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Fight at the POS in A-ELE2 July 29, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The battle had been raging for a while when I sat down at my computer and saw a list of pings from Blawrf McTaggart, CFC Skymarshall.  Most of them were old enough to discard, fleets long since off to the races, and trying to catch up by yourself is a mugs game.  But the last one was only six minutes old, a call to get into a reinforcement fleet and get on a titan for a bridge into the current fight.

Multiple doctrines were being called up; Harpies, Celestis, and Apocalypses were in demand.  I was in my high sec implant clone, still working away at my leadership training plan, but my timer had run down and I was clear to clone jump immediately.  So it was back to my clone in F2OY-X where I jumped into my Apoc, primarily because I had the power grid implant needed to fly the doctrine fit already installed in the clone, and if I was going to lose it I figured I might as well lose it in the ship I need it for.

I was on the bounce right away, into the fleet with the titan to get a bridge, undock, enter the POS password, warp to the titan at 10km so as not to bump it, into the bubble, and then a quick burst of speed with the microwarp drive to get in range because the bridge was already up and I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next group to form up and get bridged.

Passing into the POS

Passing into the POS

We landed in A-ELE2 and things slowed way, way down.  There were about 1,100 people in the system and TiDi had everything running at 10% of normal speed.

A-ELE2 is not that far away from our staging system in F2OY-X, but it is in the hot zone corner of Delve, the NPC null sec, where our foes are staged and where there are often camps and where a lot of the action happens.

Where things happen in Delve

Where things happen in Delve

I dropped the reinforcement fleet and changed com channels to find out what the Baltec fleet was doing.  Reagalan’s was the FC and he was calling targets already.  It was time to get out there, but servers were balking at doing anything.  It took half a dozen tries to get into fleet even though there was space available and then it was time for the long, slow warp to join the battle.

Landing on grid was agonizing.  My ship seemed to spend an eternity stopped at the battle but still in warp.  I could see the targets being broadcast, they were in my overview, but I could not lock them up because I was still flagged as being in warp.  Finally, the server relented and I was back in normal space and able to engage targets.  Despite TiDi, the enemy, a host of Black Legion Augoror Navy Issues were in a bubble and going down fast.  Locking a target took ages, and when you finally got somebody locked they would appear to be only lightly damaged before suddenly blinking out in the familiar destroyed sequence.  They cycle time of my lasers was the gating factor for kills.  I launched some drones and got those into action to give myself an additional way to deal damage… and to whore on kill mails.

Reagalan had the fleet orbiting the POS tower, which is at the very center of the defensive bubble/shield, at just enough range to be outside of the bubble and able to fire, but also able to duck back in and become immune should they get targeted.  After the action, Reagalan asked how many pilots managed to pull off this maneuver, and there was quite a show of hands.  That, and reports shared with us about Black Legion complaining about us constantly blowing up their anchor or target caller because we had a spy in their midst, seemed to be tiling things our way.

And then, as often is the case, Black Legion got free of the bubbles and warped off, leaving us alone in space orbiting the POS with no targets.  TiDi dropped from the heart crushing 10% to a bearable range as the server was no longer having to keep track of hundreds of ships moving and locking and firing and taking damage.

We sat there for a bit.  There was a report of a fight at the 1DH gate, but Reagalan warned us not to just jump in willy nilly thinking we would get a few more kills.  So we stayed in orbit of the POS for a bit until the time was ripe, then he warped us all off to the gate together where the Brave Newbies Moa fleet had been bubbled.  Then it was a race to lock up targets again before the exploded.  Reagalan was broadcasting targets, but they were popping so quickly I just took to sorting by range and locking up everything possible in hopes of getting in a shot or two.  That did not last long, the Moas melting like snow under a hot sun.

Then it was back to the POS and into orbit.  There was actually a very nice starburst pattern of ships as we landed in a ball on the tower and then turned on MWDs to get out of the shields and into orbit.  We waited there for a while to watch the POS for any further hostiles and cover the carriers that had been sitting in a happy, self-repping ball all this time.  My corp CEO was in the carrier ball, in one of two Chimeras in a sea of Archons.  He wanted me to get a good shot of him, which I figured I had better do because I haven’t done much with the corp in ages.  I go on strat ops and click on participation links.  I don’t play with our towers, mine, do planetary interaction, or even rat much these days.

After the carriers pulled out, we headed to the 1DH gate where there was a scramble to get through as the ISboxer bombers were out and about and waiting for us to land on the gate.  All those people piling on the gate caused a bunch of people to drop, so there was a long wait until people got back online, through the gate, and back with the fleet.  Then it was another gate back to F2OY-X and then to the station and done.

I never did get the story as to how this fight started, except that it was over the POS where the brawl took place.

