Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hilmar To Speak, Plus Skill Points

Normally I don't try to post breaking news. I'm a blogger, dammit, not a reporter. But once again CCP is moving quickly on the public relations front and I probably need to let some people know what will happen tomorrow (March 28), but this weekend as well.


First, at 1400 EVE Time on 28 March, CCP's Chief Executive Officer Hilmar Veigar Pétursson will conduct an Ask Me Anything on the official EVE Online forums. Shortly after he finishes with the typed word, CCP Hellmar then makes a planned one hour appearance on the Talking In Stations Twitch channel. Sounds like a full day tomorrow for EVE Online news.

Since I'm posting news, I might as well continue with the latest promotion occurring this weekend. Yes, CCP is holding another skill point weekend. Starting on Friday the 29th, Alpha accounts will receive 25,000 skill points for each day they log in. Omega accounts receive, in addition to the Alpha award:

Friday: 25,000
Saturday: 50,000
Sunday: 100,000

So for the event, Alpha characters can gain a total of 75,000 skill points while Omega players can rack up 250,000. Not bad for just logging in. Unlike in some other givaways, players may distribute the skill points to any of the characters on their accounts.

I figure giving advance notice of the skill points alone is enough to justify writing this post. But since CCP has sprung Hilmar's appearances with such short notice, I thought I'd also go ahead and spread the word about that as well.

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: How Much?

Sometimes, I hear things said about the black market in EVE Online and just shake my head. I don't want to throw water on people, because pointing out the problems involving secondary RMT markets, no matter what game, is usually a good thing. I at least don't want to dampen anyone's enthusiasm.

That said, sometimes I just have to cringe at some things I hear. In this case, I will go back a month to the 25 February episode of Talking In Stations. Matterall had a quest on to discuss the January 2019 Monthly Economic Report. Somehow, the -95.4 trillion ISK listed as the month's Active ISK Delta was transformed into CCP seizing 140 trillion ISK from botters and ISK sellers. I remember hearing the figures live and the show notes still list that as the figure. In fairness, that number may have declined down to 60 trillion ISK by the end of the show, but the number is still way more than I believe possible.

But how do I dispute such a figure? I guess I could point out that according to the data I collected from buyer reviews, the game currency site Player Auctions hosted 41.8 trillion ISK in sales for the entire year of 2018. CCP seizing between 1.5 and 3.3 times the ISK from ISK sellers as that in a single month? Highly doubtful. I collected some tears in January, but not that many.

Or I could point out that 140 trillion ISK (or 60 trillion ISK for that matter) is way higher than the highest known seizure of virtual assets in EVE history, August 2014, when CCP seized an estimated 32.7 trillion ISK from Somerset Mahm. Including assets like alliance tournament ships, the value of the seizure was as high as 41 trillion ISK.

CCP's asset seizures, 2014
Both the examples cited above list why I believe why the estimates don't pass the smell test. But the clincher for me occurred on Saturday during the keynote presentation at Evesterdam. CCP Burger, the creative director for EVE Online, revealed that over the past 30 days, the security team had banned 2100 accounts and seized over 1 trillion ISK in assets. For the small team involved in dealing with bots, along with all the other security issues, not a bad amount. But the prominence CCP has given to the issue, including this mention near the beginning of the presentation, leads to a question. If CCP had really seized 60 trillion or 140 trillion ISK, wouldn't they have boasted about the fact? Instead, the ban numbers quoted by CCP Burger are on par with the 4100 accounts banned for botting activities listed half-way through the first quarter in the security dev blog published in February.

Honestly, I would love for CCP to seize tens of trillions of ISK and assets from botting and black market operations. But I don't believe CCP can, even with the best of intentions and pouring more resources to combat the practices. I honestly don't think the market is big enough for that. But if CCP does hit the ISK sellers that hard for one month, so many people will get banned the word will get out that buying ISK is like playing Russian roulette with your EVE accounts, except with 4 rounds chambered instead of only one.

Monday, March 25, 2019

What's Going On With The Triglavian Ship Line?

In hindsight, the trend is obvious. I even called the introduction of a new Triglavian ship in the next expansion. But I thought we would see the introduction of a new dreadnaught. Instead, CCP will introduce three tech 2 ships: the Nergal-class assault frigate, Draugur-class command destroyer, and Ikitursar-class heavy assault cruiser. My first though was, "Does CCP plan on making the Triglavians a playable race/faction?"

Let's put aside the lore for a minute, although the Triglavians taking over the billboards, a communications device used by corporations and alliances to recruit new members, was a cute move.


With the addition of three new ships, the Triglavians will have the most unique ships of any pirate faction this side of Outer Rim Excavations. And ORE isn't considered a pirate faction. Here is a list of the Triglavian ships available to fly once the expansion hits.

