Fungus Facts, Big Nasty Rats

Bracket Fungus Illustration


Personal Game Project: Elven Academy


In the last few weeks, I wrote a new book for the in-game library: Fungus Facts! I also re-branded the game to be named “Elven Academy.” I feel like this is a huge improvement, and a much more descriptive, albeit “meta” title for the game.

I also wrote a detailed blog post/essay (part one) on Diplomacy in video games. To sum up, I am adding six new Diplomacy skills to the game. This is very ambitious in terms of game writing, but I’m looking forward to going back and re-writing the existing modules.

Currently, Charm and Cunning are just out of control in terms of how much they are used. These two overused stats will become more like Light Side/Dark Side stats, as well as their contribution to spell power.


LotRO


I got kicked out of my guild. Again.

That makes 5 times in LotRO? Those bastards! If I’m ever a guild leader, I won’t do that to lifers who have been in the guild for years. Am I going back though? I doubt it.

Still, was it necessary to boot me out of the Discord channel? So I can’t even see if anything is happening in the Alliance that might make me go back? Damn.


Warhammer: Vermintide 2


I bought this on a Steam sale some weeks ago. Playing it with family. It’s a slick, fun game. Even a great game. So much potential gone to waste in this game, presumably because we are in a profit-based video game world.

Make a barebones game with addictive qualities, intense action, and lots of random boxes to open.

(edit – Visually it’s not barebones. The level designs and landscapes are huge and luxurious, as if they were trying to win awards. Some places are maybe a little too big, because at times the city locations can feel lifeless.)

Various levels that tune up to being nearly impossible. Let dedicated players grind the same small amount of content until their eyes bleed. Make a profit. Make another game. They’ve had a few small DLC’s that basically add one level for half the current price of the game.

I also bought and completed (!) Injustice 2, which is DC Universe fighting. It was only like 6 hours of storyline, but it was really fun, and it’s been forever and a half since I finished a game. Thanks to Angry Joe for his review that got me to spring for it.

I’m interested in Red Dead Online, but I don’t want to pay full price for the game, since I likely won’t play the main campaign without a female character.


U.S Stocks


Two months ago I called for the market to soar higher. It did. I bet on it. Profit.

Right now, I’m not sure what will happen next. We could have another leg up to January 1, but we are still very extended over both the S&P channel and the breakout level. We could flag sideways or down for a few weeks. It depends on the political situation. Data is good and bad.

I’m ruing the day I sold Valero (VLO) at break-even. I rue every time I sell anything, basically. I sold AMD at $6 at break even. It’s more like $26 now. Still, Valero is big oil. Its days are numbered. I want long term holdings.

Currently I’m watching VLO, CCI, V, CSCO, TWLO, and AKAM.

Akamai (AKAM) is my biggest winner ever. I bought it for approx $2/share in 2001 after the dot com crash. I sold it for close to $40? (I bought another dotcom crash victim that later died, figuring one of the two would survive.) After a decade and lots of sideways, AKAM is lately pushing up over $80 with the growth of the cloud. I wouldn’t mind getting back in.

I’ve seen the CEO do interviews. I don’t know why, but he strikes me as sketchy. I’ll bet his stock has underperformed a lot of other big tech companies, at least in recent years.


Video Games Coming in 2019


Hell yeah! Let’s get the hype going and support Vampire: Bloodlines 2 and Cyberpunk 2077!

Wasteland 3 is also scheduled, but I was really bored with the strategy combat scenarios in Wasteland 2. It would take a lot of RP injection to even get me to look at it.

W3 is an InXile production, still headed by Brian Fargo. Fargo said on Twitter that Wasteland 3 is a “massive step up” visually from Wasteland 2. Honestly, visuals in W2 were fine. It’s not something that bothered me. Giant hordes of enemies, one enemy behind every goddamned old tire, rock, and corn stalk, did make me quit playing the game not too far in.

