May/June Update


Game News and Deals


We’ve seen a lot of video game news and updates in the last few weeks, in shows that basically replaced the annual E3 conference.

The highlights for me were the EA announcements this week. The big one was Star Wars: Squadrons, which is finally bringing a new full-on pilot experience for the Star Wars game universe.

EA also announced they are bringing a lot of their titles over to Steam for the PC, instead of requiring you to have and use Origin. That’s great news, and will allow me to find and consider these titles that I normally wouldn’t even see for sale.

EA is currently offering a short-time discount for its basic plan on Origin, 99 cents for your first month. So I’ve signed up to play a bunch of EA games in the coming weeks.

Hearthstone released a new free adventure, which was fun for a few hours. Free packs and solo content are never bad.

I’ve also played a bit of Doki Doki Literature Club (free on Steam) and Bards Tale Remastered trilogy (EA Origin Basic).

I quit LotRO from burnout and inability as usual to connect with any kin. I could tell some ridiculous stories about trying to join a kin.

I still have urges to play WoW and Diablo, but it’s just a been-there, done-that situation. Maybe Wow Classic enough of a success that Blizzard could think again about a new MMO? One can hope.

So the video game life is pretty awkward right now. I’m basically doing Hearthstone dailies and ranking up every few days. Cyberpunk 2077 is now postponed from September to November 12th-ish. So we’ll have to wait a little longer for that.


Stock Market


I bought a half-position in Electronic Arts (EA) early this week. It has kept strong upward momentum, and was my top performer today in a down market. It looks short term overbought, but not so much on a 3-year chart.

I did the same sort of momentum play a month or so ago with JD.com (JD), and it’s up 20% now, even after two big 3%+ down days to consolidate. I think the same gain could be coming in EA.

In addition to Squadrons and Steam, other catalysts for EA stock include Covid making a comeback and speculation that EA could purchase Warner Brothers Interactive studios, which went up for sale last week.

Of course, the overall market is more important than any individual stock. And the U.S. stock market is in limbo. It’s too high to go higher, and there is too much investment money sitting there for dips to not be bought. So we are going to bounce.

The news stories about millions of people getting onto Robin Hood are very interesting. The new zero-fee landscape for stock trading turns investment into a gambling game, sadly.

Novice traders might not be very aware of the “spread”, however. The spread is an additional broker fee for making a stock purchase, defined by the “bid and ask” prices listed when you make a trade.

I seem to be noticing the spreads are higher nowadays than they used to be. This means that the “free” trade brokerages are still siphoning off real money on your trades.

I mean, the spread used to be pennies back in the day. I’m looking at EA now in after hours, and the spread is more like $2 per share. That is probably an after-hours price to not freak out about, but it’s something to watch when you are trading stocks. Are you actually paying $4 or $5/trade due to a sneaky spread?

I haven’t done a deep dive on it yet, but it seems reasonable, in these days when everything is a scam, that the “zero fees” are just being moved and hidden in bigger bid-ask spreads on every trade. I’d like to see real research on this, but as yet haven’t seen any.


Game Project


I’m wrapping up the Dark Game epilogue now: The Grand Peacock Fashion Faire. I started the module over 2 months ago. It’s so long and full of content at this point that I plan to adapt into the first story module of chapter 2.

So that will be a bit more work, but a better use of resources. Branching content that only half of your players can see is expensive. I don’t have that luxury.

The volunteer dungeon writer I recruited hasn’t done anything. That bum! Kidding! His prospectus is pirates now. (I hope he’ll do some disgusting and/or sexy stuff that I can put in the game, but not be responsible for authoring it. Ha! We elves are clever.)

I’ve done a lot of oil painting lately, which has diverted my attention from the game project. I have to take time to be an elf in real life. Video game elves just aren’t real enough for me anymore.

Anyway, happy Summer Solstice, and happy gaming. Thanks for reading this far. You might be the only one, so you can feel good about your accomplishment. Feel free to hop over to my main hosting site to check out my game.


LotRO, Hearthstone, Stock Market ~ 4-20-2020

Rabbit Master


Lord of the Rings Online


In the past month, I’ve leveled to 63 on the Anor legendary server, earning the lovely account-wide Moria portrait.

I leveled to 128 with two characters on Landroval, and I capped my LI’s by grinding the Spring Festival.

My main problem now is the discovery that my virtues are at, on average, 50+ ranks out of 68. That’s several ranks to grind in each of my virtues. That’s insane.

Worse yet, the virtue bonuses are ramping up now at the top end, more like an exponential curve. This makes capping them actually relevant.

I’ve been grinding virtues now for a week or two, and this is going to take me a few more months. This grind has actually pushed me back into dual-boxing, so I can double the reward for my effort. This also means I’ll support LotRO more with my second account. That’s fine.

