Monthly Archives: October 2020

Sixteen Weeks of World War Bee

After two weeks of titanic battles with thousands of players on the field and trillions of ISK in losses, things settled down to a grind again.  On Friday Imperium FC John Hartley pinged out a battle report to all that featured a total loss value of just 5 billion ISK.  Things have returned to a smaller scale.

Meanwhile the invaders, having succeeded in anchoring a Keepstar in NPC Delve on the fifth try, have been going on in r/eve like the war has been won.  Bad historical analogies… which is pretty much all historical analogies when applied to EVE Online… and memes about the Imperium being broke or evacuating from Delve are rife.  But fighting carries on and they still haven’t been able to draw a convincing line from their stated plan to avoid attacking our Keepstars… there is still one sitting in 49-U6U in Querious in a system they have held for a month… and us losing.  Starve us out maybe?  Delve occupation duty might go on for a long time if that is the plan.

Delve Front

While there have been skirmishes in some key systems in Delve, most of the fighting last week was concentrated in the W-4U1E constellation, adjacent to NPC Delve and the invader’s Keepstar.  There, after several day of back and forth, they used their superior numbers to take the ihubs in the constellation.  They have started to work on the LSC-4P constellation since.

First constellation down

However, the invaders now have to hold that space while moving forward.  New Eden isn’t earth so making front line analogies fail when all of those systems are within bridge/jump range of our staging.  So we reinforce the ihubs they have taken and they have to form up to defend them.  You can see by the ihub ownership that they have tried to solve the “only the owner can defend while anybody can attack” issue by dividing up the systems between groups.

And, while they have broken some of the Ansiblex jump gate network, they have not been focused on structures in those systems, so we have safe harbors in there.

Other Locations

Over in Querious a low grade entosis war continues in the back field of the invaders.  We continue to reinforce ihubs there and have destroyed a few of theirs.  And, as noted above, we still have a Keepstar, as well as other structures, to work from in the space they have taken, plus all of “fake Querious.”

Meanwhile, over in Esoteria, deep in TEST space, The Bastion continues to hold out and force TEST to jump clone home to contest timers. The Fortizar they anchored previously survived another attack, though the battle report showed that TEST couldn’t must much of a force to contest it.

The Bastion still holding out in Esoteria

Again, neither of these pin pricks is going to win the war, but they do make the war more onerous for the attackers and, in New Eden, the side that wears out first loses.  So the grind continues.

The invaders however have pretty much overrun Period Basis.  Anything down there that isn’t a Keepstar is in jeopardy.

Period Basis Almost Completely Taken

This will give TEST a clear route into southern Delve.

My Participation

I did pretty much nothing in space this week.  I did not go on a single fleet op and did only a couple of side items on my own.  This was not by plan.  While two weeks of big battles were tiring, there were few ops that came up when I was at home, at my computer, and had the time to commit.  It just worked out that way.  As such, my losses for the war remained as follows:

  • Ares interceptor – 11
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 3
  • Drake entosis battle cruiser – 3
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 2
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Malediction interceptor – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis ratting battlecruiser – 1
  • Scimitar logi – 1
  • Bifrost entosis command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1

Other Items

We have a few things coming up from CCP that may or may not impact the war.  Tomorrow we get the Howling Interdictors update that will, among other things, introduce a statis web bubble for interdictors.  Then there is an update coming in early November that will change up super carriers.  And then there is the coming dynamic bounty system, designed to curb ratting income in null sec.

And then there is the PCU for the week.  No big battles means no big numbers, so the peak for the week sagged after two weeks of growth.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642

Related:

Once again, only INN seems to post regularly about the war.

The Sprite Darter Transmog Set Does Not Fly

Icy Veins tells me that the Spriter Darter Transmog set introduction video might be the official WoW video with the most dislikes ever with, as of this writing, 3K likes and 25K dislikes.

 

That is some serious negative response to what is an optional $20 cosmetic item set in the WoW Store.  This isn’t the first over-priced cosmetic fluff option they have put up for sale.  But there is more to it here.  This is also the reward for subscribers who opt for the six month plan.

An enchanting opportunity

For a limited time*, when you sign up for a 6-month subscription to World of Warcraft, you’ll also receive the gift of the Sprite Darter’s Wings, immediately available in your in-game appearance collection. If you’re currently on a 6-month recurring subscription with a future renewal date, you’ll receive Sprite Darter’s Wings as a gift in your Battle.net desktop app at no additional charge no later than October 30, 2020 (must be redeemed by April 30, 2021).

So it is something you get for choosing that plan… but it isn’t a mount, and therein lies the rub.  The whole every six months reward structure that started back in late 2018 has featured a “free” mount for people on that plan.  The pattern seemed to be set.

I know I moved from the three month plan to the six month plan largely due to that.  I like mounts, though I am at a point where I have collected so many that I couldn’t name close to half of them from memory, even vaguely.

So, this time around, a few mounts in, there was a change up and we got a cosmetic set instead.  I found mine waiting for me to collect in the launcher.  If you’re already on a six month plan you just get it.

Sprite Darter Set

I doubt I’ll wear it… but who knows.  Like my mounts, I couldn’t even begin to explain how many items I have in my transmog selection from just playing the game.  I don’t go out of my way for them, yet I have accumulated many items.  So one more set isn’t going make much of a difference for me.  We’ll see.  I’m not going to change my subscription plan over it.  In the end, if you play for the full six months, which I have, that ends up being an economic win.

