Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Should I Look For?

Things are getting a bit ridiculous here in the EVE community.  The latest case involves a pilot named wheniaminspace, who was banned for exploiting a temporary condition that was introduced in the Crius release.  I'd go into the case in great detail, but I don't want to run afoul of point 23 of the Terms of Service.   Suffice it to say that a lot of people are white knighting someone who clearly deserves a permanent ban.  The pilot in question is the one who used the exploit the most.  Of the 31 times I detected the exploit used, wheniaminspace was involved 22 times.

Unfortunately, the article on covering the exploit was pretty bad.  The explanation of the exploit itself was good, but the author used a lot of filler to meet the word count in order to get paid.  The article jammed two good story ideas into one.  Too bad they didn't really mix well.  I'd go into more detail and even link to the article, but the article did break the EVE Online Terms of Service, so I won't link it until I know that the exploit is either fixed or the condition no longer applies.  Which, when I think about the subjects I've covered and pages I've linked to over the years, is pretty weird to type.  However, even I have boundaries I won't cross and jeopardizing my EVE accounts is one.

That brings me to the planned topic for today.  I track and write about a lot of metrics about EVE.  But those metrics are usually about illicit ISK or concurrent user counts.  I really need to start paying more attention to what is occurring in the game, especially in New Eden's above-ground economy.  EVE's economy is probably the best of any MMORPG on the market.  I should at least make one graph and chart porn filled post every month.

The Crius release is the perfect opportunity to begin.  CCP revamped industry (except invention, which is coming soon) and I can start monitoring the markets to see how the changes are impacting the economy.  But what to monitor?

Right now the PLEX market is obvious and I have data for Jita going back to the beginning of Crucible and for all of EVE going back to 1 June 2013.  Another obvious target is veldspar and tritanium.  The changes to ore and mineral compression along with reprocessing will definitely have an impact.  The question is: how big?

As far as low sec is concerned, I really wonder about the impact of the new ore sites that were released in Kronos.  I wonder how hard trying to track the amount of hedbergite, hemorphite, and jaspet mined in low is?  Since one of the goals of spawning those sites in low sec was to draw people in to low sec, I how much of those ores players are willing to haul to market.

But writing about just economic matters is a little dry.  I need to add something into the mix for other players.  Perhaps I should add in some of the stats that Wollari provides at Dotlan Maps.   People love graphs about exploding spaceships.

I'm still playing around with a way to present the data in an interesting fashion.  Since I'm just a casual type of carebear, I'll put out a call for help.  What should I look for in order to put together something intelligent?  I'm sure I'm missing a lot of interesting tidbits that would give me a greater understanding of New Eden's economy.  So please leave any ideas in the comments to this post.  I may not use them because I'm not that good at automatically extracting information, but I'd appreciate the advice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Happy EVE Is Dying! Day

One of the recurring themes in EVE Online is that "EVE is dying."  We see it today with the declining ACU number.  We saw it a few years ago during the Summer of Rage.  Actually, we hear someone bring up the idea all the time.  But how long has EVE been dying?

The answer may surprise people.  Chribba did a search of the forums and discovered the first mention of "EVE is dying" was posted by Madox on 30 July 2003:

Posted - 2003.07.30 19:45:00 - [8]

i think people forget that we are paying for a service here.

if you were at a restaurant and they told you your food would be ready in an hour then 15 minutes after the hour they told you it would instead take an additional hour AND THEN they don't bring your meal out for another two hours without telling you, something would be seriously wrong.

now image that restaurant has 5000 people in it.

we are the customers here. we are paying for a service. we have every right to question what is going on. now granted, isk refunds for missed productivity and asking for some sort of public appology that all the devs signed is just plain silly. however, a dev CAN take 35 seconds out of their busy schedule and make a small post on the devblog letting the paying customers know what is going on.

i think that is all anybody is really asking for.

*eve is dying*
That's right.  The players began proclaiming that EVE is dying 11 years ago today.  Apparently EVE is afflicted with a long, lingering, illness.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 28 July 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 27 July 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft41.06,332-22.0
22Guild Wars 213.72,112-16.8
33Star Wars: The Old Republic10.31,593-1.7
54Final Fantasy XIV5.2801-35.1
66EVE Online5.0771-3.0
1010Lord of the Rings Online3.0465-9.2
1112Elder Scrolls Online1.9293-9.6
12--Neverwinter1.8 279-12.3
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 15,445

Sunday saw a dramatic drop in the amount of time the Xfire community spent playing MMORPGs.  The 18% decrease in the amount of hours logged into the most popular games was lead by World of Warcraft (-1784 hours) with no game seeing an increase in playtime on Sunday.  RIFT fell off the list, replaced by Neverwinter.

Falling Back Down To Earth - Last weekend WoW surprised me with a 25.3% increase in time played by Xfire members.  Apparently, Blizzard sent out invitations to unsubscribed players to come back and try the game out again.  The offer expired and Sunday saw the number of hours fall 22% this week.  That drop accounted for over half the overall decrease on Sunday.

Technical Difficulties, Part 1 - I do have to wonder if Xfire experienced some technical difficulties that prevented hours from registering on Sunday.  Exibit A: Tera.  The game held an event over the weekend in which players received a 20% XP boost from killing mobs, an increase in the number of quests that players could do in a day, and a stamina increase.  Yet the number of hours played decreased by 3%.  Very strange, considering part of the event was allowing players to do more content.

Technical Difficulties, Part 2 - Exibit B: EVE Online.  With the release of the Crius patch last Tuesday, EVE should have seen an increase in the number of hours played.  Indeed, the maximum peak concurrent user mark was up over 10% Sunday compared to the weekend before.  Yet the number of hours played also decreased by 3%.  I know that Xfire does not always faithfully record an increase or decrease every time the actual PCU increases or decreases, but combined with the facts that not only should Tera's hours have increased but no game saw an increase in hours makes me suspicious.  We'll have to watch what the results are next week.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Little Bit About EVE Online's New Executive Producer

On Friday, CCP announced the promotion of Andie Nordgren (aka CCP Seagull) to become the next Executive Producer for EVE Online.  Despite releasing the news on a Friday, CCP was not trying to hide her promotion as the marketing department set up embargoed interviews with PCGamer, Polygon, and Massively as well as an AMA1 on Reddit. published an article covering the AMA while Eve News 24's coverage was limited to reposting CCP Seagull's dev blog.  Responses from EVE's blogosphere was quiet, although Susan Black's post on Nordgren's AMA was superior to that found in the EVE media.

