Tag Archives: game development

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


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.


Mordor And A New Playable Race Coming For LotRO: High Elf

hearthstone 1000 wins image spanish


LotRO: Mordor and High Elf


The Stones (Standing Stones Games) released their annual producer letter today, and it’s an eye-opener. The LotRO devs plan to release three updates this year. The dark Mordor expansion will be sandwiched right in the middle, like an Oreo cookie on Opposite Day.

My mind is more blown by a new playable race, coming as part of the effort to revamp the character models. This will be the High Elf, which Mirhaen in the LotRO forums speculates to be a Noldor Elf (Golodhrim) and gives this description:

They were also known as the Deep Elves. Deep meaning wise, as they were considered the great craftsmen, most learned and inventive of the Eldar. In the Third Age, they lived in Rivendell and Lindon. They were tall and muscular. Their hair was normally dark brown, but also red and silver white. Their eyes were grey or dark.

I’ve asked for an Elf Captain for a long time, but I just finished leveling my Woman Captain in the last few weeks! I literally just gave up on the idea this winter and pushed my 70 Captain the rest of the way, and now they do it! I can’t even cope with starting over again at this point.

I can’t imagine either how they will create a ‘High’ Elf race that is more desirable than the current one in appearance. They can improve the stats in a few minor ways, but probably few Elf fans want a much taller, bulkier avatar, except the males I guess.

Justin’s Massively article.


Hearthstone: Imbalance Insanity


This week I won my 1000th game of Hearthstone all-time, which was worth a screenshot. (In Spanish.)

Hearthstone is even more unbalanced than ever now. It’s like if you want to win, you have to play one of three classes. And if you want to win the most of those, you play Shaman. Their total package is just better.

When will Blizzard nerf? Never? It’s ridiculous, and I can only assume money is their motive. I’m only playing minimally now to complete free quests. Many games are like: ok that’s just ridiculous, you win. Repeat.

I keep adjusting my curve lower and lower to counter Warrior and Shaman, basically, and then I lose to most Rogues and Reno decks that draw board clears, taunts, and 4-health minions.

That said, I managed to get to Rank 12 without a lot of effort using Dragon Priest. I thought I’d work hard to get my 500 wins with Tyrande for the golden priest hero portrait, but Blizzard doesn’t give golden portraits to the special non-core heroes. So. Again, I love you Blizzard but. Whatev!


Gaming Stocks


Blizzard’s stock has been strong this week though. Reports show both Overwatch and Hearthstone sales have been very strong. Hearthstone is leading the CCG genre by far, with a surprisingly high level of monetization.

Also, I’m a small bet back into NVidia this week, catching the wave of this new upsurge after the pullback. I’ve made 4% on my investment in three days.

I took profits in Google, even though the results were better than they sounded on the surface yesterday. I’m happy with my set of stocks now, including Blizz, NVidia, and Tencent.

I might want to add back the XLK ETF to replace Google and lessen single-company headline risk of a Republican-dictated internet and China issues.

I’m also watching Silver metal, which is both defensive and industrial (i.e. solar); and Pepsi (PEP) for potable beverages in a polluted future. Pepsi has a picture-perfect long-term wedge forming up to a breakout soonish, and I like the CEO.

I’m also into Rambus (RMBS) this week on a breakout after a climax low. The kicker is that Rambus reports next week with similar chip industry exposure (I think) as Texas Instruments, which reported a very strong quarter. So we’ll see. I either lose 10% now or gain 100% eventually, same as NVidia.


Personal RPG Project: How I Overworked and Died


Little gaming, lots of developing in recent weeks. I’m working on your character’s bedroom. You’ll be able to redecorate, change wall art and wall colors. I have background music now thanks to some nice free use downloads.

I need to make the room more studious – more bookshelves, writing utensils, etc., besides your magical elven wardrobe holding your dresses and armors, and your Gnomish Safebox that holds your other valuables.

I uploaded a screenshot of the current character sheet to DeviantArt. Ok! Time for a lazy hobbit nap, and then back to work! Happy Friday, and Happy Gaming.