Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fanfest 2014 - Meeting EVE Celebrities

People say that the real benefit to attending CCP's Fanfest isn't the presentations or the Party at the Top of the World, but the human connections we make.  As a lone wolf low sec carebear, I think I did rather well yesterday.

After a long hot shower to recover from the previous night's drinking, I went downstairs to catch a bite of breakfast.  Of course, the "A" list celebrities had started rolling in, led by Eve University's Director of Education, Neville Smit.  I left Neville in peace to eat his breakfast until his entourage arrived, at which time I wandered over an made my introductions.  After a long discussion, including about the industry changes, Neville went up to his room and I did some additional sightseeing.

I headed up the hill to the Hallgrímskirkja Church and, with no worship services in progress, headed inside.  The church is huge, and at least seems larger than the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia.

A view from the pews
I don't know about the actual square footage of the building, but the church tower is definitely taller than the Orthodox place of worship in the Balkans.  I paid the fee at the church store and took the occasion to get some photos.

A view of the HARPA from the church tower
After stopping by the store to stock up on water, I tried to head up to my room, but Kelduum Revaan had arrived and was sitting in the lobby.  For those who don't know, Kelduum was the second CEO of Eve University (which means my second CEO), a member of CSM 7, and currently works for Sony Online Entertainment.  Over the next couple of hours the group of us in the lobby had a pretty good discussion about gaming, not just EVE.  Currently he's working on the new game H1Z1, a zombie apocalypse first person shooter.  One amusing thing that occurred is that the H1Z1 Twitter account went live while we were talking.

After Neville woke up and finished reading the latest industry dev blogs, he came down and we eventually went to Nora for some initial drinking.  After a while, the celebrities started to pour in and sit at the table next to us for dinner and drinks.  Sindel Pellion, Bagehi, Diana Dial from EveTimeCode.com and CSM 9 candidate Steve Ronuken were among the luminaries I recognized.

After last night, I don't want to hear Sindel complain about her age.  Ever again.  The lady looks like she's 25.  That's not just my opinion, either.

Also, while we were in Nora, we heard the news that the airport workers strike was put off until after we all left Iceland.  Much rejoicing occurred (like we really needed an excuse).

At one point I was sitting between Neville and Erlendur (aka CCP Explorer).  Erlendur has lost a lot of weight over the past couple of years and really looks good.  I think I need to start doing more exercising than the walking I currently do when I get back home.  My schedule is no longer crazy so I don't have the excuse of lack of time anymore.

I did get into an interesting conversation with Bagehi and Neville about the Erotica 1 situation.  Of course, with 3 people, we had 3 opinions.  Neville took the more stern side stating that the EULA didn't matter and that Erotica 1 needed to go.  Bagehi took the approach that since Erotica 1 had petitioned his activities and CCP had tacitly approved them that a permanent ban was too harsh.  I, of course, took the position that banning Erotica 1 was not only justified, but followed the EULA.  I think we agreed that banning Erotica 1 was a good business decision and that CCP didn't handle the situation well.  I also think Bagehi was influenced by the culture of Pandemic Legion, which seeks to take advantage of every nuance in the rules.  The Erotica 1 situation showed that the line is pretty fuzzy and people need to take care not to cross that line.  I also think that CCP deliberately keeps the limits blurred to keep EVE's legion of station lawyers from getting completely out of hand.

After a couple of drinks at Nora's, we headed out to Nonni's for dinner.  That was my first time at Nonni's.  The sandwich was good, but I still prefer Hlölla Bátar.  From there, we headed for the hotel and The Danger Game.

Of course, none of the six of us now in the group had ever played the game before.  So we learned as we went.  We also started to develop rules to turn The Danger Game into The Drinking Game.  Yes, turning an anti-substance abuse game into a drinking game probably isn't in the spirit of the game, but by that time I don't think anyone was really ready for such a philosophical discussion.  Just a word of warning: the game is long.  We played until after midnight, but then the group broke up as many people had tours to go on today.  I think I came in last, though.  Oh well.

I should add that my tolerance for alcohol is returning.  I pretty much stopped drinking over the last few years as I've gotten older and the recovery from a hard night of drinking was taking too big of a toll.  But I've gone from 3 beers the first night to 6 beers last night.  I probably don't want to do more than that, though, so don't expect to see me on the pub crawl.  I do want to get home in one piece.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fanfest 2014 - Signs

Just because I'm not going on an organized tour this year doesn't mean I'm sitting in my hotel blogging all day.  I'm also not drinking all night either.  Okay, maybe I'm doing that.  DNSBlack is a very interesting fellow, especially for a Russian.  I also got to meet mynnna last night before he and Ali left to conduct some sort of nefarious CSM spaceship politician business.  I also heard that the CSM is staying at my hotel this year.  If true, this is the second time in three years.  I wonder if the Thingholt is the official CCP hotel for this year's Fanfest, or if all the journalists will wind up at the Plaza.  If the journos are staying at the Plaza, I'm glad I'm a blogger and not a journalist.

While walking around, I discovered a few things.  First, remember that dev blog on reprocessing?  The one with the graphic that read, "Keep calm and carry on"?  Well, that sentiment is not just for internet spaceships in Reykjavik.






Icelandic cuisine known for having some unusual offerings and you can find lots of restaurants catering to other country's dishes.  But I never expected to see a restaurant paying homage to the legend himself.





Reykjavik is dominated by the Hallgrímskirkja Church, which sits at the top of the big hill.  Those who are tired of behaving (like the entire population of Jita) can stop in at this bar located down the street (and down the hill).


Finally, I spotted a little café a few yards away from the church grounds.  I'm not really sure if this is a message about the old Norse gods, or if the place is owned by a Matari family with a fondness for wormhole goods.





I should add that for those who don't want to work out at the gym, just walking up to see the Hallgrímskirkja Church is a nice climb.

I hopefully will run around for a couple more days before I'm stuck inside conducting serious internet spaceship business.  But not taking advantage of walking around Iceland's capital is a crime I don't want to commit.