According to the battle report, there were more than 1,200 players involved with over 1,500 ships on the field over the course of the fight, with losses of nearly 48 billion ISK for both sides combined.  The split in forces was 686 CFC to 528 hostiles on grid, so not excessively unbalanced.  Black Legion and their allies ended up with more kills, destroying 435 ships to the 251 we blew up.  On the ISK war, things tilted our way, with the hostiles losing some expensive ships.

CFC is Blue

CFC is Blue

That comes out to about 21 billion in losses for the CFC and a little over 26 billion for the hostiles.  And we ended up with the POS still intact.  So I guess we won.

One bit of intel that got passed along was about TEST, who apparently had 60+ Ishtars formed up at one point, but then did not join the battle.  That force might have changed the ISK war if not the overall result of the battle.

After a quiet week or so, where I mostly collected participation links for sitting on titans by never bridging into combat, or chasing around reluctant foes when we did, it was nice to get into a stand up fight that did not involve us getting blow up in Ruptures. (Rupture doctrine is now dead.)  It managed to push me over the 1,000 kill mail mark, though EVE Kill and Zkillboard cannot agree on exactly how many kill mails I have been on over the years. (And Battle Clinic says I have less than 700. No idea what the right number actually is.)

And, as usual, screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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Quote of the Day – In Space it is Still Location, Location, Location July 25, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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To put it bluntly, if you want to catch instawarping interceptors, the most important part is living in London.

-Namamai, Understanding the EVE Online Server Tick

There is an interesting/informative article up over at TMC about how the processing loop of EVE Online dictates if you’ll be able to lock up and point that decloaking interceptor on a gate.

I actually had some experience with a similar scenario just recently.  In our expedition to Brave Newbies’ space our fleet, made up primarily of Harpies and interceptors and other small stuff, engaged quite a few bombers and destroyers and other easily destroyed ships.

Hanging on the station in V-3YG7

Hanging on the station in V-3YG7

It doesn’t take a ton of shots to kill a bomber, the glass cannon of New Eden, and destroyers are fragile compared to tech II frigates.  So when targets presented themselves it was a race to lock things up and get a shot off before they exploded.  Any number of times I would get something locked and have the guns going in the first firing cycle only to be informed that the target had already exploded.

I was not alone in experiencing this.  People were starting to get angry on coms at one point, raging against the interceptors in the fleet… because interceptors…  and wondering who amongst them were running extra sensor boosters to hog all the kills.

Of course, interceptor pilots were quick to point out that they too were getting aced out of kills in exactly the same way.  Somebody on coms started in trying to explain the whole tick thing, but it was neither the time nor the place for such a lesson.  We had a fleet op to fly and a jump bridge on which to get pipe bombed still.

So it was nice to have the article linked at the top show up to get back to the explanation of ticks and why you might be able to target someone and activate your guns and still get shut out of the kill mail.  As I said, interesting stuff, but the informative bit was the punchline, the fact that you can be the fastest guy in the fleet to hit the right button, but if your packets don’t arrive in London, where the main server cluster is housed, in time to be part of the current cycle, you’re not getting on that kill mail.

Latency is still a thing.

PLEX and its new Daughter, GRACE July 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest II, WildStar.
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5 comments

I do not pay much attention to Anarchy Online.  Well, I don’t pay it any mind at all, really aside from the occasional industry lore aspects around things like rocky starts (“nearly unplayable” -GameSpy) and longevity. (It turned 13 just about a month back.)

AnarchyOnlineLogo

But some people do still pay attention to it.  There was a post up over at Massively announcing that the game had announced a new aspect to their subscription plan.

Called GRACE, for Grid Access Credit Extension, it is an in-game item that can be traded or sold between players that, once redeemed, turns into 30 days of game subscription time.  There is a FAQ.

Basically, this the AO version of EVE Online PLEX.

This is PLEX

No longer this cheap in Jita

PLEX itself has been live in EVE Online for just about five years at this point, where it has been a success thanks in large part to the in-game economy which is all pervasive in New Eden.  There are a lot of aspects of the game you can avoid, but if you want to play you are going to be part of the economy.

The economy is such a big deal in EVE that I was curious if MMOs with much more optional or fragmented economies could really make something like PLEX work.  World of Warcraft, with its large player base and need for gold sinks, seemed like it might be able to, even with the economy sliced up into three markets on hundreds of different servers.  And Blizzard dipped their toe in the water… sort of… with the kitten economy idea.  But they haven’t done much since.

It was left to Sony Online Entertainment to give the PLEX idea a try in the fantasy realm, introducing Krono to EverQuest II about two years back and then expanding it to their other games.

All About Krono

All About Krono

I really have no idea how Krono has worked out.  They still have Krono as an option, even after the big consolidation of game subscriptions into the new All Access plan back in April, but I have never seen more than a couple on the market when I have bothered to check, and the prices seemed wildly different on different servers, so I cannot tell if they just don’t get used or if they are so popular that they sell out quickly to the platinum barons of Norrath.  And the fact that the game is free to play complicates things.