So I’ve given up trying to catch up and participate in the current LotRO endgame, unfortunately. In fact, I’ll just wait until everyone moves on, so Minas Morgul is less crowded than now.


Hearthstone


Hearthstone’s annual spring rotation released a few weeks ago. I was only vaguely aware of this when I re-installed last night.

I was rewarded with ~7000 dust for my rotated and nerfed cards. This, combined with my stockpile of gold and dust from when I last played (August 2019), is enough to get me back in the game.

Better yet, there is a round of nerfs planned for next week, which will offer even more dust.

Blizzard revamped their ranked system (again), offering a bit more rewards within a much more confusing, murky system.

This was needed years ago, but Blizzard ignored me and others, of course. Last year’s ranked ‘revamp’ was a no-effort joke not even worth mentioning as a historical note.

Blizzard has also released a new hero, the Demon Hunter. They are planning a new game mode this year. The new ranked rewards are still not worth going for, compared to just completing quests, but next fall Blizzard is promising still more rewards, including achievements.

These are all things that Hearthstone has needed for years, and all partly reasons why I quit playing last year. (The main reason is that Hearthstone is just boring at this point.)

In any case, now is a very good time to re-install Hearthstone, get your free stuff, and maybe stick with it. This year should be much better, according to Blizzard’s teases.


Stock Market Commentary


My stock market picks a month ago were frankly insane. (In a good way.) I even added a small position in Blizzard after saying I wouldn’t, because I wanted even more video game exposure.

Unfortunately, I sold Blizzard (ATVI) and Akamai (AKAM) a week or two ago, both at a 10% gain, which was much, much too soon. They are both up at least another 10% since then.

I am shocked by the size of the rally we’ve had. 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Why are we soaring back close to the all-time highs? Is it the stimulus? The government flooding the landscape with money? Trumptards piling in just to own the libs?

This is a super complicated topic involving short squeeze, FOMO, MOMO, oil, and several other things. I’ve honestly tried to short the market twice in the last week, once for a small gain, once for a small loss. Bears just can’t get anything going in the last week or so.

Right now the prevailing sentiment is complete idiocy, insanity, and over-optimism (see: Donald Trump, and Red States). I strongly believe this is not going to end well.

I’ve made nice gains on buying Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, and NVidia. I’m up 37% now on Amazon! I do think we will collapse again at some point, at least until companies are manufacturing hundreds of millions of reliable doses of vaccine.

I actually swapped Tencent for Microsoft since my last post, for various reasons relating to China, pink sheets, and less long-term worry.

What will I add on drops (market drops, not video game drops) in the coming months? I’ll continue to dollar cost average into MSFT, NVDA, and AKAM. I’m up only 12% in Silver. I want a lot more Silver. I want more like a 50% gain.

If I want more video game exposure, I’m looking at ESPO, the ESports ETF. It’s a 1% fee, but I mean, what single game company would I pick otherwise? EA, ATVI, or TTWO? Who knows, really, if I feel like NVidia and MSFT are not enough game exposure.

TAN (Solar ETF) is very tempting to dollar cost average into right now. The coming recession/depression, as well as low oil costs, will put a lot of hurt on development of solar infrastructure by governments and societies.

If you have a very long term horizon, I do like the solar ETF. It’s an elf stock for sure!

Valero (VLO) is tempting as well. It was a market leader for percent gain last Friday. It could potentially double from here in the next few years. If I see a great buyable chart formation, I’d probably rather go long VLO for a trade than go long the S&P.


Video Game Project


I’m still not feeling well, but I’m back to work anyway.

I’m halfway through the Dark Game epilogue, which is a LotRO-style storyline extension only for dark mode players, answering questions raised only for these players during the main story. This module has an elven fashion show, where I did some illustrations for fusion elf/succubus fashion designs.

The models are animated in a few frames to cross a show stage. The partly completed module with the fashion design is here. Pre-loads are not implemented yet, so you’ll get graphics pop-ins.

I’m also well along on a dedicated vocabulary study module, which also has a small optional storyline. Your goblin professor is questioning which teaching style is better: nice, good elven rewards for doing well, or goblin punishments for doing badly. Let’s run some tests on you to find out!

I’ll hope to have this up on the website for my next post. Unless I get worse and die of the virus.

The new dungeon designer, Shadoweaver, is very busy IRL, but may produce some dungeon content soon? Maybe? This is a total wild card, like rolling a d20. Who knows.

That’s all for now. Have fun, stay safe, and happy gaming.


March To Minas Morgul + Stock Market Commentary

gladden fields


Lord of the Rings Online


Minas Morgul went to the LotRO store a few weeks ago, and that was enough to return to LotRO. My last attempts to play LotRO ran afoul of patching failures (unable to install the MM patch), and previous to that, no idea how to get the epic questline when the Vales of Anduin released. I thought it was bugged.

Let’s just say the returning player experience caused me to uninstall months ago, and this time it was still pretty bad. There was no quest popup or lead-in when I bought the Minas Morgul ex-pack, for example. I was a bit bewildered.

The good news is that Standing Stone is making “all Lotro quests, instances, and skirmishes, including those in expansion packs, open to everyone through April 30.”(Source.)

So if you want to jump back in without a subscription, now is the time. So far I’m having a fair bit of fun in this era of social isolation, and I feel like I’ll be able to stick with it to the new level cap of 130.

The spring festival also started today in Middle Earth. Per the announcement, we will also have some special events to cheer people up during these difficult times. Honestly the Landroval server is crammed with people right now, for whatever reason. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen such a player population in LotRO.


Pathfinder: Kingmaker


This is on 60% off sale this weekend on Steam. I’m going to highly recommend this game as a fantastic Baldur’s Gate style experience. I’ve been watching a Twitch streamer play it (HazVsRPG).

Personally, I find Keep and lands management to be a bit tedious, and I’m looking for more social online experiences that make me feel less lonely and depressed. So I might buy this, but I’m not sure I’ll play it over LotRO right now.


U.S. Stock Market


I was reading an article today about the stock market during the 1918 Spanish Flu. The market then sold down 30+% very early in that time, the same as now. That was also months before the worst of the flu hit the world.

The market never went below that point afterwards. These are very different times, in all kinds of ways. Nonetheless, some people are speculating this could be the bottom, or very near it.

I’ve legged into Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), Akamai (AKAM), Verizon (VZ), and Tencent (TCEHY) in the past week. This is all for the stay-at-home economy. I was on top of this before people started writing about and buying into these stocks, as well. So I’m still doing quite fine.

Akamai was up 10% yesterday on reports of various internet outages (Akamai serves to mitigate overloads with their server networks.) It’s down today though, and I haven’t researched why.

I am also legging into Silver (SLV). A soaring dollar has crushed silver and gold, among other things. During 2008, silver dropped as low as $8.50/OZ. So I’m prepared to double down at that point and triple down if even lower.

I was previously considering buying a PC manufacturer for the work-at-home economy. Articles this week have mentioned laptops disappearing from shelves in stores. It’s hard to buy a pure PC manufacturer, although Lenovo (Chinese) on the pink sheets is a possibility.

Today Logitech (LOGI) was soaring 10% on articles about the need for its products for working at home, as well as exposure to gaming. That’s a great pick. I wish I’d thought of it before the 10% up. Now it’s a little late for my taste.

Instead I pushed a bit into Tencent today. I don’t like buying a giant diversified company in general (i.e. Sony), but it’s a good global play on video game demand. Also, China has contained its virus for now. Who knows what could happen at Blizzard HQ in California, for example, possibly setting fire to your ATVI.

Let me be clear that all of my positions now are half-positions. Small stuff, so I can buy more if the markets do indeed go another 10%-20%.


Personal


My cough continues to be severe. I got tested for Covid-19, but my doctor didn’t do the test properly I think. In any case, the lab could not process it. So I still don’t know.

I do have some issues breathing at times. That could just be mucus buildup, or a panic attack since I’m having real issues with stress.

Anyway, if I stop posting you’ll know what happened to the kitty. Creative work on the game is on hold, for the most part, until I feel better both physically and emotionally.

The Cursed Tombs dungeon has been patched up a fair bit, however, and is still open for business here.

Stay safe, stay at home. I see pictures on Tumblr of everyone in 1918 wearing masks. Why are we still not wearing masks??? China, Hong Kong, and South Korea have all contained their virus. They are also all wearing masks. HMMMM.

Well, I’m still trying to get some masks delivered from Amazon. My first order still hasn’t shown up after 3+ weeks. Crossing my fingers on the second attempt. I bought a water filter. I bought a lot of food. I bought a very large bag of cough drops.


MMO Purgatory, Stock Market, & Other Updates


The Game Situation

Last month I re-subbed to WoW Classic. I reached level 50ish and called it quits again. The grind is brutal, basically. Even though I’m playing a mage!

When I first started playing Classic at launch, I was thinking – these kids today aren’t going to make it! They don’t have the patience!

I just assumed I would be able to do this without much problem. I was too overconfident.

Blizzard is also a complication. I’m not such a fan these days. I’m not so thrilled to give them $15/month, for the main game. Classic is just a perk. I’m not actually using what I’m paying for. Feels weird man.

I tried Bethesda’s Doom. It doesn’t have the feel of the original, to me. There were no swarms of enemies in the original Doom.

