Tag Archives: Stellaris

The Steam Summer Sale of 2020 Slips Away

Yesterday the annual Steam Summer Sale wrapped up, the mass of discounts were reduced to the usual state of something on my wishlist always being on sale, and whatever sticker collection game they had going came to an end.

Summer 2020

The ongoing pandemic, which is especially acute in the US where wearing a mask is now seen as a political testament, seems like a good time to have a sale on video games.  I’m coming up on four months of working from home and not going anywhere on weekends. There is only so much television I can watch in a day, so gaming seems a likely outlet for me.

The timing of the sale was poor for me.  It landed just as our group was having a bit of a resurgence of activity in WoW Classic, when the new Minecraft world still seemed fresh (and there was a new Minecraft update which I have yet to go into), and then a war began to brew in EVE Online.

The latter, the war in New Eden, has actually eaten up most of my gaming time since it started to boil last week.

Given all that, my need for, and bandwidth to deal with, has been somewhat restricted.  Anything I purchased from the sale was likely to go into my library and sit unplayed, and I have enough titles like that already.

Still, I did end up making two purchases.

The first wasn’t a new game but some DLC.

Space empire building of another sort

I saw that Stellaris had its addons marked down so I figured I would grab those.  I like the game and have played it quite a bit.  It is one I will likely go back to at some point when things are slow.

The second was another remaster.

Retro RTS Remaster

The Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, which came out just over a month ago, was marked down a bit, so I grabbed a copy.

I am still a fan of the RTS genre and willing to play some classics.  I have not, however, played any of the Command & Conquer series before.  Skronk, who has, said we ought to give it a run, and the price, even without the discount, was not too dear.  And, it had been on my mind anyway as Honest Game Trailers did a video about it.

So I have those two to dig into when the war settles down in EVE Online.  Until that happens though, expect more posts about space battles.

January in Review

The Site

Just trivia for the site this month.  A week or so back my phone buzzed with this announcement.

A New Record!

I found that amusing, though since I have turned off the alert for when somebody clicks “like” on a post, I am not sure who went through and clicked the button on a bunch of posts.  None of the recent posts at that point had more than three or four likes, so I assume it was somebody serially reading and liking posts.

Meanwhile, back in the day, WordPress.com used to give bloggers some end of year stats around New Years, but stopped doing that a couple of years back.  On the stats page there is an Insights tab that shows various meta details about your blog which now includes some annual details.  For 2017 my stats were:

  • Total Posts: 350
  • Total Comments: 1,429
  • avg comments per post: 4
  • total likes: 1,398
  • avg likes per post: 4
  • total words: 326,343
  • avg words per post: 932

It also tells me that so far for 2018 I am averaging over one thousand words per post, so the bloviation continues.  Also, the likes per post stat confirms that 21 in a day is an outlier event which has increased my average likes per day for 2018 to 5.

One Year 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.

Five Years Ago

Firefly Universe Online.  Was that a hoax or not?  I still don’t know.  And does the acronym FUO seem mildly obscene?

Wizardry Online joined the SOE stable while Pirates of the Burning Sea was sent packing.  Who is laughing now?

We got our full group together in Rift and did our first instance of the year, dying at least 100 times combined.  This lead to a side post about bosses and gimmicks and what makes a challenge.

In World of Tanks the instance group was scooting around. We even created our own little clan.  Potshot and I were totally going French.

In EVE Online, after a sudden burst of war fever died down, there was a surprise battle where more than 2,500 ships clashed in Asakai when CFC FC Dabigredboat led a supercap fleet in to rescue a stray titan.  The battle was so big that CCP did a Dev Blog about it.  Meanwhile, we were to be denied LEGO Rifters.

The DUST 514 open beta was officially open.  I still haven’t bombed anything from orbit yet.

Path of Exile went into full open beta as well.

Krono made its way from EverQuest II to EverQuest while I was wondering what people were spending their Station Cash on.

I was musing about MUDs again, and vendors who wouldn’t simply buy any crap you had for sale and dead rats.

There was a list of 20 games that defined the Apple II.

And I wrote out my yearly list.  This time it was goals, mostly because I was on vacation when I was supposed to be writing it.

Ten Years Ago

I started off with a helping of silly predictions.

I was bemoaning my inability to be a fan boy and parrying claims that PvE players were going to ruin Warhammer Online.

There were some pictures from my daughter’s LEGO birthday party.  Those seem to get linked on Pintrest quite often.

Then, with Tabula Rasa dead to me since open beta, I started wondering if there was any hope at all for a Science Fiction MMORPG.  This ended up being one of my most responded to posts of the time.  Plus, in addition to all the comments, PotshotTipaLemegeton, Gooney, and even Massively following up with response posts. This post still gets a lot of views every month. (And yes, I do think there is hope, I just don’t know when we’ll get what we’re looking for.)

