Thursday, August 13, 2020

Pearl Abyss Q2 2020 Earnings Call

Pearl Abyss held its Q2 2020 earnings presentation for investors yesterday. The main item that struck me was the declining financial numbers the Korean game company posted during a quarter expected to produce higher numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, PA experienced a 1.1% quarter over quarter and 8.4% year over year declines in the second quarter.

Operating profits grew 9.5% from the previous quarter, but still fell 2.3% from Q2 2019. The big decline was in Pearl Abyss' net profits, which declined ₩24.7 billion, or 51.5%, from the first quarter. Pearl Abyss did not explain the reason for the drop in net profits, although a tax hit is not out of the question. We do know that increased operating costs were not the reason for the decline in net profits. Labor costs fell 3.6% as the COVID-19 pandemic inhibited the hiring of new employees.

Eagle eyed individuals may have noticed that the totals for 2019 changed from that disclosed in the Q1 2020 call. Pearl Abyss explained this was due to the accounting changes explained in the Q4 2019 call. The change was required to fall in line with the industry's standard practices.

The source of the revenue drop was Black Desert, specifically Black Desert Mobile. While Pearl Abyss does not break out individual games, the Black Desert IP experienced a ₩7.1 billion ($6 million USD) drop in revenues in the second quarter. The BDM decrease also showed up in the percentage of revenue by platform, with mobile games making up only 43% of PA's sales in Q2 compared to 54% in the first quarter. But all was not bad news for Black Desert. On 24 April, PA began self-publishing the game in Japan, achieving the highest peak concurrent user mark in BDO's 5-year history in the country.

Partially making up for the drop was EVE Online. The game experienced a 31.9% increase in revenue QoQ and a 26.8% increase compared to Q2 2019. The $3.9 million increase brought the total EVE IP revenue up to $16 million for the quarter. While Pearl Abyss credited efforts to shore up the player base as a leading cause of the increase, I would credit both the lockdowns associated with the CONVID-19 pandemic as well as the relaunch of EVE in China on 27 April as larger factors.

Concurrency on Serenity (China), August 5-12, 2020

The EVE IP could provide a bright spot in Q3 as well. EVE Echoes launches globally today, except for China. In response to analysts' questions, Pearl Abyss revealed that the company does not have a launch date for the game in China as CCP/Netease is still trying to get a license.

Overall, Pearl Abyss came out of the call looking good, with the company's stock price jumping 5.8% in morning trading. The market consensus of a ₩37.3 billion operating profit was smashed by the ₩50.1 revealed on the call.

Monday, August 10, 2020

FFXIV Patch 5.3: Expanding The Free Trial

Today Final Fantasy XIV is off-line as Square Enix installs patch 5.3 on the servers. But instead of going into a lot of details about the release, I want to point out the business end of the changes to the game. The FFXIV trial is extending from level 35 to level 60. At the same time, the standard game will now include the Heavensward expansion, which has a level cap of 60.

The expansion of the trial to include the ability to play the Heavensward expansion doesn't, at least in my mind, count as turning FFXIV into some sort of free-to-play or hybrid business model. Square Enix still bans the purchase of items from the cash shop, meaning the only way the company can monetize trial players is to turn them into subscribers. The full list of trial restrictions is below...
  • Free Trial Players cannot make in-game micro transactions during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players can create only eight (8) playable characters, restricted to one (1) playable character per world.
  • Free Trial account characters have their level capped at level thirty five (35).
  • Free Trial account characters can obtain only a capped amount of in game currency (GIL).
  • Free Trial Players cannot use the "shout", "yell" or "tell" in-game chat options during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot access the in-game market board during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot trade items with other players during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot use the Mogletter service during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot hire a retainer character during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players can join a Linkshell if invited, but cannot create a new Linkshell during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot create or join a Free Company during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players can join a party if invited or by using the Duty Finder, but cannot assemble a party during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot login to the Lodestone and or any other game forum during the Free Trial.
  • Free Trial Players cannot progress past Floor 10 in the Deep Dungeon during the Free Trial.
The 8 character limit shouldn't serve as a problem trying out classes (aka jobs) as a character can have all combat jobs, gathering and crafting classes trained. The bigger restrictions for anyone wanting to play the entire story line for free are the inability to trade with other players or use the market board. Not having the ability to upgrade equipment, especially in the Heavensward content which relies on flying mounts, via the market is big for running the dungeons that are a part of the main scenario quest line. Gathering materials for crafting in levels 50-60 is kind of difficult without the ability to fly.

As the change to the trial is part of an effort to attract players to the game, I should add in a couple of things patch 5.3 brings to FFXIV to make the game more player-friendly. First is the revamp of the 100 quests that were introduced in the patches to A Realm Reborn. Not only were many removed altogether, but more were streamlined to feel less grindy. Also, players can now fly in the old 1-50 level zones (except in cities) in the old ARR content. 

Of interest to newer players, treasure chests in dungeons will no longer drop basically useless items, thus filling up valuable inventory space better reserved for armor and weapons. Especially important for trial players, several of the lower level dungeons will now guarantee players a drop applicable to their combat jobs as long as the player does not possess any of the items. With no access to the market board, the better quality items found in dungeons can help players gear up.

Having completed the Heavensward story and run the Crystal Palace quest line and raids, I fully agree with the take that Final Fantasy XIV is the best MMORPG on the market today. But, I can see how the anime type art style (I'm not really sure FFXIV is an anime game) and forced grouping could turn some people off. If anyone wanted to try the game, the introduction of the new unlimited trial is a good time to start.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Summer War 2020: We Were Promised Explosions

The big summer war of 2020 began 4 weeks ago. We've seen coverage of the war on talk shows and Twitch streams. The EVE Online sub-reddit is full of propaganda. The growing number of systems with Pandemic Horde infrastructure hubs in Fountain and Brave Collective iHubs in Querious mark the progress of PanFam and the Legacy Coalition towards The Imperium's home region of Delve. But the question remains. Where are the ship explosions?

In July, null sec witnessed an average of 10,358 ships explode for various reasons. But despite the start of the war late on 4 July, the total was down from June's average of 10,421 ships lost per day. One cannot explain the slight decrease as a lot less of a decrease than normal, either. The 0.6% drop in wreck creation in 2020 is slightly below the average change from June to July from 2016-2018 of 0.0%. That's right. In EVE's free-to-play, non-Blackout history, null sec averages no decline at the beginning of summer (winter in Australia/New Zealand). In other words, the war is not providing an increase in ship wrecks.

On the ratting front, major wars have two contradictory influences. On the one hand, major conflicts can interfere with ratting, especially if the sides decide to declare total war on each other's rear areas. But, alliances have an incentive to increase ratting in order to improve their systems' activity defense modifiers. In July, null sec saw a 4.1% decrease of NPCs killed, down to 6,200,252 rats per day. The decline, though is in line with the 2016-2018 average decline in NPC kills of 7.5%. Once again, seemingly the "World War" is not affecting all of null sec.

Just looking at the data available on Dotlan, the current war reminds me of the fighting a few years ago in factional warfare. The participants were all happy and thought the action had picked up tremendously. But in reality, all the players gathered to a few points to make the game feel busy.

Is the same thing happening today in null sec? Perhaps not. We still haven't seen the big toys gather to have a critical battle or two. Also, we haven't seen the July monthly economic report yet. The Dotlan data can give a first impression but more is needed. The maps show the fighting is spread out over regions. But how deep is the war? How many ships involved? What are the resources devoted to the conflict? Or, potentially, the resources available to wage the war. But for now, the level of fighting seems not out of line with the normal state of null sec.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Dotlan Makes It Easier To Follow The War

Wollari has done it again. For those who don't know, Wollari is the developer of Dotlan Maps. In a recent move, he went ahead and made following wars in null sec a lot easier to follow.

Back in the dawn of time (before July 2015), territorial control units (TCUs) were important in the sovereignty system. One could follow a war just by watching sovereignty change hands. But with the Aegis release, that changed. Basically, TCUs became little flags on a map and nothing else. The null sec powers ignore the flags and only clean them out after the fighting is over.

The new key structure is the Infrastructure Hub (iHub). The iHub can have various upgrades installed that aid in generating additional PvE content and wealth. Additionally, running the PvE content increases the activity defense multiplier (ADM) in the system.  The iHub is also important, because an alliance cannot deploy cyno jammers in a system without a Cynosural Suppression upgrade installed in the iHub. An infrastructure hub upgrade is also required to place an Ansiblex Jump Gate in a system. A jump gate network gives an alliance great mobility to move forces around the cluster.

The innovation Wollari introduced is the ability to see who owns the iHubs in a region. Before, we could only filter on the sovereignty map, which displayed the TCUs. Let's use Fountain as an example. Before, visiting Dotlan would show users the sov map.

Fountain Sov Map - 30 July 2020

Looking at the sovereignty map, we can see that someone is making a push in the north of Fountain. Also, that space held by The Initiative. is under attack. But switching to the new iHub map tells a clearer picture.

Fountain iHub Map - 30 July 2020

In the north, the systems marked as belonging to Infensus <DUTCH> on the sov map contain iHubs owned by two alliances. The defending alliance is The Bastion <BASTN>, a member of The Imperium. The attacking group is Pandemic Horde <REKTD>, a member of the PanFam coalition currently allied with The Legacy Coalition.

In central Fountain, the sov map just shows that some sort of warfare is happening. Switching to the iHub map shows Pandemic Horde and allies making inroads into the Sphinx constellation, placing iHubs in 4 of the 11 systems.

Trying to watch wars over the past few years has gotten harder with the introduction of the Aegis sovereignty system. With the latest additions to Dotlan, Wollari has made watching the action a bit easier.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Monetizing The War

Last week CCP announced a new package in the cash shop. The "Training Boost Bundle" consists of 1.5 million skill  points and a cerebral accelerator that gives a +8 bonus to all training attributes for 12.5 days. With Biology V trained, that should give up to 25 days of bonused training. All for the low price of $39.99 USD.

I'm not joking about $39.99 being a low price, especially for veteran players with characters possessing over 80 million skill points. Buying and using skill injectors off the market incurs penalties for older characters. So while a new character receives 500,000 skill points per injector, a character with over 80 million skill points only receives 150,000. So for those who wish to purchase 1.5 million skill points with real world currency for a character, based on Wednesday's prices in The Forge, the prices were:

Character with:
  • 0 - 5 million skill points: $31.86
  • 5 - 50 million skill points: $39.83
  • 50 - 80 million skill points: $53.10
  • over 80 million skill points: $106.20

PLEX Store Prices

We should also consider the real world money spent to create skill injectors. The skill point farmer needs two things. First, either 500 PLEX or a multiple character training certificate to generate the skill points. Even if purchased for ISK by the farmer, some still has to purchase the PLEX or MCT from CCP for real world currency. Without a training booster like the one that comes with the package, a character can generate enough skill points in 30 days to fill up 3.88 skill injectors. Let's round that figure up to 4 to make future calculations easier. A pack of 1100 PLEX costs $39.99 in the store. As we can see, the amount of PLEX required to create the skill injectors for 50-80 million skill point characters equals the cost of the new skill point package and exceeds that for characters with over 80 million skill points.

Now, we need to take into account the number of skill injectors needed to inject a character with 1.5 million skill points. Here is the breakdown.

Character with:
  • 0 - 5 million skill points: 3 injectors
  • 5 - 50 million skill points: 4 injectors
  • 50 - 80 million skill points: 5 injectors
  • over 80 million skill points: 10 injectors
Each skill injector requires a skill extractor to create. Skill point farmers will pay PLEX for what they use. The rate is a standard 140 PLEX per skill extractor. The skill extractors come in packs of 5 for 700 PLEX and 10 for 1400 PLEX.

Skill point farmers generally create more than 20 skill injectors a month, so let's calculate the cost to create 20 skill injectors to make the maths easier. The farmer has to outlay 2500 PLEX (2455 if using MCT on for 3 of the 5 characters) plus another 2800 PLEX for skill extractors (assuming they are not on sale). So the manufacturer's cost to create a skill injector is roughly 265 PLEX. Slightly more when the rounding I performed is removed.

Now, to return to the player who wants to boost his 80 million skill point character. Instead of a skill point farmer spending 2650 PLEX in the NEX store for training time and skill extractors, the new skill package only draws in $39.99. How much is 2650 PLEX in U.S. dollars? CCP sells a package of 2860 PLEX for $99.99.

Honestly, I'm tired of the argument. We went through this issue last June. The ones who really annoy me are the players who thought skill injectors were a good idea back in 2015 and 2016 when CCP possibly could have been persuaded differently. And the players who drive me crazy are the ones who deny that, for all intents and purposes, CCP started selling skill points for real world money back in February 2016. 

As for the "CCP broke their promise" about not selling skill points directly out of the cash shop, I'd ask the complainers to look around. Back in 2015, CCP was an independent games studio. Now, they are owned by Pearl Abyss, a company not exactly known for being shy about their cash shop offerings in Black Desert Online. The cash shop was the number one reason I had for stopping to play that game.

As old players return to EVE to participate in the latest null sec conflict, I can see the appeal of spending $40 to try to catch up to the newest doctrines. I still don't like that type of jump, but time is passing me by. If players are willing to throw money around, I can't blame CCP for trying to scoop some up.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Is EVE's Summer 2020 War The Real Thing?

Over the last two weeks a lot of talk has circulated about the upcoming war between The Imperium and everyone Test Alliance Please Ignore can gather up to fight. Has anyone heard this talk before? More often than not, these wars fizzle out after a few weeks. 

Listening to the leaders of both The Imperium and TEST talk, they plan a war to the death. Do I really believe it? Not really. The two sides, the 8 alliances of The Imperium and the 102 alliances gathered together by TEST, will need to show some sort of real desire to have more than a few slap fights in Paragon Soul, Period Basis, Querious and Cloud Ring. The two sides traded jabs in their meetings, with The Mittani calling TEST, "the final destination for corp-hoppers, turncoats, snitches, grifters, graspers, suck-ups, also-rans, and the irredeemably incompetent", while TEST's progodlegend claimed that EVE is dying due to The Imperium. TEST's other leader, Vily, claimed their assembled force would not make the same mistake they made at the end of the Casino War and would destroy The Imperium.

At this time, the only major effort I've hear either side make was an Imperium effort to knock out TEST's jump bridge network in Paragon Soul. I know that TEST deployed a keepstar someplace before the NIP formally ended, but I'll have to look up where. I also know that one of the systems reinforced by Imperium was G-M4GK. A keepstar deployed in the system would allow The Imperium to project supercapital forces into Esoteria. But besides that, I don't know a lot about the action so far. I'm sure we'll hear something soon. How much is reliable, that's another question.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Thoughts On FFXIV's Beast Tribe Quests

I started playing Final Fantasy XIV on the 50th anniversary of the first landing of men on the moon. I switched to making FFXIV my main game at the beginning of February during the DDOS attacks and subsequent mitigation issues suffered by EVE Online at that time. Being stuck in Rens for nine days led me to play more and more FFXIV and I basically didn't stop once the servers became stable again.

As my first year in Eorzea comes to a close, I thought I'd write a few posts updating my progress and giving some thoughts on various features of the game. Currently I am sitting at the Heavensward quest in the Main Scenario Quest line. I also have white mage leveled to 67, all three gathering classes over level 60, and my lowest crafting class at level 57. One of my current main goals is completing all the beast tribe quests in ARR and Heavensward

The first beast tribes were added to FFXIV in patch 2.1. The first set of beast tribes introduced in A Realm Reborn were the Amalj'aa, Kobolds, Sahagin and Sylphs. A crafting based beast tribe, the Ixali, was introduced in patch 2.35. Heavensward added three additional tribes: Vanu Vanu (3.1), Vath (3.2) and the crafting based Moogles (3.3). The content felt like end of expansion filler content, which looking up when Square Enix introduced each tribe seems to confirm.

Why do the content while I'm leveling? Completing each tribes quest line results in making mounts, minions, and dyes available from each tribes' store. The beast tribe vendors are also a source for crafting materials. Since I am into both the crafting and glamour systems, doing the beast tribe daily quests made sense.

The storytelling for each beast tribe quest line is also worth playing. I've found most of the quest lines in FFXIV good so far. The way the beast tribes work is first, do a series of quests to qualify to do the daily quests. Doing daily quests results in reputation gains that lead to different levels of reputation. The game allows for doing 3 quests for a beast tribe per day per quest giver, with a maximum of 12 total beast tribe quests per day. Reaching the next level of reputation unlocks the next story quest. 

The one part of the feature I have not played is the allied beast tribe quests. Once a player reaches max reputation with all the beast tribes in a release, a final quest line appears. In ARR, completing the allied quest lines provides the Sable Death Mask. The Heavensward quest line provides the Moonlift Dance. 

Overall, I like the beast tribe quests. I currently am working on Sahagin quests from ARR and the Moogle and Vanu Vanu quests in Heavensward. The one thing that might slow me down is my desire to continue the MSQ and get to Stormblood. Doing nine quests a day does take some time, even though at this point I can one-shot most of the mobs. But I will at least finish the Moogle quests as those help in leveling my crafting classes.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Project Discovery: COVID Edition

I received the following email about 2 hours ago.

Project Discovery Phase Three

Aid real science from within EVE today 

Greetings Rosewalker,

Project Discovery and citizen science have returned! You are invited to once again join the growing ranks of Capsuleers who have contributed to real world science through a mini-game within EVE Online, the results of which will assist in the understanding of how our bodies react to viruses.

The newest iteration of Project Discovery allows you to analyze data produced by flow cytometers. Using a tracing tool, you will draw polygons around clusters of cells. In doing so, you will participate in analyzing COVID-19 data, as well as other related flow cytometry charts, which will help scientists understand better how our immune systems are impacted by this novel coronavirus.
Today's news article gave a little more detail.
Specifically, you will be demarcating different cell populations present in blood. That data will provide information about how infections and other factors impact immune systems. Your polygons aid scientists in understanding how different cell populations and types are altered through infection.

Log in to EVE Online and check out the detailed in-game Project Discovery tutorial for full details of how to participate and begin aiding the cause of real science once more!
I'll have to check out the COVID version. With the search for exoplanets, I managed to get a Marshal and a heck of a lot of SKINs. I'll also have to check a certain botting forum to read all the complaints that their Project Discovery bots no longer work.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

CSM Voting LIve Through June 8th

I originally wasn't going to write about the Council of Stellar Management election now running through 1200 UTC on Monday, 8 June. But when I went to vote last night, I had to do some research in order to figure out how. So, I think I need to help players who wish to vote a hand.

The link to vote is here.

Then log in an account and move the tiles up to the voting screen. Players can vote for up to 10 candidates. I should note players do not have to fill out all 10 positions. If someone only likes three candidates, that person should only vote for those three candidates.

Once again, I will bring up one of my pet peeves about the single-transferable vote system used for CSM elections. People out there will tell people they have to fill out all 10 positions. Others will say, if players don't fill out all 10 positions, they are wasting their vote. I've even heard the argument that people who don't fill out all 10 positions are either lazy or stupid. In my mind, people making those arguments are engaged in voter suppression.

I think people don't understand that EVE Online is just a video game. Who has time to research 40 candidates in order to pick out the top 10 candidates they like? The major null sec alliances get around the issue by creating a list, and even links, to use to make their lives easier. But for those in small groups or even playing solo? I've done that type of research over the past 5 years and let me tell you, I'm pretty sure no one does the research on their own.

Some people are still out there producing content for CSM elections. Declarations of War held two candidate panels. But I think this year most of the information will come from CCP. The company posted a dev blog with information about each candidate

I'm not going to do the EVE blogger thing of making recommendations. Mostly because I know what I say won't matter. Over the years, starting with the introduction of the STV system, I have watched the rules gradually favor the most organized groups. Who are the largest, most organized groups in EVE? The major null sec alliances.

After last year, I gave up following the elections. The results are basically pre-ordained, except for the last position or two. And that is a hope, not solid analysis. So I voted with my three accounts, and with any luck, Mike Azariah somehow defies the odds and makes it back to the council and the next summit in Reykjavik.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Prices For Russian Players Increasing On 1 July 2020

Today, CCP Games announced an increase in prices for those using the Russian ruble.
On 1 July 2020, there will be an update to the pricing of all products for players paying using the Russian Ruble. The increase in prices will encompass Omega subscription, PLEX, Multiple Character Training, Value Packs, and Daily Alpha Injectors.

The main reason for the update is that the change in currency conversion over the last few years has created an imbalance between the pricing in Rubles compared with the rest of the world. This has resulted in the abuse of current price differences, which has had a negative impact, both in and out of game.
Due to the falling value of the ruble over the past few years, the costs for Russian players (or those paying in rubles) is less than for those using other currencies.

Prices as of 25 May 2020

For example, a one-month subscription (aka one month of Omega time) of 599 rubles costs €7.67, $8.37, or £6.87 compared to the other major currencies CCP accepts as payment.

I do have to note that the price change occurs at the beginning of the third quarter. Pretty standard, I believe, making a major price change in order to keep the accounting simpler. But I'd expect a large drop in players from Russia, or at least the number of Omega accounts. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

EVE Echoes To Launch In August 2020

Yesterday NetEase announced the mobile game based on EVE Online, EVE Echoes, will launch in the middle of August 2020. The game is scheduled to release on both the Apple and Google app stores.

One concern with new games is monetization. The developers from NetEase stated that the game would use the same monetization as EVE Online. That means the Alpha/Omega account system, PLEX sales, and cosmetics such as ship SKINs.

From reading the Twitch chat, one of the benefits of an Omega account is off-line auto-pilot. The devs explained that off-line auto-pilot allows players to close down the game but still have their ship flying through space. The benefit of the feature is to free up system resources on the phone and save on battery life.

One of the big differences between EVE Echoes and EVE Online concerns outposts. Known as citadels in EVE Online, outposts perform the same function as citadels. Two differences most PC players will notice is that the structures are owned by individual players, not corporations. The reason is pretty simple. NetEase created the outposts before creating the corporation system. Indeed, the corporation system is still under development. The second is outposts is limited to low and null security space. Sorry high sec players.

EVE Echoes will also introduce players to an ancient race, the Yan Jung. NetEase is bringing them to the fore. Here is what we know about the Yan Jung.
According to Sebast Mathon, the Yan Jung nation immigrated into New Eden through the EVE Gate and settled in the Deltole system, especially on Deltole V and VI, which seem to have been much more inhabitable back then.

The Yan Jung were, judging from the remains of Yan Jung technology found in the archaeological record, masters of advanced gravitronic technology and force field theories.

Yan Jung archaeological sites can be found in the Algintal Constellation within Gallente Federation space.
One thing the developers noted is that the the game has a more "Oriental look", which makes sense since the east Asian market (China, South Korea, Japan) is where mobile games are extremely popular.

And of course, no EVE event is complete without a trailer. I have embedded the cinematic below.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pearl Abyss Q1 2020 Earnings Call

Today, Pearl Abyss held its Q2 2020 earnings call for investors. After a down last quarter of 2019, caused in large part due to an accounting change with the console version of Black Desert Online, the South Korean game studio continued on its upward trajectory.

From PA Q1 2020 Earnings Call

Quarter over quarter, Pearl Abyss increased its operating revenue by ₩16.6 billion, or 14.2%. Operating profit also increased 28.3%. While the net profit remained relatively flat, only increasing ₩200 million, the figure was still a 242.6% increase over Q1 2019. One of the analysts on the call asked about the factors in Black Desert Online's growth in 2020 and was told that the COVID-19 pandemic did play a role in the revenue increases.

From PA Q1 2020 Earnings Call

Usually EVE Online is an afterthought in the earnings calls. But a 15% increase in earnings in the first quarter meant Pearl Abyss needed to say something. PA's Chief Financial Officer Cho Seok-woo made the following statement to the listeners. The English translation is probably not the most elegant.

EVE Online is also maintaining stable performance. EVE Online -- which was known as the most difficult MMO game -- had the most important challenge, which was to motivate the interest of early users. Using Black Desert know-how and experience from EVE Online, many improvements were made. And accordingly, we saw a meaningful increase of new users. EVE Online, which is in its 17th year of launching, shows through many indexes that a well-made MMO game has a very long lifespan value.
To my knowledge, the above is the first public statement that Pearl Abyss employees and not just CCP developers are involved in the development of EVE Online. I'm sure many players who frequent social media will find the statement a surprise.

Why make the statement at all? One possible reason involves a slight miscalculation that slipped into the Q4 2019 earnings call held in February. The revenue for the EVE IP was reported as ₩15.6 billion, or over 25% more than the actual figure of ₩12.4 billion. By proactively giving the analysts an explanation of why the EVE IP's revenue was what it was, Pearl Abyss could forestall any embarrassing questions. In the end, the analysts decided they had more important things about which to inquire.

The Q4 revenue overstatement also plays a role in reevaluating the effects of The Blackout. Referred to on the blog as Hurricane Hilmar, the event was a two-month experiment with changing the local chat channels in null security space to work like chat in wormholes. Initially, Hurricane Hilmar, while wrecking havoc inside EVE, seemed to not have affected the financial situation of the game. Indeed, after February's earnings call, observers believed that the EVE IP income grew 4.7% from the second quarter of 2019 to the fourth. Instead, revenue actually dropped 16.8% with a drop of 15.1% in the quarter after The Blackout was lifted. What made the situation worse is that the third quarter is normally the period with the least amount of activity in EVE. After a performance like that, one might expect the parent company to come in and give its newly acquired studio a hand.

The last part of the presentation involved an update on future games. In the second quarter, Pearl Abyss will launch Shadow Arena next Thursday. The other three games under development received generalized release dates. Crimson Desert is scheduled to launch in Q4 2021, DokeV in 2022, and Plan 8 in 2023. When asked about the later than expected release date for Crimson Desert, Pearl Abyss explained that the delay is due to an internal reorganization. The other reason given is that the Korean studio is developing both PC and console versions of both Crimson Desert and DokeV simultaneously. 

CCP also had a little news. The Chinese government approved Netease running the EVE server in China on 12 March and officially launched on 27 April. But unlike for all the other games in development, PA was unwilling to give a lot of details about CCP's mobile game being developed by Netease. After questioning by the analysts, PA directed them to the watch the stream on Sunday (17 May).
That's my look at the latest Pearl Abyss earnings call. Soon the information under the EVE IP will no longer contain information about just EVE Online. I found the call very interesting, filling in parts of the EVE story. Because in EVE, the game doesn't stop at the monitor's edge.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The March 2020 MER: Starvation Diet

The main goal of the Shortage Phase is to get the economy to the left side of the "Healthy State" on the income line. Even though it is a moving target, there is confidence that the data and tools to evaluate the situation (and then move on to the second phase) are in-hand.

--The EVE Online Ecosystem Outlook, 30 March 2020

At the end of March, CCP published a dev blog that stated the intention to lower player income before establishing the economy in a healthy state. The question the next few monthly economic reports will answer is: has CCP lowered the amount enough to proceed with phase 2? 

First, a look at the New Eden money supply. We see the first effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on EVE as the amount of ISK in the game jumped by 31.3 trillion ISK in March. The difference between faucets and sinks remained steady at 28.9 trillion ISK vs 28.8 trillion in February. The difference was caused by players returning to the game, as the Active ISK Delta last month was 2.4 trillion vs -42.5 trillion in February. Overall in the 1st quarter of 2020, the money supply increased by 22.3 trillion ISK. The figure is arguably higher as the RegionalStats.csv file shows a total of 58.3 trillion ISK in bounties vs the 51.5 trillion in the graphic above.

Speaking of bounties, the amount of ISK made killing NPCs increased by 12.3% in March, up from 51.9 trillion ISK in February. But looking at the year-over-year amounts, the 58.3 trillion ISK generated in March 2020 was down 16.7% compared to March 2019. In Q1 2020, players collected 156.8 trillion ISK in NPC bounties, up from 131.7 trillion in the last 3 months of 2019.

Unlike the bounty graph, the mining figures are not only determined by the amount mined, but the value of the ore mined. The value mined increased in March by 22.4% compared to the month before. From watching delonewolf's videos, much, if not all, of the increase was a result of price increases due to CCP's efforts to starve the economy of materials. And while New Eden witnessed a big percentage increase in March, the value of the ore mined was still 41.8% less than in March 2019.
In the first quarter, players mined 98.1 trillion ISK worth of ore, a 6.7% increase over Q4 2019.

Normally I might express concern about an economic contraction in the last two months of the first quarter. However, with CCP actively working to suppress economic activity in EVE for the foreseeable future, I'd say March's 7.6% contraction was a feature, not a bug. Still, the New Eden economy avoided a third consecutive quarter of decline, with Q1 2020 performing 20.1% better than Q4 2019.

Finally, I'd like to take a little time to discuss the element of the economy covered by the Consumer Price Index. I'm a bit concerned with some of the talk coming out of Reykjavik & London. The developers seem concerned with balancing the economy with real world currencies such as the dollar and the euro. I can see balancing PLEX, a virtual currency, against other currencies. I can even extend the concept to RMT tokens like skill extractors and injectors. I personally don't think the RMT tokens should count as part of the New Eden economy, but CCP disagrees. Personally, I hope CCP calculates construction costs for basic consumer items like titans and heavy missiles in terms of time and effort to build, not their real world value. If the trend of balancing the EVE economy extends to battleships and faction modules, CCP development will have taken a disturbing turn.

The next few months should prove interesting as the pandemic keeps people at home. At the same time, the Serenity shard is active once again and may draw a significant portion of the Chinese player base off of Tranquility. So the monthly economic report for April promises to have a few surprises when CCP releases the files in a few weeks.

Friday, May 1, 2020

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Falling Out Of The Top 20

Long time readers know I follow a gold/plat/ISK/gil selling site called Player Auctions. I used quotes from sellers on the site when I presented on stage with Team Security at Fanfest 2015. The tears from buyers CCP busts I post on Twitter come from the site. And I have used statistics gleaned from customer feedback reviews to monitor activity on the EVE Online black market. But honestly, I never really believed I would post the below image.

20 most popular games on Player Auctions - 1 May 2020

That's right. EVE Online is not one of the 20 most popular games for people looking to buy virtual goods and currency. The game lost that distinction two weeks ago and I've waited for the game to pop back up on the rankings. But so far, it hasn't.

The lack of demand for ISK isn't helped by steep price increases over the last two months. Since 1 March, the 7-day average price of one billion ISK purchased on Player Auctions has increased 58.8%, from $4.37 USD per billion to $6.94 USD per billion on 30 April.

Not all is perfect in CCP's eternal fight against the black market trade in EVE Online virtual currency and items. Back in 2015 I described CCP's basic strategy in its fight against the illicit ISK trade. First, use PLEX to set a ceiling on how much dodgy sites can sell ISK for. Next, force the cost of business for the ISK sellers up through the use of bans, asset seizures, and other security measures. Between capping sales and increasing the cost of doing business, hopefully the professional sellers would leave EVE and infest other games where they can make a lot more money.

But as CCP continues to revamp the New Eden economy, one of the goals apparently is the reduction of the price of PLEX. But reducing the ISK price of PLEX necessarily means increasing the real world price of ISK. So while the cost of ISK sold on Player Auctions rose $2.57/billion from the start of March to the end of April, the 7-day moving average of the regular price for ISK sold through the CCP-approved market rose $2.50 USD per billion ISK. In effect, the ceiling is rising just as the black market sellers need a break.

Even with the 22% increase in the price of ISK purchased on the primary market, people are eschewing purchasing ISK from Player Auctions. Which is a good thing. Getting rid of the professionals will help make EVE a better game.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Junk Mail

A few days ago, CCP began another login campaign. The purpose of a login campaign for a video game is to attract players to log into the developers' game and hopefully spend money. In short, a login campaign is a marketing tool. No more. No less.

Login campaigns are pretty standardized in EVE Online. Give out some skill points, maybe a cerebral accelerator, a few SKINs, and maybe some boosters. In short, all the things EVE players like.

But this month's campaign is different. The bar along the bottom that slowly fills up with skill points is a nice touch. Innovation is sometimes good. But then, sometimes not.

The crate giving out the blueprint copy is a case in point. Getting a BPC for a tech 1 frigate is not bad. Using the icon for a blueprint original so when the item is redeemed the player is disappointed is not good.

Perhaps the two worst items are the boosters and SKINs. Both apply immediately upon redemption. The ship SKINs are only the 7 day variety. So a player has 14 days to redeem the SKIN and then 7 days to use it before disappearing into the aether. And the boosters? Boosters are commonly consumed once action is about to take place. But that's impossible with the current implementation, as players can only redeem the booster in a station. Oops!

Look, I understand why CCP made the decision. They don't want people making tens or even hundreds of accounts in order profit off a login campaign. I'm not sure how popular skill point farms still are, but the farmers have the perfect setup to greatly profit off these types of promotional efforts. So the valuable items are all bind on acquire instead of tradeable, which is the EVE norm. And except for the skill points, the items are all consumable. Maybe in today's world, promotions can't have much value. But sending me something with little to no value feels like receiving junk mail in the real world. Did I mention I don't like junk mail?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The CSM 14 March 14 Summit: CCP Reactions

Yesterday, CCP published the CSM 14 spring summit minutes. I thought the CSM members reactions at the end were worth copying into a blog post. I should do the same thing for CCP's reaction. So what follows is more shameless copying and pasting.

CCP Dopamine, Senior Community Developer: EVE Online is a vast and interconnected universe that can be near impossible to grasp for a single human being. Having a group of experts with extensive knowledge across various areas with years of experience behind their belts helps us better understand all the different aspects of the game along with the needs of a broad segment of our players.

To my mind, the knowledge sharing during this summit was particularly beneficial. We had four presentations delivered by CSM members that provided insight into the areas of expertise of  individual members. I consider this to be one of the biggest impacts we get from the council. These information-packed sessions serve as a great way for anyone at CCP to learn more about a specific topic, which then prove useful when working on upcoming plans. 

I also feel that both parties left with an excellent understanding of each other’s reasons, requirements, and motivations. While we might not always agree on everything, having a candid discussion where everyone can professionally share their thoughts is critical for the CSM program and the future of EVE Online.

CCP Burger, Creative Director: New Eden is massive, both in scale and depth. There are endless ways to interact with the universe, and there is no one right way to achieve the goal at hand. There is no way one single person can grasp the whole and my game is very different from your game. Similar to player events, CSM summits are one of my favorite times of the year, it’s when I get to peek in front of the curtains and see my day-to-day from the eyes of EVE’s players on a way higher level then myself. The main difference between meeting people at events and at the summit is the summit’s structure and professionalism. The sessions are civil - naturally, there is healthy debate, disagreement and hard-hitting questions, but over the years we’ve managed to find a good balance in our conversations to make sure we all get the most out of the eight-hours-a-day-for-fourdays-in-a-row stuck in a room together (and, of course during the afterhours). The CSM has reached a level of professionalism that made the March session one of the most productive summits to date.

We are doing some really important work right now and having a panel of expert capsuleers to vet and validate helps us set up EVE for the forever. The success of the NPE has a lot to do with input from CSM members that interact with new players every day, the set-up of frequent releases and many of the changes we’ve seen in the last 6 months would probably not have happened if it wasn’t for the all the input from the CSM. Moreover, the changes to New Eden’s economy that we are going through right now have sparked very healthy debates resulting in a better EVE Online for the future.

The poetry of EVE Online is unmatched. Every day we work towards understanding this living organism better and making sure it has the ingredients to live (somewhat) healthily. There is no EVE in medium gray, EVE needs conflict; conflict driven from people and emotions. The market, ships, modules, resources, CCP and CSM are the ingredients to allow you to set your adventure, claim your stake and write your story.

CCP Rise, Senior Game Designer: The CSM is a critical resource for us on Team Talos. This session, they worked hard to help us shape changes to wormholes, gather feedback from the front lines in low sec, establish an updated plan for capitals, and above all explore options for the future of structures big and small. Without the CSM, it would been very difficult to roll-out so many veteran-oriented changes at such a fast pace, as we have been doing over the past few months.

I would specifically highlight the recent transition to a more proactive CSM we’ve seen over the last two summits. Exooki set a fantastic precedent with his wormhole presentation during summer and Gobbins, Vily, and Olmeca all stepped up in winter with equally thoughtful and well-researched contributions. These presentations have driven important conversations forward in development and given us a look into the world and motivations surrounding some of EVE’s most important leaders.

The CSM is not our only source of feedback, of course, but having an expert group under NDA and on-call allows for precise conversations on almost any topic at any time of day. I’ve come to rely on them quite a lot and greatly appreciate their hard work.

CCP Goodfella, Brand Director: Overall, the second CSM 14 summit was great and I really enjoy having the opportunity to work closely with the CSM. The main discussions of this summit can be broken into three segments:

  • The great strides that have been made with the focus on new players that resulted in an increased number of players joining the game and sticking around in EVE for a longer time.
  • The continuation of balance updates, events, system changes, etc. that the CSM has both greatly advocated for and helped us shape, frame, and iterate on. I know that having them give us feedback on these things that we are frequently working on enables us to keep up the fast pace.
  • The challenging but vital changes to the economy that have begun and will continue throughout 2020. The EVE ecosystem is incredibly complex, and having discussions (and debates!) on how to set up EVE to outlive us all is an incredibly important topic, and being able to discuss this with the CSM is crucial.

The discussions we had were professional, fun, and fruitful. One new element that I think has been really positive is the presentations that CSM members have started giving on specific topics. These presentations give great insight into specific professions, features, and more in EVE. They are the spark for fantastic discussions and give CCP a lot of ideas to consider. Another topic that we discussed with CSM was communication, and we had good feedback about the opportunities available there that can have a greater impact on EVE.

I thank CSM 14, it has been fantastic working with them and I am already excited for the upcoming CSM 15!

Friday, April 17, 2020

The CSM 14 March Summit: CSM Reactions

While I'm not maintaining a website tracking the CSM candidates this year, I'm not going to entirely ignore the player-elected body. The 14th edition of the Council of Stellar Management held a summit with CCP in Reykjavik from 2-5 March. While reading the summit minutes, I was impressed enough by the post-summit thoughts of the members that I thought I would shamelessly copy and paste their thoughts here. I will add some formatting things (like paragraphs) as needed.

Aryth (Goonwaffe/Goonswarm Federation): Going in there was confusion between CSM and CCP on specific aspects of previously released features and what that meant for future releases. The initial concerns were discussed and addressed and we gained a much clearer idea of what CCPs overall intentions and goals were. 

These goals were high level and didn't necessarily translate into the changes we see that may be the cause of lots of consternation in the playerbase. The high level goals make sense and have mostly objective measurements that are easily defined. What needs to be made a bit more clear is that the tactical changes happening are often things that CCP may not know the ramifications of but are attempting to address much greater issues with a game 17 years of player history. Things will go wrong, adjustments will be made, but the guiding star is to return EVE to a healthy place that can continue for the next decade. 

Hilmar played a large part in clarifying this vision and I would say that the summit didn't truly come together with a cohesive picture until Hilmar's session directly with the CSM. It is very easy to lose sight of the high level objectives when you are only discussing tactical changes. CCP was able to tie these two areas together with Hilmar explaining it all. This was a new structure of engagement with the CSM and was highly successful. That being said, while we don't necessarily agree with every change, we see our job as to educate CCP as best we can on the ramifications of the changes they are doing and make them have the least negative impact as we are able. 

At the end of the day CCP makes the final decision thus the game will change. Change is the constant we can always rely on in EVE. Change is scary, it breaks playstyles, it turns the economy upside down, it has sweeping meta ramifications, but it also ushers in a new age of EVE.

Steve Ronuken (Fuzzwork Enterprises/Vote Steve Ronuken for CSM): The End of an Era. That's what the summit in March was. My last summit after 6 years on the CSM. Not the best, but far from the worst; there were fruitful discussions, which have led to a better understanding of goals, objectives and situations on both sides.

It's going to be challenging for a while, as Eve goes through some significant rebalances, but if we can hit the target numbers, everything should be in a better

Olmeca Gold (Democratic Space Socialism): Had a great summit overall. With NPE improvements kicking in, I'm happy to see growth in the player numbers again. Seems like substantial work will go into veteran gameplay in 2020. It will be a painful transition from some of the unsustainable aspects of Eve, to a long-term sustainable game. I hope it all goes well. 

