Thursday, April 28, 2011

Operation Smile: Eve Maria

My writing time is gradually being eaten up by work again, so I'll leave you with this video the CCP favored on its YouTube channel.  Something soothing when things get a little hectic.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

They Told My If I Voted For Mike Azariah for CSM6 That ...

... we wouldn't see null sec issues publicly debated in the CSM, and they were right! 

Well, Mike is afraid that with the way The Mittani is structuring the internal communications within the CSM, no issues will really be debated in public and the CSM will just serve as a rubber stamp.
“We are seeing the results but not the process.  I like to see how things are done . . . is it one hero driving through all the issues?  Are people all participating?  Who are the go-getters and who are the slackers?  When I was able to read the raw minutes this sort of thing emerged, allowed me to know what was going on.”
Mike has a point.  Since delegates are now allowed to run for re-election, seeing how the CSM delegates perform is a worthwhile thing.  Now, we don't need to see all the internal discussions.  We could get the same sense of a delegate's worth if during the next CSM fireside chat more delegates spoke.  If we could see that delegates could speak knowledgeably about an issue, we could those views as a basis for a vote when it comes time to possibly re-elect that member.

Mike is what we in Illinois call a "goo goo", which considering this is Eve Online we are talking about is rather appropriate.  Of course, goo goos like Mike lose elections to machine politicians like Mittens most of the time.  But reading Mike is about as close as we get to reading Mike Royko in the Eve universe, especially now that we have a version of The Boss perched atop the CSM.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CCP's War On Bots: TinyMiner

For those wondering about CCP's War On Bots™, the "Reporting from the front line of the Bot-War" thread is pure win.  Yesterday CCP Sreeg left this tasty tidbit in the thread:
"In actuality, the normal player is the one who has the most to lose. We will catch him and he will lose all his stuff. It's the cheaters who don't fit the mold who will require the most attention. We went after a new one today. HAPPY EASTER!"
That new one appears to be TinyMiner.  While I couldn't get into the forums because it requires registration, NinjaSpud reported the following:
Website B (TM) has started to report losses. For a while no one was saying anything (and I feared that they where somehow being missed by CCP), but I found similar posts to this:

"User XXXXX2 is banned
Last login: XXXXX2
Number of visits: 861
Reason: EULA/TOS Violation - Macro use
Until: 2011.05.04

Got Banned today in my 2 accounts BEWARE EVERYONE THEY ARE CATCHING THE PPL who is using the bot Sad"

I'd go out on a limb and say Website B is officially under siege.
While the forums require registration now, Google did cache the thread if you would like to read it for yourself.


And in a related note, April 24th came and went for the new release of Roid Ripper and it is still down.

There may be other sites affected, but I don't know the Eve botting world well enough to know exactly where to look for more.

Related Post: CCP's War On Bots: TinyMiner Tears Not Bad Either

Monday, April 25, 2011

My First Look At Captain's Quarters

Over the weekend instead of spending my Eve Online time grinding status with the Brutor tribe, I downloaded the Duality test client and took a look at the initial public version of Captain's Quarters.  CCP Tanis warned that the devs were "still at the chisel-in-hand-in-front-of-a-marble-form stage," but with Star Wars: Galaxies not satisfying my desire to walk around a game in an avatar, I decided to brave an MMO test server for the first time.
CCP Tanis' warning was very true as I experienced periods both in and out of Captain's Quarters where I could not move and the screen froze up.  Yes, this truly was an alpha version of the game's build, so I expect just about everything is subject to change.  The devs already had a list of issues to work on by the time I logged in on Saturday, so I won't mention those here.

One thing I'd like to see change is for the devs to put a light dimmer in the main room of the Captain's Quarters.  It was very dark and hard to find some of the features.  Finding the re-customization button was almost impossible.  And sometimes I couldn't find it even when I knew where to look.  Sometimes watching the screens in the dark is enjoyable, just not all the time.  Of course, CCP could come up with a lore explanation for the darkness and then the NPC station masters could offer better quarters for sale in another iteration of CQ.

Did I mention Captain's Quarters are dark?
The only other thing that really bugged me about Captain's Quarters was that the main screen would turn off and then the bulkhead behind the screen is visible.  Actually, once I started looking for it, the bulkhead is visible when the screen is showing news as well.