We’ll see! In the meantime, it’s definitely worth following Brian Fargo on Twitter, for any RPG enthusiast. Happy holidays, and happy gaming!


Tarot Card Training

tarot card training


RPG Project


At the start of August, I was finishing Tarot Training for my online RPG project. In Tarot Training, you can drill on card meanings, take a quiz to test your memorization, study the symbols of the Tarot, get a simple romance card reading, and get some advisement on further study. (This last could be improved, among other things.)

Since my previous blog post, I have also developed a French Club module. You try to learn some French, learn some clichés about why French is cool, and then you have a quiz contest against Chary, who is also a new French student.

Currently I am polishing and translating French Club. (The ending is also unfinished at the moment.) I am also reviewing and QA’ing Jeanie’s romance, Connor’s romance, Module A5: the Peacock Queen, and Tarot Training. That’s five modules in line for completion this year.

I was considering pushing hard to get a darker themed module planned and put together for Samhain in the month of October, but I am starting a new job, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I would rather do a final, solid release of my current WIP.

I’m continuing to work on sound implementation. In modules with strong sound in certain sections, other sections seem eerily quiet. For example, after looking at Tarot Training, the French Club module silence is deafening.

So it’s a challenging balancing act. I definitely need more forest sounds and bird chirping in the Jeanie romance and Connor romance modules. It’s on the to-do list.


WoW Classic


I subbed for one month. I leveled to 40. My few family members and friends didn’t want to play. I was turned off by most social interactions that I experienced in that game. If you want to be in a guild, you have to participate in a Discord popularity contest with a legion of jobless kids, trumptards, and neckbeards.

This is a modern society where zero respect is the default. You earn respect by acting stupid and telling poop jokes.


LotRO Minas Morgul


The one exception to my bad experiences with guilds and discord is my guild in LotRO on Landroval. Unfortunately, the new LotRO expack looks a lot like a cash grab, selling a quest pack as an expansion. Instead of giving you things to achieve in the game, they add all the goodies for cash money upgrades.

I hate the motes and the shards and all the mini-currencies, partly because they are confusing, and partly because the grind is insane, and also simply pointless. I just went to the LotRO forums to take another look for some hope, and immediately I run into this:

Quote Originally Posted by Lady_Lethargy:
Thank you for clarifying! If you or anyone else can answer, how would I go about getting monster detection auras?

Levaqian Levaqian, The Lord of the Rings Online Team:
Currently, you can only get the Morgul and Normal (or “Null”) auras through the Minas Morgul Ultimate edition.

OK, so.

If I want cool stuff, I have to pay these people $129.99 like an idiot.

OK, so what story can I expect? Where is Minas Morgul exactly? Are we going back to Mordor? What NPC’s will I meet? I have no idea because the description of the game on the website doesn’t tell me anything that actually interests me. A bunch of quests, what else is new. Some useless extras. Some dungeons.

Guess what, the most recent big zone pack was amazing for solo play, but the batch of LotRO dungeons sucked. And were pointless to run, and didn’t drop any useful loot when I ran them. Go pay in the store instead? I think that has been increasingly the answer.

I won’t completely write off some LotRO this fall/winter, but the odds are pretty grim. I’d bet on the Trump stock market before LotRO, and that’s very, very bad.


U.S. Stocks


I reluctantly took profits near the top in Silver (SLV), scoring a 30%-ish gain on a full position. A month later, that appears to have been the correct play. I will watch, wait, and reload on silver when the time is right.

I am still watching Valero (VLO) for a re-buy, but it still can’t break out of the longterm downtrend line it is trapped under, which is why I dumped it recently at break even. I am also watching Nvidia (NVDA), which recently broke out of a nice downtrend and came back to the trend line perfectly, but then bounced very high on Thursday (4%), too quickly for me to get in.

That’s because NVDA is currently a darling hot stock. It’s the only high P/E growth stocks with a positive analyst report and expectations that I know of going into the fall earnings season. I’m also watching Twilio and Zillow to break out from their downtrends.

