Monthly Archives: May 2016

May in Review

The Site

The only thing I have about the site is a brand new error that comes up from time to time in my side bar feed.  It looked to be a pretty big issue at the beginning of the month.

Missing link IFTTT

Missing link IFTTT

It calmed down some after that.  I still haven’t figured out the pattern that causes it. if it is specific blogs or not.  But the feed fails to load far more often than it shows that error, so one problem at a time.  Of course, I don’t know why it fails to load either, especially when a second feed of game company news, which uses the exact same process, seems to load almost without fail.  Welcome to the internet.

Meanwhile, in news from elsewhere my other site, EVE Online Pictures, turned 8 years old this month.  No big analysis post about it, though if you want to know its traffic numbers, here are the page view stats.

EVE Online Pictures - Eight Years of Page Views

EVE Online Pictures – Eight Years of Page Views

One Year Ago

There was another Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I wrote a post.

The whole World of Warcraft “flying in Draenor” explosion started when Blizzard announced that they probably wouldn’t allow flying in that, or any future, expansion.  Lots of people spoke up.  I linked to a bunch of them.

It was not a good month for World of Warcraft.  Subscriptions were down to 7.1 million… and then they banned 100K accounts, so make that an even 7 million.

In the Warlords of Draenor expansion itself I was mostly going garrison stuff and pet battles.

Carbine announced that WildStar would be going free to play after continuing poor financial performance.

EVE Online turned 12 years old.  CCP was offering fan site the option of a free account OR receiving a PLEX every month.  I actually attempted to opt-in for the PLEX, but never heard back.  Was that option ever really a thing?

The war in Fountain and Delve was over, NCDot had been crushed yet again, and we were moving back north as our empire contractedEntosis stuff was looming.  Black Legion caught us taking a badly planned convoy through KVN-36.  Meanwhile, down in Querious, the Reavers were playing with Ravens.  Up in the north, TNT was moving out of Deklein and into Tribute as part of our Fozzie Sov plans.  And I hit 140 million skill points.

Then Daybreak went for a crowd pleaser by launching a new time locked expansion server named Ragefire. It was such a crowd pleaser that it couldn’t handle the crowd.  In addition to some first night problems, you simply couldn’t log in most of the time.  They worked on a login queue and some zone instancing technology from EverQuest II and eventually opened up another server named Lockjaw to take care of the crowding.

TorilMUD, the MUD on which EverQuest was largely based, softened its death penalty.  A sign of the times.

There was word of a Warhammer Online private/pirate server for those who missed the departed game.

And I was playing LEGO Star Wars on the PlayStation 3 while the freshly minted Imperium was going to try and play H1Z1.

Five Years Ago

May 2011 was the time of the great Sony outage, with the PlayStation Network down for 24 days and Sony Online Entertainment down for 13 days.  It was a communication fiasco from start to finish, with bad updates almost daily.  About all they could do was promise us all goodies for when they finally came back up.

CCP was starting the build up to the Incarna fiasco with the introduction of Aurum.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, there was agitation to vote NO on unlocking the Kunark expansion.  Such agitation shows up with every unlock vote.  But no vote failed until Gates of Discord came along.

The instance group was in EverQuest IIwhen it was up… and trying to get the hell out of the starter area.  We managed it, but it took a lot more time than I would have thought.  We started in on some dungeons and got ourselves a guild hall.

World of Warcraft subscriptions started to decline, down to 11.4 million (oh noes!) while Trion started offering free server transfers in Rift.

My daughter was asking me about Dungeons & Dragons.  There was a thread going about making better MMO players.  There were clearly some bad players about.

And finally, as hot as things seemed to be around here, there was no rapture.  You just couldn’t buy a break that month.

Ten Years Ago

World of Warcraft lead designer Rob Pardo was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2006.

The Wii “steals the show” when it comes to the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.  Despite a drop in attendees, there are long lines to try out Nintendo’s new console.  This was the last E3 before the “new format” of 2007 and 2008.

The ESRB changed the rating for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from “Teen” to “Mature” in part due to topless female art assets in the game that could be accessed by mods.  Former California Assemblyman Leland Yee (and now Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate number 19629-111) took time out of his organized crime activities to slam the ESRB for missing these hidden art assets.

Featured Sites of the Month

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

Eri/Jewel is still in her blogging prime, tackling new games, writing about old favorites, linking out to the blogesphere, and a regular podcaster as well.

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

As pets in WoW eventually transformed into a Pokemon-like mini-game, the “gotta catch ’em all” aspect needed a guide book.  Warcraft pets is the place to go to find out what pets you are missing and how to obtain them.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Darkrai Event and More
  3. There is no 85%
  4. Industrial Revolution
  5. Blizzard and the MAU Reality
  6. What is Vanilla WoW in Any Case?
  7. The Warcraft Movie Approaches
  8. A Murder of Fax Machines
  9. Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead
  10. The People You See in Space
  11. Citadels in Saranen
  12. Chasing Asher’s Phantasm

Search Terms of the Month

everquest falling off the boat
[Haven’t we all]

neverwinter paranoid delusions review
[I think mine are more delusions of grandeur]

eve online gsf test reset fountain
[You must be looking for the Fountain War]

in the wheel of time audiobook why do the readers change how they pronounce moghedien
[Noticed that too, did you?]

Spam Comments of the Month

free animal sex pics
[Why pay for animal sex pics?]

I will right away clutch your rss feed
[I am not sure I like the sound of that]

Hello. I am a inexperienced Bank Teller and was planning to better be well prepared for my job at ChevronTexaco Corporation.
[Sounds like an good plan]

Diablo III

I thought about Season 6 for a bit.  I even started a new character.  Well, an old character really, as I used the rebirth option to restart my barbarian from back at launch.  His gear was so bad that he was unplayable anyways, so why not restart him.  I played him for about an hour, logged off, and haven’t been back since.  Maybe I’ll be up for Season 7.

EVE Online

Of course, for me, the war has been going on in New Eden.  We have been evicted from the last of our sovereignty.  We retook a couple of systems, and even still hold one, but that is a token effort at best.  Yet we still form up and fight our foes when they don’t heavily outnumber us and still hunt their ratters and reinforce their systems.  It is a battle of wills and we shall see who tires of it first.

EverQuest II

I have continued meandering around in Norrath.  After writing about my slow progress, I actually played some more and am up to level 25.  At least I haven’t been distracted by a host of alts, which is my usual problem in MMOs.

Minecraft

The rail loop project continues.  I have chosen my path and built a bridge already (a post on that later) and am looking for a site about midway to the mesa biome for one final production camp.

Pokemon

I did not play much Pokemon in May.  I made a little progress in Pokemon Blue, essentially finishing up the Silph Co. HQ building.  I spent most of my time just downloading the various special Pokemon that Nintendo made available this month, with a side journey to FanimeCon this past weekend in order to collect Street Passes.

Coming Up

There are ongoing reports that there will indeed be a Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2016.  However, the forums at NBI HQ appear to be untouched so far.

There was a patch to EVE Online today, YC118.5, which would normally get a blog post out of me.  However, aside from new integrated analyzers that are good for both Relic and Data sites, the patch is mostly just fixes.  (And some music.)  Plus, I already had a regularly scheduled blog post for today, this one.  I guess that wasn’t really a “coming up” item, but I didn’t know where else to put it.

The war in the north will carry on into June.  Everybody is moving into Saranen, but we’ll get to that in a post later this week I am sure.

The Warcraft movie is a week and a half away here in the US.  The reviews have been mediocre, which likely won’t influence fans, but may mean the difference between success and failure at the box office.  Word of mouth can influence that, but it will have to spread beyond those who are already fans.

We are also in the run to the WoW Legion expansion, which will hit at the end of August.  The expansion is now in closed beta, but the date I am waiting for is when the WoW 7.0 patch will hit.  That will be the time to start thinking about resubscribing for me.

As mentioned over the weekend, Daybreak is going to take Landmark live on the same day that the Warcraft movie hits in the US.  Not that I think one will have any impact on the other.  Meanwhile, the company has some more special servers planned for both EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Subscribers only, please.

And then there the possibility that a Steam Summer Sale might be showing up this month.  We shall see.

Memorial Day 2016

Reality in Afghanistan

My pain feels cold and selfish
My anguish very small
My reality insignificant
Compared to ones that fall
Young men with broken bodies
Their Comrades lie in sacks
Devastated parents
Their sons will not come back.

My pain will ease and lessen
My anguish slip away
Reality in Afghanistan
Two brave men died today
Young men with shell shocked faces
Growing old before their time
Are living breathing testament
To this shallow pain of mine.

Phil Williams
Bastion 1, July 2009
Posted at War Poetry

DUST 514 Goes Offline Tomorrow

And so it goes.

As CCP announced back in February, tomorrow their FPS link to the EVE Online universe goes dark.

Dust514Trans

Normally I would make a point of posting something like this on the actual date, but tomorrow is Memorial Day in the US and I wouldn’t want anybody to think I am using that day to memorialize a freakin’ video game.  Memorial Day is for more important things, like remembering those who have fallen in service to the nation, mattress sales, and pissing off living veterans by wishing them a happy Memorial Day.

Anyway, the game will soon be gone, with Tuesday’s patch to EVE Online removing the last bits and pieces from New Eden.

Miscellaneous:
DUST514 items will no longer appear in the market.

And that will be that.

I know some will mourn the game’s passing, but not many.  It was an odd game on what remains a foreign platform for a lot of EVE players.  Its spiritual successor, Project Nova, carries on, and what it needs to do to succeed was the topic of the most recent Blog Banter.

June 10th will be a Landmark Date

There is a long held belief that if you want to announce something, but want the story to get mostly buried or ignored, you do so after the markets have closed on a Friday before a holiday weekend.

And so we have the news from Daybreak, posted to their forums (a further attempt to bury the story?) at 15:48 Pacific time yesterday, that their long in early access title Landmark will go live on June 10, 2016.

LandmarkSteam

I don’t know why they decided to announce this during a time frame that is often a black hole for news.  Was this intentional or just another of those oh-so-familiar SOE/Daybreak gaffes we have come to know over the years?

Furthermore, I am uncertain as to why they want it to finally be available on a Friday.  Companies in the US generally ship things like this on a Tuesday so their team doesn’t have to work all weekend to handle the inevitable rash of issues which pop up during any transition to a live product.

And, of course, it is going live coincident with the Warcraft movie, though given the reviews that has been getting, I am not sure that will draw of much of the little attention Landmark can expect.  I suppose we can at least credit Daybreak with their previous statement that Landmark would launch this spring.  The conspiracy of calendar makers here in the US has declared that summer starts on June 20th this year, that being the date of the summer solstice and all.

The announcement itself doesn’t have much new to add outside of dates.  We knew about the change from a Free to Play cash shop model to a Buy to Play cash shop model and even the $9.99 price.  Here is the bulk of the statement from Daybreak, quoted for posterity.

We’ve been building to this moment for quite some time and we’re happy to announce it’s almost here! Landmark will officially launch on Friday, June 10th.

If you have been participating in the Alpha and Closed Beta of Landmark as a Trailblazer, an Explorer, or a Settler Founder’s Pack holder, you will have automatic access to Landmark at launch. For those who played on a shareable beta key, or those who have not ventured into the game yet, it will be available for USD $9.99 on launch day.

For the committed Trailblazers* among you, don’t forget you have an additional 48-hour head start to scope out and stake your claim on your favorite build sites. The Trailblazer Head Start is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8th at 10AM Pacific.

The last day to purchase any of the Landmark Founder’s Packs is Monday, June 6th at 10AM PDT. Don’t miss YOUR chance to pick up any of these packs or the special perks that are parts of any of those packages.

Also for our Trailblazers who spent this development process making your mark in game, now make your mark by adding your name to the Landmark credits! In order for your name to be displayed in our list, you must opt-in. To add your name to the Landmark credits, please click here. Don’t miss out! You have until 11:59PM Pacific on Thursday, June 30, 2016.

I’ve already hashed out a bit of what I feel is problematic about the game previously, (claims, entropy, horrible neighbors, and the removal of PvP for a start), though I haven’t otherwise dug into the huge list of changes they made a while back.  And I probably won’t bother any time soon.  The game has never really interested me, except through its connection to another Daybreak title.

Landmark is all that is left of EverQuest Next, the tool that was supposed to help players create the game.  I will be interested to see how people will react to the game after launch and how much traction it gets after having spent so much time available as an early access title.

Here is where I would generally link to all the other people who have written about a given event so you can get more than my rather limited point of view.  We shall see how many such posts bubble up.  As of my writing this, there is exactly one.

 

Trying to Remember Starsiege: Tribes

The launch of Overwatch got me thinking about first person shooters that I have enjoyed over the years, a list that is pretty short relative the number of titles in the genre.  In fact, I can only really come up with four titles that I was ever really into in any significant way.

At the far end of the list is Marathon, the classic from Bungie, now more than 20 years old, which we used to play on the network at the office after hours… back when companies let you play video games after hours and issued employees machines capable of running them.

Maybe I just work for the wrong company these days.

At the near end is the Desert Combat, which isn’t even a game, just a mod for Battlefield 1942, which is more than a decade away in time.  Yet it was a hell of a mod.  Just listening to the music from the opening credits brings back memories.  That is not the last FPS I played, but the last one I really enjoyed.

And then there were two just about in the middle of that range.  One was Nova Logic’s Delta Force, which I have written about already.

And the other was Starsiege: Tribes.

Tribes

Tribes

The problem is that Tribes came out during a time when I was playing a lot of memorable games.  Diablo and Civilization II were still hot properties, while their successors were being actively discussed.  I loved me some Total Annihilation back then.  We were playing StarCraft and Age of Empires at the office a lot.  Sojourn MUD had become TorilMUD and was about at its peak.  The aforementioned Delta Force was on the scene and we were trying to play that using Roger Wilco, and early gaming voice coms package.  And, of course, EverQuest was looming, soon to launch and steal away all my play time for a year or two.

And in the midst of all of this, I played Tribes.

I cannot recall considering buying it or having somebody suggest it to me.  Some part of me thinks I must have read about it over at Firing Squad, the gaming site of Dennis Fong, who later went on the create XFire and then Raptr, but only because I used to read the site regularly.  I could have heard about it on GameSpot for all I know.

I cannot even remember if I actually bought the game.  I don’t have the box any more, but I have tossed most of my game boxes over the years.  I have an old Memorex CD-R with “Starsiege Tribes” written on it in Sharpie, so I suppose I could have pirated it.  But that would have been unlike me at the time as I had a good job and the mortgage on my soon-to-be wife’s condo was what one would call laughably cheap these days, so I wasn’t skimping on expenses.  That would come later when my wife stopped working and we bought a house in a good school district.

Besides which, I used to make backup copies of most of my game CDs back then.  I still have copies for StarCraft and Diablo II along with the original disks still in the jewel cases.

And I can barely remember the game itself.  On the list of things I don’t have left from the game is any screen shots.  Looking at the Wikipedia linked article above yielded several, “Oh yeah, I remember that!” moments.

At one point I was convinced that Tribes was the reason that I bought that Voodoo2 3D graphics acceleration card for my computer.  I had the card when I bought EverQuest at Fry’s back on March 16, 1999 (that disk I still have, along with the receipt) so something prompted me to buy it.

But then I found the specs online and saw that it didn’t actually require that.  Plus the name “3dfx” sparked a memory about Blizzard’s early announcements about Diablo II saying that to get the full graphical experience, players would need a card that supported 3dfx’s Glide API.  I am pretty sure that is the reason I got the Voodoo2 card, though by the time Diablo II came out 3dfx had ceased to be the dominate player in the 3D accelerated video card market and Blizz was obliged to support a more universal API. (Open GL if I recall right.)  That is all pretty fuzzy though, and I could have bought the card to speed up Delta Force, only to find out that its voxel based engine could not/would not take advantage of 3D acceleration.  Maybe.  Or maybe that was something that annoyed me later, when Delta Force 2 came out.  Getting old and the persistent march of time sucks.

So what the hell do I remember then?

I remember the rattle of the Gatling gun as it spun up when you tapped the trigger.

I remember the 3D terrain with low res texture mapping, though that memory starts to bleed in with EverQuest memories a bit.  Am I imagining Tribes or West Karana in my mind?

I remember shooting the disk launcher into the fog where I had just seen somebody disappear, hoping for a lucky hit.

I remember the idea of “skiing” as a scout, using your jet pack to essentially glide at very high speed if done right.

I remember that map with the bridge overhead between the two bases, the distance being shrouded in mist.  Though, if I concentrate, I can’t really tell you if that was Tribes or Tribes 2, which I remember even less of, aside from the vague sense that I owned and played that as well.

Mostly though I just have this feeling that it was a really good game for its time.  But then EverQuest came out and eclipsed it.  Was it as good as I remember it, as good for the time?

I suppose I could grab the game and find out.  Hi-Rez Studio made it and its companion games available for free on their Tribes Universe site.

However, I suspect that doing so would burst the bubble.  It is difficult to bring your 2016 sensibilities back in time to look at an older game.

Opportunities… in… SPAAAAACE!!!

Recurring opportunities… the New Eden version of a daily quest, with a 10K skill point reward… went into the game earlier this week.  The plan to introduce them was announced some time back though, and I had considered writing about them at the time, but pushed it off.

In part I pushed it off because my gut reaction contained more than a bit of the bitter vet in the form of, “Back in my day nobody handed you skill points, you logged off and played something else until that skill you really needed finished!  And then you logged the fuck back in as soon as it finished, because there was no skill queue either!  Kid theses days!” and there was more than enough of that to go around.

Instead I decided to see how much 10,000 skill points might matter to a new player.

It has been a long time since I was a new player in New Eden, almost ten years at this point.  I still sort of remember how things were… kind of.  I have a post about running through the 2006 version of the tutorial and still have nightmares about trying to run “Worlds Collide” in a stock fit Ibis because that was what my first agent gave me.

Scratch one frigate!

A Cormorant solved that problem eventually

It was a harsh environment, back then.  Everything was a hazard.

Dammit!

Dammit!

But a lot has changed since then.

Not everything has changed though...

Bait cans though, still a thing I hear…

Of course, one of the things that has changed over that time was me.  The last alt I made for anything but running a cyno in a noob ship I let skill up for almost two months before I bothered undocking.  But even that was back in 2007, and new characters get a lot more skill points to start with these days.  Surely it couldn’t be that bad still, right?

So I logged in with a character I rolled up just before EVE Vegas last year (a female character for my wife, in case CCP wanted a character names on badges, though that turned out to not be an issue) with the intent of seeing if I couldn’t just use all those skills you get now to fit something besides the noob frigate to run a few level 1 missions.

Since the character was Gallente, I decided to go with the Incursus, a frigate with hybrid weapon bonuses that could also carry a light drone and which ought to be armor tanked, as being somewhat representative of the Gallente ship design strengths.

Of course, herein lay part of the problem of me trying to recreate the noob experience; I wasn’t going to be content fitting just anything to the ship and flying off.  While I am in no way a ship fitting grognard, nearly a decade of flying ships fit by other people has at least given me a sense of what I ought to be carrying.

I decided I wanted to put out as much damage as possible… quick kill, best kill… so I fit three small blasters.  Those are short range, so I had to have an afterburner to close with things.  And, just in case a target tried to run away I figured I had better fit a web.  Of course, with an armor tank on missions I needed an armor repper in the lows, along with a Damage Control module, because one low slot ALWAYS has to have a Damage Control module according to chapter 17, paragraph 43, subsection f or the bible on this sort of thing.  Then I probably needed something to help me keep cap, and I couldn’t been seen in public without rigs…

Pretty soon I had a nice little ship, mostly fit, that I totally couldn’t use because I needed one skill or another to use almost everything.  And this was all tech I modules.

I could fire the guns and, if I recall right, I could also run the afterburner, but doing both together would run down my capacitor in about 30 seconds. I couldn’t launch the drone, I couldn’t web anything, and I couldn’t run the armor repper.  They were all in their slots but offline as I lacked the right skill.  And, of course, I couldn’t fit the rigs because I didn’t have any skills in the area.

So I jotted down a list of skills I had to have, then some support skills that I probably should have… things that helped with cap usage being high on the list… and flew off to the nearest school station to buy skill.

It was at about this point that I figured it I had been serious about this I would have just bought a skill injector and made all these problems go away.  But, while I was fine sending this character some cash for skills and to buy a ship, I wasn’t going to go that far.  So I bought and injected the skills I thought I needed and queued them all up.

Then I bought my proposed fit into EFT and checked to see how it looked if Wilhelm was flying it.  With his skills it was a mission running killing machine, fast, hard hitting for its modest fit, and cap stable with everything running.

Then I made an API for the new character, put that into EFT, and checked how things looked, only to realize that I needed a couple more skills just to put everything online and that capacitor was still a possible issue.  A ship doesn’t HAVE to be cap stable, but it is nice for it to be so if you’re going to run missions.

I add in a few more skills, put all that into EVE Mon, and let the queue run for a couple days until I had at least the bare minimum skills to put everything online and at least run it for a bit.  Then I went out and ran a mission, which was “op success.”

Shooting things in my wee frigate

Shooting things in my wee frigate

I was actually running a mission for Quafe, which I was surprised to find had agents that gave out security (kill things) missions.  The cola wars are real.  I was also reminded as to how dull mission running can be.  Some of that is the residuals of having run enough missions to get 8+ standing with a range of Caldari and Amarr corporations, which you used to need back in the day to make jump clones in their stations… until CCP broke that and decided to leave it that way.  But there was also a feeling of being overpowered and just shooting sitting ducks because the missions have to be doable by players who have even less fitting sense that I have.

So maybe my fitting plan and skill was overblown.  Or maybe not.  It is hard to tell.

And yet I was still feeling the pinch of not having enough skills.  I could only target two hostiles because I hadn’t trained Target Management yet.  I was close, but not quite, cap stable.  I had a long enough run time to not worry about it.  And I actually had to swap a named tech I web and a named tech I battery to get there and be within the CPU constraints of the hull.

So I was a few days of training into the ship, mostly knowing what I was doing and how to figure out what I needed to train (I had EFT and EVE Mon handy) and I was still looking for skills.  And I hadn’t yet looked into any of the additional skills that improve gunnery or drones.

That was all last week.  I ran a few missions and let the training queue carry on.

The Tuesday hit and the patch to add in Recurring Opportunities hit.

I logged in with my wee frigate pilot to give it a try.  There it was, up on my screen.

The offer...

The offer…

I immediately undocked and warped to an asteroid belt… well, the asteroid belt… in the system where I had last docked up.  I was in luck.  There were a few wrecks in the belt already, but a new NPC had spawned and nobody was about, so I sped in for the kill.

More frigate shooting...

More frigate shooting…

On the kill, it was mission accomplished.

Checked that box

Checked that box

I had my 10K skill points and a 22 hour timer until I could do that again.

I kind of wonder at the choice of time.  20 hours seemed to be the better choice for such things.  For me there tend to be about a four hour window in the evening when I might play, and I hate to have a late session one evening, then an early session the next, only to find I have another hour or so before my opportunity will recur.  I am sure there was some debate about this at CCP, and if it is every 20 hours, that would allow the obsessive amongst us to gain just that many more free skill points over the course of a year.

Perhaps it should CCP should just reset opportunities every down time, though they would then have to account for unscheduled down time as well I suppose.

Anyway, I immediately applied my skill points to a skill I had injected.

Apply skill points now

Apply skill points now

That got me to cap stability.

Notifications

Notifications

I was happy to see that apply skill points was easy and that you didn’t have to stop your skill queue to do it… unless, of course, you wanted to apply skill points to the skill you were currently training.  Then you have to open up the queue window and pause your skill queue.

10K skill points seems to be about enough to get you two levels of a low multiplier skill.  The next day I got another 10K skill points and applied it to the injected, but untrained skill Target Management, and it got me two levels and a fair bite into the third.  I think the estimate was that this would boost you by about 5 hours of training, depending on your attributes and implants and what not.

So, from that perspective, it does look to be something that would be meaningful to a new player.

The objections are, of course, that any player can do this, newbie or bitter vet, and gain nearly 4 million skill points over the course of a year.  Give that skill injectors are a thing now though, I am not sure that this is really all that worrisome.  I certainly haven’t started undocking my main to shoot a belt rat a day, and not just because PL is camping all the belts in Saranen to catch people doing that.  At nearly 160 million skill points, I just don’t feel the compulsion.

Of course, compulsion is the other argument against.  This is a daily quest, something that generates strong feelings in the MMO community.  I know that pain.  You don’t HAVE to do daily quests, but it can feel like you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t.  I don’t mind dailies when I am working towards a goal.  I ran through a whole range of dailies for the factions during the Mists of Pandaria expansion in WoW and enjoyed myself.  But I didn’t run them after I had hit my goal.

But if dailies don’t have a specific end goal, yet provide a good reward, they can lead to compulsion and burn out.  This is what happened with me and garrisons in WoW during Warlords of Draenor.  The follow missions were simply too lucrative to NOT do every day, on every character, so I ended up spending most of my play time servicing the garrison, which wasn’t all that much fun.

Yes, I could have NOT done that.  But then, as noted, you feel like you are missing an opportunity.  As that quote from Edward Castronova, which I trot out whenever we speak of such things, goes,

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

We will tend to do things in order to maximize our progress.  There are always exceptions, but that tends to be the way of things.  Think of Warhammer Online.  Open world PvP and keep battles were where the best fun was in the game, but people overwhelming favored battlegrounds because that was the better choice for player progress.  And you see it in New Eden as well.  People run anomalies for ISK for a reason, it is efficient.

So I suppose the question will have to be whether or not 10K SP is enough for people to feel compulsive about collecting it daily or not.  If I were a new player I would undock every day for this.  But where from where I stand now, I am not sure it is enough to tempt me, though I bet there will now be a race to shoot rats on gates to get the killing blow, which gets you the 10K SP, when we are out on fleet ops now.

I’ll also be interested to see if CCP Quant can come up with some data comparing the number of skill points lost to the game through skill injectors and the number of skill points added to the game through recurring opportunities.

Anyway, I am not wed to the idea, but it feels harmless enough and seems to benefit new players more proportionately than most such plans.  We shall see.

A Murder of Fax Machines

9:22 PM directorbot@goonfleet.com: Why do you spell pandemic legion with all lowercase? Cause they can’t use any caps!

~~~ This was a broadcast from asher_elias to opt-all at 2016-05-25 04:22:07.447156 EVE ~~~

I was having one of those weeks where, on Sunday night, I wondered what I would write about.  I had finished the post for Monday, knew Overwatch would cover me for Tuesday, and and item from Tuesday’s EVE Online patch for Wednesday, if I could make something out of it.  But after that, it seemed to be a quiet week.  We’d lost all our sovereignty and were sitting in our soda warehouse in Saranen fiddling with citadels and towers.

But war will bring opportunity.  We took back a bit of sovereignty last night.  And then, just as I posted that tidbit and was finishing up a post about recurring opportunities, a Jabber ping showed up saying that there were hostiles in system and we needed more Hurricane’s on Thomas Lear.

I almost didn’t go, but the standing defense fleet tends to be easy come, easy go, so I figured I could run off soon enough if nothing was going on.

And it didn’t seem like things were going to go on.  I joined the fleet in my Hurricane, undocked, and anchored up, because the fleet was hanging about the station.  On our overviews we could see the enemy forming up around Pandemic Legion’s Fozitar citadel on grid with the station.

The Fortizar looms

The Fortizar looms still

They were bringing Abaddons, the Amarr battleship which is supposed to be the cure for the artillery fit Hurricane menace that The Imperium has been bringing to bear over the last week.  Meanwhile, we were still stumbling around, trying to get people in fleet, trying to get some boosters, and warping around to find an angle on our foes.

The enemy got off the citadel and we tried to close, got chewed up a bit, looked at the numbers, and warped back to the station where we docked up even as more hostiles were being cyno’d into system.  We were not going to take the fight.

But people were still showing up in fleet and clearly something was going on in the intel channel, as we did not stand down, but undocked and sat on the station for a bit as the fleet filled in more.  Other forces were around to work with us.  White Legion was about, I even saw Talvorian Dex, who still hates us but joined WL to get in on the kills, in local.  Asher had a fleet of his own spun up and was supposed to be off doing something else, but the opportunity was right there in Saranen.

We started trying to take the enemy at the end of our range, warping in at about 70km and aligning out and trying to pick off what we could.  It was a narrow envelope of engagement as we were still lacking boosts so our lock range was less than the falloff of our guns and we kept moving beyond that limit.  We were able to volley off a couple of Abaddons, but we were losing Hurricanes pretty quickly as well.  An Abaddon is worth a little more than two Hurricanes, so we couldn’t exchange too many of ours for theirs and come out ahead.

Meanwhile there were also some Hurricane Fleet Issues on the field and some Machariels being cyno’d in to the fight.  We took a couple more runs and had some success.  The arty-caine’s strength is in its high single shot damage.  A sufficiently large fleet of them, all firing at once, can volley a ship off the field even if it is getting repair reps from its logi.  After several miserable attempts to do this, we actually started almost firing as one, letting off ragged volleys into the hostiles that would often destroy a ship in one go, or at least leave them so deep in structure that the next volley would take care of them.

We were still trying to operate at range, warping in, aligning out, picking a few targets while losing some Hurricanes.  We finally got our boosts setup and running after a while, and the fleet kept growing in size as people logged in, while those who lost ships were just warping back to the station to grab another Hurricane and rejoin the fight.

By that point the fight had moved to the tower we had on the station grid.  The enemy was arrayed about it and had six force auxiliaries, fax machines, in support.   By then though we had a full fleet of Hurricanes, other fleets in support, and things rapidly swung in our favor.

Thomas Lear had us load medium range ammunition at that point and we warped in much closer to the enemy and stood toe-to-toe and hit them with everything we had.  Time dilation kicked in, and for a while it was a slow motion fight.  A target would be called, locked up, volley’d off the field, and then the next one would be called.  Abaddon, Machariels, Bhaalgorns were all popped in succession.  We managed to knock off one of the fax machines, then continued killing off battleships.

I ended up on a lot of kill mails… looks like about 60 now that the kill board appears to have caught up… and I could barely keep up with the cycle of lock and shoot.  I did get one final blow, which means that my Hurricane has a kill mark on it… somewhere… I forgot to look after the fight.

At that point the enemy started to bug out and it was a scramble to lock some of them down and hold them on the field to be destroyed.  Most of their sub cap logi got away, but the five remaining fax machines were priority targets and were destroyed in turn.

And then it was over.  Tidi had lifted towards the end as we raced to slaughter the remains.  The tower had been saved and the enemy driven off.

We lost a lot of ships, 40 more than the enemy.  But as noted, Hurricanes are cheaper than Abaddons, much cheaper than Machariels, and you can expend a lot of Hurricanes for each fax machine kill and still come out ahead on the ISK war, which we clearly did according to the battle report.

Battle Report Summary

Battle Report Summary

Curiously missing from the match was Pandemic Horde, which usually provides some bulk in Feroxes to help out.  Of course, there is some speculation on Reddit as to what may have happened there.

As we lolled about on grid looting and laughing, Mittens showed up on coms wondering what was going on.  He had missed the whole show.  A bit of command chat was rebroadcast over Jabber for us, which included this:

(11:25:13 PM) the_mittani: i asked you to kill a tower asher_elias did you kill pl instead
(11:25:25 PM) asher_elias: sorry :(

Apparently Asher was neglecting his duties in order to destroy hostile capital ships.

I did not know it at the time, but this was the second batch of fax machines to go down in Saranen, as PL had lost five earlier in the day in exchange for a few Hurricanes.  We do like bashing fax machines.  At least somebody at TMC actually woke up and posted something about the war, though still no post about us losing all our sov.

On top of that, some intrepid spirits managed to take back another system in Pure Blind, doubling our holdings since my last post, with EWOK-K falling to us.

Asher pinged for his tower busting op, and I was tempted to go along, but it was getting late for me so I passed, logged off, and headed to bed… though not before a flurry of writing.  Asher got his tower kill without my help in any case.  Another op success.

All in all, a pretty good day for The Imperium.  The sort of day that keeps us logging in and joining fleets.  And just before all this kicked off a B-24 from the Collings Foundation (this one), which is out at Moffett Field with a B-17, a B-25, and a P-51 for the week, flew low over our house as I stood on the front lawn.  That certainly put me in the mood for a fight.  A good day indeed.

And, as I noted previously, our prodigious appetite for Hurricanes is probably stimulating the market in Jita.  I haven’t checked, but I wonder if prices are climbing or if production is ramping up, but it seems like an opportunity for a producer out there somewhere.  If you look at some of our Hurricane kill mails (like this one), they will show you the modules we are using, which are also be in demand.

The Hurricane op was pretty busy, but I did managed to get a few screen shots along the way.  I guess I can save that recurring opportunities post until tomorrow.  The week seems to be filling up on its own.

Addendum: Talvorian Dex has a post up about effectively using volley damage to kill hostiles even when they are getting reps, if that aspect of the fight is of interest.