The official CCP press release contained a paragraph I found rather interesting:
"'It gives me great joy and confidence that Andie has accepted this challenge. Over the years I have watched her go from strength to strength at CCP and believe her deep understanding of how communities thrive and grow will benefit EVE even more in this new role,' said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP. 'As senior producer, Andie developed and communicated a tremendously inspiring path forward for EVE which, now that she’s at the helm, we are confident will deliver EVE Online to new and exciting places in its second decade.'"
Following the departure of John Lander from the role of executive producer following Fanfest 2013, I had the feeling that Hilmar wanted to hire some big name figure like Scott Hartsman to fill the position.2  In its coverage of Nordgren's promotion, Gamasutra pointed out a dev blog in which Hilmar stated that CCP was already interviewing candidates to replace Lander and that the transition would occur in the summer.  In fairness, he did not indicate the summer of which year.

I can't get inside Hilmar's mind to say definitively why he changed his mind about bringing in someone from outside CCP to fill the position.  But what I can do is try to examine CCP Seagull's background.  What about Nordgren made Hilmar decide that while she is not the candidate he originally wanted, she is the executive producer that EVE Online needs?

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Worst Swordsman

Last night I watched Ashterothi, a co-host on the High Drag and Hydrostatic Podcasts, stream his initial experiences in industry after Crius.  By the time I got home, he was doing mission 6 of the industry tutorial.  When he tweeted that he knew less about industry than the newest newb, he wasn't kidding.

I learned a couple of tricks with the new UI that I hadn't known about, mostly because I already have all of my blueprints in stations and he wanted to start playing with his new BPOs right away.  Also because I have so many minerals in my factory station and a new character doesn't have a lot.  He mentioned on the stream that he wanted to discuss the UI on High Drag to another co-host, Random McNally, and I'll be checking for when the podcast comes out.  I think that should fall sometime in the second week of August.

After the stream ended, I was reminded of a quote from Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court:
"The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him."
I get the feeling that CCP has just put the sword of industry into the hands of a lot of people who have never heard of opportunity costs and believe that minerals you mine yourself are free.  I'm not saying that Ashterothi is that type, since one of the co-hosts on the Hydrostatic Podcast is Lockefox, who will educate him as necessary.  And if Lockefox doesn't do it, I expect Random will.  But a lot of the complexity of industry in EVE was fighting the old UI.  I just wonder how many people will try industry out now that the UI makes the task so much simpler.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Return To Datacore Farming

Yesterday was the first time I was excited about getting home from work and playing EVE Online in a very long time.  Does having an industry UI I don't have to fight with make that big of a difference?  Yes!

I know that Crius launched with a lot of bugs.  Yes, the UI not updating correctly once a job was delivered was irritating, but that was fixed this morning (I hope).  But last night was more about updating my long neglected datacore farm.  I want to make a Prospect and need the Gallente Spaceship Engineering datacores.  So I needed to drop a level 2 research agent in Metropolis and hire a level 3 one in Essence.

In EVE, one does not simply fire an agent long distance.  That's because the agent will keep any datacores (or the research points used to buy the datacores) once told to go away.  The agents aren't very helpful once told to go away.  They just stop talking until you apologize or fly away.  But if you apologize, they still keep the research points.  Research agents are petty like that.

All told, my trip took 43 jumps and collected 45 datacores.  Not that cost effective, but gave me an excuse to really open up the speed on my warp speed rigged Prowler.  The two things I love in EVE are speed and stealth and the blockade runner has both.  I had three nanos in the lows which cut down on the align time, but was just a bit of overkill.  I hear CCP created a new module for the lows that boosts warp speed even more.  I should probably look into getting one.

My flying for the night wasn't over.  I had 100,000 rounds of tech 2 ammo to deliver to Molden Heath.  Did I mention I love flying with small cargoes?  I know I'm supposed to min/max everything, but EVE is such a beautiful game that a chance to just fly and watch the planets pass by is too good to pass up.  Besides, I was kind of excited because this was the first time I was putting tech 2 ammo on the market.

With production costs up in the air due to the industry changes, I double-checked my calculations to make sure I wasn't dropping a zero.  Nope.  Not only that, but I was competitive, putting up a price that I thought was fair.  Okay, maybe I charged more than Jita prices, but for one of the ammo types I was actually offering a price lower than that found in both Rens and Hek on Wednesday.  Quite frankly, I worry more about prices in the trade hubs of the Republic than I do some distant cesspool of scum and villainy in the Caldari State.

Of course, I ended the night picking out blueprints to research and copy.  Since I'm interested in making a Prospect, I took my researched Venture BPO and set up to make 5 30-run copies.  When doing invention, I like the number 5 for some reason.  The only disappointing thing is that I'm still doing industry stuff on one character.  I have 4 with training!  I guess the good news is I have more to look forward to tonight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Industry UI For The 21st Century

I know the title of the post will annoy roleplayers who will insist we are in the 2nd century (or 23rd millennium, depending on how one counts these things), but I'm glad that CCP has updated EVE Online's industry user interface to compete with games developed in the 21st century.

The old industry UI harkened back to the time in which EVE was developed.  Many may not realize that CCP was formed back in 1997 and its first successful product was the board game Hættuspil.  Back when EVE Online was conceptualized and developed, Everquest was the king of the MMO world, using third party sites was frowned upon by both developers and many gamers, and presenting information in table form was not only acceptable, but what many gamers had grown up with.  Is it any surprise that with the amount of information needed to play the sci-fi game that EVE quickly earned a reputation as "spreadsheets in space"?

But times change.  I don't play a lot of Wildstar, but one thing I like about the game is the crafting user interface.  Everything is nicely laid out, with the information presented in an accessible format.  I was able to get into making items quickly.  I'm glad to say that after playing with the new industry UI last night that CCP has taken that clunky late 20th century UI and created a new one that compares favorably, if not surpasses, one from the latest AAA MMORPG.

