Tuesday, March 30, 2021

An Introduction To The Hunt, 2021 Edition

As the first quadrant of 2021, Reign comes to a close, CCP launched its Easter-themed event for EVE Online. The Hunt is based around the Guristas, a faction much hated by both the Caldari and CONCORD. The founders of the Guristas, known as Fatal and the Rabbit, return the sentiments.

The event has ship restrictions that make The Hunt new player friendly.

Throughout the 14 days of The Hunt, combat sites will be restricted to frigates and destroyers (T1/T2/Faction). Standard sites across New Eden will be suitable for T1 frigates and destroyers. Meanwhile, the more demanding, more lucrative Huntmaster sites will only appear in Caldari Lowsec and in the Guristas’ beloved home region Venal, and have been balanced for T2 frigates and T2 destroyers.

Each combat site will offer two combat rooms; one that can be accessed by all players, and a special area that will require key cards found in The Hunt’s mystery capsules. In those locked rooms, special loot drops will be available.


During The Hunt, Capsuleers looking for a break from combat can visit special exploration sites where hacking challenges will not only provide means to secure standard loot, but also a chance to gain items normally only available through combat. Again, these sites are limited to T1/T2/Faction frigates and destroyers.
I'm still waiting for CCP to begin allowing implants and wirings to drop upon pod destruction, a feature introduced in last year's event. While this year's announcement does not mention the Guristas Hydra Implant Set, pods dropping implants returns this year.

Of course, what is an event without some rewards. For those into ship SKINs, running the sites can get players up to 6 faction navy SKINs.
  • 50 pts - Worm Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 100 pts - Exequror Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 150 pts - Caracal Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 200 pts - Typhoon Fleet Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 250 pts - Armegeddon Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 300 pts - Raven Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
Also, logging in 10 times between 30 March and 13 April give skill points, boosters, and ship SKINs. Below is a detailed list of rewards for both Alpha and Omega accounts.

  • 40K skill points
  • +3% maximum velocity booster
  • Acceleration Gate Key
  • Cyclone Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Prophecy Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Ferox Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Myrmidon Hunter's Quiver SKIN
Omega - All the Alpha rewards plus the list below
  • 80K skill points
  • +3 turret/missile damage booster
  • Acceleration Gate Key
  • Stiletto Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Malediction Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Crow Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Ares Hunter's Quiver SKIN
As always, the SKINs are apply on redeem.

I don't know about the drops inside the sites as I probably won't get a chance to undock until the weekend. But after reading the news article and poking around a bit in a station, I'm looking forward to flying around in a Rifter or Probe looking for event content.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Builders Must Play With Others

On Friday CCP published a dev blog concerning industry changes. I'm not quite sure how to characterize the changes, so I'll include the dev blog's explanation below...
The path for aspiring builders in New Eden will be clearer than ever – so if you have ever thought about getting into industrial production, this is a good time to start! In addition, experienced builders will have a new set of challenges to rise to in their field of expertise.

Requirements for a given ship will be determined by a variety of factors, including tech level, ship category, hull type, size, and purpose, among other things. Based on these factors, each ship will be given a tier, and their material costs updated accordingly.

These changes will:
  • Create more robust and interesting manufacturing progression
  • Allow for better compartmentalization in the manufacturing process between subcapitals, capitals, and supercapital ships
  • Revitalize the importance of R4 moons
  • Normalize the value proposition between different activities in EVE
  • Increase the importance of wormholes and allow wormholers to be a catalyst in New Eden's environment
  • Positively impact capital proliferation without a significant impact on subcap markets
  • Impact the whole economy of New Eden, such as the pricing of a variety of items
  • Lay the foundations for future resource distribution
In addition, new industry components will be required for battleships, capitals, and supercapitals. These new components will be available via reactions, blueprints, and loot drops from exploration content.

The new reactions and blueprints for component construction will be available via NPC markets. What’s more, reprocessing material values will be updated for subcapital ships as well as for existing capital components.

This update will be split into two different phases in April. The first update will distribute the necessary blueprints, reactions, and components that will become a requirement in ship manufacturing. This will allow for a transitional period before the second update goes live a few weeks later, when these components will become required materials in ship production.
According to the spreadsheet linked in the dev blog, only 5 ship classes will only be manufactured with minerals after the changes go live...
  • Tech 1 frigates
  • Tech 1 destroyers
  • Tech 1 cruisers
  • Tech 1 battle cruisers
  • Tech 1 industrial ships
Tech 1 of the ship classes refers to the standard type of hull. Faction pirate and faction navy ships require the new components mentioned in the blog. Also using the new components are all tech 1 battleships. I do not include the Praxis, as it is a promotional ship designed for use by new players.

Current mineral distribution as of 29 March 2021

Even before the latest changes, industrialists couldn't just remain in high sec if they wished to harvest all the materials themselves. But the new reactions require infrastructure set up outside of high sec to process. Also, all of the gas required for the reactions is only found outside high sec. Some of the R4 moon minerals required for the new builds are found in 0.5 systems in high sec need to be transported to low sec, null sec, or a wormhole. My understanding is that players cannot compress either the moon minerals or gas for transport, making locally gathered materials much preferable to use.

From what I can tell, the days of building a ship by gathering all the raw materials, other than the basic tech 1 variety, solo are about to end. A pity, because I enjoyed the challenge of building my Nestor. One can still build the ship by purchasing the harder to obtain parts off the in-game market, and I probably will take that route in the future. I just wonder how the whole change will work out.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Revising The Timing For Star Citizen

 If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.

- Stein's Law

Two weeks ago, Cloud Imperium Games reached $350 million in crowdfunding for the development of its two games, Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. Much of the coverage I ran across mentions the length of development and lack of a game. At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I want to update my Star Citizen post from December.

Star Citizen funding on 26 March 2021

Since my last post on CIG's finances, CIG has raised an additional $13.6 million. When combined with the additional $56.4 million in known revenue through 2019, CIG has raised $409 million so far. A projection of $425 million total raised outside of venture capital at this point is plausible. We also know that Clive and Keith Calder have invested an additional $63.25 million. Sometime this year, total funding for Star Citizen and Squadron 42 will likely exceed $500 million.

I do have to revise my timing for when Star Citizen might launch. In December, I projected that Star Citizen would release at the end of 2022. After learning Star Citizen is confirmed to remain in alpha through the end of 2021, I have to assume the game will remain in alpha though the end of 2022 and extend sometime into 2023. Add on one year for a beta and we are looking at a 2024 release. While researching Star Citizen, I found a site that keeps up with SC updates. The operator of the site believes the earliest commercial launch date for Star Citizen is sometime in Q3 2024, meaning a launch sometime in 2025 is not out of the question.

I'm not going to try to recalculate the burn rate for CIG from the December post. I'll just double the total needed to finish Star Citizen and Squadron 42 from $150-$200 million to $300-$400 million. Typing the amount of money CIG still needs to raise is mind-blowing, especially since I have the feeling I'm underestimating the amount. But spending $700-$800 million to develop a game seems insane even to say.

For now, I just plan to look over at the funding page every three months or so. Over the past three months, CIG is raising at the low edge of the range needed to fund the project to completion. If the funding lasts, in 4 years players will be playing a finished product. The question I think most outside observers are asking, will the funding last?

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Black Desert Online Week 3: Harvesting Side Quests

Another week another two levels gained in Black Desert Online. I've transitioned from following the main quest line to going back and following side quests. My thoughts on the experience are below.

Progress: I finally completed the Medina quest line and reaching level 56, which signaled a switch to going back and completing all the side quests with experience gains. But before doing the side quests, I did two important quest lines. The first was the Awakening quest line, which resulted in gaining access to a new set of skills and a weapon. 

The second was the Chenga Tome quest line, which I complained about Tuesday. I realize that the 30% bonus to combat XP when I complete quests is nice. But 22 non-combat quests, in a game where combat is arguably its strongest selling point, doesn't make sense. But I got through the experience.

Story: I'm off the main quest line now, and the Chenga Tome quest line was weak. But I like the tracking down the evil witch thread I was on. If I wasn't in a hurry to level due to the end of the season approaching, I might have run through the first block of quests in Valencia. If the side quests don't get me up to level 59, I may need to do so anyway.

Equipment: By finishing the Medina quest line, I also unlocked the ability to get the Tuvala gear from Fughar. I'm now rocking Tuvala PRI level armor and weapons. When I completed the Awakening quest line, I also received a Tuvala TRI level Awakening weapon. I also picked up a couple of nice accessory items.

Awakening: I was a little taken aback at having to make the choice between the Awakening and Succession skill sets so suddenly. I eventually decided to go down the Awakening path because Awakening seemed the natural progression.

So far I'm not so sure how I feel about the skills. My problem, as always, is learning new key combination. I have a bad habit of hitting the wrong keys and casting Blizzard. But Voltaic Pulse is easy enough to cast (Shift+F) and I like the animation where I cast magic arrows as I punch a mob. I do need to get better at casting Fissure Wave (S+LMB+RMB).

I'm not sure of the technical name in BDO, but I can now summon a pet. I do like the ability. I just need to figure out what I need to do to keep Keeper Tett up instead of Gorr.

AFK Play: I attempted to do my first AFK task: leveling my strength. Basically, players can make their characters stronger by having them march around town with a trade pack on their backs. By leveling strength, characters can carry around more loot.

I failed pretty bad. I thought I'd do well by staying logged into the game all night, but I only reached level 2. Apparently, someone decided to park their horse in my path, and my character marched into the horse for hours. Oh well, lesson learned. Next time I'll pick a better located path.

Cash Shop: The screenshot of my login page shows I haven't hit the cash shop yet. I almost purchased a $50 pack with an outfit, a pet, and a bunch of inventory expansion, but I held out until Pearl Abyss removed the offer. I did, however, use loyalty points to pick up 8 inventory slots and increase my weight capacity by 50 lbs. I eventually will wind up buying a 30-day value pack, but I won't have to until early April.

All in all, I think I'm making decent progress. The videos I see say that it shouldn't take long to level a character. One YouTuber has a live stream where he levelled a character from 1-60 in 15 hours. I doubt I'll get to level 61 by next week, but I'll give it a shot. But after the end of the season, I'll be able to relax and not put so much time into leveling.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Microsoft Reportedly In Talks To Acquire Discord

Rumors are surrounding Discord right now about Microsoft buying the gaming application company. I call the news a rumor as the New York Times basically stated they only had one anonymous source. I'll trust the VentureBeat story as more credible as they claim two sources. So while the New York Times is claiming Microsoft is looking at purchasing Discord, VentureBeat reports that Discord's leadership is looking at multiple offers.

Of course, Discord may not sell to anyone, opting for an IPO. The recent IPO of Roblox probably opened some eyes.

Roblox had a suggested price point of $45 a share that was set by the New York Stock Exchange, where Roblox trades under the ticker RBLX.

On its first day of trading Wednesday, Roblox stock shot up 54.4%, closing at 69.50. The stock climbed another 6.3% on Thursday, closing at 73.90 on the stock market today. That thrust its market value to near $39.5 billion.

With a direct listing, no new shares in the company are created and sold. Nor will the Roblox IPO raise any capital. Instead, current investors can begin selling already existing shares based on demand when trading opens.

After two weeks of public trading, Roblox stock ended the day at $64.50.

The VentureBeat story also threw cold water on the idea any deal may occur.

One source I spoke with said that Discord has engaged Qatalyst Partners to evaluate possible suitors. Qatalyst, which Silicon Valley dealmaker Frank Quatrone (executive chairman) founded and CEO George Boutros runs, handled the process when Discord was up for sale in 2018. Back then, the company decided not to take anyone up on offers. Qatalyst declined to comment.

The talks in 2018 were constant, with possible acquisition prices ranging from $2 billion to $6 billion. But quite often the buyers wanted Discord to do something it didn’t want to do, like embrace advertising. Discord also felt like its values were best protected at that time by staying independent. This means that it is possible that the current sales process may not result in Discord actually being sold.

“It’s hard to tell the difference between a serious acquisition attempt and a fishing expedition,” said one source, who asked not to be identified. “It can fall apart at any time. The reality is the company is doing really well. I don’t see a reason they would want to sell. They seem to be completely in control of their destiny right now.”

Is Microsoft really about to purchase Discord? Anything's possible. But before panicking and rushing out to get a replacement communications application for your guild/corp/free company, I'd pay attention to the financial press. After all, the way business works, we'll have a few months to find a replacement after the sale is finalized.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

22 Non-Combat Quests In A Row Is Too Much

Sometimes game developers need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Take storytelling. Square Enix and the Final Fantasy franchise is famous for its stories. Final Fantasy XIV continues the tradition, especially after A Realm Reborn. The Shadowbringers expansion may have spoiled video game stories for me going into the future.

CCP has a different take on storytelling. They throw out a bunch of tools and let the players create tales that wind up in history books. Instead of stories that all players who ever play EVE Online can experience, the developers create series of live events that can last years to tell the story of the universe. The stories players helped shape around wormholes, incursions, and the Triglavian creation of Pochven are probably better than the developers could have crafted alone.

As I've written before, the storytelling in Black Desert Online is serviceable. At its best, the quest design makes the player feel powerful and the story keeps killing 50, 100, or even 200 mobs from feeling like a grind. Instead, at times the story makes me feel like a 1980s action hero mowing through the multitudes toward an objective. But last night, I ran into a quest line that felt like some of the quests in A Realm Reborn that Square Enix recently removed from the game.

In the leveling guide I'm using, the next thing I needed to do was obtain the Chenga Tome, which provides a 30% bonus to combat experience given by quest rewards. The Chenga Tome quest line consists of 22 quests, none of which are combat. Fetch quests, riddles and puzzles. Check. Almost impossible to find items? Check. But I didn't have to kill a single mob.

In FFXIV, Square Enix can get away with maybe five or six quests like that before I start rolling my eyes. After ARR, Square Enix realized they have to mix in some combat and adjusted their story accordingly. In EVE, I've done that many courier quests in a row, but CCP doesn't make me do that to myself. But stringing that many non-combat quests together in BDO? The only reason I did them in one night was to make the next step of the grind go faster. The experience was painful.

I started out noting different types of storytelling as the story influences quest design. In FFXIV, Square Enix has solid storytelling which gives quest designers flexibility. In EVE, CCP doesn't have storytelling at the character level, meaning a player can do whatever they feel like doing at the time. BDO is different. The story is serviceable, leaning towards supporting combat quests better than the other types of quests. Making someone do 22 non-combat quests in a row? Pearl Abyss, please don't do that to your players again.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Safety For Jump Clones And Their Implants

When I started playing EVE Online back in 2009, I had two concerns concerning my clones. The first was insuring my clone to make sure I didn't lose skill points. The second was not clone jumping to a station with an installed clone and losing a head full of implants. The first point was eliminated with a release in December 2014. The second concern goes away with tomorrow's update.

Multiple clones in an NPC station on Singularity

As of 23 March, you will be able to install multiple Jump Clones in the same station or structure, as long as it has a Clone Bay facility. This is something that many in the community have been asking for!

When I read the news article, I decided to log onto the Singularity test server and do some testing. I thought players would still be restricted from having multiple clones in an NPC station without a cloning facility. So I went to Arlek, a system in Metropolis adjacent to a rookie system, to test. I had a clone installed there way back from when I first started playing EVE. I went ahead and jumped from the station to see what would happen.

Two jump clones, no clone facilities

To my pleasant surprise, I didn't lose any implants. I'm still not sure having two jump clones in an NPC station without cloning facilities is an intended result, but that was the result of the test. I should add that not losing implants from jump cloning seems within the spirit of the new rules.

I'll be interested in how people will use the feature. I think all eyes will turn to NPC Delve to see how Goons use the new mechanics. But for my purposes, I can now keep my mining clone, probing clone, and blockade running clone in the the same station.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Connections Are Better Than Explosions

When thinking about how to keep new players interested in EVE Online, inevitably someone will pull out the theory that people who lose ships are more likely to remain in the game than those who don't. We even saw CCP Rattati bring the theory up on a recent interview he did with Oz at the beginning of the month. As far as I can tell, the theory tracks back to people's takes on a presentation CCP Rise gave at Fanfest in 2015 titled "Using Science To Help Newbros". 

The segment of the presentation of interest ran from approximately 1:35 to 5:00 (the clip above should start at 1:35). Indeed, players who lost ships during their first 15 days in EVE had a higher retention rate. But correlation does not imply causation. I wish the analysis would have included whether the new players had joined a player-run corporation. Because out of all the tricks game developers can use to keep players engaged in their games, connecting players together is the most effective.

The professionals know the importance of social connections. Raph Koster, former lead designer of Ultima Online and creative director of Star Wars: Galaxies, gave the following description of the importance of players connecting to each other.
Social connections, such as teams, guilds, etc

Pro: Social groups are the primary glue in games in general. Even single-player games have huge social characteristics to them around widely shared experiences and common ground. Social ties introduce a host of extremely powerful things like mutual obligation, economic exchange, group identity, and so on (see my old talk on social mechanics for tons more). Looser connections and community can often work better than a tight-knit community.

Con: Guilds often migrate games as a whole, so you want your user tied to the community via multiple touch points that aren’t in the same guild. Social connections also bring drama, which means community management, moderation, and much more. There’s a vast amount of expertise involved in engaging in governance here, and even though this is arguably the most powerful tool in the arsenal, it’s also very challenging and causes burnout in staff on a regular basis.
My own experience tracks pretty closely with the importance of social contacts keeping me involved in games. I played World of Warcraft for 9 months back in 2005-2006, leaving shortly after I was kicked from my guild for not being able to raid. In Everquest 2, I played from 2006 to 2009, leaving a couple of months after my guild broke up due to drama.

I've completed some major MMORPGs without being in a guild. I managed to finish the Imperial Agent storyline in the original Star Wars: The Old Republic in my second attempt playing the game. The same held true with Guild Wars 2 and the personal storyline in the base version. I also required two attempts to immerse myself in Elder Scrolls Online, where I managed to finish the Morrowind expansion. But in all cases, I got to a certain point and just stopped playing.

Currently, I'm playing two games not counting my latest blog effort. I'm not logging very much into EVE because of my Black Desert Online project. But I did join EVE University within a month or two of starting EVE and was a member of Signal Cartel for a year-and-a-half. Although not currently in a corp, I'm connected to the game through all the connections I made at player meetups and conventions going back to Fanfest 2012.

The second game I'm playing is Final Fantasy XIV. I've been a member of a free company, Celestia, for around a year now. Not only does the FC have an active Discord, but has solid leadership with what in EVE we call special interest groups. We even have an intelligence channel to help people to obtain housing plots. FFXIV is a really good game, and having people around helps.

As I mentioned, I'm also playing Black Desert Online as a research project. I don't plan on sticking around due to the possibility of spending hundreds of dollars. As a result, I'm not really interacting with people. Then again, due to the need to level as much as possible by the end of the month, I don't have a lot of time to talk anyway.

Game developers have a lot of tools at their disposal and play various roles in keeping games active. But at the end of the day, establishing social connections is the best way to retain players. When I listen to game developers talk, I'm always interested to see how they deal with player groups.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Two Weeks Back In Black Desert Online

I continued my journey in Black Desert Online last week. I may make Thursday's my BDO day, as I really do need to keep track of my progress in the game. I'm feeling better about playing BDO after two weeks back compared to when I stopped playing a couple of years ago. My impressions about the past seven days is below.

At level 55 after two weeks

Progress: I ran into a brick wall leveling upon reaching level 55 on Monday. I think I finally out leveled the story as all the mobs I kill are now greyed out. Then again, my initial 24 hour boost is over. I finished up the Calpheon quests, I think. I did get a message that exploration of Calpheon is complete. I'm now doing quests under a block titled "Level 51". I need to at least finish the first block of quests in Valencia. Hopefully I can have that finished for next week's post.

Story: I have to admit, the slower I progressed, the more I just clicked through the text of the story. I do know that I'm chasing after a well-dressed witch. A very powerful, well-dressed witch. 

A content gate: I ran into a content gate. Once I hit level 50, I started getting packs to aid in levelling every level instead of every 5 levels. When I hit the level 53 box, I was unable to open the box until I finished the last of the Calpheon main line quests. Given how many videos I've watched stating that grinding is such a good way to level, I was a bit surprised.

Enhancing equipment: In BDO so far, I've experienced that your weapons and gear level with you through the use of enhancements. The process is similar to over melding in Final Fantasy XIV, except more hardcore. Unlike in FFXIV, enchantment levels can disappear upon failure. I've managed to get my Naru gear up to PEN and need to finish the Mediah quest line before I can upgrade to Tuvala. Yes, another content gate. One that, if I understand correctly, requires finishing 126 more quests. And I thought the old end of A Realm Reborn was bad.

My Naru gear is up to PEN

Pets: One of the reasons I quit playing BDO back in 2018 was the requirement to purchase pets. Pets are a way to automatically loot the field, in addition to give some minor boosts. The more pets, the faster one can grind. Players can deploy up to five, and with the hawk I picked up Tuesday night, I'm up to four. I don't think I have to buy a fifth, unless the pet is cute.

Mounts: Another concern I had was the issue of mounts. I had two Tier 3 mounts and a donkey from the first time I played. During my first week back, I picked up a donkey. But Monday, I picked up two Tier 5 horses as quest results. Perhaps more importantly, I got one male and one female. I'll have to check on the possibilities for horse breeding.

Combat: After the first week I was unsteady during fights. I just felt limited by the skills I knew how to use. Over the past week, I learned and began using two more spells. The first was Spellbound Heart. The second, Healing Aura. Both spells can be cast out of combat and I use them more for health and mana recovery between fights than rely on them during combat.

Once I hit level 50, I saw an interesting mechanic. From level 50 on, players can modify certain spells on even numbered levels. I added increased crit chance and attack/casting speed to Magic Arrows and increased crit chance and defense values to Chain Lightning and Fireball. So far the combination has worked fairly well when I get surrounded by about 10 mobs.

Buffs: On the plus side, I have so many experience scrolls and other methods of getting buffs that I don't feel I need to visit the Pearl Shop to buy experience buffs. On the negative side, I don't think I'm using enough. I also have a couple of weeks of the backpack buffs and other buffs that I might purchase from the cash shop with the $9.50 in pearls I had carry over from the first time I played.

Appearance: I just have two things of note. The appearance items have stats. The set bonus for the in-game acquired sets is only +2 to attack/casting speed. The cash shop gear has better bonuses. The next is Merv's Palette, a set of dyes. The dyes look much better on the clothing in the appearance interface in which I applied them than on my character in the game.

I have two weeks until the season ends. I want to at least exchange my Naru gear for Tuvala and maybe even enhance it a little. After that, I need to figure out how to play on a regular instance. I plan to switch over to doing life skills and dodging people who want to PvP while I try to make a little silver.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

CCP Refines The Rental Of Skills In EVE Online

I will add one additional possibility I know a lot of Western EVE players will hate. Pearl Abyss could create new sets of ship packs, with the rent-a-skill packages allowing players to try out particular ships. If I am correct about how Asian players look at video games, the Expert Systems, combined with various ship packs, could result in higher retention of Asian players.

- The Nosy Gamer, 1 March 2021

As we approach the end of the first quarter of Pearl Abyss' fiscal year, CCP continues to fine-tune their cash shop offerings heading into the second quarter. The studio should surpass the revenue earned year-over-year in the first quarter. Not only did EVE Echoes launch in Q3 2020, but the Serenity cluster in China did not reopen until April 2020. The Icelandic studio should also beat its year-over-year financial performance in the second quarter as well, especially if the new offerings in the EVE Online cash shop perform as hoped for.

The new packs (not including Reign Supreme)

Yesterday CCP announced a new line of products, Mindstorm Experience Packs.

Are you an aspiring explorer aching for the frontiers of space? Do you see yourself harvesting resources amidst the majestic asteroid belts of New Eden? If so, then brand-new Mindstorm Experience Packs will connect you to your dreams and allow you to glimpse your future self and career in New Eden!

Featuring new Expert Systems that grant you specific virtual skills and skill levels for a limited time, exploration-themed Mindstorm Experience Packs also contain a fully-fitted Tech 1 exploration Frigate that’s ready to fly, and even 10 PLEX that you can trade for ISK to help fund further vessels (in case you need a replacement). This experience is available for pilots of all four of New Eden’s great empires; Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, and Minmatar.

For those of you who harbor ambitions of a life amongst the cluster’s asteroid belts, the Mindstorm Mining Experience Pack contains the Mining Barge Operator Expert System that provides the virtual skills and skill levels necessary to operate a Mining Barge such as a Procurer for 7 days. It also comes with 50 PLEX that you can trade for millions of ISK to help you make that first Mining Barge ship purchase!

Taste your destiny as one of New Eden’s immortal elite as you experience a particular profession before committing fully to completing the required skill training.

The only thing left is to ask yourself is “Who do I want to be today?”

I think the last line is overstating matters a bit as the only packages involve exploration and mining. As the article stated, the new packages evolve around the new Expert System packages. These packages allowing users to rent select bundles of skills for seven days had one major problem. Players need to acquire a ship to fly in order to actually use the skills. A bit of a hurdle.

The pack with the Heron

The packages include either fitted ships (the exploration packages) or a way to pay for a ship (mining package). With those addition, CCP charges an extra 50 cents for the exploration packages and $2.49 for the mining package compared to the Expert Systems bundles.

From the Pearl Abyss Q4 2020 Earnings Call

In my more uncharitable moments, I look at these promotional packages with the Expert Systems as cynical attempts to milk a little money out of new players before they leave the game for good. But then I remember the presentation on the Pearl Abyss Q4 2020 earnings call and their plan to increase revenue by expanding EVE into the Asian markets. 

Monetizing Asian players is a little different than monetizing players in the West. Where players in North America and Europe may not think too much about buying PLEX to purchase skill injectors off the in-game market, Asian players may want to test out a feature before making a bigger purchase.

For example, would an Asian player pay $6.49 to try out a feature for a week before spending over $30 to make the decision permanent? What I wrote last week about the Mining Barge Operations Expert System holds true for the Advanced Mining Pack.

In addition to convincing players to pay a subscription, I think the EVE monetization team is hoping players will then purchase the Silver Pack from the cash shop for $22.99. Not only does the package contain 30 days of Omega time, but also 250,000 skill points and 110 PLEX. Converting the PLEX to ISK can really help improve the fitting of a ship. And if a player really gets into mining, purchasing one of the lower end PLEX packages in addition to the Silver Pack is a distinct possibility. My guess is that the $9.99 package would be a popular seller amongst the new miners who chose to rent the mining barge package.

The $30 figure also assumes that players renting the skills try to PLEX their accounts instead of paying a subscription fee. When including that possible commitment of either time mining in the game or subscribing for a few months, maybe a $6.49 purchase to try the gameplay out for a week makes sense.

The promotions will continue until revenue improves for Pearl Abyss. Not just in the EVE franchise, but for the company as a whole. We won't really know if these efforts are successful until the Pearl Abyss earnings call for the second quarter, which will occur sometime in August. Until then all we can do is watch the reaction of the players.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

EVE Online Testing A Browser Version Of The Client

Yesterday CCP Games announced a browser based version of the EVE Online client, and that players could join the beta test.

From today, a greater number of pilots have the opportunity to join a time-limited test of a cloud-based platform that allows a fully-featured EVE Online to be played in-browser, instantly.

Newly named as ‘EVE Anywhere’, the cloud platform has entered beta following a successful early-stage trial that saw EVE Online players explore the innovative and robust technology while helping improve its offering. The new test will help further shape and refine the platform while exploring the potential of wider availability in the future.

For those that might wonder, yes, EVE Anywhere connects to the main Tranquility cluster. 

Conceived to expand the player community of EVE Online, EVE Anywhere removes barriers for newcomers, while providing veterans of New Eden with an extremely convenient way to access their game. The early-stage trial has already demonstrated that potential, seeing first-time EVE Online players stay for longer, with higher numbers converting into full-time pilots.

Remember on Pearl Abyss Q4 2020 Earnings Call how the company stated a desire to grow EVE revenue by expanding into Asian markets? I have the feeling this is part of the effort.

Is the browser a "cultural element"?

I've heard claims of higher retention numbers like this from CCP in the past. I need to see the numbers once the beta is over and all players have a chance to use the browser. After all, anyone willing to take part in a beta test is probably a little more motivated to play than the typical person who tries EVE for the first time.

EVE Anywhere enables instant access over supported browsers - Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox - and requires no downloads whatsoever. Supporting 1080p resolution and gameplay at 60FPS, it provides a way to play EVE Online unimaginable even a few years ago.

I can confirm this. I not only ran the game using Chrome on my regular gaming rig, but I also ran the game on an older secondary computer and my laptop which can't run the game at all. The game looked great on all three.

While the early tests of the cloud-platform were limited to new players in the United States, as of today all US-based pilots that meet connection speed and browser requirements will be offered full access to EVE Anywhere.

I met the requirements. Even the laptop connecting to my home network via wi-fi.

Omega pilots in the USA can currently enjoy EVE Anywhere for the duration of the new test at no additional cost, providing an opportunity to experience the new platform while there is no charge.

No, I will not insert the cheap "EVE Anywhere ... only in the USA" here joke.

Newcomers to New Eden, meanwhile, will be invited to the cloud beta as part of their free EVE Online sign-up, while upgrading to Omega will enable them to continue exploring the game from their second session instantly via their web browser.

Someone will need to explain this paragraph to me.

Logging into the game wasn't automatic. The first two times I tried to get into the game I received the "No Servers Available" message. At first, I thought the message was just a bad 404 error. But when I moved to my main gaming rig, I met with success.

The last major point I ran into was the graphic settings. I didn't mind them, as the game looked good and I didn't put a ship at risk. However, I could only play in full screen. If I wanted to play in windowed mode, the above message appeared, blocking my view of the screen. 

I do have to add one thing of note. The overview, while adjustable, can't save settings. Also, I couldn't import an overview from one of my clients. I tried both saving and uploading a .yawl file and via corp chat. I'm not sure I want to try playing the game with only the default overview. 

As the article stated, the test is for a limited time. From my point of view, I think I'll wait a little longer for CCP to release a more advanced build before exploring any more. But who knows? For the people who hate the launcher, a web version is a way around the issue.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Scandal Hits FIFA 21 Ultimate Team

If I write about a sports game, something bad happened. The Nosy Gamer is a blog that primarily covers MMORPGs. I do, however, write about real money trading and the grey/black markets that surround video games. For example, the only time I wrote about the FIFA franchise was covering the prosecution of a gambling site utilizing FIFA 17. Until now.

A pro FIFA player, Matteo Ribera from Italy, provided proof for a scandal being referred to as EAGate.

The most comprehensive coverage I've seen in the gaming press so far comes from Alice O'Conner of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I like the healthy amount of skepticism she displayed in the article.

Other screens going round show someone claiming they have "a mate who works at EA, and he can load any player to your account". Those mention prices like €1000 (£855) for two coveted cards. Various videos and screens supposedly show proof of previous successful transactions.

There's no proof that this 'friend of a friend who works at EA' actually exists or does, mind. This could be a cover story for a glitch, exploit, or hack - the thinnest veneer of legimacy to deflect attention and keep a lucrative illicit business secret. Or a scam? I don't know. But it wouldn't be the first time someone used insider access to their own advantage.

But for actual facts, we don't have many. Electronic Arts did respond with a "We are looking into the matter" statement via Twitter.

The stakes are high for EA, as FIFA is the company's biggest franchise. In fiscal year 2020 (April 2019 through March 2020), EA's net revenue from Ultimate Team was $1.49 billion. The scandal erupted too late to significantly impact the franchise's FY 2021 performance, but anything that negatively impacts Ultimate Team is bad for EA.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Impressions After One Week Back In Black Desert Online

Last Thursday I created a new character in Black Desert Online, a witch, and leveled her up to level 47. I lost track of exactly how much I played. But I received a 24 hour buff when I started and still have 3 hours to go when I logged out for the night. My goal is level 61 in order to get a couple of accessory pieces, make sure I have completed the main story questline into Valencia, then turn to life skills and improving my equipment.

Level after one week

I thought I'd jot down some notes about my experience so far. Someone might be interested. But my thoughts are of someone who played for a couple of months and then left two years ago. I'm not a brand new player.

Story: Let me just get this out of the way. To me, the story is serviceable. Not great, but not something that makes me want to pull my hair out. 

I divide the story into two main parts. The first part involves your relationship with the black spirit. At my current point in the story, I gather I made a deal with the black spirit. The only thing is, I can't remember what the deal is. What I do know is, as I wander through the game, I become stronger, and so does the black spirit. I like the way the spirit has gradually changed form.

The second part is traversing the world. I've completed a few sub-arcs, but nothing really amazing. Well, the fight against the harpies in the fortified city was pretty cool. In general, though? Not too memorable.

Servers: I'm not sure what the difference between servers and channels is, and I'll probably get flamed for it. I rolled a character on a season server. The season servers have different rules and different types of equipment. I was also surprised that season servers don't have PvP except for organized guild wars except on one channel. The one thing about the season server is the season ends at the end of March. 

I do have to note something about the channel list. I noticed that some channels have the PvP symbol. I wonder about PvP in the game. I'm still only level 47 and can't participate in PvP until level 50. Just how much PvP happens in this PvP game?

Combat: I'm pretty much lost with combat. I figured out how to cast a few spells, consume health potions, and that's about it. The spells I use are:
  • Chain lightning (Shift+Right Mouse Button)
  • Mana Absorption (Shift+Left Mouse Button)
  • Magic Missle (Right Mouse Button)
  • Medium Health Potion (1 on the quick bar)
Occasionally I use my staff and cast a fireball. That's it. And with that limited tool kit, I'm managed to get to level 47. There are a lot more spells I could use, and I really need to learn how to use them.

Combat is very fluid and I've racked up some serious body counts in practically no time at all. Still, I would think that I'd need more skill than dashing around a boss monster spamming magic missiles. At this point, though, I can live with easy mode.

The User Interface: The UI is pretty busy and I'm still finding new elements and functions. For example, it wasn't until Tuesday that I found the NPC search function. One of the most frustrating parts was the quick bar. I placed Fireball I in a slot and discovered I still needed to press the left mouse button in order to activate it. I think over the next week I may finally figure out the quick bar.

Inventory: I'm pretty sure I may have purchased some inventory slots, but only for my one character. Not for the entire family (aka account). Having existing farm and housing also came in handy with handling inventory. The one thing I was surprised at was the amount of inventory slots I received from the black spirit for completing quests. Inventory is a very monetizable feature.

Speed of Progression: I think I'm progressing pretty quickly. Even in my 40s, I could manage to gain 3 levels in a hour with the aid of experience buffs that come from either daily login rewards, quest drops, or from the every five level booster package. If I have everything figured out correctly, I'm level 47 doing level 42 quests. Not that bad a disparity. I also haven't had the urge to go to the cash shop in order to buy experience boosts.

Enhancing Gear: Right now I'm working on Naru gear and haven't really started enchanting yet. But I can see how the RNG factor could drive people crazy. I'm pretty sure players can go to the cash shop to eliminate some of the pain.

Clothing/appearance: The cash shop has a wide variety of outfits. That said, I have received a couple of nice outfits. 

Buffs: I noticed one interesting thing about buffs in BDO. The timer stops when I log off. I'm used to Final Fantasy XIV where the buffs keep counting down after I leave the game.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

No, Germany Is Not Age Restricting Video Games With Loot Boxes

Over the past few years, loot boxes have come under attack as a form of gambling. Countries like Belgium and Netherlands have outlawed the content. Japan had already declared complete gacha games illegal back in 2012. But observers have watched some of the larger markets like the United Kingdom inch toward loot box prohibition as government agencies continue to conduct research on the effects of gambling on children.

The largest market in the European Union is Germany. Much rejoicing went up as news spread that the nation of 83 million might restrict loot boxes to games rated PEGI 18. Those games are only purchasable by adults.

The source, Der Spiegel, seemed solid.

According to lawyer Julia Maris, the law will have an impact on the age restrictions. "Online games or other applications that use loot boxes or similar in-game offers would probably be classified with an age rating of 18 and over," Maris told SPIEGEL.

The reform would also affect games that were previously classified as harmless, such as "Fifa 21" . The soccer simulation is currently approved by the testing center for entertainment software self-regulation without age restriction. But since the “Ultimate Team” collecting mode offers card sets for sale as standard, that could change. In order to get an age rating for children for video games, loot boxes would have to be deactivated by default.

But Eurogamer printed an update yesterday, stating the reporting of the age restriction was in error.

It appears the Bundestag made a mistake with its own announcement of the legal reform. The announcement, which can be viewed on the Bundestag's website, no longer includes the line: "It is also planned to deactivate cost traps such as 'loot boxes' by default."

The amendment does stipulate that age ratings will be expanded to include descriptors for various problematic mechanics, including "cost traps". The idea here is to indicate risk if it was not taken into account in the age classification.

However, there is currently no indication that video games with loot boxes will be rated 18+.

Thankfully I couldn't get to the news right away so I avoided having to print a retraction. I guess a chance still exists that loot boxes could become age restricted, but the published information indicates otherwise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

EVE Online's Expert Systems: Opening Day Details

Today marks an interesting chapter in EVE Online monetization. From today's news article in the launcher.

Pricing from the cash shop

Brand new Expert Systems are now live in EVE Online! These are designed to help rookie Capsuleers discover and experience new activities by providing specific virtual skills and skill levels for a limited time that cannot be extracted through the use of Skill Extractors.

For a 7-day period per Expert System, you can taste the dream of a particular profession in EVE without having to commit to the skill training required by that path of progression and waiting for it to complete.

The first batch of Expert System products will focus on exploration, mining, and the core skills required to operate spaceships in EVE (commonly referred to as the ‘Magic 14’). You’ll be able to purchase Expert Systems that allow you to fly a Tech 1 exploration Frigate – either the Heron, Imicus, Magnate, or Probe – for 7 days, one that will allow you to operate a Mining Barge for 7 days, and one that will boost your essential flying skills for 7 days.

So new players can rent skills while they train. But are the terms good. Let's take a look.

White Squares Are Skills Already Possessed

I'm going to lump four of the six available Expert Skills packages together as the only difference is the racial frigate skill included. The skills displayed in white boxes are from an alt I created back in 2009 and never trained. New characters may differ.

I think this package is squarely aimed at Alpha players. For the free account players, training is not only half-speed, but each character is limited to 20 million skill points. In this case, renting the set of skills for a week for $1.99 may make sense. I would need to create an alpha account to confirm, but I believe a player could remain an alpha and use most, if not all, the skills, listed in the package. The package contains 561,305 total skill points, although that includes skills a character has already trained.

From first-hand experience, I know a player can remain in Alpha status and effectively probe down data and relic sites. With that in mind, a new player looking to purchase all the skills in the exploration expert skills would only have to purchase enough PLEX to purchase a single skill injector off the market. That might be the $9.99 package, although with the falling price of PLEX, a player might have to resort to the $19.99 package. A more sure bet money-wise might be the Bronze Pack (250,000 skill points, 60 PLEX, SKINs and clothing) combined with a 5 pack of Alpha skill injectors that sells for $4.19. That does take a little longer to train, as only one Alpha skill injector can be used per day. But if cost is an issue, it is a viable alternative. Check the in-game markets for PLEX exchange rates to get the best deal.

Trying to convert Alphas into Omegas

The Mining Barge Operations Expert System rents a package of 567,765 mining related skill points for the low price of $3.99 per week. I think the package is aimed at converting the F2P Alpha players into paying Omega accounts, as Alphas cannot normally fly mining barges. Once I realized what the developers intended, I chuckled. Veteran players try to lead new players away from mining and here CCP is trying to lead them into the activity.

In addition to convincing players to pay a subscription, I think the EVE monetization team is hoping players will then purchase the Silver Pack from the cash shop for $22.99. Not only does the package contain 30 days of Omega time, but also 250,000 skill points and 110 PLEX. Converting the PLEX to ISK can really help improve the fitting of a ship. And if a player really gets into mining, purchasing one of the lower end PLEX packages in addition to the Silver Pack is a distinct possibility. My guess is that the $9.99 package would be a popular seller amongst the new miners who chose to rent the mining barge package.

The Magic 14 Skills

I'm not sure who first chose to call the core skills "The Magic 14", but the phrase is definitely catchy. The Core Ship Operations Expert System I think is Alpha friendly, meaning all skills are usable by F2P characters. The $4.99/week cost of the package provides a character up to 1,743,295 skill points the character may not already possess. The package, in my opinion, is just present to encourage newer players to buy skill points. Yes, having all these skills makes a big difference not just in ship performance, but in the way a ship can be fit.

I'm sure CCP would love to see players purchase the $39.99 PLEX bundle and use the proceeds to purchase 3 large skill injectors off the market. But I also think they would love to see players who had used the Core Ship Operations Expert System to then go on and purchase the Training Boost bundle, also for $39.99. The bundle contains 1.5 million skill points and one Expert Cerebral Accelerator for additional rapid training. Then, of course, is the offer Wilhelm received via email to buy 1.62 million skill points for $43. Assuming the market test of the package pans out, we may see that in the cash shop soon.

The patch notes also indicated two additional points of interest I did not see either on Singularity or this morning on Tranquility.
  • Players can extend the rental period of an Expert System by 30 days.
  • Expert System recommendations for ships can be found in the following locations:
    • Ship Tree
    • Show Info for Ships they are designed to unlock
    • In the Requirements tab in Ship Show Info
    • Inside the Market for ships
    • Ship Tooltips
I'm sure we will soon see on the official forums and the EVE sub-Reddit complaints about more advertising being spread out throughout the UI. But that is a whole other issue. Hopefully this post will make a little sense out of what CCP is trying to accomplish. Or at least, what makes sense to me.

Monday, March 8, 2021

FFXIV: Leveling A Scholar

While I wait for patch 5.5 to drop in Final Fantasy XIV, I have taken to leveling a new job, Scholar. The Arcanist path is unusual, because while leveling the Scholar job, I also level the Summoner. Which, of course, requires two sets of gear at higher levels. But until I reached level 45 and completed the job quests, I could get away with only one set of gear. Right now I'm at level 46 and am one Squadron dungeon run away from running The Aurum Vale.

From the Arcanist story line

Right now, I have divided my leveling efforts into two phases. The first phase covered levels 1-20. I based my activities around the Arcanist class quests and the Hunting Log. The class quests are a necessity because the quests provide new spells. But the Hunting Log is interesting. I used the log as a guide as where to visit as much as what mobs I needed to kill. When I traveled to a zone to kill a type of mob, I would also do all the quests in the area as well.

I also made use of the Challenge Log to get more experience. For example, two of the challenges involved levequests. I had to do 5 different levequests and 20 total levequests. So what I did is turn in a couple of levequests involving fish as well as 10 levequests involving Coffee Biscuits. Then I had to only do a couple of levequests involving the Archanist class to get the bonus experience.

The second phase began at level 20. From that point on, I basically only did the Squadron dungeons and the class job quests up to 30. At level 30, the Arcanist class splits into Scholar and Summoner, so I did both branches. I may have done some other things, but the Squadron command missions are so good, I basically just keep running them, alternating between Scholar and Summoner to keep things fresh.

One of the benefits of running so many command missions was I got to level the NPCs in my squadron. I started out with a Grand Company rank of First Lieutenant and am now a Captain. I know have access to all the Order of the Twin Adder equipment as well as upped my seals capacity up to 90,000. 

As of this time, I plan on continuing doing the command missions and job quests until I reach level 53. At that point, I want to start doing the Heavensward beast tribe quests again.

Current Beast Tribe Standings

The beast tribe quests are perfect for leveling. Plus, one of my long term goals is to finish up all the beast tribe quests in order to get all the cool beast tribe rewards. My overall goal with my current leveling effort isn't to reach level 80 so much as do content I out-leveled. I have months to go until Endwalker reaches the servers. 

I haven't thought much beyond phase 3. I haven't done any of the Stormblood beast tribe quests, so I might be able to finish those before reaching the Shadowbringers content. I might switch over and work on the Trust System. I'll have to give an update when I've figured out what to do.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Back To Black Desert Online

Yesterday, I mentioned I'd like the whole monetization soap opera in EVE Online to stop. I shouldn't wish for something that is impossible. Instead, I am going to take the other branch in the timeline: Pearl Abyss' plans for Black Desert Online. Specifically, self-publishing the game in the west.

Pearl Abyss has seen good success and increased profitability when the company began publishing the game in Asia themselves. For example, the company noted on its Q2 2020 earnings call that the game saw a record peak concurrent user mark in Japan when Pearl Abyss started self-publishing the game in the country in April 2020. When PA announced it was pulling the trigger and Kakao Games would stop publishing the game on 24 February, I jumped on the news and transferred my account to Pearl Abyss' servers.

