Monthly Archives: March 2016

March in Review

The Site

This month, many words about the site.

For reasons unclear to me, the automatic WordPress.com syndication to Google+ stopped working for me in the last month or so.

Well, technically, it still works perfectly for me… but only for me.  Everything that gets syndicated is shared only with myself.

GPSharedOnlyWithYouAs far as I can tell, nothing has changed at my end.  The transition seemed to have happened somewhere between the 22nd and 23rd of last month, because on the 22nd things were sharing just fine!

GPSharedPubliclyBut after that items were only shared with myself.  Looking through Google+ for some setting or change brought me no joy, while the settings within WordPress.com are minimal.

Looking at the WP.com support forums though, it appears I am not the only one seeing this issue.  However, given that WP.com is not answering any threads opened about the topic, instead choosing to close them without comment, seems to indicate that I am not going to find a solution there.  I have a manual work around, but that requires me to go into G+ every day and republish every item.  And then they appear twice in my own feed, which is kind of annoying.

So, if you were following my blog via Google+… which I think would make you Potshot, Tipa or Brian Green, my G+ following being fairly limited… and you noticed I suddenly stopped posting there, this is why.  Of course, if you only follow me there then you may never see this.

Elsewhere automatic syndication remains active, so I am still a menace on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a somewhat sleepy month here there was a sudden spike in page views when Reavers CO Asher Elias posted my Higgs Anchor Rigs tale to /r/eve.  That was a big enough one day boost to secure that post the top spot on the “most viewed” post list below and to prove that people in /r/eve/ will click on just about any link put in front of them.

Then there was this:

Which made it sound like my MMO Blogesphere side bar feed was about to die.  Since that came up I got a notification that my Rube Goldberg implementation only has until April 4th, then it is gone. Time to figure out a new course on that one I suppose, because it is the one thing readers here click on regularly according to the stats.

Addendum: Got a note this evening indicating that IFTTT and Pinboard might come to some agreement that will keep them working together.  At least it won’t shut down on Monday as planned.  We shall see.

And then, in a minor odometer moment, one of my post categories actually rolled into four digits.  With this post, the top five most used categories (aside from “entertainment” which is everything here) now are:

  1. EVE Online – 1,000
  2. World of Warcraft – 999
  3. EverQuest II – 612
  4. EverQuest – 492
  5. Lord of the Rings Online – 360

CCP wins the race to one thousand.  Is this an EVE blog or a WoW blog now?  Random people keep telling me it has to be one or the other.

One Year Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Five Years Ago

Rift officially launched.  And while I wasn’t playing, the social media options integrated into the game made it feel like I was there.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Pokemon Black and White came out, which became the theme for my birthday.

World of Tanks was talking about going live in April.  There was, of course, a pre-order offer.  There always is these days.

Potshot and I made it to GDC thanks to Darren, where we were able to hobnob with the likes of Brian Green and Damion Schubert.

March of five years ago found me spending time in EverQuest.  It was on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server last year, which at that point was still set in the original EverQuest zones.  Potshot and I were doing some classic things, like getting stuck in the Ocean of Tears and making alts.  And running out of money.

There were the newbie armor quests to work on, which required travel to Freeport at one point, something as hard as we remembered.  We also visited Unrest, North Karana, the Desert of Ro, and Najena.

It was also the 12 year anniversary of the EverQuest launch, and nobody was more surprised that I that I was playing the game 12 years later.  But no corpse runs please.

The instance group, still in Cataclysm Worgen form, spent a couple of nights in Scarlet Monastery and then went to Razorfen Kraul.

I put up a poll asking people which of several items in my drafts folder (current population: 57) I should buckle down on and finish.  I think almost everything on the list except the winner is still in my drafts folder.

And I came home one day to find the TV had died.  Emergency CPR (read: banging on the damn thing) brought it back to life temporarily, but clearly a replacement was going to be needed.  It was, after all, a few years older than EverQuest.

Ten Years Ago

World of Warcraft hit 6 million subscribers.  Eventually it would double that number.

Twitter launched, but who in the hell wants a platform limited to just 140 characters?

Brent, going by the “Prognosticator” handle back then, launched the VirginWorlds podcast which began what was, for me, the golden age of MMO podcasting.  His site is still up and chugging away and you can go and listen to VirginWorlds episode 1 if you care to relive the world of possibilities that seemed to be ahead of us for MMOs back then.  It was a different time.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

Belghast, who runs the blog, is in the “must post every day” club.  If there are 31 days in the month, he’ll have 31 posts on his site.  He doesn’t even take weekends off.  And every day he posts many words about the MMOs and other games he plays.  Then, every August, he runs a community event called “Blaugust” where he invites his fellow bloggers to join him in his post-a-day routine.  I’ve kept up with him each time so far.  He is also much more active in fostering community in our corner of the internet.  I talk about that community once in a while, he tries to make it really a thing.  Oh, and he does a podcast as well.  I get tired just thinking about all that.  So go visit him and say, “Hi!”

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

I remember when Meclin first went to null sec and told me about this site.  It seemed confusing, but I was mining in high sec in the same system every day.  I didn’t need all that.  And then I went to null sec, and the site became as necessary is air.  I have said in the past that EVE Online’s in-game map is a very impressive.  Show it people who don’t play and they will be in awe.

But it isn’t very useful.

Yes, it is more useful than it used to be, but it still mostly getting by on looks alone.  And the new map is even more slanted in that direction.  So if you want to know what is where, what the best route is, who owns what system in null sec, or what systems are being attacked, DOTLAN is THE place to go.  I am constantly looking at the site and regularly use screen grabs of maps there for posts.  I need to donate some more money to Wollari just thinking about all that.  You do too!

CCP also did a community spotlight dev blog about DOTLAN a few years back if you want to read more about it.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Me and the Medium Higgs Anchor Rig
  2. Betrayal at M-OEE8
  3. The Imperium Abandons the Vale of the Silent Region
  4. EverQuest Next and the End of the Classic MMORPG
  5. The WildStar Headshot
  6. Setting Sail with Yacht Fleet
  7. Upgrading to Minecraft 1.9
  8. Will EVE Online Get a Bounce from M-OEE8?
  9. SOE and Its MMORPGs
  10. Market Saturation and the Cash Shop
  11. Skill Injectors, Meet Experience Injectors
  12. Contemplating that Last Stand at VFK-IV

Search Terms of the Month

how to 2 box everquest on phinigel true box server
[You are  a bad person]

syncrude shutdown march
[I think SynCaine is planning to carry on]

how many characters are in wheel of time
[Too fucking many]

pantheon rise of the fallen will the trolls be playable
[No, the trolls will remain in the forums and comment threads]

playstation how to use daybreak cash?

psn soe settlement how to use daybreak cash?

ps3 how to use station cash?

how to use daybreak cash psn dcuo

bought dc market cash but can’t use it
[There is some problem with Daybreak Cash on PSN I guess]

Diablo III

Well, I carried on and played through Season 5 right up until the moment I competed the set dungeon for the final baseline achievement… and then I totally stopped playing.  There is a lesson in that somewhere.  Anyway, it is off my currently playing list and will likely remain so until at least Season 6 starts… whenever that happens.

EVE Online

To put it mildly, shit got real in our small… now smaller… corner of null sec.  The war has been given a few names.  The Second Great War, or World War Bee, starring Goonswarm in the role of Band of Brothers.  Noizy dubbed it The Casino War, because one side is being proudly financed by an online gambling site. (Making it one of The Mercenary Wars in Matterall’s expansive write up.)  Then this week it was suddenly The Easter War, because CCP likes… bunnies and Cadbury eggs?  Seriously, CCP claims this is what most people are calling it, but I never heard the term until they started using it this week.  I get the feeling that, in hindsight, we might end up calling this the Propaganda War, as spin on both sides is getting quite thick.

Anyway, I expect we will be seeing a lot more of that from both sides as the war continues.  It will all be a good read a year from now.

EverQuest II

After writing about all sorts of Daybreak topics this month, including the cancellation of EverQuest Next, I had a rather unsurprising urge to go wander around Norrath.  I picked EQII and the Stormhold server for my focus, and spent some time doing the quest lines in The Commonlands.  It was both nostalgic, a lot of things haven’t changed in 11 years, and a bit disappointing, a lot of annoying things haven’t changed in 11 years.  Still moving myself slowly forward in hopes of getting to Nek Forest.

Minecraft

I wasn’t playing too much Minecraft until our server bill started to loom.  That got me in and playing as I was looking for a new home.  I settled on Minecraft Realms, which has worked out well so far.  That got me back in and working on a huge new “public works” project, which I will post about at some point… as soon as I get around to posting about my last such project.

Pokemon

Pokemon celebrated 20 years back in February and I bought a copy of Pokemon Blue for the Virtual Console from the Nintendo eShop.  As I spent some time traveling early in the month, I actually got to spend some time focused on the game. (Nothing like a couple of five hour plane trips to make time for that.)  I have been pleasantly surprised by the game, though perhaps not for the obvious reasons.

Coming Up

Tomorrow is that day where the unfunny think they are funny, the grumpy act grumpier, and the wise treat any headline as though it were posted on Reddit.  It is only for a day, but since nothing on the internet is ever fully gone, your regrettable mistakes will last forever.

The war New Eden will carry on.  After the hammer blow of the CO2 betrayal, things feel like they are hitting a new equilibrium, with a war of attrition over command nodes running every night.  Each side either needs a new tactic, a new defection, or the other side to stop showing up to make big gains.  Rumors say that there will be an official State of the Goonion tomorrow.  One has to ask if April Fools is setting the right tone?

Meanwhile, the new expansion looms, bringing with it citadels and capital ship changes.  Will that change the face of the war, and will the war still be going when it hits?  April promises to be interesting.

As noted above, I hope to make it to Nek Forest in EverQuest II.  I am not sure how well nostalgia will sustain me there however.  The original version of the zone was a punishing horror show, so I don’t really miss that.  The last time I did anything in the zone though, the whole thing had turned into a tedious amount of running half way across the zone and back for quest updates.  Maybe Echoes of Faydwer will go live by then.  I already have a crafting guild request to go to Butcherblock, which won’t be live on the server until that expansion hits.

I also want to buckle down and finish Pokemon Blue… then write about it.  Or maybe just write about it.  Something.

And I need to figure out a new scheme for my side bar.  My current plan is to try Pinboard’s mortal enemy Delicious.  A test version is even now lurking at the bottom of the side bar.  If that doesn’t work out though, it will be back to a static blogroll for a while.

BB73 – New Eden Diplomacy

This month’s blog banter, #73 in the series, asks:

So soon(tm) we will have Eve Online, Valkyrie, Gunjack and the as yet untitled FPS to replace DUST514/Project Legion. Are we missing anything else? Are then any other games CCP should be looking into? Colony building simulators in the style of Sim City or Rimworld. Should it be on a grander scale link Civilisation or Stronghold Kingdoms. How about RTS games ala Command and Conquer. Survival games such as Rust? Planet based combat like World of Tanks? Would you like to see other game types expanding the Eve Universe or should CCP stick to what it knows?

Well, given the popularity of the past week’s events, I am going to have to go with a strategic title, something of a New Eden version of Diplomacy.

Who gets stuck with Feythabolis... I mean Turkey?

Who gets stuck with Feythabolis… I mean Turkey?

(Diplomacy board and screen shot likely the property of somebody somewhere.)

I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t condone a direct knock-off of the game, but there are clearly aspects that one could borrow, especially the simultaneous movement and the diplomacy phase.

The game should be focused on the strategic aspect of the game, which necessarily means a top down strategic map.  Maybe they could get Rixx to put together a nice strategic map for the game.

New Eden done Rixx Javix style

New Eden done Rixx Javix style

New Eden is broken up into its various spheres, and the game should try to somehow incorporate all of them, including high sec, low sec, null sec, wormhole space, and that bit where the Jovians live… because Jovians!

Hat tip to Rhavas...

Hat tip to Rhavas…

In my vision a multiplayer game… with maybe six players total… would start with each of them getting a null sec region worth some amount of resources.  I would try to keep resources simple, with maybe some way to improve yield via infrastructure, but nothing more complicated than in, say, Civilization II.  Jump bridges for roads, other enhancements for improving mining yield or keeping down the local pirate factions.

From there players can expand their null sec holdings… I might actually chop things down into constellations within regions as the level of play… until they come in contact with low sec space.  From there they can influence low sec to their will, something of a reverse on faction warfare, to be able to use that space as a connection to high sec.

Connecting to high sec grants an economic boon that allows greater expansion.  But, in a twist, your foes connecting to high sec also boost high sec output overall.  So you want your foes to have access, but you want more access through more and more secure low sec avenues.

Wormholes should have a technology threshold, after which you can exploit them for resources or use them as temporary access to other regions, including high sec.

And then there is high sec space, the NPC empires.  I don’t think they should be conquerable, so maybe just a level of influence over them that affects your economic relationship.

Finally, there is the victory condition.  I wouldn’t want to make outright conquest a requirement, or even possible.  You might be able to eliminate a couple players along the way, but over-extending yourself ought to come with consequences or infrastructure costs.

And I like the Civilization V idea of having multiple victory conditions.  So maybe a conquest based one where a player wins if they control a given number of resource generation points in null sec, as in Diplomacy.  Then an economic influence victory where you end up with one of the NPC empires aligning with you.  A surrender option where you get/force your player foes to support your reign.  And perhaps some sort of technological possibility that brings in the Jovians on your side.  Can’t forget about the Jovians after I used that picture.

So that is my general, broad strokes idea for a strategic/diplomatic game based in New Eden.   I’m not sure if the starting empires ought to have fixed names with special attributes or not.  What would you do to distinguish Band of Brothers, Ascendant Frontiers, Goonswarm, Pandemic Legion, Solar Fleet, -A-, CVA, or whatever current or historic groups you might want to represent?  Plus, you should be able to roll your own alliance.

Finally, the whole things should be multiplayer, obviously, with a chat interface that lets you have individual, group, and game-wide conversations. Seems that CCP might be able to manage that by taking chat straight from EVE Online.  It also should have some sort of AI player support and allow 4-10 players.  Then it should be on Steam and cost $29.99 at launch, $17.50 at the first Steam Summer Sale, and $19.99 there after.

And, if I really want to ask for the world, it ought to have an in-game client so you can play it while in a fleet in EVE Online for a truly meta experience.

That is what I’ve got.  The details are left as an exercise for the reader… like a title.  What should the game be called?

Others have answered the question as well.  You can find them at the Blog Banter 73 page or linked below as I see their posts.

Will EVE Online Get a Bounce from M-OEE8?

In the history of EVE Online, when there is a giant battle in the game subscriptions go up as sure as one thing follows another.  The first Burn Jita, Asakai, 6VDT-H, and B-R5RB all got headlines in the gaming press and, in many cases, the general media.  Articles at the BBC have not been uncommon.

The fact that these giant battles happen on their own and aren’t staged by CCP (unlike certain record setting events) is part of the magic of the game, the draw that attracts news players and reinvigorates old ones.  It is one of those special aspects of New Eden.

CCP certainly got into the spirit of things as the big battle kicked off.

Old news, but The Scope reporters are hacks...

Old news, but The Scope reporters are hacks…

They had people on scene to watch the battle and the EVE:ISDIC Twitter account posted great pictures of the fight as it went on. (You should go look at them.)

And after the fight, CCP was at it again with the battle stats.

The war that started LONG before Easter...

The war that started LONG before Easter…

Granted, they might have jumped the gun on that last item.  B-R5RB.  According to CCPs post battle figures for that fight, there were 7,548 unique characters involved in the great titan massacre.  Though, to give credit, they did cop to that error when it was pointed out.

(Also, Easter War?  This war has been going on since January.  I know that CCP doesn’t want to use “Casino War” because that will inevitably shine a light on the shady RMT and gambling aspects allowed in the game, but Easter just seems wrong.  New Years War maybe?)

And they want you to have talking points ready, just in case somebody asks you about EVE Online.

So CCP is prepped.

And there are certainly rumblings within the community as old players who left for various reasons (Fozzie Sov and Jump Fatigue get mentioned a lot) consider coming back for a big war.  Having nearly every non-Russian null sec entity jumping on the “shoot Goons” bandwagon at last is certainly a draw.

But what about new players?  Will the M-OEE8 battle have the same halo effect as the other great battles before it?  I am starting to wonder.

CCP keeps linking to and quoting from a rather tepid article over at PC Gamer that pre-dates the battle.  During the battle the Polygon Twitter feed posted an EVE Online link, though it turned out to be to a 2014 story.  They wanted to ride on the EVE Online gravy train, not the other way around.

And… that has been about it.  Even Massively, which covers MMORPGs, only has their own tepid post, which amounts to “Somebody on Reddit said there was a war.”  And they haven’t even gotten around to something about the actual battle that happened.

In fact, nobody outside of the core EVE Online focused media and bloggers seems to have bothered.

If you Google “B-R5RB” you get results from PC Gamer and Wired and Polygon.

Do the same for “M-OEE8” and you get… DOTLAN, zKillboard, EN24, and me.  My post is the the 6th result.

So what happened here?  Was the battle not big enough?  Was the spectacle no grand enough to suit?  Did we not amuse sufficiently?  Was there insufficient internet spaceship drama?  Should CCP be calling the Guinness Records people?  Do we need to tally up the losses and convert them to dollar amounts to get some attention here?

Or are people just over internet spaceship battles?

Addendum:  The war is starting to get some traction now on gaming news sites now.  It just took a couple days.

Betrayal at M-OEE8

I had finally gotten home, and clone jumped to our staging system just in time to catch Oxygen leading a Hurricane fleet to the battle for the M-OEE8 ihub.  Oxygen got us out to a titan within bridge range of the 1P-VL2 constellation where the biggest battle in ages was playing.  We landed on the titan and waited for a bridge.

Waiting for Jay to bridge us...

Waiting for Jay to bridge us…

And waited.

And waited.

And then somebody linked a post on Reddit.

It was, of course, initially dismissed as a troll.  No doubt somebody made a fake account to look like TheJudge.  Then I clicked on the name, just to see if it had been freshly created and was greeted by what looked like an authentic history.  It looked to be real.

As we sat there, watching the entosis tug-of war swing towards the hostiles, The Mittani sent out a broadcast:

It appears that after spending the entire day with us fighting on their behalf to defend their home, C02 has chosen to reset the entire coalition in approximately the next 30 minutes. That’s a pretty impressive backstab, and it’s apparently all our fault. This is a shame, but there’s no question of right or wrong on this one: we’ve expended a tremendous amount of blood and treasure defending C02 assets in Hakonen and Tribute over the past two months, and this is the spit in our eye after an all-day defense of their homeland.

Apparently C02’s senior leadership met this morning and decided to play this card regardless of how this M-O fight went down. That explains why we discovered this morning to our shock that there were no cynojammers in the target constellation, and that they knew they would flip on all of us even as we were doing our best to be loyal defenders of their territory. It also explains why the hostiles had their capfleets ready and waiting; they hoped for us to risk our supers, in hopes of C02 turning on us. The easter holiday off, the invitation of every random Eve 3rd party to join an otherwise irrelevant ihub timer: all becomes clear. This was a planned trap, one which we thankfully were not dumb enough to stick our super fleet into. This is why it is all the more crucial that we evacuated the LAWN/Bastion superfleet from Vale.

So there it was.  Circle of Two let us fight for them all day against impossible odds as every hanger-on within range joined in the fight.  Another hammer blow against The Imperium.

Battle Report Top

Battle Report Top – CO2 gets its own column, as their losses aren’t ours or our foes really…

I would have included the whole screen shot, but the list or organizations arrayed against us scrolls of the page and around the block, and I can’t get the link to work because the battle report generator and the kill board are still working overtime to catch up and generate the final numbers.  I’ll put a link here when it settles down. (Turns out that there were so many foes on the list that the URL is too long for the site to parse correctly.  The battle broke the battle report generator.  Best I can do is link my start point.  You have to click ‘Analyze’ yourself.)

So there we were on the titan.  The reason we hadn’t bridged was that nobody would light a cyno for us.  CO2 wouldn’t, having just publicly announced their betrayal, and no Imperium pilots were keen to bridge in more fellows to be sacrificed for naught.  So Oxygen turned us around and brought us home.  The ihub was lost, but it wasn’t our problem any more.

Now Tribute has been laid open to our foes and it is TNT’s turn on the front line.

Tribute - March 28, 2016

Tribute – March 28, 2016

We shall see how well we are able to defend now that the front line is yet closer to our staging system.  Vale of the Silent fell to us back in the day without a fight, but now we are in territory I recall battling for back in the day.  UMI-KK, the TNT capital, was our staging foothold in the region after it fell back in 2012. which let us advance from QPO-WI.

At least the evac from Vale seems timely now, as CO2 turning into a hostiles before then would have cut LAWN and Bastion off from the rest of the coalition.  Small favors.  And the war goes on.

Meanwhile, all of this is likely good news for CCP.

A bloody spaceship battle with thousands of players always attracts attention in the gaming media and gets new players to try out the game.

Skulls for the Icelandic skull throne

Skulls for the Icelandic skull throne

We shall see if this battle, which by the count of the battle report I rolled up, had more than 5K individual pilots involved at various points, gets any press come the morning.  It has all the usual internet spaceship drama.

Elsewhere on this:

Contemplating that Last Stand at VFK-IV

After the black week that was last week for The Imperium, which saw many billions in ship losses, sovereignty taken from us, and the evacuation of a whole region, our foes, the self-proclaimed “Allies” (or the “Moneybager Coalition”) have been beside themselves with joy.  If you wander over to the EVE Online subreddit, it is full of propaganda and self-congratulation to the point that an outsider might consider that the war is over.

It almost feels like the bottled up emotion of years of losing to Goons at places like B-R5RB and 6VDT-H, years of being being driven from this region or that (or being driven out of Delve repeatedly in some cases), has been released and everybody there has burst into a rousing rendition of “Ding-dong the Witch is Dead!”  The “VFK by Date X!” meme has been revived yet again.

The wrecks with the red sun in the background

They even built a monument to our victory… and I was there

However, that metaphorical witch is far from dead.  Even some of the joyful news being presented isn’t all that good for our foes.  For example, cheers about Razor losing a huge chunk of players might seem less of an event to toast if you were paying attention and noticed that those players moved to The Bastion. (From DOTLAN)

March28Alliancemovements

The alliance that is losing its home in Vale of the Silent actually grew.

Meanwhile, there is a long road ahead for anybody planning on defeating The Imperium.  Even without Vale of the Silent, there are a lot of towers left to reinforce, a lot of entosis work to be done, a lot sovereignty left to grind.  The “Allies” have their work cut out for them.

As I said last week, that alone gives me hope.  As a coalition, we have a reputation for being able to hold out and grind through such things.  Our endurance for the arguably un-fun aspects of sovereignty warfare is prodigious.  Forming at all hours of the clock is no big deal, boredom is our friend, time dilation is practically our natural environment.

Our foes… not so much.  They couldn’t even camp the Vale evac effectively; an opportunity lost.

TEST at least wants sovereignty in the north, something nobody else seems to care about.  They will at least stick around on that basis alone.

Pandemic Legion and NCDot want fights, not sov.  However, unless they want to fight Russians, they don’t have a lot of other choices if they want to bring their supers into play.  They’ll be around for a while.

But everybody else on the bandwagon… well, we’ll see how long they stick with things once it gets down to nightly entosis runs and whole fleets sitting on a single node watching that one guy with the Fozzie laser orbit his target.

And then there is the wildcard in the whole scenario.  CCP will be introducing citadels into the game soon, and nobody knows how that will change the face of the war.  But it is a big enough feature to make Gevlon rage quite the game.  I guess Mordus Angles is going to want some of that IWantISK largess soon.

I am not all that prone to pseudo-patriotism and jingoist pronouncements.  It is an uncertain time.  War has come to our homes at last.  Tribute, my own home region, is now on the front lines.  Outcomes are not certain.  We could lose.

But I also believe what I have written here has a basis in fact, born out by the history of the game and our coalition.  We certainly haven’t lost yet.  The login page for my iPad has a screen shot of the north from back when I joined TNT and entered null sec and a lot of us lived together in a much smaller space, at war with White Noise and Raiden, with NCDot on our flank.

The core of the CFC of old

The core of the CFC of old

We have a ways to go before we’re shrunk back to that small of a space again.

If we do lose, I want to be there when it happens.  If my corporation falters, I’ll join another.  If our alliance gives up, I’ll join KarmaFleet.  And if we end up with our own last battle, our own 6VDT-H, I hope I’ll be able to undock and join the fight.

One of the more fatuous questions that keeps coming up on Reddit is “Why?”  Why fly, fight, or whatever for the people so heavily vilified on Reddit, as though that were some objective measure of the world, as though, to put it bluntly, their own shit didn’t stink.

Still, there is an answer.

For about four and a half years at this point a small group of people, the “leadership” for whatever value you care to ascribe to that, has spent a lot of time setting up a situation where a space tourist like me could log in and experience null sec for better and worse.  And, more specifically, whole pile or fleet commanders have logged on night after night, people like Laz and Reagalan and Asher and MisterVee and Lyris and Papusa and Boat… very much Boat… have formed fleets and undocked to shepherd people like me around through the various aspects of the null sec experience and, even when I do stupid things, don’t kick me out or refuse to take me along.

What kind of person would I be if I turned my back on them the moment the going looked rough?  So I have nailed my colors to the mast and will go down with this ship if it comes to that.

Plus, you know, it is fun to be part of space history.  Nobody writes books about Faction Warfare or low sec gate camps.

We shall see what happens at M-OEE8 today.

EVE Valkyrie and EVE Gunjack go Live with Occulus Rift Today

The Occulus Rift virtual reality headset officially goes live today… I wonder how many pre-orders have been shipped at this point… and with it a couple of titles from CCP, the makers of EVE Online. (This week’s new releases list is naturally a bit heavy with Rift related titles.)

The first is EVE: Valkyrie, the title that CCP has been talking about for a while now and which is bundled with the Occulus Rift for pre-orders.

EVE Valkyrie

EVE Valkyrie

I was able to play EVE: Valkyrie at EVE Vegas last year and it does seem like a pretty fun title… though I might be biased by the fact that I found it neat just to be able to fly around some of the ships from EVE Online.  The price to play, however, puts it outside of my reach for now.

The other title, EVE: Gunjack, described as an “arcade shooter,” was announced back in August, and initially released last November, for the Samsung Gear VR headset, but has been ported over to work with Occulus Rift.

SCV good to go, sir!

EVE: Gunjack

I am not sure how much work went into the transition between platforms, but the Samsung Gear VR was created “in collaboration” with the Occulus team, so one could reasonably assume that the effort wasn’t huge.

So CCP has two more games on the market today, both set in the EVE Online universe.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat related item, the most recent Blog Banter has bloggers taking on the topic of what other EVE Online games they would like to see.  I haven’t gotten around to thinking about a post for that yet.

The Imperium Abandons the Vale of the Silent Region

Have Fun in Vale Boys!

-The Mittani, The Meta Show March 26, 2016

The Mittani announced today on The Meta Show that The Imperium would be pulling back from Vale of the Silent region, which the then CFC took from NCDot back in late 2012, during the great expansion era of the coalition, which at one point held all sovereignty in the western arc from Tenal to Period Basis.

Vale of the Silent, March 26, 2016

Vale of the Silent, March 26, 2016

After a black week of defeats and losses, the leadership of The Imperium has decided that in order to successfully defend our sovereignty the coalition needs to draw back into a tighter area of space.  The Vale of the Silent region, which has 118 systems and sits at the southeastern tip of coalition territory, will be abandoned.  LAWN and Bastion, who hold most of the sovereignty there will be moving into null sec space currently held by other alliances in the coalition while staging out of Saranen with the rest of The Imperium.

I expect our foes are even now declaring a great victory over The Imperium.  The propaganda will no doubt repeat the phrase “Didn’t want that sov anyway,” when we simply couldn’t defend it effectively, as the string of defeats last week has shown.

We shall see if a more consolidated Imperium is better able to defend its remaining territory.  And then, of course, there is the question of what will happen with the Vale of the Silent once LAWN and The Bastion pull out.

Elsewhere:

Friday Bullet Points – Newbies, Free Time, and PvP

Another short form post on topics about which I couldn’t quite get myself to crank out a thousand words… which is probably best for everyone involved.  Anyway, on with the items.

CSM 11 Elections Are Over

At one point this week somebody said the CSM elections ended on the 25th, and took that to mean that 23:59 UTC on the 24th was the last minute in which you could vote. Then it appeared the vote would go longer than that, with CCP Seagull telling people to go vote just a few hours back.  There was even a message in the launcher… finally… still active this morning:

March25CSMvoteHowever, checking the ballot page, it looks like the polls were already closed.

CSMVotingIsClosedSo now we have to wait until Fan Fest next month to find out the results.

Play EVE Online for Free for 10 Days

If you have an expired EVE Online account, you can apparently come back for 10 days of play time.

EVE10Days

Just log into the account management page and see if there is a special highlighted for you.

SpecialsIf there is, you can click on it to activate your account for that 10 day period to come back and see what is new in New Eden.  This is part of the Guristas hunting event that CCP has running now.

All the Newbie Info They Could Find

CCP continues to battle probably the most fearsome opponent EVE Online has ever faced, which is simply figuring out how to play the game and what to do.

They give you this little spaceship, and then what?

They give you this little spaceship, and then what?

So CCP have put together a Dev Blog to list out many of the in-game, and a few out of game,  resources that might help new players.  While every little bit helps, I am not sure this will do much to overcome the desultory feel of the current new player experience.

The New Eden February Economic Report

Damn Wilhelm, back at it again with the CCP.  Yes, the February 2016 Economic Report dev blog came out nearly 20 days ago, but I was out of town at the time and just got around to looking at it this week.  Included with the report was my favorite graph, the ISK faucets and sinks.

February 2016 ISK Faucets and Sinks

February 2016 ISK Faucets and Sinks

About 11 trillion ISK entered the New Eden economy in February.  Need more sinks.

Major Landmark Update, Now Without PvP

Daybreak announced a huge number of changes as part of the latest Landmark update.  There are things in there to make fans cheer and groan, not to mention the some skepticism about whether or not they will really ship this project during the spring with that many changes going in at once.  Changes to a complex project mean bugs, and there appear to be many.

But way down at the bottom of the update notes, under the heading “Other Changes,” there was this bullet point:

  • We have removed PVP game tables. PVP is no longer available.

Given that Daybreak also just killed PvP, outside of battlegrounds, for EverQuest II, this might not be a surprise.

On the flip side, it is another deviation from the Minecraft model, a game which has a very active PvP community.  But with the big shared worlds of Landmark, you don’t get to choose who you play with, as you do with Minecraft, so perhaps just another nod to reality by the Daybreak team.  But who knows where things are really headed with Daybreak.

And Then a Perfect Brawl in Fade

I suppose “perfect” is overselling things, not to mention the whole “perfect for who?” aspect.  But after more than a month spent in fleets policing sovereignty and mostly denying hostile entosis ships their targets by hanging out on ihubs and nodes, it was a damn good fight.

And I almost missed it.

The usual post-work evening activities went their usual way and as I sat down at my computer to see what was up, I saw that there had been a call for a Hurricane fleet under Oxygen about 25 minutes before.  I figured I was probably too late for that, but even as I sat there thinking it, another ping came in for the fleet.  It was a request for more logi in the fleet.  That meant it hadn’t left yet.

I figured I could make it and, having half a dozen Basilisks strewn about our various staging locations, I was pretty sure I could fulfil the logi end of the bill as well.  So I logged in, found myself in a station in Tribute.  I quickly un-assed the ship I was in, opened up the character panel, stopped my training queue, swapped to the jump clone tab, and clicked on the clone in Saranen.

After a momentary transition, I was there… and I didn’t have a Basilisk.  As I would later figure out, I had swapped that Basi to my alt to fly a while back and had never quite gotten around to swapping it back.  But it didn’t matter, the fleet was already undocked and on the move.  It was too late to log my alt in and do the swap or start skimming the local contracts for a correctly fit Basi.  But I had a Hurricane… and a correctly fit one at that.  After the Higgs Anchor fiasco, which came about because I didn’t want to use a slightly out of date fit, I went through and made sure all my ships were up to date.

So into the Hurricane and after the fleet.

They were not too far ahead to catch, so long as I didn’t waste time.  But you never know what the travel plan is, if we will just be burning gates or if there is a titan waiting to bridge us or what.  As it was, a jump bridge was part of the plan and I first caught site of the fleet as the were bridging out from it.

There they go, just as I arrived...

There they go, just as I arrived…

Oxygen held up on the other side so I was able to get through and join the fleet.

From there it was a run into Fade.

It had been a bad day for The Imperium.  We had lost a CSAA fight earlier and, been beat in Fade, and NCDot had managed to take a TCU in Fade. (Who says there are no more big fights?)  The CSAA meant that a baby super capital was aborted, while the TCU loss gave our foes an additional moral boost.  It is one of the ways that Fozzie Sov is different, and not necessarily in a good way, from Dominion Sov.  Under Dominion, taking the TCU would have meant that the system had been totally conquered, since to take that you would have had to take the ihub and the station first.  In the world of Fozzie Sov, those three elements are all now independent.  So this cool change on the sov map over at DOTLAN only means they took the TCU.

NCDot in the 7X-X1Y Constellation in Fade

NCDot in the 7X-X1Y Constellation in Fade

The station and the ihub, the latter of which affects ADM, are still owned by SMA.  It would have snapped any jump bridge in the system, had their been one, since the sovereignty level, which is accrued by holding the TCU over time, would have been reset to zero.  The sov level has to be three in order to support a jump bridge if I recall right, which takes about a month.

Anyway, some people in the fleet had been on all day and were looking to inflict some damage on our foes, and we were headed to the 7X-X1Y constellation in Fade to do just that.

NCDot and TEST and a few hangers on were headed there in numbers as well.  Our Hurricanes would be set against their combined fleet of T3 Destroyers… mostly Confessors… and Slepnirs, the command ship variation of the Hurricane, or so intel reported.

Before we faced them, Oxygen drilled us a bit on how this was going to have to play out for us to have any success against the more heavily tanked Slepnirs.  We were going to have to fire as a unified volley so as to apply our damage in as concentrated a burst as possible, which should allow us to break through the defenses of an individual ship and destroy it before any reps from their logi could make a difference.

This is sort of the meta at the moment in our part of null, it is how the Machariel fleets operate as well, and is something of a return to a state of affairs that was going on when I first joined TNT back in late 2011 when the Maelstroms of the Alpha fleet doctrine were being used to do the same thing.

That bit of practice done, we went into YKSC-A to face the enemy.  Our first targets were the Confessors and supporting ships around us.  That was the TEST fleet.  For that we were told to sort by distance and fire at will, and we popped quite a few of them before turning towards the Slepnirs.

The battle the FIO1-8 gate in YKSC-A

The battle the FIO1-8 gate in YKSC-A

For that Oxygen would call a target and wait until we had a good number of people ready to fire, then have us volley as a group.  We were able to successfully volley off a nine Slepnirs in succession.

However, the enemy had not been sitting around watching us do this.  They too had been locking up Hurricanes and blowing them up with a single volley as well.  I got that treatment about halfway into the skirmish, which left me in a pod and able to watch how things were evolving.

NCDot Slepnirs in a bubble

NCDot Slepnirs in a bubble

Hurricanes were dropping quickly, and the fleet soon reached a point where the combined damage of a volley would no longer take down a Slepnir.  It was time to pull back.  Oxygen was still going at that point, but got tackled as we warped away and his Onyx popped.

We lost 96 ships in that go, worth about 7 billion ISK, but we managed to take down 130 ships in exchange.  They were mostly cheaper ships, but the more expensive Slepnirs weighed down the ISK exchange, so that we inflicted 10.8 billion ISK in damage.  The round to us on points I suppose, though we had to leave the field to regroup.  Still, not bad considering the numbers were almost 2 to 1 against us.

Here is a battle report for that part of the fight.

Hanging about, my pod got cleaned up and I was back in Saranen to pick up a new Hurricane off contract (a good contract, from a Goon source) because we were headed back.  We were going to return for round two, as both sides still seemed keen to brawl.

We flew back to Fade as a group to rejoin the survivors of the first round who had holed up in a station a couple jumps back from the fight.  Having reunited, we headed towards the foe again, burning through a bubble to the YKSC-A gate to resume the fight.

Hurricane fleet burning

Hurricane fleet burning

On the far side things started as before, with us hitting small stuff.  But the enemy was not so keen to sit and exchange volleys this time.  In the ensuing fight we managed to pin down and kill some WAFFLES Cerberuses that had joined in, but the Slepnirs we being more circumspect, leaving the field after a few losses.  We ended up chasing them into FIO1-8 and then E9KD-N, extracting a few more kills, before they headed out and the fight was over.

The second round was almost exactly evenly matched when it came to ship count, with us losing 36 ships to their 71, leaving an ISK balance of 2.6 billion in ISK lost by us to 7.4 billion in ISK lost by our foes.

Here is a battle report for round two.

There was a combined battle report for both rounds being circulated, but it is missing some data… specifically, it was missing me.  I am not sure how the two individual reports managed to include me but not the combined.

Anyway, a win for us at the end of a bad day, unless you have some new metric for victory that discounts ISK, ship losses, the odds, or who ended up holding the field at the end of things.  It doesn’t make up for the drubbing earlier in the day, but it was something.

And because we held the field, we now had to clean up.  That meant sending our support off to chase down some individual entosis ships in the region, sitting on an ihub node ourselves for a bit, and then watching an entosis ship reinforced the NCDot TCU in E9KD-N.

Back to the excitement of Fozzie Sov

Back to the excitement of Fozzie Sov

The ADM for the system… ADM supported in part by the SMA ihub… applied to the NCDot TCU, in another fun quirk of Fozzie Sov.

Sitting there would have been dull except for the curious case of Madlightning and the fastest Hurricane in New Eden.

Madlightning reports a problem with his modules when going into the second round of the fight.  They would not activate.  To fix this he docked up and fiddled with them, the undocked to catch up, jumping through the gate to join us.

Once he was through the gate he reported a new problem.  He thought he had been bumped by something big, because he was suddenly moving at very high rate of speed.  Very, very high.  He sent us a screen shot, from which I clipped this:

Go Madlightning, Go!

Go Madlightning, Go!

My Hurricane, with the same MWD lit, goes about 1,500 m/s, so 999,854 m/s would be… more.

A couple of frigates in the fleet tried to warp to him to see this in action, but reported that Madlightning would move off grid even as they were landing.  As he experimented with this, it appeared to be related to activating his MWD.  Somehow the upper limit or his ships mass or the power of the MWD had been messed up, allowing him to pilot his Hurricane at phenomenal rates of speed.

He filed a bug report about it, the spent his time simply enjoying his new found ability.  At a couple points he tried to join us and orbit the TCU, but he would flash by and disappear off grid quickly.

A Madlightning sighting!

A Madlightning sighting!

That about wrapped up our evening.  After the TCU had been reinforced, we headed for home, popping in on a couple of systems to shoo away the last couple of entosis jockeys as the vulnerability windows for SMA space closed for the night.

The war goes on, but fights like that, where even the losing side extracts a price, keep people engaged.

A Rumor of War in Fade, Pure Blind, and The Vale of the Silent

There is a war going on in our neighborhood still.  It has spread to The Vale of the Silent recently, but things continue.  It has been going on for a couple of months now, kicking off with the I Want ISK versus SpaceMonkeys Alliance dispute.

Nosy Gamer pointed out earlier this week how hard it is, as an outsider, to get a sense of what is really happening in the war.  DOTLAN EVE Maps can show you some data points, like what the ADM is for some systems, or if an ihub has been reinforced or a station has been freeported.  But that paints an incomplete picture at best.  Meanwhile the two key EVE Online news sites aren’t much help either.  TMC is run in the name of The Imperium at this point, with little pretense at much else, while EN24, long anti-goon in policy, takes ISK from the very same source that is funding the war.

So an outsider can get conflicting and incomplete views.

The thing is, as something of an insider, or at least a line member on one side, it isn’t like I am getting much better news.

Both sides are so riddled with spies that the assumption has to be that anything said to a group of more than three people is going to be in the hands of the enemy and up on Reddit or Pastebin soon enough.  So I hear lots of good things about how we are doing.  I go to Reddit or EN24 and I read about how well the other side says they are doing.

This sense of the war… or lack thereof… hasn’t been helped by the fact that it has been a busy month for me.  I was out of town for nearly a week and there have been all sorts of things going on at home to keep me away from the game.

And even when I am not busy, I seem to miss the action.

I know there are battles going on.  At the office I check Jabber on my iPad once in a while and I see fleets getting called up and battle reports being broadcast.  But the peak time seems to be mid-to-late EUTZ and early USTZ.  Here on the west coast of the US, by the time I get home from work, have dinner, and settle in for some spaceship time, the last fleet for the night has often left already.  The vulnerability windows are winding down across the alliance.  If I am lucky I get in one of the clean up fleets.  So I am familiar with Hurricanes again.

Standing guard on a gate

Standing guard on a gate

I’ve run around with Jackdaws.

Jackdaws on Patrol

Jackdaws on Patrol

I’ve been on quick response fleets, firstwith interceptors, then with Caracals.

Caracals discouraging entosis ships

Caracals discouraging entosis ships

A lot of the time is spent hanging about watching Fozzie Sov in action/inaction.

There was a fight on elsewhere while we were staring at this

There was a fight on elsewhere while we were staring at this

While we get the occasional big kill, a lot of it is doing the dull but necessary work to support the war effort.

So lots of propaganda from both sides, but little in the way of actual progress being made, even after major fights.  It almost sounds like a Dominion style conflict at this point, with both sides grinding away at each other until one side gives up and finds something else to do.

Of course, that gives me confidence in our side.  Goons or the CFC or The Imperium have a long earned reputation for being stubborn and showing up for fleets in good numbers day in and day out for long stretches.  And doing so on our own patch of null sec, so there is no home front left depleted to worry about, strengthens that idea.

Of course, unlike dominion, our foes are no longer sovereignty holding entities in the old school way of things, so they don’t really have an unguarded flank either, except maybe when it comes to money moons and the like.

So the war grinds on and on, looking to break one of the long standing traditions in null sec.  Fanfest is coming up in April, and the usual routine is for NCDot to form some sort of loose coalition and attack Imperium space while our leadership is off drunk in Iceland.  This year, they are already attacking our space, along with a lot of other names from the past, including TEST, which got a warm welcome to the war from its allies when PL dropped on their convoy op.

I suppose we shall see whose will breaks first.

Addendum: See, this stuff keeps happening while I am at work.  By the time I get home, it’s done.