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.