The Digital Dozen: 29 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 27 April 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 40.7 7,835+10.1
22Guild Wars 217.73,401-5.3
33Star Wars: The Old Republic8.61,649-15.3
44Final Fantasy XIV6.31,217-1.1
56Aion4.8921+5.0
67EVE Online4.4848+3.8
75Elder Scrolls Online4.2806-15.2
88Tera4.1787+1.6
9--Runescape2.5479+7.9
1010RIFT2.3440-21.4
1111Lord Of The Rings Online2.2430-20.7
1212Neverwinter2.2414-8.0
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 19,227

Xfire has apparently fixed its technical issues, with the number of hours the Xfire community spent playing its favorite MMORPGs only declining 1.1% on Sunday compared to the previous week.  A big surge in World of Warcraft play (+719 hours) was offset by a general decline led by Planetside 2 (-503 hours) and Star Wars: The Old Republic (-297 hours).  PS2 fell off the list for the first time since mid-December and was replaced by Runescape.

Out Of Game Excitement - The news didn't mention that anything happened within World of Warcraft last week, but Blizzard is generating news outside the game.  In addition to the Azeroth Choppers series launching, Blizzard announced that BlizzCon will occur on 7-8 November and released the alpha patch notes for Warlords of Draenor.

Content Completed - At the beginning of the month, Bioware launched patch 2.7 for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Sunday saw a drop of 15.3% in the number of hours played in the game.  But expect a comeback as next Sunday is Star Wars Day (May 4th).

Offers Expired - Sunday saw the expected drops in play once a holiday weekend passes.  Planetside 2 fell off the list after a Double XP weekend to mark the Easter holiday.  RIFT also experienced a big percentage decline (-21.4%) a week after its Gift of Spring promotion Easter weekend.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fanfest 2014 - Arrival Day

Yesterday I arrived in Iceland to attend my third CCP Fanfest.  I'll admit I'm coming into this Fanfest with a whole different mindset than with previous years.  Let's just say I don't like sore winners and leave it at that.  My attitude was so bad that by Saturday morning I didn't want to talk to anyone from null sec, and I really didn't want to talk to any member of the CSM.  Sorry Ali.  But better a no-show than saying things I couldn't take back.

But I didn't stay in a bad mood.  Something about Iceland does that for me.  I think that's because Iceland doesn't take itself too seriously.  I was reminded of that once I boarded the flight from Boston to Keflavik International.  From the humorous examples of what makes Iceland unique1 to the reminder on the menu that while long bread is more fun, don't poke your neighbor with it if you don't know him, the flight helped put me in a better frame of mind.

As a bonus, I didn't get lost trying to find the luggage pickup point this time.  I was able to pick up my luggage fairly quickly, breeze through customs, and get my ticket for the Flybus.  The trip didn't feel like 50 minutes.  Perhaps I was distracted playing (unsuccessfully) with the Wi-fi, or maybe I nodded off for a few minutes.  But the whole transport to the hotel was pretty smooth, which is the reason I keep using the service.

The hotel I'm staying at this year, The Center Hotel Thingholt, is nice.  I partook of the quaint Icelandic custom of paying for early check-in, which included a buffet breakfast, which I quickly indulged in while waiting for my room to become available.  That meant that in addition to getting breakfast, instead of waiting until 2pm to climb into bed, I slept in a bed until 2.

As for the room, I love it.  Perhaps a small thing, but the fact I don't have to leave a card in a slot in order to use an outlet or turn on lights is huge compared to the hotels I've stayed in over the past few years.  That meant I could charge up all my devices while I was running around town.  Also, I was afraid that the hotel, like my room in the Central Plaza two years ago, would have water that smelled like sulfur.  A groundless fear, as the shower went one better over my accommodations at the Nordica last year and provided a way to save the temperature setting of my shower.

So far, no problems with the hotel Internet (which is included with the price of the room) except for the inability to get Eve Radio and I'm looking forward to using the iron and ironing board (yes!).  The mini-bar doesn't compare with the ones I enjoyed in the hotels in Bulgaria, but that's okay because the people in Iceland not only speak English, but have 24/7 stores.  The bed is comfortable and only seems short because of all the pillows provided.  Too many pillows is definitely a first-world problem not worth complaining about.

After getting up from my nap, I did a little exploring.  The hotel is conveniently located close to everything.  From my central location I saw a patch of water away from the harbor and decided to investigate.



What I found was a pond that attracted all sorts of water-fowl.  People would stroll around and some would throw bread into the water, which led to a feeding frenzy and birds descended to grab something to eat.  Walking around the pond I was able to get a few shots of a scene I hadn't captured before.  Sometimes not getting into a rut pays off.

I did wind up going out and getting a couple of beers.  First, I went to The Celtic Cross and watched a Chelsea/Liverpool game during happy hour.  Afterwards I got back to the hotel, but not for long as Ali Aras was looking for internet spaceship pilots at Nora Magasin.  I headed over and met up with her, a logistics (jump freighter) pilot/industrialist from Of Sound Minds, and a pilot from Germany.  We talked for a long while and I learned a few more things about PvP and null sec.  During this time DNSBlack, his son and another pilot came in.  Contrary to his reputation, Brad just sat down at the bar (which was next to our table) and let us pontificate on all things EVE.

We left the DNS crew at Nora and went off in search of food.  After finding our first two choices closed, we wound up at Hlölla Bátar, eating subs and talking spaceships.  Finally, the time grew late and we all headed to our temporary homes.

Taking a nap kind of threw my internal clock off, so I'm probably going to feel tired today.  But on the bright side, I did manage to write a post.  I'll try to keep writing like normal, although if the airport workers go on strike, all bets are off.


NOTES:

1.  Did you know that while 30% of Icelanders graduate from college, over 50% believe in elves?


Friday, April 25, 2014

Coming Soon To A Podcast Near You

Last night I made my first podcast appearance talking with Alekseyev Karrde, Ali Aras, and Ninja Turtle on the Declarations of War podcast.  I had fun, first talking with a couple of the Noir. pilots on Team Speak before the show.  I think they were actually interested in someone who mines in low sec.  I imagine that a bunch of mercs don't normally spend time talking to a carebear, much less one who lives in low sec.  I think that I mine with neutrals in system was fascinating to them.

I don't want to spoil the show, but we did talk about the industry changes.  I'll write here what I said on the podcast: I think the industry changes are necessary in order to get the game where CCP wants it when we start building star gates to unknown space.  Something I probably didn't say clearly is that we not only need to wait for Fanfest and the last 4 dev blogs to come out, but play with the game for a couple of months to see the actual effects.  If people create stockpiles of minerals, we may not see things shake out until the Winter expansion.  But I don't really think we'll have any sort of feel for how things will shake out until August at the earliest.

