Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Final Fantasy XIV x Fall Guys

Final Fantasy XIV has held a lot of collaborations with other games. In addition to other Final Fantasy titles like FFXI, FFXII, FFXIII, FFXV, and Final Fantasy Tactics, Creative Business Unit III has run collaboration events with Yo-kai Watch, Monster Hunter World, Dragon Quest X, and Nier: Automata. So the latest collaboration might not come as too much of a surprise: Fall Guys.

To participate, a character needs to reach level 15 and complete the Manderville Gold Saucer access quest "It Could Happen To You". Then inside the Gold Saucer, complete the quest "Just Crowning Around". To engage in the Fall Guys event, reading the patch notes helps.

How to Participate

Speak with the Blunderville registrar to participate in a show.

To enter Blunderville Square, you may speak with Wy (X:6.1 Y:7.4) or the Blunderville attendant (X:5.9 Y:6.3).

Party Registration

The party leader must speak with the Blunderville registrar to join the show with their currently formed party. Parties can be registered regardless of size. Cross-world parties are also permitted.

Party members other than the party leader are not required to be in the Blunderville Square at the time of registration.

Alliance Registration

The alliance leader must speak with the Blunderville registrar to join the show with their currently formed alliance. You must have a full alliance of 24 players to participate.

Alliance members other than the alliance leader are not required to be in the Blunderville Square at the time of registration.

* Rankings for each stage are calculated based on personal progress rather than the entire party or alliance.

That's right, the Fall Guys collaboration is a social event. I imagine I'll see a lot of parties or events in my free company's Discord over the next two months.

Let the Show Begin

Players who have registered for a show will be sent to wait in Lobbyville. The show will begin when 24 challengers have gathered.

If a set amount of time has passed before 24 challengers have gathered, however, the show will begin automatically.

* Rewards will be adjusted based on the number of challengers in each show.

How to Play

  • Each show will have three stages in total. Players must complete the objective of each stage to qualify for the next round.
  • Challengers who qualify for the next stage will remain in spectator mode until the next round begins.
  • Challengers who have been eliminated may remain in spectator mode until the end of the show.

* If you wish to leave spectator mode, you may do so at any time by selecting the Leave button from the Blunderville menu.


MGF, or Manderville Gold Saucer Fame, is awarded to all Blunderville challengers after a show has concluded. MGF is calculated based on your final rank in the show. MGF can be exchanged for rewards by speaking with the MGF trader.

* The MGF trader will also confirm your total MGF.

The rewards one can purchase with MGF are pretty nice. In addition to the almost mandatory outfit, I saw a mount, 2 minions, an orchestrion roll, 3(!!) framing kits, scrolls that add 15 minutes to meal durations (not stackable with FC effects) for 2 hours, and Gold Saucer Aetheryte Tickets to avoid taking the airship to the Gold Saucer. Oh, and enough furniture to turn an FC house into a replica Fall Guys arena.

This is a collaboration event, so only runs until the end of 2023. But I imagine Blunderville will return periodically, especially if received well by players.

Monday, October 30, 2023

I Finally Cleaned One Of My Ships

As time goes by, game companies use the latest technology to make games look brighter and shinier. Or at least more detailed. I spent some time over the weekend looking at the ships in my hangar and noticed they were not all bright and shiny. Oh yeah, ships in EVE Online get dirty.

As part of a major graphics upgrade back in December 2015, CCP introduced dirt that accumulates over time. 
The V5++ shaders and textures introduced in the PBR Project gave us the ability to set a dirt level for ships. Initially, we were happy to have that level be uniform across the board. For the past few months, every ship in New Eden has been sporting a fine patina of grease and grime.

Now, however, a new ship will start clean and accumulate dirt over time. The curve from spotless to soiled is gradual, but definite. Players will notice the difference, but everything won’t be covered in soot overnight. The accumulation is linked directly to the initial boarding date of a ship.  The clock starts for any given ship when a capsuleer first makes that ship active.

We’ve never recorded that date before, so faced with the problem of either generating artificial age data for hulls that have been around for years or starting from scratch, we opted for the latter. With the introduction of this feature, every ship in New Eden shall be fully refurbished to a new, clean state.

Of course, clean ships are gorgeous, and not everyone will want to give up that sparkling New Ship™ gleam.  We’ve included a method by which fastidious pilots can always automatically reset the dirt level on a hull to 0.  In the left-hand panel of the fitting window, below the Ship Skin information, capsuleers will now find a button labelled “Clean Ship.” Clicking that button removes all traces of dirt, as if the ship were newly assembled. One warning: this is an irreversible process, so if you value the visual signs of aging, be careful in the fitting window! And beware of repackaging, which will also reset the dirt level to zero.

Provided that a pilot never clicks “Clean Ship,” and never repackages the hull, dirt will accumulate and dinginess will increase over time, even when a vessel is stored in a hangar or ship maintenance array. We have left the option open for future developments that modify the accumulation curve according to actual events (mining, combat, hours in space, gate/wormhole jumps, etc.) and the graphic programmers are interested in investigating some of those options in future releases.  But for now, days active since the last ship cleaning means dirt accrued. No exceptions.
All I know is that over nearly 8 years I had never cleaned any of my ships before last weekend. The ship I chose was a Skiff. Exhumers are mining ships that belch a lot of smoke and fire. And I 
hadn't cleaned my Skiff for at least 4 years. How much dirt accumulated?

What a few years of grime looks like

Looks like an entirely different color of ship. The numbering on the front left of the ship is pretty much covered over with grime. I don't know if ships get dirty at different rates or if any of the other possible factors in dirt generation were ever implemented.

Not a major find, but something I found amusing. EVE contains a lot of systems and sometimes finding one is amusing. Now I just need to go through my stacks of SKINs and see if I have any for mining ships.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

All Saints' Wake 2023 Begins Tomorrow

What is scarier, a bunch of cultists flying around the spaceways looking to capture players in order to drink their blood? Or clowns? Regular readers of the blog probably figured out the blood drinking cultists are the Blood Raiders of EVE Online. During the Halloween season CCP unleashes players against "Bloody Omar" and the Blood Raiders to pick up goodies. But clowns?

The clowns, or one in particular, is the star of Final Fantasy XIV's event, All Saints' Wake. Lasting until 13 November, the Warrior of Light will probably foil yet another attempt by the fiendish imp Papa Gruff to bring the Night of Devilty to Gridania. I'm only guessing about the return of Papa Gruff due to the artwork on the event notice.

