Category Archives: Other Games

LotRO U23, Gaming Stocks, Dev Project, Etc.

liberty cap mushroom illustration
LotRO Update 23:

Surely the best, most ambitious quest pack update in LotRO’s history. Incredible. What are they feeding to these devs. Lots of system issues and bugs still, though. And the endgame is a pretty steep grind, after you figure out all of the currencies and dailies, and how they work.

LotRO Legendary Server:

A new server is opening Nov. 8th, per the most recent tweet. Everyone starts at level one. The LotRO devs are making things happen. There are pros and cons, which have been thoroughly discussed. I’m concerned about my kinship bleeding to the new server.

I’ll roll up a new toon and claim a character name. Whether I play the character is another story. I have better things to do than play LotRO in all of my spare time.

Hearthstone:

I casually ranked to 11 this month with Even Lock and Odd Rogue, and a bit of Cubelock. I played some Asmo Priest in casual. My main goal is just to keep up with quests and stay F2P. The announcement of the next expansion should be this Friday afternoon at Blizzcon.

I’ll be watching the big tournament at Blizzcon also for sure.

The Mid-Term Election:

If you’re a Trump supporter, and you’re voting Republican in this midterm election in the U.S., you are:

A supporter of hate and less rights for LGBT.

A supporter of persecution and less rights for trans people specifically, and now possibly legislating away their legal identity in society.

A supporter of taking away women’s rights to choose.

A supporter of reducing public lands, which belong to all Americans, and opening them to exploitation by corporations.

A supporter of reducing controls and oversight of pollution and pesticides.

A supporter of sexism, pussy grabbing, and white supremacy.

A supporter of racism, naming calling, and defamation of Hispanics.

A supporter of the U.S. president telling over 5000 false or misleading claims in his first 2 years of office.

A supporter of the U.S. president turning this week’s domestic terrorism pipe bomb incident into a plea for Republicans to get out and vote.

A supporter of huge tax cuts for the super rich, which have caused the U.S. deficit and debt to soar.

A supporter of the China tariffs, which is a tax on all people, which is then used to cut taxes for the super rich.

A supporter of rampant corruption and Russian attempts to undermine democracy and the free world.

A supporter of all of these now-indicted criminals that are/were Trump’s friends, lawyers, and co-workers.

A supporter of Trump repeatedly calling the free press “the enemy of the people,” leading to violent attacks and many death threats towards journalists, who are trying to fight all of this. (And thereby they are the enemy.)

A supporter of Trump and company leading chants to put his political opponents in prison.

A supporter of a complete circus of fear politics. The hispanic migrants, who are 1000 miles away, are going to invade! This is a national emergency! Well, thousands of migrants show up at the border every year. It’s actually a normal situation being turned into fear politics.

It’s all fun and games until the murders begin, and an American journalist for WaPo (Trump’s nemesis) was murdered last week.

This could be a much longer list. The point is, if you support Trump or vote Republican, you are one of his complete idiots and under-educated sheep who embraces lies and corruption in exchange for the promise of holding power.

Just GTFO out of my blog. Get lost. Get educated. This situation is not a joke.

General Stocks:

U.S. stock market crashed last week. This is the inevitable result of Trump being president. I was selling earlier this year, down to 28% invested, 72% cash. In the past week, on this crash, I went up to about 50/50. If market tanks again this week, I’ll be shaken out back down to 33%.

I added Microsoft before they announced great results, sending the stock up 5% overnight. I added a small speculative position in Blizzard, because it’s so oversold, and I don’t want to miss it. It seems like Blizzcon should give Blizzard a bounce, but in past years it really hasn’t? So it’s a straight-up gamble.

I added a bit more to the SKYY (cloud) ETF. I added some J.P.Morgan Chase and some Albemarle for a rounded, more defensive portfolio.

Video Game Stocks:

I had to sell the NVidia that I bought before my last post.

Video game companies have been hit very hard. Blizzard dropped 7% in one day after suggesting sales for COD 4 weren’t actually that great. Sony has also pulled back very hard. This might be due to the Chinese war on video games? Or is it just pulling back with the broad Japanese market, which would make it a buy?

AMD has crashed, mainly due to disappointing earnings. NVidia crashed in sympathy. AMD has a very strong incorporation in the next gen consoles for both Microsoft and Sony. That’s a boost to AMD that will come as we approach 2020.

If AMD is left for dead in the coming months, I might be a speculative buyer. It’s hard to buy video game companies until the China trade war and also war on video games are less of an issue, however.

Personal Game Project:

I’ve finally finished and playtested my first “dating” module, where you can go on an elfy eco-date with your friend Jeanie. I still need to translate it into Spanish.

While on your quest with Jeanie, a side quest is to learn about at least 6 plant species (one of which is the top graphic.) Jeanie is into botany, so your interest in plants will make her happy. An interest in shrooms might make her happy too.

Yes, I know fungi are actually not plants. I have a biology degree.

I’m working now on revamping and rewriting that module into another dating module with Connor. This will be an interesting journey into bisexuality. I’ll need to dig deep into my personal history.

The romance is just kissing and implication, similar to Baldur’s Gate. I have no plans for nudity, at least not of romanceable students. Elven professors don’t mix with the students, at least officially.

A goblin professor of the dark arts might mix, but she hasn’t entered the story yet.

For now, I’ve incorporated functionality for retro black-screen with text in the middle, game-mastering the passage of romantic time, like in Baldur’s Gate.

You have to do a lot of things right to even get a kiss on the first date though. The next date with both characters will probably be drinking in a tavern.

Miscellaneous:

My Dinner With Herve. This is a touching new movie out on HBO. I enjoyed it. Peter Dinklage. What else do you need.

I’m sad that Orange Is The New Black is being canceled by Netflix. Maybe they canceled it because Jenji Kohan went super gay in Season 7, and pissed off the execs? Let’s hope so!

Corona. I started drinking beer this week to help with my stress. This blog post has been brought to you by Corona Extra, the beer of bilingual blogging champions. I’ll see you soon on the LotRO Legendary server, I hope.

Oh, and screw Justin Olivetti for removing the KKBB link on his blog. Likewise. Game over for Olivetti. Grade A is now a grade Z. Byeee.

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North Mirkwood, Wow Multiclassing, Hearthstone, Etc.


Massively reported this week on the Northern Mirkwood update 22 for LotRO. I’m patching LotRO now. I’m morbidly curious to see if I’m kicked out of my LotRO kinship for inactivity, for like the 10th time.

When I finished the main story of Mordor (for all I know, there could be more of it now, honestly), I had no interest in grinding gear whatsoever. Just too much grinding, and confusing.

The sight of Mirkwood has me vaguely interested, since I’ve been completely unable to find an MMO replacement. My one month back in WoW didn’t persuade me to spend the next decade of my life grinding that game.

Massively wrote a speculative piece on WoW multi-classing this week. My main problem with WoW has always been the classes just never sticking with me. Are the classes in WoW just “dumbed down”? Maybe that’s why I’ve spent more time playing Rift than WoW.

Rift lost me on too many loot box and cash shop shenanigans, among other things. Hearthstone is pushing more promotional roulette wheel stuff, but effort you make in Hearthstone is never completely lost.

You can always dust your cards down the road (aka gear), use them in wild, etc. Maybe the Mech tribe will make a comeback, and unused cards will suddenly be playable, etc. Everyone wishes there were more achievements and things to do in Hearthstone though.

Politics and Market Commentary

The bounce. Is it a real ‘V’, or are we going down again? The news that Mueller is charging Russians for election meddling, but not the Trump campaign (yet), seems to take some steam off of the overhead of political risks in the short term. Yeah.

The initial big surge was the dip buyers, but after many, many months of no dips, that was expected. Some analysts insist the unwinding of volatility trades, among other things, will take weeks, not ten days, but things are looking pretty stable.

I went back big into GOOGL at the first of the week, because I liked the market action. I’m up 3%. The daily action looks fairly orderly to me, with money being put to work, not so much FOMO.

I am up 12% on RHT (RedHat) since last week, which is crazy. I mentioned LH (Labcorp) last week, and that has been insane too. I wish now that I had pushed. I would buy LH on another dip if we have one.