Frigates
Damavik - frigate (tech 1)
Nergal - assault frigate (tech 2)

Destroyers
Kikimora - destroyer (tech 1)
Draugur - command destroyer (tech 2)

Cruisers
Vedmak - cruiser (tech 1)
Rodiva - logistics cruiser (tech 1)
Zarmazd - logistics cruiser (tech 2)
Ikitursar - heavy assault cruiser (tech 2)

Battlecruisers
Drekavac - battlecruiser (tech 1)

Battleships
Leshak - battleship (tech 1)

At this point in New Eden history, the Triglavians are not known to possess three key technologies known to the Empires, and thus capsuleers. The first is area of effect interdiction. The Triglavians know about webbing and scramming just fine, but we don't know about their ability to deploy warp interdiction bubbles. The lack of this technology means a lack of interdictors, heavy interdictors, and interdiction nullified ships like interceptors.

The Triglavians also have not displayed any stealth technology. As players also cannot use cloaks, perhaps Abyssal space precludes the ability to hide. But besides cloaks, the Empires also have ship classes immune to the directional scanner. So it is entirely possible that ships like stealth bombers, covert ops frigates, and force recons for ships that use cloaking devices, along with combat recons. In other words, no Triglavian black ops drops. Well, at least as far as we know.

The final technology is jump drives. If Abyssal space is anything like wormhole space, jump drives wouldn't work anyway. Thus, the creation of a powerful, battleship-sized weapon that out damages capsuleer battleships. Without a jump drive, that leaves out black ops battleships, capitals, and supercapitals, although the Triglavians are building something huge.


Also, we have not seen any evidence of the Triglavians possessing any tech 3 ships like the tactical destroyers or strategic cruisers popular with capsuleers.

So what's left? Command ships, the tech 2 variants of the battlecruiser, are an obvious choice. Since the developers are already on a path to creating both tech 1 and tech 2 ship classes for each sub-cap ship size, I could see a Triglavian marauder-class ship appearing as well.

But if CCP truly is looking at making the Triglavians on par with the empires in known space, then our tripartite friends really need industrial ships, like haulers and mining barges. Imagine what a Triglavian deep space transport would look like. Or the mining output of a Triglavian mining laser.

I've started to go off the deep end on the speculation, so I think I'll end the post. But with such an expansion of ships, plus the current focus on the Triglavians, I really wonder what the future holds for the ships from the abyss.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

PLEX Reaches 2 Billion ISK For One Month's Game Time

Time flies when playing EVE Online. Nearly 5 years ago, I sat in a little soup restaurant across from CenterHotel Klopp eating lunch with Diana Dial, the proprietor of EveTimeCodes.com. Among the topics of conversation was the rising price of PLEX. Back in those days, 1 PLEX was the equivalent of 500 modern PLEX. She told me that business was a lot better when the prices of PLEX was 400-500 million ISK rather than the then current price of 700 million ISK.

Over the years, much has changed. Last year, the soup restaurant was closed and being renovated. I hear the place had changed ownership. CCP is now owned by a Korean game company instead of Icelandic investors. And between the rising price of PLEX and the introduction of big players like Amazon into the PLEX market, Diana closed EveTimeCodes.com. But one thing hasn't changed. People are still discussing the rising price of PLEX.

Yesterday, the price of 500 PLEX (one month's Omega game time) reached 2 billion ISK for the first time. Of course, threads went up on the EVE Online sub-Reddit and the official EVE Online forums marking the event. I think some people are looking at how quickly the price rose since 9 March and ask themselves, "What happened to make the market jumped so quickly?" Markets have a psychology all their own and I don't know what happened to make the PLEX market in The Forge jump 3.7% in 8 days.

A month ago, I wrote why I saw the prices increasing. Some people on r/eve and the forums even pointed out the main reason. From December 2017 to the summer of 2018, CCP held so many sales in order to make their books look good for potential buyers that they artificially depressed the price of PLEX.


Just a reminder for people not familiar the price of PLEX, From December 2017 to August 2018, the average price of 500 PLEX dropped 17.2%. The sale of CCP to Pearl Abyss was announced on 6 September. With the sale secured, CCP stopped holding frequent sales. Except for November, when the annual Black Friday sale occurred, the average price of PLEX has risen each month since.Through last month, the amount had risen from August's 1.379 billion ISK to February's average price of 1.879 billion ISK. That 36.3% rise in price over the past 6 months represents an additional 500 million ISK a month in order to PLEX an account. In the context of an average increase of 1.4% each week in the price of PLEX, the 3.7% increase over the past 8 days doesn't seem like such an unusual jump.

The big difference between now is that CCP is planning to slow income generation in an effort to head off inflation and a few other effects that can harm the economy. I've taken a peak at the market and expect to see the numbers continue to climb as the 4 million ISK/PLEX barrier shatters. I don't pretend to know how high the ceiling is. I just watch the markets and hope the inflation remains confined to RMT items like PLEX, skill extractors, and Multiple Pilot Character Training Certificates.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Bringing More Balance To EVE This Spring

At first, I saw that CCP published a dev blog on balancing the game and thought, "This doesn't apply to me. I don't fly capitals." But as I continued reading, I began to have some thoughts that might hold a little credibility. First, though, a subject I have no credibility, force auxiliaries.