I think I proved that I have the speaking skills for blogging last night, which is why I write a blog.  So I'd like to point everyone to a great blog post by Eve University's Neville Smit.  He brought up a point about the high sec industrialists upset about the changes that I don't think I successfully made.  Just read the post.  I think it explains the difference in thought between the high sec carebear and the null sec PvPer.  Also, read the comments of the post.  Neville made some good points there.

Afterwards, I checked my sell orders and discovered I was running low on liquid ozone again.  I've done my last ice mining before Fanfest and I think I'll have enough product available for sale until I get back from Iceland.  Assuming, of course, that I'm not delayed from returning home by a strike.  But that's another story.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Please Let CCP Make The Case

Just a quick note, because another CSM member has made me discard my original thought on what to write for today's post.  Today's culprit is mynnna.  Yesterday he wrote a blog post responding to the complaints of high sec industrialists threatening to quit EVE if the changes so far stated in the first 2 of an ultimate 6 dev blogs take place.  The straw man he demolishes is the claim that the industry changes will totally destroy high sec industry and force industrialists to move to null sec to survive.  Yes, straw man.

I think that the fear among high sec industrialists is that the advantages null sec will receive are so great that industrialists based in null sec will take over the most lucrative markets in high sec, namely Jita.  Why would they think that?  Let's review.

First, the summer changes will make the cost of minerals for null sec industrialists much cheaper than for those based in high.  In null sec, stations will have a maximum reprocessing rate of 86.8% while the best high sec POS will only offer 75.3%.  That means a null sec industrialist will receive 15.3% more minerals than a high sec industrialist from buying the same chunk of compressed ore in Jita.  A significant cost savings, right?  Maybe even enough to cover the transportation costs from Jita to null sec with room to spare.

Add to that the additional taxes that high sec industrialists will have to pay over those in null sec.  How much of a difference?  Pretty big, although not so much for those industrialists who are successful in getting a POS installed in the moon rush that will occur in the beginning of the summer expansion.  We won't know until we actually start playing the summer expansion and have real data, but is a doubled tax rate (4% in null vs. 8% in high) really unreasonable to expect, especially in The Forge?  I'm pretty sure that the high sec industrialists are screaming that they will have to pay 14% in taxes, but those who set up POS for production are probably in much better shape, perhaps even on-par will those in null.  Probably not, since the POS owners will now need to pay taxes when operating their own POS.

Even with what we know, which admittedly is at a high level and lacks details, those seem like large advantages for null sec industrialists.  But I always assumed that the cost of moving product from null to Jita is cost prohibitive.  After reading mynnna's post, I'm not so sure now.
"Moving the finished products for all the subcap hulls above is 283,018,000m3. That’s 717 trips per day in a max skill Rhea, roughly one every two minutes, all day, every day. If your typical trip is two jumps as mine is, that’s 30k isotopes per round trip, about 21.5m units per day or roughly a quarter of what was mined around this time in 2011 assuming nothing but Rheas… of course, that quantity was before CCP nuked ice in highsec and changed the mechanics. 21.5b isk a day of fuel, though considering the product being moved is at least 600 billion isk in value, that’s not really all that much." [emphasis mine]
Thanks, mynnna, for providing a 3.6% transportation cost for moving sub-cap hulls from GSF-held regions to Jita.  I'm assuming that moving other items, like T2 modules, will have similar, if not lower costs, if those items have a greater ISK/cubic meter cost.  But that 3.6% added transportation cost will help people unfamiliar with jump freighter costs make a more informed analysis of the situation.  The transportation capacity available is a different story, one I can't address.  But I bet that some of the high sec industrialists involved do know.  If the capacity currently exists to move all of the goods from Jita to null, then the capacity already exists to move the traffic in the opposite direction.

Having demolished his straw man, mynnna's conclusion contains these interesting sentences.
"On a non-official level, industrialists willing to build in nullsec find their profit margins considerably larger. Some who consider themselves market savvy might even try to use that to control their niche in the market. Some may even succeed, especially in particularly small niches. On the other hand, attempts to take down & control markets will be opposed by traders in Empire, who will see the undercut markets as a profit center."
Basically, mynnna is conceding that the fears of some high sec industrialists in some sections of the market are legitimate.  Great.  As much as I would like to view all the hysteria as people afraid of change, mynnna just told me I can't.  Also, I get the impression that while the serious trader or industrialist can profit off of the situation, those who are more casual or just not as good at industry will get hurt this summer.  I guess those people are justified in yelling and complaining also.  And I can't tell anyone, "wait for the dev blogs," either, because mynnna ended with this note:
"Note: This post is written in the full knowledge of every devblog yet to be posted. None of them change a damn thing I wrote here. "
Basically, mynnna told all of the people complaining they don't have to wait for the dev blogs either.

At this point, I really wish that all the CSM members would take this opportunity to stay quiet on the industry changes, because they continue to feed the high sec industrialists paranoia about the upcoming industry changes.  The more I read Ripard and mynnna, the more I believe people freaking out about the changes aren't so paranoid after all.  We have four more dev blogs due out, plus the Fanfest presentations at the end of next week.  Please, just let CCP make the case.  That goes for those complaining AND members of the Council of Stellar Management.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Role Playing Background Of My Low Sec Life

"The Vherokior tribe is perhaps the least troubled of the Minmatar tribes, with little aspirations for dominance, content to live on the fringe. Most Vherokiors are shop-keepers or small scale businessmen, seldom venturing into the big boy's league."

In-game description of the Vherokior Tribe

I've discussed living in low sec a lot over the past couple of years.  But I don't think I've explained the role playing aspect of living in low.  Role playing?  I know, I know.  A lot of people much wiser than I have come out and stated that EVE Online is not a role playing game.  Some even wish to remove as many RPG elements out of the game as possible.  But until they succeed, I'll go ahead and continue with my light version of RP.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 22 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 20 April 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 36.6 7,116+48.9
22Guild Wars 218.53,593+82.7
33Star Wars: The Old Republic10.01,946+17.9
45Final Fantasy XIV6.31,231+52.0
54Elder Scrolls Online4.9951+2.4
67Aion4.5877+73.3
76EVE Online4.2817+27.3
88Tera4.0775+76.5
911Planetside 23.0581+83.9
109RIFT2.9560+36.6
11--Lord Of The Rings Online2.8542+114.2
1210Neverwinter2.3450+41.1
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 19,439

On Sunday, Xfire recovered from the previous week's technical difficulties, recording a 48.6% gain in hours played compared to the week before.  But the long term trend of declining hours continued as Sunday's total was 5.1% less than the 20,483 hours played by the Xfire community on 6 April.  Runescape fell off the list for the first time since mid-February, replaced by Lord of the Rings Online.

Rollback fears - One game taking a huge tumble over the past two weeks is Elder Scrolls Online.  The 46.6% reduction in time spent by the Xfire community playing the ZeniMax offering was probably fueled by bugs, including one that became known on Friday concerning a duplication exploit concerning the guild bank.  Many players are probably waiting out the rocky start before buying the game.  Others apparently may have feared rollbacks, so didn't log in at all.

Improvements - One the other side of the spectrum is ArenaNet, who launched Guild Wars 2's April 2014 Feature Pack last Tuesday.  The 9.5% in hours played over the past two weeks is spurred by a patch bringing in brand-new systems, improvements to existing features, balance updates, and the megaserver system.  So far, so good for ArenaNet, at least if Xfire is any judge.

More Updates - Lord of the Rings Online vaulted back into The Digital Dozen Sunday after a 4-week absence on the strength of Update 13: The Breaking of Isengard.  I think that some players became discouraged when they heard the news of no expansion this year.  With the 15th marking the seventh anniversary of the launch of LotRO, a lot of players came back to check up on the game.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Think Positive

I had an idea for a blog post today, but I tossed it into the recycle bin.  Why go negative?  I've seen Ripard Teg go demagogic over Erotica 1 and then use the curious choice of the term "traitor" in his latest post on industry.  Lately, I feel like I'm watching a slow-motion train wreck when I read his blog.  Hopefully his forays into other games will keep him from going totally over the edge.

Then again, if every blogger must take a dip into the dark side, I'm already fully immersed.  I've written about botting and illicit real money trading (RMT) for years now.  I've found the wretched hives of scum and villainy to write about so I can afford to take a more positive view of other aspects of the world.  Not to say I don't go negative when I write about other subjects, but I try to keep that impulse under control.

So what brings on this post?  Fanfest is next week.  Last year I heard some of the changes and didn't take them too well.  I turned some of that negativity into a 10-week experiment to determine if the changes to low sec really were a nerf.  This year I plan on getting a head start.  I'm going to think outside the box and try to puzzle out what CCP plans on accomplishing with their changes.

I think I already know somewhat where CCP plans on going, at least in a general sense.  CCP Seagull already told us last year about a dream of building a star gate to unexplored lands.  I imagine that land will have its own rules, so we know have three types of space: k-space (known), w-space (wormhole), and now s-space (Seagull).  Does New Eden even have sea gulls?  We need to get some official lore made if not.

I'll just leave one example of where my mind is going, since I think I ate too much chocolate yesterday, and I really shouldn't eat chocolate.  Are Redeemers about to become the new Avatar?

I think looking at EVE as a puzzle box and trying to explore the mysteries will leave me with a more positive mental outlook than concentrating on the negatives that affect me in the short term.  Because I do see nerfs in my future.  But hey, when you play in the sandbox, some kids get jealous.  Since all the cool kids play in low sec, some jealously is bound to splash our way occasionally.  We just need to deal with it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

CSM 9 Elections: Final Weekend

The CSM 9 elections will end on Tuesday.  With activity winding down, I thought I'd just bring to light something I found interesting.  Despite some talk about electing 6 candidates from their slate to the CSM, the CFC election team apparently is concentrating on pushing the vote out for podcaster and CFC line member Xander Phoena, the fourth person on their list.

Xander, despite his status of flying with Gentlemen's Agreement, is more of a CSM insider candidate.  He provided amazing coverage on the Crossing Zebras podcast of last year's election and continued that interest throughout the term of CSM 8.  So while a late push within Xander's alliance was expected, the fact he was the only candidate interviewed by TheMittani.com was mildly surprising.  But I attribute that fact to the warm regard that Xander is held by those in power more than his status in the CFC.

Two other data points lead to the conclusion of Xander's status of a candidate of the current powers.  Ripard Teg, either by coincidence or with planning with fellow permanent delegate mynnna, arranged his top endorsements of Ali Aras and Xander to line up with the official CFC recommendations that ranked Ali third and Xander fourth. 

But the most obvious of all was CSM 8 Chairman TreborDaehdoow's recommended voting list for those whose main focus is industry.  His ranking of Xander as the second best candidate for industrialists over Sugar Kyle indicates either a complete lack of knowledge and/or disdain for those engaged in low sec industry and trading, or an effort to dupe high sec carebears into voting for a null sec PvP grunt.  But after watching Trebor operate for so long on the CSM, totally expected behavior.

This is my final post on the CSM 9 election.  If you are an EVE player and haven't voted yet, please do so.  The CSM actually does influence design decisions in the game.  If you still don't know who to vote for, my top two recommendations are Sugar Kyle and Mike Azariah.  Remember, the polls close Tuesday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Reviewing PLEX

I regularly listen to BigCountry's talk show on Wednesday mornings (Tuesday nights in the USTZ) and have listened to the complaints about the rise in the cost of PLEX.  The conversation is amusing, but I haven't felt compelled to write about the subject until EVE News 24 published a piece by Dirk MacGirk, a regular on BigCountry's show.  A very interesting read, but he completely ignored the primary purpose of PLEX: fighting illicit ISK sellers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Casual Look At The Latest Manufacturing Dev Blog


Yesterday CCP announced in a dev blog that this summer's expansion for EVE Online will focus on industry as a whole.  Now, I'm not really qualified to judge the changes that CCP is making.  Sure, I do some mining, manufacturing, and run some planetary interaction colonies, but I'm more a hobbyist than a serious industrialist.  I'm slowly expanding my product line and finally reached the 250 million ISK total in sell orders on the market last night.  Basically, my operation is a rounding error to the serious industrialists and traders in EVE.  But I have fun.

