Tag Archives: WordPress.com

October in Review

The Site

It is the last day of the month and I know what you’re all dying to hear about.

You want to know how a month of ads went, right?  RIGHT?

Well, you’re going to hear about it anyway.  It is Halloween and that is my trick.  Treats come later, if at all.

For the month of October, up through yesterday, the ads on the blog earned a total of Fourteen Dollars and Eighteen Cents, not counting today, because the ad calculation for a given day only shows up the next day.

Results through October 30th

Not bad.  Better than I expected honestly.  It I can keep that going the Premium hosting plan will pay for itself.  Each ad served up is apparently worth about 0.0176 cents, so quantity matters.

I hope that all of the regulars have some sort of ad blocker running all the same, because some of the ads are a little too on the point relative to my writing I think.

This is an image of an ad, not an actual ad

Ula told me that she saw an ad for New World on the site at one point.  She even sent me a screen shot.

Once again, an image of an ad, not an actual ad

That sort of ad appearing here would greatly please me.

But I mostly see old people ads, which might be because the algorithm knows I am an old person.

Anyway, feedback on ads is always welcome.

In other site related news, after five weeks of going back and fourth with a random series of WordPress.com Happiness Engineers… they just put your email responses in a queue for whoever is up next… it looks like polls are working again and that the issues I pointed out have been mostly fixed.  Of course, the Happiness Engineers kept telling me I was wrong and everything was as it was supposed to be almost the whole time… when they were deigned to respond to my actual issue rather than just linking me to a help file that was not at all helpful… so I would send them an “I told you so,” but it would just go to some random person with no history on the topic.

Okay, one Happiness Engineer did, in fact, acknowledge the issue… actually multiple issues… I was bringing to them and even said they could reproduce them.  But my response went to somebody else and that was the end of all helpfulness.

Still, the whole experience was better service than I used to get when they just let rando unpaid volunteers do their support, which generally resulted in somebody giving an opinion about your blog rather than dealing with the actual issue.

One Year Ago

I started using that 34″ ultra-wide monitor.

Somebody at Google Stadia was ranting about making streamers pay.

Blizzard delayed the Shadowlands expansion.  But they were building up for the AQ war supply event in WoW Classic.  And we got a late November launch date before the month was out.  WoW seemed to be hanging on according to the Q3 2020 results.

I was also wondering if we were going to get a level squish with every WoW expansion going forward.  And then the big level squish patch hit and all our level 120 characters were suddenly level 60.  The only thing was to try it out, though it was a bit strange.  The new Exile’s Reach starter area was… new.  We put together a little group to try the level squished Northrend.

Ula made us an instance group video about our time in Sunken Temple.  Then there was the running of the Gnomes.  And then we started some prep for a little instance called Blackrock Depths.

Meanwhile, StarCraft II fell off of Blizzard’s active development list.

The EverQuest team announced the Claws of Veeshan expansion, the EverQuest II team announced the Reign of Shadows expansion, and the  Lord of the Rings Online launched their War of Three Peaks expansionette.

And in EVE Online World War Bee was in full swing, with PAPI finally trying to gain a foothold in Mother Delve.  That led to Guinness World Record setting battles, which CCP got us ready for by introducing a UI Only mode to the game.  That was some timing.  I’ll sum up the war as a list:

And outside of the war I did a bit of quiet mining in the new ore distribution plan.  The Reavers SIG turned six years old.  We got a Crimson Harvest event for Halloween.  The Howling Interdictors update gave us stasis bubbles.  And then there were the Triglavians.  They captured 27 empire systems and, with another update, they were yanked into a new Triglavian region named Pochven.  Farewell Niarja.

Sean Connery, the favorite James Bond of many, passed away.

Finally, there was the tale of the Canadian visitor.

Five Years Ago

Amazon’s game studio announced some games including the alleged MMO New World.  Being given almost no information about New World did not stop some people from banging the hype drum, boosting expectations, and generally setting themselves up for disappointment.  I wonder how that turned out?

Also announced was the Nintendo Switch, which would allow millennials to play video games at roof-top parties, if the trailer was to be take literally.

Civilization VI launched and became the first Civ title I did not acquire at the soonest opportunity.  It just didn’t excite me.  Instead I was getting my strategy game fix with Stellaris.

I reviewed the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign a year after its launch.  The units were nine months late at that point, with no end to the wait in sight.  The whole thing eventually failed to get off the ground.  Another Kickstarter crash and burn.

I made it to level 20 in Pokemon Go.  There was also a Halloween event.

Tom Chilton, of unfortunate quote fame, let out another one when he said that World of Warcraft had over 10 million subscribers again after the Legion expansion launch.  Blizzard, having taken a vow of silence on subscription numbers the year before, denied everything and claimed he was mis-quoted.

Over at Daybreak they were discontinuing game cards and taking H1Z1: King of the Kill off of Station Cash as an RMT currency.  They did give us firm dates for the two Kurnak based expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

In EVE Online, while we were fortifying Delve our foes in the Casino War began to turn on each other, with Pandemic Legion and their followers declaring their intention to take Tribute and Vale of the Silent away from Circle of Two and TEST.  All I could do was give a Nelson Muntz, “Haw-haw!” at that turn of events.

Still, that wasn’t half as much fun as CCP declaring casinos against the EULA with the coming of the Ascension expansion.  Our foes would have to actually earn ISK in-game.  I wondered what that would do to the economy.

We also got the YC118.9 update which, among other things, meant the death of the in-game browser.  We did get breast cancer awareness skins.  Yay, pink skins!

At our end of New Eden there was a lot to do.  I was fighting the Blood Raider menace with my Ishtar and looking for ways to help the coalition.  Reavers turned two years old and were blowing up citadels and fighting over timers in Querious.  The coalition itself was ranging up into Fountain with a new doctrine.

And in World of Warcraft the Legion got its first post-launch content drop while my own enthusiasm for the expansion was starting to wane.

Finally, I was at EVE Vegas, but since it lasted through Halloween I didn’t post about it until November.  Also, a new version of my blogger feed was operating in the side bar.

Ten Years Ago

We all said farewell to Steve Jobs.

Tobold was predicting that CCP would go bankrupt in 2012.  I am never going to let that one go.

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 managed to get it to run on Windows 10 since then.  But it didn’t work back then with my original 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.

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 had to work 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.

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.

Fifteen 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. [Damn, that was done in Flash, so I guess it is gone now.]

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 then 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.

Twenty Years Ago

Dark Age of Camelot launched.  While I never played it… we were about to have a new baby in the house and we were having internet issues, and the world was falling apart due to 9/11… I had some friends who gave it a try.  I remember it being billed as “EverQuest without the suck” at some point.  Anyway, it is still alive, which is surprising because EA owns it.

Civilization III also showed up back in October of 2001, and I most definitely bought a copy of that.  I liked a lot of the ideas it brought, but it lost some of the raw simplicity of its predecessor.  I ended up playing a lot more Civ II even after Civ III was around.

Then there was Motor City Online, which was a bit of a precursor to Need for Speed: World.  I am kind of sad I missed it.  Of course, it was an EA MMO, so they scrapped it in less than two years, opting to go all in on The Sims Online.

