Thursday, June 10, 2021

The CSM 16 Election: Bloc Ballots

Since the elections for EVE Online's player council began utilizing the modified Wright single-transferrable vote system in 2013, the biggest indicator of electoral success is placement on bloc ballots. Normally, a bloc ballot is synonymous with the major null sec coalitions. But not always. Given that over the last 7 elections receiving 2500 total votes guarantees a win, wormhole and low sec groups that band together can realistically hope to get one member on the CSM. 

If turnout doesn't increase dramatically this year, I think I can comfortably predict several of the winners. Yes, organization matters a lot. Here are the people I think should win based on placement on the ballots of the major null sec coalitions.

Merkelchen - Historically, first place on The Imperium's ballot is an automatic win. That shouldn't change this year.

Gobbins - The head of Pandemic Horde is naturally at the top of the Pandemic Horde ballot. With almost 21,926 members, getting a 10% turnout should ensure victory.

Innominate - Historically, the candidate in the #2 slot on The Imperium's ballot wins. Unless turnout increases dramatically, Innominate should win one more time.

Kenneth Feld - Over the years, Pandemic Legion has overperformed in CSM elections. But if Fraternity. & Winter Coalition turn out to vote close to their levels last year, Kenneth Feld should win. While Northern Coalition. and Pandemic Legion are not normally considered large factors in CSM elections, the combination along with even lukewarm support from Winter Co. membership should ensure reelection.

Vily - Test Alliance Please Ignore finally figured out how to elect a member to the Council of Stellar Management when Vily ran in 2019. I'm still wary of stating publicly that a TEST member will win, especially since Legacy Coalition is attempting to get two of its leaders onto the CSM. With only 16,908 members, is TEST disciplined enough to push Vily to victory. I'll go ahead and say yes.

Progodlegend - Unlike TEST, Brave Collective is very good when voting for CSM. I actually feel better about putting Progodlegend on the list than Vily. Progod is #2 on the Pandemic Horde ballot, which might mean he has a higher vote total than Vily at the end of the first round of the simulation. If I put Vily on this list, then I need to put Progodlegend as well. But I feel really uneasy posting that two members of TEST will win seats.

Brisc Rubal - Brisc is the one candidate not high up on a bloc ballot who I will list as winning, but he may not reach the quota this year. Yes, third place on The Imperium's ballot basically means nothing, especially if the candidacy of Baculus Orden means less players voting the strict Imperium ballot. Still, he's shown that having the vote of his alliance (The Initiative.) along with broad popularity can lead to victory. Brisc has won twice, and I won't predict he doesn't win a third time.

The other three seats - Honestly, I have no idea. Usually a streamer or YouTuber will win a seat. The best bet in that case is I Beast, also known as Lussy Lou. As for wormholers and low sec residents, I have no idea. When wormholers are in agreement, they can get a member on. So I'd say one member comes from either area of the game. High sec might get one player on the Council. This year's favorite is Mike Azeriah

Of course, outright vote buying can upend everything. If the turnout for the CSM 16 election is 40,000, then a player buying 3650 votes will win. For an election with a 30,000 voter turnout, the number of votes required decreases down to 2750 to ensure victory. With the existence of skill point farms, vote buying is a legitimate option for the game's very rich.

The Ballots - Below are the lists of ballots I've compiled. Maybe next year, the voting lists will come in handy for evaluating the prospects for candidates for CSM 17.

The Imperium

  1. Merkelchen
  2. Innominate
  3. Brisc Rubal
  4. Baculus Orden
  5. Broodin
  6. Angry Mustache
  7. Micromancer
  8. Xenuria
  9. Suitonia
  10. I Beast

Pandemic Horde

  1. Gobbins
  2. Progodlegend
  3. Kenneth Feld
  4. RonUSMC
  5. Phantomite
  6. Vily
  7. Arsia Elkin
  8. Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci
  9. Reicher514
  10. Seddow

Test Alliance Please Ignore

  1. Vily
  2. Progodlegend
  3. RonUSMC
  4. Gobbins
  5. Phantomite
  6. Arsia Elkin

Fraternity./Winter Coalition

  1. Kenneth Feld
  2. Rich Richman
  3. Progodlegend
  4. Gobbins
  5. Seddow
  6. Vily
  7. Phantomite
  8. Arsia Elkin
  9. Angry Mustache
  10. Maldavius

Brave Collective

  1. Progodlegend
  2. Vily
  3. RonUSMC
  4. Gobbins
  5. Juris Doctor
  6. Mark Ressurrectus
  7. Kenneth Feld
  8. Angry Mustache
  9. Arisa Elkin
  10. Seddow