The three issues I paid specific attention in this summit were the risk/reward balance around PvE and non-consensual PvP, small and large scale conflict drivers, and making on-grid PvP skill matter more in the sandbox

Merkelchen (Karmafleet/Goonswarm Federation): This spring's summit was as good of a summit as I have had in my 2 years as a CSM player representative. CCP has taken heavily to a data driven approach to their resource allocation and game design and based off the information we saw it seems to already be paying off. Focus on the new player experience(not to be confused with the tutorial itself) is bringing great returns that should get every Eve player excited because, even though many of us finished up that aspect of the game a long time ago, it being more effective leads to more people in space. These new additions to the player base become Corp mates of the future, industrialists
supplying the ships we fly, or maybe even the bad guy that just got called primary on a fleet.

The current focus on bringing the ecosystem to a more healthy state is going to require an immense amount of effort and collaboration between CCP, the CSM, and the greater player base. I wish there were easy and pain free solutions to these issues but its likely going to take some time to find the Goldilocks zone where things are in a great state. Having a good working relationship between the CSM and CCP is fundamental to working through these kind of immense challenges and as a player communicating your thoughts on the matter to your CSM representatives is critical to make sure every voice is represented in these discussions. Much like I'm sure many of the CSMs do I get a lot of in game mails, discord conversations, and reddit private messages and I make sure every one gets to the person that would need to hear it in CCP so please continue to speak to the Council! I wish the best of luck to the future CSM XV and I thank CSM XIV and CCP for another great year.

Dunk Dinkle (Brave Newbies Inc./Brave Collective): CCP learned a lot from the Summer of Chaos and has made several major changes. There has been a significant reorganization of how CCP does game design and how teams work together. Overall, the mood of the meetings was open and positive. Very little acrimony. The tone of discussion was much more interactive and convivial that the Summer Summit, which was adversarial at times.

We are seeing more regular deployment of new features and better discussion of the future than we have seen in a few years. There are things coming that some players will love. There are things coming that some players will hate. My advice is to keep doing what you like to do and don’t get stressed about the other changes around you.

Innominate (Karmafleet/Goonswarm Federation): The biggest problem this year on the CSM has been communication from CCP. This summit has led to dramatic improvements in CCP's communication both with the CSM and with players that I hope is a continuing trend back towards the transparency we used to expect. While there are several positive changes both released and upcoming, I am most excited to have seen the most effective npe changes CCP has tried in years, which promise to bring back real growth in the player base.

Gobbins (Pandemic Horde HLD./Pandemic Horde): The main direction of this meeting was the desire from CCP to change deep andcore aspects of the game in order to walk towards a new vision. The core of this vision is the longevity of eve online. CCP plans to achieve this with at least 3 points of action: increased retention of new players, drastic healing of the game economy, and improvement of the veteran experience through small but constant changes.

The improvements to new player retention are driven by solid data and the stats show that the current work has already been bearing fruit. The impact of these improvements on the game population as a whole might not be noticed at first but are projected to make a big difference in a matter of 2-3 years.

The work on the economy is the most delicate work and a vastly ambitious project. The current state of the eve economy is not compatible with longevity and the intent behind this project is well justified. The devs involved in this task are very set in their goals and hesitated to disclose information at first but have since developed a regular dialogue with the CSM at least to receive feedback. However due to the complexity of the topic, there is little consensus in general on how the economy is to be fixed. The speed at which this task can be carried out is also limited by the delay in which economic changes take effect in the game, and the existence of stockpiles; so players are advised to expect tweaks to the economy to continue happening for a long time.

Lastly the improvement of the core experience through small but constant changes has been ongoing now since the formation of team Talos. This team formed shortly after the first CSM14 summit and has been steadily delivering updates. Over half a year later, not a single biweekly update was missed. Without a doubt, these small changes have had an effect in making the game feel more alive and vibrant, as well as addressing crippling imbalances that could be fixed with relatively minor
changes. One issue that is starting to emerge however is that the amount of work might be too much for one small team, as becomes evident when the team must tackle bigger balance issues and more ambitious revamps. The current pace also seems to have little to no room for iteration, although this is a wider issue of the company as a whole at this time.

A greater blind spot that remains is conflict drivers. The topic was discussed during the summit but does not seem to be a priority yet, partly because it is believed the changes to the economy will also drive conflict. That prediction seems flawed at the moment, but hopefully the topic of conflict drivers can become more prominent once some of the urgent issues with the economy are dealt with.

Final comment, the top leadership of CCP was very available to us during this meeting and widely shared their vision and enthusiasm for eve’s future. The atmosphere is one of genuine confidence and optimism, which I share. My personal comment is that there is still a bit of a gap between the top decision making at CCP, and the technical and direct knowledge of the game in its modern state. Hopefully this summit helped narrow that gap through the feedback provided by the CSM as
well as the increased number of CCP employees participating as players in eve online.

Sort Dragon (Resilience./Initiative Mercenaries): My focus for this summit was CCP's communication with the player base. While CCP has always had a long-term vision and short-term and long-term plans, I wasn't sure what those plans were, or how they intended to implement them. In the past, CCP has had issues communicating their plans and vision to players, with the result being that some players had unrealistic expectations on future game changes or expansions while other players became cynical, with low or no expectations at all. My goal was to urge CCP to ramp up their communications efforts, find a way to be transparent while managing expectations, and to encourage them to communicate more with players.

During the summit, I saw CCP's long-term plans for the future and the reasons behind the changes they have made and their reasoning behind future changes. These plans are big, and they're bold. I'm looking forward to seeing how they implement them and how they communicate them with the player base in the future.

ExookiZ (The Dark Space Initiative/Scary Wormhole People): A very positive summit. Compared to our firsts summit in september, It was obvious that a lot of CCP’s reorganization and refocusing has begun to pay off. Many of the sessions were even more contentious than before, in part I think due to the CSM becoming more comfortable with each other and CCP devs. That said I left the summit feeling that we probably helped point Eve in a better direction more than I did the last time.

I left the September summit telling people I was “cautiously optimistic”, in that if CCP kept it up I think we should see some very positive movement. 6 Months later, with talos still achieving its release cadence, and other teams beginning to follow suit I would say that I am not simply optimistic about EVE’s future. I was very impressed with everything we saw at the second summit, from the leadership teams focus on core issues to the teams various plans to make eve better over 2020. While all of that of course still hinges on their execution, with the last 6 months being mostly successful, i am more confident than before that by the end of 2020 EVE will be a very different, and hopefully much better game than it is now.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

EVE Online Sees Highest PCU Since December 2017

Yesterday's PCU was 40,293 accounts -

I had to record the event before I forgot. Yesterday, EVE Online's Tranquility shard had 40,293 accounts logged on at its peak at 18:56:12. A number well down from EVE's heyday when the PCU would regularly reach 50,000 accounts every Sunday. But a number not seen in almost 2 1/2 years.

The last time PCU exceeded 40,000
Looking back on, the last date the PCU reached the 40,000 mark was on 10 December 2017, when the number reached 40,973.

The numbers are probably a bit inflated due to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping everyone inside and at home. Which means that once all the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we'll get to see how well CCP's recent efforts to keep players engaged and active work. Expect lots of charts and graphs from CCP sometime later this year.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Surgical Strike Update: Resistance Is Futile

One would think that a player such as myself wouldn't care about CCP's attempts to change the capital meta in EVE Online. Wrong again! But first, let's look at the changes coming to super carriers in the Surgical Strike update coming on 15 April.

The changes, are mostly designed to change super carrier damage application, along with affecting the tank of both super carriers and titans.

  • Removal of support fighter tubes for Super Carriers with the addition of one extra Heavy Fighter tube
  • Bonuses to XL plates and extenders for Super Carriers reduced to 200% and for Titans reduced to 300%
  • Long Range Heavy Fighter explosion radius increased 50%
  • Short Range Heavy Fighter speed increased 50%
  • Fighter bay size increased for Aeon and Wyvern
  • Capital Capacitor Boosters limited to 1 per ship

But the big change, at least according to CCP, concerns resistance modules.
The biggest change coming in this update is a 20% reduction in the power of all modules that increase shield or armor resistances. That means energized plating, armor coating, armor hardeners, shield hardeners and shield resistance amps. This will lead to a drop across the board in effective hit points, but the more slots a ship has devoted to resists, the more important the change becomes. There is excitement here about this approach because not only does it lower Capital survivability, it also diminishes the overall power of logistics and will make modules focused on speed and damage a more attractive option. The hope is to see bloodier fights, less stalemates, and a huge cross-sectional shift in the fitting meta. This kind of shake up rewards those that adapt quickly, so get to theory crafting!

Alongside this update to resistance module power, tiericide for shield and armor resist modules is also underway, which you may have noticed beginning to appear on the Singularity test server. The tiericide adjustments are very small in scale and much more focused on sensible naming and organization of the modules in these groups, but you can expect the 20% reduction to be applied after the stats currently in place on Singularity for modules are affected by tiericide changes.
I realize I don't usually use more than one resistance module to negate a type of damage, but I'm not sure how well my Vagabond will do running Abyssal sites. Cutting down the effects from the Adaptive Invulnerability Field from 30% down to 24% might be enough for the NPCs to crush my Vagabond when I use a filament.

On the other hand, using battleships to clear out Emerging Conduits might become more attractive. T1 and faction battleships are receiving a 10% increase to base hp and a 30% increase to scan resolution. That means the small Triglavian hulls will become easier to lock up now. I love my Vagabond, but if CCP wants me to swap to battleships, I may not have a choice. Sometimes CCP makes a choice so obvious doing otherwise just isn't smart.

With these changes and the ones I know are coming up, I am really tempted to just mine, manufacture, and do distribution missions for the foreseeable future. The only time to shoot anything is to clear out an Emerging Conduit to mine in. I'll have to keep a close eye out to see if I have to take such extreme measures.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Reaching Heavensward

Over the last week I finished the main scenario quest line for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Once I got to the patch 2.55 content, I decided to update my gear for the end of the patch, mostly because I've never done that in a game before. Normally I just continue playing like the beginning of an expansion was no big deal. But with FFXIV, that didn't seem appropriate. I needed to gear up for the end. I'm glad I did.

I'd done enough dungeons and trials to have enough points to get all the Ironworks healing gear, except for one piece. I decided to not buy the gloves, because I already had a crafted piece from Heavensward. When I completed the upgrade, my gear iLevel was 120.

The Ironworks healing gear (except gloves). Weapon not included
But before getting the new gear at the beginning of patch 2.55, I had a memorable experience running the last required dungeon of AAR, The Keeper of the Lake. The result of facing down Midgardsormr was the beginning of my character's fall from peak power in the story. Plus, I liked the fight and I received a Midgardsormr minion.

The Midgardsormr minion flies around and sits on your shoulder.
The high point of my character's journey was completing the last trial, The Steps of Faith. Saving Ishgard from the wrath of the great wyrm Vishap made me a legend. But then the bottom dropped out of my life. To explain what happened, the quest "The Parting Glass" explains using about 40 minutes of cut scenes. One source states allow 45 minutes to an hour for viewing. At the end, the only Scions who exit ARR with you is the adorable Tataru and my least favorite good guy, Alphinaud. It was bad enough we lost the rest of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. But to have to go into exile with Alphinaud? Yoshi-P, what are you doing to me?

Alphinaud. Not as smart as he thinks.
Am I finished with the original content? No. I still need to complete a few more dungeons. I need to do at least 1 or 2 in order to get the Ironworks Gloves of Healing. I don't know if I really want to do the Palace of the Dead content. The same goes for PvP. I've played the game for over 600 hours now and still have not done any PvP. I also have to do the beast tribe content. I understand beast tribe farming is a thing. But the most important thing I need to do is acquire all of the advanced crafting recipes from the vendors in Mor Dhona.

Once I get to a point in the story where I can safely go back to the original cities in Eorzea and clear my name, I'll go back to harvesting, crafting, and making gil. I have all my crafting classes at level 53 and my harvesting skills up to 56. That's 11 storylines waiting for me to continue exploring. I have a lot of cut scenes ahead of me.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Death March To Heavensward, Leading NPCs, And Perfection

Now that I'm past The Praetorium, I'm steadily working my way down the main scenario quests (MSQ) to get to Heavensward. I guess I shouldn't call the effort a death march, but the six patches between the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and the Heavensward expansion introduced 100 quests, five 4-character dungeons, and 6 8-character trials to complete. I finished the Patch 2.3 content Wednesday. I ended yesterday with doing the first six quests of Patch 2.4. That leaves 2 dungeons, 3 trials, and 37 quests to go.

Discussing how to defeat the Ascians
Although the 100 quests are a grind, I think players should go through them at least once to pick up the lore. Square Enix does offer items to skip to a particular expansion, but I would only do so on a second character.

Completing another dungeon with the squad
Over the course of the last 10 days or so the number of NPCs I control has increased from 4 to 12. I have had four retainers for the longest time as part of my money making efforts. Now I've jumped into adventurer squadrons. I've recruited a group of eight NPCs.

The adventurer squadron is really pretty clever. Players receive promotions once reaching the rank of Second Lieutenant by leveling their squadron. We do this in two ways. The first is sending out a group of 4 NPCs on missions similar to retainer ventures. The other is running through dungeons. I'm currently running through a level 32 dungeon. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much more I have to do in order to get promoted to first lieutenant.

A perfect crafting outfit
Finally, I found a perfect crafting outfit. I thought I deserved one as I now have all my crafting classes up to at least level 53. Last week's Fashion Report gave me the excuse to put one together. I've always liked the look of the Amateur's Double-Vest, a level 9 body slot item. Throw in the requirement for New World Hose in the leg slots and a nice selection of dyes and I liked what I saw. Then I used a level 5 Hempen Bandanna to top off the look. The result was a perfect score of 100.

I'm not sure exactly how much I'll play FFXIV because CCP may come up with something that has me playing EVE all night. So for now, I just plan on leveling up my adventurer's squadron and grinding out quests until I get to Heavensward.