Tag Archives: mmorpg

MassivelyOP Becomes Massively Fascist: Why You Should Like, Not Hate Crypto

Today I commented in support of crypto in an article on MassivelyOP.com. My comment was deleted, and I now seem to be blocked from further participating in the one-sided hate and tomato-slinging.

I commented that the hate for NFT’s and crypto is not logical since blockchain is just another way to implement microtransactions, which are widely accepted.

Sure it’s a bit more complicated, but that’s what it boils down to.

I was dismayed a few years ago when Blizzard implemented the Hearthstone season pass, which made me 100% quit the game. I haven’t played since. Blizzard was pushing the cost of Hearthstone even higher, not lower for an aging game! No one seemed to care. And people today have even more microtransaction fight fatigue.

But now – since Ubisoft is exploring the boogie men of ‘crypto’ and ‘NFTs’ in their microtransaction programs, people are suddenly going batshit crazy!

The MOP article first heaps abuse on Ubisoft, framing the company in the worst light as a sordid reminder to the reader, before reaching a simple punchline. Nicolas Pouard, a VP at Ubisoft’s innovations lab, says (to summarize) he believes that gamers are clueless and a bit deluded about crypto.

(He is sugar-coating that the public is hysterical and ignorant.)

Puard is right, but this mob of Puritanical villagers are certain they know more than a gaming executive with a team of expert researchers. They agree with Hillary Clinton (who chimed in last year-ish) that crypto is a thing of the devil that needs to be stopped.

The public has been misled by negative press that has come as a consequence of both profit-seeking opportunists and scam artists, as well as fearmongering public figures, who have more nefarious agendas than legitimate crypto supporters such as Jack Dorsey and Anthony Scaramucci.

Guys and gamers. Blockchains are just software platforms. Software. This software runs “digitally distributed, decentralized, public ledgers that exist across a network.”

These ledgers track unique tokens, and can do quite a lot of things quickly, securely, and most importantly without reliance on the overlords that currently control our computerized ecosystems, such as Microsoft, Google, Visa, big banks, hedge funds, government entities, etc.

Your ownership of a token represents a stake in the network. Instead of Microsoft extracting all the fees for using their proprietary ecosystems, you get a share of the power and profits instead, in exchange for your collaboration and participation.

It is probably less misleading to call a crypto a “token” rather than a “currency”. I’m not sure which is more accurate since I’m far from a blockchain scholar, but it seems most clear to think of secure, fast distributed ledgers.

Maybe a lot of misperception comes from people trying to think of crypto in the same terms as fiat currencies. Blockchains can do a lot of things on their distributed, secure ledgers, but that isn’t the point of this blog post.

The important point is that it’s logical to think that blockchains could be useful to facilitate transactions in video game ecosystems. That’s a foundational premise of the Metaverse. I’m skeptical about making the Metaverse work, but I’m certain about the usefulness of blockchain.

When the internet was invented, did we see lots of memes making jokes about the useless pseudo-religion of the internet, warning people about the potential for ‘internet scams’? I’m sure there were plenty of scams.

It also seems logical that big banks, governments, and very powerful people would want to stop crypto by claiming it’s a scam and a fraud. Some of these naysayers are telling you it’s a scam, while at the same time investing in crypto secretly, like Jamie Dimon at Chase Bank. Many other companies, like Visa, are preparing to make the transition to a crypto economy so they won’t be left behind.

“Oh, no! You can’t fool us” cries a horde of gamers. “Cryptos are an even worse scam than microtransactions!” Unfortunately, crypto haters are falling right into the trap of being persuaded to hate what’s good for them.

Look at the Chinese government, which banned all cryptos just last year, but the PRC is looking to introduce an official government cryptocurrency. Russia may soon be taking the same steps.

Note that these are the world’s largest authoritarian governments. They don’t want crypto because it empowers the people and removes them from full control. They want full control.

The U.S. government has been extremely late and lazy to police the ‘cryptoverse’. Now they can hold up the chaos and fallout of the scams and hype disasters (aided by their own inaction), as proof that we need serious regulation.

Of course, the government will be there to protect us and to create a safe, secure, and legal government crypto. Wait. If crypto is so bad, why is it OK if governments and government banks are running it?

This is not the world you want, but it seems to the world we are heading towards. In my metaphor above of superstitious villagers vs. crypto, this is like letting the church scare you into positioning itself as your only safe and legal gatekeeper to all that is holy. Because demons.

Before my post on MassivelyOP was deleted, someone pushed back. They said it was inaccurate to say gamers had accepted microtransactions. They had ‘swallowed’ them (my words), but not accepted them. This is a very good point. It’s likely that gamers need targets to express their rage (i.e. Bobby Kotick). The negative perception of blockchain and NFT’s offered a good target.

