Monday, June 5, 2023

A Look Back At EVE: Uprising's Performance

The end of May marks the final full month of EVE Online's Uprising expansion on the global Tranquility shard. Instead of just looking at the activity in May, today's post will look back at the Uprising expansion using Jester's average user graph as well as Dotlan data. When Uprising launched on 8 November 2022, the game was suffering from player counts last seen during 2019's Blackout, except instead of lasting weeks, the downturn, triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a 33% increase in the monthly subscription fee, lasted months. Did EVE Online's first expansion in years staunch the bleeding, or did EVE continue to descend into a classic failure cascade?

Average player user count, June 2022 thru May 2023

At the end of October 2022, the average player count (ACU) was approximately 16,000 accounts logged onto Tranquility at any one time. The ACU had decreased steadily since the subscription price increases introduced on 17 May 2022. The launch of Uprising saw numbers jump to 20,000 accounts logged in at any one time, but that number decreased a bit over the remainder of the winter. But at the end of May, the ACU had returned to 20,000. So not only did the ACU increase approximately 20% over the course of the expansion, but was 8-10% higher year-over-year as well.

"But Nosy," someone is probably thinking, "that increase is probably just bots." In that case, the next step is to look at spaceship explosions. Dotlan provides data on three of EVE's five classifications of space. While wormholes and Triglavian space are very lucrative, wormholes a lot more so, most player activity occurs in the k-space regions of high-, low-, and null security space.

Ship explosions in high security space

First, a look at high security space. A rise in the number of player ships killed in high sec does not necessarily mean an increase in PvP activity. Some of the tutorial and profession agent missions require the loss of a player's ship to successfully complete. Also, one of the oldest holiday events, Crimson Harvest, occurs each October, possibly inflating player ship losses. Still, May 2023 witnessed a year-over-year (YoY) increase of 22.3% in the number of player ships lost compared to May 2022. Comparing the last month of Uprising to the last full month before the launch of Uprising saw a 6.5% increase in the number of ships lost.

The number of NPC ships destroyed may prove a more reliable indicator of how successful the Uprising expansion proved over time. High security space is a much safer place to make money, although at a much lesser rate outside of incursions. The number of NPCs players destroyed increased by 12.3% year-over-year. Anti-NPC activity dropped from May  to October 2022, leading to Uprising's final month recording an 18.3% increase in the death of NPCs in high security space.

When looking at the activity in high sec, May's total of 342,661 player ships destroyed was the highest one month total since March 2021. The number of NPC ships destroyed, 111,611,060, was the greatest since October 2021, a month hosting the popular Crimson Harvest event.

Ship explosions in low security space

The main feature of Uprising involved the improvement of factional warfare. What better way to judge the expansion than by looking at low sec activity?

In May, low sec saw a 38% year over year increase in players losing ships, from 161,705 in May 2022 to 223,149 last month. Compared to October 2022, last month witnessed a 25.3% increase in the number of player ships exploding. 

Comparing player ships lost in low sec by month and year

I have written about how historically low sec does best when players are losing 250,000 ships in the security band each month. While that level of destruction only occurred twice during Uprising, the number of ships lost exceeded 200,000 every month. The last time low sec experienced 7 months of that level of destruction was February through August of 2018. If raising activity rates in low sec to rates last seen 4-5 years ago, Uprising is definitely a success, at least for the main feature.

The more interesting aspect is the deaths of NPCs in low sec. The number destroyed in both May 2022 and October 2022 only differed by 7500, or 242 NPCs per day. Compare that to last month's total of 10,037,306. The YoY rise of 16.8% indicates players going into more FW complexes to try to gain control. Another indication the new design of factional warfare was a success.

Ship explosions in null security space

The one big question is whether the changes in factional warfare cannibalized null sec play. A quick look might lead one to say yes, as the number of player ships killed in May 2023 was down 3.2%. But upon closer examination, the number of player ships exploding in null sec rose 17.8% from October 2022 to the last full month of the Uprising expansion.  The YoY decrease was most likely a lingering effect of the May 2022 price increase more than any effect from the factional warfare changes.

