Bits & Pieces: May 2016

I'm on vacation in Florida, which is sort of strange, as I was at Fanfest in Iceland only a couple weeks ago. You may be wondering, why is Nev taking two vacations in a row? Well, if you've ever been to Fanfest, you know why. Even though I paced myself - mostly because my charming bride accompanied me to Iceland this year - Fanfest is pretty much a non-stop party for four days. At the ripe old age of 57, I just don't bounce back from that kind of sustained festivity as I once did. So, I'm here in Clearwater Beach, enjoying a view of the Gulf, surrounded by family, with nothing to do but eat, sleep, and watch the waves roll in. I have discovered that this kind of lackadaisical lifestyle agrees with me.

To help you appreciate my dire situation, here's my view this morning...

I'm definitely living like the 1 percent this week. I could get used to this.

I'm definitely living like the 1 percent this week. I could get used to this.

While sitting here counting the seagulls and sipping a rum-based concoction, I find my mind inevitably meanders to thoughts about EVE Online. Perhaps it is the recency of Fanfest that has me dwelling on ideas about New Eden. Or maybe I'm just bored - it's hard to tell. In any event, I thought I'd jot a few random thoughts here as I'm sitting on my balcony overlooking the aquamarine-hued waters.

At this moment,  I'm thinking, "This is the best way to do a blog post, ever." (/me sips rum drink contentedly)

Happy birthday, EVE!

CCP designated May 6th as "Capsuleer Day" to commemorate the 13th birthday of EVE Online. I haven't picked up my Upwell Consortium pod skin yet, but from the banter on #tweetfleet, people seem to like it. I already have a "golden pod" that I got from the EVE Online Collector's Edition package I bought a couple years ago, so I'll probably use the new skin on one of my industrial alts.

Commemorative gifts are nice, to be sure, but more importantly, we should recognize the achievement that CCP Games has attained: 13 years and still going strong is very unusual in the volatile field of Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, which tend to have an average life span of about three to four years.

To what does EVE Online owe its longevity? Certainly, the decision to make EVE Online a single-shard virtual world has a lot to do with its long life. As a direct result, player actions matter much more in EVE Online than in other multi-server MMOs, and they have lasting impact. There is a real and universally shared history in New Eden, and players make the biggest marks on it. No other MMO can make this claim. This factor, more than anything else, is what gives EVE Online its lasting appeal.

There is one other factor that must also be acknowledged: the ongoing dedication of CCP Games to the continuous improvement of the game. Certainly, they have stumbled along the way, but they have recovered each time, and inexorably and consistently increased the game's options and entertainment value, year after year.

When I first joined the game in 2009, EVE Online was a much less robust world. Today, we have so many more options - more ships, more modules, more player-controlled mechanics, more structures, and even more types of space to explore. And with rare exception, those new options have also proven to be better for the game - generally, they have brought more fun and made the game more rewarding to master.

From the very beginning, EVE was built to last. And over the last 13 years, the caretakers of EVE have continued to nurture and develop the game. For these reasons, we are able to celebrate its 13th anniversary. We should all be grateful for the opportunity.

I look forward to the next 13 years in EVE Online!

A Spike of Interest

Another obvious reason for the relative longevity of EVE Online is the undying passion of the player community about the game. It's blatantly apparent to me that people really care about this game. The recent spike of interest in my last post, Occupy New Eden, demonstrates this passion very well.

I've been extremely gratified and humbled by the amount of reaction and thoughtful commentary to my admittedly very critical post. (If you haven't read it yet, you can find it here.) Not only did this post garner the most number of comments I've ever received on this blog, but it also was cross-posted by more blogs, and generated more analysis posts by other bloggers, than anything I've ever published here. Clearly, the subject struck a chord, or a nerve, depending on your point of view.

The comments and perspectives on my post ranged from full agreement to complete rejection. I expected as much, but not to the degree on either end of the opinion spectrum that I received. I got some particularly hostile and highly argumentative comments, which I did not publish, and some extremely well-articulated opposing points of view, which I did.

Some readers disputed my "85 percent" figure, saying that many non-null characters are alts of null-sec players. This is true, but according to CCP's analysis, the number of alt characters and multiple accounts is lower than generally believed. Regardless, no matter how you look at the numbers, the majority of players do not operate principally in 0.0 - this is a fact that a few null-sec dwellers simply will not acknowledge, apparently, despite any CCP-produced statistics to the contrary. There is little I can do to convince people who refuse to be convinced, and so I simply leave that small minority to their own opinions, and wish them well.

