Friday, September 7, 2018

CCP Games Sold To Pearl Abyss

The long march is almost over. From the death of Harry Weller in November 2016, the first trial balloon in December 2016, the announcement of no Fanfest in the Harpa in 2019 in April, and the sale of the Newcastle studio and move away from virtual reality games in November 2017, the signs were present. Yesterday, CCP turned rumor into fact. Crowd Control Productions is no longer an independent games studio:
SEOUL - September 6, 2018 - Today, Black Desert Online developer Pearl Abyss announced that it will acquire CCP Games, the creators of popular spaceship MMORPG EVE Online. The deal outlines that CCP Games will continue to operate independently as a developer with studios in Reykjavik, London and Shanghai, while integrating the company’s extensive development and publishing expertise into Pearl Abyss’ operations for all current and future projects.

EVE Online is a space-based, persistent world MMO game, developed by CCP’s Reykjavik studio. The game first launched in 2003 and has since gained recognition for its scale and complexity with regards to player interactions in EVE’s single, shared game world. EVE Online is one of the most critically-acclaimed MMORPG intellectual properties (IPs) in North America and Europe, and one of the most extensive works of science fiction in the world.

Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung stated, “We are thrilled to have CCP Games join our team as Black Desert Online continues to branch out globally. CCP is a seasoned publisher with over 15 years of digital distribution experience and know-how. They have done an incredible job of engaging and maintaining their playerbase, which we aim to learn from and hope to integrate natively into Pearl Abyss’ general practices across all our games. I am confident CCP’s reputable IP and expertise in global publishing will help reaffirm our company’s dedication to developing and servicing the world’s best MMORPGs.”

“I have been seriously impressed with what Pearl Abyss has achieved ever since I first visited their website for Black Desert Online and subsequently became an avid player of the game,” said CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. “Pearl Abyss is a fast-growing company with lots to offer in terms of technology, capability and vision. I believe our two companies have a lot to learn from each other. We are very excited to join forces with them and achieve great new heights for our companies, our games and – above all - our players.”

Birgir Már Ragnarsson of Novator Partners and Chairman of CCP commented, “As lead investor in CCP for over 13 years alongside General Catalyst and NEA, we’ve seen CCP go from being a few dozen people strong to employing hundreds all over the world, with an ever-increasing customer base and multiple titles. CEO Hilmar V. Pétursson and his dedicated team have built a company that Novator and its partners are proud to hand over to Pearl Abyss and we wish them the best of luck in their future ventures.”

Pearl Abyss first launched its open-world MMORPG, Black Desert Online, in Korea in 2014. The game has received critical acclaim for its advanced graphics, seamless world, large-scale castle sieges and action-based combat system. Since Pearl Abyss’ initial public offering in 2017, the company has worked to secure competitive global IPs, such as EVE Online, through strategic investments and M&A activity.

Pearl Abyss saw record-high sales in the first half of 2018, following the launch of Black Desert Mobile in Korea. The company is looking forward to another strong year in 2019 with EVE Online and the upcoming global launch of Black Desert Mobile.

Deutsche Bank is acting as financial advisor to Pearl Abyss, and Kim & Chang is providing legal counsel. The Raine Group is acting as financial advisor to CCP Games, and White & Case LLP and LOGOS are providing legal counsel.
For some reason, people wonder about my thoughts on the subject. I gave some of them on an impromptu show Matterall ran yesterday, but I should probably give a hot take on the blog.

First, I think a lot of people are worried about Pearl Abyss introducing pay-to-win elements to EVE Online. I've heard others assure people that Pearl Abyss has done their due diligence and know that the EVE player base would never stand for that. The purveyors of that line of thinking point to the Summer of Rage as proof. My thought is that Monoclegate was 7 years ago and the EVE player base's attitudes toward paying for advantage (or convenience) has changed drastically over that time. Pearl Abyss probably did their research, saw that EVE players gladly accept things like paying real world cash for ISK and skill points, and thought, we can do business here. That said, I think as long as CCP meets certain financial goals, Pearl Abyss will not meddle with EVE Online. Besides, EVE Online, at least the game, is not a top reason Pearl Abyss purchased CCP.

Personally, I think one of the big attractions is CCP's upcoming games, the first person shooter Project Nova and the mobile games Project Aurora (developed by PlayRaven) and Project Galaxy (developed by NetEase). Pearl Abyss is basically buying three new games without having to pay much of the development costs. I think the mobile games are a big draw for the South Korean company, as Pearl Abyss ported its flagship game Black Desert Online to mobile devices on 28 February of this year in Korea and will introduce the mobile game in the west sometime in Q1 of 2019. Given the success of Black Desert Mobile in South Korea, Pearl Abyss is probably anticipating similar success with mobile games set in the EVE Online universe.