A supporting indicator of that view was the increase in players killing NPCs in NPC space. Much like low sec, the number of NPCs killed in null sec in barely raised from May 2022 to October 2022. But in May 2023, the number of NPCs killed in null sec increased by 27.2% year-over-year and 27% over the total the month before Uprising launched.

So can we consider the Uprising expansion a success? I think so. The number of accounts in space is up, both since the beginning of the expansion and compared to a year ago. Activity is up across the board in both high and low security space. Player ship kills are down slightly year-over-year in null sec, but not enough to indicate cannibalization is occurring. 

But at the beginning of EVE Online's third decade of operation, staunching the bleeding is not enough. CCP needs to build on the success of Uprising and attempt to grow the game once again. Will EVE: Viridian improve on the popularity of EVE? Time will tell.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Cloud Imperium Games Records $19.1 Million In Sales In May 2023

In May, Cloud Imperium Games, makers of Star Citizen and Squadron 42, earned $19.1 million in sales according to a fan-created website that tracks sales. The total was a 7.7% year-over-year decrease in sales compared to May 2022's $20.7 million in sales. 

Overall, CIG has raised $668.6 million from confirmed sources (the funding page & the 2021 financial report). The income breaks down as follows:

  • Sales/Pledges: $586.6 million (through 31 May 2023)
  • Subscriptions: $27.8 million (through 31 December 2021)
  • All other sources: $54.2 million (through 31 December 2021)
In addition, CIG received $63.25 million in investor funding in 2018 and 2019, bringing the total funding of the project up to $731.8 million.

May featured what historically the second largest sales event of the year, Invictus Fleet Week. The 12-day event that runs over 13 calendar days also features a free-fly event for potential customers to try the game. This year, CIG also implemented a major patch, Alpha 3.19, onto the Persistent Universe, right before the event to try to fix issues introduced in Alpha 3.18.

The event itself was a success, with $15.9 million in sales recorded from 19-31 May, a 7.4% increase over last year's $14.8 million. Where sales lagged greatly was before the event which only totaled $3.1 million. Over the same period in 2022, CIG experienced $5.8 million in sales. That 46.6% decline was impossible to overcome, even with a record-setting Invictus Fleet Week event.

The question leading into June is whether CIG's financial downturn in April and May was due to the issues that accompanied the Alpha 3.18 patch or buyer wariness in a real world environment in which high inflation continues on. We will have a better clue on that answer in 30 days.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Thoughts On Turning FFXIV's 4 Character Dungeons Into Solo Instances

With the launch of Endwalker's patch 6.4 last week, Creative Business Unit Three only has three more MSQ dungeons, The Drowned City of Skalla, The Burn, and The Ghimlyt Dark, to add to the Trust and Duty Support systems. By doing so, all 4-player content required to complete Final Fantasy XIV's main story questline is doable by solo players at current level. But is doing so good for the game?

I really can't say if long-term, making FFXIV more solo-player friendly good for the game. But last night, for me, I was glad to have the option. I was playing through the patch 6.4 quests and ran into the newest 4-player dungeon, The Aetherfont. After 10pm. Getting a group that late, even for a white mage, can prove difficult. Add in going in blind and the inevitable deaths and I was very happy to enter the dungeon with a party of NPC companions.

I suffer from party anxiety. That is, I don't want to be the cause of party wipes because I make mistakes. As the healer, not an uncommon occurrence. But besides the ease of finding a party, I could learn the fights at my own pace. I wiped twice to the first boss, once to the second boss, and managed to defeat the end boss on my first attempt. The NPCs know the fight, so figuring out which one to follow helps. Normally I follow Y'sthtola around, but she wasn't available for this dungeon. At least the first time through.

