Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 8 - Server Progress

 Last night, my server finished up the Western Risensong Quarter, so it is on to do the eastern half.

I think we trigger another in-game event once we complete this final building phase. My server, Hyperion, is leading our data center, but we are well behind a couple of the EU worlds. I'm pretty sure progress will slow once the competitive event is over.

Activity is already slowing down, allowing me to rise to 45th place amongst weavers on my server. Right now, I'm not crafting not so much for the title as for the scrips to buy things. Right now I am up 5565 points over 100th place.

My accidental placement on the botanist list continues. I'm not too worried about staying on the list, as I believe I am only able to get one title, and my weaving performance pretty much guarantees I get it.

And hilariously, I managed to get on the mining list. Yes, I'm in 99th place and I doubt I'll finish on the list. Still, my performance shows that you always have a chance if you just keep going.

Finally, I managed to sell another 425,917 gil on the market yesterday. As activity declines, so will my income. But I still have a chance to reach 5 million ISK.

And a final note. The Kupo of Fortune game gives players a chance to win crafting-themed minions. I managed to win a Paissa Threadpuller, which is nice since I'm competing as a weaver. I think my minion dresses better than me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 7 - Hairstyles

Yesterday I earned 5162 Skybuilder scrips, which meant I could purchase the three new hairstyles purchasable in The Firmament. One of the problems with the hairstyles is knowing what they look like before purchasing one. The way they look on a female Miqo'te is below.

Modern Legend

Controlled Chaos

Saintly Style

An important note is the short hair style. No worries about clipping with these three options. I've used the same hairstyle and glamour throughout Shadowlands. I think I might change my hairstyle to Modern Legend once I finish the MSQ.

At this point, I'm pretty much guaranteed to receive the title "Beatus of the Firmament". I keep puttering along making 40 collectables each day, resulting in 1199 or 1200 points. I may finally crash into the 40s. As of now, I jumped up 4 spots to 51st place.

My accidental botanist ranking continued into a second day. I even jumped up 4 spots to 93rd place. What the rankings don't show is that I stayed up late gathering and over 4000 points are not showing up.

The extra gathering paid off ... literally. I sold 549,322 gil worth of materials and other items yesterday. That brings my total since the afternoon of the 10th to over 4 million gil. My character now has 6 million gil.

I only have a couple of days to go. Since I'm already grinding, I have a few more pieces of glamour to purchase before moving on to dyes. After that, I can finish up patch 5.3.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 6 - Emotes

Yesterday I earned 5030 Skybuilders' Scrips, enough to finish purchasing the rest of the emotes introduced through all stages of the Ishgard Restoration. I thought a list of them might prove useful.

/bread - Ballroom Etiquette - Well Bread

An illustrated manual providing instruction in the eating of bread, a deceptively nuanced act that philosophers have likened to a good marriage. Use to learn the /bread emote.

/broom - Ballroom Etiquette - Next, Godliness

An illustrated manual detailing how to operate the quaint device known as a "broom" in event of dire circumstances involving the absence of one's servants. Use to learn the /broom emote.

/highfive - Ballroom Etiquette - Uncouth Congratulations

An illustrated manual of congratulatory gestures best avoided in polite company. Use to learn the /highfive emote.

/insist - Ballroom Etiquette - Emphatic Elucidation

An illustrated manual of how to speak powerfully and persuasively, drawing upon techniques employed by the finest orators in history. Use to learn the /insist emote.

/lean - Ballroom Etiquette - The Winsome Wallflower

An illustrated manual that is nevertheless instructive in warding off potential dance partners--and looking good doing so. Use to learn the /lean emote.

/read - Ballroom Etiquette - Intelligent Impressions

An illustrated manual of how and when to employ books in a social setting so as to appear well-read to those around you. Use to learn the /read emote.

/riceball emote - Ballroom Etiquette - Concealing Meals

An illustrated manual detailing how to best conceal Eastern foodstuffs about one's person in the likely event the hors d'oeuvres on offer are insufficient to sate one's hunger. Use to learn the /riceball emote.

My position in getting the event title for helping in the Ishgard Restoration continues apace. I only dropped one position, down to 55, yesterday. I'm not really concerned at this point, as I have a score 3696 points ahead of 100th place. Before the event started, I speculated that I'd only need a score of 6000 to get a title. Looks like another prediction will come true. Still, I do need the scrips.

I did have a bit of a surprise when I checked and found myself in 97th place on the botanist list. I didn't think I harvested that much. I'll probably fall off when I check tomorrow, but I did chuckle in real life.

