Monthly Archives: April 2019

Quote of the Day – We are Just Alluvial Accretion

It [EVE Online] has existed for 16 years and people think it’s in stagnation. But that’s the story with a lot of these long running franchises; it’s like a river that flows through, and there’s a bottom layer of people that stick, and over time there are layers of generations of EVE players that keep on being added every single year.

-Hilmar Petursson, Gamesindustry.biz interview

I think he is saying that New Eden is a wretched hive of river bottom scum and villainy .

Anyway, Hilmar has been out again selling the strange beast that is EVE Online.  A lot of the interview focuses on challenge of updating the game to keep up with the push to support ever larger battles out in null sec, which ends up in the Aether Wars demo from GDC last month.

EVE Online Forever

But as the article goes on it starts to delve into player numbers and the ongoing survival of the game.  The numbers are a bit dubious to me.

The article states that the game has 300K monthly active users, but that isn’t in quotes so may not be represented as it came out of Hilmar’s mouth.  We do have a quote from Hilmar in a Venture Beat interview back in September, when the Pearl Abyss merger was the focus, saying “The MAU fluctuates a bit, but it’s 200,000 to 300,000 people.”  That helped narrow down the answer the the question of how many people play the game, but it is a range not just the highest number.

But then there is another number that came straight from him in a quote:

“Contrary to what some people think, a lot of new people join EVE Online every week,” he said. “Every week we have about 10,000 people that log into EVE Online for the first time.

This plays to the stagnation question that came up.  The answer was that things are not stagnate if so many new people are showing up, leading to the river metaphor that I quoted at the top.  A river isn’t stagnate with that much water flowing through it.  But EVE Online isn’t a river, and players that “flow through it” are not adding the collective story of the game or to the bottom line of the company.

At first I questioned the idea that 10K players… okay, let’s be honest, 10K new accounts… are created every week. (The 10K number also came up during his AMA earlier this month.)  On the Tranquility page over at EVE Offline the new born player graphs hardly support that notion.  Of course, with the API apocalypse of last year, one cannot be sure of external numbers.  However, over at EVE Board, the character tracking site (run by Chribba, who also does EVE Offline) the birth distribution chart down the statistics page seems to have numbers that support at 10K a week number, at least for character creation.  In fact, it seems to indicate that 10K would be a low number, as it records 74K new character creations so far this month, with a week left to run.  That would be something like 25K characters a week.

But a new character is not necessarily a new account and a new account is not necessarily a new player.  In the age of alpha clones new account creation isn’t the measure it once was.  That birth distribution chart shows a big spike with the introduction of alpha clones in November of 2016, but that settles down fairly quickly, dropping below the peak period for the game around 2011 to 2013.  So I cannot discount that 10K number, though I did choke a bit on the next one.

Last year, I think about a million people came into our systems in one way or another for the first time.

I suppose there is some ambiguity in that phrase, but even if it is true I am not sure it is a number to be proud of give the peak monthly active users quoted.  You start to wonder how many long term active players there really are.

The obvious point to all those fresh accounts flowing through the game while the MAU numbers stays the same and the peak concurrent number slowly declines is that player retention, especially new player retention, sucks.  That isn’t a new problem.  I’ve been over some of the issues I think the game has, but you can’t fix most of them.  EVE Online is a strange and complex game that no other titles really prepare you for.

Of course, just last week Hilmar was being quoted about Asia being the future for EVE Online.  But there has been a server in China, Serenity, for more than a decade and, while the company they partnered with ran it into the ground, even at its peak moment in 2012 it barely hit numbers that would mark the daily low point on Tranquility.  More recently there has been an exodus of hardcore players from China to Tranquility, a trend that continues.  While getting us all on the same server makes for a better game, these were already players, fellow members of the scum forming on the bottom of the metaphorical river.

It seems like less flow and more stagnation… player retention… might be a good thing.

And so we’re back to the same old issue.  How do you get somebody engaged with a game that seems bent on driving people away with complexity?

Reavers Gnosis Racing

As happens, every so often Ranger Gama sets up another race event for Reavers.  The last one had us flying around in Drakes back at the end of December.  This time around the Gnosis, the Society of Conscious Thought battlecruiser, was the hull of choice.  We gathered together at 02:00 EVE Online time and Ranger Gama handed us the ships for the race.

Gnosis with the Icecloud Investigator SKIN

The Gnosis is a bit of an odd bird, one of the rare faction battlecruisers… I think it was the sole such example until we got the Triglavian Drekavac recently… along with having very low skill requirements to fly as well as bonuses to which ever weapon system you prefer to mount.  Rails, projectiles, beams, missiles, and drones all get a boost on this hull.

Of course, for a Reavers race the fit is always part of the equation, though weapon systems rarely come into play.  We got our ships and found the usual odd set of modules.

Mix of all sorts of modules

For those who want the details, here is the EFT block:

[Gnosis, Reavers Race]
Damage Control I
Reinforced Bulkheads I
Nanofiber Internal Structure I
Inertial Stabilizers I
Overdrive Injector System I
Warp Core Stabilizer I

Medium Micro Jump Drive
10MN Afterburner I
50MN Microwarpdrive I
Cargo Scanner I
Ship Scanner I
Survey Scanner I

Miner I
Salvager I
Small Tractor Beam I
Festival Launcher
Cynosural Field Generator I
Core Probe Launcher I

Medium Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I
Medium Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I
Medium Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I

Mining Drone I x1
Light Armor Maintenance Bot I x1
Light Shield Maintenance Bot I x1
Salvage Drone I x1
Light Hull Maintenance Bot I x1

Liquid Ozone x249
Core Scanner Probe I x8
Sodium Firework x100
Barium Firework x100
Copper Firework x100
Mobile Medium Warp Disruptor I

There was also an Ironblood SKIN in each so people could spiff up their ship.  I already had that SKIN.  In fact, I was a bit surprised to find I had four SKINs for the Gnosis already.  I am not sure I’ve ever bothered to fly one, other than to undock one back in the day just to see it in space.

Fireworks are the usual fit.  A miner, a tractor beam, and a salvager are not unheard of.  The cyno was an interesting touch, though in the cargo we found ourselves one unit of Liquid Ozone shy of being able to light it off, so nobody would be coming to our rescue that way.  And we had probes.  I guess we could wormhole our way home if we survived.  The Gnosis gets a bonus to probe strength as well.

There was also a medium warp bubble in the cargo.  Those are fun at parties, though I wasn’t sure how one would fit into the race.  Theoretically, if you could get far enough ahead, you could drop one to annoy the people behind you.  But they take 240 seconds to deploy and if you’re that far ahead you might as well just carry on flying.

Otherwise the ship was at least fit for speed.  The hyperspatial rigs meant we would be warping fast for a battlecruiser.

The rules for the event were the usual; only standard star gates allowed.  No Ansiblex jumps, no titan bridges, and no wormholes.  The payout for the winners was set as:

  • 1st Place:  50% of the pool
  • 2nd Place:  30% of the pool
  • 3rd Place:  15% of the pool
  • POD:  5% of the pool
  • Harlyq Prize: Something special

The Harlyq prize, named after a Reaver for reasons I’ve no forgotten, required you to stop and mine 500 units of Scordite along the way and have that in your hold at the finish line.

Unfortunately, the timing for the race was not optimal.  It was Saturday night before Easter, the second day of Passover, and a Liberty Squad op had just formed up minutes before the race ping… and there is a lot of overlap between Liberty Squad and Reavers, so much so that the two groups pretty much cannot run fleets at the same time… so that turn out for the race was pretty low.  There were just five of us.

Still, we were game.  We all had our ships in 1DQ1-A in Delve and were ready to go.   Ranger Gama had us undock then warped us to a celestial while updating the message of the day with the route.  When we landed, we were off and running.

Gnosis Race is On

The route was essentially the same as the last one, landing us in HED-GP, a location which usually has somebody camping it.

Race Route

As tends to happen, with all things being equal, the person with the best connection to the data center starts to pull ahead as they transition through gates faster.  As it so happened Zarakik is close to the London data center and, when we all announced our client latency, was showing an easy 10ms advantage over the next person on the list, hitting 6ms to 16ms or more for those of us in the US.

Somebody did a long post at one point about the dynamics of EVE Online and specifically how to be that person who always gets the kill at a gate camp, the summary of which was “be close to the London data center.”  Same thing here.

We could see Zarakik gaining a lead with every gate.  Our only real hope was for him to go AFK for a bit or to run into a gate camp ahead of us.  And the former wasn’t going to help me much.  Being on the west coast of the US I was the furthest from the data center and was falling behind everybody ever so slightly, so I would still be in last place if I just did gated and warped with the rest of them.

Destined for last place if nothing got in our way, I decided to stop and mine so at least to get the Harlyq prize.  The problem was just finding some Scordite out in null sec.  That doesn’t spawn in mining anomalies, or so I observed, so I had to start warping to belts to find some.  Eventually I spotted an asteroid in a belt without rats and ran a cycle that got me what I needed.

Gnosis mining

That accomplished, I was way behind the pack.  My main hope was that they would hit a gate camp.  They were far enough ahead of me that I would hear about it long before I got there.  But I decided to hedge my bet and pick a route to get to HED-GP via another route.  So I looked for a waypoint on DOTLAN that would get me around the straight path.  It would take me longer, but last race the winner was the person who did not run the shortest path.

My proposed alternate route

So I set 4-07MU as my destination and started taking gates.

After a bit I started to suspect I might have made an error as I noted along the way some of the things the people ahead of me had mentioned.  I then realized that I had simply made 4-07MU my destination and that the shortest path there was to go through HED-GP and back around through Querious.  Navigational error on my part.

But it did not matter.  As it turned out nobody was camping anything along the route.  TEST and its allies have a campaign of their own going on in the east and were probably all deployed out there.  So the five of us just flew through their space, all arriving in HED-GP unscathed, without much of a scare.  I think somebody saw an Onyx along the way, but it didn’t come after us or anything.

Throwing fireworks at Ranger Gama

The results were:

  • 1st Place:  Zarakik
  • 2nd Place:  Ranger Gama
  • 3rd Place:  Hoff Talvanen
  • Harlyq Prize:  Wilhelm Arcturus

Then there was the question of what to do when you don’t lose any ships.  Ranger Gama did not want them back.  I flew mine back to 1DQ1-A through Querious, half hoping to get caught along the way.

Gnosis on the way home

The main highlight on that trip was discovering that SpaceMonkeys Alliance was a thing again and part of the Querious Fight Club.  I had not heard much about them since they collapsed from exhaustion during the Casino War. (They helped start the whole thing, or so the story goes, and were fighting for months before it became the big conflict it ended up as.)

The SMA logo above a gate

I arrived back in Delve intact, missing only the mobile war disruptor, which I dropped along the way during the race.  I aligned for a gate at one point, triggered my micro jump drive to put me 100km off the gate, and set it to deploy.  I figured that would annoy somebody.  And somebody did take the time to kill it.  Ranger Gama also dropped his and it was popped by a couple of the same people.  Zarakik dropped his in TEST space where it got solo’d.  EVEBruceL and Hoff Talvanen either didn’t drop theirs or dropped them some place where they simply expired before anybody felt like shooting them.

The final aspect of the race was to find out what the Harlyq prize would be.  “Something special” covers a lot of ground.  But later that evening a contract popped up from Ranger Gama.  I figured out what he did with the spare Gnosis hulls he had.

Some Gnosis hulls for me

They were all set up as mining ships, with cargo expanders in the low slots and mining lasers in the high slots.

Mine my own business

I doubt I am going to mining in them.  I’ll have to find a decent PvP fit and take them out to get blown up… once I’ve insured them.

Of course, we’re back to what to fit.  The Gnosis works with so many weapon systems.  Maybe lasers.  At least those are pretty.

A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like

Something from the drafts folder.  I’m not sure what set me to write this back in August, but I fixed it up a bit and set it free today.

You know what it is like, right? All these new games keep getting announced, Kickstarted, early accessized, launched, and ported to this platform or that to the point that you cannot keep track of them anymore. And how can you possibly shit all over some game you’ve barely looked into to keep it on encroaching on the games you love and have sworn to protect?

Well your worries are over as I have put together this helpful list of ways you can badmouth games you hardly even know anything about.

Compare it Unfavorably!

Find the best, most popular game that bears any resemblance to the game you want to put down… it doesn’t need to be an exact competitor, or even that close really…  and dig right in with how this new game isn’t the one you’ve picked out.  I mean Path of Exile, Pillars of Eternity, and Papers Please are all pretty much WoW anyway, right?

I call this the “It’s not WoW” method, because in the MMORPG genre you can put down anything by claiming it isn’t World of Warcraft.  No matter what you’re comparing it to you can always claim that WoW somehow does it better and faster while looking good and being more fun to boot.  It must be a really effective tactic given how much it comes up in general chat in every single MMORPG ever.

It’s been Done!

Is the object of your scorn an entry in an already established genre?  Then you’re all set by declaring it to be derivative, unoriginal crap that has been done better, faster, and cheaper already.  This is basically the flip side of the first entry, because on the MMORPG front you can dismiss just about anything as simply being another WoW.  The best thing about this claim is that the more crowded the genre is, the more likely that you’re actually on the mark with this one.  It is like a double win!

Graphical Style!

If it looks like shit it must be shit, right?  It doesn’t matter if you actually think the game in question looks like shit or not, somebody out there does and if you say this enough times then somebody will agree with you and BAM you’re there!

And even if it doesn’t look like shit you can always go on about how you don’t like retro or pixellated or stylized or realistic or colorful or dark or whatever art style is being used.  You can trash them all with ease.

The One Feature!

Struggling to find something bad to say overall?  Then just pick on one feature!  Does it have PvP?  Toxic!  Non-consensual PvP?  Griefing gankbox! A Cash shop?  Pay to win!  A shooter?  Aimbots and hacks!  An MMO?  WoW clone!  Involves colorful fantasy? WoW clone! Does it have quests? WoW clone! Can you wield a sword? WoW clone!  Is its name three words with “of” being the second? WoW clone! Levels? Grind! Factions? Grind! Crafting?  Grind!  Also, WoW clone for those as well.  Really, is there anything that isn’t a WoW clone these days?

A Missing Feature!

Did somebody make a game and forget to include something that you are sure must be a standard feature for all games in that genre?  Is there a shooter without a single player campaign?  An ARPG without local multiplayer support?  An RPG without modding?  A strategy game without play by mail?  An MMORPG without housing?  Let that obviously lazy developer know what you think!  This is a slap in the face!

Crowdfunding!

Is the game in question a crowdfunded venture?  Well, you’re work has probably been done for you then.  Even if it has shipped it was almost certainly late and did not deliver on all of its promises.  And if it hasn’t shipped it is probably both late and still asking for more money.  Make sure you let people know that “backers” is just another word for “suckers” and that the whole thing is certainly just a scam.

Developer Hate!

Don’t know enough about the game to even go after it?  Then go after the developer!  This is a slam dunk for any EA game, because we know they’ll fuck it up somehow.  But every dev has their weakness.  If the developer is popular, then the game has probably been dumbed down to appeal to non-gamers, which we all know to be a sin, and not worth $59.99 on Steam.  If it is an indie developer, then it is probably buggy as hell and not worth $4.99 on Steam.

If you want to get more specific, figure out any mistake or recurring trait of the studio in question, magnify it one hundred times, then project it on this new game.

For example, does Paradox Interactive have a new game?  Then it is probably an overwrought boring strategic sim with a confusing UI and an erratically bad AI that will force you to marry your adult son off to a six year old cousin just to secure your hold on power.

If the game comes from Blizzard then they have surely just stolen someone’s game idea, put colorful stylized graphics on it, simplified and watered it down so even your grandmother could play it, and put a $59.99 price tag on it.

Or if the game is from Riot then even running the tutorial would turn your sainted mother into a toxic, foul mouthed, misogynist douchebag.  Hah hah, just kidding.  You probably already love League of Legends, the only game Riot has ever made, will ever make, and need ever make.  Right amigo?

Objectively Not Fun!

Here is the big secret to game criticism.  Any game can be made to sound like it is no fun if you pull back and simplify it enough.  For example, with something like Diablo you can say, “So you just click on shit and that’s it?”  With an MMO like WoW you can say, “So you just press buttons and things die?” With a shooter like Call of Duty you ask, “So you just listen to some 13 year old swear at you while he kills you again with an aimbot?  Or with EVE Online you can ask, “So you just sit in your Rorqual watching your excavator drones and hoping not to get hot dropped?”

Then you follow that leading question with the big pronouncement, something like, “Games are supposed to be fun! How is this fun?” and bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve scored your point even if what you have asked is so off base as to be a complete mis-characterization of the game.  (Except for EVE Online, which has been scientifically proven to be not fun.)

Corrupt Developer!

Hah, just kidding!  That is the sort of outrageous lunacy, sheer tinfoil, unbelievably biased, and unhinged craziness that will do more to sink your complaints than help them.  There is no point going there if it is just going to undo your hard work.

Make Things Up!

Let’s face it, this new game is a threat.  It could take players away from your game, and your value as a human being is directly measured by how popular the games are that you play.  So don’t let reality stand in your way.  Say whatever comes to your mind.  It is probably true to some degree in any case, right?

Special Bonus: Concern Troll!

If you cannot bring yourself to straight up attack a game (why the hell not?), then there is another route you can take.  You can pretend to like the game.  You can even say you like it a lot, but that you’re sure it could be even better.  And then you can start suggesting features and improvements that are pretty much contrary to the theme and focus of the game.  Just take whatever the game does and suggest the opposite.  Is it PvE focused? Then it needs PvP! Or if it is PvP focused, then it really needs a PvE server.  Is it vehicle focused? Demand avatar game play!  And if it doesn’t have vehicles, demand those!  Or pick a random secondary feature like housing and post over and over again how the game needs this.

But be sure to restate that you are a fan of the game in question, but you fear it is dying or incomplete, so you are trying to help the developer by posting your suggestions over and over in any comment thread about the game.  Never fail to bring up your pet suggestion, ever!  Maybe, by sheer volume of words, the developer will eventually waste time and wreck their game by trying to implement your suggestion.

Things to Remember

  • The more often you say something on the internet, the more true it becomes.
  • You’re totally normal, so everybody else who is normal agrees with you, so you should make sure people know you pretty much speak for everyone in your statements.
  • Negativity is all people listen to anyway.  If you want to be heard you need to go negative early and often.
  • Reason and compromise diminish you as a person and taint your family out to four generations.
  • People disagreeing with you have no feelings and are probably bots or being paid to say what they’re saying in any case.
  • You cannot definitively rule out that you are just a brain in a jar and that this is a simulation being run to test you and your ability to defend your game of choice.

Brisc Ban Nightmare Scenario

Invest in space popcorn!

-Bree Royce, Massively OP comment

Last week’s announcement from CCP that Brisc Rubal had been removed from CSM13 and his accounts permanently banned from EVE Online was a bit of a bolt out of the blue.  Many people were stunned.  Some were saddened that a CSM member who spent so much time trying to reach out to the community turned out to breaking the rules.  Others were less surprised that a lawyer and lobbyist… read politician… might somehow be corrupt.  Brisc had more than his share of detractors who were unhappy with his background, style, or lack of deep knowledge when it came to the mechanics of the game.  And being yet another null sec member of the CSM made him a target of opportunity for those who remain angry at the over representation on the body of that part of the game.

Remember when CSM13 seemed kind of drama free?

There has been current in the community that feels CCP doesn’t ban enough people, botters, RMTers, cheaters, or whoever.  But at least you could assume that this was because CCP was being very careful about handing out bans.  As I have said before, banning people who do not deserve it is the worst outcome as it is a very quick way to make a happy customer unhappy with your service.

So I was a bid dismayed by the CCP announcement yesterday:

Interim Statement on Brisc Rubal Follow-up Investigation

Last week, on April 8 2019, we announced the permanent banning of Brisc Rubal and their ejection from the Council of Stellar Management. We also issued one-year bans to two other players involved in this incident and confiscated their associated in-game assets and ISK.

Following this statement, we have held further discussions with the affected parties. We have also been conducting an internal review to substantiate the evidence available to us and evaluate our handling of the situation. We intend to share a full follow-up statement next week.

Transparency, fairness and trust is of utmost importance to us, which is why we’re issuing this brief update while also taking the time to ensure that we conduct a thorough investigation. We understand that there are many questions lingering over the incident, and we want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously. Both the sanctity of the CSM and the relationship we have with our players is of paramount importance to CCP.

As should be expected, we will issue a full and frank apology for any mistakes for which we are responsible, as well as provide appropriate reparations to those affected by any erroneous actions we’ve taken.

Wait, what?

My assumption that CCP would have done a full and thorough investigation before leveling accusations and banning a member of the CSM in a very public fashion was apparently wrong.

This has, of course, opened a can of worms.  The forum thread for responses to the dev blog gives a view into the spectrum of responses to this revelation.

Some people are happy that the whole affair is getting a review, perhaps ignoring the implications the need for said review for the moment.

Others are immediately hitting on the fairness issue.  If you’re banned by CCP they tend to not be very responsive to inquiries after that.  But now Brisc is getting his case reviewed.  Is that because he is:

  • Popular?
  • A CSM member?
  • From Null Sec?
  • A Goon?
  • A Lawyer?
  • Kicking back some of that sweet, sweet RMT money?
  • The real victim here?

And then there is the question about how we got here.  This whole affair was set off, according to CCP, based on information “brought to us by the CSM themselves.”  While that sounds like an all-inclusive phrase, I suspect that 9 members of the CSM turned as one and pointed a finger at Brisc.

The CSM 13 cast of characters

The problem with the CSM being a mostly null sec entity is the real possibility of null sec politics entering into things.  We saw in the past information sufficient to have a CSM candidate remove from the ballot leaked out, allegedly because he was a proponent of shield supers and a group heavily invested in armor supers did not want that voice in the ear of CCP.

So, while we will likely never find out, one wonders if the information provided to CCP was simply incorrect, misunderstood, exaggerated, or deliberately planted.

And none of this reflects well on CCP.  If, after an investigation, CCP sticks with their initial decision, they’ve only managed to look incompetent in the eyes of the community.  And if they revoke the ban, well then they are really incompetent, showing favoritism, and whatever other conspiracy theories you care to spin.

Plus, what does Brisc do then?  Is he back on the CSM?  Does he run for CSM14?  Does he wash his hands of all of this and just remain a regular guest on the Open Comms show?

There is word that the elections for CSM14 are coming soon, and this will no doubt cast an additional pall over what some already consider a suspect organization.

Back when the ban was first announced there were jokes thrown around about wanting to see the Mueller Report on the incident.  And now there actually will be a follow up report!   And what we will end up hearing will likely be an extremely redacted version of it which will, as in real life, only lead to more questions and people jumping to conclusions.

Not a bright and shiny spring day for the team at CCP.

I stated in my own blog post that after the initial Dev Blog we would hear no more about this from CCP.  I was certainly wrong on that count.

Other coverage of this:

Setting Ansiblex Timers in Geminate

Another night, another fleet.  The ping was for Eagles as usual, so I logged in and got the important bit out of the way; deciding which SKIN my Basilisk would wear.

In the new dark and moody hangar lighting

I have to figure it out in advance because you can’t change your SKIN when somebody has you locked and, being in the logi wing, I was set to be in the cap chain and locked by two other people for most of the op.  Usually I run the Emergency Response SKIN, which is done up like an ambulance, complete with flashing lights, since that goes with the Police SKIN the Liberty Squad FCs usually run on their Monitors.

This time I figured I would go all red with the Rataa Sunset SKIN.  Liberty Squad is full of faux patriotism and I tried to get the logi wing to go all red, white, and blue SKINs at one point.  In what is probably a reflection of the general population, about half the fleet embraces SKINs in some way, while the other half rejects then and wants nothing to do with them.

And so it goes.

While I was pondering that our FC, Zintage Enaka, was trying to get the fleet composition together.  Our problem of late seems to be getting the right number of boosters for the fleet.  Not that that is a new problem.  I think half the fleets I’ve gone on over the years has spent some amount of time trying to find the required boost, with a good percentage of those threatening not to undock unless they get them.  I always feel a tinge of guilt during that scenario, as I have the skills to fly a booster.  And, when it comes down to it, the job isn’t difficult.  Boosts up when the FC says, boost down when he calls for that, gently remind the FC now and again when boosts are still up when they are determined to suddenly travel.  I just hate the waste of being a booster.  Inevitably I have the wrong implant so have to buy the right one and destroy the old one to put the new one in.  Then on the next fleet they’ll need somebody with the old one and the cycle will repeat.  I’m not poor, but I’m not keen waste that much ISK nearly every fleet.  And FCs can be insistent about your implant.  I had an FC threaten to kick me if I didn’t change my implant for a move op.  A freaking move op, with no fixed doctrine and a wide mix of ships, but my implant was somehow critically important. So I gave up on that.

Instead I sat quietly in the logi channel while that got sorted.  I take comfort in the fact that, after boosters, logi is the other thing that the FC will call for before they undock.  At least I am filling one of the critical roles.

And things did indeed get settled.  Boosters were found, sufficient logi pilots filed into the fleet, and we at last undocked.  However, rather than turning the usual direction to head into The Kalevala Expanse or The Spire, we headed for a different gate.  We were headed into Geminate, the core home area of Pandemic Horde.

As we flew into their space Zintage explained that PH was off to fight with Guardians of the Galaxy… because the north is still fighting amongst themselves in addition to having us lurking about… and we were going to use this opportunity to do what we do best… fly around in circles and shoot structures.

And, specifically, Ansiblex jump gates.

Eagles shooting another Ansiblex

These have the advantage of being a bit less of a commitment than reinforcing something like a Fortizar as well as the immediate impact of disrupting the local jump gate network.  When you put them into their reinforced state they stop being able to pass ships.

While PH was away these were mostly undefended.  Mostly.  People put them on grid with Fortizars and Keepstars for a reason.

Fortizar on grid with us as well.

And somebody did wander out to take potshots at us from the Fortizar.  Killing subcaps at that distance with a Fortizar takes some serious luck, but it did mean that logi had to wake up and rep somebody now and again.

He’s shooting the boosters just to drive home some sort of point I’m sure

The gunner had his fun I guess, though he mostly complained in local about the state of Upwell structures.  He did not stop us from reinforcing the the Ansiblex under his care.

This timer means we might be back

PH times their structures for USTZ, which means we might form up for a return visit.

We moved on to the next Ansiblex on Zintage’s list.  This time nobody came out to gun the Fortizar so we just flew around the Ansiblex and fired away.

I took more screen shots

When that one was about in the bag Zintage did an ammo check to see if we had hauled enough rounds along to reinforce a third Ansiblex.  People were running dry on T1 structure bash ammo.  It turned out a lot of people had been getting deflections all along, meaning their shots were over the damage cap and weren’t being counted. Had we started out the evening with guns split and pilots only shooting half their rack we likely would have had the ammo for another target.  But thinking about that two structures in meant we were not going to make it that far.  It was time to turn for home.

Word from the north was that PH had a mixed bout with GotG up in C4C-Z4 in Fade.  However, further word was that their Munnin fleet got caught by somebody on the way home that turned the loss meter way up for them.

Zintage looked into positioning us to intercept the remains of their fleet as it gated home… some of their jump routes now being in operable… but they took a route back out of our way.  So we turned for home ourselves.

Eagles through the gate towards home

Another op success in the smoldering east of New Eden.

Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder Part One Done

Well, that was pretty quick.  Last week, with the preview of Battle for Azshara and the promise of flying, I had something new to focus on in WoW.

Don’t know when it is coming, but it is coming

I was immediately looking up what I ought to get done to get myself to flying when it became available to unlock.  The prerequisite was the Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder Part One achievement, and I was a few items short on that.

Where I stood last week

I had two out of the five achievements done to get the meta achievement, so I set about over the weekend on the other three.

Exploring is always the easiest to pick up and I only had two zones left to cover on Zandalar anyway, so I set about on those as I did world quests.

Quickly done

Ready for War however, I wasn’t even sure where to pick that one up.  But I figured speaking to the guy with the orange exclamation point over his head on the alliance ship in Boralus would be a good place to start.

Actually, it ended up being the exact place I needed to go, though I only figured that out as I progressed on down the various quest chains and noted that further items were getting checked off on the list.  I moved along with Jaina Proudmoore, freed from her cell and now wrecking vengeance on those undermining Kul Tiras, with an oddly familiar cast of characters.

I’ve worked with some of these people before… that’s me in the middle

That wrapped up in not too long with me back in Stormwind speaking to King Anduin Wrynn.  He congratulated me on the work and gave me the nod for the achievement.

There in the throne room

That left the final achievement, Azerothian Diplomat, which needed me to get to revered standing with the main Alliance factions in the expansion.  Faction is not something easy to rush through.

Granted, it did help that I had been working on faction via world quests for a while already.  In fact, I only needed the Champions of Azeroth faction at revered to get there.  I wasn’t even too far off on that AND it was their turn on the emissary quest rotation.  So I ran over to Darkmoon Faire, rode the merry-go-round for the faction gain boost, then set out to do as many world quests for Champions of Azeroth as I could.

It wasn’t quite enough.  I went through all I could find as was just shy of the mark.  All I had left was a quest for my followers, but that would take 8 hours and it was already late in the evening.  I wasn’t going to be able to do it all in a day.

But when I logged in the next morning I was set.  My followers succeeded and I was done.

Mission success – no bonus, but still good

That set me up, I hope, for the Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder Part Two achievement, the gateway to flying, that we will get with the Rise of Azshara update.

In the mean time, I will just be a little faster on Zandalar and Kul Tiras.

The pathfinder bennie

I can use that to keep up with my fellow waterstrider riders on the world quest hunt.

Blizz was right on that score

Also, along the way I managed to get to exalted with the Proudmoore Admiralty.

I suspect that will come in handy at some point, but for now it let my buy another mount.

MER Checking in on Mining before the Nerf

As I wrote last month, I am going to try to look at more specific aspects of the monthly economic report going forward.  We got the March report last week, just a couple days after the April update introduced a series of nerfs to both ratting and mining.  I took a measure of ratting last month, so this time around I want to get the “before” picture for mining.

March 2019 – Mining Value by Region

There was, as usual, a lot of mining going on in March, a good chunk of it in Delve.

March 2019 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

Delve is, of course, where the Imperium lives.  Second place goes to Esoteria.  Both regions were up over February.  Overall, according to the raw data that comes with the report there was about 56 trillion ISK worth of ore mined in February, which went up to just shy of 59 trillion ISK worth of ore mined in March.

The price of ore itself was up just a bit in March.

March 2019 – Economic Indices

I am not sure that is enough to account for the difference between the two months, but overall the count is close enough that the two months are pretty on par.  February being three days shorter than March could make up the difference.  Dividing the total amount by the days shows the per day yield tilted towards February, with 2 trillion ISK per day versus 1.9 trillion ISK per day in March.  Still, pretty close.

Last Tuesday the update hit with nerfs to Rorqual mining, specifically:

  • Reduced the bonus to shield boost amount provided by the Industrial Core to 60% for T1 Industrial Cores and 75% for T2 (was 120% and 140% respectively)
  • Reduced the base duration of the PANIC module to 4 minutes (was 5 minutes)
  • Increased the bonus to mining foreman burst strength provided by the Industrial Core to 30% for T1 Cores and 36% for T2 (was 25% and 30% respectively)
  • ‘Excavator’ Mining Drone base mining yield decreased to 80m3 (was 100m3)
  • ‘Excavator’ Ice Harvesting Drone base cycle time slowed to 310s (was 250s)
  • Excavator drone volume increased to 1100m3 (was 750m3) and Rorqual drone bay volume increased to 8800m3 (was 6000m3)

Reduced yield and slower cycle times for excavator drones are direct swipes at Rorqual mining efficiency.  Reduced PANIC duration makes Rorquals more likely to die while waiting for rescue to arrive and larger excavator drones means that Rorqual pilots won’t be able to stash so many excavators in mobile depots to save them from destruction.

The Rorqual also won’t provide as much protection to mining barges and exhumers in their fleets, though the mining yield for those craft will go up, an incentive to fly the smaller and more vulnerable subcap mining ships.

So the question is whether or not these changes will have any impact.  We will have to wait for the economic report for April to come out next month to see.

Meanwhile, going back to last month’s post, the top sinks and faucets chart shows bounties were down a bit, continuing the trend from February.

March 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time

Overall February and March were not that far apart, being about 70 and 71 trillion ISK in bounties respectively, but the chart is trending down and the bounty payouts per day were almost 2.5 trillion ISK per day in February while that sank to 2.3 trillion ISK per day in March.  We will see if the April update changes, which hit fighter damage application against sub caps (which hurts carrier/super carried mining) and nerfs to the Vexor Navy Issue (the favored AFK anomaly sub cap) keeps that trend pointed down.

You can find the full March economic report here, which includes all the usual charts and graphs, plus the data used to generate them.