Making Tech 2 Ammo

First is the manufacturing UI.  I like it.  No more having to flip between two windows.  I can select my blueprint, see what materials I need if I don't have enough, and see what I will output.  I can even change the number of runs and watch the materials needed change on the fly.  The interface is really convenient as I can read off the materials used on the screen, enter them into my spreadsheet that stores the amount I spent purchasing the materials, and quickly calculate the price.  I can then figure out how much to charge.  The above example is for tech 2 ammunition.  Remember I said I planned on doubling down on low sec Monday?  The graphic above was the first batch of Barrage S I'm producing in a low sec station.

Searching For Researched BPOs

One thing that used to drive me crazy was getting my researched and non-researched blueprints mixed up.  Just because I'm a casual industrialist doesn't mean I want to waste material by building something with the wrong blueprint.  That should never happen again.  The UI shows how much, if any, a blueprint is researched.  As the graphic above shows, I did pretty well with my material efficiency research, but horribly with time efficiency research.  With the new UI, I can easily tell which blueprints need some research love.

Finding Station Activity Levels

One concern I had with the new industry system and the removal of industry slots was how to determine if a station is really busy or seldom used.  Turns out that the information is displayed graphically in the "Facilities" tab.  The information doesn't give numbers, but a tooltip will pop up that displays a bar that shows the system cost index.  The shorter the bar, the less the service costs.  I think each notch on the bar is 10%, but I'm getting old so I'm perhaps reading the display incorrectly.  But I like the display as a way to quickly tell the favorable and unfavorable stations apart.

Testing Invention Outcomes

One of the nice features of the system is that one can experiment with outcomes, even if a player doesn't have all the items.  In the above example, the UI lists the possible decryptors and meta items that can influence the success and output of an invention job.  No more having to find a third party site to get the information.  Just play around and when I find a combination I like, just click on the "Start" button.  Of course, in the example above I'm running the maximum amount of jobs my skills allow, so I'll have to wait until a job finishes.  Did I mention the UI remembers the inputs if you accidentally close the UI?  Or if you need to wait for a job to finish?  That is very nice.

The industry changes only went live yesterday, so the jury is still out on how the whole industrial revamp will eventually turn out.  But I really like the UI changes that came out with Crius.  I wish we had this five years ago when I first started playing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 22 July 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 20 July 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft43.18,116+25.3
22Guild Wars 213.52,538+23.9
33Star Wars: The Old Republic8.61,620+18.2
44Final Fantasy XIV6.61,234+15.9
66EVE Online4.2795-5.1
1012Lord of the Rings Online2.7512+73.0
129Elder Scrolls Online1.7324-25.9
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 18,826

Sunday saw the Xfire community return to playing its favorite MMORPGs following the end of the World Cup.  The 20.7% increase in the time spent logged into these games was lead by World of Warcraft (+1641 hours) while only two games, Elder Scrolls Online (-113 hours) and EVE Online (-43 hours) saw a decline in interest.  Neverwinter fell off the list, replaced by RIFT.

The World Cup Effect - I've made a lot out of the decline of the decline in the Xfire numbers this year, but now that the World Cup is over, did the numbers bounce back?  The answer is a resounding yes.  Sunday witnessed Xfire members spending 20.7% more time playing MMORPGs than the weekend before.  Comparing Sunday with 8 June, the last Sunday before the beginning of the World Cup, also finds a favorable comparison.  From that date, the amount of time the Xfire community spent logged into its favorite MMORPGs only declined by 1%.  Compared to the huge declines earlier this year, that is a victory.

But What Happened In WoW? - A big question I was unable to answer concerns the king of MMORPGs, World of Warcraft.  I was unable to find a reason for the 25.3% increase in playtime.  The increase appears driven by the amount of time playing WoW.  Players spent 5.8 hours logged in.  Did players watch so much World Cup that they were catching up on lost time?

Are ESO Players Steamed? - Despite having a reported 772,374 subscribers in June, Elder Scrolls Online is at the bottom of the Digital Dozen this week.  Is this just another sign of the weakness of Xfire?  On Thursday, Zenimax made ESO available for sale on Steam.  I always figured the numbers would drop once ESO was released for console, but I never considered that Bethesda would release the game on Steam.  I guess that many players who play their games through Steam wouldn't bother to put on another tracking source like Xfire or Raptr.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tear Fueled Ambition

Normally, the only tears I'm associated with are those I collect from botters and those engaging in buying and selling virtual currency.

ISK buyer tears
But the amount of tears on the forums and in the comment sections of the blogs I read are getting a bit much.  I guess I could take the complainers at face value and believe that a casual manufacturer like me is doomed and that I need to find something else to do in EVE.  Then again, I find it hard to take the complaints of people who will have it so good compared to me after Crius is deployed yesterday very seriously.

Really, folks in high sec, don't expect much sympathy from someone in low sec.  High sec industrialists will have access to teams, which should give them an advantage over a casual low sec manufacturer like myself.  The only advantage I'll have over the high sec industrialist is their belief that low sec players are just in the game for them to exploit, which should still allow a member of the Cult of Reasonable Prices to operate in low sec markets. 

Well, that and the fact I'm willing to bust through a gate camp or two.  Just remember, high sec industrialists.  Forget anything I've written about PvP in low sec declining.  Listen to people like Niden and FunkyBacon.   That post Rixx made about his video card dying?  IT'S A TRAP!!! If you jump into low sec, you will die. Niden, Funky, and Rixx are waiting for you on the other side of that gate.  If they aren't, then someone from one of their alliances is.  Better to just not come into low sec at all.

All right, that last paragraph was a little over the top.  But I think I made my point.  I and low sec carebears like me have to evade and escape from people like Niden, Funky, and Rixx in order to operate.  That right there limits my effectiveness compared to the high sec industrialist.  Teams and having CONCORD protect high sec POS just add to the attraction of operating in high sec.

I seriously considered moving back to high sec.  Quite frankly, with the changes coming tomorrow, staying in low sec is pretty stupid.  But a low sec base is more convenient for my faction ammunition business.  Most of the cost of that is the time I take acquiring loyalty points, not manufacturing. 

With all of the tears flowing from high sec, I figure I'll do something really stupid.  That's right, I'm going to double-down on low.  Can a casual industrialist not only survive, but thrive, in low sec operating against the high sec industrialists and all of the advantages they'll enjoy once Crius goes live.  The only way to really know is to try, right?

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Butterfly Effect In EVE: Bloggers And Data

I realize that Friday's traditionally are reserved for flaming other bloggers, not praising them.  But Gevlon did a nice piece of quantitative analysis today using data from the past 18 months from Dotlan and came up with some interesting conclusions.  I would say that even Goons wouldn't argue too much with the post.  Of course, Goons are Goons and the post was written by Gevlon, so insults would fly.  That's just the nature of EVE at this point.

That got me to thinking about how Gevlon came to write that post.  He credits my Wednesday post for giving him the idea, but I started gathering data in response to a post by Sven over at EVE Lost and Found, "The State of EVE – Some Player Activity Statistics".  I thought he may have uncovered some data (I didn't realize Dotlan stored data back to 2010) that would validate a theory I have.  Turns out he didn't, but I learned something.  And a hat tip to Sugar Kyle for pointing out his blog to me.  I've added it to my blogroll.

He, in turn, was inspired to write his post due to the reaction to my post using the average concurrent users mark to note historical events in New Eden from the launch of Retribution up to the launch of Kronos.  I think the doom and gloom was getting to him.  Interestingly enough, though, he credits my post explaining how to pull the average concurrent user information from EVE Offline as the true start.  What really makes things interesting is that I wrote that piece partly in response to another post of Gevlon's, although I had considered posting the instructions for some time.  Gevlon's post just spurred me to action.  Gevlon then took the instructions and updated his post with some more cool analytic work in a way I hadn't considered before.

Just to allay fears that Gevlon and I sit in a little echo chamber discussing the merits of quantitative vs qualitative analysis, I should bring Niden into this post.  Niden's post took ideas from Sven's post (i.e. the ships killed projection for low sec in 2014 is pretty obvious) and pruned them down to concentrating on PvP.  Niden tends to focus on PvP, while I try to look at all aspects of low sec.  Then again, I'm a carebear living in low sec, so that's where my biases lay.  But I think that both Niden and I agree that low sec is a more lively place than before.  I think we just analyze the data differently.  Also, I'm a bit leery of using projections as no one really knows when CCP will choose to shake up the ant farm.

I probably should conclude this post with a chart I came up with when Blog Banter 52 was still a thing back in January.  Just because the ACU is declining doesn't mean I think subscriptions are also.

I have other reasons to believe that.  Just relying on the ACU?  Kind of weak.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stories I'd Like To Read

One reason I've stuck around EVE Online as long as I have is the sheer scope of the game.  Even playing for almost five years, I still don't know a lot of the game.  That wealth of content available is a reason why players who finally "get" EVE stick around so long.  People who get tired of one type of game play don't have to leave their friends behind; they just find another aspect of the game.  A great example is those tired of the null sec sov grind moving to low sec for a different style of play.

With so many possibilities offered to players, the stories available to write about are equally numerous.  Whether the story involves doing research and analysis or just going out and writing about experiences playing the game, EVE has something for just about everyone.  Except elves.  No elves here.  Sorry.1

I do some writing about EVE, but I don't have time to delve into all of the subjects I'd like.  I was thinking about this last night as Wildstar kept lagging on me and my ghost was stuck in the netherworld.  What stories about EVE would I like to see the news sites or other bloggers cover? 

What about Sean Decker? - On 2 July of last year, Sean Decker was hired by CCP as the new Senior Vice President of Product Development.  Think he's had a busy year?  We always seem to read about CCP when they have problems.  But the one year anniversary of his hire seems like a good time to reflect back on what's happened with CCP and figure out if the company as a whole is in better shape.  Is the doom and gloom we keep hearing about really warranted?  Or is CCP just like a freighter that takes a long time to align and warp off in the right direction?

The High Sec Moon Rush - I know that people have written and posted about the upcoming rush to acquire moons in 0.8 and 0.9 systems in high sec once Crius launches next week.  But I'd love to see pieces analyzing who really made the move.  Are any big corporations or alliances trying to stake a claim on a constellation?  Or will ownership of these new high sec POS trickle down to the little guy?

Also, I'd love to read the stories of the people building and using POS for the first time.  Their hopes and dreams followed by the reality of actually running a POS.  Crius is supposed to open up industry to newer players and I'd love to read if CCP's design goals are working.

Of course, EVE does have a problem with abandoned POS.  Hopefully someone will document the stories (and business arrangements) of those who see a profit in serving as the clean up crew as well.

The Low Sec Moon Rush - Land (or in EVE's case, moon) grabs aren't just reserved for high sec.  The empires are also losing control in low sec, with a seemingly minor math change opening up the moons in 0.4 systems for exploitation.  Stories have circulated about the great null sec alliances have already grabbed up all the good moons already.

Is that really true?  I'm guessing yes, although I don't know how many resources such an effort takes.  Perhaps someone will write about the effort to scan down all of these moons.  Or just the moons in a single system.  Even better, I hope someone writes about going out and setting up a moon mining operation for the first time.  Analysis pieces are great, but actually reading about someone's experiences are good too.

I also don't think I've read about how the issue of power projection affects low sec in any great detail.  I think a lot of low sec residents just take it for granted that the big null sec alliances will come in with their huge cap fleets and take what they want.  I'd love to read the argument that power projection isn't just a concern for null sec.

Of course, people may have already written about some of these issues and I just missed the articles and blog posts.  Then again, perhaps conditions have changed and some of these articles need updating.  I just see a few big subjects coming up just waiting for someone to write about them.  Perhaps out of all of this we'll see emerge the next big EVE blogger.  And if someone is already writing about these things, let me know in the comments.  I really want to read those stories.


