Monthly Archives: February 2018

February in Review

The Site

I do not have much to complain about when it comes to WP.com this month.  Okay, I hate the new comment editor, the way I hate all the new tools they shove at us claiming they are “better” when they are verifiably not, but at least there still a way to use the old one to correct my typos and insert links after the fact because I am too lazy for format HTML on the fly.

Instead I will just take a few lines to bring up followers.  I hit a milestone a while back.

2018 and “1337” is still a funny joke… also, what was I doing up taking that screen shot?

The site continues to get followers.  The count, as of this writing, is 1386.  Followers are a strange metric.  Some of them are clearly in the “if I follow everybody then maybe somebody will follow me back and actually look at my horrible click-bait advertising blog” category.  But not all of them.

As far as I can tell the only use for following another blog is that you then see the blog in the WordPress.com reader which, I will admit, has improved over the years.  I am not going to dump Feedly for it any time soon, but it has its uses and I want to do a post about it and some of its features at a later date.  But for now, followers continue on.

One Year Ago

Daybreak shut down Landmark less than a year after it officially went “live.”  That’s what extended early access will do to you.

In EVE Online applications to run for CSM12 opened up.  The CSM itself was reduced from 12 members to just 10.  That allowed CCP to potentially fly all members to summits, but also reduced the likelihood of more voices outside of null sec being elected.

Blog Banter #79 explored the benefits and pitfalls of being a long time veteran of New Eden, while CCP posted a nice graph tracking the 25 largest corporations over time.  The graph only had starting numbers, so I provided the ending numbers.

We also got an update that introduced insurance to citadels and kicked off the Guardian’s Gala event.

Actually in game I was blown up by battle Rorquals as well as spending time moving my stuff to a new home system, sitting on a titan, sitting on a Keepstar, survived my first capital op, and dipped my toe into the spectacle that was Burn Jita 2017.  I also had a new favorite EVE Online screen shot.

I wasn’t playing World of Warcraft, but that didn’t stop me from trying to find information about it in Activision Blizzard’s annual financial report.  Good luck there.  I didn’t even bother this year.  Meanwhile, in an unexplained turn, SuperData Research divided WoW into East and West on its monthly Top Ten chart.  I still suspect that was an attempt to make Overwatch look better.

Not only was I not playing WoW, I wasn’t playing any fantasy MMORPGs.  Standing Stone was trying to get me to log into Lord of the Rings Online with the promise of a new mount.

I was confronted by a metaphor for a MMO Kickstarter projects when somebody decided they wanted to make an Apocalypse Now based MMO.

I was still working on the mansion road in Minecraft.  I hit a setback along the way… fell into lava surrounded by creepers… but still made it past the half way point.

And finally, after taking a bit of a break, I was back into Pokemon Sun, working my way towards filling the Alola Pokedex.

Five Years Ago

Raptr sent me a summary of my 2012 gaming.

Google changed how image search worked, causing a precipitous drop in page views.  Google giveth, and Google taketh away… though they have been heavy on the taketh front for the last couple of years.

I wrote of the problem with Bond villains.  And it wasn’t that they failed to drive Jags.  I also looked at the Netflix remake of House of Cards.

RuneScape joined the rare breed of MMOs with an old rules, nostalgia focused server.

I tinkered with Prose with Bros on the iPad.  That was amusing for about two weeks.

In something of a breath of fresh air in an argument dedicated to absolutes and bad analogies, with some game devs equating buying used games with piracy, EA admitted that the used game market wasn’t all bad and that the ability to trade in games might be propping up new game sales.  They still wanted to kill used games like everybody else in the industry, but at least they were attempting a moment of honesty about it.

The MOBA version of Warhammer Online was declared dead before it even left beta.  The good metacritic score for Warhammer Online remained of little value.

A group got together to create an Age of Empires II: Age of Kings expansion called Forgotten Empires.  This was before it was announced that Age of Kings would be updated and brought to Steam.

Blizzard and ArenaNet were both offering deep discounts on their MMOs.  I opted for Guild Wars 2, which had an awkward start for me.

The instance group was still without a quorum and a fantasy title to call its own.  We were playing a bit of World of Tanks, which gets awkward with four.  I also made some short videos about Crushing your VK and a cliff diving BDR GB1.  And I was working on my Soviet heavies as well as the French heavy tree.

In EVE Online we went back to EWN-2U, the scene of my first real epic null sec battle.  But null sec was pretty quiet, so we also spent time just flying in circles.  The Goons did produce a nice guide to EVE Online in the form of a .pdf called Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories.

I was considering the REAL problem with levels and was wondering why nobody else did in-game music the way Lord of the Rings Online did.

And I answered the magic question, just how many times do you have to sign or initial things when closing escrow on a home refinance?

Ten Years Ago

The month started out with our Pirates of the Burning Sea enthusiasm waning.

The instance group was kicking off its Outlands efforts, after running the required equipment upgrade quests, with Hellfire Ramparts, though first we ran through lower Blackrock Spire and got access to Upper Blackrock Spire.

In EVE Online I lost my Drake to pirates in Rancer.  I wasn’t going to pay any ransom.  And I managed to make a tech II blueprint as I was getting invention going.  I was also wishing for a few things from the game.

Turbine announced that Lord of the Rings Online had extended its agreement with Tolkien Enterprises out until 2014, with an option to go to 2017.  As a lifetime member I applauded this extension.

I went to GDC up in San Francisco and had dinner some members of the VirginWorlds Podcast Collective plus Alan “Brenlo” Crosby, and got pictures to prove it. (I had a beard then… and I have a beard now… this is becoming a winter routine for me.)

My daughter got a Nintendo DS for Valentine’s Day.

We played a little KartRider, which is still never made it to North America.

I defended myself against some slander about me being a dwarf.

I summed up the annual EverQuest Nostalgia Tour.

I decided that there was hope for a real science fiction MMORPG.

And I found out my blog was worth $61,534.86,though I couldn’t figure out how to cash in.  Since then, the value of the site has gone down.  I blame the economy.

