Friday, February 28, 2020

Patches And Compensation And PLEX, Oh My!

CCP certainly packed a lot of news into the past week. The big news was yesterday's mini-patch, with content from Team Talos. While the changes don't affect me directly, I understand a lot of players are excited about at least one of them.

The first was a change to High Angle Weapons (HAW). First, titans can no longer fit the weapons. CCP also updated the HAW and Siege Module attributes to simplify the maths. Reading between the lines, I believe the changes also reduced HAW damage for dreadnaughts not in siege mode, but perhaps I'm too cynical.

The second change is the return of the yeet filaments. A popular feature during the last Christmas event, the filaments that allow 5, 10, and 25 ship gangs to randomly pop up anywhere in null sec are back as "Needlejack filaments". CCP did not go as hog wild with the latest edition of magical travel as I feared. The 5-ship transport filaments are found in data sites while blueprint copies for the 15-ship filaments were added to the ORE loyalty point store. The developers are reserving the bigger 25-ship filaments for use during in-game events.

An interesting bug fix involved a case where red dots were not showing up properly. I'll give CCP a thumbs up, because as irritating as those red dots are, notifying someone they have new PLEX is a legitimate excuse for throwing up an attention getting flag.

Also yesterday, CCP held a mass test session on the Singularity test shard. The feature tested was the Frigate Escape Bay the developers are adding to battleships in late March (probably the week of 23 March). One of the questions I have about the feature is how it will affect server performance in big fleet fights. Hopefully the test ran okay.

Now we start to move outside game play with news about the depreciation of the 32-bit client. Depreciation is just a fancy term for "the shit don't work no more, now go away." CCP explained some of the benefits of switching exclusively to the 64-bit client:
The move to a single 64-bit client will reduce the development time associated with maintaining two clients, while allowing further investment into the technical infrastructure of EVE Online.
On the botting front, the newer bots were already running on 64-bit clients, but some of the old, free bots with little to no developer support are now dead.

On Monday, CCP announced compensation to players for the DDoS attacks experienced at the beginning of February.
As compensation for the playing time lost as a result of the recent DDoS attacks, you will be given the Capsuleer Fortitude Reward. Alpha Capsuleers will receive 100,000 Skill Points as a login reward, and Omega Capsuleers will receive the same Alpha reward, plus 250,000 more to bring their total to 350,000 Skill Points.

You can claim your Capsuleer Fortitude Reward between Monday 24 February downtime and Monday 9 March downtime.
I'll admit that since the DDoS attacks in which I was stuck in a station in Rens, I've barely played EVE. The red dots just got on my nerves. But as I near the end of the content of the base content of Final Fantasy XIV, I'm starting to get an itch to fly in space again. If only to see just how much the asteroid belts in low sec were nerfed.

Finally, we have news about PLEX. The first is a a typical end of month sale running until 3 March. But the reason for mentioning the sale is that PLEX are no longer accepted as payment for character transfers. CCP has long stated on its support page that using the character transfer system required a credit card transaction, but apparently the company has started to enforce the rule. I'm not sure the forums were the best place to make the announcement, although at least CCP made the news a pinned post in the Character Bazaar section.

This past week was a pretty eventful one for CCP and EVE Online. A patch nerfing titans and incentivizing the use of battleships, a mass test on Singularity, depreciating the 32-bit client, handing out compensation for DDoS attacks, and changing the character transfer process. CCP gave the talking heads a few things to talk about on this weekends shows.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Look At The January 2020 Monthly Economic Report

With CCP preparing to drop economic changes into EVE Online in March, now's the time to look at the monthly economic report for January 2020. What I have is a very high-level overview of some of the highlights I saw.

The first bit is the region of Oasa overtaking Delve in ratting income. While the Fraternity dominated region out-ratted Delve 5.31 trillion ISK to 4.73 trillion ISK, Delve saw a nearly 2:1 lead in mining value. So while Oasa saw the creation of more liquid ISK into the game, overall PvE (ratting/mining) supremacy still goes to the Imperium in Delve, 8.81 trillion ISK to 7.46 trillion ISK. We will need to see how the addition of Ranger Regiment and its move to Delve affects the numbers in the March MER.

With the sexy political news out of the way, time to get to basics.

From CCP - January 2020 MER
Overall, the New Eden money supply expanded by 4.77 trillion ISK, or 0.4%. ISK faucets declined compared to December by 1.2% while sinks declined 5.3%. I would predict CCP would try to introduce additional ISK sinks, but yesterday the developers published a dev blog announcing changes designed to suck ISK out of the game.

From CCP - January 2020 MER

Unfortunately, the ISK velocity, or how many times each ISK exchanged hands on the market on average, declined for a second consecutive month. While we do not know the level CCP considers healthy, the ending rate of below 0.55 in January is below the rate when Invasion launched at the end of May 2019 and way below the rate of 0.8 at the beginning of March 2018. The developers may take additional actions designed to boost the velocity of the currency.

The size of the New Eden economy, taken by adding the totals of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Mining Price Index (MPI), Primary Producer Price Index (PPPI) and Secondary Producer Price Index (SPPI), rose for the third month in a row. Overall, the economy grew by 15.5% month-over-month (MoM). The economy is still down, having fallen 17.1% compared to the previous January. I should also point out that the size of the economy is slightly above that recorded in August, traditionally EVE's slowest month.

