Monthly Archives: July 2016

BB77 – Everything Has a Season

We’re mutants. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us… we play EVE Online.

I wasn’t going to join in on the blog banter this month because the topic seemed to have the potential for hysteria about it.  And then people piled on with all sorts of variations on the theme, not all of them the obvious answers, some good, some bad, some a bit silly, and I felt that I had to get my two cents with a set of simple, coherent arguments.  Instead I ended up with the steaming pile of confused opinions below.  And that was after I trimmed out some of the more rambling bits.  But I don’t have anything else ready to post today, so proceed with caution/skepticism.

So this blog banter, the 77th in the series, posits the following:

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it’s just another bout of summer “ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!”

Just to bring things in to perspective, Noizy noted that we are coming up on the 13th anniversary of the first known usage of the phrase “EVE is dying,” which happened on July 30th 2003.

So is EVE Online finally dying?

Certainly the PCU count is down.  You can go look at the data yourself, but even anecdotally I have seen the numbers go down of late.  Not too long ago there would be 19K to 22K players on TQ during my evenings, now that number seems to range from 16K to 19K.

This year the PCU hit its high point towards the end of April and has been trending down ever since.  Of course, that pattern happens to match the recent war as well.  Wars get people playing the game, but they also burn people out.  Even DBRB, a man of seemingly boundless energy who led fleets nightly for a couple of months, has wandered off the range to play ArcheAge.

Add in the fact that it is summer when people often go on vacation or simply go outside… I hear Pokemon GO is popular these days… and it seems like the cause of the recent decline is pretty easily explained with a bit of hand waving.

Of course, the PCU count has been going down for a while now.  But, then again, CCP has been making it easier to “play” EVE Online without logging on.

Back in my day there was no skill queue at all and you had to log in every time a skill finished training in order to get the next one started.  Short skills were a menace.  Starting a 12 hour skill before bed and knowing that it would finish while you were at work and the next skill would have to wait until you got home to start was a mild pain in the ass.  Level V skills were good, if only because you wouldn’t have to fiddle with that sort of thing for as much as a month, or even more with some skill.

Cormorant Docking - Trails On

Space, back before training queues…

Then we got the 24 hour queue, so you only had to log in once a day at most.  You could pack in a bunch of short skills and they would take care of themselves.  Life was better and we didn’t have to log in as much.

More recently we got a skill queue limited to 50 skills or 10 years in duration, which allowed people to pile on lots of skills and log in even less frequently.  You could play only on the weekends with that, and leave the training queue chugging along unattended for the rest of the week.

Finally, this year we got skill injectors so, with enough money, in-game if you are industrious, real world if you are well off, you can have all the skills you want right fucking now.  You can make a new character in the morning and be able to fly a titan by lunch.

Not that I really object to any of these additions.  As focused on level V skills as I am of late, I don’t want to go back to no skill queue at all.  And even skill goo has its place, as it tears down the barrier of time… for those who can afford it… so newer players can “catch up” to the veterans on the skill front.

All of which probably dented the PCU numbers, at least a little bit.  Beyond that though, they are indicative of my broader point, which I will get to any paragraph now.

MMORPGs… by which I mean the shared, persistent world sorts of game that were en vogue in the middle of the last decade, and from which I explicitly exclude lobby games, shooters, MOBAs, and what have you… are a niche, market no matter what Mark Jacobs may have said in the past.  People who play them, who put in the time, have a tolerance for the efforts required, who will pay a monthly subscription, are outliers in the video game market.

The core of the video game buys a video game, plays it, then moves on.  You mother, over there playing Candy Crush Saga on her iPhone, is closer to the core reality of the video game market than you are.

One of the many recurring dumb arguments I have seen over the years is whether or not video games can be considered a hobby or not.  When we get into MMORPGs, with their complexity and changing dynamics and time requirements, I would argue we are well into the domain of the hobby, and sometimes straying close to the boarder of obsession.

Among other oddities, MMORPGs stick around for a long time relative to other video games.  Yes, they get new content and technical updates, but you and your characters persist through them.

EverQuest has been around and getting regular updates since 1999.  How many other 1999 video games have gotten that much attention and effort put into them over the years.  Here is the list.  There are games there that were successes, faded, disappeared, and were revived with updated versions in the same time frame.  EVE Online has been going since 2003, and the list from that year is also very much stuff we don’t play any more.

MMORPGs, when they are successful, have long lives… for video games… that go through different stages.  I tried to map that out in a previous post.  There is the time of youth, the time of growth, when an MMORPG is fresh and new and a majority of its players are relatively new to the game.

And then there is middle age.  Growth has slowed down or stopped.  Some decline (Deklein?) has set in.  The majority of the player base are veterans of the game, and there tends to be a gap between the new players and the the vets.  In WoW or EQ or whatever, that tends to mean that the old timers are clustered at the level cap.  In EVE it manifests itself more in the form of skill points, knowledge, wealth, and stories about how things used to before there was “warp to 0,” but the effect is the same.  There is a gap.

And, at that point, the company has to decide who its customers really are.

Middle age isn’t a bad thing, not completely.

The heady vigor of youth is gone.  But there is now a base of resources and wisdom to build on, and things that seemed impossible in youth are viable.  As the SNL skit used to say, “I know how escrow works!”  I know this because I have bought and refinanced houses more than a few times, something 18 or 22 year old me would have found bizarre.

Likewise, CCP has built on what it created.  There was, and continues to be, an era of additional features to enhance the New Eden experience.

But for a middle aged MMORPG, its customers are the installed base.  They are the ones invested in the game, the ones who make the big in-game events possible, the ones who pay the bills month after month.

That doesn’t mean that a company should ignore new players.  New players should be encouraged, as replacements for departing vets are needed.  In fact, one of the greatest failures of CCP has been its consistently bad new player experience, which has been driving of potential players wholesale for the entire life of the game.

But new players aren’t showing up in sufficient numbers to pay the bills and there is no feature that CCP can add to the game now that will ever restore it to that era of growth it enjoyed for as long as it did.  I defy anybody to point out another MMORPG that managed to restore meaningful growth via any new feature besides simply giving the game away for free.

The installed base is the life blood of the game and CCP must cater to it, first and foremost.  Anything that isn’t focused on, or in support of, spaceships being out in space and fighting or controlling territory or harvesting resources or hauling or defeating the NPC scourge is extraneous.  Those are the customers CCP has now, and selling them out for some illusory potential new customers would be a tragic mistake, the sort of thing MMORPGs don’t bounce back from.

So where was I?  Oh, right, is EVE Online dying?

Yes.  Yes it is.

But I am also a bit of a fatalist when it comes to the big picture.  I too am making my way inexorably towards death.  Things have their time, and nothing lasts forever.  Some things have a recurring cycle.  I’ve been through almost half a dozen recessions, nearly as many droughts in my life, and a seemingly endless series of IT upgrade projects.  I expect I will see a few more.  Other things have a single arc; lives, video games, the earth.

So why EVE Online is dying, it is still in the midst of it arc, it is still in middle age.  There will still be opportunities, wars, PCU spikes, and general revivals based on space, friends, foes, and nostalgia.

In the end, we play EVE Online now because it entertains us and gives us fun memories.  The memories bit is why I write this blog, which reminds me that I didn’t even start off on the side track to the topic “EVE blogging is dying!!1!”  There is a whole different post in that, but I will live it alone for now.

So there I am.  Others have different, and likely more succinct and coherent, opinions on this month’s topic.  You can find them here and linked below:

And a couple of posts related to the picture being painted:

The Race to a Mount on Trakanon

While WoW Legion is clearly in my future, there is still some time to get there, and with my Daybreak All Access still active for a bit I thought I would look into that whole mount thing on the new Race to Trakanon server they put up last week.  All I had to do was get to level 10, right?

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

Just 10 levels, how hard could it be?

I have never been that big on mounts in EverQuest II for some reason.  I have 150+ mounts in WoW… I know this because I got the achievement for hitting 150 a few mounts back… but in EQII I might have… maybe six… maybe ten on the outside… different mounts spread across all of my characters.

It isn’t that there aren’t plenty of mounts in EQII, it is more a matter of them being pretty damn ugly.  There are a lot of really ugly mounts in the game.

Ice Wolf on Ice

There is something not right with that ice wolf

And when they aren’t just plain ugly, they are generally just horrible things I wouldn’t be caught dead riding.

The setup to a "frog in a blender" joke

Rage inducing mount…

There is just something about the aesthetics and design of mounts in EQII that rubs me the wrong way.  I actively collect mounts in almost every MMORPG.  I have a fair number in LOTRO and a bunch sitting around in Rift should I ever return, but in EQII I stick to the most plain, most horse-like looking horse I can find and generally go no further.

Speed - We Haz It!

Plain mounts for me and my friends

But this Race to Trakanon mount didn’t look too bad in the pictures and, better still, once you earned it you would get it for all of your characters.  That is another thing I am a bit mixed on with mounts.  I have grown used to having access to all my mounts account-wide in WoW (aside from certain exceptions) so earning/buying a mount for only a single character feels a bit off for me.

So off I went.

The first thing I had to do was delete a character, as I was out of character slots.  That wasn’t too hard, as I had rolled up a bunch of characters for the Stormhold server.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to play on the server, but if you made a character in the first couple of weeks you got a free bag, and bag space is always a thing on new characters, so I rolled up every potential character I might play just to get the bags.  I still had some level 2, never really played options, so deleting them wasn’t a big deal.

Slots freed, it was time to make a new character.

It has been a while since I created a new character in EQII and they now have a big, shiny server type selection option. highlighting the various flavors on offer.  My target was the event server.

Free players... keep left

Free players… keep left

From there, I had to figure out what would suit me best in my goal to just get to level 10.

I went with a human berserker.  Human, because why not… no size issues, no oddness in looks… and berserker because that is just my go-to class for EQII.  They wear plate armor and hit things hard until they die.  All very simple.

As it so happened, the human they handed me looked vaguely like Boris Johnson, or maybe his son, so I didn’t change any of the appearance options, I just chose the name “Boris” and ran with it.  I chose the Qeynos side of the world and off I went to the Isle of Refuge, where I played for about 20 minutes, then logged off.

This turned out to be a wise move, at least when viewed through the prism of my achieving the simple goal of getting to level 10.  I didn’t come back until the next day, after which I had accrued enough rest experience to last through to my goal.  That meant I would level up twice as fast as I would have had I just tried to plow through after character creation.

I did the run through the Isle of Refuge, though the current version of it seems a bit… off.  I see things or mobs and I wonder where some old quest or another has gone off to since the old days.  I might have missed a quest starter drop or two along the way, or my memory might simply be faulty.  It has been a long time since the Frostfang Sea replace the Isle of Refuge.

Running through that got me to level 7, at which point I spoke to the captain of the ship that brought me there and was teleported off to the Frostfang Sea to continue along my way.

I probably should have just opted for that earlier if efficiency was my goal.  I think the Frostfang Sea starter area is better organized and moves you along more quickly for the most part, though it does have more than its share running back and forth for each new quest.

I crossed over the water on the raft to the first quest hub on the mainland.

A little more ramshackle than the old raft

Roll stock footage of Frostfang Sea raft

I ran through the quests there and moved along to the second quest hub where, only a few quests in, I hit the magic moment a level 10 was mine.

Level 10 yet again

Level 10 yet again

That gave me the reward I was looking for.

Here is your mount!

Here is your mount!

The Sunbrite Clothwork Pegasus was mine.  I just had to figure out how to get it.

Usually items that show up like that as a reward drop into your inventory.  I looked there, but did not see it.  So I thought perhaps it might already appear in my mount options, but it wasn’t there either.  In thinking about it for a moment, I decided that, in order to be available to all characters, including those made down the road, the mount probably had to be accessible via the /claim option, and sure enough there it was.

Pegasus found, I was able to claim it for Boris who was able to join the other level 10+ characters in the zone riding around on their new mount.

Boris on the new mount

Boris on the new mount

For me, this might be one of the better looking “goofy” mounts that Daybreak has added to the game.  As I said above, there is a lot of ugly going on there in my opinion.  I rode it around for a bit, spreading its wings for a glide now and again.

New mount, wings spread

New mount, wings spread

I am not sure it will replace the plain horse for an every day mount, though I say that as somebody who, after playing the game off and on since launch, still doesn’t have a character high enough level to use a flying mount yet.  For ground travel it seems a bit much.  Maybe some day I will actually fly and have a use for a mount with wings.

Anyway, I have it around should that day come, and it wasn’t all that hard to obtain.  Others have been after it as well:

Of course, now there is the WoW 7.0 patch to focus on, plus the big space move that is coming up, so this could be my last moment in Norrath for a while.

Last Minute Garrison Gold Grubbing

The WoW 7.0 pre-Legion patch goes live tomorrow.

WoWLegion_500

The WoW 7.0 patch notes have the following two items about your Draenor garrisons:

  • Many sources of gold from the Garrison has been reduced or removed.
  • Newly obtained salvage from the Salvage Yard no longer contains equippable items. Salvage obtained from before the patch remains unaffected.

Both were expected, but you might not be aware of just how much your gold revenue will be taking a hit.  I knew that follower missions that paid off in gold were done for, but I did not know that follower equipment, which is worth a decent amount of gold today, will be worth just 1 copper after the patch tomorrow.

I’ll be cashing all those in when I get home.

Blizzard Watch has a guide up to help you extract as much last minute gold out of your garrison as possible.  Get it tonight, because tomorrow will be to late.

 

Defeat in the North and New Destinations

The war, for whatever name you chose… Casino War, World War Bee, The War of Sovless Aggression… will effectively be over by the end of the week.

The Mittani announced on the weekly fireside chat yesterday that The Imperium would be packing up and leaving Saranen. (Recording here, since it is already up on Reddit. The meat of the announcements are in the first 10 mins.)

I have previously had people tell me that the war was over already because The Imperium lost all of its sovereignty, or because they personally were done, or, most bizarrely, because Reddit wasn’t talking about it enough, as though Reddit defines reality.  But I have always maintained that wars aren’t over until the losing side admits defeat and goes away.

Well, here is that admission.  We lose.  End of war.  Fabian strategy failed.  The reconquista has been postponed indefinitely.  The MBC/CFC 2.0, rules the north.

So the fight, which has been going on for over six months for some of us, is over.  I know that there are ops going on this week, running into Pure Blind, but my heart isn’t in it now.  Of course, part of that is because we were told to pack all of our stuff and be ready to move this coming weekend.

I favor Vanilla Quafe myself

Good bye to the Quafe Factory Warehouse, Saranen V, moon 9

I was just enough ahead of the curve that I got nearly everything out of Deklein and Tribute before the MBC began to actively contest those regions.  There is still a Harpy in one station, a blockade runner in another packed with a final bit of stuff, and an Oneiros I put up on contract in UMI-KK.  But that is about it.

I sent a lot of it to Jita to be liquidated so as to have ISK for a protracted war, but a good chunk of useful stuff ended up in Saranen.  And my stockpile in Saranen grew as we swapped doctrines and I had to buy new ships time and again.

Now that all has to go… somewhere.

Even before the fireside chat was over I had repackaged a bunch of ships and modules and contracted them to be shipped to Jita.  That was the first pass, the easy picks, the ships no longer in doctrine and related items, 100,000 m3 of stuff.  It has already arrived safely.

But I am still left with a lot of stuff in Saranen, more stuff than I can easily move, including a carrier.  Since I am not part of CapSwarm, I am not sure how I will get that safely to wherever we might be headed.

Of course, that is the big question of the day, where are we headed?

If you look at the current null sec influence map, you will notice that there isn’t a big empty spot in sovereign null sec for us to simply move into.  So we will have to take some space.  But where?

Even leaving aside our old space, space occupied by groups with which we have agreements (various Russians), and space that is just shit (sorry Period Basis), there are a variety of possible destination regions on the map.

Where will The Imperium go?

Where will The Imperium go?

Delve is the classic Goon location and has NPC null stations to stage out of.  Querious has good access to empire space.  Fountain is old, familiar territory, though a bit close to the MBC.  Etherium Reach keeps some proximity to the big trade hub in Jita.  And the others… well… they are far away from the MBC.  Who is likely to follow us to Omist?

Everybody has a guess as to where we will be going, but the official announcement won’t come until the end of the week.

Wherever we are headed, we have been told we will be there for a long time, a year or more perhaps.  And that brings up the question of how this will change The Imperium.  Some people are tired of the war and want a place to settle into and in which they can rebuild.  Others are invested in Deklein and the north, either identifying with it strongly or having left a lot of their stuff behind.  This long march into exile may winnow down our numbers further.

As we head towards the new normal, whatever that may be, the winding down of the war and the summer downturn in PCU numbers has led to the usual “EVE is dying!” reaction, which is the topic of this month’s blog banter.

I won’t be joining in on that, I have too much to do in game.

Discobricks and Preemptive Titan Kills

I was almost late to the party.

I saw the ping, Asher asking for max dudes in Discobricks, the current Augoror Navy Issue fleet doctrine (so called I imagine because the ship has all the graceful lines, and the innate toughness, of a brick, and shoots pretty colored lasers), but I was in the middles of something so couldn’t log in.

Then there was another ping.  And, as that ping started to go stale, to the point I figured that the fleet might have left already, I was finally able to launch the EVE Online client, get onto Mumble, and get my headset working… the latter being the biggest pain of the three, as my Logitech g930 headset seems reluctant to power on these days… and get in the game.

I had purchased an ANI previously and as I got onto coms the first thing I heard was Asher saying the work “undock.”  I quickly got into the ship and hit the undock button and had been sitting outside the station for about a minute before it became clear that he didn’t mean “fleet undock.”

He had been telling the dreadnoughts that would accompany us to undock and jump to the system where we would meet up with them.  The main fleet was still docked up.  Or most of it was.  There was me and about a half a dozen other ANIs lingering outside, having not understood orders.

I docked back up, insured my ship, made a couple changes based on the fleet MotD, and waited until we got the actual order to undock.  It came shortly enough, and we were soon streaming out of the station.

Another day at the Quafe Factory Warehouse undock

Another day at the Quafe Factory Warehouse undock

We headed off to a titan in order to catch a bridge.  I figured that with a few dreadnoughts in tow, we were off for a structure shoot.  It seemed unlikely that bait dreads were going to work again so soon after the Okagaiken trap.

That was fine with me.  On Reavers deployments Asher often had an oft repeated saying about putting money in the bank now in the expectation of it paying dividends later.  Setting timers one day will get you fights when they come out.  And so we wandered out to Cloud Ring, to the system 28O-JY, where Asher warped us to within sight of the target.  And it was a juicy target.

First sight of the target

First sight of the target

That is a POS with a Supercapital Ship Assembly Array and a X-Large Ship Maintenance Array, which marks it as a place where the locals, in this case TISHU, builds supercaps.  That seemed to make the eventual fight over this POS almost inevitable.

We warped into range of the tower and started spreading out and shooting the POS tower.  Asher had asked people to bring along deployable warp disruption bubbles, which were spread around the POS to stop anybody from warping in with a load of strontium clathrates that could change or modify the timer for reinforcement.  There was a guy in an interceptor in the POS, and interceptors aren’t affected by warp disruption bubbles, but to bring in any usable amounts of stront they would need something bigger.

The shooting began and the shield began chipping away, slowly but surely.  A Dread Guristas Control Tower is a large tower which has 60,000,000 shield hit points.  We brought those dreads along for a reason.

After getting the tower down to about 70% shields, during which time nobody else showed up to try and service the tower, Asher asked us to overheat our guns in order to get the tower down to 49% as soon as possible.

When out to reinforce a tower, the goal is to get it down to the 25% mark, and which point it goes into its reinforced state and begins consuming the aforementioned strontium clathrates.  The amount of stront in the tower determines how long it will remain reinforced.  A large tower consumes 400 units of stront per hour and, with a full load, will stay reinforced for 41.7 hours.

When the stront runs out, the tower can be shot again.

But there is another key point in the initial POS shoot mechanics.  Once the tower gets below 50% shields, the owner of the POS can no longer modify the amount of stront in the tower.   At that point there is what there is, and Asher wanted to remove their ability to tinker with the stront in order to time the tower to come out of its reinforced state at a time that favored them.

So we overheated.  Some people went too far.  One of the dreads overheated and burned out their guns at just about the 51% mark.  But we managed to get the shields below 50% before any help could come.  A couple of hostile T3s had shown up in system at just about the 50%, but had been deflected and didn’t bother trying to get to the tower once the mark was passed, so it was assumed they might have been trying to fly in some stront at the last minute.

Now all we had to do was burn the shields down to 25%, at which point all of our guns and lasers would no longer be able to lock the target and the reinforcement timer would begin.  The dreads stayed sieged up and the ANIs flew in slow circles, lasers hitting the tower.

Passing over the CSAA, obscured by bubbles

Passing over the SSAA, obscured by bubbles

The shields were ground slowly down until we were just getting to the 25% mark.  We expected to have the tower automatically unlocked as a target at any moment.  And then it went to 24%, and suddenly we all knew the word of the day was.

That's right Pee-wee! Unstronted!

That’s right Pee-wee! Unstronted!

It was such a moment that I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take a screen shot until the shields hit 23%.

There is no stront

There is no stront

Things went from being almost done setting up a fight for the weekend to killing an expensive tower and module and aborting whatever supercapitals TISHU had building.  There was a moment of excitement where the urge to run out and tell the world about this was almost overwhelming.

This was quickly replaced by a sense of paranoia, a feeling that if we said this too loudly that it might go away, that the hostiles might come and save the tower, that something might go wrong.  In something of an, “I don’t know, just shoot casually!” moment, people started pretending on coms like we were still shooting tower and it hadn’t hit 25% yet.

But that didn’t last long either.  The tower wouldn’t have much life left after the shields were down.  TISHU was deployed down in the Syndicate region, so they seemed unlikely to be able to mount a defense at that point.  And nobody else seemed to be near by, except for a White Legion fleet.  Since they are allies, Asher invited them to come over and help finish off the tower.

Once we were past the shields, the armor and then the structure went down rapidly and the tower was destroyed, followed quickly by the SSAA and the maintenance array.

Death of a tower

Death of a tower

A grand moment on a fleet where we expected to simply set a timer, and the obligatory Reddit thread was started.

As usual, there is no way to prove that anything was under construction in the SSAA, aside from the argument that people don’t put them up in order to let them sit idle.  Asher seemed to have intel that indicated there were two titans and three super carriers under way there, but unless we had a spy with an irrefutable screen shot, there will never be any definitive way to prove anything.  But whatever was being built there is gone, along with a few billion ISK in modules.

Time to head home.

As we were leaving the area, our eyes in the system reported that the hostiles ran out to another POS they had in the system and pulled down the assembly array they had running, no doubt thinking we were headed there next.  Was there no stront available?   Anyway, I suppose we can claim a soft kill on whatever they might have been building there.

We shepherded the dreads back to their staging point and then headed back to Saranen and our home in the back of the Quafe Compay Warehouse, still pretty happy about the night’s events.

Screen shots from the fleet in gallery form:

The Race to Trakanon and Quarm Event Servers

Daybreak is carrying on with its special server bonanza for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

Earlier this week the Race to Trakanon, the first “event server” for the company, went up for EverQuest II, and if you’re just reading about it here… well… you’re late!

Event servers are limited time servers that are setup for a special purpose, and the purpose of the Race to Trakanon server is just that, a race.  Focused in the Rise of Kunark expansion time frame, it is a race to level up, get achievements, and otherwise be the server first for whatever.

It is a race

It is a race

By creating a new character on the server and competing, you can earn rewards that can be claimed by characters on other, more permanent servers.  There are more details here, while Feldon of EQ2 Wire has set up an Event Leaderboard over at his EQ2 U site. (Addendum: There is also a FAQ with more info in the forums.)

Even if you are not keen to race to level 80 or other such achievements, if you create a character on the server and get to level 10 before July 26, 2016, you will get a special mount that you can claim on every character on your account.

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

So there is that.  Telwyn seems to be on board.  For a mount on all my characters, I might just bang out a level 10 character while my account All Access remains active.  There is the catch, of course.  As with all Daybreak special servers, you must be an All Access member in order to play.  No Freeps allowed.

The server will shut down, and characters created will be migrated off to live servers, once the event is completed, with the run time being set at a minimum of three months.

Over on the EverQuest side of the house, there is a new event server as well, the Quarm server, which went up this week as well.  On the Quarm server you will start a new character at level 51 and pursue achievements and help defeat Overlord Mata Muram.  Details, such that there are, available here. (The FAQ in the forums has further info.)

Will they get a Quarm

Will they get a Quarm

As with the Race to Trakanon server, the Quarm server will be temporary and characters will be migrated off when the event closes.  There is also a prize if you roll a character on the server before July 27, 2016.

Another potion...

Another potion… I wanted a mount

You do not even have to level up a character… since you start at level 51 in any case.

and, of course, it is open to All Access customers only.

This is not the first event server on the EverQuest side of things.  In addition the the various generations of progression servers, there was the Mayong 51/50 server back in 2009 after the first pair of progression servers.  That was shut down by the end of 2010, along with the two bleed over servers it spawned.

Given that EverQuest progression servers tend to become races for raiding guilds in any case, I wonder how well this one will work out.

Meanwhile, since I am on the topic of Daybreak special servers, I want to note in passing that back on the Stormhold Time Locked Expansion Server, the vote to unlock the Rise of Kunark expansion has failed for the second time, with only 46% of those voting casting ballots in favor of the expansion.  There is probably a Brexit joke to be made about that, but I am not going to make the attempt.

One Hundred and Sixty Million Skill Points

Another skill point milestone, made somewhat more meaningless than usual by the advent of skill point injectors, which lets players buy skill points from other players, so that those with enough ISK can have as many skill points as they want.

My skill points have all been “earned” the old fashioned way, via the skill queue and the waiting game.  That is less a point of pride and more an admission that I am a cheapskate, along with the fact that, with more than 80 million skill points, each skill injector is worth only 150K SP to me.  If I had a brand new character I would be much more inclined to inject skill points.

Anyway, here is my skill point journey so far:

At some point I imagine I will have “enough” skills, but I haven’t reached that point yet.  There is still a 700 day long list of skills in my queue that I want.  Also, I would never extract any of my skill points, as you never know when they might come in handy.  As I mentioned yesterday, all those mining skills from way back when were useful again as we had a mining op in Pure Blind to raise ADMs.

Rock crushing in a Procurer

Rock crushing in a Procurer

So here are how skill points are currently distributed on Wilhelm Arcturus.  An asterisk indicates that the skill point total has changed since last post.

 Spaceship Cmd   47,008,495 (55 of 75)*
 Gunnery         16,202,145 (36 of 46)*
 Leadership      12,803,000 (14 of 14)
 Missiles        10,836,471 (22 of 26)*
 Drones          10,070,483 (19 of 23)
 Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)
 Engineering      7,253,895 (15 of 15)*
 Armor            6,131,137 (13 of 13)* (skill moved/removed?)
 Shields          5,645,390 (11 of 12)
 Science          5,462,151 (21 of 39)* 
 Electronic Sys   5,141,415 (13 of 15)*
 Resc Processing  4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Trade            3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Targeting        3,207,765 (8 of 8)
 Neural Enhance.  3,072,000 (5 of 8)* 
 Subsystems       2,186,840 (20 of 20)
 Scanning         2,045,230 (7 of 7) 
 Rigging          1,312,395 (10 of 10) 
 Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)
 Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12) 
 Structure Mgmt   1,084,784 (2 of 6)* (new section)
 Planet Mgmt        769,335 (5 of 5) 
 Corp Mgmt           24,000 (2 of 5)* 

 Total         ~160,000,000 (332 of 423)

Spaceship Command remains at the top, both in total points and in total points gained, up by about 6 million SP.  Flying ships trumps all.

There was some swapping about of skills and categories.  There was one less skill in the Armor category.   I am not sure where that went, but it took 768,000 skill points with it somewhere.  Then, with the release of citadels in New Eden, a new section called “Structure Management” appeared, which borrowed some skills from Corporation Management, like Anchoring and Starbase Defense Management, which accounts for all my skill points in the new category.

I added nine more skills to my list since the last update, bringing me to 332 skills, up from 323.  But I am not keeping up with the total number of skills, which is now at 423 (if I added them up correctly), a 25 skill boost since my 150 million skill point post back in December.

My skills, broken out by level are:

 Level 1  - 3
 Level 2  - 9
 Level 3  - 44
 Level 4  - 99
 Level 5  - 177

177 skills at level V puts me 8 up from last time.  There was also a general rise, as level IV and III skills went up in number, while levels I and II decreased.

Following my change over last time from tracking how long it would take to fly a titan to how long until I can fly all the subcaps as a random metric.   Here is the current list of sub-caps I cannot yet fly and the time required to train in order to get into them (rounded up to the nearest convenient value value):

  • Expedition Frigates (Prospect, Endurance)  – 10 days
  • Amarr Transports (Impel, Prorator) – 20 days
  • Gallente Transports (Occator, Viator) – 20 days
  • Loki strategic cruiser (subsystems trained) – 45 mins
  • Marauders (all factions) – 90 mins

That list got a lot shorter since the last post, standing at about 50 days now, down from about 80 days previously.

I knocked out interdictors and tech II logi frigates and the T3 destroyers and electronic attack ships and a few other, which were all a few minutes in order to get the minimum skill level required, though I trained them all well past that.  The biggest skill I trained for that list was Minmatar Battleships V, a 30 day skill, which gave me the Panther Black Ops battleship.  I can now fly a blops… well, all the blops… once I figure how.  There is always a gap between having the skill and having the actual skills to use that skill.

Our blops finally arrives

A Panther Blops

However, I am not sure what I would bother with when it comes to the rest of the list.  The Loki might be useful, and I could get it to level III or IV in a short enough time.  Expeditions frigate might be worthwhile at some point.  But do I need Gallente or Amarr transports?

Meanwhile, right now I am training up Tactical Weapons Reconfiguration V, with Minmatar Dreadnought V next on the list.  If suicide dread bombs are going to be the supercap killing machine, as they were at Okagaiken, I would like to have the option to join in on that at some point, and the Minmatar dreadnought, the Naglfar, is the dread of choice.

A Naglfar at the shoot getting hit by fireworks

A Naglfar displaying vertical supremacy

I can actually fly the base CapSwarm Naglfar, but those two skills will allow me to fly the upscale fit.  And then I have to actually find a hull and fit it.  Details.

I have also started abusing my alt account for skill goo.  I decided to set him up to farm skill points.  He was past 115 million, but I stripped out about 5 million points for skill injectors and now have him optimized so I can keep him stable with his skills and pull out a skill injector worth of skill goo about once a week.

The weekly cycle means I can be patient and get a better price, both for buying extractors and selling injectors.  The skill goo market is still very active… I price well above the current low offer and still sell within a day… so this is now pretty much a 400 million ISK a week income stream for me.  This has made me more ISK rich than I have ever been in New Eden.  I am not Gevlon rich by any means, but I can afford that Naglfar and a few replacements.

So that is where 160 million skill points puts me.  Given the ~7 month cycle time for me to train 10 million skill points, I should get to 170 million at some point in February of 2017.

Quote of the Day – Competing Against the Outside World

Meanwhile, VR devs are going, “But what about sticking blinders on people’s faces and making them stay at home?”

-Syp, on Twitter

In sudden surge, the augmented reality game Pokemon GO does seem to have gotten more press over the last few days than virtual reality has gotten over the last few months.  It has gone from the gaming press (I think half the stories at Polygon this week have been about the game) to the general press to showing up on the local news.  When your local news anchor is saying “Pokemon GO” a couple times an evening, it is a sign.  And then there was word of a movie based on the game as well.

PokemonGO_500px

This has been very much a perfect storm event, with a launch that managed to combine summer, when kids are off from school, have free time, and an inclination to go outside and do something, a free app for the smart phone so many people already own, and the immense popularity of Pokemon.

Meanwhile, the biggest VR news I have seen this week is that the Occulus Rift pre-orders from the beginning of the year have all finally shipped, but that the Touch motion controllers still do not have a firm date as yet.  Go team.

Of course, a phone app and VR aren’t really comparable, but it is a reminder that there hasn’t really been a killer app for VR yet that would get the average person interested in buying an expensive headset and a high end PC or console to go with it.  Right now it is still a niche product for enthusiasts.

The Lingering Presence of PlanetSide

In a throwback to the good bad whatever old days when the company was SOE, I noticed that PlanetSide, which went dark back on the first, is still listed on the Daybreak server status page.

When we say "maintenance" we mean "gone forever"

When we say “maintenance” we mean “gone forever”

I am not sure which is more amusing/bemusing, that Daybreak hasn’t bothered to scrub PlanetSide from the server status page yet, or that the server has only been down for six days when the game itself went offline for customers eleven days ago.

Anyway, bets on how long PlanetSide lingers there in a perpetual maintenance state?

Updates:

  • July 19, still there. Last response 13 days ago
  • July 30, gone when I checked.