Friday, September 28, 2012

Instead Of Pandas

One of the arguments we heard in favor of the Aurum store in Eve Online last year was that CCP needed the capability to keep up with the competition in the area of cash shops.  I don't think CCP has too much to fear in that department anymore with a cash shop providing the major revenue source for DUST 514, but the fallout from the controversy around Incarna left the Icelandic company seriously behind in a critical technology for today's MMORPGs: pandas.

So how is CCP trying to compete with Blizzard, whose release of Mists of Pandaria this week mocks CCP's technological backwardness?  They are reaching back in time and running a live event in advance of Eve Online's winter expansion and the integration of DUST 514 into the New Eden universe.  CCP's live events tend to run for weeks as the player base experienced in the run-up to the Incursion expansion released in November 2010. 

CCP doesn't just come out and state a live event is planned or underway.  They tend to leak the news out to various outlets.  I know that one place was Tech 4 News, which published clues that a live event was about to begin.  A few hours later the Angel Cartel conducted a raid on the Genesis Vaults on Oddelulf III in Molden Heath.  During the fighting capsuleer pirates aided the Angel Cartel and the anti-Angel forces were unable to thwart the raid.

Defending forces began to plan for the next Angel attack on the second of the Genesis Vaults sites.  The site originally was believed to be on Yishinoon II in Derelik, but that information was questioned as why would the Matar Society for Natural Preservation run a site in Ammatar space?  Further inquiries discovered the true second location on Bogelek II.

For those unaware of the planet, Bogelek II is a temperate planet in the Akaimamur constellation of Heimatar.  Located in a system with a security status of .4, the system boasts one station operated by the Gallente Aliastra corporation.  The station 4 jumps from the nearest outlet to high security space only has refining and repair facilities.  At this time I can't tell you if the station has a celestial object suitable for use as a destination for an instawarp destination when leaving the station.  While I've operated in the area, that was a couple of months ago and I've forgotten because I just went ahead and made a bookmark for the purpose.

If past history holds form then Oddelulf and Bogelek are just the first shots fired in the live event.  I expect the live event to extend through the launch of the winter expansion, which historically is the last week in November or in early December.  If CCP wanted to integrate DUST into Eve, then I can't think of a more epic way to do so than through a live event.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shawn Schuster Leaves Massively.com

In a bit of news I missed, Massively.com Editor-In-Chief Shawn Schuster is leaving Massively.com and handing over his duties to Brianna Royce on 30 September.  Shawn took over the reigns in 2009, succeeding Michael Zenke when the man formerly identified as one of the top 50 gaming journalists moved on to work on SOE's DC Universe Online.

I got to know Shawn's work when I covered podcasting; first when he teamed up with Zonk as the original hosts of Massively Speaking and then later when he partnered with Jonathan Morris to produce Through The Aftermath.  I enjoyed both podcasts immensely and stopped listening to Massively Speaking when Shawn gave up his hosting duties.  For those wanting to listen to him one more time, he hosted this week's edition of Massively Speaking.  On the podcast Shawn indicated that the transistion to Brianna should be smooth as she had been running more and more things behind the scenes over the past few months.

I'm not sure exactly how the Eve community will take the news of Brianna taking the reigns of Massively.  Oh, who am I kidding, I know exactly what is going to happen.  The tin-foil hats are going to come out because of Brianna's open declaration that she doesn't like Eve, and more particularly the Eve community, although she may get points from many because she really doesn't like Goons.  I do have to be careful, because not only was the post written on 1 April, but she did mention me, although without attribution or linkage, in an unfavorable light due to my conclusion in the post "The Rise of Eve's Pajamahadeen?" I do have to admit that the thought of Arydanika driving around beating up gaming journalists is kind of funny.

I will say that Shawn will be missed and I wish him the best of luck as he moves on to take care of his farm full-time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Leftovers

Sometimes I get home from work at a decent hour and get a chance to play Eve.  Last night not only could I play but I found six signatures to scan down in a nearby system.  Good thing I had time to spend more than a half hour logged in.

I wasn't interested in wormholes or combat sites, so that left me with one radar and two gravimetric sites to visit.  And while gneiss is nice, I decided the small gneiss site I found didn't warrant any attention because I also found an Average Crokite, Dark Ocrhe and Gneiss site.  But my first target was the radar site.

Radar sites are nice.  I can just pop into the site with a stealth bomber, pick off the initial rats from long range, then bring in a ship equipped with a codebreaker and a salvager and clean up the site.  So far in low sec I've used a Jaguar to do the dirty work with a Hound on overwatch.  Why a Jaguar?  Because sometimes opening a container with the codebreaker spawns rats and they are barely able to scratch the Jaguar.  Speed tanking FTW.

The big problem with using an assault frigate is the lack of cargo space.  I ran into that problem last night as lots of items dropped for me.  In addition to some tasty salvage from the rats I killed, including an Angel Brass Tag, the first two containers gave me a one-run Cryptic Tuner Data Interface blueprint copy and two Calibration Data decryptors.  Those are nice because they give a +10% probability multiplier to invention attempts as well as giving a +3 ME and PE modifier to tech 2 blueprint copies.  I filled up the cargo hold of the Jaguar so I ran back to the station to drop off the load.

Perhaps I should have uncloaked the Hound first.  Because the site despawned before I could get back in the Jaguar.  I really hope that meant that the other 4 containers were empty because I would hate to think I lost a bunch of ISK just because I didn't decloak.  But the wrecks I hadn't salvaged were still present so I finished that up before moving on to mining.

The gravimetric site promised riches in a nice safe location.  I actually needed to use seven probes to scan out the site, which was a first for me.  I figured I would have plenty of time to warp off to a safe spot if I saw probes on the directional scanner.

The one thing I didn't count on is that someone would find the site before I did.  I was alone but all of the crokite was already mined.  So no piles of zydrine for me.  I had to settle for the dark ochre which contains massive amounts of nocxium.  Darn.

I stayed up a little later than planned to finish scooping up all of the dark ochre and then headed back to the station.  I learned that I need to get another ship to run a code breaker or analyzer.  Right now I'm leaning toward the Muninn because of its cargo hold and tank.  I just like the tech 2 ships and their resistances against the Angel rats I run up against, although on second thought maybe a Minmatar armor HAC is not a good choice.  Perhaps the time has come to finally break down a buy a Loki.  Or maybe I can wait a bit until my hauling alt can fly a Viator.  That would solve a lot of issues.

The more I play Eve, the more I learn just how much I don't know.  That is part of why the game is fun.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 25 September 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 23 September 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.



Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11Guild Wars 2 46.4 51,481-25.4
22World of Warcraft30.533,794+31.7
33Star Wars: The Old Republic4.54,950-5.5
44Aion3.84,220+0.9
55Eve Online2.93,210-9.3
66Metin 22.62,931-6.2
77Lord of the Rings Online2.22,440-0.0
88APB: Reloaded1.92,130+1.7
99Need For Speed World1.61,798-1.1
1011Vindictus1.51,637+14.3
1110Star Trek Online1.11,261-12.6
12--Cabal Online1.01,100+36.4
 
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 136,554
 
Last Sunday saw another 7.3% drop in the amount of time spent playing MMORPGs by the Xfire community.  The big losers in percentage terms were Guild Wars 2 (-25.4%) and Maple Story (-20.1%).  The loss in playtime for Maple Story dropped the game off the list.  The big gainers were Cabal Online, making it into The Digital Dozen for the first time with a 36.4% gain and World of Warcraft (+31.7%).
No big deal.  Guild Wars 2 has seen a decline in play time of 44.6% over the past 3 weeks.  But unlike all of the subscription games that have debuted since December, GW2's business model of buying the game and not paying a subscription means that ArenaNet has probably collected all of the money it planned to collect from the players who have left the game.  Of course, those players may come back to visit, which is another element of the business model.