Northern Coalition./Pandemic Legion

  1. Kenneth Feld
  2. Progodlegend
  3. Gobbins
  4. RonUSMC
  5. Phantomite
  6. Arsia Elkin

Rekking Crew

  1. Seddow
  2. White 0rchid
  3. Phantomite
  4. Suitonia
  5. I Beast
  6. Gobbins
  7. Kenneth Field
  8. Vily
  9. Rixx Javix
  10. Dr Spodumain

Stribog Clade (Pochven/Triglavian)

  1. Maldavius
  2. Brisc Rubal
  3. Xeromus Plague
  4. Micromancer
  5. Broodin
  6. Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Is Final Fantasy XIV Really More Popular Than World Of Warcraft?

I watch a lot of videos about video games and I get the feeling a lot of players are disgruntled about the state of Retail World of Warcraft. From what I gather, Patch 9.1 won't go live until July, or even August. That's a content drought of 8 months. Additionally, I hear a lot of discontent around Torghast. I don't really understand why, but I get the feeling "conduits" is a dirty word. I first became aware of the discontent after an interview WoW's lead game designer Ion Hazzikostas did with Preach Gaming. Watching the usually reserved Bellular go off on the game woke me up.

With a lot of WoW content creators trying out Final Fantasy XIV I thought we were just seeing a short-term fad that would end with the next patch. Then I watched a video that claimed that FFXIV is now more popular than WoW. I had to track down the claim.

MMO Populations Most Played MMOs - as seen on 9 Jun 21

The site is MMO Populations. I had to search the site, but I found a comment on how they arrived at their lists.

By combining online social activity, sentiment tracking, public statistics, rankings and more MMO Populations estimates the total subscribers, players and active daily players for the top MMOs.

But for what it's worth, FFXIV comes in with 2.48 million active players in May compared to Retail WoW's 2.19 million active players. But WoW Classic also had 1.7 million active players. The WoW Classic number will morph into TBC Classic next month as players were able to start playing the classic version of WoW's first expansion on 1 June. 

Of interest to me when checking the numbers was the number of active players in EVE Online. The 324 thousand listed seems a bit high to me. Then again, the bigger games like WoW and Final Fantasy XIV probably have more data to work with.

If FFXIV truly is the top MMORPG, I don't expect the status to last. Not only is WoW's patch 9.1 due out soon, but Endwalker doesn't come out until November. The population inevitably will decrease until then. But if some players get a kick out of the thought that WoW is no longer the top dog, I won't kick too much sand on their dreams.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Thoughts On The CSM 16 Election: June 8-15, 2021

The election for EVE Online's 16th Council of Stellar Management began today and runs though downtime (1100 UTC) on 15 June. Over the past 2 years I've stepped away from covering the CSM, but I thought I'd give some thoughts in a post in case anyone cares.

My list of candidates. If anyone wants advice on who to vote for, I'd list these three candidates, who are all current members of the CSM:

  1. Mike Azariah, The Scope
  2. Kenneth Feld, Pandemic Legion
  3. Brisc Rubal, The Initiative.

Mike Azariah is the only high-sec based player with a chance to win a seat on CSM. He runs a service, which he calls The Magic School Bus, that gives out ships to new players in rookie systems. The Magic School Bus is not an election gimmick, as he began running around high sec distributing ships after his first run on the CSM. Besides that, he's just a good guy in real life. I've voted for him every year he's been on the ballot.

Kenneth Feld is the industrial candidate CCP needs to listen to, especially as they continue to make adjustments to the economy. From the reports I've heard, Kenneth is an effective advocate and probably kept the developers from making a lot of mistakes. The CSM is effectively a focus group designed to keep CCP from making mistakes. Hopefully Kenneth will be around for the upcoming year to continue trying to keep CCP from making too many mistakes.

Brisc Rubal is the titan-owning line member with serious interpersonal skills. A Washington lobbyist and politician in real life, Brisc knows how to work with CCP. While third on the official Imperium ballot, in his two previous CSM wins, Brisc hasn't needed the official ballot support. If for no other reason, a vote for Brisc keeps my ballots counting toward the quota.

Ballots? Players can vote more than once? Yes. Players can cast a vote for each Omega account they own. However, the account must be active for at least 60 days before voting. When voting on multiple accounts, your selections are saved from the first account that votes, saving a player time.

How does the voting system work? It's ... complicated. I wrote a post back in 2018 explaining the system.

You only listed 3 candidates. Can't you vote for 10? Players can vote for up to 10 candidates. But who has time to research 47 candidates to pick 10? Also, why vote for someone just to fill up the number of slots?

