Tag Archives: MMO

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.

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Pre-E3, LotRO Joy, And Stock Market Commentary

virtual reality
This week the Kitty got a big traffic bump. The blog was quoted on Massively for the second time! So a shout out to Justin (Biobreak) for that.

It’s thoughtful to call attention to the literary blogosphere. I need to search Justin’s sidebar for more blogs, because not nearly enough is on my reader. Anyway, glory for the elves.


Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016 June 12-16


Next week is E3 2016. We can look forward to lots of exciting game news. Sony is looking to steal the show again with a new Playstation version, along with the Playstation VR headset, for which they supposedly have a slew of games made already.

There are some problems with this business plan, of course, starting with the $400 price tag for the headset. We’ll have to see. If Sony knocks this out of the park, they could be dominant for a long time.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is more focused on skeevy ways to force people to upgrade, and even skeevier ways to take control over games on the PC platform.

And maybe some XBOX stuff – while focusing on exclusives, exclusives, and more exclusives, of course.

So I’m liking Sony. I don’t like my failure to buy Sony (SNE) stock last month, since I knew this big surge into E3 would happen. The fact is that games are a small fraction of Sony’s business. It’s better to be in EA, ATVI, or NVDA, or even MSFT, ironically, because Azure (cloud).

So IGN will have livestream coverage of E3. The main E3 event is from 14-16, with press conferences starting on June 12.


Stock Market Commentary


This week Electronic Arts (EA) met resistance in pushing to new all-time highs, while Activision-Blizzard (ATVI) and NVidia (NVDA) are much further down the selloff curve.

People are locking in profits at a possible market top.

I’m up 32% with NVidia in six weeks, so it’s really difficult not to sell here. I’m comforted seeing both NVidia and Activision getting bought up intraday, but both stocks could be rolling over in advance of the market, instead of just taking breathers before another run.

Heavy selling in Activision especially has been countered by strong buying this week, resulting in dragonfly doji candlesticks that are hard to interpret. (Is the chart more at long term top, or more at a short term bottom)?

I think the overall market is “melting up” off the top, based on lack of sellers of underlying stock components. There are too many constructive patterns right now, specifically transports (IYT), small caps, energy, health care, and even Apple. Last week, a horrible jobs number on Friday decreased the expectations of a fed rate hike this month to zero percent, reducing that fear.

If the market can make this break, then subsequent sell-offs this summer will have big underlying support for the S&P index around the current level.

Brexit and the fed remain big potential spoilers in the coming weeks, and that’s an overhead of fear that has people hedging and buying protection at this level. If oil reverses and drops, that’s also a problem. If the dollar reverses and rises, that’s a problem.

In the past week, I’ve been a buyer of Tahoe Resources (TAHO), a gold and silver miner, and Visa (V).


Kitty’s Picks


Today, Visa was called out on CNBC fast money as a top pick. I was a happy kitty, having bought it on Monday. I wanted to buy something that supports the thesis that the market is going off the top, and I like a breakout on Visa.

I also recalled that the Olympic Games are a big time for Visa revenues. Visa is a huge sponsor of the Olympic Games coming in a few months in Rio De Janeiro.

If the market hits the skids with Visa bouncing sharp the other way, I’m back out of Visa. I’m also possibly out of Blizzard. I like Tahoe Resources for Gold and Silver if the U.S. dollar continues in decline. That’s a big topic, and even the professionals today have wildly conflicting ideas and opinions.

I’ve been fascinated with silver since I was a child, and so my online moniker, Silverangel. Unlike gold, silver is an important component in industry, especially solar panels. Solar power is projected to grow enormously in the coming decades.

I’ve been watching the Solar ETF (TAN) very closely as one of the last components of my little long-term portfolio. The chart is forming a very solid, curving bottom, a tanned virtual reality beauty, really.

The problems with TAN? It historically trades with oil (a very complicated topic), and oil is toppy, bolstered right now by geopolitical issues.

TAN in recent months has actually underperformed oil, with solar companies having a slew of problems, including one flirting with bankruptcy (SUNE), and others crushed by egregious protectionist state politics in the U.S. favoring the energy establishment in Arizona and Nevada, for example.

Even solid Chinese solars like Jinko have had disappointing results, despite China’s massive pollution problems, and/or have joined other Chinese companies in requesting delisting in the U.S. to go back to China.

So all of these issues with specific companies are why you buy an ETF like TAN.


Personal


Playing LotRO is not consistent with personal productivity. I know that. So I’m looking at ways to scale back, even as my art and programming return slowly from a near-frozen state. I completed four game scene drawings last weekend, and painted two during the last two nights.

My goal in LotRO was a max level Elf Warden, but the server glitches, packet loss, and high ping are annoying for a class that requires so many key presses with perfect timing. Meanwhile, my Elf Rune-Keeper is ten levels higher and has 21 stat tomes. I don’t know.

And that’s all for this week. Happy gaming, and thanks for reading. I’ll hope to see you virtually at the E3 coverage!


LotRO Mired In Gloom (And So Is The Market)

moria goat

Last week I was impressed with the LotRO writing. A Moria revamp resulted in more friendly dwarves deep in the murderous murk, and more connecting quest sequences.

Sometimes you get the impression that the devs don’t play their own game, or can’t see the forest for the trees. The revisions reflect the opposite, the perspective of a lot of time actually playing the content.

Strong characters were a dire weak point when I left the game a few years ago, but the current LotRO writers are bringing a good game with the Bingo Boffin quest line for example. If you see a character’s name mentioned frequently in World Chat, you’re probably on the right track.

I was questing with my Lore-Master in Ringlo Vale in Gondor. The characters were actually outstanding, especially Jajax. I hope I see that guy again down the road.

On the other hand, Ringlo Vale was dark, all the time. It’s the “Dawnless Day”, and inexplicably the world has no sunlight. So all last week I was in Moria and Mirkwood with one character, and in endless dark with another character. I logged into my third character hoping for a 50% chance of daytime in Rohan, and it was day, but actually pouring rain.

Over and over you hear people mired in Moria, tired of the dark. Just last night a kinmate expressed enormous relief at emerging from Moria, and another kinmate echoed him. This is on top of LotRO being 50% dark just from the day/night cycles. Sometimes I log out when it’s night, or take a break.

The point is that happy sunlight = happy games. Happy games = happy players. We all know what happy players bring.

LotRO needs a lot more sunlight, and more 100% daytime set areas, instead of 100% dark. I’ve always disagreed with the 50/50 day night cycle for reasons, so this isn’t a revelation. Darkness should be the dark side of the golden ratio, otherwise it isn’t special. It isn’t the deadly underdog.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I discovered a Youtube video game news series by a pro Wall Street analyst. It’s called the “Pachter Factor”. Here are the links from the last couple weeks (I didn’t mean to get the videos themselves – oh well? D:)


To follow the whole series at SIFTD:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFaBUWXO8o4jSfF6PhJOyZA

Pachter likes Zynga and Activision. He says if Zynga’s release of Dawn of Titans game is a success, the stock could double. He says Activision will make a lot more money off of King than people expect.

Pachter likes EA in the near term, noting it has great assets and some phenomenal games coming out. Battlefield is coming out without a lot of competition, for example.

Tuesday was a pivotal day last week. A higher inflation number came in, resulting in a big selloff. Many had written off an interest rate hike in June (including me), but inflation puts it back on the table.

The estimated chance of a rate hike went from 5% to something like 30% midweek, but by the end of the week, analysts were more skeptical. The market held steady.

T.J. Maxx (discount retailer) reported strong earnings on Tuesday, which I was looking for as a signal on Ross (ROST), but the stock went nowhere. It went down on Wednesday instead of up. So I didn’t buy Ross into their earnings on Thursday, even when Walmart also reported very strong earnings.

This was good. Ross ended up flat on its face, the disappointing result of the three.

NVidia (NVDA), Electronic Arts (EA), and Activision-Blizzard (ATVI) all made the CNBC coverage on Tuesday. NVidia was picked as a “final trade” by Guy Adami http://www.cnbc.com/guy-adami/ on Fast Money, and was surging for the rest of the week.

Electronic Arts was called overbought after its earnings surge, and at risk for a reversal, while Blizzard was smashed for over 3% on one day, rejected at its previous peak around $40. Blizzard received another vote of confidence, however, by Paulson & Co., a large hedge fund that reported taking a new stake of 3140000 shares of ATVI last month.

E3 hype hit on Wednesday with Sony announcing its plans for E3, and the stock was up almost 4%. Sony also announced a new beautiful Xperia Ultra smartphone.

Sony also announced a major push into AI (Artificial Intelligence), since they are lagging behind. This is the same AI that’s going to ruin the job market in coming years by replacing humans.

I was watching Yandex very closely this week. It has pulled back, but I noticed it had 19% short interest in April, which means the big move after earnings was in significant part a short covering rally. Volume also seems not particularly high. So I remain wary and watching for a more extended consolidation near the new level.

I was also watching ANET. The stock is surging strongly, more than my other picks last week, and is just about too high for a buying opportunity now.

Overall, the market is lurching forward with huge bearish sentiment, with lots of cash on sidelines. As many have noted, the high P/E ratio of the S&P, with earnings in modest decline, has a lid on the market.

Bulls nonetheless expect an upturn later this year, because that’s what bulls do, while a rate hike is expected to make things more difficult. The U.S. needs to hike, while other countries can still ease, and this is a problem for the U.S., which is has been already been squabbling with China and Japan over the currency issues.

This is so exciting. Yawn. Except wait, every time I abandon the market and don’t pay any attention, I seem to go along with the crowd. When the crowd abandons the market, it tanks, and then there is a buying opportunity. Ideally the market needs to go down to relieve the pressure from inflated P/E ratios (and other things).

So I can’t blink and fall asleep. This kitty must remain on guard in the dark, ready to pounce on any opportunity.


Liquidating Position In FFXIV

ffxiv characterYolari the Miqo’te reached level 50 this week in Final Fantasy XIV. She had a great time adventuring through Eorzea as a Summoner, but now she’s XP-blocked.

Square Enix is making me buy all xpacs through Steam now (as discussed in a prior post), and I’m not paying $40 since the xpac is on sale everywhere except Steam (i.e. $25 at Best Buy). I’ve checked into Steam 3x per week for the last month or so.

No luck. Cancelled sub. I’m ready for a break anyway.

Syp at Biobreak is also taking a break and wrote a fine critique today that I agree with, so this kitty can react and riff off his ideas. (It’s only fair.)

The strength of FFXIV is the story, but I agree it takes too long for the characters to feel human, and therefore to become likable, and therefore for drama to get going because you care, and therefore for tension to raise its seductive head.

Tension happens from conflict (or frustrated romance) between characters, when characters deeply want to kill each other, have sex, or both. Is every single one of these NPCs single? Are Biggs and Wedge even gay?

Maybe it’s a Japanese cultural difference. Maybe Japanese high schools aren’t filled with pranks, squabbles, jealousy, name-calling, face-slapping, and unbridled lust. Syp said he has a deep sense of these characters’ motivations, but for me they fell short up to the point of the level 47-48 story.

On the other hand, I agree on the cutscenes. In the last week, I’ve groaned with impatience during scenes, clicking the popup boxes quickly, wishing the plot would move forward to something interesting. This really isn’t me.

And of course, when I finally broke down and skipped part of a long scene, I skipped two important plot twists, and I didn’t know what my ‘companions’ where talking about in the next scene.

In the same scene, a lot of story tension was lost (Minfilia was rescued in an excellent and fun quest sequence), and I was called upon to embark on a grand campaign to save the world.

If no one I care about is in imminent danger of being pillaged, raped, kidnapped again, or burned at the stake, then talk to the paw, OK? Apparently Thancred is possessed by evil, but he’s expendable, I say! Let’s suit up in bikinis and enjoy the beach.

Yolari the Miqo’te is a special character with an amazing look and style, and cute emotes. I’ll miss her, and I’ll want to return soon when I’m in the mood for more JRPG, and when I have more time and energy to save the world, and when I can pay the going price for Heavensward plus sub.

I ended up completing all dungeons up to level 50, 175 story quests, and my cross classes for Summoner, in a little under two months. Dungeons were the best way to have fun and make progress. I skipped optional side quests, intending to save them for another class later.

I’m inspired right now by the hubbub over the transgender character controversy in the new Baldur’s Gate expansion. I might try BG:EE again, and try not to get murdered by bears and brigands over and over. We’ll see. The fun of gaming stops when it’s tooth and nail torture.

I’m not quite ‘out of the woods’ with my real life problems either. As always, I’m making progress with my personal RPG project. I posted a few new art pieces on my DeviantArt page.

