Monthly Archives: October 2019

Don’t Forget to Claim Your Skill Points

I may complain at how much skill points have been cheapened by CCP’s recent propensity towards handing them out relentlessly… they have become CCP’s hammer and every problem seems to be a nail these days… but I am not too proud to go collect them all the same.

So I wrapped up the most recent bonus week of skill points for just logging in last night.

Last handout collected… just for an alt, of course

CCP was nice enough to give us eight days in which to collect the seven rewards, so if you missed a day along the way you can still catch up.  You have until downtime (11:00 UTC) on the 24th.

If you missed two days though… well… I guess you didn’t want it bad enough.  I don’t know.  But don’t worry.  There will no doubt be more skill points handed out at some later date.  And the return of the skilling spree, where just killing somewhere between one and ten NPCs will get you some skill points, carries on.  So you can still do that.

Standings as the Gate to Mission Content

Missions are still the core of EVE Online‘s PvE offering.

A bunch of other PvE options have been added over the years, The Agency will even give you a hint about their existence.

The Agency giving you some options

But missions have remained a cornerstone of the game since I started.  Back in 2006 the tutorial of the time wrapped up and sent you off to your first mission agent, and when I ran the tutorial back over the summer, I was sent in the same direction.  CCP has since revised the tutorial again, simplifying it a bit further, but nothing about the direction in which it sends you has changed.

Just a few short steps now

If anything, the tutorial is far grown even more focused on teaching you how to run missions.  The combination of that and some key UI changes have tried to take the edge off of running missions.  You no longer have to fumble for the journal to bring up the mission to check details.  Little blue buttons now show up on your screen that let you undock, set destination, warp to sites, and make sure you know when the objective is complete.  Then the buttons let you set destination back to the agent, dock up, and even open the conversation with the agent so you can complete the mission.

Seriously

I get it.  Missions are easy and fit the whole quest model that so many MMORPGs follow.  It is probably one of the more comprehensible aspects of New Eden to an outsider.  In a game where long term commitment requires finding your own goals and motivation, missions are a way to give players a short term objective.

But in some ways missions are still stuck back in 2006.  I am not just talking about the fact that the same missions I ran back then are still in circulation today.  One of the somewhat archaic aspects of missions is the whole standings aspect.

In 2006 that also made a lot of sense in the more limited scope of options we had back then.  Standings were used as a way to gate content, but also as a way to hold players back from jumping into the deep end of the mission pool too soon.  So you would run your level one missions with a given faction, building up reputation with your agent and their corporation.  You’d get a story line mission every 16 runs that would give you a bigger boost.

Then you would break into level 2 missions.  You needed to find a new agent and upgrade your ship for that.  Things were a bit tougher, you learned some more, you got your story line missions, you collected your rewards, and your standings slowly went up.

And standings going up had some benefits.  Higher standings would lower your costs for things like broker’s fees and ore processing and if you hung out long enough you could work your standings up high enough to install a jump clone in one of the NPC stations.

But that is all pretty much in the past.  You can buy and refine at player owned Upwell structures for lower costs and CCP simply remove the standings requirement for placing a jump clone years back.

So standings are mostly just a barrier to content and something of a slog to get past.

And slog it can be.  Back during the summer of skill points with the daily NPC kill reward I decided to take one alt and run a mission with him every day.  I had already dumped some skill points on him, so trained up to Connections III, which got him into level 2 missions pretty quickly.  But getting past level 2… well, it hasn’t happened yet.

Not even to level 3 missions yet

And while one a day doesn’t seem like a very diligent pace, missions quickly become tiresome so binging might lead to burnout. (There was, admittedly, a bit of back sliding when I let the account, which was one I used for cyno alts, lapse into Alpha state, pushing me back a step on Connections.)

Of course, I might not be the best test case.  I actually remember many of the missions from a decade or more back when I was running them for the first time for real.  And my fitting knowledge, while nothing to brag about, at least extends to getting a level 2 mission ship together that doesn’t have much to worry about.  So I was able to field a Dragoon with some drones that has been able to handle anything thrown at it so far, including that mission where you’re supposed to warp off in the face of long odds.

Dragoon in a mission space

The thing is, you cannot buy your way past missions.

I guess, as a long time player who ground up standings and skill points the old fashioned way, I should applaud that.  But if I were starting out and found that I could invest in a bit of PLEX for skill injectors, skill into a Myrmidon, join a null sec alliance, and turn my 200K ISK ticks into 12 million ISK ticks, I might very well be so inclined.

Not only is the pay better, but I would argue that running anomalies, dull though that might be, is no more dull than running missions.  Yes, you miss out on the thin veneer of story that a mission provide.  But nobody is actively hunting you if you’re stuck running level 2 missions either.  Having to keep an eye on local and the intel channel and occasionally having to run or fight when somebody lands on you… or holding out just long enough to get somebody in the standing fleet to show up and rescue you… that is a lot more exciting than any mission I’ve ever run.  But, like all PvP, it requires somebody else to show up, which means you can’t schedule it on demand or make it happen if you only have time to run a single anom or such.

So, as I kicked off my daily mission routine with the return of daily skill point rewards, I have been wondering if standings are necessarily a good gate for advancing mission levels.

Part of me thinks I had to do it back in the day, so why let the new players off the hook?  A more condescending part of my mind feels that this slow pace will keep new players from getting in over their head too quickly, while the true cynic in me feels that at least the slow standings grind keeps those solo mission runners subscribed to the game a bit longer before they max out their Raven skills and quit.  Maybe make the grind longer for that last case?

But the other part of me… the bigger part of me… sees the mission path for the dead end it is.  Why make it worse with grind?  And doubly so since some of the key rewards one got for grinding up standings have been removed or made somewhat obsolete.

I suppose the best thing to do would be to create a tutorial that didn’t simply train you to do missions and then point you towards them without much else in between.  But how to get there is an even bigger mess.  The open secret in the industry is that players mostly hate tutorials, and doubly so if they appear to be standing in the way of actually playing the game, so any tutorial has to be short and sweet and send players on their way in the minimum amount of time possible.  (This, by the way, is why the epic tutorial went away.  It was too long.)

How do you explain EVE Online if you have 30 minutes tops to do it?  You can’t even honestly sum up the game in 30 minutes without omitting critical details.  So CCP goes with the one thing they know they can get away with in that time and then hopes for the best.

And if that is where things are going to go, then I question whether or not standings have outlived their usefulness as a content gate.

Running of the Gnomes in WoW Classic

I have been, over the years, vaguely aware of the Running of the Gnomes event.  When I saw it was coming up again I posted about it in our group Discord, thinking it might be something interesting for Ula to make a video about.  She looked into what it was about, found the official site and the charity which it supports, and said we ought to do the run.

It was slated for Saturday, so we got on early and rolled up the required characters, gnomes with pink hair, in order to join in.  At least male gnomes can have pink hair.

My gnome for the run

Before hand you want to get in one of the guilds they form in order to get directions (and, I gather, get counted for participation) and maybe get a red shirt to go with the color theme.  They were handing those out for free.  If you had the cash to opt for a guild tabard you ended up with a nice pink and white theme with a heart.  I saved my gold, but Ula and Skronk bought them on the plan that they are not soul bound so could be handed off to their main characters once the guild got around to spending 10g on a tabard design.  That might be a while.

There were not many people on as early as us, and I was wondering how big the turnout might be given that the run on retail had gone off the week before.  But as the clock ticked down more and more pink haired gnomes began showing up.

Some gnomes in the house

As the hour approached more and more gnomes piled into the scrum.  And then we were off.  The three of us formed out own little group so we could keep track of each other, and I tried to simply follow Ula’s gnome, but the server wasn’t sure what to do about all of us.

There was a lot of rubber banding and stops and starts as we ran up the path and into the first tunnel.  But it all seemed to be holding together for the moment.

Pink hair into the first tunnel

But on the far side of the tunnel something happened… layering probably… and for a bit I was running down the road by myself.

I think we’re alone now…

We were on voice coms as well, reporting what we saw.  I kept on trotting, but I was nervous about being ahead of the pack.  It wasn’t a big deal in the starter zone, but we were headed to Booty Bay and along the way there it was going to be a good idea to be in the middle of the pack.

However, as I ran along gnomes started re-appearing running along the road with me.

On the road to Ironforge

We ran up into Ironforge, took the tram to Stormwind, running through town to group up again at the front gate.

At the gates

It was hard to take a good picture as a lot of people kept shouting or talking and I have speech bubbles turned on. (And I couldn’t quickly find how to turn that off.)  Still, a lot of us clumped up at the gates.  The guild we were in, one of a couple, showed more than 500 players running along with us, but I imagine layering was keeping us separated.

From the gates we took off with the fountain in Darkshire as our destination.

Along the forest road

There was some confusion as to which route to follow.  Some people cut across country before we made it to the Eastvale logging camp while others stuck to the road and went through Redridge.

I went cross country and over the river

We halted at the fountain in Darkshire to form back up again.

Mass pink in town

From Darkshire the next leg was through Stranglethorn Vale and into Booty Bay, the official destination of the run.

Into Stranglethorn

STV was interesting though.  Up until this point things hadn’t been very high level around us.  A few gnomes were lost, but the guides, high level characters around to clear the way, had kept the path pretty safe.  On the path in STV though the aggro radius of level 2-4 gnomes… nobody who made it that far was still level 1 based on discovery xp alone… was such that distant beasts would come crashing out of the jungle to attack gnomes.

Tiger in our midst!

Tigers, gorillas, panthers, and those lizards for that one quest all came running at us.  Our shepherds killed them as they came, but they were not fast enough to save every gnome.  The sight of gnomes being mauled by the local wildlife was pretty damn hilarious.

Most of us made it to Booty Bay though.  I stayed in the middle of the road in the middle of the pack and was never bothered.  Once there we headed to what I gather is the traditional location on the roof above the inn to form a heart.  Color me surprised that we managed it.

The heart formed… with no dialog bubbles for a brief moment

We jumped into the water to form a heart there as well.  There was some odd layering issue and a the server was having problems keeping track of gnomes.  If you went under water it looked like gnomes who jumped in were crashing all the way to the bottom of the bay.

That was the end of the official event.  The run took about 40 minutes to make from start to heart, at least if you didn’t die along the way.

But there is an after party aspect to it.  We all got on the boat to Ratchet and sailed to The Barrens.  From there we ran up to the side gate of Orgrimmar… the one we used on our Ragefire Chasm adventure… and ran on into town.

Into Orgrimmar!

There were so many of us that the guards could not slay us all.  Those of us further back in the pack ran past many a pink haired corpse as we ran deeper and deeper into town.

Running down the avenue

The goal was to find Thrall and lick him.  I made it to just outside the building where he resides before being cut down.  Ula was cut down much further back, but Skronk made it into Thrall’s chamber before dying.

Dead gnomes strewn about outside of Thrall’s place

We released and ran back as ghosts… something we have some practice with… to see if we could get into licking range of Thrall.  However, the guards are thick on the ground around Thrall and without the sheer weight in numbers a low level gnome has less than a 2 second life expectancy in that building.

I managed to get within sight of Thrall, but it was going to take a few more runs to be able to try to lick him.  And Skonk, who could revive right on Thrall’s throne, reported getting beat down before he could click the macro he made to target and lick Thrall.

I can see Thrall from here

After playing around with that for a bit, we gave up, used the angel to revive at the graveyard, and hearthstoned back home. (Guild chat indicated that we did that just ahead of some Horde players deciding to camp the graveyard.)

There we took a final pic of our three even gnomes.

Back where we started

It was quite the event.  I hope they raised some money.  I will definitely run it next year if I am subscribed.

 

PlanetSide Arena Just a Stepping Stone to PlanetSide 3

We envision PlanetSide Arena as a way to allow us to link present day PlanetSide 2 and PlanetSide 3 story lines, as well as providing an opportunity to try out new features, styles of play, etc.

Producer’s Letter on the PlanetSide franchise

Down but not out?

Just over a week ago we heard about another layoff at Daybreak, with the brunt of the cuts alleged to have landed on the PlanetSide team.

But on Friday afternoon at 5:44pm… what is it with Daybreak and after hours on Friday press releases… seriously, what are they thinking… a Producer’s Letter was posted indicating that the PlanetSide franchise, soon to turn 17, saw the poorly performing PlanetSide Arena, recently arrived in early access, as a stepping stone to their goal of bringing PlanetSide 3 to life at some future date.

At this point it is hard to tell where the franchise will end up.  There was a mention that Daybreak was restructuring and another possible studio name was registered, though what that means at this point I couldn’t tell you.

And of course there were the leaked rumors from back in May of last year which mentioned a PlanetSide 3.   PlanetSide Arena sounded like the fruit of that, but now maybe there was something else going on.

The producer’s letter says that Daybreak is 100% committed to this vision of a bigger, longer, and possibly uncut future for the PlanetSide franchise.  But is this reality or a just a morale booster while they figure out what they can actually manage in the post-layoff reality?

Others on the topic:

WoW Classic Sunday Layering and Additions

Despite Blizzard’s problems, WoW Classic still seems to be going strong.  On Bloodsail Buccaneers walking into Stormwind most hours of the day will still find it quite crowded.

Still Layered

Blizz made a change the week before last that did two things.  First, you no longer have to pick your realm every single time you log in.  I cannot remember if that was actually a thing back in 2006, but if it was it was unnecessary to reproduce that particular quirk.

Blizz also updated the realm selection so that it is broken out by more regions (US East and US West were divided, leading to a moment of panic when I could not find our server) and it shows which realms are layered.

Who’s layered now?  Also, I have too many alts

Given Blizzard’s previous statement that they did not want to go into phase two of the WoW Classic experience until all realms had been reduced to a single layer, we may still be a while on this.

Free Transfers

To further the path towards a single layer for servers free server transfers remain active to/from specific realms in the Americas and Europe.  There is a warning that these move options could close at any time, though the number of layered servers seems to indicate that they may be around for a bit still.

Dire Maul

Originally slated to be part of the phase two unlock, Blizzard opened up Dire Maul this past week, allowing ogre adventures to begin.

They are waiting for you

Dire maul is actually the key to a number of quests, including the Warlock and Paladin epic mount quests.  Blizz also posted a fly through video that shows some of the more memorable locations.

Hallow’s End

The Hallow’s End event has reached live where people are no doubt queuing up yet again to try and obtain the headless horseman’s mount.

But it is also live on WoW Classic, leaving me to try to remember how the event even worked back in the day.  Pumpkins are out everywhere and you can trick or treat at the inn keepers once every 60 minutes. (Though that timer stops running down if you’re logged off.  Hrmm.)  With a set of characters that do not have hats yet I was really hoping for some masks.  But I seem to get the trick more often than the treat.

I’ve been turned into Diablo… well mini-Diablo

And so it goes.

Looking for Offense

My mistake was going to /r/eve on Reddit.  Every nugget of useful information found there must be paid for by wading through post after post and comment after comment of nonsense.

I happened to wander in just after a post went up where somebody was outraged about CCP suppressing their freedom of speech.  We’re big on that this week since somebody said something we seem to agree with.  We’ll be down on it again as soon as somebody we don’t like says something we disagree with.  I guarantee it.

In this case the person in question appears to have been dropping mobile depots around Jita and naming them with messages supporting the protest in Hong Kong.

A CCP GM sent him a warning, which he posted in full, that he had been reported for “deliberately creating lag by excessive spamming of structures in a high population system.”  This was just a warning, it contained no sanction, just a link to the policies and an admonition to not do it again.

Now, I have to admit that I figured he must have been dropping A LOT of mobile depots to get that sort of warning.  I have reported on some of the things that people get up to with mobile depots in the past.

That is a lot of mobile depots

In that scenario you need to drop a lot of mobile depots to stand out.  As such, they seemed pretty sure that they were being singled out for political speech.

I suspect that the comments that came in reply to the post almost immediately were not what they were expecting.  Rather than support for Hong Kong the poster found people angry about them bringing politics into the game or thinking they had a right to free speech given the terms of service to which they had agreed.  The responses were nasty and the poster returned fire in kind.

I took a minute to log in an alt I had sitting in Jita and undocked to check out the mobile depot situation.  Unlike the screen shot above, Jita 4-4 seemed bereft of mobile depot spam.  Dscan showed a total of 8 withing the limits of scan range.  I checked a couple of the gates and found a few more, but mobile depots were not out in force.

So I went back to Reddit and replied, mentioning my observation of the current situation and asking the poster if they were sure if they were being uniquely targeted, because it seemed to me that CCP was trying to clean up the usual spam around Jita 4-4.

I received a short, apologetic response and the post was deleted.  Or as deleted as such things can be.  Nothing on the internet for more than a few minutes is ever gone for good.

I was actually a bit surprised at that response.  I have grown so used to people being unwilling to shift their point of view even an iota on the internet, people so keen to favor only facts that support their initial assumption and so ready to discount immediately anything that runs contrary to their contrived narrative.

It is just the way people tend to be.  I have long held the opinion that people make decisions first and fill in the supporting evidence needed to get there after the fact.  I catch myself doing that.  Some times it doesn’t matter.  Picking some music to listen to doesn’t require supporting facts.  Buying a new car though, or picking who to vote for, or making accusations of bad behavior, that should probably be based on facts, though I am quite convinced that is not the case more often than not.

Anyway, I was thinking about this in the context of the next couple of weeks.  We have EVE Vegas coming up next weekend and BlizzCon after that.  Both companies, CCP and Blizzard, are in bad odor with some of their player base.  No matter what they say at their respective events, some people are going to look for the worst, darkest, most damming interpretation of what is said and done.

It is one thing to speculate.  I do that all the time.  You get a few points of data and it is natural to try to string together a narrative or a motivation.  It is a natural response and can be fun.  Interesting discussions can come from such things.

Just don’t go full Gevlon and stop listening to facts that might contradict your carefully crafted conspiracy theory.  Be the person in my story instead.

Friday Bullet Points Return to Norrath

There has been some news coming out of Daybreak since the layoffs announced last Friday.  I do not have a huge amount to say about any of them at this time, which makes them all perfect for another Friday Bullet Points post.

  • Holly Longdale on the The EverQuest Show

The EverQuest Show finally posted their previously teased interview with EverQuest and EverQuest II Executive Producer Holly Longdale.

For those not interesting in watching the 23 minute long interview, the EverQuest Show has also kindly posted a transcript on their site.

While Bhagpuss has a deeper look at the interview, things that popped out for me were:

    • EverQuest population is currently half on live servers, half on retro servers
    • Expects EverQuest to be around at least for another decade
    • The size of character database entries is a limiting factor
    • There will be another Norrath title some day

There is more in there, especially about the passion of the team, but that is what stuck in my brain and made nice bullet points.

  • Torment of Velious

The EverQuest team announced the next expansion for the game, Torment of Velious.

Coming later this year

The producer’s letter that contained the new describes some of what we can expect from the expansion including:

    • Level cap raised from 110 to 115
    • 6 new zones
    • All the usual more quests, more raids stuff

Pre-orders will go live this coming Wednesday and there will be the usual array of collector’s edition goodies.  Beta for it is coming up soon and a December launch is expected.

  • Miragul Server

Also in the above linked producer’s letter it was announced that there would be a new progression server launched on November 5th to help celebrate the rapidly approaching EverQuest II 15th anniversary.  Named Miragul after the lich of Everfrost, it will start players at level 85 in the House of Thule expansion.

  • Blood of Luclin

There was also an EverQuest II producer’s letter which also announced the next expansion for that game, Blood of Luclin.

No expansion splash screen yet.

As with the EverQuest expansion it features some of the same expected items:

    • Level cap raised from 110 to 120
    • All the usual more zone, quests, more raids stuff

Not a lot of details there.

Pre-orders for Blood of Luclin will go live on November 5 with, as expected, plenty of collector’s edition goodies for those willing to spend the extra cash.  The expansion is slated for a December launch, with a beta period coming up.

  • Rivervale Server

As with EverQuest, the EverQuest II team is also launching a special server.  The Rivervale server will have no locked content and will allow players to start a level 90 heroic equipped character if they so desire.  It basically sounds like a fresh live server that requires a subscription.  Not that it is a bad idea.  Some people like fresh servers and not everybody likes the timed content unlocks.  No word on exp rate or other details.

  • Anniversary Events

As noted, next month sees the 15th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest II.  The producer’s letter also mentioned that special anniversary events will kick off on November 7th.

As with the interview on The EverQuest Show, Bhagpuss has also has a post about what we know about the expansions, servers, and events so far.

  • EverQuest II Custom UI Outage

No all is peaches and cream in Norrath.  They grim reaper of the layoff may have passed them over, but problems still lurk.  In an effort to track down a server lag problem that has been plaguing the game, all custom UI addons, including the ubiquitous EQ2maps, will be turned off this coming Tuesday, October 22.

The outage is not permanent, but how long it lasts depends on how quickly any problem is found.  It is hoped the outage can be turned off as early as Friday, but it will remain in place as long as it is needed to debug the problem.

Details and compensation are in a forum post.

And so it goes in Norrath.  More information on most of the above will likely be arriving soon.

The Strange September MER

CCP was quick to get the Monthly Economic Report for September into our hands this month.  Due to a number of factors, I have been slower actually getting to it.

Still, there is something to gawk at this month and I am going to go straight to my favorite chart this time around, which is the sinks and faucets over time.

September 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time

And the key item on this chart is the gold line that represents NPC bounty payouts.  As I have noted, and as the chart shows, bounty payouts had been tapering off since their peak at the start of the year as CCP nerfed various aspects of null sec anomalies.  Then came the blackout in null sec and they fell off a cliff.  However, the player count also took a hit, so in mid September the blackout ended.

However, just a week before that we got the September update which introduced the cyno changes.

So if you look at that chart closely, examining its behavior between September and October, you can see that NPC bounties fell off even further.  They pretty much dropped off another, smaller cliff as capital ship ratting was pulled up short and the various null sec coalitions developed strategies with which to cope with the change.

In the Imperium people were told not to rat in capitals or supers until the was figured out, and I have heard that other groups did the same.

Eventually though new fits were worked out and strategies setup to counter the problem of not being able to light a cyno on your capital or super (or Rorqual) to get rescued if trouble showed up. (Hint: having an alt in a force recon with a cyno cloaked up on grid and ready to go is a big part of the answer.)  After that was settled the crabs once again undocked and commenced their harvesting yet again and we can see the line going right back up at the end of the month.

So the question probably is whether or not that line has momentum, whether or not it will keep on climbing back into the untenable zone where CCP will feel it has to step in again in order to reign in what was once the biggest ISK faucet in the New Eden economy.

We’ll be back to this chart when the October numbers come out for sure.

As for who grabbed the most of those NPC bounties, the chart shows that the usual regions were at the top of the list.

September 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region

The top ten regions for September were:

  1. Delve – 2.2 trillion
  2. Deklein – 1.5 trillion
  3. Cobalt Edge – 1 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 975 billion
  5. Fountain – 957 billion
  6. Branch – 699 billion
  7. Oasa – 686 billion
  8. Detorid – 528 billion
  9. Tenerifis – 496 billion
  10. Insmother – 454 billion

If the Imperium is home then Delve is at the top.

A lot of those numbers are down from the August, full blackout but pre-cyno change top ten:

  1. Delve – 4.39 trillion
  2. Insmother – 1.30 trillion
  3. Detorid – 1.23 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 1.05 trillion
  5. Querious – 753 billion
  6. Cobalt Edge – 705 billion
  7. Metropolis – 543 billion
  8. Omist – 526 billion
  9. Fountain – 515 billion
  10. Malpais – 514 billion

Delve was down by half in September, and other regions fell off as well, but not all of them.  Cobalt Edge, was up in the northeast of New Eden was up by 250 billion.  So location, reaction time, and the proximity of a war no doubt played into it.

The big sinks and faucets chart shows NPC bounties were down overall compared to August.

September 2019 – Sinks and Faucets

The August chart had NPC bounties at just over 21 trillion ISK, while for September that number fell by nearly a trillion ISK, with NPC bounties pegged at just over 20 trillion ISK.

That kept commodities out in front as the largest faucet in New Eden, though those fell a bit as well, dropping from nearly 24 trillion in August to 21.6 trillion in September.  While that is down some, the peak back in January was 26 trillion, so there hasn’t been any huge shift there.  It is the top faucet because NPC bounties (which were over 83 trillion back in January) have been brought low.

You can also see from that chart that more ISK came out of the New Eden economy this month than went in.

Since the blackout and cyno changes also impact mining operations, at least in null sec, I should probably spend a moment looking at those numbers as well.

September 2019 – Mining value by region

Pulling numbers from the spreadsheet, the top ten regions for mining were:

  1. Delve – 3 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.3 trillion
  3. The Forge – 1.2 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 1.1 trillion
  5. Querious – 879 billion
  6. Lonetrek – 876 billion
  7. Sinq Laison – 848 billion
  8. Metropolis – 847 billion
  9. Fountain – 768 billion
  10. Genesis – 705 billion

Delve being on top should probably surprise nobody.  The Imperium is the top crabbing organization in the game, which also figured into Querious and Fountain being on the list.  And Esoteria should be renamed TESToteria.

But the rest of the list is high sec.

The numbers overall seem to be down from the August top ten:

  1. Delve – 3.62 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.59 trillion
  3. Esoteria – 1.46 trillion
  4. The Forge – 1.40 trillion
  5. Querious – 1.10 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.02 trillion
  7. Lonetrek – 972 billion
  8. Metropolis – 895 billion
  9. Everyshore – 777 billion
  10. Tash-Murkon – 773 billion

However, mineral prices, on which these numbers rest, were also down in September.

September 2019 – Economic Indices

With the prices down, the value is down.

Finally I want to grab the destruction numbers for New Eden.  The blackout, the cyno changes, and the Chaos Era in general were suppose to be at least in part in furtherance of destruction.  Hilmar wanted to see more things blow up.

September 2019 – Destruction value by region

For September the top regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 2.4 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.7 trillion
  3. Delve – 1.7 trillion
  4. Detorid – 1.6 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.2 trillion
  6. Domain – 1.2 trillion
  7. Lonetrek – 1.1 trillion
  8. Esoteria – 906 billion
  9. Metropolis – 882 billion
  10. Deklein – 865 billion

We have high sec trade hubs, Delve, the war zone of Detorid, TESToteria, and Deklein, the last no doubt in relation to the increase in ratting that put Deklein in second place for NPC bounties.

Those numbers are a bit down from August, especially around Jita it seems.  The August top ten:

  1. The Forge 3.2 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.9 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 1.8 trillion
  4. Detorid – 1.6 trillion
  5. Delve – 1.5 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.5 trillion
  7. Domain – 1.5 trillion
  8. Fade – 1.4 trillion
  9. Metropolis – 1.1 trillion
  10. Black Rise – 1.0 trillion

Overall the total destruction numbers according to the August and September regional stats spreadsheets were 39.7 trillion and 31.2 trillion respectively.  So destruction seems down, and not just in null sec where the crabs were docked up for a couple weeks out of the month.  The Forge being down by a quarter seems significant.

Did the 3 minute cap on being bumped before warping cut down ganks?

Anyway, that is the meat of things for me, and it gives me something to look at next month when perhaps things will have settled down enough to see a pattern.  Or maybe there will be chaos! Chaos!  CHAOS!

If you are interested in the data and charts, CCP provides them all here in a nice zip archive so you can dig into them and make your own lists and graphs.

Wandering the Wailing Caverns

The Wailing Caverns felt like a bit of a let down for me.  I imagine this is largely because, for an Alliance player at least, it comes after the Deadmines in the order of instances run. And if you’re high enough level to get through the Deadmines then you’re likely past the point where WC is going to be a huge challenge.  They occupy similar spots in the level curve.

Wailing Caverns from the Outside

They also make for an odd compare and contrast when it comes to early Blizzard dungeon design.  They both share some similar features, like an open world area before the instance populated by elite mobs complete with its own quests.  But where the Deadmines is a very linear ride… you literally come in the front and exit out the back with no real way to go astray… WC is much more sprawling and open.  You can get lost in there.  You can also create an unrecoverable screw up of a run in there.

But that is all getting ahead of myself.  First you have to get WC, something I started thinking about once we decided to carry on so long as our subscriptions remained active.  We had done some groundwork previously on getting to The Barrens and Ratchet back when we did our run to Ragefire Chasm.  We took the time to get flight points along the way so as to ease our return.

And then we shook up the group so now three of the characters who went to Ragefire Chasm have been replaced by three new characters.  We did a bit or work on that as well, though the fact that my character, Viniki, had been to Ratchet via Theramore had slipped my mind.  The problem with juggling alts… and I have too many now… is that I cannot always keep clear who has done what.  And I was worried that I had not been there with Viniki because I took the boat from Menethil Harbor to Auberdine and got several discovery messages, meaning I hadn’t been there before.

So Saturday morning I got Viniki out and carried on from Auberdine, making the run from there to Astranaar and on into The Barrens where I discovered, upon opening up the map, that I had been to Ratchet already.  Still, I did pick up some flight points and with how classic works, you need some of those to get where you’re going.

I got myself to Ratchet, then decided to make sure I knew where WC even was.  I had a vague memory of it, but decided to explore a bit just to get it on the map.  No point in wandering in The Barrens as a group.  Fortunately I was able to stumble on it without too much effort.

Wailing Caverns, Ratchet, and the Crossroads

I didn’t recall it being quite so close to the Crossroads, but memory is a strange thing.  Then it was back to Ratchet to clear out my bags at the bank and hole up at the Inn for the night.  I knew Skronk could get there, and Obama as well.  They had both been out for Ragefire Chasm.  And with three of us around we could use Obama’s warlock summoning skill to bring Ula and Moronae to us.  I think Ula had made the run, but Moronae would need a summon or have to do it the hard way.  Fortunately Obama had a couple soul shards handy for the summoning.

Warlock utility in action

Gathered, we began the trot over to the instance across the very orange land that is The Barrens.

On our way through the big orange

Our group lineup for the run was as follows:

  • Ula – level 23 gnome mage
  • Viniki – level 22 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 21 dwarf priest
  • Obama – level 21 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 21 night elf druid

We grabbed the quests from outside the instance… they are in the left eye (as you face it) of the skull that forms the entrance to the the place.

We were all up a level or so from the Deadmines run the weekend before, which made most of the mobs in the caverns on the way to the instance, the foyer of WC I guess, gray to us.  Still, there was a bit of comedy to be had as I, running ahead of the group, fell into the hole in the final ramp that leads down to the instance.

Seriously, somebody should put up a sign

That never fails to get a laugh.

Once I got out of the hole, we carried on the few yards to the instance where things began in earnest.

I could probably write a detailed, blow by blow narrative of the trek through WC, but I am not sure it would be good for either you or I.  A run consists of a lot of fighting groups of two or three, with the local druids gone bad making up a good portion of the mobs.  Sleep is their theme, as they kept putting a sleep charm on people throughout the run.  But even with that things went okay.  Occasionally we had adds or a bad pull, but even six deep into the trash mobs we managed not to lose anybody.

Having looked up the instance before hand, I knew that the “correct” method was to go west, slaying the two bosses that way, Lady Anacondra and Lord Cobrahn.

Arriving at Lord Cobrahn

They both dropped leather items from the fang set, the belt and the leggings.  Since we only have Moronae who wears leather, he was doing pretty well for openers.

Then you loop back and head east to get into the meandering ways of the dungeon.

The path starts off easily enough.  We ran across Kresh, the turtle who drops a shield that would have been a huge upgrade for me.  But he can also drop a crap shield, and the crap shield is what we got.

Then the way begins to wander.  You get choices in direction and it is not always clear which way you should go.  I recall at some point being told to follow the mushrooms, that they would not steer you wrong.  But at one junction the mushrooms seemed to be going in the wrong direction, so went the other.  And that brought us to Lord Pythas, who looks like just another druid of the fang hanging out in a cave.  He too coughed up an item from the Fang set, our druid continuing to do very well for himself.

From there we had a few paths and both Skronk and I started looking at maps.  There was a momentary threat of wife/mom aggro again, so it seemed like expediting our travel might do us well.  However, WC is a very three dimensional instance and two dimensional maps are not always helpful.  We thought about simply bypassing Skum, the next boss.  However, it looked like we had to pass right by him in order to get to the big boss we needed, so we stopped to take him down.

Die rebel Skum

He dropped the glowing lizardscale cloak, which again seemed like a good druid item.

From Skum it looked like a straight path up to the two bosses at the end of the trail.  We were actually able to bypass some mobs along the way, WC caves being broad enough to just slip by some clusters at our level.  There was a moment of anxiety when we reached the part on the path where you have to jump over a gap in the path.  Everybody made it, but we could all imagine somebody falling and needing to be retrieved.

From there it was just up the path a ways to the big open platform.  At one end was Lord Serpentis, at the other Verdan the Everliving.

On the platform

Lord Serpentis has two mobs near him, but one of them wasn’t even close enough to be bothered to join the fight.  You can see the errant druid at the right side of the screen shot above.  Bringing down Lord S got us the savage trodders, a pair of mail boots that were actually an upgrade for me.

After that we turned to Verdan the Everliving, who is a very big boy indeed.  It was here that we had the most difficult fight.  Verdan isn’t complicated, he doesn’t have any special mechanics, but he does hit hard.  I had to use a heal potion not too far into the fight, which made me a bit nervous.  Later, looking at Recount stats, Verdan hit me for more damage than any other boss by a fair margin.  In fact, he hit me for 3% of the damage inflicted on me for the whole instance, and we fought a lot of mobs along the way.

In the end though, we brought him down.  He dropped the seedcloud buckler, which was a pretty big shield upgrade for me.  It is actually much better than the shield off of Kresh, though it doesn’t have the distinctive look that the turtle shield does.  Still, I was happy to get the upgrade.  We took a group shot at that point since there was some concern that wife/mom aggro might return unexpectedly.

Verdan down after the fight

From Verdan you then have to work your way back to the start of the instance to speak with the NPC, the Disciple of Naralex.  I think one of the reasons that WC brings up memories of drudgery is that back in the day, back in 2006, back during our first run, we turned around from Verdan and walked all the way back the way we came.  And that can be a long walk.

Had we poked around a bit back in 2006 we might have noticed the hole… another hole… in the floor well behind Verdan that drops through into a pool of water not far from where we set out, about where we ran into Kresh.  That shortens the way back considerably.  Fortunately, here in 2019, we had since learned about this exit and so took it directly.

Back at the entrance we found the Disciple of Naralex.  He doesn’t have a quest, which is an odd mechanic, but once you’ve slain the other bosses in the instance you can interact with him to start the big event of the dungeon.

Starting him on his way

This is an escort event… not a quest… which leads you around to the final boss.  Once we started it I remembered that the general no fail plan was to go clear out the path first, then go back and set him in motion because if he dies then the run is over.  You cannot revive him and restart the event, you have to reset the instance and start from scratch.

And the Disciple of Naralex has some of the usual quirks of NPCs being escorted.  He is more in the Sarah Oakheart category when it comes to speed, but with an annoying tendency to ignore mobs the group is fighting around him.  That means he keeps on going while you’re engaged, walking straight into the next group of completely obvious mobs just down the path.  We had him wander off a couple of times and at one point I had to run from the fight we were having to taunt mobs down the way off of him.

Clearing the path ahead of time is clearly the pro tactic.  However, we made it, leaving behind unlooted mobs in the scramble to keep him safe.  He gets down into the final room and starts his ceremony.

Cover me while I do some stuff

That brought us to the final stage of the event, which was actually shorter than I remembered it.  You get two waves of mobs coming at you before the final boss appears.

Mutanus Arrives as we stand amid the viscera of the opening acts

Mutanus has an extra powerful sleep charm he uses during the fight, one that cannot be broken by players, but other than having to wait down the timer on that, things went pretty smoothly.  Mutanus was down soon enough.  He dropped the Deep Fathom Ring, which had the casters all salivating.

And that was the end of that, instance complete.

We still had a bit to clean up afterwards.  There was the Trouble at the Docks quest, which has you looking for the goblin named Mad Magglish.  He spawns outside of the instance, in the elite area, even though the quest is flagged as WC.  But the outside counts as well.  He is also stealthed when he spawns, but we found his corpse in looking for him, so that gave us a clue as to where to camp him.

There were also the quests we had.  We only finished one of the pair from the left eye, and that one sent us back to Ratchet.  Once there Obama and Moronae signed off while Skronk, Ula, and I went to track down the final quest.  We had to head back out into The Barrens to find the final turn in.

Orange sunset over an orange land

One of the interesting things about The Barrens is that you can run all the way up a lot of the hills in the middle of the zone, something you may not even notice if you’re grown accustomed to the “hills are zone walls” methods common in the genre.

The final quest turn in ended up being in a house at the top of one of those hills.

Great view, but a long commute

And with that we were done for the day.

Only after the fact did I go back and check out my posts about our past runs through WC.  They were illuminating to some extent.

October 22, 2006 – We do the whole thing, but with only four players.  Earl was missing, so I am not ever sure who was the tank with a mage, priest, rogue, and warlock.  The voidwalker I guess.

November 19, 2009 – We return to the instance as part of our run on the Horde side.  We fail to clear the path for the disciple ahead of time and he dies, scrubbing the end of the run.

January 13, 2011 – We use the dungeon finder to transport our new all worgen (plus a gnome) group to see what changed for Cataclysm.  We earn the achievement, the guild achievement, and get a special prize for completing the instance.  Also, Kresh dropped his shell shield.  I have a screen shot.

Another round to add to our history with this dungeon.  It is interesting to see what I mention and what I don’t as time goes by.

Next on the list is Shadowfang Keep.  There is probably another travel adventure in that.

Skill Point Bonus Time Again in New Eden

I really wish more people had picked SKINs in that survey CCP did about a year back on what sort of rewards we like.  Apparently we all put skill points at the top of our list so now it is all skill points all the time when CCP wants to give us something.

So CCP announced this morning that it is now Bonus Skill Point Week.

When in doubt hand skill points out!

The routine is the same as it has been in the past.  From today, October 16th, through October 24th, log in every day after down time (which is at 11:00 UTC) with every account to claim some free skill points.

This time around CCP did not say up front how many skill points one could accrue over the course of the week, but the usual split between Alpha and Omega clones is in place.  Basically, you get some skill points as an Alpha, but you will get more, probably a lot more, as an Omega, and the login screen will show you just how many more as an enticement to subscribe.

How to collect your skill points are covered in the announcement linked above, but I am sure you could figure it out if you just logged in to look.

This event joins the return of the Skilling Spree, which came back at the start of the month, as the events for the season.  I am sure some are holding out hope for a new Crimson Harvest, the graphically stunning event that ran last year around this time.  We shall see.

Speculation as to why CCP has decided to throw more skill points at us, what it might mean to MAU/DAU numbers, and how this might relate to the one year anniversary of the Pearl Abyss acquisition and the bonuses related to it will no doubt come up as a topic over on /r/eve.

I, for one, won’t turn up my nose at the offer of some free skill points.  The effort is low enough that I’ll log in my Omega and Alpha accounts.  I don’t think I’ll go so far as upgrading any of the latter however.