Aren't you wasting your vote if you don't vote for 10 candidates? The wasted vote claim is my pet peeve about the single transferrable vote system used in CSM elections. A strain of thought exists that maintains that if someone votes for a losing candidate, that is a wasted vote. 

For those still concerned about wasted votes. In the age of the 10 member CSM, the official Imperium ballot trickle has never positively impacted below the 6th candidate on the ballot. I think that is a pretty fair standard to set for yourself to avoid feeling guilty. Some people have other theories, like first vote for all the wormhole candidates, and then all the low sec, small gang candidates. In those cases, voting for more than 6 makes sense. But the important thing is, don't feel pressured to vote for all 10 slots if you don't want to. It's okay not to.

The origin of "the wasted vote". In 2012 and 2013, "wasted votes" was a meme following the "Wizard Hat" incident at Fanfest 2012 at the Alliance panel involving The Mittani. Without going into the details, the deal worked out between CCP and The Mittani involved the top Goon not serving on CSM 7. The big problem was, The Mittani received over 10,000 votes, or over 20% of the votes cast. As EVE players tend to do, the fact was thrown in everyone's face whenever the CSM was brought up for the next year.

Perhaps coincidentally, in 2013 CSM elections switched from first-past-the-post to using a modified version of the Wright single transferrable vote method. Theoretically, with the STV method, over 90% of participating players should vote for a winning candidate.

Has a candidate ever withdrawn or been removed after voting begins? Yes. In the CSM 11 election, Apothne had to withdraw due to a serious health condition after voting finished but before CCP announced the results. The election algorithm was rerun without Apothne, with Kyle Aparthos and Nashh Kadavr winning seats and Erika Mizune losing instead of winning. And in the CSM 13 election, Creecher Virpio was removed during the voting period due to chat logs with objectionable language surfacing. 

Why vote? Goons are just going to win all the seats anyway. The Imperium is good, but they are not that good. If the turnout this year is similar to last year's, The Imperium will wind up with three winning candidates: Merkelchen, Innominate, and Brisc Rubal. And the only reason for The Imperium winning three seats is Brisc Rubal's personal popularity. The vote trickle mechanic Brisc received last year from the official Imperium ballot was 94 votes in round 29. Brisc began receiving enough votes to win in round 24. In a twist of fate, Brisc reached the vote quota to win due to trickle down votes from Mike Azariah in round 30.

The Imperium, and its predecessor the CFC, used to inflate their effectiveness by putting candidates that were going to win anyway on their official ballot. For the CSM 16 election, the powers-that-be decided to abandon that strategy. I think some people might receive a rude awakening.

Why vote? The null sec blocs will win all the seats anyway. Not true. Last year three non-null sec candidates won.

  • Mike Azariah
  • Phantomite
  • Torvald Uruz

Finally, voting from within the client, kind of!  Excuse the graphics spam, but I'm a little excited about the way CCP is publicizing the election within the client. First, at the login screen players are greeted with a 7-day election event that gives out 5 days of rewards.

Once inside the game, a splash screen appears publicizing the election.

Clicking on the splash screen directs the player to the voting page. You may have to log into the page (I voted before logging into EVE), but voting is pretty easy this year.

The nice part is, if players don't click on the splash screen to vote, they can do so by clicking on the pane on The Agency.

Pearl Abyss will be watching. One final observation to finish the post. Pearl Abyss will be watching. If the turnout is high, expect them to tout the turnout not only on the next earnings call, but in their monthly investors newsletter as well. In a time of declining activity, both the normal summer seasonal slump as well as the launch of The Burning Crusade Classic, a high turnout could convince Pearl Abyss it doesn't need to stick their fingers into EVE any more than they are now.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Star Citizen Hits $30 Million Raised For 2021

The Star Citizen money machine keeps marching on. The latest event was Invictus Launch Week 2951 which ran from 20 May to 1 June. The annual event allows players to try out ships they don't own as well as purchase new ships. As of the time I pushed the publish button, the Star Citizen funding page reads over $371 million.

From BoredGamer

I wondered how financially successful the event turned out for Cloud Imperium Games, but didn't have the historical information to figure out the answer. Thankfully a Star Citizen streamer, BoredGamer, put out a video on the subject. 

Compared to last year, Fleet Week brought in $1.2 million less this year than in 2020. The figure is a little misleading, because CIG limited sales of the newest ships. I take that as a sign CIG isn't doing badly for money.