I added to my ETF (VGT) on the current dip this week because the indicators and sentiment were so abysmal, but the market ended the week going up instead of down. This is a confirmation of my feeling that the selling is simply exhausted after the market basically going nowhere for the last year. I can see the market making new highs from here, which seems completely crazy, but that’s my read.

A quick google confirms my feeling. “This week’s 21% reading on the Bull Bear spread is among the lowest of the last several years, and most of the time a very low reading like this will be a good marker of a price bottom, due to washout…So here we are in the scary month of October, just following the scary month of September, and investors are following the script pretty well by saying that they are scared. Right on time for a nice seasonal bottom.”

Larry Kudlow dropped a very fat hint a few days ago that some kind of surprise with China is coming soon, so I am still holding onto my small gains on full positions in Alibaba and Tencent.


Personal


In my last post, I wrote about obsession with learning to play an instrument. I gave up on that and decided to stick with painting, since that’s what I’m good at. So I bought a new set of oil paints and brushes, and I’ve been working on some oil paintings in the last month or two.


Elf In Real Life: Fire And Tarot Cards

kenzi hoop

My internet is out tonight due to Cox repairs. So after cleaning house, I guess I’m writing.


Hearthstone


The Hearthstone expansion, Saviors of Uldum, releases tomorrow. “SoU” is another Blizzard overwrite of a more venerable game acronym, which is Shadows of Undrentide for the original Neverwinter Nights.

I’m not buying this expansion. The cards are very strong for Druid and Shaman, which are classes I don’t play. So I’ll be dipping into my 11000 gold to buy a modest amount of cards to get enough dust to skate by and craft only the cards that turn out to be mandatory for my main classes.

Oh, Blizz is also double-dipping again. They are staying purposefully silent on the adventure component of the expansion, so the Blizz sheep won’t realize they are being asked to pay for the expack twice. $50 or $80 now, and then $20 more in 3 weeks.

Very sneaky and greedy marketing tactics. Coming for your credit card now 3x per year.


U.S. Stocks


Stocks died in a fire today because Trump promised huge new tariffs on China, and China retaliated immediately. So I’m entirely cheering for China. I’m starting to dislike the U.S. after I see all the Republican prejudice, hypocrisy, and slime on display after these very real mass-shootings last weekend.

It’s disgusting. I don’t even know if I can believe any of the slander towards China anymore. I know I like Xi Jinping, except for banning Winnie the Pooh in China. That’s simply ridiculous.

After this crash, I’m now break-even on Alibaba and Tencent holdings for this year (after selling them early last year for ~100% gains, and buying them back), and I have a small 7% loss on China MCHI ETF. So I was disciplined and sold the latter to cut the loss, a strategy from a classic investing book.

I also sold Valero (VLO) at break-even today, to reduce exposure to the clear forming bear trend in energy, which is apparently due to slowing world growth and lower demand, despite middle-east disruptions around Iran.

I was also expecting a large benefit of VLO selling ethanol to China. I have no idea where that stands now, so forget it. It’s also a big oil company, and I’m an elf. I’m comfortable with a 55-60% cash level close to all-time highs.

Because even if we do fine this year, next year will be an election year with a huge amount of financial uncertainty in the outcome. I will only put money back in at extreme fear/extreme VIXX levels.

I have a large loss now in SQM (Sociedad de Mineria de Chile), but it’s a small position, and I will add as it bottoms. It’s also a dividend stock. That’s why it’s an exception to the 7% rule. It’s also an example of what bad things can happen if you make an exception. It’s also offset by a gain in my other dividend investment, the real estate ETF, VNQ.

I continue to watch and drool over the chart of Equinix, which I could have had a double with now, if I had simply kept holding it. VNQ holds EQIX among other internet/tower companies, however, and reduced investments in losing mall companies these days, seemingly, so that’s good enough. EQIX has a ginormous P/E ratio.

I don’t know what that means, or why it is so high, to be honest. Currently on my radar to put money back to work is BOTZ and SOXX ETF’s.