1.  Not sorry.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Game Of Graphs: What's Happening In Low Sec?

EVE players are known for their love of graphs and charts.  My post from last Monday that used a graph of the average concurrent users matched up with in-game events proved pretty popular and created some discussions.  But one of the talking points I've read in a couple of places leaves me a bit puzzled.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 15 July 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 13 July 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft41.56,475-6.0
22Guild Wars 213.12,049+0.8
33Star Wars: The Old Republic8.81,371-25.5
45Final Fantasy XIV6.81,065+2.6
66EVE Online5.4838+0.5
911Elder Scrolls Online2.8437+41.0
12--Lord of the Rings Online1.9296+24.9
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 15,600

The final match of the World Cup saw the Xfire community turn to their television screens one last time until 2018.  On Sunday, its members spent 6.4% fewer hours playing MMORPGs than the week before.  Star Wars: The Old Republic witnessed the biggest decline (-469 hours) while Elder Scrolls Online witnessed a resurgence, leading all games with increased playtime with 127 hours.  Vindictus ended its two-week run in the Digital Dozen, replaced by Lord of the Rings Online.

TOR Is Not Dying - Despite leading all games on the list with a 469 hour drop in time played by Xfire members, a 25.5% decline is not a sign that Star Wars: The Old Republic fans are finally turning away from the game.  A decline like Sunday's is natural following a double XP event like the one Bioware held from 1-7 July.  The next expansion, Galactic Strongholds, is expected to launch this October, with subscriber early access beginning on 19 August.

Wildstar Is Not Dying - Despite the number of hours Xfire members spend playing Wildstar declining every week since launch, Wildstar is not dying.  Other sites like Raptr are not showing this behavior.  However, the decline is another example that MMORPGs have difficulty maintaining their initial audience.  The question now remains whether Carbine's planned monthly content patches will eventually stop the decline while the game is still on the list.

ESO Is Not Dying - Despite the huge percentage gain this week, the raw number of hour increase in the Xfire community's play time (+127 hours) wasn't that big this week.  But an increase in time 3 months after launch with no obvious cause is possibly a good sign.  Has Elder Scrolls Online finally reached its base number of players?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lowering The Fear Factor

Sometimes real life gets in the way of playing games.  That's bad for a game like Wildstar, in which player advancement depends on playing the game.  Not so bad for an EVE player because CCP set up a skill system that doesn't require playing to advance your character or, perhaps more importantly, characters.  Given the nature of EVE, that also allows for time to watch a little of what's happening in the EVE community.

I guess the big news is The Mittani is back to writing, and not just his inspiring speeches to his alliance.  In his typical fashion, he stirred the pot Saturday by calling for protected newbie starting areas and eliminating high sec awoxxing.  A lot of players in the comments went one step further than a protected zone and thought of making the tutorial a computer simulation.  That fits in with the lore, but I don't think accomplishes one of The Mittani's (and CCP's goals) with the New Player Experience.  That goal is to take some of the fear of losing a ship or a pod away from new players.

Now, fear of loss is a wonderful thing in EVE.  I think that fear contributes to the adrenalin rush that players experience in PvP.  Has anyone experienced that type of rush in any other video game?  I know I haven't.  After a fight in which I actually walked away with a kill mail, I was shaking for 10 minutes afterwards.  Sometimes I still get a touch of the shakes after busting through a gate camp or escaping from someone who thought my Procurer was an easy kill.

But, fear of loss is bad when a player gives into that fear and won't venture into dangerous space.  I have no problem with a player making a rational choice, like choosing to run level 4 security missions in high sec instead of low.  Then again, if a player has a blockade runner, especially after warp speed changes in Rubicon and rebalance pass in Kronos, is doing level 4 distribution missions in high sec instead of low, that possibly is fear coming through.  Then again, I did take the time to create instaundock bookmarks for stations in several constellations, so maybe I'm the one who's crazy after all.

I think, though, that most people look at the issue of fear in whether players will join in PvP.  A lot of players don't want to lose something that they've worked hard to acquire.  In most games, dying at the hands of an NPC or another player only means repair costs, not a loss of gear.  A player will only lose the gear when it is no longer valuable through either selling it or a mechanic like transmutation or salvaging.  To a player used to playing other MMORPGs, losing gear and getting nothing in return not only hurts, but is weird.

Looking at The Mittani's proposal, a player would get a taste of loss.  Lose a ship?  No big deal.  Get podded?  So what?  In both cases, the player was rewarded, not punished.  Sometimes dying isn't so bad.  And if the player managed to kill another player's ship or pod, then that's a success too.  But if that happened in a simulator, a big part of the experience, loss, goes away.

Eliminating high sec awoxxing is also about the fear of loss.  But instead of addressing the fear of loss in a new player, the target is the fear of loss residing in the mind of a corporation CEO.  With greater responsibility comes the chance of greater loss.  Does a high sec CEO want to risk allowing an awoxxer into his corporation and wind up with a friend losing his Orca, Tengu, or blinged out Vindicator?  Safer just to not allow that new player into the corporation at all.  After all, awoxxers will create a clean account to get around any background checks.  And if someone is going to propose a change that hurts espionage in EVE, I highly doubt the former head of the Goonswarm Intelligence Agency is the one to do so. 

The change I think The Mittani has in mind is simple.  Make CONCORD intercede in high sec if a corpmate makes an agressive action. I do see a problem with that, however.  The old tactic of webbing a corpmate's freighter for faster travel would go away.  Would that also make MiniLuv's freighter ganking operations go smoother?  I don't know.  Besides, I'm sure other methods exist to eliminate the practice.

Looking at the details, however, I don't think was The Mittani's purpose in his article.  I think he just wanted to set goals.  How the goals become reality in EVE is up to CCP.  Assuming, of course, that CCP agrees.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wildstar's Bot War: A New Incentive

Wildstar has had a bit of a problem with botting and hacked accounts since launch.  In a strange twist I'd never heard of in any other game, Wildstar's Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney told players on 1 July that between 50% and 70% of all accounts Carbine had banned for botting were hacked.1  Apparently, because Carbine has players use their email addresses as their login, hackers can purchase lists of passwords and try those, hoping that users have reused their passwords from other games or websites.

Carbine has pushed 2-factor authentication pretty hard since early access.  Wildstar displays Google Authenticator as the default choice, although I understand the use of WinAuth is also supported.  Personally, unless you make a fresh email account for playing Wildstar, I'd choose to use an authenticator.

Carbine offers an incentive package for players to sign up for 2-factor authentication.  At launch, the package included:
  • A 2% experience boost to Experience, Renown, and Prestige that allows you to out-level those people whose accounts remain hacker bait.
  • A Cybernetic Eyepatch costume item to commemorate your victory over the bad guys. It also improves depth perception.
  • The title Certifiably Certified so you can provide official proof to your guild mates that you have earned access to the bank.
Notice the subtle hint to players to make sure all of your guildmates are using an authenticator?  Almost EVE-like in its attempt to reduce corp guild theft.

On Wednesday, Carbine sweetened the pot by offering a free mount for using an authenticator.

The Retroblade Mount For Using 2-Factor Authentication

I don't have stats on the mount because my main is only level 12 and players cannot use mounts until level 15.  I also don't know how much a mount is.  I heard 10 gold, but I don't know if that is just for the mount or to purchase the skill as well.  But if that reduces the cost of getting a mount, then Carbine with this gift will also remove an incentive for purchasing gold on the secondary RMT market as well as getting players to secure their accounts.  Nicely played, Carbine!


1.  I'm not saying Wildstar is the first game this has happened in.  Just that Carbine is the first company I've read state this.  The usual culprit is credit card fraud.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Building A New Base

Yesterday I posted about needing a second base of operations, preferably in low sec.  That was the practical side of me writing.  But the next question I ask myself is: how do I go about doing that?  I could just go to a trade hub and buy the ships and modules.  I don't feel space poor and I can comfortably spend 1 billion ISK on the effort.  But as much as EVE is a spaceship shopping simulator, I have other ideas.

With the industry revamp in Crius less than two weeks away, why not just build as much as possible?  Except for possibly a Blackbird BPO, I have all the other ship blueprints needed at least researched up to ME 10, with many researched up to TE 10 as well. Some of them, I even have copies made already.  I'd have to check, but I think I have Hound, Cheetah, and Prowler blueprint copies in a hanger someplace.

Modules are the bigger challenge.  Not because they are difficult to make, but deciding which ones I need.  I know, I know, just make all the things.  But I usually like to make things I actually use, or might use.  Which explains why I have a couple of Damage Control II blueprint copies already made, but no tech 2 laser crystals (or whatever you call those things). 

For those wondering about the title, I have no plans to build a POS.  For my small operation, I don't see the need.  Besides, CCP does not have any POS festival launcher modules.  How can anyone have a low sec POS without the ability to shoot fireworks or snowballs?  I'm sure that's just an oversight that CCP will fix in an upcoming POS revamp.

I should add that building all my ships fits in with the role play element I've built around my corporation.  Right now, the corporation is just a one system operation specializing in faction ammunition.  Why not update the story with an expansion of its product line as well?  As soon as I finish building, I'll want to continue using by blueprints to sell things.  If I have enough fun, maybe I'll stop mining and buy minerals off the market.  Probably not, though.  I don't think I'll expand my operations that much.

Those are just a couple of quick thoughts on what I might do.  Part of EVE is not only deciding your own goals, but figuring out one of the many alternatives that sound like the most fun.  I know a lot of people won't think that building things is fun, but EVE allows a lot of types of players in the sandbox.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Can't Believe I'm Seriously Considering This Move

Back in episode 76 of the Declarations of War podcasts, the crew discussed the results of a poll asking about the changes to low sec that came with Kronos.  Former CSM representative and Noir. Mercenary Group head Alekseyev Karrde expressed surprise that any resident of low sec would want to move out of low sec as a result of the changes.  I'm not, as I'm one of those people considering moving out.

I'm not a big miner, because in a busy week I would only mine 2 or 3 hours, but I haven't mined any the last couple of weeks.  Part of that is I mined so many minerals in the past that I only really mine to sell lately.  Part of reason is that I have someone who keeps chasing me out of the ice belts.  But the biggest is that the the speed "buff" to the Procurer requires more initial set-up to mine while aligned that I found playing hide-and-seek in the ice belts just isn't fun.

I really do need to move, as the secondary system I had originally marked out for mining has way too many Procurer and Skiff kills in it to make mining feel somewhat safe.  I've picked out a couple of promising systems, but I haven't logged in to start exploring.  Looking at Dolan is nice, but I really need to go in an do a proper scouting trip, complete with making bookmarks, to know if a system is truly suitable.

Right now I just don't feel excited to log into EVE.  Interestingly enough, the industry changes in Crius are a good part of the reason I moved to low sec in the first place.   Back in August 2011, CCP Greyscale put out a dev blog on the design goals for null sec that included these goals for null sec industry:
  • 99% self-sufficient by volume
    • For further discussion. People building things in nullsec should only need to travel to empire (or more than a couple of regions across nullsec) for low-volume supplies. This requires that industrialists have a ready supply of low-end minerals available nearby in nullsec, without breaking other systems or goals. (Likely means some way of mining low-ends in a massively more rapid manner compared to current tools.)
  • Geared towards T2
    • Our current proposal is that hisec is for volume T1 goods, lowsec will be for meta/faction gear eventually, nullsec is for T2, and wormholes are for T3
  • Lucrative
    • Building T2 modules/ships in nullsec should be a good way to make a lot of money. There are many inherent drawbacks in doing industry in nullsec and we need to balance out these hidden costs.
  • Requires investment
    • Again, we want the real wealth-generation machines to require people to settle down and spend some money, because it encourages concentration of effort and makes for interesting targets to attack or defend.
  • Accessible to all in small volumes
    • Anyone should be able to build enough bits and bobs to support a reasonably frugal lifestyle, anywhere in nullsec. This allows small groups to feel self-sufficient provided they're all prepared to work for it, while still encouraging specialization efficiency for larger groups.
After reading CCP Greyscale's words, I knew I needed to move to low sec.  For those who think that Dinsdale's ideas about high sec getting nerfed to benefit null sec are made up out of whole cloth, well, I acted on that same belief a couple of years ago.  But instead of moving to null, I moved to low sec.  I saw the portion stating that low would provide meta and faction gear and was intrigued.  Part of the reason that I deal in faction ammunition stems from the goals I set based on CCP Greyscale's dev blog.

So, in some ways, Crius is the release I've waited for.  But after looking at the current content and rereading Greyscale's words, I'm not sure that low sec industry was really included in the design.  I'm not stating that low sec industry is impossible, because it's not.  But I don't think high sec is going to take the massive hit I originally believed.  Out in the Minmatar Republic, I think high sec may prove the superior place to do business.  In other regions, especially The Forge, low sec may win out.  We'll have to wait and see how players adapt to the new rules set.

Whatever happens, I do have to at least establish a second major base of operation, if not move my operations entirely.  I've got more than enough Procurers to scatter across the stars.  Now I just need to obtain some more ships, with Prowlers, Hounds, Cheetahs and Falcons the first priority.  I also probably need to establish a line of products beyond faction ammunition and ice products.  Not only for something new to do, but to become a bit more self-sufficient as well.

My first choice is a quieter low sec system, and like I mentioned before, I have some candidates picked out already.  But for the first time in a long time, I'm seriously contemplating a move back to high sec.  Such a move would take place not out of frustration, but because such a move is possibly the rational choice to make.

Needless to say, I don't want to move back to high sec.  That is probably contributing to not wanting to log in.  I really don't want to move back.  But I do need a few facts to back up my stubbornness on the matter.  Eventually, I may need to yield to the inevitable.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 7 July 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 6 July 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 41.3 6,886+7.3
22Guild Wars 212.22,033+2.1
34Star Wars: The Old Republic11.01,840+34.2
55Final Fantasy XIV6.21,038+18.1
66EVE Online5.0834+4.6
1110Elder Scrolls Online1.9310-16.9
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 16,658

With no World Cup matches scheduled, the Xfire community turned back to playing video games.  Sunday saw members playing MMORPGs 4.6% more hours than the previous Sunday.  The games seeing the highest interest were World of Warcraft (+470 hours) and Star Wars: The Old Republic (+469 hours), while games still seeing declines were Wildstar (-191 hours) and Tera (-181 hours).

A Double XP Week - Bioware decided to allow North Americans to celebrate both Canada Day and the U.S. Independence Day with a Double XP Week that covered both nations holidays.  The week, running from 1-7 July, extended to both regular experience and legacy XP.  The 34.2% increase in the number of hours played seems to indicate the event was a hit with the Xfire community.

Addition By Subtraction - Final Fantasy XIV did well Sunday, just two days before the launch of Patch 2.3.  If all went well, the servers were back up and running as this post was published.  But in the week before the launch, Square Enix permanently banned over 1000 accounts for RMT activity.  Apparently that met the approval of the Xfire community, as activity went up 18.1% Sunday compared to the week before.

Not Impressed - Apparently, Wildstar's first content patch, the Strain Ultra-Drop, wasn't enough to keep the Xfire community engaged.  While Wildstar is doing much better with the Raptr community (the #2 MMORPG and increased playtime last week), the game witnessed another 11.9% drop in playtime this past Sunday amongst Xfire members.  Last week was when those who began playing at launch would have made to decision to subscribe or not.  That decision didn't go Carbine's way, at least for Xfire users.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Graphing EVE Online History: From Retribution To Kronos

Every once in a while, I like to play with graphs.  Usually the graphs are related to the illicit RMT markets, but I do like to pull the data from Chribba's EVE Offline website as well.  With the calendar now open to July, I thought this is an opportune time to look back at the average concurrent user numbers (ACU) for the past six months.  Then I realized that I needed to go back to the Retribution expansion to put events into context.  So I did...

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Russian Disconnect?

Sometimes the real world invades our virtual worlds.  Sometimes it's Western intelligence agencies looking for terrorists in WoW and other games.  I've wondered if the decline in EVE Online's average concurrent user numbers was affected by the Russian takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.  But the Russian Duma today took the first steps toward really making an inpact on virtual worlds today when it passed a bill requiring the storage of all personal information for Russian citizens by foreign companies operating mail services, social networks, and search engines on servers located in Russia by 1 September 2016.

The ITAR-TASS news agency is reporting today that,"Under the new bill, email addresses and messages are considered personal data. The document reads 'while collecting personal data, including by means of the internet, an operator should provide recording, systematization, storage and update of the Russian citizen’s personal data using databases located in the territory of the Russian Federation.'" The U.K.-based V3 reported yesterday that failure to comply with the law would result in local internet service providers within Russia blocking access to those sites.

The Duma is the lower house of the Russian legislature, so the bill is not yet law.  The bill now moves forward to the Federation Council, but observers I've read today expect passage to prove a mere formality.

But what does passage of such a law entail for game companies like CCP?  I assume that the companies would need to either establish data centers within Russia or partner with a local Russian company to provide such storage services.  If this trend continues, especially if the U.S. government maintains its stance that it can demand information from U.S. tech companies that are stored on servers overseas, I think U.S. game companies could fall into disfavor.  But I'm not sure how Icelandic or other Nordic companies like Funcom would fare in this new environment in Russia.

h/t HVAC Repairman

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wildstar's Bot War: A July Update

Wildstar's Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney gave another update on Carbine's continuing war on botters, hackers, and RMT on the forums Tuesday.  As one of the draws of Wildstar for me is to see how a company like Carbine who talked such a good anti-RMT game before launch would actually perform, I'll make more posts like today's.  Which includes posting Gaffney's entire post and offering commentary.  First, a few words from Gaffney:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ISBoxer: Unexpected Attention And Unanswered Questions

An interesting development is occurring on the ISBoxer front.  That silly little thread in the Assembly Hall section of the EVE Online forums asking the CSM to pressure CCP to ban ISBoxer is actually attracting serious attention, at least from the CSM.

Xander Phoena had expressed his thoughts on the use of ISBoxer before the CSM election and expanded upon them in his weekly CSM summary on Sunday:
"My own personal thoughts on this one are simple. Isboxer and it’s variants are a symptom of the problem rather than the cause. There are certain mechanics in game that cause people to use Isboxer because otherwise it would just be too damned tedious. However – and this is a big one – there are individuals out there piloting 20, 30 man bomber gangs solo with deadly precision. These people aren’t multiboxing because of a faulty mechanic as such (unless you want to argue that bombers are grossly OP in the current meta which makes them a faulty mechanic which they probably are) but because it is the ‘perfect’ way to run a small bomber gang.

