Tuesday, April 30, 2024

What To Do With My Island Sanctuary After A Year

Over the weekend I completed another grind in Final Fantasy XIV. As grinds go, obtaining the Island Adenium mount from my island sanctuary wasn't onerous. I just needed to go to my island every Tuesday and ensure I would earn the maximum number of Felicitous Favors (7) from my workshops every week for 29 weeks. Honestly, apart from the necessity of stocking up on some inputs once a month, spending 10-15 minutes on my island each week wasn't a big deal. Especially since I am still hooked on the feature.

Island sanctuaries first came out in April 2023 with patch 6.2 and this weekend I thought I had just about finished the content, with the minor exception of not earning the Sustainable Sourcing III title. I decided to write a celebration post but while doing the research, I ran into a problem. I had more to do.

The big one is one more mount, the Island Perrifool, exists. The whistle to summon the mount is found in Sanctuary Materiel Containers which costs 10 Felicitious Tokens. Considering the maximum number of tokens one can earn per week is 7, that comes out to two or three chances to get the mount per month.

Then I looked up the loot table for the Material Containers. The chances of getting the mount within 3-4 months is probably slim. Some of the consolation prizes are not bad, however. For example, I see many minions available.

Some are very common and some are rare enough I still don't have one. But continuing looking I found something more interesting. I've mentioned in the past how the island sanctuary is a good way to get some of the more rare dyes passively. But all of the dyes available from the cash shop are in the loot table for the Sanctuary Materiel Containers. I should add that the cash shop dyes are sellable on the market board, making the dye trade one of the legal ways to convert real life cash to gil.

I should add for crafters some of the materials to make special glamour items are also available from the containers. These include:

  • Fireglass Leather
  • Indego Cloth
  • Seacloth
  • Waterproof Cloth

Speaking of crafting, I still need to acquire three more landmarks. The Water Otter Fountain, Uncharted Course, and Aetherial Arbor all require expert crafted items to obtain. As just so happens, I finished acquiring my last Lodestar crafting tools two weekends ago. I really should use the tools to finish obtaining access to all the landmarks for my island.

And, of course, I still have not decorated my island beyond advancing the levels of my buildings. I tend to get caught up in the upgrades and fall behind in the game. For example, I still am in the patch 6.4 content of the MSQ after spending time to fix up my new cottage.

Honestly, I can't get everything done in the two months until Dawntrail launches. But if the next Island Sanctuary type feature doesn't come out until patch 7.2, I probably have the rest of the calendar year to finish up my island.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Another EVE: Equinox Advertisement From The Upwell Consortium

I think both myself and Wilhelm from The Ancient Gaming Noob are having a little fun with the Upwell Consortium's attempts to sell players on the Equinox expansion coming out on 11 June. First, they came out with a marketing brochure trying to sell the cluster on their system. The accompanying promotional video is so good I'm posting the video for the second time this week.

To make the point, I'm even including a transcription of the video.

To shape destiny is within all of us. With Upwell you can shape the universe. Unlocking the potential of the stars and planets you call home has been the unwavering focus of our finest minds. And now, we stand on the cusp of a new era. 

Introducing Equinox. An unrivalled suite of solutions for a new age of colonization. Revolutionary structures that offer unprecedented systemwide control. All operated and maintained by an efficient and skilled workforce. 

Embrace the freedom to shape space in your image and seize the dream of a star system entirely under your command. 


Today, the Upwell Consortium came out with a new commercial plastered across Galnet (aka YouTube). The marketing department over at Upwell is doing such a fine job I decided to post and transcribe their latest effort.

Man in wheelchair: I always dreamt that one day I'd make it. Do something great. See the stars. But sometimes reality has different ideas. I remember those dreams starting to slip away. Those doors, they never opened for me. 

Narrator: Until now. Because with Upwell, it's never too late. 

We will give you a new life. A way to make a difference. Our cloning technology will provide you with a second chance. A fresh start. 

Be the version of yourself you were destined to be and seize the dream of a future that you've chosen. 


Does anyone trust Upwell not to create an army of clone slaves? I just want to remind everyone what CCP Burger was quoted as saying in CCP's press release announcing the expansion.

“EVE has always been defined by its players’ ability to forge their own destiny through economic dominance, political machinations and military conquest,” said Bergur Finnbogason, EVE Online’s Creative Director. “With Equinox, we’re taking that open-ended freedom to new heights by giving pilots greater agency over nullsec’s valuable resources - while challenging them with the moral implications about the cost of such ambition. We’re also extremely excited to see what amazing designs players will make with EVE’s new SKINR tool: the sky truly is the limit for personalizing your favorite ships.”

I like the part about the "while challenging them with the moral implications about the cost of such ambition." Given that the lore basically sets up "capsuleers" or "Empyreans" (i.e. players) as demi-gods, the moral implications might go ignored.

Given that the Upwell Consortium was formed over 8 years ago to "capitalize on the burgeoning capsuleer space infrastructure market", I'm not sure how the cluster should view the organizations expansion into clones. I'm all for not allowing the Amar to dominate the clone market. But is the Upwell Consortium just the lesser of two evils?

I'm going to end the post with a blast from the past. Yes, the first EVE Online video featuring marketing material from Upwell.  And I really can't believe how fast time flies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Did Revenue Problems Force Star Citizen's Patch Alpha 3.23 To Ship Without Features?

I was watching Star Citizen YouTuber SaltEMike react to the Star Citizen Live video about hangars and cargo coming (or not coming) in patch Alpha 3.23 in the very near future. He mentioned something about senior lead gameplay engineer Chad McKinney, the developer featured in the video, was based out of the Los Angeles studio. I checked LinkedIn and, sure enough, McKinney is still listed as working out of Los Angeles. And then, to double-check myself, I went over to MassivelyOP. The site's Star Citizen beat reporter, Chris Neal, noted the following on why certain features would not ship in Alpha 3.23:
While stability concerns were the primary deciding factor, other considerations also played into the decision, such as the length of time to complete related cargo overhauling, revisions to kiosk UI and freight elevator design based on feedback, and personnel changes that required onboarding for developers.
Back on 14 March, Cloud Imperium Games' CEO and founder Chris Roberts noted in a Letter from the Chairman the closing of the Los Angeles studio for game development. Dismantling the studio where features like personal hangars and cargo gameplay were in development probably didn't help the team meet timing goals they had set out over a year in advance. Moving those functions to Austin or Montreal would definitely take some time, weeks if not months.

