Tag Archives: Video Games

The Dark Lord, And General Thoughts Of Doom

owl river preview image

In this post I ramble about LotRO’s Mordor xpack, gaming stocks, the end of the world, and my personal game project (screenshot above).


Gaming Stocks


Through summer I predicted the usual summer swoon, and in recent weeks it has happened. My 15% gains in my previous investments this summer, Netease and JD.com, dwindled to near zero, then bounced this week with a feeble pulse.

This shows the all-important point of buying as low as possible – so you don’t lose faith and get knocked out on the next pullback.

I bought half back into Google on this pullback (I sold all at a peak last spring.) I added a solid bid on the ROBO ETF, which is a worldwide ETF focusing on the robotics industry. That’s right – the same robots that will soon take all of our jobs and rule the world.

I might double up Google on a major market breakdown. I hate Facebook. Facebook is moving into original content now, pitting itself against everybody else doing that, including Disney. Disney (DIS) just announced plans to pull its content from Netflix and send it to two new proprietary streaming services coming in 2019.

The main growth driver of big U.S. tech stocks in the last two years has been the cloud. Google is coming late to ramp this up, and sentiment is turning against Amazon, offering the cheap seats of the sector.

My diversified GAMR ETF is up 9% in a couple months. I’m happy with that. I don’t think it’s beating Blizzard (ATVI), but Activision Blizz is overbought. They had a great run with Hearthstone and Overwatch together, and they simply can’t keep accelerating at the same rate. Interest will inevitably dwindle.

So currently I have 25-30% of my portfolio in China, mainly by virtue of 80-100% gains in Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY). I have the GAMR and ROBO ETFs, and a U.S. tech-heavy index fund. My only U.S. single stocks are Home Depot (scoring a hurricane cha-ching recently up 25%), NVidia up 50% (again), and now back into Google on the pullback/consolidation. And the final entry is Stryker (SYK) up 25%.

I’m watching the TAN and XLV ETFs (solar and healthcare). For two years I’ve been watching these industries. Trump promised death to solar and death to high health care prices (as did Hillary.) No reform has happened. Both solar and health care are moving. I’m also watching Albemarle (ALB), a major Lithium producer, because solar and robots need serious battery power.

Buying ALB (and any metals/commodities) have issues because of the extremely weak dollar. The dollar could easily keep dropping due to the inability of Draghi to do anything about the soaring Euro, and China purposefully strengthening its currency in the last few weeks. Still, at some point it will reverse.

I’m also watching the quintupling of Bitcoin this year, with morbid interest. I downloaded an app to buy some mid-summer during a pullback, but it shot so fast past my buy point that I didn’t pull the trigger. There is no 100% safe, fool-proof way for me to buy these currencies. That’s the problem.

My friend is currently mining Monero and Zcash in the mountains in New Mexico. I’m also watching this with interest, because I need a second job. Or something. My current ripoff low pay is ridiculous.


Mordor


I don’t play Hearthstone anymore. I’m on the verge of not playing LotRO anymore either. I finished Mordor and capped my characters on both accounts, and was happy with the expansion experience while dual boxing.

The solo Mordor is pitiless though. I play for a bit on my Warden and just log out. The endgame grind is confusing, over-complicated, and opaque.

The LotRO devs thought it was a good idea to offer good daily rewards randomly on some days, and bad ones on other days. I logged into LotRO tonight to play, and logged out fifteen minutes later. It’s a bad day for the dailies. No key. Just kill me.

Most of the work I did in the last two zones was quickly obsolete in Mordor. Everything I did over the summer was a waste of time. This leaves me angry. The LotRO devs over-pushed obsolescence, and now I feel stupid for running this hamster wheel for them. I know it will all be pointless in a few months, except for getting into the dungeons.

That’s all I want – to play dungeons, but I’m apparently not willing to invest hundreds of hours to get ready to have fun. I’m simply not logging in.

There are also no good, likable characters in this expansion. The evil leaders in Mordor are done well, but they are not your friends. And you can’t go fight them without spending hundreds of hours solo questing for purple junk to go in their dungeons, hopefully, eventually.