I enjoyed reading all the comments and reactionary posts by other bloggers. Many of these helped improve my understanding of the situation, and what might be done about it. But my essential point of view remains unchanged - CCP's development is currently focused mostly on features of primary benefit to null-sec space, and that isn't going to change significantly for the remainder of the year. I think this focus is clearly out of proportion to the distribution of players in EVE Online, and that needs to change.

I'm a patient man. I can wait until 2017 to see if the tides of CCP development efforts shift back towards a more balanced distribution across different types of space. I will bide my time and watch - and continue to share my observations and opinions here.

Meanwhile, thanks again to everyone for the level of interest you demonstrated. I am very flattered by all the attention, and will strive to be worthy of it.

Back to the beach

My family is beckoning me to sign off and join them on the beach, so I'll wrap this up for now. All the best to all of you poor capsuleers who don't have the opportunity to live in paradise, like I do. I'll see you in space again soon - I'll be the relaxed, mellow one. Please don't attack me too quickly, as my reaction times will be dulled by all this sunshine and surf.

Fly safe! o7

Bits & Pieces: December 2015

A few miscellaneous items have been piling up in my EVE Online-related inbox - here's a quick comment on each.

Morning Maniac Grants 

I announced a new program to fund worthy projects for EVE Online players, called the Morning Maniac Grant Program, over a week ago, and the response has been gratifyingly positive. So far, I've awarded five grants, or more than 1.1 billion ISK, to these constructive projects:

  • 250M ISK for a +3 attribute implant subsidy program for an alliance's newbros
  • 150M ISK for frigates and fittings for a null-sec corp's new pilot PvP training program
  • 250M ISK for ships and fittings for another alliance's PvP in low-sec training program for newbies

I also donated 250M ISK each to two already well-established programs for helping new players, Sindel Pellion's Angel Project and Mike Azariah's Operation Magic School Bus initiative, because they can both put the funds to very good use.

I was also very humbled and gratified to receive an amazing 6.5 billion ISK donation from Asayamani Dei, w-space expert, CSM member and long-time friend of novice players. My most sincere thanks for this extremely generous contribution go out to him. I promise it will fund worthy projects and programs that will make a positive impact on our community!

If you have a project in EVE Online in mind, and could benefit from some in-game funds, consider applying for a Morning Maniac Grant. You can find full details here.

The Fountain War book Kickstarter fiasco

The Mittani announced that the Kickstarter campaign to fund the publishing of a book about the Fountain War in EVE Online has been cancelled. 

I was very critical of this project. While I supported the book's potential for attracting new players to EVE Online, the Kickstarter campaign was badly mismanaged. You can read my criticisms in this article on Crossing Zebras, along with others' observations, most of which were similar to mine.

But  I must say I've been impressed with how The Mittani has accepted and adapted to this failure. I was convinced that the Mittani Media team would not learn anything from their mistakes, but I've been proven wrong. They intend to re-launch the project in March, with a more reasonable goal and better planning for a renewed Kickstarter campaign, and I am sure they they will be successful on the second try. I look forward to contributing my own donation to the project.

In addition, the drama around this episode has indirectly generated some fun content in game, with the announcement of a Viceroy tribute system, which the Imperium alliance intends to impose. It has been fun to see how players have reacted, and it is clear that there will be considerable resistance. I'm sure many ships will explode and much mirth will be had. This is a good thing.

Here's an example of how some players are reacting to the Viceroy tribute demands of the Imperium - this shirt is available from  Rixx Javix's store .

Here's an example of how some players are reacting to the Viceroy tribute demands of the Imperium - this shirt is available from Rixx Javix's store.

Farewell, off-grid boosts. Hello, giant grids.

Though CCP Games devs have stated their desired intention to reduce the range of boosting ships from system-wide to local-grid for years, it now seems likely that this will finally happen in the near term. CCP Fozzie has been especially vocal about this. The impact to combat in the game, when it actually happens, will be enormous - and I think all for the better. 

This is one of the reasons why the new Command Destroyers, to be available in the update coming next week, will include limited support for boosting modules. This will provide cheaper ships that can provide small boosting advantages on grid, if fleet commanders don't want to risk more robust Command Ship battlecruisers or boosting-fit Tech III cruisers. 

I can't wait to get a new Magus Command Destroyer - because Gallente rule.

I can't wait to get a new Magus Command Destroyer - because Gallente rule.

More interestingly, these new destroyers will include a new area-of-effect module, the Micro Jump Field Generator, that will, when activated, move (nearly) everything within a 6km radius of the ship 100km in the direction that the ship is facing. This will be the ultimate anti-blob weapon, and should break up concentrated fleets to hilarious effect. Speculation about how pilots will use this new capability abounds, and I can't wait to fly one myself.

As for me, I'm thinking how on-grid boosting limits will affect how I use my Orca for mining support. I usually just park mine next to a station, under the nominal protection of nearby station guns, and then enjoy mining boosts throughout that system, but that won't work anymore with the elimination of off-grid boosts. I suspect that gankers will love this change, as it will make nice, juicy Orcas much more vulnerable as targets. This is going to make high-sec mining a little more interesting. This is a good thing.

Also coming soon are much, much, much larger grids.  Currently a "local grid" is a cube that is 250km in all directions from a central point. This relatively small space has enabled smart pilots to manipulate grids for tactical advantage. With the imminent introduction of citadel structures, which are enormous, and the change to on-grid boosts, making local grids much larger has become a practical necessity. The new grids will expand to a whopping 7,800km from a center point in all directions - a grid size that is over 30,000 times larger. (Thanks for correcting my math, Sjaandi HyShan.)

This is also going to dramatically affect combat mechanics. The field of battle just got much larger. It's clear that CCP wants battles to be more spread out over a larger area, to give them a more expansive feel. With the coming changes to capital ships - in particular, carriers, which will employ long-ranging squadrons of fighters over considerable distances - this means that situational awareness is going to become even more challenging for fleet commanders. I can't wait to see it.

BattleClinic closes

I was saddened to hear of the closing of BattleClinic, a site known primarily for sharing ship fittings. Many of the fits there were frankly horrible, but it was fun to examine them and see what made them bad. I learned a lot about how to fit ships more effectively from this site, as a result. And occasionally there were some useful and innovative configurations to be found there.  

I'm not sure what this means for EVEMon, the invaluable skill planning and remapping utility which has always been hosted there, though I'm sure it will relocate somewhere.

Wardecs Revisited

As a result of my earlier post about revamping the war declaration mechanics, I was asked to contribute to a document about a variety of ideas on improving wardecs. It's been an interesting exercise and discussion. Not everyone likes my ideas, but that is perfectly OK. Perhaps even my bad ideas might stimulate a good one. Anything would be better than the mechanics we have now.

The document is interesting reading, and worth a review. Kudos to Jason Quixos for organizing this effort. Hopefully, it will stimulate some action by CCP Games, and we'll eventually see a wardec system that is more fun for everyone.

Until next time

That's about it for now - I'm looking forward to seeing how dirty my ships look when the December 8th update comes out. I suspect they will be filthy - I have some really old ships in my hangar.

Fly safe! o7

 

 

Bits and Pieces: August 2015

I've been goofing around with a lot of little projects in EVE Online recently - nothing big, but plenty of variety to keep me entertained and engaged. Here's a quick summary of how my life in New Eden has been going for the last month or so.

20 Billion ISK

The endgame of my year-long experiment in post-Crius, high-sec based, solo manufacturing is selling everything that I've made. After building a sizable inventory of Tech II modules and ammo, I got lazy and simply divided everything into six evenly distributed piles, and then shipped each one off to a different trade hub: Jita, Rens, Hek, Amarr, Dodixie and Stacmon.

Please come to Stacmon and buy all my stuffs!

That last location is very much a minor trade hub, but it is now just one jump away from EVE University's new headquarters, so I thought it might be a good time to cater to the suddenly larger buying public there. Indeed, Stacmon is by far the sleepiest of the trade hub locations I chose, but it is also the most profitable.

So it seems to go with trade hubs - in general, profit margins are inversely related to the rate of activity. The pile I sent to Jita all sold within a few days, but at relatively thin margins. Amarr made a little more profit, but took another week to sell everything. Rens, Dodixie and Hek all will take yet another week to exhaust my stocks, at moderate margins. And Stacmon is making the largest profits, but I think I'll be adjusting prices there for at least another month or two.

Once I liquidate everything, my cash balance should exceed 20 billion ISK - not a bad sum for my efforts. Now, I just need to figure out what I'll invest in next. With PLEX at record price levels, hovering around 1 billion ISK, I'm not sure that's the best place to put my money. But I'll be darned if I know of a better thing to buy with excess cash.

ATXIII

I am not a die-hard follower of the annual Alliance Tournament matches, but I've had a chance to listen in to most of the thirteenth iteration this year. EVE Online as an e-sport does not work terribly well, as it's hard to see what is really happening. You see more by watching the list of ships on either side of the board, and watching who is getting jammed and targeted, and how fast the status bars shrink to nothing.

CCP Rise and Apothne comment on a match, while I ignore the explosions and watch the little bars shrink, just like everyone else who watches the Alliance Tourney.

I do enjoy listening to the expert commentators, though, as I always learn new things. I'm always amazed at how much people know about ships at these tourneys, and how they work - or don't work - as a team. You expect CCP Rise and CCP Fozzie to know their stuff, but the insights I heard from player experts like Chessur, Sir Squeebles, Apothne and Elise Randolph has made the entire event really interesting.

Elise Randolph, Sir Squeebles, Chessur and  CCP Antiquarian  analyze the strategy and tactics at ATXIII.

Elise Randolph, Sir Squeebles, Chessur and CCP Antiquarian analyze the strategy and tactics at ATXIII.

The last week of the tourney is always the best, though. That's when the surviving teams start to bring out their super-blingy ultra-rare awards ships. You know that people are putting everything on the line when they risk a unique ship worth a hundred billion ISK on the field. I'll be tuning in next weekend to see that craziness, for sure.

The Lore Channel Goes Nuts

I am not an expert on EVE Online lore, but I do enjoy following it, and the latest major event in the backstory of New Eden really impressed me. For those of you who missed it, the leader of the Amarr Empire, Jamyl Sarum I, got ambushed by a huge Drifter fleet, and then promptly podded.

CCP promptly announced that there would be a tournament of players, who will act as champions for the next Emperor, in what is known as a Succession Trial. For the hard-core lore-following role-players in the game, this is a Big Freakin' Deal.

Followers of Empress Jamyl Sarum I are traveling to Safizon to pay their respects at the wreck of the Titan, destroyed by the Drifters.

The Empress' Titan wreck is now a permanent fixture in Safizon.

I took a trip out to Safizon, where the Empress' Titan was destroyed, and examined the wreck, located just outside the Navy station.

On the Hydrostatic Podcast lore panel, CCP confirmed that Empress Sarum is indeed dead, and won't be coming back as a regenerated clone. It all seems to be a great set-up for new PvE content coming in the next release, which people are calling "Drifter Incursions".

I am really enjoying how CCP is moving the lore story forward in the game. It adds a whole different dimension, and provides rationale for new features. Kudos to CCP Falcon, CCP Affinity and the rest of the lore-generating team.

Galatea

Speaking of the next release coming out this week, called Galatea, it looks a bit light, but the patch notes hint at more depth than people might realize: "The Drifter armada has arrived and the time has come to step up and join the Navy Fleet in their battle to defend the Throne Worlds from this hostile attack." This is clearly a reference to new PvE content, generally known as "Drifter Incursions". This should be interesting, and I can't wait to hear more details about it.

There are adjustments to null sec sovereignty capture mechanics, and some new SKINs, but I'm mostly interested in the new model for the Dominix, which looks extremely cool. I am very fond of drone boats, and I have spent many hours in Domis, so I'm keen to try out the new version. I'll never give up my trusty Rattlesnake for mission-running, but it will be fun to go back to a Domi and give the shiny new model a whirl.

Going to Thera

My corp's alliance seems to have popped out to the top of the Marmite Collective's apparently randomly-selected rotating list of wardec targets, so I took my POS down and fired up an alt character to pursue a quest that I've been thinking about for a while - a journey to Thera, the wormhole hub.

I paid for an MCT PLEX and have started a quick training regimen for a scanning/probing alt, and have been trying to read everything I can about Thera. I'll be going there later this week, and I'm excited to see what it is like there. I'm still considering applying to join the Signal Cartel, the friendly exploration-focused corp based out of Thera, so this will be a good test to see if that will suit me. 

Until then, fly safe! o7