Now for the question I'm sure someone will bring up. Are advertised features missing because the CIG marketing machine finally couldn't raise the funds development demands? I'm going to say no. CIG's acquisition of Turbulent Media did not occur until July 2023, although signs are that upper management (read Chris Roberts) began the buyout in May 2023. Looking back further in history, CIG acquired 25% of Turbulent back in December 2019. I think the record is fairly clear that the Turbulent deal was part of a long-term plan to reduce development costs. After all, California is a very expensive place to do business and has seen a lot of outmigration of tech companies in recent years.

But money did play a role. As mentioned in Cloud Imperium's 2022 financial report, labor costs in the US were a concern.
This shows that salary costs increased in both territories: 6% up in the Rest of World and 16% up in the US. Development and G&A headcount increased in the Rest of the World by 18%, although a lot of that was at entry-level positions in G&A and Quality Assurance, required as Star Citizen progresses with added features, content, playability, and players. Also, performance-related bonuses in 2022 were not as high as in 2021 and thus the increase in Rest of World salaries did not match the increase in people, despite generous pay awards designed to help cope with the rising inflationary pressures felt throughout the economy.

In contrast, the US salary costs increased by 16% despite a reduction in development headcount and a moderate increase in G&A headcount, but additions were at the opposite end of the staff seniority spectrum with highly experienced personnel in each discipline being added to the group, and regarding development with senior experienced people often replacing the more junior roles that were vacated. Also, cost and wage inflation levels were high in both US office locations, which we aimed to keep pace with. [emphasis mine]
The developer headcount in Los Angeles and Austin was already decreasing due to the pressures of high labor costs in 2022, CIG's first year of recording sales exceeding $100 million. CIG was experiencing a systemic issue that required moving development efforts out of the US in general and Los Angeles in particular.

Of course, this brings up the age old question of what does management do when employees they are going to lay off in 6-9 months are working on important pieces of a game. CIG was in a position they would experience disruptions no matter what they did due to financial concerns. Probably the best move was not to promise features until closer to the planned release of Alpha 3.23.

But then, could Chris Roberts have afforded not to make the promises. As we found out with the submission of Cloud Imperium UK's 2022 financial paperwork, an investor had a put option exercisable in the first quarter of 2024. Did Roberts need to puff up the progress on Star Citizen at Citizen Con in order to encourage the investor to wait until the first quarter of 2028 to exercise the option? I'd say a non-zero possibility exists that was the case.

I picked the title of this post with care. I asked if revenue problems forced Star Citizen's patch Alpha 3.23 to ship without a couple of big items previously advertised. The answer to the question is no. The problem, in my opinion, is CIG's money management. In particular, setting up offices without a care of the economics of the situation. From a business perspective, I like that Cloud Imperium, if belatedly, took steps to reduce the development costs of its games. They just need to take the public relations hits for not delivering on "promised" content again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The EVE Online: Equinox Announcement Mashup

 At downtime today, CCP Games announced the next expansion for EVE Online, Equinox coming out on 11 June 2024. They did so through a trailer on YouTube, a press release on its corporate website, an Upwell website touting the advances coming from that megacorp, and a more traditional web page for the expansion. I thought I'd try to mash up the information known to ordinary folks.

First was the premier of the expansion trailer. I spotted the premier announcement on YouTube so alarm-clocked to see what CCP was up to live. Friday's The Scope video teased an upcoming announcement from the Upwell Consortium. I thought the announcement would concern new ships, not a new expansion. The trailer is below.

I transcribed the script of the trailer.

To shape destiny is within all of us. With Upwell you can shape the universe. Unlocking the potential of the stars and planets you call home has been the unwavering focus of our finest minds. And now, we stand on the cusp of a new era. 

Introducing Equinox. An unrivalled suite of solutions for a new age of colonization. Revolutionary structures that offer unprecedented systemwide control. All operated and maintained by an efficient and skilled workforce. 

Embrace the freedom to shape space in your image and seize the dream of a star system entirely under your command. Equinox.

Next the press release. I'm not sure that the role-playing introduction wasn't more interesting than the more professional part.
Auviken, The Citadel, YC 126.04.23 – Today, the Upwell Consortium is proud to announce Equinox, an unrivaled suite of solutions that is sure to revolutionize life in null security space. Set for deployment on YC 126.06.11, Equinox marks a monumental stride toward the future of space colonization and infrastructure development with innovative new structures that will allow enterprising nullsec organizations to harness and manipulate new resources from planets, customize their space, and gain access to a highly skilled and efficient workforce.

To learn more about the Equinox product suite, navigate to

“Equinox marks a monumental stride toward the future of space colonization and infrastructure development,” said an official representative for the Upwell Consortium. “It offers revolutionary new technology and structures to harness resources from planets and moons, as well as access to a highly skilled workforce. Equinox marks just the beginning of a new age of unprecedented capsuleer control over sovereign nullsec space – the first step in a broader vision for this vast region with endless possibilities. More developments are on the horizon, as Upwell continues to pursue more evolution, expansion, and excellence.”

The summary of the expansion came from CCP Burger. For those trying to put a face to the name, he's the CCP employee most likely to cosplay at Fanfest.

“EVE has always been defined by its players’ ability to forge their own destiny through economic dominance, political machinations and military conquest,” said Bergur Finnbogason, EVE Online’s Creative Director. “With Equinox, we’re taking that open-ended freedom to new heights by giving pilots greater agency over nullsec’s valuable resources - while challenging them with the moral implications about the cost of such ambition. We’re also extremely excited to see what amazing designs players will make with EVE’s new SKINR tool: the sky truly is the limit for personalizing your favorite ships.”

EVE: Vanguard, CCP's first-person shooter module for EVE, also received a mention in the press release. The CCP employee quoted was CCP Rattati, who's been involved in leading CCP's FPS efforts since the days of DUST 514.

“This expansion marks the continuation of EVE Vanguard as the ultimate evolving sci-fi sandbox FPS. Our process of collaboration with the community is a unique opportunity for players to become closely involved with the game’s future direction, and we thank our founders for contributing towards our shared vision of a compelling shooter in the EVE Universe,” said Snorri Arnason, EVE Online’s Game Director. “With a dangerously beautiful new map, adaptive weaponry, and new ways to play we can’t wait to see the chaos that the Vanguard will inflict on its shores as their impact grows across the ongoing conflicts of New Eden.”

Now for the interesting information from the expansion's websites. First, I liked the overall description found on the expansion website.

The Equinox expansion is the first step towards a radical re-invigoration of nullsec space. Capsuleers will gain access to new Upwell structures allowing for planetary resource harvesting, automated moon-mining, customization of sovereign space, and more. Daily Goals are getting enhanced with a monthly reward track, Corporation Projects see more variety alongside a corp window overhaul, and the SKINR tool empowers creative capsuleers to design their own personalized ship SKINs. June also sees a major update to EVE Vanguard, introducing new activities and objectives, adaptive weaponry, persistence between sessions, and a brand new map!

After reading the web pages, I really feel I need to mash up the Upwell site with the general expansion site. First, the subject of harnessing planetary power.

Equinox marks a monumental stride toward the future of space colonization and infrastructure development. It offers revolutionary new technology and structures to harness resources from planets and moons, as well as access to a highly skilled workforce. 

Can you tell some Upwell marketing drone put that description together? The expansion page gets down to the gameplay elements. Equinox introduces means to extract and exploit a wealth of new resources:

  • Power: Harvest energy directly from suns and volatile atmospheres of plasma and storm planets.

  • Workforce: Gain access to a highly skilled populace across temperate, oceanic and barren worlds, directing the flow of labor throughout your empire, thanks to revolutionary new cloning technology.

  • Reagents: Essential to manage your colonies through the new sovereignty hub, these are sourced from the harsh environments of ice and lava planets.

Right off the bat we see three new systems including a new sovereignty system. Also, an effort to make all types of planets valuable for more than just planetary interaction products.

The next item, the orbital skyhook, is a staple of science fiction. Upwell's description is more sales oriented.

A marvel of engineering allowing direct access to a planet’s resources, the orbital skyhook is central to Equinox. Anchored near planets within sovereign nullsec space, these skyhooks provide access to power, workforce, and reagents necessary for the empire-building aspirations of nullsec organizations. 

What the Upwell salespeople don't mention is the new PvE activity described on the expansion website.

In addition, skyhooks bring new content in the form of Pirate Orbital Blockades, NPC encounters with the potential to attract officer-level enemies, pirate dreadnoughts, and even titans. A prototype orbital skyhook is now ready to view in the Auviken system.

The next item might excite many of the bitter vets who left EVE. Called automated resource harvesting, passive moon mining is back.

Another revolutionary innovation introduced through Equinox is the Metenox Moon Drill, an automated resource extraction structure allowing organizations in nullsec and lowsec to streamline in-system operations and focus on expansion and strategy, rather than manual harvesting. Like the orbital skyhook, these structures are robust and resilient, able to withstand most dangers, allowing industry leaders to rest easy. 

In fact, the following passage from the expansion web site reads like the author rather liked the old battles over moons.

Ownership of these moon drills and skyhooks can determine control over the valuable resources of a system, making them prized assets that rival factions can contest, which is sure to spark new waves of conflict and excitement. While orbital skyhooks are only available in nullsec, moon drills can be deployed in lowsec as well.

New Eden is about to experience a cluster-wide building spike with the introduction of sovereignty hubs.

The new sovereignty hub promises to become a new cornerstone of territorial dominance. With upgradeable options depending on the star system’s topology and the planets within, it offers a nuanced approach to sovereignty that reflects each star system’s physical characteristics, allowing you to shape space in your image. 

One of the sovereignty hub upgrades that the null sec alliances will acquire en masse is the Pirate Detection Array. I wonder why the Upwell marketing people didn't mention this?

The Pirate Detection Array upgrade for the sovereignty hub will allow the detection of exceptionally impactful anomalies with lucrative pirate encounters, an even more challenging anomaly, new escalations, and the possibility of officer spawns. Make the most of your space by scanning for high-stakes battles.

But I really wonder why only the Upwell Consortium referred to the workforce and not the expansion website. Those clone facilities we've seen referenced in The Scope videos? Those are not for Vanguard.

Equinox is spurred on by a scientific milestone in cloning technology, ushering in a paradigm shift in how populations can be mobilized and utilized across the vastness of space, empowering the colonial aspirations of nullsec leaders with access to a highly skilled workforce.

The Upwell portion of the expansion announcement concludes by announcing new ships. Everyone is excited about getting new industrial ships, right?

The Equinox suite further empowers the capabilities of capsuleers in this new era of space colonization by introducing four new ships, specialized in the transport of planetary resources, and capable of being fitted with defensive weaponry. Tailored to navigate the new dynamics of resource gathering and sovereignty, the unveiling of these new vessels underscores Upwell’s commitment to revolutionizing nullsec operations.

Defensive weaponry that isn't a gimmick?  Here are the four new ships.

  • Squall – Entry level reagents hauler.
  • Deluge – Hauler with covert ops cloaking capability, high warp speed and mobility, and immunity to cargo scanners.
  • Torrent – Tough deep space transport vessel with micro jump drive capability.
  • Avalanche – Massive freighter with a huge reagent hauling capacity.

That is all from the Upwell marketing department, but the expansion contains more. CCP is adding the following features to the SKINR system

Design at your fingertips: The new SKINR interface introduces a robust palette of design elements, consisting of basic and metallic nanocoatings as well as patterns, alongside five customization slots for each SKIN design, four for nanocoatings, and one for patterns. Use your creations to express your unique identity and share them with other capsuleers.

Sequence and share: Gathering design elements and sequence binders allows capsuleers to sequence ship SKINs, for themselves or to sell to other pilots. Sequencing costs are based on a tier system and calculated in PLEX based on the rarity of design elements and complexity of the SKIN, and your creations can be sequenced in bulk for your own fleet or your corp.

Organized collection: A new cosmetics collection makes it simple to keep track of SKINs, components, and emblems. Applying SKINs and filtering through your collection will be easier and more enjoyable than ever with the new updates.

The Hub awaits: Visit the Paragon Hub to buy, sell, and trade SKINs and components. A platform to showcase designs or discover the perfect look for every fleet, the Paragon Hub offers an easy-to-navigate interface and opportunities for budding designers to make a name for themselves, not to mention untold riches.

The expansion is also bringing improvements to corporation tools.

Corporation window overhaul: A streamlined and intuitive UI makes navigating and utilizing the corporation window easier than ever for corp leaders and members alike. Enhanced with icons, tooltips and a consistent navigation structure, managing roles and understanding the hierarchy of content is more straightforward than ever, paving the way for future enhancements.

New Corp Project Engagement Methods: Expand the ways members can lend their hand to corporation projects through new avenues such as ship loss (enabling the automation of ship replacement programs), salvaging wrecks, and earning Loyalty Points. Each new corporation project type has several options allowing leaders nuanced control over the incentives provided to members, making them more accessible and rewarding.

Performance improvements: Managing and contributing to your organization’s growth is more streamlined than ever before as corporation projects see smoother and faster interactions.

CCP is continuing its efforts to retain new players by extending some of the tools and systems used to guide them after they complete the career agents.

AIR Monthly Progress Track: Expanding AIR Daily Goals, Equinox introduces a long-term monthly progress track rewarding meaningful activities, clearly showing goal progress, upcoming milestones and rewards. Alpha and Omega pilots get distinct rewards along the way, and better spoils the further along they get. At the end of the track, there is a significant cache of SP on the line for finishing all the monthly goals.

New goals and rewards: Engage and get rewarded for two new activities: earn Loyalty Points and salvage wrecks.

New types of rewards: Get rewarded for reaching milestones with PLEX and SKINR components, enriching your experience and offering valuable assets for customization.

Ship progression and UX improvements: Experience the thrill of unlocking a new ship with immediate notifications and get clear understanding on ship roles and prerequisites with the redesigned skill requirement panel. Elevate your initial interaction with new vessels with informative new ship cards and enhanced UX for boarding and naming ships.

And finally, EVE: Vanguard is adding a new map to the monthly playtesting. For completeness sake, I'll add in the entire description of what is coming to the FPS module in June.

In the biggest update to EVE Vanguard since the first playtest in December, a major iteration coming this June will introduce a brand new map, featuring an archipelago among polluted waters, the ruins of a provisional facility to explore and loot, emergent activities and diverse challenges, the ability to modify your weapons and bring items and fittings in and out of combat, and more.

  • June Deployment Dates: Mark your calendars for the next major Vanguard event, from 20 June to 1 July. Experience the latest Vanguard updates firsthand and provide valuable feedback to contribute to the ongoing development of the game.

  • Brand new planetary world to explore and conquer: The June update introduces a new and different map ready to be explored and exploited. Experience a completely different environment in an archipelago with the wreck of a starship, other-worldly flora, and polluted waters.

  • Enhanced capabilities: Customize your arsenal with adaptive weaponry. Experience new options and strategy through the ability to modify your instruments of destruction and bring items and fittings in and out of combat.

  • More impact with new activities: Face brand new challenges, focused on deeper espionage, asset recovery, and direct engagement with enemy factions. This update aims to diversify your in-game experiences, providing more ways to interact with the world and your fellow players.

  • Ongoing improvements: The commitment to enhancing and developing EVE Vanguard with the community continues with bug fixes, gameplay balancing, and the introduction of tiered participation rewards. Compete for a place on the leaderboard to win PLEX rewards and contribute to either suppression or corruption, shaping New Eden with your actions.
This pretty much is the information I was able to gather in the three hours between downtime and when I had to log into my real life job. I have the feeling over the next 7 weeks we'll see more detailed information on the expansion. Hopefully this post will serve as a good starting point for all the speculation sure to follow.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Finally Have My Crafting Best In Slot Gear From Endwalker

Over the weekend I buckled down and ground out the Splendorous Tools for my last two crafting classes, Alchemist and Armorer. I mentioned my final grind on Twitter Sunday and was told that since I was crafting, I could just use macros. A perfect example of the "Tell me you don't have a crafting Splendorous Tool without telling me you don't have a Splendorous Tool" meme.

The final two Splendorous Tools in Endwalker a crafter needs to obtain requires crafting expert recipes. With the Splendorous Tools equipped, and fully pentamelded crafting gear, I can probably go back to the Shadowbringers expert recipes and use a macro. But for current content, players must perform the crafts manually. So at the top level, players have to perform the tasks themselves.

The way the quests work, players have to craft high quality collectable items and turn them in for a special material that the quest giving NPCs turn into a higher quality tool until the player obtains a Lodestar tool. I probably averaged crafting 25 expert recipes for each of the last two sets of turn-ins per crafting tool, or 50 recipes per crafting class. With 8 classes, I probably performed around 400 expert crafts in total. And these were just what was released in patch 6.5. A new tool was released in each of the previous point patches that was challenging to make, but not like the expert recipes.

How long did it take to do the expert craft portion of the questline? When working on my first Lodestar tool, I probably spent 8-10 minutes per craft. But on Sunday, I was down to a little less than 5 minutes per craft. Overall, I probably spent 35-40 hours just crafting expert recipes.

I can just imagine the rather rational question readers may ask. Dawntrail's release is in a little more than two months. Was the effort worth it? If Dawntrail is like Endwalker, the answer is maybe. In Shadowbringers, I obtained two of the Skybuilders' tools and pentamelding the other main tools. With all my crafting gear pentamelded, I was able to get to level all my crafting classes to the level cap and create level 90 gear for my white mage job without obtaining new gear and tools. Gear that isn't outdated the moment an expansion launches? What a concept, right?

But I did say maybe. The special ability of Lodestar tools is that increases to quality receive are 175% higher if the material condition is Good. I have the feeling that bonus will come in handy, but I know some people really rely on macros and the ability would be wasted on them. Making decisions based on material quality is something important to those crafting by hand to make their crafting more efficient. Those relying solely on macros might want to concentrate on pentamelding a regular tool for the stats.

Now that I have best in slot for all my crafting and gathering classes, I can return to finishing the main story questline. I will, of course, craft a new set of white mage gear. Right now I can make iLevel 640 gear. Not only will that make the rest of the expansion content easier, but should get me a good way into Dawntrail as well. I didn't start replacing my adventuring gear in Endwalker until I reached level 84.

Maybe not the most exciting blog post, but I put in a lot of hours reaching this point. A lot of content creators bemoaned the lack of a grind in the Endwalker post-patches. But for me, I'm glad my crafting grind is finally over, at least until the next expansion.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

EVE Online's Capsuleer Day Now A Month-Long Event

When I started playing EVE Online almost 15 years ago, Capsuleer Day was a one-day event marking another year of the game's operation. By last year the event extended to 28 days (2 May to 30 May). Players chose who to run sites for, the Society of Conscious Thought or the Guri Malakim pirate cooperative. In a move I approve of, not only has CCP extended the event an additional two days, but mixed up the content as well.

In the 20th anniversary event, players chose their faction and then proceeded to interact with 4 sites, 2 combat and 2 hacking. The combat sites limited ship sizes to battlecruiser or smaller. According to the news article I saw on the launcher, the developers expanded the ways players can engage with the event.

For the entire month of May, New Eden will be brimming with exciting adventures. Log in daily for exclusive SKINs, boosters, and a trove of Skill Points. Engage in a spectrum of seasonal challenges—combat, exploration, hacking, manufacturing, and market trading—to accrue points for even more unique and lucrative rewards. Beyond this bounty, Omega pilots gain access to further riches: over 650,000 Skill Points, 26,500 EverMarks, and coveted SOCT ship hulls, among others. Omega status unlocks the full depth of the Capsuleer Day event’s offerings, enhancing your capabilities and ensuring the richest haul of rewards from the abyss.

Yes, I know the event description contains a pitch to upgrade to a paying account. But the last time I can remember manufacturing and market trading being part of one of the major, non-storyline events was the Dr. Who crossover event back in the beginning of 2022. The devs tried introducing a market component into the event, but the crossover appeared in the middle of the unsuccessful effort to convince players that introducing NFTs, blockchains, and play-to-earn mechanics into EVE was a great idea. The idea fortunately failed, Pearl Abyss coincidently named a new CEO in March 2022, and Hilmar's cutting edge ideas were shifted to Project Awakening instead. So a little push for paying players, in comparison, is not so bad.

Over on the event page, CCP gave an overview of the event. I found a couple of hints in the description.

Massive energy discharges emanating deep from within Abyssal Deadspace have prompted The Society of Conscious Thought to raise a call for daring pilots bold enough to venture into the abyssal unknown to recover valuable data and technology. Explore newly surfaced Collapsed Conduits, take on Triglavian or even Drifter enemies for the chance to recover priceless loot and filaments from the battlefield to dive deeper into the abyss.

  • Perilous adventures for capsuleers of all experience levels
  • Exciting new combat, exploration & manufacturing challenges
  • Earn blueprints and rare materials that give access to Abyssal Battlefields

The first thing I noticed was no mention of market trading. Are we already getting a bait and switch? Is the market portion just buying items off the market to get access to the Abyssal Battlefields? I hope not.

Next comes "newly surfaced Collapsed Conduits". From the sounds of the description, players afraid of the crushing cost of defeat (literally) of normal Abyssal sites can get an introduction to this type of gameplay by visiting Treacherous Collapsed Conduits, found on the ship scanner. Players can also scan down Desolate Collapsed Conduits and hack cans for the event goods as well.

What are the Abyssal Battlegrounds? Apparently players will have the capacity to manufacture their own filaments in order to access the top end sites of the celebration.

Of course, players will want to know what the rewards are. For those who don't want to log in, CCP is giving out prizes for those who watch Twitch. I'm not sure if one must watch CCP's Twitch channel or any EVE streamer will suffice. And if anyone from CCP is reading this post, could you please list the members of the Partner Program someplace? Thanks in advance!

The Twitch rewards are a Prophecy Navy Issue Arkombine Arisen SKIN and a mysterious booster crate holding one of the following:

  • a random Agency dose
  • a random Quafe booster
  • a random Starsi booster
  • a random Antipharmakon booster
What is an EVE event without login rewards? We don't know the exact rules yet, but the event page does show the following for Omega accounts:
  • 650,000 skill points (125,000 for alpha accounts)
  • 26,500 EverMarks
  • Zirnitra Capsuleer Day XXI SKIN
  • Maller Capsuleer Day XXI SKIN
  • A variety of boosters
  • Capsuleer Day Fireworks
Last, but not least, come the actual event rewards. I'm not going to lie, the rewards don't sound bad. Plus, items that drop in the sites can be sold. That's one thing that irritates me about the daily login rewards. The boosters and ship SKINs are bind on acquire. Now maybe some SKINs will show up on the market. Here's the list from the event page.
  • Seasonal challenge rewards include a Glamoreux Booster crate, boosters, SKINs and Filament crates
  • Loot includes Capsuleer Day boosters, new Capsuleer Day SKINs and more!
  • Snag glorious fireworks on the Alpha DLI reward track
  • Omega rewards include EverMarks, SKINs, SoCT ship hulls, and boosters
  • Filaments, SKINs and boosters found in loot drops from NPCs can be sold on the market
  • Amazing new Capsuleer Day XXI SKINs await!
All in all, I think a credible event. The format is the same tried and true seasonal event format, but the content is new. I'm most eager to see what the art department has done with the new Collapsed Conduits. I'm also looking forward to getting more Society of Conscious Thought ships. The ships are a staple of Capsuleer Day events and I'm glad to see CCP maintaining the tradition. I'm also looking forward to seeing if the industry and market elements work out.