SOXX is a way to hold both AMD and NVDA without single-company volatility. I’m still trying to get back into one of those after taking profits in NVDA, again correctly, several months ago.

I’ve also wanted to be invested in robotics, and two new ETF’s have come onto the market in the last year or two. BOTZ is one.

IRBO has the lowest fee, but I like the larger companies and positions in BOTZ, like Fanuc, and Nvidia is actually its #1 holding right now. So my pick is BOTZ.

The problem is that the robotics ETFs are industrials, which, like energy (XLE), are still in a very clear bearish downtrend. So it’s not a buy. I’m not going to make the same mistake as I made with SQM, jumping the gun buying a downtrend instead of waiting patiently for months for a breakout from that trend.

My pick from my last post, silver metal (SLV), is up 15% now in 7 weeks. So that’s a huge winner. Back then, CNBC was saying to buy gold. I bought silver, CNBC is today saying this morning on the Halftime Report to buy silver. They say it’s possible silver could go to $19, or a 5-year high.

It’s also possible that if something is called on CNBC, it’s near a top. So. There’s also that.


Tarot Training


In the past few weeks, I finished a Tarot training class for my elf/witch school game project. You can sit in the library and review all 78 tarot cards and their meanings, study tarot history, study tarot symbolism like the elements of water and fire, take a quiz to test your memory, and also receive a tarot reading from your in-game friend, Leonie.

I happily mentioned this last weekend to my mother and father-in-law, who are both in their seventies. They basically said I can rule out any Christians or conservatives ever supporting or playing this game, and no schools would touch it either because of the tarot. I’m not even kidding. Hello? Witches? Harry Potter?

In other words, my parents appear to be actually living with decades-old, common American prejudices about the devil and witches, and the disturbing evil inherent in tarot cards. What kind of response can I even have to this?

First of all, tarot was greatly influenced by Christianity in France and Italy in the 1500s through 1800s. The modern tarot we know, the Rider-Waite, was created essentially by Christian mystics, who modified and developed the deck for the twentieth century based on many historical versions.

Maybe the Devil card is disturbing? Let’s pretend the Devil actually means the devil, which it doesn’t. It’s a symbol that means a lot of things, not necessarily that the person is certainly a witch under the influence of the dark Lord, and needs to be burned to death.

Well, is the devil ever mentioned in a church? Of course. That’s how it got into Tarot cards in the first place, because pagans don’t even have a “devil” per se. It’s a Christian thing. Is the devil ever brought up by Christians? Of course, all the time.

So when Christians bring up the devil in their cult rhetoric, threatening little gay kids with eternal burning in the fires of hell unless they change their ways, they are basically turning up the devil card. I mean, it’s the same damned thing. So to speak. Or at least, that’s where it came from.

Leonie, your tarot training partner in the game, is a Christian witch, the only Christian in the school. Until I researched the issue while developing the historical component of the study, I wasn’t aware of how deeply Christian the cards are, and how much Christian symbolism is in them.

I’ve mostly used the Aquarian Tarot in the past, because I love the art and feel of the cards, so maybe it has less Christian iconography, and that’s why I was so unaware. Or maybe I’m just dumb. That’s also likely.


Elf Music


This summer I’ve been semi-obsessed with learning an instrument. That’s what elves do. They love music. I’ve never studied an instrument. I come from a very non-musical, generally low-class mid-western family.

I was thinking kids with better and well-put-together families probably are required to learn an instrument as part of their upper class upbringing, their ivy league prep and formation schooling. I was encouraged to do dumb sports instead, because that makes more sense in Indiana. And music lessons are expensive.

So what would an elf play? According to the internet (which I do not have access to, which is why I’m writing, let me re-iterate), they play mainly harps. Fiddles are also big, like, from Ireland historically. And flutes. And lyres.

I researched the antique instruments like the harpsichord, mandolin, and lyre, and it turns out they are antique because they just aren’t quite as good as modern instruments that are actually used. They are also very expensive to acquire.

So I researched harps, and I listened to a lot of beautiful music on Youtube, and realized harps are really a girl instrument, which is good. The most popular professional harpists on Youtube seem to be right up there with women’s soccer for beautiful, talented women to watch and drool over.

For example Valérie Milot, Canadian harp goddess.

Two problems with harp. Real, quality harps are insanely expensive. They also seem to be very hard on the fingers, and I already type and mouse all day for a living, with Elder Scrolls Online at night. That’s a lot of finger stress already.

A harp, I’ve concluded, is basically a piano with no keys. The professional harpists are actually playing piano music in many cases. You take the lid and bottom off of the piano. You turn it on one corner, balance one side on your shoulder, and then pluck the strings inside the piano.

That’s quite a lot harder than pressing keys, which might be why piano is a thing for playing the most impressive virtuoso music, and harp not so much. Fiddle is the same as a violin, which isn’t very enticing as a solo instrument. It also looks exhausting.

Flute is too loud and embarrassing in an apartment, and I have lousy lungs. An electric instrument can be played with headphones, so that would be useful. Electric harp doesn’t sound good. So at this point, I’m all the way down to a bog-standard electric guitar, which isn’t very elven. So I still don’t know about this one.


Denouement


Also this summer, I’ve been studying lots of French and Chinese on Duolingo. I wanted a break from Spanish. I’m Ruby league now, on the leaderboard with the most ardent language scholars (Kappa). Ardent is from the French, from the Latin ardere, to burn.

I’m currently working on a French class for my bilingual English/Spanish game project. If that sounds off the rails, you might be right. I want to get back to the stories and adventures, and finish the first chapter of the main storyline maybe this winter at best.

My internet is now back! At 2:30 a.m.. Hearthstone tomorrow. Open card packs. Wait at least two weeks for the meta to start settling before actually playing and crafting anything. High Elf in Elder Scrolls Online is my current thing otherwise.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming! Elves forever! Humans and hobbits are fine too, and wretched hobbits are generally accepted peacefully into the elven lands.


E3 Impressions: Bloodlines, Cyberpunk 2077, Etc.

rpg gameplay
It’s been forever since my last post. Maintenance mode? Mainly I’ve been playing Division 2, with a little co-op. It’s a high quality shooter with female character options, a high degree of realism, and minimally intrusive upselling influences.

I’m impressed by Ubisoft’s quality and class, so far, as a game developer and company. It’s been a while since I played an Ubisoft game. I might look for more opportunities to give money to Ubisoft in the future.

The major flaws so far are very poor character development, and sketchy story writing.

The main feature of E3 was streaming game services. I don’t want to stream my games. How far can game companies go to get players into their ecosystem? Well, apparently the goal is to have all game content literally in their ecosystem, and you are only playing a picture of it!

Hooray. I guess if it’s effectively a big boon for PC gaming and better games, then I have to accept it.

Honestly, the EA Origin monthly service seems like a great deal. There are some games on there I’d like to play. But I have never used it. I just resist the concept for some reason. I like owning my games, and running them on a platform hub that lets me select which one I want to play tonight. So, there is that.


Vampire: Bloodlines 2


Bloodlines 2 released a new gameplay video for E3. It’s “pre-alpha”, but it’s still underwhelming. Weak graphics, very sketchy combat sequences. The writing seems decent. There are the usual challenges/skill usages in the dialog options.

Three class trees. Not sure how I feel. Ideally I’d rather have an experience resembling the tabletop RPG.

It looks somewhere between a professional and indie effort. Overall, I’ve decided I agree with Paradox’s decision to put out the video. It will take a lot of criticism, but on the balance I think it’s a positive.

Bloodlines 2 is currently scheduled to release in Q1 of 2020.


Cyberpunk 2077


Cyberpunk 2077 is the other game I’m mainly looking forward to playing. They also put out a new video at E3. This video was even more dumb, flashy, and mass-audience oriented than the previous installments.

Keanu Reeves was revealed as a character in the game at the end of the video. This video didn’t do all that much for me, since it didn’t offer any real gameplay or things to excite an RPG fan.

Cyberpunk 2077 is currently scheduled for a release date in April of 2020. My new PC is ready.


Chivalry 2 and Mordhau


My #1 interest in Chivalry 2 was whether I could play as a female knight. If so, yay! I’m playing!

The actual answer, like in Mordhau, is apparently NO. So, like Mordhau, the answer of whether I am interested is also NO. Maybe someday girls can be knights too.


Jedi: Fallen Order


This game is not just male-only, it’s a fixed young male character. I actually enjoyed and completed Jedi Outcast back in the day with Kyle Katarn. The padawan in Fallen Order is about as far away as possible from a character I’m interested in playing.

Is it really so hard to create an alternate playable character? No, this is an example of the decision makers agreeing on their own lens, and since young male only protagonists are the norm, it’s ok with them.

It’s conceivable I could give this game a try because of the excellent light saber combat shown off in the E3 demo video, however, as well as the very high quality production.

Also, I agree with Angry Joe’s analysis that we should send positive signals to EA and support the direction they are taking with the franchise.

Joe also mentions the intense light saber battles of Jedi Academy, etc., that I also enjoyed back in the day, and this would be part of a formula to pull me in.


Hearthstone


Let’s continue the male dominated video games theme. After Hearthstone released a new female hero, but locked it behind an $80 pay wall, and made it an ugly, unlikeable character, these devs are certified idiots.

And then they put out a $20 pack with yet another male hero, this one an arrogant, egotistical blowhard that should appeal to Blizzard’s caveman player-base. And we still have no female shaman and no female warrior.

Completely pathetic. The only good news is that Blizzard’s players are draining away, and they feel forced to be less disgustingly greedy with card packs. I hate myself when I give Blizzard money.


Stock Market


I was looking to buy AMD in my last post, on a pullback this summer.

Well, AMD has been a monster in the first half of the year. Their P/E ratio is now around 45, 30 based on 60% higher projected next year earnings. AMD might be just unbuyable now. It’s an opportunity missed, it’s headed for NVidia levels of overinflation. When Jim Cramer gives two thumbs up on AMD (last week), you’re looking pretty toppy on the stock.

This illustrates the concept that if I think AMD should have a big year next year, Wall Street already knows this also, and I’m not getting the jump on anyone.

My investment strategy has boiled down to buying when the Fear and Greed index is at an “Extreme Fear” level.

The Fear/Greed was at the lowest level I’ve ever seen (approximately 5) on Christmas eve. I bought. I’m winning. The market touched extreme fear again on 6/3. I added. Again, winning.

The corollary, which I only realized some months ago by selling way too soon into the monster rally in the first three months of the year, is to also sell only at greed or extreme greed levels.

My only new position is a full position in silver metal (SLV), which I will double to a giant position if it drops. $13 is approximately the cost required to mine silver without a loss. That’s why it doesn’t go below that level.

So the plan is to buy, patiently wait for an inevitable spike, and then sell. The idea came from a spot on CNBC where they mentioned that gold’s relative outperformance of silver was at ten-year levels. They were saying to buy gold, but for me that means the opposite. Silver is a catch up trade, expecting a reversion to the mean. It’s also my online handle, of course.

I am watching the ROBO ETF. The world is in an economic slowdown. If this deepens and the U.S. follows, industrial stocks are expected to suffer the worst. This means the future world full of robots is on sale as an investment. I could be adding.

Otherwise, I remain in Tencent as my main diversified gaming stock investment. I’m happy with my portfolio, except I would also like to be in chips. I just don’t know how to do that. Chips stocks have extreme volatility. They are best for trades only.

If the market as a whole does get obliterated for some reason still this summer or fall, it’s still possible AMD could be a viable trade.

