Monday, June 24, 2019

News From EVE North

Before I leave Toronto, I thought I would mention some of the news generated from EVE North. I probably will miss some things, or not get some of the details exactly correct, as I am working off my notes and not the VOD of the streams.

First, the CSM 14 election results. I'll break this down further in another post, but 5 out of 7 incumbents won:
  • Aryth
  • Merkelchen
  • Innominate
  • Killah Bee
  • Steve Ronuken
Steve retained his seat by defeating fellow incumbent Sort Dragon by 11 votes. The new members are:
  • Dunk Dinkle
  • ExookiZ
  • Gobbins
  • Olmeca Gold
  • Vily
Wormholers got their representative, null sec didn't sweep, and the Imperium ballot is back to only securing 3 seats. Last year's 4 seats was a fluke due to the disqualification of Creecher Virpio after the voting had begun.

On the subject of the new Triglavian invasion content, players are racking up the kills, with an impressive 59:1 kill ratio. I'm not sure exactly who that is impressive for, the players or the new AI behind the Triglavian NPCs. By the time I post this article, the number of NPCs killed will have reached 1 million. Player losses, on the other hand, exceeded 1.4 trillion ISK. To but that in perspective, the amount is the equivalent of 700 months of game time.

CCP also provided an update on the war declaration changes. As of 19 June, New Eden had 480 wars declared:
  • 96 mutual wars
  • 112 wars with no HQ (existed before the war dec change)
  • 272 wars with HQ declared
The wars without an HQ will sunset on 13 August, but the new mechanics should allow for the renewal of the wars seamlessly. The 272 wars were begun using 70 unique HQ structures, with one Astrahus serving as the HQ for 44 wars. That structure, interesting, was not the P I R A T in Piak destroyed on 21 June. CCP also revealed that 49 wars had ended due to the loss or removal of the attackers' HQ structure, a figure expected to increase sharply with the destruction of the Astrahus in Piak.

Last, but not least, comes news on CCP's War On Bots and Illicit RMT. CCP Falcom provided the following ban statistics for 2018:
  • 9502 accounts banned for hacking
  • 20643 accounts banned for botting
  • 14678 accounts banned for RMT related activity
In addition, CCP Burger noted during the keynote address that over 9.2 trillion ISK was confiscated in 2018.

CCP also announced alpha account changes to help combat botting. The cap on Heavy Drone Operation drops from IV to III, Medium Drone Operation from V to IV, and Drone Interfacing from IV down to III. The EVE University Wiki indicates alpha accounts will face the following effects:
  • No longer able to use Tech 2 and Augmented medium drones
  • Heavy drone damage drops by 5%
  • Medium drone damage drops by 5%
  • 10% drop in all drone damage
In addition, CCP announced plans for a revamp of the venerable Vexor Navy Issue. The VNI is used for AFK ratting, with the drone mechanics making the ship the obvious choice for null sec ratting. Also, of botters. From CCP Fozzie's presentation, I get the impression the ship itself won't receive an overall nerf. Instead, the ratio of drone to gun DPS will shift more in favor of guns. The current ship bonuses granted for each level of Gallente Cruiser are 5% to Drone tracking speed and 10% to Drone hitpoints, damage and mining yield. The new bonuses will grant the ship a very high gun tracking bonus and a bonus to active armor repair. Did I mention botters prefer shield tanking? Apparently CCP noticed as well.

The above is not a comprehensive review of the news released at EVE North. Here are a few other bullet points of news I heard in Toronto:
  • The 64-bit client beta ends within the next week and 32-bit client support ends by the end of 2019.
  • DirectX 12 development to begin, which allows for depreciation of DirectX 9.
  • The phase-out of POS in the next few months.
  • A new tether state called "mooring" may be introduced.
  • Plans to improve the UI & user experience to aid retention (and help existing players).
  • We overloaded the scientists infrastructure with our Project Discovery activity.
  • The next Aether Wars test to occur at GamesCon.
I now have to pack up and head to the airport. I enjoyed my stay here in Canada, but I'll be honest. I'm looking forward to returning to Reykjavik in 2020.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Trip To EVE North

Once again, I turn The Nosy Gamer into a travel blog as I attend the EVE North convention in Toronto, Canada. Who would have thought that playing a video game would get me out of the house and jetting around the world?

This year, I started off with a couple of handicaps. I've been ill and need surgery on my sinuses, which is scheduled for July. In the meantime, I have to do a couple of things in preparation, which led to carting around some prescription drugs. I discovered that is really no big deal, at least where the TSA is concerned. I also took a pretty bad fall a week ago and my bruised and scraped up my knee. No serious damage, but my knees are creaky anyway and the fall didn't improve things.

Yesterday started with finishing the packing I should have done Wednesday, but was too busy yakking on Talking in Stations about the CSM election. I was picked up from home around 11 am and whisked off to the airport. It was my first flight on American Eagle and I was impressed with the concourse for the minor operators. The bar was practically 20 steps away, but due to the medications I was taking, I couldn't order a cold one. Thankfully, I finished that prescription this morning, so I'll be able to drink starting tonight.

The flight was uneventful once we took off. Boarding, of course, was an adventure, as the flight attendants had to do the dance of finding enough room for everyone's bags. Due to the problems I have with my knees, I chose a seat in row 1. Lots of leg room, which meant I could stretch out my bad leg. Also, checked bags for business class are free, while the rest of the plane gets charged $25. Considering the difference in price each way was $50, a little cost that was totally worth it.

When we landed in Toronto, the skies had let loose with a credible impression of Niagara Falls. Did I mention I forgot to pack an umbrella? First world problems a resourceful blogger can overcome! But first, I needed to get to my hotel.

The process for transportation was standard. Find the end of the queue at the taxi stand and wait. While waiting, I met up with an expat from the UK who had flown in from Philadelphia. The poor guy was stuck in Philly for a day due to weather, and he had theater tickets. Turns out his apartment was right on the way to my hotel, so we shared the cab. I know Americans might find this hard to believe, but US currency isn't taken in Canada. So he gave me $40 of the useless (to him) paper, which saved him the trouble of exchanging the bills to real money. The ride, including the tip I gave, came out to $85 CAD. Basically, I spent $25 USD for the trip, as my credit card doesn't charge me for foreign transaction fees.

I'm staying at the One King West Hotel & Residence instead of the Marriott Delta Hotel where the event is taking place. I chose the One King West due to its location within the city, as I plan to catch a few of the sites around Toronto. Good thing I did, because while my flight arrived on-time, the storm created quite a traffic jam. By the time I checked into the hotel, most of the stores had already closed. Apparently, a lot of Toronto shuts down at 7 pm, and I really needed to pick up some distilled water (don't ask).

I received an upgrade
First, though, my room. The lady at the reception desk gave me an upgrade with a better view and better amenities. When I walked in the room, all I thought was, "Wow!". I have a kitchenette, complete with a microwave oven, dishwasher, and washer/dryer unit. The microwave comes in handy for warming up the water. I'm just not sure what I am going to do with two televisions, as I don't watch TV, even at home.

My work area
But no matter how nice the room, my life was going to become a little more miserable if I didn't acquire some distilled water. Fortunately, a quick Google search located a 24-hour grocery store an easy 5 minute walk away from the hotel. A real, honest-to-goodness, huge grocery store. So I went down to the concierge desk to borrow an umbrella, and off I went.

I bought a 4-liter bottle of distilled water plus the Canadian equivalent of Hot Pockets (because I have a microwave) and settled in for the night. The store had a sign stating "We sell beer", so I guess package liquor stores are a thing in Ontario, but as I couldn't drink last night, I passed on the opportunity.

The next step after hitting the publish button is to head over to the Delta and register for the event. I've already did a little walking around, including going a block past the Starbucks to go to a Tim Horton's. After a decent breakfast, I'm ready to do a little exploring.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Quick Look At Whale Activity On EVE Online's Black Market

One of the more amusing subjects that emerged from the recent CSM election was the question of pay-to-win mechanics. Is EVE Online pay-to-win already? Some of the arguments had me cracking up. I was reading one of the channels on the Talking in Stations and someone asserted that no one purchases titans with real life money.

In a world where people spend tens of thousands of dollars on ships for a game still in alpha, people won't spend hundreds of dollars on titans in EVE? Right. I don't have figures on players who do so using the CCP-approved process, but I have a little insight on the black market.

I don't try to keep track of titans purchased directly for cash. But the RMT website Player Auctions provides customer satisfaction reviews which I track. Not all transactions have reviews, so the numbers in the chart above are low. But from the beginning of 2017 to the end of May 2019, I recorded 58 transactions of 75 billion ISK or more. I've always figured titans cost at least 75 billion ISK, so I've used that as the standard for probably titan sales. By that standard, 58 of the sales were probably related to purchasing a titan.

People informed me that titans don't cost 75 billion ISK. Outside Delve, the going rate is 65 billion ISK, with costs within the Imperium down to 45 billion ISK. The below graph is the result of the change in assumptions. The number of titan-scaled transactions jumped from 58 to 201.

One of the peculiarities of the second graph is the decline in the middle of the time period, running from December 2017 to May 2018.  During that time, CCP went a lot overboard on sales to attract a buyer. Even whales need a big enough hazard discount to make buying off the black market an attractive proposition.

Over the years I've gathered a lot of data on real money trading in EVE Online, both the type sanctioned by CCP and found on shady third-party sites. I might have to create more short posts like this instead of writing 10-page essays. I hear EVE players like graphs and charts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Grumpy About Triglavian Skills

I looked at the skill queue on my main character and liked what I saw.

Six more skills and I'd have Mastery V in all sub-cap ships in EVE Online. January 2020 was going to be a good month. But then I remembered, CCP added those damn Triglavians.

I totally neglected the new Triglavian skills. I can sit in a frigate, but can't run a disintegrator. The only skills I have I picked up running Abyssal sites, and quite frankly, I got a little tired of that. I'll have to pick some up when I get back from EVE North and get the PI colonies up and running again.

When CCP introduces new things to EVE, I'm usually pretty late to jumping on the bandwagon. I have no desire to fly Triglavian ships, at least for now. Maybe I'll find a reason in a year or two. Mostly, the whole collecting skills at this point is for completionist reasons, as the only ships I fly are either Minmatar, Sisters of EVE, or ORE. Well, and occasionally the Arbitrator.

I guess I should welcome the requirement to learn the skills of our new tripartite overlords. I can delay the time I have to make the decision to either stop training on my main or start learning capital ship skills a few months longer. Because as much as I don't fly Gallente ships, I'll fly capitals even less.

Monday, June 17, 2019

My Schedule For EVE North

With the CSM elections out of the way, the next big event on my EVE calendar is EVE North. Held in Toronto on the weekend of 22-23 June, the substitute on the schedule for the yearly event in Reykjavik isn't nearly as big. Then again, as the expansion of a player-run get together, any such expectations are a bit silly. Still, CCP may surprise with some news as it begins the development cycle leading to the next expansion, probably sometime in November. Needless to say, I will plan my schedule in Toronto accordingly.

First is the pre-convention activities. I always try to get into town for these events a couple of days early, and this trip is no different. I arrive on Thursday evening and hope to settle in for a day of walking around Toronto on Friday. I might meet up with people, although I'll have to refrain from drinking Thursday night due to some medications I'm taking. But the prescription runs out in time for me to drink with everyone on Friday.

Saturday is the big day and I might just camp in the Soco Ballroom. The welcoming ceremony and EVE Keynote are basically mandatory. Depending on the description of the "EVE Development Variety Hour", I may take a two-hour lunch. I will return in time for the player presentations running from 1400 - 1630. The Triglavian lore presentation and the New Eden Report's Year in Review are the highlights, but the "Alone in New Eden" presentation has an intriguing title.

The only mandatory session on Sunday is the one at 1000, "Player Experience - Support, Security & Community". I'm not sure exactly what to expect, although I hope a couple of interesting graphs and charts are included. I think the next session I'll attend is "State of Roleplaying". I'm not really sure the AMA at 1300 is worth giving up my two-hour lunch. And, of course, the closing ceremony.

Not really a big weekend. A few hours listening to presentations and 4 days catching up with people I usually only interact with over the internet. But I can use the break, plus I should pick up a couple of topics to write about.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Catching Up On The EVE Story

I'm a little behind the times on the lore of EVE Online. Not the player created history. The story of the empires that sets the background for New Eden. So I thought looking at the latest news article posted on 7 June and comment on the goings-on of our NPC overlords.

New Triglavian Strategy Emerges As Collective Establishes "Minor Conduits"

Yulai, Genesis – A new phase in the Triglavian invasion has developed in the last few days, with it becoming clear that the appearance of sites of space-time distortion across invasion zones is an effort to establish persistent "conduits" from Abyssal Deadspace into New Eden's known space. Triglavian messages heralding the appearance of the conduits were received by a number of capsuleers. CONCORD has designated the sites as "Minor Conduit" locations but the Triglavian Collective are maintaining significant forces at these sites, while continuing to roam across the systems within the invasion zones.
The implementation of Triglavian invasions continues apace. I really like how CCP is conducting the rollout. First, the events are building up gradually, giving the implantation of the conduct a live event feel, although without the live actors present. Second, CCP isn't just handing all the information out to players. Don't get me wrong, I like knowing what's about to hit us on Tranquility. But MMORPGs probably need to retain some sense of mystery. Finally, the phased rollout allows CCP to test each portion of the new content before deploying the next portion. I like hiding technical requirements like that.
Sansha's Nation Launch Incursion in Fabas Constellation; Widespread Landings in Nasreri System

Nasreri, Genesis – New Sansha's Nation incursion operations in the Fabas constellation have included major landings on the third and fourth planets of the Nasreri system. Reports indicate that major cities and colonies on those planets have been raided by True Slave forces and large numbers of people have been carried off in Sansha's Nation vessels. Civil defense has been overwhelmed in the face of what appears to be an opportunistic attack while CONCORD and Amarr forces redeploy in response to Triglavaian invasion fleet movements.
A reminder that just because CCP added Triglavian invasions that Sansha's Nation incursions are still present. What I really need to do is watch for times when invasions and incursions overlap. Sansha's Nation events stick to constellations while I've seen Triglavian invasions cross region boundaries. I want to see what happens if the two types of events overlap, especially since the Triglavians announced they don't care much for the slavers.

Blood Raider Attack on Matar Staged from FOBs in Evannater Constellation; Atgur Mining Operations Also Raided

Matar, Pator – The coast of Mikramurka on Matar has been struck by a vicious assault by the Blood Raider Covenant, with the seaport of Sundsele especially badly hit according to reports. The Blood Raider strike force is believed to have staged out of forward operating bases in the Evannater constellation. Mining installations in the Atgur system have also been struck by the Blood Raiders, with the cultist pirates apparently taking advantage of mobilization and redeployment movements of local Republic Fleet elements.

If Triglavians and the forces of Sansha Kuvakei aren't enough, the Blood Raiders decided to remind everyone they are still around with an attack on the Minmatar homeworld. Oh, and while they are at it, why not attack a system in a high sec island as well? I am bugged a little bit by this, because the Minmatar Republic is the home of the Angel Cartel. To add insult to injury, the Guardian Angels, a division of the Angel Cartel, provides security to the Serpentis Corporation. More Angel content please!
Upwell Consortium Announces Small Arms Contract with AEGIS

Yulai, Genesis – Upwell Consortium Chairman Yani Sar Arteu expressed delight today, as he shook hands with Provost Marshal Kasiha Valkanir, the head of CONCORD’s AEGIS division, at a gathering of defense contractors in Yulai. Shortly after their first time meeting in person the two signed an indefinite contract that marked Upwell Consortium as a supplier of armaments for the spacelane and installation security division.
If Project Nova were still in the news, I'd speculate that CCP's FPS in development was introducing new weapons. Instead, I wonder if this bit of news is intended as foreshadowing for some cool new weaponry coming to the game this fall.

In Other News

Royal Heir Arim Ardishapur Holding Audience for Local Dignitaries at Governor's Palace in Tanoo

Tanoo is a system in the Ammatar Mandate, which is overseen by the Ardishapur family. The system is also 4 jumps from the main trade hub of the Minmatar Republic, Rens. A good place for an incident, if CCP decides one is needed.

Military Governor Takes Command of Defense Operations in Patrie Constellation

To be honest, I don't know the significance of the constellation in Essence. Local flavoring to indicate tensions are up everywhere?

Mobilization of Kaalakiota's Home Guard and Lai Dai Protection Services in Minnen

Another constellation-wide mobilization, this time in the Caldari State region of Lonetrek.

Tribal Council Meeting to Consider Special Powers for Sanmatar Maleatu Shakor

Given the recent attack on the Minmatar homeworld in addition to the Triglavian invasion, granting additional power to the Minmatar leader is not entirely unexpected.

Accusations of Jovian Interference and Collaboration with Triglavians Directed at SOCT

Think some people aren't wondering why the powerful CONCORD are not dealing with the Triglavians?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Packing Up Elder Scrolls Online

With the CSM election underway. I'm just about ready to fly pixilated spaceships in virtual space once again. When covering an election, so much time is usually spent on doing research and updating websites that I spend very little time playing EVE. This year was a little different, as I spent most of my free time playing Elder Scrolls Online instead of EVE.

One of the goals I set for myself this year was to finish the base ESO game and reach 300 veteran points on a character. I actually managed to finish the Morrowind expansion and my healing templar has over 350 veteran points. I've maxed out all crafting professions except jewelcrafting. And I give myself a pass on jewelcrafting as the profession was not included in the original game. In short, I've reached the goals I set for myself when I took up ESO last May.

Perhaps I'm getting sentimental in my old age, but I don't want to just drop my character in the middle of nowhere. Instead, I'm going to mothball the character on the off-chance I want to play the game in the future. And since the game technically doesn't require an ESO Plus subscription, I can keep my crafting research queues filled learning those 9th traits I never got to. For EVE players, think alpha skill queues.

I have probably leaving my character in the best shape of any character I've ever played. She has a big mansion in Wayrest, the capital of the Daggerfall Covenant. In the mansion are 5 crates with 210 slots of inventory space. I still need to put in the crafting stations to do research so I can just log in and log out to update my research queues.

I also did some spring cleaning of my inventory. The ESO Plus subscription doubles inventory and bank space, so I made sure I was using less than half of each. I'm not sure how the mount inventory capacity works, so I may wind up with 115 inventory slots on my character instead of 85 once the subscription ends. If so, I could drop in from time to time to do things, as 115 slots is plenty, as long as I don't pick up a lot of crafting materials.

Oh, crafting materials. The biggest benefit to the ESO Plus subscription is the crafting bag. The only way I can see to replace the crafting bag is to create numerous mules, spend gold to increase their carry capacity, and then swap between them often. Since I only intend to keep my research queues filled, a totally unnecessary effort. But if I ever come back to play, and don't want to pay for ESO Plus, a viable strategy.

My subscription ends Thursday, so I need to purchase the crafting stations, write down some notes on where I left off, and then concentrate on EVE once more. I think I might even write a review of the game. After a rocky start, I came to like Tamriel. But not enough to make ESO my permanent home game.

Monday, June 10, 2019

CSM 14 Voting Starts Today

Barring any controversies over the next week, I can relax and begin enjoying EVE again. The elections for the 14th Council of Stellar Management begin today and run through 17 June. The link to vote is buried a bit on the community site, but you can find it here. The link is probably on the launcher, but I had to leave for work before voting began. Dunk Dinkle provided a handy how-to guide on how to vote.

For those who are just beginning to notice the election and don't know anything about the candidates, I created a Google site with information from the last 5 CSM elections. The one for this week's election is here.

Once again, the podcast/streaming community has covered the election with a series of interviews. Between 3-time CSM member Jin'taan and Talking in Stations, 31 interviews were conducted with 23 of the 44 candidates in the race. One of the candidates Jin'taan interviewed did not make the final ballot, which is one of the pitfalls of having to conduct interviews before the ballot is announced. On my site, I had to delete 16 candidate pages this year. Yes, that many people were either rejected or decided not to run after all. I hear the number was even greater as not all potential candidates posted their intentions on the official forums.

