FFXIV – Return to Eorzia

Well, it’s that time. Friends and family are beginning to sign back up in anticipation of the new expansion and, quite honestly, that means it’s time for me to do the same. It’s quite amusing, really, watching myself play so awkwardly knowing that I had once been at least decent.

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Yeah, so much for style. I have no idea what the hell I was trying to do here.

I’m easing into it a little though. I reworked my hotkeys a little and I’m gonna tinker around with Blue Mage and such a little before I really get into anything that requires actual skill. Once I’m done tinkering I’ll probably resume the main story quest. Last I recall I had a trial next, which was why I stopped.

I gotta get off here though. I’ve had to much to do and it’s already late and I should be in bed.

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Activision Bizzard – Q4 2018 Earnings Call

Okay, so they had this bit at the beginning of the call and I feel compelled to mention it here as well. All of this is what’s called a “forward looking statement” and isn’t in any way guaranteed. It’s true to the best of their knowledge, but they can’t predict the future so it might change. All these slides are screenshots directly from their presentation.

I never realized it was possible to be bored and interested in something at the same time. That’s a pretty good way to describe the earnings call though. I was interested to hear what they had to say, but the actual nuts and bolts of it is pretty dry and boring. It’s also worth pointing out that I didn’t have any intention of sitting in, but I got an app notification while I was making dinner that said “tap here to listen in” and I was like “oh, sure, sounds like a plan.” So I was attempting to make and serve dinner and get other things done during this call, so my notes were kinda spotty, especially at the beginning.

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Just noticed the volume bar, sorry.

The overview of 2018 is actually mildly positive. Overall revenue is up compared to 2017 and actually beat the existing outlook for 2018. That’s actually pretty good news for a company that’s been struggling lately. I personally would have expected them to miss target. They did have some major releases for 2018 though, like Battle for Azeroth, so I’m sure that helped.

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Overall, though, most of their net revenue is coming from Activision. Call of Duty has continued to perform well for them, and PC sales of Black Ops 4 are really strong. Something else mentioned is that they’re seeing an increase in digital sales across platforms as well.

Blizzard is the black sheep of the family. Their major performers are the obvious one, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and WoW. I could have sworn I heard them say all three were experiencing “sequential decline” but that’s somewhat in conflict with the information presented in the slide. I felt this was pretty obvious for was WoW though, and it does specifically say “expected declines” there.

As for King, apparently Candy Crush Friends Saga, whatever that is, is performing well and is expected to continue doing so. Most of what they had to say is that it’s showing signs of nearing a full recovery from some network issues in Q2. Not sure what those issues were and I’m not intending to look or get into it here.

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Going forward, they outright said that 2019 is going to be down year over year. The only thing I heard them talk about for Activision was CoD 4. It’s apparently revolutionary and everyone is excited about it. For their sake I hope that’s true, but from where I sit CoD is CoD.

The big thing that’s been in the news is the “reducing certain non-developmental and administrative-related ‘costs.'” I realize this is more than layoff, but this is also layoffs. They specifically said they wanted to increase development talent and resources and that this is how they’d planned to, ah, make room. The bit that’s probably most concerning to games is the “de-prioritizing games and initiatives that are not meeting our expectations.”

They did discuss the situation with Bungie and Destiny in the Q&A section. It was a mutual decision driven by three majors factors. It was allegedly the outlier in that they didn’t fully own the Destiny IP, it’s revenue wasn’t really performing as well as they’d hoped, and it was tying up some of those pesky development resources and they wanted them back.

Blizzard itself has a pretty dismal outlook, with no major projects slated for release in 2019. None. I’m not sure if Diablo Immortal is considered a “Blizzard” product or not, because where it and CoD Mobile are concerned they “have no additional announcements at this time.” We do know they’re working on Diablo 4 among “several Diablo projects.” They also plan to devote some more resources to Overwatch, as its season 2 League starts… tomorrow, I guess? If they offered anything specific about Hearthstone I must have missed it.

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So the outlook for 2019 at Activision Blizzard is harsh. Revenue is shown down by about 1.5B and earnings per share are about half of 2018. It really makes sense given the layout though. Activision is riding on CoD 4, which I believe is more of an autumn release, Blizzard has basically nothing, and King is… doing whatever it is that King does. It’s just not going to be a income heavy year, which is somewhat expected when major releases have a multi-year development cycle.

This is why micro-transactions and subscriptions are a thing. It provides revenue from existing titles while new ones are developed. I’m not saying it’s always a good thing, but surely we can meet them halfway and not complain to much about reasonable monetization, whatever that may be.

Overall they seem to be doing okay, they’re currently up around $1/share in premarket trading so I’d say most people are pleased with and/or okay with the results. I’m personally indifferent, but this may be a good year to consider buying some stock if you’re in the market. I dunno, maybe shouldn’t listen to me, as that’s pure speculation on my part.

Y’all take care, and congratulations to anything that managed to get through all that without falling asleep.

Black Desert Online – Random Update

So, for whatever reason, I’m still playing Black Desert Online. I haven’t been doing a whole lot though. Mostly just running around doing life skill stuff, helping with guild quests, and maybe one or two world bosses per day.

The life skills stuff is really taking two forms. I’m trying to get the gathering skill needed to do a quest to make pure iron crystals so I can make the higher end gathering tools. No real reason, just because. My gathering was actually kinda low because I’ve relied mostly on my workers to provide materials.

I have, I think, 18 workers at the moment. I’m easily burning two to three hundred beers a day to keep them going. About four of them are producing things to make beer with and most of them are producing ores and minerals. I’ve got a few doing odd things like gathering cotton, which I don’t use for anything and another that gathers maple used for gathering tools and taking up space. That’s the real problem, I’m a hoarder and packrat of materials.

I made 1100 or so steel ingots the other day and sent half to the tool workshop location and half to the armor workshop location and could probably easily make another 2000 more. I haven’t bothered because I don’t need it, but the materials continue to flow in regardless of whether or not I need them. I should probably just do some afk processing sessions and put it on the market.

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Ferret pet is cute – Screenshot courtesy of my brother.

What I really should be doing is the main quest, I guess. While Valencia city is architecturally interesting, the valencia region is brown rocks and sand. It’s just a constant struggle because every single quest takes me to another location that’s, you guessed it, brown rocks and sand. I’m so sick of doing the quests in that area that I’d rather be doing just about anything else.

Unfortunately I was writing this several hours ago and no longer remember where I was going, so I’ll go ahead and call it there. I’ve got a wonderful and exciting post tomorrow about the Activision Blizzard earnings call, so you know what to read if you need to take a nap. Y’all take care.

Guitar Hero Live Refunds and Fortnite/Apex

I don’t have a lot going on today. Weird schedule has me a little off course, as it is wont to do. Still managed to have a few things on the radar though. Mostly just watching games compete and Activision do… whatever it’s doing.

I actually got pinged pretty early in the day that the Activision Blizzard stock was down 5% for the day. I didn’t catch much, but it look like they’re gonna have some layoffs, so I guess it kind of follows that some people choose to jump ship when they do. Ironically that ping came from the Robinhood app that I was looking at. They have a fairly no-frills sort of brokerage that’s conveniently also light on fees, but doesn’t have the sort of information and news feed that the better services have, so I have to actually go looking for that kind of stuff when I get the alerts.

The news about layoffs seems to have been somewhat expected, with most people looking for it ahead of an earnings call that’s happening tomorrow. In addition to that there’s also a refund program for Guitar Hero Live. It only applies to people who purchased it in the last year and it’s due to a decent chunk of the library being unavailable after a server shutdown. I’m not certainly how many qualifying sales they expect, but it’s still not good amidst everything else they  have going on.

It’s additionally fun to watch the internet shift from Fortnite to Apex Legends. I admittedly don’t know much about Apex, but it looks like it’s breaking into the scene pretty strong. I generally consider competition to be a good thing though. Wouldn’t want Epic thinkin’ they own the place. I’ve been seeing a lot of battle royale modes popping up in other games as well. Black Desert introduced one called the Shadow Arena. I haven’t played it personally, but I’ve heard it pays pretty good regardless.