The other outstanding reason for Pearl Abyss to purchase CCP Games is one most western players will overlook: access to the Chinese market. In addition to working with CCP to develop Project Galaxy, Netease will take over running EVE Online's Serenity server in October. CCP's long history of working in China not only helps in navigating the laws concerning foreign-owned games, but may help in avoiding the ban on new South Korean mobile games entering the Chinese market. Iceland, on the other hand, is a country with which the People's Republic wants to have good relations. In fact, China and Iceland signed a $250 million deal in March to provide China with geothermal technology. At this point in time, an Icelandic game studio probably has an advantage over a South Korean company in accessing the lucrative Chinese mobile gaming market.

Those are my initial thoughts on the sale. I tried not to speculate too much and hopefully following the links may prove as interesting as this post. The sale should be final on 12 October, one week before the start of EVE Vegas. I'm going to the event again this year and I'll have my pen & paper out again taking notes at what should prove a very interesting keynote address.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Into The Abyss I Finally Go

In a week in which CCP has dumped several botters, including a titan, in the high sec system of Yulai as part of the GM Week activities, I decided to dive into the Abyssal Deadspace sites. I don't consider waiting three months after the introduction of the Triglavians of the Into The Abyss expansion too long. I'm just fashionably late.

Last week a new event, Secrets of the Abyss, launched. With the ability to get exclusive Triglavian SKINs and mutaplasmids for ancillary modules as well as skill boosters, now was the time to begin running the new content. None of my testing fits on Singularity could handle tier 3 sites, so I found a Vagabond fit online, downgraded a couple of modules to tech 2, and went shopping.

My Vagabond fit
For the first time, I shelled out the ISK for faction modules and ammunition. I didn't have to spend as much as first appears. When I looked in my journal, I discovered I had 83,000 Thukker loyalty points, so I went to the nearest Thukker station instead of a market hub. I also retrieved large amounts of faction ammunition left over from my sales effort in Bosena. Plus, I had some of the tech 2 modules and an implant sitting around my hangars. Once I gathered everything together, I went to work.

I looked on the market and decided buying filaments off the market was not for me. However, I did have 3 Calm filaments (tier 1) from when CCP handed them out with the introduction of Abyssal sites. I also found one in a data site, so I had four filaments with which to start.

The first weekend's loot
Over the weekend (Friday to Sunday), I ran 20 Abyssal deadspace sites. My initial 4 filaments turned into a cache of 5 Calm (tier 1) filaments, 5 Agitated (tier 2) filaments, 2 Fierce (tier 3) filaments, and 1 Raging (tier 4) filament. I had to look up what Traglavian Survey Databases were. The databases are a trade good one can sell to NPCs at CONCORD and DED stations for 100,000 ISK each. For those unfamiliar with selling to NPC buy orders, look for entries that have over 90 days remaining. I think some people have decided to make a little money by offering 70% in regions without NPC sell orders.

One of the big questions about Abyssal sites when the new content launched was whether the content was worth doing. I did 13 tier 1, 4 tier 2, and 3 tier 3 sites in approximately 4 hours. If the valuation in the UI is close to accurate, I made about 100 million ISK per hour, even taking into account the faction ammunition used and drones lost.

Points after 20 sites
The live event is pretty well put together. If a player just does one Calm and one Agitated site, the player is rewarded with a 24 hour booster (48 hours if Biology V is trained) that grants +12 to all learning attributes. I believe that doing one Calm, one Agitated, and one Fierce site each day guarantees 60 points for the Delve into the Abyss rewards, 15 points for entering the three sites, puts additional points for clearing each room and killing NPCs. Given that I managed to get 528 points running 20 sites, I'm pretty sure that just running those three sites each day will get a player 1000 points total. Just remember that at the end of each room to collect the points earned so you receive additional tasks to earn even more points.

So far, I like the Abyssal content. The artwork is fantastic, the terrain meaningful, and the fights unpredictable. Which is good because that makes the live event more enjoyable. I might not think so after 100 sites, but I find myself wanting to do more. Perhaps when the event is over, I can take the time saved from not clicking buttons on the event UI to take some screenshots. The sites really are that good.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Daily Attraction Of Elder Scrolls Online

A funny thing happens when EVE Online's Alliance Tournament runs each year. I spend so much time watching EVE that I don't want to play the game. Instead, I play a game where, if I get distracted watching a match and die, the penalty isn't so great. Over the past month or so, I've played a game on my bucket list, Elder Scrolls Online. I'm not really thrilled with either the combat or the questing in the game, but as a major MMORPG, I thought I should try to add ESO to the list of games in which I reached max level. Currently, the list includes Vanilla WoW, Everquest 2 (The Shadow Odyssey expansion) as well as the original versions of Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2. I probably would have quit ESO for the third time if not for the daily content.