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Marathon Infinity, the last of the Marathon series of shooters from Bungie came out.  That was the era of the awkwardly shaped software boxes.  I owned a copy.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. The Crimson Harvest Returns to EVE Online
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. The LOTRO Fate of Gundabad Expansion Targets November 10th Launch
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. A Week in New World
  8. Watching Dune Part One
  9. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  10. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  11. Word Ad Unleashed
  12. A Necromancer in Diablo II Resurrected

Search Terms of the Month

soe-game-today
[Not as many as there once were]

play civ 2 on windows 7
[Old OS and an older game]

ancient winter poncho
[I must insist, no Ponchos!]

всадник без головы 2.4.3
[Good luck with that, I never caught him]

Game Time from ManicTime

One game stands out on the list, and I will get to the reason why in its section below.  But it was generally a light month for me.  I did not play as little as I did last month, which was the least I played games since I started tracking my time, but it might be in contention for second place in that regard.

  1. Diablo II Resurrected – 83.52%
  2. EVE Online – 6.60%
  3. EverQuest II – 4.82%
  4. New World – 2.60%
  5. World of Warcraft – 1.07%
  6. Hearthstone – 0.76%
  7. WoW Classic – 0.44%
  8. EverQuest – 0.18%

I am not going to bother writing a section below about Hearthstone.  I played its new mode just long enough to earn the rat mount in WoW.  That is pretty much the sure fire way to get me to play.  And I really only logged into EverQuest to compare its version of the Overseer mini-game to the EverQuest II version.

Diablo II Resurrected

Clearly the game of the month for me.  That was in a large part because the inner ear infection I had after our trip to Hawaii just didn’t want to let go.  Even as I write this I still cannot hear very well out of my right ear, though the pain and most of the ringing has subsided.  The doc says it will get better over time, but you learn as you get older that your body takes a lot more time to recover from these sorts of things.

Anyway, with my head hurting I was really only good for a game that I could sit and click on, and that is where Diablo II Resurrected came in.  I am still playing it, even feeling better because it is still a game I enjoy, but at the start of the month it was all I could handle.

EVE Online

The post war quiet period continues.  I did actually get into a fleet and run off to a structure shoot late last week (kill here) just to keep up my record of getting on a kill mail every month for however many months I have managed that in a row.  If zKillboard is to be trusted, I have been on at least one kill mail every month since April of 2014.  That is kind of a streak.  Otherwise I have been logging in to check on events, get login rewards, and to keep up by PI stuff, though I have been pretty lax on that front.  Still, even with my low effort it netted me about 200 million ISK.

EverQuest II

As I mentioned in a post last week, I was suddenly filled with enthusiasm for EverQuest II, then I did the things I wanted to and kind of fell off.  I am still undecided about the next expansion, though that won’t come until late November or early December.  I also have to say that I still greatly prefer the EverQuest version of the Overseer mini-game.  I have no idea, for example, how to get new agents in the EQII version, while that is pretty much built in to the EQ version.

New World

The strange thing about New World is that I read a lot of news and blog posts about the game, and they almost all make me want to not play it.  That is generally the opposite of the norm, though I may very well have become more curmudgeonly with age.  Almost everything anybody writes about FFXIV makes me not want to play that either.

Still, I did log in a couple of times, if only to check out what Amazon gave me through their Prime Games program.  I haven’t even given a thought to transferring to a new realm or whatever.  At least there are no queues on my server, though the general lack of queues might point towards the direction the game is settling down into.

Pokemon Go

As with much else this month, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Pokemon Go, though I did go out and get a Pokestop daily, just to keep that streak bonus going.  It would have been a light month but last weekend our raid group binged on raiding and I ended up getting almost 150K xp out of that thanks to a timely luck egg.  I spent most of my Pokecoins on remote raid passes, but what else was I going to spend them on?

Level: 41 (92% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 670 (+5) caught, 694 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 13 of 15
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Magikarp because he earns candy in 1km which I need for a task

World of Warcraft

It was Hallow’s End so I once more put forth a desultory effort to try and get the Headless Horseman’s mount.  I wasn’t all that into it, but I ran that dungeon at least once a day looking for that long denied drop.  It did not drop.  And so my record of failure on that front remains pristine.

WoW Classic

Since I detailed the instance group off into Diablo II Resurrected I haven’t spent much time in Burning Crusade Classic.  Though, as I pointed out in the D2R section above, I was also not really up to playing it for some of the month.  We’ll get back to it at some point.  We have not yet hit the point where we cannot overcome instances as a four person group.

Zwift

My attempt to exercise regularly has carried on fairly well so far.  My minimum goal remains a 20 minute ride three days a week and I have not fallen below that, though I have depended on the weekend, my makeup days, when work has been too busy for me to break free for a ride and a shower.

My distance so far is almost exactly the same as the drive from our house in Silicon Valley to Disneyland, at least if you could ride your bike down Interstate 5.  My stat totals:

  • Level – 10 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 372.4 miles (+107.5 miles)
  • Time – 20h 0m (+5h 32m)
  • Elevation climbed – 15,138 feet (+3,786 feet)
  • Calories burned – 12,296 (+3,513)

Coming Up

The Activision-Blizzard Q3 2021 earning call is on Tuesday, which should be interesting.  Will they cop to their problems on the Blizzard front or will they go with the usual anodyne phrases about post-expansion cycles and something about people going outside finally?  That will no doubt lead to a post here on Wednesday to cover how hard Blizz has been hit.

Some things are launching.  There might be an EverQuest and EverQuest II expansion, though at least one of those will likely wait until December just for the sake of timing, and the November one will no doubt come late in the month to avoid stepping on the LOTRO expansion, which will hit on November 10th.

The WoW Classic Season of Mastery will launch on November 16th.  There is also something called Endwalker that is going live on the 23rd.  That will probably be pretty quiet, right?  There won’t be a million blog posts about that I am sure.

Then, probably most important in my book, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl lands on November 19th.

Also on the list for November are new Call of Duty and Battlefield titles and the remaster of the original Grand Theft Auto trilogy,

Finally, an Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim Anniversary Edition launches on November 11th to celebrate a decade of Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim being ported and remastered for every platform known to man.  It seriously feels like the game has been out much longer than that given how often something new comes out about it.  I’d better go make sure I note that launch in the “Ten Years Ago” section of next month’s review.

Oh, and I am reminded that it is also IntPiPoMo, or International Picture Posting Month, in November.  The idea is to post 50 images to your blog, which I’ll probably do by just continuing to operate as normal.  Take the wins where you can find them.

WordAds Unleashed

As mentioned/promised/threatened previously, I turned on ads for the blog on October 1st.

For those just catching up, WP.com announced that they were going to start injecting “sponsored” posts into blogs that were on the free plan, and while I was technically on a grandfathered “No Ads” plan, my plan was still listed as “free,” so I opted to upgrade to the Premium plan.

Premium features

Among the features of the Premium plan is to be able to earn ad revenue.  So, in a swap of no small irony, I went from paying to have no ads on the blog to paying more to allow ads on the blog.  The hope is to offset the price of the premium plan.

The WordAds feature in WP.com… not to be confused with Google’s AdWords I guess, though I think Google changed that name a while ago… is easy enough to turn on when you have Premium.  You flick a switch, fill out a form, get processed for eligibility, and then you’re in.   Or I was in, anyway, the bar being low enough to allow that.

Having turned it on I went to my work laptop where I have browsers setup without Ad Block to see what happened.