And, along with that, I wrote about five LEGO Video Games I would like to see made.  And a few of those ended up getting made.  Imagine!

Then there was the start of the run-up to Pirates of the Burning Sea which, among other things, required me to invest in a new router as well as reviewing how to pick a server in a new game.  The latter was from a time when we assumed servers would stay crowded like they did in WoW.

In World of Warcraft the Saturday night instance group was hitting Scholomance, Dire Maul West and Scholomance again as part of the Paladin mount quest, Stratholme, then Dire Maul West once more for the Warlock mount quest, and then Scholomance for the third and final time to get all the epic mounts straight.  By then we were all level 60 which meant we could head  to the Outlands only a year after The Burning Crusade shipped!

In EVE Online, after spending millions of ISK, I managed my first Tech II Blueprint, then I couldn’t afford to build it. Ah, life in New Eden.  I also got my standing past 8.0 with the Caldari Navy and spent time hauling trash.

And, finally, in Lord of the Rings Online I was able to pick up my Bree Pony, the 2007 holiday gift to founders.

Twenty Years Ago

I got nothing.  I think we were all still playing Warcraft II and waiting for StarCraft to come out.  I remember a lot of people I knew being anxious for it to ship.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  5. The Coming Battle in 9-4RP2
  6. My 2018 MMO Outlook – Mining for Old Gold
  7. A Bit More Bag Space with WoW Patch 7.3.5
  8. The Million Dollar Battle Hangover
  9. 2018 – Predictions for a New Year
  10. A Return to Physical Netflix
  11. Quote of the Day – Satan Speaks on Lockboxes
  12. Delve – How Does One Value Minerals?

Search Terms of the Month

pokemon battle on middle earth.jar
[Heresy, both the concept and it being in Java]

swtor-digipass@go6
[Somebody knows their VASCO products]

everquest 3
[Dream on]

pokemon sun and moon solo run
[It is a single player game, so I guess that is any run]

what is the name of the third warcraft expansion
[That is the one we do not name]

war thunder plane with most bombs
[I think it is the He-111, at least for lower tier planes]

EVE Online

Early in the month I was in as part of our small deployment to the north, dropping citadels and making the locals come up to fight over timers, which went well enough for us until the locals finally got their act together and blobbed up.  We’d have done the same around Delve, just a lot sooner.

Then came the build up for the big battle at 9-4RP2, which distracted us from other efforts in the north.  When I finally came back to our staging system I found that the locals had been busy removing all of our citadels.  So I guess we’ll be starting from scratch on that front.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go saw the releases of more Hoenn Pokemon towards the end of the month, so my captured and caught numbers went up noticeably again.  I also finally got the last candy I needed to evolve my Slowepoke into a Slowbro.  I also managed to squeak into level 31.

Heartbreak moment of the month was finally seeing a Lapras in the wild, then being cheap and not using one of my few sure catch candies on the first throw and having it flee.

  • Level: 31 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 262 (+23) caught, 301 (+25) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Seaking
  • Current buddy: Horsea to earn candies to get that Seaking evolution.

World of Warcraft

I spent a lot of time with Pet Battles, right up to the end of the month finish of the Celestial Tournament.  I am also edging my way up to the 700 pet mark, for which there is no achievement.

I also carried on in Argus rather halfheartedly with my main and then worked on some alts.  I potentially will have quite a pile of level 110 characters when Battle for Azeroth ships, so I am not sure what I will do with the level 110 boost that will come with the expansion.  I am certainly not running out right this second to pre-order because of that.  The allied race thing however…

Other Games

I watched The Mittani playing Stellaris for a bit on the INN stream and then went back and played that for a bit.  That is my problem with watching people stream games, I just want to go play them rather than watch.  Meanwhile, Stellaris is still a good game in which you can get lost for hours.

I got fed up with War Thunder and uninstalled it.  I just got tired of high skill players haunting the lower tiers for easy kills.  Or maybe I am just horrible.  Meanwhile the interface that combines the game’s aerial aspect with tank combat and sea combat… I think that is in there… is confusing enough that I stopped bothering to pursue it.  I’ll have to get my flight sim fix elsewhere. (Also I had to use regedit to remove all of War Thunder, which makes it less likely that I will ever install it again.)

I was invited to play a couple of Jack Pack 3 games with Liore’s club, specifically Trivia Murder Party and Tee K.O., both of which were a lot of fun.  There is also an interesting “watch things on your computer screen, provide answer and/or draw things on your phone/tablet” dynamic to the whole thing.

Coming Up

Well, I would take a guess that there won’t be another huge battle next month in EVE Online.  Null sec needs time to ponder before another 6,000+ player conflict happens.  But there will be updates to citadels with the February release, some of which will make them easier to attack, especially if they are just sitting around out of fuel and unused.