Usually FFXIV seasonal events are light and full of hope. For some reason All Saints' Wake for me is an exception to the rule. Perhaps clowns are just that creepy.

This year's rewards of a wand emote and bat wall-hanging are items I'll want. Perhaps we get to visit the haunted mansion again after competing the event quests, which brought some levity when I did visit the place. Of course, I'll want to complete the quest to see if any limited time content drops as in years past.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

EVE Online's New Beta Launcher

When installing programs on my new computer a couple of weeks ago I was presented the option to use the new launcher currently in beta. The launcher debuted back in April and at the time I played EVE on my laptop. I ignored the new feature at the time, but with the fresh install I thought, "Why not?"

The beta launcher as of late October 2023

CCP gave out some lofty goals that kind of put me off using the new launcher.

The new launcher offers a more immersive experience by putting your characters front and center, and offering personalized content, in addition to improving security and performance. The updated launcher also enables automatic updates, faster development, and native support for all operating systems and architectures supported by EVE Online. It also offers a more tailored experience that depends on players' familiarity with the game, with new players getting a simplified version and educational content, while veterans can focus on character management and communication.

My feeling at the time was I did not want to play test rat. Let someone else test the launcher. But after downloading the launcher, I liked the layout. As CCP wrote in their devblog:

Your characters have now taken center stage in the launcher. For each of your accounts, you will see the names and portraits of every pilot under your command. Launching into New Eden will now be faster than ever before. Simply select character and click “Play Now” to launch the game client. You can assign specific characters to launch groups, although this is optional, and you may opt for the Character Selection screen instead. Should you prefer the classic character selection screen, changing it is as simple as opening the settings menu and selecting your preference under Game Client.

The "more immersive experience" is confining the ads and news articles to the left hand side of the launcher. The old layout with ads and articles taking up the middle of the screen probably increased the desire of players to find an alternative to the launcher. Also, the ability to set up launch groups, while already existing, should handle the concerns of players with multiple accounts.

Moving between accounts on the launcher I found amusing. Select the account and the characters display vertically. Vertical supremacy anyone? Accounts without focus display the characters horizontally.

The window taking up most of the launcher real estate on the right hand side shows information about both the account and the character. Players can actually click on a tab and see when their Omega time expires as well as hover over the Clone State tab. I should also add the Clone State tab also includes a button to make purchasing more time more convenient.

One disappointment is that the Notifications tab disappeared and in its place is a button leading to the EVE Academy. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of directing new players to information on how to play the game. But I've played for 14 years and I liked the options presented to me before, even though they didn't work.

I still haven't come up with a reason not to use the new launcher. Even if one looks at the launcher and finds the new software wanting, I think the new launcher is still a big improvement on the old one. And who knows, the launcher is still in beta. The devs can still improve the product.

Monday, October 23, 2023

CIG May Actually Complete Development Of Squadron 42 And Star Citizen

Over the weekend I watched bits and pieces of Citizen Con 2953, Cloud Imperium Games' annual fan convention. Players expected some big news due to the event running for two days for the first time. They were not disappointed. Even as someone who has watched the development of Squadron 42 and Star Citizen for years, I knew the news was big.

First, the Squadron 42 news. The single player sci-fi RPG is now feature complete. What does feature complete mean in a video game sense? I was a little surprised to find out "feature complete" means the game has now entered alpha.

Alpha: The game is “feature complete” meaning the main features have all been added and the game is fully playable from start to finish. Some elements, such as art assets may still need to be added, but controls and functionality should be working properly. The QA testers will be making sure everything is running seamlessly and reporting errors back to the team.

In other words, don't expect the game to launch in 2024. I do expect CIG to announce some sort of launch window at the next Citizen Con, probably for sometime in 2025. Below is the SQ42 trailer that debuted yesterday.

The big news for Star Citizen is that the dev team may have finally solved the last major technical hurdle to completing the game: server meshing. I would urge players not to get too excited as the solution came together three weeks ago. But CIG gave a live demonstration with the feature working off of someone's laptop. The clip below is from the channel of YouTube creator SaltEMike, someone who doesn't automatically give CIG the benefit of the doubt.

I expect years of development ahead to make server meshing work. Even then, Star Citizen will never rival EVE Online for the size of its space battles. But from my research the maximum number of players Cry Engine can handle is about 100. If CIG can handle 500 player fights, then I will tip my hat to them.

The announcements at Citizen Con don't indicate a launch of a finished game next year. With the additional time needed for development, especially for Star Citizen, funding could falter and the games never reach the market in a finished state. But, assuming CIG did not lie (remember sandworms anyone?) the development of both the single player and multi-player games are making significant progress.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Pirate Insurgencies & Alignment In Havoc

EVE Online's next expansion, Havoc, intends to live up to the name. As part of the chaos, players will have the opportunity to join two of New Eden's five major NPC pirate factions, the Angel Cartel and the Guristas. Players who choose to join up with either faction get access to nice items they can sell on the market for a lot of ISK.

Before panicking about whether a character can join a pirate faction, check the standings with the pirate faction, not security standings. My main combat character has a security status of 5.1 but thanks to social skills and a decade of killing Angel Cartel NPCs, has standings of 1.5 with the Guristas and 2.0 with Deathless Circle. For those who need a little help with standings, CCP is temporarily going to change some mechanics a bit to help out.

In order to aid capsuleers who need to improve their Angel Cartel and Guristas standings ahead of Havoc’s release, the Angel and Guristas epic arcs have been tweaked to provide a bigger standings boost (up from 30% to 45%) and a shorter cool down period (14 days instead of 90). This tweak to standings and cool down will revert before the end of the year, so be sure to use this opportunity and be prepared for Havoc and Pirate Insurgencies! 

The pirate factions will act a lot like militias in factional warfare, which is fair since Deathless Circle has a ship caster to launch pirates into the war zones.

Should a capsuleer have -2 standings or higher with either the Angel Cartel or Guristas, they can enlist with those pirate groups much the same way as how enlistment works with empire militia in Factional Warfare: Direct Enlistment, Player Corporation Enlistment, and NPC Corporation Enlistment. Once enlisted with Pirate Insurgents, a capsuleer can then participate in Pirate Insurgencies. 

Speaking of standings, capsuleers who take aggressive action against others enlisted in their faction, or certain NPCs belonging to that same pirate faction which are associated with the Pirate Insurgency activities, will see their standings with that faction reduced. Capsuleers will remain enlisted with the Pirate Insurgents and continue to be in their respective faction provided they keep their standings at -2 or above, be it Angels or Guristas. 

I think part of the reason for introducing a pirate faction into the war zones is the theory that three-way PvP conflict is best. With the move the war zones are now broken into three warring groups: Amarr/Caldari, Gallente/Minmatar, and Angel Cartel/Guristas flying under the Deathless Circle banner. Player run alliances, corporations and individuals still can dip into the war zone to have some fun, but the fundamental factional warfare mechanic should hopefully improve.

Up until know, I've written about the impact on factional warfare. But the new pirate content involves a parallel system called Pirate Insurgency. The new system involves some familiar mechanics.

When a Pirate Insurgency begins, a pirate forward operating base (FOB) – be it Angel or Guristas – will be deployed into that destabilized space, and the pirates will begin to raid the space and systems around them. During these raids, corporate outposts, mining fleets and more will be targeted and attacked. At the start of a Pirate Insurgency, taking the star system where the FOB is deployed as the center, the Insurgency will spread into other surrounding systems from that central point, depending on local geography and borders. When those initial systems containing the Insurgency content are chosen, raids won’t have started and security forces will not have come knocking yet, so capsuleers have an opportunity to get their ships in position, or out of harm’s way. Pirate-aligned capsuleer activity can then help the Insurgency continue to spread across more systems. 

A long time desire is that matters in factional warfare to affect high security space. The pirate insurgencies will help that come about as fighting in low sec will affect the other security bands in space.

When corruption is pushed to its maximum level, an affected lowsec system will start to feel like nullsec. This will be achieved by way of effects such as allowing the use of interdiction bubble launchers, heavy interdictor bubbles, and bomb launchers. Similarly, at maximum corruption, a highsec system will start to feel like a lowsec system, and this will be accomplished by making aggression against another capsuleer result in a suspect timer and not a criminal timer. This means that CONCORD will not respond to that aggression in the affected highsec system. However, aggression against a capsule will still result in a criminal timer, and under those circumstances, CONCORD will respond. This will make corrupted space feel unique compared to other regions of New Eden. 

In a situation where suppression increases within an Insurgency system, that too will feel uniquely impactful, but more secure since suppression is effectively law enforcement. As capsuleers aligned with empire militia complete activities in a Pirate Insurgency system and increase the level of suppression, a different set of effects can apply – and this can be in addition to corruption effects that have already been applied due to the simultaneous nature of the corruption-suppression race. Suppression effects can include CONCORD paying more for pirate bounties, bonuses for militias – including the potential for changes that affect the nature of PvP in those systems – and at level 5 suppression, gates and stations in that system will become even more secure with upgraded sentry guns. 

The new pirate destroyers, battlecruisers, and Angel Cartel titan will rank high on the features of Havoc when the expansion launches in less than 4 weeks. But the expansion will really emerge as a success if the developers manage to make playing pirate with the NPCs more than a gimmick.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Anniversary Of Star Citizen's Kickstarter Campaign

Eleven years ago today, Cloud Imperium Games launched a campaign to fund a new spaceship game created by Chris Roberts on the Kickstarter platform. The campaign ran from 18 October to 19 November 2012 and raised $2,134,374 from 34,397 backers, smashing the goal of $500,000.

Still up on Kickstarter

That statement CIG raised enough money "to ensure the project will happen!" seems quaint now, but 11 years ago $6 million was a heck of a lot of money. And the stretch goals continued until CIG reached the $65 million goal on 25 November 2014.

Kickstarter starter packages

The Star Citizen wiki points out that today is not the beginning of public crowdfunding efforts. The first campaign on CIG's website began on 10 October 2012 along with a kickoff presentation at GDC in 2012 (full video here). But given the CIG website crashed, I tend to think of the Kickstarter campaign as the original beginning of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 funding.

I really can't blame the original backers who were just dreaming of playing Wing Commander or Freelancer again. The pitch video back then was really enticing.

Perhaps thankfully I had never heard of Chris Roberts, Wing Commander, or Freelancer in the autumn of 2012. After looking into the project, I wasn't surprised that most, if not all, of the Kickstarter package timing was not met. Perhaps in a couple of days we will hear about a preliminary launch date for Squadron 42 at CitizenCon 2023. But I thought I'd finally get around to documenting the beginning of one of the most controversial games of the last decade.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Bye Bye Bobby!

Now seems a good time to remarks on the exit of a major figure in the MMORPG industry: Activision's Bobby Kotick. Within the last few days, the public learned that Kotick's 32-year reign as head of Activision will end at the end of 2023. Not a major surprise. 

The Activision CEO was widely expected to leave once Microsoft's acquisition of the company received approval from authorities in the US and UK on Friday. As part of clearing a path through the regulatory concerns Activision wound up settling governmental claims.
Activision has also paid several multimillion dollar settlements, including $18 million to the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission in 2022 to settle a federal sexual harassment lawsuit, and $35 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission in February to settle charges it violated an SEC whistleblower protection rule and failing to maintain adequate disclosure protocols.
Forbes also reported that Kotick will not leave empty handed. In addition to the millions of shares of Activision stock he owns (the purchase price was $95/share), the former executive will receive a large golden parachute. From Polygon:
The Activision Blizzard CEO has long-been one of the highest paid CEO’s in the United States. Once he leaves Activision Blizzard, Kotick is expected to receive a massive “golden parachute,” at least $15 million, according to financial documents. That’s seemingly without considering Kotick’s millions of shares in Activision Blizzard. Other top executives will receive between $2.6 million and $4.1 million.
A lot has been made of the lawsuit filed against Activision by the California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for sexual discrimination and creating "a culture of 'constant sexual harassment' and gender-based discrimination." But the Polygon article listed some other not-so-favorable actions throughout the years.
The CEO notoriously said during a presentation at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco in 2010 that he brought in, years prior, packaged goods executives to “take all the fun out of making video games,” noting that Activision Blizzard succeeded in “instill[ing] the culture, the skepticism and pessimism and fear that you should have in an economy like today.” In 2019, Activision Blizzard and Kotick came under fire for announcing widespread layoffs — 800 jobs cut — despite boasting its “record-setting” revenue in 2018. “While our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential,” Kotick said at the time.
I'm not sure, but I think on New Year's Eve a lot of people will celebrate more than the beginning of 2024. The only question now is who will World of Warcraft players settle on as the new corporate villain. Over the years the torch passed from Vivendi to Activision to Kotick. Who's next, Microsoft as a whole or Phil Spencer?