Another advantage is getting the drops. I can gear up using the drops from the MSQ dungeons, assuming I run enough of them. For example, my tome gear I earned through patch 6.3 is item level 620. The drops from The Aetherfont are iLevel 625. If I really want to, I can grind to my heart's content. But normally, I grind the dungeons for the more valuable tomes and sell the drops to my grand company to purchase the ventures required to fund my army of retainers.

Not running dungeons with other players does have drawbacks. For one, running dungeons takes longer because the NPCs will stop doing damage to the boss at times. Running through the latest few dungeons takes me around 35 minutes playing as a white mage. I imagine the time could decrease if I played a DPS job. Also, NPCs don't combat resurrect players. If the player dies, the boss fight resets. So no completing a dungeon while lying on the floor.

I guess even the drawbacks have advantages. One is that players will see all the mechanics of a fight. I believe a well-tuned, high-skilled group can skip some. Another is that in order to advance in the MSQ, a player must complete all the mechanics in a dungeon, most of the time twice. Sure, following an NPC helps. But is that any different from following a Dorito (a player marked with a triangle other players follow) in a trial or raid?

As I said, I don't know if the move is good for the game over the long haul. I can only speak for myself. Quite frankly, I was seriously thinking about quitting FFXIV at the end of Stormblood. I could barely complete the dungeon mechanics and I knew the fights would only get harder in Shadowbringers. Then the Trust system was announced and I renewed my subscription. While a couple of the dungeons gave me an incredibly hard time (especially Therion), I could fight through knowing I wasn't inconveniencing other people with my lack of skill.

A player still cannot fully complete the MSQ solo. I counted 25 8-player trials in the MSQ through the end of patch 6.4 that still require a player to play with others. Also, the side content dungeons and alliance raids are also not part of the Duty Support and Trust systems. So FFXIV still does not count as a solo game. The game is just a lot more solo-friendly than at the beginning of Endwalker. I think after 10 years and going into a second main storyline, such a move is a good thing. At least for me.

Monday, May 29, 2023

My Island Sanctuary: Ranks 12-14

My professional life intruded into my gaming life this past weekend, but I still managed to play some of the new patch 6.4 content in Final Fantasy XIV. I only managed to complete one quest, but my island sanctuary is looking a lot better. I wasn't able to come close to reaching rank 16, the new island cap, but I am within a day of reaching rank 15. So what's happened on my little island since the new patch launched last Tuesday?

My caretaker, Felicitous Furball, gave me a quest. She sent me out to investigate loud noises coming from the mountain in the middle of the mountain. I found a mammet just itching to dig into the mountain to investigate, if only it had the proper tools. I don't remember if I was able to build the tool required at level 12 or 13, but the resulting cave was beautiful.

Entering the cavern

Not as entrancing as my first view of Amaurot, but pretty stunning as I did not expect something like that on a side piece of content. Or is it a side piece of content anymore?

At rank 13, upgrades to buildings become available. The Cozy Cabin and granaries are the first. Of course, I didn't even think about upgrading buildings until I reached rank 14. But I wish I had as renovating the buildings gives island sanctuary experience.

The view from the workshop across the plaza

Not only has my little cabin grown to two stories, but the paths on my island are now covered in a nice blue stone. I'm not a big fan of the blue in certain locations, but I do like the cabin.

The new sales area

The ground floor of the cabin is now totally set up for business, including table that deserve the ability to place food on. Although I can't decorate the interior myself, I approve of the developers' taste. Plus, I no longer have to sleep near the sales desk!

My bedroom

My bedroom is now on the second level. Compared to regular housing, the bedroom is nothing special. But in context, I'm off the ground floor, which means no more partitions. For those wondering, yes, the bed is functional.

A level 4 grainery

Speaking of functionality, I need to get to the business side of island sanctuaries. Not only does upgrading granaries to level 4 result in giving your buildings a slightly steampunk feel, but increases the output of rare materials from 4 to 5 per day. 