Through the end of May, BoredGamer showed funding had slowed from 2020's $34.1 million down to $30 million this year. I have to wonder if expecting CIG to raise another $79 million in ship sales in 2021 as it did last year was ever realistic. When CIG releases it's 2020 financial numbers in December, we may see the company raised $100 million from all sources last year. I hope raising that much money put CIG is a good place financially. If so, then averaging $6 million is ship sales through the first 5 months should keep up with the day-to-day expenses.

We won't really know until December, but anyone thinking CIG will run out of money probably has a long wait. Still, I don't believe the company has enough money to fund them through 2025, so expect the money machine to roll on.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Final Thoughts On The Stargate Trailblazers Event

I originally planned to write my final thoughts on the Stargate Trailblazers event today. CCP extended the event two days, until downtime tomorrow, so I still might run a few more sites just to get up to 500 points. I don't think running three more Standard sites solo will really alter my thoughts on the event, so let's begin. My perspective is as a pilot who only mined and did not shoot the NPCs.

7 NPC Orcas away from 500 points

The content is designed for groups. I don't think I can stress this enough. I was able to run the Minor and Standard sites solo in an Endurance. I also completed a Minor site solo in a sig/speed tanking Prospect. I should add that the character I used has trained all relevant skills to fly expedition frigates up to level 5 plus uses an Inherent Implants 'Highwall' Mining MX-1005, which gives an additional 5% to mining yield. Even with all those advantages, I needed to use the mining yield boosters obtained from the event to comfortably complete sites.

The character cap. Each site has a character cap for good reasons. For example, when doing a site in low sec or null, players could just warp in some alts to make the site invulnerable to attack. But the caps can also cause problems for pre-made groups. My last fleet ended when the other pilot I was flying with activated the acceleration gate. He went in and I remained behind. He wound up joining the fleet in the site and I said goodbye.

I wonder if CCP could make the payout dependent on the number of pilots in the site. Too many and the payout gets really low. Then again, I do like that the payout is the same for everyone in the site. I'm not sure I'd want the devs to change that.

The content is very clicky and repetitive. I am one of those players who uses the mouse instead of keybinds for most actions. Due to the small size of most of the asteroids, I was clicking off the mining module after about 10-12 seconds flying the Endurance and a little longer when flying the Prospect, due to using 2 Miner IIs. I know watching the leaderboard that people can dual-box the content, but I didn't even try.

The rewards are not compelling. The Stargate Trailblazers event gave out four types of rewards. The first were boosters. Except for a couple of randomized boosters in Agency Support Drop containers, all the boosters were limited time mining boosts. I like the idea of using event rewards to make participating further in the event easier. However, the bind on redeem aspect reduces the value.

The Rifter Republic Fleet Ordinance SKIN

The next two types of rewards are gained from the loyalty store. Completing the sites grants players loyalty points for the local faction's corporate store. The first of the LP store item categories was Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings (SKINs). The SKINs are limited to tech 1 ships. The SKINs, at least for Republic Fleet Ordinance, look okay. The SKINs were not appealing due to the fact I don't really fly tech 1 ships anymore, combined with SKINs not exciting me in the first place.

Decked out in Republic Ordinance gear

The other type of loyalty point store item is clothing. Unless Walking in Stations returns to EVE in the future, clothing only really matters when creating a portrait for use in chat channels. While I went ahead and purchased the Republic Stargate Crew Top, Republic Stargate Crew Pants, and Republic Stargate Crew Shoes, only the top will be seen by other players. In a future event, I might try to obtain the Ordinance Jacket for 50,000 LP, but I really don't like the Officer Jacket, especially for 70,000 LP.

My new portrait

I have to say, the new portrait I took after purchasing the gear helped make running the event worthwhile. I think the color combination along with the background looks good.

The last type of reward was ISK. According to my wallet, I completed 39 sites for a total of 166 million ISK. That total would have been higher if I completed more sites with other players. As far as I could tell, running a site solo guarantees the minimum reward. I did receive bonus amounts when fleeted with others because we could complete the sites so much faster. Figuring in the 25 million ISK I spent in the loyalty point store and approximately 5 million ISK I spent on fitting out my Endurance, and I came out with 135 million ISK more than I started with.

Where do you turn in loyalty points? I pointed out last week that The Agency is growing on me. But given some of the complaints I saw, I think some people don't know some of the finer points of the UI. The big question was, "Where do I turn in my loyalty points?" I can see how that could be a problem.

If players know the name of the NPC corporation (like Republic Fleet Ordinance), all they have to do is go to the Loyalty Points tab in the wallet and find the corp. A nice feature CCP added when the devs did the wallet revamp is the UI shows the nearest station with a loyalty point store. Even nicer is the ability to right-click on the station and set auto-pilot to show the route.