Pandas, pandas, pandas.  World of Warcraft's Mists of Pandaria expansion goes live today and players apparently returned to the game Sunday to start preparing for the new content.  I expect WoW to vault back to the top of the list next week.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Goonswarm = CIA

I originally intended to ignore the latest claims by Glenn Beck that Goonswarm is a node in the CIA's communications network but I have to get this out of my system.  Glenn Beck is a professional conspiracy theorist.  Some people think it is an act; I don't believe so.  He naturally comes up and believes in conspiracy theories and has turned that talent into a paying career.  And he is a non-partisan conspiracy theorist.  I believe his advice to buy gold came during the Bush 43 administration.

One thing about conspiracy theories is that they do not have to be 100% accurate in all details in order for the conspiracy theorist to get credit for uncovering a hidden truth.  Which is good for Mr. Beck since as far as I can tell everything he said about Sean "Vile Rat" Smith was utter b***s***.  Please tell me if I got something wrong...

1.  Sean was IT support, not security, not an agent looking for missing U.S. weapons.

2.  Sean served six years in the Air Force before joining the State Department.  Last I heard, becoming a Navy SEAL requires being in the Navy.  The Air Force has their own special operations units.

3.  Sean talking to friends via Jabber is totally believable.   If one is in a location where going out at night is dangerous, saying in and talking to the folks back home if the option is available is a natural and understandable activity.

4.  The story about Sean posting to a gaming website originated on TheMittani.com.  Here is the actual quote reported.
(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don't die tonight. We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures
That quote, I believe, came from Jabber logs.  Unless Sean posted on internal Goonswarm forums that I do not have access to or on the Something Awful forums (not a gaming website) then Mr. Beck misrepresented the source and the contents of the quote.

Now, let me make a comment about why conspiracy theories originate and become popular.  Most of them arise when government attempts to hide something and does so badly.  Notice that Mr. Beck did not offer his theory until after UN Ambassador Susan Rice made her rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows on 16 September flat out stating that there was no evidence that the assault on the consulate and the murders of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALs.  Instead, the events of 9/11/12 occurred because people were upset with a film trailer that was posted on YouTube in June.  Really?  I was writing about possible links to al-Qaeda on 13 September and The Nosy Gamer is a gaming blog.  In fact, the Obama administration repudiated the story Ambassdor Rice peddled to the public a few days later, with White House press secretary Jay Carney stating, “It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”

Instead of coming out and saying the matter was still under investigation, the Obama administration tried to feed the American public an alternative version of reality designed to help his re-election chances.  One of the requirements for modern conspiracy theories is that the government is doing something it does not want the public to know about.  Handing out a story that is unbelievable after someone does a couple of Google searches will draw conspiracy theorists like a moth to a flame.  Or to put the sentiment less politely, b***s*** tends to breed more b***s***. 

Now, for those who think that Mr. Beck will shut up now that Goons have swarmed to his website and pointed out his factual errors, don't hold your breaths.  Yesterday Mr. Beck received some validation for his theories from, of all places, the New York Times.
"The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation. 

"Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city."

...
"American intelligence operatives also assisted State Department contractors and Libyan officials in tracking shoulder-fired missiles taken from the former arsenals of the former Libyan Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces; they aided in efforts to secure Libya’s chemical weapons stockpiles; and they helped train Libya’s new intelligence service, officials said. "
Mr. Beck's main point in his conspiracy theory is that Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi in order to help track down U.S. weapons before they fell into possibly unfriendly hands.  The New York Times is now reporting that the consulate was performing exactly that function.  Mr. Beck's story now goes from bats*** crazy to plausible, although requiring a lot of incompetence.  Conspiracy theorists don't need to have all their facts correct if significant potions of their theories are proved true.  They will receive credit and acclaim even if some of the actors are portrayed incorrectly and family and friends of those involved are hurt in the process.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Changing Directions - What To Do With My Alt

With my move to low sec, a question I failed to address is what to do with my resource harvesting alt?  I actually have three accounts and I alternate the training time between a PI/mining alt and a hauling alt.  I just finished a skill plan for my harvesting alt and I'm now concentrating on turning my hauling alt into my favorite type of pilot: cloaky.

The question I now have is what to do with my harvesting alt.  It has a nice set of skills for high sec, but probably not so good for low.  Looking at the certificates earned (yes, I use certificates) I think I didn't do too badly.

General
Core Competency - Standard
High-Velocity Helmsman - Standard

Science
Research Manager - Standard

Planetary Interaction
Colony Management - Improved
Planetology - Standard

Mining
Resource Harvester - Improved
Ice Specialist - Improved
Amarr Industry - Prospector - Basic
Drone Control - Basic
Combat Drone Control - Standard
Specialist Drone Operator - Basic

Active Shield Tanking - Standard
Passive Shield Tanking - Basic

I included all of the combat related certificates in with mining because those are the skills needed to operate mining barges effectively.  And if I had remained I would spend another two months and earn the following certs:

Science

Research Manager - Improved

Planetary Interaction
Planetology - Improved

Mining
Resource Harvester - Elite
Ice Specialist - Elite
Passive Shield Tanking - Standard
Amarr Industry - Prospector - Elite
Armor Tanking -Standard

But with my attention on low sec now, I need a pilot that can fly a cloaky hauler with a larger cargo capacity that a Prowler.  Ideally I would like to fly a ship capable of moving packaged cruisers around low sec, like a Viator.  My hauling pilot is a lot closer to that goal.

So what do I do with my harvesting alt?  I stopped doing planetary interaction in high sec because the time spent maintaining colonies was taking away from my fun time.  For mining in low sec I don't want to multi-box and Wandering Rose does a much better job.  The best use I've come up with is to find either a Caldari or a Amarr corporation in my area of low sec and raise standings enough to get perfect refining in even more stations.  I can run mining missions (?!) while I make bookmarks in new low sec systems.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

CCP Fozzie, Lore Dev?

I don't normally cruise the Eve Online forums.  I'll stick my head in every once in a while to see if anyone is talking about bots but normally I only read the dev blogs and the reactions.  But watching Twitter I've heard about some of CCP Fozzie's forum posts as he gathers up player feedback on the frigate and cruiser changes.  I really liked his response to some outrage over the changes to the Tristan.

Outrages player 1:  
NO NO and again NO

i will NOT support that dicision

i am willing to support the idea where the --> Kestrel, Iquisitor, Breacher and my favorite hull-design the Tristan <-- are rocket-/light missile platforms obviously because they are the tech 1 variations of the Covertt-Ops-Bombers and seriously ... what is a drone tracking bonus for when u use small drones??? and as simple as that: DO NOT MAKE THEM INTO SOME OTHER STRANGE STUFF

Outraged player 2:  
Are you ********? It doesn't make sense, so simply put, they should fix it. It does not make ANY SENSE AT ALL. WHY THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING THIS IS A GOOD THING?