A level 4 workshop

Adding to the steampunk vibe is upgrading a workshop to level 4. I'm not sure how much the upgrade adds to output, but with a new island sanctuary achievement for gaining 33,000 sea cowries introduced, hopefully the amount is significant. Oh, and from looking at the workshop UI, we will receive an option to build a fourth workshop.

New seeds in 6.4

To fuel the workshops, the developers added four new types of seeds. None have finished growing, but they are accessible at level 14. Probably at level 13 as well, but I forgot to check.

Yes, I've been busy

The devs have added 7 common materials to find which are required for the granary and workshop  upgrades mentioned above. Each upgrade requires 10 units of 5 materials. I just have stuck in my head that I want to keep at least 100 of all materials on the island on-hand for when I schedule my work jobs on Wednesdays. That practice came in handy as I had all the materials when I started the upgrades.

In addition to the 7 common materials, island sanctuary has a new rare, Island Cave Shrimp. I'm not sure what recipes I will need them for, but I am working to get my stock up to usable levels.

New shop items introduced in 6.4

"Nosy!" I can hear someone shout, "What about the loot?" At rank 13, I was able to purchase the above items from the store for seafarer's cowries. They include 3 mounts, a minion, a fashion accessory, and barding for my chocobo.

The Island Tomato King mount

I have to admit I am not a big fan of the vegetable mounts. But I had the cowries, so I bought all three for 54,000.

The Posher Otter

I am, however, a fan of the new minion. Not only does the Posher Otter lend a bit of steampunk feel to the area, but the lantern works. With an otter lamp in my indoor garden, I shouldn't be surprised, but I was.

Standing next to the Tactful Taskmaster with my umbrella

The fashion accessory was an umbrella inspired by the Tactful Taskmaster. Not one that will replace my current go-to, but if I ever want to say I've played island sanctuary without saying I've played island sanctuary, a good option. Especially in the rain.

Barding with cat ears

Finally we have the new barding. I like the barding, and not just because of the cat ears. My main job is white mage, and the coloration goes with the traditional red and white colors at level 50. Plus, I dyed my chocobo red and I think the white goes well with the color.

I have a lot more to do, but I didn't want to wait until later today when I reach level 15. Hopefully I'll have the chance to write about ranks 15 and 16 in a couple of weeks. I'm almost at the point I've caught up with gathering all the materials I will need and can go back to my normal island sanctuary schedule. Once I get to rank 16, though, I'm sure I'll want to show off again.

Friday, May 26, 2023

CIG Has Intentionally Halted Pre-Orders Of Squadron 42

Last Wednesday, reports came in that Cloud Imperium Games had removed the pledge page for Squadron 42 from its cash shop. The only problem was determining if the action was accidental or intentional as trying to access the pledge page produced a 404 error. We know have an answer. CIG has closed pre-orders of Squadron 42.

I noticed yesterday that the Squadron 42 page had changed. Instead of a "Pledge Now" button, the page now displays a "Sign Up" button.

A new label for the button

By pressing the button, the prospective customer is directed down the page to sign up for a newsletter. Users are then greeted with a fairly easy question of who plays Captain MacLaren in Squadron 42. The answer is Gillian Anderson, most famous for playing Agent Scully in "The X-Files". 

Better than a CAPTCHA

Just a warning. Those who want the custom wallpaper should download it immediately. I tried to go back and get it and failed. I can't say if I successfully signed up for the newsletter because I did not get a confirmation email at the address I provided.

The changes on the website clear up one question, but pose another. I have seen comments from Star Citizen players who don't care anything about the single player game who are rather salty that the revenue from the sale of Star Citizen merchandise is used to develop Squadron 42. As far as I can tell, CIG is now selling nothing digital related to SQ42. Has the marketing department taken that into account with this recent move?