Moving on, earlier this year we had two new MMOs announcing that they were all-in on monthly subscriptions.  First, The Elder Scrolls Online made its position clear, and then WildStar joined the subscription only parade as well.  But their business model also included something called CREDD, which is how they spell PLEX on Nexus I gather.  Because it was that PLEX model again, an in-game item worth game time, which Carbine seemed to be using as a loophole to claim some sort of free to play status since, technically, after you bought the game, you could find a way to play for free if you earned enough in-game money to buy CREDD.

In Carbine’s world, you can play for free so long as they get paid.  But to their credit, I don’t think they have overplayed their definition of free to play… yet.

My first thought when they announced their business model, including the CREDD bit, was whether or not it had worked for SOE by that point.  That seemed like a reasonable question.  Yes, a shiny new game sporting a subscription-only model with a brand new, out of the box in-game economy might not be the best parallel, what else was I going to compare it too?

The question is still unanswered at this point as far as I am concerned.  The idea works in EVE, but I couldn’t tell you if it was worthwhile elsewhere.

And now Funcom is throwing its hat in the ring with Anarchy Online, which doesn’t help my understanding at all, because I am not even sure what their business model is.  I think it is mostly subscriptions, but they have had this short-term “Free Play” option that shows you ads in game since… what… 2004?  So does that make it free to play?  And how many people even play?  The late Game Data site tracked them as peaking at 60K subscriptions just after launch, dropping down to 10K by 2006, but nothing after that.

So who is out there playing Anarchy Online?  What do you think GRACE going to do for the game, if anything?

Or, for that matter, how about CREDD in WildStar or Krono in SOE games?

You Get to Decorate the House You Have, Not the House You Might Want July 23, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Runes of Magic, World of Warcraft.
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22 comments

Housing is one of the great line-item features that a lot of people think every MMO should have.  There is a strong desire to have a place to call your own in what tends to be an unchanging and unalterable virtual world.  There is some need within us to leave our mark somewhere in the game.  I get that.

And companies have responded to that over the years, offering up various forms of housing.  Housing was a big part of Ultima Online back in the day.  Housing was part of the attraction of WildStar, which just launched a few weeks back.  And over the years I have explored various implementations.  If I play a game long enough, and it has housing, I am usually there to give it a try.

But how well it sticks for me… well, that is another story.

Rift offered up housing with the Storm Legion expansion, but it was so free form that I barely did anything with it.

Dimension by the Sea

Unfurnished Dimension by the Sea

People have done amazing things with dimensions in Rift… they were even doing so back during the Storm Legion beta… but, like most of Storm Legion, it just didn’t hook me.

Lord of the Rings Online, by comparison, offered some very pretty housing that was, in fact, a house.  A house on a lot even.

A house in Bree

A house in Bree

But the options for it were so limited that I ended up letting it lapse.  There wasn’t much advantage to having the house and the customizations were limited to just a few locations within the house.  You could hang up things from the world… taxidermied monsters or fishing trophies… but it still felt very generic.

And then clipping issues...

And then clipping issues…

And while I liked the idea of there being a yard, the instanced neighborhoods were somewhat awkward.

Elves and their damn monuments

Elves and their damn monuments

And it was tough to find a neighborhood where all of us could find a house we could afford.  In the end, the minor storage benefit of my house in LOTRO meant I let the lease lapse.

EverQuest actually threw down and added housing with the House of Thule expansion.  It borrowed a lot from its younger brother, EverQuest II, while using the instanced neighborhood model similar to LOTRO.  And I was reasonably impressed with SOE’s ability to overlay yet another complex interface onto the aging EverQuest client.  Plus the houses looked good.

A more complete development

A Norrathian housing development

The problem there was that I was pretty much done with EverQuest as a main game by that point.  I like to visit old Norrath, so I had to go try it out, but I had nothing really to put in the house and the upkeep, which was aimed at those who had kept up with inflation, was well beyond my means.

And there have been others.  Runes of Magic offered housing that gave you some form of storage, along with a woman in a skimpy French maid outfit.

Go Google the outfit

Go Google the outfit

Landmark seems to be all housing.  It is about as free form as you can get. no game at this point.

Behold Zuul's Sky Altar

Behold Zuul’s Sky Altar

The pity is that there is no actual game around it yet.

Meanwhile, in EVE Online, the Captain’s quarters… the start (and probably the end) of housing in New Eden… allowed you to see your full body at last, and then park that body on a couch to watch something boring on a screen.

What is on Space TV today?

What is on Space TV today?

That might be too meta for me.

And since I am on about different flavors of housing, I will mention Star Wars Galaxies before some fan comes in to remind us all that this was the greatest housing ever.  We will have to agree to disagree on that point.  Yes, it gave you your own little spot in the real world where you could open a store or whatever.  But it was a visual blight on the game,  with huge clumps of houses strewn across the open landscape, encroaching right up to the edge of any in-game landmark.  It made the game look like a Tatooine trailer park.