In addition to Jin'taan and his one-man operation, I'd like to give a special shout out to MacCloud, the technical wizard who produces Talking in Stations. He stayed up all Saturday night to ensure that the remaining CSM interviews, including three conducted on Saturday, were posted to the internet on Sunday. A lot of people forget (or don't know) about all the work behind the scenes required to bring a podcast to life.

I'll have a couple of final posts once the election results are announced at EVE North, but for now, I'm finished with the CSM election coverage for this year. I do have a final question, though. What kind of turnout do you expect for this year's election? If you could take my Twitter poll, I'd appreciate it. The poll will run until downtime on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Thoughts On The CSM 14 Election One Week Before Voting Begins

With 6 days remaining until the Council of Stellar Management elections begin next Monday. I think I am all CSM'd out for this year. I still have to check for updates on the forums, although I think the odds of any additional candidates creating a new threads in the CSM Campaign section of the forums ranges from slim to none. Both Jin'taan and Talking In Stations have additional interviews due out this week. Between the two, 9 out of the 44 candidates have interviews posted so far. I need to keep listening, as some candidates have foot-in-mouth disease. For example, don't say, "I don't care if CCP sells bullets that do a little more damage, frankly. I don't see that as completely destabilizing the game." Wargaming removed gold ammo from World of Tanks for a very good reason. If a game publisher wants to attract players, a reputation for pay-to-win items like gold ammo is counter-productive to that goal.

I also am hearing some big talk from some of the null sec blocs about how they plan to win seats. Legacy is an interesting case study. No candidate backed by Brave Collective leadership has ever lost a CSM race. In Dunk Dinkle, Brave once again has a very strong candidate. Conversely, Test Alliance Please Ignore has never had a candidate win a seat. Last year, Creecher Virpio would have ended the drought but not for some meta-gaming by members of Pandemic Legion. Will Vily break the curse?

Another question is the fate of two incumbents, Sort Dragon and Killah Bee. Last year, the pair benefited greatly from the disqualification of Pandemic Horde's chosen candidate during the application process. With not only the leader of the Horde, Gobbins, running, but Aegaeonos and Arqui Nurbs as well, I don't think Killah Bee can count on help from those quarters. Sort Dragon has the additional handicap of fighing against PanFam at this time, so a big chunk of his support from last year is unavailable for his run for a fifth term on CSM.

The other question is whether high sec, low sec, or wormhole space can elect a representative. High sec's best hope is incumbent Steve Ronuken, who is running to win for a sixth time. Three-time CSM member Mike Azariah is also running, with Lorelei Ierendi, a candidate who's come close with a few strong showings, a dark horse candidate. Low sec only has one candidate, Matthew Dust, lists faction warfare amongst his current credentials to rally around. In contrast, wormholers have several candidates running. If the wormhole community can get together and vote for all 6 at the top of their tickets, in whatever order they choose, a chance exists for w-space to sneak a candidate on. The question is, can the residents of spooky space find that unity of purpose as they did in the CSM 8 election?

One other observation. I won't write an endorsement post or announce who I've voting for until after the election, if then. Like I said at the top of the post, I'm all CSM'd out, and I still have several interviews to listen to. Two more weeks until I leave for EVE North in Toronto and this whole election is over. I think I'll drink to that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Quick Look At The Agency 3.0

Another expansion, another yawn. Usually when we get an expansion, my gameplay gets nerfed more than buffed. The more I watched and read, the more nervous I became.

One of the phrases I dread to hear from the devs is, "We're updating The Agency." Ever since CCP moved the agent finder from stations and moved it to The Agency, I grew to despise the feature. After all, why do I need to see more than 12 agents at a time, right? That just means a player needs to refine the search parameters. Oh well, at least they didn't ask, "You do have a smart phone, don't you?"

Look, I realize that EVE is a complex game and new players need all the help they can get. I also appreciate the ability to keep The Agency from automatically popping up every time I log into a character. But the "Progressive Disclosure" tech promises an increase in clicks to find things.

The dev blog did promise some hopeful improvements.
  • Larger space for content results
  • Remembering your last filters for each content type
  • The return of the 'Agent Finder' advanced agent search
  • Bookmark any content pages to bypass the page tree with a single click
The dev blog also filled me with dread. I thought CCP was about to give hunters another huge jump in intelligence, this time when hunting explorers. The description sounded bad.
Combat Anomalies
In this section you can see all systems containing Combat Anomalies, filter them based on location and security status, then see the number of Combat Anomalies that exist within those systems. For systems that are within one jump, you can also see the type & name of the Combat Anomaly. We feel that this increased transparency will encourage bewildered players to travel outside of their system if there are no anomalies present in the current system.

Cosmic Signatures
In the Cosmic Signatures page, we will be making a big change to how Capsuleers will be exploring New Eden. The main change here is the visibility of the number of available signatures in all systems. For the system you are currently in, you will be able to view the signature IDs as normal. We are aware of the implications of this change and will monitor the effect on New Eden and the Exploration career, with the possibility of balancing and tweaking in the future.
Coming on the fifth anniversary of the Odyssey expansion which hurt low sec mining by replacing gravitational sites, which required probing down, with today's always visible in the interface ore sites, I was not looking forward to even more intel given to hunters on a silver platter.

The day of the expansion, I got home, fixed dinner, did some perusal of the black market, the usual thing. Then I logged into EVE on my main and jump cloned from my Abyssal clone to my exploration clone, hopped in my trusty Cheetah, and took off for Ingunn to start doing a little fact-finding.

The first thing I discovered was The Agency has a well-designed home page. Hopefully new players find the layout as intuitive as I did. Players can access the home page at anytime by either clicking on The Agency icon in the upper-left hand corner, or the word "Home" in the path, also in the upper left-corner of the window.

In general, I like the ability to find pages without having to do the normal hunt through menus EVE is famous for. The tabs at the top struck me immediately as a major improvement for navigation. The ability to create bookmarks to my favorite pages is a godsend. And perhaps most importantly, the toggle to open the page automatically upon login is in the lower-right hand corner of the home page. The devs did not hide the option in some obscure location in the general settings window.

My biggest pet peeve with The Agency was the agent finder functionality. The original version could only display 12 agents, which is pretty meager. Yes, the previous version did have additional filters to limit the search results. In my opinion, though, the options weren't well laid out and sometimes limiting a search down to 12 results or less just isn't possible.

The search that really set me off when CCP first introduced The Agency was when I was researching mining agents. The old agent finder worked great when I researched mining agents two years ago. When I decided to revisit the subject using The Agency, I found the 12 agent limit very annoying. I still can't display all the level 4 Gallente mining agents at the same time, but at least I can see all the level 4 agents in low sec. More importantly, I can see all 17 agents in Placid when I use the region filter. One of these days, I really need to visit Intaki.

One of my big concerns was the intelligence hunters would receive. The way the combat anomalies and cosmic signatures were described in the dev blog, players could see the number of sites half-way across the cluster. All a player would wanted to check for exploration activity was to watch for the number of sites to decrease. Conversely, players could watch for wormholes appearing in systems by noticing an increase in the number of unknown signatures.

At least for the first night, the system didn't work quite as advertised. Players still received the more detailed information in their current system plus any adjacent system. But starting two jumps away, the anomaly and signature counts were always one. Among the benefits of testing in low sec are the plentiful number of unrun sites with which to test these features.

Of course, I saved the most awesome and wonderful addition for last. Tool tips. Yes, I know that the Eve University wiki is a wonderful thing. But having information just a mouse hover away is wonderful. Just knowing where to find a particular type of ore is very useful. Now imagine trying to find the right type of planets for Planetary Interaction. The EVE University wiki is still a great resource for what to do once a player has found the desired planets. But one obstacle to PI for me was always finding the planets I wanted in the first place.

I do have one request for CCP if anyone in Iceland reads this post. Could you please let us know if you see an uptick in people running the Epic Arcs? The fact that the starting agents for the arcs is so easy to see know I'm sure will probably result in more people running the content. Or perhaps more players grinding the reputation to run the missions arcs. Either way, I hope the accessibility leads to more people running the content.

I'll admit, when I logged into the game to check out The Agency, I fully expected to hate the feature. At this point, I like the changes I've seen. I just hope that some of the things I saw were not bugs and that once everything is fixed, I'll like the new UI feature less. But as for now, I don't have any complaints about The Agency. But I do reserve the right to change my mind.