Ironically, I refuse to buy another AMD video card. My Razer keyboard and mouse have also been having serious problems. My Blackwidow Ultimate now double-types a number of its keys, regardless of what PC that I connect it to. My Razer mouse sometimes decides to cease functioning completely, even if I completely uninstall all Razer software.

I never wanted my keyboard and mouse dependent on a stupid Razer cloud anyway! So no more Razer either.


Personal Game Project


It’s going. I’m doing more debugging on the live servers, so the online game is less totally broken and unplayable than normal.

I’ve got some vision now for the climactic ending of the first chapter of the main story.

Last week I started adding music tracks. I’m remixing some music from a fellow Lotro player on Landroval, Fred Bertram. If anyone reading this has a line on some nice purely instrumental, or maybe with some fairy-like vocals, then I’m interested.

My inspiration for the music is the Arcanum OST.

Baldur’s Gate is also an influence. I’ll probably do the iconic footsteps of the party in places? I’ve never spent much effort thinking about game sound. All of the sound also needs to play on a standard webpage.

I’ve mixed some music tracks for my game! The background music is available to listen on Youtube. The first track is sad village music, which is taken over by soldiers. The second track is the bar room. The third track is for the rougher soldier bar. Thanks for uploading the video, Fred.

The image for this post is a screenshot from the Peacock Queen’s palace, which is the most recent game module.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


Elder Scrolls, Bloodlines 2, Hearthstone, Game Project, Gaming Stocks

game artFour months without a post. That’s crazy. In the last four months, I got a new gaming PC. It has a NVidia 2060 and 16GB of RAM, with a 500GB SSD boot drive. I want to keep it clean and free of garbage. Just games.

So I’m ready for Cyberpunk 2077 and Bloodlines 2. Right now I’m playing ESO with ultra graphics, which is nice. I’ve leveled from roughly 20 to CP 125. LotRO also has an anniversary patch out this week. I want to see LotRO in ultra as well. I installed last night.


Vampire: Bloodlines 2


Announced! Let us all dance in mad ecstasy under the blood moon at the mere thought! Thank you to the people who are financing this and making it happen. This is one of the very few times I will pray for business people to get stinking rich.

Some new info came out in the last day or two, including a peek at skill lines and story. I am worried this could be an overhyped train wreck and/or a 10-hour gameplay cash grab.

That can’t happen right? Right? This is the vampire game of the decade. It has to be right. The announcement keynote and developer interview were comforting to the lost vampire souls out there. We’ll see.


Hearthstone World Champs, Rise of Shadows


Hearthstone 2018 championships are this weekend on Twitch. I’ve watched several hours of the first round so far. I scored a free viewer payoff pack from Blizzard.

The crowd on Twitch is solid at 50,000 on a Friday night.

We are still waiting for the adventure pack coming soon. This is the first time in Hearthstone history that we will pay for both a card set and an adventure at the same time.

Blizzard is spacing out the content so they can milk another $20 per player for this particular 4 month segment of the Hearthstone calendar, instead of releasing it all at once.

The fanfare of the championship is a distraction. They postponed this World Championship four months (i.e. normally the 2018 champs are in January), to use it to sell their new expansion. Yeah.

Even if the adventure is incredible, we are getting no free hero portrait as normal for Rise of Shadows.

You have to pay $80 dollars to get a female priest portrait. The portrait is ugly. And you only get a fraction of the card set for those packs for $50 or $80.

Honestly, I don’t care what the adventure is. Hearthstone is a money gouging bank-fest. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone until Blizzard gives more value. The more the game struggles, the more they will give away, until it’s an acceptable balance.

Giving paying customers more cards, or even the whole set for $50 wouldn’t kill them. Instead, you get a sad fraction of the set for $50. You pay full price, and you can play competitive decks for three classes, more if you did all of your dailies for months.


Gaming Stocks


Let’s see how my picks did from my last post. I said I was buying the crash.
I woke up first thing on Christmas Eve morning after my last post and followed through. I bought stocks. Turned out that was the exact bottom.

