A Decade in the Shadow of Error 37

What was going on ten years ago?  I mean, I guess you’ll get a full run down in a couple of days with my inevitable May in Review post, but work with me here for a bit.  But today we have a special anniversary to talk about.

Back in May 2012 people were trying to play the newly launched Diablo III and complaining about the dreaded error 37 that plagued the early days of the game.

Oh, I remember that

That was just the first of many issues Diablo III faced.  For example, there was error 75.

Once we could all log the game wasn’t bad, but there were the problems the itemization and the auction house, both the in game money version and the RMT version.

Wyatt “don’t you guys have phones” Cheng, the principle game designer on the Diablo team, gets irked if you suggest that the itemization was designed to force players to use the auction house (I’m too lazy to find his rant from a few months ago on Twitter), but it sure seemed like the simplest explanation.  If you take that out of the equation, then the team just messed up on itemization horribly because at-level drops were badly under powered for the content and the only way around it was to got to the auction house.

Still, even with that, it wasn’t a bad game.  The most controversial post I wrote in 2012 was probably the one where I said there wasn’t much of a gap between it and Torchlight II, which raised the hackles of a few Torchlight supporters.  A post with 38 comments is what passes for controversy around here.

That was, in part, because there was some rivalry between who would carry inherit the mantle of successor from Diablo II, the official next in the series, Diablo III, or something in the same spirit from a few of the same people who made Diablo II, which was the Torchlight story.

And then there was the dark horse, Path of Exile, the late entry in the race.

In the end, none of them really captured all of Diablo II.

Diablo III got story, Torchlight II got mods, and Path of Exile got atmosphere, but none were really a substitute for the original.  And then Blizzard gave us Diablo II Resurrected, after which nobody was really the successor because the original was alive and well again.

Meanwhile, over the last decade Blizzard spent a lot more time with Diablo III than its predecessor.  It got the Reaper of Souls expansion, which on the PC side of the house fixed itemization and got rid of the auction houses, both gold and RMT based.  That was a HUGE improvement for the game.  Then they did seasons and updates and a mini-expansion.

They did a lot better by it than they did Diablo II… at least until Diablo II Resurrected.

I even named Diablo III my ARPG of the decade, based primarily on play time.  I found it more engaging and playable than either of it rivals… and the Diablo II revival didn’t arrive until last year.

Now we’re about due for another Diablo title.  It took almost a dozen years to go from Diablo II to Diablo III, and we look to be about on the same time track as we wait for Diablo IV.

EVE Online and the Return to Expansions

There is a joke about business consultants that says if they go to a company that has a diversified portfolio of products that they will say the company should focus on its core competencies, but if they go to a company that is focused on their core competencies they will say the company should diversify their portfolio.

Distilled down, consultants often get paid to tell you that the grass is measurable greener, complete with supporting data, case studies, and customer interviews, on the other side of the fence.

But some times we don’t need a consultant to make us change course.  Sometimes we run off in pursuit of that greener grass all on our own.

Which brings me, in a round about way, to CCP’s decision to return to the idea of expansions, which was something that CCP announced at Fanfest.  Expansions are back.

Those who have been around for a long time remember that twice annual expansions used to be part of the EVE Online experience, and many of us remember those expansion names with a mixture of fondness and dread. (I have a bunch of those splash screens here if you want a ride down memory lane.)

Incarna – June 2011 – That guy looks more skeptical every time I see him

But back in 2014 CCP decided that expansions were not the thing anymore.  The era of the Jesus feature was over. Instead they attempted to go to a ten release a year cadence.  Incredibly, in hindsight, they tried to give each of those ten update a name… and theme music.

A new musical theme used to be a feature of every expansion or update for a long stretch.  those were the days.  It was a time of many things.

That proved to be too much work… names fell away and music stopped being a thing… but at least we were getting timely updates.  One of the downsides of the expansion era was often large gaps between any fixes as the company preferred the expansion to be the release vehicle.  And once the expansion hit, updates were often focused on fixing things broken in the expansion as opposed to other areas of the game.  And not every expansion was a big splash feature event.  I think we ended up with Revelations II because it was mostly fixing what was shipped with Revelations.

Revelations II – June 2007

CCP eventually opted for the quadrants idea, where each quarter of the year would have a theme and would feature updates based on that theme.  That was a bit more reasonable, better suited a modern development cadence, and still delivered fixes and updates on a regular basis.

And it wasn’t like we didn’t have some expansion-like releases.  I called the Invasion update an expansion, as it introduced the Triglavians to New Eden.  Kind of a big deal.

The Invasion was May 2019

So, in my way, I get why CCP wants to go back to the twice annual big expansion format.  It hearkens back to the peak years of the game, when growth was continuing and it seemed like CCP had the potential to conquer the world.

And believe me, some part of me wants to relive that era.  Amazing things were happening.  Huge wars, new features, crazy new ships, new areas of space, it seemed an endless bounty if you just squint hard enough through those rose tinted lenses.

But there was a lot going wrong, a lot of dropping features and moving on, a lot of broken things left unfixed, and not a lot of focus on quality of life.  The end of the expansion era saw a team show up dedicated to just fixing things, and we liked that a lot too.

Finally, while I haven’t gone and done a study of the time between announcements and launches like I have done with WoW, even years later I am left with the distinct impression that the time frames there were short, that we got 6-8 weeks build up before an expansion.  That is almost nothing compared to a WoW expansion or a new Pokemon game release, which we might be fed tidbits and updates about for a year of more.

Which is pretty similar to the build up for big features we’ve had since the end of the expansion era, so I fail to see much of a difference… unless they plan to announce things much earlier.

