Level 100 in Norrath Yet Again

In EverQuest II I have two level 100 characters and one level 95 character and I don’t think I have ever leveled up past 70 myself.  Instead, it is because Daybreak keeps just giving me high level characters.  There was also a level 85 character in there somewhere, but I deleted him at one point to make room for one of those level 100s.

But wait, I will soon have another.  In order to celebrate Game Update 106, Daybreak is offering people yet another level 100 character.  You even get a mount with the deal.

Here we go again…

This is a very generous offer and I will make the time to go take advantage of it.  But on a Friday where I am feeling more skeptical than usual… which is pretty damn skeptical… I have to wonder how effective such offers are.

I mean, I guess it must be somewhat effective if they keep doing it.  And this time around it has a hook in that you are allowed to play in the Planes of Prophecy expansion while the offer is active, after which you will be have to pay to continue there… or to continue to level up, since you need the expansion to go past level 100.  But you get to keep all the prizes you’ve been given otherwise.

However it also seems to expose yet again the ongoing problem for long running MMORPGs that based user advancement on levels.  If you don’t simply allow, but actively encourage players to skip you’re old content, that doesn’t say much for it.  Of course, when the new content is complex due to years of progressive additions, then you’re really in a bind.

Bhagpuss and Isey both have comments on this as well.

The Unchecked Optimism of Not Knowing Better

I want to say up front that I am not writing this post to be mean.  But, given that I am going to explore something with so many things wrong with it, I am sure that is the way it will come across.  Such is life.  I suppose I could just not make the post, but I just cannot let this pass, it being an object lesson on so many fronts.

l speak, of course, of The Flower of Knighthood Kickstarter campaign.

The Flowers of Knighthood for Algernon

I’ve been down the list of things wrong with past Kickstarter campaigns.  I was critical of The Fountain War, Hero’s Song, and The World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter campaigns, calling them all problematic early on, because they all seemed to fail on fronts that seemed obvious to even an outside observer like myself.

But The Flower of Knighthood seems on track to outdo them all.

Let’s start with the asking amount.  As I have said in the past, the amount you ask for needs to reflect reality.  People with industry fame like Lord British and Mark Jacobs, they were good for $2 million.  Brad McQuaid, certainly famous in MMORPG circles, didn’t have enough pull for $800K, but came close to $500K.   Eric Heimberg, who could at least point to some successful MMORPGs he had worked on, had to take three runs at Kickstarter campaigns for Project: Gorgon before getting the mix of publicity and goals correct. to bring in nearly $75K.

Basically, a little bit of research can give you some baseline expectations when it comes to funding.  Those aren’t hard and fast numbers.  You too could possibly bring in a million dollars on a campaign without being Lord British, but you would have to do something else to bring attention to your efforts.  You could get media outlets interested in your project, have some sort of event, or maybe buy ads on Facebook.  I hear those can swing national elections.

What you shouldn’t do is just forge ahead with an ask you think you need but have no reason to expect you’ll make.  So there is The Flower of Knighthood looking for $600K.  No real publicity in advance… I mean, I pay attention to things better than most and I only heard about the campaign when Massively OP posted about it earlier this week.

Before that there was just a post about their project, but no mention of funding, no attempt to get people ready to buy in, just launch the Kickstarter without preamble and hope for the best.

This campaign is not going to make its $600K goal.

My rule of thumb, based on observations of successful campaigns, is that if you cannot secure 20% of your funding in the first 24 hours you are not going to make your goal.

The first 24 hours is when your installed base, the true fans of your plan, will show up and support you.

The Flower of Knighthood brought in just $351 in the first two days of its campaign, a dismal 0.006% of their goal, and I rounded up a bit to make that number look better.  If you follow the campaign over at Kicktraq it will give you the scale of how far they are off from their goal.  The campaign needs to bring in $20,000 a day to hit its goal.

$351 is such a ridiculously tiny amount that it brings into question how serious this team really is about their project.  Seriously, the base level of effort I would expect, the low end support they should be looking for is from their friends and family.  Surely they went out and at least told all connections on Facebook about this campaign to at least drum up some level of pity support.  If you can’t get your mom to kick in five bucks, just go home.

And yet in the first two days they managed to get pledged from just nine people.

Given the lofty goals and wide scope of their plan, I have to believe there are more than nine people working on this product.  Whose mom wouldn’t pony up?

So the whole thing is dead out of the gate.  No real publicity, no real effort to rally fans, nothing but a misguided belief that if they put up the project then fans will magically appear. (And, best of all, they have stretch goals already, out to $4.8 million!  Plan for success I guess.)

Somewhere they missed the news about how 20 new games popped up on Steam every day in 2017, a number that has continued to rise in 2018.  In the flood of new games that is our current reality, how did they expect somebody to find theirs?

Of course, that doesn’t start to get into some of the other issues hindering this campaign, like the game itself.

I know from long experience that any game, or any aspect of a given game, no matter how horrible and tedious you may find it, is somebody’s favorite thing.  That is the nature of the world.

But just because you know somebody out there will like your game doesn’t mean that there is a big enough audience out there to support it.  The campaign states “the main point of our game is realism” and they are taking that seriously.  For example, I give you the summary of the crafting system:

Authentic craft system – thanks to Dr Stephen Mileson from Oxford University we are creating a maximally authentic craft system. It means that during craft activities you will accurately repeat the actions of 15th-century blacksmiths, carpenters, leatherworkers, tailors and other craftsmen.

I am sure this will appeal to somebody, but I already have a day job.  People found the old EverQuest II multi-level crafting, where you had to refine raw materials, build components, then assemble them into a final finished product, so I have to wonder how realistic they can afford to get.  Will things take literal days and weeks to create?  And what is everybody using until production gets under way?  There is something about NPCs being able to do some of the tedious work, but will they want to get paid?

To make thine axe…

And speaking of paying people, what about the economy to support this crafting?  They don’t say much, aside from the fact that there will be no instant travel and thus, I assume, no instant delivery auction house, so it sounds like people will be walking around from town to town trying to sell things.

Then there is the combat system.  They have rejected hit points and have declared for a realistic physics based system of attacks and blocks.

This reminds me of the post from back in 2010 from the dev at Undead Labs who was going to revolutionize MMOs by eschewing auto-attack and skills for the ability to just swing a bat and hit somebody.  That… and Syp’s reaction to it… got a long response from Brian “Psychochild” Green back then.

More telling, Undead Labs ended up releasing State of Decay in 2013, a single player game.  Even the recently released update, State of Decay 2, is four player co-op, so you’re only bashing zombies, not other players.  So much for fixing MMOs. (There is an Honest Game Trailers about State of Decay if you’re interested.)

And while games like Darkfall and Asheron’s Call have done positional based combat… you have to at least be in the arc of the attack to get hit… I am not sure they attempted to match up attacks versus blocks in a PvP world.  Latency is still a thing.  I can speak from experience in EVE Online, where it has been proven that the person closest to the London data center gets their attack in first.

Okay, you might think, but maybe their goals aren’t so lofty?  Maybe they are overstating things by declaring it an MMORPG?  Maybe this is really meant to be something small, like Medieval Engineers or some such.

Well let me disabuse you of any thoughts down that path.  They want all of that and they want it on a massive scale.  From the Kickstarter:

Talk of ‘massive’ does not mean 100 vs 100. We want to make it possible to gather armies of 1,000 people on each side of the battle. This allows you to implement diverse tactics and combat strategies. You can use archers to weaken your opponent’s army and then send heavy swordsmen with high shields in to attack, and in the most tense moments you can strike with your cavalry into the opponent’s flank.

Two thousand people on field?  I have been on internet spaceship battles in EVE Online of that scale and larger, but fights in New Eden are “press the button to shoot” level of complexity, where you just have to get hostiles within your weapons envelope, open fire, and let the server calculate the rest.  The system gets so slow and so unresponsive that the thought of having to do individual attacks seems ludicrous.  And, as a defender, being able to put up blocks to counter attacks… attacks you would have to see coming… seems like a pretty dicey proposition.

When questioned about this on the Kickstarter page, their answer expressed a confidence that it could be done given enough server computing capacity, which I know to be the answer to all performance issues, but which seems a bit smug given the level of funding they have achieved so far.  Server capacity costs money.

Meanwhile, they just sort of wave away the end user’s video card capability to render such a battle with the idea that first person view will help.

But when they are planning on “realistic” graphics and character movement based on motion capture, facing even a hundred live and active players seems likely to melt ones video card.

Basically, almost every aspect of this project, from funding to design to implementation, seems like pie in the sky.  They are even missing one of the key items of every MMORPG Kickstarter campaign, the list out of the veterans on the team and the projects on which they have worked.  If you’re going to do something this crazy ambitious, you want to at least be able to say you’ve got somebody on the team who has done something similar.  There is a reference to somebody with 21 years of experience, but neither the projects they worked on nor in what capacity.  If it was somebody with 21 years experience working on server side code for some big titles, I might be impressed.  If it is somebody with 21 years experience doing character models and textures, not so much.

At best they seem to have checked too many boxes on their wishlist.  Maybe this is viable as a multi-player co-op.  Leave out the massive battles and cavalry charges and just have players join tournaments and fight off the odd bandit.

And, yes, I am sure I have just expended 1,500 or so words shitting all over somebody’s dream.  But the company, Eaglance (not to be confused with Swiss SEO firm of the same name), really hasn’t the groundwork to be taken seriously.  They’re an effectively unknown company with nobody on staff they can name with relevant experience, planning technical feats that have thwarted the likes of Blizzard in the past, with just a bunch of features, asking for an amount of money that manages to be both ludicrously large and hilariously small at the same time given their abilities and needs.

Anyway, I invite you to take a look at their Kickstarter and their web site to tell me if I have missed something that indicates that this project might have a chance.  To me it seems likely to simmer for years before either shipping something with little relation to their grand vision or disappearing altogether.

SuperData and How God of War and Fortnite Ruled April

The SuperData Research Digital Sales numbers for April 2018 have been released.

SuperData Research Top 10 – April 2018

On the PC side of the chart the status quo ante of the top three was restored as League of Legends, which dropped to second place in March, returned to its usual position at the top of the list.  The Dungeon Fighter Online insurgency was put down.

Elsewhere on the PC list, Fortnite held on to fifth position and World of Warcraft held on to sixth.  Popping onto the list in the seventh spot was HearthstoneWorld of Tanks held eighth position for another month while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds dropped from seventh to ninth and CS:GO held tenth again.

On the console chart, Fortnite held the top spot for another month, while the newly released God of War ran up to second position as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.  FIFA 18 held on to third while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds remains buried by Fortnite on the console front, completely missing from the list.  Also disappearing is the XBox exclusive Sea of Thieves which broke into the console chart last month.