Monday, October 16, 2023

Chasing The System Requirements For Video Games

Over the weekend I went out and picked up a new gaming computer. My old desktop, purchased when the Oculus Rift was new, isn't good enough to run the video games I play at recommended levels anymore. The final straw was the upgraded requirements needed to run the Dawntrail expansion for FFXIV. But I already didn't meet the requirements to play EVE Online and a lot of the other games I heard about this year. I think I am set for a few years.

Looking at the crucial statistics, my computer looks like this:
  • Operating System: Windows 11
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-13900KF
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti
  • RAM: 32 GB
I should add I have 1.8 TB of space available on my SSD hard drive.

From memory, my old gaming computer was:
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (not upgradable due to hardware)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (possibly RTX 2060)
  • RAM: 8 GB
My old computer had a 120 GB SSD hard drive with another 800 GB HHD space.

I needed the upgrade if only for Windows 11, but the hardware was getting old.

I then decided to find out if I had finally purchased a computer that could run Star Citizen. For the first time in 11 years, the answer was yes. The Star Citizen requirements page was not complete, so I visited a site that game me the following output:

My computer vs Star Citizen

The system requirements page also showed a need for 83 GB SSD space.

Honestly, I'm not sure about the RAM since the Star Citizen page states 16+ GB and CIG doesn't even recommend a video card. Also, by the time the game reaches beta, my video card would probably not qualify as recommended.

Now, on to EVE Online. The system requirements page lists the following recommended system configuration:
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • CPU: Intel i7-7700 or AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.6 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16 GB or higher
  • Video: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM
The system requirements page lists a need for 23 GB of free hard drive space.

I flew a Jaguar around a little last night and I liked what I saw. Much better than my old computer.

And finally, Final Fantasy XIV. Upgrading the graphics meant an upgrade of the requirements for Dawntrail.

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit, Windows 11 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-9700
  • Video card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
  • RAM: 16 GB
The game will also require 140 GB of free hard drive space. I think SSD is recommended.

I guess Yoshi-P really did get tired of all the complaints about FFXIV's graphics.

So I now have a gaming computer that can play most of the video games coming out over the next few years. More importantly, I can play EVE and FFXIV at the recommended settings.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Thoughts On Reaching Level 20 In Island Sanctuary

I checked my workshops this morning and received the final 1125 experience points needed to raise my island sanctuary to rank 20. I'll write a couple of posts about the details, but I wanted to record some thoughts upon completing the achievement.

My island sanctuary at night

The first is level 5 of all the structures turned the architecture from steampunk to Allegan. As such, my built-up areas look pretty good at night. I should also point out that granaries are upgradable at level 18 and workshops at level 19. I checked workshops but forgot to check the level for granaries.  That mistake made leveling to level 19 harder than necessary, but made chewing through the final 100,000 xp to get to level 20 a breeze.

With the upgrades of workshops to level 5, I think gaining the title "The Wolf of Easy Street" will be easier to earn. I already had the title before patch 6.5 dropped. Now I have to choose between that title and "The Countess of Monte Cowrie". the title acquired at level 20.

The Garlond GL-IIT 

Getting to level 20 only made two mounts available for purchase. The Garlond GL-IIT is a two-seat 3-wheeler set up for doing farm work. For now I like the new version better than the Garlond GL-II I purchased during patch 6.1.

The second mount I can't really comment on. Unlike the trike I purchased for 100,000 sea cowries, the Island Adenium Whistle is earned through the new Felicitous Favor system. I'll write a post specifically about the feature later, so I'll just say the soonest I can earn the Island Adenium is 30 April 2024. The mount is sellable on the market board, so I'll try to look to see if anyone loves gil more than a rare mount.

The devs really want to extend player engagement with island sanctuaries. At level 20 I saw furniture that is only available for island cowries. Then again, I had a lot of island cowries and can probably sell a bunch of items for some good gil if I choose. I can pick up so many island cowries if I want.

Looking out toward the pasture and farm land

I mentioned earlier how I like the way my island lights up at night. The island looks pretty nice during the day as well. I really prefer the level 5 red brick to the blue brick that comes with the level 4 cozy cabin. The pictures in this post were taken from the top of my lighthouse and I'm unable to get all of the land in one shot. I'll need to write another post on the layout of a level 20 island.

I still have a lot to do on my island. I haven't even begun decorating yet. I also need to continue a rather passive weekly grind to earn the Island Adenium Whistle. I also need to settle on my plans on how to profit in gil from my island. I have some ideas and may even result in a future post on passive income generation in FFXIV

The Sanctuary Sanctuary

But, the end for island sanctuaries is near. Yoshi-P has stated Dawntrail will have a social type gameplay feature like the island sanctuary. Players will flock to the new shiny content, and I will probably join them. I might write another post when that eventually happens because I really do like my little island sanctuary. 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

I Played The Original Final Fantasy In 2023

I don't normally play single player games. As a result, Final Fantasy XIV was the first Final Fantasy game I had ever played. Four years later I completed Endwalker and was deep into the post-expansion patches. Over the course of playing through the main story quests I had heard of so many references to previous games in the series. With Dawntrail beginning a new story arc in FFXIV, I decided I should play at least one other game in the series to maybe pick up some of the fan service in the next expansion. Where else would I begin my journey but with the original game in the series?

The version I played was the Pixel Remaster version published by Square Enix in 2021. As such many things are different or altered from the original version published in Japan back in 1987 and released in the West in 1990. Mods do exist for this version to bring back some of the original features. For my playthrough I just went with the game as downloaded from Steam.

My play though

I thought I should post my time and party for my playthrough. lists the original Final Fantasy as taking around 16.5 hours to complete. I spent almost twice that, basically by getting lost a few times and grinding gil to purchase all my spells before moving on from an area. I didn't earn all the available Steam achievements but I did get 20 out or 24. The only achievements I missed were playing the 15 puzzle game, looting every chest in the game, killing every monster type, and achieving the other 23 achievements.

Before digging deeper into the game, I want to discuss the difficulty level of Final Fantasy briefly. I never suffered a full party wipe while running through the game. However, on the second main boss, I wasn't fully prepared and only survived the encounter with two of my four party members standing. I ran from the location to the nearest town where I could revive my two fallen party members. After my near death experience, I may have played extra-cautiously and out-leveled the rest of the content.

Story: The story is pretty basic, but solid. The player's party first need to prove they are the legendary Warriors of Light in order to gain aid in travelling north and doing important stuff. The task involved travelling to the Chaos Shrine and rescuing a princess from Garland, the greatest knight in the land. After defeating Garland, the party engages in several tasks that reveal the true objective for the party, the defeat of Chaos.

The crystals feed into a central location

To defeat Chaos, the Warriors of Light must obtain the crystals representing the four elements: fire, earth, water and wind. After defeating the four bosses and obtaining the crystals, the party performs a ceremony that sends them back 2000 years to face Chaos, who we first defeated as Garland at the beginning of the game. The party then fights the four bosses again before facing off with Chaos one last time. By defeating Chaos, the time loop is broken and the party enters legend.

No one remembers ... sounds familiar

I do want to mention how faster modes of travel are woven into the story. Not fast travel like teleporting halfway around the world in the blink of an eye. The only teleportation capabilities are found in dungeons moving the party from one level to another or completely out of the dungeon. No, I'm referring to moving the party around.

The first barrier involves crossing a river. When I first started playing, I thought Garland was an easy boss set up as a kind of tutorial. I found out I was wrong later, but defeating the current day Garland allowed me to cross the first river. 

Doing a good deed and beating up some pirates in Pravoca results in getting the pirates' boat which is needed to travel the inner sea. Helping the dwarves in Mt. Duergar obtain TNT powder winds up creating a passage from the inner sea to the world ocean, which speeds up travel a lot. But the boat is too big to sail down the rivers. Talking to a group of sages in Cresent Hill solves the problem as they give you a canoe. But the northern landmasses, unlike the southern one, has no place to dock the boat. No problem after obtaining an airship in the Lykion Desert. Airships can't land everywhere, but they do speed matters along.

Combat: I really like the combat system although by the end the fights became the same. First is the group composition. The group is four characters with 1 tank, 1 healer, and 2 damage dealers. I played fighter/white mage/black mage/thief. The combat is turn-based with an initiative system, meaning the fighter and thief often took their actions before the white mage and black mage. 

Fighting the final boss

Each character's actions are determined by the player. No AI to blame for a wipe in FF1. Some of the items are magic and have abilities like healing or casting area of effect spells. Those types of items come in handy to save more powerful spells for when really needed. The system also allows for potion use during combat as well in case the player goes into a battle ill-prepared.

A couple of other details about the combat system reminded me of my paper and pencil Dungeon & Dragons days. The first is that spells only become available after resting or taking an aether potion. The game keeps characters from wasting spells by not casting spells after all opponents are down. The other is that players don't know how much health enemies have left in the middle of a fight. The lack of information made some of the fights rather interesting. 

Customizing the party: As I expected from a game first developed in the 1980s, the customization options are not extensive. I did get to enter my own names, but from a look and feel standpoint that was the extent of my choices. 

Character abilities gave more room for customization. White and black mages have 8 levels of spells, with 4 available at each level. Players can only purchase three of the spells per level although they do not need to purchase three. Jobs do evolve at a certain point giving players more options. For example, the non-magic using fighters and thieves evolve into knights and ninjas with limited magic capabilities.

Players can also supplement their characters' abilities with magic items. As mentioned earlier, magic items can make some spells unnecessary to learn, such as some of the healing spells for white mages or damage spells for black mages.

Graphics and music: I really didn't expect much graphically from the 2D pixel remaster. The game does have an old-school look I remember from video arcade rooms. I have to admit, though, that the graphics for the area-of-effect spells was rather satisfying to cast, particularly the higher level spells.

The music, of course, is good. I recognized three of the tracks from Final Fantasy XIV. The first was Prelude, the music played in A Realm Reborn when the Warrior of Light first encounters the mother crystal. The second was the Opening Theme, which is played in the final scene of Endwalker as the spaceship carries the Scions and the Warrior of Light back to Old Sharlayan. The last track was Victory, which is played from everything from the end of dungeons to chocobo racing.

References found in FFXIV: My only previous Final Fantasy experience before playing this game is Final Fantasy XIV. I think I found several references I will associate with future Final Fantasy games I play.

The first is that 35 years later, FFXIV is still basing combat on 4 character groups made up of a tank, a healer, and two DPS jobs. Also, a character's initial job still evolves into a higher level job. In FFXIV players go to a role trainer. In Final Fantasy, the promotion was performed by Bahamut, the King of Dragons.

Did I mention Bahamut? Yes. In FFXIV, Bahamut is a dragon-shaped primal involved in the destruction of the original Final Fantasy XIV 1.0. While still powerful, Bahamut went from a dragon that aids the player to a primal who tries to destroy the world.

Another familiar name was Matoya. Matoya is a magic user in both Final Fantasy and FFXIV who lives in a cave filled with magic brooms. The difference between the two is that Matoya needed a crystal to see normally while in FFXIV Matoya's crystal can see long distances.

Matoya's cave, complete with brooms

While looking for Matoya's crystal, players are directed into the Marsh Cave. I had to use a lot of potions and spells to cure poison. I might have found the origin of the FFXIV dungeon The Aurum Vale.

Earlier I discussed getting a canoe to navigate shallow waters. The canoe was required to reach Mt. Gulg. That's right. The volcano and dungeon lifted into the sky in Shadowbringers had a corresponding volcano in Final Fantasy, although the one in FF remained safely on the ground. 

Then we come to the matter of breathing underwater and submarines. In Stormbringer, the Warrior of Light is gifted the ability of underwater breathing. In addition, free companies can build submarines for missions to fund the player groups. Both are present in Final Fantasy to access the Sunken Shroud and fight the fiend of water, Kraken. The Kraken is also the final boss in the A Realm Reborn dungeon Hullbreaker Isle.

The fiend of air, Tiamat, found in FF's Flying Fortress also is found within FFXIV. in the MMO, Tiamat is the sister of Bahamut and is imprisoned in Azys Lla. Perhaps not surprisingly, Azys Lla was raised high into the air by the Allegans.

While discussing flying, Cid, a staple of the Final Fantasy series, did not make an appearance in the original Final Fantasy game. But he was referred to as the creator of airships. While not creating airships in FFXIV, Cid is probably the preeminent expert in Eorzea.

Preparing to go back in time

Finally, I want to point out the time travel aspect of both games. In Final Fantasy, players return to the first dungeon where they faced off against Garland, the NPC who became Chaos in the distant past. The characters focus their crystals onto the Black Crystal and go back 2000 years. In FFXIV, the time travel story in Endwalker relies on visiting the Crystal Tower, the setting of a raid series in the first expansion, A Realm Reborn

Replayability: I have to say I might go back and play the game again. I would like to at least play with the Red Mage and see what capabilities that character possesses. I'm interested in a party of fighter/white mage/red mage/black mage. Also, now that I know the mechanics, I wonder how much faster I could complete the story. I also didn't face off against a couple of monsters and missed a few chests. If I can find the time, I can see myself playing another 2-3 times.

I wrote this post sporadically over the past two months as real life allowed. As I mentioned at the beginning, single-player video games are not something I usually play, much less write about. But I had to go back to the beginning of the Final Fantasy series to look at the origins of one of my favorite video games. 

I'm glad I did. I liked the game play and game systems, although my slow progress probably led to some combat fatigue. The music and graphics grabbed my attention and added to the experience. The fan service FFXIV provided to fans of the service helped add to my enjoyment of my first playthrough of Final Fantasy

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The September 2023 Active ISK Faucet: The Starfield Effect

CCP published the September 2023 monthly economic report (MER) for EVE Online yesterday. One question I had for September was, "How badly did Starfield affect EVE Online?"

The ACU is still up year-over-year

Jester's average concurrent user graph shows a sharp decrease at the beginning of September. Starfield released on 6 September with an early release date of 1 September. The timing seems to fit, but what does the Active ISK Delta show?

Big swings in the Active ISK Delta recently

September's Active ISK Delta of -78.1 trillion ISK is part of a recent trend of widely varying amounts. Last month's total is the 3rd largest decline caused by players leaving the game (either through bans or not logging in withing 30 days) since December 2017. While a month with a positive Active ISK Delta usually are followed by a larger than negative ISK value, I imagine many EVE players would find a single-player Bethesda space RPG irresistible, at least for a couple of weeks.

A positive Active ISK Delta in October would not surprise me. Besides the usual October return of players to EVE, the runup to the Havoc expansion may attract more players back to New Eden than usual. I should add my expectations are not just based on raw statistics. Over the holiday weekend, the peak number of concurrent users exceeded 30,000 on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. EVE Offline is showing a one-week ACU of over 21,000 players each day.

EVE-Offline showing a true 21K average concurrent players

But for now, I'm attributing the September Active ISK Delta to players getting caught up in playing Starfield. Next month we'll probably know for sure.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Relationships Between EVE Online's Pirate Factions

EVE Online's Havoc expansion, coming in November, is introducing a new pirate faction, Deathless Circle. The leader of Deathless Circle, The Deathless, is seeking out player support in powering up the Jovian station and exploring the secrets of Zarzakh. With players soon to wade into the politics of the NPC pirate factions, I thought now is a good time to delve into the subject. 

First, we need to look at a subject called derived standings. Players don't get good standings with pirates by having a negative security standing.

Every time you gain faction standing from a mission other than epic arc mission you will also gain derived standings. You will automatically lose standings with factions that dislike the faction and gain standings with factions that like them. The gains and losses depend on the inter faction relationships and are usually smaller than the original standing increase. This makes it very hard to gain high faction standing with more than two empire factions or both pirate and empire factions.

In other words, a player's actions towards NPCs in the game affect standings, not towards other players. Up until now, gaining standings with a pirate faction required running pirate faction missions in null sec or figuring out how derived standings work.

The formula for determining standings gains and losses is:

Derived Standing% = Gain% x (Inter-Faction Standing Modifier / 10)

So, for example, if a player completes a mission for The Blood Raider Covenant and received a 2% increase in standings, the changes in status for the other 4 major NPC pirate factions is:

  • Angel Cartel: 0.8% loss in standings
  • Guristas: 0.8% gain in standings
  • Sansha's Nation: 1.0% gain in standings
  • Serpentis: 0.8% loss in standings
In addition, both the Angel Cartel and Guristas have access to epic arc missions which do not trigger derived standings changes to the other factions.

With the explanation of derived standings out of the way let's look at the Deathless Circle and the five major NPC pirate factions in New Eden.

Deathless Circle

The Deathless Circle emerged from the shadows of New Eden's criminal underworld as a new power among the major pirate factions in YC125, with their occupation and control of the abandoned Jovian outpost system of "Zarzakh" posing a new challenge to the forces of law and order. Following years of rumor and suspicion as to the activities of the mysterious figure known as "The Deathless", the Circle has come into clear focus as a coalition of criminals, pirates, and renegades from across New Eden, though principally involving members of Caldari and Minmatar organized crime groups. The dark underbelly of Caldari society's network of crime families and so-called "disassociated", combined with the reach of Thukker gangsters and smugglers provides the Deathless Circle with a potent reservoir of talent and resources. 

The elite of the Deathless Circle's espionage and research groups are also evidently drawn from across New Eden, though with obvious connections to those operating in the shadows of the Caldari and Minmatar counter-economies. The crowning achievement of the Deathless Circle is the discovery of Zarzakh and its occupation of the ancient Jovian outpost that has come to be called "The Fulcrum". With the entire resources of a Jovian megastructure at their disposal, it is difficult to gauge the limits of what the Deathless and his organization may achieve in the future.
Deathless Circle is somewhat unique in that all values for inter-faction standings modifiers is 0. In other words, working with Deathless Circle will not impact any other NPC faction unless a mission requires shooting ships of the other faction.

Both the Angel Cartel and Guristas are called allies of Deathless Circle in the news articles leading up to Havoc. As of the time of the writing of this post, Deathless Circle gives out tokens usable in Angel Cartel and Guristas loyalty points stores to purchase the new Angel Cartel and Guristas faction destroyers. The possibility all pirate faction destroyers and battlecruisers will require working with Deathless Circle does exist.

Operating from the heart of the Curse region, the Angel Cartel is today the largest and best organized of the space-based criminal factions. The Angels are divided into several groups, each with a very special function. It is commanded by the Dominations and in the century they've been lurking in deep space they have stolen, plundered or sabotaged countless number of ships and kidnapped, molested or murdered thousands of people. The Angels recruit members from all the races, and are thus not bound to any one zone of operation, which spans almost the entire known world. Many believe that the Angels got their power by uncovering Jovian technologies hidden in their ancient homes, now infested by the Angel Cartel.
The above passage is from the in-game client. The EVE University wiki provided additional lore information.
The Angel Cartel has extensive holdings throughout the Empires but mainly focuses on the Minmatar regions, where they gain most of their recruits. Many Matari that join are disaffected by the Republic, but recent changes (most notably the recovery of the Starkmanir and the Elder Fleet invasion) have noticeably slowed recruitment efforts. Still, this hasn’t yet seemed to harm Angel holdings, which include significant control over the Caldari “grey market” (bringing in illegal, and competing products to the megacorporation’s own enclaves). They’ve also been known to work with the Sisters of EVE in humanitarian missions (per The Burning Life). There are even some rumors saying that they’ve managed to acquire examples of Jove technology to integrate into their ships, but for obvious reasons, the Dominations haven’t chosen to divulge that information. Given the fact that Curse is the home of the First Jovian Empire, however, such rumors may not be all that far off-base.
The inter-faction standings modifiers for the other four pirate factions are:
  • Blood Raider Covenant: -2
  • Guristas: -3
  • Sansha's Nation: -2
  • Serpentis: +8
I think the extremely high modifier for the Serpentis deserves further explanation, so I found the following in the EVE Lore Portal.
In the century since it achieved control of Curse, the Angel Cartel has rapidly grown in power and currently is, without question, the most feared criminal organization in New Eden. One of the organization’s most important moments came in YC 75, when it struck a deal with the Serpentis Corporation to provide protection in exchange for access to Serpentis stations and research.

This deal turned out to be so mutually beneficial that the Guardian Angels, once tasked with R&D, became security specialists for the Serpentis Corporation and their former responsibilities were passed on to the Salvation Angels division instead. Stations were erected in each other's respective home regions as well, making it so that both are special in having stations not only at the heart of their seat of power but also on the other side of the cluster. This has given both organizations strategic advantages in having multiple staging points spread widely around the edges of the New Eden cluster.
Given the faction's history, is there any wonder that the Angel Cartel may want to align with The Deathless?

The Amarr Empire has had its share of religious cults and fanatics in the past, but few have been as successful, or been feared as much, as the Blood Raiders. The Blood Raiders are a sect of an ancient cult called Sani Sabik, which uses blood in their rituals. The Blood Raiders believe that cloned bodies have 'purer' blood than other bodies and this explains why they operate mainly in space, attacking unwary space farers and draining their bodies of blood. The Blood Raiders are led by the fearsome Omir Sarikusa, who has remained on top of the DED most wanted list for many years now. Under his leadership the Blood Raiders have become more organized and they have established several bases in the Bleak Lands region.
The Blood Raider Covenant is memorialized in game with the seasonal event Crimson Harvest. The original Scope video from 2015 demonstrates some of the horrors of the ceremonies of the Sani Sabik.

The inter-faction standings modifiers for the other four pirate factions are:
  • Angel Cartel: -4.0
  • Guristas: +4.0
  • Sansha's Nation: +5.0
  • Serpentis: -4.0
The high standings with Sansha's Nation probably is due to the similarity in ethics of the two groups. The EVE Lore Portal went into more depth on why the Blood Raiders are so reviled.
Before Omir Sarikusa took leadership of the covenant, the sect was already infamous for killing children, who were considered to have “purer” blood. Omir added to this practice by beginning to target those who were clones, believing their blood better suited for their arcane blood rituals.

In their search for cloned people, Omir’s sect has taken to space. In the time since, their frequent attacks on passenger ships and other space vessels have made them feared and hated across the entire cluster. While the fact that they originated within the Amarr Empire is still a sore point for the Amarr (and rarely brought up in conversation), the covenant do not return the Amarr’s hatred. Instead, they are inclined to view them as believers who have been led astray, faithful who could realize their true potential if they could only accept the true uncompromising and savage nature of their own faith.

The fact is that the Sani Sabik doctrine still shares a substantial number of beliefs with the Amarrian faith. It simply applies a different approach, paying particular attention to a number of scriptural passages that the Amarr would just as soon gloss over.
Formed by two former members of the Caldari Navy, the pair go by the names Fatal and the Rabbit, the Guristas are a constant thorn in the side of the Caldari State. The Guristas are traditional pirates in the sense that their operation is not based around some creed or ideology, but rather a plain and simple greed. The Guristas have bases close to Caldari space and from them they embark on daring raids, often into the State itself. Though the Guristas are considered more honorable than many of their counterparts, they are still extremely dangerous and not to be tampered with.
The EVE Lore Portal had a little more information about the founders of the Guristas.
Jirai Laitanen, better known by his nickname "Fatal", was a member of the Caldari Navy 37th (Octopus) Squadron and later went on to found the notorious pirate group the Guristas with Korako Kosakami - "The Rabbit".

Laitanen was a shrewd and gifted captain, with a glib tongue and charismatic smile. Many expected him to reach a position of authority in the end. But he was also vain and greedy; traits that led to his eventual desertion. Kosakami was much more introvert than his friend Laitanen, but he had a brilliant mind and was a technical wizard.

A decade ago, Laitanen was passed over for promotion and Kosakami was blamed for a lethal crash landing, all within the space of one week.They stole a couple of Condor-class frigates, the same they still use today, and set off to a pirate-infested sector between Caldari and Gallente space, deserting from the Caldari Navy and eventually founding the Guristas - an amalgamation of two Caldari words meaning 'naughty people' and also a slang term for 'gang'.
I should add that the story above was written 20 years ago. Since then Fatal was podkilled by capsuleers and due to an inferior clone awoke with memory loss. He was later ousted from the Guristas.

The inter-faction standings modifiers for the other four pirate factions are:
  • Angel Cartel: -2.0
  • Blood Raider Covenant: +5.0
  • Sansha's Nation: +3.0
  • Serpentis: -1.0
I looked further into the Guristas and the only reason I can see for the favorable standings with the Blood Raiders and Sansha's Nation is a shared interest in human trafficking. Perhaps I missed something.
The Guristas focus primarily on interstellar piracy in the outer regions and low-security space. The Guristas maintain hundreds of deadspace listening posts and staging points on the Caldari border, and are known for being unafraid to stage strikes deep within the Caldari State.

Typically their business revolves around black-market trading, including human trafficking, illegal weapons manufacture, and smuggling of illicit goods. In addition to this, the Guristas control a large share of the gray market within the Caldari State, smuggling unregulated products into megacorporation enclaves within state borders.

Possibly the most lucrative of their operations, however, are their counterfeiting circles. Unafraid to knock off anything from designer goods to hard currency, the Guristas will bluff any market that can cut them a clean and sizable profit. Just one example is their illegal currency exchange of Caldari corporate scrip, the largest network of its type in New Eden.
Sansha's Nation was founded more than a century ago, shortly after all the empires had come into contact, just when space exploration and colonization was taking off. Sansha was a Caldari tycoon that carved out a sizeable piece of space for himself. There, he set out to create an utopian state. His vision and charm attracted thousands of people and for some time the Nation flourished. But Sansha became ever more warped as his success increased. He started experiments, combining capsule technology with the human mind, creating zombie-like creatures that had the cold, calculating mind of a computer, but the ingenuity of humans. When this became public knowledge Sansha was condemned and the other empires joined forces to bring him down. His forces were decimated and scattered to the winds. Remnants still remain far in the outer regions, but the once glorious Nation has been reduced to pirates and pillagers.
Whereas the Blood Raider Covenant has a dedicated seasonal event, Sansha's Nation had an expansion, Incursion, with the incursion feature still running some 12 years later. The below trailer showed the return of "Master Kuvakei".

The inter-faction standings modifiers for the other four pirate factions are:
  • Angel Cartel: -2.0
  • Blood Raider Covenant: +4.5
  • Guristas: +7.0
  • Serpentis: -2.0
Sansha's Nation perhaps has the most official lore written about a pirate faction. I couldn't figure out the high standings modifier with the Guristas until I found a passage about True Creations.
Once True Power established itself as the sole heir to the Sansha’s Nation legacy, it found a need to spin off certain related functions into a separate corporation. True Creations was established to run the various assembly plants, shipyards, logistical support, and testing facilities scattered across the Stain region. Naturally enough, many True Citizen scientists gravitated toward True Creations, and the current head of the organization is Koratama Akkaga, a notorious supporter of Sansha Kuvakei from the old days. Akkaga is wanted by every security and police agency in the core empires, but the Republic Justice Department in particular would like to get their hands on the scientist, due to his record of assisting Kuvakei in experiments on Minmatar slaves.

Oddly enough, given the nature of Sansha’s Nation, True Creations has numerous business and political connections beyond the confines of the Nation. The Intaki Syndicate’s Intaki Bank even lists True Creations on its stock investment boards. As the Intaki Bank facilitates anonymous investment quite happily, this makes a certain amount of sense, extraordinary as it may be. Certainly, there are known to be a large number of investors in True Creations, possibly reflecting a latent support for the ideals of Sansha’s Nation across New Eden. Given the recently demonstrated advances Sansha’s Nation has made in several areas of science and technology, many have begun to look more closely at True Creations and its work.
I'm still not convinced this is the actual connection, but I think the setup is much what a smuggler would look for to hide its operations from authorities.

The Serpentis Corporation was founded a few decades ago by V.Salvador Sarpati. At first it was engaged in hi-tech research, but with time its ties with the underworld grew and the Serpentis research stations, scattered around in remote areas, became infamous pirate havens. Sarpati made a deal with the Angel Cartel early on to provide protection for his stations and the duty was taken on by the Guardian Angels. Both sides have prospered enormously for this deal - Serpentis can operate in peace and the Angel Cartel gets access to the illegal research efforts of the Serpentis. It is strongly believed that Serpentis is the main developer and manufacturer of illegal neural boosters, especially since Sarpati's father was a renown specialist in that field. The home of Serpentis is in the Phoenix constellation in the Fountain region.
The EVE Lore Portal went a little further into the lore surrounding Sarpati's beak with the Gallente Federation.
At the beginning of YC 75, Sarpati settled on a plan. He acquired a system in the Phoenix constellation and named it Serpentis Prime. Rapidly building an advanced space station, he transferred his core operations to Serpentis Prime and began to expand his research ventures into forbidden territories. Part of Sarpati’s strategy was to open his station to the inhabitants of the Fountain region, earning their support and favor. That many of these locals were criminals and outright pirates was of little concern to him. Once he had established himself, it is believed that he retrieved his father’s old neural booster formulas from the family archives and turned his research facilities over to working on them. The Serpentis Corporation was now set on a path that would lead it well beyond the confines of the law.

Salvador Sarpati took a great risk when he opened his station to outlaws and pirates, but he made sure to get his corporation powerful protection. In an extraordinary and dangerous move, he struck a deal with the notorious Angel Cartel for protection of his station and facilities. In return the Angels would get a cut of Serpentis trade and access to any research breakthroughs the Serpentis Corporation made. As the Serpentis operation expanded, the Angels expanded their protection force. Over time, this deal has been so lucrative for the Angels that they have found it worth building an entire division, the Guardian Angels, dedicated to protecting Serpentis space. With the help of the Angel Cartel, the Serpentis developed their own security forces, with Salvador Sarpati eventually able to command a powerful navy in his own right.
The inter-faction standings modifiers for the other four pirate factions are:
  • Angel Cartel: +8.0
  • Blood Raider Covenant: -2.0
  • Guristas: -3.0
  • Sansha's Nation: -2.0
The high standings for the Angel Cartel are easy to understand. But what of the lower standings for the Guristas? Fatal and The Rabbit's dislike of the Caldari is matched by Sarpati's disdain for the Gallente.
... The Sarpatis Corporation was contracted by the Gallente Federation to investigate the potential for neural booster use in their military. When the Federation Senate later banned boosters, Sarpatis quickly collapsed, sharing the fate of almost all other companies that had invested in the booster trade. Not long after the company closed down, Igil Sarpati died. Suddenly leaderless, his family looked set for obscurity and relative poverty.

The Sarpati story might have ended there had it not been for the drive and determination of Igil’s adopted child, Virge Salvador Sarpati. Of Caldari parentage, the young Sarpati became the head of the family after his father’s untimely death. The collapse of his father’s company, and the worsening of the family’s circumstances that followed, marked the young Sarpati for life. Evidently the youth endured much mockery from his contemporaries, but the experience only fired his determination to restore the Sarpati family fortune. Preferring the name V. Salvador Sarpati, and with a talent for business, the new head of the Sarpati family was eventually able to found his own company. Taking an old form of the family name, he called it the Serpentis Corporation. Sarpati knew that research and development could be lucrative fields so long as the work were sufficiently diversified to limit the risks. Over time, he maneuvered the Serpentis Corporation into a leadership position in the field of space colonization and industrialization technologies. In an echo of his father’s work, space medicine became a particular field of interest to the young executive, and thus by proxy to his corporation’s large R&D division.

Looking at the relationships of the NPC pirate organizations, they are split basically into two camps, Angel Cartel/Serpentis and Blood Raiders/Guristas/Sansha's Nation. The Deathless' decision to reach out to the Angel Cartel and Guristas wasn't happenstance so much as a reaching out to the two pirate groupings. From what we know from both the news stories and Scope videos published as well as from the inter-faction standings modifier information available in the game client, The Deathless is supposed to appeal to all players who fly around with negative security status. Our mysterious figure who owns a Jovian station doesn't care what players do in their off time as long as they do what he asks when he asks it.

As for the original pirate factions, perhaps one day the AI will improve enough to put in more advanced decision trees similar to the ones running diamond rats. But for those who want to play with the NPC pirates and reaping the benefits, I suggest looking into The Deathless and Deathless Circle.