Monday, October 20, 2014

When CCP Seagull Talks, People Listen

"In the Phoebe release, we're making some of the biggest changes we've made to EVE in years. And those changes are just the start.  In November, December, and the whole of 2015, we're going to bring some pretty drastic changes to EVE Online.  All of them with the ambition to strengthen everything that is unique and amazing about EVE and to make your experience with EVE better."

- CCP Seagull, EVE Vegas 2014

Andie Nordgren (aka CCP Seagull), the executive producer for EVE Online, is not a flamboyant speaker like Sony Online Entertainment's Dave Georgenson.  But that's okay.  Georgenson, the director of development for the EverQuest franchise, is trying to make and popularize two new games, EverQuest Next and Landmark.  Nordgren's task is far more difficult.  She is attempting to modernize an 11-year-old game so that new players are not immediately turned off while at the same time reinvigorating the passions of veteran players with improved features and new gameplay.  Given CCP's history of unfinished and uniterated upon features, a voice of authority who doesn't overpromise is what EVE needs at this point in time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

RMT In Null Sec This Week

Over the past two days information has emerged concerning illicit RMT activites in null sec.  I'm not really surprised that information like this would leak out.  In the past I've posted about corps or alliances renting space in null sec as well as an illicit RMTer named elusif who was kicked out of the Goons' comms for advertising his goods.  So I figure I need to at least mention the latest allegations that, for a change, I didn't dig up on my own.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Time To Make New Things

For the past few months I've run a group of planetary interaction colonies in the business of making nanite repair paste.  A very useful product, but in terms of profit, not the best choice.  Then again, I often make sub-optimal choices in EVE Online where making ISK is concerned.  But I've discovered something: I want to spend my time doing other things.

I think the main thing I did wrong was use my main characters to run the operation.  That pretty much tied them down to one area.  But I have two other characters that can run planetary interaction as well.  But I think I'm tired of trying to run that many colonies.  In the future, I'll only have one character run colonies.  I don't really need more than five, right?

I won't stop making nanite repair paste right away.  I still have weeks worth of tier 1 products that built up because I wasn't too efficient in making sure in the early days to make sure I was always checking my colonies.  I figure I have a six week supply for some of the products, so I'll probably stop sometime around Thanksgiving.  The U.S. one, not the Canadian one that just past.

One nice thing about continuing to make repair paste for a few more weeks is that I have time to sit down and figure out what I should make next.  I should probably make things that I'll use in my production runs.  Of course, since I don't make that much stuff for sale, I can then sell the excess on the market.  The question then becomes: what tech 2 items do I want to make?  I'm still trying to figure that one out.

One reason I've delayed making any decisions is the upcoming changes to invention and construction coming in Phoebus.  CCP Ytterbium's dev blog on the changes has me adjusting my skills plans and rethinking my data core farm.  A casual producer in low sec like me can't rely on bidding for teams to stay competitive.  I need to concentrate on building a good data core farm to keep costs down.

Another reason is waiting for CCP to figure out the changes to long distance travel.  CCP Greyscale posted some modifications to the effects on jump freighters, but as null sec industry grows that CCP intends to nerf the distances to fall more in-line with the original proposal.  So should I even begin tech 2 production or should I get back into exploration once Phoebus hits and concentrate on making rigs and other items I find blueprints for, like ancillary shield boosters?  I don't want to get into a business and then see materials shortages.  Heck, in the future, faction equipment might actually rival tech 2 in terms of affordability.  Or does that just mean I should get into tech 2 production more than currently?

I know this post has wandered a bit.  But that's the beauty of EVE.  Moving one piece of the puzzle often affects other things.  Boredom with making nanite repair paste has led to a reexamination of a lot of other areas of my industrial activities.  The changes I make will then lead to hours of new play in EVE as I discover what else EVE has to offer.  That's a lot cheaper than going out and buying a new video game.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 14 October 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 12 October 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft48.76,598+4.3
22Guild Wars 211.21.521-25.8
33Star Wars: The Old Republic11.01,495+5.8
45Final Fantasy XIV5.0676-4.1
76EVE Online3.9528-17.5
910Lord of the Rings Online2.2296-2.0
12--Planetside 21.8246+7.9
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 13,550
On Sunday, the Xfire community saw the amount of time it spent playing its favorite MMORPGs fall by 4.6%.  The decline was led by Guild Wars 2 (-529 hours) while World of Warcraft (+271 hours) saw the biggest increase in time played over the previous Sunday.  APB: Reloaded fell out of The Digital Dozen after a two week stay, replaced by Planetside 2.

The Giant Is Awakening:  Blizzard is building up to the release of the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft next month with the release today of the pre-patch, The Iron Tide.  The first new content patch since the release of The Siege of Orgrimmar in September 2013, I expect to see the numbers for WoW start to swell again.  On Sunday, the first indications of that growth were shown, as WoW recorded its highest Digital Dozen score since 21 October 2012.

An eSports Decline?  I'm not really sure why Guild Wars 2 suffered such a drastic fall in the Xfire community's time spent playing the game.  One possible explanation is that the North American Tournament of Glory Finals were held on Sunday.  Perhaps many people were glued to the action.  Perhaps more were drawn to the Twitch stream to wind a precursor weapon or a Mini Llama.  Whatever the reason, I'm interested to see if Xfire community returns to the game next week.

A Festival Decline?  I'm used to events like Blizzard's BlizzCon and CCP's Fanfest exciting players so that the number of hours played by the Xfire community increases.  But following Jagex's RuneFest 2014, held on Saturday, the amount of hours logged in the game fell by one-third.  We're the players just traveling and/or hungover?  We'll see if the engagement level returns next week.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why I Am A Low Sec Carebear

I had a good time playing EVE this weekend.  I did a lot of distribution missions and a few storyline missions on the alt I use to farm Caldari loyalty points.  For a six day stretch, I compiled 140,000 LP and 145 million ISK.  A pittance compared to a null sec resident ratting in an Ishtar, but I don't have to worry about running out of loyalty points like I did the week before.

I also had some adventures while mining.  While out mining kernite in my Procurer, I ran into one of the Mordu's NPC frigates.  Between the mining barge and the Hound I was dual-boxing, I had almost stripped the shields off the tough little rat when two pilots in faction ships landed on grid.  I departed empty handed, down one tech 2 drone.  I also took my Prospect out and managed to mine some spodumain until I was chased out by a rapidly growing flock of rats.  I then tried to mine in a small bistot site, but an Amarrian factional warfare pilot flying a Thorax didn't like that and chased me out.

Sound exciting?  Well, that's the life of a low sec carebear.  Or, at least, this low sec carebear when I get a free weekend.  Bob knows I don't fly in low for the ISK.  Since I also am alone in my corp, I don't fly in dangerous space to play with friends.  So why do I play a niche play style in a niche area of a niche MMORPG?

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Stealth Bomber Nerf Due To ISBoxer?

In CCP Greyscale's dev blog last week on the long distance travel changes, he also mentioned that stealth bombers would receive a rebalance pass in Phoebe.  Apparently, as part of that rebalance, cloaked ships will once again decloak each other if they get too close.  At least, players are reporting that is currently the case on the Singularity test shard.

A lot of players have complained about the effectiveness of bombers in null security space in the current meta.  From the reading I've done, the stealth bomber has dictated that null sec fleet doctrines abandon shield tanked battleships and use almost exclusively armor tanked battleships.  Another article written by a member of Goonswarm Federation stated that the CFC switched from its Maelstrom-based Alphafleet to Megathrons because...
"The hull is armor tanked. This is key; ISboxer and cloaking changes made it possible for a single player to do a perfect bombing run with as many accounts as bomb mechanics allow. This alone caused the shift from the Maelstroms of Alphafleet to Megathrons; the smaller signature radius of armor tanked ships gives them much greater survivability against bombs."
These are just two examples of the articles and tweets I've read from people far more knowledgeable than I about null sec PvP pointing out how ISBoxer-controlled stealth bombers are bad for PvP in EVE.  But CCP has made its decision on ISBoxer and has included its ruling in its Third Party Policies document.  As I stated back in August, if CCP is going to allow the use of ISBoxer, then the devs need to balance the game around players using that software.  I even wrote that CCP needed to reverse the change made in Crucible to not have cloaked ships decloak other ships.

No, I'm not taking credit for this change.  Members of the CSM have also spoken out about the use of ISBoxer.  On the forums, players seem to continuously start threads calling for the banning of ISBoxer.  And, in all honesty, taking my advice on PvP is usually a bad bet.  But I've seen enough to know that the use of such advanced multi-boxing software can distort the design intentions of the developers.

Honestly, I'm not sure that CCP has the resources to begin an effort to ban ISBoxer from EVE as NCSoft has done from Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar.  But if they don't, then the next logical step is to limit the damage that ISBoxer use does to EVE.  Making cloaked ships decloak each other is a good start.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Now Kotaku Is In Bed With Botters and RMTers

The GamerGate controversy started off with a games journalist sleeping with an indie game developer.  That morphed into a scandal in which gamers began questioning the integrity of games journalism in general.  I won't go into the details, but a segment of games journalists were staggering until the recent controversy involving the release of a new game, Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor.  YouTube, which many gamers are granting more credibility than the gaming web sites, now had its own ethical issues to deal with.  Mainly, that in order to get a pre-release copy of the game, YouTubers had to do some questionable things.

Interestingly, Kotaku chose to have Nathan Grayson, a journalist at the center of the sex scandal, write an article about the new scandal.  But as Kotaku moved to take the high ground, they decided to step on one of my main concerns: botting and RMT.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Phoebemania Is Contageous

Hard to believe that only a week has passed since CCP Greyscale published his dev blog detailing the teleportation nerfs coming to EVE Online in the Phoebe release in November.  Controversy is swirling around the EVE community, with the threadnaught on the forums reaching over 380 pages and 7600 posts.  Members of the CSM have gone public claiming that CCP did not adequately inform them of the details of the proposed changes.  One member of CSM actually wound up leaving his corp over the changes.  Members of Pandemic Legion, one of the heaviest users of supercaptials in the game, are publicly stating their support for the changes on podcasts, EN24, and in talks with new players in Eve UniversityOthers are critical of the changes.  But in an unscientific Twitter poll, the majority support the changes.

In short, the changes in power projection that will occur in EVE have energized those who live in null sec, for better or for worse.  But not just null sec.  I've found I've caught a second wind and have played a lot more over the past few days than I have in a long time.  I spent a large chunk of time this weekend doing mining missions in order to get the loyalty points I need for top-of-the-line mining and refining implants.  I also spent all of my Caldari loyalty points stocking up on faction missiles and spent the last two nights building my cache.

But why am I excited?  Because I see that localization of trade is a real possibility.  With the nerf to jump freighter travel, I think a demand will emerge for locally manufactured goods.  Okay, perhaps that is overstating the case.  But locally manufactured goods will definitely become more profitable if transporting goods from the manufacturing centers around Jita.

I do have to worry about getting rare supplies myself, like tech 2 materials.  But perhaps we'll see more materials sold in Amarr and Dodixie due to the increased travel difficulties.  Or maybe not.  That's what makes the changes coming in Phoebe so exciting.  No one really knows what is going to happen.  Part of the fun is trying to figure out the trends and take advantage of them.  So for now, I'll preparing.  Hopefully the economic dislocations coming will make life a lot more interesting.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 7 October 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 5 October 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft44.66,327+2.8
22Guild Wars 214.42,050+21.0
33Star Wars: The Old Republic10.01,413+2.0
56Final Fantasy XIV5.0705-0.3
65EVE Online4.5640-10.4
108Lord of the Rings Online2.1302-32.9
1212APB: Reloaded1.8257+16.8
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 14,199

Sunday saw the Xfire community spent more time playing its favorite MMORPGs than the week before.  The 4% increase in play time was led by Guild Wars 2 (+356 hours) while Lord of the Rings Online (-148 hours) saw the biggest drop in interest.

Where's the beef?  When I saw the big jump in play time recorded for Guild Wars 2, I knew that ArenaNet had released another patch.  But after looking at the patch notes, I wondered what the big draw was for players.  I only saw a bunch of bug fixes and UI improvements along with new items in the cash shop.  I wonder if I missed something.

A speed bump.  Patch 14.2 released for Lord of the Rings Online two weeks ago and the increase in playtime by Xfire members has already dissipated.  I don't know if the patch was that skimpy, or if the new content just wasn't engaging.

ArcheAge hits 2 million.  Last week, Trion CEO Scott Hartsman published a letter announcing that ArcheAge now has over 2 million registered accounts, not counting the over 100,000 bots that were banned.  But the growing numbers of players apparently don't include new Xfire members as the community saw the amount of time spent logged into the fantasy sandbox decline by 1.6% compared to the previous Sunday.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Look Back To The Future Of Null Sec

Perhaps the single dev blog that influenced the way I play EVE Online was written by CCP Greyscale.  Published on 15 August 2011, "Nullsec Development: Design Goals" convinced me that CCP planned to nerf high sec and if I planned to play EVE for years instead of months, I needed to get out of high sec.  The following sentence got my full attention:
"Our current proposal is that hisec is for volume T1 goods, lowsec will be for meta/faction gear eventually, nullsec is for T2, and wormholes are for T3"
I knew I didn't want to go to null sec or live in a wormhole, so that meant moving to low sec, where I fly today.  The goals were not set in stone and were published over three years ago.  But I thought that with another CCP Greyscale dev blog, "Long-Distance Travel Changes Inbound," causing such a ruckus (and threadnaught) last week, that traveling back to the Summer of Rage might lend some insight on the rationale behind the contents of last week's dev blog.