Now, I probably was fortunate in my choice of gate area. I picked Minmatar stations to operate from, so the loyalty point tab showed my the name of the NPC corporation I was working for. I didn't see the name anywhere else. A slight problem that hopefully CCP will highlight in the future.

The length of the event. I realize the Stargate Trailblazers was in many ways a live test. Still, the initial event length was much too short. I would hazard to guess that many people were turned off at the brief time and decided not to bother. CCP wound up extending the length of the event by 48 hours.

Final conclusion. I wouldn't call my experience over the last few days engaging with the Stargate Trailblazers event fun. Satisfying is probably a better term. I managed to get all of the rewards, both from the event timeline and well as the LP store, that I wanted. Well, the ones I felt were obtainable during the event.

Who is the content really for? I'd say people who are into cosmetic items (clothing and SKINs) as well as people who wanted to try to get their names on an in-game item (the gates). In other words, completionists. All others probably should stay away.

Perhaps the bigger question is, would I take part in a future event based on the old Resource Wars sites. I would at least take part in one more. As CCP Fozzie tweeted out last Tuesday, CCP plans on basing more events on the content. The gameplay in Stargate Trailblazers was interesting enough for me to look at what the developers come up with in the future.

Monday, May 31, 2021

What Is The Burning Crusade Classic's Pull On EVE?

Over the weekend I realized something strange happening with the PLEX market in The Forge. The ISK value of PLEX traded in the region had not exceeded 3 trillion ISK in a single day since 17 May, which followed a 24-hour PLEX sale that occurred on 16 May. Lower trading activity is common after a PLEX sale, but not for two weeks.

The ISK value of PLEX sold reached a low for the year

Before exploring other reasons like shifting markets to explain the decline, I checked the player activity recorded on EVE-Offline.

The PCU reached lows for 2021 over the last two weeks

For months, Tranquility saw peak concurrent users exceed 30,000 accounts every day. Beginning on 19 May, that changed as the PCU failed to exceed 30,000 nine out of twelve days. I had to read Wilhelm's last war update to confirm, but Sunday's high of 29,898 players logged in was the first time PCU failed to exceed 30 thousand on a Sunday since the beginning of the current great null sec war that began in the beginning of July 2020.

The date of the decline in both PLEX value traded and peak concurrent users happened around 18 May. What else happened on 18 May? The Great Escape launched. But would the changes to warp nullification and warp core stabilizers really cause thousands of players to stop logging into EVE? As we saw with Hurricane Hilmar in 2019, players need an alternative game to flee to in order to turn disgruntlement into a natural disaster. In August 2019, WoW Classic launched as players realized Blackout would not end after one month.

The pre-patch for TBC Classic launched on 18 May

EVE's The Great Escape was not the only game update to appear on 18 May. Blizzard launched the pre-expansion update for The Burning Crusade Classic on the same date. I have a suspicion that Blizzard launching TBC Classic servers is drawing players away. I also expect the actual launch of the expansion tomorrow to noticeably drop activity in EVE for the next few weeks. At that point, a recovery within the next few months doesn't look promising. EVE traditionally sees less activity starting in mid-July with players coming back to the game starting in October.

The good news is that player discontent is way lower today than in August 2019. Still, when the Dark Portal opens tomorrow, we have to watch to see how many people wander through a wormhole and into Outland. I'd wager the number will be noticeable.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Stargate Trailblazers Event: The Irgrus To Pakhshi Gate

The Stargate Trailblazers event currently ongoing in EVE Online is the lore explanation for the addition of four new stargates. They are:

  • Tash-Murkon (Saminer) to Stain (F7-ICZ) for the Amarr Empire
  • Placid (Kenninck) to Solitude (Eggheron) for the Gallente Federation
  • Metropolis (Irgrus) to Genesis (Pakhshi) for the Minmatar Republic
  • The Forge (Hykkota) to Genesis (Ahbazon) for the Caldari State

Of the four, the Irgrus to Pakhshi gate under construction by the Minmatar Republic seems the gate that doesn't belong with the others. The first oddity is that both ends of the gate fall in high sec systems. The second is that the gate doesn't shorten transit times between trade hubs. Rens is 15 jumps away from Irgrus and Hek is 16. But what the new gate lacks in a convenient location it makes up for in safety.

The soon-to-be revised map of Metropolis

The Minmatar Republic has two high sec routes to other empires. The first runs from Heimatar through the Ammatar Mandate (Derelik) to the Amarrian region of Derelik. The high security route from Rens to the system of Amarr in Domain runs 21 jumps. The route is fairly safe, with only a stretch of 5 systems with a security rating of 0.6 in Devoid to traverse.