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I’m also at least going to make an attempt to include some images, relevant or otherwise. These are week old mini-rex babies. They have a very silky and shiny coat which is a trademark rex trait. These may in fact be satin rexs, I honestly can’t keep track. They’re cute in a fuzzy rabbit maggot kind of way though.

Think that’s about it for today. It’s either that to tell you the ever exciting tale of afk processing in Black Desert. Y’all take care, try not invest all your money in Enron, and maybe think long and hard if you’re considering Activision.

Something New – Division 2 Private Beta

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So I signed up for a shot at this beta a while back when I was playing the first game. I did not and do not intent to pre-order it. I also don’t intend to buy it at launch. I like the game, but I’m not willing to pay $60 for it.

The beta only allows for a single character slot, and character customization was basically missing. The only option I had was spamming the randomize button until I got something I was okay with.

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I had been aware that the game was set in DC because it was pretty obvious in the promotional materials. Compared to the original I’d say it has somewhat more green stuff, overall, but it’s still the same sort of urban environment.

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The skill system is now broke out into a variety of technology platforms. You can spend skill points to unlock additional platforms and they’re sometimes required for new variants of a particular platform. Unfortunately the pulse platform would be what I’m used to having and it’ wasn’t available for me to try.

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Within each platform though, is a variety of different ways to use it. Both of us were using the fixer drone, as it’s armor regen was a pretty nice thing to have in combat. Unlike the tiered health bars that the first game had, Division 2 has a non-regenerating “armor” pool and a regenerating, but much smaller, health pool that takes damage only once the armor is gone. The game has a consumable called an armor kit that you can use to restore your armor, but you need to be in pretty good cover to hold the button long enough to use it.

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The skill variants and perks are purchased with an SHD Tech currency that you get from doing missions and activities on the map. Missions and all that seem functionally the same, for the most part. One of the most notable changes is that I no longer have the ability to do all the missions in hard more, but had to do them in “story” mode instead.

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Getting new area and services in the white house require you to go to and assist settlements within the city.  You can also allegedly unlock new missions and activities by leveling this settlements up, presumably by doing missions and activities. The bottom line though, is that another settlement needs your help.

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Help like, say, pulling a Nick Cage and acquiring the Declaration of Independence. Which was guarded by a ton of paramilitary rednecks. I’m just saying, if you’re gonna flank the enemy, maybe don’t yell out loud that you’re doing so right before you make a break for it. That’s not flanking, that’s a diversion.

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One thing that did surprise me is that gear sets make an appearance much earlier in this game than they did the first one. I was a good ways through the content of the first game before I started seeing pieces of gear with bonuses like this. That said, it’s not like the set pieces are so common that completing a set is easy. I’ve gotten lucky enough to get two pieces from the same set, but it’s so early in the game that they’re replaced by higher base stat versions fairly quickly. I imagine it’s probably somewhat different in the end game though.

Overall it’s a good iteration. A lot of the changes are fairly subtle, but are good mechanical changes overall. Gameplay-wise, it feels very much like the same game. The controls are very similar, the combat is very similar, it’s all just been tweaked a little here and there. Similar enough though, that if I really want this type of experience I can just go play more of the first one.

Y’all take care though, and for real, don’t try to steal the Declaration of Independence. That’s a horrible idea.

Eco – Update 0.8

We’ve still been messing around with Eco, in addition to everything else, and the game had a pretty big update this past week. While they did add a few more critters and plants, the biggest changes are to the skill system and to mining.

The previous skill system built up points over time that you can spend in any available tree. The new system gives you a specialization star at the start, and every so often depending on your xp bonus. Right now it’s working out to be about one point every other day. This is a pretty hard limit on advancement compared to before, where there wasn’t a default limit on specializations. We’re a few days in and only have two specs each and aren’t expecting the next one until tomorrow.

Each specialization has now been reduced to a single skill line that goes up as you use it, with recipes, efficiency, and speed all wrapped up in each level. This also means that you have to be actively doing things in order to improve, instead of simply investing points wherever  you want them. I actually halved the skill gain before we restarted due to the obnoxious speed we progressed before. I find it to be a pretty decent pace overall.