Anyway, I don’t have a hard point to drive home here.  It is more of a question as to whether or not CCP can recapture player enthusiasm with expansions again.  If nothing else, an expansion implies the company is bringing something big to the game.  You can get away with tuning and adjustments with quadrants, but for an expansion to land it needs to bring something new.

We shall see.  It was another of the things at Fanfest about the future rather than the present.

The TL;DR

  • The expansion era had its own set of issues.
  • CCP has been able to deliver expansion-like content with full fanfare since that era.
  • So what are we solving for by going back?

Is EVE Anywhere Anything to Care About?

I like the idea of being able to just play any game in a browser rather than having a dedicated client, but are the limitations worth the effort of building such a client?

This, of course, is related to CCP’s EVE Anywhere implementation, which was announced quite a while back and has been out in a limited beta version since March of 2021.

EVE Anywhere as long as you accept the limitations

I bring this up again because CCP released a dev blog yesterday announcing that EVE Anywhere was now available for Alpha accounts, which are those who haven’t opted for the monthly subscription plan.  The free players.

(As an aside, to whoever wrote the headline for that dev blog, it sounds like EVE Anywhere is ready for alpha testing, though it has been in beta for over a year.  I can’t tell if that was poor phrasing or a warning about the state of the implementation… though why not both?)

I tried it out when it was first available and I tried it out again this past week and… almost everything I complained about back then is still true now.

  • Fixed resolution (1920×1080)

Not the worst sin possible in and of itself, but if your monitor is not that resolution things may not look right.

  • Can only be run in full screen

This, on the other hand, is a pain in the ass, and all the more so as the app makes you think you can run it in a window or some mode besides full screen.

The lies the client tells me

But no, as soon as you get out of full screen the window is obscured by the banner that required you to click to get back to full screen.

No, you must play full screen

Oh well.

  • Doesn’t remember any settings client settings

I could probably live with the first two and find some utility in being able to log in with a web client, but then there is this.  This is the deal breaker.

Basically, any setting that the standard client stores locally… which is pretty much all of your UI choices and your overviews and such… are not picked up by the web client.

You might expect that.  The real problem is that it doesn’t remember any changes you make in the web client either.  Every time you log in it is the new unconfigured client experience.  I don’t like fiddling with my overview on the best of days, so I certainly don’t want to do it every time I log in and undock.

I will say that at least it does run in Firefox now.  It wouldn’t work for me last time, though I will admit I have my copy of Firefox locked down pretty tight.  Now it will run… it just doesn’t work very well.  Keyboard short cuts don’t work so you need to mouse and click on everything, including quitting the client.

I know, you’re going to tell me it is in beta.  It says so right there on the launch button, so it is a work in progress, and I should be charitable.  And, even a year in, I can buy into that idea.  It still isn’t very useful to me, but nobody is forcing me to use it, so its problems do not have my problems.

The little red beta flag is there to deflect criticism

And I wouldn’t have bothered with this post at all save for one detail in the dev blog.

They did, indeed, make it available to Alpha clone players, but those Alphas have to pay to use it.

Every 24 hour period required you to pay 30 PLEX which, assuming you buy the 3,000 PLEX package, means you have to pony up $1.25 a day to play.  And that just blows be away.

There are, in my world view, only two reasons you would bother making a web client version of EVE Online.

The first is that CCP is concerned that some portion of their player base, real or potential, don’t have machines that can run the client in a way that makes the game look good.  A cloud based thin client, something about which I wrote about previously, puts all the processing and rendering on the server side of the equation and the end user can just look at the pretty space pictures on their Chromebook or whatever.

And maybe that is the aim of the feature.

But the other reason you would do all of this work on a thin client so that players could run your game in a web browser is to reduce the friction that keeps new players from trying your game.  Remember that chart CCP showed us back in 2019?

How many new players log back in as time passes

CCP has been focused on the 10K or so players who log into the game to keep them logging in.  But you could argue that the stand-out number on that chart is the gap between the number of accounts registered versus how many actually log into the game.  Half of the potential players don’t even make it to the point where the game is confusing and the UI is indecipherable.  They fail somewhere between making their account and clicking “play” on the client, and I would guess that most of those fall off somewhere around download and install of the client.

Downloading and installing and configuring, those all represent friction that can keep players from getting into your game.

Ideally you could find a way… like a web based client… that would remove that friction and allow a player to just create an account and then click a button to start playing.  So the web client should at least push more new players into the game so they can hate it for what it is rather than for making them download and run an installer.

Except, of course, that new player cannot do that with EVE Online because in order to use the web client you need to spend some money to get some PLEX, and if you think downloading and installing a client is friction, getting people to pull out their wallet will dwarf that.

Back when MMORPGs were making the transition to free to play en masse, one of the primary arguments was that not forcing people to pay up front would get more players to try the game and that some percentage of those who wouldn’t pay up front would pony up once they experienced the game.

And, just because I feel like piling on a bit more, I am also very much of the opinion that if you charge for something, “it’s in beta” is not a defense.  If I’m paying you can call it whatever you want, but I am going to treat it like a finished product because what else is it at that point?

But wait… what if it isn’t actually still in beta?

CCP also ran a press release on their corporate site that said that EVE Anywhere launched yesterday.  That was enough to get some gaming sites who did more than copy and paste what they had been emailed to point out that the service is live.  Game Developer (formerly Gamesutra) took that to mean that it was out of beta.  They should have tried logging I guess.

Or maybe CCP should just be clear in their freaking press communications, because the dev blog headline sounds like it is in alpha, the dev blog itself doesn’t say it has left beta, and the corporate press release says it has launched.

I am this close to making unfavorable comparisons to Daybreak when it comes to communications here.

So what are you going to do?  As I said, it something that doesn’t affect me really, so I can safely ignore it, but it still managed to irk me and serves as an example of a poor product being handled badly.  And I can’t even start in on the fact that EVE Anywhere is not available everywhere, but still in a limited number of countries. You can’t make this up.

All of which makes the answer to my question in the headline a pretty definite “No!”

Related:

Forward into Tenerifis

I thought I had heard… and I might be mistaken… that Tenerifis, was going to be the line in the sand, the end of the flood plains and the beginning of the real defense, the place where FI.RE and their PAPI allies would make their stand.  This would be the tough nut to crack.  There was even some loose talk about making this a more formal coalition deployment, as I hinted last week.

And so we formed up and bridged in this past weekend to test this, taking on some of their structures.

The fleet landing on its way to the shoot

But when we got there, we only really had the structure to contend with, a Pandemic Horde Fortizar on its armor timer.

Not as Kinky as all that really

We rolled out in the Baltec doctrine, which is Megathrons and Apocalypses, while The Initiative was out in the Navy Apocs.

INIT showing off with a starburst

But the PAPI threat never quite materialized.  They threw some bombs at us from the fort, but we shot ourselves more than they shot us as the GEF and INIT FCs each had their fleets shoot the other’s leader.  I think the main casualty was John Hartley, who got shot after he booshed part of the GEF fleet off of our orbits.  A Bifrost doesn’t hold up like a Monitor does.

There was a threat of getting bombed on the gate, or maybe some stragglers getting caught by dictors as we moved to leave, but it didn’t happen.  We took precautions, stayed safe, and got home… except for John Hartley I guess.

And that seemed to be the way things played out even when we started taking down their ihubs and laying down our own.  The Imperium grabbed some of their core space.

Tenerifis – May 18, 2022

Of course, once we did that and set down some structures of our own, it was time to move into a new staging system to be all the closer to the the alleged action.

And, frankly, move ops are going to be the end of me.  I will never recover financially from leaving ships strewn about the southeast of null sec.

Well, it isn’t that bad.  I haven’t actually spent much ISK on ships.  Almost everything I deployed was World War Bee surplus, save for a Sleipner.  Frankly, I’d like to lose a few of them just to get some ISK out of insurance and reimbursement because I sank a lot of ISK… for me at least… into ships in anticipation of a bloody defense of our final constellation in Delve.  But it never came to pass.  So I am hull rich and kind of ISK poor.

Fortunately, the coalition hasn’t gone through a round of doctrine changes.  The only new item was the Sleipner doctrine, meant to supplant Muninns… and then the we gave up on it once I had one in my hangar.  But that is the way it goes sometimes as a coalition line member.  I have hulls in my hangar back in Delve just waiting for some old doctrine to return.

My main problem is just not having that much free time to be a part of the deployment.  It has been a busy couple of months and I can go a week or ten days between ops, which seemed to be just about the right amount of time for us to need to move to a new staging system, hence my anxiety.

So I don’t really have much to report, just some nice screen shots I have taken here and there when I do manage to get on something that isn’t just a move op.

Baltec fleet bridging out again

The campaign is far from done though, so opportunities still await.

Bonemass and Misremembered Lessons in Valheim

One of the truisms of life is that failure often teaches better that success, and getting stomped or being savaged by a boss mob on your first run will make a lesson stick.  And if a boss fight is a milk run, then the details are… less likely to stick with you perhaps?

Anyway, this past weekend three of us got together in Valheim while Lugnut was off trying to chop down a real life tree and hoping not to have it fall on him or get caught in the kick back as it fell, a hazard in both the game and real life.

While Brynjar and I had been running around in the mountains, finding some more opportunistic silver and looking into the possibility of wolf pets, we felt we might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves.  There was, after all, a boss to be taken care of in the swamps before we could or should head off to the mountains.

So we decided to go out and prepare for the battle with Bonemass.  We had found his location and Brynjar had even put a portal in place close by in a little walled off compound, so travel out there was easy.

As for prep, we recalled having to smooth out the ground where the fight was going to take place.  Nobody wants to get caught up on something or end up swimming while a boss is after you.  And then there were platforms to be built.  The fight, we remembered, went easily enough with us up on platforms shooting Bonemass with bow… unlike that run in with The Elder.  So we got to work.

Working on a platform over the Bonemass summoning skull

Of course, Valheim won’t leave you in peace and we had a couple of run ins with the locals.  On the bright side,  as I noted before, you can do in an abomination fairly quickly by kiting it over a Surtling flame.  The problem is that you need to keep kind of close to the abomination to get him there as he is a bit short sighted… and there are the other mobs hanging out that can lead to issues.

The abomination burns, but Ula is down…

That aside, we got ourselves setup, the ground nice and level, and a couple of nice platforms in place.

I might have gone a bit far putting up a roof on a couple of them, but I had the wood and it is always raining out there in the swamp.

Platforms in the trees… also, I really like how the swamp looks in that shot

Brynjar had read that you could also put up a platform on top of the summoning skull, and set about putting that together as well.

The skull platform complete

Of course, once we had gotten things to about where we thought they should be, there wasn’t anything else to do but test the whole thing out by summoning Bonemass.  We would re-run the event later with Lugnut.  This was just going to be a soft opening or some such.

We ran back to base and filled up on fire arrows, all the better to burn Bonemass, along with some poison resist meads, got ourselves that sweet, sweet rested buff, then went back to summon the big guy.