High sec routes to move goods from the Republic to Dodixie

The second route to other empires requires using the Bei-Colelie gate. For two NPC empires supposedly friendly to each other, they seem unable to coordinate on security. In non-role playing terms, the area between the two empires is a gankers paradise. The shortest routes from the Minmatar trade hubs of Hek (8 jumps) and Rens (14 jumps) to Dodixie require passing though 6 systems, including Hek, with a security level of 0.5. Haulers can reduce the number of ganking systems down to 3, but that is as good as they can do. Avoiding the extra systems adds 9 jumps to a trip from Rens to Dodixie and 11 jumps to trip between Hek and the Gallente trade hub.

With the new jump gate in place, travel between the Minmatar trade hubs and Dodixie can run in relative safety. Not counting Hek itself, ships will only have to enter one 0.6 security system, Josekorn. The new Rens-Dodixie route will run 21 jumps and the Hek-Dodixie route will run 22. 

Map obtained from r/eve

Researching the possible impact of the gate led me to wonder if the new gate will have an impact on what is known as EVE Online's Silk Road. What was dubbed as Silk Road 2.0 links trade in a 50 jump route linking the five major trade hubs in New Eden. That is, if one can call the two Minmatar trade hubs major when compared to the trade hubs in the other three empires. I wonder how many haulers will add seven jumps and skip Rens in order to bypass the potentially dangerous 7 system stretch from Balle in Sinq Laison to Hek in Metropolis. 

I'm sure the other gates each have a story to tell about how they will impact the game. Some of those ways players may even determine ahead of time. What I am going to look for, though, is whether the balance of trade between the two Minmatar hubs shifts in any way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Stargate Trailblazers Event - Better With Friends

Last night I took part in the first day of the latest event in EVE Online, the Stargate Trailblazers event. Despite a poor choice of ships, I managed to have some fun by grouping up with other players. Gee, MMO game play is better with others? Who knew?

Daily login rewards

The first thing that greeted me was the inevitable login rewards. I found the rewards well thought out. On day 1, players receive the Mining Blitz Expedition Frigates Expert System. With the package, Alpha players can participate in using expedition frigates like the Endurance and Prospect. The seven boosters granted to Omega players (and three to Alpha players) over days 1 through 4 aid in mining and last for four hours. Too bad they are use on redeem, or a lot of players would try to sell them. Also, the mining boosters expire in 7 days, so use them or lose them.

Can't miss there is an event going on

In my mind I thought the event might be based on the old Resource Wars features based on mining expedition sites. But I didn't realize CCP would populate the old loyalty point stores as well. Sure enough, they did. I decided to check on the SKIN collection.

The SKIN selection from the Minnie LP store

I don't know if the SKINs are bind on acquire, but at least they are permanent. Given everything else I experienced, I'd wager they are.

EDIT: CCP Fozzie has confirmed the SKINs in the loyalty point store are not auto-injected, so they can be traded on the market.

The Agency page is looking useful

I have to admit The Agency is growing on me. CCP put together on the page the fleet finder option next to the event panel. I have to admit, I only briefly glanced at the EVE Academy page and didn't find much to offer for this event. But just getting me easily to the Stargate Trailblazers information without having to look outside the client is a big improvement over the old days when I started playing.

My progress after the first day

Players get earn a total of eight prizes, six of the event mining boosters and two of the regular event boosters. Once again, the mining boosters expire 7 days after claiming the booster from the event page.

The event page also has the vital information as to where to go to participate in the event. For those wondering, the event takes place in the two constellations the new gates will bridge. Those systems are:
  • Tash-Murkon (Saminer) to Stain (F7-ICZ) for the Amarr Empire
  • Placid (Kenninck) to Solitude (Eggheron) for the Gallente Federation
  • Metropolis (Irgrus) to Genesis (Pakhshi) for the Minmitar Republic
  • The Forge (Hykkota) to Genesis (Ahbazon) for the Caldari State
The full text description from the event page is below.
Welcome to Stargate Trailblazers

The four empires of New Eden are each embarking on projects to build new stargate connections to advance their interests. They are offering capsuleers an opportunity for wealth and permanent renown if they will assist with collecting raw materials for these gates:

Tash-Murkon (Saminer) to Stain (F7-ICZ) for the Amarr Empire
Placid (Kenninck) to Solitude (Eggheron) for the Gallente Federation
Metropolis (Irgrus) to Genesis (Pakhshi) for the Minmitar Republic
The Forge (Hykkota) to Genesis (Ahbazon) for the Caldari State

All previous standings and empire ship class access restrictions have been removed from the entry acceleration gates to the empire Mining Expedition sties to ensure that any capsuleer can assist in the building of these stargates.