Also we should start hearing something about the CSM election campaign season.

In World of Warcraft I have my eye on the level scaling changes that came in with patch 7.3.5.  Specifically, I want to see what going to Northrend at level 58 and spending 22 levels there is like.  Can I get through all the content before I out level it?  Will I need to take off my heirloom gear?  The latter idea bugs me only because I like not having to worry about gear as I play through the story.  Also, I want to do it as Horde to see if there is much difference between that and the Alliance campaign.

I will also keep running the Celestial Tournament every week until I have all the pets from that.  I’m starting to wind down a bit on the obsessive pet leveling binge… the week with 200% exp where I went nuts burned me out a bit… but there are still some key pets I want to get to 25.  Also I should finish up Argus and run all the instances I need to in order to wrap up crafting.  Doing LFG isn’t that much of a pain, I am just not fond of the “rush rush” nature of it.

We’ll see if I keep with Stellaris or wander off after a couple of games.

Also there are a couple of major sports events coming up, Super Bowl 52, which mostly serves to remind me how old I am since a couple of east coast teams are in it, and the Winter Olympics, so I can look forward to people complaining about how NBC has screwed up the coverage.  Somewhere in between the two is my wife’s birthday, better not forget that!

And, finally, for those interested in blog stats, I also have the 2017 blog stats for my other blog, EVE Online Pictures:

  • Total Posts: 183
  • Total Comments: 7
  • Avg Comments Per Post: 0
  • Total Likes: 19
  • Avg Likes Per Post: 0
  • Total Words: 381
  • Avg Words Per Post: 2

I am actually a bit surprised there were that many words, since the count does not include titles.  I guess I can’t keep quiet even on a blog that is supposed to be pictures.  The comments were split, 3 telling me I misidentified a ship, 3 of my copping to my mistake, and one “nice.”  Very few people click the like button or rate the posts there.  I thought the rating feature would be a thing, but it isn’t.  Ah well.  I’ll write more about all of that when it turns ten years old later this year.

November in Review

The Site

I got another WordPress.com achievement this month.

A thousand of you hit that button

A thousand of you hit that button

In the context of WordPress.com, a follower is somebody with a WP.com account that follows your blog so they can view updates in the WP.com reader.  This surprises me both because I am not all that fond of the WP.com reader and because I muted notifications about new followers a while back, so wasn’t really keeping track at all.  Also I turned off that little floating thing that has the “follow” button, so I am not sure how people even do the follow thing here at this point.

But now I have accrued 1,003 followers in the last 6 years, which is when “follow” became a thing on WP.com.  If you know how, you can find a list of all of your followers.  Mine is 51pages long and full of people I don’t recall.  But my third follower ever was Stargrace.  She has been pretty busy of late.  And follower 1,000 was Adam Harkus, who is a guitarist and travels.

Of course, a thousand isn’t all that many people and this month has actually seen another drop in page views.  The previous time I mentioned it, Google was the reason.  There was a date after which referrals from Google dropped by about 25% daily.

This month however Google has remained steady.  Instead the drop has come from referrals from other blogs and related sites.  I don’t know if the election and its aftermath has everybody otherwise occupied or if I am just wrote dull stuff this month… I certainly did not write much about WoW and haven’t been in a war in EVE… but on average a good 100 people a day simply aren’t clicking on links that lead to my site.  Life in blog lane.

One Year Ago

The launch of Fallout 4 caused a dip in porn viewing on the internet.

Nintendo announced they were re-releasing Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on the 3DS Virtual Console.

BlizzCon was approaching and I laid out a “need vs greed” list of things I thought would happen at the event.  But before BlizzCon there had to be the Q3 quarterly results.  The big news was that World of Warcraft held steady and had 5.5 million subscribers.  However, Blizzard said they were not going to talk about subscription numbers any more.  They would be talking about Candy Crush Saga though, having purchased King for 5.9 billion dollars.

Then BlizzCon came and I had to score my list.

It also slipped out a bit early that the WoW Legion expansion would not hit until summer 2016, September 21 being the last possible date listed, which seemed a long ways off.  I wasn’t yet ready to return to the game.  I used gold to grab a WoW Token for 30 days of play time and spend the most of it just earning that money back running missions in my garrison.

I dipped my toe back in Lord of the Rings Online for a bit.

Still playing Minecraft, I finished up the Great Northern Road and highlighted the guardian farm that Aaron built.

In New Eden, the Parallax expansion was released, the last named monthly update in Syndicate to be released.  From then on names were reserved for big expansions while monthly updates were simply know by their date.

There was also the start of the ill-fated Fountain War Kickstarter campaign, which was plagued by hubris, gaffes, bad ideas, and “Grrr Goons” hostility.  Not that it didn’t deserve some of the latter as it was a clusterfuck and was not winning fast enough.  It was finally cancelled before the clock ran down, but it left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.

There was also a Fountain War video which was better received… but then nobody was asking for $150,000 to produce it.

Meanwhile, another member of CSM X got cut.  Not a Goon.

CCP Quant took his EVE Vegas presentation and made it the first of the monthly EVE Economic reports to be publish.

And actually in the game, the Reavers were down in Wicked Creek to spar with TEST.  We were not there long, but it was one of those deployments that generated its own legends in the SIG.  We were called back because a small war was brewing in Cloud Ring against some foes, old and new.  Some had no sov and were hitting us from low sec.  We fell on them when we could in what was being dubbed the “Kickstarter War.”  Herein lay some of the seeds of what would be called the “Casino War” and, later, “World War Bee.”

Over at Daybreak, EverQuest II got the Terrors of Thalumbra of expansion while EverQuest got expansion number 22, The Broken Mirror.  There was the Phinigel “true box” progression server coming up for EverQuest.  The EverQuest II server consolidation was wrapping up, on Stormhold the Kingdom of Sky expansion was voted down, and the game turned 11, all of which I covered in a single post.

Daybreak also shut down Dragon’s Prophet, which lives on in Europe under another publisher.

Smed, gone from Daybreak, wanted to stop talking about money when it came to video games.

And finally, I had a test… a Star Wars test… for those wishing to date my daughter.

Five Years Ago

I looked back at the Star Wars Extended Universe novel Heir to Empire, which turned 20 years old. That might be my most coherent piece on the site.

In EVE Online, the upcoming Crucible expansion had a chance to remove the Incarna stink from the game. Oh, and ship trails were back. And Hulkageddon V was announced… about six months early it turns out.

I reviewed my 2011 MMO outlook. Rift appeared to be the unlikely winner, while DCUO had already gone F2P.

Speaking of going F2P in under a year, I had my first peek at Star Wars: The Old Republic in the beta. Pre-NDA drop, I used Star Wars Galaxies to describe the game as nothing new. Then the NDA dropped and I bitched some more. I did not find the game fun, cancelled my pre-order, and went back to Rift.

And then there was EverQuest II going free to play on all servers, which made me wonder what else in the SOE line up might follow suit.

Then, suddenly, Vanguard started showing inexplicable signs of life.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Scars of Velious was complete and the Luclin expansion went live. Also, breaking the retro aspect, Fippy Darkpaw players got the same new hot bars that all EverQuest players got with the new expansion. They actually worked like hot bars in other games.

In Rift, we made it to Meridian and then faced our first boss while learning the rules of their LFG tool. Oh, and the damn Yule rifts were up before Thanksgiving. I swear, it gets earlier every year.

We learned of the real money auction house in Diablo III. An auction house focus for the game? I’m sure that will work out great.

And also on the RMT front was the Guardian cub pet in World of Warcraft. I did a couple of price checks on those, but somebody should probably go back and see how prices look a year later.

Oh, and WoW had lost 2 million subscribers. Remember when that was a big deal?  But it was still insanely profitable.

Torchilght II was delayed because we had other things to play, right?

AOL shut down Wow.com. That doesn’t mean what you think.

I announced the winners of my Azeroth travel poster contest.

Google was pissing me off by changing up Google Reader. I am still annoyed by some of the features they axed, but at least they fixed the layout so you could reduce the huge amount of white (read: wasted) space in the new default layout.

And we said farewell to LEGO Universe.

Ten Years Ago

Our World of Warcraft Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group finished up Blackfathom Deeps,The Stockades, Shadowfang Keep, and started in on Razorfen Kraul.

In EverQuest, I picked up The Serpent’s Spine and tried running a new character though some of the new level 1-70 content.  I also set out a minor goal of taking screen shots to compare Faydwer in EQ and Faydwer in EQII that lead to posts about Kaladim and Kelethin.

And in EverQuest II, the Echoes of Faydwer expansion came out.  Once I found a copy and got past the patching process and into the game, I made a fae swashbuckler and went to town.

the Revelations expansion hit in New Eden, my first expansion update in EVE Online.  I followed the general wisdom and made sure I had a long skill training the night before.

The Wii and the PlayStation 3 were both released in the US.

And the maker of the ubiquitous ZMud client announced a replacement product called CMud.  I tried the demo version, but since ZMud continued to work for me, I stuck with that.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Make My Alpha Clone
  2. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  3. EVE Online Passes 50K Players Online Again
  4. Election Night in Fountain
  5. The Demise of BattleClinic
  6. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  7. EVE Vegas – Like Finds Like and Other Things
  8. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  9. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  10. Projecting on BlizzCon 2016
  11. Ascension Day in EVE Online
  12. Scoring My BlizzCon Projections

Search Terms of the Month

why isn’t torchlight 2 more popular
[There is probably a long post in that. For me, it just wasn’t as compelling as Diablo III was]

eve online goonsquad war even when “alpha clone” -state
[I really want to know what they were looking for]

minecraft 1.11 were do you find the new woodland mansion
[I think I actually answered that one this month]

swg source code download for private use
[They try to limit that to just scoundrels]

Spam Comment of the Month

Thank you for sharing superb informations.
[I just like the plural at the end there. Give me all your datas!]