Capsuleers are supposed to have god-like powers, but apparently whoever created the FAX machine took the lore a little too far. Since the introduction of the logistics capital ship line, players have complained about the raw repair power of force auxiliaries, especially in certain types of wormholes.

Instead of just nerfing the ships directly, CCP chose to change the repair mechanic. The change involves a diminishing returns system more similar to bashing a structure than sticking 4 warp core stabilizers in a ship's low slots. The diminishing returns are based on the total amount of hit points, not the number of repair modules, being applied to a ship. Not only does the change prevent an enemy from neutralizing the repair power of a fleet by applying small remote repairs to a target, but minimizes the effects on cruiser-sized repairs. The dev blog didn't go into the details of the effects on a remote-repair battleship fleet, but with the introduction of the FAX machine, I gather that meta was pretty much shelved.

The one concern I have is the increased amount of calculations bogging down the servers. But the dev blog addressed the point:
"This type of system is something we have wanted for a long time and have investigated more than once in the past. Thanks to big improvements under the hood over the last few years, such as brain in a box, we are now able to pursue such a system without crippling performance costs."
Titans received a nerf to the use of High Angle Weapons. The dev blog stated a desire to make titans less oppressive to sub-cap fleets, and HAW guns, especially when used en masse, are a big problem. The solution was to cut HAW dps by 50%, but to then give the damage back to dreadnaughts when they enter siege mode. Once again, we see CCP opting to balance ships though the modules they use.

We know start entering an area I know a little bit about. Not the use of carriers and supercarriers, but the indirect effects. The first nerf hits fighters, with the explosion radius increasing by 15% and explosion velocity decreasing by 30% for all fighter attacks. The second nerf is to the Networked Sensor Array. The NSA significantly enhances a carrier or supercarrier's scan resolution at the cost of removing the ability to fit any offensive electronic warfare modules. After the update, the NSA will prevent ships from warping until the module is turned off.

I don't know much about combat, but I know enough to know the changes will lead to reduced damage output for carriers and supercarriers while at the same time possibly increasing the vulnerability of the ships. One effect should result in sub-capital gangs having greater success against capital-class ships. But the changes also affect PvE. At the very least, I expect the changes to reduce the ISK faucets caused by carrier and supercarrier ratting.

On the subject of ISK faucets, CCP is lowering the insurance payouts for capital insurance.
"Speaking of added risk, we aren’t happy with how inexpensive insured capitals are to lose. We want large ships losses to mean something and the current affordability of insured FAX and Carriers especially has a lot to with the dissatisfaction of fighting them.

"Change: We have adjusted the insurance contract cost and payout multipliers for many ship classes, with larger T1 ships generally receiving lower multipliers than smaller ships. This change will be most significant on supercarriers and standard capital ships, which will see their insurance contract costs and payouts reduced by approximately 50% and 33% respectively."

On the subject of sub-cap rebalancing, I don't know about the quality of the buffs to the various ships. But two ships known for drones received nerfs. The first was the Vexor Navy Issue, a favorite of low-level botters and AFK warriors throughout null sec. The removal of the drone velocity bonus will at least make the income generation slower. The other, the Gila, was a go-to ship for all occasions, from holiday events to Abyssal space. I don't know how badly cutting drone hit points by 50% will affect the ship.

The final major changes concern the Rorqual. Some might call the changes overdue, but CCP seems to want to turn the capital industrial ship more into the command and support ship it used to be and away from acting like a rock munching monster.

Following the theme of increasing risk, the Rorqual will see nerfs to both its active tank and the PANIC module. The shield booster amount provided by the Industrial Core will see a 50% reduction (from 120% down to 60%) for the T1 variant and a nearly 50% reduction (140% down to 75%) for the T2 version. The PANIC module, which provides complete immunity for Rorquals, will see the base protection time drop from 5 minutes down to 4, a 20% drop in time.

The Rorqual will also see nerfs to both mining yield and safety of its excavator drones. On the mining front, 'Excavator' mining drones will see a base mining yield decrease of 20%, with the ice harvesting versions receiving a 24% increase in the base cycle times. The volume of the drones themselves will increase from 750m3 to 1100m3, with a corresponding 2800m3 expansion of the ship's drone bay. The size expansion is aimed at the practice of Rorqual pilots gathering up their Excavator drones at the first sign of trouble and sticking them into a Wetu mobile depot. With the size change, pilots will only have the ability to save 3 of the 5 drones from destruction in case of an attack.

Finally the capital industrial ship will see a buff to its command boosts. Mining foreman burst strength is increasing 20% for both the T1 & T2 versions of the Industrial Core, to 30% and 36% respectively. I don't know if the increased boosting power will make Hulks rival the mining power of a Rorqual, but perhaps the difference will shrink enough so that exhumers become a more viable option.