But I bet next time around we will get a mount.

Quote of the Day – Streamers Should Pay

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

-Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director for something owned by Google, on Twitter

This was sort of toss out of left field I wasn’t expecting.

This all started on Wednesday when Amazon’s Twitch streaming service delete a large number of saved video stream for DCMA takedown requests without notice or an option to appeal, followed by an email about how streamers should familiarize themselves with the DCMA process… which isn’t supposed to work like that.

Twitch is Twitch

That is a whole tempest in itself, and Ars Technica has a good summary.

So a lot of streamers were pretty upset about this.  And onto the hot coals of their ire, Mr. Hutchinson decided to pour is own oil of scorn.

This was followed by two more tweets:

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.

Leaving aside the whole “kicking people when their down” aspect of this tweet, which is loathsome in itself, I can think of no quicker way to put an end to video game streaming that trying to extract a license tax from streamers.  A few streamers make some decent money, but most make little to nothing, and any fee would just put a stop to them.

And he seems to be pretty sure that game publishers can make this happen.  I’m not sure if the EULA and or ToS of every single video game is up to the task, but it is possible I suppose.  Shut it all down.  That is what he appears to want.

Remember, this comment is in a world where some game companies give popular streamers free copies of their games to play and often promote such streams.

And that isn’t the only problem with this sentiment.  It also appears to equate video games with forms of entertainment like music or movies, things that yield the same experience if you buy it yourself or listen/watch somebody play it online.  That seems to be a stretch for me.  Watching people play video games is a very different experience in my book than actually playing a video game.

Then there is the fact that, here in 2020, that horse appears to be well and truly out of the barn and gone.  If you can’t stream it, or have the saved recordings of those streams, what does that mean for YouTube?  We’re about fifteen years down the road on game videos on that front.

However, I think the most shocking thing about these statements is that they don’t really seem to be something others in the industry have been grumbling about.  “Streamers should be paying us!” isn’t something I’ve heard, and this is an industry that boils over now and then about used game sales, Steam sales, the cut apps stores (and Steam) take on sales, the cut physical retail stores take on sales, any barrier between them and publishing, too much competition due to lack of barriers to publishing, and the fact that people won’t spend their money on crappy 99 cent games rather than their morning latte.

Oh, and piracy.  Always piracy.  Literally a “make devs angry” thing for at least forty years, and one that has seen more money thrown at it for less benefit than anything I can think of.

But Mr. Hutchinson clearly sees this as piracy, so there is no doubt that fire in his belly on the topic, having been a game developer himself in the past.  And, as was pointed out over at MMO Fallout, he has had his own issues in the past. and might even be stretching the truth in his Twitter bio.

The funniest thing about today’s streaming drama is that everyone thinks Alex Hutchinson runs Google Stadia (because his Twitter bio says “Creative Director @ Google Stadia”). He’s actually a creative director at a Montreal game studio that was purchased by Google last December

[He has since updated his profile to reflect this.]

Anyway, being a creative director of some sort at Google’s means he likely isn’t in a position to do anything about this.  It looks like just so much hot air.  And I doubt there are many studios out there keen to press this issue and make enemies of streamers.  This is akin to the Mark Twain saying about not arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.  The videos are already blossoming on YouTube and elsewhere about this.  It may die down soon, but the embers will remain, ready to burst into flames it stoked.

I’m also pretty sure most game studios or publishers are smart enough give this idea a wide berth.  Even EA can’t be dumb enough to get on board with this idea.  And Google has made sure to carefully distance itself from the idea.  In a statement they said:

The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.

Google is not keen to burn bridges or throw away whatever small success they have managed to eke out with Stadia.

So, in the end, one person’s noxious opinion did not represent their company or the industry and probably would have largely ignored if their profile had not represented their position as a senior exec at Stadia and not somebody in a subsidiary far from Google HQ.  The status quo was maintained.

But, as we well know, the internet is a place where bad ideas find followers easily.  This might come up again.  Some other company exec, one with actual influence this time, could grab on tot his idea and run with it.  And if they do, I’ll buy some popcorn.  The drama will be excellent.

Others on this topic:

Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend

I suppose, given the nature of the level squish, I should call it a “level expanded” Northrend.  But it’s current status is a by-product of the level squish, so you get what you get.

In checking out the Shadowlands pre-patch, running through the new starter area is fine and dandy, but it is only a 1-10 level experience that won’t take you more than an hour unless you’re set to explore every nook and cranny of the place.  And for us… Ula, Skronk, and I… the idea was always to go check out Wrath of the Lich King in its new 10-50 incarnation.  So it was off to Northrend!

Northrend awaits

Back in the day WotLK was a level 60-70 experience.

As the level cap grew in WoW though, Blizz started experimenting with expanding the level ranges of some of the older content so that players in a game with a 100+ level cap and an xp curve adjusted to suit that wouldn’t constantly out-level zone and expansion content.

Blizz took a shot at solving this first with the Legion 7.3.5 patch, which expanded the level ranges for expansions and made everything scale to your level within those ranges.  At that point you could go to Northrend at 58 rather than 70 and could stick around until 80.

  • All starting zones scale up to level 10.
  • World of Warcraft Vanilla (Eastern Kingdoms & Kalimdor) scales up to level 60.
  • At level 58, players can choose between Outland or Northrend (capped at level 80).
  • At level 80, players can choose between Cataclysm or Pandaria (capped at level 90).
  • Zones still have a minimum level requirement.
  • Dungeons also scale
  • Quest rewards scale up to your level.

That was not enough.  Levels were still a problem.  And last week we all dropped down to a level cap of 50 with the promise of being able to choose any of the expansions as a route to that, pending the release of the Shadowlands expansion, at which point the cap would go to 60.

I made this graphic, so I am going to use it again

So off we went on the boat to Valliance Keep in Northrend.  Our little group was:

  • Merchi – Level 10 Hunter
  • Fergorin – Level 10 Shaman
  • Mendula – Level 10 Priest

Waiting for Ula… or Mendula

Unlike the old days, one of the first quests you get sends you to Dalaran, a flight point you get by default.  You can also fly directly to Howling Fjord, as that flight point is available as well.  There would be no need to repeat our 2008 ride across the continent.

Our first ride across Northrend

One of the first things I noticed looking at the map… the real map… was that while the expansion now scales from 10 to 50, the individual zones are not all equally accessible.  There are different ranges for the zones.

  • Borean Tundra 10-50
  • Howling Fjord 10-50
  • Dragonblight 15-50
  • Grizzly Hills 15-50
  • Sholazar Basin 20-50
  • Zul’Drak 20-50
  • Crystalsong 25-50
  • Ice Crown 25-50
  • Storm Peaks 25-50

So they haven’t gone full Legion/BFA “all zones are equal” with the scaling.  They do want you to go through the content in some semblance of the original order.  And that is fine.  We didn’t have any intention otherwise.

Running through the initial content was fun.  It has been nearly a dozen years since we did this, but a lot of it remains fairly fresh in my memory.  And what I had forgotten was renewed and fresh again as we moved along.

I didn’t do a lot of posts about particular zones or bits of content back then.

When we got down to the the mist shrouded beach at Riplash Strand and the haunting music I could vividly recall the first night in the expansion.  We were all out there together and I particularly recall being held up on one quest that required you to slay a named mob, Gamel the Cruel.

Gamel, Gamel, bright as a camel…

Back in the day there was no sharing a kill with people outside of your group and there was a crowd of people showing up to slay him.  This wasn’t the happy times of the launch of WoW Classic either, with everybody lining up politely and waiting their turn. (Except Poncho! Never forget Poncho the line cutter!)  I recall standing on his spawn point and casting consecrate with my pally in hopes of getting the first hit on him.  It took quite a few tries before we got him.

But it is not 2008 any more and much has changed.  You can now get a hit on a mob that somebody on your faction has started with and get credit.  And there certainly were no launch day crowds down at the beach with us, though we saw a few other players around almost everywhere we went.

And when we went to get Gamel another player ran up after we had started… a Horde player too.  But he was able to get credit, because the faction exclusion doesn’t apply to named quest mobs.  Everybody gets credit in this happy new world.

We carried on, running down the quests, swimming through the misty water, and advancing down the quest chains.

Swimming in the mists

I had the pumpkin head transmog on because I had to explain how to hide your helm, which used to be a checkbox in the settings… and still is… but which now requires you do interact with a transmog NPC.  Fortunately somebody had the Tundra Yak out in Valliance Keep, so we could use the NPC on that.

And, then when I got a new helm I had to add in that transmog isn’t applied to your character, but to the individual piece of gear, so my pumpkin head was gone.

I also had to bring up… still bitter… about how the Azure Water Strider, the most OP mount in the game and maybe the best thing to come out of Mists of Pandaria, had been nerfed so it no longer let you walk on water by default.  Our mounts had to schlep through the water like suckers.

No walking on water here

We made our way along, found ourselves out at the D.E.H.T.A. camp to run through their quests, then down to the shore and the first interaction with the Kaluak.  I spent a lot of the time with the Kaluak back in the day.  Vikund, my main, still carries the fishing pole he got from reaching exalted status with them.

We finished that up and made it to the airfield.  Along the way we all made it to level 20.

Another achievement

At level 20 the list of things like battle grounds that open up to you can take a while to flash by.

The leveling is probably a bit faster than the rate you might want if you didn’t want to hit level cap before you finished up the expansion, but that is okay.  I’m not sure we’re in it for the long haul, but for now it is fun and memories and an odd mesh between how the game used to be and how it plays now.

What is that diamond? Is this The Sims?

There are still some oddities.

At one point I was standing around and decided to talk to the trade skill trainers.  I trained cooking, then got the option to train Northrend cooking.

Cooking choices

That made some sense to me because Blizz had divided up trade skills into expansion based grouping.  When I trained Northrend cooking I was then able to train up a bunch of recipes.

Then I went to the fishing trainer and that was less clear.

All the fishing

When you get fishing you get the option to train up all the expansion fishing variations.  That seemed kind of odd.  I guess it knows where you are fishing and can apply the skill up to that  area.  But I feel it might have been better to have skipped this one.

And some bugs from Exile’s Reach followed us.  In the starter area you get some skills early on, but later you choose a spec.  If your spec did not include one of the initial skill it stayed on you your hot bar and was usable… until the game tried to push a new skill onto the bar after you left the starter area.  Then the skill would just disappear, replaced on your action bar by a new one.  And it is never well received when things just disappear, so we spent some time trying to figure that one out.

But otherwise it has been a light and fun trip through some old memories.

Ula also wrote a bit about this on her blog.  Check it out.

Coming Ashore at Exile’s Reach

With the big squish last week came a new introduction experience for players starting off in World of Warcraft.

You can still use the old-ish race-specific starter zones, but Blizz has rolled up this whole new zone to help get people going, so I figured I would give it a look.  So I rolled up a Gnome hunter… mechanical pets for the win… and chose that as my starter path.

When you load in you find yourself on a boat.

A nice boat.

And, of course, my first thought on seeing the boat was, “Oh, we’re going to do the ship wreck starter trope, aren’t we?”

Seriously, the industry needs to sit down and brainstorm some game starting options beyond “jail break,” “ship wreck,” “amnesia,” and “lets just not talk about it.”

On the boat you go through the basics of move and attack and what the UI elements mean.

This is the XP bar, you will stare at it for 60 levels then it will disappear

This was pretty clear, though I have the problem of already knowing how to do these things, so I sometimes get ahead of the tutorial or do things that they don’t want you to do yet.

Meanwhile, the weather was beginning to get stormy… because of course it was.

It was sunny when I arrived

And, sure enough, you end up in the water as the ship goes down.

You knew it was coming

On the beach you go meet up with the captain and start going through a series of quests and see the usual things.

It isn’t WoW without murlocs

It is really two series of quests.  There is a main story, but you also get a series of quests related to your class.  As a hunter, that meant learning how to tame and hand a pet as well as using traps.

I will say that one of the things that kept tripping me up was the fact that most of my hunter experience over the last year was in WoW Classic, so I kept looking for ammo and pet skills and stuff like that.  Things have changed a lot over the years, and swapping straight from 2006 to 2020 puts the two eras in sharp relief.

Also on the odd front, when I was learning about hunter skills, I got the achievement for completing 100 quests.

100 when?

That was odd, since I would say by then I had maybe done a dozen.  I saw somebody else get the 50 quests complete achievement as well, so something is clearly up with the quest counter.

I made it through the hunter training, then took a break.  When I came back, Ula and Skronk from the instance group were on and into experience as well.  We were able to group up and share notes and finish the last bits of the tutorial.

After fighting through some ogres, the final task is to do an instance run.  As with much of the tutorial, a pop up was displayed to tell us what to do.  In this case, it was to use the Dungeon Finder to enter the instance.

The instance is right there though…

This highlighted the problem of these pop up notifications.  I had already experienced a couple of them that wouldn’t go away.  If you earn a new skill or pick up some new gear, there is a pop up to inform you.  But if I already dragged the skill to my action bar, or dragged it to an action bar other than the one indicated, the pop up would stay there, annoyingly telling me to do the thing I had already done.

Furthermore, I had a couple of cases where, even after having successfully satisfied the pop up’s request it came back later to tell me to drag the same skill to the action bar.

But the Dungeon Finder pop up was a special hell.  Since we were already in a group, only the group leader could press the button to send us into the instance, which meant the other two could never dismiss that pop up.

Conflicting pop ups

Fortunately for me, with the big monitor, it was easy enough to ignore that pop up way down in the lower right corner, but it still managed to grab my eye every once in a while as we ran through the instance.

In the instance you have some NPCs to guide you as you move along to the final boss fight.

The final ogre in the instance

You learn to the mechanics of running an instance, including the fact that sometimes everybody gets loot but you.

No cape for me

We wrapped that up, left the instance, and turned in the quest for that, which popped Ula and I up to level 10.  Skronk… Fergorin… was still a couple of chiclets shy of the level, so we ran around and killed orges and looked for missed quests until he made it.  Then it was time to take our final, definitive leave of Exile’s Reach.

Are you sure you want to go?

When you’re ready to go, you are flown off over the island for one last glimpse, then it is off to Stormwind.

One last look

Once in Stormwind we grouped up and followed the quest path that welcomes you to the city.  You visit a few locations, get to buy your riding skill and get handed a mount. (Though, thanks to mounts being account-wide I already had that mount, plus access to more than 200 additional mounts.)

We hit a point where the quest sent us off to meet with King Anduin, which felt like the start of the BFA intro, so we ran off to find Chromie in order to choose our timeline.  We wanted to go back to Wrath of the Lich King.  However, Chromie wasn’t having it.  So I ran back and spoke to the king and went through his quests.

I didn’t want to have to keep running back and forth to check with Chromie, so I ended up doing the full intro into BFA… which meant doing the jail break start, so two tropes in one night… up through the intro to Boralus Harbor quests, which ends at the flight point.

I stoned back to Stormwind then and rode back to Chromie.  At that point I was able to choose my timeline in the way I indicated in my previous WoW post.  I reported back to the others on this and they followed in my footsteps and got lined up for Northrend as well.

But I had heard other people say that you should get an option to talk to Chromie before that.  So later on I rolled up a Horde character, a goblin warrior, and ran through Exile’s Reach again, both to see it from the Horde side and to see if I missed the turn-off to Chromie.

The Horde version of the island is mostly the same.  Sure, you get orcs and goblins and a more sinister looking boat.

It is going to sink all the same

The story is 90% identical for Alliance and Horde, though I did spot at least one amusing difference that hinged on the difference between gnome and goblin engineering.  I also got the achievement for 100 quests again at the same point I had with my Alliance hunter, so there is something about my account that must be incremented to cause that.

I also spotted a few more flashing help messages.

Low health? Then EAT! Don’t take that potion! I don’t care if you’re still in combat!

I made it through to the end… I’d guess you could roll through the whole thing in 30 minutes if you were efficient… certainly less than an hour… and flew off to Orgrimmar after finishing the instance (with strangers this time, so I was able to use… and thus dismiss the reminder for… the Dungeon Finder) and what not.

There I went through the tour.  You have to march all the way over to the Valley of Honor, but it is all in a day’s intro.  And when we got to the point where that seemed to be done, I noticed a dialog option with the next quest offered.

Maybe you want some Chromie action sailor?

I totally did not see that option my first time through, and Ula doesn’t recall having seen it either.  It is entirely possible that I just missed it clicking through to the next quest… and I guess that means if you click through too fast you have to go to Boralus Harbor. This time I took the direct option to Chromie.

Chromie looks a little out of place in Orgrimmar.

Chromie stands out in gnome form there in the Valley of Spirits

I mean, she is a dragon and all and just goes around as a gnome or something.  But it still must be a bit jarring for your average orc to run across a gnome just hanging out in town.

Anyway, as starting areas go it was as good as most.  It was mildly engaging and, while there were a few bugs, a lot of the problems I had were more related to me knowing the game already and getting ahead of myself.  Clearly it didn’t think people would group up ahead of running the instance, for example.  I suppose it was a good thing there were only three of us, because that is all the instance serves at once.

There is always the question about whether or not learning the mechanics actually teaches you how to play.  I found my hunter to be powerful enough that I would just shoot via auto-attack and let my pets do the work, so I didn’t really build up the idea of a rotation.  But that can come later.

And, in the end, we got ourselves pointed towards Northrend with some fresh characters, which was our real goal.

Related:

The September MER Follows the War in EVE Online

CCP got the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report for September out on Monday, so it is time to see what the numbers say for the third month of World War Bee.

EVE Online nerds harder

Since it is war time, destruction is the first thing I want to look at.  The top ten regions for destruction in September were:

  1. Querious – 2.71 trillion (Imperium)
  2. The Forge – 2.24 trillion (High Sec)
  3. Lonetrek – 1.59 trillion (High Sec)
  4. The Citadel – 1.54 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Delve – 1.40 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Metropolis – 1.19 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Sinq Laison – 1.15 trillion (High Sec)
  8. Catch – 942 billion (Legacy)
  9. Genesis – 919 billion (High Sec)
  10. Oasa – 848 billion (PandaFam)

As with August, The Forge, the usual top dog, remains in second place and three null sec regions occupy the list.  But in August it was Fountain at the top.  For September Querious tops the list with almost the exact same total as Fountain had the month before.

Most of the other regions, most of which were in last month’s top ten, were down.  Only Catch was up compared to the previous month.

Overall the MER says that 33.6 trillion ISK was destroyed in New Eden in September, down from the 38.4 trillion reported in August.  An odd turn in that.  My guess is that when we get the October MER we will find Delve at the top… I count nearly 10 trillion destroyed so far… with Querulous in staying on the list.

From there I might as well flip the coin a look at production.  The top ten regions were:

  1. The Forge – 21 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 14 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Lonetrek – 6.74 trillion (High Sec)
  4. The Citadel – 6.72 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Domain – 4.56 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Oasa – 4.48 trillion (PandaFam)
  7. Sinq Laison – 4.39 trillion (High Sec)
  8. Vale of the Silent – 3.69 trillion (mixed small groups)
  9. Esoteria – 3.06 trillion (Legacy)
  10. The Kalevala Expanse – 2.89 trillion (PandaFam)

The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel, which all feed the Jita market dominate production.  But Delve does pretty well as the Imperium builds to feed its war effort.  Meanwhile, PandaFam in Oasa and TKE work away on their supply line and Legacy builds in Esoteria.  I am note sure who is building in Vale of the Silent, but carry on.  A total of 114.5 trillion ISK of production took place in September.

And to supply that production there needs to be minerals.

With the announcement of the pending mining nerf, mineral prices resumed their climb in September.

Sep 2020 – Economic Indices

In fact, if you look at the long term chart, mineral prices are now around the all time high they hit back in 2012, when CCP changed the drones NPCs in the drone regions to have bounties rather than mineral drops.

Sep 2020 – Economic Indices – Long Term

We have to keep that in mind when we look at the amount mined, as it is measured in ISK value rather than a physical amount.  The top ten regions for mining were:

  1. The Forge – 1.50 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Oasa – 1.27 trillion (PandaFam)
  3. Metropolis – 1.26 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 1.23 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Domain – 1.14 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Lonetrek – 1.14 trillion (High Sec)
  7. The Citadel – 888 billion (High Sec)
  8. Tash-Murkon – 849 billion (High Sec)
  9. Perrigen Falls – 769 billion (PandaFam)
  10. Everyshore – 768 billion (High Sec)

Mining remained a high sec game, with only two null sec regions making the cut.  Gone are the days of the “Delve Time Units” of yore.  And even with the bump in mineral prices, the amount mined was in most of the top regions when compared to August.   Overall the regional data shows a total of 27.3 trillion ISK worth was mined in September, down from the 30.6 trillion ISK mined in August and the 29 trillion ISK mined in July, when prices were less dear.

And once you mine and build all of that, you have to sell it, which brings us to the trade values.  The top ten regions for trade were:

  1. The Forge – 411 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 52 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Sinq Laison – 24 trillion (Dodixie)
  4. Delve – 20 trillion (Imperium)
  5. Lonetrek – 15 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 10 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar 9.2 trillion (Rens)
  8. Essence 5.2 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. Oasa – 4.3 trillion (PandaFam)
  10. The Citadel 4.2 trillion (Caldari High Sec)

Of the 600 trillion ISK in trade in New Eden, Jita remains the undisputed champion, accounting for (along with Perimeter) more than two thirds of the total.  But The Forge has been declining a bit every month, while the fall of Niarja has seemed to stimulate Amarr some, as it has risen since that event, up almost 9 trillion ISK since August.

However, since Niarja was pulled from its high sec connections to become part of the Triglavian Pochven region earlier this month, that might change.  Amarr was no doubt boosted some by the proximity of the fighting in Niarja.  Now that is gone.  Will its proximity to the war front, relative to Jita, sustain its growth going forward?

Delve, meanwhile, saw a boost in trade, and will likely see an even bigger boost in both trade and production when the October MER is released.

And, finally, to pay for all that trade, capsuleers need ISK, and NPC bounties remain the biggest ISK faucet in the game.

Sep 2020 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

NPC bounties have settled down into a fairly predictable range over the last few months.  For August the total bounty payout was 52.6 trillion ISK, in September the number was 52.1 trillion ISK.  But who is earning that ISK?  The top ten regions in September were:

  1. Oasa – 6.10 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. Branch – 3.47 trillion (PandaFam)
  3. Cobalt Edge – 3.40 trillion (PandaFam)
  4. Perrigen Falls – 2.79 trillion (PandaFam)
  5. The Kalevala Expanse – 2.35 trillion (PandaFam)
  6. Insmother – 2.27 trillion (Legacy)
  7. Vale of the Silent – 2.18 trillion (mixed small groups)
  8. Esoteria – 1.97 trillion (Legacy)
  9. Detorid – 1.92 trillion (Legacy)
  10. Deklein – 1.89 trillion (mixed small groups)

PandaFam in general, and Fraternity in particular, seem to be raking in the big ISK still in their home space, far from the war.

So it goes.

As noted the war and the big mining nerf will likely show up even more pronounced on the MER when the October edition is released.  Destruction, production, and trade ought to see a boost, while overall mineral prices should continue their climb into record high territory.

As always, the charts and data from the MER are available from CCP.

 

LOTRO War of Three Peaks Launches Today

The Standing Stone Games experiment to see if they can get somebody to pay $99 for a mini-expansion begins today.

That is $33 a peak

Okay, you don’t HAVE to pay $99.  There are three price levels.  But you COULD pay $99 if you really wanted to.  The problem is that SSG has been pretty slow explaining WHY you would want to pay $99.

Weeks ago they announced that this adventure pack would be made available at three price levels:

  • Normal Edition – $20
  • Collector’s Edition – $59
  • Ultimate Edition – $99

However, they have since been quiet… and deliberately so… about what you would get for your hundred bucks.  There were hints that it involved boar mounts, but they simply were not going to tell us what was in the box until it was available for sale.  This has not filled people with confidence.

But today is the day.  The Update 28 Patch Notes say so.  And now their expansions purchase page has the big reveal, and even includes a comparison chart to let you know what you get.

A peek at the Three Peaks loot

They  list out the key features as:

  • Elderslade: Missions
  • New Six Person Instance: Shakalush, the Stair Battle
  • New Raid: Amdân Dammul, the Bloody Threshold
  • Exciting Bonus Items in Collector’s and Ultimate Fan Editions!

And you get the first three with the $20 option, so the more expensive options are just the fluff.

But that is always the way.  You cannot sell much more with special editions without breaking balance or making people feel obligated to pay for the more expensive option.

They tried it before

So the question is whether or not you’re into all the extras.  Some people will be.  I’ve gone in on a few extra cost packages in my time.  But for my current commitment to LOTRO… which is essentially nil right now… I will probably wait until they make it available on the in-game store for LOTRO Points.

Addendum: Did I say game update or quest pack or mini-expansion?  SSG says it is just an expansion.

Others on this launch:

Into the Level Squished World of Warcraft

It was busy in EVE Online last week, but I still found a bit of time to poke my nose into World of Warcraft to see what the Shadowlands pre-patch and the big level squish did to us.

In preparation I made sure, the night before the patch, to list out all of my characters with their current level and how much xp they had on their bar to see how things changed.  That wasn’t because I expected Blizz to mess things up.  And my characters all aligned with the chart I borrowed from WoW Head for my previous post.  But still, if you don’t record something you can’t tell how much things changes.  So my Eldre’Thalas characters fell out like this:

  • Vikund – 120 – 50
  • Tistann – 120 – 50
  • Alioto -120 – 50
  • Tokarev – 116 10% – 48 53%
  • Hurmoo – 112 36% – 46 100%
  • Makarov -112 25% – 46 100%
  • Maloney – 111 26% – 45 100%
  • Makawao – 66 1% – 26 3%
  • Garnatz – 62 48% – 25 100%
  • Blintz – 48 46% – 21 100%
  • Honecker – 42 9% – 18 44%
  • Hruga – 33 5% – 14 22%

I had three characters at level cap and they ended up at 50 as expected.  And my level 116 mapped right into level 48 with a half a level of xp in his bar, which I guess was about right.  But then a few of the other ones ended up with their xp bar filled up to 100% so that they were effectively one level higher than I expected.

I am not complaining.  I’ll take the level.  I said I was likely to regret squandering the double xp that Blizzard had been offering on retail WoW for months, but a couple of free levels helped mitigate that I suppose.

Also, the level curve in the new 20-50 world is pretty easy.  I have already pushed Tokarev from half way into level 48 to level 50 just by doing some battle pets matches.  (The first week of the squish was also a 200% xp week for battle pets, so I went in and leveled some up.)

I feel like I’ve been here before

I was, however, a bit surprised at the shape of the leveling world post-squish.  For ages I have had this chart in my mind.

The promised shape of the leveling experience

And, since I have been following my usual policy of only watching the high level news about the upcoming expansion so as not to spoil anything, I let my brain draw its own picture of how I expected things to be.  Basically, that chart viewed as a series of parallel vertical paths into Shadowlands.

My vision in Excel format

However, when I got into the game with my first character with 100% xp and figured I would just go kill a mob close by to get the level, I found gray mobs where I happened to be, which was in the Warlords of Draenor content.  (Say what you will about garrisons, I do still hang out in them, largely to make 30-slot bags and do pet battle stuff.)

I then discovered that there still existed a way from the starter areas up to the level cap that ran through the old expansions in something akin to the old way.  Each expansion had a new level range, with a cap on it.

The horizontal stack with level caps on each expansion

That seemed like a ticket to a somewhat unsatisfying ride to 50.  With everything squished down and the xp curve juiced up, it meant that players on that route were very likely to out-level the content before they finished it, a problem the game already suffered from in its level 120 cap form.

Also, I was a bit confused as to how to get to the world I was promised, the realm of parallel paths to the level cap.  Fortunately, somebody quickly mentioned Chromie and I remembered that this was all revolving around her and the time stream in order to explain it in the lore.  So I ran over to the Stormwind Embassy area in Stormwind and found her.  There is a little hourglass on the map that shows you where she is.

Where to get Chromie timed

There, if you are eligible… more on that in another post… she will let you slide into whichever time line you want, so long as it is one of the six she has to offer currently.

The six paths

There is plenty of room on that selection screen to put Shadowlands when they squish that before the next expansion.

I was confused for a moment as to where Battle for Azeroth and the Kalimdor & Eastern Kingdoms content was hiding.  But BFA is on by default, it already scales up to level 50 without visiting Chromie.  Meanwhile, I realized that the content on the old continents was wrapped up into Cataclysm, since that was the point when they changed and updated all of it.  The Cataclysm zones are not off on their own island like Northrend, but blended into the old locations.

So there it is.  And as I even think I figured out why Blizz would bother keeping the old style form of the world with all the expansions stacked in horizontal bands.

So long as the content is stacked that way, players retain the ability to go run old instances and raids solo for transmog gear and pet drops and the like.  That is a surprisingly critical item so far as the community is concerned.

Next up will be my venture into the new starting area, Exile’s Reach.

Fifteen Weeks of World War Bee

World War Bee has truly picked up over the last couple of weeks as the previous slow pace of things turned into a crescendo of destruction which has seen trillions of ISK in ships and structures destroyed.  As I wrote previously, the October MER is going to be interesting.

CCP has thrown their own monkey wrench into the machinery with war, as the update last Tuesday made deploying citadels more expensive and complicated as well as nerfing mining in a big way.  Expect prices to rise on everything if the war keeps up its burn rate and the null sec alliances have to secure supplies.

But we did get the UI-only option for the client, which made the big fights more manageable for people running multiple clients.  It isn’t a huge change, but it makes things incrementally better.

Delve Front

It was a rough week for the Imperium.  There were three large scale clashes in NPC Delve, two of which went badly and one was something of a Pyrrhic victory.

The losses… the failed trap at YZ9-F6 and the bubble wrapped Keepstar… tipped against the Imperium more due to server performance than any implementation of strategy or tactics by the enemy.  The first, executed with precision, failed when damage didn’t apply while the latter saw PAPI fill up the Keepstar grid with 149 warp disruption bubbles… a number deliberately chosen because CCP is alleged to view 150+ anchorables as an issue that they will step in and correct by removing them… along with a continuous stream of dictor bubbles in order to make any fight on the grid untenable.

So many bubbles on grid

So PAPI won both.  They got to kill 2.5 trillion ISK in ships, including 16 titans and 27 supers and they got their Keepstar in NPC Delve on the fifth try, and nothing can change that.  A bunch of people in the Imperium are angry about these two events, but experience says that is the way the game goes and you have to be prepared to deal with it or stop playing.  CCP isn’t going to step in and make things better, so we just have to carry on.

Meanwhile the big win, the destruction of the fourth Keepstar, cost the coalition more than 1.2 trillion ISK, including 2,000 battleships lost.

On the upside, while the invaders have managed to get their Keepstar in the region and knock out several Fortizars in NPC Delve and SVM-3K, they have yet to be able to turn any of the ihubs in the region, something they have made a prerequisite for any offensive action so far in the war.

Delve ihubs – Oct 19, 2020 with the PAPI Keepstar system highlighted

If I had to guess, once PAPI gets done with their inevitable move op to the new staging, there will be a push on ihubs in Delve systems near the NPC space and Querious as well as possibly in “fake” Querious, the section of the region that is an enclave within Delve and which remains in Imperium control.

Other Locations

There was a running joke that when we lost a fight we would go hit things in G-M4GK and when TEST lost they would hit TCAG-3.  While the Period Basis region had been mostly quiet since the invaders moved into Querious, as the fourth Keepstar battle raged TEST managed to use the time to with the entosis match for TCAG-3, taking the ihub there as well as in RJ3H-0 further into the region.

The Period Basis / Paragon Soul front

They have since lost the RJ3H-0 ihub and we will see if they contest the TCAG-3 ihub when the Imperium pushes back on that.

Last week I reported that Bastion had captured several TEST systems in Esoteria, which I expected TEST would take back shortly.  Busy in Delve… and Period Basis… TEST has yet to clean up that incursion.

Bastion systems in Esoteria

Furthermore, during the fighting in NPC Delve, Bastion managed to anchor a Fortizar in one of the systems, giving them a base of operations that allows them to continue being a thorn in TEST’s side.  Not something that will win the war, but a distraction none the less.

My Participation

I somehow found the time to get stuck in on the three big fights last week, which meant I spent a lot of hours in New Eden in slow motion.  I also lost some more ships during the fourth Keepstar fight, five Crusaders and a Raven.  I managed to get home safe with my original ships from the other two.

That makes my loss count for the war:

  • Ares interceptor – 11
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 3
  • Drake entosis battle cruiser – 3
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 2
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Malediction interceptor – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis ratting battlecruiser – 1
  • Scimitar logi – 1
  • Bifrost entosis command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1

Other Items

CCP put out a trailer regarding their fourth quarter plan, the Phoenix Quadrant.

The sound track syncs well with the feelings within the Imperium.

But the post that went with the trailer says that super carriers will be getting an overhaul as part of this quadrant, including giving them clone bays that allow capsuleers to respawn directly to them in battle, putting them in a ship stowed within the carrier.  That will introduce a new element to the war.

Much hay was made of the fact that The Initiative cut their SRP amounts from a 50% to a 25% of cost policy.  This led to a lot speculation about their finances and concern trolling about why Goonswarm isn’t financing them.  I was more surprised that they were only getting 50% as a matter of course before the cut.  In GSF it is close to 100%, and if you’re in KarmaFleet you get bonus SRP for logi ships, so you can end up making money on a ship loss.  So whether or not this policy change by INIT is significant or not remains to be seen.  They have always been a very independent ally and plot their own course.

And then there is the weekly peak concurrent user count.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359

The war finally saw the Sunday prime time PCU pass the 40K mark, something it hasn’t done since back in April when the pandemic was new and everybody was stuck and home and trying to obey the rules and suggestions to help stop the spread.  It probably helped that the bubble wrap fight was slated to kick off right before the usual peak time, even if no real battle ensued.

Related Items:

Bubble Wrap Plan Gets a PAPI Keepstar Anchored in NPC Delve

When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. And that one sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that’s what you’re going to get, Son, the strongest castle in all of England.

King of Swamp Castle, who only took four tries to get his castle built

On the bright side, the Imperium didn’t have to sacrifice another trillion ISK in ships.

Today saw the fifth attempt by PAPI to get a Keepstar planted in NPC Delve, this time in YZ9-F6, the site of the failed trap last week.  When the Imperium jumped in and warped to the structure to start the fight, we found it surrounded by 149 warp disruption bubbles.

Bubble wrapped Keepstar

There were also dictors putting up bubbles inside the bubbles and various groups of hostiles deployed around the Keepstar.

When the timer hit zero they managed to get the Quantum Core in right away, so we didn’t even get the free hits we got away with last time around.  But there were so many objects on grid that people were getting disconnected as they warped onto grid.  There was a momentary discussion about what we should do, but the timer was ticking down in real time.  In the end, there did not seem to be a way forward, so after some small clashes we turned around and went home.

Bubble fly by

The battle report shows a very small amount of losses compared to previous battles.

Battle Report Header

I had to go in and fix the battle report to get people on the correct sides.  That is a sure sign that not much happened, when the BR tool doesn’t know where to put people.

We were, of course, out numbered as usual, though not by the margin that the BR might suggest.  There was around 4,500 people in local, so the numbers on the BR are an under count of people who who showed up, since it only grabs people who were on a kill mail.

4,438 in local as the timer started

If you came and left without blowing something up (or getting blown up yourself), you were not added to the tally.

Bubbles in bubbles with more bubbles showing up

So PAPI has their foothold in NPC Delve.  Now where will they go from there?  Have they changed their mind about avoiding our Keepstars?  Or has the past two weeks of fighting in NPC Delve convinced them that would be a bad idea?  Either way, some of us got most of our Sunday back to do other things.  But somebody had to hang around and clean up those bubbles.

Other coverage: