Dauntless – Also Moving to Epic Games Store

Y’know, this Epic Games stuff is morbidly fascinating. Every day or two it seems they’ve managed to secure some new title for their platform. The ongoing shenanigans with Metro: Exodus is interesting and they’ve just announced today that Dauntless will be moving to EG as well.

The thing with Metro is, the immediate backlash of the announcement is that the other Metro games on Steam are allegedly getting review bombed. I’m not really in a position to check on it at the time of writing. The point though, is that just reinforces how ineffective some of Steam’s systems are. Leaving a negative review on one or more games that aren’t the offending one seems a little disingenuous. Maybe Valve should add the ability to write reviews on developers/publishers, because that’s really what this practice is.

Meanwhile people are also getting spun up regarding Dauntless, which up until now has been independent. It’s worth pointing out that Dauntless is built on EG’s Unreal Engine, so it’s a move that makes quite a lot of sense. I imagine some money probably changed hands as well. Overall it’s probably a good move for Dauntless, it’s a good game and deserves some visibility. I spent a fair amount of time playing it a month or so before Monster Hunter World came out on PC.

It’s weird, in a way, I always figured somebody would eventually show up and find a way to truly compete with Steam. I just didn’t think it would happen this fast. This thing was only announced on Dec. 4th. In just under two months they’ve gone from “hey we’re gonna do a thing” to pulling titles out from under Steam a week before launch. Man, money sure does a good job at lubricating the machine.

They’re making enemies as fast as friends though. Some of the gaming YouTubers I follow have already started walking back their slightly optimistic opinions and sentiment on reddit seems…. mixed. Such is the way of business though. They don’t tend to succeed by being nice and playing “fair.” Epic certainly isn’t doing either of those.

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Nice Title, Citizen

So I’ve got this odd sort of theme going on lately. In my odd attempt to sort out all this business with the Ayn Rand, I dunno, fan, follower, whatever he is, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to actually read some of the stuff she wrote. I need some basis to work with in that sort of discussion.

Logically, I started with the first fiction book, We the Living. I’m not that far into it, really, but it seems to be generally about the conditions present in Russia around the time of Lenin’s death. Give or take.

It paints a pretty bleak picture, to be honest. A very familiar sort of struggle, but taken to an extreme that I’ll probably never experience personally. To be honest, I’m not that familiar with the details of Russia’s history, but I’m mildly curious. Really wasn’t the purpose of reading the book, but a rabbit hole is a rabbit hole.

Rather conveniently there’s been a new video on the Oversimplified YouTube channel. They do animated summaries of various events/people in history. The recent one is a two-part series about the Cold War, something that had largely passed by the time I was old enough to understand. I remember learning about the fall of the Berlin wall when it happened, but did not understand it’s significance at the time.

Thanks to that video though, I’m aware that it’s setting, the city of Petrograd, now St. Petersburg, was rather critical in the early stages of Russian communism. It’s all so conveniently timed.

Unfortunately it’ll be a while before I can really piece any of it together in a significant way. For one, I’d like to at least finish the book before I try to expand it all that much. A problem I have quite frequently. So many cool things out there to read and learn about and only one of me and the same amount of time in any day.

Still, some of it seems super relevant to the events of today. Like some sort of strange twisted origin story for today’s news. Either way, I’m out for today. Y’all take care, try not to start any unnecessary proxy wars.

GameStop, Nvidia, and Activision Stock Stuff

It still feels weird, watching various gaming and tech companies rise and fall via share price. I’ve actually gone so far as to create an account over at marketwatch.com this morning, where I’m slowly accumulating a list of companies I feel like monitoring.

This came about because both GameStop and Nvidia are in my headlines this morning for taking some manner of fall or another. According to my little watchlist ol’ Activision Blizzard is in the club too.

GameStop’s, though, is the most severe. They seem to have stopped looking for a buyer for the business and as a result their stock price is down somewhere around 25% overnight. It’s sad to watch, in a way, as I have some fairly fond memories of using GameStop, say, around 2012. We’ll see though, it’s not like they’ve gone out of business just yet. Maybe they’ll get their hands on a CEO and find some way to secure their market.

Nvidia seems like less of an issue to me. Their stock is down due to lower than expected sales during the holiday season. I get it, but the whole shares dropping because we made less than expected is a general pet peeve. Their 2018 Gross and Net Income are both up year over year since 2014. Like, a lot. Net income in 2014 was 630M and 2018 was 3B, with a B. Of course, people are people, I guess. It does look like 2018 over was a very flat year for them, quarter to quarter not much has changed. Makes sense though, I’ve been trying to delay major computer upgrades hoping prices would come back down. Maybe this year will be the year.

That’s another thing though. See, everyone talks about Q4 sales, holiday sales, and I get it, traditionally a lot of product moves during that time period. As a consumer, though, the holidays aren’t where it’s at for me. Yeah, some extra spending happens, but I simply don’t spend what some of my coworkers do on the holidays.

Maybe that’s just me though. In a wonderful show of shareholder confidence, AMD, the company I usually buy from, is also down due to Nvidia’s report. Neither case is really a big deal, I don’t think. Especially not compared to the drop they both experienced back in September.

Activision Blizzard is also down a little bit because an analyst changed their opinion of the stock from “outperform” to “perform.” So, y’know, whatever.

Unfortunately this sort of odd analysis doesn’t apply to everyone I watch. Both Valve and Epic Games are private, which means none of these numbers are collected in a nice handy place for me to look at. Apparently Koch Media has decided that Metro Exodus will be an Epic Games exclusive for it’s first year. I’m sure some money changed hands, as it seems to be doing a lot lately with Epic Games. I’m assuming that’s mostly Fortnite money being used to launch the EG Store.

I’ve seen people criticizing the EG Store for it’s use of exclusives as well. I’m admittedly not a fan of having a bunch of exclusive storefronts, and have expressed sentiments against them in the past. Valve needs some competition though, and this may in fact be required to establish themselves. Not that I think they will stop when they’ve done so.

On that note, I’m going to fade back into the swirling thoughts of capitalists and proletariats from which I came and get some “real” work done. Y’all take care.

Starbreeze – An Update from Eurogamer

Honestly there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement that I’m aware of regarding the developer/publisher Starbreeze. Eurogamer has published a really good article though. It’s quite long, but goes into great detail concerning the history of Starbreeze and Overkill, their very strange merger, and the ups and downs of their projects and money.

One of the surprising takeaways is that in the merger Starbreeze paid Overkill with stock, instead of money, but it had such little value that they essentially handed majority control to Overkill.

On the whole, it sounds like Mr. Andersson was a very strong personality, with some very strong ideas and vision. He invested the company heavily in a wide variety of projects, many of which never panned out. In a way it’s not that different from what I see Valve and Star Citizen doing. Both of them have seemingly obscene amounts of money and seem to just generally throw it at the wall to see what sticks.

In reality, I think the comparison to Star Citizen is the most accurate. The Walking Dead had a long and expensive development time with engine switches, feature changes, scope changes, and a lack of direction, all of which we’ve had hints of behind the scenes with Star Citizen as well.

Both games are/were selling a dream, a big one. In the case of The Walking Dead, though, the money ran out. They had to push a product because there wasn’t anything left to develop it with. A problem Star Citizen doesn’t have yet, it seems.

Of course, Starbreeze also spent a ton of money on various VR related projects as well. Not a bad move, per se, but the market just isn’t there yet. I mean, sure, I’d love to have an HTC Vive myself. I’m not sure about Payday 2 in VR, but I’d try it, but Elite would be wonderful to experience in VR, and there are several other cute little titles that would be fun toys as well.

That’s where I feel the market is at right now though. It’s a toy that would be fun to tinker with for a while, but at $500 it’s still a bit steep and hard to justify. On top of that, I’m not even certain my PC has the power to push decently quality VR. I’ve tested some VR videos using a phone and a cheap plastic headset and it didn’t really sit well with me. I don’t know if it was a framerate problem or what, but it’s given me some pause on buying hardware I might not be able to even use.

It also appears to the be case that one of the individuals detained when authorities raided the Starbreeze office was Bo Andersson himself, but he was apparently released with no charges. I expect we’ll hear from him again at some point, once the chaos and noise die down somewhat. He apparently has some manner of pet project he wants to make, so that’ll be a thing.

With Starbreeze officially in reconstruction I’ve given some thought to buying some stock. Provided they don’t eventually fold, I doubt it’ll get much cheaper than it is now, and if they manage to somehow survive long enough to put out something like Payday 3, they may stand a chance of actually making some money. Maybe.

Something New – ECO

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So Jeromai mentioned this game in my tragedy of the commons post the other day, and for good reason. The premise of the game is that there’s a meteor coming, and it’s up to you and others to cooperate and create a civilization that can withstand the impact. If you manage your resources poorly in the meantime, you can destroy the environment yourself in the meantime. Probably easier than it sounds, but I’ve only just started poking around with it.

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Graphically it somewhat resembles any other voxel title, like Minecraft. It’s got a little bit more going on with some built in shaders and such, but it is what it is. Gameplay wise it has more in common with Ark.

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So the pie on the left measures a couple of things. The individual pie pieces indicate my current nutrient balance. The more balanced it is, the more skill points you gain. In my case, my fat is really low because I don’t have access to meat just yet. I’ve been living off foraged food and working towards farming.

The size of the pie, on the other hand, indicates current calorie level. Doing work uses calories which makes the pie smaller. So not only do you need to be eating regularly, but also try to vary what you eat as well. It’s like a well balanced diet is hard or something.

When you go to collect something like wood, which you would do a lot, you have to smack the tree till it falls over, then cut it into sections. It does a fair amount of damage to the area it lands on. The plateau I’ve been working on is somewhat beat down due to repeated tree impacts.

carrying wood

Then you have to pick up the individual pieces. You can only carry around four pieces though, so it typically takes 2-3 trips to collect a single tree. I’ve watched some streamers play though, and at some point you can get carts that allow you to move larger quantities of stuff around instead of using an armload at a time.

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Mining works pretty much the same way. Smack the rock and it creates four rocks you can pick up or two rocks and large rock that you have to smack again. It’s actually almost faster and easier to gather stone compared to wood, but it doesn’t exactly grow back.

Moving dirt around is the thing I dislike the most at the moment, as I have to use a shovel to pick up a block, go somewhere and dump it, repeat. It’s rather time consuming, if somewhat realistic. I actually took these screenshots digging out an area for a house expansion. Some things like the carpentry table and research table have to be inside a room with a certain amount of space.

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I did eventually manage to build and figure out how to use research table though. I had a little difficulty figuring out if I needed the Farming book or not, as I had a farming related skill. It was “Farmer” and this was “Farming” though, so I assumed they were different.

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Farm! I have officially moved on from straight foraging to actual farming. Which is good, because the beets and corn aren’t anywhere near my little camp. I’ve been living mostly off crimini mushrooms.

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There are plenty of other systems in the game as well, such as a governance and laws system. While I was taking all these screenshots on my private server I also voted myself World Leader. I mean, it’s not like I plan to do much with it, I just thought it was funny. Like being on a deserted island all by yourself and taking time out of your day to officially proclaim that you’re the leader.

Probably actually buy my brother a copy in a week or so and I’ll take it a little more seriously. The purpose of this attempt was purely to figure out what I’m doing and get a feel for it. Make sure it was worth recommending to him.

So y’all take care. Remember to vote of Giant Meteor for 2020 and try not to ruin the environment in the meantime.

Inter-guild Politics

You know, I’ve never been a guild leader for more than a half dozen people, and I typically know all of them personally, so I don’t know how much that counts. Honestly what I’ve read on other blogs, like Cali’s, doesn’t really make me want to start. Neither do the ongoing events in Black Desert.

So, last week we had a minor skirmish with another guild. They had some very aggressive guild members that were spawn camping someone who then asked for help in server chat. A few of our members went to assist them and were struggling, so we showed up in force and eventually ran them off.

In the meantime, though, both guilds declared war on each other and there was a rather extended exchange of hostilities. Both sides eventually lost their taste for blood, though, and agreed to a truce. It was rather late at night, and I wasn’t around, but the talks went on for some time.

Then, a day or so later a few of them showed up when we started farming and one of us. Would have been two, but I figured I was next and booked it. I’m not exactly 3v1 material. We were ultimately told that those members in particular just sort of did whatever and killed anything that moved at popular grinding spots, therefore we had not been specifically targeted as members of our own guild. I thought the logic was a little shady, but whatever.

Now apparently one of our members has been shooting off at the mouth and actively hunting members of the aggressive guild, which had to be talked down from a war declaration, merely stating that they’d camp our guild leader instead. Such quality people. Our leader was… not happy. Why the offending member hasn’t been removed from the guild is beyond me, as that’s the first thing I would have done.

They do seem to have resolved their differences in the battle arena area. At least I hope so. The whole point of the thing was to not seriously inconvenience every member of the guild, particularly the lower level members. I could at least defend myself in theory, if not in fact.

That said, it’s about time to set myself up for afk activities and get to sleep. Y’all take care, try not to start any guild wars.

Activision Lawsuits and Fractional Reserve Banking?

Well, Activision now officially has two class action lawsuits on their hands. The sum total of the suit(s) seems to allege that they knew Bungie intended to leave and take Destiny with them and continued to misleadingly present Destiny and their plans for it to investors. While I don’t know enough to draw many conclusions at the moment, it’s safe to say that it’s not a good look for Activision Blizzard, and even if it’s not true and/or they win, it will likely be a costly win for both their finances and investor confidence.

Marathal mentioned in the comments of the last post I wrote about it, that they may end up dropping the Blizzard part of the name, possibly even the studio, and reforming as just Activision. This could certainly push that forward and even if they keep Blizzard the studio they may have to reform after it’s said and done in order to get some of that investor confidence back.

Speaking of economics, there’s the continuing train of thought I’ve been following in the background. I talked about the tragedy of the commons, but I got kinda curious and started with the general question of where money comes from anyway. Y’know, if the government “created” the money, how was it then placed into the system for general use. So I look it up, and, well, I had the whole thing wrong right from the start. In fact, it’s still bothering me a little bit. A small existential crisis of sorts.

Now, the government does, in fact, create the physical cash currency, typically through a “Central Bank.” The problem is that in the grand scheme of things, commercial banks create most of the money we use. Most of the world uses what’s called “fractional reserve banking.” This is where banks are told they can only lend out a certain percentage of the deposits that they hold. It’s properly called a reserve ratio. I’ve seen 10% used in a lot of examples, and this is in fact the current ratio for US banks holding more than 122.3M USD of certain liabilities. Mostly checking accounts.

So a US bank, then, that holds, say, 200M USD can lend out up to 180M. In theory it’s actually 1B (10% of 1B is 200M) but that’s kinda weird and complicated and makes some assumptions. Because I find it funny and amusing, my example bank is called the “Damn Bank.” If the Damn Bank lends out 50M to start a new business. This business takes it’s money and buys a variety of things like real estate and equipment and hires some labor to make it move. Let’s say they spend 30M on capital and labor and keep 20M for operating expenses. In a really simple scenario it would be safe to assume that most of the 30M they spent is going to end up being deposited back into the bank by the locals. Now the bank has a total of 230M USD in deposits, which increases it’s lending ability. The new business might even use the bank to hold it’s 20M operating cash which brings it up to 250M.

In reality, they don’t so much give the debtor 50M as much as they create a new account at the bank with 50M in it, so it never really leaves the bank, per se, just moves around amongst different accounts. The part that hurts my head is when we start considering that the 50M they created was technically already in the bank. If there was a run on the bank, they would only have 150M “real” money to pay the 250M they have deposited. Now, it’s worth mentioning that in this system the central bank generally controls various things like the reserve ratio and the ability to create new new “real” money. It’s entire purpose is not only to regulate the whole system but also the network of safety nets that protect from bank runs, creating additional “real” money for the commercial banks, if need be.

This is also not representative of every first world country. UK, NZ, Australia, and some others don’t have a required reserve ratio but instead have a “capital requirement” that sounds kinda like the same thing but apparently isn’t. I’m assuming it’s measured differently and probably includes more than just deposit account risk.

That’s something to look up another day though. I’m still trying really hard to swallow just what I’ve presented here. It suggests rather strongly that most of the money in our system only exists because it is borrowed.

For a good portion of my life I’ve believed that being debt free, or at least doing as much as possible to limit debt, was the best practice and that if everyone did it a lot of problems could be solved. This line of thinking, however, appears to be in error. If everyone avoided debt, new money would not be created.

Now, all of this is obviously not exactly a perfect reflection of the real world. There are multiple banks, so the 50M created by the Damn Bank wouldn’t necessarily stay there, but in fact be transferred to other commercial banks, increasing their lending ability and decreasing that of the Damn Bank. The there was a run on the Damn Bank they could, of course, borrow additional funds from the other banks to make the system keep running, and this is actually what happens under most circumstances. If a the Damn Bank ends up with more issued credit than it’s reserve ratio would allow, it typically borrows that money from the other banks to balance the sheet out a little bit.

I don’t even know how this works in international banking either. I’m sure I’ll get there at some point, but it all feels like information overload.

At the end of the day though, I still get paid. The money I get paid, while likely not “real” in the strictest sense, can still be exchanged for goods and services. The whole system, crazy as it seems, is specifically designed to avoid immediate catastrophe.

With that in mind, I’m going to shut up and go about my business. I barely understand any of this and what I do understand is suspect at best. Y’all take care.