Twenty Years Ago

We’re in a dead zone in my personal history where nothing really stands out from 20 years ago. It was probably RTS stuff, StarCraft and Total Annihilation and lots of Civilization II.  I recall having setup a series of custom empires.  And, of course, there was TorilMUD.  But we’re slowly moving into to a time of new titles.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  3. Delta Force – A Memory of Voxels
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. SuperData and the Curious Case of the Missing WoW Money
  6. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  7. The Demise of BattleClinic
  8. Trying Out the Guardians Gala Sites
  9. Extra Credits – Why Do Games Cost So Much To Make?
  10. Falling into Battle for Azeroth Mania
  11. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  12. Would EA Be Better if Microsoft Owned Them?

Search Terms of the Month

is candy crush sexual 2018
[Not by any measure I can imagine]

war thunder getting boring
[That was my issue]

sexy star trek character graphic
[Sure, I guess]

star trek online pregnant
[See where sexy gets you]

EVE Online

I played the game, went on a few fleets, blew some things up, but nothing was exciting enough to get me to write a post.  Just the usual friction in null sec.  I got on the killboard for the month and got in my required PAP links.  I did do some of the Guardian’s Gala event, picked up a few SKINs I didn’t have along with a few cerebral accelerators and a ton of fireworks.  But if I had just ratted for the same amount of time I spent doing that I could have bought all of it off the market and had ISK left over. Aryth asked CCP about the payout for effort I and they said they meant to do that.  So there you go.  Otherwise most of my posting about the game was about changes, both those that showed up this month and the ones planned for next month.

Minecraft

I wandered back into Minecraft for a bit to work on the long overland mine cart track to the forest mansion I found.  I finished the road ages ago, but then started working on laying tracks the whole length.  I got bored with that, but came back to it over the last couple of weeks mostly because Minecraft is a good game to play when you want to just work away at something while listening to an audiobook or podcast.  Not a huge endorsement I suppose, but it fit into a niche I needed filled.

Pokemon Go

More Hoenn Pokemon were released into the wild, so we all had new things to catch and evolve.  There was also an event this past Saturday where for a short window you could catch the elusive Dratini.  I totally missed that.  But I would have needed to catch 33 of them in order to get the final evolution, a Dragonite.  Ah well.

  • Level: 31 (+0)
  • Pokedex status: 284 (+22) caught, 323 (+22) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Lapras, but it is unlikely I’ll see one again any time soon
  • Current buddy: Doduo, just needs four candies to evolve

World of Warcraft

I have managed to unlock all the world quest options and follower missions for Argus.  I also have both factions there into revered and am on the way to exalted, which will unlock the two remaining allied races for me.

Other Games

Played some more Stellaris, then picked up the expansion, but haven’t played enough since then to have a good feel for how things changed.  I also played a few rounds of Age of Empires II just because.

Coming Up

March looks like it will be a double retro MMO month with Trion launching its Rift Prime server and Daybreak launching yet another EverQuest progression server.  I am still on the fence a bit about Rift.  I suspect that, as with so many things, my memories of playing the game in the past will not line up with the reality of playing it again today.

In WoW… well… I’ll carry on until I am exalted all around in Legion.  But what happens after that is up in the air.

On the Minecraft front the rail line I have been working on is close enough to being done that I’m probably just going to put on an audiobook and finish that up.

In EVE Online we’re getting a bunch of stuff with the March update, the CSM election process promises to kick off,  plus, and you might be hearing it here first, but Burn Jita is returning soon.  Be wary.

And on the blog… we’re having some work done on our house which might get in the way of gaming or writing, so there might be more gaps that usual when it comes to posting if I find there is a couch and a desk stored in front of my computer.

H1Z1 – Going Live in Time to be a Zombie

Daybreak’s one-time H1Z1, then H1Z1: King of the Kill, then just King of the Kill, and finally just H1Z1 again, is reported to be leaving Early Access today.  There is a Producer’s Letter on the official site full of enthusiasm for this monumental day.

H1Z1 2015 Logo

At least they are trying to own the whole naming thing.

You missed one I think…

Starting as the Battle Royale mode of their zombie survival game first announced almost four years ago was a surprise success, selling in the seven figures and dominating the Steam charts.  Rightly wanting to reinforce success, the rest of the game was partitioned off as the aptly named Just Survive while the company focused on the bit that was getting attention.

I don’t think we’re here anymore…

Of course, what it also did was spawn imitators.  We hear all about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds these days, a title that leapfrogged H1Z1’s success in a way reminiscent of what WoW did to EverQuest, and which spawned its own imitator and competitor, Fortnite and its Battle Royale module.

Meanwhile H1Z1 has slid down the charts, having lost a reported 91% of its player base.  Once things looked rosy and there was a deal with Tencent to bring the game to China.  Now I wonder if that is in jeopardy.

So it seems like exactly the right moment to leave Early Access I guess.  Not that leaving Early Access means anything at all these days.  The game was supposed to leave Early Access last year, but then didn’t.  Now it has and it doesn’t mean much of anything.  There is no launch day bump when you’ve been acting like a shipping product for a couple of years already.

They do have some new features that come with launch, the main one being a car based Battle Royale mode.

Zombies in cars getting coffee

Of course, in what I can only see as an ironic twist, they announced a beta feature on launch day.  We will see if the updates that Daybreak are bringing to the game with its long past due launch will stem the tide of its fleeing player base.  Is it too little, too late?

Winter Movie League – Denouement

The last week of our Fantasy Movie League is now in the rear view mirror of life and it is time, as the title suggests, to wrap up the tale of the season.

This thirteenth and final week should have been a dramatic one.  The gaps between the top six players should have been enough for some changes to occur.  The problem was that as far as the week went, there were not a lot of surprises in store.  Upsets only come with surprises, films exceeding, or failing to meet, expectations.

There were some new films on the list, but Black Panther was expected to dominate still into its second weekend, and so was split into three days again, leaving the lineup looking like this.

Black Panther (SAT)  $534
Black Panther (SUN)  $395
Black Panther (FRI)  $334
Game Night           $201
Peter Rabbit         $167
Annihilation         $154
Fifty Shades Freed   $100
Jumanji              $87
The 15:17 to Paris   $62
The Greatest Showman $55 
Every Day            $45
Early Man            $26
The Maze Runner      $17 
The Post             $16
The Shape of Water   $15

I think it was pretty universally agreed that a screen or two of Black Panther was the safe pick.  Game Night seemed to have some potential, but you had to be a bit of a contrarian to run with it.  Likewise, if you hoped against hope, Annihilation might have seemed viable, though the reviews out before screens locked seemed to make that unlikely.

I went what seemed to be the safe route and rode on Black Panther, anchoring on two screens of Friday, slotting in a screen of Game Night, and then back filling with Early Man in my ongoing mistaken belief that everybody has fond memories of Wallace and Grommit and that this will make Early Man succeed during a time when even the title seems to be working against it.

I tinkered with various other options, but kept going back to that, locking it in on Friday.

My Winter Week Thirteen Picks

That turned out to be the most popular lineup for the week, and in the Meta League, with four of us going that route.

There was some variation across the league, and some radicals went with four screens of Game Night, but most of us anchored on Black Panther.

Black Panther turned out to be the anchor for the perfect pick of the week, but it was a pair of Sundays that were needed, coupled with a screen of Fifty Shades, a screen of Every Day, and four screens of The Post, a set of picks I wouldn’t have touched.  A set of picks a lot of people wouldn’t have touched I guess, since only six people got the perfect pick.

Winter Week Thirteen Perfect Pick

If somebody in the Meta League had gone that route, it could have changed the final lineup.  Corr could have come in first.  I could have been bumped out of third.  But none of our picks were all that radical as the scores for the week show.

  1. Kraut Screens (T) – $85,854,487
  2. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $85,388,127
  3. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $85,206,009
  4. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $84,648,305
  5. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $83,454,901
  6. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $83,454,901
  7. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $83,454,901
  8. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $83,454,901
  9. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $83,213,170
  10. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $80,631,400
  11. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $80,085,924
  12. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $80,005,525
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $79,299,436
  14. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $78,049,648
  15. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $71,219,616
  16. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $71,219,616

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

Kraut Screens took the week, but overall there is barely a $15 million gap between first and last place, and the gap between the upper half of the scores this week is a mere $3 million.

That left the overall scores for the season looking like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,353,892,212
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,346,243,354
  3. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $1,297,477,638
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,280,673,691
  5. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $1,277,791,402
  6. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,257,578,055
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,253,528,836
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $1,215,941,564
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $1,193,133,908
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,173,221,457
  11. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $1,121,506,158
  12. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $1,115,224,163
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $1,105,530,778
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $1,082,946,408
  15. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $1,080,494,353
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $1,066,304,533

The only change in that list over last week was Vigo Grimborne overtaking I HAS BAD TASTE.  Everybody else held their spots.

And so it goes.  For comparison House Harkonnen, who won the Season Showdown, clocked in with a total of $1,469,103,137 over the last thirteen weeks.

Congrats to Ben for winning the Meta League as well as the MCats Mulitplex League!

Against my own prediction, in which I declared that Pak and Po Huit would put me to shame this time around, I managed to eke out the win in the TAGN league and held third place overall in the Meta League.

Overall, weekly wins were fairly spread out.  Corr and Ben both won three weeks in the MCats League, but only one person there did not win at least one week.

Likewise, in the TAGN league only one person who was in for the whole season did not win a week, with SynCaine winning three of those weeks.

That pretty much wraps up the season.  The front end was dominated by Star Wars, while the back end was owned by Black Panther.  But I think the film that surprised me the most was Jumanji, which has been in the running for week after week and is carrying on into the first week of the Spring season.  I have to give The Greatest Showman in nod in that regard as well.  I don’t know how it keeps hanging on, but there it is yet again alive for another week as other contenders have come and gone.

Star Wars, while it opened strong, was a bit of a disappointment over time at the box office.  You cannot argue with the money it made initially, but it did not last as long in the hunt as the two I mentioned above or Wonder Woman or Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol. II from the summer season.  Fans of Star Wars had to see it… once.  But it seemed to leave what I would consider the core fan base a bit underwhelmed, which led to the usual arguments over to whom the series should cater; kids or the long time supporters.  I think the How It Should Have Ended episode of the film sums things up quite nicely… especially the little bit after the end credits.

There were a some cool things the movie could have done, or should have done, but avoided.  Oh well, at least there was no pod racing.

As for next season, I am mostly in favor of carrying on posting.  I was a little bit worried about the poll I took last time, not because it came out against the idea, but because it garnered so few votes.  That seemed like a sign that, at best, people were not reading the posts and, at worst, they were actively driving people away.

However, the poll I took the next day about an actual MMORPG got about the same number of responses, so it looks more like I have about 40 regular readers, having driven everybody else away already, though it could still be possible that various forms of ad block and browser filtering could be eating the polls.  I mean, it doesn’t take much to click on two freakin’ buttons, does it?  People wouldn’t read the poll and say, “I don’t feel like I have enough information or experience to answer that” would they?  That seems like behavior completely contrary to the ethos of the internet.

So I will likely carry on.  A few new people have signed up for the TAGN League, Pak and Po Huit are plotting my downfall, and the regular posting cycle keeps me going in its own way.  You can join the league as well.  I will provide a fresh link in the comments after this goes live.  Look for the post for the first week of the Spring Season on Thursday, just to get it into next month, which is a bit late, so don’t wait to do your picks until then.

SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite

As we roll on down to the final hours of February, SuperData Research has their digital revenue numbers for January available at last.

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2018

The standard top four, League of Legends and the three Chinese MMORPGs, maintain their hold on the top of the list, with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fornite: Battle Royale and World of Warcraft hanging on to the next three slots as they did in December.  The only change was CS:GO popping up into 8th place, edging out World of Tanks while Overwatch hung onto the last spot as the cyclical ROBLOX dropped off yet again.

So not much change there, with PUBG and Fortnite holding on, having scavenged most of the remaining customers that H1Z1 was living off of.

It is on consoles where the battle between those two continues.  In December PUBG jumped onto the list, taking third position with its release on XBox, while Fortnite lingered down in eighth.  With the coming of January though, Fortnite, available on both XBox and PS4, rose in the ranks as PUBG disappeared from the list.  The questions is, will Fortnite’s edge on consoles help it overtake PUBG on the PC as well?

Also missing from the console list is the much beleaguered Star Wars Battlefront II.