Happy gaming, and may the goddess bless your adventures, whatever they may be.


Never Buy An MMO On Steam

ffxiv screenshot
This has always been my rule, to avoid issues. Two days ago I broke the rule and bought FFXIV:ARR on Steam. This stupid kitty is already paying the price.

Today I bought the expansion (Heavensward) on the SE website, and they refuse to register the key they gave me. I have to buy the expansion and all subsequent expansions on Steam now, apparently, or re-purchase the main game.

This might be my first real problem with a game purchase, unless you count Daikatana (nearly unplayable), or the original (nearly unplayable) launch of FFXIV, for which I paid full price. Congratulations, Square Enix.

I went to FFXIV this week because I finished Skyrim plus Dawnguard. I’d planned to try Elder Scrolls Online again, since they are adding nameplates and making grouping “less painful“, among other things.

(The wording of the Massively article title is appropriate.) So I cleared 55GB of space on my SSD to install ESO, and 55GB was not enough. I’d totally forgotten about the 100% voice-over.

A 100% voiced MMO is like watching a badly lip-synced animated movie based on a book that was never published. It just can’t get the lore and characters across. Elder Scrolls has the in-game books, but they are mostly disconnected anecdotes.

If no connections are made or reinforced in the player’s mind (building on what he or she already knows) then an opportunity is lost. Imagine a novel that stops and tells little stories on the side periodically about random people elsewhere in the setting.

It’s going to be hard to read, even if lusty Argonian maids are involved.

Even the most silly side quest can strongly develop the characterization of a place, a race, or a character. All content should tie into the main stories or characters somehow, some way, just like in a well-crafted novel.

I’m having fun with FFXIV:ARR so far. It’s quirky, creative, story-based, and greatly improved. I can play any classes and jobs on one character. They have nameplates. They have a functional Auction House.

FFXIV originally launched with a far worse auction system than Elder Scrolls, but the (replacement) devs had the sense to fix the issue, instead of stating that they will never, ever add a real auction house (Elder Scrolls).

Despite repeated player crying, begging, and quitting since launch. I’ve seen a few players say they won’t come back unless there is an auction house. That’s just one of the tick boxes for this kitty.


Skyrim/Dawnguard Writer’s Reaction


I really enjoyed Skyrim after installing the right mods. Dawnguard was a very impressive DLC. My overall impression of Skyrim was that I wished the companions were fewer and better, and the story was more about my character and choices. Dawnguard nailed all of that.

The character of Serana was excellent in her role as a vampire storyline sidekick. This is a really effective plot device, also used to great effect in LotRO with Nona (and then abandoned, inexplicably.)

Serana’s comments and banter add great flavor, although she sounds too sweet and mild. This is surprising because the voice actress, Laura Bailey, also does Jaina Proudmoore in WoW. Jaina’s more commanding, arrogant tone that would have been more appropriate for a vampire princess hundreds of years old.

The transformation of the player character into a vampire, the childe of Serana (the option I chose at the end after taking Castle Volkihar) also has a silly zero seriousness.

“Oh, you want me to make you a vampire? Ok, if you’re sure! Get ready!”

It was the same as getting married in Skyrim. Maybe the devs were targeting the lowest common denominator, which is apparently a ten year old playing a Nintendo game. In both cases, some sort of meditative ritual quest wouldn’t have killed them to implement. Maybe their enormous pantheon became the problem.

Another observation is that Skyrim overall focuses heavily on the vampires, werewolves, rogue, Daedra, and werewolf factions, while neglecting the good and light factions. I really enjoyed the spiritual path quests in Morrowind (Tribunal, Imperial Cult). Maybe I somehow missed the Skyrim priest and paladin-themed quest lines.

Skyrim as a whole was a scene of universal violence and corruption, with everyone trying to kill everyone else. The moral grey areas are fertile ground for great writing, but the darkest shadow can only be found by contrast with the brightest light. I kept waiting for the titular “Dawnguard” to flesh out and ascend to greatness and holiness.

You get new skills, a new and powerful transformational form, and new combat modes for being a vampire, but you get nothing for being a Dawnguard. The imbalance is awkward.

I’ll probably play ESO when I transfer my backup hard drive to my main PC, something I’ve been putting off for a year. For now the kitty will see what FFIV brings.