Finally, I had another good day (at least for me) on the market. I sold 417,296 gil yesterday. My sales include my normal food and raw material sales, but I know have over 5.5 million gil, with 3.5 million of that coming in the last 8 days.

I expect to see some dips in my output as I took a nap this afternoon and have to get to sleep early because I have to work tomorrow. Still, I think everything is going according to plan, if not better.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 5 - Consumables and Additional Crafting Materials

With the day spent acquiring scrips and Skybuilder points, I had some time to consider some of the necessary things required to keep myself in the middle of the pack for the "Beatus / Beata of the Firmament" title. I thought I'd list a few things out.

Food: I carry food around for both crafting and gathering. For crafting, I eat Popotoes au Gratin. Until I can upgrade and overmeld the rest of my crafting gear, the food helps with all normal requirements. Still, the dish only allows me to qualify to do expert recipes. I can't do them. For gathering, Mushroom Saute works to boost my stats high enough to trigger all node bonuses.

Potions: The two potions I make the most use of are cordials and watered cordials. The potions restore the gathering points required for special actions. In effect, the potions mean I gather more. Very useful for reducing my gathering time.

Dark Matter: An item very easy to overlook, I use Grade 7 Dark Matter to repair all my gear. Yes, crafting & gathering gear loses durability when used. But with a stack of the repair material, all I have to do is wait until an item reaches 10% durability and then I can repair everything I am wearing. No leaving The Diadem or your preferred crafting area required.

Other crafting components: Because I make my own food and potions, I do have to take some time out to gather those items. I also need to gather up wind crystals and make Lignum Vitae Lumber for crafting the Grade 4 Skybuilders' Awnings required by the event. Except for extreme situations, I can let my retainers gather all of the ingredients for the food & potions, as well as all of the wind crystals I need. What I have to gather is the logs to craft the lumber. I've settled into making 40 of the awnings every night, which means I need to gather 160 logs and craft 40 pieces of lumber each day. I also run through 360 wind crystals. Thankfully I have 3 retainers that can keep up with the demand.

With the reflection on the logistics of the event out of the way, how am I doing? I won't look at the leaders because I'm so far behind, I get a little depressed. But my situation is still rock solid.

I did drop two places down to 54th place yesterday. I've been between 52nd and 55th place the entire event, so my strategy is working. Halfway through the competition, I am 3,135 points ahead of 100th place. 

My financial situation is definitely better than it was seven days ago. If I emptied my retainers' wallets into my own, I'd have over 5 million gil. Yesterday was one of my best days yet, earning 745,882 gil. Normally I collect the gil on Sundays, but due to the event I'll wait until next Sunday.

Finally, I started to have issues with the scrip cap. Players cannot hold more than 10,000 Skybuilders' scrips at a time, so I started purchasing emotes. I have 3 of the 7 available now and hopefully will have the other 4 purchased by this time tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 4 - Skyworker's Attire

Yesterday, I completed the last of my secondary goals for the final season of the Ishgard Restoration in Final Fantasy XIV. According to my math, I earned 6291 Skybuilder's scrips yesterday. I now own a set of the new Skybuilder Worker's Attire.

If Square Enix had not decided that The Diadem I would switch to the new set. The helmet and boots are really cool, and the top comes with an arm tattoo. However, since the weather turned chilly in stage 4, I'll keep wearing my poncho glamour set.

On the wealth front, I accumulated another 522,665 gil. I supplemented my event gathering with a lot of food sales. Most of the food sold was related to gathering and crafting, but I did sell some raiding quality food.

In the competition for the top, Freya is so far out in front she took Friday off and is still comfortably in first place. Not just among weavers, but all crafting classes.

Finally, the one goal I have not secured. A title from the event. I'm still in good shape, having moved up three spots to 52nd place. More importantly, I extended my lead over 100th place to 2,640 points. As long as I keep up my current level of effort, I should receive a title as well.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 3 - Trike

Yesterday I managed to get the new minion introduced in Patch 5.41. Trike is a cute little dinosaur one can win by playing the Kupo of Fortune game in The Firmament. 

Kupo of Fortune is a game of chance that can be played by delivering certain items to Potkin and collecting stamps on a voucher.

Once you have collected five stamps, you may exchange the voucher for a Kupo of Fortune card. Upon each card, there are four treasure chests depicted by hexagons - one on the left and three on the right. You may choose one chest to scratch open.

The lone chest on the left offers second to fourth prize, while the three chests on the right offer first to fifth, with the fifth being a consolation prize. The prizes available change each time, and we recommend that you review the prize list before playing.