The big daily task that drew me into the game was training my mount. Every 20 hours, for the low, low cost of 250 gold, I can add either 1% to my horse's speed or stamina, up to 60%. Or if I don't want that, I can add 1 slot to my bag space, up to 60 slots. Of course, players can purchase riding lessons with real money to improve their mounts faster, but as a gateway drug, tending to a horse and watching him grow up is every effective.

The second task isn't really a task at all. Every day starting at midnight UTC (aka EVE time), players who log in (or are already logged in) get a reward. Rewards range from experience scrolls, potions and poisons, soul gems, riding lessons, and lock boxes. That's right, lock boxes. Luckily, gambling is not something I'm interested in. But the other prizes come in handy.

The third set of features involves crafting. I can do up to three crafting writs each day which not only helps level my skills but gives me resources to craft with as well. Speaking of resources, each day NPC hirelings can go out and send players crafting materials. I only have the skills for clothing and enchanting hirelings now, but as a staff user, will eventually do the same for woodworking.

All of the above, however, only mitigates the problems I have with the combat and questing. Leveling just by questing or grinding just isn't a fun way to play. But each day, players can earn about 3/4 of a level plus get some nice prizes just for queueing up and running a random dungeon. As a healing templar, I just need to follow the tank around for about 10 minutes and spam some area of effect heals along with a couple of single target heals. Not only do I get the daily reward, but my gear is pretty good. My restoration staff is purple, all my light armor is part of a set (and blue) along with my jewelry, and the only green gear is one piece of medium armor and one piece of heavy armor that each give me an 8% experience boost on each kill. Added to the 8% experience boost my staff grants, let's just say I'm not worried about leveling my character anymore.

I'm currently level 28, and given the rate I'm playing, may even reach level 31 by the end of the weekend. Of course, with the finals of the Alliance Tournament this weekend, I will probably start playing a lot of EVE again starting next weekend. But I can probably take at least 10-15 minutes out of my day to progress a little in ESO.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

CCP and Tiancity Part Ways

Today, or yesterday for those in North America, Tiancity announced it would end operating EVE Online's Serenity cluster on 30 September. According to the announcement, CCP and Tiancity agreed to end Tiancity's contract to run EVE Online in the People's Republic of China, but Tiancity agreed to continue operating the game until a replacement company was found. Apparently, a new, unnamed operator is ready to take over running Serenity. 

When I first heard of the change, I also heard that Serenity had not received any updates in nearly two years. A quick look on Eve-Offline showed Serenity was still running version 14.08, which I believe was the version before the introduction of Alpha clones and a new business model. In a dev blog published today, CCP referenced the change.
"EVE Online: Ascension, which first launched on Tranquility in November 2016, saw the introduction of the most significant changes in the history of EVE Online. It certainly changed the wat [sic] that our pilots play EVE and we’ve been thrilled with the effect it’s had on the landscape of New Eden.

"Nevertheless, we understand that the Chinese market may be quite different, so we will not hastily launch it on Serenity until we find the correct way in which to do so.

"Meanwhile, on the corporate level, by seeing the significant potential for positive change that this expansion may have on Serenity and its community, we have been investigating how best to update or business roadmap for the Chinese market.

"After evaluating options, and speaking with potential Chinese business partners, we finally made the difficult decision to move on. After supportive and considerate negotiations with Tiancity, we both agreed to draw our partnership to a close, but to keep Serenity running as normal until we are ready to take EVE in China to the next level."
The history of EVE Online in the PRC is a little rocky. In 2006, CCP contracted with Optic Communications to operate EVE in China. In July 2007, Optic was acquired by CDC Games, a "pioneer of the 'free-to-play, pay for merchandise' model for online games in China." CDC Games continued running EVE until the end of 2011. A dev blog in December 2012 described the end of CCP's relationship with CDC.
"In 2011, our licensing agreement with CDC, which had at that time acquired Optic Communications, was going to expire in July. After careful evaluation, the overall business performance of our partnership and EVE Online in China, we decided that shifting to a new partner would be the right move for EVE. Even though in the end we made the hard decision to not extend the license with CDC, we were really thankful for their hard work to launch EVE Online in China, and their contribution to its growth during its inception years. The operation team worked to the last moment on the day of April 1st, 2012, when we temporarily closed the server cluster for the transition."
In truth, CCP's search for a new operator was forced by CDC Corporation, the parent company of CDC Games, filing for bankruptcy protection in October 2011. The company went out of business on 19 December 2012.