I do wonder whether H1Z1 will be able to make the chart, sqeezing back into the battle royal market it lost a hold of.  The report is that 1.5 million people downloaded the H1Z1 beta.  We shall see if that translates into sales going forward.

On the mobile chart Pokemon Go and Candy Crush Saga both held onto spots, but Lineage M, which brought in so much revenue for NCsoft in their last quarterly report, fell off.

Other items from the SuperData Research report:

  • Fortnite can’t be stoppedonce again it broke the record for most additional content revenue in a single month by a console game.
  • Fortnite breaks another record. Epic’s Battle Royale shooter made $296 million in April across Console, PC and Mobile, up from $223 million in March.
  • Console spend was up a whopping 44% in April due to the record-breaking success of both Fortnite and God of War
  • God of War has the largest console exclusive digital launch to date. Sony’s new exclusive title sold an estimated 2.1 million digital units at launch in April. This is more than double that of the second-largest Sony exclusive launch, Uncharted 4.
  • Grand Theft Auto V is finally showing its age. GTA V Online revenue declined 9% year-over-year, ending an impressive streak of 12 consecutive months with year-over-year growth. GTA V Online has declined sequentially every month since the start of the year, likely in part due to the continued rise of Fortnite as well as a dearth of significant content updates from Rockstar.
  • Honour of Kings hits a new high. Honour of Kings further cemented itself as the top grossing mobile title in the world with another $185 million in revenue generated during April, up from $171 million in March and $149 million last April.

A Decade of Internet Spaceship Pictures

It is probably a good thing that I only track my other blog here in five year increments rather than the sort of yearly posts I do for this site.  Eventually though time flies past and suddenly you’ve been posting pictures of pretend spaceships on the internet for a decade and you wonder how it happened.

In short, EVE Online Pictures turns ten years old today.

The original banner for the blog

A bunch has happened since I posted at the five year anniversary, and yet things still feel very much the same in some ways.  The graphics of EVE Online have evolved and improved.  A picture from today looks different from a picture from five years ago which looks different still from pictures taken a decade back.

At some point I had to change up the theme on the site, as I had to do on this site, because WP.com was breaking things for older themes.  EVE Online Pictures now uses the Piano Black theme.  Also, unlike TAGN, it has ads all over it.  Over time WP.com has gone from “your visitors may see some ads” to “we’re going to get ads all over your shit” when it comes to free blogs.

Here I pay not to have ads.  Over there I have been less inclined to pay, mostly because the site gets so little traffic anyway.  Its main benefit to me is counting as a fan site so I get one of my accounts comped by CCP.  So the accountant in the back of my brain is reluctant to give away any of the economic upside of that blog by plunking down $48 a year just to have no ads.

You get other features with the basic plan, but none of them interest me.  For example, after ten years at the same address, getting a new domain name seems like a very bad idea.

If somebody could convince me that no ads and a new domain name would double my traffic… I still wouldn’t be interested.  You’ll know why when I get into the numbers.

The story of how the blog came to be… more dubious ideas… was covered five years back.  I’ll link to that post again in case you are interested.  But basically for the last ten years I have put up 2 or 3 pictures a week, every week, with occasional bursts of more pictures (during the Fountain War I put up a picture a day for two months) and a video now and then on the weekend.  The current schedule is a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Basic Statistics

Days since launch: 3,652
Posts total: 1,507 (up 927)
Average posts per day: 0.41 (up 0.09)
Comments:  201 (up 36)
Average comments per post: 0.13 (down 0.15)
Average comments per day:  0.055 (down 0.045)
Spam comments:  35,371 (up 6073)
Average spam comments per day:  9.68 (down by 3.29)
Comment signal to noise ratio:  1 to 176 (up 35)
Images uploaded:  1,418 (up 859)
Space used by images: 447 MB of my 3 GB allocation (up 204 MB)

What do those numbers say about EVE Online Pictures?

Well, first is that I do not get very comments at all, with just 36 comments being posted in the last five years.  Even spam comments have been down during that period.  I also have a lot of space left to upload more screen shots.  My early worry was that I would run out of space.  Not something I needed to give much mind to I guess.

Some Numbers

I’ll put the big chart up front, as I did five years ago, so you can see exactly how much traffic the EVE Online Pictures blog gets.  First, the total page view numbers.

EVE Online Pictures Total Page Views by Month

And then the daily averages.

EVE Online Pictures Average Daily Page Views by Month

You can click on either of those charts to see them full size.

Overall, you can see that traffic volume there is nothing to write home about.  If you go to the TAGN eleven year anniversary post you will see that almost every year this blog gets more traffic than EVE Online Pictures has had in its ten years of existence.

There are a few reasons for that, not least of which is that the site gets far fewer posts.  And the posts themselves are just pictures.  People can see the pictures without bothering to click through to the site if they follow me via a number of syndication channels.

Unlike this blog however, traffic at EVE Online Pictures is not in decline.  There was a significant drop in early 2013 when Google changed how they did image searches.  You can see that hit to traffic in February 2013.  But after that it is pretty steady, holding at about 30K page views a year.

Demographics

As I noted, the language barrier isn’t as big a deal when you have a blog that is mostly pictures.

EVE Online Pictures traffic sources

Countries with large English speaking populations are still represented, but I do get a lot more Russians there than I do here.  Well, at least as a percentage of the total visitors.

Incoming

Who sends traffic to EVE Online Pictures?