Capsuleers are requested to mine ore for and defend Orcas in Mining Expeditions within the constellations where the stargates are being built. The difficulty of the sites grows between the different Mining Expeditions. They are, in ascending order of difficulty: Limited, Minor, Standard, Major, and Critical Mining Expeditions.

Once the construction of the stargates has been complete, a monument will be placed by each stargate naming the capsuleers and capsuleer corporations that provided the most assistance for ...
In my client, the last line was cut off. I hope it wasn't important.

I decided to help out the Minmatar Republic so I headed out to the Panorad constellation in Metropolis in a Prospect. I don't think anyone really visits the area which is probably why the Minmatar Republic is building a gate into CONCORD's home constellation.

Site requirements and restrictions, from EVE University Wiki

When I got to the area, I decided to try a Limited Mining Expedition first. Of course, not knowing the ship restrictions, I couldn't get in. Now for my first real complaint about the event. When I approached the gate, I started the event timer even though I couldn't enter the site. Luckily, the Limited sites weren't very popular.

I initially went into three Minor Mining Expedition sites by myself. I failed to collect enough ore in my first attempt, was chased out with my armor on fire my second, and finally completed the site on my third with four seconds to spare.

The rewards from completing my first site.

About this time a pilot in an Endurance decided that working together in a fleet was better than trying to work separately and we formed a small gang of two. To say two frigates is better than one is an understatement. We finished up our first Minor site in 4:03, which earned up extra rewards.

First reward when fleeted up

At this point, I want to recommend to people that they fly an Endurance if possible. Yes, the Prospect gets a 100% role bonus to mining yield as well as a 5% bonus to mining yield per level of Expedition Frigate skill trained. But the Endurance just has such a better tank. The Endurance has 300 more base shield hit points than the Prospect as well as 4 mid-slots vs the Prospect's 3. The Endurance also gets a 4% bonus to all shield resistances per level vs the Prospect's bonus of 5% reduction in ship signature radius per level. As much as I love speed and signature tanking in my Prospect, the Endurance pilot told me he didn't really have to worry about his tank from the rats. Combine that with the 300% ore mining yield bonus and the Endurance was having an easier time running the content than I was.

The Endurance also brings one additional trait to the table: drones. The Endurance was a drone capacity of 30 m3 and a drone bandwidth of 15 Mbit/sec. In English, it means the Endurance can carry two flights of 3 light drones. One of the flights the Endurance pilot carried consisted of light shield repair drones. So when I'd get stuck on a rock, he'd go ahead and pop the repair drones on me. While the drones don't heal that much, when I speed tanked properly, they worked wonders.

When we ran out of Minor sites, the Endurance pilot wondered if we could successfully run a Standard Mining Expedition. You only live once, right? So into a Standard we went. I'm not sure if any DPS pilots helped us the first time, but we completed the site.

Completing the first Standard site

Overall we succeeded in completing four sites together, two Minor sites and two Standard sites. Looking at my transactions shows just how beneficial teaming up with another player was.

Journal entries during my night out

I managed to finish one site stumbling about by myself, and four sites in about 30 minutes flying around with someone. Two of those sites I wouldn't have had a prayer of finishing by myself.

Overall, I liked the event. I do want to try fitting an Endurance and seeing how the other expedition frigate performs solo. I'd also like to see how the Venture performs in a Limited site. I remember running a Limited site back in 2017 but forgot what the experience feels like. I do have to hurry, though. The event ends at downtime on 1 June.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Council of Stellar Management Elections: Historical Turnout And Winning Margins

The candidates for the election of the Council of Stellar Management 16 are now official. I don't plan to cover the election as much as I have in the past. But I think some of the people who will cover the event might like a little historical information from someone who covered the elections for years. In this post, I'll look back at the previous 15 elections and list the turnouts for each election as well as the minimum vote to win a position on the player council that helps advise CCP on the game they play.

CSM 1 through CSM 4

CSM only had 6 month terms in the first four iterations. Players elected 9 regular delegates with 5 alternates using the first past the post voting system. During this period of EVE's history, the subscription numbers were public, so we know what the percentage turnout was.