CCP announced the partnership with Tiancity in February 2012, relaunching the game in the PRC on 11 December 2012. Hopefully with the current change in game operators, EVE players in China will not have to wait 8 1/2 months to play the game.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

CCP's War on Bots and Illicit RMT Since Fanfest

Apparently, CCP's War On Botting and Illicit RMT has now moved to the EVE Online sub-Reddit. ISK sellers and botters have long used Reddit as a platform to either create negative feedback against CCP during ban waves or to advertise their wares. For example, in the face of reduced sales due to CCP conducting sales during the holiday season last December, a post went up on 14 December decrying how CCP ignores botting and illicit real money transactions. That post led to a huge spike of sales on Player Auctions, a well-known RMT site, with over 500 billion ISK sold the same day the post appeared.


Last Friday, another post, Confession of a botmaker, went up. The post is a member of a well-worn archetype: a long-term botting/ISK selling insider tells a story of how he made trillions of ISK without getting caught. And on 14-15 July, sales of ISK on Player Auctions increased, with buyers submitting reviews associated with 330 billion ISK in sales, or double the average daily amount sold in July up to that point. But then on the 16th, CCP Falcon posted on r/eve about an upcoming security dev blog. On the 18th, the security team delivered, announcing the following number of bans since February:

  • 8771 account bans for RMT related activities since February
  • 4250 account bans for botting related activities since February
  • 5377 account bans for account hacking since February

Arguing that CCP is not paying any attention to botting and ISK selling is rather difficult when the security team is banning over 4000 accounts every month.


Getting the ban numbers helps fill in the picture of what happened concerning the black market. For example, from the day after Fanfest to 15 July, the 7-day moving average for the price of ISK on Player Auctions rose from $4.32/billion to $6.00/billion, an increase of 38.9%. How much was due to CCP actions vs. the actions of players impacting the activities of bots? The ban numbers suggests the enforcement activity played a large role.

The first major security-related event concerned the implementation of a check of user credentials against the Pwned Passwords database of compromised passwords. The move toward warning players about compromised credentials is part of the efforts, along with encouraging two-factor authentication, to reduce the hacking of accounts.

The first post indicating CCP deletes market bots 
Perhaps the most satisfying news came in late May, as a major ban wave hit Tranquility. What made the ban wave different was the treatment of market bots. The botting forums initially were confused, but CCP Peligro made an announcement on Twitter.


The last major event I know of possibly is related to the ban wave that began on 23 May. A Reddit post on 13 June revealed several Chinese corporations, including those in Goonswarm Federation, Test Alliance Please Ignore, Ranger Regiment and Fraternity all suffered massive bans. According to the post, one corporation in Goonswarm had over 200 billion ISK removed from its corporation wallet.

Now, I don't believe that the price hike seen on the black market are solely due to the actions of CCP's security team. Widespread warfare targeting rental alliances can keep ISK sellers from restocking their stores with freshly botted money. Also, outside events like Russia's war on the Telegram Messenger service can disrupt players (and bots) from reaching CCP's servers. But CCP has taken significant action against botters, hackers and ISK sellers since the end of Fanfest and I hope the efforts continue under the new executive producer.

Friday, July 13, 2018

My Boring EVE Life

One of these days I will start writing about cool stuff again. But for now, I’m just chronicling my EVE-related activities. For some reason, my coding project is taking up quite a bit of my free time, but I think I have the most urgent part complete.

Over the weekend, I managed to figure out how to download market information using the ESI and then storing it into a file. My first query involved downloading all the information for tech 3 subsystems. Since the introduction of the new subsystems in July 2017, I only have a couple of more weeks to play around downloading the entire dataset. For now, the only things I need to do are code in a start and stop date and then I’ll be able to start doing a few other things with the ESI, like maybe trying to figure out how to insert the data directly into a database.

Why collect the data in the first place? Over the last few months I wanted to play with consumer price indexes in EVE. Looking at the PLEX and black market RMT data, I thought creating my own price index points would shed some light on economics in MMORPGs. The subject I am most interested is what does the conversion of a game to a hybrid payment model do to the in-game economy. My only problem was that the tech 3 subsystem data was missing. I just solved that obstacle. I just hope I haven’t forgotten everything I learned about the CPI. Hopefully I took good notes.