I do have one last thing to say. CCP allows content creators (i.e. streamers and YouTubers) in the Partner Program advanced access to the Singularity test shard to create content available for release when the servers come up. Will someone at CCP please list the content creators in the Partner Program so we can watch their videos and streams? By not doing so, the CCP marketing team is working at cross-purposes, promoting streamers on one hand and suppressing the content on the other.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

New Blacklist Functionality Coming In Dawntrail

I'm a few days behind catching up on the 80th Producer Live Letter Final Fantasy XIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida (aka Yoshi-P) presented on Saturday morning's (midnight counts as the next day, right?) live stream. Even with the presentation in Japanese, US-based bloggers like myself have no excuse for falling behind as the Final Fantasy XIV sub-reddit has an official Discord server which does real time translations of events. Okay, the Discord does have a link to Pandemic Legion, but I'm not worried about spy activity as I never was into EVE Online's null sec political play.

One of the last topics from the PLL is one I want to address first: improvements to FFXIV's blacklist. 

The areas of improvement

According to the translations, Yoshi-P provided an introduction to the topic.
I don't really like to have too many rules myself, an example would be supported game pads, I think players should have the freedom to chose their own environment. We have so many players now that use this game as sort of a second world. And I think it is time we implement for features to protect everyone's experience.
In other words, the security and bouncers at all the clubs and venues in the housing areas now have more tools than just asking people to stop being a jerk. And those who have stalkers (yes, that happens) can make their in-game lives easier as well.

I guess the first feature is that phasing has come to FFXIV starting in Dawnwalker.
In addition to the blacklisted character's messages, their character model will now also be hidden. This will apply to all characters tied to the blacklisted character's service account. This new feature is applicable to characters registered from 7.0 onwards. The blacklist will distinguish between characters blacklisted before and after 7.0.
My understanding is that the new mute list will work a lot like the old blacklist. Also, due to the complexity of the duty matching system, the devs couldn't just prevent blacklisted players from appearing in a duty.
Blacklisted characters will be displayed in certain situations where visibility is necessary, such as when partied together in a duty. Even when their character model is visible, their name will display as "Unknown" in the party list and on their nameplate. Furthermore, a notification will indicate when they speak during duties, and players may elect to temporarily see what they've written via the subcommand menu.
Yoshi-P believes the mute list will be used for most things and players will resort to using the blacklist if the situation gets really bad. 
The mute list will hide a muted character's chat messages. The feature is applicable to characters blacklisted prior to 7.0. The mute list applies to all characters on a muted character's service account. Muted characters' names will display as normal. When in the same party or alliance during duties, a notification will indicate when they speak, and players may elect to temporarily see what they've written via the subcommand menu.

The blacklist and mute list do have a difference in where the lists are stored. Blacklists are stored server-side while the mute list is stored client-side. But players can place two hundred characters on each list, making for 400 characters total.

I also learned that FFXIV did not have a term filter. The new term filter filters out the entire message containing the offending word, not just the word itself. The filter only works in  Say, Tell, Yell, Shout, and /emote, but does work in all circumstances, including duties. The term filter will not apply in linkshell, cross-world linkshell, party, or free company chat. And the list of terms to filter for is stored on the client, not the server.

The new estate expulsion feature will give greater granularity to who can enter or leave a player or free company home. Characters added to the no-entry list while within your estate grounds will be expelled from the grounds immediately. Characters added to the no-entry list will be unable to enter the estate for 10 days. And the ban applies to all characters on an expelled character's service account.

Perhaps the biggest part is the ability to delegate authority. Free company masters and estate owners will have access to the estate expulsion feature and can designate up to 4 free company members or housemates to have access to the function. When players with expulsion privileges are in the estate, anyone registered to their blacklists will be automatically expelled when attempting to enter the estate grounds.

Finally Yoshi-P unveiled the enhanced Lodestone privacy settings. Players will now gain the ability to limit who can view certain aspects of their Lodestone character page, including their profile, achievements, and friends. The visibility settings can be limited to friends, free company members, linkshell members, and so on. Players will also have the ability to remove themselves from Lodestone character searches.

The blocklist is also being added to the Lodestone. Notifications regarding the activity and blog entries of blocked players will no longer display. Blocked players will not see the activity of the player who blocked them. And these setting will also apply to characters added to a character's in-game blacklist.

Yoshi-P concluded the section of the PLL by stating the team had decided to implement the blocklist and other privacy features a little over 6 months ago. He also made the following statement:
I believe a lot of a persons time and life is switching towards a virtual world and will keep going towards that direction. I've always been wondering and thinking about how these features will look like in a virtual world. I've had a lot of philosophical thoughts about these features and personally I would hope people don't feel the need to use them, but I absolutely understand when it gets to a point where you have to.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Blizzard Games To Return To The People's Republic This Summer

In a story I missed last week, Microsoft has made up to NetEase for the sins committed by the Bobby Kotick-led Activision-Blizzard-King and Blizzard games are returning to the People's Republic of China. Reading the coverage of the event, the effects of the agreements will definitely expand past the borders of the world's number two economy.

That's right, two agreements. The first returns many favorite games to China. According to the South China Morning Post:

Confirming an earlier South China Morning Post report, the two companies renewed a publishing agreement that will cover games under the previous arrangement, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and other titles in the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and StarCraft universes, according to a joint statement on Wednesday. These titles are expected to start returning to mainland China this summer.

“After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences,” according to the statement.

Last January, the two companies suspended services for all Blizzard titles in the mainland, except for Diablo Immortal, a mobile title co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard, as their 14-year partnership came to an end. Both sides blamed each other for treating Chinese players badly after failing to agree to new terms to extend the deal.

A Reuters report came closest to fingering former ABK CEO Bobby Kotick for the breakdown in relations.

A number of Blizzard's games were taken offline in China in January 2023 after the developer terminated the partnership with NetEase citing disagreement over intellectual property control. The pair subsequently sued each other.

Tension eased after Microsoft's October acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which was followed by management changes. Chinese media then reported that Microsoft and NetEase were seeking ways to re-launch Blizzard games in China.

But are Chinese players willing to forgive the pulling of their favorite games away from them for over a year? Not according to The New York Times.