If you faced 2 enemies at once in the original Doom, you needed to be careful. If you faced 3+ at once, that was a big battle. There was also more dreadfulness and suspense, because each enemy was more deadly.

Or at least, that’s the way I remember it.

I’ve also been playing Dragon’s Lair, the classic arcade game on Steam. I was doing well until I ran into a bugged room that has been bugged for 2 years, apparently, and another sequence that appears bugged because it isn’t showing the direction hints. So I have no idea what to do.

So I’m searching for a game, as usual. I don’t know what to play. The big Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay reveal was earlier this week.

It was OK. It didn’t blow me away. It looked a lot like NWN2 to me. Other people say it is more like DOS3, because Larian studios is the developer.


U.S. Stock Market

The U.S. Stock Market crashed 10% this week. The consensus is that the crashing is far from over. There are a bewildering array of problems caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

For example .. no, I’m not even going to get started.

I sold 50% of my portfolio on the bounce first thing Monday morning. So I’m doing fine! This afternoon I nibbled back at Netflix (NFLX)and Akamai (AKAM).

I’ve been watching Akamai for a while. They had a great earnings report. In a world of major teleconferencing rollout, Akamai should benefit, as well as from increased home internet usage.

Netflix seems like a no-brainer, but of course it was sold off severely along with all overpriced tech stocks. How can Netflix not do very well in a world where everyone is staying home, schools are being shut down, nothing to do etc.?

The thing is, all of these tech stocks are bundled up into ETFs, such as total market ETFs, S&P ETFs, etc.. And the biggest tech companies are a large percent of the market now, like 20%?

So, as always but more than ever before, the broad market is much more important than an individual stock.

I also like Tencent (TCEHY), but that was a stock I took profits in on Monday. I had way too much of the stock. So I plan to start rebuilding my position at some point.

I also sold NVidia on Monday, because of large profits I wanted to turn into cash. Today an analyst said NVidia should do well regardless of the virus because of cloud and gaming. People jumped in today to run up NVidia!

Well, the cloud needs businesses doing well to need more cloud capacity. If businesses start sending people home, hunkering down worried about financial conditions, etc. the cloud is going to get hurt.

The call on Nvidia today, while notable, or else I wouldn’t note it, seems pretty suspect to me. It caused a bunch of chip stocks to do well today. Really? I think Americans just love chips. I’ll get back into NVidia at some point, but I’ll be waiting a bit on the chip stocks.

The virus is going to get far, far worse. I can see the market dropping another 10% or 20%. I can also see Trump making more of an effort to fix the stock market than fix the completely incompetent and failed response by the American government to the arrival of the virus.

So. I sold my portfolio down to like 75% cash at about 3% from the top, and I started nibbling a bit at the down 10% mark today, on companies that the virus shouldn’t hurt so much.

Of course, if I’m dead from virus it won’t matter. I’ve already been sick for the last month from something.


Personal Project

I’ve been working hard in the last 2 months on my game’s first dungeon. (Game art shown above.) The beta playtesting version of The Cursed Tombs is online here.

(Please note that if you play from this link, and you don’t have a saved code, you will do very poorly as a default non-statted character.)

The title of the dungeon is pretty generic, but it’s just the first entry level dungeon? I learned a lot while making this dungeon. Developed far more tricks and techniques than from any other effort previously.

So that’s good. Now I just need to get healthy so I can get back to working at full strength.

Feb. Updates:

Illustrated the first Owl River dungeon, approx. 70 pieces of art in 1 month despite having a virus and working full time.

Added a fourth fight and two more rooms.

Some playtesting, still needs Spanish translation.

Redesigned character panels to be more like a familiar classic character sheet.

Added another gear slot “Jewelry” slot, to go with the previous “Accessory” slot. Jewelry is now a separate and equal category to Accessory, which includes misc. trinkets, tomes, magical belt buckles, whatever.

Recruited a new dungeon developer, who is working on a second dungeon.

Planning and plotting second chapter of main storyline.

January 2020: Updates/Fixes

A3: More bug fixes, added Seelie Court rep. Archmistress Glumskayah now has wings? Not sure about the wing thing. I wanted to make her more devilish and less human, basically. I have a big problem with all of my non-human NPC’s managing to look lamely human. More dialog and options. Fixed removal of Learaiche’s wand.

A4: A few minor bug fixes, dialog cuts and improvements, added a skip option for theatre talking.

A5: Several bug fixes, broken conversation lines. Preloads.

A6: more bugs fixed, extended ending, new longest, most complicated module by far. Preloads.

D1: First dungeon is in development.

Tarot Training– added preloads for tarot cards

French Club – fixed more bugs, broken dialogue, Spanish language

Connor library – edited, translated.

Help – another edit through the dialogs to update for diplomacy changes

Library – fixed map, reduced high rate of special encounters prior in place for testing


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!