In New Eden itself, I have continued my practice of ignoring Abyssal space and so far, the latest live event. I think I will wind up partaking in the event, though, if the SKINs are those Chainbreaker Khumaak SKINs I saw in the shop. Of course, I have so many SKINs from playing Project Discovery and I still haven’t injected a single one. I guess dressing up my ships isn’t a high priority. Which reminds me. I need to wash my Stratios. The ship looks like a slightly toasted marshmallow.

I still haven’t built a CONCORD ship as my factional warfare experiment continues. The new character I created for factional warfare is almost two weeks old and been in the militia since 4 July. I have to say that so far, a new character, at least in the Minmatar (and probably Gallente) militia, can pull in some nice ISK, even only running one or two plexes a night. I started out with 3 Slashers (2 properly fit) and 600,000 ISK on 4 July. Nine days later, I still have my original Slashers plus an additional two I purchased early Thursday morning. With over 52 million ISK still in my wallet, I can afford more. The only reason I haven’t bought them is the pain of moving the ships around. At this point in the experiment, I don’t want to bring in my main characters who can fly Orcas and Mastodons. Let’s just say that transporting mass amounts of cargo in a Wreathe is a pain.
I now have proper fittings for all five Slashers, although I only learned Mechanics IV, the skill required to fit Damage Control IIs, while I was sleeping last night. I was waiting on that skill to complete before trying to fight someone. Besides the improved tank, the self-imposed requirement allowed me time to amass a bankroll.

Did I just suggest I wanted to partake in PvP? While the money is good, plexing sucks. A few times I wondered if I should log into my main mining character because sitting in a complex is so boring and no one was roaming through. I guess I shouldn’t say no one. I saw quite a few Minmatar militia pilots and a few Gallente militia pilots. I even spotted a couple of Amarr pilots. They don’t seem to hang around very long, at least in the nice quiet neighborhood I patrol. I did wind up scooping a corpse in a complex.

I think what I need to do is start paying closer attention to the status of the war zone. I think getting involved in a fight over a structure might be interesting. I watch the militia chat and check the control board in the factional warfare tab to see where the action is. I’m still at the stage of trying to build up a nest egg and a stash of ships so losing a ship or two won’t hurt. But I think I’m almost at the point I can get a little more adventurous.

As for other activities, I don’t think I did any low sec mining over the past week. I’m thinking of doing a little ninja mining in a wormhole. I did run a couple of data and relic sites, but I even have spent the time probing down wormholes as well as combat and gas sites I don’t run just for the practice. Right now, I just need to decide whether I want to enter wormholes that lead into low sec or go for ones I can enter from high sec. The low sec option just feels right for some reason.

Friday, July 6, 2018

I Joined Factional Warfare

I finally did it. I succumbed to the dark side and joined factional warfare. Perhaps I hang out in the wrong places, but I got a little sick of some of what I was hearing. “Factional warfare needs fixing!” “Why doesn’t CCP do more to direct new players to factional warfare?!” Well, duh! But I don’t have direct experience with factional warfare. Sure, I did a lot of PvE activity in factional warfare space until the NPCs drove me out, but apart from joining a factional warfare player corporation in 2010, I didn’t have any hands-on experience. Mostly because I don’t like PvP that doesn’t involve shooting fireworks at bewildered PvP pilots in high security space. That’s hilarious.

So, this past weekend, I decided to start a little experiment. I created a new character on my 3rd Omega account dedicated to factional warfare. I realize that even though I’m horrible at PvP, my almost 9 years of playing EVE give me some advantages that don’t go away with stepping into a new character. I also probably conducted a lot more research into how to start out as a new player in factional warfare than the average new player would perform.

I decided for the experiment I would try to follow the natural path of a new player not associated with an outside group, at least until I entered one of the militias. That meant playing through the voice-acted new player experience. I probably should have selected a different race, but once again I rolled up a Minmatar pilot. While I selected a new bloodline, I also chose Republic University for my education, meaning I entered New Eden in the Embod area.

Selecting Minmatar did allow me to compare the current iteration of the New Player Experience to the last time I played through. The NPE is still a bit slow, but I can see where CCP fixed some of the old areas that caused new players problems. The big improvement was the specific mention of the importance of keeping skills in training and giving the player both the Minmatar Frigate and Minmatar Destroyer skill books to do so. That’s right, characters don’t begin with racial frigate skills anymore.

Characters also don’t leave the beginning tutorial with a lot of materials. After the final battle resulted in the destruction of my Rifter and pod, my ship hanger only held a Reaper-class corvette (aka “the rookie ship”) and a Venture-class mining frigate. The last time I ran the tutorial, I got a new Rifter. This time, a one-run Rifter blueprint copy. I guess if a player really wants to jump the rails, he can go mine a new Rifter.

I also received advice to go to either Resource Wars or the career agents. Sending a new player to Resource Wars in a Venture is just mean. Fortunately, at least in my opinion, the presentation slants players to the career agents, so off I flew to Embod.

I won’t go into the career agent missions except to mention, do all of them. Yes, I know there are 45, but the rewards are worth doing, especially if the plan is not to transfer ISK from another character and not to buy PLEX. I’ll just remind people to do the business agent first, so when items are under construction the player can do one of the other mission lines. After completing the career agent missions, I had 7.5 million ISK in my wallet and the following ships in my hangar:
1 x Rifter
1 x Slasher
1 x Burst
1 x Probe
1 x Reaper
2 x Wreathe
3 x Venture
At this point, the pretending to be a new player ended, as I had to figure out what to do next. First, I took inventory of my skills and decided to purchase 1.2 million ISK worth of skill books. In addition to picking up some of the associated skills to improve my gunnery, I picked up some missile and armor skill books. I figure at one point I will want to fly a Breacher, so why not pick up the books now?

Next came picking out the ship to fly. The Rifter seems like an obvious armor tanking ship and the New Player Experience basically encourages new Minmatar players to shield tank. The Slasher, on the other hand, with a 4-4-2 slot layout, looked more like a shield tanking ship. So off I went looking for a fit.

I did a search of places like YouTube and various forums but didn’t see a fit I liked. Searching for loss mails on zkillboard let me to the Slasher meta. I downgraded a couple of modules due to cost and/or skill requirements and decided I was ready to go shopping.

I was able to buy 2 fully-fitted Slashers to go out and try to earn some ISK so I could afford to lose a ship. I think bought a couple more skill books, bringing the grand total in my wallet down to 600,000 ISK. I could always earn some money playing Project Discovery, but the whole purpose of the exercise is to see if a new player (or at least a new character) can jump into factional warfare and survive. Did I mention preferably without mining?

I knew enough about factional warfare to know one earns loyalty points by staying within proximity of a beacon in a faction warfare complex, usually referred to as a plex. I scouted out a quiet area in which I could run the plexes. I then moved my ships from Embod to my chosen operating area. The move would have gone so much quicker if I had logged in one of my other pilots and loaded up everything in the Orca, but I was trying to relive the new player experience. I’ll just say that I appreciate my Orca and Mastodon a lot more now after my little move op.

Once I finally got everything in place, I clicked on the tab in the station that allowed me to join factional warfare as a member of the Minmatar militia. The actual act of joining was simple, but I spent hours running missions, moving ships, and doing research to get to the point of becoming a member of the Minmatar militia.

I joined on 4 July and in that time I've defensively plexed 5 small complexes and a novice complex. So far I have increased my wallet from 600,000 ISK to 26.9 million ISK in less than 48 hours actual time. I now have enough ISK to afford to lose a couple of ships. The story of how I made my money is a subject for a future post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Looking Under The Cushions

On Saturday I took the final for my online Python class, meaning that I am free to play video games once again. So, what did I spend a large part of my time doing? Trying to load the historical market data CCP Quant posted back in March into a database on my computer. Based on my years of experience, I can tell from the error messages the file contains some lines concatenated together but still displays visually in a text editor as two separate lines. Given I can’t just dump the entire 250 million plus lines into SQL, I have to come up with another solution. I guess that’s why I’m paid the big ISK.

I tried to play Elder Scrolls Online. ESO has a couple of mechanics designed to get players to log in every day. The first is a daily reward just for logging in. Some of the prizes, like the 2-hour experience and stat boost items, are useful. Others, not so much. The second involves making your mount more powerful. Each day, for a nominal fee in gold, players can buff their mount’s speed, stamina, or strength by 1%, up to a maximum of 60% in each category. I guess that’s one way to get someone to log in everyday for 6 months. Perhaps if I found the game more engaging, I would do so. But I’m at level 17 and don’t really have the desire to adventure in Tameriel. Will I give up my quest to 50?