I won't go into what I think about the new crash tutorial because I really think that the lag interfered with the testing experience.  Yes, I'm pretty sure that the lag prevented parts of the tutorials from displaying.  If you are interested in my thoughts, you can read my first Eve Online forum post with my impressions in the feedback thread.  That's right, I played for over 1 1/2 years without posting on the forums. 

One thing I would like to add that I didn't feel was appropriate for the feedback thread is that I hope that CCP comes out with jewelry, especially wristwatches or some sort of wrist comp.  The avatars have a habit of looking at their wrists whenever they are idle for too long.  The avatars wouldn't look so silly if they had something on their wrists to actually look at.

While playing around on Duality I decided to make a movie showing my experience.  Wandering Rose does the honor of walking around and that is her Hurricane in the docking bay.  I had to do a lot of editing because I never did have more than 30 seconds of play before being hit with a "spatial anomaly."  The actual experience was not as smooth as the video might lead you to believe.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Tattoos and Piercings

I got home late from work last night and decided to finally redo Wandering Rose's looks by adding some tattoos and piercings.  I'm not a big fan of tattoos and piercings and I wasn't sure if I could redo her looks and still retain a working spacer look.

Being Minmatar Wandering Rose had to get a tattoo.  The tattoo is faded because she's had it most of her life, but at the same time is one of the more unobtrusive tattoos.  I didn't want something ostentatious that shouts out her heritage in some sort of attention-getting cry.  And while she can afford any type of body modification, her old tattoos are a reminder of the life she had before becoming a capsuleer.  A reminder of her humanity, which so many capsuleers tend to lose after holding almost god-like powers for awhile.

The same thought process covered the body piercings.  Because you never know what emergencies may occur outside the safety of a pod, Wandering Rose just prefers simple earrings.  Nothing for an enemy to grab a hold of and use against her.  This is especially true since CONCORD is expected to pass a regulation in the next few months requiring pilots to leave their ships whenever they dock at a station in Empire space.  Wandering Rose rarely left the safety of her pod when docking at Amarr stations.  Now, she hopes for the best but prepares for the worst.

I also decided to darken her hair and redo her makeup a tiny bit.  I also decided to get a long sleeved shirt.  All in all, I think I managed to improve her look.  Of course, it just might be the lighting.  I'll put the before and after pictures up and let you decide for yourself.

Before




After



Two final thoughts.  The first is that if you are going to redo your looks, don't start playing with the character creator if you get home from work at 11pm and have to leave for work at 7:30 the next morning.  Time does fly when your having fun.  The second is that I really need to post the background stories for Wandering Rose and Rosewalker on the blog.  I faded a bit into character in this post and I really should get the whole story written.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Captain's Quarters: An Anti-Botting Feature?

With CCP's War on Bots™ underway, I've engaged in the sport of googling Eve botting sites looking for juicy forum quotes.  I found a couple that gave me the idea for this post.

First, from the RoidRipper forums, where a replacement bot still is not posted:
"I hope the macro will still get support after the station is replaced in incarna."

Second, from DamnCheaters.com came this statement from a moderator:
"The bot will be updated to work with any changes made to eve UI. Unless they remove overview, HUD, local which is highly impossible I see no real threat to botting."
Hmm.  But aren't players forced out of their ships when they dock in Incarna?  And isn't the new UI going to spread UI elements like the market, wallet, inventory, fittings window, etc. throughout the Captain's Quarters?  And won't each of the four races have different layouts in their stations, and thus, four different UI layouts?  And if CCP creates different tiers of quarters, won't there be even more different layouts?

Since bots have to return to stations in order to drop off their ill-gotten loot, won't the changes to the stations pose a challenge to bot writers?  If CCP does Captain's Quarters correctly, I can see bot writers having a challenge on their hands, especially if CCP rearranges the furniture every couple of days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forums Highlighting CCP's War On Bots

I spent a lot of time reading a thread on the Eve Online forums last night about CCP's war on botting.  The thread has a lot of nice information put together by NinjaSpud.  At Fanfest, CCP Sreeg said he would like to just shut down a botting website's bots and watch the rage on the site's forums.  The first victim of this tactic appears to be a bot called RoidRipper.  Following the clues in the thread, I found out that the bot had been taken down and all the subforums had been closed.  At this point it appears that the efforts are really targeted at mining bots, although the ratting bots can't be far behind.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Video: CCP Soundwave Explains Why TQ Crashed - The Elephant Incident

I finally finished manufacturing my Mastodon and needed to come up with a name.  So I figured I would commemorate CCP Soundwave's classic explanation of why Tranquility crashed on the second weekend of Alliance Tournament 7 back in 2009.  Of course, that led me to tracking down the mp3 file from the broadcast, which I found on EVE Files.

Now, I came up with the idea of trying to post the clip on the blog so I could share it.  The only problem is that Blogger does not allow for uploading sound files.  However, if I turned the clip into a Windows Movie file, I could then post it on YouTube and show it that way.  So I took the plunge and created my first video.  I hope you like it.







I couldn't figure out how to include this information, but no elephants were harmed in the making of this video.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Downloaded Star Wars: Galaxies

I don't know what this says about RIFT, but yesterday I downloaded the 14-day trial for Star Wars: Galaxies.  I may be crazy, so is this just proof that I should take "may be" out of the statement?  I'm not so sure.

I've been playing RIFT, and while Trion created a nice game, I played similar DIKU-style push button combat games, between WoW and EQ2, for over 4 years.  And after realizing that Eve University was created before WoW was published, I figured that maybe I needed to look at some of the older games for some avatar combat.  Besides, with The Old Republic due out in the near future, Star Wars: Galaxies may be in its final months and I'd be kicking myself if I never gave the game a try.

I do advise that anyone who wants to try SW:G first try the free trial just to make sure it runs on your system.  I have doubts it will run with my ATI 4800 series video card (and yes, the drivers are up to date) but it runs okay on my computer with an NVIDIA 7950 GT card.

I've only played a couple of hours so far but the combat is different.  I actually have to target with my mouse and fire, not just click on a mob and mash buttons on the action bar.  It is a little bit twitch-based combat, which is something I'm not really good at, but I'm looking for something different. 

Each character profession is also supposed to have a different storyline.  For my first character, I chose a spy.  I've already run into one mission that was a bit difficult until I realized exactly how stealth works.  After that, I had to do something a bit unexpected, but running out of a successful mission followed by a hail of gunfire was pretty cool.

I don't know if I'm really going to play much, but I haven't played RIFT in about 2 weeks now and I want to get some avatar game play in.  CCP just did too good a job with the Future Vision video and now I want more.  Maybe I just need to stick to science fiction from now on.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eve's PvE Play Can Be A Tad Slow

This week I am on vacation.  Well, not really a vacation, more of a staycation.  I'm doing important things like filing my taxes, going to the dentist and learning how to use Twitter.  And when I'm not doing that, I'm getting some much needed time flying internet spaceships.

Now, being a carebear isn't all rainbows and unicorns.  Being an industrialist, at least the way I'm playing, involves sneaking through low-sec to get free slots to copy blueprints or perform material research.  But with a lot more free time this week, I'm doing a couple of things I usually don't do a lot of: missioning and mining.

I'm glad I dual-box, because I think trying to do level 4 missions with just a battleship would drive me crazy.  Instead, using an artillery-fit Maelstrom to poke things from long range while dashing around with an autocannon-fit Hurricane keeps things interesting.  This really comes into play when doing a mission like "The Score" when I just fly from one gate to the next and the battlecruiser just eats up all the small stuff while the battleship crushes the Serpentis' battleships.

Of course, sometimes the missions are still a bit slow.  So far this week I have not only gone on-line and paid bills while running missions but also wound up installing a new version of my anti-virus software.  Of course, I waited to reboot my computer to finish the install until after I finished the mission.

One other interesting (to me, at least) fact about "The Score" is that the first room has a lot of pyroxeres in it.  I live in Metropolis and Heimatar and pyroxeres is usually only found in Amarr and Caldari space.  What makes pyroxeres so interesting?  Nocxium.  Sure, pyroxeres only has trace amounts of nocxium, but I currently have a thing about harvesting all my own materials outside of moon products if possible.  Throw in all the other minerals pyroxeres contains (tritanium, pyerite and mexallon) and that is just a lot more minerals that I don't need to buy for my ship building program.

What I really like are drone missions.  Those basically combine missioning and mining and give me a lot better selection of minerals than mining. But I do have a nice Orca and it just seems a shame not to use the ship's mining bonuses at least once a month.

Was mining all that pyroxeres really worth it?  No.  Sure, I had the time to write this blog entry, but how fun is the game play if I'm writing blog entries while playing?  Then again, this is mining in Eve.  To anyone who does this a lot, my hat's off to you.  I don't think I could do this more than once a month.

Update:  After waking up, I started looking on the markets and at Rens prices I can dump the minerals on the market for 54 million isk, with 26.5 million of that nocxium.  But the boredom!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Running The Subscription Numbers On RIFT and Eve Online

Elementalistly at Lowered Expectations has been trying to use X-Fire and Raptr to gauge exactly how many players are subscribed to RIFT and has been using Eve Online subscription numbers to gauge just how successful his calculations are.  Oh my!  Actually, using Eve Online is a pretty good gauge for testing out theories since CCP, unlike most MMO publishers, is pretty open with their subscription numbers.

The only problem with that is when you don't know what the subscription numbers for Eve Online are in order to check your work.  A lot of people are letting him know that Eve Online has more like 360,000 subscribers, not the 450,000 that his formula predicted.

Eve Online Subscriptions From the Q4 Quarterly Economic Newsletter (p.8)
Still, if we can assume his totals from his formula are 25% too high across the board, then the number of subscribers for RIFT after a month and a half after launch is in the neighborhood of 725,000 - 750,000.  But that is just if you use the formula.  Elemetalistly has been playing the X-Fire game for a long time and actually gives a much broader estimated range of subscribers to RIFT: 600,000 - 800,000.  Looks like my prediction that RIFT would have more subscribers than Eve at the end of the year still has a chance of coming true.

Looking at Elementalistly's work also gave me some insight into how Eve is doing as well.  According to both X-Fire and Raptr, Eve player activity is going up.  I don't really see it when I look at the concurrency numbers when I log in, but those numbers may be down because of the crackdown on bots and RMT activity CCP Sreegs announced at Fanfest.  But how many RMT sites register with X-Fire or Raptr anyway?

The current trend Elementalistly reports for Eve is consistent with the numbers CCP Dr.EyjoG reports in the QEN.  The number of accounts in Eve went down this summer over the "18 months" rage and started to inch their way back up starting in January.  The question now is whether the number of real players entering the game will exceed the number of accounts banned by CCP for botting/RMT.

Related post: So What Is Eve Online's Current Subscription Number?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

They Told My If I Voted For Mike Azariah for CSM6 That ...

... CSM members would be logging in to run incursions.  And they were right!

Part of the reason I voted for Mike is that he really gets into the Eve universe and I think that the CSM needed someone with his perspective.  Also, with Incursion, he took that event and created the Gallente Hero channel to help fight the Sansha outside the traditional corporate/alliance structure.

With CSM6 being overwhelmingly represented by the null sec alliances, everyone is expecting that they will focus solely on the typical null sec sov warfare.  So imagine my surprise when I saw this Sunday night.



I LOGGED INTO EVE ONLINE AND AM GOING TO RUN AN INCURSION HOLY SHIT MARK THIS DAY ON YOUR CALENDAR #tweetfleet
10 Apr via web Favorite Retweet Reply


Now, I know that some may consider this a publicity stunt.  Others may consider it noteworthy that Mittens actually logged into the game.  But did he have fun?


@DavidKMagnus Easily the most fun PvE experience in EVE I've had. I hope the next lowsec one includes some murder, too.
less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply




Incursions are probably the coolest PvE/PvP hybrid in EVE right now. Go run one if you haven't yet. Even bittervets approve. #tweetfleet
less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply


Hopefully with The Mittani actually getting into a ship every now and then since he is now chair of CSM6 he might expand his horizons.  We'll see.  But wouldn't it be funny if Mittens started hanging out in low-sec?

(Note: I used a web site called Blackbird Pie to get the tweets to display.  The formatting doesn't really translate well to Blogger.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

CCP Sreegs' Role In EVE Security

After last Friday's post in which I wrote about a report on the virtual economy sponsored by the World Bank, I promised myself I would not bring serious real world matters into my posts this week.  But then the new Eve Online forums were taken down this weekend due to a major security hole concerning forum signatures

The reaction
from players, needless to say, ranged from "OMG, you suck!" to "can we keep the old forums for a couple of more years?"  Of course, the head of CCP's internet security, CCP Sreegs, came in for his share of criticism as this was a hole in security.  CCP Sreegs posted this response in the thread.
"My job is response, not reviewing every single line of code that gets written."
This is where the real world steps in.  The real world in the form of WikiLeaks, Anonymous and HBGary.  Back in January, the CEO of HBGary Federal Aaron Barr thought he had uncovered the identities of Anonymous and the media picked up on the story.  Anonymous got even, and among its actions obtained and made public over 40,000 emails.  Among the e-mails released was an exchange back in July between CCP Sreegs (aka Sean Conover) and HBGary president Penny Leavy (hat tip: Ecliptic Rift)  In the email CCP Sreegs explains what he will do for CCP.

"I’ve been hired essentially because CCP has recognized that  as the company grows they need to be more concerned about security in general. My background is primarily in incident response and forensics. I do know at this time that my forensic and malware experience was a big get for them in the interview process so I know that targeted malware is something they’re concerned about (as I believe pretty much any organization should be today) and part of my mandate is to ensure that I have the right tools to 'do my stuff' when the time comes."
I don't know what this means in relation to proactively preventing security lapses.  But between this letter and the security presentation at Fanfest last month I get the impression his main job is to fight hackers and botters (redundant, I know) after the fact.  I'm not exactly sure who is supposed to do the preventive security steps.









Well, I shouldn't say that CCP Sreegs has done no preventive measures.  At Fanfest this year he talked about some of the measures he's helped implement since he came onto the job.  For those interested I've embedded the presentation above.  I will really be interested to read the dev blog on his investigations that should come out this week.

Oh, and I should add that Penny Leavy's husband is HBGary founder Greg Hoglund, who apparently is a long time Eve player.  That's right, the guy who wrote Exploiting Online Games: Cheating Massively Distributed Systems is playing Eve.

Friday, April 8, 2011

World Bank Report: 20% of Virtual Game Currency Sold Is Hacked

I am currently reading a virtual economy report sponsored by the World Bank titled Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy (hat tip: Terra Nova).  I plan on writing more about the report, but given the angst about botting and RMT in Eve Online, I thought I'd publish this quote from the report now:
The popular term “gold farmer” refers to a game laborer who plays an online game in order to produce virtual currency that can be sold for real money. The first “gold farms”, offices where multiple farmers sit at rows of computers and earn wages by producing virtual currency, probably evolved from gaming cafés. Although gold farmers have captured the attention of the Western gaming public, today they represent only a small part of the production sector in the third-party gaming services industry.

The main competitor to gold farms comes from automated bot farms. Bot farms use arrays of computers that each run several instances of the game, each controlled by a program known as a bot.  Perhaps only a tenth of the staff of a manual farm is needed to monitor the bots. Another source of competition are criminal hacker groups that break into players’ and gold farmers’ game accounts, steal the currency, and sell it for real money to wholesalers and retailers. One industry expert suggests that manual farms produce 30 percent of the virtual currency sold by retailers, bot farms produce 50 percent, and hacker groups “produce” 20 percent by stealing it from other players.
Lehdonvirta, Vili. & Ernkvist, Mirko, 2011. Converting the Virtual Economy into Development Potential: Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy, Washington, DC; infoDev / World Bank. pp. 16-17
I should add that this passage is describing third-party gaming services and not game companies themselves.  Thus, CCP's PLEX sales and Sony Online Entertainment's Live Gamer Exchange servers for EverQuest 2, Free Realms and Vanguard do not count in the above description.

So folks, especially all of you who play Eve Online, there is a reason that people equate botting with RMT.  Because that is where the industry gets about one-half of its currency it sells players.  And the people who are buying in-game currency very well could be contributing to the misery of those whose accounts are hacked, since so much of it comes from hacked accounts. 

Yes, by buying gold, plat, isk, gil or whatever from these 3rd party RMT sites you are giving people an incentive to go out and hack other players' accounts.  If you don't think hacking can affect a game, just ask those who played RIFT at launch.  And if you want to hear a horror story, listen to the beginning of The RIFT Podcast #34 in which Ari described how a guildie fought a hacker for an hour for control of his max level character.

I'll climb off my soapbox now.  But one last note about the report.  Among the experts who contributed was CCP's very own Dr. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson.  While Eve isn't mentioned by name, I'm glad to see that the game I play is drawing interest from sites besides Eurogamer and Massively.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are New DED Sites An Adequate Replacement for Anomalies?

While I have heard a great deal of complaining about the great anomaly nerf of 2011, I hadn't heard much about the DED complex addition that was introduced in a dev blog by CCP Big Dumb Object back in February.  Both were introduced in Incursion patch 1.4 that was deployed yesterday.

According to the dev blog, the first DED complexes introduced are all in null security space.
"And if explosions and sarcastic AIs talking about space snacks aren't enough, these new DED complexes will be the exclusive source of several pirate modules previously unavailable in EVE Online. Our predecessors may not have finished their great temples to space piracy, but in their wisdom they fashioned all of the space-magic faction modules the project would require. With each new site, we are introducing into the game this faction-themed loot that the gods always intended to be present, but for the failings of man. That's right, this thing just went biblical.

"So where's this stuff going to show up? First, the new sites in the 6-10 range are being slammed into the sovereignty upgrade system. (Pirates always make good downtime crunch between nullsec sorties.) All new sites are then being seeded into both the exploration and escalation systems like their elder brethren. Difficulties 6 through 10 go to null sec, 4 through 6 go to low sec, and 3 and lower in feel-good high sec."
That's right.  The devs only finished the difficulty 6-10 complexes.

Now, I couldn't find the links, but I thought I read someplace that the devs were looking to substitute items in place of isk as rewards for finishing complexes, misssions, etc. as a means to reduce the flow of isk into the game.  Faction pirate fittings surely are one way to do that.  But the question remains; is the introduction of the new DED complexes enough to compensate for the null sec cosmic anomaly nerf?  I'm a high-sec carebear who noses around low-sec in unarmed ships.  I'm not even going to try to answer the question for all the null sec residents in New Eden.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quotable Quotes from the Q4 2010 Quarterly Economic Newsletter

Players in Eve Online are a bit unusual in that many players like to read about the economy.  The economy is such a big part of the game that CCP has its own staff economist, Dr. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, who has even been written about on the BBC website.  Of course CCP Dr.EyjoG, as he is better known, isn't just your ordinary economist.  He's a bloodthristy Viking-descended internet spaceship economist with a little role-player inside struggling to come out.  And the Q4 2010 Quarterly Economic Newsletter gave Dr. Guðmundsson a chance to show some of that to the world.  So here are some of the quotes, the boring, the shocking, and the interesting, that struck me as I read the QEN.
"Though the Central Bank of EVE does not see a reason for alarm, it has voiced its concerns and proposed changes to be made to the faucet/ISK balance, which might include anything from bounty changes and NPC price changes to changes in taxes." (p. 6)
Not only is this quote significant for upcoming changes in the game, but since Dr.EyjoG controls the Central Bank of EVE, this is a bit of releplaying coming out.
"In the words of Ernest Hemingway: 'There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those whohave hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.'

"Keep on hunting your enemies – it is good for the EVE economy!"
  (p. 7)
Did I mention he is a bit bloodthirsty?
"The urbanization of EVE hence continues, where people gravitate toward the most active commercial centers. This is an interesting parallel to the development of population distribution on Earth." (p. 11)
Okay, most of the quotes are not humorous.  But isn't something similar in the civilization building business taking place in null sec?

Speaking of null sec, some interesting information came out about supercapital losses.
"Overall, since their introduction, there are existing records of 292 supercarriers (formerly motherships) and 80 titans being destroyed, with over half of those – 155 supercarriers and 45 titans – being destroyed in 2010." (p. 14)
"With a new revision of sovereignty mechanics in the Dominion expansion of December 2009, this [starbase invulnerability in a capital system] was removed. The impact this has had is clear: out of the 45 supercapital construction deaths that have taken place in EVE, 30 have occurred since Dominion." (p. 17)
And what was the effect of the introduction of the Noctis?  The numbers are a bit amazing.
"Pilot interest in the Noctis was immediate and substantial. On November 30, in half a day, 2,187 ships had been manufactured of that type. In December, an additional 54,509 such ships were made. This requires some serious quantities of minerals. The low-end minerals needed for Q4 production of the ship were 3 million units of Isogen, 17 million units of Mexallon, 58 million units of Pyerite and 209 million units of Tritanium. To put this in context, 16% of the total quantity of Pyerite, Mexallon and Isogen used for ship production in the month of December went toward production of the Noctis. The ratio was 14% for Tritanium." (p. 25)
As for the specter of inflation?
With Incarna being launched this year we do expect demand to increase in 2011 with the risk of increased inflation. If that does happen countermeasures would have to be taken in the form of increased sinks, reduced faucets or even higher taxes in the system. (p. 32)
Personally, I think implementing the reduced faucets has already begun.

The next quote I found reminded me of a post Mord Fiddle wrote about the unintended consequences of some of the changes CCP has made to null sec.
"The interesting part here is that manufacturing has been moving away from low security space and null security space since 2007. In 2010, 73.6% of ship mass was produced in high security space, having risen from 66.3% in 2007. Null security space accounted for 12.6% of ship production in 2010, while 12.9% came from low security space. Though nearly undetectable on the graph, 0.9% of ship production took place in wormhole space." (p. 38)
2007 just happens to mark the introduction of the jump freighter to Eve.

Finally, I found the next quote so interesting I actually made a post about it, but I think it deserves repeating.
"In all, 908 players did almost 1.3 million research runs on the blueprints. Every single run was wasted. When starting a manufacturing job, the window with the quoted cost and list of materials shows all three ingredientsin Nanite Repair Paste under the heading of Extra Material. Material efficiency has no effect on such extra materials. This should probably be better publicized" [emphasis mine].  (p. 44)

Ya think?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dr.EyjoG On Researching Nanite Repair Paste Blueprints

I bet everyone thought that Dr. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, better known to Eve Online players as CCP Dr.EyjoG, was just an economist.  But he also offers tips on how to be a better industrialist in Eve Online.  The Quarterly Economic Newsletter for Q4 2010 offers a couple of examples.  This example from page 44 is priceless:

"Most notably, the Nanite Repair Paste Blueprint sits in 1st and 2nd place on the research lists [time efficiency and material research], despite only being introduced in May 2010. Its place on the time efficiency list is understandable. Nanite Repair Paste is used extensively in PvP by all types of ships, regardless of weapon types.  Being able to produce it for personal use can be quite beneficial. On the other hand, the blueprint’s second-place position on the material efficiency list is somewhat unfortunate. In all, 908 players did almost 1.3 million research runs on the blueprints. Every single run was wasted. When starting a manufacturing job, the window with the quoted cost and list of materials shows all three ingredientsin Nanite Repair Paste under the heading of Extra Material. Material efficiency has no effect on such extra materials. This should probably be better publicized."
Since this QEN came out at the beginning of Q2 2011, I'll be interested to see if Nanite Repair Paste Blueprint will drop off the material research leaderboard this quarter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eve's Cosmic Anomaly Nerf: A Hidden Agenda?

Tomorrow Wednesday Incursion patch 1.4 goes live, with the controversial null sec cosmic anomaly nerf the highlight (or lowlight, depending on your point of view) of the patch.  But as an Eve Online player, I've learned that CCP usually tries to accomplish more than one goal with an action.  So let me put on my tin foil hat for a couple of minutes and explain part of what I think is happening.

First, what is the change?  From CCP Greyscale's dev blog:
We've batched nullsec up into five security bands, based on the current truesec values that are already available via the datadump: 0.0 to -0.2, -0.3 to -0.4, -0.5 to -0.6, -0.7 to -0.8 and -0.9 to -1.0. (And yes, we're rounding in the same way that we do in the UI currently, so the boundaries actually lie at -0.25, -0.45 and so on.)

Firstly, we've evened out the upgrades so each one has four sites in it now, rather than five in the first and four in the rest. We're also retaining a mix of the sites that we're aware are regarded as "filler" by high-end players, for several reasons: to act as genuine filler so the earlier upgrades in some systems aren't empty; to give newer players resources they can use without much competition; and to give people running anomalies a little more safety from marauding enemies.

In terms of the high-end sites that high-end players are after - Havens and Sanctums for normal factions, and Hordes for drones - the break-even compared to the current system's maximum of four is around the 3rd and 4th band (-0.5 to -0.8 space), which are -1 and +1 respectively. Below this, things get worse (0.0 to -0.2 systems won't get any high-end sites after the change), but the -0.9 to -1.0 band can potentially gain an extra six top sites with full upgrades. 26 of the 34 regions have at least one system in this security band, with half having 5 or more.

Next, the stated reason for the change.  CCP Greyscale gave five things he expects to see from players once the patch goes live:
  • Some alliances will immediately start wanting to look for better space
  • In the longer run, there'll be more conflicts going on, with more localized goals
  • Newer alliances will have an easier time getting a foothold in nullsec
  • Coalitions will be marginally less stable
  • Alliances will have to choose more carefully what space they develop, where their staging systems are, and so on (low truesec systems generally tend to be in strategically inconvenient places)

The one mention I don't see concerns the isk flow into the game.  Bounties currently are the biggest isk faucet in the game.  In fact, the current 2-3% monthly growth in the money supply is higher than Eve Online's chief economist CCP Dr.EyjoG would like to see.  In his address on the economy at Fanfest, Dr.EyjoG said the following:
"My recommendation to the development team to them is to think about sinks.  How can you sink more stuff in terms of isk out of the economy?  I do not see it as a threat to the economy at this point, but it is definitely something the development team should be thinking about in the upcoming release patch."
(8:54 - 9:14 of the posted video)

I'm pretty sure that Dr.EyjoG was referring to Incarna, but is there any reason not to implement changes for economic reasons now?  And if the development teams cannot institute new isk sinks before Incarna, they can try to stem the flow of the faucets down to a trickle.  I really have the feeling that CCP has data showing that this change will reduce the flow of isk into the economy. 

I also suspect that CCP believes that this change will slow down the botters by reducing the number of systems that the botters can operate and obtain maximum rewards.  At the very least AFK cloakers can narrow down the number of systems they deploy in, thus causing some uncertainty for mission bots' decision algorithms.  These moves may not stop those botters working for RMT sites, but the move may make the cost the RMT sites charge higher, thus making the official PLEX market more competitive and thus used by more players.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and the reasons that CCP Greyscale listed in his blog may indeed be the only reasons for the anomaly change.  But I really think some changes are about to take place concerning the economy and I think patch 1.4 is just the beginning.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scientists: Mining Shows Intelligence

A lot of Eve players claim that anyone who mines asteroids has to be as dumb as the rocks they shoot.  But now two scientists claim searching for signs of asteroid mining is a good way to detect intelligent life in the universe.
"Finding advanced alien races in other parts of the galaxy isn’t so hard, according to Duncan Forgan of the University of Edinburgh and Martin Elvis at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Rather than look for direct evidence of cloud cities anchored to far-off rocks, we simply need to ask ourselves what our civilization might look like in the future, then look for signs of that. Specifically, we need to look at other planetary systems’ asteroid belts for signs of mining.

"The idea is that at some point, our home planet will run short of natural resources, and when that happens we will have to tap asteroids for sources of metals and other materials that will enable future economies and technologies. Any other advanced, intelligent civilization would likely face the same challenge, and by scanning faraway asteroid belts for signs of interplanetary mining operations, we should be able to pick up signs of life with current and future telescope tech."
Great.  So those involved in Hulkageddon are not bored gankers.  They are uber-serious roleplayers who are just engaged in scientific inquiry.  I guess the killing of the ships is just to see the reactions of their test subjects, and if they QQ too much even though the whole game knows about the event, that just means our roleplayers just found some semi-intelligent life.