EVE Online

I did not end up playing very much EVE Online this past month, which is odd, because we got the Ascension expansion. That was a big deal, with Alpacas and new explosions and such.  But it was also a month where the Imperium was mostly at peace.  I went on a couple of ops into Fountain where we take pot shots at The-Culture.  But otherwise Delve has been pacified, Querious filled, and anybody who wanders into our space gets caps dropped on them.  Since I often only log in for strat ops, quite times can often lead to low play times.

Minecraft

The surprise entry this month, as my activity there of late had been rather listless.  But it too got an expansion which spurred an exploration drive as I sought out a woodland mansion of my own and then worked to link it up with the rest of our infrastructure.  It is a game where having a project can make all the difference.  Now what to do with that mansion?

Pokemon Go

The double experience holiday event helped push things along for me, as have the new daily first and seven day streak bonuses.  And I got a Snorlax from a 10km egg, which is now my highest CP Pokemon, ringing in currently at 2,185.

Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 24 (+2)
  • Pokedex status: 99 (+20) caught, 129 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Ditto
  • Current buddy: Ivysaur

Pokemon Sun & Moon

A new game for the core Pokemon RPG fans.  And a pretty decent entry in the field, as it walks the tightrope path between sticking to the core essentials and bringing new things to the franchise… besides new Pokemon.  My daughter and I have been playing it, though I think she is up on it because a couple of her friends at school play Pokemon as well.  My influence wains, but I’ll take any play time I can get with her.  And at least one of her friends has said it is so cool that her dad plays Pokemon too.  Hah!

Stellaris

I started out this month gangbusters on Stellaris.  And then I got past the hump and figured out the early game, only to fall into the abyss of the mid-to-end game that can really drag on as empires settle in and wrestle with each other over the scraps, form federations, and then stare at each other while the victory conditions remain way out of reach.  The Civilization end-game problem writ on a galactic scale.

World of Warcraft

Azeroth has been rapidly falling out of favor around here.  I certainly played less WoW than any other game I called out this month, and at least one I did not. (I played some Age of Kings at one point.)  Part of that has been something of a reaction to the pre-flying achievements needing mythic dungeon runs or a crazy rep grind, depriving me of the sort of longer term goal that might keep me going.  And then Blizzard has been breaking things.  I was getting back into pet battles, right up until a patch broke the PetBattle Teams addon.  Without that, sorting through 500+ pets to make a team for a given fight is just too annoying.  And for some reason, I can no longer send things via email to my alts, breaking a crafting thing I had going on.  So WoW may be on its way out for me very soon.

Coming Up

The final month of 2016, the year that will be that year for some time to come, looms.  There is still time for and additional disaster and a few beloved celebrity deaths.  But still, there is limited time left, though I am still predicting some sort of horrible New Year’s Eve ball dropping fiasco that will take out Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, Carson Daly, and Ryan Seacrest live on national TV.  Guy Lombardo never faced such peril.

Otherwise, what have we got for December?  Probably a Steam holiday sale, even though we just had a Steam autumnal sale.  Steam sales have lost their edge.

I’ve got the usual five posts to write, looking forward and back, reviewing predictions and making new ones, and generally wrapping things up for the year.

There is a rumor that Pokemon Go will get new Pokemon in December.  No Man’s Sky is supposed to get an update to make things better, though the current $60 price makes it too pricey for me to gamble on just yet.  There will likely be the usual EVE Online monthly update, maybe with a holiday event.  Holiday events will be going on in all the usual games.

And for some of us it will be wet and cold out, which will give is a fine excuse to stay inside and play video games.

October in Review

The Site

I just flew in from Vegas and boy are my arms tired.

What I am calling Version 6 of the MMO Blogger feed in the side bar seems to be working.  At least it is not “down” more often than not, which was an issue with the previous version.

Of course, I was feeling pretty proud of it, and then at one point in the middle of the month, the feed totally missed about 20 posts that it should have picked up for no reason I could determine.  I wondered if one of the feeds I had added in recently might have caused the hiccup, but there hasn’t been an issue since then.

Meanwhile, over at my other site I got this badge from WordPress.com.

1000 posts

1000 posts

This struck me as a bit odd as I the site is well past the 1,200 post mark.  And then I remembered that, as part of the experiment when I started it, I used a different name to post under so as to not influence it from this blog.  And then… after about 200 posts I guess… I decided to stop doing that.  So there we are, 1,000 posts since I made that change.

One Year Ago

I opened up the month with a post about the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign, a little box that promised to make hosting easy!

Then there was the now perennial complaint about customers being too cheap to by any and every 99 cent game.  It is because your 99 cent game sucks.

In EverQuest II, the Desert of Flames expansion unlock votes passed on Stormhold and Deathtoll, which made me ponder the pacing of nostalgia.  Daybreak seemed to want to go faster.

Daybreak also have expansion announcements for EverQuest and EverQuest II that included pricey special editions.  Milk ’em while you got ’em I guess.  But PlanetSide 2 was having problems attracting subscribers.

EverQuest II was consolidating servers, so it was farewell to Crushbone.

In Lord of the Rings Online, server consolidation was just getting under way as well.

Crowfall was still in development, but had announced some costly RMT castles.

Guild Wars 2 launched the Heart of Thorns expansion.

I picked up the Reaper of Souls expansion for Diablo III and made it through Act V.

My wife and I went to EVE Vegas where we partied and heard about the planned Citadel expansion.  I brought some give-aways for the trip, which I covered, along with Pirate’s Little Helper, in a Friday bullet points post.

Meanwhile, in New Eden I was very impressed with the multi-buy feature that came in with the previous month’s Vanguard release.  I was also wondering if space priests were a problem.  I also went pipe bombing for the first time.  The month’s Blog Banter wanted to know about my PC.  And Reavers celebrated their first anniversary.

And the sad tale of CCP and White Wolf came to an end as CCP sold off the subsidiary and its neglected IP, World of Darkness.

Finally, in Minecraft, Aaron began his draining of an ocean monument, and I was interested in bases, several of which sprang up as I worked on the Great Northern Road.

Five Years Ago

We all said farewell to Steve Jobs.

Tobold was predicting that CCP would go bankrupt in 2012.  Not there yet.

I summed up what I liked and disliked about Need for Speed: World.

I got Civilization II running on Windows 7 64-bit.  People still come here for that article.  I am not sure it even still works.  But it didn’t work back then with my 16-bit copy, I had to get the 32-bit version, Civilization II Gold Edition.

I started another contest, this time for Azerothian travel posters.

And I recalled the start of the alien invasion!

EA was planning to unify all of its free to play online games to use the same in-game currency… something that never actually happened… also, I think all the games on the list are dead now.

Nintendo was talking about augmented reality on their new 3DS console.  Five years later we got Pokemon Go… on iOS and Android.

The announcement of their Unity release got Gaff and I back to TorilMUD to mess around with the Tako Demon.  I have to remember some MUD command syntax to get his corpse afterwards.

Then there was BlizzCon.  The instance group was already bemused by Cataclysm, and the mention of Pandas did not revive our spirits.  Pet Battles seemed interesting at the time.  In coming to grips with the Pandaria announcements, I assumed that I would end up buying the expansion.  Another bad prediction from last year.

And then there were other WoW related things, like the announcement of the Guardian Cub, which some people predicted would be like PLEX in EVE Online.  Not quite, but it probably provided test data for the eventual WoW Token idea.

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, after much complaining, SOE seemed to suddenly wake up and start doing things.  Problems were, you know, solved!  It was becoming a kinder, gentler server.  Sort of.

And then there was Rift.  We started scouting it as a potential home for in instance group after the disaster in EverQuest II.  The scouting went well enough that we all ended up in Telara.

Finally, I was sorting through many press releases and wondering where this so-called GDC Hall of Fame was.

Ten Years Ago

The site got a mention in VirginWorlds Podcast episode 33 while Blessing of Kings was telling me how to be a raider in World of Warcraft.

I was defending instancing and game company forums as well as moaning about the fact that I couldn’t find a decent video card for my AGP motherboard.  Also, Blizzard’s WoW patcher was pissing me off as well while Lore was mocking WoW groups.

Our Saturday night World of Warcraft instance group completed our first full dungeon run in the Deadmines.  That meant my first dungeon run write up.  And my second.  But we got it on our third try.  Then it was off to The Wailing Caverns.  Did anybody have a five player dungeon adventure path like WoW back then?

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

When it came to the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online, I was up in arms about pointy ears and monster play, while the approaching Age of Conan made me think more about Barsoom.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest,  no doubt prompted by another EQ nostalgia post, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occurred during the 10 months I was away.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans and wondering what pen and paper games might make good MMOs.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Legion So Far…
  2. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  3. *BOOM* Headshot! Gambling Down with the EVE Online EULA Changes for Ascension
  4. Make My Alpha Clone
  5. The Economy of New Eden Without Gambling
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Amazon’s New World
  8. The Schadenfreude War
  9. World of Warcraft Reported to be Sitting at 10.1 Million Subscribers
  10. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  11. Fighting the Blood Raider Menace or How I Rat
  12. Civilization VI Launches

Search Terms of the Month

is everquest still active 2016
[2016 says yes!]

trion worlds vs ea
[Trion has better quality, but are still punching up in that fight]

Spam Comment of the Month

For some reason tactical flashlights and hardcore porno got superseded for a few days by spam comments with the name “metal building erection” which makes the 12 year old in me giggle… which is why I got beat up as a 12 year old, as giggling wasn’t generally accepted at my middle school, the social structure of which was modeled on Lord of the Flies.