I sold ALB (Albemarle) already yesterday (Friday) at the peak of the market, within minutes of the announcement that Rosenstein was going to make a prepared statement. That was good timing.

I took 6% in ALB, and the reason I sold is that the dollar is holding support and bouncing, instead of breaking still lower. Kevin O’Leary stated he thinks the dollar has found a bottom, and he is acting accordingly. So, I decided maybe it’s a good idea to protect my profits.

Also, the breadth on this bounce is really not there. If the breadth increases on Mom and Pop Monday (Tuesday, this week due to holiday), then we could have a FOMO situation.

If FOMO hits this coming week, we could see panic buying into a double top pattern, and then who knows. Another big drop could cause lasting damage to morale of dip buyers. If breadth declines, then caveat emptor even more.

Personal

Ok, LotRO is done patching. Time to look up my password, log in, and see what happens. I see a lot of people in Mordor. I see the normal amount of people in both kins (on both accounts.) I see bands playing in Bree (on Landroval.)

So pretty much situation normal. I have no idea what to do, though. Maybe just wait for Mirkwood. I’m not grinding Mordor gear. Today I have a bunch of art to do for my game project, anyway.

A drawing of a fairy. A gnome merchant, maybe with a burro. Or maybe a flying transport carpet? My world is pretty low/medium magic though.

Maybe it shouldn’t be low magic? Maybe that’s just lazy and unimaginative?

I really improved my interface last week, and I put up a new splash screen for module three on Deviant Art.


Love Is In The Air For LotRO

Female Beorning Face Tattoo

This week I re-installed LotRO. LotRO is receiving love from the bloggers this week on the heels of a new update and a ninth anniversary celebration.

When LotRO originally went F2P, I was disgusted at the cash shop tactic takeover of the game and interface. Now it’s the norm (unfortunately) and I hardly even notice.

Last week I was playing Ms. Pacman, the new SEGA release on Steam. I made fourth place on the leaderboards and started thinking: I could be playing an outdated MMO for the millionth time, and it would be more fun, and have a better story.

I had to buy the Beorning class and try it. A few years ago, I argued in the official forums for a tribal race, including face tattoos. Turbine provided them! I love my Beorning. I love her grunting she-bear attitude.

There is a wee deal-breaker: a rage mechanic.  For some reason, this mechanic frustrates me.  I quit trying to play Bear druid in WoW because of this.

So I’m playing a Warden. Today I watched some of the six-hour anniversary livestream from a few days ago, which was entertaining, offering a lot of candid dev interviews.

One highlight was the assertion that we will surely see the gates of Mordor within the next year. At least the black gates.

Another highlight was Edgecase’s emphatic assertion that Burglars were in a bad place, and they were a “high priority”.

I’ve never seen an MMO class more abandoned by the players. There are ten classes in LotRO, and about 1.5% of players are currently playing Burglars at cap at any given time, i.e. two players on Landroval.

This is what happens when you ignore a problem for so long, like updating your server software, which as of yesterday was super glitchy, rubber-bandy, and the worst ever. Today the servers are better, so maybe they fixed some issues.

A few years ago the Turbine organization was crass greed (to me), and now they are more like cute, clever, small-handed hobbits, underdogs. The livestream was nice.

Some players today are only now reaching the original conclusion of pure greed, of course, while others are just now discovering LotRO. For the latter, I’m trying to update my Newbie Guide To LotRO as I go along.  The guide still sees 10-20 views per day.


Gaming Stocks


This last week was a brutal week for corporate earnings in the U.S.. Google, Apple, and Microsoft all fell on their faces.

I sold $MSFT at break-even. I tried to buy Sony at chart support, but was forced out immediately when the Bank of Japan held fast on their policy, causing the Yen to skyrocket, and $SNE to break support.

The dollar is plunging, sending every Uncle Joe piling into spiking gold and silver prices. I rode that for a short while, but good grief people.

High Yen puts pressure on exports and revenue in Yen denomination. I guess. So I might be watching the Yen for another Sony entry point, or I might just forget getting into Sony before E3.

Sony is also now under some pressure as an iPhone sensor supplier, like all iPhone suppliers, after Apple’s disappointment, not to mention the work stoppage for the recent earthquake. So I was thinking buy the bad news, but I was too early. Now it looks like the U.S. markets could roll over, dragging down others with it.

With Sony’s supposed PS4.5, Playstation VR, and Sony’s VR games in the pipeline, which were heralded by the Gamestop CEO as something special, this is looking like Sony’s year to push forward after some recent impressive PS numbers.

Nintendo also mentioned this week a new console-type product for possible spring 2017 release, but that still seems to leave Sony in command of the hardware holidays.


Elder Scrolls Online: Nameplates Coming

skyrim mod

While playing Skyrim, I miss my ESO (Elder Scrolls Online) high elf Templar.

We’re approaching the two-year anniversary of ESO. Most reasons I left the game I know are still in place: no real Auction House, only four classes with a very limited skill bar, and a super-obtuse UI that’s difficult to navigate.

I’d almost forgotten about the missing nameplates.

I remember when the ESO devs were showing off their game pre-launch, practically thumping their chests proudly at their amazing non-existent interface. Apparently they hadn’t noticed how much players don’t like their interface.

SkyUI – the super-popular interface-fixer mod for Skyrim, has over eleven million downloads. That’s a shocking number, apparently about one download for every two copies of Skyrim sold on all platforms (22 million) worldwide.

Last month the ESO devs actually announced they are planning to make the ESO interface a little less painfully opaque. They are planning to put back nameplates, which have been gone since beta. (I saw them – they weren’t glorious, but they worked.)

Apparently it only took two years of begging from players (I was one of them early on) and even a Change.Org petition!

I’ll probably give ESO another try in subscription mode as soon as I finish Skyrim.  I miss my elf, and I miss open world cooperation.  ESO has a strong focus on open world coop, i.e. Delves.

In the Orsinium preview last fall, the Creative Lead said public dungeons are a place they want to get more characters to, so they increased the experience rewards.  I love public dungeons.

Rift also has excellent grouping, public and otherwise, but I’m not ready to return yet.  Archonix put out a producer’s letter this week.

Rift has introduced login rewards, and intends to roll out multi-core and 64 bit client support this year, along with new souls, and new Carnival content.


Hearthstone


In other news, Blizzard announced a major change to Hearthstone – new ways to play. Casual and ranked play will be broken into an official tournament division using only the most recently released decks of cards, while a “wild mode” will allow all cards from all sets.

I think it’s a great and needed change for various reasons. The players get a lot more new cards. The devs are less constrained, so they can do more creative things.

The game is free, so the amount of money that players spent on the retired cards (Naxx and GvG initially) in “standard” mode is not that much money over a two-year time period, unless they spent far too much in the first place. The real catch is the amount of money needed in the future to keep up with the pace.


Gaming Stocks


Stocks today (Friday) are giving up on their attempt to rally from Bear mode, and are dying in a fire. Even companies announcing great results this quarter (Google, Facebook), are being pummeled (down 4% and 6%).

That’s not wild mode – that’s crazy mode. Blizzard’s stock is continuing to get killed, and I’m now back to break-even.

I sold my Electronic Arts last week at break-even after they reported lackluster results, and the stock dropped 8% in one day. So I’m happy enough to see it drop another 10% this week.

I also sold Alibaba last week because I realized it’s a liquid trading proxy for China, and it no longer trades on its own merit. So that means I have to play that game, so I’m looking for the chart of the China ETF (i.e. FXI), to break out of the downsloping pattern before buying back into Alibaba as a proxy for China.

I’m just holding Activision-Blizzard and Microsoft until hell freezes over. Blizzard debt is even more of a potential albatross with the rising interest rates (I think?) but clearly no one else understands characters and can create new IPs and cross-marketing like they can.

The Electronic Arts CEO was going on (in their conference call) about Star Wars Battlefront’s great visuals, and how they are trending for a younger demographic. Apparently their new direction isn’t working well for them, since they drastically missed their revenue estimates, which actually fell from last year according to Zack’s.

So happy Friday! This went longer than expected, so next time I’ll try for an update on my game project. I’m programming this weekend. Last weekend was art.

I’m puzzled a little trying to make elves look like elves, and not like humans with pointy ears. If anyone has a genius observation, I’d love to hear it! The below portraits need a few touches still.

Professor Aspen is supposed to be an homage to Professor Snape (Alan Rickman, who passed on last month), but the semblance isn’t exactly brilliant.  The elf naming needs research and decisions.

elf ports


Rift: Game Is In Great Shape, Announcement Coming (+ Gaming Stock Commentary)

In response to player concerns today about the future of Rift, community manager Ocho had this to say in the forums:

“So let’s get to some facts:

  • The RIFT Dev team is the largest Dev team I’ve ever worked with in almost a decade of working on triple A MMOs.
  • The team has grown over the last year and a half, and hiring for the team continues.
  • Population in RIFT is strong, lots of people play RIFT and lots of new people continue to start to play RIFT.
  • Profits from RIFT are certainly reinvested in RIFT. AA took 0 devs from RIFT. None, nada, zilch.
  • RIFT is in zero danger. We’re really excited about the future, right now is a great time to be playing or working on RIFT. …
  • We’re not only reusing old content, we’re also developing new content. Keep your eyes out over the next couple weeks, we might be announcing something.”

– Ocho

This is great news, since this kitty has also been a little worried.

This week I capped my rogue alt, and I continue close to picking up a few pieces of raid gear earned for my main by weeklies and dailies instead of raiding. I’m also enjoying the creative and quirky nightmare saga story.

The second act released yesterday. The return of old classic characters doesn’t bring much life to them (so far), and we mostly see them as generic quest-advancers. The third act of the saga also supposedly forces you to do a lot of PvP and NTE dungeons.

I disagree with this design, even if it’s to justify the epic weapon you can theoretically get when it’s all over. There are two main types of players:

  • Players for whom this is just same-old grinding to pad out the saga.
  • Players for whom this is horrible and will spend an entire weekend trying to queue for PUG DPS and beat five dungeons, or queuing PvP and hating Trion the entire time.

Just doesn’t seem like a winning scheme to me.


Video Game Stocks


Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft (MSFT) both had solid earnings reports this week, so hopefully these will be long term for my paltry little portfolio, and I can ease up on my nine-month quest (right before the stock market goes off a cliff, possibly.)

How can Microsoft compete with Apple and Google? By uniting your PC in an ecosystem with your other devices and monetizing by applying what they’ve learned from Free-To-Play video games. I plan to buy a Lumia soon. My Samsung tablet completely fails to recognize my Windows 7 PC.

You’ll also be able to stream XBOX to PC with Windows 10, or stream console-quality games to your PC without an XBOX using the cloud, which Microsoft demonstrated yesterday.

If you need any more good news for Microsoft, China announced this week that it will now allow game consoles to be sold in China after a 15 year ban. This is probably more better for Sony and Nintendo.

My third tech pick is still Equinix (EQIX), a cloud pipeline and data center owner. They are allied with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, which I hope will eventually win against Amazon’s huge cloud. Who wants to trust Amazon with their entire corporate business and security if the other choice is the Microsoft on your PCs?

I also still hold AT&T (T), which is now FCC-approved to merge with DirectTV, with an expectation of leveraging their scale to produce their own competitive over-the-top video streaming service like everyone else.

Nvidia’s (NVDA) stock continues to head into the abyss with PCs and chips, although the stock is super tempting as it dips below $20. The future of virtual reality in video games and in general might see Nvidia as a big player.

As TAGN reported, Blizzard (ATVI) announces results next week on 8/4, followed by an announcement of a new expansion a few days later on 8/6. Interesting.

In the last two quarters, Blizzard reported strong results and the stock popped. Both times I sold and took small profits. The stock might pop again, but right now Wall Street seems to be in a mood to sell any stocks after their results hit print.

Especially if a stock ran up into its earnings announcement.

I would not be betting on Blizzard’s stock to be higher the day after it reports. If ATVI sells off hard, it might be a buying opportunity, especially if the Wall Street boys aren’t completely up to speed with the expansion deal.

Also, if Blizzard is announcing their expansion earlier than normal at Gamescom, then maybe they are saving something even bigger for Blizzcon in November?