  1. Google
  2. EVE Bloggers
  3. Total EVE
  4. TAGN
  5. Twitter
  6. EVE Online Forums
  7. WP.com dashboard
  8. Der Held von New Eden
  9. Reddit
  10. Facebook
  11. WP.com Reader
  12. Massively (not Massively OP, the old AOL site)
  13. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
  14. EVE Online Community site
  15. Google Reader

Of course, Google is at the top of the list, and its total is well over three times the traffic all other sites have ever sent me combined.  Such is the power of the Page Rank.  You can see why people freak out when Google makes any sort of change to their search algorithms.  Anybody who drops off the first page of results suffers a percipience drop in traffic.

EVE bloggers, in its various forms, has provided a decent amount of traffic over the years.

Total EVE has the site in there because I bribed somebody to include it in the EVE Blog Pack list.  I think it has a legit place on that list.  It is all about EVE OnlineTotal EVE hasn’t been around as long as EVE Bloggers so it isn’t higher up the list, but it matches or exceeds EVE Bloggers most days of the week.

Then of course, I send traffic there from this site.  This post will add a bit to that I bet.

For a brief flicker of time the official forums used to send traffic to the blog.  One of the community team discovered the site via Twitter and began including a link to a picture now and then in the regular This Week in EVE post.   And then, as that was ramping up, CCP cut most of their community team and that regular post fell by the wayside.

The WP.com dashboard is people clicking on their stats page wondering what this site is that is sending them some traffic.  I have a lot of EVE Online blogs and a set of news and informational feeds in the side bar of EVE Online Pictures.

Then there is Der Held von New Eden, literally the only blog I know of out there, aside from this one, that links to EVE Online Pictures.  No love for a long time fixture of the community.  At least screen shots know no language barrier.

Once in a while somebody a link gets posted to Reddit.  Actually, looking at the number of page views I would change that to just once.

As with this blog, every EVE Online Pictures post gets piped to the Wilhelm Arcturus account on Facebook where pretty much only my mother sees them.

Old school Massively, several years gone at this point, still holds a spot on the list because they linked back to the site to acknowledge a screen shot they used.  Massively OP isn’t anywhere on the list.

Kirith Kodachi doesn’t have a blog roll, but he must have linked to me at some point.

The EVE Online community site is basically CCP’s list of EVE Online fan sites.

And then there is Google Reader, a blast from the past.  It will be five years gone this coming July.

Outgoing

Honestly, the site doesn’t send much traffic anywhere.  I would be surprised if anybody noticed that they were getting traffic from the EVE Online Pictures.  For the most part it is the rare post that even has a link out.

Occasionally somebody will click on something in the side bar where I have a list of EVE Online related sites and EVE Online related news feeds from CCP and key third party sites.  But for the most part people land on the site, look at some pictures, then leave without a trace.

In that scenario, the sites that do get clicks now and again are:

  1. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  2. EVE Monkey
  3. EVE Online Ships
  4. West Karana
  5. OmbEVE (defunct)
  6. Jester’s Trek
  7. EVElopedia (defunct)
  8. EVE Null Sec Influence
  9. EVE Kill (defunct)
  10. EVE Online Forums
  11. The Mittani dot com (changed to INN)
  12. DOTLAN EVE Online Maps
  13. EVE Online community sites
  14. EVE Bloggers
  15. EVE Tanking (defunct)

The inertia of time.  A third of the sites on that list are gone or no longer at that address.

Of course I am the biggest beneficiary, and why not?  If I post screen shots from a big fight I will sometimes link back to a related post here for further info.

EVE Monkey, West Karana, OmbEVE, and Jester’s Trek all had links out to the for pictures they posted.  Those sites aren’t gone, but they are dormant.

And the rest are people actually clicking on the side bar I guess.  All told those listed add up to just over 5,500 clicks, which is about three a month over the last decade.  Not a significant source of web traffic for anybody.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. B-R5RB Infographic
  2. Space Cockroach
  3. Sansha Battle Station
  4. Asteroid Mining Station
  5. The Maze Complex
  6. Myrmidon
  7. Raven and Rokh
  8. New Asteroids
  9. Rifter
  10. Angel Cartel Battleship Opens Fire
  11. Ragnarok Jumping in with the Fleet
  12. Cormorant Classic
  13. The Mighty Rorqual Transitions
  14. Caldari Jump Gate
  15. New Cladari Jump Gate Model

The B-R5RB infographic is the biggest draw by far, the one thing that Google still finds on the site when people search.  Of course, somebody else made that.  The top five are all the results of Google, as is number eight on the list.  General interest in asteroids and asteroid mining tricks people to coming here.

After that the rest of the list were linked on some other site or in a forum post.

For the most part a post gets traffic the week it is posted and never gets another click after that.

Most Used Categories

For the site I tried to set up categories for what I felt would be logical ways to divide up pictures at a higher level.  I went with the four empires and then some specific items, ending up with 24 categories over the years.  I suppose I could have gone with ship classes or something else, but this is what I started with and some times it is better to carry on consistently how you started out rather than trying to change horses mid-stream.

  1. Caldari
  2. Amarr
  3. Gallente
  4. Minmatar
  5. Space Station
  6. Planet (also used for moons)
  7. Space Objects
  8. Explosions
  9. Contest Entries
  10. Citadel
  11. ORE
  12. Classic Graphics
  13. Ringed Planet
  14. Drones
  15. YouTube Video

Ships identified as Caldari are the most common on the site, the category having been used 492 times, followed by Amarr at 479, then Gallente at 373, and finally Minmatar at 355.  I think that split mostly reflects my starting off as Caldari back in 2006, so a lot of early pictures were focused on those ships. (Or the Guristas versions thereof.)

