Tag Archives: LotRO

Mirkwood, Gaming Stocks, And Development Notes



LotRO’s recent Mirkwood update is actually really good. I’ve played through it completely with my main, and I’m working on an alt.

It’s clear the small LotRO team is working very hard, and they deserve some accolades for some of the highest quality content LotRO has seen in a long time.

The player base in general seems a little detached and apathetic, however. I’m concerned that the difficulty level of Mordor, and again of Mirkwood, may have expelled a significant number of players.

LotRO’s most recent update completely revamped the character selection panel, with overall improved results. Today I uploaded an update to my custom interface, which repairs some of the damage caused by the interface changes.


Gaming Stocks


The past month and the week before last saw record inflows into ETFs according to CNBC. I take these flows to be average people, including mom and pop, chasing this bounce. This is BEARISH, not bullish. it’s also stupid at this time of record uncertainty, risk, and rising interest rates.

These investors were face planted this week when the market crashed again due to various factors, especially Trump’s trade war with China.

Friday’s drop took the S&P index exactly to the critical level it needs to hold relative to the previous low several weeks ago.

The overall sentiment on Wall Street is that it won’t hold, which is my sentiment also. This is why I’ve been taking profits for the last month.

In my last post I bought Google and sold Albemarle. I took quick profits in Google after that. I more recently sold Nvidia (NVDA) and Tencent (TCEHY) both for 120% gains.

I’m currently as little exposed to the market as I’ve been in a very long time. I actually tried to go short the market at the recent top, but got shook out, missing a huge gain to date in inverse 2x short S&P (SDS).

In that case I broke one of my rules, which is to wait until the very end of a day before allowing myself to get shaken out on a high conviction trade.

I was distracted by real life and couldn’t deal with having that much money on the table, basically. I really need to get past that and make 2x or 3x bets.

If you’re currently in the market, then I think it’s too late to sell anything. I also think it’s too early to risk buying, but we’ll just see. Let’s break down individual equities.

NVidia (NVDA) should be watched for a buying opportunity on this pullback, but it has all sorts of issues and headwinds:

1. Amazon and Google said they will start making their own chips (i.e. so they aren’t held hostage, are more secure due to proprietary, and don’t have to pay NVidia’s 50% margins.)

2. Self-driving cars are higher risk since the fatality last week in Phoenix. Uber suspended its testing, and Uber uses NVidia chips.

3. AMD strongly asserts it will take market share this year, presumably from NVidia.

4. China says it plans to make more of its own chips, presumably to be less dependent on the U.S., which actually tends to block Chinese chips and devices for security reasons.

Tencent said this week that their mobile games sales have weakened in China. Gamers are migrating to more sophisticated, less dumb games, like the PC games offered by Netease (NTES). This is a risk across the industry.

This is good news though for people like me who hate dumbed down games. I’ve been predicting a resurgence of the PC for years due to this exact effect. I also predicted a difficult year for game developers this year, because of increased competition.

Jim Cramer was championing Activision Blizzard (ATVI) on his show last week. He said ATVI is making a new modern Disney. That’s a bold claim.

Meanwhile, Blizzard’s Hearthstone is offering ever-increasing free stuff, including a much more generous 70 packs for the expansion purchase, instead of 60.

This seems to say they need to sweeten the pot to keep their customers, who are pressuring them publicly about the expensiveness of Hearthstone.


Current Picks


Currently my only gaming stock holding is a moderate position in the GAMR ETF. NVidia and Tencent moved from the portfolio to the watch list. Other stocks on my watch list are Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM), Albemarle (ALB), Equinix(EQIX), Labcorp (LH), and Visa (V).

TSM is pressured by a very strong drawdown in the chip industry right now, but it’s a huge independent chip fabricator, so it might benefit from China vs. U.S. chip wars, especially as a subcontractor if China pushes faster to become independent of the U.S. chip makers.

Visa has strong relative strength and, while TSM is hurt right now by being a part of chip ETFs, Visa is a big part of financial ETFs, which are expected to benefit from rising interest rates.

Equinix (EQIX) is my white whale. For years I’ve missed every opportunity at this stock. At some point, the real estate ETFs (REITs), will stop being pressured by rising interest rates, which, as I understand it, hurt these companies due to the high debt these run.

It would be very profitable to have the savvy to get back into the REITs at the right time during this rising interest rate cycle.

I don’t have the experience to know when that is, but I really like investing in internet operation infrastructure, which is mostly dependent on internet bandwidth usage, and less related to sales of chips and software. Maybe I could research this in the charts going back several years to prior cycles.


Personal Project


Today and yesterday I was watching Harry Potter movies over and over on HBO Now, trying to understand why some of them (i.e. Prisoner of Azkaban) are better than others (i.e. Chamber of Secrets.)

I think it’s better characters, conflict, and lots of amazing magical things happening, but I should put my observations and writer insights into another blog topic.

I’ve also been working hard on the story and art for my game, as usual. The above image for this post is from the “evil” tavern, where the general bad guys hang out.

You know – the evil wizards, the demons, etc. I won’t say pirates because in my game the pirates are counted as good guys. They are free humans, rebels against the dark Lord whose laws say all humans must be registered slaves.

I’m also still reading about fairy magic and lore. Supposedly the power of 5 (the pentagram) is more normally used and powerful for fairies than the power of 3. Good to know, because I was going with 3.

The Harry Potter movies notably don’t have a lot of pentagrams or other provocative imagery hanging around. Harry does form a trinity with Ron and Hermione, however.

And a final thanks to the one person last month who bought a copy of one of my books. Thanks for the cheeseburger, amigo…

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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.


LotRO Mordor Beta, Hearthstone Frozen Throne, Gaming Stock Update, Tunnels And Trolls

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Mordor Open Beta


This weekend the character model updates arrived on the LotRO beta server, and honestly they look very good. The newly aligned Standing Stone developers clearly have a mind for pushing improvements for LotRO.

Last weekend I played through the High Elf introduction on LotRO’s Mordor beta server, which involves a flashback to the Last Alliance at the end of the second age in Middle Earth.

In looks and animation, High Elf is sort of a cross between Elf and man. I found the intro sequences to be epic and entertaining, just long enough to serve the purpose, but not long enough to be boring.

Hardcore lore-monkeys and other serious-business types in the LotRO forum lambasted the High Elf production quality, however.

Some criticism, like the wet dog scraggly hair modeling, might be justified, although they have already improved that in the third beta weekend.

I thought the little story was fine. The elf does Night Elf-style dive-rolls. Most low-budget MMO’s these days don’t even have racial start areas.


Hearthstone announces Knights of the Frozen Throne


Blizzard announced Knights of the Frozen Throne yesterday. Frozen Throne might bring more deathrattle cards for my priest, which is nice.

Knights is especially exciting for players who like PvE story content in Hearthstone, because this xpack will bring that back after a year hiatus, and the discontinuation of adventures after Karazhan last year.

Also Blizz is running a promotion for the next week for double gold earned from quests. So if you’re on a break from Hearthstone, you should probably check in and knock those down for 100+ gold per quest completion.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I sold Blizzard (ATVI) at $59.50 near the recent high. Today I bought back into the GAMR ETF, as shown in the image above. After an almost $1000 gain, I was just holding too much Blizzard.

It was easier for taxes to sell it all instead of taking half off the table. Also, I do not trust the U.S. market right now, or the inflated Blizzard stock price, or the profit margins on Blizzard’s impressive eSports productions. If they are going to have a lackluster quarter, it could be this one.

Today Blizzard, EA, and TTWO saw big buying demand on a market bounce. They were well above any other stocks I track. Clearly a lot of people are eager to shove their money into video game companies.

If you’ve been wanting to get into Blizzard, today was a solid bet. Blizzard is bouncing off of the top line of a straight trend channel started last February. The MACD oversold indicator (at bottom of images) is also good.

I would rather see Blizzard break and fall down into that channel before I re-buy, i.e. around $54-55. Or I’d like to see a broad market meltdown or flash crash.

This year has been horrible for retail in general. A lot of stocks have been smashed. Food. Clothes. Now auto parts. Some of this weakness may bleed over into video games, or maybe just real estate, health care, and tech companies are devouring everyone’s lunch money.

For now, I opted for a more global diversity in my video game investment. It’s interesting that the GAMR ETF holdings do not have Blizz, EA, and TTWO in the top 10. I like that. I’m also still holding NVidia, Tencent, and Netease.

NTES was my gaming pick in my last blog post in May. It is currently up 11.47% since I purchased it. According to a chart comparison tool, NTES has outperformed Blizzard slightly during the last two months. I wouldn’t expect that to continue, but it’s nice.

I also sold Silver(SLV) for a small gain at 16.30. It’s now down to 14.73, and I’m looking at it again. The problem is that both it and the dollar are much lower, which is a big problem. It would be better to buy the dollar if it turns (symbol UUP).

Other names on my current radar are Patrick Industries (PATK) for secular need for cheap housing, a trend shaping up and good PE, PEG ratios, Autozone (AZO) for oversold due to panic over O’Reilly’s released numbers, and telecom ETF (VOX), which was picked by an analyst I like (Tom Lee), and it’s a Trump trade.

edit- Today, Monday morning, I bought a bit of JD.com (JD) at 39.90 on heavy volume against a very good stop out level at 38.40. This is a small, low-risk bet for big potential gain after a very strong last earnings report and a period of consolidation.

edit- Also,as of Tuesday the GAMR ETF now has Blizzard at #7, so apparently they are buying the current weakness.


Tunnels And Trolls App Still WIP


I checked on the T&T app this week, and apparently Metaarcade is still working on it.

They’ve put up a few updates in the last week, however, and the blog post suggests the team is fighting the 90-90 rule:

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Yes, that sounds about right. I’m in the same situation with my own game project, which is currently looking great. The hardest problems still need to be whipped into shape, however. My next blog post will be about that, with my first module ready for play-testing.


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.


LotRO All-Time Low, Gaming Stock All-Time Highs

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LotRO was affected by layoffs at Turbine this week, shrinking a small team even more. This was on the heels of an update to start the week, offering a new raid, many more housing hooks, and improved landscape visuals in classic areas of middle earth (see image).

The reactions to this update have been generally very favorable, judging by in-game chat and a shortage of complaints in the forums.

Speculation is rampant right now about LotRO’s future, so it’s best to just read the forum thread or the Massively article and comments. For now LotRO will continue, but the future of reaching Mordor is gloomier.

Turbine’s new DDO/LotRO double duty CM, Cordovan, had this to say in the forums this morning:

  • We appreciate everyone’s concerns for the team’s well-being, and know that folks have seen and read your thoughts. We aren’t able to comment specifically on personnel matters, especially when they come from business decision-making like this, but we would reiterate the part from yesterday’s official statement that Lord of the Rings Online will continue to operate as it does now. Additionally, we’d like you to know that our development plans remain unchanged.

So we’ll see.  I’m now at level 103 with my Warden main, maybe my favorite class ever in an MMO.


Video Game Stocks


This was a calm week following the Brexit chaos, with very strong manufacturing data (ISM number > 56) and jobs data for the U.S.. Weakness in oil and the British pound caused uncertainty, but some brief firming today (Friday) has the S&P index poised at the brink of all-time highs yet again.

If oil and currencies drop significantly over the weekend, we will almost surely reverse. We are also entering another earning season, and earnings will weigh heavily. This week analysts were saying this quarter will be a bottom for Apple (a former market leader), and to look to “dollar cost average” back into Apple stock going into the fall.

Analysts suggest the huge pain in the refiners (i.e. VLO, mentioned last week) is a canary in the coal mine for the economy, but this seems wrong since gas demand is strong, with record driving this summer. It’s more likely overcapacity (for reasons).

This week I was looking at GLU Mobile (GLUU), which is basing, having just released the Gordon Ramsey game with strong reviews and player enthusiasm, and having a strong cash position. They are also hiring heavily per their website.

The stock also seems to have huge insider buying in the last quarter, but I don’t understand the stock options. I do see a lot of GLUU buying by Tencent, the Chinese mobile game mega-corporation, which may get protectivist treatment from the recent Chinese game oversight regulations.

So I started looking at Tencent (TCEHY), which owns stakes in a lot of game companies as well as GLU Mobile and Blizzard. Tencent recently struck a big deal with ESPN, and is reporting strong results from the hookup. Disney (owner of ESPN) also has a Star Wars deal with Tencent.

Since I’ve given up on the Purefunds GAMR ETF as a way to diversify my investment in video games (due to extremely sketchy trading volume in that vehicle), I pushed a bit into Tencent instead on this big breakout day.

I also want more exposure to China, although the Chinese financial system is considered a ticking time bomb by some respected analysts, and a big cause of the big February selloff. The fears over Yuan currency, at least, are off the table lately, according to other analysts, and thus the calm and the market stability.

It’s not a good idea to buy on a big Friday up day, but Tencent is only at $23/share, after breaking out recently from $20, a resistance level dating back a year, then bouncing off of it. I see this stock having a lot of room to the upside, and I’m only in for “half”.

Other top gaming stock outperformers today, touching new highs, were Blizzard +2.2%, NVIDIA +3.9%, Electronic Arts +2.1%, Nintendo (NTDOY)  +10.2%. Nvidia, Intel, and Nintendo were specifically mentioned on CNBC this afternoon, Nintendo for the popularity of the new Pokemon Go.

As I reported last week, Overwatch is showing very strong momentum, but in general I don’t want to be speculating on individual game releases, hype, popularity, and sales. I’d need to be paid to make that amount of effort!

In the meantime, I’ll work overtime on my lousy low-paying job on a Saturday morning. Happy Friday!