Monthly Archives: July 2013

July in Review

The Site

You can tell when I am looking at old posts.  I find typos or dead links or some sort of error and I edit them.  And then, in its mysterious way, WordPress.com makes a judgement call about whether or not that update means it should put the post back into my RSS feed.  Whatever method it uses to make that call… coin toss, darts, broken random number generator… the “post it back to the RSS feed” option seems to be coming up a lot more lately.

I have no idea why.

It actually makes me a bit self-conscious.  I apologize for the old posts showing up in my feed.

Then again, if you want some insight into what I might be writing… or thinking about… or may have just accidentally stumbled over, this is certainly one way.  Unofficial reruns with error corrections!

Meanwhile, in the post-Google Reader world, things continue to vex me or go awry.  I went to The Old Reader for a couple of reasons, including the ability to create my own output RSS feed to place in the sidebar of the blog.  It had hiccups and was down a lot right after Google Reader went away.  So I looked at Feedly, which was in an imperfect state as well, but which was popular in my RSS reader poll.  It was up, but only knew how to import feeds directly from the now departed Google Reader.  With The Old Reader down yet again, I added a subset of feeds into Feedly by hand.  And then a couple of days later, Feedly announced support for OPML import, at about the time The Old Reader came back up and started behaving.

So I spent a couple of weeks using both.  Feedly for key feeds, The Old Reader for all my old feeds and the ability to create the sidebar RSS feed.  That feature was a bit flaky, but it mostly worked.  And then last week, The Old Reader went down hard, which resulted in them essentially taking their venture in a new direction, one to which I am not invited.  And that was the end of that.

So now I am using Feedly, which seems reliable enough, has an iOS client (which actually works now), and which I would pay for and/or donate towards, except there seems to be no allowance for such that I see.  All I could find was that they had plans for a premium service at some future date.

The upshot and site related part of this is that I need to work out a new way to have a feed in the sidebar.

And, in what is really a note about my other site, I decided to post a picture a day, as opposed to two a week, in July to see if that changed traffic at all.  It did not.  Traffic was actually down a bit.  But I have a huge backlog of pictures, so what the hell.

One Year Ago

In New Eden my hear went “Boum!

Elligium took its pandas and went home.

Blizzard set the date for Mists of Pandaria.

There was a Steam Summer Sale.

I was wondering if Torchlight II could live up to its potential.

Ultima Forever!  A shot across Lord British’s bow.

Rift sells mounts for cash.  It wasn’t like they were going free to play though.

Let it be noted that not all Kickstarters fail.  Last year there was the Defense Grid expansion Kickstarter.  I kicked in, they built it, I played it.  Simple as that, and much better than any 99 cent app I have purchased.  And I still get a free copy of their next Defense Grid game when it comes out.

I wondered aloud if nostalgia servers… official ones… would remain the sole domain of EverQuest.

Meanwhile SOE was talking about Vanguard’s free to play plan.

I was underwhelmed at the so-called “reskin” of Qeynos in EverQuest II.  The sorrow of Qeynos knows no end.

In EVE Online, there was war in Delve… again… if only I could get there.  There were battles in 49-U6U, C3N-3S, and DSS-EZ, a conga line in 319-3D (where we also watched the alliance tournament), and a flying titan in F2OY-X.  The tiny Wallpapers Alliance held out longer than Nulli Secunda, before being crushed.

Then having done the heavy lifting for TEST, the CFC was asked to go home.  TEST was going to be its own alliance, but we would all remain the best of friends in the big blue donut of love.  Anyway, it was time for a convoy back to Deklein.  Somewhere along the way I got a warning from CCP for causing lag.

And there was also a link to a list of things to do in EVE Online.

Five Years Ago

BioWare finally let loose the least well kept secret in the MMO-verse at the time.  They confirmed they were making a Knights of the Old Replublic type MMO.

The mention of Diablo III seemed to spur a revival of Diablo II with the Diablo II Battle Chest taking the #1 sales spot for a time.  Not bad for a game that has not had an expansion since 2001.

Meanwhile, on the SOE front, it was time to say farewell to the EverQuest side of the Living Legacy program.  I also griped a bit about how SOE was advertising the completely out of date EverQuest Platinum on the EQ Players site and had been doing so for a long time.  That ad disappeared before the month was out though.  Such a coincidence!

In Azeroth the instance group went back to the Slave Pens as we edged ever closer the Burning Crusade level cap of 70.  Meanwhile people were selling Wrath of the Lich King beta keys on eBay for $500.

In New Eden I was pondering the economics of building and flying a marauder and comparing the benefits of a Raven Navy Issue and the Caldari marauder, the Golem.  Our little corp was on the move again.  And some of us were taking the EVE personality test while I compared ships styles of the different factions to cars from my youth.

And speaking of EVE, I also joined in with CrazyKinux on some crazy EVE Blog Pack idea.  I wonder what happened with that?

Warhammer Online was on the horizon.  I had pre-ordered the collectors edition, but then came the content removal, some classes and four cities.  And while Mythic posted the minimum system requirements, I was wondering what the recommended… often thought to be the true minimum for many games… might end up being.

And, finally, I was done with GameFly and damn glad to have escaped from Atlanta.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in July

EVE Online dominates the list, in large part because of EVE News 24 syndicating several of my posts, which in turn contained links to other posts on this site.

  1. 6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain
  2. Gold is Where You Find It – Blogging and Community
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. I’m Malshandir and So’s My Wife!
  5. A Prophecy of Murder in G95F-H
  6. The Propaganda War in Fountain
  7. More Propaganda from the War in Fountain
  8. Decisions and Inventory Management
  9. My Guns Jam at Z9PP-H
  10. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  11. Remember the Lazamo – Bloodbath at 3WE-KY
  12. Google Reader is No More – Where Have You Gone?

Search Terms of the Month

eve online awesome screenshots
[I have a whole site for that, but that search points here]

civilization v brave free download pc games old virgin
[You seem confused]

wot major tannhauser
[I think he is still with Venus]

скачать карты для warcraft 3 покемоны белое и черное
[If Google is correct, somebody is looking for Pokemon themed Warcraft III maps]

EVE Online

July was all about the war in Fountain for me.  I lived in B-D and 4-EP and went on as many fleet ops as I could manage.  With the war… if not over, at least in transition… I am not sure what the future holds.  Rumors are that our alliance will move to the new Fountain frontier to live.  But other rumors say that FA or FCON or Fweddit or Black Legion or The Mittani’s aunt on his mother’s side will be taking up that role based on participation or need or ability to knit warm sweaters.  We shall see.

Potshot re-subscribed thanks to my reports of the war, and some prodding on my part, only to join our corp and get into null sec just in time to miss the big battle at 6VDT.  He was far enough along to have coms set up and was able to listen to fleet ops on Mumble, ala that scene in Wing and a Prayer, but wasn’t able to get into the fight.  So he has some time to figure out null sec and get ready for the next war.

Lord of the Rings Online

I have been faltering a bit in Middle-earth.  My captain is in Moria and is just shy of level 52, a number which represents the previous pinnacle of my LOTRO leveling career.  But my drive has waned.  It isn’t that Moria is bad.  It is just more of the same really.  My fun in LOTRO tends to peak in the Lone Lands and Evendim.  I scrambled around in the Misty Mountains and Forochel for a bit until I could start in Eregion.  Then I cleaned up there until about level 51, when I entered Moria and stopped.  Of course, the rest of our kinship had pretty much stopped playing as well.  I am not sure that my summer vacation in Middle-earth is over, but moving beyond Moria seems in doubt.

Rift

I had to check on this one.  I wrote about playing Rift in July, but I didn’t actually play the game this month.  I am not sure I even logged.  The full instance group got together for its second appearance in game last month and that was it.  I might be able to log in and reclaim leadership of the guild again.

Coming Up

As mentioned yesterday, the most anticipated part of SOE Live has to be news about EverQuest Next.  I expect there will be equal parts joy and despair no matter what gets announced.  But whatever gets said, I am sure we will pick it apart and gnaw on the bones for a couple of weeks.

There will be the clean up after the war in Fountain.  What happens next?  Who will get what in the CFC?  Who will end up moving to Fountain?  Will TEST hold on to Delve, take back its moons there, and thrive?  So many questions to answer.

I bought Skyrim in the closing moments of the Steam Summer Sale and started playing that a bit.  I will have some observations… two years out of date though they may be… on the game I am sure.

And… is anything else coming up in August?

Projecting on to EverQuest Next

Enough about internet spaceships for the moment and on to a topic that will loom large this week.

We are going to hear a lot about EverQuest Next very shortly.  The clock is running down and SOE Live (formerly SOE Fan Faire) will begin this Thursday.

Freeport Next? I guess not!

I am hoping for new pictures this week

The big news will be whatever John Smedley chooses to reveal about EverQuest Next.  Everything else will pale by comparison.  And the reason it will be big is that just over a year ago it was reported that SOE was throwing out their current plan, which included some very basic lessons learned, and going for a much more dramatic change.  A year ago everything you knew about EQN was declared wrong.

So now we all wonder what we shall see.  And I am sure that we all have some hopes or wishes.  I have teased Keen about investing himself in the idea of the new game, and I see Wolfshead has come out of hibernation to issue a list of demands, which I tend to agree with in spirit if not exactly on a point by point measure.  The heroes bit resonates with me especially.

So I too have been thinking about what is coming, but it is tough to know where to begin.

There is the word “sandbox” that gets thrown about, even by Smed.  Especially by Smed.  That has been his opening.  But “sandbox” can mean so many things in so many circumstances that I am reluctant to hear get invested in that idea until I hear what the SOE definition of “sandbox” is.

And along with that, there are the realities of the SOE business model.  They have completely declared for free to play.

Well, who hasn’t, aside from Blizzard these days?

But free to play brings with it certain requirements.  A high amount of churn is expected.  A lot of people will try the game and for them to become paying customers, the game has to welcome them in and hold their hand for a bit, and presumably not just to guide them to the edge of a cliff so as to be better positioned to push them over into the abyss, ala a certain internet spaceship game I said I was not going to write about.

So EQN cannot be EverQuest of old, letting you create a character then dropping you on the doorstep of Qeynos with a pat on the back and a “have fun!”  There is a certain lowering of bars to be expected for the opening.  In free to play you cannot frustrate people straight off, you do not have their money yet!  You have to get them pointed in the right direction, teach them how to play, how to group, and how to interact. (Who does the last two nowadays?)

And then there is the StoryBricks angle.  StoryBricks announced at one point… and then turned around and denied everything… then got permission from the right people so they could announce it… that they were involved with EQN, which would be ‘the biggest sandbox ever designed.’  There is that word again.

Anyway, StoryBricks, if I can borrow a phrase from somewhere, is about bringing NPCs to life.  So, one might presume that we can expect a more complex relationship with the world of Norrath and its permanent citizens when we get to EQN.  Quests are unlikely to go away or become less common, but one would hope that we might be asked to dine on more than the common staple of ten rats.

I don’t know if we’ll get the salesman of Waterdeep or some sort of crazy Eliza interpretation, but it should be different.

And then, despite the rework of the system, I suspect that what previously seemed to be the lessons learned from previous games will still have influence.  I recounted them as:

  • Single world without the need to load zones
  • Instanced dungeons
  • Low system requirements
  • Stylized character models
  • Fewer classes, relative to EQII
  • PvP from day one and “done right”

A single seamless world sounds so “2004” at this point, but I think it is important and I hope they stick to it.

Instanced dungeons will be controversial.  Some insist that this kills the worldliness of a game.  Frankly, some of my fondest memories at this point are of dungeon crawls with just our group without other people in chat, trying to rush past us, stealing mobs, or otherwise turning a group adventure into a bad trip to the mall.  I think there is clearly a place for instanced content.  It should be special and rare and have a connection to the full world.  The instanced dungeons in World of Warcraft lost their charm for me when they ceased to be part of the world and, with the introduction of Dungeon Finder, became a way to avoid the world.

Low system requirements and stylized character models I think are pretty non-controversial on the surface.  Not that SOE couldn’t screw this up and makes us hate it, but it could be good.  And, with free to play in mind, it is probably a requirement.

Fewer classes relative to EQII.  I have to agree.  24 classes at launch was too much.  Adding a 25th years later was interesting, but not all that helpful.

PvP from day one and “done right” scares me.  PlanetSide 2 hasn’t had a charmed existence in my world.  I hope that “sandbox” doesn’t mean slaughter and fast respawns.  It doesn’t have to.  But SOE and PvP has something of a checkered past to my mind.  I hear it was good in Star Wars Galaxies at launch, but what have they done since?

So given all of that, what dare I wish for?  What would I like to see come to pass with EQN?

I would like to see a a lot less emphasis on levels and content that goes obsolete when you out level it.  We have had Band-Aids applied to that problem in the form of various mentoring and leveling down schemes, but they have all been unsatisfactory to my mind.  Yes, you have to have some sort of progression and character advancement.  That is part of what drives many of us in MMOs.  But our addiction to levels has to stop.  They start off great, but always betray us in the end.  They are a dead end street.

I couldn’t tell you how to replace levels, or even de-emphasize them sufficiently, but I hope that SOE has come up with something.

I want long, multi-stage quests like the heritage quests in EverQuest II.  I realize that WoW does similar things with long chains of quests, but the start and stop breaks the concentration for me.  Heritage quests are long term commitments, things you do not get done in a day, and which often require a group a various stages.  I want that again.

While we’re on quests, and as a nod to my gripe about levels, I also wouldn’t mind seeing quests get out of the experience delivery business.  They ought to reward items or equipment.

I want live, open world group content. I do not want to be able to solo every mob in the world.  I do not want to have to go into an instance for every group experience.

And while we’re at it, I do not want to get punished for grouping.  EverQuest had this about right.  WoW did not.  EQII started down the right path and then screwed up open world grouping completely. Trying to run our instance group through New Halas was an exercise in frustration because the whole thing expected you to solo.

I want my weapon choice to mean something.  If I choose a sword over a dagger or an axe, I want that to mean I gain some benefit at the cost of something else.  The damage per second calculation should not be my only factor in weapon choice.  Lord of the Rings Online tried this, but I do not think they went far enough.

I want weapon skills back.  I do not think I should spend ages swinging a sword and then suddenly pick up a spear and find myself equally adapt.

I would like to see crafting materials handled more in line with how EVE Online does things (sorry, internet spaceship reference again), where the materials do not change every ten levels.  I want to be done with this sort of thing.

LOTRO Ore - Most Wanted

LOTRO Ore Variety

I want some staples that are in high demand and which anybody can harvest.  And these should be good for making basic things.  Then I want some rare items to mix in that can be used to create special things.  And when I say rare, I mean rare.  Special things should be special.

I want crafting to be a bit more… I don’t know… organic?  Is that the word I want?  Organic to the game as opposed to being something of a side effort where you make 38 blue silk hoods to level up your tailoring skill and then just vendor them because nobody wants them because the auction house is full of them being sold at under cost.

Speaking of the auction house, if you give me buy orders as part of things, you will probably exceed all my expectations.  My view of such things is pretty low in the fantasy MMORPG realm.

And… and… and… well… a lot of things.  I could ramble on ad nauseum about the minute and trivial.  Basically SOE, make this all fit together with UI conventions that make sense.  And what Keen said about stories.  Mostly.  You can tell me stories.  You can make me part of stories.  But just remember that my own stories about what happened to me and my friends, those are the ones that really matter.

So I am waiting to hear what Smed has to say.  I realize that there are going to be compromises.  They have a business to run and we live in the world of free to play where fantasy MMORPGs are over abundant.  And I am going to hate some of the things he says this week.  You watch.  I know it will be true.

But I will be happy if I hear something new or different or exciting.  It doesn’t have to be from my alternately vague and oddly specific and somewhat emotional list above.  SOE is full of smart people.  Hell, SOE has brought back some people who made EverQuest lately.  They get it.  They played TorilMUD and decided to bring that sort of experience into a 3D world.  Find some of that essence for me.  Combine the mundane into something beyond the sum of its parts, into something magical.

Make me believe again.

Is that too much to ask?

I will be watching EQ Next Wire for news about the game.

How about you?  What do you want to see?

Fountain – The Fighting Goes On

The war in Fountain has been declared over.

Boodabooda has said that TEST is leaving the region.  The CFC is busy picking up systems and knocking down the remaining TEST towers.  The latter seem to be all empty of strontium and conveniently labeled.  We hit one last night with the name “TEST R16 reimbursement fund moon.”

Who needs scanning?

Who needs scanning?

Systems are going our way.

Fountain - July 30, 2013

Fountain – July 30, 2013

The map is slowly turning our color.

Fountain turns yellow... eew...

Fountain turns yellow… eew…

What will happen beyond Fountain seems in doubt however.

Boodabooda is saying that the CFC will “almost definitely attack Delve.”  And certainly, in terms of chance, Goons attacking Delves seems only slightly less likely than there being a maintenance downtime on any given day.  It is almost habitual at this point.  They all have supplies and stuff sitting in stations from the last few ventures.  Even I still have stuff in Delve from last summer’s expedition.  So it is practically the natural order of things to head to Delve.

Arguing against an invasion of Delve are several factors.  It will be at least a month until sovereignty rises high enough in Fountain for a jump bridge network to be established to create a pipe into Delve.  It was a big deal for us to get the jump bridge from J5A to 4-EP, as it meant holding those systems for 35 days straight.  Now we have to wait that same 35 days after taking systems before a full jump bridge network can be established.

There is also the nature of the war from the CFC point of view.  The stated reason for taking Fountain was to possess the moons.  You may ascribe whatever additional sinister motives you like, but the moons are still important.  They are a source of income and they need to be protected.  We cannot all go back to Deklein and Branch and Tribute and expect these moons to remain unmolested.  Which means somebody needs to live in Fountain.  I expect that in a couple of weeks there will some realignment of sovereignty to cover the Fountain front, and a lot of people will be moving into new homes.  It is difficult to do that in the midst of a war.

And then there is the question of what happens if we do invade Delve.  Best case scenario is that TEST rolls over and dies, leaving us Delve in their will.  We march in and then face Northern Coalition in Querious and Tribal Band down in Period Basis.

The Delve Neighborhood

The Delve Neighborhood

Last summer when Delve was taken, the war moved immediately to Querious and would likely do so again, what with a competent foe holding a grudge and in possession of a lot of support sitting right there.  That means war with just about everybody from Cobalt Edge to Querious.  And while the most deluded conspiracy theories see total null sec domination as part of the vast Goon conspiracy, the idea of a great Goon donut strikes me a implausible.  Even if it were manageable militarily… and I wouldn’t grant that one… and could be held against all comers… and there would be many… I am not sure they could find enough competent and trustworthy satraps to administer and empire without them coveting each others possessions, fighting amongst themselves, or attempting to break with the empire altogether.  I think a Goon null sec Caliphate would be a very brittle entity before long.

And, finally, there is the fact that the war isn’t over.  Did I say that it was?  Yeah, I was clearly full of VF day enthusiasm when I wrote that headline.

Sure, TEST is pulling out of Fountain.  And they are not contesting timers any more.  Sovereignty is rolling over to us.  But there is no agreement in place, no peace plan in process.  Boodabooda is digging trenches in Delve waiting for the Goon onslaught.  We’re busy camping 6VDT station trying to keep TEST from evacuating anything valuable.  Gates are camped.  TEST is still red.

And just last night Northern Coalition and friends… and they let TEST tag along this time… attempted to pick off another CFC titan.  This time they dropped right into 4-EP to try and get it.  An observant CFC member noticed NC dreads in the system while a Baltec fleet that had been forming  for a structure shoot was able to jump right into the fight.  The siren went off on Jabber and a big battle ensued, with the NC fleet losing more than 20 capital ships.  And while they took down a few in return, no titans were killed.  Titans did, however, drop on the field and got to doomsday the hostiles.  See my current site banner (which I stole) or this NC video of the fight.   Here is the battle report.  (A write up at The Mittani as well.)

CFC kills in blue

CFC kills in blue

I missed that fight by just five minutes, but got into fleet in time to chase people all over Fountain and then go shoot some structures.

Titans were still hanging around when I got there

Titans were still hanging around when I got there

So fighting continues and seems likely to carry on for some time.  Grinding out sovereignty… even when uncontested… goes much faster with capital ships, and when capital ships are flying somebody will inevitably seek to blow them up.

Last night in comms, somebody said that TEST is the new Intrepid Crossing, an alliance that used to be on our border in Cobalt Edge and which we used to raid for fights, but which we never sought to conquer. (That is until Razor pushed the joke too far one day and IRC’s house fell over.  And now Razor owns Cobalt Edge.  Nice going.)  And that seems like an apt enough analogy.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of “win” in attempting to exterminate TEST, but having a hostile neighbor we can tangle with has value.  If nothing else, it gives us something to do and someone to fight on a regular basis.  That might not be something you would want in real life but, in a game like EVE, that could be the best possible situation for now.

Or such is the way things look to me.  But I am just a CFC grunt and the most exalted position I have ever aspired to is that of squad commander in a fleet. (I trained Leadership V somewhere along the way.)  I have no special insight into alliance politics.  I go where they tell me and shoot who the FC calls out.

So feel free to correct my assumptions and tell me where you think this whole situation is headed.

6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain

Well, we won, not only the largest battle in the history of “Eve Online”, but also Fountain. While I was out enjoying a ~victory dinner~, TEST threw in the towel and is now busy retreating to NOL. We have a bunch of clean-up work to do and can’t let our guard down, but hi5s all around and well fucking done.

The Mittani, post-battle broadcast

The Preparation

Sunday was a long day online.

The battle had been in the sights of both sides for a couple of days now, and the work leading up to it started well in advance.

Saturday evening I was actually out on one of the preparatory missions, taking down jump bridges and blowing up the one remaining TEST POS in 6VDT-H.  Afterwards GSOL, the heroes who keep all of our infrastructure going, dropped 26 towers in the system, one at every possible location, so that TEST would have no safe spot at which to rally in the coming battle.  It is my understanding that TEST only figured this out during the battle when they sought to drop a tower to create such a haven and found all the parking spots full.

That work went on throughout the night while I slept.

Sunday morning I rose late.  The op was set to begin at 11:30am local time for me, so I rolled out of bed a little after 9am and jumped in the shower.  After getting dressed and having the “breakfast of champions” (cold pizza and a coke) I got myself logged into my computer and into the various comms channels with well over 90 minutes left before the form up time.

I was greeted by calls to stock food around my desk, to say farewell to my family for the day, and to get online and in a ship and undocked ASAP to avoid the rush.

When I got in game in 4-EP there were already 1,300 people in the system and that number was growing quickly, even as early bomber fleets assembled and jumped out.  I got slowly undocked and joined the mass of Megathrons at the staging POS where we attempted to form a conga line.  It was still nearly 45 minutes before the official operation start time when, faced with 2,000 pilots in the staging system and time dilation hard over at 10%, the decision was made to form fleets.

Six Baltec fleets were created and the megathrons flooded into them so rapidly that I only just found space in the sixth fleet under Zagdul.  All six were full and you could already tell the system was getting stressed.  On a number of occasions, our fleet showed 257 members, despite the limit being 256.

One by one the fleets were bridged out through the tidi.  We went by the numbers, so the sixth fleet went last while command was attempting to form up additional fleets for people still waiting.  Fortunately for us, getting to 6VDT-H involved a single bridge from 4-EP.  By the time it was our turn, tidi was fading in 4-EP and, while there was tidi upon us jumping into 6VDT-H, once the loading into system ceased, tidi went away.  We moved to the station where one of the recurring pictures of the battle was six fleets orbiting the station.

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

The view was compared to ants swarming.  I preferred to think of it as bees around a potential new hive.

Then it was time to wait.  Even delayed as we were, there being six Baltec fleet to move out, we were there with plenty of time to spare.  The station still had nearly an hour before it came out of reinforce and the main point of the battle… shoot the station… could begin.

The clock counts down

The clock counts down

We sat in orbit of the station, where we would remain for the bulk of the battle, waiting for bits of intel to dribble in while Solo Drakban was no doubt fretting over the comms infrastructure.  In the past, big operations like this have brought down our voice comms, requiring the server to be re-provisioned to accommodate the load, a process which requires every pilot to go change their Mumble configuration.  Since, at the best of times, maybe 4 out of 5 people actually hear (but not necessarily comprehend) instructions coming over comms, that sort of thing becomes a major undertaking on its own.

So we were told to just stay quiet and use voice comms as little as possible, lest we bring the whole house down.  This actually worked, at least on our channel, which was surprising.  Goons and allies are a talkative bunch and, when left with little to do, will begin to chat or argue about whatever happens to come up.  With the warning in place, for long stretches, it was like being in the “no chatter” channel, where you can only hear the fleet command personnel speaking. (That channel can be a mercy when the topic of the day becomes violently inane.)

We were told about TEST and their allies from time to time.  It was clear that they were forming up (answering the “Will they fight?” question) and that they had at least 2,000 pilots on hand from various sources.  In that at least some of their friends from the east, done thrashing SOLAR FLEET, had returned and there were contingents from Northern Coalition, Nulli Secunda, Why So Serious, joining TEST and Tribal Band for the big show.

Gevlon has a post up about the TEST fleet coming together that gives the view from that side of the battle that is worth a read.

So we sat and orbited the station as the timer ticked down.  At one point a good chunk of us got disconnected and had to ask for re-invites back to fleet on a specific chat channel.  That actually worked surprisingly well.  I just had to type “x for Baltec 6” and I was invited back immediately.

Finally, the moment arrived, the station came out of reinforce.  We locked it up and shot at it.  Then, finally, TEST began to arrive on scene.  The battle could begin.

The Battle

The local count began to rise and tidi, mostly absent up to that point, began to impose its iron will upon the fight.  3,600.  3,800.  3,900.  Then it was past 4,000 people in system.  TEST got themselves together and landed on us at the station and the fight began in earnest.

And for the next five hours we struggled to kill each other.

Why you name your ship

Why you name your ship

Tidi is one thing.  Everything, including your UI, moves at 10% of normal speed to help the servers keep up.  But beyond a certain point tidi is not enough for the servers to keep up.  And then you have entered the lag zone, where the UI ceases to respond, where you can spend a long time waiting for a target that shows as locked to actually become available, where attempting to activate your guns fails more often than not, where you fear to change ammo or scripts or targets because things just started working and you are afraid to mess with it.

There was a point later in the battle, when the numbers in local dropped down to 3,000 and CCP’s servers began to catch up, that merely being in 10% tidi felt liberating.  Simple things, like your guns activating on the first try or targets actually locking in the time indicated were like a breath of fresh air.  Running at one tenth normal speed is a doddle, if only the client will actually respond to your actions.

As for the battle itself, TEST landed on us and the fleets were intermixed in that odd way that happens in very large fights.  At times I found myself flying between a pair of NC dominixes or through a cloud of TEST logistics.  A Nulli Secunda logistics bantam appeared to orbit me at one point.

Meanwhile, we shot.  Targets were called and we struggled to get our guns to fire on them.  In the end I managed to get on 38 kill mails, primarily zealots and legions, which were our main targets.  I had to change my overview a number of times.  First I had to exclude capsules, which began to litter the field, and which we were told not to shoot.  Let them walk home was the plan.  And then I had to narrow that down to just the current target type so I could lock up the called target, as fleet target broadcasts were taking a long time to arrive on my screen.  I need to sit down and make a series of “just X” overviews, as my more general ones become useless in a big fight like this.

At its peak, the system was moving so slowly that there were times when we were told some intel over comms, we would then read about that intel in the live report updates over at The Mittani.com, and then the actual action would come to pass in game.

One such action happened when TEST and pals appeared to be pulling out.  The rallied around the B17 gate, then changed their mind and decided to end the battle in a glorious death ride straight into the teeth of the enemy (us), which by this time included two reinforcement Baltec fleets and a large fleet of dreadnoughts supported by carriers.

There is a decent summary of the battle posted over at The Mittani.  I will link more as they show up.  The numbers themselves are immense.  The Battle Doctor report, (or try this one) which has finally caught up and settled down so might be somewhat accurate, shows a total 5,095 characters involved over the course of the fight with over 1,500 ships destroyed, and a pile of capsules on top of that.

CFC kills blue - TEST kills red

CFC kills blue – TEST kills red

The battle raged on until even tidi began to ease up.  I was logged in for almost eight hours straight before it became time to take my wife out to dinner.  Lots of people came and went.  Gaff, who was busy at the beginning of the fight, got back in time to join the capital fleet that dropped into the middle of the fight.  Over at DOTLAN stats for the system were prominent.

Over a six hour fight

Over a six hour fight

Not sure how that aligns with the Battle Doctor report.  Maybe it hasn’t caught up after all.  And then there were the big spikes in the 6VDT-H system graphs.

Spikes in the Graphs

Spikes in the Graphs

I did not stay until the bitter end.  After all day on the computer, I took the family out to dinner.  But we were mopping up before I left.  The numbers were down to JUST 2,000 in system and tidi was going away.

The Result

The battle was won by the CFC, as was the war.  Reports of TEST retiring to Delve were in before I arrived home from dinner.

The war is over.  A good thing I got my second propaganda post up last week.  There is a large amount of clean up to be done.  And there will be plenty of groups out there eager for some kills who will no doubt be camping gates.  But operations will be unlikely to face full fleets of opposition.  We are back to the general state of null sec at rest, with 10 man gangs sitting on gates or on drag bubbles between gates ganking single passers by.

While I lived through the big battle, I managed to get myself killed in a silly and embarrassing way by a member of SOLAR FLEET no less… because everybody showed up I guess.  This was after I managed to escape from some NC zealots at the sun, who neglected to bring a tackler with them.  I wasn’t at the keyboard when the critical moment came and deserved to die.  Life in EVE.  At least I lost the cursed megathron that I had problems with at Z9PP-H.  And it was insured.

And since we managed to lose a titan during the post-battle operations, I don’t feel so bad.

There will be lots of musing about this battle.  It was a victory for the CFC as well as for CCP, who managed to keep everything going for a whole day under very trying circumstances, and with the memories of z9PP-H looming.

Coverage of the battle made its way from EVE sites to MMO sites (with Massively noticeably terse and late to the party) to gaming sites to the mainstream news.  Granted, the BBC seems to have a soft spot for EVE Online, and we are in the summer season of slow news, but still that is some coverage.  Various coverage:

And in the blogesphere, reactions and commentary continue to flow about various aspects of the battle.

Added:  CCP has a dev blog posted about the 6VDT battle now.

And then there is what to do with Fountain itself.  While the CFC grabbed the region for its moon wealth, that very wealth will make it vulnerable to those who would seek to mess with the CFC in general and the Goons in particular.  To protect them, somebody is going to have to move into the region.  I expect we will see some shifts in the sovereignty map as alliances get rewarded for their participation in the war.

Finally, there is the spectacle aspect of this, which is where the general media joined in.  A great event happened.  A record was set.  A war was won and lost.  And I was there.

Ironic twist: We didn’t actually take the station.  We just put it into the next level of reinforce.  That was expected.  But those on the outside looking in might be a bit confused over that.  Finishing that off is all part of the “more work to do” aspect of victory.

And after that, what are we going to do in space?

The Pictures

As usual, I took a screen shots during the battle.  A gallery of pictures is available after the cut.

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TEST Invokes a Star Wars Metaphor, Casts The Mittani as Emperor

A new bit of video propaganda that cropped up this week, putting the war into very understandable nerd terms I suppose.

(Direct link here)

The best bit for me was at about 0:32 where the picture they used is one I took. (It is also the thumbnail picture.)

I’ll take that as a compliment.  I do wonder that comments and ratings have been turned off for that video.  That seems very un-Reddit.

We shall see how TEST and its plea fares.  What is assumed by some to be possibly the last big fight of the war, the battle for 6VDT-H, the capital system in Fountain for TEST, their VFK-IV, their Jerusalem, looms.  That battle is slated for tomorrow.  Last night ops ran unopposed.  CFC fleets roam, shooting structures while a TEST oracle fleet tried to distract.  The fight has gone out of them for the last few days.

But tomorrow will tell the tale.

Fountain Downfall

Fountain Downfall

Will TEST rise up and defend their capital, die heroically in the attempt, or just stand down and effectively cede the war?

The bluster so far is that they will fight.

Flood 6VDT

Flood 6VDT

And, frankly, if they won’t fight for this, what will they fight for?

More Propaganda from the War in Fountain

I have continued to collect propaganda from the was that people have linked in local. You can see the last batch I posted here.

I decided that I had best post what I have today, given the uncertain state of the war.  TEST got robbed yesterday by a disgruntled director and then later stood down all ops.  The changes in Fountain for July have all been TEST losses so far.  PNQY-Y and four other systems fell to CFC alarm clock ops last night.  And while the new TEST military director has brave words for the alliance, they seem to sum up to “let’s go die hilariously.”  So on to the propaganda!

TEST vs. Goons

TEST vs. Goons

While I pitch this as TEST vs. Goons, one of the most prolific creators of propaganda during the war has been Marne Deville of Gentleman’s Agreement, an alliance in the CFC.   He has also created some of the best and most memorable pieces and his work is well represented in local.  You will find some of his work below.  Aside from those, which are signed, and one that I recognize from Alizabeth Vea’s forum signature, the authors are unknown.  I post them with the usual caveat that if your work is shown and you want it removed, please let me know.

Propaganda after the cut.

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Blizzard – Subscribers and Independence of a Sort

Activision-Blizzard announced some preliminary numbers in advance of their quarterly report and investors call.  Earnings are up, profits are up, subscribers are down.

ActiBlizz450

On the subscription watch front, it was announced that World of Warcraft dropped from 8.3 to 7.7 million subscribers since their last report, again proving that they work in a completely different scale from other MMOs.  How many MMOs even have 600K paying customers?  And how many could afford to lose that many?

And while a loss of 600K subscribers is a blow, warnings of ongoing subscriber attrition was brought up previously.  And at least 600K is less than the 1.3 million subscribers they shed in the previous quarter.

All of which is a discussion point as those who attempt to track such things make another mark on their charts.

But the reason that there is even a preliminary report is because Activision-Blizzard is buying itself out of Vivendi.

Vivendi has been looking for ways to plunder the cash cow that is Activision-Blizzard in order to stave off its own financial woes.  Now it seems that Vivendi will get some money, but will lose control of Activision-Blizzard, its ownership stake dropping from 60% to 12%.

Now, will this change alter anything for Blizzard?  Bobby Kotick will still be in charge, and all the more so with an investment group he leads buying into the new situation.  But as Activision-Blizzard was the cash cow in Vivendi’s eyes, Blizzard remains such in the Activision-Blizzard family.  Blizzard in general, and World of Warcraft in particular, carries the company freight three quarters out of four in every fiscal year.  In that fourth quarter a Call of Duty game ships an eclipses Blizzard for a bit.  As long as Blizzard keeps to that role, I suspect that they will continue to operate as before.  But dropping subscriptions have to be a cause of worry.  There may come a point where WoW ceases to be insanely profitable.  And with Titan pushed out and nothing else big on the horizon, Blizzard needs to keep Azeroth well populated for a few more years.