Looks like a Star Wars trailer park

Literally a Tatooine trailer park

But after having gone through so much in-game housing over the years, I have to say that there has only been one housing model that has really suited me.  And that is the EverQuest II model.

Yes, you do not get your own house in the midst of the world.  At best you share a door to a stately home or guild hall with everybody else who has rented the same facility, so you all live there in parallel in your own instances.  I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing.  It keeps away the blight problem, and while there is the problem of finding somebody’s house from a listing at a door, one of the bragging points I have heard about the SWG model was that finding people was difficult so that knowing where a given person lived and set up a store gave you power.  I’ll take the less blight version.

But the key for me was that EQII housing gave me exactly what I wanted, which was a simple house where I could hang trophies and other rewards from my travels.  I had the option to decorate, and at times Gaff, who had a carpenter, would send me some neat furniture to spiff up my home, but mostly I just decorated with things picked up as I played.  And the important part was that somebody at SOE foresaw that need and provided me with plenty of items to stick in my home.  In fact, whoever came up with the reward of a weapon you could mount on your wall for the Lore & Legend quests was a genius, followed by the person who decided to make heritage quest rewards displayable in your home.  I went through and looked at every character I had played past level 20 the other night, and every single one of them has a house and has at least some Lore & Legend quest rewards hung on the wall.

Weapons on the wall

Weapons on the wall

There are other aspects about it that make EQII housing good.  The interface is simple.  The house models themselves come in a variety of designs, from simple box flats to a whole island if you want a big guild hall.  And the base models are cheap.  You can have a house in any city for five silver a week, which was inexpensive back at launch when SOE was working very hard to keep a lid on inflation and no mob in the game dropped actual coin.

EverQuest II housing is really ideal for my desires. It is just a pity that it is in EQII.

It is a pity because I do not play EQII.  I don’t play it because, for all the little things it does right, I don’t enjoy the main game.  I don’t enjoy the main game, the character progression and zones and levels and what not for various reasons.  Some of the reasons are pretty concrete, such as the fact that none of my close friends play the game anymore.  It is on the official “never again” list for the instance group.  Some of the reasons are very subjective.  I really don’t like the 50-70 zones all that much.  Everything after Desert of Flames makes me yawn, and even that expansion still strikes me as “the new stuff.”

After all of the above, I am finally getting to my point.

Despite the fact that EverQuest II has pretty much the ideal housing setup for me, I do not play EverQuest II.  I don’t play EverQuest II because I don’t play MMOs for the side features, I play them because I enjoy the overall game.

So I love housing in EverQuest II and the music system in Lord of the Rings Online and the old world of EverQuest and the OCD inducing find all the points of interest apects of GuildWars 2 and… hrmm… I am sure sure there is something I could inject here about Rift if I thought about it… but I don’t play those game because the main game just doesn’t click with me.

I play World of Warcraft and EVE Online which, respectively, ten years in has no housing at all and possibly the most useless housing in the genre.  I play them because I enjoy the main game, or the part of the main game in which I indulge.

So if you are out there trolling for page views by raging about garrisons in one breath because they didn’t meet your unrealistic and unsubstantiated expectations, after making it clear you never cared about housing being brought to WoW in the previous breath, in an environment where housing was probably a slip of the tongue to describe the feature, because Blizzard has been pretty clear in the past about their views on housing in WoW… well… I guess I got the punch line at the start of this sentence, didn’t I?  Those who get paid by the page view…

Would I like garrisons to be EQII housing brought to Azeroth?  You bet!  That would be a dream come true.

But unless you have a compelling argument that garrisons are so bad that they are going to ruin the main game, there isn’t much drama to be had in my opinion.  We can talk about how better the developers might have spent their time I suppose.  But this is a pet battles sort of feature.

In the end, I am buying Warlords of Draenor for ten more levels of World of Warcraft and all the zones and stories and pop culture references and silly shenanigans that goes with it.  And I suspect that will be the story for most people.

If garrisons have any merit, people will play with them and maybe even stay subscribed a bit longer.  Or if they have any achievements… and of course they will have achievements… people will play with them for that.  And if garrisons are truly the waste of time and effort as described, then people will use them to the extent that they need to in order to get to level cap and grab the achievements, at which point they will be forgotten like many a feature in the past.

Is somebody going to try to convince me that this was a make or break feature for Warlords of Draenor?

Or, if you want, just tell me about your favorite MMO housing.  Somebody will anyway, so I might as well invite it!

The tl;dr version: If housing really is a must-have important feature for you, you probably aren’t playing WoW now and you probably won’t be playing it in the future.

Anyway, back to happy pictures.  I put a gallery of my housing collections in EQII, plus a bit of the Revelry & Honor guild hall (which is huge), after the cut, because it really is my ideal housing plan.