I might not be 100% informed on some of these issues, and there may be a few inaccuracies. But believe me I share the suppressed rage at video games turning into a blood-sucking shopping mall. I’m just saying it’s wrong and ignorant to shoot the messenger in this case.


The New World MMO: Un-Masked

new-world

The past couple of days have delivered quite some drama from the New World development team. New World released cash shop plans, which included pay-to-win boosts. These boosts included leveling and crafting XP boosts.

The devs followed up yesterday with a clarification that the XP boosts were intended to be a trial only, and will not be in the game at launch. They would focus instead (initially) on quality of life items, cosmetics, and dyes.

(Most people won’t even notice the dyes, but what do they really mean? They mean crafting gameplay is cut or watered down so crafted items can be sold instead in the cash shop at launch.)

Kripparian on Twitter gives a concise summary of how much of a joke this is:

So they are creating a game on purpose with low quality of life, and they will then sell you extras in the store to alleviate the pain! This is nothing new, but it’s so barefaced and early that people are rightfully up in arms even after the clarification.

If you’re actually interested in delving into this drama, I would recommend watching Asmongold’s video on Youtube, at least minutes 2:30 to 6:30.

As an aside, Asmongold is a surprising voice for classic values in MMO’s. It’s odd to me, as a liberal, to be on the same side as people with ‘conservative values’ in this instance. Of course, we’ve been going down this degenerate cash shop road for several years now, so it’s interesting to see some major voices getting traction after all this time.

I played several hours of the New World beta and leveled to 20-something. It showed a lot of potential. It looked nice. So far I believe they’ve released info on one real dungeon, one new region, and some new weapons. Nonetheless, based on my knowledge, it’s almost impossible for this game to be as good or as large as either Rift or LotRO at launch.

Realistically, it can’t even be close, right?

The game is overrated due to everyone’s desperate hopes for a new great western-style MMO. Is it still worth playing if you don’t care about the cash shop in lieu of a subscription model? Sure. It might be worth the box price for a lot of people, but my memory of the beta is still pretty vivid.

In other news, Blizzard greatly slashed the absurdly greedy price of their Classic character copy service due to similar player outcry. I plan to play Burning Crusade pre-patch in the next week or so. I quit Hearthstone for good last fall when they introduced the Hearthstone Battle Pass.

New World is actually launching with a Battle Pass. Yeah. And then comes the slippery slope.  They will slowly add pay to win back in.  Then come the sales. Leveling is too tough? Buy a boost. Boost is too expensive? It’s 10% off today only. Still too expensive? It’s 20% off this week, 40% off if you buy a bundle. Etc. etc.  Such fun gameplay.

Good goddess, think of the children.  I’ve been saying that since LotRO went F2P years ago.

And Blizzard just had to go full greed in Classic with the deluxe collector’s edition and the expensive level boost. Blizzard claims the boost is to help people catch up to their friends, it’s good for the game, etc. etc. which we all know is B.S.. We have suspected or known about Burning Crusade for several months, plenty of time to level.

This is a sellout of a game people are playing because it isn’t sold out. But Blizzard couldn’t resist those modern-day opportunities to allow dollars.  If someone couldn’t make it to 60 the old fashioned way, they don’t deserve to continue. That’s my opinion.

Elder Scrolls – Oblivion looks enticing this year. Their companion system is releasing only two companions up front,  however, which seems very odd. It indicates better companions will be in the cash shop soon, like Neverwinter Nights.

l almost re-installed ESO today for the high elf experience, but then I thought about that good old skill bar with only 7 skills on it (or whatever). I’d be doing the same rotation over and over thousands more times. ESO is such a great-looking game, but they sort of ruined Elder Scrolls back in the Oblivion days by dumbing down everything for consoles.

Remember when instant ports all over the Tamriel map didn’t exist? Those were literally the best days. Naturally, the original Morrowind was far, far better than the carefully monetized, watered down expansion pack of the ESO rendition, although there were a few nice quest lines and dungeon areas in ESO: Morrowind to be sure.

So! I guess I’ll see you other old school types in Burning Crusade Classic in the next weeks.


Hearthstone: Darkmoon Faire – World’s Greediest Video Game

Video Game Prices Are Going Up

The standard price for video games is increasing to $70 for the PlayStation 5 and next-gen Xbox consoles, ending 15 years of $60 games.

I assume this will also be for PC games, but it’s also misleading. When the industry shifted to digital delivery, saving maybe 25% of the cost of delivering a game (at the time), the game companies took all of the cost savings as profits instead of sharing the cost savings as reduced prices for games.

They started the slow death of the resale market at the same time. So in totality, I would call that a price increase. You no longer ‘own’ copies of your games. In any case, let’s look now at the world’s new #1 greediest video game, according to elves everywhere.

Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire: Now Quad-Wielding Pure Greed

Blizzard rolls out a new expansion with a new card set, plus a new mode, plus a long-awaited achievement system. Great! Wrong.

New system for questing and gold: The whole progression game is now a scheme to sell Tavern Passes. Pay $20 to lessen the pain from your arm being twisted for months. The total possible gain is meant to be the same, but the rewards are end-loaded to punish casuals and push the paid XP bonus.

This is on top of the usual $50 to $70 to buy each thrice-annual expansion, which doesn’t even come close to giving you most of the cards, and that’s already more than an annual MMO sub.

But Wait: New Mini-Sets: Hearthstone is getting mini-expansions in between main $60 expansions. Per this article breaking down Hearthstone costs, a full mini-set costs around $60 or 5000 gold. That in itself doubles the costs of Hearthstone, beyond the Tavern Pass and the card collection arm-twisting in the new game mode and in the achievements system.

Hearthstone Mini-Sets Will Refresh the Meta, but at What Cost?

New achievement system: We’ve waited for this for years. But there are no real rewards for your loyalty and efforts except a point total! No titles! No pets! No perks! No skins! And you have card collection achievements thrown up in your face constantly, reminding you to collect x cards of y class for z expansion. And on and on. What a joke.

New game mode: you need to complete card collections in order to unlock powers in the new Duel mode. Since you can’t possibly do this F2P anymore, you are paying to win.

This isn’t an avalanche of greed. This is a cataclysmic volcano of dollar sucking parasitic vacuum cleaner monsters raining down on players of all ages and financial means. (“During a pandemic”? Sure! Let’s tack that on.)

The eye-opening power creep this year can also be mentioned. We can’t forget either the insane power of the Demon Hunter class as it was released last spring, pushing everyone and their uncle into crafting all of those cards, only to have them rolled back all summer until they were eventually reasonable. The aggressive mini-sets will just accelerate the power creep.

All of this is not fixable except by rolling all of this back. This is a legitimate clown fiesta, except the clowns are you. You should not play Hearthstone unless you are a whale, not a clown.

LotRO

LotRO put up a “huge” list of question answers from the devs this week. The list was entirely unsurprising in its disappointing-ness. It was a lot of non-answers and vague promises that will never be fulfilled.

I’m surprised Justin Olivetti seemed to eat it up, but he was very harsh in his previous critical articles on LotRO.  At some point you have to stop stabbing a dead horse.

This comes after the recent scam of releasing a quest pack as a full expansion. This looks a lot like barebones studio just milking players to stay alive. At what point do you draw the line and preserve your ethics and  integrity?

Cyberpunk 2077

Coming soon on Dec. 10th, from one of the few studios still making great games with integrity.  The ongoing super mega hype is a bit concerning, but we’ll have to see.

Note that multiplayer is not being released with the main game, for example. “Projekt Red have revealed that the multiplayer component of Cyberpunk 2077 is its own AAA release.” So it’s time to pay for two games to get one? Here we go, boys. Let the games for your credit card begin.

Vampire: Masquerade

A battle royale game is being made in the Vampire setting. This game has been almost univerally criticized. It’s a game that no one wants. Meanwhile, a new overpriced mini-RPG has been released on Steam to further profit off of Vampire fans. I bought the first one and played it a bit.  I’m over it.

This cheese has been evolving for a long time, and it’s invading even the most sacred, die-hard fan spaces in video games.  No sacred stone will be left un-despoiled in the quest for the most and cheapest profit.

Wow Classic

I continue to be interested in a long-term investment in WoW Classic, or more precisely a proper trip through the world of WoW spanning my years until retirement.

I quit and never kept up with WoW over the last 15 years, so I would be somewhat psyched to go back to this less spoiled, pure land of old.  Leave the current greed and insanity behind. No cash shop. No arm twisting to pay cash money to win.

The problem right now is Blizzard’s lack of public plans and communication.

I would be leveling a Priest right now if I knew the current servers would become progression servers, for example. I just don’t know what they are doing, so I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I haven’t given them any money for months after hitting level 60 with my mage. I haven’t finished leveling my crafts.

SWTOR

I’m currently level 60ish in SWTOR with my Sith Inquisitor. It’s a goal for the holidays to hit 70 and finish a lot more of the main story. I finally got a companion that is romanceable. The talk-kill-collect is getting very repetitive as I near the end of the original vanilla content, however.

ESO

I’d also like to cap out the Champ levels in Elder Scrolls Online. I think I’m like 150-200. The max is now 810. This would require weeks of grinding, if not months. Probably not going to happen, but who knows. The last time I installed ESO, it was a huge download and I had some kind of unfixable errors with my 2060 video card. Maybe that is patched out.

Personal Projects

I’m still working on the second dungeon for Elven Academy – “The Geomancer’s Deathtrap.” I’m trying to wind up the free content in the coming months, so I can work on a paid expansion module, so I can at least offer a download and a way to get money.

The game also needs to have a sense of gaining in power as a mage, and also of security in your save code.  This is a big issue.

I’ve been greatly distracted by oil painting. I’ve sunk a few hundred hours into my painting lately instead of gaming or developing game content. The oil painting is going very well, or I would have dropped it again already. I dream of putting a few paintings in a gallery at some point.

I’m also still wanting to practice my violin, but the violin I purchased is too loud for my apartment. I made a mistake not buying an electric violin.

I wanted an acoustic violin to make game music at some point, but it’s silly trying to learn as a total novice in my apartment with neighbors. My best idea is to take the violin and practice in my car or in some forlorn parking lot somewhere.

If I can attain a basic level of competency, that’s good enough to make MP3’s for my game scenes and modules – dungeon music, romantic music, etc., and that’s a lot of motivation. I absolutely loved the violin music in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.

I’ve been watching a lot of Spanish movies and series to improve my Spanish listening comprehension. I’m making some progress on this, enough to feel some reward for the effort. I’ve also been playing chess as a sort of cracker box game experience, since I don’t have a current MMO.

I’ve also been streaming some art and video game development on Twitch, but the novelty of that has sort of worn off. That’s about it for now. I’ll probably think of revisions to this post over the weekend. Happy Friday and happy gaming!


September Update: Philosophy of ‘Goodness’, Thoughts on New World MMO Preview, Game Design

I had a birthday recently. As with many birthdays, this was an occasion to communicate with family members. As a consquence, I found members of my family who are still Trump voters.

There is no excuse to be a Trump voter anymore. Your own ignorance, or your acceptance of thousands of lies and several of Trump’s associates now convicted felons and/or in prison, are not excuses. As someone said on Twitter:

If Reagan was the great communicator and Obama the great orator then Trump is the great deceiver. Never in American history has one man stood in front of millions and spout lie after lie while his legion believes it. It’s scary. Like biblical scary. Jim Mitchem @jmitchem Aug 27

The list of Trump’s horribleness would fill an entire book. Thankfully people close to Trump are publishing more books now.

After reflecting on how unthinkable it is to still support Trump, I’ve impetuously decided to remove “dark game” from my game project. I’m going to edit out opportunities to be unethical, selfish, abusive, ‘evil’, or to ever side with the Dark Lord’s people.


Game Writing And Goodness


The point of my game is to improve oneself as a person, generally by learning from the elves. So yes, I’m putting the elves up on a pedestal. Betraying them will no longer be an option.

My rationale in implementing dark choices was to allow human free will. And to have fun and be naughty, i.e. be human.

As it turns out, the nuances between different good actions are actually much more interesting than offering one good choice and one morally degenerate, or ‘dark’ choice. Perhaps I fell into the trap of good and evil choices because it was easiest path, the path of least resistance.

The easiest path is not often the good, correct path.

We could consider different ways of being good. For example, humans usually consider good to be whatever end is good for humans, an Aristotelian good. A Platonic goodness might mean something more like perfection: a perfect urn, a perfect body, a perfect gentleman.

In the context of fantasy fiction and games, our first thought is to consider the distinction between the classic Lawful Good and Chaotic Good.

The lawful good character will promote weal throughout society through increased legislation or a more powerful government. They will work to provide laws and procedures to protect the population against every foreseeable ill in society. They will advocate … the most benefit for the population as a whole. Lawful good characters will provide equality of result.

The chaotic good character will promote happiness in society by increasing freedom and allowing its citizens to decide the best way to increase prosperity for all. They will promote systems which give maximum freedom and opportunity… They will ensure that the population is protected against every possible abuse by the governing system.

(from http://easydamus.com/chaoticgood.html).

Since my game is called Elven Academy (unless someone comes along and TM’s it, which is quite possible since it’s a good name), let’s go to the elves on this topic next.


Elves, Good, Evil, And Alignment


The elves in fairy tales, and the elves as originally conceived in Dungeons and Dragons, for example, were considered to be chaotic. They were the ranger and the rogue in the strictest and oldest fantasy game tropes, i.e. from the earliest editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

(See a discussion of elves as chaotic.)

The Fey have evolved in modern fiction into strong traditions and representations of light fey and dark fey, the Summer Court and the Winter Court, more often called the Seelie and Unseelie, such as in the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The TV series Lost Girl did a fantastic job of presenting these two types of Fey, Seelie and Unseelie, who have powers and live in modern society.

We also have Tolkien elves in our cultural lexicon, however. These are perhaps the closest elves to Lawful Good, and these are the elves I’m approaching as a model for paragon behavior. (Let’s just forget about certain evil rings those elves mistakenly forged.)

As opposed to the tradition of very whatever-goes chaotic elves, Tolkien elves are seen as superior, snooty, and looking down on lesser races. So we could say they are intolerant. And intolerance for anything or anyone scuffed brings us back up to the definition of lawful good characters.

So my new goal is to try to provide ample opportunity for meaningful, satisfying choice between lawful and chaotic approaches to being good, to reflect on the entire spectrum of what might be good, maybe even all the way to neutral.

The moral of this short exploration tonight is that bad choices are more fun and rewarding, but evil choices are easy to write. It’s easier to paint in black and white than in more complicated nuances of color. I would imagine most fantasy RPG players aren’t going to appreciate any subtlety, other than which choice puts more coins in their pocket, or which choice gets them into bed with the companion of their choice.

So let’s work on that, shall we? Let’s at least try to explore and improve.


New World Beta: Reactions


I’ve played the New World beta for about 13 hours. It’s great, and it’s not so great. It’s a mixed bag, as they say in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

MassivelyOP wrote the perfect article on the New World Beta/Preview, which has been going since last week, and will end in a couple days. So I don’t even need to write the article, because it’s already written. As I noted in the article comments:

  • Agree with everything said here. After a few days of playing, it feels like the paper thin NPC’s, forgettable repetitive quests, and the nearly non-existent story are just a shell that is/was supposed to lead to PvP “content”. The NPC dialog writing is very wordy and decently written, but it doesn’t convey a strong sense of the world the NPC’s are living in.
  • The character creator for female characters was also pretty meager. None of the faces or figures seem to look very feminine. Tons of potential though, hope it comes together. Will probably play when it comes out regardless of what they end up with.

I would probably recommend checking out the game, but I’m calling this early as one of those MMO’s that you hit it, maybe hit level cap, and then you quit it. I would love to be proved wrong.

Asmongold, one of the biggest streamers on Twitch, is playing this beta hard. He could swing things a bit in New World because of his enormous following in World of Warcraft. A huge influx of popularity and money up front might go a long way to sustaining this game.

At this point, I am expecting an ultimately underwhelming western performance similar to Archeage or Aeon, but with scaled up hype and scaled up numbers of people playing games these days.

New World MMO Update – Sep. 3

After I wrote this post, the New World devs posted an update that addresses the main concerns of the testers as a whole. That is the good news. The bad news is that this stuff is apparently not developed yet, disappointing hopes and speculation that it was. The summary from https://newworldfans.com/:

Today, New World posted an official thank you to the community and all of the time they spend in Aeternum during the Preview Event! … They announced that the next phase of testing would be in November of this year, stating that this would be your chance continue helping test and develop New World. Prior to this phase of testing, they noted that they would be working on “adding more in the areas of game modes, land mass, AI variety, additional weapon types, quest variety, and more.” They also stated in this article that they would “continue pushing in this direction until we feel we have the right amount of content and polish for the great launch our players deserve.” staying away from any hints of a potential launch date.


Elven Academy Update


I’m currently working on the second dungeon. It involves entering a mathematical dimension represented by a retro 3D maze. The wireframe maze display ‘engine’ has been coded in the space of a weekend, with a mini-map and movement around in the maze levels.

I’m working now on the story, which involves an imprisoned old gnome. The gnome got in trouble from his own inventions, which have run amok. At least the gnome isn’t a princess? So yeah. That’s not a trope in this dungeon, I tell ya.

I was thinking having the combat involve solving the equations of the monsters, but maybe I’ll leave the equation-solving for puzzles. It’s hard to Arcano-scan things for equation study while the things are attacking you.

In two months and counting we will hopefully have Cyberpunk 2077. We are still waiting for Vampire: Bloodlines 2, which mysteriously fired one of their lead writers recently for some reason.

That doesn’t seem like a good sign. In any case, happy September, and happy gaming. And please vote democrat because the Republicans are the party of evil. Do not believe their endless lies. All they care about is power, and the wealth and privilege that goes with it.


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.