Friday, July 23, 2021

An End Of Year Expansion For EVE Online Is Taking Shape

A day after releasing the monthly economic report for June, CCP announced the end of the scarcity era in the final quarter of 2021. I think most players will latch onto the following sentence.

Scarcity firmly ends in Q4 2021 with additional resources as well as player choice for what resources to distribute in your sovereign space.

Witnessing the in-game numbers over the last six months, I've thought CCP was aiming for an end of year expansion sized release. What would such an expansion look like? I believe today's announcement provides a framework.

First, comes industry. CCP listed 5 areas of change upcoming to EVE:

  • Increased quantity of all resources across New Eden
  • Introduction of moon goo and gas compression
  • A balance pass for all mining ships
  • Additional specialized holds for gas and ice
  • Rework of the industrial index including greater choice over the distribution of resources

In addition to the opening of the ESS reserve banks coming to Tranquility in August, a revamp of the of existing null sec anomalies is planned. CCP plans to add a new type of capital anomaly because CCP wants players to bring their big toys into space.

While big leaps have been made in the balance around capital escalations with changes to cynos and super umbrellas, the current risk vs reward for putting valuable assets in space is off and needs work. New types of objectives are being looked at to get big ships back on grid, so that there will be something to hunt and fight over.

What else is up for discussion? Structures and sovereignty. CCP directly referenced (although did not link) a thread on the EVE sub-Reddit about structures.

The continued improvement of the experience around foundational systems like structures and sovereignty is also a priority. The recent structure manifesto put together by EVE’s dedicated content creators is a clear sign that although structures have been focused on for several releases last year, there still remains a lot of potential there, starting with structure module balance.

Null sec is not the only area of the game CCP is looking to conduct a structure revamp.

A large change was also made to the dynamics in Pochven by unlocking the conduit loop for everyone. This had a huge effect on the activity in Pochven, more than doubling the number of characters visiting the region daily ever since. That’s great news but it also helped highlight the need for continued iteration. ‘Seagulling’ is being cleaned up and benefits to loyalty are beginning to be added back towards Pochven residents by shifting NPC behaviour, but work on changes to structure mechanics in Pochven and other adjustments to make it a unique and rewarding place to call home are also underway. [emphasis mine]

The potential for a big content drop exists. What about timing? Most of the items appear to take some significant effort and CCP is famously out of the office from mid-July to the end of August.  The dev blog also indicates the changes will come in the final quarter of 2021. I still think combining most of the changes into a single patch, probably in the second half of November or first half of December, makes sense. The 800-pound canary in the room for CCP doing so is the release of FFXIV's Endwalker expansion on 23 November. With the momentum that game has built, anything that happens in EVE will be dwarfed by its next expansion.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

FFXIV: You Can Dance If You Want To

In Square Enix' efforts to increase server capacity in Final Fantasy XIV, the company is performing a four-hour emergency maintenance on the European data center worlds tonight. By rearranging and optimizing servers, the player cap on each world should increase by 500 accounts.

FFXIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida did have a message for the players.

We have received and reviewed a great number of comments on my previous announcement. Thank you again! One particular type of feedback caught my eye, however─players saying, “I’ll stop dancing in Limsa for a while,” or “I guess we shouldn’t log in to watch our monitors while we eat...”

I myself have played many an MMO, so I know how watching other players bustle past during mealtimes physically and mentally prepares you for challenging dungeons later, and how a spontaneous dance performance can brighten everyone’s day. These are ways of roleplaying, and they are part of the fun of MMORPGs.

Therefore, I want you to know that while I deeply appreciate you being considerate, activities such as the above are part of the game too, and you don’t need to show so much restraint that you stop having fun! We have implemented the automatic logout feature, which will log you out if you do not interact with the game for an extended period, so allowing that system to do its job is enough. Please continue to enjoy FFXIV in your own way, and show our new players how alive its world is with adventurers of all sorts.

So all the people who normally hang out in Limsa Lominsa can go back to hanging out as normal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Yoshi-P On Final Fantasy XIV's Capacity Issues

As producer, the responsibility for being unable to predict the current influx of new players falls to me. The days before an expansion’s launch are supposed to be ones of excitement, but instead they’ve brought many players grief, and for that I, personally, am extremely sorry.

I play two MMORPGs. In EVE Online, the "EVE is dying" meme is back in style with the recent drop in player activity. Final Fantasy XIV faces an entirely different issue. Over the past weekend (17-18 July), login queue times in North America averaged 10-20 minutes with players unable to create new characters for several hours. The situation in Europe was worse, with queue times up to 40 minutes. Yesterday, FFXIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida (aka Yoshi-P) issued a letter giving players an update on the situation.

Yoshida called the recent influx of players over the last two weeks onto the North American and European data centers "staggering and unexpected." The problems are not contained to the western worlds though. The global version of FFXIV in the Japanese region as well as the localized Chinese and Korean versions. 

The immediate steps Square Enix has taken recently include the implementation of an AFK timer with Patch 5.58 and hardware upgrades to the North American data centers. Yesterday's patch implemented a feature usually reserved for expansion launches. Players who are AFK for 30 minutes will automatically be logged out of the game.

The hardware upgrade gets a little complicated. Yoshida provided a brief explanation about the game's server infrastructure:
The population that can be logged in to each World server at one time is capped; however, as some of you have noticed, this cap is not the same for all servers, and differs somewhat between data centers (Mana, Aether, Chaos, etc.). The main reason for this has to do with a data center’s “matching server.” A matching server can only handle so much information, so to ensure that it functions properly, a capacity limit must be set. This limit determines the overall maximum population of a data center, which is then divided by the number of Worlds in the data center to calculate how many players can be logged in to each World. If a matching server were to overload, it would result in the Duty Finder ceasing to function properly and instability when entering instanced content, hence the importance of login caps.

Differences in login caps occur due to differences in the number of Worlds per data center, as well as differences in matching server performance.
The North American data centers received upgraded matching servers that have increased the maximum number of logged in account by 18,000, or 750 additional accounts per world server. If I have perform the math correctly, the maximum population on the world servers on the two European data centers should increase by 1000 once the matching servers are upgraded. Yoshida did not give a date for when Chaos and Light will receive the new equipment.

What about creating new world servers and/or data centers? Yoshida wrote:
Though the obstacles that still face us are many, we believe that the best, most effective method for providing our players a stress-free gameplay experience is through the introduction of new servers and data centers. To see this goal realized as soon as reasonably possible, we on the development, operations, and infrastructure teams pledge to continue to do our utmost.
At Fanfest 2021, Square Enix revealed the creation of a new data center for Oceania with the launch of 6.1. Yoshida revealed in the letter that the original play was to evaluate user numbers and planned content after the release of Endwalker and then build new servers and/or data centers for the release of 7.0.

Unfortunately the global semiconductor shortage is impacting Square Enix' plans. The company is experiencing "a prolonged delay in the delivery of the servers" already ordered. Even offering above market rates for equipment has failed to speed up delivery. Instead of quickly adding capacity, the letter gives the impression Square Enix may not have the new Oceania data server online by the launch of patch 6.1.

Adding to the difficulty of spinning up new game servers are travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remotely has slowed down the work on creating the Oceania data center. The same challenges face the infrastructure team on adding capacity in North America and Europe. The team is getting their COVID vaccinations and will travel overseas once the situation is deemed safe for the staff. Even then, members of the infrastructure team will not travel outside Japan if they feel the situation is not safe.

As for Yoshida's concluding thoughts, I'll just copy them below in their entirety. 
As producer, the responsibility for being unable to predict the current influx of new players falls to me. The days before an expansion’s launch are supposed to be ones of excitement, but instead they’ve brought many players grief, and for that I, personally, am extremely sorry.

For years, we have watched devoted players from around the world stream their time with FINAL FANTASY XIV, and now, we sit in awe while new fans join their ranks. As we enter our final push in the development of Endwalker, it is this constant flow of positive energy that motivates all of us on the development and operations team to carry on. Nothing can compare to the feeling we get watching you enjoy playing the game we’ve created.

We are aware of the burden we have placed on our player base, and are working diligently to lighten it in the coming weeks and months. We will continue to develop measures to combat server congestion, and will keep you up to date with any and all developments in this area.

Thank you once again for your continued support!


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Final Fantasy XIV: Patch Notes For 5.58

By the time this post goes live, the downtime for Final Fantasy XIV's Patch 5.58 has ended. The big news is the implementation of an AFK timer due to the recent influx of players. Players who are inactive for more than 30 minutes will be logged out automatically. 

Otherwise, a big part of the patch involves catch-up mechanics so players can finish the end game Shadowbringers content before Endwalker arrives in November. For example, the experience point gain for NPCs in the Trust system was increased. 

The Cloud Deck (Extreme) trial received two changes. The first is the trial was moved from the Raid Finder to the Duty Finder. The second is that the drop rate for the Diamond Gwiber Trumpet was increased. Also, players can obtain the mount in exchange for totems by speaking to C'intana in Mor Dhona (X: 22.7 Y 6.7).

The final part of the NierR: Automata raids, The Tower at Paradigm's Breach, has had several loot restrictions lifted.

  • The weekly restriction on rewards obtained from coffers has been removed.

  • The weekly restriction on obtaining Breach Coins has been removed.

  • The following items will now appear in a treasure chest allotted to each party of an alliance when undertaking the Tower at Paradigm's Breach:
    • Stuffed Android Units
    • Modern Aesthetics - Battle-ready Bobs
    • Modern Aesthetics - Scanning for Style
    • Smaller Stubby
    • 9S Automaton
    • 2B Card
    • The Sound of the End Orchestrion Roll
    • Mourning Orchestrion Roll
    • Emil (Despair) Orchestrion Roll
    • Kainé (Final Fantasy Main Theme Version) Orchestrion Roll
    • The Sound of the End: 8bit Orchestrion Roll
Raids in the Eden's Promise line have also been altered. The weekly restriction on receiving Blades of the Lost Antiquity from Eden's Promise: Eternity was removed. The number of blades to receive defragmented tomestones had already been reduced from 7 to 4 in patch 5.5.

The strength of the Echo granted in Eden's Promise (Savage) was also increased. The Echo will take effect upon entering Eden's Promise (Savage) raids, increasing players' maximum HP, damage dealt, and healing potency by 15%.

The Save the Queen storyline, both the Bozjan Southern Front and Zadnor, the amount of mettle rewarded from skirmishes and critical engagements was increased between Resistance ranks 1 and 14.

The following adjustments were made to the critical engagement the Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore:

  • When fighting the 4th Legion helldiver, damage dealt by consecutive hits of the attack Infrared Blast has been reduced.
  • The maximum HP of the NPC ally tunnel armor has been increased.
  • The mechanic requiring six players to step on switches to open a gate no longer requires players to remain on said switches. (Following this change, a group of less than six players should now be able to complete this mechanic.)
During the critical engagement On Serpents' Wings in Zadnor, the cast time of the enemy action used in the final phase was extended from 60 to 90 seconds.

The following changes were made to the items required to create Resistance weapons:

Loathsome Memory of the Dying: Drop rate from critical engagements at the Bozjan southern front has been increased

Haunting Memory of the Dying: Drop rate when completing designated FATEs has been increased (players are still limited to one per FATE). The number received when completing designated alliance raids has been increased from 1 to 3.

Vexatious Memory of the Dying: Drop rate when completing designated FATEs has been increased (players are still limited to one per FATE). The number received when completing designated alliance raids has been increased from 1 to 3.

The item required to enhance weapons purchased with Allagan tomestones of revelation, Crpyt Ester, are now available from Fathard in Eulmore (X:10.1 Y:11.7). Required items are Manufactured Coin / Puppet's Coin / Breach Coin. The patch notes were not clear on whether only one or all three of the mentioned items are required.

Finally, PvP adjustments were made to 10 jobs as well as shared tank and shared magic DPS actions.

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Grand Heist: The Announcement Players Expected

Last week CCP posted a video using YouTube's premiere feature announcing the return of the Alliance Tournament to EVE Online. A lot of people were upset the video didn't address upcoming changes to the game. The last update of the Foundation Quadrant is due to hit Tranquility on 10 August and a lot of people were hoping for news. Maybe even a hit about the theme for the third quadrant due out in September.

CCP released the news about the next update, The Grand Heist, on Friday. The update will put the finishing touches on the Encounter Surveillance System. Since the ESS reserve banks were implemented, over 20 trillion ISK in bounties accumulated, waiting for players to harvest. Access to the money is granted through the use of a key. Acquiring the keys to open up the null sec banks are found in low sec.

There are eight types of reserve keys to be found. Each key will have a corresponding quadrant of the map where it can be used and a duration that it will hold the reserve bank open. The rate of pay increases over time until it reaches a maximum at which point it will begin decreasing until totally shutting off at the end of the unlock duration...

To acquire the extremely coveted reserve bank keys, you will not be able to simply ask the SCC to hand them over. Instead, your plan should be to locate and trespass into the SCC’s secure key storage sites hidden throughout low security space to get your hands on a key, and these sites will be guaranteed to always have a key inside. There are certain restrictions to ship numbers and class that will be allowed into one of these sites, but that challenge will ensure that only Capsuleers who show patience and skill will be able to pull off the heist. The reward is significant, so be prepared and good luck!

Perhaps I'm jaded, but I see another case of CCP linking systems in other security bands to low sec just to increase low sec activity. 

The graphics associated with the ESS are also receiving a revamp. The size and look of the ESS itself are changing as well as the warp disruption bubble effect. The 10km boundary for receiving ISK once a bank is unlocked will have lighting to make positioning easier.

The user interface is also receiving an upgrade.

The UI window that is used to interact with the ESS has been removed and both the interactivity and information of the ESS have been moved through a new in-space UI. With the brand-new structure for the ESS, the UI in space points physically to both the main and reserve banks, showing the status of your interaction.

When an intrusion to the main bank is underway, the timer will be visible in space surrounding the main bank, showing both the time remaining visually and numerically. The timer will be visible to all on grid, even if outside of the interaction range.

The reserve bank is similarly represented, and the in-space UI will show an access timer as well as the time until the next payout is delivered. Both banks are represented by two colors, with blue representing the main bank and orange representing the reserve bank.

Initiating hacks against either of the banks will update the info panel immediately. For the main bank, the portrait of the hacker will appear with a timer. The reserve bank has detailed information, including how many Capsuleers are linked to it, and the status of the payouts.

The Grand Heist is the final major content mentioned in the Foundation announcement back in May. The only affect is see on my gameplay is to increase traffic making my activities more difficult to perform. Hopefully CCP gives players a hint of what is to come in the third quadrant of 2021 sometime in August.

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Hunt For Encyclopaedia Eorzia 2

When I really enjoy MMORPGs I tend to buy books related to the game. I still have the World of Warcraft Offical Strategy Guide and a hardcover edition of World of Warcraft Atlas from my time in Vanilla WoW. I also have The Official Everquest II Atlas, which included the Kingdom of Sky maps from my three years playing EQ2. The number of EVE Online books I've picked up in my 12 years playing the game probably deserves its own post. Now, after playing Final Fantasy XIV for two years, I own my first book about Eorzia.

Square Enix, I want to give you money

I learned recently that FFXIV had two lore books, Encyclopaedia Eorzia and Encyclopaedia Eorzia II. I went over to the Square Enix store and found the books were out of stock. I then went to Amazon and found an English version of Encyclopaedia Eorzia for $230. Um ... no.

I was able to find a .pdf version of Encyclopaedia Eorzia, which covers A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. But the book covering Stormblood was not available in downloadable format. I did run into a couple of dodgy sites, but I wasn't about to visit them once I received a dodgy website warning.

I broke down and searched eBay for the English language version. I found a couple of eBay stores selling copies and picked out one that was selling the book for double the originally listed price once I included shipping. The seller stated that delivery could take 4-6 weeks. I figured I could wait that long since I did have access to the first volume. I ordered the book on Monday.

In my hands

I received the book today. The book arrived in the original shrink wrap and the item code was untouched. Flipping though the book the type is a little small so I'll have to wear my glasses when reading. But otherwise I'm pretty happy so far. And, wonders of wonders, redeeming the code for my item was easy.

Matoya's Hat

Like EVE books, enjoying Final Fantasy XIV doesn't require reading the books. But I wanted the books as a reference to go a little deeper into the stories of Eorzia. Now, if Square Enix will make finding the books just a little easier.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Minmatar Liberation Day 2021 - The Shelf Life Of Boosters Has Been Extended

I noticed a change to some of the rewards for the Minmatar Liberation Day event. The expiration period for the Liberation Games boosters was extended from 10 August to 14 September.

Is the change significant? I was struck by the fact that the Liberation Games boosters won't expire before the Amarr event. In the announcement of the Foundation Quadrant, CCP stated celebration events for all four NPC empires. The date Amarr Foundation Day was celebrated last year was 10 August, so I assume that is when the event should start this year. 

Up until now, I assumed the third quadrant of 2021 should begin in  August. The first quadrant, Reign, began in February. Foundation, the current quadrant, began in May. Does the pushing back of the booster expiration date signal a delay of the next quadrant as well?

A more innocent explanation is that CCP is trying to placate players by doing little things like making the boosters last longer. A perfectly reasonable hypothesis. But until we find out CCP's plans for the next quadrant, enjoy the boosters.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Will EVE Online Have A Full Expansion In November?

I've watched over the past two months as the average number of concurrent users on EVE Online's Tranquility shard started to free-fall. Since I last wrote about the decline on 23 June, the 7-day moving average of the ACU dropped another 1,500 or so.

From the Jester's Trek archive, updated thru 9 July 2021

One of the advantages of CCP's Games as a Service model is the monthly or near monthly update. Not only does the model justify a subscription model, but guarantees constant content drops. While the latest content drops helped, I think something major is needed to combat the current decline. Especially since, unlike the Summer of Rage and Blackout, CCP didn't make one major misstep to provoke the current situation. 

In 2011, CCP responded to the Summer of Rage with the Crucible expansion at the end of November. While past performance is not a guarantee of future results, a look back at a CCP press release is a reminder of how CCP responded to its first major player decline.

EVE Online: Crucible contains over fifty new features and hundreds of enhancements aimed at improving the player experience. These features and fixes were selected by scrutinizing community feedback and focusing on the changes that would make the most immediate impact on the game for the majority of EVE players.

In this expansion, players will experience striking visual upgrades across the EVE universe. Nebulae throughout New Eden have been redesigned in spectacular fashion, offering hauntingly beautiful views of interstellar space.  EVE Online: Crucible introduces new visual libraries with beautifully retextured and revisualized Gallente and Caldari fleets. Other highly anticipated features include Scalable UI and the crisp, clear EVE Sans Neue font, developed as a result of the introduction of CarbonUI earlier this year. 

EVE Online: Crucible reignites the fires of war across New Eden with an array of powerful new ships and changes to EVE's combat system. New Tier 3 Battlecruisers designed to punch above their weight offer players new roles and fresh tactical options. Existing ships, from destroyers to supercapitals, have been rebalanced and tweaked ahead of EVE’s traditional winter warfare season to refine combat in one of the industry's longest-lived MMOs. Meanwhile, new Tech 2 modules, better ship salvage and tweaked loot drops increase rewards in both PvE and PvP, adding further variety and intrigue to EVE's vast player-driven economy.

Just because CCP moved to the Quadrant system that spaces out content over the course of a quarter doesn't mean big, expansion sized patches are not possible. Agile development processes should allow CCP to create a major patch while pumping out the monthly content, provided the game studio has the manpower. Historically, the best times to launch an expansion was late November and early December. 

Today's announcement of the resumption of the Alliance Tournament supports the theory of a major content drop in late November or early December. Yes, the 5,000 or so people who will watch the tournament is tiny compared to the Twitch audiences of games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, League of Legends and Valorant. But a 5,000 maximum concurrent viewership could equate to 50,000 sets of eyes on EVE over the course of the tournament. Also, the coverage of the tournament will greatly increase EVE's presence on Twitch in a lead-up to a possible expansion-sized patch. In the past, CCP used the dead spots between matches on the final weekend to promote game updates. They could do so again in the latest iteration of the tournament show. The news coming out of the coverage potentially is bigger than the tournament itself.

I have to admit I'm putting a very positive spin on today's announcement. When I watched the announcement I was sorely disappointed. Why hype up something that historically was mainly watched for betting purposes? But to hold the tournament requires months of preparation by the participants. If the Alliance Tournament is just part of a larger plan, then why should I rain on anyone's parade? And I so hope this post is taking the correct view on CCP's plans.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Can Final Fantasy XIV Handle The Influx?

At a time when games like World of Warcraft and EVE Online are losing players, one game is experiencing an insane increase in business. Square Enix even had to suspend sales of Final Fantasy XIV in North America over the weekend. While composing this post, none of the European servers was allowing the creation of new characters.

Server status for Europe at 1930UTC on 13 July 2021

Square Enix has done a lot to promote the game. On 14 May, the Endwalker expansion was announced at Fanfest. On 25 May, the Playstation 5 version of FFXIV launched. The game is cross-platform, which means an increase of console players also affects the login queues of PC players. That news coincided with a 60% off sale on both Shadowbringers and the Complete Edition from 25 May to 9 June. Square Enix repeated the 60% off sale during the Steam Summer Sale held from 24 June to 8 July. 

A big jump on Steam

One of the notable factors funneling players from WoW to FFXIV are the WoW streamer refugees. Asmongold, the top WoW Twitch streamer, gets credit for a lot of the interest, but he was following the trend, not creating it. In addition to the WoW refugees, Square Enix tied a mount promotion to subscribing to established FFXIV Twitch streamers. By purchasing 4 subscriptions from one or more of a list of 59 streamers, players can receive the Fat Black Chocobo mount. Apparently higher ranking on Twitch translates to higher interest in a game.

The tipping point seems to be the current free login campaign running from 9 July to 23 August. The campaign allows former players to return to the game and play for two weeks. Gee, Square Enix opens a promotion for returning players, and the first weekend of the promotion the servers are full. Coincidence?

For right now, new players may need to create their characters in off-hours. Not only to play with their friends, but just to play at all. Not an ideal situation for Square Enix. The game of the hour is FFXIV, and new players can't play. We'll have to see what Square comes up with for a solution.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Minmatar Liberation Day 2021 - The First Weekend

After doing the content for the Minmatar Liberation Day event in EVE Online over the weekend, I can safely say my original estimates for how well I could do have gone down drastically. I'm not sure I can reach 600 points on a single character, much less multiple ones.

My score after the first weekend

On Friday, I travelled to the notorious system of Hagilur to visit the Minmatar Mining Corporation Testing Facility. I slipped into the system via the Anher gate as the Bei gate is often camped. The locals took to camping the site as well. Suspecting the locals would do so, I bounced to a celestial and then warped to the site at 100km. To no surprise, the wrecks of player-owned ships littered the grid. All for a lousy 5 points.

I didn't take a screenshot, but the text of the site was recorded in my notifications.

The Scythe-class cruiser remains the oldest Minmatar ship still in use. It has seen many battles and is an integrated element of many Minmatar tales and the material heritage of the tribes. A significant number of Scythes found their way into the hands of the Minmatar resistance. Upgunned and armored by rebel crews, the Scythe was an important combat ship at the oubreak of the Great Rebellion in BYC20.

After picking up the travel points, I tried my hand at probing down data sites. I managed one, but only hacked one can before two pilots from Fweddit showed up. I was wary because one had been in the system earlier. Apparently he went and got a friend. I went away with my 2 points for hacking a can.

If probing down data sites was disappointing, then running event sites in high sec was an exercise in futility. The best thing I can say is that I proved the concept of my new Jaguar fit. I also discovered I didn't have the DPS to contest other ships taking credit for killing the boss NPCs. I earned no points for running the combat sites and wound up with 69 points for the day.

Saturday was a better day. I logged in to a system with multiple combat sites and no one around. I actually completed the site and discovered not one, but two boss NPC Prophecy drones. The first one gave me 30 event points and the second an additional 10. The two NPCs also dropped 454 Liberation Day tokens worth 45.4 million ISK as well as the Bellicose Dawn of Liberation and Leopard Starkmanir SKINs. 

As pilots started showing up in local, I decided to try my hand at mining. I headed over to the Ortner constellation near Rens in an Endurance and started munching on rocks. The first 10,000 units mined and delivered granted me 10 points. I received an additional 20 points for the next 30,000 units mined and delivered. The two sites ran also netted 6 million ISK. 

I called it a night when the next mining event would give me two points for achieving a bronze or higher score in an expedition site. Still, 70 points and 50 million ISK wasn't too bad. My total of 139 also resulted in unlocking the Breacher Starkmanir SKIN.

On Sunday I decided to do some sightseeing. The first site of interest was the Golgothan Fields in Ennur, Molden Heath. Thankfully the site wasn't camped so I could take some screenshots.

Golgothan Fields

A few weeks after the start of the rebellion in BYC20, the Minmatar met with the Amarr in a fierce battle. The Minmatar eventually withdrew, but not before dealing heavy casualties to the Amarr forces. Most importantly, the Amarr lost many capital ships and were left with considerably reduced offensive power in the frontlines of their attempt to defeat the Great Rebellion.

Next, The Agency sent me to Hjoramold to visit the ruins of Lord Bastion.

The Lord Bastion museum in Hjoramold

Shattered remnants of a formidable space fortress built by Lord Basad, the governor of the Ani constellation in early BYC19, durin gthe time of the Great Rebellion, to hold off the rebel forces. This fortress stood for two months in orbit of Hjoramold XII and its ruins act as a reminder of both the cruelty of the Amarr and the spirit of the Minmatar.

My final stop of the day took me to Odatrik and the Battle of Fort Kavad Monument. Unlike the other sites, the monument was just a beacon in space.

The Battle of Fort Kavad Monument in Odatrik

The Battle of Fort Kavad in BYC17 was the final blow by Minmatar freedom fighters that prevented an Amarr counter-offensive and secured the territories of what would become the Minmatar Republic. Catching an assembling Amarr taskforce by surprise, the massed strike by Minmatar forces destroyed the core of the battleship fleets committed to reconquer the Minmatar. After Fort Kavad, the Amarr Emperor called a halt to such attempts and the Minmatar had won their freedom.
Warping to each of the historical sites granted me 10 points, for a total of 30.

The final mining event

My final successful activity of the weekend involved mining. I was hoping that the completion of a mining expedition at bronze level or higher was not the final iteration of the mining events. I threw together a Venture fit that I knew could run a limited site within ten minutes and went to work. Two sites later, all I had was 4 points and 2.8 million ISK. The event did not change.

I did one additional activity. I tested an event fit for the Bellicose. I think I'll need to try using rapid light missile launchers, because heavy assault missiles failed to do more than scratch the armor of one of the frigate NPC types. But my tank held, which was a positive sign. I'm also working on a Rupture fit using 220mm autocannon. I want to come up with something Minmatar flavored since the event is called Minmatar Liberation Day. Besides, I picked up the Bellicose Dawn of Liberation SKIN and am 67 points away from the Rupture Starkmanir SKIN. I think running an event site sporting one of those SKINs would fit the spirit of the occasion.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Minmatar Liberation Day 2021 - Day 1

The first day of Minmatar Liberation Day consists of activities I used to do on Singluarity ahead of events a couple of years ago. The only sign of the event on the Singularity test shard is a early version of The Agency home page. Here's the story of my first day running celebrating victory over the dirty Amarrians.

On pace for 600 points

I started out by selecting a tribe for Wandering Rose. The screenshots yesterday were done on my main combat/exploration character Rosewalker. While Rosewalker selected Vherokior because if I go full-out on the event I want the tribal tattoo package, I selected Starkmanir for lore reasons.

The Starkmanir are the mother tribe of the Vherokior

Other tribes have better looking SKINs, but I have to go for the lore. I find following the lore helps with immersion.

My first destination was Pator. What I call the tourism activity nets 5 points. I also like what I found at the destination.

The Eternal Flame in Pator

I think I should add, all that's needed to receive the 5 points is to warp to the site. Festival launchers and fireworks are only needed to receive skill points from the parade events.

Next, I headed out to low sec to find a Liberation Games data site. The site contained three hackable containers. The big payout in the site I found consisted of Liberation Games Reward Tokens. I received 265 in the three containers. The tokens are redeemable in every Minmatar NPC station for 100,000 ISK each. I was happy with a 26.5 million ISK payout. Also, I managed to receive 27 points.

I didn't take any screenshots of the sites because I was nervous despite having the system to myself. The container exploding after I looted it didn't help. I was looking around expecting my ship to explode, but I took no explosion damage.

Finally, I tried running one of the combat sites. The particular flavor of site was the Mahti Jailbreak site. Perhaps the information most players want to know is the damage types.

Amarr Event Drone Information

The damage profile really encourages the use of the Jaguar. I decided to use a Jaguar before I knew details about the NPCs because of the hints given by CCP. For people interested in the lore:
The Jaguar was originally developed by Thukker Mix as a skirmish platform but improvements to engine efficiency in assault craft brought the competing Wolf assault frigate up to parity in speed. The Thukker considered an even faster propulsion system for the Jaguar, but ultimately chose to sell the design to Core Complexion Inc. Eager to make an impression in this market, Core Complexion have revised the Jaguar's role, replacing its hardpoints and shifting focus from speed to shields.
For a ship designed as a skirmish platform, the Jaguar can take a lot of damage. I'm also glad I fit a tank and weapons that do not use capacitor, because when I landed in the first dungeon I was scrammed and neuted out so fast my head spun. But my tank held and I finished up the first of the three rooms.

The second room exposed the lack of DPS of my fit. I took way too long to burn down the tech 2 NPC cruisers. For fitting purposes, I was using tech 1 meta rocket launchers with Caldari Navy Nova Rockets. I did go finish the room, but I had to warp out once due to the level of damage I received. Thankfully the NPCs in the room only had webs and not scrams.

In the first two rooms nothing dropped. The final room has some tough NPCs which forced me to warp out again. But after finishing off the existing NPCs, the final boss NPC of the site warped in.

The boss is a little tougher

Through the first two rooms, I'd earned 30 event points. Killing the final boss would earn another 30. Plus, nothing had dropped in the NPCs yet. All the loot was in this ship. So I tried to take the ship on, especially since the event Prophecy did not scram. I tried to orbit under the guns, but I still took damage. Worse, when I tried to align out, I became stuck on the geography of one of the structures and couldn't warp off. My ship proceeded to explode a minute later.

Unlike some prior events, I'm not going to abandon doing the combat sights. Due to the ship restructions, the risk vs. reward balance still makes attempting the sites make sense. My revised fitting cost less than 50 million ISK, an amount I can make up by running two data sites. 

Yes, revised fitting. If the fitting works, I'll share in a future post. Let's just say I'm participating in the event for the event prices, not ISK. As long as my wallet isn't smaller than I started and I get 600 points on at least one character, I'll consider the event a personal success.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Minmatar Liberation Day - 2021

Today begins Minmatar Liberation Day in EVE Online.  The event runs from today until downtime on 20 July in the Minmatar Republic (Heimatar, Metropolis, and Molden Heath) and Great Wildlands. Between the news article and patch notes, CCP provided a lot of information. I thought I'd post what I know about the event before hitting the undock button.

First are the standard login rewards for an event. Players only need to log in 7 out of the 12 days of the event to earn all the gifts. Omega players earn both the Alpha and Omega rewards listed below.

Day 1
Alpha - Minmatar Liberation Day Crate
Omega - Rifter Liberation Games SKIN

Day 2
Alpha - Minmatar Liberation Day Expert System
Omega - Minmatar Liberation Day Apparel Crate

Day 3
Alpha - Minmatar Shuttle Liberation Games SKIN
Omega - 10,000 Skill Points

Day 4
Alpha - Probe Liberation Games SKIN
Omega - Claw Liberation Games SKIN

Day 5
Alpha - Talwar Liberation Games SKIN
Omega - Scythe Liberation Games SKIN

Day 6
Alpha - Cyclone Liberation Games SKIN
Omega - Tempest Liberation Games SKIN

Day 7
Alpha - 10,000 Skill Points
Omega - 25,000 Skill Points

In order to participate in the event, players need to select one of the 7 Minmatar tribes. One way is to click on the Encounters button on The Agency. The other was to click on the button that appears under Minmatar Liberation games.

Picking the tribe actually matters

Now, the next step is important, even for players who don't follow the lore. Maybe even especially for players who don't follow the lore. Selecting the tribe will lock the character into receiving certain rewards for doing the content. For those looking to make money, some market research is warranted as I think CCP is reusing some SKINs. Also, some tribes just have better looking SKINs than others. I selected Vherokior as a tribe on my first character and these were the rewards for different point levels.

  • 60 points - Reaper Vherokior SKIN
  • 120 points - Breacher Vherokior SKIN
  • 180 points - Republic Fleet Firetail Vherokior SKIN
  • 240 points - Rupture Vherokior SKIN
  • 330 points - Stabber Fleet Issue Vherokior SKIN
  • 420 points - Hurricane Fleet Issue Vherokior SKIN
  • 510 points - Tempest Fleet Issue Vherokior SKIN

I have two Vherokior characters, but the Thukker tribe SKINs just look so much better. The other rewards are:

  • 30 points - Minmatar Liberation Day Fireworks Crate
  • 90 points - Liberation Games Accuracy Booster I
  • 150 points - Liberation Games Range Booster I
  • 210 points - Liberation Games EWar Booster I
  • 270 points - Liberation Games Damage Booster I
  • 300 points - Liberation Games Accuracy Booster II
  • 360 points - Liberation Games Range Booster II
  • 390 points - Liberation Games EWar Booster II
  • 450 points - Liberation Games Damage Booster II
  • 480 points - Liberation Games Range Booster III
  • 540 points - Liberation Games EWar Booster III
  • 570 points - Liberation Games Damage Booster III
  • 600 points - Republic Service Tattoo (Vherokior Tribe) Package

Six hundred points is a lot of points to earn in 12 days, especially if one wants to get the rewards on more than one character. Thankfully CCP provided four ways to earn points.

Touring The Republic - Players can earn points by travelling to landmarks throughout the Republic. CCP has added two new monuments players might find interesting. The first is a statue of the leaders of the Defiants, Karishal Muritor in the Auga system. The other is of the late Prime Minister, Karin Midular in the Pator system. Just a warning that Auga is in low sec and adjacent to the infamous system of Amamake.

According to the patch notes:

New Minmatar landmark sites can be found within the Pator, Hagilur, Odatrik, and Auga systems. The new landmark sites in Pator and Auga are partially under construction and will feature the addition of new monument statues later in the event.

To make sightseeing easier, the warp speed of all ships will increase by 2 AU/sec in all Minmatar space. 

Three of the four event types that earn points

Simulating History - CCP is including combat sites, but with a twist. According to the patch notes:

New Liberation Games historical reenactment combat sites are appearing within Minmatar Republic highsec and non-FW lowsec space, as well as within the Great Wildlands.

  • These sites use advanced drones to recreate two important battles of the Great Rebellion, the Escape from Auner of BYC19 and the Mahti Jailbreak of BYC18
  • Loot from these sites includes tokens that can be sold to Minmatar NPC stations for ISK, new and returning SKINs, limited time Minmatar combat boosters, Leopard BPCs, and limited time Cerebral Accelerators.
  • These combat sites only allow entry for empire T1 and Navy Faction Cruisers, T1 destroyers, T2 frigates, and empire T1 and Navy Faction frigates. These new combat sites are especially well suited to be completed in Minmatar cruisers and Assault Frigates.

I never thought I'd get excited about a shuttle blueprint copy, but the Leopard's warp speed is 20 AU/second. The Minmatar shuttle was first given away as part of the Yule Lads event in 2013. The only other time the shuttle was available was during the Dawn of Liberation limited time event in 2018.

Data sites - Special Liberation Day data sites will appear in Minmatar Republic high sec, non-factional warfare low sec, and Great Wildlands. The data sites had the least written about them, but is some of my favorite content in live events.

Mining - The Republic Mining Expedition sites are back and will spawn in four constellations:

  • Ani in Metropolis (adjacent to Hek)
  • Odengsolf in Heimatar (adjacent to Rens)
  • Almur in Molden Heath (three jumps from Teonusude)
  • 730-KH in Great Wildlands (contains the only 3 NPC stations in the region)

CCP added new items to the Republic Fleet Ordinance loyalty point store. They are new Fleet Ordnance Spike SKINs for the Vigil, Talwar, and Cyclone.


In addition to the rewards from running events, players can earn skill points by attending the parade events in the systems of Pator, Rens, Hek, Eram, Teonusude, Altrinur, and Hjoramold. Make sure to fit the festival launcher and fireworks obtained as part of the first day's login rewards.

CCP is also breaking out a new Abyssal PvP proving ground for the iconic Minmatar frigate.

Heat up the Abyssal Proving Grounds from 16 to 20 July with the four-player free-for-all Rifter Glorification Proving Ground. This event will feature the Minmatar Rifter-class frigate only and is limited to meta level 5 modules and implants.

There will also be a 100% bonus to the benefits of overheating in this Proving Ground so you can push your rusty frigates to their limits in true Minmatar fashion. This is the perfect opportunity to get use out of the free Minmatar Expert System handed out on day 2 of the Liberation Day celebrations.

Outside the game, CCP will hold a Minmatar trivia quiz on its Twitch channel at 15:30 EVE Time on Saturday July 10th.

For those who can't get enough of the celebrations, Electus Matari and Ushra'Khan are holding their own celebrations in Pator starting at 17:30 EVE Time on Saturday. The events include an industrial ship race and a battle royale involving Slashers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Look Back At The Summer Of Rage And Blackout

With the current decline in the average & peak concurrent user counts on EVE Online's Tranquility server, I expect a lot of looking back at rather famous declines in history. I think the two most famous are the Incarna expansion debacle and Blackout. 

Incarna: In retrospect, by the summer of 2011 EVE was a tinderbox ready to catch on fire. In July 2010, summit minutes released by CSM 5 indicated CCP only had 22 developers out of a 200 person development team were working on new features for upcoming expansions. In January 2011, CCP released an update which increased hardware requirements. In April, the new EVE Online forums launched with technical issues. Concerns about monetization arose with the announcement of an in-game cash shop and charging third party developers for access to the API. Two weeks before Incarna hit Tranquility, CCP announced the upcoming DUST 514 would launch as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Normally, activity rose prior to an expansion, but in the three months leading up to Incarna the number of average concurrent users fell by approximately 4,000. 

From the Jester's Trek archive

The launch of Incarna on 22 June 2011 was, to put the case kindly, sub-optimal. Despite claims by Senior Producer CCP Zulu the expansion launched smoothly, players reported graphics cards melting attempting to run the game. Worse yet, only one of the four versions of the Captain's Quarters were available at launch. But the worst part as far as players were concerned was the Noble Exchange. The $70 monocle was the symbol of an overpriced cash shop looking to fleece players.

What players saw in the client was bad enough. Then came the leaks. The most damaging was the publication of Fearless, the internal CCP newsletter. The publication on EveNews24.com opened up the floodgates of concern about the future of monetization in EVE. Unfortunately, the public response from CCP didn't go over too well with the player base, as $1000 jeans became part of the conversation. Then an internal email from CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson leaked that enflamed the situation more. The money quote was:

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change. [emphasis mine]

CCP quickly flew the Council of Stellar Management to Reykjavik for an emergency summit meeting. On 2 July 2011, CCP and the CSM issued a joint statement about the situation

Subscription data from MMOData

At first, the efforts to mitigate the damage seemed to work as EVE Online hit an all-time high of 375,565 subscriptions in July. But in August, the ACU dropped by 4,000 to under 27,000 players logged in. By October, EVE Online had lost 8% of its subscribers. On 5 October Hilmar published an apology blog to the EVE community. Two weeks later, CCP announced a layoff of 20% of its staff.

From the Jester's Trek archive

EVE began to recover with the Crucible expansion in December 2011. Crucible addressed many of the bugs and quality of life issues players thought CCP neglected due to the diversion of resources to its two games under development, DUST 514 and World of Darkness. CCP also named John Lander the executive producer of EVE in December 2011. By February 2012 the ACU was back up to 30,000 accounts. Following the release of Retribution in December 2012, the ACU would return back to the 34,000 account level, or over 10% higher than the mark at the launch of Incarna. On 28 February, CCP announced 500,000 subscribers world-wide, with many estimating the number of subscribers on Tranquility at 400,000. 

Blackout: Trouble loomed over the horizon going into 2019. The chat servers still performed poorly since the switch to new servers in March 2018. In March, CCP announced nerfs to Force Auxiliaries, High Angle Weapons, carriers, super-carriers, and Rorquals. The massive nerf to null sec income generation did not go unnoticed. In late June, a poorly implemented Drifter invasion of sovereign null sec brought major hostilities to a halt. Also at the end of June players noticed packages in the cash shop that allowed the purchase of skill points for real world cash. 


From the Jester's Trek archive

The spark from CCP that provoked a crisis was a change to the way local would work in null sec. Basically, CCP implemented the delayed local feature from wormhole space in null sec. Introduced on 12 July 2019, the change was touted by CCP as the introduction of "The Chaos Era". CCP propped up the introduction with a sale on Multiple Character Training for purchasing 3 months of game time on 15-17 July, a bonus skill point week from 17-24 July, the Skilling Spree event that ran from 24 July to 21 August, and a final bonus skillpoint weekend on 23-26 August.

One misconception people may have is that the change to local chat is the only thing that upset players. CCP continued swinging the nerf bat throughout the next two months. On 25 July, the Vexor Navy Issue received a nerf to its ability to AFK rat, while all Alpha accounts received a nerf to drone skills. On 1 August, the developers increased sales taxes and broker fees. With the August 2019 release on 13 August, CCP introduced aggressive Triglavian NPCs that would attack travelers and ratters in high sec along with the high sec war changes. Finally, the September 2019 release changed cyno mechanics making travel more complicated.

On 16 September, six days after the September patch went live, Blackout ended. Looking back, CCP apparently looked at the July data with all the events, determined people liked the feature, and kept Blackout on when the August patch hit. I think a lot of players believed Blackout was a temporary feature, and not seeing local return to normal probably made a number of players no longer wait on the game. The exodus from EVE began on 26 August, the same day World of Warcraft Classic launched. In the space of 3 weeks, the average number of accounts concurrently logged in fell by 4,000, or 20%. Once Blackout was removed, the ACU returned to pre-Chaos Era numbers in 3 months.

The revenue for EVE and BDO

Financially, the revenue generated during the third quarter of 2019, while not showing gains, certainly didn't collapse. The drop from ₩14.9 billion earned in Q2 down to ₩14.6 billion in Q3 was still ₩100 million more than the revenue for Q1. The collapse did not occur until the fourth quarter. Even then, the fall was not apparent immediately. On the Q4 2020 earnings call, Pearl Abyss announced to investors that EVE Online earned ₩15.6 billion, an increase of 6.8% over the third quarter. However, Pearl Abyss had to correct the amount on the Q1 2020 earnings call in May 2020. The figure was revised downward by 20.5% to ₩12.4 billion.

From the Jester's Trek archive

The story of the Great Collapse of 2021 is still ongoing, as the ACU continues to fall. We also do not know the financial ramifications for CCP and Pearl Abyss. Hopefully looking back at past events can bring clarity to the present.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Star Citizen First Half 2021 Funding, Squadron 42 Soon?

I thought I'd just write a quick post over the Independence Day holiday in the U.S. about Star Citizen. The funding page reached $376 million late last night. For the month of June, Cloud Imperium Games raised approximately $5.3 million in ship and equipment sales as well as starter packages. That increases the known amount raised to over $35 million for the year. The amount of revenue raised from other sources won't be known until the 2021 financial statement is released, probably in December 2022.

From the Star Citizen funding page

On 1 July, Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner released a video with two pieces of financial related news. Roberts revealed that the headcount for CIG is approximately 720 people. The number is up from the 604 stated at the end of 2019. This does not include the growth of the studio in Montreal run by Turbulent announced in November. 

The second is that Chris Roberts is moving his family to Manchester in order to oversee the completion of Squadron 42. The last major news about the single player game was the company removing any mention of a release date on 23 December 2020. Does the move indicate the game may at least reach a public beta test sometime in 2022? Time will tell.

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Bastion Module Is Getting Nerfed

While I have the skills to fly Marauders, I've never owned one. I hear they are great ships for mission running and other PvE activities. In EVE Online's scarcity era, all ISK faucets must be nerfed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nerf bat has found the bastion module. 

The bastion mechanic is similar to the siege mechanic for dreadnaughts in that the ship receives offensive bonuses in exchange for losing the ability to receive remote repairs. CCP Paradox announced today changes to the bastion module.

We have another update to this patch on Singularity right now:

We’re adjusting the attributes on the Bastion Module slightly with the following changes:

  • Reducing target painter resistance to 50%
  • Reducing weapon disruption resistance to 50%
  • Reducing target dampener resistance to 50%
  • Reducing sensor strength bonus to 200%
  • Removal of ECM resistance

The pacifier also has a small adjustment in addition to the previous changes from above:

  • Pacifier CPU output increased to 240 (from 200)

The changes from the current values are:

  • Target painter resistance:  reduced from 95% down to 50%
  • Weapon disruption resistance: reduced from 95% down to 50%
  • Target dampener resistance: reduced from 95% down to 50%
  • Sensor strength bonus? reduced from 1000% percent down to 200%

One of the reasons I don't like missions involving the Caldari State is the NPCs use ECM. I find getting jammed out such a pain. Thankfully, they tend to concentrate on one ship at a time, so I make sure to dual-box any mission involving those pesky NPCs. I imagine the same holds true for the Guristas. Thankfully, I don't hang out in Caldari space or the galactic North where the Guristas live.

When I combine the changes to the bastion module with the Black Ops battleship changes in Enter The Portal, it feels like a rebalance of T2 battleships designed to see more die. I'm just not sure how many players will use. After all, the number one rule in EVE is, "Don't fly what you can't afford to lose." 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Top 10 Most Popular Posts For The First Half Of 2021

This year I've written more posts than I had three of the last four years. Not bad for six months. I don't come close to the 5,000 monthly readers that all the EVE Online Partner sites have, but that's okay. Writing the blog is something I do for fun. I don't want to turn a 12 year-old hobby into a job. MMORPGs tend to turn gameplay into a second job. Doing the same for writing isn't too appealing.

Still, I can't say I'm not interested in the traffic I receive. I thought I'd indulge myself and look back at my 10 most popular posts so far. Surprisingly, three of the top 10 most popular articles were written in 2021.

1. What Is RMT? - My most popular post ever, this November 2013 post was inspired by the big SomerBLINK scandal kicked off by DNS Black. In the aftermath of that scandal, I decided to craft a definition. Despite a couple of examples becoming dated, I think the article holds up well.

2. Guardian's Gala 2021 - Introducing The Event - My most popular post written in 2021 so far, I provided an overview of the event. Back in February, some players were still excited about seasonal events in EVE. Hopefully what we see in the game now is just a summer swoon and the annual Crimson Harvest event will draw the interest of a lot of players.

3. FFXIV Patch 5.3: Expanding The Free Trial - Back in August 2020, Square Enix expanded the free trial of the critically acclaimed MMO to include Heavensward so you can play for free until level 60. I wrote the post before the meme became popular, which is why the article still says the maximum level of the free trial is 35. Who knew information about the free trial would become so popular?

4. Resource Redistribution And Low Sec - 2020 Edition - Sometimes I get carried away explaining a concept that interests me. In this October 2020 post, I went into detail about CCP's resource redistribution plans and how it might affect low sec. Do you think 2400 words is too much?

5. Thoughts on FFXIV's Beast Tribe Quests - A post written a year ago tomorrow, I'm still working my way through all the tribes. I have heard FFXIV's beast tribe quests compared to World of Warcraft's reputation grinds. But the good ones, not the bad ones. Maybe a WoW player could let me know what that means. I only played Vanilla WoW.

6. Final Fantasy XIV: Getting The Skybuilders' Needle - After getting the weaver's level 80 relic tool in February 2021, I had to write about the experience. Looking back, I think I'll need to refer to the post again to get my culinarian's relic tool. While some of the items change, the techniques transfer.

7. How Much Is A Titan Worth In January 2018? - I think a lot of EVE players get irritated when the gaming press starts tossing around real world money figures to describe ships lost in New Eden's major battles. The writers usually inflate the amount a lot. I tried to define a realistic value.

8. A PvE Rupture For Alphas And Omegas - In December 2016, writing about fits for alpha clones was all the rage. I probably need to revisit the fit, but I don't think much has changed.

9. Guardian's Gala 2021 - Day 4 - Finding Success - Another popular post from EVE's in-game event from February. I had trouble the first three days and figured out how to profit on day 4. With the popularity of the post, I think I wasn't the only one.

10. Low Sec Ice Mining: The Endurance - Released in December 2015, I managed to write a post about how to fit the new expedition frigate in January 2016. 


I will probably return to some of these topics in the second half of the year. From what I can tell, the current downturn in EVE marks the end of a stable black market that began in January 2020. I really should write about what I found. In FFXIV, I am finishing up the Stormblood beast tribe quests. I'm thinking of doing a series covering what essentially are reputation grinds. But Square Enix packages them up into something I enjoy. The final subjects are seasonal events in EVE. CCP announced a Minmatar celebration during the summer, plus the annual Crimson Harvest event is a must to at least check out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Trains Keep Moving

Honestly, sometimes I feel excited about EVE Online, and sometimes I don't. For example, yesterday I saw CCP Paradox post the new stats for the Pacifier and Enforcer on the Test Server Feedback section of the official forums.

Today’s update included some further changes, most notably includes a first set of changes to the Pacifier and Enforcer and updating the Covert Cyno deployables industry requirements and skill to anchor.

Pacifier

  • PG increased to 60
  • 1 Extra High Slot
  • Max Velocity increased to 340
  • Increased both max turret/launcher hardpoints to 4

Enforcer:

  • PG increased to 1150
  • 1 Extra High Slot
  • Max velocity increased to 190
  • Added Drone capability: Capacity 25m3 and Bandwidth at 25Mbit/s

Increased both max turret/launcher hardpoints to 5

Changes are still in progress and may be updated.

Yes, I own 2 Pacifiers, 2 Enforcers, 2 Pacifier blueprint copies, and an Enforcer BPC. Just the announcement of the changes inspired me to start playing Project Discovery again to try to pick up a couple of more BPCs. But I think I'm in the minority on that. Still, Op Success for CCP!

On the other hand, every time I see numbers I start getting concerned. The latest instance was my last visit to The Ancient Gaming Noob. He had a really good analysis of the May Monthly Economic Report up currently. But his weekly update of the war kind of got me down when I got down to the weekly PCU counts.

I'm going to jump the gun by a week making the following comparison. On 5 July 2020, the first full day of the war, the number of peak concurrent users was 38,838. The PCU peaked at 40,359 on 18 October. At that point, the numbers started to decline until the PCU reached 33,758 on 16 May. From the beginning of the war to week 45, the PCU had fallen by 5080.

In the following 6 weeks, the PCU dropped from 33,758 down to 25,661 this past Sunday. I know PCU is not the best metric for measuring activity, but the number of average concurrent users has dropped by around 5000 accounts during the same time. 

Shadowbringers is 60% off again as part of the Summer Steam Sale

With the war winding down, I can't help but think players are wandering off to do other things. Perhaps the timing is coincidental, but the rapid decline began the week Blizzard launched the pre-patch for The Burning Crusade Classic. The following week saw Square Enix, perhaps in an effort to pick off disgruntled WoW players, offering 60% off Shadowbringers from 25 May to 9 June. Then ZeniMax launched its Blackwood expansion for Elder Scrolls Online on 1 June, the same day Blizzard opened up the TBC Classic servers. And who knows what the effect of today's Patch 9.1 for Retail WoW will be.

The healthiest thing I can do is totally ignore the EVE subreddit. That's doable. But I keep poking my head out to look at the activity numbers. I can't help myself. Looking at the activity is like looking at a looming train wreck. I just hope the trains can stop in time.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Fun Facts About The CSM 16 Election Results

The election results for EVE Online's 16th Council of Stellar Management came out on Monday. I know, people really aren't interested in the CSM, especially with a lot of people shouting the sky is falling. But the election deserves one final look. Hopefully people will find something interesting.

Turnout increased. This year's 38,086 votes cast in the election represents a 5.4% increase over last year's 36,120. Overall, the CSM 16 election had the fifth most voters in CSM history. The top five voter turnout elections are:

  1. CSM 7 (2012): 59,109 votes
  2. CSM 8 (2013): 49,702 votes
  3. CSM 6 (2011): 49,096 votes
  4. CSM 5 (2010): 39,433 votes
  5. CSM 16 (2021): 38,086 votes
Filling out the ballot. For the first time since CSM elections switched to the single transferrable vote format, a majority of ballots cast had votes for the maximum number of candidates. A record 20,446 ballots were completely filled out in 2021, representing 53.7% of the ballots cast. Below is a list of the percentages of completely filled out ballots going back to CSM 8.

CSM 08 - 33.8%
CSM 09 - 33.8%
CSM 10 - 30.0%
CSM 11 - 27.5%
CSM 12 - 30.4%
CSM 13 - 38.3%
CSM 14 - 47.1%
CSM 15 - 40.6%
CSM 16 - 53.7%

Incumbents win. One of the reasons CCP instituted term limits to begin next year was due to the power of incumbency. If a player has a strong organization behind him, victory is almost assured. This year, 7 of the 8 members running for reelection won. The only incumbent to lose was Phantomite, who was eliminated in the 27th round with 720 votes.

The top 10 after round 1. I hear people ask if the candidates in the lead after round 1 ever wind up losing. The top 11 candidates at the end of round 1 were:

  1. Merkelchen - met quota
  2. Gobbins - met quota
  3. Innominate - met quota
  4. Kenneth Feld - 3282
  5. Brisc Rubal - 3084
  6. Vily - 2515
  7. I Beast - 2449
  8. progodlegend - 1859
  9. Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci - 1163
  10. Mike Azariah - 1115
  11. Suitonia - 1054

Uriel wound up eliminated in round 34 while Suitonia reached the quota in the 34th round of 36 total rounds. With Arsia Elkin only receiving 2241 votes when eliminated in the final round, effectively 7 of the 10 winners were decided by the end of the first round.

The 1000/2000 rule in CSM elections still holds mostly true. When people used to ask whether or not they had a shot at winning a seat on the CSM, I asked two questions. First, could they garner 1000 first place votes. The second, did they have a path to 2000 total votes. If the answer to both is yes, then the candidate is a serious contender.

The rule held true again this year. Arsia Elkin came close to breaking the rule, but only received 978 initial first place votes. The three candidates in the nine CSM elections to break the rule were Nathan Jameson (1616/2430) and Banlish (1213/2173) in the CSM 8 election and Sort Dragon (1500/2321) in 2019.

Voting Blocs. In this year's election, there were nine combinations of votes that occurred over 400 times. These 9 tickets accounted for 34.8% of the votes cast. One of the tickets did not come the major null sec blocs. I am not sure if Northern Coalition. and Pandemic Legion had separate tickets, so I listed them separately.

The Imperium (6496)
Merkelchen, Innominate, Brisc Rubal, Baculus Orden, Broodin, Angry Mustache, Micromancer, Xenuria, Suitonia, I Beast

Pandemic Horde (1782)
Gobbins, progodlegend, Kenneth Feld, RonUSMC, Phantomite, Vily, Arsia, Elkin, Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci, Reicher514, Seddow

Winter Coalition (1068)
Kenneth Feld, Rich Richman, progodlegend, Gobbins, Seddow, Vily, Phantomite, Arsia Elkin, Angry Mustache, Maldavius

Test Alliance Please Ignore (796)
Vily, progodlegend, RonUSMC, Gobbins, Phantomite, Arsia Elkin

I Beast (772)
I Beast

Non-null (765)
Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci, DutchGunner, Baculus Orden, Dr Spodumain, I Beast

The Initiative. (628)

Brisc Rubal, Innominate, I Beast, Suitonia, Mark Resurrectus, teddy Gbyc, Broodin, Phantomite, Mike Azariah, Arsia Elkin

Northern Coalition./Pandemic Legion (519)
Kenneth Feld, progodlegend, Gobbins, RonUSMC, Phantomite, Arsia Elkin

Northern Coalition./Pandemic Legion 2? (441)
Kenneth Feld, progodlegend, Gobbins, RonUSMC, Vily, Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci, Reicher514, Mike Azariah

A lot of players in coalitions don't vote the full ticket. The total count of votes that matched the top 3 spots of each ticket were:

  • The Imperium - 7144
  • Pandemic Horde - 2410
  • Test Alliance Please Ignore - 1655
  • Northern Coalition./Pandemic Legion - 1418
  • Winter Coalition - 1205
  • Non-null - 837
  • The Initiative. - 789

When using the top 3 criteria, 40.6% of the votes cast matched one of the seven combinations. Including I Beast's 772 independent votes, the total increases to 42.6% of the vote.

Strong Imperium turnout. What a difference a year makes for Imperium turnout. In 2020, Innominate didn't reach quota until round 29 (out of 30 rounds) and Brisc had to win on his own. This year, Innominate reached quota in round one and Brisc received a trickle down of 706 votes. Combined with the 2171 initial first place votes Brisc received, The Imperium had guaranteed winning three seats early in the process. 

The Imperium vote then trickled down to Suitonia beginning with 47 votes in round 20. By round 34, the trickle from Brisc Rubal reached 824 votes and pushed Suitonia across the finish line.

In raw numbers, the amount of votes cast for the official Imperium ballot increased 57.9%, from 4115 ballots in CSM 15 to 6496 for CSM 16. Using the top 3 comparison, the turnout only increased 51.7%, from 4690 ballots matching the top 3 slots of the official Imperium ballot compared to 7114 this year.

Progodlegend the show stopper. PAPI went with a strategy to attempt to elect Vily, Gobbins, and Kenneth Feld, with progodlegend hopefully winning based on the vote from Brave Collective combined with the trickle from the three main candidates. The strategy worked, but with progodlegend not meeting quota, the trickle from five major coalition tickets ended with him.

How was Chinese turnout? With none of Winter Coalition's original candidates passing CCP's screening process, a question arose whether the members of Winter Coalition would turn out. Using the top 3 vote comparison between last year's turnout and this year's, Winter Coalition turnout fell by 26.3%. If I expand the criteria to include the 470 ballots that only marked Maria Taylor last year, the decline was 42.8%.