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Shoes for Industry – Crius Deployed to New Eden July 22, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The first of CCP’s smaller, more frequent expansions went live today in EVE Online.  They call it Crius, which I keep wanting to type as Cirrus.

EVE Online - Crius

EVE Online – Crius

The Kronos expansion went live back at the beginning of June, the last of the expansions with a six month run-up to launch.  It was big and had bits and pieces for just about everybody.

With Crius, the age of the more focused expansion begins.  What does it mean?

That is a question with answers on several levels.

Crius itself is focused on industry in New Eden.  You can read the release notes for all the gory details, or the page devoted to the expansion, which at least has some pictures related to the changes for the more visually oriented.  Or there is the video.  There is always a video.   And music.  There is a Crius theme up on SoundCloud, where CCP posts all the EVE Online music.

Anyway, there are some general bug fixes and some small changes in other areas, but most everything is about industry.

Which isn’t very exciting to some.

Not that industry isn’t of absolute, vital importance to the game.  Without the great industrial concerns of New Eden we might very well be flying about in rookie ships with civilian modules, terrorized by that guy who just finished the tutorial and was flying a Bantam or a Kestral.  Every other ship in EVE Online has to be built by somebody.  Some player in the game buys the blueprint, collects the materials, runs the assembly job, and lists the result on the market for just about every ship hull you want to buy.  I am not sure I have played any MMO that depended so much upon player crafting.

So industry deserves attention.  I am just not sure that it grabs much attention.

I went through an industrial phase myself, and my eyes still start to glaze over looking at those patch notes.  I like that you now only need 100 of any ore to refine it.  I have several stacks of 487 units of some ore that used to require 500 to refine.  And it is a good thing that was mentioned at the top of the list, because it kept me from speed scrolling to the bottom of the notes for probably a good five seconds as I looked for something else that made sense to me.  I think it is easier to plant a POS in high sec now.  Maybe.

I’d better stick to the page with the pictures.  Go Teams!  They are a some kind of thing now.

Necessary stuff, but not exactly exciting.  No marketing team’s dream here.  The ingredients required for things to go boom, without any of the actually boom.

And it brings change to what is a fairly conservative group in New Eden.

The core of these changes were supposed to go into the Kronos expansion, but there was such a hue and cry over them and how they might change the dynamics of industry and rob this group or that of their livelihood that it got pushed off to Crius.  Industry is such a basic necessity to the game that even CCP, who have been known succumb to their rash viking heritage from time to time, felt they had better back off and think about this.  But eventually they came up with something that did not start a revolution amongst industrialists against the company, and that is going live today.

Which brings me to the big question, what do these changes mean to the game itself?

Damned if I know.

I am so long out of the industrial side of things that I can’t gauge what will be a popular win and what will be a milestone around the neck of this expansion.  But there are plenty of smart people in EVE Online who can explain things.  You can try these:

I am sure there will be many more posts on the topic.  The general sense seems to be that things will be a bit more expensive.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, the next focused expansion on the list, Hyperion, should be well under way.  We should start seeing dev blogs about that soon.

The CCP Train Schedule

The CCP Train Schedule

While the dates have already changed, we should still see Hyperion about eight weeks down the line if CCP can hold to its planned pace.

Quote of the Day – What Baltec Fleet Really Does July 21, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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7 comments

Dreadnoughts were literally a punchline of nullsec jokes until the five-minute siege timer, and now unless in blap mode they scuttle for cover like oversized space-cockroaches​, cap boosters firing wildly, when confronted with bright lights​.

-The Mittani, Traffic Control: Apex Force

The Mittani is continuing his pot stirring over at TMC with his Traffic Control series of columns.  This time around he is on about the current chestnut of favor, power projection, and how it has ruined null sec.  I was particularly amused by the dismissal of dreadnoughts, quoted in part above, as a good percentage of Baltec fleets I’ve stood up for over the last year… from midway through Fountain forward… have been called to cover dreadnought fleets.

Reinforcing the first tower

Baltecs babysitting dreads

Of those call ups, a good half of the time we end up just sitting on a titan, a fleet in being, as much there to dissuade any hostile move as to actually shoot something.  We only get to go out and shoot if the target system is beyond the range of a titan bridge.  And even then, as with recent run down to Delve, we have to move out, cover the system, wait for the dreads to arrive, let them shoot stuff up, then hang out while they head home before we can start for home ourselves.

I actually have all the skills required for a Naglfar dreadnought at this point.  It might be time to buy one so Baltec fleet can sit on a titan or scurry across space to protect me.

What Does It Mean to be a “Subscription MMO?” July 18, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft.
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24 comments

I am on the press release list along with a lot of real media outlets, so my inbox is often stuffed with the raw material that is barely recycled for content a lot of places around the web.

I skim through them every day, but don’t bother to mention 99% of them as they tend to be rather thin on things worth talking about.

This morning through there was a press release from SuperData Research pointing at their June factoid report.  Lots of little bits of data in that from which you can barely come up with to points to draw a line about anything.

The highlight of the report though was a chart listing out revenues for the top subscription-based MMO titles for 2013, worldwide.

Top Subscription MMO Revenue

Top Subscription MMO Revenue

The top spot is unsurprising.  WoW, even down to something like 60% of its peak, still rakes in money like no other.  Then there are a couple Asian MMOs which you might have heard of if you have been paying close enough attention.  Lineage 1 is still NCsoft’s biggest money maker.

And then you come to Star Wars: The Old Republic and Lord of the Rings Online, where you might legitimately ask a question like, “Hey, aren’t those free to play?”

As the title of this post asks, what makes for a subscription MMO these days?  Because if we are talking about needing a subscription to play, several of those titles fall off the list immediately.

But if, as the list here suggests, merely offering a subscription option is enough to be called a subscription MMO, then aren’t we missing a title or two.

Specifically, I would expect EverQuest II to make the list.  I don’t have any hard data to back up that expectation, but my gut impression of the game is that it ought to be somewhere on the list ahead of Lord of the Rings Online, something that is backed up, in my mind, by the fact that EQII has no problems cranking out expansions and interim content for all ranges of player while LOTRO is publicly giving up on raiders for now and doesn’t seem to be able to scrape it together for an expansion in 2014.

But maybe EQII isn’t doing as well as I thought.  Or maybe SOE’s model somehow falls outside of what SuperData considered a subscription MMO.  Or, most likely, maybe SOE just didn’t cooperate with SuperData and its information requests.  And one could also ask about Final Fantasy XIV.

Otherwise, I am somewhat surprised at where LOTRO ranks.  SWTOR is still popular, if not WoW popular, and that its revenue is only 1.65x what Turbine gets for LOTRO seems odd, given the downtrodden way Turbine seems these days.  And Rift seems way down the line.  But that does seem to mostly line up with the 2013 end of year summary for the Digital Dozen over at The Nosy Gamer.  EVE is generally higher on the list than LOTRO, but otherwise it seems about right.  Does that give this chart more validity?  Or the Digital Dozen?

And, of course, one key item missing from this chart is how much subscription revenue played into the totals listed.

Because the follow up chart points out that subscription revenues have been decreasing since their peak in 2010.

Subscription revenue

Subscription revenue

Subscriptions are trending down, while microtransactions are… well…  sort of flat really if you look at that line.  They are not not rising up sufficiently to off-set the loss of subscription revenue overall, which seems to go against what some cheerleaders for the model would have us believe.

Which might be why we saw a couple of subscription based launches this year.  SuperData pulled out the very exact number of 772,374 for The Elder Scrolls Online subscriptions.  That would make for a nice revenue stream.  WildStar was mentioned, but since it just launched in June, there were no numbers.

I would really like to know how much of the revenue for a game like SWTOR or LOTRO comes from subscribers.  If that chart is to be believed, subscriptions still make up most of the revenue.

And what does all of this mean?  This isn’t the range of data I would like, but you look at the industry with the data you have, not the data you want.  But I am not prepared to go all Massively comment thread, where the trend seems to be “lying liars lie!” for everybody whose pet theory is not supported by the data provided.

Anyway, as noted, the full report is here.  If you want more data, you have to pay.

Addendum: Azuriel makes an interesting comparison between the above chart and other MMO data available.

Addendum 2: And Flosch takes the numbers and extrapolates a bit.

Send More Ruptures! July 18, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

I’d just like to congratulate the entire CFC on losing over 627 ruptures in the last five days.

Good work, all. Keep it up.

### Original broadcast from blawrf_mctaggart at 2014-07-17 01:28:10.494439 ###

It looks like my experience so far with Gamma Fleet Ruptures is not unique.

Ruptures undock

Ruptures undock to meet their doom

Gamma Fleet is a low cost doctrine that is supposed to be expendable.  Lose one and buy another while you’re waiting for your reimbursement because they are cheap.  But I am not sure if they are supposed to be quite that expendable.

Then again, maybe taking on bombers isn’t the right job for them.  That might be the “Never pet a burning dog” lesson of the campaign so far.

You might think we’d be down on Ruptures.  Well, I suppose we are a bit.  Calling a Rupture fleet is a way to get a laugh.  On the other hand, the supply chain has been in full swing getting ships out to Delve to replace losses and we now have hundred of Ruptures on contract just waiting to be blown up.  It has even caused a small bump in the price of Rupture hulls in Jita.

Rupture market for the last 10 days

Rupture market for the last 10 days

The wide reddish area, the Donchian channel, shows that pricing has been changing, with the gap between high and low sales widening as the average price jumped up a bit.

So we are invested in Ruptures.  Maybe.  A lot of fleet doctrines die out or get changed soon after a major deployment starts.  We didn’t end up the war in Fountain flying the same fleets we did at the start.  And I still have a Ferox sitting out in Curse left over from the fleeting “Non-ironic Ferox Doctrine” that was in vogue for about 20 minutes.  That was just long enough for me to buy one on contract.

And if we’re going to continue to chase bombers in Ruptures, I’ve taken the liberty of reworking the lyrics to the WWI tune Bombed Last Night to be our theme.

Bombed last night, Bombed the night before
Gonna get bombed again tonight if we never get bombed no more.
When we’re bombed, we die so damn quickly
God damnn the boxin’ bombers from PASTA and NC

They’re bombin’ us, they’re bombin’ us,
Only one Rupture left for the four of us.
Glory be to God there are no more of us
‘Cause one of us could fill it all alone.

I think I need something better for the last two lines, but it gets the point across all the same.

Fresh Out of Ruptures July 16, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

Bombs and smart bombs are becoming a theme for me in Delve.

The other day our Harpy fleet got caught on a jump bridge, bubbled, and smart bombed into pieces.  That is apparently a known Pasta tactic.  The warp disruption bubble disables the jump bridge so the fleet landing on it is stuck there as soon as the bubble goes up.  And then the battleships drop in and start smart bombing the the knowledge that they can survive while their frigate foes will likely perish before they can retaliate.  We were probably lucky to kill a couple during that run.

Last night was a whole lot worse.

There was a call up on Jabber for a short duration fleet to take care of some hostiles sitting in our staging system, F2OY-X.  The fleet was going to be either Ruptures or Harpies depending on how many people showed up.  Asher Elias was the FC and he had a plan.

The numbers appeared to dictate Ruptures.  I had two docked up in the station.  There was a change to the fitting requested and some special ammo to be purchased.  This was going to enable us to kill some bombers that were running about the system.

We undocked and got ourselves together.  We didn’t have enough logistics, not that it would matter in the end, but the FC spent some time trying to get people to switch.  I nearly did… I bought a Scythe on contract… but really wanted to shoot something.  I had never flown a Rupture before, so it was a new thing.

After some moving about the FC got us lined up on towards the 1DH gate.  There was a Caracal fleet there acting as bait.  We knew it was bait.  The FC told us it was bait.  The moment we landed within range to shoot them, we would get bombed.  Our goal, with each Rupture fit with a sensor booster in place of a hardener, was to shoot the bombers as they came in for their run.

The fleet warped into range of the Caracals, which just hung about ignored by us.  Then bombers landed and launched their bombs which hit us square on as we were locking up and firing.  I think we got two.  Our fleet, however, was ravaged.  My Rupture was gone.  The logis, flying off to one side as they should, survived, and a few of the Ruptures made it, but it was a bad exchange for us.

Worst of all though was the fact that I didn’t get a good screen shot of all those bombs going off.  It was seriously beautiful, but in my haste to get the shot  I hit the escape key rather than they key I have mapped to turn off the UI and snap a screen shot.  I’d lose a couple of ships for a good screen shot most days of the week, but this time it was a bust.

No bombs, just settings

No bombs, just settings

Those of us who lost ships warped back to the station.  Podding people did not appear to be on the agenda, which was fine with me.  My clone costs almost as much as a Rupture.

However, the station was out of sensor boosters this time around, so we went with the stock Gamma Fleet Rupture fit.  I bought some more of the special bomber hunting ammo and undocked to join the fleet.  There was some carping about a participation link at this point, people having lost ships, but the FC was disinclined to generate one so soon into the op.

At this point there was talk of running out to fight Brave Newbies.  Then the word came down that a Brave Newbie Drake fleet was in the area.  That sounded like an ideal target and there was much enthusiasm for shooting them.  But first we were going to take another run at the bombers in system.  The bait was now on the station undock, so the FC maneuvered us around to get us lined up to warp in at just the right spot.  That set, he warped us in with essentially the same plan; shoot bombers as they dropped from warp to launch.  However, we were not exactly in the right spot and, I swear on this, the last order I heard before the bombers hit was, “Prop mods on!” to speed us up a bit to get us in position.

Of course, that just meant most of us had our microwarp drives on when the bombers hit, boosting our signature radius and making us all the more vulnerable to the incoming bombs.

The Scythes were well positioned again… hail to the logi anchor for being on the ball… but many Ruptures went “Boom!” all to quickly for logi to save us.

We got our participation link after that.

Ruptures are supposed to be cheap, expendable brawlers to jump in en masse, so losing a couple wasn’t a big dent to the wallet, but I’d still like to get on a kill mail before one explodes.

I made it back to the station.  There was some talk about what to do next.  Ruptures were momentarily out of stock in the system.  I decided to call it a night at that point.  I had started a bit late for a work night in any case and talks of roaming out for an hour or so were no longer thrilling me.  Life in New Eden.

You can look at the kill stats for the time frame of those encounters.  That is a lot of dead Ruptures relative to hostile kills.  And you can see a lot of the pilots listed twice.

Including me

Including me

You will also note on that listing a couple groups of bombers made up of pilots with variations on the same name.

Septuplates!

Septuplates!

There is an example of the recently controversial IS Boxer debate, wherein a good bomber pilot has his skills effectively multiplied and is able to do perfectly timed runs solo.  All good and legal according to CCP, differentiating them again from some other games in the genre.  Better to just not take the bait as we did… though we did knock off one of his clones at least, making him 14% less effective I suppose.

But I am still annoyed that I did not get a good screen shot of the bombs going off on either run against us.  That is what I really wanted!  Life of a space tourist.

So a few other shots will have to do.

A Weekend in Delve and Other Bits July 14, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

I was somewhat otherwise occupied this past weekend, and so did not get many chances to partake in the Thunderdome that is currently Delve.  Things were clearly going on, Jabber was lit up quite frequently with fleet requests, enough so that even on my limited time budget I found a couple of opportunities.

Shipping Shipping

One of the first things I did was get my alt out in Jita and buy up some things I thought I might need for the war.  The war is new and the supply of ships and consumables has not caught up with the demands of a few hundred pilots arriving wanting to fight and replace losses.  Wars depend on logistics in EVE as in the real world.  Some contracts for key ships were starting to show up, but I sent myself a few hulls, fittings, and a supply of ammunition and such from Jita via one of our coalition haulers just to make sure I things on hand while the supply chain was ramping up… and to ensure I didn’t have to pay some of the highway robbery prices that sometimes show up before the market stabilizes.

Shipping is actually a bit pricey because the shippers all work out of Jita by default, and F2O is a long way from Jita.  An Amarr to Delve run would cut off a couple of jumps, but it is off the trade route.  Jita owns it all in that regard.

Win Fleet

I didn’t just get pipe-bombed over the weekend.  I did manage to get into one fleet that had a good run.  There was a call up for a Harpy fleet to go catch some Northern Coalition Caracals that were roaming nearby.  We managed to catch them near the gate in FWST-8 where we tore them apart. [Link points in the right direction now.]  It took us a bit to start breaking their tanks as their logi seemed to be quite on the ball, but we hung on until they started to fall.  This was helped by the fact that their choice of weaponry, heavy assault missiles, was sub-optimal for damaging wee frigates, so our own logistics were able to keep up.  A fleet of Ruptures dropped in towards the end, which makes the odds look more heavily weighted in our favor than they were for most of the fight.  Only the last few kill mails show any Ruptures involved, and the Ishtars on the chart were doing something else in system, so we were not blobbing as much as that report might indicate.

I also saw my first Nugoeihuvi Edition Caracal during the fight.

NC Caracal Fleet

NC Caracal Fleet

So somebody is buying those custom ship skins.  I might do so as well if they were available for any ship I happened to fly regularly.

Anyway, that was a short, sharp fleet battle that at least put me on a few more kill mails.

Stood Down Fleets

I also managed to get online and into a few fleets that ended up being stood down.  You still get a participation link for such fleets… they also serve who only sit and wait on a titan… but we don’t log in just for participation links.  We log in to shoot stuff.

One fleet stood down as an opportunity passed.  Just the nature of fleets in motion.  We got on and undocked only to find that the foes had other business to attend to.

Another was stood down for lack of booster ships in the fleet.  I am still training the skills to be able to fill that role, but that goal is still a good 120 days off, so I will probably be good for the next war unless the summer in Delve lasts into winter.

And the final fleet I was in that stood down was over position.  Black Legion was in system with us and neither side would put themselves at a disadvantage just to get the fight started.  They wouldn’t come to us and we wouldn’t go to them.  So we hung around on the station undock for a while before calling it quits.  That is one of the problems with this not being a sovereignty war, your fleet can stand down without any loss.  There is no moment of truth where everybody has to either show up or lose their work.  Timers suck, but they do bring people to battle.

The Mittani Resurgent

Not actually Delve related, but something that seemed to come up this past weekend.  The Mittani (the person, not the site), who has been, outside of GSF CEO updates, rather neutral in tone of late… well, neutral in tone for him… on The Mittani (the site, not the person) has suddenly come alive.

There was the announcement of a new regular feature by him, followed up by a column on the new player experience and what CCP ought to consider doing.  That got a lot of reaction, in part because his ideas probably weren’t what you might expect.  That in turn was followed by a another promised regular feature called Mittens’ Mailbox where he answers question sent to him or that come up in comments on his posts.  The first one had all the dirt you could want, including how TEST’s own intel was compromised during the Fountain War last year, how often he logs into the game, and who the enemies of the CFC really are.  Even if you hate him and rage at all his says, it is good stuff, the sort of thing that keeps the meta game spinning.

Addendum: And he is on a roll, with the next topic on the null sec stagnation front.

Addendum 2: Just in case you haven’t gotten enough of The Mittani, there is also an interview with him about getting into EVE and starting TMC posted over at Pollen.