"So yes, the mechanics need fixed, but none of us are so naïve as to believe that’s an overnight job. I would ‘like’ to see the likes of Isboxer banned. Of course, I’m well aware that ‘banning Isboxer’ isn’t quite as easy as that for CCP. It’s a pretty messy one. What I would like to find out from CCP definitively is what is and what isn’t allowed under the EULA. My understanding is that at the moment Isboxer itself is fine. What ‘may’ not be ok is using a piece of software such as Isboxer to allow one mouse click to activate 30 modules on 30 ships over 30 clients (yeah, I know – why would you use Isboxer otherwise).

"I’m not going to let this one go. Soon as I can organise a meeting with the correct people in CCP to make things more black and white, I’ll report back."

Sugar Kyle made a brief statement in opposition to ISBoxer in her weekly CSM update and expanded on her reasoning in the comments:
"It is the point where human ability to mulitask that ISBoxer shores up that does it for me. I'm a multiboxer but once I have 3 or 4 accounts going I mess up. I make market mistakes. I forgot to dump ore. I leave alts on gates. I don't cloak someone. I don't jump someone to a gate.

"It removes the breakdown of human error that comes with keeping track of so many things and so much divided attention."

But I didn't really get a sense that the issue was gaining attention within the CSM until I heard Major JSilva bring up the topic at the end of Big Country's talk show on EVE Radio last night (or this morning if you live outside the Americas).  In the chaos that followed, I didn't quite get Major JSilva's position, but I think he thinks that having a pilot actively at the keyboard for each ship in space, even if using ISBoxer, is better than seeing pilots park their ships and walk away from the keyboard.  I did hop into Sugar Kyle's chat channel after the show was over and confirmed that Major JSilva not only supports the use of ISBoxer, but is also a user.

Multi-boxing software is, at best, frowned upon by major MMORPG companies today.  The use of software like ISBoxer is banned in Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar while Blizzard took steps last year to curtail its use in the PvP setting of World of Warcraft battlegrounds. People don't like getting pwned by software.  That, I believe, is driving the current movement against the use of ISBoxer in EVE today.

But, how big of a problem is the use of ISBoxer, if its use is a problem, in EVE?  I think CCP really needs to quantify the issue and determine just how prevalent the use of the multi-boxing software truly is.  Of course, when I talk about multi-boxing software, I'm referring to Inner Space, the software that runs ISBoxer.

Inner Space, in addition to running the ISBoxer extension, also runs extensions that power bots like DirectEVE1 and ISXEVE.  If I were CCP, I would want to know how many Inner Space users are running ISBoxer vs extensions that power bots.  Is ISBoxer just a cover that helps hide serious botters who run Inner Space?  Or is botting use just a small percentage of Inner Space use and most of the use of the software is to run ISBoxer?

Also, farms of twenty, thirty up to fifty accounts mining make me suspicious.  Multi-boxing software would really help skirt around the prohibitions against botting use.  While botting is very cost effective for those gathering in-game currency for the secondary RMT market, having one player control 15 accounts at the same time would server the same purpose.  If I were the nosy type, I'd want to know if a lot of those accounts are linked to RMT rings or if users are running the software responsibly.

Don't ask me the answers to any of the questions I just posed, as I have no idea what the answers are.  But CCP could find out.  Back in 2013, CCP demonstrated the capability to detect Inner Space extensions, as the software runs in the EVE executable's memory space.  At the time, bot developers reported that CCP was just looking for the DirectEVE and ISXEVE extensions as well as Red Guard and an autopilot warp to zero hack.  If CCP were serious about finding out what is happening in their game, they would put some of the detection back in place to gather metrics.  Assuming, of course, that doing so would not stretch the resources of the security team.

Resources.  For me, that is the biggest issue.  Is trying to enforce the EULA where ISBoxer is concerned really worth the time and effort?  Perhaps CCP did the research last year and already knows all of these answers.  If so, according to my reading of the policy on client manipulation, the answer up is no.  But CCP did leave the policy open to change.  The question is: how big is the problem, and does CCP have the resources to do anything about the problem?  Assuming, of course, a problem actually exists.


1.  However, there is a move among botters who don't want to pay Lavish Software so they can use DirectEVE to develop a version of the Questor bot that does not use Inner Space.  I hear that at least one development fork actually works.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 1 July 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 29 June 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 40.1 6,416-5.1
23Guild Wars 212.51,992+5.0
44Star Wars: The Old Republic8.61,371+1.5
56Final Fantasy XIV5.5879+3.7
65EVE Online5.0797-19.7
109Elder Scrolls Online2.3373-19.8
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 15,922

Another World Cup Sunday, another week of declining interest in the Xfire community's desire to play MMORPGs.  This week saw another 6.2% decline in the amount of hours Xfire members spent playing their 12 most favored games.  The decline was led by Wildstar, which saw another decrease of 639 hours played compared to the Sunday before.  While no game saw a triple-digit increase in the number of hours played, Tera (+96 hours) and Guild Wars 2 (+95 hours) came close.  Need for Speed World fell off the list, replaced by Vindictus.

New Game Smell Wearing Off - Wildstar is approaching the week when players who started playing at launch will decide whether the game is worth paying a subscription.  The 28.5% decline on Sunday of the Xfire community's time spent logged into Carbine offering does not bode well for next week.

A Successful Patch?  Despite a 19.7% decline in the time Xfire members spent playing EVE Online Sunday compared to the week before, is the Kronos release a success?  Three weeks after launch, the time spent playing EVE is still up 17% over the time spent playing the sci-fi sandbox on 1 June.  Due to the low number of members in Xfire, that increase is exaggerated, but still promises success for CCP's new 6-week release schedule.

A New Season - Are Guild Wars 2 players excited about the launch of the second season of the Living Story today?  Xfire members increased the time spent in GW2 by 5% ahead of the opening of The Gates of Maguuma.  The question remains if players will remain excited about the prospect of new content every two weeks again, or will players suffer fatigue trying to stay abreast of the story?