Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Planetary Interaction And Preparing For Downtime

Anytime an extended downtime is announced, I start preparing for the worst.  With today's downtime from 1100 - 1400 GMT to deploy the first part of Incursion, I've gone ahead and made sure I have some 4 day skills in my skill queues.  But this time I also had to prepare for the possible negative effects on my planetary interaction colonies.

Unlike the skills queue, any lengthy extended downtime affects my PI activities.  I don't have a lot of free time so I like to do my clicking when I wake up.  6:30 am in Chicago is 1230 GMT, which falls in the window.  So how do I get around this problem?  On Sunday, instead of setting 23 hour extraction periods, I started running 5 hour cycles.  I could do this on Sunday because all I really did was watch football, and doing planetary interaction every so often wasn't very hard.  Once 10 o'clock rolled around, I started up the 23 hour extraction cycle again.
 
Besides setting the time to when I get home from work, I got a lot more minerals just in case something goes wrong with the patch.  I calculated I have enough to last for over a complete day of downtime at each of my colonies.  But I'll be glad when the downtime is over and I can get back to my morning routine again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Shopping Spree

While Kirith went on a shopping spree in Jita on Black Friday, I engaged in an equally perilous spree in real life at the local Wal-Mart.  I admit as shopping sprees go, mine might not actually qualify as one.  But the one item I purchased was an iPad.  So instead of shooting Angels this past weekend, I was searching YouTube for videos and downloading my favorites.  Currently I'm in search of videos that show the history of Eve, whether it is lore like Day of Darkness and Day of Darkness II or player history like Tortuga or The Dronelands War.  I also found both the current intro movie and the original one (which I'll find the links to when I get home from work).

For those wondering how I download the videos and then convert them to the Apple iPad friendly format, I use RealPlayer Plus.  I used RealPlayer as my default player for years and a couple of months ago upgraded to the Plus version.  Perhaps something free is out there, but I'm used to RealPlayer and I think I will get my monies worth out of it now.

If anyone has any recommendations on videos to download, I'd be interested to hear them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Look at Eve's Incursion 1.0 Patch Notes

CCP followed up yesterday's announcement of the elimination of learning skills with the release of the patch notes for Incursion 1.0.  Below are the items of the patch that most interest me.

The new ORE Industrial skill book, required to pilot the Noctis [the new salvaging ship], can now be purchased from school stations everywhere. - This is a big change, since the original Noctis dev blog indicated that the ORE Industrial skill book would only be available in ORE stations in Outer Ring.

Fighter Bombers used by Super Carriers have been changed: they do much less damage to sub-capital class ships now and will also contribute much less lag to future fleet fights. They were previously making the servers cry. - Server tears, worst tears.

Need for speed
  • In order to facilitate fleet fights, network timeout values have been increased substantially from eight minutes. This will allow users to successfully jump and/or log into extremely loaded solar systems where the client will need to wait a very long time to complete. The players will also receive more informative messages under these extreme circumstances.
  • Repeating modules will no longer get into a “stuck” state, where they cannot be switched off.
  • Improvements to module activation and reload responsiveness have been made.
  • Decisions about who should receive damage notifications were optimized.
  • Jumping through a stargate will now create less server load.
  • Compile-time constant handling was improved to give better runtime performance: As a result of replacing certain data look-ups with fixed constants, both client and server should be able to run slightly faster.
  • Fixed an issue in which a client receiving out of order packets would fail to load grid when jumping into a system.
  • A large amount of damage and effects states were being recalculated for every observer during fleet warps and mass jumps. This process is now much more efficient.
Okay, I'm a tech geek who just finished similar testing and tweaking at work.  I just find what CCP is doing fascinating.

The Ships section of the market has been reorganized and is now primarily sorted by hull class. In addition, all faction and special release ships have been added to the market so you can now trade them there in addition to contracts. - Less scamming, but more importantly, more convenience. I'm sure someone is going to complain that this dumbs the game down.  Actually, it just means that scammers have to be smarter.

Graphics
  • The EVE client is now resizable in Windowed mode, allowing the players to stretch their client over several monitors. Now EVE Online is much more beautiful in ultra-widescreen resolutions.
  • There is a new version of Windowed Mode called Fixed Window. It is similar to the regular Windowed Mode but lacks any title bars, frames or borders.
  • A new option, “Horizontal offset” has been added to the settings menu. It allows the player to have all menus on one monitor and focus on his ship in another monitor.
  • EVE now supports anti-aliasing. The beauty of virtual space has never been more… beautiful.
I can't wait to try this out with my laptop hooked up to my big screen TV.  One of the problems I had was that I couldn't resize the window in Windowed Mode and when I used Full Screen the window appeared on my laptop, not my TV.

A “Volume” column has been added to the hangar view by default; “Category”, “Meta Level” and “Tech Level” have been added as optional columns. Individual columns now can be toggled on and off through the right click menu. - I have wanted a Meta Level column for some time now.  And a tech level column is nice also.

Probes can now be added to the overview. - Knowledgeable players knew how to do this already.  Now everyone can see them, providing players take the time how to use their overviews.

You can now rename ships in your hangar without making them active. - A nice quality of life change.