I have to admit, I was surprised that CCP announced the changes are coming in the April release. Then I reached the end of the dev blog and saw May is slated to see new content.
"We have a lot more on the way, starting in May. The May release will be focused on new ship and module content, rather than changes to existing balance. You can expect at least one new ship and some other new toys. More details coming on those very soon!"
I keep saying we'll see a proper expansion in May, and the dev blog doesn't make me believe otherwise. But I won't speculate further on the dev blog, as real life delayed this post and Evesterdam is coming up in a few days. I'll have more on EVE's future after watching the streams from Amsterdam this weekend.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Elder Scrolls Online Champion Points: The Allure Of The Ding

I'm about 2 months from the end of my planned time in Elder Scrolls Online. As I approached level 50, I began to take the game a bit more seriously, as once the level cap is reached, the leveling process changed. Gone were the skill and attribute points awarded for each level. Instead, players advance by earning champion points.

With the upcoming change in systems, I began to look for skill points. I discovered that the main quest lines give skill points for completing each step, so I started using the quest journal. I wish I had done that months ago. While chomping up the skill points, I managed to hit level 50 a week ago. Then the effects of the champion system kicked in, and I started getting excited about the game for the first time. And not just because the content in Coldharbour is pretty good.

I can think of three reasons for the change in attitude. The first is the way I approached the game. When I began, my only goal, really, was to reach level 50. I searched for a templar healer leveling build and used that until level 48. When I started researching the champion points system, I discovered I needed a guide to distribute my champion points. A couple of Google searches later, I found an end game build from the same guy who designed the leveling build.

I began to feel the way I did when I got my first Maelstrom in EVE. I know had a fitting, and a list of gear I needed to acquire and skills to train. The skills to train is the most important part, as training in ESO is not a passive activity like in EVE. The skills in the end game build required me to become a AOE DPS character where I had relied on a lot of direct damage on my leveling build. Also, with my leveling build, I could get away with only using one hot bar while with the end game build, I need to switch between my weapons (and hot bars). In other words, I changed my style of play as I hit the level cap. Not an ideal situation, but made the game fresh and I became used to the new build.

Because most of the items in the 300 point build are crafted, I became interested in other quest lines. In order to craft the 5 Kagrenac's Hope pieces, I need to finish the 5 Fighter's Guild quests. The Nightflame shoulders are acquired by doing quests for the Undaunted guild that require running dungeons. I also need to reach level 5 in the Undaunted to get the Energy Orb skill. And finally, I need to do some PvP in order to unlock the Aggressive Horn ultimate skill.

The second is that once I reached Coldharbour, the population picked up. Thankfully, because my build, with the underpowered skills I had just started leveling, just didn't have the oomph to overcome some of the obsticles.  So if I saw another player coming through, I'd just go ahead and start healing and buffing to push the character through. I discovered that, unlike EVE, I didn't need to apply any damage to get credit for kills. Apparently, since my skills contain a few heals over time, that's all I need.

The final reason is the big one. Champion points have come fast over the past 10 days. I'm already over 100. People like getting stuff, and in the beginning of MMORPGs, the developers usually make leveling easy so new players feel they are advancing, hooking them into the game. As the levels increase, the time between the "dings" takes longer and longer as the player is weaned off the initial stimulus. I'm waiting for someone in the UK Parliament to decry the use of such psychological tricks.

The champion points serve the same purpose. To further enhance the effect, the first 4.8 million skill points spent earning champion points are earned at an accelerated rate. I seem to get a point every 10-15 minutes. Each time I stop to apply the points, I can see my character slowly become more powerful. With 100 points and ordinary gear,  I can now go into delves (dungeons suitable for single players to enter) and survive all but the bosses now. Give me another 100 points and max level gear, even if green, and I'll cruise around Tamriel like a boss.

Right now, I'm fairly excited about playing ESO, but I don't think the feeling will last. I'm scurrying around running through the main quest lines for the other two factions, and I still need to go back to running dungeons again. I even need to do a little PvP, just to complete the skills I need for my fit. I may even decide to play more than two months in order to complete the 300 skill point build. But I can see the end game becoming another grind, which will lead to my departure. But I do have to give Zenimax credit. I'm enjoying the end game so far.



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Finding The Nuggets Within The Announcement Hype Of EVE: Aether Wars

A technology demonstration or demonstrator model, informally known as a tech demo, is a prototype, rough example or an otherwise incomplete version of a conceivable product or future system, put together as proof of concept with the primary purpose of showcasing the possible applications, feasibility, performance and method of an idea for a new technology. They can be used as demonstrations to the investors, partners, journalists or even to potential customers in order to convince them of the viability of the chosen approach, or to test them on ordinary users.

On Wednesday, CCP's CEO, Hilmar Pétursson announced in a dev blog a partnership with Hadean on a tech demo designed to showcase the UK tech startup's cloud-based operating system. The demo, named EVE: Aether Wars, is scheduled to debut at GDC 2019 in San Francisco in two weeks. In order to showcase the Aether engine, CCP is recruiting 10,000 EVE players to take part in the demonstration at GDC.

Before anyone gets too excited, remember, we are talking about a tech demo. Even Hilmar sought to make that clear in his dev blog.
"Be warned though, what you will be experiencing is not a game, it´s not even a prototype of a game. This is the raw Aether engine with EVE spaceship assets and some interaction dynamics, which are nothing like EVE Online or EVE: Valkyrie. CCP is providing our visual assets for use in the Aether Engine, enabling Hadean to focus on addressing the challenges we face with large-scale online multiplayer environments. This will almost certainly blow up if you guys show up in force, so please do because R&D is about breaking things!"
If the demo succeeds at its stated goal of 10,000 players, or even 9,000, I expect to see the EVE-O forums and the EVE sub-Reddit asking how soon until CCP implements the engine on Tranquility. And after every large fleet fight, the call will be, "Why hasn't CCP implemented the engine? They have the tech!" Seriously, I don't expect CCP to implement this tech into EVE until 2025 at the earliest, if they ever do.

But what about the nuggets of goodness I promised in the title of this post? Hilmar buried short-term news in the middle of his dev blog.
"After a super-productive summit with the CSM, we’re also developing plans to address key community concerns including capital balance (and balance in general), wealth distribution, war declarations and the abundance of ISK faucets in New Eden. We will of course also be continuing the never-ending war on botting and RMT and are currently in the process of setting up a sizable internal taskforce to look at botting in more depth."
Notice a theme? Wealth distribution and ISK faucets indicate a concern for the non-RMT economy. I believe CCP has stated in the past that the current rates of ISK generation into the game is unsustainable over the long run. The mention of botting and RMT also aligns with the concern over too much ISK flowing into the economy. As I wrote four years ago:
The virtual economies found in MMORPGs are usually based on a faucet and sink model. Game currency is introduced through faucets like killing NPCs and completing quests while currency is removed through sinks like user fees for selling items in the auction house, skill learning, and item repair. Those engaged in RMT will engage in currency faucet activities far longer than the regular player. Ideally, at least in the eyes of the RMT operations, characters will run 24 hours a day, whether through shift work in a Chinese gold farm or through the use of bots. If the number of gold farmers becomes too great, then the economic calculations of the game developers fail and inflation is the result. If the inflation rate becomes too high, the average player may wind up discouraged, and either quit or, worse, contribute to the problem by purchasing game currency from an RMT operation.
The other two major areas to look at in the upcoming months is capital ship rebalance and the changes to the war declaration system. CCP put out a dev blog on the war changes last week, but what is happening with capital ships. Hints from the lore community indicate some sort of activity involving the Triglavians.


Is it possible that in the middle of a capital ship rebalance that CCP will expand the Triglavian ship line with a new faction dreadnaught?

So, in the middle of the hype, Hilmar may have confirmed the parameters of an upcoming expansion I believe will launch in May. Tech demos, especially ones that may never pan out, come and go. I'm more excited to hear what I may get to play in the next 2-3 months.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A New War Declaration System, Coming In May 2019

I honestly didn't expect CCP to publish a dev blog on changes to the war declaration system until the week before Evesterdam at the earliest. Then again, I didn't expect CCP to roll out the changes over three releases either. When I read the dev blog, I went back in time to when I started playing. No, not about all the war decs I experienced as a member of EVE University. Instead, my thoughts went back to the Crimewatch system and the phrase, "superior knowledge of game mechanics". CCP eventually removed a lot of the opaqueness surrounding high sec aggression mechanics with the implementation of Crimewatch 2.0 in the Retribution expansion in December 2012.

When I look at the changes CCP plans to make, I see some welcome, if overdue changes. I won't go through the process of trying to decide whether the plan is good or bad, because I think overall the plan will make EVE better. Instead, I'll just go through the dev blog, if for no other reason as to put my views on the record.

The March release will see CCP close two loopholes and fix a bug. The first is the "head fake" loophole used to deploy citadels.
"The first of these loopholes is one that we have referred to as the “headfake” trick internally. There are a few ways for corporations to get themselves into this situation but the end result is always a corporation intentionally getting itself into an expiring war against a specific opponent and then using the 24 hour warning period of any newly declared war as a period of planned invulnerability to deploy a structure..."

"To close this loophole we are changing some of the mechanics around the 24 hour cooldown period at the end of wars.

"After the March release, either side of a war that is within its 24 hour cooldown period can choose to declare a new war instantly to replace the old one. This new war is subject to the same billing and eligibility requirements as any other war, but instead of starting a 24 hour warmup period it will begin instantly with shooting allowed.

"Since both the attacker and defender of this new war will already be able to shoot at each other thanks to the old war, there is no need for the 24 hour warning period."
The next loophole is on I'm not sure I see a use for, but if rules are open to manipulation, EVE players will find away to use them to their advantage.
"Another unintended loophole in the war declaration system is something that we refer to as the “war inversion” trick. This loophole allows a corporation to essentially switch sides of a war, turning a defensive war into an offensive war through joining and leaving an alliance under specific conditions..."

"To close this loophole we are preventing corporations that are defenders in an active war from joining an alliance that is the attacker in another active war against the same group attacking the applicant corporation."
Finally, CCP will fix a bug that made a corporation immune to wardecs until downtime based on certain server configurations on the back end of the cluster. Sporadic issues based on changing server configurations are always a pain to solve. At least, so I've been told.

The April release will see changes in remote assistance by neutrals to players involved in a war. The two changes involve how remote repairs and command bursts are treated in high sec. The big thing to remember is that the changes only apply to neutral characters assisting characters in a war. No changes are occurring for those not in wars.

The first area is remote repairing of ships in combat by neutrals. Once again, I'll rely on the dev blog to explain, because the current high sec war mechanics are complicated.
Under current mechanics, if a neutral character applies a remote assistance module (such as a remote repairer) to another character they can receive a suspect flag if their target meets all of the following conditions:
  1. is involved in a war (including normal wars or FW)
  1. does not share a corp/alliance (or FW side if the war in question is the FW war) with the assistor
  1. is engaged in PVP (has a capsuleer logoff timer)
Basically, the neutral logistics ships are protected by CONCORD until they start to repair a ship. Also, because the ships are neutral, an opposing fleet commander doesn't know the true strength of the enemy, even with proper scouting. CCP has come up with a solution.
"After the April release, the penalty for direct targeted neutral assistance meeting the conditions above AND occurring within highsec will become a criminal flag and CONCORD response. The safety system will prevent the activation of the targeted assistance modules under these conditions, so we suggest that support pilots in highsec engage their safety at either green or yellow levels to prevent unintentional CONCORDOKKEN."
While under the current rules, the neutral logistics eventually become engageable, the same is not true for boosting ships. A neutral command ship can sit and buff an entire fleet involved in a war and the opposition has no recourse, as the command ship is protected by CONCORD. Given that command ships tend to have formidable tanks, suiciding a large number of ships in the middle of a fight to end the buffs is not really an option. CCP wound up taking a slightly different approach to the problem.
"For area of effect command bursts we are approaching the problem a little differently as you may want to continue boosting the members of your fleet that are not involved in a war. Therefore, after the April release neutral command bursts will simply not affect a pilot that meets the conditions listed above when activated in highsec space."
The changes to remote repairs and command bursts will also apply to pilots flying with a limited engagement timer. The changes also do not affect interacting with others in your corporation nor extend to low sec, where everything remains the same as today.

The May release will see the bulk of the changes take effect. The big feature is the introduction of the War HQ. Attackers will need to designate an Upwell structure with docking facilities somewhere in high security space as their headquarters. If the structure dies or is unanchored, the war is over. Here are the highlights of the feature.

  • War HQs are required for the attacking side of a war, but they are not required for defenders (defenders will continue to need to be war eligible) or allies.
  • The identity of the War HQ structure for a war will be public information available in the war report window as well as sent directly to the defenders when the war is declared as a reminder.
  • Corporations or alliances with multiple outgoing wars may choose to spread out the War HQs for their wars across multiple structures or use the same structures as HQs for multiple wars as they wish.
  • It will not be possible to change the War HQ once a war has been declared.
  • If a war ends due to the War HQ going away, the former attackers will be unable to declare a new war against the same former defenders for two weeks.
  • The enforced peace will not prevent the former defenders from declaring a new war against their former attackers.

The war dec fee also was simplified from a complex formula to a nice round 100 million ISK per week.

Before continuing, I want to say how much I like the concept of the War HQ. Yes, wealthy war dec corporations can probably shrug off the lost of a few Upwell structures every week. But now, if the defender wants to pay mercenaries for protection, the mercs have a target they can hit to stop the war dec. I also can see collusion occurring, so those hiring mercs to take out an aggressor's headquarters should perform all due diligence to avoid a scam.

The next part of the change is mutual wars. The idea is so simple, I'm honestly surprised it wasn't implemented back in 2012 when the system was last iterated upon.
"After the May release, mutual wars will be started through an invitation and acceptance process similar to how corp/alliance applications work. One corp or alliance will be able to send invitations for a mutual war to other corps or alliances and the organization that receives the invitation can choose to accept or decline the offer. Mutual wars will not require any ISK costs, war eligibility, or War HQs.

"Either side of a mutual war will be able to retract the war at will, triggering the standard 24 hour cooldown before shooting stops. Mutual wars will also continue to end automatically if no PVP kills have occurred between the two sides in the last 90 days."
Mutual wars will also get its own user interface. But the regular war declaration UI will also receive improvements in the May release as well. Since the dev blog makes it sound like the changes are still under way, I'm sure the devs will take changes suggested in the forum thread under advisement.

Overall, I'm excited that a significant irritant in EVE Online is finally receiving a revamp. I get the feeling the devs had to rip out a whole lot of legacy code, including the POS code, in order to make these much needed changes. Yes, I'm sure we'll see some unforeseen issues emerge. But I do like what CCP is doing. Now, what else can we expect in May?

Monday, March 4, 2019

CCP Guard Departs CCP Games

CCP Guard, one of the last of the original members of CCP at the launch of EVE Onlineannounced his departure from CCP for a job opportunity outside the gaming industry. He started out as a game master during beta in 2002 and wound up the Senior Community Development Lead. Along the way, be became the front man for Permaband, CCP's in-house rock band, and sang on such hits as HTFUWarp to the Dance Floor, and Killing is Just a Means.

I'm going to just copy and paste his forum post below. I don't think anyone will be able to top his post, so I won't even try. All I can really add is, thanks for everything you've done over the last 16 years, good luck on your future endeavors, and I hope you didn't take all the fish. Oh, and you will be missed.
Forever space friends,

EVE is truly a wonder of the world and anyone who has ever lingered beyond the EVE Gate knows exactly what I mean by that. It‘s not the code or the features or the visual beauty (although all of that is pretty amazing), it‘s the things that happen and the people you meet, who become part of your life, and unpredictably change its course forever.

My EVE story is unique like everyone else‘s. EVE unexpectedly became part of my life after I decided to put my classical singing studies on hold and answered a job ad in the local paper in late 2002. Previously I‘d mostly heard about EVE through Icelandic news media where a couple of young guys I‘d later come to know and respect talked some big talk about making the biggest virtual universe ever… out of Iceland. Without a history of launching games. Well, they did, and they needed Gamemasters to fight the early fires and start building a support culture for EVE Online. If I‘d known back then where this unusual customer support job would take me, I would have skipped sleeping to get there faster.

I got good at talking to customers. I specialized in dealing with complex cases, bad losses, big disappointments, hard disputes. I enjoyed finding a way to help people or failing that, try to reach mutual understanding. I also got involved in investigating exploits, chasing bots and other forms of space policing (woop woop). I made Senior, I made Lead, and eventually got poached by our Marketing department in 2011 to serve on the EVE Community team, where I got to communicate with a lot more people at once and release my playful side once or twice. For the good of the people of course.

Looking over all the projects I’ve led or been involved in, I‘m most proud of the relationships I helped build with enterprising members of the community, the true heroes of this story. I gave a talk at GDC called “Manning the oars, or raising the sail” - about how gaming companies shouldn’t be afraid to trust their communities, moreover how helping them express their creativity and passion is most often the best use of our time. I’ve tried to live by that philosophy in my work with EVE‘s amazing event organizers, both inside and outside the game. I’ve loved working with the streamers of Streamfleet who selflessly entertain and mentor others in a game once said to be (very wrongly so) impossible to stream. Big shout out to all the wonderful writers and artists of EVE whose creations I’ve excitedly highlighted on social media or dragged them into some crazy schemes like getting their spaceship graphics zooming around the biggest nightclub LED system in Las Vegas.

From dumbstruck awe at CCP LoxyRider’s ability to put together live streams when starting out as a host, I somehow graduated to both hosting and producing The o7 Show , where we tried to equally represent EVE‘s development progress and player achievements. I also produced and developed our major broadcasts from Fanfest and EVE Vegas which wouldn’t have been the same without talented player hosts and crazy video commercials from corps and alliances. I was trusted with writing and delivering keynote presentations at Fanfest and EVE Vegas… and of course I quickly offloaded half the work to some poor player 294. Restructuring and running the Council of Stellar Management for the past few years has been immensely rewarding. The CSM has taught me a lot personally but I’ve also seen from close up the positive and immediate effects the CSM can have on the development of EVE Online. Then there are happy little accidents, like The Permaband and other offbeat ventures that to me have always shown CCP‘s willingness to be different and foster creativity outside roadmaps and KPIs (Permaband is turning 10 47 this year btw).

Whew… I guess I can‘t delay this any longer. After sixteen amazing years at CCP I recently got a new opportunity. After a lot of thinking, I decided to jump on it and will be starting a completely different adventure - in a completely different industry - in a few weeks time.

I want to try to convey my thanks. I’ve been embraced by so many of you! Mostly without really understanding why… but you guys are smart and I trust you so I rolled with it and as a result you‘ve given me so many life changing experiences. I’ve travelled the world, met more interesting people than I knew existed, made friends for life from the EVE community and CCP, gotten to work with an army of brilliant people and had the privilege of serving a community that I truly believe is absolutely, 100% unique and unmatched in the history of the multiverse. Seriously. Ask me when I‘m officially off the payroll and I‘ll proudly say it again :heart:

I know some of you will wonder why and it‘s important to me you know this is purely a part of my own personal journey through time and space. I’ve worked for only one company for a long time. This was basically my first real job and I was practically not an adult when I started working here. I’ve grown up here, I’ve learned a lot of things and it‘s natural to be curious about how all that would apply in a new context. And there‘s only one way to ever find out! Plus… have you seen a fifty year old rap?