We’ve seen a monster rally since then – A totally absurd, straight-up monster stock rally that can’t possibly hold. Four months later, it is still holding. So overall, theoretically, I did well.

Pick by pick:

SQM (Socieded de Mineria, Chile), has been trending down, but with dividends I’m even on that and my REIT, which are lumped together as my dividend stocks. I also initiated only a half-position. I will double down on SQM after a breakout from the huge mult-month pullback. If the breakout doesn’t hold, I will be out.

I sold my cloud ETF (SKYY) during this rally, but I sold too soon. So I repeated my biggest mistake yet again – getting jittery and selling. So I really haven’t done that well on this really, because I just couldn’t believe it. I’m 40% invested now, down from 60%.

I gave up on JPM, especially since Trump is taking a crowbar to the fed to lower rates. Banks need higher rates.

My full-position Valero purchase (VLO) is up 15%, but so is the market. So ok.

My Tencent purchase, which I spoke at length about in my last post, is up 30%. Blizzard (my non-pick) is about 0% since December.

My goal this year is to do less selling, less trading, and buy dips. Currently I am watching Blizzard (ATVI), Lenovo (LNVGY), and the ROBO ETF.

Lenovo had surprisingly strong computer sales in the last quarter, and is soaring on that. If it gets hit hard by China news, I might add it for more China exposure.

Yesterday Intel announced some woeful chip news, and NVidia is down 5% today. I’ve been in no hurry to get back into NVidia after scoring a double on my last trade last year.

NVidia is worth watching this summer for a buyable bottom. The industry trend remains towards proprietary chips and control of technology, whether it is AI cars, AI networks, or whatever. Without going on and on about it, this is a huge headwind for NVidia.

Sony is talking more lately about a new Playstation in 2020. So that means a production ramp-up requiring AMD chips, unless those millions of chips are already bought, fabricated, and paid for. I don’t know. That would be another possible trade this year.

I could potentially be a re-buyer of Acti-Blizz (ATVI) on a summer swoon. The new console cycle should help quite a bit. I would like to wait for some upbeat news and outlook, but by then it will be too late.

If I am making big moves back into video game stocks in the coming 6 months, I will make another post.

Right now my only video game exposure is Tencent.


Video Game Project


I’ve been weekend warrioring hard on this. Last week I implemented interface support for multiple dialog speaker portraits in conversation.

In Elder Scrolls, you talk to one other person at the same time. Imagine three-way dialogs. Maybe the person in front of you wants to turn and say something to someone else. What a concept.

I’m working on three different PC’s now depending on the situation, so this week I started using my web server more to transfer files.

This led me to realize a lot of content on my game is broken online. This is because my new web host is not treating lower case and upper case the same as my old web host.

So whenever I was sloppy with upper and lower case in my crap code, things won’t load. I’ve also had other stupid server-side problems this week related to minified JS files introducing semi-colon parsing errors. I think I got that worked out.

So this weekend and going forward, I’ll be moving towards file-sharing and play-testing on live, instead of locally.

Yes, I could create a test folder on the server, but no one is playing my game. Maybe partly because it was broken, I don’t know. But things will be greatly improving.

My two dating modules are playable, module 4 in the main story should be uploaded and playable this weekend.

Module 4, Serpents, Curses, and Flirts introduces the “evil” storyline. You can move towards joining the character equivalent of Draco Malfoy’s squad (pictured above).

There is definitely not enough meaningful choice and branching storylines in my game modules. It’s sad. I’m getting old. My imagination and brain are getting crusty. I have a full time, low-paid job slowly killing me every day. So.

Basically, I’ve always considered pre-writing fiction in every detail to be a huge chore.

I like to make things up as I go along. This can work in a novel format. It doesn’t work in a video game format. It’s bad. Branching paths are also incredibly time consuming as an investment for a single developer.

Cheers, happy Friday, and happy gaming.