Is LOTRO Effectively in Maintenance Mode?

I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread

-Bilbo Baggins

There was a lot of optimism when EG7 announced their plans to purchase Daybreak Games.  It was a heady moment for many of us when EG7 gave us a bunch of data about the various titles.

Enad Global 7

There was also statements from EG7 about investing in titles like Lord of the Rings Online, including what seemed like crazy talk about a console version.  It felt like good things could be coming.

Almost five months down the road the, now that the afterglow of the announcements has passed, some of us are now getting a little impatient to see what changes, if any, the coming of the new Swedish overlords actually bring.  As with other such transactions, you only get so much goodwill time before the old problems become your problems.

Unfortunately, the message coming from the LOTRO team seems to be the usual litany of deferral and excuses.  Last week the community got a Q&A with the executive producer and to say it was a disappointment would be something of an understatement.  All sorts of things people have been asking after for years like a scalable UI or wide screen support to make the game playable on larger monitors are nowhere in sight.  They mostly seem to be on about bugs and whatever new content they can scrape together.

Most disturbing to me was the response about legendary items, a horribly grindy feature that should have been left behind in Moria:

We want players to have things to do while they are leveling. I know that some players are ‘Oh, this is too grindy and sometimes we overdo it,’ but ‘grindy’ doesn’t scare me as much as ‘I don’t have enough to do.’ I don’t have enough to do is worse because players want to play the game but they don’t really have goals to pursue.

This betrays such a basic misunderstanding of what makes people stick with these sorts of games that I despair for any future for the game, even if EG7 decides to throw some money at it.  This is all of the worst conspiracies about MMO devs confirmed, that they make things purposely grindy to keep us with the game longer.  Have you met your players?  We do stuff just because we can.  We don’t need enforced mandatory grind, we’ll make our own thank you.

I honestly thought we were past that somewhat when WoW launched as was relatively easy to level up in compared to the industry as a whole and yet people still found things to do in the game.  I guess not.

The legendary items thing really strikes home for me.  Despite my enjoyment of Lord of the Rings Online over the years… I bought a lifetime subscription back at launch and own every expansion… I have never made it very far past Moria in the game.  Part of the reason is that Siege of Mirkwood is just an uninspired expansion where Turbine was clearly just mailing it in while they threw resources at some of their fruitless projects.  But it has been mostly due to the constant need to attend to the legendary weapon… and not the one legendary weapon I got back before Moria, but whichever drop I happened to get that was an upgrade.

Yet somehow they are worried that if they dumped legendaries that players wouldn’t be able to depend on drops to keep up with DPS… though we pretty much have to depend on drops for that anyway.  I guess maybe I should be happy they aren’t planning to make them more grindy, which was pretty much the message back in January, but adjusting the “suck” setting back 10% still means things suck.  And they’re talking about challenge modes that will make grinding your legendary even more of a requirement.  They seem 100% locked into “grind makes the game” as a philosophy.

Leaving aside my personal investment in the demise of legendaries, the whole tone of the Q&A was as depressing as any of the worst periods of the Turbine or Daybreak eras.  Even the positive bits, like the new bit of content, The Further Adventures of Bilbo Baggins, turned out to be hollow, being made up of reused assets and mechanics.

A development team that was going to get an infusion of resources to help it along would surely be able to offer a more convincing vision for the future.  Instead I am beginning to wonder if EG7 isn’t simply perusing the Gamigo business model of buying up tired titles and milking the last bits of life out of them before shutting them down.  I previously dared to speculate as to what LOTRO needed.  Now I wonder what the game can even hope to get.

It should be a good moment for the game.  It is celebrating its 14th anniversary and a major potential competitor, the Amazon funded Middle-earth MMO, has been cancelled. (Though the LOTR series under development is still on, so there may still be a renewed interest in all things Middle-earth.)  Instead, the game is starting to feel like Bilbo at the top of the post, stretched too thin for the resources they have with no relief in sight.

The March EVE Online Economic Report and What Happens When CCP Announces Industry Changes

What do industrialists do when you tell them that you’re going to change up production and expect the market to be chaos for months thereafter?  They build whatever they can manage right NOW.  It is time to look at the New Eden economy again.

EVE Online nerds harder

CCP released the monthly economic report for March 2021 this week.  The last week of March saw the announcement about a significant update to industry that is set to shake up production.  The end goals may be a more rational economy and the uncoupling of capital production from basic minerals, but the short term means uncertainty at the reaction was a production boom in some key regions.

Mar 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

You can see the red line, the production line on that graph, surging upwards as the month headed towards its close and the announcement hit.  Destruction was down a bit and mining was up some, but production took off, climbing from about 3 trillion ISK in value on the 25th to almost 6 trillion ISK by the 29th.

While the announcement came at the end of the month, March still ended up with noticeably more produced, the total value in the regional data climbing from 104 trillion ISK in February to 127 trillion ISK in March.  The top ten regions for production were:

  1. The Forge – 29.5 trillion
  2. Delve – 9.4 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 8.25 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 7.33 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 5.31 trillion
  6. Vale of the Silent – 5 trillion
  7. Domain – 4.92 trillion
  8. Fade – 4.89 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.34 trillion
  10. Placid – 2.79 trillion

While Delve was actually down a bit, The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel, which all server the Jita trade hub, were all well up over last month’s numbers.  I expect that the uncertainty over what is to come will continue to drive production up as the early April numbers… there is some bleed over in the data we get… will continue to remain higher than before the announcement.