They also changed the game from having simple “stone” to having a wide variety of different stone types that require different grade tools to harvest. The ores that were previously random are now limited to specific stone types and depths. It’s a pretty decent change that’s had some interesting ramifications.

Unfortunately, along with these changes the memory usage has gone through the roof. It’s no longer possible for me to keep the server open while I’m doing other things. In order to do basically anything other than play the game I have to shut the server down. Hopefully this is just a bug and they’ll sort it out soon. If not, I’ll probably have to set it aside for a while.

I did look into paying to have the server hosted by someone else, but it’s current level of memory usage would put it around $25+/month hosting fee with no guarantee it’ll work properly. I tried to limit it locally on my own PC, but that feature isn’t built in and it just aborts when it hits the memory cap. Was worth a shot anyway.

On that note, I gotta go get dinner started. It’s only a matter of time before the kids decide they’re starving. Y’all take care.

It’s Been Like, Six Months, Scoob

Suddenly occurs to me this morning that Blaugust started over six months ago. That means I’ve been doing this about ten times longer than my typical project. A nice victory, to be sure. In my revelation I took the time to go through some of my older posts, particularly the more meta ones where I was talking about the blog itself. I’ve pulled out a few quotes out that I found interesting.

Maybe it’s some form of guilt. I look at all my past endeavors and see a long string of abandoned and/or forgotten projects. In a way I think I fear this will join that list, ultimately. – Pre-Project Jitters

Yep, long standing problem, but between the blog and a few other random I have sufficient evidence to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Some thing stick, some things don’t, and some come and go like tides. Among the things I talked about in the earlier days that I haven’t brought up in a while are Warframe, cause I haven’t played it and haven’t seen much I wanted to comment on, and Elite: Dangerous, which actually does have some interesting things going on, including a massive player expedition to the far reaches of the galaxy. I’ve just been hanging back seeing how it goes for me. Last I read they were having some issues, but they weren’t catastrophic.

Turns out there’s going to be something called Blaugust. A month long event encouraging anyone to blog. One post, thirty posts, whatever.

So they’re talking about the YouTube, podcasts, and blogs. I’m thinking about the various ventures I’ve started and left incomplete and figure “screw it, what I got to lose?” So I signed up, and here I am.

Let’s do this. – Everything must have a beginning – My first post

I’ve been taking this stance more and more often as the blog has gone on. In fact, I believe I’ve said the same thing about this statement before. Thing over there I want to check out? What have I got to lose? Of course, where money is concerned, it’s a little different, but I’ve been getting slightly bolder over time. To the extent that I actually submitted a college application this morning. I mean, worse case scenario I get denied and I’m out the application fee. It’s really a small cost compared to getting accepted.

Once I’ve done that, I go back through and start placing some images throughout the post. It just doesn’t feel right to post this giant wall of text. I honestly don’t think anybody cares or wants to read about it to begin with and that it evokes a sort of “omg, I am not reading all that” sort of reaction. – My Blogging Process

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My approximate reaction to reading that one. Image from Hotel Transylvania 3.

Hehe, man I totally didn’t stick to that. My current schedule simply doesn’t allow me to easily throw pictures into everything. All my good editing software is on my PC at home and that’s where the least of my writing occurs at the moment. This was not the case earlier on when I had the 10AM post schedule, but that’s because I was writing them the evening before. I could probably try a little harder though.

I’m going to leave you guys with a quote today. I linked to this in one of my posts back in August and wanted to include it here as well. It wasn’t directed specifically at me, but it was relevant then and now. Y’all take care.

Because, really, it is. The fact that you decided to blog (or stream, or just be a content creator in any sense), whether it was yesterday, or ten years ago, is a huge accomplishment. It may seem like it’s something that everybody does, but I think that’s because we’re in the thick of it.

So remember as Blaugust continues, regardless of what you accomplish compared to your own goals (or what you think they should be), you are successful, you are deserving of being a part of this community, and you’re not the only one who feels this way. – Chestnut – Impostor Syndrome and Your Blog