That returns me to EVE. For some reason, I decided to check the journal on one of my characters Sunday. Looking at the research tab, I had a lot of research points earned on 5 agents. I hadn’t visited those agents to pick up datacores in 623 days. Needless to say, I decided to dig the coins out from between the cushions and away I went. According to the display in my cargohold, I picked up 256 million ISK worth of datacores. I then logged onto another character and found he only had three research agents active but hadn’t picked up any datacores in 5 years. Forty-five minutes later I had another 250 million ISK in datacores sitting in the low sec station I use to perform all my invention activity. I stopped the datacore farming activity when I saw the agents on my third character were 30 jumps away. But I did go and pick them up Monday night. Picking up 3 1/2 years worth of datacores from 3 level 4 research agents generated another 345 million ISK in goods.

With all the travel complete, I now have to take stock of what I have and what I can build. I hear heavy assault cruisers are popular with the Abyssal deadspace set. I still need to build my CONCORD ships, so I may have a ninja mining expedition or two planned for a wormhole coming soon. Or maybe I'll just get sidetracked again and start running data and relic sites. I probably need to get focused on a goal, but for now I'm just flying around taking in the sights.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Final Look At The CSM 13 Election

Last week, CCP announced the results of the election for the 13th Council of Stellar Management. Real life, in the form of illness, interfered with publishing a timely post, but I still needed to write one to look back upon next year.

The year of the incumbent: In 2018, seven of the ten members of CSM 12 chose to run for re-election. All seven won. Here is a list.

Steve Ronuken (5th term)

Sort Dragon (4th term)
Aryth (3rd term)
Innominate (3rd term)
Jin'taan (3rd term)
The Judge (3rd term)
Suitonia (2nd term)

The Imperium Gets Half: A lot of people are freaking out about the fact that The Imperium managed to place five candidates on the CSM. Although the single-transferrable vote system used in the CSM voting favors the large null sec alliances by making sure they don't "waste" any votes, a lot of other factors contributed to the election result. But the domination does lend a handy hook on which to hang all the other themes of the election.
The power of the GSF ballot: The official ballot put out by Goonswarm Federation is the single most powerful force in CSM voting, and the 2018 election continued the trend. The turnout I was able to track in the voting file rose from 4273 ballots cast that contained some combination of the original six candidate slate in 2017 to 6564 ballots that had some combination of the 10 official candidates in 2018. To put the number into perspective, the official Imperium ballot made up 22.6% of all ballots cast in the CSM 13 election. Contrast that with the 22.3% of all ballots that mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy leader Sort Dragon, who won his fourth term this year.
The growth of the Imperium's share of the vote total was greatly enhanced by the coalition's growth as seen in its largest organization, Goonswarm Federation. In January 2017, two months before voting for CSM 12 began, GSF had approximately 21,000 members. When I looked at the beginning of June 2018, the number had swelled to 30,800. Still, the growth of turnout for the official ballot did increase faster than the size of the coalition.
The Creecher Effect: Even with a dominant share of ballots cast, Goonswarm Federation and The Imperium as a whole should only have won 3 seats at most. So, what explains the other two wins? The first involved the controversy and ultimate removal of Creecher Viprio from the ballot during the voting period.
Creecher, the capital director of Test Alliance Please Ignore, is a vociferous proponent of shield-tanked supercapital-class ships. Members of Pandemic Legion, an alliance heavily invested in armor-tanked supercapitals, moved to block Creecher's almost assured spot on the CSM, from which he could argue for improvements in shield capital and supercapital ships. So members of Pandemic Legion did a little digging and found logs on Pastebin showing Creecher using racial epithats in a private chat in-game, a violation of EVE Online's EULA and Terms of Service. Since the conversation occurred using CCP's communication channels, CCP could verify that the logs were not doctored and Creecher was removed from the voting.
As the STV system used in the election is a form of ranked voting, the computer algorithm used to tally the votes just ignored Creecher's votes and produced a list of the winners. The released voting files show that Creecher would have won a spot on the CSM. The candidate who benefited from Creecher's disqualification was The Judge, thus making four members from Goonswarm Federation on CSM 13.
The Ringer: The official Imperium ballot usually looks more impactful than it actually is with the inclusion of extremely strong candidates in the fourth and fifth slots. This year's candidate came out of one of The Imperium's smaller member alliances, The Initiative.. Brisc Rubal, a real-life politician from Virginia who works as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill for a maritime union, threw his hat into the CSM ring and treated the election like the real thing, including a slick, meme-filled advertisement. When the votes were counted, Brisc had 1990 first place ballots at the start of round 1 of the simulation. While not meeting the quota at the time, Brisc's vote total guaranteed victory as the 11th place candidate, Tikktock Tocktikk, only received 1661 votes when he was eliminated in the final round.
Vote buying: Rumor at Fanfest held that The Judge was attempting to buy his way onto CSM 13 by paying skill point farmers to vote for him. The rumors continued up through the end of the election, as a story emerged of The Judge buying approximately 550 votes. Did people have proof that The Judge bought votes? I don't believe so. And the vote total was suspiciously near the total required to knock The Judge into 11th place and award the final seat to Tikktock Tocktikk by 8 votes. However, even if The Judge did purchase that many votes, the rules allowed it.
A very settled election: Unlike last year when Yukiko Kamo skated at or below 10th place in every round, this year's election was basically settled after the first round. At the beginning of round 1, four candidates: Aryth, Sort Dragon, Jin'taan, and Brisc Rubal, had more votes than Tikktock Tocktikk would up with at elimination, thus securing the victory. Three other candidates, Merkelchen, Innominate, and Killah Bee, had guarenteed victory at the end of round one. The other three eventual winners, Suitonia, Steve Ronuken, and The Judge, rounded out the top 10 at the end of round one.
The lack of major voting slates: Apart from The Imperium, the only other major power that seemed to exert any effort to electing people was Guardians of the Galaxy. Due to their preferred candidate not making it to the final ballot, Pandemic Horde wound up voting for the GotG ticket of Sort Dragon and Killah Bee. Voters placed Sort Dragon and Killah Bee at the top of their ballots 1546 times, with the order reversed an additional 110 times. In contrast, the slate of Northern Coalition. of Killah Bee, Malakai Asamov, Sort Dragon, and Winter duFallen only appears 467 times. That's right, the final trickle that Killah Bee received from Sort Dragon of 1320 votes was nearly three times the support he received from his own coalition's official ballot.