Destruction

Things continued to blow up in New Eden, and while we’re still down from the record numbers of December and January, the result of the struggles over the Keepstar in M2-XFE, destruction was up a bit from February, rising to 42.68 trillion ISK from 38.43 trillion ISK.  The top regions for destruction in March were:

  1. Delve – 5.51 trillion
  2. The Forge – 2.2 trillion
  3. The Citadel – 2.17 trillion
  4. Vale of the Silent – 1.72 trillion
  5. Lonetrek – 1.57 trillion
  6. Querious – 1.42 trillion
  7. Heimatar – 1.41 trillion
  8. Sinq Laison – 1.35 trillion
  9. Metropolis – 1.2 trillion
  10. Catch – 1.08 trillion

Delve, the locus of the war, remains at the top to the list, more than doubling the usual peacetime champion, The Forge.  The Vale of the Silent was up from February as Fraternity consolidated its conquest of the region and the eviction of the small holders who had previously occupied the region.

Querious and Catch were also on the list due to the war, the former being Brave’s new home and the latter being their old.

NPC Bounties and ISK Faucets

NPC commodities remained the top ISK faucet into New Eden again in March.

Mar 2021 – Faucet end of the chart

As usual, the wormhole commodities led the pack.

Mar 2021 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

That said, NPC bounties did see something of a rebound in March, ringing in at 30.61 trillion ISK, up 5 trillion ISK over February.

Mar 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

The top earning regions for NPC bounties remain in the northeast of null sec, well away from the war.

  1. Vale of the Silent – 3.33 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.26 trillion (PandaFam)
  3. Tribute – 1.21 trillion (mixed small groups)
  4. Pure Blind – 1.20 trillion (mixed small groups)
  5. Insmother – 1.16 trillion (FI.RE Coalition)
  6. Fountain – 1.00 trillion (Imperium)
  7. Tenal – 983 billion (PandaFam)
  8. Metropolis – 922 billion (Minmatar High Sec)
  9. Perrigen Falls – 891 billion (PandaFam)
  10. Oasa – 865 billion (PandaFam)

Vale of the Silent again figures high as part of Fraternity’s seizure of the region and subsequent effort to raise ADM levels and make some ISK.  One high sec region remains in the top ten again this month, either a monument to how much mission running goes on there or a reminder as to how far the null sec bounty levels have fallen since the nerfs.

Mining

Mineral prices resumed their climb in March after having seemed to hit a plateau in February. This trend will likely continue as the industry changes and the rush to produce ships and modules before then drains more of the mineral reserves.  Expect another all time high in April I suppose.

Mar 2021 – Economic Indices

The ore mined totaled up to 24.43 trillion ISK in value, up more than 5 trillion ISK over February.  The top ten regions for mining were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.06 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. Metropolis – 1.37 trillion
  3. The Forge – 1.34 trillion
  4. Domain – 1.10 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.09 trillion
  6. Lonetrek – 908 billion
  7. Everyshore – 805 billion
  8. Heimatar – 718 billion
  9. The Citadel 699 billion
  10. Tash-Murkon – 675 billion

There is Vale of the Silent at the top of another chart, again a byproduct of the conquest of the region.  The past few months the list has been dedicated to high sec regions where semi-AFK Orcas prowl the asteroid belts chewing up rocks.  Fraternity put in some effort to top the list given the limited about of ore now available in null sec space.

Meanwhile, for those interested in the consumer price index line on that chart, Angry Mustache has gone through and calculated what it looks like when you remove the PLEX and related items that are holding the index down at a time when the mineral prices are continuing to rise. (The MER thread on Reddit this month actually has a bunch of back story info in it and is worth a read.)

Trade

As with production, trade saw a spike in activity, one that is no doubt also related to the planned industry changes.  Prices rose as people grabbed up supplies from the market, speculating on what might soon be in short supply, and there was a drive to buy minerals for production.  That sent the value of trade in New Eden to 670.58 trillion ISK in March, up from the 583 trillion ISK in transactions recorded in February.  The top regions for trade were:

  1. The Forge – 472 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 60.64 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Sinq Laison – 21.29 trillion (Dodixie)
  4. Delve – 20.25 trillion (Imperium/PAPI)
  5. Lonetrek – 14.89 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 12.53 trillion
  7. Heimatar – 10.94 trillion
  8. Essence – 5.27 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 4.92 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  10. Vale of the Silent – 4.22 trillion (PandaFam)

The Forge, home to Jita, dominated as expected, with 65 trillion ISK more in transactions.  But all the top regions were up.  And it should be no surprise I suppose that Vale of the Silent nosed its way into this top ten list as well.  With all that other economic activity there was no doubt some trade needed to support it.

So it goes.  I expect that we will find April to be even more volatile than March, and there is no telling what will happen when the industry changes actually hit.  The charts should be fun that month.  But we’ll have to wait and see.

As always, all the data and more charts are available for download from the dev blog.

Further Exploration in Valheim

I have to admit that one of the draws of Valheim for me is the obscured world map that you have to go visit in order to reveal what is there.  But there have always been something of a limit on how far a field one might dare go.  I have run into some surprised when trekking through strange territory.

Oh hey, you’re new

Early on, when your gear is in the first tier or two, you have a lot to fear.  I had to be wearing just the basic leather armor in that screen shot because that was the first troll I spotted, so I certainly wasn’t wearing any troll hide.

Going out into strange territory could turn into a mess pretty quickly, especially if you found yourself straying from the merely hazardous black forest into the downright deadly plains.

Still, I have kept on carefully widening the area we have uncovered on the map, poking my nose into places and wandering along the edges of the more dangerous areas.

Spying out the plains

However, for the moment I am now at the pinnacle of gear in a game where a few additional points of armor can make a huge difference in your survival.  While a two star fuling is still a hazard that I need to take care with, the fear of deathsquitos is largely gone.

He’s a mean one

Once able to one shot me, those plains buzzers would be a mere annoyance were I not keen to collect their stingers for arrows.  I move towards each once I spot, take their attack on my shield, then swat them out of the air.

Come at me bro!

So I no longer fear to wander the plains, or any other biome at this point… though I still try to avoid being out at night in the plains when groups of fulings are wandering about looking for trouble.

A greys vs fulings gang fight on a biome border

And I have been using this sense of… if not impunity, at least strength… to get out and explore farther afield.  And the basic tool of exploration in Valheim is the boat.  Nothing moves as quickly or can steer clear of trouble or annoying entanglements.

At sea exploring

I chose the Karve over the longboat due to the nimble nature and shallow draft.  I have had the longboat out before and it is great for hauling, but I’ve also gotten it wedged into some tight places reminiscent of the recent events in the Suez Canal.  The Karve is just easier to deal with for exploration, especially when that channel you were sailing up turns out to have an isthmus that you either need to dig out or carry the boat across.

This time I was able to dig through between fuling attacks

So I have been sailing quite a bit over the last week or so, passing landmarks and finding new places to camp.

Another Bonemass spawn location

I wonder what it would have been like fighting Bonemass right on open water.  Well, if we were going to be up a tree either way, probably the same I guess.

Part of my plan has been to find safe-ish locations adjacent to the as yet unused biome types in order to put down portals that we can use later as a foothold for exploration.  Ideally I try to find a stretch of meadows in the vicinity.  Not only is that generally safe, but usually has a supply of wood near by and often comes complete with some pre-existing structures to work with as a starting point for a base.

Coming ashore at one of the many little meadows bases I have set up

So far I have found a couple of potential footholds near mistlands biomes.  I haven’t gone into them to explore, mostly due to the level of darkness that is enforced in them.  I suspect having that helmet light is going to come in handy when we end up there.

And, on one of my voyages southward, I ended up on a new biome, called the ashlands.

Welcome to the ashlands

I was actually on the edge of the mountains, which is why it is snowy.

I was a little bit paranoid walking into the new biome as there were flaming creatures visible stalking about the terrain.  And then I realized they were just surtlings, which I have faced often enough in the swamps, so need not be afraid.  More coal and cores!

So we have a small base setup near that for future use.  I am continuing my voyages while I am up to being able to tangle with the largest creatures currently in the game.

41 Weeks of World War Bee

The war, at least from my vantage point, has changed up a bit.  Yes, PAPI is still slowly grinding down structures outside of the O-EIMK constellation, racking up some more Keepstar Kills in the last week.

Three Keepstars Down in the old Helms Deep Pocket

But Legacy Coalition, which has pretty much given up on their old space at this point, has decided to start living and working in Delve, Querious, and Period Basis.  They want to rat and mine and manufacture and do all the things you move out to null sec to do in order to build and sustain an empire.  They’ve mostly left 1DQ1-A and the O-EIMK constellation alone.  So the Imperium has begun to spin up some old organizations like Black Ops and the NGSA which specialized in scouting out and dropping on capsuleers going about their space business.

Killing ratters and miners is a thing now and pings for bombers now fill up my scroll back.

Delve Front

As noted above, Delve has been most devoid of large clashes.  Hot drops and scouting are the theme of the week, at least on the Imperium side.  That left the map looking mostly the same.

Delve – Apr 18, 2021

The metaliminal storm stayed in the O-EIMK constellation, though it moved to the Fake Quireous end of it.  That was still close enough to give most of the constellation a no-cloaking cover, leaking over into T5ZI-S, the PAPI staging system.

Other Theaters

Feythabolis remains under attack by Imperium forces, bent on burning down any of the Legacy Coalition territory they ca.

Feythabolis – Apr 18, 2021

There is still work to be done there, but the western end of the region has been cleared.

Esoteria remains a battleground, still between The Bastion and its allies and Army of Mango and Evictus.  Evictus may also come under pressure in Feythabolis.

Esoteria – Apr 18, 2021

There is also another incursion in the region just to spice things up for both sides.

And then there is Fountain, which honestly I haven’t heard anybody mention… not that I have time to listen to every podcast and stream… where Federation Uprising continues to claim more ihubs.

Fountain – Apr 18, 2021

As long as the region keeps changing hands I’ll keep posting maps, but I am not sure who is really in there for keeps.

My Participation

I have to admit that I didn’t do anything really related to the war this past week.  I logged in and collected my planetary interaction materials… as noted, PAPI isn’t really spending much time in 1DQ1-A or its constellation… and put them up on the market to generate a bit of ISK.

Epithal out for a pickup run

Otherwise I was a complete slacker.  As such my losses for the war remain as follows:

  • Ares interceptor – 17
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar logi – 4
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Drake battle cruiser – 4
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 3
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

CCP began its industry rework plan by seeding blueprints and formulae for new reactions as part of the first April patch on Tuesday.  The industrial chaos era is coming.  In a bit of an ironic twist, CCP released a video about how important industrialists are to the New Eden ecosystem even as they were planning to make every industrialist miserable.

CCP also announced the plans for the CSM16 election with dates and requirements for those looking to run.

CSM 16 is approaching

You can start writing your campaign thread now.

And on the player count, the peak concurrent was down a bit this week.  No doubt slack time in the war and the end of the recent in-game event contributed to that… well, that and maybe the nice warm weather some place are getting.  So the weekly peak concurrent run look like this:

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)
  • Week 34 – 35,626
  • Week 35 – 35,379
  • Week 36 – 35,085
  • Week 37 – 34,394
  • Week 38 – 36,319
  • Week 39 – 35,597 (Saturday)
  • Week 40 – 35,384 (Saturday)
  • Week 41 – 33,708

Related

The PlayStation 3 a Decade Later

In looking through posts for the usual month in review summary I saw that we had just passed the ten year anniversary of our purchasing a PlayStation 3.

Just in case you wanted to see a box

A decade down the road… or about half an Afghan war later… the PlayStation 3 is still in the entertainment center under our televisions.  Same TV, same PlayStation 3.

We were a bit late to the PS3 party.  The platform launched back in late 2006 and was discontinued in the US back in 2016.  But back in 2006 we were more keen to jump on board with the Wii.  And I think it was probably the wise decision.  With our then young daughter in the house, the Wii was a lot more kid friendly.

The new TV was the primary driver for the PS3 purchase.  Our old 32″ CRT TV,  purchased back in 1998, was in the process of giving up the ghost so we finally bought a 46″ LCD HD TV.  With that we wanted to be able to watch Blu-Ray movies, stream, and play video games in actual HD resolutions, so a PS3 was already on my mind.  (Also, Potshot bought one and it seemed to work out for him.)

Anyway, we ended up doing some of all of that… once the PlayStation Network was up and running again.  The damn thing got hacked and brought down about a week after I bought the PS3 and remained down for over three weeks.  I was offered 450 Station Cash for my trouble as a result of a class action lawsuit, which tells you why I hate class action lawsuits.

For a long stretch we watched movies and streamed Netflix on the device.  Video games were played as well, though not as much as I thought would.  As it turned out, one of the oddities of the Wii, that you had half a controller to hold in each hand, was ergonomic brilliance.  Having to go to the “gamer grip” on a traditional controller made various parts of me ache.

Still, we did get through some of the TellTale LEGO titles, which were visually much better on the PS3 than the Wii, and my daughter put a lot of time into Little Big Planet.  But the last console video game we played on the TV in the family room was Just Dance 5 on the Wii, and the Wii has been packed up and stored away for about two years now.  The Wii was just more fun.

But the PS3 had other jobs.  We still used it for streaming and playing movies.  But the end of support for the platform still loomed.  Back in late 2019 we found that the streaming services had stopped updating their apps for the PS3, which ended its life for that function.  I went out and bought a Roku Stick, which now fulfills that need.

Then came the pandemic, and the television was suddenly getting more use than ever.  The Roku Stick purchase was just in time.  Within two month of that we had the pandemic, and Tiger King, and a hunger for video content.

Oddly, here is something we haven’t done in the pandemic: Watch movies on DVD or Blu-Ray.  We have a shelf full of them.  But streaming services seemed to have finally hit the point where they could scratch the itch that those disks were meant to cover.  That doesn’t mean I am tossing them, but when I am going through looking for something to watch, I am often struck by the overlap between movies available on services and our own library.  I mean, you get all of Star Wars and The Simpsons with Disney+.

So I haven’t spun up the PS3 in almost a year I would guess.  I think the last thing I watched was a couple of episodes of World at War, which I have on DVD and which doesn’t pop up on streaming services.  And that made me grouse a bit about how poorly black and white is rendered on modern AV equipment.  The glow of the CRT gave it a life that LCD technology lacks.

And so the PS3 sits on the bottom shelf of the entertainment center, half hidden in the darkness, waiting for us to want to spin a disk rather than stream.  Maybe some evening if the internet goes down we’ll boot it back up.

Recently I read that Sony will soon be shutting down PlayStation Store support for the PS3, which has made some grumble.  I am honestly surprised it has lasted this long, what with the PlayStation 5 out.  Nintendo pulled down all such support for the Wii ages ago, well before they launched the Switch.

And I am not that concerned.  The games I have will likely still work as I bought them all on disk and support for streaming apps and the like was already a dead end.   Of course, now there is a looming bug that might render the console useless if the CMOS battery dies, but I would have to feel the need to boot the system up to see if that was even a problem for us.

Overall, a decade later, I’d rate the purchase of the PS3 as probably worthwhile.  It did not get nearly the play time that the Wii did but it filled the gap in other places even if it was something of a “sledgehammer vs mosquito” level solution for some of its uses.  It played our Blu-Ray disks and streamed Netflix and HBO for us.  I’m not keen to replace it with something more modern.  There is no PS5 purchase looming in our future.  I don’t play video games on the TV and the streaming function has already been taken over by the Roku.  And, for now, the PS3 can handle and DVD or Blu-Ray needs.

Addendum: Sony has changed their mind and is keeping the PS3 and PS Vita stores open for now.  Maybe they’ll even push an update to fix the CMOS battery bug.

Quote of the Day – How Not to Fight Big Dev

It’s worth it to get out from under big dev

-Gigabear, Massively OP Comment

I avoided posting about the whole DreamWorld Kickstarter thing in part because I have very little interest in MMOs that show up on Kickstarter… they are not universally bad, but the wall of disappointment that has been built up around them in general should be a warning to all… and in part because the red flags on this particular project… a comically low ask, sky high setting of expectations, no industry experience, “we’ve got all the answers” attitude, and a free art assets demo reel… made me want to avoid inadvertently giving it any more attention that it might otherwise have garnered.  Massively OP and MMO Fallout gave it more attention than it deserved.

They last game you’ll ever play… because it will never ship

I can’t say if the whole thing was a scam or just hubris, but I will write a sincere post of apology if any sort of game results from the campaign. (Though I will reserve the right to compare what was promised versus what was delivered as part of that apology.  Sincerity can cut both ways.)

Anyway, another day, another round of BS on the internet.  No news there.

But I was interested in who would back such a project, and specifically who would back it at the $1,999 or more tier, which had seven parties throw in.

I can see maybe bidding at a low tier if you want to go along for the ride with some middle age prima donna developer who wants to prove that they didn’t do their best work back in the 90s.  We’ve seen our share of that in the last decade.  I didn’t chip in on Star Citizen because I believed Chris Roberts could deliver everything he promised initially… much less everything he has promised since… but to have a ticket to the ride should anything interesting come of it.

But with DreamWorld you don’t even have that draw.  So who sets fire to two grand for a bunch of nobody’s promising the sky?  I was willing to bet that at least a couple of the seven in for that much were shills, there to make it look like a success early on, but then pull out at the last minute.  But they all stayed in.  So, unless there was a “pay you back after we’re done” arrangement, they actually believed what they were told and I was interested to hear from any of them.

And then one popped up over in the Massively OP comments.  Gigabear, who is apparently a serial backer of such campaigns, dropped “$2000+” on the project.  And the summary of their reason for backing iy… and why they would back other projects even if this one fails… was the quote above.

They want to get out from under “big dev.”

What utter self-delusional bullshit.

I can totally understand not liking the big game developers such as EA, Activision, Blizzard, Ubisoft, and whoever else you care to throw into that group.  There is a lot there worthy of dislike and distrust.

But handing a couple of grand to a project like this isn’t “sticking it to the man,” it is encouraging more half assed scams.

Meanwhile there are a lot of worthwhile indie projects that are done and looking for an audience, and only a few get the attention they deserve.  For every Valheim, which for $20 touches so many MMO sweet spots, there are a bunch of titles that never get the audience that would make them even a moderate success.

There were 10,263 new titles launched on Steam in 2020.  Surely one of them must have been more deserving that DreamWorld?

And yeah, I don’t want to become… much less encourage… that guy who complains about people buying a latte at Starbucks rather than the game they worked so hard on.  But when you aren’t even going to get a pretend spaceship JPEG… much less a tall soy caramel macchiato… for your two grand, it doesn’t seem like you’ve helped the industry at all.  You’ve merely encouraged scam artists to keep on scamming.

In Our Base on the Plains in Valheim

As I wrote previously, it seemed clear to me that we were going to have to build a base in the plains once I had read that barley and flax would only grow there.  Some sort of farm would need to be set up.  And then, of course, there was the next tier of metal.  While we could haul it back to our ever sprawling main base, my experience with collecting silver from the mountains indicated that a forge and smelter in the area would be viable.

So when Crowbar pointed out a likely island in the plains, we set about making a somewhat utilitarian outpost on the spot.

Plains island base

The first priority was production and a few of the first items laid down, once we had laid out a stone pad foundation, were, from left to right, a windmill, a smelter, a kiln, and a blast furnace.

The production corner of the stone pad

The windmill might be my favorite of that group, if only because it made the behavior of the wind in the game something to notice beyond when I had set sail.  The wheel and tail assembly at the top rotate with changes in the wind, facing into it like a real windmill.  But it also brought to my attention that the wind doesn’t blow at a fixed rate.  While I suspected that it might when out on the Karve, it is hard to tell.  But the windmill blades spin relative to the speed of the wind, or not at all if the air is calm.

Which would all be so much trivia if it didn’t affect how well the windmill worked.  You use it to grind harvested barley into barley flour for cooking, and how fast it grinds is directly proportional to the speed of the wind.  I understand that you can mess up your production with poor windmill placement, though we seem to have done okay.  It grinds away and we have an excess of flour now.  The only bothersome bit was the sound of the spinning blades, which in the right wind sound a bit like heavy footsteps running towards you.  Tuned into sounds, as you have to be when you play Valheim, that gave me a start a few times before I got used to it.

The smelter was built to process iron scraps, since I knew we would need some of that.  I also hauled some copper and tin from another base to get us some bronze in case we needed a bit.

The kiln I might have skipped on.  All it does is make coal, and you can bring coal through a portal.  But it also doesn’t take much to build.  I remember when five surtling cores seemed like a big investment.  Now we have a chest full of them sitting around.  So there it is.

And then there is the blast furnace, which makes all sorts of noise as it smelts black metal scraps.  My main disappointment was that it doesn’t replace the smelter.  Oh well.

But not everything can sit around outside, so we put up some buildings.

Buildings in the plains base

They are in the form of my “I ain’t building no damn chimneys” mis-matched roof design, something I borrowed from the roof venting in our own house.  They started as a mirrored pair, then I roofed over the part in the middle since I was tired of getting wet walking between the two or when using one of the portals there.

The building on the left became the indoor crafting area.

The crafting room

There we have some large storage chests, which was as good of a reason as any to get some iron, as they keep down the chest clutter a bit.  I am also all in on iron torches, which stay lit much longer than the wooden kind.

Next to that is the spinning wheel which turns flax into linen thread.  That thread is required for many of the gear upgrades.  The spinning wheel is dull compared to the windmill.  You just fill it up and it spits out spools of thread.

Then there is the artisan table, which requires Moder’s tears to construct, and which enables to building of the blast furnace, spinning wheel, and windmill.

And then there is a fully upgraded forge for crafting with our new found materials.  Behind me in the screen shot is an upgraded workbench for items requiring that.

The workbench

That is used mostly for making needle arrows and the occasional lox hide cloak.

The other building is the sleeping quarters, which is pretty compact.

The sleeping quarters

There are four beds on a platform over the hearth, which seemed very Russian to me, though maybe having a bed over the stove in a peasant izba is a bit out of date.

There is also enough decoration to boost the comfort level to 14, which gives 18 minutes of rested state, something that boosts stamina and health regen.  I also put up cooking racks to roast up some lox meat on demand.  I thought about building a cauldron as well, but the cooking area at the main base is just a step through a portal and we have a lot of supplies built up there for food.

Finally, there is the field.  We split out the compound to give us room to grow barley and flax when we found it.  I started off with just a bit of barley too.

Carefully planting my first bits of barley

Soon though I had a field of barely, enough that we pushed out the far wall to give ourselves a bigger field.  And then we found some flax and I went to town on growing that.

Flax and barley on a foggy morning

You can see I have the flax well spaced.  Early on, when we only had a little, I was paranoid about losing any of the crop.  Now our chests are spilling over with the excess and I am a little more free with it.  But I have still stored some away at other bases just in case.  We have a strategic reserve of flax and barely stashed away.

Overall, despite the utilitarian plan for our base, it has actually shaped up into a nice little outpost.  Things are handy but not in the way, the island location keeps us safe, and supplies are just a portal or a short walk away.

And, of course, it is on the plains, which can give one quite a pleasant view when the weather and the sunlight decide to cooperate for a bit.

Looking out from over the front gate, another day on the tenth planet

We’ll probably get in trouble with some eco type for importing a few firs and a strand of pine trees into the plains… invasive species… but they look pretty good out there.

CCP Begins the Run Up to the CSM16 Elections

Yesterday CCP made the expected announcement that the election cycle for the counsel of stellar management was set to commence.  The race for CSM16 is on.

CSM 16 is approaching

The timeline for the election cycle has been laid out as follows:

  • 26 April – 12 May – Application Submission Period
  • 26 April – 14 May – Application Processing
  • 20 May – Live Candidates Announcement
  • 20 May – 4 June – Campaign Period
  • 8-15 June – Voting Period (from 11:00 UTC to 11:00 UTC)
  • 21 June – Live CSM 16 Reveal

Now is the time to start thinking about whether or not you’re going to run.

Ha ha, no… if you haven’t already decided to run and haven’t spent the last six months to a year laying the groundwork for a run, you’re probably not going to make the cut as a serious candidate.  But go ahead I suppose.

In order to apply to run a candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Your account must be older than 60 days at the time candidacy applications close.
  • Characters on both Alpha and Omega accounts are eligible to run.
  • You must have a history of honoring the EULA and the Terms of Service. We will screen every applicant thoroughly, and EULA/TOS violations on your record can result in a rejected application.
  • You must create a campaign thread in the CSM section on EVE Online forums covering the following questions:
    • Your EVE Online story.
    • Your areas of expertise. In which areas of the game do you feel you are the most knowledgeable? What qualities set you apart from other candidates?
    • Why are you applying for the CSM?
    • What can players expect from you?
    • You are free to add more information and manage your campaign thread as you see fit, but the above four questions are the bare minimum required from everyone.
  • Your account must have updated and correct information at the time of your application. This includes your real-life name, correct date of birth, and the same email you use to submit your application. To view and edit this information go to the account management website.
  • Candidates must have reached 18 years of age. If the legal adult age in your home country (the age at which you have the legal capacity to enter into a contract) is higher than 18, that number applies instead.
  • As an applicant, you must consent to provide your personal details to CCP, including your real name and a copy of your passport. CCP needs to affirm your real-life identity for NDA contract purposes, and the ability to travel to a summit in Iceland is a key function of the CSM.
  • If you do not currently have a valid passport, we will accept a picture/scan of a valid and approved passport application accompanied by a picture of your driver’s license.
  • You must consent to share your country of origin with the EVE community and display it on the EVE Online website. You will not be required to share any other personal information with the EVE community.
  • If you are running as an “alt” and control a character that has a reputation in the EVE universe, CCP may require you to run under that identity at its full discretion.

If you believe you can manage all of that, then there are three steps required to apply:

  1. Fill in the application form between 26 April – 12 May. Beware session time-outs that can refresh the page, and make sure to save your text in a document before. If you don’t get a confirmation, re-enter the information and try again.
  2. Submit your document scans/pictures to csm-contact@ccpgames.com in high quality with the subject “CSM 16 application”.
  3. Create a forum thread in the CSM section on EVE Online forums. All steps must be completed within the application windows. Remember that applications cannot be edited after you submit them, so triple-check to see if the information entered is correct!

So, if you have laid the groundwork and think you’re up to it and are okay with another part time job in your life, the stage is set.

We will have to see who is ready to throw their hat in the ring… again, in the case of some incumbents… before I start trying to pick likely winners.

This will also be the last CSM before term limits, introduced as part of the CSM15 election cycle, will come into effect.  Term limits count from CSM14 forward, so Innominate, Gobbins, Vily, and Merkelchen can run for one more term before they have to take a break from the council.

Meeting the Neighbors in the Plains

Having carved out a little corner of a plains biome and successfully fortified it as a base, it was time to look further afield.  It was time to go introduce ourselves to the locals.

Plains island base

I will say, for openers, that the island location that Crowbar picked has worked out well.  We occupied enough of the place that nothing spawns there or on our causeway to the mainland.  Even NPC raid events seem to have trouble dealing with the location.  We had some skeletons beating on the doors once, but when we got the  ground shaking message about a troll raid they all spawned at the far end of the causeway and fought with the local spawns while Crowbar and I sat on the wall taking shots at them with our bows.

In fact, the only mob I’ve seen come up the causeway without being invited (by arrows) has been Odin, and he hardly counts.

Just leave your pamphlets on the mat

But out on the far side of our moat awaits the plains and all the mobs that wander it.  Well, the few mobs that wander it I suppose, as there isn’t a lot of biodiversity.

There are, of course, the deathsquitos, the first plains mob to slay me, and for quite a while an absolute terror in my eyes.  Now, geared up considerably since then, they are, like real mosquitoes, more of a nuisance.  They can be a pain if they show up in the middle of a fight or spawn in a group of six (which happened to Crowbar and he still managed to kill five of them), but when I see them out on the plains I move straight towards them, shield up to take their attack, then bonk them with the hammer.

Come at me bro!

Their needles make the highest damage arrows in the game, so I will go out of my way to farm them.

And then there are the Lox, the mighty bison that wander the plains… or sit around waiting for you to show up and shoot them.

Shooting Lox from Rocks

If you can find a vantage point from which to shoot them they’ll run around all confused.  That guy far off, he came back.  They are drawn to their spawn point it seems.  And they are worth shooting as their meat makes for mighty food.

And then there are the fulings, the goblins of the plains.

The new neighbors not happy to see me

You kill the deathsquitos for arrows and the Lox for food, but the fulings are the main target in the plains, and they are all over the place.  They are also the most dangerous due to being social and traveling in groups.  That is especially true at night when they wander far and wide in groups of 3-5, which can be a nasty shock if you’re just trying to get back to base after a long day of hunting.

And while fighting them out in the open is fun, it is their bases that are the big draw.  That is the source of barely, flax, and the totems to summon the next boss… and black metal scraps, which are the next tier for some gear.  I mentioned building the blast furnace to smelt it immediately after slaying Mode.

My first run in with a furling base was a tower, which turned into a bit of a slog as, once I cleared the fulings outside, the few inside refused to come out.  I sniped a couple off the top of the tower, but ended up having to go in hand to hand for the last two… one of which was a two star furling and killed me with one shot when I missed a block.  Oops.

But that was close to base so I was able to run back and finish things off, getting to the top of the tower and the chest there, which held eight barley.

On top of the tower

From that bit much barley was grown.  But flax, that took a lot longer to find.  Crowbar and I started scouting for more bases, and in our wide area of plains there were a few to choose from.

Crowbar, ever tactical, built up a platform on one of the giant stones that are scattered about the plains, thinking to snipe the fulings.

Shooting down from a great height

Unfortunately, the stone was a bit too far away to be effective, so we ended up just sneaking up to the base, surmounting a nearby stone, and sniping from there.

Popping the furlings from range

We were able to clear the base, which only had a scattering of fulings, two shaman, and no berserkers pretty easily.  They were all spread out enough that we didn’t get more than three at a time.

The base had some more barely… that quickly became common in our inventory… and some black metal, but no flax.

We moved on to the next base, another tower, and then the next after that.  There we had some fun with berserkers.

Eat that poison arrow!

Once again we had a rock to run to and shoot from which was too steep for the fulings to climb, so we could snipe from safety.  However, I managed to run out of stamina on a bad pull where we got a bunch of fulings and couldn’t get back up on the rock.  That was another corpse run.

Back for my gear

The run back was a bit dicey, but I have learned to eat some food and build up some hit points before I make the attempt.  I ended up outrunning two groups of fulings and a deathsquito successfully.

We cleared the camp, and found some more barley, plenty of black metal scraps, and a couple more totems, but no flax.

Int wasn’t until we were about five furling camps in before we finally ran across a few flax planted in a bed.  We grabbed that and headed back to our base to cultivate it.  That was a bit of a long haul and I ended up putting up two more portals in the base named Scout1 and Scout2 so we could run around and drop a portal to get back home when we needed.

Our plains domain

On the map the furling camps are marked FC and the current positions of our scouting portals are SC1 and SC2.

Of course, you cannot haul the black metal scraps back through the portals, so we have ended up running those back the old fashioned way.  When we first got there I would run them into the meadows biome and that camp, then haul metal by boat up to the plains base, but I’ve gotten confident enough to just keep running the whole way these days.

Except at night.  Like I said, groups of fulings roaming around can be an issue when you run into them.

And my usual worry, that this new method of metal procurement would be a bottle neck to production… well, we have ended up with a lot of black metal scraps to refine.  Iron though, which is required for the armor upgrades… that I have ended up having to haul in by boat from across the straights and the Bonemass swamp.

Sailing through a storm

But our supply situation is coming together.  More on that next time.

The April Update Begins Seeding New Industry Materials in EVE Online

As expected, today saw the first update patch for April which included the initial round of materials in support of the controversial industry changes CCP has planned.

A Raitaru Engineering Complex

The changes have begun with the seeding of blueprints and reactions on the NPC market, under the following categories:

  • Construction Components Blueprints
  • Capital Construction Blueprints
  • Advanced Capital Construction Blueprints
  • Molecular-Forged Reaction Formulas
  • Composite Reaction Formulas

The lists for each type under those categories is in the patch notes. (Some of them did not get seeded correctly, but an update will fix that soon according to the known issues thread.)  The following NPC corporations will be selling the blueprints and formulae, though each will only have a subset of the total.

  • Amarr Navy
  • Caldari Navy
  • Federation Navy
  • Republic Fleet
  • Ytiri
  • Propel Dynamics
  • Eifyr and Co
  • Freedom Extension
  • Zoar and Sons
  • Ducia Foundry
  • Impetus
  • Chemal Tech
  • Modru’s Legion
  • Outer Ring Excavations
  • Intaki Bank

In addition, the following items, also part of the new industry plan, are now available from exploration sites:

  • Counter-Subversion Sensor Array
  • Nanoscale Filter Plate
  • Electro-Neural Signaller
  • Enhanced Electro-Neural Signaller
  • Nano Regulation Gate
  • Meta-Molecular Combiner
  • Isotropic Deposition Guide
  • LM-Composite Molecular Condenser
  • AG-Composite Molecular Condenser
  • CV-Composite Molecular Condenser
  • AV-Composite Molecular Condenser

And Mykoserocin gas sites can now be found in low security solar systems and additional null security locations.

Industrialists will no doubt be working to research blueprints and build up supplies in anticipation of next step in the changes.

On the ISK sinks and faucets front CCP is tinkering with the Dynamic Bounty and Encounter Surveillance System settings once more.

  • The autopay timer for the Main Bank increased from 2h to 2h:45m
  • The intrusion time to the Main bank decreased from 6m 30s to 6m
  • Equilibrium value increased from 135% to 150%
  • The Maximum Output of the Dynamic Bounty System increased from 180% to 200%
  • Adjusted Dynamic Bounty System threshold margins

After successfully curtailing bounties as the primary source of ISK into the economy, CCP continues to play with the values to try and make the ESS a conflict point.

CCP has also included a series of updates to landmarks in New Eden.  They include:

  • The rare Children of Light phenomena in the Iyen-Oursta system has received a dramatic visual upgrade.
  • New landmark locations can be found within the following systems:
    • New Eden
    • Gererique
    • D-B7YK
    • 6QBH-S
    • Old Man Star
    • Atioth
    • Mozzidit
  • The names of the top 10 fastest Capsuleers for each of the three routes in this year’s Federation Grand Prix have been added to the description of the monument structure within the Federation Grand Prix Starting Line landmark site in Luminaire. Congratulations to the racers!
  • A new hidden landmark location has been added to the game. The location of this landmark has previously been established in a piece of official EVE Online content, but has not been visible within the game until now.

In addition there were the usual host of small additions and fixes, a few of which jumped out when I scanned the list:

  • Added the ability to Unlock all targets via Target List Anchor or shortcut (not bound by default).
  • Added the option to ‘Include Jump Bridges in Route’ when using Autopilot, this can be toggled On/Off in the Autopilot options.
  • Fixed a capitalization error on an ad in the Jita 4-4 station.
  • Added a feature that shows the structure type in search results.
  • Implemented survey integration with the character selection screen. Keep your eyes open for an exciting and rewarding survey opportunity launching soon!

Just waiting on that exciting and rewarding survey opportunity!

In addition CCP has announced a play test for the new native Mac client starting on Thursday.

Anyway, the patch has been deployed and the usual links are available: