Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Taxman Cometh

I know that CCP would like everyone to use the phrase "Chaos Era", but I don't see the chaos yet. Plus, if the development of EVE goes sideways over the next few months, players may begin using the term to describe the developers and not the game. In order to avoid the low-hanging fruit, I'll practice using more descriptive, but wordier, terminology.

One change that is long overdue is an increase in taxes in New Eden. Before getting into some history, first let's look at the lore. Leading up to the announced change, Triglavian invasions of high sec had led to a shortage of Quantum-Entangled 4-Helium to run the FTL communications network and talk of InnerBus ceasing operations into null sec. CONCORD held an emergency summit over the weekend and decided it needed more money.
Yulai, Genesis – Substantially increased tax and broker fees are to be levied on interstellar market transactions by the Secure Commerce Commission, following today's passage in the CONCORD Assembly of the "New Eden Defense Fund Act YC121" (NEDFA). SCC markets will see base transaction tax increase from 2.00% to 5.00%, while the base brokerage fee will rise from 3.00% to 5.00%.

While the core empires supported the New Eden Defense Fund Act's goals, they were keen to arrive at a means of raising the funds that would spread the load across the New Eden economy and focused on interstellar trade taxes as a means to achieve this. Welcoming the passage of the NEDFA legislation, the DED's Star Marshal Kjersidur Elladall was again keen to emphasize that funding for capsuleer loyalty programs and improved training will be maintained due to the contributions to New Eden's defense of capsuleer fighters.

Capsuleer efforts in the struggle against the Triglavians have been acknowledged with preferential tax and brokerage levels made possible through skilled accounting and the continuing benefit of collecting broker fees when operating Upwell structures. Improvements to the SCC tax code will allow efficient accounting and brokerage negotiations to gain improved savings relative to the increased base tax and fess. However, minimum tax and brokerage fees will still be above levels currently achievable through skilled accountancy and good relations with market operators.
I have to admit getting a chuckle out of the last sentence of the main article.
The Scope understands that the SCC will run market stability simulations imminently and plans to implement the new tax and brokerage fee regime within days.
That's lore-speak for, "We've put the changes on the test server and plan to roll them out with the next content release," which I believe is 13 August.

While CCP hit us with the stick of tax increases, the lore team earlier had teased players with the prospect of receiving goodies as well.
AEGIS Provost Marshal Kasiha Valkanir reiterated in her statements to the Assembly the importance of survival technology for military personnel, advocating augmentation and personality backup wherever feasible. The DED's Star Marshal Kjersidur Elladall emphasized the importance of continuing to support capsuleer efforts through loyalty programs and support for accelerated training for those combating threats such as the Triglavians and Drifters.
I'm not really sure that the implementation of tax increases, combined with a new loyalty point store that may include cerebral accelerators, constitutes chaos. CCP Ytterbium floated the idea of higher taxes in NPC stations back in 2016.
Market: markets currently have two taxes, transaction's tax, applied for sold items, and broker's fee for non immediate orders, which are set at 1.5% and 1% respectively. To create an environment more competitive for Citadels, we plan on increasing the transaction tax to 2.5% and the broker's fee to 5-6%. Players trading in citadels will still receive the transaction tax, but the broker's fee will be at the complete discretion of the owner. To avoid confusion for the owner, the broker relations skill will not affect player set broker's fee in Citadels.
Those changes never took place, thus resulting in a decrease in EVE's ISK sinks as trade moved from NPC stations to the new player-owned citadels. CCP didn't go as far as the original trial balloon, but they came close.
Changes to sales taxes and broker fees:
  • Maximum Sales Tax increase from 2% to 5%.
  • Minimum Sales Tax increase from 1% to 2.25%.
  • Maximum Brokers Fee increase for NPC stations from 3% to 5%.
  • Double the total maximum taxation from 5% to 10%.
  • Increased total minimum taxation on NPC structures from 3% to 5.25%.
  • Increase the minimum taxation on player owned structures by 125% from 1% to 2.25%.
At the same time, the tax associated skills Accounting and Broker Relations are receiving buffs.
Changes to tax associated skills:
  • Accounting – Increase in reduction of sales tax from 10% per level to 11% per level.
  • Brokers Relations – Increase in reduction of costs associated with setting up a market order from 0.1% per level to 0.3% per level.
The total benefit from skills will increase from 2% (current benefit) to 4.75%, which translates to a total tax reduction (including standings benefits) of 47.5% instead of the current 40%.
While many on the forums are decrying the fact the changes will shift trade to player-run stations, those using masses of Alpha accounts to conduct trading may see the biggest hits. Alpha characters can only train Broker Relations to level 2. Accounting? Training the Accounting skill requires Trade IV, and Alpha characters can only train the skill to 3.