All four economic indicies have increased every month since October. Since CCP is in the process of nerfing mining, I thought I'd look at the Mineral Price Index. The overall value of the MPI increased by 23.9% in January. Overall, the value of the MPI has increased by Overall, the value of the MPI since October increased by 56.6%. Still, the MPI is only at levels seen in June & July 2019 and is down 23.1% year-over-year.

The New Eden economy is consumer driven, with 80% of the value measured by the Consumer Price Index. The value of the CPI jumped by 15.6% from December to January, barely exceeding the growth in the MPI. The 43.6% growth in the consumer sector since October seems tremendous until one realizes it only exceeds the value recorded in July 2019 by 600 billion ISK (0.1%). Compared to January 2019, the monthly value measured by the CPI has dropped 14.3%.

We do see one sector of the economy that has fully recovered compared to January 2019. The non-RMT sector. When removing the accessories category (Large Skill Injectors, Small Skill Injectors, Daily Alpha Injectors, Multiple Pilot Training Certificates and Pilot's Body Resculpt Certificates) from the CPI, we see month-over-month growth of 19.1%. Growth in the non-RMT consumer sector has increased 48.2% since the low point of October 2019. Year-over-year, however, the sector is only down 0.7%, or 2.4 trillion ISK. Basically, the macro level problems with declines in economic growth over the past year lie in the performance of the cash shop economy, or items produced from real world money like skill injectors.

Just a reminder, this post looked at the economy from a very high level. For those wondering how the economy is performing at a market level, I recommend going to delonewolf's YouTube channel. Not only is he an entertaining and knowledgeable EVE content creator, but he also has a market show that runs every Sunday. For those who find that Talking in Stations doesn't produce enough content, I recommend subscribing to delonewolf's channel.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

PAX East Update, Patch 5.2 Observations, And A Mount

The real world is intruding into the world of Final Fantasy, as Square Enix announced a reduction in its activity at PAX East this weekend.
As the community may be aware, COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”) is spreading within the East Asia region. Taking into consideration the current situation within the region, sadly SQUARE ENIX has decided to cancel the PAX East attendance of staff who would be travelling from the Japan offices. This difficult decision was based on our desire to prevent any potential spread of the virus and to prioritize the health and safety of our team and our fans.
For Final Fantasy XIV, the decision means the cancellation of three events. The first is the in-person art presentation. Instead, Square Enix will give the presentation on its Twitch channel in both Japanese and English on Saturday, 29 February at 8pm Eastern time. The signing sessions and photo opportunities scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, as well as the fan gathering planned for Friday, are cancelled entirely.

Still playing in the original A Realm Reborn content means I didn't see nearly as much of the impact of Tuesday's patch as those in Shadowbringers. I can, however, report on a couple things. The first is crafting. I didn't do any of the level 50 quests, but I did get my Blacksmithing, Carpenter, and Culinary classes up to level 49, with all other crafting classes up to level 50. I didn't see much, if any, difference. Then again, my gatherers are all level 50-52, so for the most part I'm using high quality crafting components. The big difference in my game play should come to making higher level items than my crafting level, and I haven't tried that yet. I can report that the update where if your food effect runs out while crafting you don't see the reductions until after the item is completed is happening. I'm glad because that occurred on my last item before I needed to go harvest some more materials. I didn't need to eat more food to complete one item.

The other new feature I can report on is the new version of Leap of Fate found in the Gold Saucer. The Leap of Fate is a jumping puzzle that now has two versions located in Belah'dia and Nym. I like what the art team did with the GATE, as I can look over the visually gorgeous course. I also find the jumping from place to place easier as well. I ran the course twice, even getting the maximum number of points once.

I also have to say I like the new GATE schedule in the Gold Saucer.
Every hour, on the hour (Earth Time)

  • Cliffhanger
  • Air Force One
  • Leap of Faith (The Fall of Belah'dia)

Hourly, 20 minutes past the hour (Earth Time)

  • Any Way the Wind Blows
  • The Slice Is Right
  • Leap of Faith (The Falling City of Nym)

Hourly, 40 minutes past the hour (Earth Time)

  • Air Force One
  • The Slice Is Right
  • Leap of Faith (The Falling City of Nym)

Knowing the schedule lets me know which version of Leap of Faith is available. I only have to do 5 every week, and successfully complete 3 to get bonuses equaling 13,000 MGP.

Is it gambling if the worst payout if you always win more than you pay?
At this point I should explain my fascination with the Gold Saucer, FFXIV's casino. The Gold Saucer has its own currency with which one can purchase items from the various vendors inside the casino. One class of items is mounts. And I, in a sure sign of insanity, want to get Fenrir, a mount that costs 1 million MGP.

The flavor text gives some idea of what the mount is.
Following the rise of Ishgard, hoarhounds all but disappeared from the Coerthas highlands. However, the shift in climate caused by the Calamity has seen the legendary beasts descend from their mountain dens once more.
But to understand the true majesty of the mount, I'm including a video one of my favorite FFXIV YouTubers, Meoni, created.

I currently am sitting around 500,000 MGP, and make a little over 100,000 MGP a week. GATES like A Leap of Faith and Air Force One make up my second biggest source of MGP. The biggest? The Fashion Report. With the addition of the 10% bonus effect my free company runs on Saturdays, the Fashion Report provides me 66,000 MGP every week. Which is why I keep writing about my outfits. Whoever knew that min/maxing would lead to becoming a fashionista?

My week 108 outfit
Speaking of the Fashion Report, getting the 80 points for my weekly 66,000 MGP was easy. Wear maple pattens, a level 5 item, and dye the body and hand slots soot black. Easy peasy. But I have to try to get all the points, not just 80, in order to buy everything from the boutique as quickly as possible. Also, I tend to wear my fashion report outfit until the next week's event.

Getting a perfect score was out of reach. As a level 46 white mage, I couldn't wear the items for two of the four slots. In the body slot, I substituted in the Anemos Gambison for all the gambisons that would score maximum points. The Anemos set is rather useful as a filler set, and I think looks good as well. The hands were a total loss, as I can't wear bracers. After trying on several items, I thought the Fingerless Goatskin Gloves of Gathering were the best looking option to go along with the gambison.

The other two slots I could get maximum points from items already in my inventory. As mentioned above, I had the maple pattens. In the leg slot, I could use the Extreme Survival Slops which already are part of my gathering glamour. I finished off the look with a beret dyed midnight blue. I got 9 out of 10 possible points for the dyes, because wearing a metallic blue beret was not happening. I think the yellow flowers that are part of the Aetherial Wand of Tremor goes well with the outfit as well.

That's my update for Final Fantasy XIV, a day late. I'm still having fun, and if I get the time this weekend, I look forward to binge watching the level 50 crafting quest cut scenes this weekend. And a bunch of other things out there I still haven't tried. Now if the real world will not get in the way, in more ways than one.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Frigate Escape Bay Is Coming

Finally! No talk about mining nerfs, closing projects, or red dots. Instead, CCP released news of a potentially fun feature scheduled for the March release: the frigate escape bay. The news article described the feature:
The Frigate Escape Bay is a special bay capable of holding a single, fitted Frigate that will be added to all Battleships. Should the Battleship be destroyed, instead of being ejected in your capsule and left helpless, you will launch immediately back into combat aboard your Frigate!

The Frigate hulls that will be allowed to be stored in the bay are:

  • All T1 Frigates
  • Assault Frigates
  • Electronic Attack Frigates
  • Logistics Frigates
This change will shake up the Battleship meta of EVE Online and open up new and exciting tactical options for crafty players to use! It can also give Capsuleers a chance to stay in the fight longer... unless you opt to use your nimble ship to escape from the battlefield and leave your fleetmates to their fate!

Fight or Flight - the choice is yours.
The feature might light up the game. Fleet commanders now had another option to play with if they choose to take out a battleship fleet as opposed to say, a Munin or Eagle fleet. Not only will players not have to fly to a station to reship, but fights will morph as the destruction in a fight increases. Also, for those who still want to reship, travelling in an assault frigate is faster than a pod.

I'm looking at what I might do with the change. Let's say I'm moving battleships around null sec. I could just have an assault frigate set up with rigs I can use to shuttle back and forth to pick up other ships. I'm not sure I'd want to use one when running missions, though. Then again, some NPCs will pod players, so I can see using an assault frigate fit with an Assault Damage Control II and warp core stabilizers to escape those situations after losing a battleship.

CCP is deploying the feature to the Singularity test shard on Monday. I might take a peak, just to see what happens when self-destructing a ship. In those cases, does a player have to self-destruct twice? If I can get all the January Monthly Economic Report analysis done this weekend, I'll have time to play around on Singularity. New fun stuff. Hopefully we'll get more of that presented to us at Fanfest in 6 weeks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Project Nova Is Dead.

The Pearl Abyss Q4 investors call brought out a little tidbit of information I wasn't expecting. I received a tweet informing me of news about Project Nova.
Yes, the screen grab shows CCP Rattati of Project Nova fame letting everyone know about the future of Project Nova. Basically, that the concept of an FPS game set in a sci-fi universe had morphed into a third person shooter/MMO. I've transcribed the words from the image, which I believe are snippets from a Discord conversation, below.

Greetings Dear Friends,

I want to tell you some news before they break, later today probably. We are evolving the scope of Nova beyond our previous plans for early access, and the development will continue in our London studio. I am personally optimistic about this, but also wistful. That also means that the Project Nova codename is retired and the London team will find a new one.

Since this was decided, I have been appointed a major stakeholder in the process so I retain the opportunity to shape the development.

I will be here and try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. This is the update that will be given at the Pearl Abyss earnings call today, and will probably make the rounds soon enough.

Third person perspective can be attributed many design choices. PUBG supports both but MMOs traditionally use 3rd. It gives a better visual of your character, which is more satisfying in a progression based game, hence 3rd person in the Mercenary Quarters. But these are all design options, so good to have experience on the team.

This is not a fiscal decision, the London team had been working on very interesting ideas and concepts, and adding them to a shooter sounds very promising (to me).

We want to show rather than tell and we are not ready to show anything yet.
Yes, I use a mod to get the old Twitter look

According to CCP Rattati's Twitter profile, he is now the lead producer in charge of the EVE Ecosystem. According to what I read in the DUST 514 Veterans Discord server, that means he is responsible for "all balance, resources and industry, and economy."

I didn't include the tweet in last week's post about the investor's call because the subject never came up. Since the subject never came up, the possibility existed that the tweet contained some sort of hoax. But I did some thinking about the subject over the weekend and decided to look back on the project.

The effort to create a first person shooter set in the EVE universe for the PC was announced at Fanfest 2014. I decided to skip that presentation, which announced the creation of Project Legion and became known as the infamous Rouge Wedding. While I wasn't in the room, I remember that the presentation covering DUST 514 was much shorter than advertised. At night I ran into a couple of DUST players. Imagine flying all the way to Iceland only to find out the developer planned to shut down your favorite game.

At Fanfest 2016, Hilmar announced Project Nova, the successor of Project Legion. Looking back, the announcement didn't make enough of an impression on me to note in my coverage of the event. Not surprising as I do not play first person shooters.

The next event of note was EVE Vegas 2018. I wrote back then:
Perhaps the biggest news from CCP Presents was the news that the invite-only alpha for Project Nova will launch in November, with an alpha build available for EVE Vegas attendees to play on Saturday and Sunday. The game has two modes. The first, Onslaught, mimics New Eden as players battle the forces of Sansha's Nation during incursions in an attempt to save the population from a fate worse than death. The other mode, Hijack, involved an attacker trying to install their own pilot in the cockpit of a ship and defenders trying to eliminate the breach. While no launch date was given, I expect a finished product sometime in 2020.
I don't play first-person shooters, but I did watch on the monitors over the stations. The majority opinion I heard from those who played the Project Nova was that the game wasn't very good. At the end of November 2018, CCP announced the cancellation of the closed alpha.
At EVE Vegas, we showed you the most recent iteration of our vision to provide an engaging and unique FPS experience to enrich the EVE Universe. Our goal for this was always to reinforce the ‘One Universe // One War’ gameplay and create a worthy spiritual successor to DUST 514 that has the potential to captivate not only existing Mercenaries and Capsuleers, but also to attract new adventurers into the ever-evolving world of New Eden.

Over the course of Project Nova’s development, we conducted a number of player research sessions with external partners, tirelessly playtested the game internally and brought community stalwarts in to help us evaluate the project. Now, after taking all this research and feedback into account, we see that the gameplay experience in its current form does not live up to our original vision and would not achieve our ambitious goals for this project. As a result, we will not be moving forward with the upcoming invite-only Alpha until further notice.
At the time, CCP still gave out hope a first person shooter would emerge out of Reykjavik.
Project Nova continues to evolve and we remain committed to delivering a high-quality team-based shooter experience to EVE Online fans, while exploring new and exciting opportunities to integrate the two games. CCP is in no rush to release Project Nova until we’re satisfied it provides a rock-solid gameplay experience and visuals to match.
As late as Evesterdam in March 2019, CCP made the progress on Project Nova sound like the game was close to a closed alpha launch. Rob Keyes, writing for Screen Rant, spoke to CCP Falcon who said, “Nova’s in the incubator. We’ve learned some exciting things with it. It’s super cool. We’re just seeing where to go from there, basically.” And when asked if Project Nova would change much from what was shown at EVE Vegas the previous October, the former head of the EVE community team replied, “I don’t think so. The core gunplay is there, but it's about figuring out what is the wider purpose?”

Which brings us to the current time. Yesterday, CCP's head of public relations George Kelion (aka CCP Grendel) posted a response to the spreading news on a Reddit thread responding to an article published on MassivelyOP.
We're continuing to develop our sci-fi multiplayer shooter game concept, actively evolving it beyond the original scope for what was formerly codenamed Project Nova. Development efforts on this concept are now the full focus of CCP’s London studio. Project Nova team members based in Iceland have been moved onto other projects at our Reykjavík studio.

This decision was taken because Project Nova’s gameplay experience as presented at EVE Vegas '18 would not have achieved our ambitious goals for this concept. Moreover, it is very common for games in active development to evolve over time, often substantially. We remain committed to offering a rock-solid, action-oriented gameplay experience with stellar visuals, but due to significant changes in the scope and direction of our sci-fi multiplayer shooter game concept, it also made sense to update how we refer to this project internally. So, we are no longer using the codename Project Nova for this ame concept.

Furthermore, we are moving away from publicly announcing our internal project codenames and will wait until we’re ready for a full reveal. We want to show you rather than tell you how we have evolved this concept and we’re looking forward to doing so when the time comes to present this concept as a fully-fledged game. [emphasis mine]
I understand why CCP would want to keep development of new games under wraps as much as possible. Pearl Abyss is a publicly owned company and I'm sure all the C-suite executives on the call don't want to answer analysts' questions on every earnings call. I get that impression now on the games they announced at GStar. Plus, any setbacks could affect the company's stock price.

CCP Grendel's statement did raise some questions, however. I managed to get a reply on Twitter.

I'm not sure how a first person shooter merges into CCP's new unnamed action MMORPG under development, also in CCP's London studio, according to the current job listings.

As seen on 19 February 2020
But after six years of development and a game that didn't make it to a planned closed alpha, I'm calling the concept of a first-person shooter in the EVE universe dead. Even if the game eventually launches, I expect the game to emerge as a third person shooter, perhaps similar to Defiance. I also expect the current iteration will not make it to market before 2023 at the earliest. Then again, Blizzard did scrap Titan and used the pieces to create Overwatch, so maybe I'm wrong. But I don't expect to find out anytime soon.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Patch 5.2, Finishing AAR Gathering Quests, And The Fashion Report

Tomorrow Square Enix introduces patch 5.2, Echoes of a Fallen Star, for Final Fantasy XIV. I like the way that SE lays out the patch notes, with hyper-links to the various sections. The patch notes also have labels indicating whether the changes apply to the base game, Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers, or some combination thereof. While I bought all the expansions, I'm still in the base game's content and will be for some time to come. I decided to list my top 5 changes.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Pearl Abyss Q4 2019 Investors Call

On Thursday morning Seoul time, Pearl Abyss held an investor call to discuss the financial results for the fourth quarter of 2019. But first the presentation went over the entire year.

Pearl Abyss 2019 Financial Information
Operating revenue for 2019 was 33% more than in 2018. Throughout 2019, one of Pearl Abyss' main goals was to diversify its revenue sources. PA moved into the console market in 2019 with launches of Black Desert Online onto the Xbox One and Playstation 4. In Q4 2019, console sales made up 9% of the company's revenue.

Pearl Abyss also sought to make itself a company with a global reach. BDO launched on the Xbox One in North America and Europe in March and the PS4 in August. Black Desert Mobile entered the Japanese market in February and went global in December. November also saw EVE Online expand into Korea with the launch of a Korean language client. The share of revenue from outside Korea increased from 55% in Q4 2018 to 74% in Q4 2019.

The list of expansions and other ways of improving user engagement was briefer than during previous calls. One item of interest was bringing up Black Desert TV which highlights streamers playing BDO. Recently, a CCP dev hinted at a return of EVE TV. Coincidence?

Finally, PA addressed new projects and technology. We did learn that Shadow Arena would launch in the first half of 2020. Since Pearl Abyss is also attending E3 in June, I would not be surprised if the launch was announced on-stage. The company was tight-lipped about the launch of Crimson Desert, DokeV and Plan 8. When asked about the launch of EVE: Echoes, PA referred the analyst to Netease for more details. No mention was made of either Project Nova or the mysterious MMO under development by CCP in London.

At first glance, the operating revenue numbers for Q4 look pretty bad. A quarter-over-quarter drop of 11% is not a good look, even with a 20.1% increase over the Q4 2018 number. But while revenues were down, net profit actually increased by 13.2%. How did this happen?

Pearl Abyss changed the way it pays out commissions. Instead of counting total revenue from console sales, Pearl Abyss started using net revenue to put the company in line with the industry's standard practices. With the new accounting in place, commissions dropped by 56.0%, from ₩40,971 million down to ₩18,007 million. If the old methodology was used, then commissions would have only dropped by 6.6%.

The revenue by IP breakdown points to an issue Pearl Abyss made a theme on the call: an unstable revenue stream. According to what was stated on the call, PC users provide a much more stable revenue stream than mobile users. Pearl Abyss has discovered that console users act much more like their PC counterparts than like mobile users.

In Q4, the Black Desert IP saw revenue drop by 14.9% (₩17.8 billion/$15 million USD) quarter-over-quarter by climb 17.5% (₩15.2 billion/$12.8 million USD) compared to Q4 2019. The EVE IP rose by ₩1 billion/$845 thousand USD from the previous quarter. A comparison to Q4 2019 is not possible due to the 2019 results not encompassing the full quarter, as the purchase of CCP was not finalized until 12 October 2019. Pearl Abyss credited the growth in EVE Online in Q4 to the introduction of the Korean language client. EVE players have noted the increased number of Korean players and the resulting strength of the Australia/East Asian time zone. Overall, the EVE IP produced ₩59.6 billion ($50.5 million USD) in revenue in 2019.

The above is everything I noted when listening to the Pearl Abyss Q4 2019 earnings presentation. Unfortunately, as of the time I finished this post, Pearl Abyss had not posted either the call or slide presentation on their events page. When the information is posted, people should find it here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

EVE Online's February 2020 Patch, Guardian's Gala, And Mining Changes

The patch notes for the February 2020 release came out with the patch on Tuesday. Most of the changes won't affect my play, and I'll note the few occasions they do. While CCP didn't give much lead time for some of the changes,  the developers did publish a dev blog on Friday with information on two of the bigger features, wormhole connection changes and the Guardians' Gala.

The biggest change, teased in the dev blog, was an increase in the connections between wormholes. The patch notes spelled out the change in more details.
  • Wandering wormhole connections (excluding to Thera and Shattered) have had their presence increased
  • Wandering C5 and C6 connections to null sec have had their presence increased
  • New wandering connections between C4, C5 and C6 wormhole systems have been introduced
Wormholes are also receiving some love during the Guardians' Gals event.
This year, the Guardian's Gala - the annual get together for the Angel Cartel and Serpentis pirates to celebrate their spoils - is not only taking place in k-space, but there will also be more challenging sites with more unique rewards in wormhole space! Running from 13 to 24 February, the rewards for Capsuleers who successfully gatecrash the outlaws' celebrations will include the new Savior Angel Cartel Logistics Implant Set.

In addition to the above, there will be a limited time increase in loot drops from PvP in wormhole space to coincide with the Guardian's Gala event. This will be happening between 13 and 24 February, so make sure you're ready for it!
The wormhole changes were met with approval from at least one member of the CSM.
But that's not all. The developers continue with changes to implants. The Sansha loyalty point store will now sell Nirvana implant blueprints (I'm assuming blueprint copies) while Amulet implants move to the Blood Raider loyalty point store. The implants will also drop from their respective pirate faction NPCs.

The new Savior implant set designed for use with sub-capital repair ships will make their way to Tranquility in the Guardians' Gala event. CCP isn't fooling around and will introduct low, mid, and high grade versions of the implants.

Along with new implants comes a round of module tiericide. With the implants come wholesale changes to remote repair modules.

The February patch also introduces some PvE nerfs. Hopefully incursion runners read the patch notes.
Changes to the qualification rules for Sansha Incursion rewards have been made. In order to qualify for the rewards, pilots must be present at the site upon completion and also have a meaningful contribution to the completion of the site.
Wormhole players may receive a surprise, as not all Sleeper warp scramblers turned off a ship's microwarp drive. They will now. Players will also notice that Drifter Response Battleships will react differently. The how is left to players to discover.

Given how much I like FFXIV's Gold Saucer, I have to comment on the changes made to EVE's HyperNet. After reading them, I still have no interest in placing any bets in New Eden. Below is the list of changes CCP introduced yesterday.

  • You can now see a list of the capsuleers who own the highest number of HyperNodes in an offer when looking at the offer details view.
  • Filtering has received a number of improvements:
  1. You can now filter by item meta groups, blueprint copies vs. originals and item categories have been added to the item field.
  2. Filter settings can now be saved.
  3. You are no longer forced to select a range for the HyperNode count field, you can now filter on offers with a single specified number of HyperNodes.
  • The history view has vastly improved filtering. You can filter by all the same criteria as in the browse view along with filtering on joined/created, active/finished, public/private offers. Sorting options were also added.
  • When a filter is applied to the history view you can now see how many total offers there are and how many the filter criteria applies to.
  • You will now see a warning on offers that have a disproportionately high HyperNode price compared to the item's average price on the regional market. This warning, along with the indicator for low-priced HyperNodes, can now also be seen in the offer details view.
  • You can now see how many HyperNodes you own along with the total number of HyperNodes in an offer when it is finished and being synchronized.
  • You will now be warned if you set a very low HyperNode price compared to the regional market estimate when creating an offer.
  • Your history will now show you all the offers you've participated in or created in the last three months.
  • Offers with blueprints will now say in the title whether they are an original blueprint or a copy.

Now, a matter that impacts my play much more: mining changes. First, the amount of ore in the game is receiving a reduction.
High Sec Asteroids:
  • Pyroxeres, Omber & Kernite quantities reduced.
Low Sec Asteroids:
  • Veldspar, Scordite, Pyroxeres, Plagioclase, Jaspet, Hemorphite & Hedbergite quantities reduced.
Null Sec Asteroids:
  • Scordite, Omber, Kernite, Jaspet, Hemorphite, Hedbergite, Gneiss, Dark Ochre, Crokite & Arkonor quantities reduced.
  • Bistot quantity increased.
Ore Anomalies spawned from Sovereignty Industry Index upgrades:
  • Level 1, 2 & 3 respawn times adjusted.
  • All variations of Crokite in all levels replaced with the equivalent yield variation of Kernite.
  • Gneiss, Dark Ochre & Spodumain quantities reduced.
Later in the day, CCP published a dev blog concerning moon mining changes. I'll quote extensively from the dev blog due to not wanting to get anything wrong.
Last December, the endeavor towards a healthier mineral distribution throughout New Eden began. While this is a complex task, changes will be implemented in phases, over a period of time, to propel the project towards its ultimate goal: a dynamic mineral distribution system that will self-regulate based on inputs and outputs.

Of course, that is easier said than done, and the road to get there is long and fraught with peril. Drastic changes are being made that will be felt throughout the ecosystem, but there is confidence that they are positive changes for the long term health of EVE Online.

The plan consists of three phases:
  • Shortage phase
  • Re-distribution phase
  • Dynamic distribution phase
The shortage phase is a mandatory step in order to get the data that is needed, so that what constitutes a ‘healthy’ distribution for the current player base can be identified and understood. This step will also allow all the factors that should be considered during the creation of the dynamic system to be listed. Currently, there are three to five steps within this phase. The first step was executed last December, and the second step is going live with this patch. The next step will be going live sometime next month.
When I first read about a "re-distribution phase", I thought CCP intended another reshuffle of moons and was going to start building probes again. But the dev blogs explained further.
During the next release, a significant change in how minerals are distributed on moons is planned. You should expect the following changes:
  • Complete removal of all basic ore types from all moons
  • Adjustments on ore volume extracted per day, per moon
  • Adjustments on moon ore type yields of basic minerals
I'm assuming the next release will occur on or around 10 March as the news is too large to include with the introduction of Guardians' Gala tomorrow. The news about the "dynamic distribution phase" should definitely inspire conversation at Fanfest on the first weekend of April.

Due to real life getting in the way, I hope to log into EVE tomorrow when Guardians' Gala begins. Only then will I get to see how big a nerf I will experience. But since I've made the decision to do most of my mining in Enduring Conduits, the only change I expect is the value of the ore I mine increase in the long term. The trip to Fanfest does look to hold a little more excitement than I originally thought, though.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The End Of A Quest Line And I'm A Fashion Leader

I started playing Final Fantasy XIV back in July, but never really had something I could write about until now. Over the past few days I did a couple of things I want to record on the blog. I managed to complete the botanist's quest line for the basic game (up to level 50) and I scored 100 on the fashion report.

I love good crafting systems. I lost myself in EverQuest 2, getting the old Sony Station Pass just so I could have more crafting characters. Unlike the original EQ2 crafting system that required cooperation between crafters, FFXIV characters can have all crafting skills on one character. I'm at the point where when I create a high quality item that required three crafting skills, I do a little happy dance in the game. Yes, I find crafting very satisfying.

Crafting isn't just about the complexity of the items and the mini-game used during item creation. Each of the eight crafting classes and three gathering classes has a story line with a quest every five levels up to 50. After reaching level 50, players have to finish the main scenario quest (MSQ) line and reach the Heavensward expansion before continuing. I found myself leveling my crafting and harvesting classes just to get to the next part of the story.

Fufucha, the Botanist Guild's Guildmaster (standing on box)
The quest line I completed was the botanist quest line. During the story, the guild master, Fufucha, becomes troubled as her guild becomes caught up in the war effort, supplying the defending forces. A committed pacifist, she decides to leave the guild she loves when the wood the guild supplies is turned into weapons.

Fufucha coming to a conclusion
At the end, the player gets together with some of Fufucha's friends in an effort to make her see that her deeds made a difference. But not until Fufucha realizes her work benefits the innocents who are affected by war as well as those who wage it does she realize her place is back at the head of the guild after all.

Also, I received my first blue item, an axe named Rauni.

The second is an event I was excited about the first time I heard about it. The Fashion Report is an event that takes place weekly in FFXIV's casino, The Manderville Gold Saucer. For participating in the event, players receive 10,000 Manderville Gold Points (MGP). Receiving a score of 80 earns a player an additional 50,000 MGP. Players receiving a perfect score receive the title of "Fashion Leader"

Fashion Report solution for week 106 from r/ffxiv
Thankfully people figure out the solution to the Fashion Report and post to the FFXIV sub-Reddit. I've seen characters running around with a costume that would score 80 or even 100 points that don't look good. I wasn't going for 100 points, but I did want to look good.

Receiving a perfect score!
My outfit cost 15,750 gil and 3,000 MGP out of pocket. I didn't bother adding up the material costs of making other parts of the outfit because I'm lazy. For the pieces that scored points, I purchased an Oasis Tunic for the body slot, dyed soot black for the extra 2 points. I can't do the Tides dungeon, so I substituted the gloves from the Valentine's event. I dyed those dalamud red for the extra point. For the legs, I chose the Tantalus Breeches, a veteran award, also dyed dalamud red for an extra point. I bought the dragonskin boots off the market, but wasn't able to dye the boots.

To finish off the outfit, I went with a crafting theme. I crafted a woolen beret, dyed soot black for an extra 2 points. The belt doesn't count, but I needed a boarskin tool belt anyway. During the contest I wore The Emperor's New Necklace to avoid my silver necklace from showing, and finished off the set with a pair of wolf earrings. Since then, I've upgraded all the jewelry (except the earrings) up to their mythril versions. And if you look carefully, you can see my weaving pad at my hip. I'm so happy with how the outfit turned out, I made the glamour my new crafting outfit.

FFXIV has brought out my inner fashionista. But I do want to point out one thing. Although I have bought a few items off the Mog Station that I like, all the items in the screen shots were obtained through game play except one. The items seen in the botanist quest screenshots were all crafted by me except for the axe which was a quest reward. And as I mentioned, the pants I wore in my perfect Fashion Report effort were a veteran's reward. Everything else was either purchased from the Gold Saucer, the market, received as a quest reward, or crafted by myself.

As I bump into the end of the base game in FFXIV I plan to blog a little more about the game. I probably won't have as much time to play now that the break between online classes is over and Tranquility is playable again. I think I have enough material for a few more posts even if I don't play again. But I really have to reach the expansion content. I hear the story only gets better.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Back In Space

When I got home yesterday, I made the perfunctory attempt to log into EVE Online. I noticed the launcher download nine files. Hmmm. Then, wonders of wonders, I got to the login page. I entered my credentials and the launcher presented the character select screen with no delays. Selecting my character, I watched as bulk data downloaded and I was sitting in a station in Rens. Like normal.

I did have one small issue. I did not connect cleanly to the chat servers and received a pop-up box asking if I'd like to retry. I clicked yes. All my chat channels appeared.

Now, I'd been fooled before by this type of behavior in the wake of the DDoS attacks. The real test was hitting the markets with a multi-buy order, as I originally flew to Rens to buy a Heron. Sure enough, the multi-buy feature worked as intended, as fast as intended.