For a while, there was nothing.  It takes some time to get going.  And then, suddenly, there were ads.  Ads in the side bar, ads anchored to the scroll bar, ads around posts, ads in posts every three paragraphs… the place was quickly swimming in ads.  Too many ads.

So I went back to the settings and dialed that back some.  The meanings of the settings are a bit… vague.  I mean, I know what “Display ads below posts…” means in my head, but what toggling that setting on and off did was not lining up with my expectations.

The ads, as most places, are served up based on what you, the reader, have been snooped on doing on the internet.  I thought it was pretty funny that one of the first ads I was served was about blocking ads.

Know your audience I guess – this is not an ad but an image of an ad

I also found it amusing that it injected an ad for hearing aids below the group picture in yesterday’s post about the group playing Diablo II where I identified us as an aging rock act.

Now it is showing me ads for Macy’s because my wife was looking at their online ad, which just shows they’re lumping us together in the same IP address.

Apparently I even earned some money my first day out, netting 8 cents towards my eventual payout, which comes at the $100 mark.  I also get a new stats tab on my admin page that tells me about revenue and number of ads served.  Something new for the annual blog review post I guess.  Another horrible metric to report on.

Anyway, if you see ads, this is why.  But if you have an ad blocker setup, which I do recommend, you won’t see any.   You also, so far as I can tell, won’t see any ads if you view my posts in a reader like Feedly.

As always, your feedback on this change is welcome.

Sponsored Posts and Some Premium Blog Changes

Just before I went on vacation WordPress.com popped up a little notification that said that they were going to soon begin injecting native sponsored posts into blogs that were gliding along on the free plan.

A megaphone to spread the alarm

That was certainly something I did not want.  But would it affect this blog?

Technically I was on a plan, so not a freeloader.  I had been grandfathered in for a few years on the old “no ads and allow me to edit CSS” plan, which ran for $30 a year.  However, so far as the WP.com UI and many features were concerned, I was on the “free” plan.  It said so  right in my main admin page.  And while they had continued to honor the no ads part of that plan… or I think they have been honoring, you don’t see ads if you’re logged into your own blog so I might not be the best judge… this seemed like something possibly outside the terms of that agreement.

I thought about chasing down somebody from WP.com to find out, but their “Happiness Engineers” and general happiest not answering direct questions and have occasionally been of the opinion that I am on the “free” plan as well, and thus not entitled to direct support.

That sounded tiring and I was getting ready to go on vacation for ten days, so I decided to just upgrade to one of their standard plans to be sure that the blog wouldn’t become an immediate cesspool while I was away.  My cynicism knows no bounds and I tend to be of the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” persuasion on a good day.  Looking at the menu of options, I went for the Premium plan.

Premium features

I’m not actually a “freelancer,” as that would imply somebody would actually pay for my writing, but it did offer Google analytics integration, something the “personal” plan at half the price did not offer.

This, of course, bumps up the amount I play for the blog annually quite a bit, but fifteen years in this is clearly my primary hobby (as opposed to the games I play) so spending a bit more on it isn’t a big deal.  I had been thinking about that plan for a while, and almost pulled the trigger on it a couple of years back, but at the time they were really adamant that you had to sign up for a domain name to get that plan… it was part of the sign up process… and I have no interest in changing the URL of the site at this time.  I might have been okay with “tagn.blog” I suppose, but after fifteen years I felt like tinkering with the address would not end well.

Anyway, they changed the signup since then and you don’t have to get a domain name RIGHT FREAKING NOW so I went with it.  (They do keep pestering me about the domain name thing, but I can ignore that.)

So does everything feel “premium” now dear reader?

The first thing I did was setup the Google Analytics integration, so I will possibly be able to answer the question “how many regular readers do I really have?” finally.  There is a whole report section on user retention.  Expect more graphs for the 16th anniversary post, though I might skip the pie chart that shows 100% of my users access the site on the web.

Not a free thinker in the lot

I can now also accept payments.  I can put something up on the sidebar that lets you donate to the blog.  I am unlikely to do that, but I could if I wanted to.

I am also, somewhat ironically given much of the above, able to have ads on my blog… ads that will earn me money rather than it all going to WP.com.

I am half tempted to try this for a stretch, just to see how it goes.  Aywren did a Blaugust post about ads on your blog and you need to earn $100 before they’ll send you anything, but I am curious as to how well (or badly) that would play out.  With the premium plan there is simply an opt-in switch to turn them on.  I’d ask for some feedback before I did it, and promise I would never become somebody who gets angry about people visiting with an ad blocker turned on.

So that is what has changed here.  I suspect none of this is at all noticeable from reader side of the window.  And now I have the option of bugging WP.com Happiness Engineers directly via live chat.  We’ll see if that improves their historically poor responses.

Blog Advisory – Feedburner and Akismet

Time for a bit of blog administrative business, which I suppose I could spin as a Blaugust post, it being related to the issues that come with a blog.  Or not.  Either way though, it is a post in Blaugust.  We’re about half way through the month.

Feedburner Email

I have been advised by Marina at Follow.it that Feedburner is discontinuing its email syndication program.  Her company apparently has a substitute service they would like to offer me.

And apparently at some point in the distant past I did post a link for people to get my posts via email.  I don’t remember encouraging it at any point after that, but there it is.  I have long since swapped over to recommending the WordPress.com integrated email delivery.

So, if you are subscribed through Feedburner and wish to continue getting my blog posts in you inbox, you will need to switch over to the WordPress.com service.  It is available in the side bar near the top.  Just enter your email address and it will send you a confirmation email that will let you select your preferred deliver method from “immediately on post” (not recommended unless you want to see all my typos), to “daily summary” (I’ve usually fixed a lot of typos by then), to “weekly summary” (which might be a bit too much of me in a single dose).

Feedburner RSS

There was a time when I used to do blog posts about RSS feed.  I think RSS is dying interface from a more civilized age now.

While we’re on the topic of Feedburner, I pretty sure I mentioned at some point that the Google had removed email account recovery as an option from the service (and from Blogger).  I missed the window for recovering my account and have no clue what the password might be, so I couldn’t migrate their email option over to another service even if I had the inclination to do so.

While Google said that they won’t be shutting down feeds of purging accounts Google, as my wife puts it, “Says a lot of things.”  Whether they mean it in the moment is debatable, but we have all learned that promises from companies have an unlisted expiration date.

So I think I am going to recommend that if you’re using a read to read TAGN, that you go with the default WordPress URL, which i:

https://tagn.wordpress.com/feed

I realize that about seven years back I asked everybody to go the other direction, so all I can do is reinforce my change of heart in meme form.

Use your best judgement

Everything will probably be fine for now if you don’t, but if I suddenly disappear from your feed, that might be the immediate cause.

Akismet

Some of you will recognize the name Akismet as the spam comment protection package that comes with… or at least used to come with… WP.com hosted blogs.  I reference it in my blog anniversary posts most years to indicate how many spam comments end up here.  I even have the counter widget down at the bottom of the side bar.

Well, Akismet was broken on WP.com for a stretch, at least for some sites.  That meant rather than about 200 spam comments landing in my spam folder every day I was getting at least 2,000 spam comments to go through, and usually more.

Which means that if you left a comment and it landed in the spam folder this month, I probably didn’t see it.  I am pretty good about going through and fishing out such comments, but when the number gets into the thousands, I just don’t have the will.

WP.com took their time getting to things.  I sent them a note a couple weeks ago, got a response back about ten days later that referred me to a bug they had opened on the issue, and then they closed the support ticket.  The bug got fixed about a week later, which isn’t bad I guess.

But if you leave a comment and it disappears you can always use the contact form on the About page to ask about it.  If I know the name on the comment I can almost always find it.

6,000

Also, after writing this I was looking at the stats and realized that yesterday was post 5,999, which means that this is my 6,000th post.  Another meaningless milestone achieved.

February in Review

The Site

I haven’t complained about WordPress.com in a while, so let me get stuck into them.  They broke the classic editor… again.  Not drastically, but the break made it much more annoying to use.  When I wrote to their support… they call them “happiness engineers,” which sounds like a title the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would use… the response was pretty much “LOL, use the block editor dummy!” followed by a long, cut and pasted entry about how wonderful it is.

I do not like the block editor.  It feels like a software dev’s view of a word processor, with each paragraph in its own block, as though people somehow felt a need to re-arrange paragraphs so often that they made it a feature.  Object oriented writing isn’t really a thing.  My paragraphs cannot be re-ordered at will and make sense.  They barely make sense when correctly ordered.

There is the “classic” block in the block editor, which is almost tolerable, but lacks some of the features of the classic editor.  And trying to explain the omissions to a “happiness engineer” was like trying to explain tea to a robot.

Fortunately, Paeroka at Nerdy Bookahs noticed that the classic editor was only broken in Firefox, not Chrome.  Another typical dev problem, and one I run into at work a lot, where everybody only ever uses Chrome despite the fact that our customers are often on locked down work machines that only have Edge or IE11 on them.  I personally prefer Firefox, though I can complain about most browsers for one reason or another, but I can use Chrome to write if I have to.

Otherwise it was a pretty good month.  Traffic was up as the swell of Valheim players looking for information about the game sent a bunch of people my way.  I was also enthusiastic to write about the game.

Valheim on Steam

The traffic tapered off towards the end of the month as every gaming site in creation jumped on the Valheim bandwagon.  But you can see from the most viewed posts list that it generated some interest here.  And I am sure I will have more to say about the game.

One Year Ago

The anticipated Torchlight Frontiers MMORPG was demoted to Torchlight III, another action RPG with multiplayer support.

Daybreak was warming up for the EverQuest 21st anniversary.

Blizzard reported a decent Q4 for 2019, at least compared to the rest of the year.  WoW Classic helped.  A lot.  But the Warcraft III Reforged fiasco was not likely to help Blizz for Q1 2020.

Over at CCP Project Nova, the latest attempt at a first person shooter, was transitioning into some other project.  But they were going to keep that quiet until the had something real to bring to us.  They also cancelled FanFest in Iceland over corona virus fears, and rightly so.

For the February update in EVE Online we got the Guardians Gala, new implant sets, and the start of what would become a year of nerfing mining into oblivion.  CCP gave us some skill points for being down due to a DDoS attack.  The also announced a plan to fix undercutting in the market.

Out in New Eden the Goon Expeditionary Force was formed and went out on its first deployment.  I managed to get on a bunch of kill mails in my ECM burst interceptor.  We were also out shooting structures and

As fall out from the death of Guardians of the Galaxy coalition, Ranger Regiment joined the Imperium.

I also compare raids, where up to 40 people need to coordinate, with fleet ops in EVE Online, where up to 255 people work as a team, facing off against another group generally of equal size.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working on the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral wing, then we were back again to finish up a quest.  Then I summed up all of our Scarlet Monastery time over the years in a post, including a mock version of the place in Neverwinter.

The we were off to Razorfen Downs.

As we were getting to level 40, I wondered how close we were to being half way to level cap.  There are a variety of ways to measure that.

I was also still playing the EverQuest II expansion, and even bought a couple Krono as my cash resources were rather meager.

And then there was Camelot Unchained, where City State Entertainment announced that they were working on another game which would somehow magically speed up delivery of the game that was already four years past the promised date, prompting people to ask for refunds, myself included.  Of course, getting a refund was not easy, and City State was not at all inclined to be helpful, with Mark Jacobs himself showing up to tell me I must be dumb to not have all the details of a seven year old credit card charge close to hand, but I ended up finally finding the transaction ID from the 2013 pledge and got a refund, minus processing fees.

Five Years Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moonfor the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two gamesH1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Ten Years Ago

I was accidentally declared influential.  That was the first and last time that ever happened, and in an era before “influencers” were even a thing.  We got over that pretty quickly.

Hulkageddon IV came and went.  We all survived.  And then there was the new character creator in EVE Online.  It had… options.

LOTRO had a welcome back event… even though it was free to play, so coming back wasn’t all that hard… unless you count time spent waiting for the patcher.

There was yet another sign of the coming apocalypse.

NetDevil got pulled out of LEGO Universe.

Nintendo was banging the drum for Pokemon Black and White.  We were certainly ready for it at our house.

Van Hemlock was slumming back in MMOs for a bit.

I was taking a look at the holy trinity of roles through a historical lens.  It wasn’t always exactly Tank/Healer/DPS.

The instance group was still playing World of Warcraft Now we just get nostalgic about it.

World of Tanks.  It was in beta and set some sort of bogus record.

Rift was getting ready to launch.  People were freaking out in the absence of calm words.  Personally, I wasn’t buying into the game.  Who needed a WoW clone when we had WoW?

Nostalgia was officially on with the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  Characters were rolled.  Low level zones were crowded and experience was slow.  But the tour was a go.  We hit the Qeynos HillsBlackburrowWest Karana, and the Qeynos Sewers.  Important spells were rediscovered and camping trips were planned.  Not everything was as we remembered it, but it made for a pretty darn good nostalgia adventure.

And while that was going on, SOE shipped the Destiny of Velious expansion for EverQuest II.  But I couldn’t be bothered.

And, finally, one of our cats was on top of the refrigerator.

Fifteen Years Ago

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach launched.  Based somewhat on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set it set out to be the best dungeon crawl experience in the MMORPG genre, and featured no dragons at launch.  It also unapologetically required required player grouping, something declared right on the box.  That made me put it back on the shelf at Fry’s.  It has since become solo friendly, free to play, and toned down the name to just Dungeons & Dragons Online.

SOE lauched the Kingdom of Sky expansion for EverQuest II, which raised the level cap to 70 and introduced alternate advancement, a mechanism long familiar to EQ veterans by that point.  This was also at a point of peak performance issues in the game, including the height of the Qeynos Harbor lag problem.  I was on board with WoW by then and declined to buy the expansion.

EVE Online reached the 100,000 subscriber mark, back when companies talked about such things publicly, and launched the Bloodlines expansion.  That expansion, which basically complicated character creation and made everybody go Caldari, would be the current state of the game when I made my first character in New Eden a few months down the road.

James Cameron was jumping onto the MMO bandwagon with Multiverse Network, which was going to lower the barrier to entry for MMO creation.  The plan was for there to be an MMO released alongside his next movie, but Avatar had to go it alone in the end, while Multiverse Network shut down in 2011.

Twenty Years Ago

Civilzation II, perhaps one of the oldest games I can still play, and which I have invested many hours into, launched on leap day 1996.

Pokemon Red & Green, the genesis of the Pokemon franchise, launched in Japan.

Thirty Years Ago

The Legend of Zelda launches on the NES, the first game in the long running franchise.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. The Guardians Gala Event Returns to EVE Online
  5. A First Look at Valheim
  6. Traveling to the Black Forest in Valheim
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Robbing Some Space Banks
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. Time to Earn some ISK
  11. What Does LOTRO Need?
  12. Titan Massacre at M2-XFE

Search Terms of the Month

goons papi eve meta explained
[Good luck with that]

keepstar meme
[Yes]

keepster broom
[What?]

how do keepstars protect themselves
[Memes, brooms]

eve echoes burn jita
[One can only hope]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Again, good luck with that]

Game Time from ManicTime

When the month started off it looked very much like WoW Classic would be at the top of the list.  I was serious about my paladin alt, the group was finishing up Blackrock Depths, and things were going well.  And then Valheim showed up and ate up all my free time.  Well played.

  • Valheim – 63.16%
  • WoW Classic – 22.85%
  • EVE Online – 13.52%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.47%

EVE Online

The was carried on.  There were a few big clashes, but nothing like the titan battles or the Keepstar drops from the end of 2020.  I got into a few fights, but mostly spent my time on the M2 hellcamp, which carries on.  Both sides are grinding away at each other and trying to keep their side motivated.  The side that loses interest first loses.

Pokemon Go

There were some fun events for the Kanto celebration that got my wife and I out of the house.  Lots of raids and tasks.  We’re slowly closing in on level 41.

Level: 40 (88% of the way to 41 in xp, all tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 619 (+6) caught, 647 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 11
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

The surprise hit game of 2021 so far.  I went from, “Why no, I have never heard of this new early access game on Steam” to it consuming all of my gaming time over the course of a week.

World of Warcraft

WoW has really fallen down the list.  As I said in my BlizzConline summary, it isn’t so much that Shadowlands is bad, it is just always the 3rd or 4th thing on my list to play.  I forgot to log in and do the Darkmoon Faire tradeskill quests even this month.  I am really falling off the retail WoW wagon.

WoW Classic

We finally finished up the last quest for Blackrock Depths on our twelfth run.  Doing it as a four person group was often a challenge.  And, for a four person group I am not sure we have the optimum class balance.  Had I to do it over again I might have tanked with a paladin.  The raid meta won’t allow pally tanks, but for the 5 person dungeons it would have worked.  Now we just have to decide what to hit next.

Coming Up

More Valheim I bet.  We’re kind of moving slowly on our world, but base building is satisfying.  We still haven’t found the damn vendor, so hopefully that will happen next month.  I’ve explored a lot of black forest biome on foot so far and that is getting a bit old.

World War Bee will carry on in EVE Online.  Neither side seems ready to crack yet as the war enters its eighth month.  Meanwhile, CCP is carrying on with strangling the economy along with a couple more odd ideas that I might explore.

The instance group might get back to WoW Classic.  We’re all playing Valheim together at the moment, but that isn’t as structured as a dungeon run, which is both good and bad.  We’ll see.

EverQuest will turn 22 in March.  Are there any good birthdays after your 21st?  I think the last real birthday party I had was when I was ten.

I will also expect that we will start getting a drip feed of news from Blizzard about their projects for this year, including The Burning Crusade Classic and Diablo II Ressurected.  Likewise from Nintendo around Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.   And I am still waiting for some new on LEGO Starwars: The Skywalker Saga, which was delayed into 2021.

October in Review

The Site

Happy Halloween.

A happy kitty pumpkin I carved… a long time ago actually

The strange traffic patterns here continued here for the fourth straight month and I am at a loss to explain it.  It is unusual for no posts from the current month to make the list, much less four times in a row.  And while a few posts on the list make some sense, you have to get down to 25th place before you hit a post from October. (Gamigo Buys then Guts Trion World, which was popular and linked elsewhere is in position 25.)

I cannot tell where some of this is coming from as the referrers count is much lower than the total visitors or page views, though that is not unusual.  Some sites just don’t show up in that list for various reasons, including Massively OP.  I can see the traffic hitting those pages in the Flag Counter reports, and it is from all over the US on Windows, iOS, and Mac OS, so it isn’t just one guy hitting refresh.  So I just don’t know.

Meanwhile, WordPress.com continues with its ever encroaching ad placement.  You won’t see it here, as I am on a yearly plan that turns ads off, but if I hit other WP.com sites with a browser that doesn’t have Ad Block of some sort (which I have to have for work), I end up seeing more and more ads.  The latest is an add that drops down from the top of the page to obscure what you’re reading.

Fill in the gap between the top and the other ads

This is one of those things that makes me shake my head.  Ad blockers were not created because people don’t want to support online content, they were created because the ads grew obnoxious enough for people to look for a way to block them.

And then there was this beauty.  I took a look at my other site using Chrome on my iPad, where there is no ad block extension, to use a link from the sidebar and had my whole session hijacked by an ad.

WP.com lets ads take over your browser session

I love those faked comments at the bottom from two and three years ago.  And this ad led into another and another.  I couldn’t get back to my other site.

And so WP.com has inadvertently joined in on promoting ad blockers by becoming an ad shitshow.  Well done.  I could not recommend WP.com as a platform it you plan to blog.  Go make a Blogger account for that, and make sure you have an ad blocker if you visit a WordPress.com site.

One Year Ago

I wrote about how we used to yell and sell in Waterdeep back in TorilMUD, which predates that auction house stuff we have today.

RimWorld was eating up a bunch of my gaming time.

The then still in early access H1Z1 had King of the Kill removed from its name, reverting back to just H1Z1.  This was due to as-yet-still-unrealized plans by Daybreak to bring the game to China where they couldn’t have “kill” in the name.  They have since changed their mind and renamed the game again.  It is now H1Z1: Battle Royale, or maybe Z1 Battle Royale.  It is honestly hard to tell/care at this point.  All I know is it will probably have another new name before this gets to the “Five Years Ago” section in 2022.

In New Eden I had finished up my time with the Warzone Extraction event.  I also remapped my attributes, something that affects the learning rates of skill.  You don’t do that lightly as you’re stuck with the remap for a year.  I also went and rounded up data cores.  I should probably do that again.  It has been a year.

I was headed to EVE Vegas and wrote up my report when I returned.

The Reavers SIG turned three years old.

In space we went out to Aridia to clean up the neighborhood.

As the month headed towards its end CCP released the Lifeblood expansion for EVE Online which changed moon mining, upgraded The Agency, and added a bunch of PvE content.  There was also a joke about lighting farts to be made.

However, following EVE Vegas, where VR was heavily emphasized, and the Lifeblood expansion, CCP had a round of layoffs and effectively stopped developing for VR.  Among teams hit hard was the community team.

I hit level 30 in Pokemon Go.

And I returned to World of Warcraft, having taken a break.  I once again failed to get the headless horseman’s mount.  And I was wondering if Blizzard would announce the next WoW expansion at BlizzCon.  It seemed pretty likely.

Five Years Ago

EverQuest: Mactinosh Edition was slated to shut down after a ten year run.  Meanwhile, EverQuest Live launched Call of the Forsaken, the game’s 20th expansion.  The Fippy Darkpaw server made it to The Buried Sea expansion.  And in EverQuest II, insta-level characters were set to become a thing.

Also, Daybreak got DC Universe Online onto the PlayStation 4 where it reportedly continues to do quite well.

With the release of Pokemon X & Y, which required upgrading to Nintendo 3DS hardware, I was saying farewell to the series.  Little did I know I would be pulled back in a few months down the road.

As part of some NBI event I attempted to recount all the guilds I had joined over the years.

Somebody was attempting to remake the old Kesmai game Stellar Emperor.

Path of Exile finished up beta and was officially live.

After a post-F2P boom, Trion went back to paring down the number of servers for Rift while its servers in China were shut down completely.

The instance group was still running Foundry modules in Neverwinter.

I was trying out War Thunder.  After failing to get through the tutorial for World of Warplanes, I opted for its competitor, which seems better suited for the inept like me.  I was able to get out there and be a target for other players while bombing at least.

In New Eden our gate camp deployment to the Curse region was wrapping up almost as soon as it started.  It felt like we had just snuck in.  It was time to go home to the quiet of Deklein for a while and wait for the Rubicon expansion.  While there I finally bought my first capital ship, an Archon carrier.  It went for its first jump and then stayed docked for almost a year.  Of course, I found out I had a lot of stuff sitting in hangars around New Eden.  Nine million things, to put a number to it.  And CCP was setting up classes for new players… which was great if you lived in the European time zone.

I was pondering the “journey vs. destination” question with MMOs while feeling a bit wistful that World of Warcraft holidays were not offering much new.

Marc Pinkus, founder of Zynga, declared he was bored of games.

And we finally ditched AT&T DSL for Comcast cable-modem internet, resolving the bandwidth sharing problems at our house.

Ten Years Ago

In one of the worst kept secrets in video game development it was announced that BioWare’s MMO project was in fact Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Their subscription goals were, of course, quite modest.

I celebrated my 15 years of playing Sojourn/TorilMUD with the first in a series of posts.  Nostalgia FTW!  And I guess that makes this the 25 year mark.  My, how time flies!  I probably need a post about that.

And speaking of Nostalgia, Tipa was out looking for EverQuest blogs.  I’m not sure any were discovered.  EverQuest itself launched its fifteenth expansion, Seeds of Destruction, which brought NPC mercenaries to the game to assist players.

The instance group formed up a guild and was running in Warhammer Online.  We had our best night and our worst night, plus a few that were somewhere in between.  All in all though, things were not as exciting as we had hoped.

Mythic was trying out incentives to get better server balance while starting to talk about new stuff coming soon.  Not a word about the quest log however.

In EVE Online Potshot, Gaff, and I were playing with fleets and I was flying a shiny new ship.  Also the EVE Blog Pack was defined.

Finally, I stared logging into World of Warcraft again to get things lined up for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  I managed to survive through the controversial scourge event and was intrigued by the shiny new achievements.

Fifteen Years Ago

A shooter named Call of Duty launched.  Now Activision’s annual revenue pretty much depends on shipping a sequel to it.

Lineage II launched as well.  The successor to the original Lineage, which was in last month’s post celebrating its 20th anniversary, it had the usual problem of MMORPG sequels in never living up to the success of the original.

Twenty Years Ago

The Rise of Rome expansion came out for Age of Empires.

Thirty Years Ago

The Sega MegaDrive launched in Japan.  Mentioned mostly because I ended up with a Sega Genesis, the name used in the US, a few years later.

Forty Years Ago

Really, am I going back that far now?  Yes I am!  Back in October of 1978 Space Invaders arrived in North America.  I posted about that event.  It was a big deal back in the day.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  2. Honest Game Trailers – Animal Crossing
  3. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  4. Rift Prime Time
  5. SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite
  6. February in Review
  7. Spring Movie League – Cats and Birds and Bruce
  8. Do You Wear the Mask or does the Mask Wear You?
  9. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  10. H1Z1 – Going Live in Time to be a Zombie
  11. Extra Credits – Picking at the Lockbox Thing Some More
  12. How Many People Play EVE Online?

Search Terms of the Month

seagels stop it now
[It is spelled “Seagal” and he’s just the cook]

what game has more people playing everquest 1 or everquest 2 in 2018?
[The original by all reports]

sylvana windrunner rule 34 animated
[Really?]

epic journeys and random encounters (world of warcraft) hentai
[I was with you until that last word]

china gay 3d game pc
[The state probably won’t okay that]

EVE Online

The Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP was finalized and there was EVE Vegas.  While the latter brought news of the future, my time in game was actually pretty low key.  I did get my one kill mail in for the month as I joined in on shooting one of Pandemic Horde’s high sec structures.  Otherwise I spent some time with the Crimson Harvest event and that was about it.

It has been a bit of a tough month on third party sites.  First Total EVE went down due to a problem with their provider.  Then EVE Files which, among other things, hosts the null sec influence maps, had a RAID failure and went down, taking with it a lot of New Eden history.  The influence maps are created elsewhere, but have been publicly archived on EVE Files.  There are backups, and Chribba started moving some of the videos stored there to YouTube, but how this will work out is unclear.  And then there was a scare with the DOTLAN infrastructure earlier in the month.  The EVE Online ecosystem is fragile and getting more so as it ages. [Total EVE is back up.]

And then there was the Monthly Economic Report for September, which failed to materialize this month.  I don’t know if that is over as a thing, but this is the first time CCP has missed a month since they got serious about it over two years ago.

EverQuest II

I made my way to level 100 at last, though that doesn’t seem like much of an achievement when I tell you I started at level 96.  But that leaves out the real adventure of returning to the game, which is simply figuring out where to go.  Anyway, I paused for a bit at level 100 to do some of the Halloween event stuff.  That was probably to stave off deciding on which path to choose now that I am at 100.  This is never easy.

Pokemon Go

I made my first “Best Friend” in Pokemon Go.  It happened to be my wife, so true in game as in the real world.  It turn out that making a best friend yields quite a good chunk of experience.  Here is what you get by levels of friendship:

  • Good Friends – 3,000 xp
  • Great Friends – 10,000 xp
  • Ultra Friends – 50,000 xp
  • Best Friends – 100,000 xp

I was about 40K shy of level when the best friend event happened, which pushed me right into level 34.  Still a long way to go to level 40, but I have some more friends on my list to help me along as our friendships level up.  You do need to send 90 gifts to get to the best friend level, and my current problem is always running out.  I need Pokestops to be more reliable at dispensing gifts.

There was also the introduction of 4th generation into the game, which gave us all new Pokemon to catch.  That helped boost my Pokedex count.

Level: 34 (+1)
Pokedex status: 363 (+24) caught, 375 (+18) seen
Pokemon I want: Dragonite… pretty much no progress on this
Current buddy: Wailmer… past 330 candies now

World of Warcraft

Sort of stopped playing WoW it seems.  This is me being me.  At some intellectual level I want to finish up the Kul Tiras campaign and get my main to level 120, but somewhere deep within me is the bit that gets me to log in and play, and that bit isn’t having it.  Oh well.  This seems to be following my usual pattern of diving into a new WoW expansion, playing for a bit, then going away for six months or so until the issues are settled.

Hallow’s End did get me logging back in some, but the mount of the Headless Horseman still eludes me.  While waiting for the queue to pop my main hit level 118.  Who is the slowest to level now, eh?

Coming Up

BlizzCon is the day after tomorrow.  Those at the event or watching from home with the Virtual Ticket don’t get a cute pet or mount in WoW this year.  Instead it will be a chance to try WoW Classic.  The Barrens and Westfall will be available to download and play.  I expect this to be examined in minute detail and the topic of articles and blog posts for at least a week afterwards.

There was word that we might get the LOTRO legendary server on November 6th, but there is no official announcement that I have seen.  And the LOTRO Twitter account later denied everything.  It would be nice if there was a date front page, center on the LOTRO web site.  The problematic nature of this server aside, SSG failing to do a decent promotional run up to its open… which, again, would be well served by something like a big count down timer to build up some excitement… is just typical of how the game has been handled for over a decade.  There is a quote from Tolkien that I can’t find at the moment, about the race of man failing to live up to its potential that seems to fit very well to LOTRO as well.

There will also be the new expansion for EverQuest II coming on the 13th.  I’m still too far back to worry about buying that, but it will unlock some new content and more crazy stat boosts.

And then the word is that WildStar will be shut down by the end of the month, so it is your last chance to take a look… before somebody gets an emulator project off the ground.

Finally, Daylight Savings Time ends in the US… for locations in the US that observe the change… this coming weekend.  It will be slightly less dark when I drive to work now.

A Blaugust to Revive Blogging

August is nearly upon us, and with it comes the annual event of Blaugust. Initially something of a challenge to get bloggers to post every single day for a month, it was a meant to rally our little corner of the internet and get us involved and cross linking and all that.

A bit hard core in its first round… post every single day in August, 100 word minimum… it lost a bit of its edge over the years.  Last year it was very free form, post or don’t post, whatever.

This year however Belghast is back with a new, revived vision for the event.  While there is still room for the occasional poster, it is also an attempt to roll in aspects of the lapsed Newbie Blogger Initiative of old in order to get new people into blogging.  And so Blaugust Reborn was… born… yeah.

Blaugust Reborn

Belghast has an explanatory post about his vision for the event which also includes links to officially sign up, which puts you on “the list” and such, as well as a link to the official Discord channel for the event.  It still being July there is yet time to get on board the Blaugust train, but don’t loiter, go now!

Here is a list of the participants so far, or at least those that have a blog on the list:

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. A Hobbits Journey
  3. Aeternus Gaming
  4. Ald Shot First
  5. Arc’s Oddities
  6. Armagon Live
  7. Ash’s Adventures
  8. Athernes Adventures
  9. Aywren Sojourner
  10. barely readable diary
  11. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  12. Bio Break
  13. Book of Jen
  14. Brain Dump
  15. Built on a Daydream
  16. Calamity Jess
  17. Can I Play Too
  18. Casual Aggro
  19. Cinemaxia
  20. Contains Moderate Peril
  21. Daily Creative Thinking
  22. Deez Wurds
  23. Diary of a Guild Leader
  24. Endgame Viable
  25. Fresh Eyes in Gaming
  26. Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism
  27. Galumphing
  28. Gamer Girl Confessions
  29. Gaming Conversations
  30. GamingSF
  31. Geeky Dad Fitness
  32. Glyffe
  33. Going Commando
  34. Gray’s Cozy Nook
  35. Heattanu’s Game
  36. I’m Not Squishy
  37. Inventory Full
  38. JVT Workshop
  39. leaflocker
  40. Learn Japanese Online
  41. Leeterati
  42. Magen Tales
  43. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  44. Me vs. Myself and I
  45. MMO Syndicate
  46. Mmosey
  47. Moonshine Mansion
  48. Municipal City
  49. Murf Versus
  50. Nerdy Bookahs
  51. Neverwinter Thoughts
  52. Nomadic Gamers, Eh!
  53. Ocarina Farms
  54. Party Business
  55. Pizza Maid
  56. Plan B Better
  57. Princess in a Castle
  58. Professorbeej is Awesome
  59. Psychochild’s Blog
  60. RandomX
  61. RunningShoes.tv
  62. Ryuh Note
  63. Scarybooster
  64. Self-Distract Sequence
  65. Shadowz Abstract Gaming Blog
  66. Shards of Imagination
  67. Simply Janine
  68. Soul of the Forest
  69. Stabbed Up
  70. StarShadow
  71. Stropp’s World
  72. Symphony On A Chip
  73. Tales from the Backlog
  74. Tales of the Aggronaut
  75. TechJoy2Day
  76. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  77. The MMOist
  78. The Parent Trope
  79. The Path They Walk
  80. Thinking Play
  81. ThisThingIsNeat
  82. Through Wolfy’s Eyes
  83. TroytlePower
  84. Unidentified Signal Source
  85. Welshtroll
  86. What’s Occuring
  87. Why I Game
  88. WoW Alt Addiction

Some of those names are likely familiar, others are new.  I put myself on the list, so you are free to copy it elsewhere without fear of leaving me out.  I know you were concerned about that.  Also, I am going to bet that Shintar will click on every link and tell me if I miss-linked somebody.

Also, there is the option to sign up as a mentor.  I opted for that, mostly because after nearly a dozen years I am set in my ways and have some fairly firm opinions on the whole blogging thing.  4,733 blog posts will do that to you.

Also, a bunch of those sites already have posts up about Blauguast.  As usual, I am running late on the whole thing.  There have already been a raft of posts on the event and the first round of topics. But that leads to my first bit of advice on blogging, thus helping to fulfill my mentor obligations.

Don’t worry that somebody else has already posted about a topic if you want to write about it.

Your views on a topic may differ, you may bring fresh insight, you may have your own story to tell, and as a rule, somebody will hear about this topic for the first time from your site.  If you want to be really neighborly, link out to other people posting about the topic.  But don’t stifle yourself just because somebody else wrote about it first.

In fact, we’re supposed to be in the prep week where we post some advice around the technical aspects of blogging.

I have opinions on that which I can cover quickly enough.  My main message is:

Avoid a situation where you must pay money for your blog to ensure its continue existence.

Don’t self host.  Don’t set up shop at a site without a free plan.  Your blog exerting even a minor financial burden makes it all the easier to quit and delete you blog completely, something you may come to regret later.

This goes double for anybody just jumping into blogging.

Also, if you delete your blog you’ll be contributing to link rot, the bane of the web.  So don’t do that either.  And paying to blog makes it more likely that you will do that.

Anyway, going the free route likely means using WordPress.com, Blogger, or Tumblr, each of which has their own ups and downs.

Blogger – The oldest blogging platform around.  Owned by Google, which mostly neglects it.  Has the best blogroll side bar widget, so is very blogging community friendly.  Also has pretty bare bones, laughably inaccurate stats.  It will count your own activity towards stats, even when you’re logged in.  It is very, very free and open to customization if you are handy with HTML and CSS.  If you’re not, the default templates can be a bit bland.  Is mildly awkward until you get used to its quirks, but benefits a bit in traffic from Google searches… but only if you link your blog into Google+.

WordPress.com – The place to go if you want some interesting layouts and new features springing up.  A lot more detailed stats that are not inflated by your own actions nor the actions of comment spammers.  I know the latter to be true as there have been days when I have received more comment spam than page views.  Also, very serious about tags and categories.  You can create RSS feeds from either, for just your blog or across all of WP.com.  Restrictive about what you can customize.  Static blog roll options, unless you hack together a Rube Goldberg venture like I have.  New features tend to show up unannounced and as often as not don’t work as expected for the first month or two.  The free option means ads on your site, which have grown a lot more aggressively prominent over the last year.  But if you pay to get rid of them, your blog won’t disappear if you stop.

Tumblr – All the layout options of WordPress.com with even worse stats than Blogger.  Lives in a self-contained community of likes, follows, and re-posts, which can be gratifying.  You can find people like yourself.  Has the Facebook/Twitter problem of people following you in the hopes you’ll follow them back.  Comments are odd.  No ads that I have seen.  More porn than you might care to imagine.

I have actually used all three and, even after settling on WordPress.com, I have setup versions of the blog that syndicate onto both sites.  Behold TAGN as a Blogger and a Tumblr site, though the Tumblr site really sucks because I want it to send people here.  That never happens though.  Mostly everybody just comes here directly or gets sent here by mistake via Google, with “by mistake” being the dominant route.

While I am here, I might as well dispense one more piece of free advice, worth exactly what you paid for it, double your money back if not satisfied.

Choose your blog name carefully.

If I could go back in time I would tell myself that the name of this blog is one of those things that is funny the first time you hear it, but which gets less funny each subsequent time, and after a dozen years I’ve heard it a lot of times.  And yet it is my brand, and to ditch that is to start over.  So I carry on under that burden.

Your blog name should be short and distinctive… and, if possible, start with the letter “A” because people like me will alphabetize things and most people will only click on the first few links in a list before getting bored and moving on.

Anyway, that is it, my announcement about Blaugust to join all of the others.  Again, go visit Belghast’s post for links to sign up and join the Discord channel.  Also, there is a Twitter group and a spreadsheet around here somewhere.

Onward!

February in Review

The Site

I think WordPress.com is calling me a freeloader.

A bit back WP.com changed their revenue scheme.  Previously they had an array of ala carte and package deals to get various features.  The list was a bit confusing, mostly because it was a chore to get things you wanted while avoiding things you did not want.  And, of course, it changed every year, which means that after more than a decade writing on their platform, I can never remember what I signed up for the previous year because the option is often renamed, gone, or rolled into some other package.

WP.com decided to simplify all this by wiping away all previous options and going with three plans.  Well, four plans, since “free” is a plan.  It is the plan they tell me I am on despite the fact that I gave them $30 for features last year.  The non-free plans are Personal, Premium, and Business:

WordPress.com plans - February 2016

WordPress.com plans – February 2016

The problem for me now is how to get what I want.  I current have a comb-item that gives me access to modify the CSS, which allowed me to remove that annoying floating “follow” button that WP.com puts on your site by default, and removes ads.  If you visit my other blog you will see ads under the pictures.  I don’t get any revenue from that.  Here you see none.  I pay to keep them away.

The new plans cost, in actual amounts you have to pay:

  • Personal: $35.88  $15.84 / yr
  • Premium:  $99    $78.96 / yr
  • Business: $299   $279 / yr

You can see all of the features of the plans here.

To get No Ads as an option, I can go with the personal plan, which would actually save me some money at the current discount. (They have been discounted since announced. We’ll see if they ever go up.)  It also gets me more storage space for the copious screen shots I upload, though they seem to have forgotten the space taken up by the first 10 years, so only currently show me using less than 4% of my allocation. (They said I was at 78% back in September.)

But I do not get access to CSS.  To get that I have to go to the Premium plan.  That boosts the price per year considerably and doesn’t get my anything else I want.  I have no illusion that the ability to put ads on the site from which I would get revenue would make up the difference in price.

And then there is the custom domain that comes with both plans.  I don’t want one.  The dumbest thing a site can do is change its domain, and I have had tagn.wordpress.com for more than a decade.  Yes, I know that will map to the new domain.  But I still don’t want it, as some day I will stop blogging, or at least stop paying, and I will lose the domain and, at least theoretically, break any links to my blog using that domain.  People do still link here once in a while, I swear.

I have a couple months until my current package expires, but I wanted to get a start on deciding what is really important.  I think No Ads is important, but I am not so sure about the annoying floating Follow button.

What is important to you, the reader?

One Year Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moon, for the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two games; H1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Five Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

A quick check of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site shows nothing on my guess for this years expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO does show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which is mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title? (Aradune = Brad McQuaid, for those not completely immersed in EQ history and lore.)

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard and calls for the demise of Aradune were literal.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Burn Jita Returns for 2017
  2. EVE Online Multiple Character Training Deal
  3. Time to Log into LOTRO
  4. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  5. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  6. At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front
  7. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  8. High Noon for Asheron’s Call
  9. Landmark Shut Down
  10. I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft
  11. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  12. Moving Day Again

Search Terms of the Month

menu options novalogic f 16
[Pretty obscure I would guess]

subaru kv3 thermostat malta
[Ummm… I have no idea]

eve online terms brick tank
[Look up “alpha” next]

ship colors caldari navy
[Pretty much gray and olive drab]

money talk porno
[Sounds like a winner to me]

EverQuest II

My interest in Norrath waned late in January, so I don’t think I have logged in more than twice over the past month, leading me to cancel my All Access subscription.  Everything will just have to wait for the next burst of nostalgia.

EVE Online

There was something of a quiet gap in February where I didn’t mention New Eden very much, something even Asher Elias mentioned to me on a fleet op, and then things started to happen, with fleets getting called up and Burn Jita.  If nothing else, I got some nice screen shots and all the fleet participation credit I needed.

Minecraft

I continue to plug away at the long road south, having passed the half way mark.  Still, it took me from late November to now to get that far, so I have a lot more time left on that project.  The distance left looks so small on the map render.

Pokemon

I went on a Pokemon Sun binge during the big storms out here in California.  The storms caused a series of mudslides that blocked the road to work, so I worked from home for more than two weeks.  That meant I was sitting at my desk all day working, so by the time I had time to play a game, I wanted to go somewhere else. (This may have helped feed my fantasy MMO malaise.)  The Nintendo 3DS does have the benefit of being portable, so took it out to the couch and finished the main story line, then started working on completing the Alola Pokedex.

Pokemon Go

This month finally saw the arrival of second generation Pokemon to the game.  A few had been available from eggs since last month, but they are finally out and about in the wild now, which boosted my interest in catching for a bit.  Then, of course, it became clear that around our neighborhood at least Spinaraks and Natus have become the new Pidgeys and Rattatas, while 3K CP Blisseys seem to own every gym.  Still, new Pokemon are lurking out there if you can find them.

  • Level: 26 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 128 (+16) caught, 153 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Final evolution of any of the starter Pokemon
  • Current buddy: Wartortle

Coming Up

In EVE Online the CSM 12 elections will commence with all the brouhaha and complaining that entails.  I’ll dive into that with a Blog Banter post tomorrow.  The promised March patch has some proposed changes that are causing eye rolls and/or gnashing of teeth, such as further Rorqual nerfs.  Also, something with d-scan.  I’ll cross that bridge once I get to it.

On the Daybreak front, EverQuest will be turning 18.  An adult game at last, I suppose.  There will no doubt be an event for that.  They also have a big event planned for King of the Kill.  The question is, will Just Survive survive?

In Pokemon Sun & Moon a new global event launched yesterday, though I couldn’t register due to server issues.  Having reaped the bounty of festival coins that were showered on participants in the last event, I am going to sign up and make some effort to do it.

There is a non-zero chance that I will log into LOTRO.

Oh, and Nintendo is releasing the Switch on Friday.  Will there be another chronic supply issue like past console launches?  Well, past launches save for the Wii U I suppose.

What else will March bring?

Anyway, laissez les bons temps rouler, as today is Mardi Gras!