My best way to explain it is that I simply got this crazy idea in my head - that I should get up from the place where I‘m happy, appreciated (most of the time heh 200) and safe, to do something completely different where I don‘t know all the answers and can only rely on myself and the skills I’ve picked up along the way. Hashtag YOLO!

It‘s also important for me you know that I‘m not leaving CCP because of . I’ve been through hard times in my career here but now is not one. I’ve worked through those times and tried to be part of improving what needed improving and I will always be proud of that.

As hard as it is to make the decision to drop fleet (which I’ve not fully digested by the way), leaving on a high note feels like the way to do it. CCP is in great shape and in great hands! Pearl Abyss is the best thing to happen to CCP, they‘re smart, patient and they have real respect for our work with the EVE community through the years. I‘m confident you‘ll all come to see what I already know from being on the inside through all of this. The Community Team is growing (even factoring in my departure), our marketing teams and dev teams are full of energy with smart new hires all over, exciting plans and heads full of great ideas for the future of EVE.

You may or may not have respect for me personally depending on how much you like bad puns and great hair, but if you do, I ask you not to use my personal decision to theory craft or to wield it against my colleagues who, unlike me, will continue to work hard for you to develop and improve EVE. People come and go but EVE is forever, yo.

And… like a wise man once said… you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

I will always be part of this crazy, beautiful space family and nothing will ever take that away. I‘ll also be around for a few more weeks in my official capacity, plus if any of you are planning to be at Evesterdam (kicking off the Invasion World Tour 20 23-25 March, buy your tickets before they sell out) I‘ll be there and I look forward to spending my last official EVE event with you as CCP Guard.

In a way you could say I‘m being promoted from dev to player! I look forward to seeing what it‘s like to play EVE without being a dev (I know all the shitty tricks, come at me Peligro lol jk dont ban me plz). I also really look forward to rocking up at future Fanfests or wherever the Friendship docks around the world, as one of you guys, having a beer in the middle of the day and watching presentations without knowing what‘s in them!!

It‘s hard to say the right words to express all the things I feel so lest I ramble on for another sixteen years, I just want to end this for now by iterating I‘m still here for a bit and will do my best to help you get in touch with the right people if you‘ve ever relied on me as contact for anything. Please reach out.

Thank you for everything and see you in space o7

Your space friend forever,
Guard

Friday, March 1, 2019

People Asked For A Tournament - First Announced Event For Fanfest 2020

The news from CCP about EVE Online is coming fast and furious. I haven't had time to write about the war declaration system changes or the 64-bit client, but I did catch word of the latest on the EVE tournament scene for 2019. In the past, CCP or the players running events have always run tournaments.

This year, I'm going to guess that all the speculation about CCP not holding an alliance tournament because of staffing limitations is correct. Why? Because CCP is doing another one of their world events concerning PvP:
"The EVE Invasion World Tour is taking us to several locations around the globe this year and every event will feature a single elimination 2v2 tournament to find the most bloodthirsty PvPers each region has to offer.

"Brave Capsuleers who decide to take on this challenge will be fighting for more than just the title, PLEX and bragging rights. Every winning team from all seven locations will be invited for a paid trip to CCP’s home in Reykjavik to showcase their prowess in battle and compete against each other at EVE Fanfest 2020!

"For those of you who cannot directly participate in the competition, we have prepared a Prediction Bracket Challenge. This little contest will let everyone submit their predictions for a chance to win one of five prizes consisting of swag and codes for digital items in EVE Online.

"We hope that the EVE Invasion Tournament Series will deliver a solid performance of sportsmanship, destruction and create unforgettable moments throughout the year for all participants and live stream viewers around the world.

"To be clear, this series is not designed nor intended to replace or fill the gap made by the Alliance Tournament taking a break in 2019. Rest assured, CCP is committed to carrying on the tradition of yearly Alliance contests in the future that many players get to love."
Now, the idea of flying players into Reykjavik at CCP expense is not a new concept. In 2015, Fanfest saw the Worlds Collide event when a team from China's Serenity cluster faced off on-stage against the Alliance Tournament XII champions Camel Empire.



The year 2015 also saw the death of Empress Jamyl of the Amarr Empire. A PvP tournament, the Amarr Championships, was set up to determine the next leader of the NPC faction, with the finals held in Reykjavik in 2016.



Now, why would I write about a PvP tournament? I never go to them when I'm at the conventions, except for the Amarr Championships back in 2016. I'm also the farthest from an elite PvP player you can get (although I am an expert at running away). The answer is simple. I do go to the big EVE Online meetups. If CCP is going to spend money to fly players out to that volcanic rock located somewhere in the North Atlantic for a PvP tournament, then I think Fanfest 2020 will have a decent budget after all.