Friday, June 8, 2018

I'll Get To Abyssal Space Eventually

At Fanfest, I had a conversation with CCP Fozzie where I told him I probably wouldn’t participate in the Abyssal space content for the first couple of months. At the time, I though all my attention would focus on building CONCORD ships, with the Marshal at the top of the list. I still haven’t run a site on Tranquility, but not because I’m busy mining in low security space. I’m currently taking an online introductory Python class offered by MIT. I’m getting all the solutions and received a perfect score on the mid-term, but the coursework is taking up more time than expected.

Having real life get in the way of gaming probably will help in the end. I planned for the lack of time, which is one of the reasons I chose to jump into Elder Scrolls Online instead of trying out Bless Online. From all reports, Neowiz tried to copy Funcon’s launch of Anarchy Online. Apparently, the launch of Bless went over so well, Guild Wars 2 experienced a massive influx of new players.

I felt pretty smug about the choice until I heard Zenimax slipped spyware into ESO. The game company claimed they never activated the code, but why was the code in the client in the first place? From what I heard, the code performed a location tracking function. But what else did it do? EVE has had a geo-tracking function based on IP address for years designed to let players know if someone else had accessed their accounts. The IP addresses are available to players in Account Management. I wonder what else was in the spyware.

That returns me to EVE. My EVE related activities have fallen into three main types. The first is updating my CSM Wire site for the election running through downtime next Monday. I wish candidates would stop moving between corps and alliances. After CCP announces the results, I’ll reconfigure the site to reflect the makeup of the CSM and turn my attention towards other things until next year.

The second is the continues monitoring of the black market and botting. The ban wave that began on 23 May was amusing to watch as CCP began deleting the characters involved in market botting. My monitoring activities require recording the price of PLEX, skill injectors, and skill extractors, and that routine changed with the end of the CREST and XML APIs. I had used a third-party site that allowed me to do a quick copy/paste into my spreadsheet, but the site changed and no longer offers the information I need. After asking around, I now just log into a trade alt in The Forge and record the daily market data from the game client. Maybe when I finish my coding class, I’ll play around with the ESI and save myself a few clicks each day.

First recorded deletion of market bots

My final type of EVE activity maybe doesn’t really qualify as a real EVE activity. When I get a block of an hour or so of free time, I hop on Singularity and lose ships running tier 2 Abyssal sites. I’m convinced the sites have gotten harder since I first started running them. I can run the tier 1 sites just fine in a tech 1 cruiser. But I would really like to be able to complete a tier 2 site. I may give up and just borrow a fit or two and see how they do. Those pairs of Triglavian ships are tough.

I eventually will have time to play video games again. I only have two more weeks left in my programming course. I also traditionally take a couple of weeks to a month playing another MMO a lot after the CSM election season. But given what a chore I find playing ESO, I may cancel my sub and just play EVE. The whole spyware drama makes that choice a lot easier. But tonight I don't have any coursework to do, so perhaps I'll finally run some data sites and get some filaments for when I have time to dive into Abyssal deadspace.