I think Square Enix rigged the game to make getting Trike easier. When I saw Trike, I immediately chose the three hexagon option. I've never seen the top prize icon show up twice on the card before.

In the rankings chase, Freya Albarn is still far ahead of not just all weavers, but all crafters. The crafter with the most points gets immortalized in a statue. Freya really wants that statue.

In my personal quest for a title, I fell back down to 55th place despite posting a personal best 1176 Skybuilder points. I'm still doing well, with my total 1828 points over 100th place.

On my monetary goals, I earned another 337 thousand gil on day 3 of the event. The income is slowing down as the amount of crafting material on the market catches up to demand. At this point, the materials sell within an hour or two as long as I keep on top of the market. 

Finally, I earned 5160 scrips. I almost have enough to purchase the new Skyworker's Attire introduced with the event. Hopefully I get to show it off in tomorrow's post. Yes, I'm planning on posting an update on a Saturday. I'm still having fun.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ishgard Restoration, Stage 4 Day 2 - The Big Shell Crab

Yesterday I earned 4047 Skybuilders' scrips and accomplished a major goal for the stage 4 of the Ishgard Restoration, the Big Shell mount.

I'm not really impressed. My favorite Ishgard Restoration mount is still Megalotragus. Also, my favorite small mount is still the Whisper-A-Go-Go mount from the Yo-Kai Watch event. But I might make the Big Shell mount my usual mount when spear fishing.

In the race for titles, I am still well back of the leaders. I'm not sure if there is a prize for most points across classes on a server, but Freya Albarn is running away with the race if there is. My personal effort to finish in the top 100 is still going well.

I moved up two spots up to 53rd place. The one point behind I am from 51st is due to forgetting to eat food when crafting one item. Crafting perfect items produces 30 points, and I only got 29 points for the one item. Still, I am now 959 points ahead of the the final spot.

Finally, I had another big day selling items on the market. On the second day of the event, I earned 593,082 gill. My total going back to Sunday afternoon is 1,478,643 gil, a personal record for a week. I think I'll reach my personal goal of 2 million gil easily. Can I get 3 million?

I'm still having fun and not experiencing burnout. I have the feeling some people may fall to the wayside, but I can't get overconfident just yet. After all, stage 4 is my final chance to get an Ishgard Restoration title. I don't want to blow the opportunity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Ishgard Restoration - Stage 4, Day 1 - Read The Patch Notes

The one thing that really struck me yesterday while playing Final Fantasy XIV was that some people didn't read the patch notes. I sold a lot of Stage 3 crafting materials on the market and I can't figure out a reason why. The patch notes clearly stated the following:

To coincide with the updates to the Ishgardian Restoration, new materials can now be crafted and submitted.

In accordance with this update, the following additions and adjustments have been made to the submission of materials from the previous chapter:

  • Players can no longer collect stamps for the Kupo of Fortune.
  • The number of skybuilders' scrips received for submissions has been reduced.
  • The number of skyward points received for submissions has been reduced.
  • Skyward points received for submissions will no longer contribute to rankings.

I gladly took in all the gil, but I can't help but wonder if I missed something.

On the rankings front, things are going pretty much as expected. I don't rank in either mining or botany, but in weaving I'm doing all right. Of course, I'm not at the top of the rankings.

I do not know how someone gets 173,335 points on the first day. Looking at the leaderboards for my server, no one else is even close. For the amount of time I have to play the game, even 3000 points is way outside my capabilities. But I am doing better than expected.

While 12th place has 5 times my 600 points, I have 5 times the number of points a jumble of characters have who are tied for 97th place. Sitting in 55th place after the first day is better than I thought I would do.

The amount of scrips earned yesterday was also very satisfying. I wound up with 3169 for the day. Combined with the number I already had, obtaining the crab mount is within reach tonight. 

Finally, the gil is rolling in. Perhaps a little too fast. I originally wanted to record the amounts and items sold. However, I sold so many items the record didn't show all the transactions. Instead, I have to just keep track of the gil I've earned from all market sales. I usually only empty my retainers' wallets on Sunday afternoons. So for from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning, I gathered in 855 thousand gil. Through Monday night, I had only sold 250 thousand gil worth of items. I'm well on my way to doubling the amount of money I have in the game.

After one day, I'm going well. But I have another week to go. We'll see what happens as the event goes on.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jumping Into The Final Ishgard Restoration Event

Today begins the final act of the Ishgard Restoration Event in Final Fantasy XIV. The Ishgardian effort to build up their city after the end of the Dragonsong War provides crafters and gatherers an opportunity to not only get a lot of cool mounts, minions, emotes, and glamour items, but titles as well. I'm not big into titles, but the ones for the event intrigued me.