EVE Online

In New Eden I have been reviving some old skills, learning some new ones, building up my ISK reserves, and generally enjoying not being at war or moving everything I own across space.  There is a small conflict brewing in Fountain where we can find fights and there is Asher’s fight club plan for Querious to implement.

Minecraft

I have been working on a project now and then in Minecraft.  There is a humorous post in it, I just haven’t gotten around to finishing the project… though sometimes I am not sure any Minecraft project is ever done… or writing it up.  Some Day.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I carry on playing.  She is still ahead of me, at level 25.  A few changes went in this past month.  You now get a bonus when attempting to capture a Pokemon of a type for which you have a gold medal… the gold medal you get for catching 500 of that type, which must mean you are well practiced.  And then there is the change to “seen” Pokemon in the Pokedex.  Previously you got credit for having seen a Pokemon only if you attempted to catch it but then had it escape.  Not, in line with the core RPG titles, you get credit for having seen a Pokemon even if you have only seen it in a local gym.  This is how my “seen” number jumped by 50.

Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 22 (+4)
  • Pokedex status: 79 (+18) caught, 113 (+50) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Snorlax
  • Current buddy: Bulbasaur

Stellaris

While everybody was playing Civilization VI, I finally bought Stellaris, which came out back in May.  That seemed to be sufficient time to let it mature, because it seems pretty good.  That ate up most of my free gaming time for the last week or so of the month.

World of Warcraft

As noted, I have been dragging my feet in the WoW Legion expansion.  I made it through Stormhein, hit 110, and then started wandering off to older content just because.  Not sure why the malaise, but there it is.  Here at the end of the month I have been getting on daily to run the Headless Horseman instance in the vain hope that maybe, this year, the mount will drop for me.

Coming Up

November is going to be a pretty big month in my favored corners of the video game world.

First, there will be BlizzCon, which is this week, November 4th and 5th.  I don’t think we will hear very much about World of Warcraft… and there won’t be any Chris Metzen there to rally the fans… but there is hope for other things.  We shall see.

Then on the following week the EVE Online expansion Ascension goes live with a huge amount of changes and new things to shake up New Eden, not the least of which are Alpha Clones, the CCP version of free to play.  I expect chaos and exploits and extended down time. [The Ascenion expansion has been moved to November 15 now, so at least it won’t be hit by the expected election day DDoS attack.]

Then on the week after that we get the one-two punch as EverQuest II and EverQuest both launch their annual expansions on November 15th and 16th respectively.  Kunark, long a favorite place in Norrath, is the theme of both expansions.

After all of that, there will be the Pokemon Sun & Moon launch.  I already have that pre-orderd from Amazon, so it should show up on the 19th.

And finally it will be the Thanksgiving holiday and maybe I will be able to catch up with everything.  I am sure there is more going on in November, but that will likely be enough for me.

Starting Stellaris

A bunch of people are talking about Civilization VI, which launched this past Friday.  The reviews seem to be very good and the usual gamut of launch day issues do not seem to have hit this release.  It is almost like Sid Meier’s team learned something along the way with all these Civ and Civ-like releases.  Maybe leaving the Mac OS version for later helped.

Anyway, with so much talk about Civilization VI I took it as a sign that I should… go buy Stellaris.

See, it says Stellaris right there

See, it says Stellaris right there

It was on sale… half the price of Civilization VI… and had been on my Steam wishlist since before it launched.  Still, I was a bit hesitant to buy it.  The problem is that it comes from Paradox Development.

Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with Paradox Development or that they are bad people like the senior management of EA or anything.  They are, in fact, my favorite development studio when it comes to creating games that make me feel like a drooling simpleton.  I must own almost half their catalog of games, purchased over the years, and yet my combined total play time for all of those titles is still probably less than my play time with Civilization V.  Fortunately I think I have purchased most of them as part of Steam sales at this point, but still.

Paradox games are deep… as in fall in, founder, and quickly drown levels of deep.  There are always lots of moving parts that influence each other that you have to keep track of so that the initial experience for all of their games seems to be getting totally lost in a morass of details thrown at you in rapid succession that quickly leads to overload, exiting the game, and rarely, if ever, returning to it.

And while I hate to point fingers at the tutorials, because tutorials for complex systems difficult to do at the best of times, they do often come off in the same way that a lot of technical documentation can.  Which is to say, it was created by somebody who already knew how to do what they were trying to tell you to do, so the effort tends to have gaps because some level of knowledge is assumed.  Things like navigating the UI, or even where a UI element is or how one is supposed to interact with it can go missing.  And even when that is there in sufficient detail, tutorials can often devolve into lessons in “what” and not “how.”

As an example, I work on a development environment for creating speech applications.  The documentation for the IDE is hundreds of pages long and goes into detail on every aspect of the product.  If you memorized it completely, you would know the function of every menu item, check box, tag, and attribute, but you still wouldn’t know how to build a speech app.  Nobody wants to put more documentation on the schedule, so when a dev wants to know how to do something we write it up… or build a sample app… and save that away in case the question comes up again.

I have had problems with both of those things with Paradox games, learning all the details (information overload) and fitting all that information into a bigger picture (why do I want to do that and what does it really affect?)

And I ran right into that again with Stellaris.  The game runs on the Clauswitz Engine, which underpinned Europa Universalis III and all their games since, so Stellaris has a similar vibe to it.  And, like other titles on the engine, it is not turned based but runs… I hate to say “real time,” but things move forward continuously unless the game is paused.

The Stellaris tutorial reminds me very much of our documentation, in that it is very active in telling you what things are, but doesn’t do very much to build the bigger picture, and in a game of galactic empires, the big picture and how things fit into it is literally everything.  Meanwhile, stuff it happening… unless you pause, at which point nothing is happening.

After a couple of unsatisfying runs I decided to turn off the trivia tutorial, which at times was less helpful than Clippy, who at least wanted to help me accomplish tasks, and just try to learn bits and pieces of the game.  The tutorial voice said I would be sorry as I hit “NO TUTORIAL,” but it was wrong.

Off you go!

Off you go!

Here I put out my plea for the makers of complex strategy games to include a push-over AI mode/setting.

Last Friday’s post about Civilization VI included a list of my favorite games from the series, with Civilization II at it usual top place on the list.  One of the reasons it is there, that I played so many hours of it, that I could play it at its hardest setting, was because I was able to learn the mechanics of the game at the easiest setting in a real game where the AI wouldn’t trouble me so much.  Investing time experimenting with cities at chieftain level let me win at deity level.

Getting there one step at a time

Getting there one step at a time

Stellaris, like many strategy games, eschews the idea of easy.  Their difficulty settings are “Normal,” “Difficult,” and “Insane.”  If you wanted easy you wouldn’t buy games from Paradox I guess.  Still, I managed to tinker with some of the other settings to take a bit of pressure off so I could play to learn.

Somewhere on Saturday afternoon things started to click a little more.  I played a couple of games where I focused mostly on learning space related things along with resources and at least trying to speed up tech research.  Of course, that focus ignore planetary economies, which eventually hamstrung me on each game, but I got one aspect settled.  Sunday I played with tech, and over the week I started tinkering with planetary populations.  With each step I folded in a little more knowledge.

And so I reached the point where I actually felt like I was playing the game rather than struggling with it. (Something that might have gone a bit more quickly if I had found their wiki with its Beginner’s Guide earlier.)  And, now there, I am beginning to appreciate how good the game is.  I expect I will spend quite a bit more time playing it.

Of course, one of the things I like about it is the ability to create your own factions.  While I am not a huge fan of mods, I do like the ability to personalize things.  So, of course, I created a familiar faction.

Vying with a neighbor on the galactic map

Vying with a neighbor on the galactic map

In something that hearkens back to the old days of Civ II, the naming schemes for civilizations are all in text files.  In Civ II I got tired of my sprawling empires running out of names, so I found the text file where they were stored and added more.  Then I started making up my own empires.  It looks like I will be able to do the same with Stellaris.  Or maybe I will grab some of the fine mods available in the Steam Workshop.

Can I mix the Lovecraft with the cats mod?

Can I mix the Lovecraft with the cats mod?

All of which doesn’t mean I am not going to buy Civilization VI.  I just have Stellaris to keep me occupied until the time is ripe.  And since I have gotten past the initial steep learning curve and am enjoying the game quite a bit now, that purchase might be pushed off further than I thought.  Space is fun.

The start of another space empire

The start of another space empire

TL;DR version: Deep. Not as hard to get into as some Paradox games, but still takes effort.  Space made it more approachable for me.  Looks cool, plays great.  Instead of “just one more turn” it is “just let me get that next tech” or “my fleet upgrade is almost done” or “my science ship needs to explore another anomaly” and suddenly you’re up way past your bed time.

[Also, while the Steam sale ended, it is still on sale for the moment at the Paradox store, and since you have to activate it on Steam, you end up in the same place.]