People who do know something about industry have started to give their impressions.  Lockefox wrote a post with his impressions:
"The proposed changes are bad for cooperative industry and strongly incentivize solo industry as-is.  Though the changes aren't a catastrophe for corp-level/frontier industry, a lot of the changes will make many of the tools people use difficult."
No, CCP is not catering to my play style.  If I understand Lockfox's concerns, a lot of his concerns trace back to bad corporation role design and the possibility of corp theft.  Also, note that he stated "as-is".  CCP still has four more dev blogs to release that may address some of his concerns.

I don't know how important some of the changes are.  The rearranging of items into materials, components, and research equipment on the market UI might make things easier to find.  Getting ride of the "damage per run" on Robotic Assembly Modules (R.A.M.) and Research Databases (R.Db) is a welcome development.  I've created objects using these things and I never really did understand how they worked.  And getting rid of extra materials?  Hallelujah!

I wanted to discuss the POS changes next, but I need to address the biggest change for me first: the elimination of industry slots.  Yes, CCP is killing all the slots.  Living in low sec, I never have to wait on manufacturing, time efficiency, or invention slots.  But having to wait on copying and material efficiency slots is a pain and really slowed me down.  Instead of slots in manufacturing and research stations, CCP is instituting a cost scaling system, where the more activity in a station, the greater the cost.  CCP Ytterbium stated, "Expect costs ranging from 0% to 14% of the base item being produced for the most extreme case."  I expect the cost scaling system to become another major isk sink, although we will need to wait for CCP Greyscale's dev blog to learn all of the details.  But the one thing for sure is no more waiting for a slot to open.  Yes!

The last part of the dev blog concerns POS changes and blueprints.  As I've never owned a POS (and probably never will), I'm just going to copy the relevant section:
"The Blueprints in question can be researched remotely, by installing them at a station while using a Starbase Mobile Laboratory in the same solar system. With the removal of slots this use case is no longer that important, as we expect research slots to be widely more available.
"In turn, this allows us to change several points:
  • Allow Starbases to be anchored anywhere in high-security space and without standing requirements (minus some protected solar systems, like Jita or new player starting systems of course).
  • Remove the ability for players to use stations to safely store their blueprints without putting them at risk in Starbase structures. Players will still be able to start their jobs remotely (via the use of Supply Chain Management and Scientific Networking skills), but will now have to move their blueprints directly into the starbase structures that require it, like other materials.
  • Improve Mobile Laboratories and Assembly Arrays to compensate for such risk – we’ll give you final numbers as soon as we have them.
  • Reduce copy time on all blueprints to be less time consuming than manufacturing something out of it. This gives the option to use blueprint copies to build items at Starbases without risking the original.
"So player corporations will now have the choice between the safety of NPC stations or the efficiency of Starbases to operate. The core goal is to motivate player entities to actually defend their Starbases if attacked or be reactive enough to take the blueprints out before they go into reinforced mode.
"We are aware of the significance of this change and do not expect very expensive blueprints (Battleship and above) to be risked in such a manner, but we do feel it to be a good trade-off for smaller blueprints."
From watching Twitter I believe the big objection isn't exposing the BPOs to PvP loss, but to corp theft.  Under the current system industrialists had figured out how to safeguard their valuable blueprints so that other members of their corporations could use them.  Now?  The possibility for theft is much greater.  This is why Lockefox believes that the changes that we know about incentivize solo play.  An industrialist in a one-man corporation doesn't need to worry about the theft of a valuable library of BPOs.  I think CCP foresees players working around this issue by using blueprint copies, but that introduces additional issues that I don't quite understand, including running into the 1500 item limit in stations.

I don't want to get too excited one way or the other because CCP still has four more dev blogs to publish.  Also, I expect to hear additional information once inside Fanfest.  But at this point I'm cautiously optimistic I'll like the summer expansion more than I liked Odyssey.

Edit 16 April 2014:  The original version of this post stated that the theme for the summer expansion will be industry.   While industry is getting a comprehensive revamp, CCP stated last year that expansions would no longer have a single focus on one area of play or on a "Jesus feature".  I've changed the introduction to reflect that change in CCP's development philosophy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 15 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 13 April 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 36.5 4,779-39.2
22Guild Wars 215.01,967-40.1
33Star Wars: The Old Republic12.61,651-10.8
44Elder Scrolls Online7.1929-47.8
55Final Fantasy XIV6.2810-41.9
66EVE Online4.9642-28.8
77Aion3.9506-40.3
88Tera3.4439-40.2
911RIFT3.1410-5.1
1010Neverwinter2.4319-35.4
1112Planetside 22.4316-18.8
129Runescape2.4314-38.7
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 13,082

Normally I would begin this post with a comparison of Sunday with the weekend before.  But something happened with Xfire not recording hours, with a decline of 36.1% in hours recorded over the previous Sunday.  Because the problem apparently affected most games equally, I recorded the Digital Dozen scores and hopefully when the problem is resolved the score will make sense.

Everyone Loves Huttball - One reason that Star Wars: The Old Republic did not see a drastic decline in hours played was the release of Game Update 2.7: Invasion.  Bioware is doing a variation on Guild Wars 2's Living Story, with Invasion beginning a new epic storyline arc with the introduction of two major characters and two new flashpoints.  The storyline will have two more releases spaced throughout the rest of the year.  Also among the new features are new Huttball and Galactic Starfighter maps.

Mounts - RIFT is another game that did very well on Sunday.  The only event that stood out for over the weekend was Budgie week.  Players are able to get mounts and partake in racing events.

Azeroth Choppers - Since I really can't do a comprehensive post today, I thought I'd include the mention of a cool little project that Blizzard is doing.  On Thursday, an 8-part web series will begin called Azeroth Choppers.  A famous motorcycle designer will oversee the building of two motorcycles, with the most popular one becoming an in-game mount.  The last episode will probably come out sometime in early June.  I'll finish this post with the introductory video.

Monday, April 14, 2014

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Player Auctions Revisited

The latest security dev blog is making some people take another (or perhaps first) look at the secondary RMT market1 in EVE.  The graph included by CCP Bugartist sparked some posts in the comments thread that contain a question I've read in the comments for some of my own articles.


Namely, how much illicit RMT goes on in EVE Online?  No one really knows.  Some claim that CCP turns a blind eye to illicit RMT, claiming that the company ultimately profits from the practice.  Given CCP's history, from its decision in 20062 to allow a company owned by a major figure in the secondary RMT markets3 to become an authorized Eve Time Code seller, to last November's revelation concerning SOMERblink and other EVE player-run gambling sites using a loophole in the GTC resellers agreement to launder ISK4, that some EVE players have a freighter's cargo hold worth of skepticism concerning CCP's efforts in fighting the illicit RMT trade is understandable.

After watching and chronicling CCP's efforts for the past 3 years, I am not one of those players.  However, I don't want to see Team Security rest on its laurels and backslide from its currently successful Forever War against botters and the illicit RMT merchants either.  So since CCP has published its figures, I have some from the only source I know where I can get my own data of ISK sales: Player Auctions.

Friday, April 11, 2014

CSM Election Information: 4-10 April 2014

The elections for EVE Online's 9th Council of Stellar Management have begun.  Not only did CCP Dolan publish a dev blog making that announcement last Friday, but published the non-NDA'd portions of the Winter Summit minutes the same day.

The interface has changed to make voting a straight party ticket much easier this year.  I believe the rationale is that the major blocs will figure out a way to introduce automation into the voting process so open that automation to the public.  CCP Dolan included instructions for doing so...
"Veteran Voters will notice some improvements to our voting interface. We've added a multiple search and sort function to our candidate search bar. Simply place a comma in between the names of the candidates you'd like to search for (no spaces) and they will all be brought to the top of your ballot page. Additionally, we know a lot of voters like to share their prefered [sic] candidates with their friends and assosciates, [sic] so now when you search for candidates the URL in your browser will change on-the-fly. Once you have a search that you like, simply have your friends copy and paste the URL into their browsers (make sure they are logged in first) and then they are free to drag the candidates into their ballot in whatever preference order they wish."
The Mittani, in an admitted piece of propoganda published on TMC, sent the world this message...
"It's CSM season again, and voting has opened. Thankfully CCP has made it very easy to vote with multiple accounts; once you enter your roster of 14 aspiring spaceship politicians the first time, for each account you log in those same selections remain. Vote early, vote often - and vote the appropriate ballot which we have carefully selected for you.

"We've got a very strong roster this year including a number of independent candidates, as well as GSF heavyweights Sion Kumitomo and Mynnna, not to mention favored ALOD-writer Angry Mustache. Given how poor a job CCP did with getting the CSM8 minutes out the door, my personal take on this election is that turnout will be at an all-time low. If I'm right, that's hilarious news for the CFC, because there's nothing this coalition does quite like marching and voting in lockstep. In a low turnout situation, the impact of organization, unity and force is magnified. Even if you don't care about the CSM, vote the way we tell you to, simply because it'll make a gaggle of shitlords who hate us very, very angry should we succeed."
I should add that word is spreading that Brave Newbies is voting en masse for Awoxing Pizza-Spymaster McBlushooter in addition to their official candidate, which means in a low turnout election that this apparent joke candidate, thanks to the single transferable vote system used for the CSM elections, has a real shot at earning a seat on the player-run council. 

For as long as I can remember Dierdra Vaal has run a site decided to matching players to candidates and this year is no different.  Eve Vote Match is now up and running for those looking for another way to find candidates to vote for.

This week, in addition to the latest podcast efforts that came out during the last week, I have added a section full of endorsements for those still deciding for who to vote.


Cap Stable Podcast Interviews

Declarations of War CSM 9 Panels

Legacy of a Capsuleer Interviews

CCP Dolan Interviews

EVE Vote Match


Endorsements






Thursday, April 10, 2014

CCP's War On Bots And Illicit RMT: First Impressions

Since CCP Stillman left CCP for an information security think-tank in Reykjavik at the end of 2013, I've wondered about the organization of Team Security.  Who was left?  We found out yesterday with the release of the latest Security dev blog.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Low Turnout Means Bad Candidates Win

When I'm not tired and sore from having to make an unscheduled stop at the orthodontist to have some work done, I'm often amused by people like Dinsdale who think that null sec domination of the CSM is bad, but then go around the EVE community stating there is no one to vote for and basically drive down voter turnout.  If someone truly cannot find a candidate to vote for and doesn't vote, I fully understand.  I only voted for 5 people for that same reason.  But if you are a "Grr Goons" type of person, the only way to vote against the null sec voting line is to vote for other candidates.

The lower the turnout, the greater the power of the voting organizations like the CFC election machine.  That's not an EVE thing, by the way.  In the U.S., we see the same thing in our off-year Congressional elections.  The activists in both parties have greater sway than when the general public comes out to vote for president in years divisible by 4.

If you don't believe me, then would you believe The Mittani?  Here's what he recently told Goonswarm in a CEO update:
"It's CSM season again, and voting has opened. Thankfully CCP has made it very easy to vote with multiple accounts; once you enter your roster of 14 aspiring spaceship politicians the first time, for each account you log in those same selections remain. Vote early, vote often - and vote the appropriate ballot which we have carefully selected for you.

"We've got a very strong roster this year including a number of independent candidates, as well as GSF heavyweights Sion Kumitomo and Mynnna, not to mention favored ALOD-writer Angry Mustache. Given how poor a job CCP did with getting the CSM8 minutes out the door, my personal take on this election is that turnout will be at an all-time low. If I'm right, that's hilarious news for the CFC, because there's nothing this coalition does quite like marching and voting in lockstep. In a low turnout situation, the impact of organization, unity and force is magnified. Even if you don't care about the CSM, vote the way we tell you to, simply because it'll make a gaggle of shitlords who hate us very, very angry should we succeed."
In a low turnout election, I see two bloc candidates who should not win possibly get seats.  The first is Angry Mustache.  He makes me ... angry.  From what I can tell, between ratting and his writing for TheMittani.com, rivals the ISK Sugar Kyle makes in profits from The Cougar Store.  Yet, he claims space poverty and even claims that null sec is the worst place for a pilot to earn ISK.  That's why one of the reasons that Angry Mustache is running is to get the free year subscription that all CSM members get.  Given how many AFK Ishtars Xander Phoena manages to lose and still come out ahead, I find that claim hard to believe.  Of course, Angry Mustache, at least to me, sounds pretty clueless about a lot of things related to EVE.  Judging by the reactions of other members on the Declarations of War panel on Sov, Power Projection, and PvP Balance, particularly Psianh Auvyander, I'm not the only one.

The other bloc candidate who I feel is a bad candidate who could win a seat due to low turnout is RvB's Azami Nevinyrall.  The reason he is running is that he made a $50 bet with a real life friend that he could win a seat on the CSM.  With that type of motivation, the odds of him winning a seat and then disappearing are high.  I also didn't like the pandering I saw when I actually paid attention to him at the start of the race.  I could tell he was just taking positions to make people happy so he can win his bet.  In his Cap Stable interview, I think he was a little surprised that people took a negative view of his bet.  Well, as one of those people, I hope he loses.  With the price of PLEX today, Azami made a 2 billion ISK bet.  Who doesn't like making someone lose 2 billion ISK?  But a low turnout gives Azami a better chance to win.

So while I understand people not wanting to vote because they have no one to vote "for", I don't understand those who don't vote who are "against" someone, especially a bloc candidate.  The average player voting (assuming for non-bloc candidates) dilutes the power of the organized blocs.  If enough high sec players vote for non-bloc candidates, the blocs won't have as great of representation on the CSM.  Too bad the complainers don't understand that.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 8 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 6 April 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 38.4 7,865-3.0
22Guild Wars 216.03,282+6.8
33Star Wars: The Old Republic9.01,851-0.5
44Elder Scrolls Online8.71,781+1.7
55Final Fantasy XIV6.81,394-8.5
66EVE Online4.4902-1.0
78Aion4.1847+18.8
87Tera3.6734-5.0
99Runescape2.5512+8.2
1010Neverwinter2.4494+5.3
11--RIFT2.1432+5.1
1211Planetside 21.9389-16.0
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 20,483

The decline in the interest in MMORPGs (or at least the membership) of the Xfire community slowed to a crawl on Sunday.  The 0.2% decline in the time spent playing the most popular games was led by World of Warcraft, which witnessed a decline of 243 hours.  Almost offsetting the loss was the gain in playtime seen in Guild Wars 2 (+208 hours).  APB: Reloaded fell off the list this week, replaced by RIFT after a one-week absence.

Not Enough - Blizzard always seems to drop some type of news or launch event whenever a competitor launches a game, and last Thursday was no different.  On the day that Elder Scrolls Online conducted its full launch, Blizzard announced that alpha testing of Warlords of Draenor began.  But that didn't seem to help with Xfire members too much since players are not invited to this phase of testing.  Perhaps when beta testing begins Blizzard will see more interest.  Speculation is that beta testing will begin sometime around 3 June.

Big Sale - Guild Wars 2 saw a big increase in playtime on Sunday as ArenaNet launched its biggest sale of the game yet.  From 4-13 April the Digital Heroic and Digital Deluxe editions are both 50% off.  This is a smart marketing move as season 2 of the Living Story should launch soon.  Hmmm.  The sale began on the same day that Elder Scrolls Online launched.  Is there a trend?

Counter-programming Done Right - NCSoft's Aion racked up the biggest percentage gain in the number of hours played by Xfire members on Sunday.  The Brave the Dredgion Event began on 2 April and will run through 16 April.  The event, which is available for those level 46 and above, offers a new PvPvE instance to combat the NPC faction and even each other.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Nosy Gamer's CSM 9 Election Endorsements

Tomorrow is the beginning of the two-week period for the elections for the Council of Stellar Management.  So far I've listened to 32 podcast interviews and 6 CSM-related podcasts, including 3 Declarations of War CSM issue panels, as well as numerous EVE Radio shows focusing on the CSM elections.  I've also read numerous forum posts, blog posts and watched video blogs.  So while I haven't covered the election beyond listing player-created content over the past few weeks, I do know a lot about the candidates.

Since some people think I should put in my .02 ISK, I'll go ahead and put out my list of who I plan to vote for.

Friday, April 4, 2014

CSM Election Information: 28 March - 3 April 2014

The elections for EVE Online's 9th Council of Stellar Management are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, 8 April.  I say scheduled, because a dev blog was supposed to come out on Thursday with the official list of candidates and a lot more information about the election mechanics.  That information was not released kind of screws up this week's post, because I wanted to go through and point out some of the highlights for people while they are hopefully making some decisions.  Now, we don't even know who's running and who didn't have valid passports.

Since CCP has not put out the official information, I can just point out a couple of things to look forward to.  First, expect a massive amount of blog posts endorsing candidates on Monday.  Since Dinsdale called me out in the comments last week, I'll publish my list Monday also. 

Next, expect candidates to start publishing their lists of other candidates they think you should vote for in addition to themselves.  Based on last year's election, a lot of candidates are making deals trying to take full advantage of the single transferable vote process.  Also, expect the null sec blocks to send out voting lists to their alliance members.  While the null sec blocs have the organizational advantage, they are only so big.  A small turnout benefits them greatly.  A large turnout should result in less bloc candidates winning if the voters in Empire (high and low sec) turn out and vote for non-bloc candidates.  Of course, any further delay may hinder the campaigns as well.

If the candidate list comes out tomorrow, I don't expect a delay in the election.  If the list doesn't come out until Monday, I don't see how the election starts Tuesday.  CCP does have a few days leeway, but any delay is really pushing the success of the process.  I don't know how much time is required to tally the votes.  The STV system does require more time to tally, but I don't know how much more.  We may actually see the election period to shrink to under two weeks.

For this week, I will just list the latest podcasts that came out over the past week.  Sorry to all of the bloggers and YouTubers who came out with content.  For everyone wanting a list of blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels and Google Hangout sites for each of the candidates, I have the full list on the blog here.  If the list appears today, I'll update the page when I get home and remove all of the candidates who have dropped out of the race.

Cap Stable Podcast Interviews

Declarations of War
 Legacy of a Capsuleer Interviews
Radio VFK




Thursday, April 3, 2014

Adapting To Change - A Miasmos Fit

Now that the lynch mobs have diminished and the devs have taken a break from publishing blogs, I can go back to worrying about important things.  That's right, how low sec miners are going to move their ore around come summer.  Personally, I plan on refining the ore and then moving it around using a blockade runner.  But then again, I'm mining for my personal use.  But what happens if hedbergite suddenly becomes really valuable?  Hey, with large quantities of isogen with some nocxium and pyerite and a trace of zydrine, it could happen.  Then how do I move that ore around?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

But I Love My Procurer!

Last week I pointed out how moving mining products around low sec is going to change.  In order to move the results of one hour of mining in a Procurer used to just take one trip in a Prorator or Viator will now require running a Miasmos due to the differences of transporting minerals versus ore.  Okay, fine.  This is EVE Online and when things don't go your way, the operative saying is "HTFU."  So I've worked on a fit I think will work and am practicing the cloak/MWD trick.  Low sec became a little more dangerous, but I can handle it.

Then yesterday, CCP Fozzie made a post in the Features and Ideas section of the forums concerning changes to mining barges and exhumers.  Here's the reaction from Goonswarm's high sec division, Miniluv.


That's usually not a good sign for miners of any stripe.  When I got home and started running the numbers on my Procurer, I found out why.

My Current Procurer Fit In Low Sec
I have put my current fit in.  Sometimes I swap out the MWD for an additional Adaptive Invulnerability Field II.  If I think I'll get attacked by battleship rats, I'll swap in a long point to make sure the rat doesn't get away.  Either way, I fit a Damage Control II and a nano in the lows to increase my chances of survival.  This fit doesn't come close to maximizing my mining yield, but if you can't get the ore back in the station, why mine in the first place?  I'm happy with the ability to fill up the ore hold about 5 times an hour.

Looking at the changes, when I could finally concentrate on them, didn't make me happy.  First, the bonus to strip miner yield dropped from 200% to 150%.  That's a significant decrease.  Also, a mid slot was removed and a low slot added.  Considering what CCP was doing to the ship, they needed to do that.  The base velocity was increased from 90 meters/sec to 160 meters/sec, which hopefully will make up for not having a prop mod on the ship because the slot was removed.  Of course, that's while I'm mining.  While traveling, I'll put the survey scanner in the cargo hold.

Two other nice additions was expanding the drone bay to hold 2 flights of light drones instead of one and reducing the signature radius down to 150 from 200.  Now the ship can carry a flight of light scouts to fight off NPCs and a flight of light ECM drones in case a player tackles me before I can escape.

What really has me upset is the nerf to mining yield.  Oh, I can get the same mining yield as before, but I have to sacrifice survivability to do so.


The above yields were calculated using Wandering Rose's skills.  The Rubicon fit's yield pictured earlier in this post was calculated not only by the Eve Fitting Tool, but using a formula in a spreadsheet I have and is the number displayed on the tool tip in game.  They all matched, so I'm assuming my calculations for the yields using the figures from the proposal are accurate.  Here are the assumptions...

  • Mining trained to 5.
  • Astrogeology trained to 5.
  • Mining Barge trained to 5.
  • Miner is using tech 2 crystals.
  • Miner is in a gang and the squad commander is giving a 10% bonus to mining yield.

Now, the difference in the yield between my current fit and the proposal CCP Fozzie posted in the forums that has 2 Mining Laser Upgrade IIs fit is less than 1 minute of mining.  I'll call that even.  Some people will tell me that because I broke even that this change is not a nerf.  But in order to fit 2 MLU IIs, I will have to either give up a nano or a Damage Control II from my current fit.  I think I'll wind up giving up the DCII, even though, according to EFT I will give up 24% of my effective hit points.  But in low sec, I feel align time and the ability to get out of the area trumps tank and firepower.  I just need to be careful of those occasional gangs of NPC rats that want to scram and web me.  That's when that extra EHP really comes in handy.  I can take losing a ship to a player.  But to belt rats?  Ugh!

The miners I really feel sorry for are those in high sec that try to tank their ships.  I don't like mining in high sec because miners are just sitting ducks.  Now, they either have to put up with a nerf to their mining yield or a nerf to their tanks.

I haven't run the numbers on the ships most used by botters, Mackinaws and Retrievers.  Given that CCP Fozzie posted that the yields on those ships are receiving a nerf, I expect a lot of unhappy botters come this summer.  But until I can run those numbers to cheer myself up, I'll just have to listen to Mr. G's advice.




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 1 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 30 March 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 39.5 8,108-15.3
22Guild Wars 215.03,074+2.5
33Star Wars: The Old Republic9.11,861-13.1
4--Elder Scrolls Online8.51,752--
55Final Fantasy XIV7.41,524+37.9
64EVE Online4.4911-25.6
77Tera3.8773+1.7
86Aion3.5713-15.6
98Runescape2.3473-23.3
109Neverwinter2.3469-17.4
1111Planetside 22.3463-1.3
12--APB: Reloaded2.0413+2.5
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 20,534

The downward slide of the Xfire community's interest in MMORPGs continued Sunday as the time members spent playing the twelve most popular games in the genre fell by 3.7%.  The games suffering the biggest declines in playtime were World of Warcraft (-1467 hours) and Eve Online (-313 hours) while the game seeing the biggest gain apart from the early launch of Elder Scrolls Online was Final Fantasy XIV (+419 hours).  APB: Reloaded joined ESO as the newcomers to the list while RIFT and Lord of the Rings Online dropped off.  APB: Reloaded is making its first appearance in 18 weeks while RIFT ends a run of 27 weeks on The Digital Dozen. 

Reaper of Hours:  A big factor in the overall drop in playtime this week was probably the launch of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls on 25 March.   The time Xfire members spent playing the game jumped from 13,559 hours on 23 March to 22,617 hours Sunday.  I would not find it surprising if the Blizzard game drew players away World of Warcraft, causing a large drop for that game.

Early Success:  Elder Scrolls Online began its early access period on Sunday.  From what I've heard the game not only had a smooth launch, but did quite well in The Digital Dozen rankings.  The fourth place showing will undoubtedly result in at least a third place showing next Sunday, with a remote possibility of second.  Not as good as Guild Wars 2's debut, but still a very solid start.

Successful Counter-programming:  While Blizzard is famous for throwing out something new whenever a competitor launches a new product (see the release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls), the WoW developers are not the only ones.  Square Enix came out with Final Fantasy XIV: Through the Maelstrom (aka Patch 2.2) on 27 March.  Square Enix added dungeons, new hard mode dungeons, and a new maximum difficulty dungeon.  The additions worked as FFXIV saw an increase in playtime Sunday of 37.9%.