Explosions is probably the best tag, followed by Ringed Planets, while Classic Graphics is a interesting look at the past.  Of course, when I created that category there were only “new” and “classic” graphics.  Since then there have been a number of revisions to how things are rendered as well as ship models, so I suppose the concept of “classic” has been somewhat diluted.  But in the context of the site it means the way the game looked when I showed up.

I excluded one category from the list.  Every post has the category “EVE Online” attached.  Tags and categories are powerful things at WP.com and one of the things you can do with them is make an RSS feed of a category or tag.  If you have a WP.com blog and you write about EVE Online, you should definitely use the “EVE Online” as a tag or category. (Here is the feed for EVE Online category or tagged posts at WP.com.)  For heaven’s sake, don’t use just “EVE,” you don’t want to know what else gets lumped in that feed.

Most Used Tags

Tags are a lot more whimsically applied.  They include the specific type of ship in the picture (and are mostly correct) or the system or some detail in the shot like Caroline’s Star.  But mostly it is ship types.  And there are a lot of ship types in the game, which probably explains why I have 450 different tags.

  1. Drake
  2. Megathron
  3. Jump Gate
  4. Apocalypse
  5. Revelation
  6. Archon
  7. Avatar
  8. Naglfar
  9. Erebus
  10. Tengu
  11. Maelstrom
  12. Dominix
  13. Hurricane
  14. Typhoon
  15. Ragnarok

Of course the missile spewing doorstop that is the Drake tops the list.  I flew it a lot before I went to null sec and then it was a doctrine ship for over a year once I got there.

Likewise the Megathron was a doctrine ship during the Fountain War.

Jump Gates… they are in a lot of shots because that is where fleets tend to bunch up and where fights often happen.  And then there are titans.  When I got to null sec I took a lot of screen shots of titans because I had never seen any before.  I still take lots of screen shots of them.

The Future

I plan to carry on as I have.  Three pictures a week isn’t an onerous level of effort.  It is easily worth doing given that it nets me a free account. (CCP still makes money off of me though, I have two other Omega accounts at the moment and I have been known to buy PLEX to get SKINs from the New Eden store.)

My posting process is pretty straightforward.  I tend to sit down for a bit on a weekend and go through pictures, queuing up posts for weeks ahead of time.

The only tricky bit is to try to include some variety in the pictures posted… I try not to post several pictures in a row from the same battle or of the same ship type… and to not repost the same screen shot.  I’ve only done that a few times over the course of the blog, but I have caught myself thinking “that looks like a good shot to post!” only to find that I already post that weeks or months earlier.

I am also picky about posting things that give a view of things that people might not see every day.  That tends to mean lots of titans.  If I gave up on my own personal rules about repetition and just started posting every decent screen shot I took, I could probably post a picture every day for the next couple of years without repeat.

Overall, a decade in, I am happy with the site.  It never took off or became nearly as popular as this blog, but it has been steady over the years and is now something of a time capsule of EVE Online visuals over the last decade. (And earlier, since I drew from older pictures at times.)

Probably the only regret is that I have hung on to the same 1600×1200 monitor over the life of the blog so far, so all the screen shots are that size.  I did recently upgrade to a slightly larger monitor, so at some future date when my current queue runs down, screen shots will start appearing in 1920×1200 resolution.

So, after about 2,500 words, I will invite you to come visit the site if you like internet spaceship pictures.  New posts are syndicated out to the following sites:

  • Tumblr (I need a better theme here)
  • Twitter (I do say things here occasionally)
  • Facebook (Pretty much just blog posts from both my sites)

I guess I need an Instagram account as well.  Maybe some day.

Or if you don’t care for any of those, you can just go to the EVE Online Pictures site directly and use the Page Down key to scroll through all 1,500 pictures thanks to the infinite scroll option of the theme I use.  We’ll see how things look again in another five years.

Spring Movie League – Papal Fallibility

Week twelve of our Spring Fantasy Movie League has come and gone, with another blockbuster opening.

However, this time around there was a change up compared to how things usually play out.

Coming into the summer blockbuster season, the early entries are already upon us.  We had The Avengers: Infinity War already, and it made bank.  Week twelve brought us Deadpool 2, a big enough title to be split three ways, giving us the following price choices.

Deadpool 2 FRI      $501
Deadpool 2 SAT      $452
Deadpool 2 SUN      $337
Avengers            $280
Show Dogs           $99
Book Club           $98
Life of the Party   $76 
Breaking In         $73
Overboard           $50
A Quiet Place       $45
Pope Francis        $25 
I Feel Pretty       $21 
Rampage             $19
Tully               $13
RBG                 $13

The Avengers, in their third week, had settled down from blockbuster range to being predicted to bring around $30 million, something that would otherwise be a good opening week for a film of less spectacle and ambition.  Deadpool 2, being estimated between $130-150 million was expected to bring in more than that on any of its three days and was priced accordingly.

So way back on Monday evening when the picks unlocked and I was writing last week’s post, the question seemed to be which days of Deadpool 2 should you take.  Being the blockbuster of the week, of course you should anchor on it and of course you should take two days of it, because of course you should.