I like the drone boat thing and love the look of the new Tristan... it's just too bad it doesn't make one ******* shred of sense for the Tristan to be the Tech 1 drone boat frigate, while an Incursus hull gets to be the Tech 2 version. This is common sense that a five year old possesses, it's called a pattern, and the way they're proposing this stuff right now, that pattern is GARBAGE.

That is unless they are planning some major changes with the Gallente Assault Ships.

CCP Fozzie:  
Well you see there's a funny story about all this.

Back in YC 105 when CreoDron was beginning the design process for their new Ishkur-class Assault Ship, they naturally looked first to the (retroactively) drone-centric Tristan as a base hull. The project lead Masalle Ambrette acquired a large number of Tristan hulls for prototyping and set her team to work.


However two major technical challenges quickly arose. Roni Darieux himself had given them their design targets, and he was adamant that the new ship had to be the pinnacle of drone carrier technology. The Ishkur must be able to field a 50m3 dronebay as well as top of the line armor plating for a Frigate.


These goals proved difficult to meet using the Tristan as a base hull. Although it had the largest dronebay of any existing Frigate at the time the Tristan's hull layout did not allow for easy expansion of the already significant bay. In particular, the port side bulkhead quickly lost structural integrity when the internal supports were scaled back in order to expand the bay. Attempts to meet the armor plating requirements also ran into difficulties as the Tristan thruster systems struggled to keep up under the heavier load. The classic thruster pod design of the Tristan hull did not provide easy expansion room to upgrade the thrusters either.


After numerous failures in the prototyping process the CreoDron team decided to change course and build the Ishkur using a completely different hull. They eventually settled on the Incursus hull as the next logical choice. Although the Incursus did not have the same base dronebay that the Tristan offered, it was more easily modified and the conversion from the Incursus' advanced armor repair systems to the Ishkur's superior resistance and plating systems proceeded relatively smoothly. As a bonus, the team was able to carry over the Incursus' superior hybrid weapon damage boosting technology and create another strong selling point for their new Assault Ship.


Although the Ishkur project resulted in what would prove to be an extremely successful ship (in both direct ship sales and additional profits from increased use of CreoDron's advanced drone portfolio), Masalle Ambrette was left afterwards with thousands of mangled Tristan hulls that had failed the prototyping process. In order to recoup some of the development costs, CreoDron sold the hulls cheap as scrap to the highest bidder.

They say one woman's trash is another woman's treasure, and when CreoDron put the 'scrap' onto the market one smart scientist saw a diamond in the rough. Ruborraude Eyghelet, a rising star at Duvolle Laboratories, had just been recently put in charge of a top secret development project on contract from the Federation Navy. Her team was designing what would eventually come to be known as the Nemesis stealth bomber, a dramatic departure from normal Gallente battle doctrines that would help keep them competitive in the battlefields of the future. Eyghelet knew that the Nemesis would need to be a radical departure from previous frigate designs, but building a new hull design completely from scratch would take a portion of her limited budget that she could not afford to lose. When the report of the mangled Tristan fire-sale crossed her desk she immediately saw an opportunity to cut her costs.


The damaged Tristan hulls were reformed into a barely recognizable state during the prototyping process to accommodate the battleship sized missile launchers and bomb deployment system, with only the iconic front plating remaining to visually connect it to the frigate it had once been. The dronebay was converted into a bomb and missile storage bay, and the Duvolle team also managed to ingeniously convert the advanced tracking computer on the Tristan into an efficient missile guidance system. In the end Duvolle and Eyghelet managed to create the Nemesis while keeping costs down to only 14% overbudget, easily beating the market predictions and sending Duvolle stock to the highest it had reached in years.

It just goes to prove that the world of spaceship construction is more complicated and fascinating than any of us would expect.

Is CCP developing lore for all the changes?  Probably not but I really enjoyed Kirith Kodachi's Project Athena and would love to see CCP give us some background on all the ships we fly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monty's Minute And DUST 514

I always tell people that I'm not an Eve blogger, just someone who writes a lot about the game.  Like about 80% of my posts.  But for my Tuesday column I spend time looking around for information about other games. One of those sources is Gamebreaker TV because I can let the shows run minimized as I do important internet spaceship stuff.

Last night I watched the premier of a new show called Monty's Minute.  The star of the show is Monty Sharma, one of the co-founders of Vivox and currently the managing director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute.  Interestingly enough Vivox's first MMORPG client was CCP back in 2006.  The premise is that Monty will answer questions about the video game business based on his years of business related background.

The show ran 35 minutes and despite a lot of "um" and "you knows" I got some interesting insights, especially into free-to-play games.  One interesting answer was in response to a question on whether free-to-play games can thrive on consoles.
Monty:  "That's a really interesting question.  We've seen some of that start to happen, like XBLA and PSN.  The interesting thing was the rise of these small arcade games and so the game industry really took notice of that.  We saw a number of developers rushing to build for that.  The systems aren't elegantly in place on those platforms yet to do free-to-play well.  They're coming, they're coming quickly and I think probably the biggest test of that in the next year is going to be DUST 514.  

"So here is a game that is going to sell maybe a million units which would be huge. And be free-to-play; its a hard core game that takes advantage of all the great stuff you can do on a console.  It's a gorgeous game and I think that is going to sort of set the high water mark and it will be interesting to see what console developers do.  I know they are all watching DUST."

Considering that CCP changed DUST 514 from buy-to-play to free-to-play, I think we can forget about the units sold.  But is one million the industry expectation for how many people intend to play the game?  And how many players will visit the cash shop?  If the going rate of five percent holds true, that could be a lot of money.  Raph Koster wrote an excellent blog post earlier this year explaining the F2P business model.

The one million number brings to mind a couple of other questions.  Can the servers handle the load?  If the peak concurrent user mark follows the pattern in Eve, CCP might need to handle 100,000 - 125,000 concurrent DUST 514 users.  Perhaps more importantly, where will they all go?  My understanding is that DUST combat is initially slated for factional warfare systems.  Instead of failing because of not enough interest, could CCP face too much interest?  A nice problem to have, unless players get frustrated and leave, never to come back.

I had one more thought that could impact Eve.  In free-to-play games players that game makers refer to as whales make up a huge percentage of a game's revenue.  But with DUST 514's connection to New Eden, how many of these types of players may wind up flying spaceships?  I'm already seeing pilots in local who belong to DUST related corporations.  Are we about to see a surge in subscriptions to Eve?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 18 September 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 16 September 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.


Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11Guild Wars 2 56.9 68,968-13.2
22World of Warcraft21.225,665+1.0
33Star Wars: The Old Republic4.35,238-4.1
44Aion3.44,181-1.9
55Eve Online2.93,538+9.4
66Metin 22.63,125+2.3
77Lord of the Rings Online2.02,441-7.6
88APB: Reloaded1.72,094-16.4
99Need For Speed World1.51,817-9.4
1012Star Trek Online1.21,442+0.1
1111Vindictus1.21,432-10.8
1210Maple Story1.11,307-24.4
 
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 147,368
 
Sunday saw another drop in the amount of hours spent playing MMORPGs by the Xfire community.  The 7.6% decrease was lead by Guild Wars 2 in actual hours (-10,439) and Maple Story in percentage terms (-24.4%).  Eve Online led the way for the games bucking the downwards trend with an increase of 9.4%.

The 800 lb gorilla.  Next week is the last weekend before the launch of Blizzard's World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.  Today Blizzard releases the Battle of Theramore scenario.  With a lifespan of one week we may see a big increase next Sunday before the expansion actually launches.

Server Merges for SW:TOR.  Star Wars: The Old Republic instituted server merges onto servers that are supposed to handle higher populations.  Is this setting up for an anticipated spike in interest once the Bioware title goes free-to-play in November?

Two million for Guild Wars 2.  Despite seeing a drop of 13.2% in hours played Sunday, ArenaNet is celebrating as GW2 has now sold over 2 million copies.  The mark is more impressive when the fact that digital download sales were suspended for 10 days due to the servers having too much load.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fundraiser for Sean "Vile Rat" Smith's Family

I just saw a re-tweet from Seleene spreading the word that the fundraiser for the family of Sean "Vile Rat" Smith is now up and running on YouCaring.  Here is the description from the donations page.
Sean Smith was a veteran Foreign Service Officer of the US State Department. His life ended tragically on September 11, 2012 when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya came under attack.

He was known to his many friends in EVE Online and the Something Awful forums as Vilerat. His intelligence, patience and good humor were the cornerstones of Sean's life and those traits moved everyone he came in contact with. Sean was a devoted husband to his wife and he was a proud parent of two children.

To show our love for him and for his family we hope to raise money to help with their current expenses and his children's college expenses.

Update: Because we are over halfway to our initial goal of $50,000 in less than 12 hours, we have doubled the goal to $100,000. Thank you so much for your donations. Every donation, large or small, will help Sean's family.
For those wishing to contribute, please click here to go to the site.

The Bully Pulpit And CSM 7

On Saturday Ripard Teg's long-awaited appearance on a podcast finally occurred.  Declarations of War #33 is the podcast of the Noir. Mercenary Group, who's CEO, Alekseyev Karrde, sits on the current Council of Stellar Management.  In some ways I was disappointed that CSM chairman Seleene and CSM Vice-Secretary Hans Jagerblitzen also appeared on the podcast.  Not only did that set up a 3-on-1 against Ripard, but I wanted to see what the regular DoW crew would perform with such an interview.  Alek's podcast style reminds me a lot of former Massively Editor-In-Chief Michael Zenke in that on his own podcast he tries to stay professional put on others he lets it all hang out.  Zonk was a bit better at it than Alek, which is why I wanted to see what would happen.  As it was, fireworks happened.

DoW #33 is a 2 hour podcast and reviewing the whole thing would require several posts.  The podcast just contained too much information.  But the one segment that stuck in my head occurred early on (13:20 - 16:24) and concerned what Ripard called "the bully pulpit".  I'll let you read the transcript before continuing.

Ripard Teg - To my mind the CSM is not using all of the various communications avenues that are immediately open to them.  And then even outside of that I think CSM6 really pioneered the aspect of using the CSM as a bully pulpit to get gaming media involved, get the larger gaming websites involved in terms of seeing Eve.  There were many many more interviews with CSM members outside of the Eve community with CSM6 than there have been in CSM7.

Hans Jagerblitzen - Do you feel that is an important tactic to use the bully pulpit, I mean, do you think that is an appropriate response...

Ripard - Absolutely.  Absolutely.

Hans - Regardless of what is actually going on with CCP at the time?

Ripard - Absolutely.  The more things are going well with CCP the more the bully pulpit should be used.

Alekseyev Karrde - I would be curious as to what we should be using it on.

Seleene - Yeah.  What exactly are we supposed to be saying?

Ripard - Take your pick.

Seleene - Okay.  Tell me.

Ripard - Two Step is out there and is doing a terrific job singing to anybody who will listen about the POS restructure, getting various players involved and excited about what is going on with POSs.  I think that would be a terrific thing to take to the gaming websites and saying this is what we're looking at doing.  We're building player owned spacestations.  For the first time they are truly going to be player owned, they are going to be customizable at the player level.

Seleene - But you see there is a problem with that.  Which is we don't know 100% that that is exactly what is going to happen.

Ripard - Who cares?

Seleene - Oh.

Ripard - The idea of using this type of bully pulpit is to get people excited about the game.  You guys are our representatives out there.  You're supposed to be getting people excited about the game.

Seleene - I don't really feel like it is our position to start spreading a bunch of information that's not confirmed or even possibly true.

Ripard - Then stick with factual stuff. Stick with the ship rebalances that are coming out.  Stick with all the Inferno updates.  Stick with stuff that's out.

Alek - Here's the thing, though.  We are not CCP's marketing department.

Ripard - Are you sure?

Seleene - Yeah, pretty sure.

Alek - We're pretty sure.

Seleene - We're pretty damn sure. That's why I wish you had made it onto CSM6.

Ripard - Which part of CCP does CCP Xagen report to?

Seleene - He reports directly to John Lander, the senior producer.

Ripard - Yes, but what is his department?

Seleene - He's basically head philosopher.

Ripard - (laughs) Unless it's change the CSM starting with CSM6 has been part of Community Relations.

Seleene - Hey guys...

Alek - Which is not CCP Marketing.

Seleene - ...we're all part of Community Relations, did you all know that?

Alek - I would argue that if you want to talk functionally that's true.  But Community Relations is also not their marketing department.


At this point I don't know if this portion is a troll by Ripard.  I really don't.  But going on the assumption he was serious, let me just make a few points.

1.  I think that when referring to the term "bully pulpit" Ripard's definition is a bit different than what everyone else, including myself, thinks the term means.  In the original definition, the bully pulpit is available to someone because of the position or office the person holds.  The three CSM members, (and myself) thought of the definition of the term as it has morphed over the years, at least in the U.S.  Nowadays a president uses to bully pulpit to go over the heads of Congress to make a case to the public.

The fact that Ripard was referring the CSM6 and The Mittani's going to the mainstream gaming media did not help clarify matters.  Outside of his Ten Ton Hammer column, when The Mittani went to the MGM it was to go over the heads of CCP to put popular pressure on senior management.  Mittens was not going around pimping new features for Eve, at least that I can recall.

2.  Ripard's cavalier attitude towards accuracy is a bit disturbing.  As an institution the CSM gained some credibility with its performance during Monoclegate last year.  The CSM handing out bad information would lead to a loss of effectiveness and even potentially harm the game.  For example, what if the CSM started handing out inaccurate information that the developers had told its members was not guaranteed to make it into a patch or expansion.  Wouldn't that hurt the working relationship between the CSM and CCP?  And then if the feature did not appear, wouldn't players then rage against CCP (and the CSM) for not getting a promised feature?  And if the MGM gets enough bad information, wouldn't the sites stop listening to the CSM?  Providing accurate information is even more important for the CSM than for bloggers.

3.  One of the most popular ways to diminish the CSM is to call it an arm of the CCP Marketing Department.  The fact that such a prominent member of the Eve blogosphere as Ripard Teg is making such a statement is not going to help fight that perception.  But if Ripard wanted to get under people's skins, I think he succeeded.

4.   Ripard stated, "You're supposed to be getting people excited about the game."  I totally reject that view.  The CSM's job is to help make sure that CCP doesn't screw up the game like almost happened last year.  That is why formalizing the stakeholder status is so important and why CSM7 is making that such a high priority.  Ideally the CSM and CCP will work together and we will see very little drama in the future.  With the player input coming from the CSM, the content should excite players, not any cheerleading from the CSM.  Let CCP Pokethulhu earn his salary.

The above came out of a three minute segment of a 129 minute podcast.  I'd encourage people to go check out Declarations of War #33.  And don't forget the popcorn.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Deeper Refuge

Normally Eve Online is a refuge from what occurs in the real world.  If I have a bad day I can hop in a spaceship and fly away.  But with the death of Sean "Vile Rat" Smith and the continuing coverage of what happened in Benghazi Tuesday my feelings were still a little too raw to do more than log in and update my skill queue.  So I decided to dive into another game.

On Monday ArenaNet started selling digital copies of Guild Wars 2 again and I spent the money to buy the game.  Why not?  No subscription fee so I can play as infrequently as I want.  I played around a little with the character creator on Tuesday but decided to lose myself in another virtual world last night.

Guild Wars 2 is a lot confusing.  GW2's tutorial makes Eve's New Player Experience look like a comprehensive encyclopedia.  In other words, I couldn't find a tutorial.  I have played several MMOs through the years so at least I knew what the action bars and icons were for.  I reached level 4 last night and I'm still not sure how I did it.  Combat is very confusing.  I know I can create combos because I accidentally did so once and I saw a tip appear.  As far as I know the game does not use targeting in combat, but I could be wrong about that.  Perhaps that is only confined to a thief.  Also, I did not use ranged weapons so perhaps only ranged attacks require targeting.

In short, I am basically face-rolling Guild Wars 2 right now.  I don't think I was ever this bad in any game, including Eve.  Heck, I consider myself terrible at Eve after playing for 3 years but nothing like this.  I've discovered I don't like face-rolling content.  I either need to re-roll my character and sit down for a week to figure the game out or just wander around the map learning to craft like I spent a lot of time doing in EverQuest 2.  I think I'll re-roll anyway because I do not like the way my character looks.  I just wish that the achievements were tied to my character and not account wide.

If I want to devote study time to a game I will do so in Eve where knowing things actually matters to me.  The same with resource gathering, now that I've started finding things useful in industry through activities other than mining or planetary interaction.  So Guild Wars 2 for me is just a distraction for when I need a break from the serious business of internet spaceships.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/11/12


Tuesday marked the eleventh anniversary of al-Qaeda's terror attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.  I was reminded of the fact when I left my office building for lunch and gazed up at the building I will forever to as the Sears Tower, no matter what company purchases the naming rights.  I remember on 9/11 when speculation ran rampant that another plane was headed for Chicago.  Fortunately the only other airliner hijacked that day crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, its passengers winning the first victory in The War on Terror by preventing the al-Qaeda terrorists from reaching their target in the nation's capitol.

As I stared across the river at the top of the building a third of a mile up in the air I wondered where al-Qaeda would strike next.  I'm a pessimistic sort and I refused to believe that the terror network would not try to celebrate the occasion in some way, if only to prove the organization was not dead yet.  But I was confident that whatever occurred would not touch me.  I'm old enough to know better, right?  A few hours later I saw this tweet from The Mittani:
Both the embassy in Cairo, Egypt and the consulate in Bengahazi were attacked.  We learned a few hours later that Sean Smith, better known to the Eve Online community as Vile Rat, was killed, along with the ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and two security officers.

First reports blamed protestors angry at at a video that portrays the prophet Mohammed as "womanizer, pedophile and fraud" on YouTube.  But slowly mainstream media outlets began reporting a different tale.  At 6:24am yesterday, CBS News reported:
"According to al-Sharef, the angry mob stormed the consulate after the U.S. troops who responded fired rounds into the air to try and disperse the crowd. Al-Sharef said there had been threats that Islamic militants might try to take revenge for the death of al Qaeda's No. 2 commander Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in June, and he said the U.S. consulate should have been better protected.
"Confirming al-Libi's death for the first time in a video posted online Monday, al Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahri called on Muslim's in al-Libi's native Libya to take revenge for his death."
Yesterday afternoon, CNN identified the pro-al Qaeda Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, as the prime suspects:
"A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday's attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say.
"They also note that the attack immediately followed a call from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for revenge for the death in June of a senior Libyan member of the terror group Abu Yahya al-Libi.
The group suspected to be behind the assault -- the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades -- first surfaced in May, when it claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross office in Benghazi. The following month the group claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device outside the U.S. Consulate, and later released a video of that attack.
"Noman Benotman, once a leading member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and now based at the Quilliam Foundation in London told CNN, 'An attack like this would likely have required preparation. This would not seem to be merely a protest which escalated.'"
Later in the day, Reuters reported, along with the New York Times, another suspect had emerged.
"U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and there were indications that members of a militant faction calling itself Ansar al Sharia - which translates as Supporters of Islamic Law - may have been involved.

"They also said some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda's north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.

"'It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack,' one U.S. official said. However, some U.S. officials cautioned against assuming that the attacks were deliberately organized to coincide with the September 11 anniversary."
While the investigation continues in the real world, the pilots of New Eden are mourning their loss.  The Mittani broke the news to the Eve community on his web site.
"So: Vile Rat, Sean Smith, my friend for over six years, both in real life and in internet spaceships, was the “State Department Official” killed in Benghazi by a mob of religious lunatics, who had been incited to violence on this September 11th by a movie that was apparently made sometime in July. Obviously, given the combined attacks in Egypt and in Libya, this was a coordinated act designed for maximum media exposure; rile up a mob, point them at an embassy or consulate on 9/11 in particular, aim for the press. Many were injured in these pointless, reprehensible acts, and one of my closest friends was killed as a result."
The outpouring of grief was tremendous.  Threads formed on the official Eve Online forums as well as on Kugutsumen.  Null sec alliances renamed hundreds of stations in Vile Rat's honor.  People started making tribute videos and graphics, like the one from SpaceMonkeys Alliance below.




I'm not about to try to write about Sean himself; I didn't know him.  But a lot of people have written a lot of words about Sean over the last two days.  While Eve's single shard makes New Eden a large world in gaming terms, compared to the real world it is just a good-sized town, if not a small city.  A loss like this, especially if the attack was affiliated with al-Qaeda, hits hard.  From reading all the posts a lot of people are feeling the same I way I am.

I'll end this post with a collection of links I found referring to Sean "Vile Rat" Smith.  I understand an effort is underway to set up a fundraising effort for Sean's family.  If I hear more I'll post the information.

UPDATE 17 September 2012:  A page is now up on YouCaring soliciting donations for Sean's family.

Mainstream Media

Associated Press - Libya attack victim remembered by online gamers
Business Insider - US State Department Official Killed In Libya Was A Top Online Gamer
NBC News.com (blog) - Game community mourns death of American killed in Libya 
NY Daily News - American diplomat Sean Smith, killed in Libya protests, is mourned by his EVE Online gaming community
Reuters - Libya attack victim was a key player in online game
The Sacramento Bee - Death of Sean Smith at Benghazi consulate brings reality to online gaming world
Voice of America - US Diplomat's Death Shakes Online Gaming World

Online Sites

Smithsonian.com - US Official Killed in Libya Mourned by Online Gaming Community
The Verge - 'EVE Online' players were first to learn of US official's death in Libya
Wired - Diplomat Killed in Libya Told Fellow Gamers: Hope I 'Don't Die Tonight'


Gaming Press

Eurogamer - US official killed in Libya was a senior Eve Online player
Gameranx - Remembering Vile Rat, Legendary Diplomat
Kotaku - How Video Game Fans Mourn the Death of One of their Own, Slain in Libyan Attacks
Massively - Former EVE CSM member Vile Rat killed in attack on Libyan consulate
PC Gamer - EVE Online top player was US official killed in Libya
Ten Ton Hammer - Veteran EVE Player Killed in Libya Attacks
The Escapist - Senior EVE Online Community Member Killed in Libya Riot 

Eve News Sites 

TheMittani.com - RIP: Vile Rat
Eve News 24 - ex-CSM Member Vile Rat killed in Benghazi attacks 

Gaming Blogs

2nd Anomaly From The Left 
A Missioneer in Eve 
After time adrift under open stars
Bob "Starbeam Moonchild" From Marketing
Eve Online Pictures
From J Space to K Space 
Gun Turret Diplomacy
Hans' Job: Delivering CSM Satisfaction
Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
Jester's Trek
Low Sec Lifestyle
Mabrick's Mumblings
Mad Haberdashers 
Market Call
Morphisat's Blog
Poetic Discourse
Progression's Horizon
ReverendMak
Roc's Ramblings
Seleene's Sandbox
The Skorpius Chronicles

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Minmatar Ship Rebalancing

Yesterday CCP Yttrbium published a dev blog covering the ship balancing that has occurred over the past few months and the planned changes coming in the Winter expansion.  The exiting news is that not only will all of the tech 1 frigates be rebalanced but all of the tech 1 cruisers as well.  Since I only fly Minmatar ships I figure I'd look at the changes in the Minmatar fleet.

Frigates

Breacher: "...the Breacher becomes a resilient close range missile platform thanks to its shield boost amount per level."  I have one in the hanger that I built as a kiting ship.  This change will turn a glass cannon into a brawling ship.  I won't miss the reduction of the high slot since I had to leave it empty anyway.

Probe:  "All of these [exploration/scanning] ships are now properly focused by having mini-profession bonuses, increased probe scan strength and far better slot layouts in general."  I use a Jaguar when running sites in low-sec because of the resilience to fire when rats unexpectedly spawn.  I'm tempted to see how a revamped Probe would work.  The 25% increase in base cargo space is also attractive since I use a Probe for quick transport jobs.

Vigil:  "...the Vigil will no longer have a speed bonus and will focus on target painting."  Losing the speed bonus takes away any reason for me to fly the Minmatar EW frigate.  I flew one in Eve University fleets and really liked the speed and maneuverability.

Burst:  "A mix of formerly known missile and mining frigates that have been revamped to have logistics capabilities mounted on small, mobile hulls. Combined with a small remote armor repairer and shield transfer overhaul, it means new pilots or people interested in logistics support will now have a proper upgrade path all the way to the famously known Tech 2 logistic cruisers. Such a change will also dramatically shake up combat due to introducing repairing capabilities on small scale frigate fleets."

While I don't plan on flying one I am interested to see what organizations like Agony, Eve University and RvB do with the ships.

Destroyers

Thrasher:  "Formerly known as Tier 1 destroyers, they are mainly in good shape since their first buff in Crucible. There are still a few points that need to be looked at before we can move on."  Now that I am in low sec I may fly one with something other than salvagers fit.  I have also used the Thrasher as an exploration ship in the past.

New destroyer (class unnamed):  "While the exact attributes are not ready for review so far we can explain their roles a bit more than in the previous blog. Main roles will focus on medium range damage projection through drones and missiles... Caldari and Minmatar will boast high-slots fully loaded with missile launchers. Slot layout is expected to be 13 in total with overall speed reduced and signature radius increased compared to existing existing destroyer hulls."

Now I am glad that I trained all of those missile skills.  I really would like to see how this works.  Time to get into missile production in the Republic?

Cruisers

Scythe:  "These almost extinct hulls will see a new purpose for being properly refurbished as Tech 1 logistic ships. With removing their current mining role, our goal is to make them useful enough to be actively picked in fleets when Tech 2 logistics are not available instead of having the FC sending you back to your momma."  I'll believe it when I see it.  This is the Scythe we are talking about.

Bellicose:  "Our plan is to turn the Arbitrator and Bellicose into combat / EW hybrids (a bit like combat recons if you will) ... The Bellicose will combine target painting with missiles on a mean, fast hull that will resemble the Caracal as an anti-frigate platform."  I have a love of the Bellicose as it was the ship I was flying when I got on my first kill mail.  I'm wondering if the new ship will resemble Kirith Kodachi's Bellicose CL-A variant I read about in the Eve Tribune.  I would love to fly a Bellicose around as something other than a joke.

Stabber:  "The Stabber will most likely have its speed bonus integrated into the hull to make room for something more dedicated to Minmatar combat doctrine – some of you will ponder, surely that must be a salvaging bonus?"  I have never flown a Stabber although I have one sitting in my hanger.  If the ship gets faster maybe I could use it as a courier.

Rupture:  "The Rupture, while staying a solid and versatile choice, could use more resilience and speed as well."  The one issue I always had when flying the Rupture was its tank.  Perhaps now that I have a lot more support skills I would not have an issue, but I moved on to battlecruisers, especially the Hurricane.  I'd like to see what shows up this winter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 11 September 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 9 September 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.



Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11Guild Wars 2 59.8 79,407-14.6
22World of Warcraft19.125,400+1.5
33Star Wars: The Old Republic4.15,462-7.8
44Aion3.24,263+2.4
56Eve Online2.43,233+5.8
65Metin 22.33,055-13.3
77Lord of the Rings Online2.02,642+1.0
88APB: Reloaded1.92,504+7.5
99Need For Speed World1.52,005+9.3
1010Maple Story1.31,729-2.5
1111Vindictus1.21,605-1.7
12--Star Trek Online1.11,441+2.6
 
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 159,452
 
The unofficial end of summer saw the time spent playing MMORPGs by the Xfire community drop by 9.3% Sunday over the previous week.  The big gainers percentage-wise were the driving games Need For Speed World (+9.3%) and APB: Reloaded (+7.5%).  These gains were more than offset by The Secret World's disappearance from The Digital Dozen (-26%) and big drops by Guild Wars 2 (-14.6%) and Metin 2 (-13.3%).
 
Gamers Held Hostage, Week 2 -  Part of the reason for Guild Wars 2's drop in play was ArenaNet's decision to stop selling copies via digital downloads on 30 August.  Apparently the numbers have declined enough that ArenaNet has begun online sales again yesterday.

More Bad News For Funcom - The Secret World's big drop Sunday is just part of a larger string of bad news for the modern-day niche MMO.  Following Funcom's layoffs last month came yesterday's news that TSW's lead designer Martin Bruusgaard is no longer with the company.

More Validation For Xfire - While the Xfire numbers are not reliable to tell how many players are playing a game, they are good for determining trends.  The latest example is Tera, whose trend was diving toward the cellar.  Tera's last appearance on the list was 24 July.  Last week En Masse announced server merges from eleven servers down to three, confirming Tera's downward spiral.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Look At Minmatar Low Security Space

When I look at a star map of New Eden, I tend to think of geography, not astronomy.  Geography deals with both man-made and natural objects while astronomy up until now just deals with natural phenomenon.  Indeed, when I look at Eve Online I think of my Economic Geography 101 class.  Economic geography, according to a definition from Wikipedia, "is the study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities across the world."  Or, in the case of Eve, New Eden.

In a practical sense, I am not concerned with the economic geography of the entire galaxy.  Interested?  Definitely.  But I am currently in the processing of moving into Minmatar low security space so that is where my focus lies.  Over the course of my research I ran across a lot of facts that people who are not geography geeks like me may find interesting. 

How big is Minmatar low sec?  Before answering how big Minmatar low sec is, the first question to answer is how big is the Minmatar Republic?  I think most people know that the Minmatar govern the regions of Heimatar, Metropolis and Molden Heath.  Those three regions contain 41 constellations and 280 total systems. 

Region Constellations Low Sec Systems Total Systems
Heimatar122583
Metropolis2351159
Molden Heath62838
Total41104280

As the chart above shows, 104 of the Minmatar Republic's 280 systems have a security status under .5.  Can the Republic really claim control if its navy cannot patrol a system?  Officially yes although I don't doubt that some residents of Molden Heath would dispute the claim.

The above figures may surprise some people as the fame of the Heimatar systems of Rens and Amamake might lead one to believe that Heimatar is the biggest, most prosperous region in the Minmatar Republic.  Perhaps for mission runners, but from a resource distribution view the region falls far behind Metropolis.  I would argue that, as a whole, Heimatar low sec is the least valuable territory in the Minmatar Republic.

Planets - One area of interest is the number of planets in low sec.  Planets not only provide resources through planetary interaction but are a passive income source for those owning POCOs (player-owned custom offices).  Planets not only are a conflict driver in space but soon will see warfare waged on the ground once DUST 514 is launched.  The distribution of planets is shown in the chart below.

Heimatar Metropolis Molden Heath
Barren5612979
Gas6913274
Ice132710
Lava174329
Oceanic91614
Plasma6123
Storm132915
Temperate154625
Total198433249

One thing that struck me is that while Molden Heath only had 3 more low sec systems than Heimatar, Molden Heath has 51 more planets in low sec than its more populous neighbor.

Moons - The number of moons is important for two reasons.  The first is that the number of moons determine how many POS (player-owned starbase) a system can support.  The second is that in systems with a security status of .3 and below moon mining is possible.  Yes, another passive income/conflict driver.  The below chart shows the number of total moons and the number of moons that potentially can have moon mining operations set up on.

Region Minable Moons Total Moons
Heimatar5071185
Metropolis14352246
Molden Heath9981185
Total29404616

The chart shows how a system's security status can make a system more valuable.  Even though Heimatar and Molden Heath have the same number of moons in low sec, Molden Heath's generally lower system security status results in almost twice as many minable moons in Molden Heath than in Heimatar.

Belt Mining - I know that belt mining in low sec is frowned upon by high sec miners worried about maximizing their profits.  The draw of low sec mining is supposed to be the ore that high sec miners cannot access except by scanning down gravimetric sites.  The ore available in .3 and .4 security belts, kernite, I do not see as an enticement to mine in an asteroid belt.  While the ore contains the highest concentration of mexallon plus a good amount of isogen, those minerals are available to the high sec Minmatar-based miner in plagioclase and omber.  For me, the draw to belt mining in Minmatar low sec is hedbergite.  Found in systems with .1 and .2 security status, the ore produces two minerals unavailable to miners operating in the Minmatar Republic's high security systems: nocxium and zydrine.  So with that in mind, what is the distribution of belts found in Minmatar low sec?

Region Hedbergite (.1-.2) Kernite (.3-.4)
Heimatar21288
Metropolis166348
Molden Heath79223
Total266859

Looking at the numbers closer revealed that Heimatar only contains one system with a security status below .3.

NPC Stations - Up until now I have looked at the natural objects that players can exploit.  But what about the existing NPC infrastructure available to support economic activity?  If CCP truly seeks to push high sec industrialists to move to low sec, a theory I support, then what exists to support that move?  The below chart offers a quick look at the number of factories and research stations in Minmatar low sec.

Region Factories ResearchTotal Stations
Heimatar20768
Metropolis7210164
Molden Heath29975
Total12126307

The number of research stations really doesn't come into play as the wait times are less than in high sec.  Something about players are afraid of pirates because every system in low sec is gate camped 23/7 by them.  The number of factories is important to determine if low sec currently has the capacity to absorb an influx of high sec industrialists.  Perhaps the infrastructure is not enough and some sort of boosts to low sec stations will occur.

This high level look at the low security space of the Minmatar Republic just scratched the surface of the analysis in which one could engage.  I may write a couple more posts on the subject just because I still have some questions I want to answer.  But I don't plan on extending my studies outside the Republic any time soon.  280 systems is a big enough pool of systems to look at.  Imagine analyzing the Amarr Empire whose 102 constellations spread over 8 regions almost equals the number of Minmatar low sec systems.  On second thought I'd rather not.  I'll stick with the area I call home.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Train Wrecked

Last night I had an interesting experience.  I had to work late (again) and the train's engine decided to die at a station.  A lot of people in Eve Online don't like stations games.  I don't like them in real life.

Getting home 80 minutes later than expected, I logged onto my computer just in time to miss President Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention.  Good thing I'm no longer a political blogger.  But I do blog about video games so after a quick bite to eat I logged into Eve and released the probes looking for something to do.

Finding nothing in my home system, I then traveled to a station-less system hoping to find a radar site.  Of course, since I was short on time, I found a Small Dark Ochre and Gneiss gravimetric site instead.  I'm not complaining, honest.  Dark Ochre produces 500 nocxium and 250 zydrine per 400 units refined so I just mined as much of that as I could in the time I had.  If the UI was accurate, I was mining over 1 million ISK of ore every cycle.  I just wish I had more time because I've never mined gneiss but I didn't want to leave a lot of dark ochre and its more valuable variants lying around either.  Another nice productive night.

Since I had a lot of time on the train, I did get to do some reading of the Eve blogs and news sites.  Ripard Teg reported that I was moving to low-sec because of CCP Ytterbium's post.  No, I was already moving and producing ammunition and mining crystals for my personal use.  However, Ripard did get my reasoning behind the move correct in that I received the inspiration because of CCP's intentions to nerf high sec.

I do have to admit to taking a certain pleasure in reading the analysis of CCP's intentions.  Indeed, I've engaged in a bit of it myself.  Here is the question and answer again:
  • Q: ONE OF THE REASONS FOR LOW-SECURITY SPACE BEING CRAP REMAINS THAT HIGH-SECURITY STATIONS ARE TOO GOOD IN THE FIRST PLACE, DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO ADJUST THIS?

  • A:
    Indeed we do. This topic brought quite an internal discussion, and while this most likely won't be part of a Factional Warfare iteration, we do want to have a look at reducing high-security stations effectiveness to make other areas of space more interesting. Some examples could be reducing refining rates, increasing ISK payment to install jobs. Nothing is set in stone as this is not planned for the immediate future however. Another good idea we noticed here was to tie high-security tax with the war performance of its related Factional Warfare Militia. So if, by example, the Caldari Militia are losing the war in Factional Warfare, all taxes in Caldari State high-security space could go up to support the war effort (emphasis mine).
For me, the first three words of CCP Ytterbium's response are the important ones.  The rest is just, as Hans Jagerblitzen said, just shooting spitballs up against the wall.  But those ideas to give us something to write and talk about until the news about the winter expansion comes out.  This is what, my third post mentioning the quote?

I'm also happy to see a discussion about low sec emerge out of this, at least in this corner of the "echo chamber" of the Eve blogosphere.  Right now low sec is seen as either a dangerous place gate-camped 23/7 by evil, bloodthirsty pirates or a place to make your riches by joining factional warfare and circling a button.  I just want to see CCP not accidentally nerf low sec as they try to buff null sec.  Oh, and I don't want to see the high sec industrialists driven out of the game either.  That could make the economy really interesting and probably not in a good way.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

An Excuse To Mine

Last night I did some badly needed some badly needed mining in the asteroid belts to make up for the time I lost Monday to some distractions.  The reason for the need for minerals are all of the blueprints I keep picking up running radar sites.

Radar sites are one of the types of sites that requires probes to find, which is one reason that I spent the time to do the Wildfire level 4 epic arc and chose to receive the RSS Core Scanner Probes as a reward.  I heard they are pretty lucrative as a pilot can go in, smash a few rats around, unlock containers using a codebreaker and come away with some nice loot.  What I didn't realize was just how important radar sites are to low sec industry.

One thing I noticed is that running radar sites provides a lot of materials needed for invention.  I've only run four or five sites over the last week but I've picked up 16 data cores, 7 decryptors and a Minmatar Encryption Methods skill book.  Picking up the data cores is nice because that means I don't have to pay an agent for them.  The decryptors are worth 6-7 million ISK apiece in Hek and include 6 Operational Handbooks, a decryptor that gives +2 to maximum run modifier, +1 to mineral efficiency and +4 to production efficiency.  The Operational Handbook is the decryptor I always used when I did my invention work.

One thing I didn't expect is the number of blueprint copies I'm finding.  So far I found four.  The first three were related to invention, as I've come to expect.  I found a one-run Cryptic Data Interface bpc, a 2-run Cryptic Ship Data Interface bpc and a 2-run Cryptic Tuner Data Interface bpc.  Those aren't too bad and gives me something to make.  But the real prize that sent me to the belts was in a site I ran Tuesday night: a 5-run X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster bpc.

Manufacturing an X-Large ASB requires 1313 Isogen, 476 Nocxium and 113 Zydrine.  Now, I could fly to high sec to purchase the minerals needed to take advantage of my unexpected bounty.  Or I could just warp off to a belt and mine Vitric Hedbergite for 30 minutes in a Procurer and have enough minerals to make all five.  Which is why I was in a belt last night mining.

I'm excited about finding the ancillary shild booster blueprint.  When I was watching the alliance tournament this year and saw the effect of the ASB I thought "that is cool but I'll never be able to acquire one."  Now, after doing 30 minutes of mining all I have to do is do a couple more mouse clicks and I have something new to experiment with.  I won't put them on a PvP ship since I don't really know what I'm doing but I'd like to see how the module performs when put on a mission-running Maelstrom or Typhoon.

So far I'm having a good time in low sec.  I can see why people don't want to leave high sec as some people think blowing up your ship is a friendly gesture.  But as I begin actually living in low sec I see more and more possibilities that I'd like to explore.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Did I Really Do That?

"Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD! "

- "Joliet" Jake Blues

I didn't mean to do it.  Honest.  It just happened.

On Monday I wanted to build some torpedoes and ran out of pyerite.  No problem right?  Low sec has plenty of scordite and plagioclase just sitting around in belts.  For some reason people don't like to mine in belts.  That's okay, more for me, right?

So after Rosewalker cleared out some Angel Cartel battlecruisers with a stealth bomber I warped Wandering Rose into a belt and started mining.  The system had a couple of pilots hanging around, but they were either high security standings pilots or faction warfare members too busy doing important faction warfare stuff to bother with a mere Procurer.  A couple of times I saw local spike so I warped Wandering Rose off and hid in a station.  Standard precautions.  After all, I just wanted to mine, not fight.

Once while fighting a couple of Angel frigates with a flight of Hobgoblin IIs I saw a new pilot come into system.  I finished killing the last frigate and was pulling in my drones when a Coercer warped into the belt.  Yipes!  The Coercer started to close the distance on my Procurer but I was able to warp off easily.  Rosewalker stayed cloaked and watched the Coercer hang around for half a minute or so and then warped off.

I putzed around for awhile in real life waiting around to make sure only friendly, or at least uninterested people, were in the system.  Moving ore and minerals around was safe enough and then real life interrupted so I didn't wander back to the belt for 30 minutes or so.  When I did warp Wandering Rose back into the belt, she was jumped by two Angel frigates and two destroyers.  My five Hobgoblin IIs outnumbered them and swiftly dispatched them.

After a couple of cycles my friend in the Coercer showed back up in system.  I was a bit slow aligning because he warped in on top of me in a Thrasher and warp scrambled me.  Yipes!

Oh, I screwed up.  I was kicking myself for losing a Procurer in such a stupid way.  After what seemed about 30 seconds trying to warp away, I realized I was still alive and my shields were holding up pretty well.  At that point I thought maybe I could convince him to fly away.  Rosewalker was stealthed in a safe spot watching the action so I warped him to 70 km from the fight.  Then I realized that Wandering Rose's flight of drones was in the drone bay so I targeted the Thrasher and then sent the Hobgoblin's after the destroyer.  With that out of the way, I uncloaked, lit up the Thrasher with a target painter and started launching torpedoes.  Even though the range was 68 km and my engagement envelope is 73 km, I missed with my first launch, so I started moving closer.

During the fight I was really focused on one or two spots on the screen.  As I moved in closer in my Hound I saw that the drones were taking a toll on the Thrasher's shield.  Then I saw the shield drop away and go about 1/3 into armor.  Suddenly I saw the Thrasher's icon disappear.  Good, he warped off so I could go safely to the station.

I turned my attention to the window with Wandering Rose's controls and went to check on and recover my drones when I saw I wasn't alone.  A pod was sitting less than 3 km from my ship.  Somehow my last flight of torpedoes destroyed the Thrasher.  I still don't know what happened.  I know my Procurer was nestled in the middle of a lot of asteroids.  Maybe the Thrasher got stuck in the roids and became a sitting duck for the torps.  I know I didn't tackle him.

After the Thrasher pilot's pod warped off I scooped up the loot and then docked up, my hands shaking from the adrenaline rush.  Looking at the contents of my cargo hold, I realized that the pilot was firing Barrage ammo at me.  I perhaps was fortunate that I was attacked by a Minmatar ship as my shield tank is most effective against explosive and kinetic damage, the two damage types that Barrage inflicts.

I want to say I wasn't trolling for someone to attack me.  I just wanted to get some minerals to make some torpedoes.  If I am going to live in low sec I don't want to have to travel to high sec to get something as easy to make as ammunition.  I also don't want to travel to high sec to either buy minerals or mine the minerals.  I want to get them from low sec myself.  Mining in a belt is risky, but I made a plan to account for if I get attacked.  I was really shaky executing the plan and I'm glad that I didn't know at the time the pilot I faced had a 1300 to 120 kill/death ratio or I probably would have lost any semblance of calm I managed to hold onto during the fight.

Still, I plan on exercising more caution in the future.  Getting my first low sec kill was good, but I'm a carebear.  I don't need that kind of excitement in my life.