I have the feeling that CCP has had a change of heart concerning Alpha accounts in general, and the expansion of Alpha clone skills back in November 2017 in particular. In addition to moves like limiting Alpha accounts to level 3 and under missions, CCP nerfed the Alpha drone skill set while rebalancing the Vexor Navy Issue to discourage the cruiser's use as an AFK ratting platform.
We are also planning a set of targeted changes to somewhat reduce the levels of drone skills available to alpha clones. These changes are focused on our ongoing anti-botting efforts, since large scale parallelized farming of nullsec anomalies with alpha clones is a popular tactic among botters. Our planned changes to the alpha clone skill caps are:
  • Reducing Heavy Drone Operation from level IV to level III
  • Reducing Medium Drone Operation from level V to level IV
  • Reducing Drone Interfacing from level IV to level III
After these changes alpha clone characters will still be able to use drones quite effectively, but their total damage per second will be reduced compared to its current levels. Alpha clones will also no longer have access to Tech Two and 'Augmented' medium drones, although they will still be able to use Navy Faction and 'Integrated' medium drones.
Just as changes like blackout and the VNI rebalance affected botters in null sec, I can't help but think the tax changes will affect market bots in Jita, especially those utilizing throw-a-way Alpha accounts.

I'm still not convinced that a "Chaos Age" has come to EVE Online. When we are talking about long-discussed issues like taxes and fees in the Citadel era, I don't see anything radical happening in New Eden. All I see is the developers attempting to correct problems in the economy, just like they've talked about for awhile now. We are just seeing the results of those efforts.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Another Look At Blackout Maps - 3 Weeks In

I have to admit, the Talking in Stations interview with CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson, CCP's Senior Community Manager CCP Falcon, and CCP Goodfella, Senior Brand Manager of EVE Online, left me scratching my head almost immediately. According to Hilmar, EVE Online had experienced it's best daily active user (DAU) and monthly active user (MAU) in five years. But when I looked at, I saw that the average number of users had declined from 22,000 during June down to 20,000 over the last two weeks. Something isn't quite right.

Everyone seems to jump on the PvP activity bandwagon with the communications blackout. The impression I get is, if you like to PvE, "Suck it up, buttercup. Harden the fuck up, or go back to high sec." And that impression isn't just from players. I was left with the impression that PvE players don't really count.

I shouldn't really take too much offense. I don't live in null sec, after all. But I was interested in how blackout affected PvE, since Hilmar ducked the question when asked about the subject near the beginning of the interview. What follows is a look at five regions owned by major coalitions: Dead Coalition, Legacy, Winter, PanFam, and the Imperium. On 7 July, the final Sunday before the blackout began, players killed over 2 million NPCs in these five regions. What I found might surprise some people.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

A Low Effort Day

Yesterday I went in for a surgery to take care of a sinus problem. Apparently I max'd when I should have min'd and I'm out of work until next Tuesday. The doctor prescribing a narcotic kind of lends to not going into work.

I wasn't really in shape to sit in a chair until late last night. But I had an incentive to log into EVE. Not just log into the client to receive the final cerebral accelerator from the first 7 day givaway, but to do the first day of Skilling Spree as well.

I have three accounts with characters I want to advance. The problem is, I don't fly a lot of combat ships. The first pilot I logged into, Rosewalker, usually splits his time between Stratios and Cheetahs, depending on how I feel. Fortunately, I was in the Sisters' cruiser, so I could just go out and kill one rat and receive 10,000 skill points. I flew over to a system that usually is quiet, warped to a belt, dropped a flight of sentries, and dropped two cruiser rats within a minute. Flew back. Easy peasy.

Next, I logged into Wandering Rose. I was going to swap over from her Procurer to the Stiletto I use to create bookmarks and pop a rat in a belt. Only one problem. No ammunition. So I hopped into the third ship in the station, a Prowler, and went to pick up a ship in high sec. Also, to transfer a ship to my third account.

The Jaguar is a ship I love to fly, and I had one in the station. I hopped in the Thukker-designed ship and went looking for rats to shoot, not only for Wandering Rose, but for the third account as well. An abandoned mining complex was in the system, and I found it full of targets. A Jaguar is more than a match for a handful of high sec rats, but I only killed one because I needed targets for my third account.

I logged in the last account and planned to transfer over an Arbitrator to use. Only one problem. Wandering Rose didn't have an Arbitrator in the station. Also, the event my non-combat account received was to kill five rats to collect 25,000 skill points.

I thought to myself, "Isn't the Skiff a better drone boat anyway?" Not only does the Skiff have bonused drones (50% bonus to drone damage and hit points), but a battleship-class tank as well. So I just undocked the Skiff, warped to the site, and allowed the rats to try to gank me. Stupid NPCs. The fact the combat occurred in a mining related site was an amusing end to my play session.

I'm feeling better today, but I'm still not sure I want to do much more in EVE than get my skill points over the next couple of days. Something about not wanting to lose a ship while under the influence. Although, if I pick my fights right, I shouldn't lose my ship to any rats. Killing a rat in low sec though? What can go wrong?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

EVE Online's NPC News Update For Mid-July 2019

CCP published another news post on the ongoing NPC activity in EVE Online Monday. As CCP intends to surprise players with changes here and there, the patch notes are not always complete. The empire storylines hopefully will fill in the blanks. The main focus of Monday's news: "... the Secure Commerce Commission takes extraordinary measures in response to pressure from Drifter assaults and the continuing Triglavian invasions."

SCC Confirms Limits on Nullsec Bandwidth to be "Maintained Indefinitely" Despite Fall in Drifter Assaults

The SCC has reiterated that its primary concern is to maintain the "integrity and sustainability of the fluid router network for strategic and essential communications" and noted QE 4-He resupply logistics have been put under serious and continuous strain by the Triglavian invasions. Sources within the SCC have revealed that the Triglavian attacks began to seriously affect resupply missions once the so-called "major conduits" phase of the invasion campaign began. Since the Triglavian World Arks began to spearhead the assaults, there have even been attacks on stockpiles of QE 4-Helium.

"The Drifter attacks in nullsec came close to being the tipping point for the imposition of bandwidth limits but it wasn't until we lost an entire QE 4-He production facility to a Triglavian assault that the SCC decided to act. We've since lost some other stockpiles but the DED have stepped up fleet presence at all the critical locations," said one source in conversation with Ret Gloriaxx of the Scope's Galactic Hour with Ret Gloriaxx.
So the Drifters were not the cause of the downgrading of the communications network in null security space. They just pushed the issue to the brink. The real cause are those damned Triglavians. Capsuleers need to go after those guys. If there were only some way to encourage players to participate.

AEGIS Estimates Fatalities from Triglavian Planetary and Station Raiding at "Several Hundred Thousands"

Yulai, Genesis — AEGIS Provost Marshal Kasiha Valkanir released estimates of fatal casualties running into "several hundred thousands" due to Triglavian raiding of planets, stations and other orbital bodies, at a press conference held this morning at DED Headquarters in Yulai. Collated in the course of AEGIS operations supporting, and in some cases providing, defense of stations and orbital bodies, the figures reflect the relatively successful outcomes of most orbital defensive efforts.

Questioned on the remarkably low fatality figures, Provost Marshal Valkanir conceded that "Triglavian assaults on static targets are typically aimed at specific objectives and not at inflicting high levels of casualties." Provost Valkanir went on to say, "The best assessment of AEGIS, and indeed the DED as a whole, is that Triglavian operations on planets, moons, stations, and other orbitals, are primarily focused on intelligence-gathering efforts. This does include some degree of seizing property and personnel, presumably for analysis and, in the latter case, interrogation." The Provost Marshal also confirmed that Triglavian forces attacking orbitals have included so-called "rogue drones" apparently operating under their command.

Wait, I thought the Triglavians hated the Rogue Drones. The Drone Regions, introduced in Revelations, contain no NPC-owned space but are populated by the Rogue Drones. If the Triglavians pop up in null sec in general, and the Drone Regions in particular, the environmental factors null sec residents have to face just got a lot smarter.

CONCORD Revises Casualty Estimates of Drifter Attacks in Outer Regions After SAR Missions

Drifter attacks on non-capsuleer installations appear to have preferentially targeted resource extraction colonies and facilities of various types, while secondarily mounting attacks on communications and logistics infrastructure. CONCORD has noted that it appears Drifter assaults on nullsec colonies generally stripped all resources from the target before entirely destroying the associated installations. In most cases, fatalities were total, resulting in the high numbers of dead. CONCORD has not confirmed or denied reports that in some cases there is a near total absence of corpses or biomass residue remaining amidst the destroyed infrastructure.

While there will be some relief that the death toll was not so high as first thought, the grim reality is that there has been a vast loss of life due to the Drifter attacks. While CONCORD refuses to comment or speculate beyond the facts, it has not been lost on some commentators, the Scope's Galactic Hour with Ret Gloriaxx among them, that the Triglavians have been comparatively restrained in contrast to the inhuman ruthlessness displayed by the Drifters.

The casualty count was reduced from over 10 billion dead to just over 1 billion. Still, if players are going to deal with either invading faction, the Triglavians are the most likely bet.

The other items in the news update were:

  • Confusion and Disputes Arise Over Arrests of Mikramurka Defense Officials by Matar Planetary Security
  • Federal Intelligence Office Refuses to Discuss Semiki Intrusion in Open Senate Session; Requests Closed Meeting
  • Lord Ardishapur Hails Defeat of Triglavians and Blood Raider Assaults in Mandate by Ammatar Fleet and Capsuleers
  • Caille Rogue Drone Cultural Exchange Society Vows to Continue Outreach Efforts Despite Firebombing and Intimidation
  • Intaki Syndicate to Hold Summit Meeting Discussing Nullsec FTL Comms with ORE, Thukker Tribe and "Strategic Partners"
  • Calsif Shadekior Breaks Speed Record for Solo Warp Flight from Pator to Lustrevik; Vherokior Tribe Celebrates

Of these news items, I think the most significant is the meeting between ORE, Thukker Tribe, and "Strategic Partners". I'm pretty sure this is a reference to the null sec regions "controlled" by NPC factions. The list includes:

Will we see different rules for local in sovereignty null sec vs NPC null? And might those rules extend to NPC corporations that do not own full regions like Blood Raiders, The Society of Conscious Thought, and The Sisters of EVE? And if the NPC groups manage to hang onto their communications, will CCP make the technology available to players?

The next story of interest concerns the Semiki incident. That is the system the Arataka Research Consortium operates from. The system has turned into somewhat of a test bed, so I'm interested to see what happens next, if anything.

The next story has me puzzled. What is going on with the Caille Rogue Drone Cultural Exchange Society? I have the feeling the Rogue Drones will take on at least a supporting role in the main Triglavian storyline. Or is this another player group getting props from CCP, like ARC?

Finally, Calsif Shadekior breaking a warp speed record is nice as someone who plays Mimatar from the Vherokior Tribe. But are we perhaps seeing a hint of a new, speedy shuttle or a special rig or module? I'd suggest a new type of implant, but I think that is wishful thinking.

Actually, I expect a lot of this post is wishful thinking. But from everything I've heard his year, CCP wants players to speculate. No more perfect knowledge of what's about to happen next.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Season Of Skills: Everybody Gets Skillpoints

At the end of June, people started to lose their minds over CCP including 1 million skill points in a starter pack package on the EVE Online site. Some people objected to CCP creating skill points out of thin air. I blame the influence of Big Injector for much of the controversy. I understand why Big Injector doesn't want to compete directly with CCP. So I wonder what reaction we'll see when the Season of Skills begins today.

Technically, The Summer of Skills began with a flash sale that ran from 15-17 July. Buy 3 months of game time, and receive an offer to purchase 3 months of multi-character training for an additional $1. If I understand the offer correctly, these are not objects players can sell on the market. The training time just begins when purchased.

I consider the Season of Skills to truly begin today. Beginning at downtime today and running through the 25th, players can receive skill points every day just for logging into the client. Alpha accounts (aka F2P players) can earn up to 200,000 skill points while Omega accounts (those paying a subscription) can earn up to 650,000 skill points. The post also teases at an unspecified number of cerebral accelerators that will help speed training even further.

Starting on 24 July, an event called "Skilling Spree" begins.
Answer CONCORD's call to arms and fight the Triglavians by gaining as many Skill Points as you can during Skilling Spree between 24 July and 21 August for destroying NPCs! Get rewards ranging from 10,000 Skill Points for one kill, to the rarer 50,000 Skill Points for more kills per challenge. Then, use those Skill Points to train essential skills for piloting bigger, better ships with advanced weaponry.
Honestly, this event may encourage me to log in everyday, although real life will still probably get in the way. More importantly, though, is what this may portend for the future. Right now, Triglavians are only appearing in high sec. Is New Eden about to see the Triglavians begin to assault low and null security space as well?

But wait, there's more! From 23-26 August, CCP is conducting another skill point givaway weekend. Alpha accounts that log in every day over the weekend can earn 75,000 skill points while Omega accounts can accrue up to 250,000.

At this point, I'd like to point out a couple of things. First, from a historical perspective, holding a Season of Skills during a historically slow period makes a lot of sense. The most valuable commodity in EVE Online is skill points, so giving so many away as a way to maintain user logins makes sense. Also, the propensity for EVE players to min/max everything means a lot of players are going to upgrade some of their accounts from Alpha to Omega status.

Next, putting in a daily activity for four weeks from the end of July to the end of August when null sec is undergoing delayed local is hedging CCP's bets from a business perspective. The developers have to know a not insignificant number of players are going to unsubscribe excess accounts. What better way to off-set that than by giving out skill points? Subscribed accounts earn three times the amount, at least when the requirement is just to log into the game.

Finally, CCP keeps hinting at events yet to come. with Monday's lore news post just the latest example. The sales material pushing the event kind of implies an expansion of the Triglavian threat as well. Is CCP trying to keep players involved in the game so if they spring a major surprise, players will witness it?

Of course, Big Injector probably will express a lot of rage at the developers handing out skill points like candy. Look at all the lost sales opportunities.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The First Weekend Of Blackout - NPC Kill Maps

CCP began the implementation of delayed local in EVE Online's null security space on Friday. Unfortunately for those who write about EVE, third party sites such as zKillboard and Dotlan joined into the spirit of the event and blacked out the information they normally provide on null sec activity as well. Looking at the maps on Dotlan today, what was bad for writers, talking heads, and hunters was probably a good thing for residents of null sec interested in partaking in PvE activities.

Since the information blackout wasn't lifted until 1100 UTC on Monday, I didn't have the weekend to analyze the data. But that is why we have maps. Dotlan does a great job of visualizing data, so what I'll do is post before and after maps of the top ratting regions in null sec in June. Since Sunday is the busiest day of the week in EVE, the maps will show the number of NPCs killed on 7 July, followed by the number of NPCs killed on the 14th.

First, a list of the top regions for killing NPCs in June, according to Dotlan.

Seven of the top 10 regions for NPC kills in June were located in null sec. That's a lot of maps, but here goes.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Anatomy Of An Escape

With today's blackout of local in null sec, I thought I'd write about an experience I had over the weekend mining in low sec. I ran across a pilot who was obviously lost, as we all know cloaky Proteus only hang out in wormhole space. But sure enough, a Proteus decloaked 17 km from my Procurer. See ship, hit warp. Pretty simple, and the action only took a couple of seconds. But despite my tweet, I didn't just get lucky and run into a bad pilot. A little preparation helped create the opening tweet.

The first bit of planning involved my Procurer fit. I never fit my mining barges for maximum yield. I also don't set up for maximum tank, either. Ideally I'd manage to get a Procurer to align in 5 seconds, the same amount of time as the targeting delay for a ship (except stealth bombers) decloaking. But even with max skills and expensive implants, I don't think it's possible to get a Procurer to align and warp off in 5 seconds. So I use a different tactic.

So, instead of relying on fast align times, I try to minimize my total exposure time. With my skills, an implant, and a Mining Laser Upgrade II, I can mine up to 1044 m3 of ore per minute. I also fit a scanner to judge when to manually shut down the strip miners and start mining another rock. When the wastage time is taken into account, I probably fill up my ore hold in 13 minutes or so.

But what about exposure while in the belt itself? I can align and warp in 9 seconds, which is time enough for a Proteus to uncloak, lock, and point my Procurer. The secret to that is mining while aligned and fitting a Higgs Anchor rig.

Mining while aligned is an old practice that many new players fail to learn, since the technique isn't really suitable for mining frigates like the Venture. But in a mining barge, mining while aligned allows the alert miner to instantly warp away whenever a hostile (or neutral) ship appears on grid. With the size of grids in EVE Online today, a ship appears on grid before while the ship is in the slow-down phase of warp. For cloaky ships like tech 3 cruisers, the ships cannot attempt a lock for 5 seconds after decloaking. In either case, while aligned, a player has a few seconds to react and warp away to safety with one or two mouse clicks.

That leaves the period of changing alignment from one celestial to another as the real periods of vulnerability. That is where the Higgs Anchor Rig comes into play. The Higgs Anchor is a wonderful device that slows a ship's speed by 75% while increasing agility. In practice, that allows my max skills miner to cruise through a belt aligned to a celestial at a speed of just under 40 meters/second. In practice, I only need to make one course correction to stay within range of an asteroid or a group of asteroids. So during my 12-13 minutes of mining before I have to return to a station, in practical terms, I'm really only vulnerable for 9 seconds. Assuming, of course, I remain at my keyboard and pay attention to my surroundings.

In order to increase my safety, I make a lot of bookmarks in a system. Bookmarks are spots in space to which players can warp. Sometimes the belt I want to mine doesn't have a lot of natural spots that allow me to align properly. The longer I remain in a system, the more bookmarks I accumulate. I always make bookmarks around stations, jump gates, and asteroid belts. In addition, I'll spend the time making bookmarks on grid with the belt in order to line up with other celestial objects. One of the side effects is that sometimes I give off the appearance I am not mining while aligned when I'm aligned to a bookmark.

On Sunday, I was mining in a belt with two neutrals in local. One of the pilots I was not worried about; a character with 5.0 security standings who I had only ever seen fly industrial ships. The other was a local in a corporation with ownership in several structures in the constellation. I had seen him in the system a few times before and he had never bothered me.

I was dual-boxing, with Rosewalker in a Stratios at a bookmark observing the belt cloaked. Normally, the only time I uncloak and use the Stratios is when an NPC battleship shows up on grid. Sure enough, a battleship and two cruisers warped onto grid about 5 minutes into my mining session and began attacking Wandering Rose's Procurer. Due to the presence of the neutral with unknown intentions, I decided to leave Rosewalker cloaked and just use light drones from the Procurer to fight the NPCs.

At the time, I was aligned to a bookmark with no discernible celestial object at the end of my path. I don't know if my direction of movement made the neutral pilot overconfident, or if he just got too close to an asteroid. Or perhaps he used one of the NPC cruiser wrecks as a warp-in point and it was within the decloaking distance of 2.5 km. Whatever the case, out of nowhere appears a Proteus, the Gallente tech 3 strategic cruiser.

The reaction was automatic. I hovered my mouse over the bookmark symbol in space and hit warp. Since the bookmark was on grid, the Proteus pilot got the chance to watch me land on grid a long ways away. I then turned the Procurer around and warped to the station and docked up the Procurer.

I didn't think about the flight of tech 2 drones I left behind until afterwards. With eyes on the asteroid belt, I watched as the Proteus pilot scoop up my drones. I guess the situation was a win-win. I came away with my Procurer intact. The Proteus pilot received 5 Warrior IIs with an estimated value of 2 million ISK for his troubles.

The techniques for low sec should work in null sec. Well, except for using local as an intelligence tool. CCP has disabled that intelligence gathering method for a month, if not longer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Key Performance Indicators To Watch During The Summer Of WTF

In 2011, we had the Summer of Rage. Last year we experienced the Summer of Mild Discontent. Until a more catchy name comes along, I will call the summer of 2019 the Summer of WTF, as the current rage was triggered by events that had players asking themselves, "WTF CCP?!"

A lot of players are upset about the way CCP instituted the Drifter Menace on 26 June. Still others are upset about the implementation of delayed local, meaning players do not show up in local until they post. If CCP removes asset safety from null sec citadels as they've hinted at in the past two Scope videos, I expect a lot of players will lose their minds. Let's not forget that the major null sec blocs intend to move against the residents of high security space in some way. How will high sec players react?

With all the disinformation about to flow forth from EVE, how can interested observers tell what the effects of CCP's recent moves had on New Eden? I like to think I know a little about EVE. I may not know much about null sec warfare or flying titans, but I know a little about the statistics that people use to measure the health of EVE. I've put together a set of statistics I plan on using over the coming months to judge the Summer of WTF.

Concurrency: One of the biggest indicators of player activity is how many characters are logged in. Unlike most games, CCP makes an ESI (think API for other games) end point that gives out the information. The most trusted site for historical information on player numbers is
While the numbers for longer periods are rounded to the nearest thousand, we can compare not only the average concurrent player counts from month to month, but year to year as well. For example, the average number of players logged into EVE in June 2018 was 24,000, or 8% more than the 22,000 logged in during June 2019. In 2018, the average concurrent user count throughout July, August, and September was 23,000. If the number in 2019 only drops to 21,000, CCP would have to call that a win. Larger drops would indicate the changes are hurting business.

The PLEX market: One of CCP's major sources of revenue is the sale of PLEX for the purpose of turning real life money into EVE's in-game currency, the Interstellar Kredit (ISK). While we don't know the actual sales figures, we can get a good idea by watching the market in The Forge. Comparing June 2018 and June 2019, 5.1 million fewer PLEX were traded in 2019, a drop of 9.6%. A further drop in the amount traded probably means CCP's accountants may become concerned. Last year, the amount of PLEX sold in both July and August exceeded the amount sold in June.

Another piece of data to watch is the price of 500 PLEX, or one month's Omega time. Over the course of the summer of 2018, the price stayed relatively stable. In June 2019, the average price of 500 PLEX is slightly over 2 billion ISK, or 43% over the average June 2018 price. A huge price drop would indicate players ceasing to PLEX a very large number of accounts.

PvP activity: I plan to look at two pieces of information in regards to PvP activity. The first is the number of player ships killed, with an emphasis on activity in null and high security space. Those figures I can find on the statistics page on Dotlan. If the null sec blocs decide to add a military component to their planned economic warfare against high sec, the ship kill numbers should show a shift in activity. If we see activity down across the board, that could mean bad things for CCP's bottom line, as ship loss helps drive PLEX sales.

In 2018, PvP kills in null sec increased from 251,350 in June to 260,270 in July. High sec saw a corresponding decrease, from 381,363 in June 2018 down to 298,622 in July. The figures in June 2019 were 263,825 ship kills in null compared to 248,420 in high security space. As a slight diversion from the topic at hand, did the changes to the war declaration system really have that big an impact?

PvE activity: Looking at PvE activity is an obvious statistic, even if secondary. Is the number of NPC deaths declining due to wars, or people unsubbing? Or is that just show the effect of the local changes on bots? If the number of NPC deaths increases, especially in null sec, is that an indication of the player-base adapting to the change? Once again, I'll look to Dotlan to provide the numbers.

