my bag since the game pretty much forces your daily raid pass allowance on you.

At one point I had about 35 of them in my bag and could do nothing about them because they were one of the items you could not delete.  So they just took up space… until a couple weeks back when Niantic finally got the word.

Premium Raid Pass

I noticed the little garbage can icon, which meant that I was finally able to delete the excess.  I keep 10 in my bag, just in case my wife and I go out and hit some raids over the weekend.  So now they are not taking up quite so much space.  But, if I want rare candies to evolve Meltan, maybe I need to raid more.

Friday Bullet Points – Comings and Goings

Another Friday and there are some bits of news wandering around the net that I want to mention, but really don’t want to get into a whole post about.  So off we go.

  • Google Stadia

Google’s game streaming subscription service, Google Stadia, got a November launch date.  Just in time for Christmas, as they say.

The Founder’s Edition will run you $129 to get in and $9.99 a month thereafter.  For that you get a controller, a dongle that hooks up to your TV, some “free” games thrown your way regularly, and support for up to 4K video.  A Standard Edition is listed, but won’t be available until next year.  The Standard Edition won’t have a monthly fee, but will only support up video up to 1080p.

There is a list of games that will be available at launch, though some items on the list are TBD.  You, of course, have to buy the games and those purchases are locked to Google’s platform.  But you can play them on your Google Pixel phone as well.

I have zero interest in this, so this might be the only time I mention it unless something goes horribly wrong or Google shuts it down.  But what are the odds of that?

  • Google Play Tightens Up

Meanwhile, in another department at Google, those in charge of the Google Play store have decided that maybe the whole “anything goes” strategy there isn’t working out. (Steam, are you listening?)  The Google Play Store policies are being revised and targets include hate speech and sexual content.  They are also requiring that titles with loot boxes disclose the odds of obtaining any particular item and they are instituting a minimum functionality metric for apps.  While sexuality and hate speech are squishy topics, not easily defined, posting odds and requiring that stuff works sound good to me.

  • Esports is a Money Pit

Kotaku has an article up reviewing esports and the companies that drive them.  For all the talk of audience numbers (which turn out to be wildly inflated, that headline about League of Legends out performing the SuperBowl was largely because Twitch had the stream on the front page and counted everybody who landed there for any amount of time as a viewer), it seems that esports, even for the biggest names like Riot and League of Legends, is a money losing proposition.  Expect more leagues to close down.

  • Millennials Buy More Games

SuperData Research released a free report which you can download at their site about consumer spending patterns on video games.  Or you can read a summary of it over at Venture Beat.   The big headline carrying the report is that millennials, who are now young adults with jobs and careers and such, spend more money on them than older generations.  Who would have guessed?  Millennials spend more and prefer mobile as a platform.

  • Baldur’s Gate III

There was some excitement as it was announced that a Baldur’s Gate III was in development. That got people a lot more worked up than I expect they ought to be.  The original Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II were classics developed by BioWare, but that was back at the turn of the century.  Remasters of both titles have been released on Steam, and somebody even did an additional expansion for the Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition remaster.

But all of that is more than a few steps away from some new team taking a crack at the franchise 20 years later.  This new game is likely to be very different… it might not have the isometric point of view… and maybe it should be.  But part of the reason it is getting announced now is because it will be on Google Stadia, which means it will have to support console controls, and I have not had a lot of good experiences with PC games that have their UI constrained by the need to be used solely with a controller.  I have the remasters.  If I want to relive the late 90s, I can do that just fine already.

  • Whatever That Blizzard Game Was

It slipped out that Blizzard cancelled an in-development FPS based on the StarCraft franchise in order to focus more on Diablo IV and Overwatch 2.

But rather than headlines about Overwatch 2 or Diablo IV confirmed, there was a bunch of wailing and gnashing of teeth about Blizzard and mindless pining for a game that never was.  Cancelling development on something in progress before it launches is a pretty normal thing in mature companies with multiple product lines.  Hell, it should be seen as a normal thing for Blizzard.  Remember Titan?  How far back was StarCraft: Ghost?

I think that this stems from companies in the gaming industry, small studio start-ups that have everything invested in a single title, being our mental image of how video games are made.  There are plenty of “ship or die” stories out there.  But that doesn’t apply to companies like Blizzard.  Meanwhile, if Blizzard doesn’t think the game is worth pursuing, pinning all your game play fantasies on it just because you like the idea of it sounds like a futile effort.  So if you’re doing that you should probably start a blog.