The announcement of the new agreement was shared widely on Weibo, China’s version of X, and the reaction was mostly negative. Some people still seemed upset that the games had not been available for more than a year, while others accused Blizzard of disrespecting Chinese gamers. One person said that were not so “cheap” as to come running back immediately once the games had returned.

But Microsoft and NetEase also signed an agreement about the XBox platform. According to Investopedia:

Separately, NetEase and Microsoft entered into an agreement that would look into bringing new NetEase titles to Microsoft’s Xbox consoles and other platforms.

"NetEase games titles being explored to be brought under Xbox consoles and other platforms is incrementally positive" for the China-based developer and operator of online games, Jefferies added.

One might think the news was good for the stock price of NetEase, which trades on Nasdaq. But after opening at $101.66 on Wednesday, NetEase stock opened the week trading at $93.03 today, a decline of 8.5% in the stock price over 3 business days.

Friday, April 12, 2024

The New Scope Video And The High Sec Drone Event

Over the last week or so real life, especially work, has gotten in the way of my gaming. I've barely logged into Final Fantasy XIV and only briefly roamed once in EVE looking for high sec drone sites. Apparently a lot of players haven't run drone sites since the next step in the road to the expansion launched last Thursday. Why do I think so? Because CCP dropped a new Scope video today.

The video pretty much covers the information released last week. Some additional information came across the news scroll at the bottom of the video. The scroll did get cut off as the information gathered by players was presented.
  • tractor unit destroyed in ritual scholars are calling "previously unrecorded kind of heresy" 

  • President Aguard praises Upwell's "innovative use of technology"

  • Deathless custodians reportedly acquire kidnapped Chemal Tech geneticist offered by Fraternity

  • Tribal Council to review Upwell leak in rare public session.

  • One trillion ISK worth of assets destroyed in a capsuleer battle in Ahbazon, Genesis.

  • Fears of mass hysteria as belief in secret wormhole conspiracy theory on the rise.

  • Intaki Autonomists hold economic ...
A couple of player events were noted including Fraternity's previous involvement in the current storyline. But for the most part not one of the better Scope videos. Which is another reason I think today's video was in reaction to player actions, or rather, inaction. Videos done in connection with on-going storylines are usually pretty good. Today's was, well, meh.

I'll try to log in for a few hours over the weekend, but I still have to do my taxes. Perhaps increasing the spawn rate for drone sites will help.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The New Rogue Drone Event In EVE Online

On Thursday, CCP pushed an unnamed event onto EVE Online's Tranquility server. I call the new content an "unnamed event" as EVE live events are usually released on Thursdays instead of the normal Tuesday release day. According to the patch notes, the Upwell Consortium is up to something.


  • The Upwell Consortium are calling for capsuleer assistance providing materials for a project at their Applied Gravitation Research Center in the Auviken solar system.

    • Upwell are asking for capsuleers to bring them Rogue Drone Components contained in the wrecks of advanced sentient AI rogue drones that have been spotted throughout the known cluster.

    • In particular, Upwell are seeking Drone Graviton Emitters. Sentient rogue drone strains throughout high-security space have recently started adopting and using them.

    • Upwell will reward capsuleers who donate a selection of these components with reward crates containing loyalty tokens that are exchangeable for ISK at any station belonging to a member corporation of the Upwell Consortium. Additionally, crates may include new limited prototype blueprint copies for small tractor beams, capital tractor beams and a mobile tractor unit that have been enhanced by Upwell thanks to their latest discoveries in graviton research.
Yes, another community gathering event, this time located in high sec. The drop-off location is a new Upwell station orbiting Auviken VI. Auviken is a 0.8 security system located in the the Caldari State owned region of The Citadel, five jumps from the game's primary trade hub of Jita. A news article published on Thursday spelled out the requirements for obtaining reward crates. The amount sounds like a lot.
  • 1x Drone Graviton Emitter
  • 10x Drone Cerebral Fragment
  • 60x Drone Capillary Fluid
  • 40x Drone Tactical Limb
  • 100x Drone Synaptic Relay Wiring
I don't know the drop rates for the items, but I do hope the conjunction used was supposed to be "or" instead of "and". The reward crates contain Upwell Consortium Loyalty Tokens. Before groaning about yet another currency introduced to the game, these Upwell tokens are tradable for the tokens for other groups. The crates may also hold new blueprints, specifically for the Consortium Tractor Beams, both small and capital-sized, and the Consortium Mobile Tractor Unit. 

Between work and getting my replacement PC up to speed, I'm just getting around to looking at new EVE content. I just hope the hand in items are not too bulky. I have a Caldari character that flies blockade runners really well I can send into the Caldari State to participate in the event. On the other hand, waiting until my PC is ready should result in some good screen shots.

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Look At March 2024's Active ISK Delta

CCP Games published EVE Online's monthly economic report (MER) for March 2024 today. In an effort to keep the EVE Online community team from labeling me a "tardy capsuleer", I dug into the report to gather the latest information on the Active ISK Delta.

From the March 2024 MER

Before continuing, I do want to make note of a change to the way the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated. The following items were removed due to them really only consisting of trade between players and NPCs and thus are fixed.
  • Overseer Personal Effects
  • Sleeper Components
  • Triglavian Data
  • Rogue Drone Analysis Data
  • Bounty Encrypted Bonds
These items consist of some of the biggest ISK faucets in the game. While not directly affecting the Active ISK Delta, they do have an impact on inflation, or lack thereof, in New Eden. Removing these items with fixed costs should result in a small increase in the CPI. At least, I assume so.

Post pandemic Active ISK Delta

The Active ISK Delta, as defined by CCP, is the net effect of ISK coming and going with player accounts, including all GM actions. If the number is positive, players are returning to the game. If the numbers are negative, then players are leaving the game with more money than those returning to the game. The number also counts the ISK that left the game from those who did not log in for the past 30 days.

After three months of near historic negative Active ISK Deltas, March saw the metric rise to only -29.2 trillion ISK. While an improvement, the Active ISK Delta dropped 62.2% compared to March 2023. For the first quarter of 2024, a total of 166 trillion ISK left the New Eden money supply compared to the 54.2 trillion ISK that did so in the first quarter of 2023.

One item of note is that players leaving the game was not the biggest ISK sink in March. Transaction taxes exceeded the amount of ISK withdrawn from the game, 35.1 trillion ISK to 29.2 trillion ISK. As a result, the money supply grew 1.2% up to 2.1 quadrillion ISK. To keep the money supply from growing, the Active ISK Delta needed to reach -54.2 trillion ISK.

Jester's Average Concurrent User graph, April 2023 to March 2024

For April I will keep an eye on whether both the number of average concurrent users and the Active ISK Delta increases (i.e. turns positive). In the month before Viridian, the Active ISK Delta was -3 trillion ISK before increasing to 104.5 trillion ISK during the expansions launch month. Will EVE experience something similar in the lead up to the next expansion?

Thursday, April 4, 2024

March 2024 Activity In EVE Online

With the end of the first quarter, gaming companies will begin preparing briefings for investors. We won't know the financial numbers for EVE Online until May, but we can perhaps get a sense of direction from the activity in the game.

The number of players logged in leveled off

The first step is to look at the average concurrent number of players as tracked by Jester. The number of players logged in remained fairly constant in March, so much so that the 30-day moving average is closely tracking the 7-day moving average of players logged in. The approximately 22,500 accounts logged in at any one time still exceeds the approximately 19,500 logged in during March 2023. Just from the logged in numbers, the EVE IP is looking at a year-over-year upswing in the Q1 2024 earnings call.

Year-over-year comparison

Over the six categories of explosions in known space in New Eden, the only one which declined was player ship deaths in low sec. The 16.1% decline is probably explained by The Shadow War event which occurred in March 2023.

Overall, player ship losses have exceeded 200,000 ships for 15 of the 17 months since the launch of the Uprising expansion in November 2022. Perhaps more surprising is the current 4 month streak of players killing more than 10 million NPCs in low sec from December 2023 to March 2024. In the records going back to the start of 2010, players had never killed that many NPCs in low sec as many as three months. The last time players killed more than 10 million NPCs in consecutive months was December 2022 and January 2023.

The other key area to check is ratting in null sec. While the major wars in null sec draw eyes to EVE, the carebears in null pay the bills. The 33.7% year-over-year increase in rats destroyed in March wasn't an aberration. Over the course of the first quarter of 2024, players killed 36.4% more NPCs in null sec than they did in the first three months of 2023.

So from a quick look at player activity, I think the health of the game, while not as good as 10 years ago, isn't bad for a game that began development in the 20th century. I also expect to see games from the EVE universe continue to shine on the next Pearl Abyss investment call in May. But what I really want to see is if the next expansion can keep the good news flowing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Beta Testing For EVE Online's Play Science App Announced

Apart from Project Awakening, CCP hasn't publicized any development efforts apart from EVE Online. But that doesn't mean new features and applications are not in development. Players have playtested the new EVE: Vanguard FPS module for a few months now. Now a previously announced application, the Play Science app, is about to undergo public beta testing.
In a news article today the Icelandic game maker announced how players can sign-up to participate in the beta test. Play Science is a mobile app that allows EVE players to play Project Discovery, a citizen-science mini-game inside EVE Online. The app, first mentioned at Fanfest 2023, I think is planned to launch at the same time as the Spring expansion and the fourth iteration of Project Discovery.

The Project Discovery presentation at Fanfest 2023

For those unfamiliar with EVE, the article provided a brief description.
Developed in collaboration with Swiss start-up Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), Project Discovery is a unique mini-game that is quick, easy, and rewarding to play, with the substantial benefit of advancing real science. Capsuleers have already contributed in a significant way to the research into exoplanets and COVID-19, and the scope of Project Discovery will soon expand to include critical immune system diseases, including cancer. This initiative has been recognized globally, winning the Webby People’s Voice Award for contributing to science and society​​. This collaboration between EVE players and the scientific community exemplifies the potential of virtual worlds to contribute to our understanding of the real one​​. 
The article concentrated on EVE, but during the talk at Fanfest the application will also connect to other games, such as Borderlands Science. So those participating in the beta test may receive a wider exposure to all of the games MMOS has teamed up with, not just EVE.

Or perhaps not. But with the app now about to undergo public beta testing and a new EVE expansion just a couple of months away, I can imagine people doing citizen science just about anywhere.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Cloud Imperium Games Sales Revenue Down 17.2% In Q1 2024

With the beginning of April I can look back at Cloud Imperium Games' sales for the first quarter of 2024. What I found wasn't pretty. Year-over-year, sales as recorded on the CCU Game dashboard fell by 17.2%. The $17.3 million posted in 2024 was $3.6 million less than that recorded in the first quarter of 2023. The month of March was particularly bad, with revenue falling compared to March 2023 by 20%, from $9 million in 2023 down to $7.2 million in 2024. Still, the decline was not as great as the 30% year-over-year decline in January 2024.

For those wondering if the decline is due to failure to attract new players or veterans not spending as much money, I would say the answer is a little of both. The number of new user accounts created declined by 10.4% year-over-year, from 135,173 in Q1 2023 to 121,088 this year.

Overall, the recorded sales tracked on the CCU Game dashboard is $674.7 million since the launch of the Kickstarter in October 2012. But Cloud Imperium has additional funding sources not tracked by the dashboard. Overall, the company has recorded $773.3 million in confirmed revenue (the funding page & the 2022 financial report) .

  • Sales/Pledges: $674.7 million (through 31 March 2024)
  • Subscriptions: $33.0 million (through 31 December 2022)
  • All other sources: $65.6 million (through 31 December 2022)
In addition, the company has received a total of $63.25 million in outside investment. According to the 2022 financial report, $4.8 million of the amount was returned to investors in 2020. Including the outside investment money, the total amount raised by CIG to create Squadron 42 and Star Citizen is $831.8 million.

Before people start using the first quarter sales to indicate the death of CIG, remember that many commentators believe the company will begin pre-sales of Squadron 42 at CitizenCon in October. So while the company may experience some cash flow issues, as long as pre-sales come in strong, the company should wind up 2024 in decent financial shape. In the mid-term, however, we learned of a looming deadline in the first quarter of 2028. For those interested in how the story evolved, I created a timeline here.