Links to election results

CSM 5 through CSM 7

In the next three elections, CSM terms were extended to one year. For CSM 5 & 6, players elected 9 regular delegates with 5 alternates using the first past the post voting system. For CSM 7, all 14 members were considered full members, although only the top 7 members were flown to Reykjavik. Some members did attend the summit meetings via Lync. In the below chart, I left the old CSM 5 & 6 rules in for CSM 7 for comparison purposes.

Links to election results

CSM 8 through CSM 11

In the next four elections, the CSM was chosen via a new system, a modified Wright single transferable vote (STV). Also, due to the mechanics of the voting system, players were no longer able to vote but abstain.

Links to election results

CSM 12 through CSM 15

Beginning with CSM 12, the size of the CSM was reduced from 14 members down to 10. The change was made so that all members of the Council of Stellar Management would fly out to Reykjavik for the twice annual summits.

Links to election results

Monday, May 24, 2021

The April 2021 Monthly Economic Report: Faucets And The Dynamic Bounty System

The April 2021 Monthly Economic Report (MER) was notable due to some of the data and charts consisting of March data. CCP Larrikin updated the data files, but one notable chart containing commodity information was still missing. Fortunately, the data files allow for the creation of custom charts.

Data from RegionalStats.csv, January 2018 to April 2021

Looking at the data from the regional statistics file, we see the amount of ISK collected from bounties has declined from 55.8 trillion ISK in October 2020 down to 27.2 trillion in April. A 50% decrease in bounties is draconian, right? But one chart makes the decline appear even worse.

Faucets and Sinks from the April 2021 MER

The ISK Sinks and Faucets chart readily displays how the data in the MER has changed over the last 6 months. While the regional data displays players collecting 27.2 trillion ISK in bounties, the ISK Sinks and Faucets chart only displays 21.1 trillion ISK in bounty prizes distributed. A 62.2% decrease seems disastrous. Unless one remembers a major change that occurred in November.

In November 2020, CCP introduced the Dynamic Bounty System. A part of the scarcity push, the DBS works as follows:

Every solar system will now have an ever-changing bounty multiplier that is applied to any bounty payout earned in the system. As an example, if the solar system multiplier is at 110% and you kill a pirate that has 100,000 ISK bounty, the payout will now be 110,000 ISK. However, some of that will be captured by the revamped Encounter Surveillance System (ESS), which you will hear more about next week.

This multiplier will always be visible via the starmap so that you can locate high-value solar systems in which to hunt pirates.

This multiplier will get adjusted constantly based on what’s happening in the solar system:

  • Excessive ratting? Multiplier goes down
  • High level of player combat and death? Multiplier goes up
  • Empty system? Multiplier stabilizes at an equilibrium value.

Of course there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to set the rate of change, but the three points above are all you need to effectively plan your bounty hunting activities.

In November, the ESS Main Bank Autopayment category was added to the MER. If the ESS entry is added to the bounty prize amount, we see a total of 29.8 trillion ISK. The difference between the data files is still in the trillions, but not as drastic as appears at first glance. Also in November, players in null sec could no longer avoid the ESS

From commodity_sinks_and_faucets_over_time.xls, April 2021 MER

Players in MMORPGs will move to different areas of play if their favored play is nerfed. In EVE, players began engaging more with wormholes and Triglavian content. The trend is visible looking at the value of the top commodities in April. 

From October 2020 to April the value of the commodities increased 16.9%, from 30.7 trillion ISK to 35.9 trillion ISK. The two commodities that increased most were Sleeper Components and Triglavian Data. The amount of blue loot from wormholes increased nearly 25%, from 16.4 trillion ISK in October up to 20.4 trillion ISK in April. Triglavian Data, sometimes referred to as red loot, increased from 4.4 trillion ISK up to 6.6 trillion ISK over the same amount of time.

Data from RegionalStats.csv, January 2018 to April 2021

One final factor to consider is the the current war in null sec. Despite the fact that bounties in Delve dropped from 4.1 trillion ISK in June 2020 to 1.7 trillion ISK in October 2020, overall bounty generation in New Eden increased 1.6 trillion ISK over the same time. After the introduction of the dynamic bounty system, Delve saw bounty revenue decrease from 1.7 trillion ISK down to 540 billion ISK last month. In absolute terms, the decrease in Delve only made up 4.2% of the decrease in bounties in the entire game during the time.

Overall, April's  ISK faucet of of 97.4 trillion ISK was only slightly below March's 101.4 trillion ISK when averaged at a per day rate. But I'm not sure if CCP is satisfied with the result. In October 2020, the ISK faucets totaled 113 trillion ISK. Is a 400 billion ISK decline in the ISK faucet enough? If not, what is next on CCP's nerf list, wormholes or the Sansha incursions?