And over on the mobile list my two touchstone products, Candy Crush Saga and Pokemon Go, made the list at fourth and tenth place.  Not bad in such a crowded market.  Meanwhile Lineage M, the big mobile money maker for NCsoft these days, remained on the list, though it dropped two spots.  Since that appears to have scavenged a big segment of the legacy Lineage user base, long the company financial bedrock, I hope that the mobile version holds on for their sake.

Extra Credits – Picking at the Lockbox Thing Some More

The whole lockbox thing continues to meander down the road, hoving in and out of view as various politicians try to hitch their name to some aspect of this debacle.  Again, you can thank EA and their gross mishandling of Star Wars Battlefront II for this being in the public eye.

And while those seeking government intervention were buoyed by the Don Quixote-like tilting at lockboxes via bad legislation of a single Hawaiian legislator, they seem to have missed the part where an actual US Senator reached out to the ESRB in order to get the industry to self-police the whole lockbox thing.  The ESRB itself is a creation of the ESA, the video game lobbying group, who will no doubt be throwing money at key politicians to make sure any legislation goes nowhere.  Like the sign in the background in Thank You for Smoking said, “The best damn government money can buy!” and asking the ESRB to self-police is essentially a politician with their hand out looking for campaign donations.  I have seen nothing so far to make me waver from my prediction at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile the team at Extra Credits devoted some time to the lockbox thing, taking what I would guess is a more industry insider view.

Building on their previous two episodes about why video games should cost more than $60 and why video games are so expensive to make, which I previously referenced, they espouse the view that lockboxes are, at their heart, a good thing.

They take the stance that lockboxes are not gambling, echoing my own past statements, that under the laws, as currently written, they do not meet the requirements to be considered as such lacking, as they do, a real world payout mechanism.

But they move a step farther by declaring the lack of a real world payout makes lockboxes completely unlike gambling in any emotional or psychological sense, not something at all that would feed on the compulsive nature weakness that some people have.  They back this up by mentioning a study that says it is totally not a thing, failing to link to or otherwise reference the study so you can’t check up on it.  And then they hedge a hell of a lot even after that, undermining their belief in this alleged study, by saying that more work needs to be done on the topic and that should it come to pass that lockboxes are similar to gambling psychologically, then that would be a red warning light for the industry or something.

It struck me a bit like somebody speaking about addiction without having any experience with somebody in its grip, with a bit of denial sprinkled on top.  Grandpa’s not an alcoholic, he just likes a drink or six in the evening to help shed the stress of the day.

Or perhaps it is the view of somebody with a vested interest in lockboxes.  You cannot watch that video and not think they see lockboxes as good for the industry, a way to get past the pricing barrier of $60 via the time honored tradition of making whales do the monetary heavy lifting.

They will allow that, if lockboxes were being marketed to children, that would be “evil.”  That is one of the aspects around lockboxes that the legislator in Hawaii is going after.  However, they don’t seem to think that is really a thing.

I suppose the value of the video is the industry insider aspect of it.  Lockboxes are pretty much a necessity in that mind set, a requirement to sustain their otherwise untenable business model.  They don’t think companies should be unleashing every trick in the book to make players feel the MUST buy in to play, but admit that some companies will go to far and that the industry should self-regulate.

Of course, with yet another school shooting in the US, the industry has a bigger issue as a predictable demographic seeks to blame violence in movies and video games for the tragedy.  Our president even suggested that perhaps a rating system for such entertainment would be appropriate.  Such are the times in which we live.

Addendum:

They have done a lockboxes part II video covering the legislation things:

This goes down the gambling path, decided that if they are gambling then virtual goods have real world value and so you could, in that world, never ban an abusive user who spent money on your game or close down a server because that would separate people from their legally obtain virtual goods with real world worth.  They also try to hold out an olive branch to the legislator in Hawaii who, in the mean time, proposed legislation that made them throw their hands in the air at the end.

They do, however, rightly call out EA for ruining things for other devs with Star Wars Battlefront II. 

The Coming March Update in New Eden

CCP is pretty good about telegraphing what they are going to do with their expansions and updates.  They have a long history of dev blogs and forum posts about proposed features and have shown themselves to be responsive to feedback.  Of course, the latter is always a hazard, because if CCP bows to somebody’s logic then somebody else with a different view of things will start crying “foul!” or “favoritism” or “fake news!” or whatever the term du jour is.

I tend to believe CCP operates in good faith, in part because changing your mind in front of a live studio audience tends to be a painful experience and, as noted, makes people mad.  It would be much easier to do this in a smoke filled back room and announce the results as edicts not up for discussion. It works for Blizzard.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things now, CCP has month updates which tend to tune a few things and maybe add a feature, and expansions, which are the vehicle for big changes and spanking new features.  Citadels and Alpha accounts go with expansions, ship re-balancing and in-game events and changes to how you blow up a citadel go with updates.

But now I am looking at the mounting number of things planned for the March update and it seems like a lot.  There isn’t any single item that seems out of scope for the above rules.  Rather, there are so many things with such impact that it is starting to feel like more than an update.

First there was a dev blog about ship balance changes that opened with these two points that came out of the recent CSM summit:

  1. More change is better, even if it’s small
  2. The meta is feeling stagnant, particularly around Feroxes and the Marchariel

So, yes, both the Mach and the Ferox are taking a hit.  I always feel a bit sad for the Ferox when it gets knocked down as it was, for a long stretch, completely nonviable in the fleet meta where Drakes and Hurricanes ruled back in the day.  But now it is on the decline.

Meanwhile CCP has been trying to beat down the Mach for a while now, reducing the blueprint copy drops and boosting the cost to make them.  But the Russians have been farming those blueprints for so long that the supply is effectively endless.  As for raising the cost to make… do you even read the monthly economic report bro?  So CCP is now set to clip its wings a bit hoping to push this faction battleship back towards being a rare bling-mobile rather than its current status as a ship of the line for nearly every major coalition.

There were other ships getting specific tweaks while tech 1 battleships got an across the board boost:

  • +25% to cargo capacity
  • +20% to maximum lock range

Because why not I guess.

The dev blog also introduced the Flag cruiser concept, a hardened FC ship, in response to the ongoing drone about FC headshotting. (A topic covered for Blog Banter 76 a couple years back.)

The Monitor Flag Cruiser concept

You can see the proposed stats, as well as the community response, in this forum thread.   The debate is heated and one common item that keeps coming up is the lack of a way for an FC on this ship to get on kill mails.  We shall see where this ends up.  Right now it seems like a niche ship for very specific circumstances.

While that was still in the air another note came from CCP about removing the built-in voice chat from EVE Online.  This is apparently another item in the way of a 64-bit client.  Built-in voice chat was very much the thing a decade back and CCP, like SOE and a few others, went to Vivox for an integration. (I found out at GDC that the Vivox people came from the same speech/voice corner of tech I have dwelt in for most of my career.)  EVE Voice came in with the Revelations expansion back in November 2006 (high level list of features on the EVE Uni Wiki, but the actual Revelations 1.0 patch notes for the release went missing with the update to the community site) and has been lightly used ever since, with CCP declaring that only 0.4% of the players giving it a shot.  Of course, we’re finding out now who depends on it, but for the most part you were more likely to use the captain’s quarters than EVE Voice.

Then there was word of a new chat back end coming with the March update.  CCP will move to a centralized independent chat service that should make things better for somebody.  Currently one of the ways to improve your client performance in a big fleet fight is to close Local, even when TEST isn’t involved.  Maybe this will help with that, though it sounds like it won’t change anything you dislike about the in-game part of the chat system.

Then a huge dev blog dropped… huge if you’re in null sec at least… about changes to entosis, tethering, and a 95% reduction in jump fatigue.  This was greeted with both cheers and speculation as to whether or not all of CCP had been replaced by pod people or something, this being a heady and unexpected change.

The jump fatigue change, a game mechanic introduced with the Phoebe update in late 2014 because null sec was stagnant and needed a change, will drop the cap for overall fatigue (blue timer) from 4 days to 5 hours and the jump clock (orange timer) from a maximum of 9.6 hours to 30 minutes… because, no doubt, null sec is stagnant and needs a change.

Will 30 minutes be enough of a roadblock to keep titan fleets from ranging across the map, moving from citadel to citadel in great packs?  Or will the jump range limitations that came in with jump fatigue be enough?  As I tend to say, we shall see.

Finally, in what I suspect is the final package of things for the March release, there was also a forum post of “little things” to be addressed.  The list, as it stands right now:

  • Color coding in Fleet watchlist window
  • Targeting bracket on Fleet mates is purple (the fleet color) rather than yellow
  • Text for broadcasts for reps now include what ship type the broadcast came from
  • Fleet tags are now displayed on the targets in the target bar
  • It’s now possible to remove a Fleet tags (from whatever was tagged before)
  • The results from ship scans are now organized by slots
  • The Show Info window for a solar system now has a special tab for structures in the system. Please note that like before, it only lists those structures you have docking access at.
  • The HQ listed in Show Info windows for corporation will now be a link
  • A tooltip has been added to the standing icon in the show info window to show what that icon is based on (player to player, player to corp, alliance to corp etc).
  • If your security status is -2 or lower, the tooltip on your security status in the Character sheet will tell you in which systems the faction police will attack
  • There’s now an option to have the Compare tool only list those attributes that differ for the items currently being compared
  • The height of the “Duration” drop down in market orders have been increased, so all entries fit without scrolling
  • The Salvage option for salvage drones has been moved to the top of the right click menu
  • Volume information has been added to the “material input” and “output” tooltips in the Industry window
  • The right click options that have been categorized as potentially especially destructive will now have a red ! in front of them. Among other things, we hope this helps to make it easier to differentiate between “Reprocess” and “Repackage”.

My favorite on the list is the ability to see the ship type that broadcasts for reps.  It isn’t that I don’t love you support frigates in the fleet, but I really need to keep DPS, my fellow logi, and the FC alive, after which I might have time to spare a couple of rep cycles for you.

Color coding the watch list will be good as well.  Currently I have a stack order for FC, main anchor, snowflakes, logi anchor, and cap chain partners that can get a little mixed up when things go sideways.

Anyway, as I was getting at a thousand words or so back, this seems like a lot for a monthly update.  It lacks a big anchor feature to make it an expansion, but for an update it has a lot of chewy goodness packed in.

Finally, I suspect that these updates coming now, after the winter CSM summit, are not a coincidence.  Good job CSM12!  I suspect that this update will feature in a few re-election campaigns.  But my real question is, does this mean having Sort Dragon speak up constantly during meetings is a good thing?  His name comes up a lot in the minutes.

Spring is Coming Early for Rift Prime

In which we may again tread into how the seasons are measured.

A little over a month back Trion World’s put out their producer’s letter for Rift in which they were explicitly eyeing the seemingly evergreen fields of video game nostalgia with a mind towards making a few bucks on the idea.  Leave it to Trion to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon only after Blizzard began lumbering in that direction with WoW Classic.  We may not be in Azeroth anymore, but the influence of that world can always be felt across the genre.

Anyway, the plan was for something called Rift Prime, a nostalgia server set to follow the well trod path that EverQuest has been going down with increasing frequency over the last decade.  As with the well honed EverQuest model, the basic plan put forward back then would be a server with vanilla content (with some adjustment to the easier to access dials and switches to make the current state of play seem a bit more retro) that would unlock expansion content over time, and which would be available only to subscribers… excuse me, patrons… which would allow Trion to remove much of the cash shop gimmickry that otherwise pays the bills on the standard live servers.  All of this, and some other vague statements, were slated to become reality in “Spring of 2018” according to the producer’s letter.

While you may have noticed the rising tide of sarcasm up to this point, let me assure you I was, and remain, in full approval of this idea.  While I’d be interest to know whether the idea of Blizzard soon taking up every last seat on the nostalgia bus or the building backlash against lockboxes might have set Trion on this path, that is mostly idle curiosity.  That it is happening is the the real thing, the coin of the realm, and I am on board with it.

And spring seemed like a good time frame for me last month.  I was still enamored with Azeroth and pet battles and what not, and expected to remain so for another few months or so before tiring of it.  The launch could have been quite a while coming, as late as the front half of June, as we will recall from the Landmark Spring launch that came about on June 10, 2016.  Massively OP tried to make that something to complain about, but in the northern hemisphere summer is generally accepted to start on the solstice, not on June 1st.  A cabal of astrophysicists and calendar makers have made this a thing.  Trion just had to get there between March 20 and June 21st.

So when yesterday I saw the announcement that Rift Prime would launch on March 7, 2018, my second thought was, “That’s not spring!”

A springing tiger mount does not change that

I know that seems more than a bit pedantic, especially in California where is can get “spring-ish” in February, but I have been trained by years of working in software that an estimate like “spring” generally means as far into spring as you can get away with… like June 10th… the same way that “the middle of the month” means any day save the first or the last of a given month and “in a future release” means a point in time somewhere before the heat death of the universe.  Nothing is ever early.

This mattered to me because, as noted, I am still invested in WoW right now and I hate to dump a game I am enjoying for some new variable.  A bird in the hand is worth a pig in a poke and all that.  And few things can rain on playing another MMO than currently having fun playing WoW.

My first though was, “Oh, hey, that’s my birthday.”  I’m not sure if that is a sign or not.

Anyway, I am as ready as I can be I suppose.  After the producer’s letter I went and got the Glyph launcher, now considerably more trim since it let go of its Steam aspirations, figured out my login credentials, downloaded and patched Rift, then actually logged in.  So I am ready on that front.  I still need to buy my way into patron status… subscribe… to get access to Rift Prime, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

But do I want to play?

As mentioned, still being invested in WoW is an issue.  I’m on the downside of the usual WoW high and, while not ready to walk away just this minute, it wouldn’t be a tragedy if I did.  It might be better if I walked off still hungry for a bit more Azeroth.

Meanwhile, to get in on day one of a new server can be a special thing in and of itself.  And Rift’s world, or at least the initial content from launch, was made up of a set of very well designed zones that I really enjoyed the first time through… and the second and the third and the fourth time.  So I am good there.

Not everything will be as it was.  As the Rift Prime FAQ points out:

RIFT Prime will not be an exact copy of launch RIFT, and certain features that were added to RIFT to expand gameplay or improve quality of life will be available from day one. These include: Dimensions, Looking for Group, Looking for Raid, current Warfronts, and Wardrobes.

Instant adventures is off the table however.  That’s okay, IA was something of a “keep people busy while we get some new content out” sort of thing.

The server will also have level scaling for zones, so if you wander into a lower level zone you haven’t finished up, you’ll be scaled down to the level of the content.  No running about one-shotting everything.  Good as well.

There will be a cash shop, but it won’t offer gear or bags or lockboxes for the RMT currency.  There will just be cosmetics, mounts, and services available.  However, if you already have Rift Credits on your account… I have a bunch left from the F2P transition…  you won’t be able to use them.  There will be special Prime Credits for this server, though when the server closes any Prime Credits you have will become normal Rift Credits.

The FAQ says that they expect the server to run for at least a year, which after so much exposure to the mighty mountain of expansion unlocks that come with an EverQuest retro server, seems like a very short time horizon.  but Rift just doesn’t have that much to unlock.

And maybe a year is good.  Honestly, I am not interested in going into Storm Legion or beyond, the zone design there being the antithesis of the what I enjoyed about the launch zones.  So that would leave me playing for a few months before wandering off.  I don’t need a server to last more than a year to get what I am looking for.  And if it is a success, the shorter duration will likely lead to more such servers.

And, of course, Trion is selling a special Rift Primogenitor Pack in their web store for $30, which gets you the following:

  • 30 days of Patron access for the purchaser
  • 2 voucher codes for 15 days of Patron access each (30 days total). Invite your friends to play, apply it to your alts or use the time yourself!
  • A mount out of the ordinary: Armored White War Tiger
  • A title exclusive to Prime players: Primogenitor
  • Cloak of the Void
  • A new Prime portrait frame

Essentially, if you buy it all just for yourself, you’re getting two months of Patron access for about the same price as two months of Patron access, with a few goodies thrown in to sweeten the deal.

So I am leaning in favor of this.  I am not totally sold, but I have two weeks to decide.  And since I am crashing from my typing binge, I’ll close with a poll about this:

There is a poll above this line which, if you don’t see it, might have been eaten by ad block or Firefox or Russian troll bots.

Winter Movie League – Always Bet on Black Panther

The penultimate week of the winter round of our Fantasy Movie League has come and gone.

The question of the week wasn’t whether or not Black Panther was going to dominate the box office, but rather which day would be optimum to play.  With the opening of a blockbuster on a holiday weekend (President’s Day in the US) there ended up being four different ways to play Black Panther, one for each day.

Black Panther (FRI)  $501
Black Panther (SAT)  $451
Black Panther (SUN)  $348
Black Panther (MON)  $220
Peter Rabbit         $186
Fifty Shades Freed   $155
Jumanji              $87
The 15:17 to Paris   $68
The Greatest Showman $51
Early Man            $49
The Maze Runner      $39
Samson               $32
Winchester           $31
The Post             $26
The Shape of Water   $25

I bounced around with a few possible variations, with Friday generally as my anchor.  My past reluctance to back Friday night on split weeks was tempered when I found out that Thursday night previews get included in that number.  It still isn’t an automatic choice, but it is definitely in the running.

But given the hype around Black Panther Friday did seem like a decent choice.  I started out with that, Peter Rabbit, and six screens of Early Man.  I wasn’t sold on that, with the main question being whether or not Peter Rabbit would out-do Black Panther’s Sunday take.  Things often slow down come Sunday for a new release, with the truly interested having gotten in on the first few nights.

However, as the week went along the estimates for Black Panther kept creeping up, so I started looking into how to get more of that into my lineup.  I played with various combos of Saturday and Sunday, but steered clear of Monday believing, as the pricing indicated, that interest would have slackened some even on a holiday weekend.

As often happens, I didn’t settle on my final pick until Friday morning.  I waited to see what they were saying about the Thursday night previews.  Those were strong enough that I wanted Friday in my pick along with at least one additional day.  I ended up with Friday, Sunday, and six screens of The Shape of Water which was not only a selection mentioned in TAGN chatter but the same pick my wife made for our home league the night before.

My Winter Week Twelve Picks

Then the time was up, picks were locked, and I could see what everybody else went with.  I shared my pick with two other people, I HAS BAD TASTE and Logan, and was off by one screen from Corr, but there was some variety in picks especially in the TAGN league where all four days of Black Panther were anchors for somebody.

Then as the weekend passed the estimates started to roll in.  On Saturday it looked like Friday was the good choice for anchor.  On Sunday it was mixed.  By Monday the Sunday box office looked to make that day the best performer.  Then there was the question as to how well Monday would do.  I wrote in the chatter for the TAGN league that if Monday went crazy and hit $40 million then Darren, who anchored on four screens of Monday, would have a great week.

And, of course, Monday turned in a box office of $40.15 million, making it the anchor for the perfect pick of the week, which was four screens of Monday, one screen of The 15:17 to Paris, two screens of The Post, and one empty screen.

Winter Week Twelve Perfect Pick

To show how wild the week was, the summary says that only four people got the perfect pick, and I only see three people with that pick in the overall FML League.  This was a tough week to forecast compared to a few weeks back when nearly a thousand people got the perfect pick.

Darren had four screens of Monday and four screens of The Shape of Water, so did not get perfect, but it was enough for him to dominate the Meta League scores for the week.

  1. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $176,827,124
  2. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $156,901,972
  3. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $155,650,217
  4. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $154,765,562
  5. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $148,721,837
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $148,338,897
  7. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $148,338,897
  8. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $148,338,897
  9. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $145,695,766
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $145,695,766
  11. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $145,695,766
  12. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $145,695,766
  13. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $141,649,479
  14. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $133,748,148
  15. Kraut Screens (T) – $132,982,268
  16. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $124,884,965

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

Darren was almost $20 million out in front of the pack, followed up by a group of three in the $155 million range, who all steered clear of the dead weight that Friday turned out to be.  And then things taper down, with the last three being people who only picked a single screen of Black Panther.  Basically, the more Black Panther you had, the better you did.

That led to a bit of change in the overall season rankings.

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,270,679,042
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,262,788,453
  3. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $1,214,022,737
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,197,218,790
  5. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $1,192,403,275
  6. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,178,278,619
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,168,880,531
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $1,135,310,164
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $1,113,047,984
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,102,001,841
  11. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $1,044,004,547
  12. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $1,043,456,510
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $1,019,676,291
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $1,002,940,883
  15. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $997,039,452
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $981,098,524

Corr managed to edge up a bit closer to Ben, so the race for first place is still on with less than an $8 million gap between the two of them.

The single screen of Black Panther picked for Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema let me pull back into third place and, while my position is not unassailable, my next pick has to be bad, or Pak has to ace his pick, for me to lose it.  As we saw this week, a $20 million margin isn’t impossible.

Two people were dropped from the scoring totals, Liore and the Filthy Fleapit due to both having failed to pick for three weeks over the course of the season.

All of which leads us to the final week of the season.

Black Panther (SAT)  $534
Black Panther (SUN)  $395
Black Panther (FRI)  $334
Game Night           $201
Peter Rabbit         $167
Annihilation         $154
Fifty Shades Freed   $100
Jumanji              $87
The 15:17 to Paris   $62
The Greatest Showman $55 
Every Day            $45
Early Man            $26
The Maze Runner      $17 
The Post             $16
The Shape of Water   $15

This week Winchester, Samson, and the Monday option for Black Panther fell off of the list.

Replacing those are three new films on the list, Game Night, Annihilation, and Every Day.  But none of them are going to be big enough to assail Black Panther this weekend or, looking at that pricing, even a single day of Black Panther this weekend.  That means Black Panther remains split into three days.

Friday, being a work day and lacking the bonus of Thursday night previews this time around, is the lowest priced on the list.  Saturday is expected to be the big day, so you can only have one screen of that, with Sunday expected to be closer to Friday in take.  So it again looks like a question of how many screens of Black Panther can you get?

This being the last week of the season, next week’s post will be the final scores.  My plan has been to then skip the Spring season and come back with a series of posts for the roller coaster of the Summer blockbuster season.  However, I thought I would take a poll about it.  Doing the posts themselves every week isn’t a big deal.  I know I am writing them every week and it can be very much a template to fill out with some commentary around it.  But I am not sure that makes for exciting reading week after week.  So, a poll!

Either way I will still pick every week for Spring, so the TAGN League will be alive.  I will put a link in the comments after this post goes live that will let you join the league.  You do need to go create an account at Fantasy Movie League to play and, as I recall, it is marginally easier if you do that first, then join the league.

Trying Out the Guardians Gala Sites

The current Guardian’s Gala event in EVE Online is the sort of thing that makes me wonder what people really want out of such events or how they should be structured.

Guardians Gala Comes Again

Like such events before it, Guardian’s Gala is embedded in the structure of The Agency.  However, the grasp of The Agency has grown since I last spent some time on an event.  The Lifeblood expansion back in October expanded The Agency from an event framework to the “everything PvE” vision CCP had for it.  So rather than the event being its own thing it is now jammed in the frame with all things PvE though, if you haven’t hidden it already, you will get some event info on screen.

The Agency owns all your PvE

Having read the event preview over at The Nosy Gamer, I had a good idea as to what ship I might bring.  With the NPCs warping in on top of you it reminded me of the Warzone Extraction event from last September.  I grabbed the same alt that I ran those with along with the same ship, a passive tanked Drake.

Big Shiny Drake

I swapped out the resistance amplifiers to explosive and kinetic flavors in order to match the expected damage and, after one run, swapped the Scourge heavy assault missiles out for normal Scourge heavy missiles along with a target painter to improve damage application.

My crappy Drake fit

I’ll paste my crappy fit into a comment on the post if you’re interested… and if I remember.  I don’t recommend this fit particularly, I just happened to have it sitting around handy and my alt has all the skills for it maxed out.  I also cheaped out and shot plain T1 missiles, though I brought some faction missiles along just in case.

As with the Warzone event, the sites are all over New Eden and when you arrive in a site the NPCs have a propensity for warping in on top of you so you aren’t going to pull range and kite.  Unlike the other event, you won’t get warp scrambled or have your capacitor drain.  But you will be webbed many times over by the frigates in the site while the cruisers will sit at range with target painters on you blazing away.  That range turned out to be “just beyond my heavy assault missiles engagement envelope” which is why I dropped the HAMs for HMLs.  With heavy missiles my alt can hit out to 78km and, since I wasn’t neuted, I could run a target painter to help clean up the frigates.

On grid webbed and painted

The goal seems to be to slaughter as many hostiles as it takes… the number seems to be about 20 or so.. in order to draw out the guest of honor, so-called, who arrives in a battleship or a battlecruiser.  You then chase that down, blow it up, and you’re done with the site.

You are seriously done, because any leftover NPCs align out and warp off at that point.  You lose lock on them even before they’ve entered warp.

Anyway I took to shooting the frigates primarily because with the target painter they only required three missile salvos and the less ships slowing me down with webs the better in my book.  Meanwhile the sig of my fat ass Drake, boosted by shield extenders, was probably big enough that the cruisers painting me made no difference at all to damage being applied to me.  So a double win, frigs died faster and in doing so removed something slowing me down in completing the site.

Site rewards come from the wrecks, the primary source being the battleship/battlecruiser who has, for me at least, dropped a SKIN and a learning accelerator with every round.  The smaller ships also have loot, though more often than not it is metal scraps which are hardly worth the effort.

So, in general, easy-peasy.  Warp in, shoot small stuff until the big guy shows up, shoot him, profit.

The details are where things get a bit more messy.

For openers, this seems like a good way to kill new players.  It isn’t as deadly as the Warzone Extraction event, because this one doesn’t lock you down with a warp scrambler so you can escape… and being webbed will get you to warp more quickly… but things can still go sideways fast if you’re not prepared.  My alt with max shield skills and a passive fit Drake that regenerates at 188 DPS won’t have an issue, but somebody wandering into a site with their level 2 mission cruiser may be in for a rude awakening.

But do we care?  If we judge who the event is for based on the level of effort required, then it is something for canny PvE veterans I suppose.  It does seem to require people who can manipulate the overview because, as usual, the NPCs are unselected by default.

Then there is the open nature of the event.  Anybody can see the sites on their overview… even if the ships themselves might not show up because CCP… and can warp on in at any time.  And if somebody shows up and gets the last hit on the special end ship, then they get the loot.  Or, if they can get to the wreck of the last ship before you do and loot it, it is theirs unless you’re ready to take them on in a fight.  That is just the special nature of EVE Online, where you are never fully able to play away from your fellow capsuleers.  I went off to a remote area to run the sites and still had this happen to me once.  I can only image how this is playing out a few jumps from the crowd in Jita.

And then there is the whole point system that events in The Agency use to distribute additional rewards.  This time around they are not too bad in that they are mostly in line with what you are going to do anyway, which is run sites and shoot NPCs.

You earn ten points for killing, in sequence, 5, 10, 50, and then 100 of the small fry, ten points for finishing a site and then a couple of sites, and ten points for killing 1, 2, 5, then 10 of the loot pinatas at that end the site.  I managed 80 points my first night out, though I was thwarted twice on that last set, once when somebody showed up and destroyed the boss ahead of me and once when the boss got bored and warped off.  I’d read that they might warp off and that I should be patient, but after 10 minutes I figured he wasn’t coming back and that I’d been denied rewards and progress yet again.

The second night I passed 100 points and earned my first reward.

Something for my efforts!

Of course, that would have been a lot more impressive if I hadn’t already looted 1,700 Angels Arisen Fireworks already.  To get the next reward I need 300 points and, frankly, the event isn’t that much fun.

Of course, somebody out there is going to be obsessed with the ISK per hour measure of the event, so let me see if I can help on that front.

I timed myself on a couple of sites and it took about 15 minutes to complete and loot in my slow old Drake; extending out to maybe 20 mins if I bumbled my efforts to pick up loot along the way.  With a better ship/fit than mine you could easily cut that back some.  On the other hand, you also have to find a site.  I was pretty lucky out in my area of operation, being the only one in local and having a new site ready every time I finished.  Still, let’s be conservative and call it two sites an hour.

I got 250-300K ISK for just shooting things up.  I think shooing the cruisers more than the frigates could boost that, but whatever.

You get the skill booster which, depending on which one you get, is worth 15-50 million ISK.

And then there is the SKIN, which is the real wildcard.  I imagine the right SKIN would get you some ISK.  The problem is that the market is currently flooded with the Spirit SKINs that drop, all the more so because they are the same SKIN that dropped last year, only they changed the name of the set so I thought for a moment it might be a new SKIN.

But it isn’t.

It is still a good SKIN.  Not as good as a new, hot pink SKIN would be, but good.  In some cases, it is the best looking SKIN that you can find for a few ships.  But it is pretty common so it might be something to save until after the selling frenzy settles down.

The most valuable one I got was probably the Gallente Shuttle SKIN, which you cannot even list on the market.  You have to sell it via contract, a complication that means that there isn’t much competition for it.  But even then, you might get 10 million ISK or so, which isn’t all that much, and which requires somebody to know that the SKIN exists and that it is only available via contracts.

I’ll probably keep it just to add to my collection.

Otherwise the next most valuable SKIN I got was for a Phoenix dreadnought, which might be good for 6 million ISK on a lucky day.

And then there are fireworks.  I got a lot of fireworks off of wrecks.  And metal scraps.  So many metal scraps.  And then there was the odd ship module now and again, some of which were useful.

All told, if the odds were ever in your favor, you could bring in upwards of 100 million ISK per hour with optimum drops.  But that seems unlikely.  Reality is probably closer to 30 million ISK per hour, and that is indirect because you have to schlep back to a market hub to sell your loot.

Basically, you shouldn’t stop ratting in your super carrier to run off and harvest the bounty of Guardian’s Gala.  All the SKINs and learning accelerators you want will be on the market in Jita waiting for you and your ISK to show up.

The advanced booster boost

Even my dank 10-18 million ISK ticks in my little Ishtar are a better value as I get that and all the loot and salvage as well.

But as a distraction from whatever you’re doing in New Eden currently Guardian’s Gala probably isn’t the worst thing you could choose.  And you might even get a SKIN or two that you want.  And it makes for a few nice screen shots.