Monthly Archives: May 2014

Civilization – Hands Across the Something

In which nothing happens in my corner of the world.

Another round with the big map with Civilization V… and I still haven’t come into contact with Mattman or Loghound.

We started off at the usual time even though Loghound hadn’t showed up yet.  We have grown confident in Civ V’s ability to let us come and go at need.  The first order of business seemed to be to take SynCaine’s advice from last week’s comments and get a few scouts out watching our respective hinterlands, as barbarian camps won’t spawn in hexes that you have under direct observation.

I actually knew that somewhere in the back of my brain… the founding of my most southern city was most to cover my exposed flank that way… but I had not considered putting out some scouts to expand coverage.  Not that I could get full coverage with a reasonable number of scouts.  Too many hills in my area.

Barbarian wildlands

Barbarian wildlands

But it did cut down on the amount of time I had to spend fighting the barbarian hordes.

Then it was time to see about getting into the thick of things.  My only neighbor was the Spanish.  I said something about attacking them, maybe in conjunction with Potshot, last time around.  However, my military advisor wasn’t very optimistic on the subject.

Basically, forget about Spain for now...

Basically, forget about Spain for now…

Basically, I had no real advantage to exploit to give me leverage over the Spaniards, and I hadn’t gotten close enough… physically or diplomatically… to Potshot in order to plan any sort of campaign against them.  The Spanish would have to wait.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the fog on the map, Loghound joined in and got into a shoving match with Mattman.  Judging from the comments on our Google Hangout (I have so many different voice coms apps on my system, Skype, Vent, TeamSpeak, Mumble, RaidCall, and probably a couple others I have forgotten, plus all the built-in coms, but we managed to find yet another way to hook up voice communication) Loghound was building a city or cities in what Mattman judged to be his sphere of influence.  As this was all off under the fog and involved civs I had not yet met, I cannot tell you who had real claim here, but the whole thing came to blows.

Mattman declared war because of these incursions, which seemed to surprise Loghound.  However, this did not end up working out well for Mattman.  Shortly after the declaration of war, Loghound had to drop out of the game for a bit, letting the AI take over for him.  The AI managed to make common cause with another of Mattman’s neighbors and soon he was facing a multi-front war.  He managed to sue for peace, but I think it cost him a city.  Loghound got back to find things had rolled his way.

While that was going on, I managed to push out a couple more cities to bring me into closer proximity with the Spanish.

Slowly expanding empire

Slowly expanding empire

I also started trying to focus on building up some sort of technological lead I could exploit when the time came to turn on them.  Towards that end, I also concluded and “open borders” pact with Potshot and was able to send a scout out to get the lay of the land at his end of things.



We seemed to be fairly well positioned to put the squeeze on Spain when the time was ripe.  Their empire could best be described as something of a wedge in between Potshot and I, with a city not too far up the coast from Tuckahoe representing the point of the wedge.  Now we just needed to get our act together.

In the end though, we never got there.  My military advisor had the same message for me as when we kicked off this round.

We made it through 80 turns before we decided to call it a night, stopping upon the completion of turn 300.  Things did not look good, score-wise, for the human players.


I think  I am out in front of the humans mostly based on population.  As we saw at the end of the last game, population influences the score noticeably.  But we are still early on in the life of the game.  I am currently working on navigation as a technology, which will open up the seas, while gunpowder looks to be a ways off.  The demographics showed me out in front in two categories this time.

Demographics at Turn 300

Demographics at Turn 300

I still have the most land area, which isn’t a real advantage currently, and my crop yield is the best out of the empires in the game, so my cities are growing.  But growth also means problems with happiness.  And the turn timer… well, after last week’s post everybody seemed to be a bit more aware of not letting the timer run unawares.  But the clock also grew to close to allowing 12 minutes per turn.


We shall see how big that number will grown.

So not a very productive round, aside from laying groundwork for future moves.  Maybe I will get stuck into things next time around.  This game is going to go on for a while, which should be interesting, as Mattman will be going away on vacation for a stretch in June.  Maybe the AI will revive his fortunes.

Worst Sith Ever – Escape from Korriban

As part of my “planning for the coming hiatus” operation, I started on my list of candidates to see which MMO might serve for a summer vacation spot.  The first on the list, because it happened to be May 4th, was Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Plus I happened to remember my account name and password.  Also, due to EA’s usual ability to keep a tight rain on their data, my account was flagged as preferred despite my having never given EA or BioWare a nickel for the game.



I am not sure what that gets me beyond an additional crew slot.  BioWare was more interested in telling me what I would get if I subscribed.  The up sell started immediately upon logging in after downloading the client.

Preferred vs. Subscriber

Preferred vs. Subscriber

Not that I want them to pop up more alerts, but throwing this in front of my face in the first minute after logging in was something of a wasted effort.  The game would, of course, go on to remind me to subscribe in various ways, but this chart was no longer part of the pitch.

And, while we’re here and staring at that blurry screen shot… it gets better if you click on it to view it full size… I have to ask if I missed a memo somewhere that said that science fiction MMOs must have a blue user interface?  Star Trek Online was blue.  Blue was a significant color in some parts of the the UI for Star Wars Galaxies.  I think WildStar trends blue doesn’t it?  And if I recall right, Clone War Adventures trended to blue as well.

Anyway, the SWTOR UI is in blue by default, which made me feel they were trying to tell me “hey, it is a space game!”  But then, I guess it is a space game of sorts, so why not?

More after the cut.

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A Consolidation of Empires

I will be interest to read what Andrew Groen has to say in his planned book A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online (the Kickstarter has six days to go as of today) about the state of affairs that exist today in null sec space.

Life is change of course.  Nothing stays the same.  But the very face of null sec seems to have changed quite a bit since I wandered out of empire space a couple of years back. (Maps from the usual source)

Null Sec as I joined it - Dec 18. 2011

Null Sec as I joined it – Dec 18. 2011

That is a pretty chaotic map, at least by today’s standards.  And look at the bulk of the CFC packed cheek-by-jowl into the space between Cloud Ring and Deklein.  We were such close bros back then and questions about who got to rat where seemed like a big deal.

I wrote semi-jokingly back in January about the nature of the conflict then running in null sec, describing the three in terms of the three competing empires in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  It seemed apt at the moment, and the big battle at B-R5RB seemed to be quite a setback for the group I tagged as Eastasia.

And then Eurasia collapsed and now we have three big powers on the map again, only rather than empires constantly at war, they are starting to take on the look of mercantile empires, having turned their conquests into rental space.  One third of the 3,524 systems that make up null sec space are part of one of the three great rental alliances, Northern Associates, Brothers of Tangra, or the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere, and I expect that number to grow some more as time goes on.

Age of Rentals - May 18, 2014

Age of Rentals – May 18, 2014

The CFC is the furthest behind in this regard, with only 134 systems in its rental pool.  But it is also the last of the three accept rentals as a source of income, its past disparaging view of the slumlords of null sec being overridden by the ISK advantage it was giving potential (and actual) foes.  The CFC also suffers from being something of a fragmented coalition, each with its own set of policies and ambitions.  As much as Gevlon likes to call all non-GSF members of the CFC “slaves,” it is far more a coalition of the willing.  The Mittani is more akin Caesar than Pharaoh.  He has his enemies, but he gives the rank and file what they want, war and victories and ISK, all of which have been delivered regularly during my time in the coalition.

However, now we seem to be reaching a point of stasis in null sec… though every time I have thought that in the past, a new war has broken out.  And while I do not share Gevlon’s conspiracy theory on what the purpose of the new alliance in the CFC, The Bastion, might be, they did choose to frame their relationship as a suzerainty under The Mittani.

That is a very specific term, which flags The Bastion as a vassal state to The Mittani or Goonswarm, handing over foreign affairs to them while keeping some control over its internal policies.  Now, whether or not that reflects the true state of affairs or if it just a case of somebody breaking out the thesaurus for fun has yet to be seen.  But if it does turn out to be something akin to the non-Goon recruiting arm of the CFC controlled by the Goonswarm Federation, the dynamic of the CFC could shift.  And I have already seen one blogger from The Bastion talking about what new players should expect in the alliance.

Way out ahead in the rental scheme is Northern Coalition, which currently has 668 systems in its rental pool.  Having wrapped up their consolidation of the southeast, they announced they were taking a break from sovereignty grinding to refit, emphasizing the need to get members into super carriers and titans.  With their rental holdings, they will have the ISK to subsidize this effort, which makes it much more likely to come to fruition.

That seems to be the way things are headed.  Pandemic Legion is heavy on supers, and in the CFC there has been a push to get pilots into dreadnaughts and carriers, while there was a comment at one point that we CFC pilots ought to push towards supers if possible.

After B-R5RB, Jester went with a historical analogy to describe why he thought that the current war in particular, and sovereignty warfare in general, was over in null sec.  The dominance of the CFC in supers was going to crush the N3 coalition and then nobody would ever be able to challenge the CFC again.  No more big fights in null sec.

Only N3 didn’t get crushed.  Instead the CFC backed off, the Russians imploded, and now Northern Coalition and its allies blanket more of null sec than ever before.  Meanwhile, what B-R5RB seemed to do is make having a force of super caps a requirement while making losing supers now and again acceptable.  Now we have three entities building up supers on the backs of their rental income who know they can only gain advantage by taking out any super cap force opposing them.  Plus, you know, kids want to take their toys out and play or they’ll get bored with them.

So we are back to three dominant empires ala the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, though I am not sure who ought to be who any more.  There is at least one public sovereignty non-agression pact between PL and the CFC.  There is a quiet super cap arms race going on, with each side building up lest they be left behind.  And, as Daras showed, there is a willingness to whip them out when a choice target appears.

And then there is the slice of null sec that isn’t occupied by the three main empires, which is now thinner than ever.  Looks like just Providence, Catch, and Querious at this point.  That isn’t much.  Everybody else has made common cause with at least one of the big three.  And not only can’t that area expand without a mass of supers of their own (and where are they going to get the ISK for that without a vast rental empire of their own), that isn’t a lot of entertainment for what I suppose we might as well call Imperial Null Sec at this point.

So where will null go?  Will it be stagnation or bloody super capital warfare?

I know, I know, why can’t we have both?

Now what is it going to take for me to train an alt up to a titan…

Pandaria – Jade and Ale

Having wrapped up about everything we wanted to do as a group in CataclysmZul’Aman and Zul’Gurub being the final acts… it was about time for our group to move into Pandaria for real.

We had already poked our collective noses into Mists of Pandaria in order to get some gear upgrades to help us deal with the 85++ heroic dungeons, so we had a foothold in the expansion with a few flight points.  Now the time had come to invest ourselves fully in the land of the anthropomorphic plushies and to take on an instance in the Jade Forest.  Our group for that was:

  • Earlthecat – Level 87 Human Warrior Tank
  • Skronk – Level 86 Dwarf Priest Healing
  • Bungholio – Level 86 Gnome Warlock DPS
  • Alioto – Level 86 Night Elf Druid DPS
  • Ula – Level 86 Gnome Mage DPS

And, as it turned out, four of us had already hit the first instance, the Temple of the Jade Serpent.

The previous week I was out, but the other four members of the group were on, so they decided to give the instance a try short one DPS.  And with considerable effort, or so I understand, they figured out each boss and made it through.  So the first order of business was to drag my ass through the instance, expecting that with an additional DPS and all the fights now a known quantity, things would go quickly.

And so they did.

More after the cut.

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Quote of the Day – Getting the Dev’s Attention

I may just end up kicking Titan rank to 600 simply because Shoogie suggested it and his reasoning looks sane.

-CCP_Greyscale, post in the EVE Online Forums

That isn’t really the quote I wanted to use, but everything I did want to use was so long and interconnected that I would have to reprint the whole post to get what I wanted.  So I’ll do that too, but further along.

This was the end result, on page 49 of a thread, when Patri Andari up and asked three questions:

1. No one has ever proclaimed the criteria a post requires to get a response, yet this “good post” rises to the top and is responded to fortwith. I would love to see an enumerated guide on how to get a response from the devs.

2. Why have so many other posts which bring up even more important circumstance gone ignored?

3. Is it required that one post in a way that rubs a dev the right way to be considered a ‘good post’? If so, how do you like to be rubbed?

I am sure we have all asked ourselves how we can post something on the forums that will get the attention of development.  And, judging by what I have seen in the past, at least a few people have decided that being as angry and as insulting as possible (I always love when somebody calls developers lazy, as an example.  No better way to get somebody on your case than calling them lazy!) must be the key.

Maybe this will get those people to reconsider.

I am putting CCP Greyscale’s response after the cut.  It is long, but I think it is worth a read (and preserving somewhere I can find it easily) even if only to see how one developer views player input in the forums.

Hat Tip to CSM9 member Sion Kumitomo for highlighting this post on Twitter.

Lots of text after the cut.

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Postcards from the Trap at Daras

Baltec Fleet Time – looks like some fools need to be smacked around a bit. Red Crown’s Fleet, Mumble Op 1 – formup VFK for stratop.

*** This was a broadcast from red_crown to all-all at 2014-05-15 02:00:24.017258 EVE Standard, replies are not monitored ****

That’s the way it started for me.  After the last couple of short fleet ops, where we were always shy of logistics, I decided to pick up a Guardian.  So that was what I join Red Crown’s fleet with, even remembering to insure it.  I did not need the insurance this time around, but others did.

According to the latest update about the fight over at The Mittani, it was a trap laid by Pandemic Legion and Black Legion, who worked together to lay the bait POS in Daras, a low sec system in Lonetrek.  CFC caps and supercaps were drawn in, along with the subcaps in Baltec fleet, to go after Black Legion supers, and then Pandemic Legion dropped in as well.

We were told not to shoot PL at first, as it appeared they were dropping in to join us in rolling up Black Legion.  But then they started shooting us and the who op went to hell from our perspective.  The kill board is still updating at this point, but PL and BL clearly came out on top.  It wasn’t anything like B-R5RB or even Asakai… if nothing else, it was over quickly… but it was a loss for the CFC.

The summary that came out over Jabber as we moved slowly back to null sec… tidi was running at 10% making everything slow… was:

And that’s why we don’t go to lowsec

But, playing the tourist as usual, I got a few screen shots.

Civilization – The Big Map

In which we attempt to release flags of all nations.

After finishing up our first multiplayer game of Civilization V, the strategy group was keen to try it again.  However, this time the plan was to go bigger in all possible dimensions.  After all, if a small map with a few players was fun, then a huge map with even more players should be… well… more fun.

So two Friday’s back we set out on our next campaign, upgrading our game parameters all across the board.

Starting Configuration

Starting Configuration

As noted, we went from a small map up to huge.  We changed the speed of the game from Quick to Epic, which decreases the amount of time advanced per turn, but the time it takes to build things stays fairly constant relative to the number of years that pass.  So if a monument took 5 turns to build at Quick, it might take 15 or 20 when set to Epic.  But you get to move your units around during those extra turns.  In any case, we were happy enough to try and stretch the game out.  We also disabled the turn limit on the game.  Nobody was going to win just on points.  There was going to have to be a decisive victory.

We also opted for a more random layout with continents.

As for the other setting, we went with Raging Barbarians, because barbarians make everything more fun, right?  Okay, maybe that isn’t a universal opinion.

We also opted for Complete Kills, which means that to be totally eliminated from the game you have to lose all your cities AND all of your units.  That was done as a “just in case” option, should anybody die early.  Though I am not sure that was entirely necessary in hindsight, but I will get to that.  We turned on Random Personalities and Disable Start Bias, the first means that AI driven players may not act like their historical selves (cue Murderous, Pillaging Warlord Gandhi) while start bias means that the game won’t try to stick you in an area geographically similar to the real world historical origins of your civilization. (Roll on Snow Pharaohs!)

Then there was Quick Combat, which was frankly the only setting I was willing to go to the mat to get.  Loghound had expressed a desire to see combat animations.  I must admit, the animations can be quite nice.  They are actually not so bad until you close in on the modern era, and then they become an intolerable burden.  You only have to have an AI civ attack you with 20 aircraft every turn for a few turns before you’re ready to pull your head off in frustration.  Expressed in such a way, Quick Combat was left enabled.

Finally, we decided to go with the dynamic turn time.  If you set the turn timer to zero, it starts at two minutes and is supposed to increase slowly over the course of the game.  Since there were time when some of us were feeling time constrained in the last game, we figured we ought to give that option a try.

We paused for a bit, as the game had an error up in the game start window which said, “WARNING: Unsupported number of players!”  We were not sure what that really meant.  Did we have too many human players?  Could the CPU not support as many players as we had for a multiplayer game?  The warning didn’t stop us from starting the game, so we just carried on and the game seemed to support that many players just fine.  Later we found out that the error meant that the map size we had selected was meant for fewer players than we had starting the game… or, basically, pick a bigger map.  It would have been nice if the error had just said that.  And since the game assigned us the number of players we had listed when we chose the map size, the error seems not only uninformative but an indication of some mis-match somewhere in the code.  Life in software.  I am sure that error made complete sense to the person who wrote it.

We got all that decided upon, ignored the warning, and started the game.

More after the cut because words

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Fippy Darkpaw – Seeds of Destruction Complete

A quick return to my somewhat irregular coverage of the EverQuest Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server timeline.  An actual timeline is available at the bottom of this post.

When last I saw news of the server, back in October of 2013, The The Buried Sea expansion had been completed and things were set for the Secrets of Faydwer expansion to unlock at some point in late December.

Today a note went up over at the unofficial Fippy Darkpaw forums indicating that the Seeds of Destruction expansion had been unlocked and completed.

Congrats to Citizen on defeating Seeds of Destruction and unlocking Underfoot. A clean sweep on Fippy since OOW. Congrats to EoE on a close 2nd. It looked like you guys had the momentum there for a couple weeks.

So things are still moving along on Fippy Darkpaw.

Seeds of Destruction cover

Seeds of Destruction cover

The Seeds of Destruction expansion looks to have gone live on Fippy Darkpaw on the first of this month.  The expansion, which was originally added to the game back in October of 2008, bumped the level cap up to 85, added more zones and the usual additions such as AA points, spells, abilities, and gear sets.

With the completion of Seeds of Destruction, the 3 month timer starts for the 16th expansion on the EverQuest list, Underfoot.

Dwarves feature...

Dwarves feature…

Who ever heard of an EverQuest expansion with a one word title?  All of the good ones have three words, or four if you include the definite article “the” in the name.  Anyway, that is slated for August.  Then the EverQuest achievement system will be part of the Progression Servers.

Meanwhile, the Time Locked Progression Servers were mentioned in the patch notes late last month, with two fixes going in:

– Corrected a problem that was preventing some Progression event triggers from being recorded.
– Auto-Granted AA are now available on Time-Locked Progression Servers. These AA will be granted similarly to regular servers with one exception. The following expansions will not count towards the “4 expansions previous” requirement, and will not unlock any new AA as they did not have any new AA released with them:
– – Legacy of Ykesha
– – Lost Dungeons of Norrath
– – Dragons of Norrath
– – Prophecy of Ro
– – The Buried Sea

The auto-granted AAs should be a boon to anybody joining the server at this late date.

In other notes, SOE finally opted to remove their Progression Server Timeline widget from the EverQuest web site.

Luclin Bosses Down

The information we used to get

The widget has only been broken since EverQuest went free to play about two year back, but was still hanging around as a useless adjunct to the EverQuest page as late as last October.  About par for the course for the SOE web team, which I assume operates under some larger, Sony-wide policies about web site updates as opposed to being actually run and influenced directly by the EverQuest team.   I’ve lived that scenario before.  It is frustrating for all involved.

I do wonder if the expansions originally listed on the widget back in February 2011 still indicate the final destination for the Time Locked Progression Servers.

EverQuest Fippy Darkpaw

Expansion List

That list ends at House of Thule, the 17th expansion, and the one that was current back when Fippy Darkpaw launched.  Will the server stop there or continue on to Call of the Forsaken, or whatever expansion is current when Fippy Darkpaw finally catches up to the regular EverQuest Live servers?  I suppose we shall see.

The timeline of the server, as I have been able to chart it over the years.  As always, if you have any dates I can add to this, leave me a comment.

  • Fippy Darkpaw server goes live with classic EQ content, February 15, 2011
  • Classic EverQuest competed, February 24, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark unlocked, June 6, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark completed, June 19, 2011
  • Scars of Velious unlocked, August 29, 2011
  • Scars of Velious completed, September 14, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin unlocked, November 21, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin completed, December 4, 2011
  • Planes of Power unlocked, February 13, 2012
  • Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Legacy of Ykesah unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 7, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 21, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, June 4, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlocked at last, June 18, 2012
  • Omens of War unlocked, September 10, 2012
  • Omens of War complete, September 12, 2012
  • Dragons of Norrath unlocked without a vote, November 13, 2012
  • Prophecy of Ro completed, April 26, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine unlocked, July 16, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine complete, July 19, 2013
  • The Buried Sea unlock vote goes up, September 23, 2013
  • The Buried Sea unlocked, October 7, 2013
  • The Buried Sea complete, October 9, 2013
  • Echoes of Faydwer complete, ~end of January 2014
  • Seeds of Destruction unlocked, May 1, 2014
  • Seeds of Destruction complete, May 12, 2014


Landmark – Another Quick Peek Week

Sony dropped me an email Firday letting me know that they had activated my Landmark account for another seven days.  They seem to be trying to drum up interest by handing these seven day invites out.  I am not sure that this is the opportune time for such handouts.  The game… or what game there is… is still very raw right now and pretty much focused solely on resource gathering and building.  My daughter looked over my should at one point and said, “Oh, is that adult Minecraft?


Even the current logo just shows mining and building… though I haven’t seen anything as sophisticated as that water wheel as yet… though there is water of a sort in Landmark now.

Since I was able to amuse myself some the last time around, I decided to give the game another look in its closed beta (for specific definitions of “beta”) state.

Unfortunately, back when I first looked into things, there was a meager five day limit on how far out you could pay up the rent on your claim, so I knew my previous location and everything I had done would be gone.  SOE even sent me an in-game message telling me what happened to my claim.

Helpful yet unavailable mail message

Helpful yet unavailable mail message

And that message would have been very useful, had the game not crashed as I was trying to access it.

Something changed… not sure if it was on my side or on SOE’s… but I was getting a lot of video card related crash to desktop events in the first couple of hours I was back this past weekend, despite a couple reboots.  The joy of being in a pre-alpha closed beta I suppose.

Anyway, that left me running around on Saturday unaware that I hadn’t lost all of my stuff, it was just stored away some place I couldn’t access.  The game, however, was keen to let me know I had a template of my old structure, so I tried to figure out what to do with that.

I attempted to just lay it out, but it told me I needed a claim.  I ran off and created a new claim flag, my old one being stored away with everything else, and started looking around for a place to plant it.  I was able to find something not too far from the spires, at the junction of a couple of buffer zones.

A little spot of my own

A little spot of my own

I grabbed the spot and started fiddling with the template again, trying to use it on my new location.  This time it started telling me I was grossly short of materials to recreate such a structure.  I thought that you got refunded all of your building material when you lost your claim (which was true, and which I would have known had I been able to open up that mail and attachment mentioned above), so I was a bit annoyed to find myself short on mats.  I tried fiddling with the template, deleting it just in case the raw materials were somehow locked up as part of it.  No luck.

That might have put me in a sour mood for a while.

And that will be... December?

And that will be… December?

I tinkered with the remove tool on my claim, then went off to do something else.

The next day I returned for a bit and was actually able to access the mail message above and access the attachment, so was suddenly flush with resources again.  I took all of that and built a sacrificial altar dedicated to Zuul up in the sky above my claim.  I was originally thinking about some sort of swimming pool in the sky, until I found that water was a thing, but not yet a thing you could do anything with… plus the ocean was miles away… so a sacrificial altar in the sky became the choice.

Behold Zuul's Sky Altar

Behold Zuul’s Sky Altar

There is a platform extending behind the altar that allows one to dispose of the bodies by dropping them into the deepest pit the game will allow.  Seriously, I got out the removal tool, dialed it up to maximum size, and then started digging until it would let me dig no further.  You eventually hit a hard stop rather than, say, falling through the world.  Falling through the world doesn’t require any digging at all.  I managed to do that by just stepping off the ramp to the altar at an odd angle.

Lower than the deepest pit...

Lower than the deepest pit…

After digging my pit, I decided that I had better leave a way out, so I jumped into it and carved out a series of ascending caves leading back up to the surface.  The removal tool is my current favorite, as you can make a large impact on your claim with a relatively small effort.  Other potential building plans I had for my claim petered out when I started running low on materials again.  That served to remind me that any effort I expended in gathering would be for naught once the big pre-open beta wipe came.  Losing the results of all of ones efforts looms large over Landmark for me.

So I remain interested in where Landmark might end up… and, of course, what it might presage for the distant promise of EverQuest Next… but I am reluctant to expend a lot of effort on something that is going to be taken away.

So, yes, call me for open beta.  I’ll be ready to invest then.

Capability versus Opportunity

Last week I wrote a battle report of sorts… I think of it more as just what I saw on any given outing, but I guess that is sort of the same thing… about a fleet op where I was out there in the tackling role, something I had never actually done before despite having played EVE Online for more than seven years at this point.

Guns blazing

I did have the ship ready though

(That Rifter was the same one I loaned Potshot back in September.)

The post included a bit about a player on a one day old account, Jelly Knight.  I could have chosen pilot Robert Crend, another one day old account that was out there tackling with us as well, but Jelly Knight was speaking on coms a lot more and so was part of the atmosphere of the fleet.  I always try to include bits of atmosphere in my posts about fleet ops, as they can be very much a part of the flavor of such ops and anybody who was along on coms will probably say, “Oh yeah, I remember that!” upon reading the post later.

I also included him both to juxtapose a new player with only a few skill points and an veteran player with more than 120 million skill points being in the same role in a fleet and to point out the oft stated claim that a new pilot can be useful in fleets on their first day.  Day one players have that CAPABILITY.

SynCaine, Zubon, and then Rohan took up that point, the idea of new players being able to participate in what might be termed “end game” activities… or at least to get into the game and be effective beside their more experienced peers, something that EVE Online has going for it.

Mabrick, on the other hand, seemed to take offense at the idea and accused SynCaine and I of arguing an anecdotal fallacy.  Technically, my post wasn’t arguing anything, it was an observation on a fleet action, but SynCaine was using my post as an example of how new players can get deep into the game quickly, so somebody was building up an argument about CAPABILITY.

Mabrick though appeared to be upset because not every new player in EVE Online has the OPPORTUNITY to go out on a fleet op, sit on a titan, and tackle some hostiles on their first day.  Plus there is a good dose of “Grr Goons,” because they require an initiation fee which no new player could ever afford to join their alliance. (They do not actually require such.  In fact, their recruiting page says if you paid such a fee, you got scammed.  They only take members of the Something Awful community.  But that makes them elitists, and we return safely to “Grr Goons” again.)  So SynCaine and I were effectively painted as spreading lies.

I find that response hilariously poorly aimed.

What Mabrick should be mad about is that there are so few opportunities for new players to get so involved in the game.  Rather than the knee-jerk “Grr Goons” reaction, which is essentially getting mad at one of the few groups in the game that actually provides OPPORTUNITY for new players to use their CAPABILITY, he ought to be asking why there are not more groups out there helping new players… the life blood of any MMO… get invested in the game.  Why aren’t there more organizations like Brave Newbies or EVE University or even Red versus Blue?

Because EVE Online has a problem in that regard.  Jester has a post up about the New Player Experience panel from EVE Fanfest this year, and it does not paint a happy picture when it comes to the aforementioned new player life’s blood.  Look at this chart, which Jester took from the presentation and which I, in turn, stole from him.

New Player Trajectory

New Player Trajectory

That chart shows where players who get past the free trial and actually subscribe for at least a month end up.  Leaving aside the “I wonder how many people start with the trial and don’t even get that far?” question, half the players that opt-in for the game drop out during their first subscription cycle.  40% of those go off to solo/mission oriented, which is what the tutorial has always taught you to do.  There is a reason I have high standings with Caldari and Amarr.  When I wandered into the game, I just kept doing what the game told me to do.  And while that is a perfectly legitimate course to take, I ended up getting tired of it.  There are only so many missions, and a lot of them add up to “don’t die while you shoot the thing.”

Now, I ended up dragging friends into the game.  I ran missions with them.  I started mining and manufacturing and playing with the market.  Then one of the friends I got into the game ended up in a null sec corp and pulled me out there with him and I started doing that.  I wasn’t unhappy doing the other things in EVE. It had its moments certainly.

Double Boom!

Double Boom… in my upgraded Raven!

And it was fortunate that as I tired of them I had an opportunity to do something else.  Success story.  But if I had only stuck with “leveling up my Raven” as CCP Rise put it, I probably would have wandered off and never returned.  And EVE Online, in its usual way, made it difficult to go beyond that.  You have to go out of game to figure out how to do a lot of things in EVE as it guards its secrets well.  Solo EVE can be a difficult vocation, but satisfying for some who pursue it.

The question is, of course, what should CCP do?  There are lots of potential knee-jerk reactions.  The chart certainly suggests that, if CCP wants to drive subscriptions, then it should make a deeper and more interesting… and implicitly safer, for whichever parameters of that you prefer… solo experience in the game.  CCP, ever focused on EVE being a dangerous place where PvP is always a risk, wants to create a new player experience that brings people into a group oriented PvP.  That is what they view as the heart and soul of the game.

I am just not sure CCP can “fix” the problem on that chart AND drive people to PvP.  Yes, they give players that capability, even with their day one characters.  But how to give them the opportunity… and, more importantly, to get them to take advantage of it… to use that capability is another story indeed.  I am not sure how much more ubiquitous Jelly Knight’s experience would be even if there were ample opportunity to sit on a titan and tackle for a fleet on a players first day.  As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but PvP isn’t watering hole that many MMO players are willing to drink from.