The first time I played Black Desert Online was back in 2018 around the time of the PA's purchase of CCP Games. I managed to level a Valkyrie up to level 31 before I started dabbling in life skills. I eventually stopped playing when I realized the game wanted more money than I was willing to give. Basically, BDO was a pay-to-win game. Not pay-for-convenience. Not pay-for-progression. Pay-to-win.

As someone who is interested in how Pearl Abyss monetizes games, I started playing BDO again last night. I want to see if the way PA runs the cash shop differs from the way Kakao Games ran theirs. I figure I should give PA 2-3 months to make changes. In the meantime, I can use the time to level a character up. Doing so is important, because I will then have some sort of knowledge of the game to use when looking at the cash shop offerings. I'm hoping I can gain the experience in three months.

My New Character

Instead of trying to learn how to play a Valkyrie again, I decided to create a Witch and begin again from level 1. I then discovered a nice thing. All of my money & life skill work I did back in 2018 is shared with my new character. Having 308 million silver and the occasional farm product appear on my screen was a nice bonus. I also found 950 pearls, which is the BDO cash shop currency. If I recall correctly, that is worth $9.50. I have the feeling that will come in handy.

I also came into this latest effort with a plan. I found a YouTube channel, imPansy, and decided to go with his leveling plan. Instead of doing what I usually do, I'll concentrate on leveling to 61, then circle back to start doing life skills.

After creating my new character and adjusting some settings, I started adventuring by doing the main quest line. I played for two hours and managed to reach level 12. I would have progressed further if I could get used to the user interface. I still have to look at the screen to figure out which buttons to push to attack. Even movement still feels unnatural. I think if I weren't playing the game as part of a blog project, I would have rage quit after about 30 minutes. 

Still, once I get used to the controls, I think I'll enjoy the class. Casting fireballs just feels so satisfying. I am looking forward to getting a magic missile attack that knocks opponents off their feet. I also like an attack that steals mana from mobs. Overall, the Witch spell rotation looks interesting. I just need to find out where to train my skills in addition to remembering which buttons to press.

I'm not sure how much I will post about my experiences in Black Desert Online. The first metric I want to know is how long it takes to reach level 32. Recently in Final Fantasy XIV I began leveling my two Arcanist classes, the Scholar & the Summoner. I was able to do so over the course of a weekend. I think I can reach that level in BDO by Monday as well, But I'm wondering if it will take 12 hours or much less. I might post the answer next week.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Slow Down The Monetization Soap Opera, Please

I was doing pretty well today. I posted about cookies yesterday and spent a good amount of my play time cooking in FFXIV. I woke up this morning, checked my market orders in EVE Online and found I'm up to 300 million ISK in sales over the last two weeks. I need to make some money because I purchased 5 Vagabonds. With the scarcity era in EVE continuing, I figured I better buy one of my favorite ships before inflation hits too hard.

Then lunchtime hit and I did a little internet surfing. MassivelyOP had a post up about CCP sending out emails offering the direct sale of skill points to some players. I point out "some players", as I have not received such an email.

No offer to buy $43 worth of skill points for me

The MassivelyOP article was in large part based on a post by Wilhelm, who did receive emails from CCP. If you have not read Wilhelm's post, please do so now. It is the correct take on the situation.

I'm not going to expand on what Wilhelm wrote, because I can't. I also won't discuss what CCP Rattati said about monetization during his interview with Oz earlier this week. Just because MassivelyOP included the video in their story doesn't mean I need to address the point.

I'm just going to revise the timeline in the latest episode of the soap opera we call EVE Online.

16 February 2021: Pearl Abyss holds its Q4 2020 earnings call. On the call, Pearl Abyss announces its plans for the EVE franchise. To increase revenue, PA plans to expand EVE into Asian markets. As part of the effort, PA listed "regional languages" and "cultural elements" as examples of the deeper localization needed for penetrating Asian markets on one of the slides in the presentation.

25 February 2021: The Icelandic newspaper Viðskiptablaðið published details of Pearl Abyss' purchase of CCP Games, revealing that CCP did not achieve any of the goals required for bonus payments under the deal.

25 February 2021: CCP announced a new feature called Expert Systems. This feature would allow players to rent a set of skills for 7 days. 

4 March 2021: Players receive emails from CCP offering them to purchase 1,620,000 skill points for $43.99.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Final Fantasy XIV: Cookie Monster

Last week I was surfing the internet looking for information on levequests in Final Fantasy XIV. I've played enough EVE Online to know if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Still, anything involving cookies deserves a look.


The method is easy. Just do the "A Cookie for Your Troubles" levequest found in The Crystarium as many times as possible. "A Cookie for Your Troubles" is one of the levequests in which the objective can be fulfilled 3 times, meaning the listed reward is earned 3 times. Given that turning in high quality items doubles the gil reward, doing the levequest can earn a player around 18,000 gil. 

The only limits to how much gil a player can earn is a player's levequest allowance. The levequest allowance increases by 3 every 12 hours, with a maximum of 100 allowed. The 100 levequest allowance led one source stating that doing the levequest can earn a player 1.8 million gil. A figure I would never earn due to the work involved making 900 Coffee Biscuits.

Caffeinated Cookies

The recipe is pretty simple. The only complication is the requirement to craft the Upland Wheat Flour and Garden Beet Sugar. The devs were nice enough to put a calculator to determine the amount of raw materials required to make up to 99 copies of an item. For the current exercise, I entered in 90, the number required to complete 10 levequests.

10% of 1.8 million gil

Gathering enough materials to make 90 cookies does not take very much time. I kind of got carried away, especially since I use coffee beans and garden beets in other recipes. Instead of making 90 cookies, I made 180, enough for 20 levequests. With my crafting skills and equipment I didn't need to use high quality materials to make high quality cookies. I plan on selling the HQ items for some extra gil.

Making cookies with the puppy

The major problem with the cookie mechanic is time. Just to create 180 cookies requires performing 100 synthesizes. I didn't use a stopwatch, but figure that took around an hour. Then add the time required to turn in 180 cookies. Figure that took another 20-30 minutes.

Still, even with the time involved, the rewards aren't bad:

  • 358,412 gil
  • 1,218 fire crystals
  • 546 water crystals
  • 9 bomba rice
  • 6 coffee beans

I received 1991 gil for each cookie. Looking on the market board, high-quality Coffee Biscuits are selling for 1000 gil. Turning in the cookies to complete the levequests definitely makes a bigger profit. However, I can make more gil selling different cooked items on the market.

In the future, I won't try to make hundreds of thousands of gil by making a huge amount of cookies. But I do like eating Coffee Biscuits while gathering for the additional gathering points. If I need to pick up a quick 100,000 gil, I might make a few extra for the cash.