The PvE activity in 2018 seems a reverse of the PvP numbers. The number of rats killed in null sec decreased from 210,390,563 in June 2018 to 204,994,339 in July. In the meantime, the number of NPCs killed in high sec jumped from 96,739,369 in June to 04,498,003 in July.

Going into the Summer of WTF, NPC killing is way down year-over-year, with only 88,449,933 NPC's dying in high sec and 176,580,417 in null sec. War has a way of really decreasing PvE activity. So does banning bots.

The Monthly Economic Report: If the above data gives some insight to the number of players and/or accounts leaving the game, the MER can show the effects on the changes to those who choose to remain as well as activity numbers. Unlike the other measures, the numbers for June 2019 are not out and I have not compiled the numbers from 2018. The main numbers I plan to look at over the next few months are:

ISK faucets and sinks: This shows the value of activity in the game. I'm sure CCP hopes to see the faucets decrease and the sinks remain the same. With the changes in null sec, I fully expect the faucets to slow. If the sinks also slow, that is probably bad news for the developers.

Active ISK delta: A lot of people claim the changes will bring them back to playing EVE. If so, the active ISK delta will show if that is true. The active ISK delta shows the amount of ISK leaving or entering the economy based on accounts either being inactive for 30 days or starting up again after being inactive for 30 days. Yes, the figure includes accounts made inactive due to GM actions, such as bans for botting and other RMT-related activity.

The Mineral Price Index and Consumer Price Index: Extracting the index numbers isn't easy, but a big enough rise in these key indices could mean the average player who doesn't follow the meta or EVE news starts to notice his surroundings.

The Regional Statistics: The MER breaks down some of the statistics by region. The two big regions to watch out for are Delve and The Forge. Delve is the home of the Imperium and the biggest market in null sec. The Forge is the largest market hub in New Eden. Big changes in either region will ripple throughout the rest of the game.

With any luck, the collection of these statistics will show that all is well in EVE Online. But EVE players are a rowdy bunch, given to making a lot of noise when displeased. Let me end with a quote from a leaked email from CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson about the Summer of Rage in 2011:
Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.
With all the complaining about the recent changes, we may be at another point in time when we watch what the players do and not so much what they say. And I'm making my preparations to do just that.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Delayed Local In Null, Is The Removal Of Asset Safety Next?

I think I've gotten to the point with EVE Online I need to cover every video published by CCP, as well as every lore article. Why? Because CCP is not going to come right out and tell players what will happen in the future. In fact, for the Invasion expansion and follow-up patches, CCP isn't even pushing the content to the Singularity test shard for player feedback. In order to keep track of future developments, I need to become a lore hound.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Null Sec And The Drifter Menace: What's Old Is New Again

Watching and listening to the antics of null sec in general, and The Mittani and Aryth in particular, over the past week in reaction to the Drifter Menace takes me back to November 2011. Back then, someone on the old Kugutsumen formus trolled HurrDurrHurr into thinking he had been permanently banned from EVE. The solution? Attack Chribba!
Oh the humanity...I
f you haven't already heard the great terrible news, Durr has been permanently banned from Eve Online by some dick eating a rotten shark sandwich. No one really knows what the exact justification for the ban is, but apparently it has something to do with Durr getting a bunch of SomethingAwful guys to mass petition CCP regarding some GM adding anti-scam rules to the Recruitment channel. There is nothing in the rule book that specifically states that is wrong, and certainly nothing that would indicate that it is a instant perma ban offense.

At this time we ask that you not mass petition CCP while the CSM/higher level GM's get to the bottom of this mess.

Striking back
Instead, we will fight back the only way we know how, by shitting on the Empire pubbies that this anti-scam rule protects, and we'll do it in nullsec. You may be asking yourself, "How will we get a bunch of Empire pubbies to tear themselves away from the teat of Level 4 missions!?!?" and the answer is that we are attacking their Mecca and Muhammad all in one shot. We will be attacking 9UY4-H, home of Otherworld Enterprises, Chribba's alliance. If you've been wanting to see a bunch of empire pubbies frothing at the mouth even more than they have been, now is probably a good time to login. In the eyes of the average empire dweller we are now literally Hitler.

We will begin deploying to Providence in a few short days along with our allies Elite Space Guild aka Broski aka Shurk aka fuck it you know who. Some other friends of ours will also be making an appearance, but that will be revealed later.

Primary: Get at least 500 Empire dwellers in 9UY4-H at the same time
Secondary: Actually take 9UY4-H
Tertiary: Roam all of Providence and have fun with CVA, also fucking around in Catch

What to do now
Start posting on Eve-O about how we are going to shit all over Chribba.
Get excited, as Montolio will be FCing some wulfpax and RPing as a Nazi u-boat commander.

Get your Alphafleet and Welpfleet ships bought and fitted up in 6VDT and await for further orders, it won't be long.
As it turned out, TEST wasn't powerful enough to do the job (to be fair, Chibba did have a bigger supercap fleet at the time), so they called in Pandemic Legion and Shadoo to take the sov and station away from Chribba. Shortly afterwards, the Honey Badger Coalition led by TEST and Pandemic Legion formed.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years and we have another situation where a major null sec alliance is highly annoyed with CCP. Times 7. Turns out that null sec players hate non-consensual PvE as much as many high sec residents hate non-consensual PvP. The Imperium made an early withdrawal from the north to secure their assets in Delve.
PACK YOUR SHIT AND PREPARE TO WITHDRAW TO DELVE: This is stupid as hell but upon further discussion we will take CCP at their word and not assume this nonsense is a bug. As you guys know we were planning on fucking off soon after SH1 (as per the Init SOTA which leaked), but I’d hoped to mess around in Malpais a bit before we went home… but whatever. It’s a good thing we burned the candle at both ends and nuked SH1 before this shit happened, but if ~generic pve bad guy vigilant tyrannos~ wants to clean up the drones for us, hey. At least the Drifters undock.
The Mittani sounded like he wanted to continue, but succumbed to necessity:
let’s take ccp at their word for now and that this is an invasion feature
bad news: we must go home (but we were planning on that anyway as sh1 is done)
good news: this will absolutely ruin 50%+ of the structures in null, but especially those of our enemies who can’t defend and have had their willpower drained by our attacks
i wanted to purge malpais but if mr tyrannos will do the work for us, fuck it

~~~ This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2019-06-26 23:59:01.764064 EVE ~~~

Now, either intentionally or due to poor design and/or coding. the Drifters never seem to follow-up on the armor timers the NPCs create. We also know the Drifters are not attacking the null sec structures with their most powerful units. Still, trying to fight an enemy who doesn't tire or get bored, can't be talked with or otherwise metagamed, and seems to pick targets without rhyme or reason isn't why null sec players subscribe (or PLEX accounts) to play EVE. Did I mention the Drifters attacking the structures don't show up on D-scan, are unprobeable, and have reportedly fired on targets over 500 km away?

On Saturday, during the Goons' fireside chat (Soundcloud here), Aryth laid out a plan. From INN's coverage of the event:
"Aryth, Goonswarm’s head financier and member of CSMs 11, 12, 13, and 14, explained that the current situation means that as the nullsec groups are unable to carry out their usual fleets, or deploy against each other, they will instead extract content from high sec. As he explained, “Shared trenches make for very good friends“. The ongoing invasions in nullsec have forced the null blocs to put aside their differences for now, and unite under a common cause.

"The major power blocs will be forming a cartel to enact an embargo of raw materials into High Security space. Put simply, the NullSec power blocs will not be sending their jump freighters into Jita with the high end minerals and moongoo used by much of highsec production.

"Although the regions in NullSec are not self-sufficient in terms of moongoo, the blocs can trade between each other directly, instead of coming into Jita to stock up."
During the session, The Mittani also gave the go-ahead for individual members to wage economic war on high sec as well. The only area off-limits is the PLEX market, as any market manipulation is liable to hit Imperium members just as hard as high sec.

On The Meta Show, The Mittani also implied that the economic warfare would also have a military component. And why not? History has shown tactics such as the Gallente Ice Interdiction of 2012 work. As The Mittani wrote back in 2012 in his Ten Ton Hammer column:
"At the start of the month, the Goonswarm Federation finance team realized that they might be able to destroy the galactic economy. Bored of a stagnant nullsec and aroused by the potential for grief, they announced that they had found New Eden’s industrial Achilles Heel: the 15 Ice Belts in Gallente hisec that produce Oxygen Isotopes, the critical POS-fuel that runs most T2 reaction towers. Placing bounties on the heads of anyone attempting to mine ice in those fifteen key systems, hundreds of Goons and their allies began roaming the tranquil, Concord-coddled spacelanes around Dodixie and turning them into an abbatoir, suicide-ganking anything that would sit still long enough to drop a Brutix on it..."

"The Ice Interdiction turned out to be the precursor to a series of anti-hisec market interventions by Goonswarm, most notably Burn Jita and the Permanent Hulkageddon. It was the test case to answer the question: could a nullsec bloc, despite a numerical disadvantage, overwhelm the disorganized masses of hisec and sow galactic chaos through the markets? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’ as oxytopes tripled in price, ruining reaction chains across the game and forcing thousands of players to tear down their Gallente towers and replace them with Caldari, wasting uncounted man-hours staring at the Floating Green Box."
So that's where we are today as we wait to see what the one hour downtime brings to New Eden. A lot of people are acting like the null sec reaction to the Drifter Menace is something new. The only thing I see new is the potential scale of the action. The ideas behind them? Not so much.