I had flushed the DNS cache on my computer before attempting to log into EVE. Was that the trick to logging in? I decided to attempt to log in on my second computer without doing anything. When I opened up the launcher, I saw a group of 35 files download, then a second group of nine files download. I then logged in as if nothing had happened over the last nine days.

Switching back to the first account, I saw I needed to buy 4 Warrior Is remotely, as Rens didn't have any in stock. I then tested the chat system by flying over 10 jumps picking up my new drones and then back to base. No troubles with local.

I then placed the Heron and fittings in a secure cargo container and created a contract for my alpha alt. No problems with the contract system. I then logged out and logged in my Alpha account. Received and opened the contract with no issues. With the Skilling Spree in effect, I decided to go out and kill a rat for 10,000 skill points. The only problem I encountered was that my Heron is speed/sig tanked and I took a bunch of damage before I got to range. But once at range, my light missiles finished off an NPC for the skill points.

I then did the same for characters on two other accounts. Also as expected, Jaguars, and assault frigate, work much better than a speed/sig tanked tech 1 Slasher frigate at running combat sites, even in high sec. What, you didn't think I was in low sec testing out the server stability, did you?

The final major test was running an Emerging Conduit. I logged in my combat/ratting account and undocked in a Vagabond. I was a little rusty, but was finishing up the site as a pair of Rattlesnakes landed on grid. Really, the guy needed to dual-box two Rattlesnakes to take on an Emerging Conduit? Sad.

Overall, I managed to play for a little over two hours. The only issue was I always had to click the retry button in order to connect to the chat servers. Once, I had to click twice. But once connected, I never lost the connection.

All isn't peaches and creme yet. I tried to access the forums from the train and couldn't. I'll have to try again once I get home. But getting to play EVE again with no lag and no disconnects? I'll call that a win.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

EVE Online Status And Not Using A VPN

For a week or so now, I have not played EVE Online due to a continuous DDoS attack and/or the mitigation service used to combat the attack. I include the second reason because for the last four days I cannot even get to the character select screen. Early on, I could at least get into the game, where I would get kicked out when trying to use the market.

CCP started a megathread on the official forums to keep players apprised of the situation. The only problem is, as I compose this blog post on Tuesday morning, I can't connect to the forums. I'll leave the tweet from CCP linking to the thread instead.

A lot of players are using a VPN service to log into the game from a different location from where they live. Doing so seems to work. But I am really leery of doing so myself. Reading CCP's Help Desk article on the subject gives some reasons.


While CCP does not endorse connecting to the server or web sites using a VPN or Proxy, the use of such services is not strictly forbidden. However, this can cause problems such as updating the client. It is also possible that the user may connect via an IP address that has a bad history with us.

Should the use of the aforementioned services result in the account being suspended due to suspicious connection history, or preemptive security measures, please contact Player Experience via Support Tickets

Ultimately, it is recommended that users avoid the use of such services unless absolutely necessary and that the user does so at their own discretion while being aware of the potential risks associated with doing so.

Despite the date on the article, the text of the article has remained the same since at least July 2018, when I found a link on the Wayback Machine. Pro-tip to aspiring writers. Always check the Wayback Machine when dealing with CCP pages. The last modified date is not always what it seems.

I have another reason for avoiding using a VPN. I play other games, namely Final Fantasy XIV. EVE is not region locked. I'm fairly sure FFXIV is. Although I hear that some East Coast players use a VPN to reduce lag, I'm not sold on using a VPN with a floating geo-location.  Or worse, an IP address of someone banned from the game.

So until CCP gets everything straightened out, I'll just do my online course work and play FFXIV. The game is pretty good and I'm enjoying myself. But I do want to play EVE at least once before going to Fanfest.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Garbage In, Garbage Out

When I woke up Saturday to find a message on Discord from Rhivre, the editor-in-chief of INN, asking to discuss a recent blog post, I knew I'd fucked up. Especially when the blog post involved looking at data from the Monthly Economic Report. Basically, the data on my graphs labeled as coming from June 2019 did not come from June 2019. Crap.

Rhivre thought I'd merely mislabeled the data. But a quick investigation discovered something worse: I'd pasted the data from June 2018 into my data set as June 2019. So instead of comparing activity right before the null sec communications blackout began with the end of the year, I was comparing data from 18 months previously.

The mistake basically was a misclick. I opened the wrong file to copy and paste out of. The RegionalStats.csv file included with every MER only contains that month's regional data. In order to have one data set, I copy the contents of the file into a spreadsheet every month and use that to run my scripts against. Fortunately, June 2019 was the only month affected.

But really, I made another mistake. I shouldn't have compared a summer month to a winter month. I should have compared December 2019 to December 2018. The graph still shows Delve ridiculously far out in front in December 2018. Also, the tremendous shrinkage in the value of the PvE activity is still clear. But, I would have accounted for seasonal variations comparing one December with another.

Even with the mistake, I don't intend to give up performing analysis of the New Eden economy. Like a lot of EVE players, I like graphs and charts. I also need to practice R skills like creating charts and graphs. In my classes, I'll go a month at a time without creating a data visualization and then at the end of the class, I have to go through my notes to see how to create a graph.

In the future, I'll try to produce graphs at a more cluster-wide level. I do have an idea for producing graphs at the Empire level for all the high and low sec players. I just need to make sure I have everything correct, including the data. As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.