And then all that work will be obsolete again. Yes, everyone knows this, but I just finished a major Wastes grind at the end of July. I’m more in the mood to say fuck you than start all over again.


End of The World


Trump has to be the Anti-Christ. 90% of everything he says is a lie. The good news is the biggest hurricane ever is currently coming after his properties in Florida. So maybe nature is fighting back.

The bad news is that he is currently campaigning to do the age-old Republican tradition of tax reform AKA lining the pockets of the rich, at the expense of all the idiots and bigots who believe Trump’s lies and support him.

It’s unlikely we will survive the next four years without major disasters. That’s just the way the karma cookie crumbles.


Tunnels And Trolls, and My Personal Project


I just downloaded the T&T app that very recently released, to my tablet. I want to study the Tunnels and Trolls solitaire adventures to learn what made them fun way back in the day.

Currently it appears to be breaking my Android tablet Wi-Fi connection whenever it tries to update. But it updated on my iPhone, and I played Naked Doom. I ate hallucinogenic mushrooms and died falling into a chasm after being bitten by vampire bats.

I have a feeling the fun is the crazy situations in which your decisions make a big difference, and the results are wild. This design is difficult in a persistent campaign-type game.

You can’t just hand out a Heroic Sword +5 in your first adventure, for fun. The many ways to achieve instant death also have to be explained in my game world where your character is designed to emerge with some treasure and experience, and go on to the next story.

Today I sold an eBook, so my thanks to whomsoever purchased it. I published my first trilogy of novels two years ago on Halloween. My bilingual school of witches and wizards is already open for visitation, but my goal is to formalize that as of Halloween this year.

I’ve moved away from Greco-Roman mythology to the relatively British flavor of islands populated by elves and fairies. I’m on the fence about using Scottish and Gaelic names, however, since I’m trying to teach modern English. I deeply regret my stupid lack of imagination in this whole novel and game development process.

I’m a super smart person, but I am not a fun person. At all. So it’s an almost hopeless challenge to channel my playful side on a daily basis and try to entertain.

Sometimes I cringe at the literary success of young, relatively undeserving people with the right luck and connections, but I can understand how they are better writers than I am with popular fiction. I was probably a more inspired writer when I was twenty years of age, but I had no idea how to write good fiction.

Nowadays I know how to write, but no one cares. Even game blogging has become a popularity contest – among makers of video content.

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Gaming Stocks Continue To Rip, But U.S. Markets Look Iffy

stock chart
Gaming companies reported excellent results this spring earning season, sending Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Sony, and NVidia yet again to all-time highs. NVidia and Netease (Blizzard’s partner in China) were both up close to 5% today.

Jim Cramer discussed NVidia at length today, noting the huge movement into artificial intelligence, and that NVidia (NVDA) is really the only pure AI investment opportunity. Google is in AI, but is much more diversified. NVidia killed earnings yet again in this quarter, and I’m up 25% already, again.

At this point, however, you may be a little too late for U.S. gaming equities in general this year. The old adage is: “sell in May and go away“.

Some indicators are showing a current slow-down in the U.S., great investor complacency ($VIX), and a narrowing market (fewer big stocks keeping it afloat), in addition to the upcoming seasonal weakness. “Bad!”

There are good opportunities for gaming stocks in Asia, however, which also avoid risks of Donald Trump insanity. Big money managers like Jeffrey Gundlach are pointing to Asia (emerging markets) as well in the last few weeks.

Sony ($SNE) and Netease ($NTES) are both breaking out as of last week, as shown in the image above, so lets look at those.

The image shows two types of buyable breakouts. Sony is breaking to an all-time high past levels the stock previously was rejected. Netease is breaking out of a three-month consolidating downtrend.

In my experience, the Netease breakout is far more reliable, which is demonstrated by the much stronger move out of the bounding trend line. Netease just reported strong earnings results, so there is less risk of a bad surprise for quite a while.

