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

An Assortment of Goodies

I feel like there are an increasing number of developments happening in EVE Online these days, and it's getting more challenging to keep up with the latest news. I think this is a good thing, in general, but I wonder if all this activity perplexes casual players, or new people just joining the game. Regardless, I love the high level of activity. Whenever I think things have calmed down for a while, CCP Games refills our candy dish with more space treats for us.

The story thus far...

First, there have been some huge advances in the lore of New Eden over the last few weeks. I feel sorry for those who pay no attention to the backstory of the game. I suspect they are about to feel ambushed by some very significant game developments when they happen, while those of us who have been watching The Scope videos and reading the in-game news reports already anticipate the coming calamity.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, just take a look at the visuals in this latest report. You don't have to know who Hilen Tukoss is or what he represents to see that the Drifters are amassing their forces, which likely spells trouble for us capsuleers.

CCP Loki (the creator of the Scope videos), and the entire EVE Online community team, should be congratulated. They've all done a marvelous job maintaining the brisk pace of in-game news reports. I've never seen a more active interest in the lore of New Eden.

If you feel baffled by all the speculation and theorizing about what these news reports mean, I recommend two sources to help you catch up.

  1. The lore panels conducted by the Hydrostatic Podcast crew are an excellent way to understand what is going on, and why it's important. The expertise and knowledge of the panels of experts assembled for these discussions is impressive. You definitely will not find these talks boring! To get a handle on current events, start with the Rhea panel, then the Tiamat panel, and finally, the latest Entosis panel.
  2. If you prefer to read rather than listen, I recommend reading this useful list of links, in sequence, which were compiled by Signal Cartel pilot Ned Thomas.

Yes, there's a lot of content in both sources. Like I said, there have been an increasing number of developments happening in EVE Online these days, and it's easy to fall behind.

New wormhole content

One way that the emerging lore story is manifesting in the game can be found in the new content appearing on the test server. I wrote an article about new Unidentified Wormholes for Crossing Zebras, compiling information from a variety of sources.

The coolest thing about these new wormholes, beyond the lore implications, is that the anomaly sites in them appear to require multiple pilots, working different parts of the site at the same time, in order to complete them successfully. This is a neat new take on PvE content, and I like the idea.

Alas, CCP Games shut down access to the Unidentified Wormhole content on the test server, so we can't do any more advance investigation at this time. We'll have to wait for the new content to be officially released to the Tranquility production server, which hopefully will happen in either June in the Carnyx update or in July in the Aegis update.

Lore expert and author of the Interstellar Privateer blog, Rhavas, captured this image of a new structure in an Unidentified Wormhole - official release date for this new content is unknown.

Are you authenticating yet?

I installed the new two-factor authentication protocol for all of my accounts. It's an easy process, and so far, I've had no technical issues with it. However, I'm not yet used to needing my iPhone nearby every time I log in to the game client, or when I'm trying to access my account management page. I keep firing up the launcher, entering my username and password, and then realizing that I need to use the Google Authenticator app on my phone to get the current six-digit number code. The change is a bit of a pain, but I'm sure I'll grow more comfortable as the new log-in process becomes routine.

Still, I think the additional log-in step is worth the trouble. As my friend Noizygamer points out, hacking of your game accounts is a very real threat. The extra layer of security provides protection from most of this problem, although CCP Games still has some work to do to overcome some legacy issues, such as the ability to log in without the launcher. But it's only a question of time before those are addressed, and I figure that two-factor authentication will become the norm, so it's best to start getting used to it now.

A (possible) new era for player-made art

Kudos to the talented Rixx Javix, who has championed the cause of enabling player-made EVE Online-inspired artwork to be available to the public. He spoke briefly about this during his talk about fan art at the last Fanfest conference, and hinted that more progress with CCP Games was expected soon.

And indeed, this progress has come to fruition, with his cool battlecruiser posters now available for sale. These posters are really beautiful, and I've ordered a set, even though the shipping costs are high. I saw them first-hand at Fanfest, and I would have bought some there, but I wasn't confident that I could get them home intact.

More importantly, these posters represent a potential new era for fan-made artwork. Rixx has shown that is now possible for player-artists to work with CCP Games to produce and market their efforts. If sales of Rixx's posters is strong, the likelihood of expanding this program rises significantly. So, I urge everyone reading this to take a look at Rixx's work, and consider ordering a set of his posters. You won't be disappointed in their quality, let me assure you.

Please help Nepal now

I donated to the "PLEX for Good" campaign for the victims of the recent devastating earthquakes in Nepal, and I urge everyone who can to do so as well. This campaign concludes on Sunday, May 24th, so if you haven't contributed yet, please read this dev blog and make a donation today!

Cashing in on Fozziesov (I hope!)

I wonder how CCP Fozzie feels about the next version of nullsec sovereignty mechanics being generally called "Fozziesov", after him? If it turns out to be widely accepted, he'll be relieved, I'm sure - but if it all goes bad and people take up their pitchforks and torches, I'm sure he'll be less than enthusiastic about becoming the focal point of player rage and rebellion.

I don't think he needs to worry. I'm impressed with how he has handled the dialogue with the player base about the coming changes, which will be rolled out in phases in June and July. He and the CCP developer team have listened to player feedback and refined the proposed sov mechanics, without abdicating the integrity of their design.

I agree with Talvorian Dex that the latest iteration of Fozziesov addresses a lot of potential issues. The "trollceptor" concern - fitting a long-range Tech II Entosis Link on a super-fast, hard-to-catch ship and harassing enemies endlessly with them - is now much less of a worry. Increasing the defense ratings of a designated alliance capital system helps improve the importance of geography (or should I say, astrography?) under the new system, which is generally a good thing - it will help make warfare in nullsec more territorial. Adjusting the vulnerability windows, and making them more dynamic, provides more options for players in different time zones to participate in "good fights".

I've been busy manufacturing a lot of Tech II ammo and modules, in anticipation of an increase in demand after Fozziesov. Am I guessing right? Only Bob knows.

I've been busy manufacturing a lot of Tech II ammo and modules, in anticipation of an increase in demand after Fozziesov. Am I guessing right? Only Bob knows.

In general, I like just about everything I hear about Fozziesov. It's a brilliant design, in that it eliminates the most boring part of old Dominion sov mechanics: grinding down structures in long, boring sieges. The new system should distribute conflict across multiple systems in a constellation, and open a wealth of dynamic tactics and strategic choices. It's going to be a lot of fun to see how it all unfolds when the new mechanics are rolled out in the summer.

As a mostly highsec carebear industrialist, why do I care at all about Fozziesov? Because war is good for business. I'm hoping that Fozziesov does indeed encourage the nullsec powers to engage in widespread conflict, and I'm hoping that it opens up nullsec to new entrants who want to make their claim to their own space. If it does, then that can only increase demand for the kinds of Tech II components that I am building.

In fact, I am betting big that this does happen. I've been manufacturing and hoarding billions in value of Tech II ammo and modules. I'll be watching the markets with eager anticipation in late summer, and hope to cash in on a significant rise in demand.

My biggest worry is that everyone else, including the nullsec powers themselves, are doing the exact same thing. There may be quite a backlog of items in producers' inventories, waiting for the same wave of buyers. My hoarding strategy may backfire badly, or take much longer to come to fruition than I hoped. But I'm enjoying myself, thinking about the potential payoff if I'm guessing right.

We live in interesting times

So it goes in EVE Online. These are very interesting times indeed, with so many good things happening, or about to happen, in the game. I don't think I've been more optimistic about the future of the game, or what it means to our community of players. It feels like CCP Games is just firing regularly on all cylinders these days. The high-quality developments in the lore, the content, the mechanics, and the frequent updates - it all just seems to be working well.

For a game as complex as EVE Online, and for a player base as difficult to please as our community can be, that is saying something. I can't wait to see how it all unfolds over the summer and beyond.

Fly safe! o7