Then there was something of a disturbance in the quiet contemplation of the week.  Book Club, of which I was somewhat dismissive on Monday night, started getting forecasts that seemed to put it as the likely best performer of the week.  It seemed to be priced in expectation of doing about $9 million or so, but was quickly buoyed up past $12 million.  At that price it seemed like the best lineup might be 1x The Avengers 7x Book Club.

I had that selection in my list of possible lineups.  While the new multi-league picking interface is awkward, it does let me keep several lineups in play with a plan to copy the one I eventually pick to the other leagues.

Meanwhile, another wildcard seemed to be in play in the form of Pope Francis.  Religious films having done fairly well this year, as well as bio-pic RBG, the allure of the pope caught on a few places.  It seemed to be priced conservatively, as befitting his holiness, and you could get in Deadpool 2 Friday and Sunday and six screens of it.

I was tempted by that lineup for a bit, and had it up on my list.  However, in the end, I was more sold on women reading Fifty Shades than the leader of the holy mother church of Rome as a box office draw.

So it was down to that mix of The Avengers and Book Club or some load out of Deadpool 2, as much Book Club as I could get, and some filler.  I was fine with a single screen of Deadpool 2 at that point.

Then on Friday morning the numbers for the Thursday night previews came out and showed Deadpool 2 had drawn $18 million, a number that would be added to the Friday totals, which sold me on Deadpool 2.  My final pick was 1x Friday, 4x Book Club, 1x Life of the Party, 2x RBG.

And it wasn’t a bad pick I suppose.  I ended up pretty high up the list on most leagues relative to my performance over the last couple of weeks.  But it wasn’t the perfect pick.  The perfect pick was the lineup I had been considering earlier in the week, 1x The Avengers, 7x Book Club.

Spring Week Eleven – Perfect Pick

As it turned out, Deadpool 2 didn’t live up to that Thursday night rush. (And the Thursday night numbers for Book Club didn’t seem all that spectacular.)  While I can hardly bring myself to say it “only” made $125 million over its opening weekend, a huge number that secures its spot in the league of blockbusters, especially as an R-rated title, that was still less than I (and many others) had calculated on.

But at least I didn’t bet on the Pope.  Pope Francis only brought in half a million, less than half of what RBG brought in, despite the fact that RBG was half the price.  In hindsight, it shouldn’t have even made the list.

Super Troopers 2 and Black Panther should have been retained as they both outperformed Pope Francis and Tully.

The picks in the Meta League were quite varied and the scored for week twelve ended up looking like this:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $143,528,520
  2. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $143,528,520
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $132,317,638
  4. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $125,473,035
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $124,708,463
  6. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $119,401,760
  7. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $105,188,471
  8. Kraut Screens (T) – $105,078,227
  9. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $100,045,032
  10. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $99,332,982 (Did not copy picks to the TAGN League)
  11. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $98,105,435
  12. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $95,651,071
  13. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $94,334,631
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $94,334,631
  15. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $91,456,556
  16. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $91,268,046
  17. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $88,467,250
  18. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $88,079,508
  19. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $88,079,508
  20. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $88,079,508
  21. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $84,825,769
  22. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $84,257,700

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

At the top end, both Biyondios and Pak got the perfect pick, so led the week.  The rankings from that point down pretty much follow how many screens of Book Club people went with, the top lineup with any of it being SynCaine at $100 million.

Two people bet heavily on Pope Francis, Ben and Goat, and they suffered for their sins.  Meanwhile, Liore went all-in on Deadpool 2, going with Friday and Saturday, 2x RBG, and four empty screens, but the merc with the mouth failed to back up his talk, leaving her in the lurch.

All of which led to some changes in the overall Meta League lineup:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $1,396,770,078
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,365,230,792
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,347,931,759
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $1,325,281,625
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,305,785,817
  6. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $1,295,861,503
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,290,801,335
  8. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $1,285,536,880
  9. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $1,267,297,820
  10. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,227,139,350
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $1,223,975,074
  12. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,197,832,271
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $1,148,370,041
  14. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $1,136,109,993
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $1,110,145,634
  16. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $1,096,836,908
  17. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $1,096,432,028
  18. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $1,075,682,342
  19. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $1,054,768,564
  20. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $1,037,512,961
  21. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $1,031,959,008
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $934,535,318 (adjusted to reflect main league pick)

Biyondios getting the perfect pick combined with Ben betting on Pope Francis meant a change in the number one spot, putting Biyondios solidly in first place.  Pak, also with the perfect pick, moved ahead of me, but I also moved ahead of Aure, Liore, and Goat.

So we go into the final week of the season with Biyondios in a strong first place position, Ben within striking range of Corr, Pak maybe eyeing Po, and a bloodbath still possible in the fight for fifth or sixth place.

And so it is appropriate that we are going into a big, big final week for the season.  Week thirteen has the following options available.

Deadpool 2          $680
Solo FRI            $587
Solo SAT            $371
Solo SUN            $334
Solo MON            $271
Avengers            $252
Book Club           $133
Life of the Party   $57
Show Dogs           $52
Breaking In         $49
A Quiet Place       $35
Overboard           $33
RBG                 $16
Rampage             $10
I Feel Pretty       $8

The big new film on the block is Solo: A Star Wars Story.  It is expected to open big enough to be split.  But since this is a holiday weekend, it has been split into four days for your lineup amusement/confusion.

Four slots of Solo means that nothing else new made the list, while the Pope Francis and Tully were knocked off.  As I mentioned above, they should have even made the cut last week given their performance.