On the other hand, Netease distributes Blizzard’s games in China, while Sony has the Playstation. That’s kind of better. Sony is also more diversified and doesn’t have the threat of China’s government slapping regulations, investigations, or other problems on companies, so it’s a safer bet in many other ways.

If you look at Sony’s longer term chart below, you see the same big pullbacks as Netease current has, and then the results in the following months. The pullbacks would have been better times to buy. In my past couple years of focusing on the stock market, this pattern is gold. It works almost every time. If it doesn’t, you sell again before you take a significant loss.

stock chart

Barron’s recommends Sony. The Sony P/E ratio looks high, but Baron quotes 18 on forward-looking earnings. I bought Netease a few weeks ago as my first new investment since I re-bought NVidia a few months ago.

I still don’t think it’s too late on the Netease breakout, or I would not have made this post. I worry about over-exposure to Blizzard, but I’m not ignoring the NTES chart. I’m looking for more charts like it, actually, like the current chart for silver (SLV).

The SLV chart alone isn’t enough. The USD dollar collapsed in the past week, confirming weakness and supporting price of all commodities in $USD. Copper also has extended weakness despite some miner strikes, which pressures production. Silver production is partly a byproduct of copper production.

I’m starting to wonder if computerization of market trading (the trend towards computer programs managing investment funds) is creating self-fulfilling prophecies on these patterns that make them even more reliable. After all, traditionally, artificial intelligence tends to be very predictable. So, profit?

As far as gaming, I’m still playing Hearthstone. I made rank 15 this month much earlier than usual. I’m chipping away at golden Priest and max level Rogue.

My elf school game project is coming along very nicely. I’m not satisfied with incorporating Tolkien-style elves, or some random video game-style elf race, so I’m looking more at the Nordic tradition.

Since my game teaches Spanish/English, approaching white race issues is interesting. The game protagonist would probably be the equivalent of a ‘mudblood’ in Elfland. I’m currently reading The King of Elfland’s Daughter on Project Gutenberg.


Elf In Real Life: Drones, Romanticism, and Frankenfish

This was a horrible week to be an elf.

DemocracyNow! reported this week on video game skills used for military drones. Apparently games are raising the youth to be combat-trained for killing people. If your parents don’t like you playing games, eSports are a weak argument. Go with drones.

Authorized drones will be used for everything, especially spying and delivering things. Virtual reality goggles will make drones even more immersive, just like you’re flying right there personally, peeping into that window on the tenth floor.

Intel warned this week that too much government regulation of drones will cause them to export research to other countries. So the big corps are already pushing the government to give them no interference.

Meanwhile, Microsoft nags me every single day to update to Windows 10. This is for profit of course, never mind that this will break my $800 Adobe installation, since Adobe refuses to support my two-year-old software.

Microsoft and Adobe both want me to abandon the products I already paid for, switch to their cloud offerings, and pay them a lot more.

This week I watched the first two seasons of Orphan Black on Amazon Prime, which managed to trick me into a year-long subscription. I’ve always got confirmation emails from Amazon with no problem, but the specific email to warn me about my free trial expiration mysteriously went to my spam folder.

Oh, silly spam folder. It’s not like Amazon could predict that (sic). So they managed to auto-renew me for $100 with effectively no warning.

I’m pretty much disgusted by every big American tech company except Blizzard and Nvidia. My AMD video card software has been broken irreparably for the last decade. Apple is about ecosystem control, rich people, greed, and the bogus American dream. Google and Yahoo are advertising.

If AdBlock were banned, I would kill myself after using the internet.

Today I learned a new English word, which almost never happens. The word is apanthropinisation, which was coined in 1880 and appears defined as the act of withdrawing from the state of humanity, along with its turmoil and anxiety.

This seems like a 19th century word that an elf wannabe could resurrect and contemplate, but we have to be wary of over-romanticism.

Romanticism can be more hobbit-like than elf-like when we take things and try to exaggerate them, as if we were children, and overwork simple concepts into fantastic polysyllabic notions.

To ice the cake of my elf depression, I’m watching a Stephen Segal movie on Univision Mas right now. I’ve studied Spanish for thirty years to the point of full fluency. I originally wanted to move to another non-U.S. country, but I can’t stand hispanic culture.

Between the fight scenes, there are commercials for Baywatch reruns, and advertisements for a phone chat line featuring sultry women in lingerie. I really thought these things died decades ago. I used to think Mexico was decades behind the U.S., and some things don’t change.

Playboy recently announced that the magazine will no longer have nude photos in the U.S., but Mexico will still have nudes. I hope that proves my point if you’re still skeptical.

This week I literally started studying Chinese. So “nǐhǎo” amigos! In another three decades, I’ll be ready to retire to a hut in China. I mean a Pizza Hut, since I won’t have enough retirement money with my income.

I’ll have genetically engineered Frankenfish to eat though, so I suppose that’s something.


Weekly Wyrm: Hey Kids – Buy This Shiny Pixel Rocket Bike

champions online

This week video game stocks continue to be very strong. As Blizzard broke out again, I put one foot back in again, hopefully this time for good. There is also a growing awareness on Wall Street of eSports and the dollars involved.

Meanwhile, Sony put out a statement this week that their launch of PS4 into China wasn’t going so well due to censorship.

China’s head of the Ministry of Culture, Cai Wu, compared Grand Theft Auto and similar games to “flies and mosquitoes”, not in conformity to the government’s vision for culture:

“Things that are hostile to China, or not in conformity with the outlook of China’s government, won’t be allowed. We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes.”

Today I got an advertisement in my email for a new feature in Champions Online (developed by Cryptic, owned by the Chinese company Perfect World).

Apparently we are finished transitioning to a games-as-shopping-malls model, and now it’s time to transition game advertising to a full-on Wednesday flier.

This kitty now understands that she can use tokens to get more special gear, and NEW lockboxes, and more items in the store – oh wait, there are TWO stores now! One store is not enough!

Thankfully, Massively clarifies today that I can earn tokens to participate in this new activity in the first place. So much clearer, and just what I always wanted. To earn tokens to play to earn different tokens to spend in two different stores.

I think I’ll just stick with Hearthstone and Pillars of Eternity this week. This kitty understands gold and copper pieces. Everything else is just head-hurting, and Cryptic’s Neverwinter is probably worse, which is why I’ll never play Neverwinter.

Europeans make fun of the U.S. for bathing in the blood of violence, but being prudish about sex. In what sort of world do the Chinese people live where both sex and violence are bad in games, but gambling mechanics, advertising, and psychological buying coercion in games is somehow considered benign for children?

So I live in this supposedly super-violent and capitalistic American culture that needs to be censored, yet I’m disgusted and repelled at the manipulation and greed pushed in particular by Chinese F2P MMOs. These games bombard kids with all sorts of tactics to shake them for their lunch money.


Challenge 15

15 ballThis week I played Hearthstone and WoW. My Hearthstone Mage is almost level 20, but I’ve discovered a Warlock strategy that I really like, so I’m trying out the evil side.

I still can’t decide whether to buy the Draenor pre-order. I might wait and see how the new stronghold (housing) NPC crafting situation works out before making a decision on that.

15 is the magic number today, as lvling life and TAGN are both rolling with a 15 theme. 15 is the atomic number of Phosphorus, which can glow, burn, and explode. So here are my 15 most incendiary video games.

Honestly, phosphorus is a lot more exciting than this blog post, so if you’re a chemist and/or meth cook by profession, I’d suggest playing with chemicals instead.

1. Pong (1972) Long hours with a little console and a black and white TV, pushing ball control beyond the ken of mortal man. It was more fun than playing with barbie and ken.

2. Space Invaders (1978) I never owned an Atari. I had a Magnavox. My friends had the newer Atari consoles. This game was a much-referenced bombdiggity in its era, tense and creepy, and spawned sexier and prettier bottom-shooters like Galaga.

3. Wizardry (1981) This was the first RPG I played. You could create your own party and go explore the dungeon. I didn’t own this game until later. It was the domain of my friend who had a computer to play it. I eventually got an Apple IIc and played Wizardry up to the Legacy of LLylgamyn module.

4. Ms. Pacman (1982) This doesn’t need any explanation. Girls can swallow pills too, and this remains a seminal influence. I wouldn’t mind having a Ms. Pacman console in my living room as a stress-reliever.

5. Diablo (1996) This was a period when I didn’t have a proper computer, so this was a hand-me-down from my brother. I want to say I liked the original more than Diablo 2, but that would be crazy, right? I liked the gritty, haunted atmosphere and music of the original. Diablo 2 was a classic, but it was also more trudgey and gamey with the item sockets after the LoD expansion.

6. Fallout (1997) This was a wonderful little RPG and another recommendation from my brother. I also enjoyed Wasteland, its predecessor, on the Apple IIc. I enjoyed Fallout 3, but it seemed to end quickly, and the open world was too obviously just a big rectangle, which didn’t do much for immersion. The imagination is bigger than any game map.

7. Neverwinter Nights (2002) I played this game for years, including all of the expansions. I also played online in a “persistent world” called Grim River created and hosted on someone else’s hard drive. This could be my favorite D&D-flavored game ever, certainly in terms of hours played. The sound, music, and especially the animations were fabulous. The companion system was a little lackluster, but set the stage for better things to come, and still allowed for more complicated gameplay.

8. Baldur’s Gate 2 (2000) This remains one of the all-time great RPGs. It offered great characters and art, along with party romance, including lesbian flirtation with the drow elf, Viconia, and the druid Jaheira. I created an all-girl team.

9. Morrowind (2002) This was another recommendation from my brother, still a bit before I was proactively looking for video games to play. I loved this game, and it remains my sentimental favorite in the Elder Scrolls series. I didn’t like the instant teleporting around the map in Oblivion. It hurt immersion greatly, just like in Fallout 3. More recently, I’ve struggled with Skyrim and TESO because of the non-interface.

10. Vampire: Bloodlines (2004) This was a fabulous RPG that I followed up to launch. WoW released at almost the same time, but I played Bloodlines first, and WoW the next spring (I think). I was more interested in story and characters, which Bloodlines provided. I enjoyed Planescape:Torment, but I liked Bloodlines more because I could create the character I wanted and still experience a strong story with different endings.

11. World of Warcraft (2004) This was the first MMO I ever played. My brother-in-law played Everquest, but it just never looked interesting to me in terms of playstyle and game goals. WoW offered beautiful graphics and animation with responsive controls. I was overjoyed exploring Elwynn Forest and taking the candles from the kobolds. I played paladin and mage to cap in the original game, and since then I’ve played occasionally but never at the edge of the expansion progression.

12. Lord of the Rings Online (2007) I was browsing games at Best Buy and noticed this on the shelf. It looked good and had just released. I decided to give it a try, which was a good idea. This is my favorite and most-played MMO and RPG. I started blogging to just keep track of LotRO links and my add-on projects. LotRO also taught me the meaning of hating a game developer, since they despoiled my favorite game ever with F2P and store buttons all over the interface. I’ll be unlikely to do mods for a game ever again, or get so involved.

13. Dragon Age: Origins (2009) Lots of love for this game. It’s one of the all-time greats, offering unique racial starting zones and stories that touch the emotions, among other things.

14. Rift (2011) This was the first MMO where I got involved in the community and wrote a guide, which was insanely successful, and remains so, with over 35000 views in the last 10 months alone since I updated it for F2P. I really wish Rift were in a better place. I’m hoping their coming expansion will be something great. Rift re-inforces the concept of not getting too involved in any one game, since the game can change drastically or fail at any time.

15. Saint’s Row: The Third (2011) The more I hate Rockstar for misogyny in GTA and disallowing its games to be played as a female, the more I love Saint’s Row. This is the equal opportunity driver/shooter, the anti-GTA, and I’ll continue to support and enjoy every installment of this brilliant franchise. In Saint’s Row 3, you play a charismatic gang leader. I enjoyed the DLC that turns you into a vampire.