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Lancers: EVE Online's New Tech II Dreadnoughts

Today CCP released information about the newest ship class entering EVE Online in next month's Viridian expansion. The Lancer-class is the long-awaited tech II version of the dreadnought. And yes, as the name implies, CCP has fit a doomsday onto a dread hull.

Each of the four NPC empires will have a tech II dread. They are:

Amarr - Bane:

The Amarr Empire lancer is a Tech II version of the Revelation-class dreadnought, designed by Khanid Innovations. It uses the same hull design as the Revelation Navy Issue and its main offensive systems are missiles – a first for an Amarr capital ship – and the Azmaru electromagnetic disruptive lance weapon.

Caldari - Karura: 

The Caldari State lancer is a Tech II variation on the Phoenix-class dreadnought, and the corporation responsible for its design is Ishukone. Based on the same hull design as the Phoenix Navy Issue, the Karura boasts hybrid turret capacity – uncommon for Caldari capital ships – and the Steel Yari kinetic disruptive lance weapon system.

Gallente - Hubris:

The Gallente Federation lancer is a Tech II incarnation of the Moros-class dreadnought, with Roden Shipyards being responsible for its design. The base hull design for the Hubris is the Moros Navy Issue, armed with hybrid turret capability and the Sarissa thermal disruptive lance weapon.

Minmatar - Valravn:

The Minmatar Republic lancer is a Tech II spin on the Naglfar-class dreadnought. Designed by Thukker Mix, the Valravn is based on the Naglfar Fleet Issue hull. Its offensive systems consist of projectile turrets and the Atgeir explosive disruptive lance weapon.

I have spent a lot of time looking at Star Citizen lately. CIG's business model results in the company throwing out new ships and ship designs (aka jpegs) in a never-ending effort to fund development of a pair of games that together will cost over $1 billion to develop and eventually publish. So perhaps I am a little bit happier than normal to hear the developers of EVE have what I believe is a solid rationale for adding a new ship class.

Subsequently, these new ships will have a unique role, offering more variety and tactical options. As mentioned above, these ships will be specialized, as opposed to ‘simply’ being improved dreadnoughts, and are designed to fill a new niche in the capital ecosystem by specializing in area-of-effect weaponry that applies effects to the ships it hits which can drastically alter the flow of battle, opening up fresh tactical opportunities.

The new vision for the dreadnought ecosystem is to make Tech I dreads more cost efficient in dealing damage by making them have high damage with the lowest possible ISK cost. The navy dreads that were introduced back in Uprising have the highest damage output per unit although they are more expensive, making them less cost efficient while still carving out a niche role. Pirate dreads have very high damage, while still affording them their unique pirate abilities and utility. Finally, lancers will specialize in area-of-effect damage and debuff specialization.

I've played and subscribed to EVE since 2009 and still cannot fly a dreadnought. But the new weapon for the Lancer-class dreads sounds interesting.

The lance energy neutralizes the area around it when it fires, and given that it requires capacitor to fire, this makes firing them en masse from a single ball of ships difficult (plus, you're likely to hit friendlies in such an arrangement). This area-of-effect energy neutralization has the potential to encourage more thoughtful placement of capital ships on a battlefield, rewarding the side which is best able to make use of them. Ships struck by the disruptive lance beam will have their warp/jump drives disabled, tether/docking disabled, and experience a 50% reduction to incoming remote repair, all for 60 seconds.

Disruptive lance weapons also have the benefit of great existing design in their spool up time before firing and the fact that the damage they apply is based on the signature radius of their target. This lets them be tuned to be more interesting as anti-capital weapons than something that can be used as a means of punching down at subcapital fleets.

I've seen the financial documents submitted to Skatturinn, Iceland's taxation and customs organization. CCP is definitely putting in the first tech 2 capital ships since 2007 in order to make money.  But I find the fact CCP is trying to make money off of EVE by improving the game instead of directly selling skill points or bolting on web3/blockchain/NFT technology a refreshing change of pace. Hopefully the effort works and encourages the braintrust at CCP to continue down this path.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Defeating Final Fantasy XIV's Hardest Boss, Endwalker Edition

Yesterday, the time I usually use to write blog posts instead was taken up by battling Final Fantasy XIV's hardest boss. That's right, I had a billing issue and needed to use the Square Enix website.

The billing issue came about due to a confluence of issues. First, the state of Illinois charges sales tax on video game services. The second is that Square Enix' previous collection's vendor did not collect the sales tax and the new one hired in February does. The whole tax issue comes into effect due to Steam putting a limit on how much Square Enix can charge my credit card.

The issue, I think

Okay, no problem, right. All I have to do is renew my subscription. Just click a couple of buttons, maybe fill out a form, and I'm done and back in business. Except, I'm dealing with a Square Enix website. While improved from when I started playing FFXIV, the website still has issues.

How hard can clicking on an icon be?

For instance, pressing the Steam Account button resulted in having to enter my id, password, and authentication string again. Of course, because I didn't realize the root cause of the problem, the payment never went through. At least, that's what I think happened. But the behavior of the website for other things makes be believe the site wasn't working fully. Because I went into endless loops of click, enter login information, and return to the Service Account Dashboard. And after a certain number of times, I had to add doing capchas to the list of tasks to attempt to get to the next page.

I did contact support and the representative suggested a way to bypass paying through Steam and using my credit card directly. After going through the looping behavior several times, I finally was able to enter my credit card information, only to receive an error upon submission. But I was given a vital clue: change the automatic payment to a one-time payment.

I still had to zerg the boss, but I succeeded renewing my subscription after about 15 minutes of additional effort. Then I had to go through the same procedure to reactivate my army of retainers. I succeeded after about 10 minutes of effort, only to realize I had only reactivated one of my six. So into the breach I went again to reactive the other five. Thankfully, I did not need to go through a third round of activity to renew my FFXIV Companion App, which gives a free teleport site in the game.

Having gone through the experience, I can report on a couple of items of interest. First, I kept my cottage despite becoming unsubbed. The housing rules indicate one only loses a house by not entering the house for 45 days. Yesterday's incident proved that is the case. Second, if you become unsubbed and then resub before your retainers venture time concludes, you get your venture rewards. I don't know if I would have if the time expired, and I don't have the desire to find out. And finally, as mentioned before, no need to worry about connecting the companion app. All benefits were present when I logged back in.

Thankfully, due to a desire to pre-load patch 6.4 before going to work, I discovered the problem in time to regain access to my account and play the first day of the patch. But honestly, the process shouldn't have taken 3 hours, including contacting support. The website once again lived up to its reputation of being FFXIV's hardest boss.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Star Citizen's May Sales And Invictus Fleet Week

With all the technical difficulties Star Citizen has experienced so far this year, I'm a little surprised at the financial support customers continue to bestow upon Cloud Imperium Games. True, sales did not increase through the first four months of the year, but they didn't decrease either. Not bad considering 2022, with over $113 million in sales, was a record year for the company. But with technical blocks continuing to plague the developers, has the game peaked?

The world is about to find out. Today is the beginning of Invictus Launch Week, one of the biggest financial events of the year. The nature of the event is even written into the lore:

Dating back to the First Tevarin War (2541-2546), Invictus Launch Week marks the beginning of the new recruiting year of the United Empire of Earth Navy (UEEN) and is publicly celebrated throughout the Empire. 

Throughout the event, you can try Star Citizen FOR FREE, along with test drive the ships on display at the show. Different manufacturers take over the Bevic Convention Center every two days, so keep checking back to see everything the event offers.

Visitors also have the opportunity to tour an in-service Aegis Javelin destroyer and marvel at the entire Invictus fleet in flight, including the colossal RSI Bengal! Head over to and our FAQ for more information about the event.