Between 2am PST on 12 January to 10pm PST 21 January, players can earn Skyward points by gathering and crafting items. The top 100 players on each server in each of the 8 crafting classes and 3 gathering classes will receive a title. The top 12 players will receive the title "Saint of the Firmament" while the top 100 players will received the title "Beatus of the Firmament". Players cannot earn titles in more than one class during the event, meaning 1100 unique players will earn titles. 

The class I plan to compete with is the weaver. During the previous competition period at the beginning of patch 5.3. the final winning weaver on my server scored 4102 Skyward points. I figure I can wind up with 6000 points, which would have been good enough for 85th place. Barring a disaster in real life, trying to win a title is a realistic goal. I am not going to even think about getting a top 12 finish. In the previous contest, the 12th place finisher scored 321,959 points.

To collect the materials I'll need, I spent the last three weeks gearing up my botanist and mining gear. Thankfully, the two classes can use the same clothing and jewelry, which saved a lot of money. I went out and earned enough gil on the market to buy all the best in slot gear. I also did the relic tool quests  so I have best in slot tools as well. I spent way too much money overmelding my gear, but I gather up a lot more stuff during a gathering session now.  As long as I remember to eat Mushroom Saute (which I cook myself), I trigger all the bonuses on the gathering nodes in Diadem.

The way gathering in Diadem works means I will have a lot of leftover items I can't use to craft. That's okay, because I have two additional goals. The more items I gather, the more Skybuilders' scrips I earn. Patch 5.41 introduced a new crab mount and glamour set I can purchase with the scrips. With any luck, I might earn enough to own both by the end of the event.

The second additional goal is to replenish my wallet. I spent millions of gil equipping myself with best in slot gear, and then overmelding to get the most benefit from the gear. When I logged out last night before the servers shut down to install the patch, I had 2,001,000 gil. I'd like to get to 4 million by the end of the event. I did a gathering session when I woke up today and, so far, items are selling well. Selling 2 million gil worth of items in 9 days isn't totally out of the question.

The final goal, however, is the most important one. To have fun. I haven't felt excited about participating in a limited time event like the final season of the Ishgard Restoration in a long time. Win or lose, I just want to get away from the crazy world out there and enjoy myself.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Cloud Imperium Games 2019 Financial Statement

On Christmas Eve's Eve, Cloud Imperium Games released a financial statement covering the year 2019. Now, some might find wonder if the maker of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 has something to hide. For purposes of this post, who cares? We have information and perhaps most importantly, graphs. So let's dig in.

First, the report is not a formal financial report. The numbers are dumbed down for the average person to read. Hopefully that includes the folks in the r/StarCitizen sub-Reddit, but only time will tell. In the words of CIG's Chief Financial Officer Simon Elms:

It is that time of year again to set out our Accounting for the 2019 Financial Year, adopting the same format as prior years and following the same simple cost accounting rules. This means without the requisite formats and disclosures required in our financial statements and without revenue recognition adjustments or intellectual property amortization entries.

The aim of the Accounting continues to be simplicity and understandability for the average reader, showing “income,” net of sales taxes, as invoiced or accrued, and costs as incurred, adding capital expenditure as “spent.”

But using the numbers our auditors have reviewed and verified as part of their audit work relating to this financial year.

Perhaps now is a good time to explain what a capital expenditure (CapEx) is. According to Investopedia:

Capital expenditures (CapEx) are funds used by a company to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets such as property, plants, buildings, technology, or equipment. CapEx is often used to undertake new projects or investments by a company. Making capital expenditures on fixed assets can include repairing a roof, purchasing a piece of equipment, or building a new factory. This type of financial outlay is also made by companies to maintain or increase the scope of their operations.

What CIG is doing sounds like the company is trying to make accounting practices designed to satisfy tax laws more understandable. Going back to the Investopedia article, the difference between capital and operational expenditures is:

Capital expenditure should not be confused with operating expenses (OpEx). Operating expenses are shorter-term expenses required to meet the ongoing operational costs of running a business. Unlike capital expenditures, operating expenses can be fully deducted on the company's taxes in the same year in which the expenses occur.

In terms of accounting, an expense is considered to be CapEx when the asset is a newly purchased capital asset or an investment that has a life of more than one year, or which improves the useful life of an existing capital asset. If, however, the expense is one that maintains the asset at its current condition, such as a repair, the cost is typically deducted fully in the year the expense is incurred.

With an explanation of CapEx out of the way, the next subject is Cloud Imperium's overview of 2019. I'll quote the section in full:

The 2019 accounting shows Cloud Imperium continued on its growth path with another record-breaking year for new customers and community engagement. The additional security afforded by the minority investment received in 2018 allowed the group to plan and invest more for the future with a much needed upgrade of its UK offices and the acquisition of a minority stake in Turbulent Inc, Star Citizen’s Online and Publishing platform partner, to further strengthen and secure that relationship. 2019 saw an increase in the “nuts and bolts” infrastructure of the business to accommodate the planned growth, and a step up in the Community and Marketing operations, particularly in the UK, with a very successful CitizenCon being held there this year.

Towards the end of the year, the 2018 investors exercised their pre-agreed option to extend their investment, adding a further $17.25M to the Group’s reserves to pave the way for further expansion and funds to market and promote the ground-breaking projects we are undertaking.

Financial documents often tend to put the best spin possible on a company. Before examining negatives, though, looking at the positives is in order. After all, CIG did have a record-breaking year for income generation.

Source: Cloud Imperium Games, captured 26 Dec 20

Overall, Cloud Imperium Games raised $60.7 million in 2019, a 24.1% increase over 2018. The amount brought in by pledges increased by 26%, from $37.8 million to $47.4 million. CIG defines the "Pledges/Counter" amount as:

This line is taken directly from our daily published Funding Stats Counter, showing the net receipts from our backers and customers. However due to exchange differences and small items that are not included in the counter, such as collected shipping costs on physical goods, the counter does not completely represent all revenue received. Other than subscriptions (referred below) these differences are included in the final income line, to give an accurate representation of total revenue received.

CIG raised an additional $13 million in subscriptions, partnerships with hardware and software vendors, sponsorship income, currency exchange differences, and other items.

The unspoken part of CIG's financial report is the rate at which the company burns through its funding.

Source: Cloud Imperium Games, captured 26 Dec 20

CIG described the above chart as follows:

This represents capital expenditure in areas such as hardware and software, fixtures, fittings, office refurbishment and build out. It is heavily influenced by staff numbers and hardware renewals as well as server upgrades and other infrastructure costs required for the efficient deployment of the game.

Whilst this is capital in nature, it is included in this accounting as it represents an outlay for the materials required to develop and publish the game. Since the total capital expenditure amount is included here, we do not list the depreciation portion of such expenditure subsequently in the cost.

Combining the information from the income and spending charts leads to some conclusions that CIG and/or Star Citizen fans may not like.

CIG's spending continues to outstrip funding. In 2019, CIG increased spending by 25.4%, up to $70.4 million. In 2018, CIG's spending exceeded revenue by $7.2 million. In 2019, the difference expanded to $9.7 million. So the record income could not keep up with the record outgoes.

The fans no longer totally fund the project. Through the end of 2019, CIG had raised $260.8 million in pledges (game & ship sales) and an additional $18.1 million in subscriptions. The $278.9 million from fans fell $38.3 million short of the $319.9 million CIG spent on developing and marketing Star Citizen and Squadron 42 through the end of last year. 

CIG is reliant on outside investors to complete the project. Pledges and subscriptions were not CIG's only source of income. When adding in all other sources excluding outside investors, CIG raised $317.2 million during its first 7 years of existence. As mentioned previously, CIG has spent $319.9 million through the end of 2019. What is keeping CIG in the black at this point is the combined investment of $63.25 million into CIG by Clive and Keith Calder. Presumably, CIG used $2.7 million of the Calder's funds to keep the Star Citizen/Squadron 42 project running in 2019.

CIG will need to raise at least $150 million to $200 million more from the end of 2020 to complete Star Citizen and Squadron 42. I tend to underestimate CIG's spending on the Star Citizen project. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, I estimated that CIG had spent almost $320 million, a figure that CIG reached at the end of 2019. If the 2019 gross burn rate of almost $6 million/month remains constant, CIG will spend between $210-$220 million in the years 2020-2022, assuming the game launches at the end of 2022. But with the November announcement that CIG & Turbulent are launching a new studio to support Star Citizen, the burn rate is likely to increase.

Source: RobertsSpaceIndistries.Com captured on 26 Dec 20

Besides the need to raise staggering amounts of money to complete the games under development, does the financial information published by CIG tell the reader anything useful going forward? Nothing solid, I'm afraid. With the pledge amount in 2020 at approximately $70 million, any type of cost containment puts CIG in much better financial shape. But the question going forward is whether CIG can hold expenses down while continuing to raise large amounts of money from players. But we won't know the answer to that question until CIG publishes 2020 financial data at the end of 2021.