Brynjar had the 10 withered bones needed to summon Bonemass, so Ula and I took up positions on the platforms and the summoning commenced.  Brynjar immediately scurried up to the top of the skull platform.  That was going to be his spot for the fight.

Bonemass and the skull platform

Brynjar was at a safe height, but Bonemass seemed quite fixated on him on his platform.  Also, Bonemass brought along some skeletons with him, who got up on top of the skull and commenced to chop away at it.

But we were loosing arrows at a fierce rate, so we hoped to bring Bonemass down before structural issues cropped up.

It turns out that fire arrows aren’t the ticket for Bonemass.  I had misremembered his weakness, or carried it forward from The Elder.  It wasn’t fire arrows we needed, it was frost arrows to do him in.  So while we were barely chipping away at him, I said there were some frost arrows in the storage shed and Ula ran off to grab them.

However, there were only 11.  But she brought them through to try them and they did indeed do considerably more damage.  However, 11 arrows did not last long and I ran down, went through the portal, and went back to our main base to make some more.

We happened to have enough ingredients for two stacks of 100 arrows each.  I ran back with those in my bag to share them out.

Sharing them out was made easier by the fact that Brynjar was running around on the ground now, Bonemass and his allies having broken down his platform just as I was getting ready to run off and make those arrows.

Skull platform down!

He survived the fall and scrambled away, leaving a couple of skeletons stuck up there.

Anyway, back with the frost arrows, I doled them out and we commenced finally doing some real damage.

Brynjar got up on one of the other platforms as Bonemass seemed to have it in for him.  I ended up coming down off of my own platform to position myself for back shots into Bonemass from the ground.  As long as you stay far enough away from his AOE gas cloud, things are okay.

Down on the ground… also, skeletons on top of the skull

Ula had her bow wear out and had to run back for repairs, but otherwise we were on the right track and were able to take Bonemass down.

Don’t get in the death splash of poison

Then there were the wishbones to pick up, the treasure finding charms that are the reward for the fight.  There were three, so we each got one but will need to do the fight again for Lugnut.

Huginn showed up to tell us about the wishbones and how they can be used to find hidden treasures.  We did a quick post fight pose, lit by the eerie light of the skull.

We won the battle

Then it was back to base and off to the stones at the starting point to hang up our third trophy for Odin.

Eikthyr, The Elder, and Bonemass trophies on display

After that, we did some repairs, made a few upgrades, and set out for the mountains where the wishbones found us a fresh silver node right away.

Silver exposed

We got a little aggressive digging it out… we dug about 15 feet below it before discovering it was above us and off to the right a bit… but it was our first find with the wishbones.  We are now on the path for more silver… and more iron, because we still need some of that and will need more when we get to the plains.

The EVE Online April Economic Report and the Time before Fanfest

We got the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report for April 2022 last week and it was once again a reminder that sometimes seeing the previous month’s report when you’re halfway into the next month can be… odd.  You have to remember the state of things as they were, as opposed to what has happened since the cut off date which, in this case, means before EVE Fanfest.

EVE Online nerds harder

Not that Fanfest dramatically changed the economy, but it did give us a glimpse, however fleeting, into CCP’s plans, which always has some sort of impact.

Meanwhile, back in April we were getting all sorts of news, like the announcement of the Siege Green update, which went live last week, and the price increases, which are live today.  News and updates have their impacts.

Production

I might as well start with production again, since that has a nice graph that shows that news can change trajectories.  Basically, the Siege Green update promised to make capitals and faction ships more affordable to produce.  I commented last month that I expected production to dip with that announcement.  Did the big graph bear out my prediction?

Apr 2022 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

Kinda sorta yes.  April production did dip down, the data for that chart shows April had 76.07 trillion ISK in production, down from 80 trillion ISK.   That isn’t a huge number, in large part because I believe there wasn’t a lot of capital production going on in any case.  They were too damn expensive to build.

Now the question will be whether or not we see a jump in production come the May MER.  Did CCP move the needle enough to revive capital and faction ship production?

Meanwhile, the regional stats show the following places produced the most output.

  1. The Forge – 18.04 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 12.79 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Vale of the Silent – 9.99 trillion (Fraternity)
  4. Lonetrek – 6.35 trillion (High Sec)
  5. The Citadel – 4.66 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Tribute – 4.06 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. Fade – 3.07 trillion (WE FORM BL0B)
  8. Sinq Laison – 2.84 trillion (High Sec)
  9. Heimatar – 2.83 trillion (High Sec)
  10. Malpais – 2.65 trillion (PanFam)

That is pretty much the usual suspects these days.

Overall the regional stats showed a total of 101.56 trillion ISK in production, down from 113 trillion ISK in March.  That is a bigger gap and a bigger percentage that the chart above, but tracks with the expectation I suppose.

Destruction

That chart above also tracks destruction, and the data that feeds it says that 29.59 trillion ISK in value was blown up in April, up slightly from the 28.4 trillion ISK reported in March.

That actually aligns closely with the regional destruction stats, which rang in at 29.78 trillion ISK in value destroyed, up from the 28.91 trillion ISK blown up in March.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for wormhole space in the gap between those numbers, but so it goes.

The top regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 1.69 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Pochven – 1.48 trillion (Triglavian)
  3. The Citadel – 1.41 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Lonetrek – 1.37 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Vale of the Silent – 1.30 trillion (Fraternity)
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.27 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Pure Blind – 1.21 trillion (Brave/V0LTA)
  8. Delve – 1.08 trillion (Imperium)
  9. Genesis – 1.00 trillion (High Sec)
  10. Metropolis – 935 billion (High Sec)

Pochven continues to light things up, while the area around Jita remains the peak of destruction.  Meanwhile, the campaign going on in the south, with Imperium SIGs going after FI.RE and their PAPI allies, didn’t break into the top ten, with Feythabolis only making it into 13th position in the regional stats.

Maybe the May numbers will see that heat up a bit.

Trade

Trade, at least according to the regional stats data, was up, with April seeing a total of 572.52 ISK in value traded, up from 548 trillion ISK in March.

The top regions were, once again, the usual suspects, a mix of trade hubs and coalition home regions.

  1. The Forge – 422.28 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 39.69 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Lonetrek – 15.57 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 14.46 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Delve – 13.16 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Metropolis – 9.01 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 7.28 trillion (Rens)
  8. Perrigen Falls – 7.22 trillion (PanFam)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 5.40 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. The Citadel – 4.11 trillion (Caldari High Sec)

ISK Faucets

And now into the more complicated areas of the MER, and made all the more so by new charts this month.  CCP Estimate has taken over the MER from CCP Larrikin and has given us some more data to chew on.  But we’ll start as I usually do with the faucets end of the big big sinks and faucets chart.

Apr 2022 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

For those who cannot read the chart, which includes me, the top items listed are:

  • Commodity – 41.4 trillion
  • Bounty Prizes – 25.5 trillion
  • ESS Bounty Payouts – 11.2 trillion
  • Incursion Payouts – 11.2 trillion
  • Trig Invasion Payouts – 11.1 trillion
  • Agent Mission Rewards 3.5 trillion

Commodities and bounty payouts were up for April, while incursions were down slightly, and agent mission rewards stayed in exactly the same spot.

We can see how those top faucets have performed over time here.

Apr 2022 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

While bounty payouts were up overall for the month, they follow a dip for a stretch and lead into another fall off which represents CCP “fixing” the ESS bounty percentages so that they all went down dramatically.  Meanwhile, the top regions for bounties… were pretty much the same crowd one would expect.

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.85 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 1.61 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Perrigen Falls – 1.61 trillion (PanFam)
  4. Fountain – 1.32 trillion (Imperium)
  5. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.19 trillion (PanFam)
  6. Tribute – 1.09 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. Querious – 985 billion (Imperium)
  8. Venal – 917 billion (BOSS and others)
  9. Pure Blind – 854 billion (Brave/V0LTA)
  10. Malpais – 751 billion (PanFam)

But this month we also got a look at ESS bank thefts, with three new charts!

Apr 2022 – ESS Regional Stats

That is three columns of tiny data about where ESS main bank and reserve bank thefts are happening, as well as a summary of the total amounts sitting in reserve banks.

The reserve bank is a special ISK pool that accumulates and needs a special key to access.  CCP opened up the mechanic to get at that ISK last July and… it hasn’t been much of a big deal.  They keys are annoying to get and the amount they allow you to get away with is not all that much in the grand scheme of things.  So a lot of ISK has just been piling up there… almost 52 trillion ISK worth if my hand tally of that chart is correct, with the top three regions being:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 4.735 trillion ISK (Fraternity)
  2. The Kalevala Expanse – 4.092 trillion ISK (PanFam)
  3. Delve – 3.929 trillion ISK (Imperium)

Those are, of course, three of the strongest coalitions in null sec, so no surprise there.  But how about reserve bank thefts?  Where are those happening?

Apr 2022 – Reserve Bank Thefts

It looks like the northeast of null sec is the hot spot for that… though who knows if those are nationalized reserve banks that the owners are pulling out.  Those thefts, which don’t add up to much against the trillions socked away, might not be thefts at all.

As for main bank thefts, those you can pull off by just showing up at the right place at the right time.

Apr 2022 – Main Bank Thefts

Again, the biggest thefts are not all that big in the grand scheme of things.  But the main bank gets paid out at regular intervals, so there is never as much ISK up for grabs as there are in the reserve banks.  And you can see from the first of the three charts, the main banks are in play a lot more often than the reserve banks.

Meanwhile, on the commodity front however you can see sleeper components on the rise.  Wormholers win again.

Apr 2022 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

Anyway, all of that saw the money supply go up, after having it go down… a rare thing most months… last month.

Apr 2022 – Money Supply

That also saw the velocity of ISK go up.

Apr 2022 – Velocity of ISK

Again, I tend to be dubious of the velocity chart, if only because it is subject to so many things CCP could manipulate if they so desired… and because it often seems to live a life independent of other indicators.  Technically, all other things being equal, a the money supply going up (as with this month) or going down (as with last month) the velocity should move in the opposite direction.  But all other things are not equal and the velocity goes where it will.

Mining

And finally, mining and mining like things.  Again, no data bearing .csv files make this an annoying section to deal with as if I want any totals I need to go tally them up by hand.

The Produced/Destroyed/Mined chart up at the top of the post indicates that there was 17.85 trillion ISK mined, though the data from that chart is dubious when it comes to mining.

Meanwhile, the regional mining value data gives the total as closer to 12.7 trillion ISK in value, though that it my tallying on with the calculator by hand, so is subject to error.  Though, given that the largest region on the list was Vale of the Silent, which had 847 billion ISK in value mined, I doubt I made a 5 trillion ISK typo.

Apr 2022 – Mining Value by Region

And the value of the ore mined should be going up rather than down given the current mineral price trend.

Apr 2022 – Economic Indices

That adds up, if the data is correct, to a 10 trillion ISK value drop off in mining, more than a 40% fall.

But I suspect that there is a problem with the data, there being a couple of empty cells in the .csv data source for the first chart in the post.  While we don’t have the data for the regional chart, I suspect it suffers from the same issue, or more so.  It would be, if nothing else, out of character for there to be no regions to exceed one trillion ISK in value mined, something usually accomplished in Vale of the Silent and Delve.

Meanwhile, the four core mining types now tracked each have their own chart.

Asteroid mining, which are from belts and anomalies and is primarily a high sec activity, with null second second but well behind.

Apr 2022 – Asteroid mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

That does appear to be trending down a bit… but, again, data issues?

Gas mining is dominated by wormhole space, though low and null sec got a boost from the industry changes of April 2021.  The big spike from that has now rolled off the chart.

Apr 2022 – Gas mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

Again, I think these charts need a trend line.

Ice mining is like asteroid mining, largely a high sec and null sec activity.

Apr 2022 – Ice mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

And finally there is moon mining, which theoretically should be strong in low sec, but which also seems to mostly be a null sec and high sec venture.

Apr 2022 – Moon mining over the last 12 months by volume mined

The spikes are likely due to coincident timing in some regions. Moon mining has a regular schedule where a chunks are drawn. There is some low sec activity, but I remain surprised at how little there is.

And another month goes by.  The May numbers will be mostly interesting to see how the game responds to the industry changes, EVE Fanfest, and the subscription price increase that went into effect today.  As always, all this data and more is available for download in the MER dev blog post.

Last Day Before the EVE Online Price Increase

As announced about a month back, tomorrow the base EVE Online subscription price will jump by 33%.

Where “update” means “increase”

This will be the pricing on Tuesday.

New Prices as of May 17, 2022

One month is going from $14.95 to $19.99, with other currencies getting price bumps to keep them in line with the US dollar and Euro.

Gone are these old prices

Likewise, PLEX will be getting its own price increase, it being inherently tied to the cost of a subscription.  Tomorrow’s prices will be.

PLEX Pricing as of May 17, 2022

CCP has laid out various reasons as to why they feel they need to increase the price.  The question is whether or not players will pay the price.

Subscription prices have remained locked at about $15 a month since the early 2000s while the price of most everything else in our daily lives has gone up… and all the more so since the pandemic messed up the supply chain.

Almost exactly a year ago I was asking how long the $15 subscription price could hold out.  It has felt like a hard line to cross, as difficult of a line as the $60 box price on AAA video games.

Most companies have avoided doing that, crossing those lines, by finding different sources of revenue.  Monetization has become very much a discussion topic in the last decade or so.

Still, I felt that eventually somebody was going to ask for more when it came to subscriptions, and EVE Online was the game to do it.

That said, going all out for a 33% price bump came as a surprise.  I expected something somewhere in the middle, maybe $17.  But perhaps CCP feels they’ll have to go another 18 years before they ask for another one.  I don’t know.

And that 33% bump has been a hard pill to swallow for some, especially in a game where many players operate multiple accounts.  Even I had four accounts running in parallel back at the peak of World War Bee.  And I have two accounts active for the deployment to the southeast of null sec, just to help moving ships.

CCP was wise enough to offer some discounted subscription deals during Fanfest.  I took advantage of that with my main, which is now set to run out until October.

My alt account however, I cancelled his next renewal and he will run out and become Alpha by mid-June.  For the little I have used him during the current campaign I could barely justify keeping him Omega at the current pricing.  The price bump made that untenable.  I’ll get by without him.

So it goes.  Tomorrow is the big day when the price goes up.  We’ll see how it plays out.

Also, today is the last day to submit your application to run for CSM17.  But if you were serious about doing that, you’d have done it already I suspect.

WordAds – I Get Paid

Way back in September of last year, around the blog anniversary, I mentioned that WordPress.com was talking about injecting sponsored posts into blogs that were not on one of its paid plans.

A megaphone to spread the alarm

While I was on a paid plan, it was an old legacy plan and there was considerable ambiguity as to whether or not that plan… which was a meager $30 a year and promised to keep my site ad free… would keep me covered.  The happiness engineers gave me a very strong “maybe.”

Fearing that I might have ad posts injected on to my site… and fearing more than people might not notice the difference… I upgraded to the then current Premium plan.

Premium features

That boosted me to a $96 a year plan.  Still cheaper than an MMO subscription, but a bit of a bump for a hobby.  But I plan.  To offset this price increase the Premium plan allowed me to put ads on the site to earn revenue.

Yes, once I paid to keep ads off the site… and then started paying even more to keep even more ads off the site… only to turn around and put ads back on the site.  Welcome to new reality.  But I encourage regular readers to use an AdBlocker.  I do.

Anyway, my goal was to pay for the plan via WordAds, and it looked like I had made it back in March, just five months into the plan.

The Ad Revenue Stream

You get a sense of how ad quality affects revenue with that chart.  Also, after an initial burst of quality ads, things have been going down ever since.

Anyway, I made my first $100, which is how much revenue you need to accrue before they will pay you.  And then there is the wait to get paid.  I was at the mark by April 1st, but they say it could take up to 45 days to actually get around to giving you the money.

And, sure enough, 44 days later, I got some money deposited in my PayPal account.

Hey, money for me!

So the system works and I have offset that first year of Premium.

Of course, things have changed since I swapped to Premium.  Premium is now, like my old plan, out of date and I keep getting reminders that I am on a legacy plan.  They would very much like me to enroll in their new Pro plan, which rolls up all of the features of the Premium plan, plus the ability to use their Plugins library, all for $15 a month, or $180 a year.

I will have to think on that.  If they have something like a decent blogroll plugin, I might go there even without being forced.

But in the mean time I will keep the ads on in case I need to offset almost twice as much annually.  We shall see.  That is my insight into blogging for the week.  Keep running an ad blocker if you need to.

 

Josh Strife Hayes Plays Lord of the Rings Online

Josh Strife Hayes first came to my attention for his videos about New World, which was then going through the many problems… and poorly considered fixes… that seemed to plague its opening wave of popularity.  In particular, his What Went Wrong? video, which chronicled the timeline of the game and the problems and responses was a real eye opener.

It was enough to get me to click “subscribe” and keep an eye on his other videos.

Among his videos is a long running series called Worst MMO Ever, where he attempts to play a wide range of titles allegedly in search of the titular worst of the genre.  I have watched a few of the entries in that series, and they are generally pretty fair and charitable, as opposed to being a quest to tear down every title he plays.

Still, I was a bit nervous when I saw Lord of the Rings Online come up as the focus of a recent video in the series.  Something to spoil the 15th anniversary?

The fifteen year celebration

This was because my own relationship with the game is somewhat mixed.  There is a lot in LOTRO to like and even love.  There is a reason I still care about the game despite having spent 99% of my play time in the base game and Moria, and I feel keenly the failings of the game despite my investment… or because of it, take your pick.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I went into watching the video.

Here’s the thing… I really liked it.

He has a very upbeat approach to titles and he took a lot of time to recognize, up front, how much charm the game has and how good some of its early player experiences are and how the story isn’t strictly in the mold of the genre.  There were aspects of the early game he mentioned that I had forgotten about.

I mean, sure, it does dig into some of the issues… things like the responsiveness of the UI… but people have been harping on that since 2007.

And I felt for him and how lost he was when he used the free level boost he got.  It is definitely not something for new players without high level friends around to help guide them.  My one level boost, back when it sent you into Rohan, was pretty much a disaster, a character dead ended and never to be played again.

But it was still a good look at the early game and a lot of the pluses that it has going for it overall.  It made me want to go back and roll up a new character and enjoy the early game.

In the end, clearly not the worst MMO ever.

EVE Online and Damage Meters

One of the long time gripes about EVE Online is that CCP does not allow any addons or mods to the game’s UI.

I am not sure I have mentioned this in the past, except briefly in passing, but this is kind of a big hairy deal for a bunch of people because of the notorious nature of the default EVE Online UI.  There are few things EVE players agree on as much as how awkward and often impenetrable the game’s interface can be, especially to new players.

To be fair, it is working in an environment more complicated than a standard fantasy MMORPG, where a player is standing on the ground, sword in hand, and pressing an attack button to smack an orc.  But still, the design philosophy for EVE has mutated over the years and there are times when you can feel the design paradigm shifting under your feet as you attempt to do something out of your usual daily routine.

So the argument is that a mod-able UI that allowed addons and the like would help solve that.  For a game that literally survives on third party tools… for example, the two in-game maps would struggle to be the 4th and 5th best maps of the game, with DOTLAN logical and navigation maps probably being 1st and 2nd… harnessing the proven ingenuity and resourcefulness of the community seems to be a no brainer.

Except, of course, CCP rightfully fears the outcome.  They fear that if they allow modification of the UI that the community will come up with changes that lend distinct advantage to specific users.  They have been smacked around for nearly 20 years by the wisdom of the crowd that flows like water through all of their carefully laid plans to find the optimum solution.

And in a game that is, at its heart, PvP focused, that is death.  Something like HealBot in WoW doesn’t spark much real ire because, in a PvE situation, it only helps fellow players.  A similar addon in New Eden, where an addon would lock up ships in your fleet needing reps and highlight the repair module for you, that could be game breaking.

So we soldier on with the old UI, with the promise of something maybe better in the future in the form of the Proton UI, which they have spoken about in the past.  I remain dubious about the new UI and expect it will be the map situation all over again, where the new map wasn’t much better than the old map, and less useful in some cases, so they ended up with two in-game maps.

We shall see.

So that is almost 500 words about the EVE Online UI and mods.  What does this have to do with damage meters?  Can I get to the point already?

Elsewhere in the genre of late, and in FFXIV and WoW specifically I gather, there has been some community flare up about damage meters yet again. (See Kaylriene and Belghast, they link out further on that.)  The argument is that they turn people into toxic aholes and should not be allowed.  FFXIV specifically does not allow them, though peeling back some of the rhetoric, that seems to be at least in part because they support PC and console and they don’t want console players to be second class citizens.

I generally run damage meters in MMOs if I am going to group up because it is an handy way to analyze what you’re doing in a genre where feedback can be huge numbers flying around without context.  I hit for 20,000, is that a lot or a little?  So I view them as a tool for self-improvement.

But the meta community views of FFXIV and WoW, can be summed up respectively as “you don’t pay my subscription” and “git gud” when it comes dungeon performance with others, both of which I find obnoxious in a grouping context.   There is a lot of emotion in there.

Whatever, I don’t play either currently and find neither community a draw to play their respective games.

But that led me to think about EVE Online, which I am sure both communities would look down upon, if they knew the game existed, as a toxic swamp based on its PvP focus alone.

As it does not allow mods or addons, EVE Online does not, strictly speaking, have damage meters.

Strange days.

There is nothing I can slap onto the game that will put up a UI like Recount, the only damage meter addon I can recall at the moment, to give me immediate feedback on how much damage I am applying against which targets and all the fun data that comes with that.  (I also run damage meters just to see the data.)

But EVE Online does have a pretty healthy relationship with data and allowing users access to it.  But it kind of needs to, just to overcome the amount of options available to players.

I’ll use 425mm railguns as an example, a battleship weapon that happens to be fitted on a Megathron in my hangar, which is the ship I last flew on an operation.

Megathrons out and about

There are ten variations of that particular weapon available in the game, each with some different parameters, and nearly 60 different ammo variations that can be loaded into them, with differences in range, damage, capacitor use, and other modifiers.  That is a lot of combinations to play with.

For fleet ops the choices are generally winnowed down to some specific loads and the weapon is generally the tech II version.  But there has been a graphic going around for ages to illustrate what to do with your Megathron.  (It goes in a fleet doctrine called “Baltec Fleet,” named after Baltec1, who used to fit out Megathrons so they would work with other doctrines and I remember being on cruiser fleets with him in a fast warping Mega.  He moved on to an alliance hostile to us ages ago, but his legend remains.)

The “How To” of Baltec Fleet

And the game gives you your base damage output fairly readily.  For the seven 425mm guns on my Megathron it says:

Damage, range, and such

So the base damage of my volley is about 1,400 points, divided between thermal and kinetic damage type.  That is about 200 points per gun.  With firing rate calculated in, that is a little over 300 points of damage per second output.

I have spike loaded, which is the very long range ammo, and it gains that range by sacrificing some damage output.  There is a correlation between range and damage, with shorter range ammo tending to hit harder.

(Also, as an aside that shows the scale of EVE Online, that can hit out to 160km, or about 100 miles.  That is far enough away that all but the most massive ships or structures become too tiny to discern.  On earth, out at sea, you would have to be 2,000m in the air for the horizon to appear to be that far away.  Distances in space are kind of daunting at times.)

Strictly for comparison, here is the game ship and guns loaded with antimatter, which is a shorter ranged ammo.

Damage and range again

There are, of course, things that can affect the base damage, such as if the target is outside the optimal range or the falloff range, which will see damage reduced and eventually stop landing hits.

And then there are the resistances to damage types that a ship can have.  I’ll use my Megathron as an example again.  From the ship fitting window:

Offense, defense, and targeting

If somebody is shooting me with a kinetic… the damage types are electromagnetic, thermal, kinetic, and explosive (blue, red, grey, gold)… my shields deflects 48% of incoming damage, my armor armor layer deflects 58% of incoming damage, and my hull deflects 60% of incoming damage, fit as I am.

So while my hit points add up to just under 60K total, the effective hit points (EHP) is closer to 130K due to the resistances. (That is an estimate, it could be more or less depending on incoming damage type.)

Some other ships that were around while I was on that op

There are other things that affect damage application, such as implants, signature radius, and drugs, but I will skip past that for now because I am once again wandering far afield from the idea of damage meters.

So, when it comes down to it, do you get to see how much damage you applied to a target?  Of course you do.  It is all there in the kill mail notification that the person who gets in the final blow receives in game as well as the kill report that appears over on zKillboard, if it gets captured there.

So, for example, there is a Claymore that we blew up on an op this past weekend and I was on the kill mail.  You can see the kill report over at zKillboard.

The record of the dead Claymore

And along the side it shows how much damage each of the involved parties applied… net damage, after resists.

I’m #6 on damage

The difference between the list is likely related to lock speed, drugs consumed, being optimally positioned, and just paying attention. (Oh, and skills trained.  I said I was working on Large Railgun Specialization V in my last skill training update.  Every level of that gets me 2% more damage out of the tech II guns I have mounted.)

And here is where we diverge from WoW or other titles where DPS is judged by their damage output.

Nobody cares how much damage you did.

I mean, it is cool if you got top damage.  And I know when we do structure shoots there are people who will show up in bling fit, polarized high DPS ships to compete to see who gets top damage.  There are some bragging rights associated with that.  But I have never been on a fleet where somebody got called out for being down the damage list.

Seriously.  I might live in a rarefied arena of the game, but it just isn’t a thing where I have played.  I am sure it might be in some elite PvP orgs.  Toxicity will find a way.  But it never seems to bubble up in r/eve or the forums, which is often where complaints about that sort of thing find an outlet.

I remember when Gevlon tried to make damage output a thing, his way of rating the value of pilots on a fleet op, because he couldn’t quite let go of the WoW raider mentality.  But it was an absolutely garbage idea.  By his logic logi ship, the space priests that repair damage, had no value at all, nor did tackle or electronic warfare ships.

Now, I will say, life in a null sec coalition means getting recommended fits handed to you, so most everybody in a Megathron on that operation was likely fit the same way I was and firing the same ammo as the fleet commander called for.  Coordination like that is what makes fleet doctrines work as it gets a critical mass of players with the same engagement envelope and damage type to hit targets in a coordinate fashion.  As it says on that chart above, always shoot the primary.

I have seen people get mocked in less organized groups for having a poor fit, and there is a list of fitting sins you can commit as far as the fitting theory crafters are concerned.  But the general result from that is to go back to the drawing board for a better fit.  Ships and equipment are expendable so you just go buy some more.

Meanwhile, the game does record your own damage application in its log files, down in the gamelogs directory.  You can take that and tease out your own damage, or you can use one of the file parsers out there… and of course there are a few, the EVE community loves to make tools… to see what you did.  I went to one called EVE Combat Log Analyzer to see how I did on that op I mentioned above.

My combat record for the May 8th op

There is a gate rat in the mix there, the Angel Warlord, but otherwise all player stuff.  So you can get something of a damage meter after the fact.  But it doesn’t really have  the same impact/influence as something you might get after a dungeon or raid in WoW.

Here, at the end, I will say that this post doesn’t have any sort of dramatic point to make, other than to illustrate how damage and its measurement in EVE Online compare to the more traditional fantasy MMORPG counterparts.  Just something of a Friday text ramble.