Through the first 18 days of May, CIG recorded $3.1 million in sales. Pretty impressive for a company with 2 games in alpha and none launched. Impressive, that is, until one looks back to last year and sees CIG sold $5.6 million in goods during the same period in 2022.

This year's Invictus Fleet Week sales need to make up for the shortfall. While we don't have financial information for 2022, I figured sales needed to increase between 13.2% and 18.5% in 2023 to keep up with the company's development plans. If I'm wrong, then perhaps keeping pace with last year's sales will suffice. But either way, sales cannot go down.

How much does the Fleet Week event need to sell to CIG's customers? Last year, the event brought in almost $14.6 million over 12 days. As of right now, Fleet Week plus the following day needs to sell $17.6 million over the final 13 days of May to match 2022's sales performance. Assuming sales on the 31st match the sales of $520 thousand on 19 May 2022, this year's Fleet Week needs to increase sales by 17% to $17.1 million.

Is that increase obtainable for CIG and its incredible marketing team? Not at all. But, this is why the event is a possible indicator for the future. With patch 3.19 freshly installed on the Persistent Universe servers, the way is wide open for a record haul for the event. But if the game has peaked due to all the difficulties surrounding patch 3.18, the sales figures will give us an indication. Either way, we will know on the first day of June.

(Note: As of 1330 UTC on 19 May 2023, the pledge page for Squadron 42 still displays a 404 error.)

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Squadron 42 Purchase Page Is Down

Throughout 2022, the one bit of server tech that worked for Cloud Imperium Games was the Pledge Store. No matter what happened on the Star Citizen game servers, customers always had the ability to spend money on CIG's products. Until yesterday.

A commenter over on MassivelyOP noted that all mention of purchasing Squadron 42 from the RSI website around 1900 UTC. The report wasn't quite true, as looking on the Squadron 42 page did indeed show buttons to purchase the single player game. But I went one step farther and pushed the "Pledge Now" button. I received a 404 error. Chris Neal, the MassivelyOP writer who covers Star Citizen, confirmed my findings.

One can't pre-order Squadron 42 from this page

While the 404 page is impressive, one can't pre-order Squadron 42 from the 404 page. For those not aware, Wikipedia defines a 404 error as:
In computer network communications, the HTTP 404, 404 not found, 404, 404 error, page not found or file not found error message is a hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) standard response code, to indicate that the browser was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested. The error may also be used when a server does not wish to disclose whether it has the requested information.

The website hosting server will typically generate a "404 Not Found" web page when a user attempts to follow a broken or dead link; hence the 404 error is one of the most recognizable errors encountered on the World Wide Web.

The really cool 404 error page indicates the problem is server-side, not something wrong with my laptop.

What does the error mean? My experience tells me someone was doing an update on the page. Either someone posted the update and put in the wrong link, or someone decided that showing the 404 error page for a day or two was better than posting the updated page.

Anything further speculation turns into conspiracy theory land. The theories could range from CIG is doing a price hike to coincide with the beginning of Invictus Launch Week tomorrow to the lawyers telling CIG to stop selling Squadron 42 NOW!!!. But the fact that, as I write this post, the pledge page issue has last for over 16 hours does lead to some speculation. CIG not fixing a problem that prevents people from giving them money is very unlike them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Graphical Upgrades In EVE: Viridian

We don't know for sure exactly the form Project Awakening will take, but a game very closely resembling EVE Online would certainly help launch the game in the next 2-3 years. Also, having seen the latest financial filings with Iceland's taxing authority, CCP really needs to launch the game quickly. After all, $40 million won't last forever. 

When I woke up this morning, I saw a new video and new item from the art team about the graphical updates coming in the Viridian expansion. Next month players will get their hands on updates to 68 empire frigates (Rifters were done earlier this year) and the 4 marauders plus new missile explosions and improved volumetric clouds. If CCP wants to keep up with the giants of the sci-fi MMORPG gaming space, Cloud Imperium Games and Star Citizen, they need to up their game.

If one thing is constant at CCP, it is the art department. Aside from the aversion to the color pink, the artists working on EVE Online usually knock the quality of their work out of the park. If the powers that be decide to start with the new-player ship class of choice frigates, I can't blame them. 

Some of the empire frigate hulls will get a total VFX revamp, as the Rifter did in January this year, while others will receive more subtle updates. For example, the appearance of some hulls will change completely when they go into warp, with some changing color significantly. Many of the effects are tied to the speed of the ship, with effects getting stronger as the ship travels faster, providing the player with more feedback.

As for things that you might notice immediately, the most impactful updates are probably the ship headlights. These will be more visually pleasing and tied to the state of the ship, having been added in on hulls which may not ever have had headlights previously. In addition, empire frigates will emit smoke from lit up vents when they drop out of warp.

There are also more subtle effects added, such as the dimming and flickering of lights when an empire frigate is hit in battle and taking structure damage. In addition, a further lighting pass will ensure that areas around the ships that look like they should affect their surroundings now do so, lifting the overall visual quality of the craft. Be sure to zoom in on your favorites to find a previously unnoticed gem of an effect!

I also think those who fly marauders will also enjoy the new changes (assuming they aren't scrolled all the way out).

As mentioned above, the aim when updating ship effects and appearances in EVE is to bring them more to life and make them more visually interesting to use, encounter, and experience. The updates coming for the mighty marauders are no different, especially as a plethora of new graphical systems and components have been introduced since the last visual update to these particular ships, some of which have been employed when redesigning the Rifter or creating the new Tech II dreadnoughts.

Marauders are powerful, a statement on the battlefield, and that is primarily due to the contribution of the bastion module that this ship type can exclusively fit. This has previously been portrayed visually by the ship changing state with an animation revealing the energy reactor to space. With this update, the visuals of the engaged bastion module have been punched up to make the ship look even more aggressive and powerful. The new visuals show off the energy that is pulsing through those exposed reactors, and this has been achieved with particle effects, holographic paneling, and extra hull lighting. As a result, it will be much clearer to others in space when a marauder has activated its bastion module.

The art team's work on missile explosions are meant to help give more information during combat of exactly what types of missiles are in use during a battle. Combined with the marauder bastion changes, players won't need to have AT commentator levels of knowledge to understand what is happening around them.

In order to create the visual distinction between types of missile impact, missiles that deal thermal damage now exhibit explosions mostly based around heat, whereas missiles dealing electromagnetic damage create some crackling electricity that lights up the surrounding area, with artistic license that maintains the caustic EVE visual effects aesthetic. Furthermore, depending on the angle of attack at missile impact, the explosions are now visually directional instead of being randomly rotated omnidirectional impacts. This adds to the realism of the impacts as explosions now also spread outwards across the shield of a ship.

Finally we come to the volumetric clouds. The new sites in Viridian require new atmospheric effects.

There will be many variations of the clouds used in over 20 Homefront Operations sites when the Viridian expansion launches. Currently, clouds in EVE are very nebulous, but with these volumetric clouds, it will really feel as though you're physically flying through them, around them, inhabiting them, and passing filaments of cloud as you go.

The new clouds have been created in collaboration with the engine team, tweaking and iterating to open up the greatest number of possibilities for authoring new clouds in EVE for Viridian, and into the future. The new clouds are being generated by a gamechanger of a program called Embergen, with real-time rendering of changes and lightning-fast iteration speed compared to the past for cloud authoring, meaning that something beautiful and substantial can be achieved almost instantaneously.

Like I mentioned in the introduction, Project Awakening is probably going to launch in the next 2-3 years. A new game requires brand new, shiny graphics. If the graphics between EVE and the new web3 game are interchangeable, I am perfectly happy to let the crypto bros fund the graphical updating of the original game.