At first glance you might think it will be all about Solo this week, but then you notice that Deadpool 2 is at the top of the price list.  Having done $125 million last week, its combined take over four days should easily eclipse any single day of Solo unless Solo breaks out and exceeds expectations.

And there is still The Avengers out there and Book Club, which might be the counter pick as it isn’t a big budget action adventure film.

Meanwhile, at the low end there is still a pretty reasonable selection of filler options at prices to suit what remains of your budget after your anchors take most of it.

So it seems to come down to how much you believe in Solo this week.  Something in my gut says that it being another Star Wars filler story after Rogue One (the “why did we need to make this?” movie) and following on The Last Jedi (the “screw everything you knew about Star Wars” movie) is going to lead it to being at the low end of expectations… expectations that have been dropping week after week in long range forecasts.

But some part of my brain still asks, “Who bets against Star Wars?”  And who bets against Han Solo… or young Lando?

Anyway, it will be a big week, a week where the right pick could change your standing dramatically.

Also, remember to make your tiebreaker pick and to apply your picks to all your leagues, unless you’re going to be like me and play something odd in a couple leagues. (I may be in too many leagues.)

Finally, be ready to pick next week.  The summer blockbuster season starts next week and, thanks to a four day weekend, picks will only unlock on Tuesday evening while the new rules for the TAGN League (not fully set yet) will require you to pick by Thursday.  (Though, for week one, that will be pushed to Friday as any holiday week gets their picks pushed back a day.) There will be no Meta League for summer, only the TAGN League. (So I can stop coloring letters every week!)

Good luck with your picks!

Being a Distraction from Venal

We formed up again in Venal last night to put pressure on the locals.  There were several citadel timers in play around Deklein, so we formed up in Venal to be a force for which GotG would at least have to account.  If the fought us that would draw them away from the timers, which other groups were planning to contest.  If they let us be then we could get up to mischief of our own.

Ishtars were the doctrine for the night and we were given a bridge after we undocked to get us to the locals.

I wonder how many bridges I’ve take over the years…

That got us to WLF-D3, the gateway system to Deklein via DKUK-G and the GotG staging system to counter out move to Venal.

We moved around the system, visited next door, came back and decided that the locals were going to stay away to deal with the timers deeper in Deklein, so we went looking for targets of our own.  The first on the list was an Athanor that was mid frack, a giant hunk of moon being drawn slowly towards it.

The moon chunk looming large

We were not going to be able to stop the frack, which would require us getting it down to the structure timer, but the Athanor was in the process of being unanchored.  All we had to do was get the first timer set and the unanchoring process would be halted and would need to be resumed again after the timer passed.  So we pulled up to shoot it.

Ishtars strung out and shooting

A gunner got going on the Athanor and began lobbing bombs at us, so the small stuff had to warp off and logi had to wake up for a bit and cover anybody who caught the brunt of a couple of bombs, but otherwise we carried on.  The wind up for a bomb was such that when the Ishtars were stopped and had sentry drones deployed they could pull the drones, take the blast, then drop them again to carry on shooting.  We succeeding in putting the Athanor into its first timer, scuttling the unachoring.

We then spent some time shooting at a POS, deactivating a few modules.  Shooting a well armed POS is a bit different as the weaponry will start shooting even is nobody is gunning the POS.  As we did that the news came down the line that the GotG had successfully defended its timers and it seemed like we might be headed home at that point.  We started moving back towards our staging.

However Asher stopped us a few systems into the trip then turned us around and back to DKUK-G.  We were going to see if GotG would take a fight when they returned home.  In DKUK-G it seemed like we were being setup for a capital drop.  Asher said they were trying to draw us in, bubble us, and drop carriers on us.  We bounced around the system a bit, then went through to WLF-D3 again where we ended up facing off against GotG’s Eagle fleet on the far side of the gate.  Things went well for us there, the Ishtars chewing up their logi and then burning down Eagles until they started moving off.  Logi had some work to do, but we kept most everybody alive.

The Oneiros I was in during the fight

NCDot had some Jackdaws around as well and we managed to pick off a couple of those including the ship of LadyScarlet, the CEO of Destructive Influence, a corp whose alliance history shows it being in Band of Brothers, KenZoku, and IT Alliance, all past foes of the Goons, so every time she is on grid she is the first target called and there is a cheer when he ship goes up.  Blasting an old foe is always a morale booster.

We also blew up another of Hendrink Collie’s Monitor FC ships.  Expensive ships are always fun to blow up, though they are getting cheaper as production of them ramps up.

We ended up in control of the grid around the gate, in sight of their Keepstar, not too far off from where Sort Dragon lost his titan on Saturday. (See this Reddit post for a screen shot.)

Trailing our coats in sight of the enemy Keepstar

Overall GotG won their objective, but we managed to extract a cost and give them a few minor headaches.  The battle report from both fronts showed the ISK war well in our favor.

Overall Battle Report for the Evening

Things were tilted more in our favor if we exclude the other front and just look at the battle report for the Venal end of the engagements.

The Venal end of the night

That was the sort of fight we’ll take every night if we can get it.

Afterwards we went back to our staging and stood down.  There was an AUTZ timer coming up in a couple of hours, but staying up until 07:00 EVE Online time on a weeknight is well beyond my capability.  And so it goes, we continue plinking away at GotG.

Vacation in Venal

Asher pinged to warn us that we would be moving.

The question was where.  Where would we be heading after Pure Blind?

We have been in Pure Blind for a while.  There have been a couple of short breaks, but we have been deployed up there since November at least.  However, once Pandemic Horde moved on from Fade to Geminate and people started sensing blood in the water when it came to Guardians of the Galaxy, things have started to get a bit more crowded.  Adding to us and the TNT deployment near another corner of Pure Blind, The Initiative has become a lot more active coming in from Fountain through Cloud Ring, with FedUp joining them, and Space Violence, anther Imperium group, chose to deploy into the middle of Pure Blind as well.

All those Imperium pilots roaming around the area has attracted the attention of GotG’s neighbors.  NCDot had deployed to Gehi to threaten Querios in the hope that it would make us pull back our groups in the north, but the Imperium has proven to be big enough to have mainfleet ops running to defend Queious without needing to call anybody back.  So NCDot has also been drawn into supporting GotG direction in the north.

And then there is Pandemic Legion.  They had been occupied since February attacking Providence.  Having pushed back ProviBloc and ground down their sovereignty slowly week after week, PL up and withdrew when TEST declared they were deploying to the area specifically to fight them.  ProviBloc quickly regained their territory.

Providence changed over the course of a week

That meant PL was back in the north looking for something to do as well.  With all those forces mixed about us, our small fleets seemed less likely to be effective.  Or so I gathered from Asher’s ping.

We did not know where we would be headed, or most of us did not.  The best way to broadcast intel to your enemies is to make it widely known among your friends, some of whom are no doubt spies.  All most of us knew was that all of us would be going and we would be hauling along all doctrines.  That meant capitals going as well, which helped some as the caps could carry extra ships for people in their ship maintenance bays. (CCP adding those to dreadnoughts a while back boosted deployment hauling potential significantly.)

After handing over a few ships to cap pilots to haul, I got my main in an Oneiros for the trip and my alt in a stealth bomber to haul that along as well.  When things finally came together we undocked to begin our journey, which was estimated to take us about an hour.

Combined fleet undocking for the move

Bombers went to hang out on a black ops battleship on a citadel, the rest of the sub caps loitered on the undock as the capitals were undocked and jumped to their first mid-point.  It was without a station, so they had to land, warp off to make safes, then cloak up to wait out their timer.  Meanwhile, the main subcap fleet aligned out to catch up with the capitals in order to cover them for their next jump, leaving the bombers behind.  But we ran into trouble almost right away.  The locals had heard about our move op and dropped supers and subcaps on us as we jumped through the first gate.

A local welcoming committee

We got away from that with only two ships lost, but it was an indication that our move might be eventful.  We bounced around to get away and when the drop cleared out we ended up back where we started.  We actually stood down for a while to let the hostiles clear out.  The caps were safe down the road, but people were trying to scan them down.

Eventually that cooled down and the subcaps were able to move out and catch up to the capitals, then move ahead to the next mid point, which had a station for them to dock up.   The bombers were sent along as well.  The caps were able to jump again and the subcaps ran along to our final destination, which turned out to be deep in Venal.

I hadn’t been to Venal since early in the Casino War.  It is an NPC held section of null sec, owned by the Guristas pirate faction, and follows the design philosophy of an past era.  It is a region consisting of 95 systems, but it only has five NPC stations in it, so there are not a lot of truly safe locations there.  But it is also in the center of the north.  If you like EVE Online donut metaphors, if the north is a donut (blue or otherwise) then venal is the hole in the middle.

Venal in the North

While none of the stations in Venal are particularly handy, if you don’t mind a few gates between yourself and the locals the region gives you access to quite a bit of the north.  Black Legion used to use Venal for this back when we lived in the north.  For us the likely target seemed to be Branch, where GotG has been able to rat and mine in relative peace for while we have been active in Fade, Pure Blind, and Tribute.  And so we settled in to our new home.

A Guristas Station in Venal

Well, we settled in once we got the bombers caught up.  Somehow they got left behind without a black ops battleship so one had to be cyno’d back in to jump us to our destination.

But once that was done we were able to settle in and start operating from our new location.

Undocking from the new station, Guristas logo visible

From there ops started rolling for targets of opportunity.  While waiting around for opportunities there were a few things locally to shoot.  There are towers and citadels hanging about for us to hit.

Following Asher around on a shoot

So we quickly got on the board with a couple of easy kills.

A POS module goes up, just because I like the picture

But juicer targets await.

GotG, learning of our change of location, packed up and deployed to counter our threat.  Never mind that of the groups deployed in and around Pure Blind represented much larger numbers, we were apparently the threat.  Or maybe we seemed like a manageable target.  Or perhaps they really were worried about their as yet unmolested ratting and mining space.

My Oneiros, lit by the destruction of a POS

This led to a particularly dramatic fight, which I totally missed.  It was on Saturday night and I was at home and not doing anything in particular.  But I wasn’t at my computer and so I did not see the pings for it until The Mittani was smug pinging about it.

We managed to catch and drop on Sort Dragon as he was moving his titan to the GotG staging in WLF-D3.  Sort is the leader of GotG, so this was a particularly satisfying kill.  The clash also saw another titan killed with the ISK war leaning well in our favor.

Battle Report Header

I am extremely bummed that I missed this fight, all the more so as I was home and could have easily joined in.  Ah well, I can’t be there for everything.  But this certainly did make for an auspicious start to our time in Venal.

More information on that battle:

Other posts related to the situation in the north: