Monthly Archives: June 2016

June in Review

The Site

In the land of WordPress.com, another new feature/annoyance was introduced this month.  There is a little alerts icon at the top right of the browser window when you are logged into WordPress.  It announces when somebody leaves a comment or follows the blog or when your page view stats see a spike.  Generally I see the latter only with my other blog, where more than 30 page views in a single hour is cause for mention.

But WordPress.com added a new notification in June.  This one pops up to tell me that a scheduled post has, in fact, been posted as scheduled.

O'rly...

O’rly?

The problem for me is that every single post that goes up here is scheduled in advance.  While that is only one or two notifications a day, they aren’t something I really need.  I already have a notification scheme in place that doesn’t require me to be sitting in front of a browser and logged into the blog.  Additionally, the notification uses the “somebody left a comment” icon, so inevitably I go to the blog, see that icon, wonder who left a comment, and am rewarded with a reminder I didn’t need.  Not the worst affliction in history, but I am still looking for a way to turn that off. (Actually, they finally changed the icon to something unique, but I’m still annoyed.)

Meanwhile I am getting a little tired of seeing this in my side bar.

FeedDown

My MMO blog feed seems to be down quite often of late.  At first I thought it must be related directly to my Rube Goldberg implementation.  But I have a second feed, for Gaming Company news, down at the bottom of the side bar, that uses the same process, and it is never down.

But that feed gets relatively few new items in it on a daily basis.  The main feed potentially  draws from more than 200 feeds a day.  And given the times it appears to be down most frequently… which tends to correspond with times when most bloggers in my feed seem to post… makes me wonder if it is struggling to keep itself up to date, or just won’t display when an update is pending.  Anyway, I may pare down the list of blogs it draws from to just a few to see if that changes the reliability.  I’d like to have lots of blogs able to appear, but I would also like the list to appear a bit more regularly as well.

One Year Ago

There was a cheer for the NBI class of 2015.

I was wondering what Turbine would do after they cancelled Infinite Crisis.  I was also looking for a summer game to play.

After waffling before a live audience, Blizzard finally caved and said there would be flying in Draenor.

Remember that time we killed a Mordus Angels Revenant?  It seems like everybody has killed one by now.

Also in EVE Online we got the Carnyx expansion, which had some of the initial Fozzie Sov features.  So we were out sov-wanding station services, though Dominion sov quirks still ruled the day in our fight at ED-9LT.  We then headed back north thinking maybe our friends in Querious would come visit us some day… *cough*

The coming of Fozzie Sov also meant further consolidation of holdings to make sure we could defend our space.  TNT got pushed out to Tribute to share space with the Circle of Two.  We saw how well that worked out.

And then there was Burn Amarr.  I took some screen shots.  And I splurged on ship skins.

Over at Daybreak they were talking about special servers for EverQuest II at last.  It looked like we might get some sort of progression server, for which there was a poll.  And then another poll, looking for a name.

Meanwhile, over in EverQuest, they were still working on how to deal with raiding on the Ragefire server, and the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote was upon us.

I was playing Neko Atsume on the iPad… back when it was only in Japanese!  I was also going on about 64-bit OS requirements finally coming to video games and an old grievance of mine.

My daughter suddenly wanted to play The Sims.  That lasted for about three days.  This is why I make her wait a week on any sudden new fad she want to follow.

The Steam Summer sale came and went and I bought nothing.  That turned out to be the last sale with the traditional daily specials format.

I brought up the F2P business model yet again based on a quote over at Massively OP which, if nothing else, got a long comment from Brad McQuaid on the subject.

And, finally, I played Minecraft with my daughter for Father’s Day, which led to a whole new adventure in gaming.

Five Years Ago

I had to get out my Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD.

Team Fortress 2 went free to play.  Begin the hat-based economy!

I was wondering if people were picking on Lord British.  This was before he started talking about his “ultimate RPG” and made it a very entertaining sport.

We were not playing WoW, but guild accounts were being hacked.  And we were not even among those 600K WoW players that supposedly went to Rift.

LOTRO announced the Rise of Isengard expansion and offered up a exp boosting item for pre-orders.

I was wondering what launch conditions would be like for SWTOR.  Of course, I sort of figured it might launch before mid-December.

LEGO Universe announced it was going free to play.  At our house, my daughter enjoyed it for a bit, but eventually dropped it for Animal Jam.

CCP began a slow and deliberate campaign of alternating between shooting itself in the foot and sticking said foot in its mouth, all in the name of the Incarna expansion.  And my sentry drones were still boring.  And then LulzSec brought them down.  At least they had finally made it much easier to find an agent in the game.

SOE announced a new version of Station Access, its “all games for one low monthly price.”  Called SOE All Access, which had a price of $19.95 a month.  This was a welcome drop from the previous $29.99 a month price.

However, by this point, SOE had dropped The Matrix Online and had just announced they were killing Star Wars Galaxies, so there were certainly less games to play.  Of course, that was also back when they had some games that were not free to play.

At least SOE was up and running after the PSN/SOE outage.  A pity they fumbled the marketing opportunities offered by their make good plan.

The instance group had finally gotten out of the damn starter zone in EverQuest II Extended, but the game still wasn’t sitting well.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, the Ruins of Kunark expansion was opened up and then “finished” in short order.

Ten Years Ago

Paul McCarty turned fucking 64 already and could probably afford to buy the entire Isle of Wight at that point, regardless of how dear it was.

Sonic the Hedgehog turned 15, which I guess means it is 25 now.  Maybe I shouldn’t do call backs to birthdays.  But relevant gaming history was a bit light a decade back, so I felt like I needed some filler, which explains the first three items in this section.  Come September it will be better.

Bill Gates announced that he was planning to relinquish his remaining full time positions at Microsoft in order to focus on his foundation.  Though Steve “Uncle Fester” Ballmer had been CEO since 2000, Gates was still Chief Software Architect and Chief Research & Strategy Officer (along with being chairman of the board).  As of today he still retains the position of Technology Advisor to current CEO Satya Nadella.

EverQuest II got the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack, the last such pack until 2015’s Rum Cellar.

Nintendo finally shipped the Nintendo DS Lite in Europe, though $3.2 million worth of them went missing en route from China.

Half-Life 2: Episode One was released as Valve briefly tried to pay attention to the core of their biggest franchise at the time.  Still waiting for Episode Three.

Featured Sites of the Month

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

Rohan has been at it for more than a decade now digging into the nuts and bolts of game mechanics as well as bigger picture issues.  While World of Warcraft has been a prime focus, he has delved into other titles along the way.

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

I am a little bit late in pointing at this, give that the NBI 2016 event ends today.  But I haven’t been able to keep up with the event in any case, it having taken to Discord.  Still, it has weekly summaries of this year’s event, which includes the new bloggers joining in and the blog posts done in support the whole thing.  Hopefully there will be a final event summary post tomorrow so I can crib the list of new blogs for a post of my own.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Remembering Spaceship Warlock
  3. Blizzard Admits that WoW Expansions are Just Going to Take Time
  4. Thrill of the Hunt Not Thrilling Enough, Being Removed from New Eden
  5. RAZOR Leaves The Imperium
  6. One Hundred Million Copies of Minecraft
  7. Scenes from the Saranen Undock
  8. Return to Draenor
  9. Minecraft 1.10 The Frostburn Update
  10. Hurricane Massacre
  11. A Carrier Dies in Deklein
  12. Landmark Goes… Live

My post about the Warcraft movie was in 13th place, but on the Chinese version of the blog it is totally at the top of the list.

Search Terms of the Month

recommended skills to fly a naglfar well
[A tolerance for losing expensive ships?]

hyperion or dominix
[Megathron]

joke european heaven and hell
[Must involved Brexit somewhow]

does anyone play everquest 2 time locked servers
[Yes, yes they do]

jotunheim brass tiamat corpse mud
[Mixing up your Forgotten Realms areas aren’t you?]

Spam Comments of the Month

Labelling the third time inside collection of as the most important improve nevertheless, Jagex documented potential customers will capability to take part in the wow free of necessitating coffee beans or other stopper inches.
[And that is just one sentence out of five long paragraphs of nonsense.]

With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems
of plagorism or copyright violation?
[Posted to my picture blog.]

EVE Online

Just to annoy people with another inapt WWII analogy, so popular with sideline pundits over the course of the war, we seemed to have our Battle of Britain Adlertag in Saranen.  After trying to sit on us and hold us down for weeks in the system, during which we undocked to fight again and again against superior forces, where we were losing the ISK war daily, and were feeding the hostiles many kills, our foes got tired of the whole thing and went away.  Now we just have to liberate Europe… erm, the north.  Maybe the MBC will attack the Russians.  Of course, if we really want to beat this analogy to death, that ends up with them making satellites out of the eastern half of the area and a new cold way or some such.

Anyway, we’re still in Saranen, but with the letup on pressure, we have begun to push back into null sec again.  For us, the war, the same war that has been going on since January, continues.

EverQuest II

I did spend some time pottering about on the Stormhold progression server.  I continued moving along at a leisurely pace.  What I might call my “main” there is just level 25, but I spent some time crafting with him, so his crafting level past 30 now.  And then I used his skill, he is an armor smith, to equip and alt that I ran up to nearly 20 before I set him to crafting as well.  Pretty much usual story in EQII, just at a slower pace.

However, with the return to WoW, I suspect my time here is at and end.

Minecraft

I passed the one year mark for playing the game.  Our world continues to get sporadic attention, though after finishing one grand project, the rail loop, I am looking for another.  Minecraft pretty much took the time slot that used to be filled by a secondary fantasy MMORPG, which is why EQII has fallen off the “games I play” section of the side bar.

World of Warcraft

My daughter and I are back in WoW, though just yesterday she confided with me that maybe we came back a little too early.  She is stuck with one level 100 on the horde side and a level 91 on the alliance side and isn’t keen to do level cap stuff or run through Draenor again.  We’ll see if we can find something while waiting for the pre-Legion 7.0 patch.

As noted, I have made unlocking flying in Draenor my goal, which has given me a series of things to do on a regular basis without it becoming too grindy.  I did warm up a couple of the trade skills so I could get my tailor cranking out hexweave bags again.  Bigger bags are always good.  So I am reasonably content for the moment having a few goals that won’t take huge efforts.

Coming Up

There are a few posts I have planned already, including a salute to NBI Class of 2016, if I can find a definitive list of them somewhere… or even if I cannot… some sort of summary of where I ended up in EQII and what I liked (or did not like) so far with the Stormhold progression server, what I am up to in WoW in some more detail, and some mention of the original PlanetSide, which goes dark tomorrow.

On the WoW front, there is a reasonable chance that the pre-Legion 7.0 patch will drop around the end of this month.  I would not expect it to hit earlier than July 26th.  August 2nd seems more likely, as that would give us four solid weeks with it before WoW Legion goes live.  More than that “feels” like it might be too much, with August 9th being the latest date I think it will hit.  We shall see.

Amazon also delivered my copy of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If I can get some time in front of the TV, I will play it and probably end up writing about it.

The Steam Summer Sale is going on right now, and will wrap up this coming Monday.  I haven’t posted about it.  But then I haven’t bought anything either.  I haven’t even been logging into Steam to get my daily trading cards during the sale.  I am bad at Steam.

The Call of Free Trade in Norrath

Daybreak put up a new EverQuest II server yesterday.  Named “Isle of Refuge” after the original new player starting area, Daybreak is billing this as a “Free Trade” server.

Obligatory Isle of Refuge screen shot stolen from Daybreak

Obligatory Isle of Refuge screen shot stolen from Daybreak

Back when the intention to launch this server was announced, I wasn’t sure I got the appeal of the”free trade” idea.  And now that it has gone live, I’m still not sure.

It isn’t like the concept is difficult or subtle.  I am pretty sure I get what they mean from their description:

Isle of Refuge is what we call a “Free Trade Server.” This means that almost all items can be traded freely between players. There are a few exceptions – Heirloom items purchased via a merchant or in the marketplace, granted from repeatable quests, or received via /claims will remain Heirloom.

Basically, what we might call “bind on pick up” items in the context of WoW will mostly be “bind on equip” when it comes to this server.  Yes, I know that in EQII the flags “attuned,” “no trade,” and “heirloom” are used, but I think WoW’s descriptions are better.  So you can sell or trade your epic raid gear, or twink alts with it, or whatever.

I am just not sure I get WHY this is seen as a significant enough differentiation from other normal live servers to justify rolling up a new server.  Is there a huge demand for free trade?  Have people been agitating for it in the forums for ages?  It certainly doesn’t seem to justify the Daybreak tag line for it:

Get ready to journey to a Norrath like you’ve never experienced before.

Because it will otherwise be a live server.  It won’t be content locked or involve progression or have steeper experience tables or harsher death penalties or any of those things.  I don’t even think the Isle of Refuge will appear on a server named “Isle of Refuge.”  Daybreak, like SOE before it, seems to have no sense and/or fear of irony.

The only restrictions will be that you won’t be able to transfer a character to or from another server (but you can buy a level 90 if you want), some “/claim” items won’t be available, there won’t be battlegrounds, and you will have to be a subscriber in order to play, which was the experience they used to offer back before EverQuest II Extended launched the free to play idea at SOE.

Basically all stuff I have, in fact, experienced before.  I’ll even count transfers, given how prohibitively expensive they were back in the day.

Of course, I think it is the last bit, the All Access requirement, is the real key to the situation.

After ages of the SOE “Free to Play, Your Way!” mantra, which admittedly meant trying to get you to subscribe via a variety of sticks and carrots, Daybreak has bought into the idea of special servers for subscribers.  We saw progression servers on the Daybreak road map almost immediately after they were free from SOE.

However, my guess is that they couldn’t quite bring themselves to put up a new, subscriber-only server where the big draw was “No Freep Scum Allowed!”  So “Free Trade” became the MacGuffin here.  It is all about that.

Not that their plan lacks its appealing aspects.

New server smell, with no transfers from the rest of the game, does mean building a new community.  It will be a fresh start on a new server with new markets and new guilds, all in the current content package; same expansions, same events, same specials, same cash shop, just about the same everything.  So you can leave behind your old, overstuffed bank and those offending freeloaders and come play on a server for people who have some skin in the game!  Also, free trade!

I do sort of wish that the level 90 buy-in option wasn’t available, but I am sure it will be popular and help soak up the remains of the giant pool of Station Cash that I bet is still left over from the foolhardy sales during the dark ages of SOE’s failure to understand economics, an era which led to people paying as little as $5.00 for expansions and $1.25 a month for a Gold subscription.

So there it is.  A chance to play on a fresh server with some minor rules variations.

Now the question is, after Daybreak built it, will they come?  Will people… subscribers… flock to this new opportunity?  Does new server smell, with a side order of free trade, have the draw?  And if it is successful, will it simply draw off the paying membership from the recently consolidated live servers, fragmenting populations and leaving live in something of a bind?

Finally, if it does have some success, will it be headed to EverQuest next… erm, I mean headed next to EverQuest?

We shall see.  The new server isn’t up on the Daybreak status page yet, so I cannot tell if it is bursting at the seams or a ghost town.

Hat Tip to EQ2 Wire for reminding me yet again that this server was a thing.

A POS Shoot in Saranen

Going to do hurricanes if I can get better numbers, our enemies are coming to fight us so get in fleet, I want to volley some nerds. Op 1

~~~ This was a broadcast from asher_elias to all at 2016-06-29 01:57:39.912887 EVE ~~~

Though the station camp itself… never really a “hellcamp,” no matter how often EN24 chose to use the term, but still active and heavy at times… had largely subsided by late last week, actual fights in Saranen every night were still a regular item through the weekend, with the enemy dropping supers on us when we undocked a battleship fleet.

So the expectation of a fight was not unreasonable when I logged in and joined the fleet.  That has been the established pattern for weeks now.  The original ping had Nagas an option… I still have two sitting in station waiting to get used… but it changed to Hurricanes as more people piled into the fleet.  Asher wanted lots of Hurricanes, asking people for once to switch out of logi and into them.  Of course, due to the perverse nature of the universe, that meant we ended up with more logi that usual.  Once we hit what Asher considered critical mass, we undocked.

Once more out of the soda warehouse

Once more out of the soda warehouse

The first thing I noticed was an almost complete lack of hostiles on the overview.  There was somebody hanging out on the NCDot citadel, which is on the station grid by more than 1,500km away, but that was about it.  The station camp had gone from its desultory of late state to missing altogether.  Local was mostly blue.  No foes present to shoot.

Hurricanes rolling around Saranen

Hurricanes rolling around Saranen

So we set about to try and make some hostiles appear, starting with an NCDot POS tower in the system.  This had been mentioned as a possibility, and I had brought along some cheapT1  ammo for a POS shoot.  Well, it was cheap ammo when I bought it.  Somebody, playing market warfare games in our station, bought up all the T1 and relisted it at an outrageously high price.  So, for many, faction ammo was the cheap ammo option.

Shooting a POS

Shooting a POS

We disabled the offensive modules on the POS then shot “the stick” until it went into its reinforced state.  While there was a report of an NCDot fleet on the Pure Blind intel channel, which is starting to come alive again as people venture into null in smaller groups, nothing came our way.  We were even able to bring in some dreadnought support to speed things up a bit.

A Naglfar at the shoot getting hit by fireworks

A Naglfar at the shoot getting hit by fireworks

One done there, we went on to another tower in the system.  This one was mostly faction mods around a faction tower with better resists, and hardeners to boot, so things went more slowly.  We chipped away its guns first, the put our guns on the tower while leaving drones working on incapacitating the warp disrupting and webbing modules scattered about.  More dreadnoughts joined us for the effort and the tower was eventually put into a reinforced state as well.

And that was about it for the evening.  I saw SynCaine in fleet.  He got blotted out by the second tower in his Vigil.  A few frigate suffered that fate.

The fleet was mostly chatting and reminding people to activate their guns after they reloaded.  There were exactly three kills, an executioner that strayed into the extreme edge of our range and go popped, Oxygen’s cyno Rifter, which at least dropped the module and fuel, and a cyno bait ship sitting on a death star POS, which we quickly blapped on the way back to the station.  I wasn’t quick enough to get on any of those.  Two POS towers were reinforced.  And the 02:00 citadel went online without being contested.  Life in Saranen at the end of June I guess.

Meanwhile, in Pure Blind, a couple more systems were taken by us since I last posted on the topic (G-M4I8 and O-A6YN), while another traded hands back and forth (M-YCD4).  NCDot seems to be handing systems over to MOA, and a lot of work remains before us as we try to push back into null sec.

The YC118.6 Release in New Eden

It is now possible to reprocess Rorquals and Titans in Citadels.

YC118.6 Patch Notes

Bridge burning rage quit capabilities now fully enabled for titan pilots!

Time for another monthly EVE Online patch update sans code name.  We did get a real name worthy update back in April with the Citadel expansion, but the May patch update was thin enough that I didn’t even bother with a post about it. (Though, as always, there was a theme song for the release.)

This month however, the patch notes go on and on.  Some new things along with lots of fixes.

First, and foremost there is this item:

  • The number of possible overview tabs has been increased from 5 to 8

More overview tabs is a boon for me at least.  This is likely to have the most immediate impact on me in the game.

Also high on the list of stuff is the Serpentis Event, Shadow of the Serpent, which goes live with today’s update, and which should be plastered all over the UI in various places just to make sure everybody knows about it.

Serpentis Menace

Serpentis Menace

Among the new items coming with the event are three Serpentis capital ships, a dreadnought, a supercarrier, and a titan, plus a whole new set of faction implants.

Drugs are now legal in New Eden.  The space war on drugs having be declared futile and a waste of ISK, CONCORD will no longer confiscate your combat boosting drugs when you fly through the space they nominally control.

Choose your poison...

Choose your poison…

I’m more of a Quafe Zero fan myself, though living in the back of their warehouse for the last few months might have influenced that.

As I noted last week, CCP is removing the recurring opportunity daily quest and its 10K skill point reward.  No more Thrill of the Hunt as of today.  On the other CCP has tried its hand again at the New Player Experience, making the following changes:

  • Opportunities have been revamped, rewritten, and reordered.
  • Implemented ISK rewards for completing opportunities.
  • The Opportunities window and icons have been redesigned.
  • Starter system NPCs have been rebalanced:
    • Greatly increased hit points
    • Improved loot tables to better fit opportunities
    • Increased number of NPCs in starter system sites
  • Players who log out of the game while still being in the starting site will now log back into the site.
  • Reduced the cycle time and mining output of Civilian Miners.

That isn’t exactly the sweeping changes alluded to in the Fanfest keynote back in April.  Then again, CCP has been working to find a decent NPE for the entire life of the game.  What I faced back in 2006 is arguably better than the opportunities system that was in place up until today, so maybe they’re stepping in the right direction this time.  One can always hope.

Then there is one for our logistics people… logistics by the actual, real world definition and not the CCP “repair, let’s call that logistics” view of things… that will make their lives better.

  • It’s now possible to fit multiple repackaged ships at a time.

Bulk fitting of ships.  Being able to fit from a saved fitting was huge, but for our importers who haul in dozens of ships and have to fit them out one by one still, I expect that this will be a big quality of life improvement.  Also, preparing for Burn Amarr/Burn Jita just got a lot easier.

There have been a number of graphical updates.  Jump gates got the physically based rendering treatment, so now Amarr gates will be just as shiny and gold as some of their ships. (And, is it just me, or does it look like some of those Amarr gates were made out of Apocalypse hulls?)

The tactical overview will now give more details about items when you hover over them and a vector line for your own ship.  There is a new camera view to “give a more cinematic view of docking and undocking” from stations and citadels.  When you are docked up, there is a new lighting scheme (DirectX 11 only.)  And there are a host of new effects including black ops cynos get their own new look.

Cyno comparison

Cyno comparison – Current and new Black Ops

Then there is a long list of items that, to me, basically add up to “fixing stuff from the Citadel expansion” that address carriers, fighters, citadels, and some more of the oddities and issues found with them over the last two months.  As a subcap line pilot, most of that is over my head, though I think, if I read things correctly, that Svipul pilots won’t be calling insta-locking carriers over powered anymore.

I am sure there is more to it than that, but that is all I am going to try to summarize.  For those looking to delve through the data themselves, there are the YC118.6 Patch Notes and the June 28, 2016 Updates page as starting points, along with CCP Seagull’s Producer’s Update video.

There is also the feature tour video for the update:

And, of course, there is the update’s theme, a fast yet soothing piece, available over at SoundCloud for your listening and downloading pleasure.

The whole thing is reported as live on the servers now, so let the comedy commence.

WoW and the Nostalrius Survey Summary

As noted previously, the team running the Nostalrius private/pirate vanilla WoW server, which was effectively shut down by Blizzard back in April, an event which caused a good deal of attention to be focused on the whole nostalgia server question.

Ever mindful of the mob… see flying in Draenor… said they would at least consider the whole alternate server idea, inviting Nostalrius to come speak to the Blizz team in Irvine. (I keep putting Blizz in Anaheim in my head, because that is where BlizzCon happens, rather than in Irvine, which is on the other side of Santa Ana, where their offices actually are.  It’s not that far away… it is all in the OC… but is incorrect.)

Give the opportunity to meed with Blizzard, the Nostalrius wanted to have some data to hand beyond their server stats, so put together a survey to get a sense of their community.

Surveys are misused constantly, so I am always dubious about generalizing too much from results.  But Nostalrius did get 50,000 respondents to their survey.  20,000 responses had to be culled from that batch as they gave what were called “incoherent” responses, where the respondent gave conflicting information.  Examples were indicating that they had played a given expansion on a Blizz server but indicating elsewhere that they had never played on a Blizz server.

That still left 30,000 responses.  And while that is largely from an admittedly self-selecting group, so long as you treat it as such… don’t, for example generalize out to “all WoW players” from the results… you can gain some insight, or at least food for thought.

Of the respondents , the majority of whom are in their 20s, have played retail WoW at some point, and were not playing retail WoW at the time of the survey, money was not a listed as a major factor for most.

Figure 8. Left Retail Because...

Figure 8. Left Retail Because…

Additionally, when asked which expansions they had played on retail, over 60% of respondents indicated that they had played any given expansion.

Figure 6. Players per expansion played on retail

Figure 6. Players per expansion played on retail

So this is not necessarily a batch of freeloaders seeking a cheap time, something players on private/pirate servers have been painted as previously.

One of the side details noted in the survey results was that the age range of respondents indicated that many of them were likely too young to have actually played vanilla WoW back in the day.  For them, seeing vanilla is only an option through such server.

The ranking of the expansions (0 to 10, with 10 being the best) was interesting, but unsurprising for this group.  Basically, Cataclysm is viewed as the breaking point.  Before Cataclysm, vanilla and the two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, are rated very favorably.  But Cataclysm and beyond are rated much less favorably, with Warlords of Draenor at the bottom of the list.

Figure 9. Four expansion ratings compared

Figure 9. Four expansion ratings compared

Wrath of the Lich King, the worst ranked of the first three phases of the game seems pretty well liked when compared to the Warlords of Draenor.

Figure 10. WotLK ranking vs. WoD

Figure 10. WotLK ranking vs. WoD

I would imagine that WoD gets an extra helping of negative due to it being the current state of the game, but that is still a pretty negative view from this particular group.

Of course, one of the things that this highlights is that there are differing views as to where nostalgia really lies, as I note previously.

And then there is the question as to what, if anything, Blizzard will with any of this.  My bet still rests on, “little to nothing.”

Anyway, the charts I used above are all part of a nine page summary of the survey, available as a PDF file here.  There is more in the summary, I just cherry picked a few items that interested me.  The full report is said to range out to 80 pages and will be made available at some future date.

Hat Tip to Massively OP

Foothold in Pure Blind, Path to the Future

Summer has arrived! Following the closing of World War Bee, the north continues to be quite active…

Updates Blog, June 20-26 Summary Post Opening

I am still not convinced that one side in a war, much less those calling things safely from the sidelines, can declare a war is done and pretend that ongoing fighting is something else entirely. (That said, I am happy to see the return of Updates Blog activity.)

Perhaps one might say that the operation, styled as “World War Bee” by one side, is over?  Some of us in the north have been fighting since before that name was even a thing, and we carry on fighting now that the operation has been unilaterally declared done.  Certainly plenty of individuals have said they are done with the war, but some of the same old names have carried on since January.

The again, we haven’t been doing ourselves any favors when it comes to reminding people that the war is still ongoing and that we form up every night.  The Mittani dot Com, or however you’re supposed to write that out (I usually just refer to them as TMC), has barely made a passing reference to the war in the last few weeks, with the last actual post about the war being Matterall’s article way back on the third of June.  Some organ of the state we have there.

TMC seems far more focused on its streaming channel.  Even there, the Meta Show this past weekend was more focused on TMC’s ArcheAge promotion than anything in New Eden.

Of course the flip side of that is, if some of our foes wish to declare the war over and move off to other places, that certainly seems to be to our benefit.  Maybe letting the war be “over,” for whatever definition of over one might care to choose, is a better plan.

And on the “over” front, Pandemic Legion has been reported to be pulling out of Saranen in what one wag over the weekend referred to as the “PLExit.”

The most common response to this pull out that I have seen is that PL always holes up some place to prepare for the Alliance Tournament.  Of course the dates for that were just announced, putting the whole thing out in November.  Does PL really go dormant for a third of the year over an event that requires maybe 50 people tops out of an alliance of more than 2,000 characters?

Anyway, war or not, tournament or not, the pressure on Saranen has relaxed noticeably, leading to GSF taking a system in Pure Blind over the weekend.

93PI-4 is on the other side of Saranen’s gate to null sec, and was once PL’s base of operations.  Now it is in Imperium hands, the station, ihub, and TCU having been taken and held.

Close to Saranen

Close to Saranen

A small start.  We shall see if it develops further.  NCDot is still in the neighborhood and we continue to fight them on a nightly basis.

Meanwhile, in another corner of Pure Blind, Imperium alliance LAWN, whose numbers were cut in half recently when the corporation The Graduates moved over to The Initiative, taking 368 characters with them, still managed to find the wherewithal to take not just one system, but a whole constellation in the region.

LAWN's 300 hold this

LAWN’s 300 hold this currently

Dare we draw hope from these minor gains?

I doubt we will have the forces to reconquer even half of the space we lost over the last few months, and all the more so if we plan to do it the hard way.  I have said in the past that I am not a fan of The Mittani’s book of grudges, where he has declared we will seek revenge on every last group who fought against us.  That isn’t practical, and even the new occupants of our space, who complain loudly and at length when called the CFC 2.0, are still blue-ish to each other.  They are okay fighting each other, but territory is inviolate, indicating that the age of coalitions and agreements is far from gone.  Different, but not so different.

There will have to be some coming to terms with the new state of affairs in the north, and we will have to have the flexibility to make new agreements if we can.  We are going to want some territory back, one way or another.  The only group that is completely beyond the pale is Circle of Two.  I would personally endorse any agreement or alliance that allowed us to send them packing after their betrayal.  I would ally with TEST or anybody else and forswear any claim on Deklein to take Tribute.  But that might just be me.

And any of that is all out in the future.  Nobody is going to deal with us because we captured a system or a constellation.  So we form up every night to press forward.  The war still goes on for us.

Thrill of the Hunt Not Thrilling Enough, Being Removed from New Eden

About a month ago I posted about how CCP had added what they called a “recurring opportunity” to EVE Online in the for of a daily quest called “The Thrill of the Hunt.”  All you had to do was undock and blow up a single NPC ship and you would be rewarded with 10,000 skill points.

The offer...

The offer…

The plan seemed to be to entice more people to log in, to get more people to undock, and to provide a reward that would be significant for newer players.

The move was controversial… though, I say this in the context of EVE Online, where some pretty trivial stuff seems to get people inordinately worked up on a regular basis… with people angry about other people getting free skill points, about the skill point reward being too much, or not enough, and about the mere idea of introducing anything that looked like a daily quest into the game because then we will all be “forced” to go do it.

With nearly 160 million skill points in the bag already, I wasn’t dying to undock my main just to get another 10K.  But I played around with a couple of alt characters.  On my main account I ran one out daily to see if just that 10K daily feed would get me anywhere useful.  On my alt account I switched the training queue from my main alt… sitting at 115 million skill points and training level V skills just because… to a new character to see if that added 10K would be worthwhile.

I gave up pretty quickly on the character without a skill queue… 10K a day is like the skill queue running at 20% of normal speed, which is to say very slowly… but kept logging in with the other, running a level 1 mission daily to get that kill and earn a bit of ISK.  Getting what adds up to about 5 hours of free training a day… or a skill injector every 50 days… did make a noticeable difference in the skill climb from new player into being able to do something.

In a game that puts you in space and then makes you wait while skills train almost immediately, being able to dump 10K SP into a new skill, bumping it up to level II or III right then, can be quite the boon.

Apply skill points now

Apply skill points now

However nice that might be for new players, or the obsessives with alts like myself, it became clear yesterday that new players were not the goal here.  Getting more people to log in was the goal, as noted in this post by CCP Rise:

I’m here to let you know that on Tuesday, in the 118.6 release, we are planning to remove the recurring opportunity “Thrill of the Hunt”.

Our hope in releasing this feature was to gain insight on how direct, daily rewards might effect and improve engagement in EVE. I can’t go into too much detail about results but I thought you guys might like to know a bit about what did happen after it launched. The biggest conclusions we can draw so far (though we are still gathering and analyzing data) are that recurring opportunities did have a significant effect on player activity in game. We saw a pretty big bump in the share of folks heading out to kill something each day, and we heard some feedback that this in turn led to some pretty funny situations (read: kills). On the other hand, we saw very little change in login behavior, i.e. if you weren’t planning to log on anyway, the 10,000 free SP boost wasn’t really going to change your mind. This is really important for us and by collecting solid data with a fast and simple feature like recurring opportunities we will be able to make better decisions as we work on larger things in the future, such as the Shadow of the Serpent event, which begins on Tuesday in the 118.6 release.

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to talk with us about the feature, both online and in person at Fanfest. While there were certainly concerns from you guys, the conversation stayed mature and productive which is fantastic for us and we really appreciate it.

Basically, nobody logs in just to get the 10K SP, so CCP is killing the feature.

I cannot say that I will miss it personally.  I’ll just stop working that character as diligently, since it will go back to being easier to just setup a long skill queue and come back in a few months.

But I am a little disappointed that the sole metric that mattered to CCP was people logging in, that no other benefit was deemed to be worth the effort.  As I wrote above, for me playing a new character with the default set of skills trained, having that 10K boost was an almost immediate thrill.

But I have so many skills trained on my main that I might also be a bit more aware of all the skills I didn’t have.

Anyway, you have until the patch deployment on Tuesday to collect your daily 10K.  That is an extra 40K SP just waiting for you.