Daily Archives: November 27, 2019

Gambling Returns to New Eden

I was sitting in bed this morning looking at Twitter on my iPad and saw that CCP had announced something called the HyperNet Relay.  I read through the post, but I was pretty sure I didn’t understand what it was or why anybody would want this, because it sure seemed like gambling, something CCP banned from the game in all forms back in 2016.

The New Face of Gambling in New Eden

Fortunately Twitter was there to help me out as not one but two CSM members responded to my sleep addled inquiries making clear that this was, in fact, a gambling scheme being introduced into EVE Online by CCP.

The CSM had clearly been briefed about the HyperNet Relay by CCP and had given it their approval, because a few of them were out fronting the feature for CCP on a variety of channels.

When explaining HyperNet Relay, the humble raffle seems to be the preferred metaphor.

That is a nice word, raffle, because it gets used by charities and other good causes which get an exception to gambling laws in some jurisdictions when using it as a mechanism for raising funds.  But make no mistake, a raffle is straight up gambling by any definition I have ever read.

So, gambling.  To say it is anything else is just a lie.

Basically, it sounds like CCP plans to let players set up their own raffles.  The player running the raffle basically buys the permit and the tickets from CCP through the New Eden Store with PLEX, the cash shop currency, and then lists their item.  Players then buy the tickets with ISK.  When all the tickets have been sold, RNG picks the winner.  Everybody else who bought a ticket is out the ISK they spent.

Checking in on the test server, where HyperNet Relay is now live, the tips for what it is show the usual level of CCP clarity…

How to gamble… I mean raffle… I mean HyperNet!

That gets you to the offers window, which has some sample raffles.

Welcome to wealth creation… not your wealth, but somebody’s

As far as bidding goes, the interface seems similar to a mob numbers racket, where you pick a ticket from an array.

Which one is the luck one?

On the creation side, once you get a HyperCore (this terminology has to be an attempt to stay as far away from gambling terms as possible) you drag an item into the interface and set the parameters of the raffle.

Time to generate wealth!

You can set the number of tickets in your raffle… erm, HyperNodes in your… raffle… which can be between 8 and 512, the price per ticket… node… whatever, or the total amount you want to make, which will set the per ticket price.

Looking at some of the raffles people have created, there is still some fuzziness on the idea.  I saw a Nyx listed with the per ticket price about the same as the price of a brand new, fully fit Nyx… only there were 48 tickets, so somebody wanted to sell for 48x the market price.

And, just looking at this, I can see how it will facilitate RMT ISK sales.

CCP’s justification, aside from the usual claim of gambling being fun and enjoyable, is that this will allow players to obtain otherwise very expensive items like rare officer modules without having to blow their budget.  Again, as always with gambling, the emphasis is put on the benefit of the lone winner and not the losses incurred by the losers.

Leaving aside the high ground CCP claimed when they banned gambling previously, I spent some time at EVE Vegas watching CCP Larrikin do his presentation which dwelt for quite a bit on income inequality in New Eden.  You can watch it here if you like.  As with the real world, no matter what happens, the rich seem to get richer.

And HyperNet Relay will be no different.  Despite claims about ISK velocity and redistribution of assets, this will simply make the rich even more wealthy.  Who has these rare and valuable items in their hangars?  Who has the ISK to buy PLEX in order to get their HyperNet Relay Gambling Kit from the New Eden store without spending any real world cash?  And who will collect the ISK from these raffles, where the combined value of all the tickets will more then compensate for the price of the HyperNet Relay and the value of the item being raffled off?

And, on the flip side, who has to use real world cash to buy PLEX to  get ISK?  And who cannot afford these expensive items?  And who will lose their ISK far more often than not?

Same shit, different day.

But it is already live on the test server, which means CCP is committed and the CSM has been briefed and approved of the plan.  The expected go live date is December 10, 2019.

CCP is still eliciting feedback in a comment thread on the forums.  The tide there is running very much against the idea.  But this is an obvious money maker, so I’ll be interested to see if the usual claim that “your voice matters” will ring hollow yet again.  On Reddit things are even more brutal.

And all of this is being dropped into an environment where legislators in various countries are eyeing gambling in video games ever more closely.  At least lock boxes have the fig leaf of everybody getting some prize out of them as cover.  I thought CCP was being smart back in 2016, covering themselves from possible legal trouble.  Now we have this.  We’ll see if EVE Online has a high enough profile to get called out for this.

No matter what, I suspect that this story will run for a while.

Other reactions:

 

Gnomeregan, But with a Plan

Last week’s Gnomer run could be rated as a success.  We went in, worked our way through to Electrocutioner 6000, obtained the back door key, killed the bosses up to that point, had a couple of intense fights, only had one death, and had zero wipes.  Op success.

On the flip side, the five of us went into the instance with six Gnomer quests in our log and only one of us, Skronk, came out with even a single one of those quests completed.  That was not stonks.  I think the first time we did the instance back in 2006 we did better, but still came out with a lot of quests undone.  But we went on to Scarlet Monastery and deleted those from our quest log.

So over the course of the week Skonk looked into what we needed to do and came up with a plan.  It wasn’t a complicated plan.  It was more of a reminder of the things we needed to do to wrap up some of the quests we had.

On Saturday evening we assembled again in Ironforge, set to return and finish things off.  Our group was:

  • Ula – level 30 gnome mage
  • Viniki – level 30 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 29 dwarf priest
  • Obama – level 29 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 29 night elf druid

Well, we sort of assembled in Ironforge.  Obama had logged off outside the instance the previous week, so we ran out to him.

Once more through the snow

For some reason he thought it wise to go into the instance, and did so before we grouped up.  Then he got aggro and died at about the time we arrived.  However, because he went in before he was in the group, entering Gnomer ourselves we did not see his corpse so could not ress him.  So he had to release and run back to the instance, go in, come back to life, then come back out to meet up with us.  There is always some complication.

He had to come back out because we had things to do outside the instance first.  We had to run around to where the side door is and find Techbot for the Save Techbot’s Brain quests.  That was a kill and loot.

Techbot’s brain saved, body slain

We also had to get our white punch cards update at the machine that is outside the instance as well.  Once we had done that, it was back to the instance itself. When we were previously at the instance there had something of a scene going on, with a group jumping out of the instance having gotten into some trouble within, only to get jumped by the mobs outside the instance.  This time around all was quiet.

Once inside things went pretty smoothly.  We cleared our way to the edge of the open area, jumped off the ledge, took on the ooze we landed on, then cleared a mob as the Viscous Fallout once again came up behind us mid-fight.

Here he comes, sneaking up again

As with last time, he may have been an add, but we still didn’t have much problem with him either.  However, he dropped the staff again, rather than the cloth boots the casters were coveting.  Such is life with RNG.

We went from there over to the ramp up to the dormitory and the room with the sloped walls where we had such a chaotic battle last time.  This time around we just needed to clear a couple of mobs to reach one of the punch card machines we needed for the second punch card upgrade.  We were on our way.

Then it was off to the gauntlet again, where we managed to clear through to the big room with the Electrocutioner 6000 in the middle.

We’re here already

Elapsed time in the instance at that point was 20 minutes.  We cleared around to the ramp, and got stuck in with the Electrocutioner 6000 pretty handily.

This time fighting in a lit section of the platform

At just past the 30 minute mark we were already up to where we made it last week.  Things were going smoothly as we cleared around to the tunnel that would take us to the Crowd Pummeler 9-60.  Moronae coveted one of the possible drops.

Again, clearing through to him wasn’t a big deal.  We were able to take groups out easily enough and were soon looking at our target.

The Crowd Pummeler 9-60 waits

Like many bosses, he doesn’t have a lot in the way of complicated mechanics.  He stands apart with an attack that throws you back, which could get awkward if you were fighting with your back to the ledge.  However, we had arranged ourselves in such a way that it was not an issue… totally by chance, yes, but it worked out.

At that point we were bopping along pretty well.  We cleared around to the elevator and then cleared the whole room below just to make sure we got all the “coke machines” that were down there for quest updates.

Then it was up the side tunnel that empties out into the ramp which leads down to the final boss, Mekgineer Thermaplugg.  We were pretty close to the end.  And then our troubles began.

Once again, there is something of a sudden ramp up in difficulty mid-instance.  As I have said before, vanilla WoW instances seem like a mix of experiments and assumptions about dungeon design.  And one of those assumptions was clearly that people were going to take multiple runs at instances.  While Gnomer doesn’t have the steep level ramp from start to finish the way Deadmines does, the key you get for the side door is an indication that they expected people to get that far, the work up a bit before going further.

So while things were very manageable so far, the moment we spilled out into the tunnel with the Dark Iron Agents and their mechanical friends, things suddenly got more difficult, though it would take us a bit to notice how much in over our heads we were.

The one wise thing we did was take out a small group that was up the tunnel from us, just to give ourselves more room before we took on the foursome of Dark Iron Agents in the direction we needed to go.  Not only were there four mobs to handle, all level 32 or 33 while we were still 29 and 30 as a group, but we totally forgot about the mines that the Dark Iron drop.  Add in an alarm bot that came up behind us and called in adds and the wheels came off pretty quickly.  We ended up with a wipe on that group, having taken down just one of them.

Dead on the ramp, mines about

But at least we got one, and Skronk had the soul stone ready.  We were not sure what the mines would do, there being one on either side of Skronk’s corpse.  He popped the soul stone and the mines immediately detonated, killing him again.

Strewn about sans mines now, Skronk face down rather than face up this time

That meant we had to release and run back.  In running back we decided to take the side door in, hoping to avoid the stuff we left behind.  We got to the door, over by where Techbot spawns, and found we could not use the key while dead.  Oh no!

And then one of use realize that, as ghosts, we could walk through the door and we were able to get back into the instance.  We buffed up and cleared our way ahead, hitting a second locked door.  I guess they needed a double door solution, the first to keep people from just wandering in if they didn’t have the key and the second to keep people from ghosting in the back door.

We were back and facing the three remaining Dark Iron, still marked with targeting icons.  Three should be easier than four, right?  So we checked our buff and got stuck in again.

And then something odd happened, which I still haven’t figured out.  Somehow we managed to draw what must have been 6-8 additional mobs, Dark Iron Agents and the mechs that are mixed in with them.  Maybe proximity to a group of two down in the lower part of the tunnel?  They swarmed in from up the ramp mid-fight, causing us to wipe again.

Everybody freakin’ shows up to kill us

On the bright side, the soul stone was up again, so Skronk had that in hand before the wipe.  But he was once again dead right next to one of the Dark Iron mines.  It seemed like we were going to have to do the return run again.  But, since the soul stone is “use it or lose it” he gave it a shot.  And, for no reason I can see, the mine didn’t go off.

Skronk escapes the mine

So he was able to ress us.  We buffed up again and carried on, trying to stick to the wall side of the ramp lest we draw a crowd again.

We were also becoming very diligent about zapping alarm bots when they showed up.  They only take a couple of hits, but if you don’t get them you’re going to have some adds.

The only good Alarm Bot is a dead Alarm Bot… from earlier in the instance

On we went, finally clearing that first group of four.  After that there were a couple smaller groups before we hit another group of four where things once again got our of hand and ended up in a wipe.  The soul stone hadn’t been ready yet, so we had to run back again, which is a bit of a pain since the closest graveyard is in Kharanos, which is a bit of a trot from the instance.

Skeletal remains of that wipe

We got one of the fours again though, which left us with a threesome that we could handle.

From there it was another clear and we were at the bottom of the ramp.  There four mobs wander.  As we were sizing that up I looked over the lip of the ramp to see what might wander up behind us.  There was a Dark Iron Agent there and as everybody piled over to look we proximity pulled him.  I figured we were toast yet again.

But he ran up the ramp, turned around and came up our ramp, just shy of where the mobs were roaming and didn’t bring anybody from the door with him. (Though he did bring his own friend.)  Some luck at last.  And then we found we could pull each of the mobs before the big door individually if we let them wander off by themselves.  We opened up the door and found a mixed group there, two elites and some non-elite helpers.  We took them on and managed to muddle through.  It turned out we could have taken each group individually, but I figured that out too late.  Ula went down in that fight, but Skronk was quick on the ress.

That left us looking at Mekgineer Thermaplugg, the big boss.

There he is

Moronae had something to do for a bit IRL, so we camped there at the edge of the big room and planned how to take on the final boss.  That let the soul stone timer run down, which ended up being handy.

As we sat there we saw the Dark Iron Ambassador wander by on his loop.  We would get him too.

We looked up how to deal with the big fight.  We all vaguely remembered something about bombs and buttons and such, but were pretty hazy on the mechanics.  The question was who to put on button patrol.  You have to push the buttons when the bomb towers get activated or they’ll keep unleashing mech bombs to come an disrupt the fun… and help the boss kill you.

There are six towers and buttons, and we decided that the two ranged DPS, Ula and Obama, ought to take three each.  They could run to buttons and cast in between.  I would stay in the middle with Mekgineer Thermaplugg and hold him there, Moronae would DPS, and Skronk would keep us all alive.

This was a tough fight.  The boss was level 34 and, Viniki had just made it to 31, but everybody else was still 30 save Obama, who was 29.  When you’re more than 2 levels below a mob, your attacks and spells and abilities become less effective and much more subject to resists.

So, while it started smoothly, the battle quickly devolved into chaos.  I had to work to build up aggro and two of my biggest aggro generators, sunder armor and mocking blow, were getting shrugged off and resisted more often than not.  With the damage I was taking Skronk drew aggro after not too long, leaving me to chase the boss around throwing a taunt at it every eight seconds, which it seemed to shrug off more often than not.

Skronk went down and I was left chasing Mekgineer Thermaplugg around the room as he went after the casters, then back to me, then after the casters again.  Skronk used the soul stone and got back in the fight again.  But, again, with him needing to pour on the healing… the boss chasing the casters drove them away from the buttons so as I chased the boss the bombs were chasing me… he drew aggro yet again as I tailed the target trying to get aggro back on me.

Skronk went down a second time.  The only bright side at that point was that Mekgineer Thermaplugg was down to his last sliver of health, so we were able to burn him down.  The fight was won.  Moronae used his ress to bring Skronk back.  It was a messy win, but a win none the less.  We took our traditional screen shot with the dead boss.

Victory over Mekgineer Thermaplugg

Thermaplugg dropped the Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator, a very nice cloth head piece that went to Skronk on the caster roll-off.  He earned it with his extra deaths.

Then we went back out to the tunnel and waited for the Dark Iron Ambassador.  He takes a while making his rounds, but we had seen him come and go a couple of times, so we knew we just had to wait until he made his way to us once more.

The Dark Iron Ambassador approaches

As a fight he was pretty quick.  And he had the potential to drop a mace that would have been a serious upgrade for me… or a gun that would have been an upgrade for the one I use to pull.  Instead he dropped the leather wrist pieces, which went to the only leather wearer in the group.

It was a successful run, but not without its share of wipes.  The Recount total of deaths for Gnomeregan round 2:

Repair time

After that we ran around the boss room, there being a memory of a chest or something in there.  But there was nothing, so we all stoned back home to get on the quest turn ins.

All of us stoning out together

On the quest front we had done pretty well.  I managed to get them all done, and everybody else was just one shy.  We may need to go back to find a few more of the “coke machines” to wrap that up.

Quest log for Gnomer

Back in Stormwind I ran over to the Dwarven Quarter to find Shoni the Shilent.  Then it was into Deeprun Tram to get to Ironforge where a bunch of quest turn-ins awaited.

Right there in tinker town

Then from there is was a run down to Kharanos for the final turn in.  That one actually led to another quest back in Gnomer.  Given that, the fact that we need a few more items for another quest, and that a couple of us want boss drops that we didn’t get, and that we could all probably use a few more levels before Scarlet Monastery, we might yet return to Gnomer at least one more time.

I will likely get Viniki out and to level 32 before we go back in.  The final fight would probably be a bit less dramatic if I could hold aggro.

In case we don’t go, I’ll add in the part that links back to our past Gnomer runs below:

  • Gnomeregan – Round 1 – Dec 2006 – Our first run, with an odd writing style. I was still figuring out how to write about instance runs.  Also, there was no “round 2.”
  • Road to Gnomeregan – Dec 2009 – We go as our Horde group via the Booty Bay teleporter.  This was after Gnomer was refactored to be slightly lower level than in vanilla.
  • You Brought Me Here, Now Give Me The Damn Quest! – Feb 2011 – We run the Cataclysm version of the instance.
  • The Key to Gnomeregan – Nov 2019 – I might as well include last week’s post here for posterity.

Addendum:  Ula posted a pair of videos covering the run.  The first video goes up into the Dark Iron Agents.  You can see us jumping off the ledge to get to the Viscous Fallout through until our wipes.  You can see much better how many mobs came and swarmed us on that one wipe.

The second video carries on with the Dark Iron Agents, shows that proximity pull, the final clearing fights, and then the big battle Mekgineer Thermaplugg.

As always, excellent work by Ula!  Go follow her blog.