I looked through the forums and didn't see any complaints about these patch notes, since all the complaints are still focused on the removal of the learning skills.  The official response thread on the Eve Online forums is here

The last impression I have is that those who prey on the less skilled, whether it be in PvP or scams, will need to evolve and become more skilled, smarter and faster or they will become the prey.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Learning Skills Going Away in Eve

Today is Thanksgiving here in the States and today CCP gave us something to be thankful for: the end of learning skills.  Tentatively scheduled to apply in time for Christmas, here is the current plan as outlined by CCP Greyscale in his latest dev blog:
Ok, so about a fortnight ago (that's two weeks for those of you who don't speak Proper English), CCP Zulu (our august and esteemed Senior Producer) decided he was totally and completely fed up of being asked when we were going to get rid of learning skills, and told us (Team Yggdrasill at your service, m'lud) that he wanted them gone. And there was much cheering. And then someone asked "when shall we do this?", and verily did he reply unto us "by Christmas, or I'm going to give you lot a right proper bollocking and no mistake". And then we went away and dug through the big stack of plans we've made to deal with this in the past - "just as soon as we find time to do it" - and found the best one, and then figured out how to implement it in the time available.

THEREFORE, let it be understood that we have now the following plan:
  • As of downtime today, all NPC sell orders for the eleven skills in the Learning group (hereafter referred to as "learning skills") have been CANCELLED. They're really not much use in the long run, we don't want to complicate later steps with unusual inflows of skillbooks, and it might go some way towards limiting the amount of scams that we know you're going to be running. Please, think of the children newbies.

FURTHERMORE, as of a patch which should arrive on (or about) the 14th of December:
  •  ALL LEARNING SKILLS WILL DISAPPEAR
    • We're not kidding. In your head, in your hangar or in your anything else, they're gone. Vamoosh. Deleted. Sent to the big recycle bin in the sky. Etc etc.
  • All skillpoints invested in learning skills will be reimbursed, including all the fiddly corner cases. If you have 2,012,692 SP in learning, you will find yourself down those skills, but with 2,012,692 skillpoints to redistribute.
  • All skillbooks not currently injected into people's heads will be reimbursed at the old NPC sell price. The money will go to whichever character or corporation owns the container that the skillbooks are in. For example, things in cans you've anchored for yourself will be reimbursed to you, things in corporate hangar arrays or the "deliveries" bin will be reimbursed to the owning corporation.
  • This will also involve cancelling any and all market orders containing these skills. Contracts containing learning skills will have those skillbooks substituted for copies of the Pax Amarria.
  • All new and existing characters will have an extra 12 base points (ie, non-remappable) in each attribute.
  • The 100% training speed bonus up to 1.6m SP will no longer be available. People partway through this bonus will lose the remaining bonus amount. They will of course gain a huge attribute bonus to make up for it.
  • Miscellaneous other cleanup tasks will be performed that are not very interesting, details available on request.

This, as it stands, represents THE PLAN. We've talked to the CSM about it a bit, and taken their concerns onboard, but the point we're at right now is that there's very minimal room for alterations if we're going to deliver our Christmas presents on time. We will of course be monitoring feedback here for any serious concerns, but please be aware that we've considered pretty much all the options, and we're of the opinion the plan as outlined here represents the best balance between being nice and being sensible. While reading this you may find yourself thinking "wouldn't it be better if you..."; it's very likely that we've already thought of this and dismissed it because it increases the technical workload and therefore (by proxy) the deployment risk, and we don't have time for that sort of thing.
I have just posted the general plan.  CCP Greyscale gets into more specifics in his dev blog.  I can just say I'm happy about this, especially since I did not start up a third account during the last Power of 2 promotion.  I have two people who have expressed an interest in Eve at work and I'm really glad I won't have to try to explain learning skills to them if they do jump into the game.

The reinbursement of the skill points is nice too.  While Wandering Rose only has 500,000 skill points invested in learning skills, Rosewalker has 1.6 million.  That is going to help speed up my training plan a lot.

One additional point to make.  Remember when some players were outraged (well, at least concerned) about CCP making the mechanics to award players skill points?  Well, that system is coming in handy now.

(NOTE: Props to Illwill Bill for calling this use of the ability to grant skill points 5 months ago.)

The response thread is here.  Looks like the CSM was tipped off, since they dominate the early posters.  And they approve.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Operation Smile: Curzon Dax

I had heard of Curzon Dax and his Eve parodies, but I didn't know they were on YouTube.  Since running around WoW last night was so disappointing, I figured I needed something to cheer me up.  Curzon did the trick.















Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Shattering And More World of Warcraft Stuff

I'll have to admit that my second time playing World of Warcraft has not left me very excited.  I think the main reason is that, unlike EverQuest 2, I have to level up my crafting alts adventure levels.  And since I made the mistake of making all 4 of my characters blood elves, that can get boring.

But today comes "The Shattering", in which all the level 1-60 zones get revamped.  Since I could really only be bothered to get a character to level 20 and hadn't left the blood elf starting zone, I'm not going to know too much of a difference in the Horde zones.  I might have to start up a human character just to see how the world changed.

Now, because I only purchased the basic game and The Burning Crusade, I wasn't even thinking about purchasing Cataclysm because I didn't want to also have to pay $40 for The Wrath of the Lich King.  But I just read a post by Tobold that WotLK is on sale until the 29th for $10.  Maybe I'll have to pick that up, even though I may never reach level 60 again, much less 70.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Did Someone Else Lose A Large Amount Of Plex?

I see a lot of traffic coming into the blog from people searching for plex losses in Eve.  Did someone else just lose PLEX in a ship?  I can't research now because I have to go to work.

UPDATE:  The reason for the traffic is that someone linked to my post on the poor guy who lost 74 PLEX in Jita over on MMORPG.com.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Liveblogging the CSM Roundtable

The CSM is holding a roundtable discussion to answer questions in-game (now closed).  The channels are CSM_ROUNDTABLE_QUESTIONS and CSM_ROUNDTABLE_QUESTIONS.  I've missed the first question because of work, but the transcripts are supposed to be posted later.  Given that, here we go...

Question 2 - [19:13:55] Dierdra Vaal > What is the CSM's read on how much input they/we will have on Incarna game play given how it's been revealed to be more or less a blank space?

Mynxee believes that input will be pretty good, but TeaDaze is skeptical about the level of input in the initial release.

And the CSM is live posting the transcripts here.

Question 3 [19:22:25] Dierdra Vaal > Are there any examples that the CSM has had a positive effect on the game thus far? If so what are they?

CCP Xhagen is in the house and gives the CSM credit for issues like "The War on Lag", the skill queue and changes to the Black Ops ships.

Mynxee states that communications between CSM and CCP are influencing the attitudes at CCP.

Korvin states that insurance changes and mineral drop rates in Tyrannis were influenced by CSM.  I'm pretty sure that is BS.  I think CCP was going to make the changes anyway.

CCP Xhagen states that having the CSM to go to first when communicating volatile issues (like the moon goo exploit) is valuable.

Question 4 [19:34:26] Dierdra Vaal> When is the clickfest-removal fix to PI going to be deployed? Nov, dec, or january/feb/whenever?

PI updates will happen in January.  I'm sad.  I was hoping 30 November.

Question 5 [19:36:52] Dierdra Vaal > Why doesn't ccp comment on items passed by CSM vote?

I'm glad this is in-game so I can copy and paste.  This answer is interesting.

[19:38:38] CCP Xhagen > This question is actually an excellent chance to detail the change that the CSM has gone through. That has now changed to where the CSM is more involved in high-level stuff while having the option to bring up the issues they would like to discuss further. The rest of the issues have been dealt with via email during this year.

Question 6 [19:41:38] Dierdra Vaal >Does CSM does anything in order to help CCP locate and fix exploits? 

The short answer is yes.  Although the answer appears to just bring up exploits if they are noticed.  Considering the large corporations/alliances some of the CSM members are in, that could conceivably be a huge set of eyes.

Question 7 [19:47:02] Dierdra Vaal > Does the csm feel that it would be a worthy goal to favor game mechanics which would lower the amount of time in eve it takes to find good fight?

Okay, this is a question that is a bit impossible for CCP to accomplish, I think.  So I'll take this opportunity to state Dierdra isn't doing too bad a job moderating this.  Probably coming from his Eve University background.  Also, the chat channel has not gone above 45 so far.

Mynxee also leaves as RL > EVE.

Oh, TeaDaze brings up the "simulator" idea.  I agree with him.  NO!

Question 8 [19:57:10] Dierdra Vaal > Has there been any movment or news from CCP at all about a change to the jump-drive animation, which as once an awesome swirly vortex and is now a fairly uninspiring droplet effect?

CCP Xhagen has no information.  More pandas become sad in New Eden.

Question 9 [20:00:19] Dierdra Vaal - What are some of the issues the CSM plans to raise in the post Dominion 0.0 and Game Balance areas?

So far it looks like there is a big interest in changing SOV mechanics within the CSM.  But the thing may be to spend more development time on any changes CCP wishes to implement.

Question 10 [20:06:28] Dierdra Vaal - What CSM thinks about upcoming expansion, will it allow for small corps to participate? Or will it be instantly overrun by huge alliances? Will the new content be any more interesting than missioning / sleeper hunting?

A little dissention in the ranks as TeaDaze thinks the incursions are trying to be all things to all people and will fail at all.  I think everyone on CSM believes the big alliances will dominate killing the incursions at first.

Question 11 - [20:13:48] Dierdra Vaal - Are there any plans (in the long term or otherwise) from CCP to improve ship aesthetics? The ability for players to change the color scheme of their ships, more intuative/functional turret placement on the ship models, animated missile lanchers, etc?...

That would be cool, but the CSM doesn't know.

Question 12 - [20:15:42] Dierdra Vaal > How much of a factor was the CSM and the CCP: Commit to Excellence threadnaught on you decision to include several of the community requested improvements that are coming in Incursion?

CCP Xhagen says it was a large factor.  "The more complicated answer is: coupled with the June summit meeting minutes it became clear that CCP and the player community were not in sync.  It has been pretty amazing to be a part of having a whole company re-examine our relationship with our customers. This is what the CSM was created to do and I make sure they get the chance to continue doing it."

And I think I have my greater than symbol problem figured out.

Question 13  [20:21:09] Dierdra Vaal > has the csm got access to more test servers like was brought up in the summit notes.

There is only one called multiplicity.

Question 14 [20:22:37] Dierdra Vaal > Is there any ingame mailing list to follow up on CSM's actions and newest posts with info on progresses? if not, ever thought on planning one?

Reading Jita Park and Assembly Hall is best way to keep up to date.  There is a list called CSM-NEWS for major announcements.

Question 15 [20:27:16] Dierdra Vaal > are there any updates to ccp introducing microtransactions.

From CCP Xhagen, "The CSM brought up very valid points regarding micro transactions which we listened to very carefully. The whole thing is being re-examined by us as a result of that. I don't know when the results of that discussion (nor do I know the outcome as I'm not directly involved) but you can trust that the CSM has been applying pressure both in regards to a solution and communication."

Question 16 [20:32:40] Dierdra Vaal > if after 2 overhauls black ops have no real purpose and are one of the least used ships in eve, is there any plan to make them viable?

Dierdra is in his black-op ship?  I figured he would have lost that thing a long time ago.

TeaDaze doesn't thing the ship is too bad in its current role, hotdropping bombers and recons.

Question 17 [20:39:55] Dierdra Vaal > Given the.. less than favourable response to PI in the last expansion, is the CSM concerned about incursions in Incursion? CCP's reactions to their concerns?

Both Dierdra and TeaDaze are concerned about the impacts they may have.

Question 18 [20:45:04] Dierdra Vaal > Can CCP Xhagen be Icer Xx's pet?

A silly question based on the conversations in the questions chat channel.

Question 19 [20:46:46] Dierdra Vaal > With new evegate stuff and new forums on the horizon, do we know if there will be some better content management tools for the assembly hall, or will there be atleast the chance to vote no?

The answer is no, but CCP Xhagen is working on it for later on.

Question 20 [20:53:10] Dierdra Vaal > Does the CSM know how incarna will effect Empire wardecs? Seeing as it effectively removes the menace of a station camp?

I agree with Dierdra that Incarna will not change much to station camps.  I don't understand why anyone would think that it would, unless CCP is going to add a lot more content then they have announced.

TeaDaze did bring up the question about the interaction with incursions and wardecs:

[20:56:03] TeaDaze > Wardecs might discourage various corps from clearing the incursion sites. I'll leave you to decide if that is good or bad [end]


Question 21 [21:00:18] Dierdra Vaal > Does CCP have a fleshed out product roadmap guiding the company with where they want to take the game Eve Online and the IP it represents?
CCP Lemur stated that CCP is doing a 5 year plan and a 10 year plan for Eve.  Wow!

Question 22 [21:04:14] Dierdra Vaal > 2000 responses to crowdsourcing skiped any response to the community about the results so far?
Results to be posted after downtime on Thursday.

Question 23 [21:06:09] Dierdra Vaal > are there any proposissions/discussions within the csm/ccp for any sort of major UI overhaul? (think corporate interface and scanning tools)

CCP Lemur stated that "from a development point of view we get more bang for our buck when we redo the ui at the same time we touch a feature itself like we have done with the mail system, which I think went pretty good."

Question 24  [21:15:41] Dierdra Vaal > The "Flogging the Dead Horse" modular starbase concept is infamous for sticking around for so long and being endorsed by a large portion of the Eve Community for the past four years. However, each time it was raised by the CSM...
[21:16:16] Dierdra Vaal > ...it has been quietly dropped by both CCP and the CSM. Why is it so quickly discarded, and why hasn't the idea been looked at as a primary feature?

From Dierdra, who participated in CSM1, he would like to see it, but things there are a lot more important things to work on.

Question 25 [21:20:03] Dierdra Vaal > Has the CSM raised the continued issues with the mail system (partic formatting) with CCP and what are the odds it will finally get fixed

Apparently the bugs in the mail system were associated with the UI corification efforts and slowly being hammered out.

And the round table is now closed.  The transcripts are available here.

My final thought is that this was interesting, especially since CCP devs participanted.  I probably won't live blog another one, but I'll definitely be interested in reading the transcripts.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Few Clicks Can't Fix This

I spent my game time today overhauling my colonies.  Yes, I did some more research on planetary interaction and discovered better ways to set up my colonies.  I also decided to focus my PI activity to producing P2 goods.  So today I redid two of my colonies, abandoned my third which was producing P1 products, and then created a new colony using what I learned.  Let's just say the new colony is a lot more efficient.  So much so that I will spend time tomorrow implementing additional changes to my other colonies.

I had a very expensive day today and plan on spending more tomorrow.  But I'm having a blast experimenting and learning new things and when all is said and done, don't we play these games to have fun?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Explaining The Retraction of a Wardec

A CCP GM stirred up a hornets' nest when he retracted the mercenary alliance Violent Intent's wardec against Fatal Ascension.  The wardec occurred when the target of the original wardec, Militant Industries, joined Fatal Ascension.  After much anger, CCP responded publicly on the forums.

Hello all,

I'm the GM tasked with investigating what happened surrounding this war's cancellation. After reading this thread in full, I wanted to offer the explanation you requested.

First, I'd like to present a time-line of the events which took place to give everyone a clearer picture of what happened.

2010.11.02 01:08 – The Violent Intent alliance declares war on the Militant Industries corporation.
2010.11.07 20:30 - Militant Industries joins the Fatal Ascension alliance, thus the war with Violent Intent is instantly moved over to the alliance level.
2010.11.08 00:07 - A petition is filed by a member Fatal Ascension expressing confusion as to why the war notification stated that the war would begin immediately but was not preceded by the standard 24 hour grace period. He suspected that an exploit had been at play.
2010.11.12 11:55 - A senior GM investigates and the war is canceled as a result of this investigation. (Read more on this below.)
2010.11.14 05:26 - A representative of Violent Intent files a petition asking why the war was canceled.
2010.11.15 22:03 - We reopen the investigation and respond to Violent Intent's petition.

When wars between two alliances are viewed in our current logging system, the start date for the war will be listed as the date and time when the war originally started. In this case the start time for the war between Violent Intent and Fatal Ascension was listed as being 2010.11.02 01:08, which is when the war between Violent Intent and Militant Industries started. As can be seen in the above timeline, the war did not involve the Fatal Ascension alliance until 2010.11.07 20:30 when Militant Industries joined the alliance.

Therefore, the initial petition was originally investigated by a game master from the angle that the war notification had not been sent out on time. This decision was based on what he could see from the notification quoted in the petition and had also seen on our end in our server logs, that the notification had been sent out five days after the purposed start date of the war. An internal note was placed on the petition and it was escalated to more experienced GMs for review.

A senior GM reviewed the case based on the previous GM's investigation and came to the conclusion that a bug had indeed caused the war notification to be delayed by five days. The detail that the war originated with the Militant Intent corporation was missed, likely as a result of the preconceived notion that a bug of some sort was involved. An internal defect about the "bug" was submitted into our issue tracking system to have the bug investigated and fixed for good. The war was canceled and a refund for the war bill was issued. An offer was made to Fatal Ascension in the petition that all losses incurred as a result of the "bugged" war would be reimbursed should players who incurred such losses file a petition. Compounding the issue, the cancellation of the war was not communicated to the leadership of the Violent Intent alliance as it should have been. Our policies dictate that this should be done when actions are taken which affect more than one player entity, a war being canceled would under such certainly fall a situation.

There are no indications that the petition filed by Fatal Ascension was created with malicious intent. A series of mistakes and assumptions led to the war being canceled. These mistakes were ours and we accept full responsibility and humbly apologize for them.


We have taken measures internally to ensure that all current and future GMs are familiar with in-game war mechanics as well as the policy listed above and we hope that these mistakes will not repeat themselves.

I'd like to address the matter of the reimbursement offer which was made to both sides which has been discussed quite a bit within this thread. As was mentioned above, Fatal Ascension was offered reimbursement for any ships which had been lost as a result of the war on the basis that the war notification had indeed been bugged. During our investigation into the whole ordeal on the 15th of November when Violent Intent's petition was being handled, an offer to reimburse the losses they had incurred was extended on the basis that Fatal Ascension had already received such an offer in the past and that their reimbursement claims had most likely already been granted at that point in time.

Removing ships which have already been reimbursed is something we wish to avoid as much as possible. This offer was made with the intention of compensating everyone involved and it was made before we had taken an in-depth look into the actual losses that were incurred throughout the duration of the war. After further consideration we decided instead that it would be best to redact the reimbursement offers that had been made to both sides on the grounds that it was the most reasonable way to be fair to everyone involved. All petitions submitted by members of corporations within Fatal Ascension after the war had been canceled were reviewed and no reimbursement had been granted.

I'd like to extend my most sincere apologies on behalf of the whole GM team for these mistakes on our part and I hope that the measures we've taken and are planning to take in response to this will prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.

Best regards,
Senior GM Lelouch
EVE Online Customer Support

I am going to guess this is one GM mistake that will never happen again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fixing Stuff Is A Clickfest

I've begun the practice of doing my planetary interaction work when I wake up in the morning.  However, since I'm still experimenting, making corrections to my colonies can require lots of clicking of the mouse.  I came up with a brilliant idea that might integrate my planetary interaction and hauling activities, but that requires making changes to my three experimental colonies.  I only had time to make changes to one, and I didn't even get the full changes in place yet.

I plan on writing about it soon, once I actually have everything figured out.  But for now, I may have to work on PI when I get home in order to get everything straightened out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Next?

Eve Online is a game that works best when a player has at least one goal.  Now that I've met my goals of perfect refining skills for my industrial pilot and the ability to purchase jump clones for my corporation, what's next?

For Rosewalker, the next step is battleships.  I figure I'll have the skills to adequately fly either a Tempest or a Maelstrom in about a month.  In the meantime, I'll do the occasional level 4 combat mission and continue running 5 research agents to gain the money to actually buy the ships.

Why a Tempest instead of a Maelstrom?  While some people want to fly a blockade runner and be Han Solo, I'd rather fly a Tempest and be John Rourke.

For Wandering Rose, the future holds the Orca.  She is training for her Core Competency Standard certificate as a basis for solid skills to fly the expensive ship.  She will also train a few combat skills, especially those involving drones, just in case combat happens.

In the economic sphere, Wandering Rose will start investigating planetary interaction and hauling.  Well, I shouldn't say start.  I'm experimenting with a couple of colonies and have already made plenty of mistakes.  All I can say is, math is hard.  I've also fulfilled 5 courier contracts and I don't think I'll ever get rich doing them.  However, if I take up hauling full-time, it will be because I enjoy doing it, not to get rich.

How about the future of Khumaak Flying Circus?  If I decide I like hauling, then I think the corporation will take on a vertical integration model.  I'll start making tech 1 industrials and the equipment to fit them properly.  If I find that interesting, then I can start thinking about tech 2 production.

When I first started playing Eve Online, I wondered how I could do in an economic environment that was much more advanced than the one in EverQuest 2.  I think I am ready to start finding out.  I just hope I really like hauling.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kirith Joins The Dark Side

Kirith Kodachi, one of my favorite bloggers, once again joins the forces that wish me harm.  The first time was when Paxton Federation set Eve University to -10 for a ridiculous reason. (It turns out for the actions of a pilot who had left the Uni months previously).  Now M3 has joined CVA.  Be warned Kirith.  If I see a syringe in your hand, I'll pulling out my blaster!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Look At the Q3 2010 Economic Newletter

The latest quarterly newsletter (Q3 2010) for Eve Online was published Friday.  A lot of people have already commented on the forums with feedback and suggestions for future newsletters.  Since I have a blog, I'll give my feedback here. 

The editorial - At the beginning of the newsletter, CCP admits to a mistake in focus.

"Sometimes the players and developers disagree on what is the best course of action. This was evident during the Q2 2010 session, where members of the CSM stated their dissatisfaction with the strategy for EVE and requested that more effort would be put into fixing what needed to be fixed. CCP took a long hard look at the CSM’s comments and concluded that indeed they were right. Based on feedback and further communication with its members, a new approach was proposed and introduced to the CSM in a meeting recently held in Iceland." (page 6)

That's a welcome change.  Now fix faction warfare!

Where was I?  Oh yes, the editorial.  CCP expects the upcoming Sansha incursions to act as a spur to economic growth, and indeed CCP may be counting on the industrial sector of New Eden to step up its game.  However, with the delay of the incursions until January, the economy probably will not see any impact until Q1 2011.

Another important time for speculators looks to be the first 2-3 weeks of December, as that is how long CCP Dr.EyjoG expects the market in faction ships, which on 30 Novemeber will appear on the public market, to take to stabilize.

Population - The biggest item to me was the reduction in the number of accounts.  The Q2 2010 newsletter showed an average population of over 340,000 accounts (p. 8) while the current news letter shows an average population of 330,000 accounts.

On another note, 53.5% of characters are in player run corporations.  I'd really like to know how that percentage has changed since the introduction of the 11% tax on NPC corporations.

One conclusion sure to upset players is that it takes approximately 2 years to become competitive in null sec pvp (page 10).  I know that Mynxee, the chairperson of the CSM, has already disputed that conclusion.

Ship Use - Vital information for industrialists is what type of ships players are flying.  While the report discusses the popularity of Hulks, Drakes, Bestowers and the Badger Mark II, I'm interested in the rise of the Retriever into the #6 spot on the most popular ship list.  Is this a sign that the Covetor market is about to pick up in Q4 or possibly Q1 2011?  Or is this just a return to normalcy, since the Retriever was also #6 on the list back in Q4 2009?

Population Density - I think this section is interesting, just to see where other players are in the sandbox, but not something I'm really interested in.  The noticable things are the rise of the population of Amarr overtaking that of Rens and the continued movement of capsuleers out of high security space, not only in percentage terms, but also in absolute terms as well.

The Monetary System - Just as in real life, New Eden is seeing an increase in the money supply.  However 36.5% of the 400 trillion isk money supply is locked up in inactive accounts, which could mean problems if players come back to the game because of Incarna.

CCP appears to have stopped, or at least severely mitigated the isk flow into the money supply coming from insurance payouts and npc produced trade goods.  Now the biggest problem is the growth of mission payouts.  Dr.EyjoG points out that bounty payouts increased 16% in Q3 over Q2, fueled by the increased populary of running missions in null sec.

How will CCP control the growth of the money supply?  One answer could be the loyalty point store.  The LP store is the biggest isk sink in the game (page 19).  Allowing the sale of faction ships on the market now looks like an effort to get more of those mission bounties poured into the LP store.  The Sansha incursions could also help reduce missioning rewards.  In addition to all the penalties missioners will receive in systems the Sansha occupy, I have to guess that the blueprints the Sansha will drop will have a LP store component to them.

Mineral Price Index - As expected, most mineral prices continued to decline due to the insurance payout changes.  The price of isogen and nocxium rose thoughout the quarter while mexallon rose the first two months before tailing off in September.  Nocxium prices have probably declined in Q4 since the nocxium market was the subject of some player manipulation.

Primary Producer Price Index - This index tracks the price manufacturing items used for the production of other manufacturing items at the secondary stage.  This segment of the economy saw a huge spike in June as planetary interaction came into play and accounted for about 96% of the increase in the index in Q3.

Secondary Producer Price Index - This index tracks production materials and other production items that are used in the manufacturing of consumer goods, i.e. goods included in the Consumer Price Index.  The index showed a huge inflation in July caused by the introduction of planetary interaction with increases in August and September fueled by an increase in the price of salvaged materials.

Consumer Price Index - This index contains the over 4,000 items in the game that are not primarily used to produce other goods.  The CPI saw a big increase during Q3, mainly due to increased costs of starbase fuel other than ice products.  Yes, planetary action strikes again.

Here is the summary of the price changes in Q3:


"The price development of Q3 2010 was characterized by relative stability, with the notable exception of planetary commodities, which tended to surge quite strongly in July but then began to stabilize. The effects of the Tyrannis changes to insurance, drone compounds and mission loot were still being felt in the quarter. On the other hand, the effect of the Dominion changes to the construction requirements for Tech II items seems to be over." (page 29)

PvP and ship losses - Any industrialist wants to know which ships are effective (since they are popular) and which ships get blown up a lot.  The top three ships with the most final blows on kill mails are Hurricanes, Drakes, and Vagabonds.  Minmatar ships made up 11 of the top 20 ships on the list.

The ships most often destroyed were Drakes, Rifters, and Hurricanes.

The growth of supercaptials is actually pretty amazing.  According to the charts it appears that 8 titans and 40+ supercarriers were destroyed in Q3 but approximatly 60 titans and almost 500 supercarriers were built.

Market Focus - At the end of the newsletter, three ships were the focus of market analysis: Drakes, Hurricanes, and Sabres.  For those interested in those ships, the coverage begins on page 46.

Friday, November 12, 2010

EveNews24 Is Back Online

CCP is not the only organization looking to upgrade servers.  EveNews24 just finished upgrading their servers as well.  In addition to now being hosted on a dedicated server, the New Eden news site is looking at a rewrite of its code, moving comments to a commenting service on its own dedicated server, the addition of forums and more.

EveNews24 is one of those sites that helps make New Eden a living world and not merely a game by helping give all players a look at null sec politics and warfare.  Welcome back!

Why Tranquility Went Down Today

Eve Online's servers were taken down today from 1715 GMT to 1730 GMT in order "to apply a hotfix."  But CCP Zymurgist revealed the true reason on the forums...

Mashie Saldana >>  Did someone step on a hamster? :(
sankoku >>  No, somebody fed the hamsters stale Cheezy Bits, and now they have a tummy ache.
CCP Zymurgist >> Poor little guys...
Just a little research will tell you that feeding hamsters junk food is bad.  But it is comforting that CCP had replacement hamsters ready.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eve Online's Incursion Delayed

In a dev blog today, CCP Zulu (aka Arnar Hrafn Gylfason), Eve Online's Senior Producer, basically announced that the upcoming Incursion expansion is not ready and will be deployed in three stages instead of all at once in November.  The current schedule as stated by CCP Zulu is:
  1. Release a first-step patch with a collection of player requested improvements November 30th.
  2. Release a second-step patch before Christmas (Only Santa knows what will be in this patch!)
  3. Release key features of this expansion such as the Incarna Character Creator and Sansha Incursions in January 2011
The features in the "mini-expansion" on November 30th may include (and are also not limited to):

  • 80 new story line courier missions
  • Rocket balancing
  • Tech 2 ammo balancing
  • Adding faction ships to the market
  • Fighter bomber missile visual effects changes
  • Anti-aliasing support
  • Window resizing, camera offset
  • Meta-item indicator icons
  • UI optimization to contract delivery filtering
  • Cargo can now be dragged to hangar by dropping on Neocom
  • Toggling probes in overview
  • POS gunners now receive notifications about control towers under attack
  • Sorting deliveries according to distance in jumps or regional locations
  • Unique icons for Microwarpdrives and Afterburners
Here is an explanation about the delay from CCP Zulu:
"Based on a lot of great feedback we've gotten from the Singularity public test server, we see that both key features [the new character creator and Sansha invasions] will benefit greatly from an additional level of polish.

"We also want to do some usability changes to the Incarna character creator UI, and our artists are anxious to invest more time tweaking the assets you've been drooling over. For the Sansha Incursion feature there is some polish we want to get in, mostly on the socialization and UI front, but there is also some backend optimization that we want to do to get things to run more smoothly.

"On top of that, we want to make sure our quality assurance department gets plenty of time with the more polished, final versions."

...

"We realize this is a bit out of the ordinary for EVE Online's standard two expansion a year policy but we're confident that the benefits will be obvious to everyone in the long run. More polished, more excellent features. More frequent and smaller releases. Less risky and long deployments."
Having watched from a distance what the Sentinel's Fate expansion did to EverQuest 2, I will have a hard time faulting CCP for attempting to get Incursion right.  I just hope that Santa brings snowball launchers for Christmas.

Khumaak Flying Circus Now Has Access To Jump Clones

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Khumaak Flying Circus and Eifyr & Co. Announce New Business Relationship

Elgoi, Metropolis (11 November YC 112) - The Khumaak Flying Circus (ticker KHU) and Eifyr and Co. announced today an agreement in which Eifyr and Co. would give members of the Khumaak Flying Circus access to the cloning facilities in its Elgoi VI - Moon 1 and Eram V - Moon 2 stations.  In addition, Eifyr and Co. have granted the CEO of Khumaak Flying Circus, Wandering Rose, access to the refining facilities in the two stations free of charge.

According to Wandering Rose, "Access to purchasing jump clones is an important step in the development of any corporation.  As a newly developing corporation, access to jump clones is one factor that will set Khumaak Flying Circus apart from many of our competitors in attracting new capsuleers."

Wandering Rose dismissed concerns about Eifyr & Co.'s rumored connections to the underworld possibly tainting the reputation of her corporation.  "With the research I have done and after the talks I have held with Stawitard Hagirat (CEO of Eifyr & Co.), I am assured that Eifyr & Co.'s business model is fully compatible with the goals of Khumaak Flying Circus.  The justifiable secrecy that Eifyr & Co. uses to protect its intellectual property is just an excuse for those jealous of Eifyr & Co.'s success to attempt to smear its good name."

The Khumaak Flying Circus is named in honor of Drupar Maak, the slave who killed Arkon Ardishapur, the royal heir to the Ardishapur family, on Starkman Prime and began the great slave rebellion that eventually led to the formation of the Minmatar Republic. Drupar, who served as Arkon’s personal secretary, killed the Amarrian royal heir with his own ceremonial scepter, called a Khuumak, when Arkon was on the verge of discovering that Drupar was a ringleader of a planned revolt. In honor of Drupar, the slaves began arming themselves with imitation khuumaks, calling them khumaaks. It is the makeshift weapon of the slaves, not the sacred symbol of their Amarrian masters, which the corporation is named after.

Currently the Khumaak Flying Circus is establishing relationships in the Metropolis region and can offer perfect refining of scrap metal as well as minerals found in high security Empire space to members in the more advanced Core Complexion stations.  The corporation also provides members access to jump clones through its relationship with Eifyr and Co.

Contact:
Wandering Rose, CEO
Rosewalker, COO

###

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Cyclone Tanks Good

In my quest to get the Khumaak Flying Circus' standings with Eifyr and Co up to 8.0, I've been running missions for Hegomir Torstan, who is listed in the production division.  I'm starting to wonder if he really is.  According to EVElopedia, a production agent should give out 91% courier missions, 6.5% kill missions, and 2.5% mining missions.  I know I'm not getting that.  I'm getting a lot of mining missions.  And yesterday I received Blockade Level 4.

Now, I discovered that Wandering Rose can run the permatank on Rosewalker's old Cyclone this weekend, but I didn't know how well it would hold up until I ran The Blockade.  The Cyclone didn't really have a problem tanking the damage until getting into the last room.  Three battleships?  No problem.  Four battleships?  That was a bit of a problem but Rosewalker's T2 artillery in his Hurricane along with Wandering Rose's T1 artillery fire and ten Warrior Is were able to kill a battleship first and I was safe again.  At the end, the Cyclone was the focus of five battleships.  The damage to the shields slowly accumulated and I thought I was going to have to warp out.  But the target ship was leashed to a spot, thus reducing the amount of fire the Cyclone was taking, and the fleet fire took out a battleship and at that point it was just flying around pouring titanium sabot rounds into battleships until the last one popped.

I guess that I should add that my Eve University background has come in handy when setting up my ships.  The wartime SOP states that all ships larger than a cruiser must have a T2 tank.  I've kept that philosophy when building my ships and I was able to run The Blockade successfully with a two battlecruiser gang with less than optimum dps.

I should add my goal is within reach.  KHU's current standings with Eifyr and Co is 7.52.  One more day should do it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chribba's System Now At Sov 2

Eve Online is so big that keeping up with events takes a lot of work.  Now that I'm on vacation I have the time to read more blogs and catch up on events.  So I was happy when reading K162space to discover that Chribba now owns Unity Station in Providence.

The beginning of the idea happened back in August when Chribba found an unanchored TCU in Scalding Pass and seized sov in N3-JBX.  After Pandemic Legion destroyed the TCU, Chribba mentioned that if he ever set up shop in null sec, he would want to do so in Providence.  And now, 3 months later, Chribba holds sov 2.

Looking at the map, 9UY4-H is only 4 jump out from high-sec with Agony Empire, Circle-Of-Two, Star Fraction, Sodalitas XX, and Teutonic Guard currently holding sov along the routes to Chribba's system.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flying Old Ships And Other Things

In real life, I'm on vacation this week, which means it is time to go to work in New Eden.  That's right, traveling to Europe three times this year is enough travel for me.  Besides, I really, really need to relax and unwind.  So I'm going to read some of Eric Flint's 1632 series of books and finish grinding up the Khumaak Flying Circus' standings to 8.0 with Eifyr and Co so I will have the ability to buy jump clones.

The grind is actually reaching a very relaxing state.  I've finished doing level 3 advisory missions for Nagalti Vuifnker and have moved on to the level 4 production missions for Hegomir Torstan.  But the last mission I did for Nagalti was a doosy: The Blockade.  Wandering Rose flew Rosewalker's old Cyclone while Rosewalker flew his Hurricane.  During the mission I realized something.  Even though Wandering Rose is an industrialist, there is nothing wrong with her capacitor and fitting skills.  I had set up the Cyclone to run a shield permatank with Rosewalker's skills and Wandering Rose could now run the tank as well.  Once I realized that, I was able to relax and finish the mission.

I actually started to worry about running the level 4 courier missions for Hegomir because the first one required hauling 7200 m3 of cargo.  I've rigged my Prowler for speed and agility, not cargo, so I had to fly my Mammoth.  I hadn't flown it in so long I didn't realize what all the ship handling skills I've learned in the meantime have meant to how the ship handles.  A six jump trip was really not as bad as I feared.  And after the first one, I was able to perform the rest of the courier missions in my trusty Prowler.


After the weekend I have got the corp's standings with Eifyr and Co up to 6.10.  I can see 8.0 from here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Operation Smile: TEST: Newbies Welcome

TEST Alliance Please Ignore is most recently famous for a failed sov grab in Delve that was rolled back by CCP.  But I do have to give them credit for producing a great video explaining why new players are valuable.  I think this video is the perfect answer for those who wonder about the usefulness of new players.



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eve's In-Game Browser Makes Things Look Cooler

I've never been a fan of the in-game browsers in the games I play.  A year ago CCP introduced an in-game browser they called Moondoggie that I never really tried.  I normally have a browser open out of game because I like to do things like look at YouTube videos, which you cannot do in Eve's IGB.  Last night I decided to open up Dotlan maps in the browser and I have to say I like the way the IGB renders the pages.  I'll have to use the IGB more often.


A Region Map
A System Summary

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CCP Recommended Reading List

Tranquility, along with the Eve Online website, is down while Tyrannis patch 1.2 is deployed.  The premature disconnects at 2:24 GMT & 4:32 GMT were not related to the patch installation.  With the downtime scheduled to last until 16:30 GMT, I thought I'd copy and paste some ideas that CCP are giving people to do while they wait.

While you are waiting, here are some excellent resources for you to check out:

Yes, Eve University makes the list!  Even though I am no longer in the Uni, I will always have a warm spot for the corp.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Starting Today, Eve Now 23.5/7

Since I began playing Eve Online, I've always had to worry about the daily downtime when updating my skills queue in the morning.  That worry goes away today as the daily downtime has changed from 1100 - 1200 GMT to 1100 - 1130 GMT.  So what changed?  CCP Hunter came out with a dev blog explaining the changes underway on Tranquility.
The Big Announcement!

Since the launch of EVE Online in May 2003, our official daily downtime has been 60 minutes, from 11:00 - 12:00 UTC.
However, over the past two years we have been aggressively working at reducing this downtime. In actuality a typical downtime today is 20-30 minutes while officially downtime has remained the same *drumroll* until now.

Starting November 1st, the new official daily downtime on Tranquility will be 30 minutes, 11:00 - 11:30 UTC.

Why does EVE even have daily downtime?

Tranquility is one of the largest single-sharded Massively Multiplayer Online Games in operation. The database it runs on is 1.5 Terabytes and in order to maintain the core systems of the game, we perform daily cleanups during these downtimes. Most of these cleanups are "under the hood" kind of operations which are not noticed by the users but are needed to maintain good health of the database.

In addition to database cleanup some essential operations are also performed during downtime such as asteroid reseeding, outpost building, NPC standing updates, etc.
Lastly, during downtimes, the load balancer is also updated and fleet fight systems made dedicated (remember to use our Fleet Fight Notification form if you are having a fleetfight!).

These operations can take a long time to complete but we have been taking steps to reduce them. Today the majority of the downtime involves shutting down and starting up the cluster.

What has been done to reduce downtime?

In the old days, systems in EVE Online were built on the fact that there was daily downtime. In the last few years no new code has been produced that relies on downtime and a great deal of work has been done in removing old dependencies on downtime. You could say that we are still paying for past sins.

In addition to this we have worked on the cluster shutdown procedure and startup procedure so that the cluster goes down and up faster.

What does the future hold, when will the daily downtime go away?

As a part of the Carbon initiative, cluster management is being re-architected. It is our goal that sometime in the not too distant future, EVE Online will have no daily downtime. How awesome will that be!

We are not there yet, but the duration of downtime is being reduced substantially. The actual time required for a typical downtime is just under 12 minutes. The rest of the time is a buffer for applying hotfixes, patches and short maintenance on the cluster when needed.