Monthly Archives: May 2021

EG7 Will Consolidate MMOs onto 4Games Platform, Hints at New MMO Title

Enad Global 7 did a live video presentation for their Q1 2021 results.

Enad Global 7

Highlights from the presentation:

  • Highest revenue and profit in the history of the company
  • Live games, including the Daybreak titles, made up 50% of their revenue, with recurring revenue items making up 80% of the total
  • There are plans to consolidate all their titles to the Innova 4Games platform, which currently handles some of their European licensed IPs; this includes all of the Daybreak titles
  • Acquisitions will continue
  • There is a new AAA MMO in the works based on “one of the greatest brands in the world”

You can watch the replay of the presentation on YouTube:

There is also a PDF of the presentation available at the EG7 investor relations site here.

Related:

46 Weeks of World War Bee

Week 46 kicked off with a big brawl in 3-DMQT, a system that saw almost nightly clashes as the “Siege of 1DQ” finished up its fourth week in stalemate.

Meanwhile, CCP announced some new changes and pushed some recently announced plans to Tranquility (TQ), the live server, much more quickly than people seemed to expect.  Even the main EVE Online Twitter account didn’t seem to get the memo as it was boosting a story from the 13th about trying out changes on the test server that had already been pushed to TQ on the 18th.

Maybe they just hadn’t had their coffee yet

Overall it was kind of a busy week, so I guess even they had trouble keeping up.

Delve Front

Once more I can recycle my map of the conflict area in the Delve front, originally created to show the situation at the end of Week 43.

O-EIMK Constellation – May 23, 2021

The war in Delve entered a new pattern with the Monday fast form by PAPI to try and reinforce the infrastructure hub in 3-DMQT.  That routine continued through the week, with the Imperium quickly noticing PAPI’s flash form routine just before the vulnerability window started.  That led to a series of nightly clashes where PAPI often won the ISK war and was able to drop another Azbel in the system, but in which they also failed to gain any sort of foothold, losing every Azbel at the end of its deployment cycle, or reinforce the ihub.

The battle plan for this was leaked (high quality meme) so the Imperium was informed.  And, if you want to experience how this all works yourself, somebody made a browser version of the game called Delve Defense.

Looking at the weekly campaign report, ship losses went up by ~600.

Week 46 Campaign in Delve

However, some variable exceeded its max value and somehow GSF lost 6,861 ships that added up to zero ISK.  I would guess that the actual losses exceeded one trillion ISK in the region.

Other Theaters

Over in Esoteria the Army of Mango Alliance continued to push back on The Bastion and its allied and their long held foothold in the northwest of the region.  The Imperium allied forces have been reduced to just six systems now, half of what they held at the end of Week 45.

Esoteria – May 23, 2021

In Feythabolis a couple of systems traded hands, but neither side is pushing the other completely out of the region so far.

Feythabolis – May 23, 2021

And The Initiative appears to be still plugging away in the PandaFam backfield, reinforcing ihubs in Etherium Reach again.

Etherium Reach – May 23, 2021

Whether or not they can win an entosis contest and take an ihub remains to be seen.

My Participation

With a nice, predictable cadence of operations happening I was able to jump into a number of fleets.  The big brawl in 3-DMQT opened up the week, during which I lost three Drakes and a Scythe.  But it was announced one pilot cycled through seven Drakes during the fight, so my losses were not extraordinary.

Another Drake about to explode

I also lost two Jackdaws and a Cormorant in further skirmishes over the week, leaving my loss totals for the war as:

  • Ares interceptor – 18
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Drake battle cruiser – 7
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar T2 logi – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Cormorant destroyer – 4
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 3
  • Jackdaw destroyer – 2
  • Guardian T2 logi – 2
  • Scalpel T2 logi frigate – 2
  • Scythe T1 logi – 1
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

CCP, in a rush to do… something I guess… pushed out the changes for warp core stabilizers and interdiction nullification less than a week from when they began to solicit feedback.  The rushed nature was apparent in the details that they appear to have overlooked.

CCP also announced the plan for combating AFK cloaky camping via mobile observatories.  We’ll see if their in a rush to get that out the door tomorrow I guess.  As with the warp core stabilizers and nullification changes, reactions for this change were all over the board.  Those against AFK cloaking felt the change would not go far enough as the mobile observatories would not be exactly tough to kill.  Those defending the cloaking playstyle felt that these things would be spammed everywhere and, in conjunction with the stabs and nullification changes, make null sec much safer than it should be, with bubbles on every gate, faction scrams at every gate camp, and mobile observatories in every system.

In brighter news, CCP won the Webby Award for Games in the “Public Service, Activism, and Social Impact” category for its work with Project Discovery.

And the April Monthly Economic Report was posted… and then fixed… and then fixed again.  But it is looking okay now.  Or no worse than usual.  I should have the usual post about that tomorrow.

Perhaps in response to these changes, or boredom with the war, or sunshine and a receding pandemic, peak concurrent numbers were down noticeably over the course of the week, with the peak day of week 46 dropping a couple thousand players when compared to week 45.

  • 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
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)
  • Week 34 – 35,626
  • Week 35 – 35,379
  • Week 36 – 35,085
  • Week 37 – 34,394
  • Week 38 – 36,319
  • Week 39 – 35,597 (Saturday)
  • Week 40 – 35,384 (Saturday)
  • Week 41 – 33,708
  • Week 42 – 33,521
  • Week 43 – 33,731
  • Week 44 – 33,742 (Saturday)
  • Week 45 – 33,758
  • Week 46 – 31,768

Related

Experiencing Tenet

Last Friday I declared a movie night, suggesting that we sit down and watch Tenet.

Tenet

Somewhat to my surprise I received agreement from both my wife and daughter.  This almost never happens.

My daughter had been told by one of her film loving friends that she should see it while my wife, having watched the trailer on her phone after I suggested it, was good to go as well.

My wife actually said that the trailer made it feel a bit like Inception, an insight I had to applaud because Tenet is another Christopher Nolan film.  I, having seen neither the trailer nor having been coached by a friend about  the movie, was actually the least informed about it.  Nothing was spoiled for me in advance.

And, having watched it, it is very much a Christopher Nolan film.  I quite enjoyed it.

It is both a decent action flick and a puzzler that makes you keep track of what is going on.  John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, and Robert Pattinson all put in good performances, and I have been a sucker for Kenneth Branagh since Henry V, though I am starting to wonder if he only even plays non-Englishmen in his roles.  He’s played Americans, Germans, Russians, and Swedes.

Anyway, my main observation about the film, not wanting to spoil anything, is that it is very much a movie that seems designed to make the viewer feel clever.

You start out following the main character through their voyage of discovery as to what is going on.  They know nothing, you know nothing, and so things get explained to the both of you as things progress.  This can be a very powerful technique and, in my opinion, made films like The Matirx the successes they were.

As the film progresses and more bits and pieces of information are filled in, you will start to make guesses as to what is going to happen as well as the meaning of what has happened already.  We actually paused the film a couple of times to confer about what was really going on.  I can see fans watching the film over and over to pick out all the bits and clues about what is really going on.

The combo of learning with the main character and the feeling of cleverness really left me with a positive impression of the film.  I feel a bit like Christopher Nolan created this to draw in people like me.

And yet, for all of that cleverness, I still didn’t call the ending before it happens.  Nolan doesn’t give you all the clues and teases you with a few things, the camera lingering on this or that leaving you knowing it must mean something yet unable to attach it to something yet.

That sort of tease can be a bit of a hazard.  I have been annoyed by shows that spin you around and don’t give you some critical bit of information until long after it should have likely been revealed.  I was very critical of the first season of the series Broadchurch because at the end it felt like it had been jerking you around with false clues for seven episodes, then suddenly had a “hey surprise!” moment and it was obvious who had done it.  I didn’t come back for the next two seasons after that performance.

But Tenet successfully avoids that trap and feels quite satisfying at the end.  You feel clever, but not too clever, like the film gave you too much.  I wouldn’t mind watching it again, just to see what other clues I might have missed.  Maybe I could have figured it all out if only I had seen something.

Proving Some Sort of Point about Video Game Pricing

I published a post about the $15 MMO subscription price… it feels like a while back because I wrote most of it in April and then didn’t get around to posting it until the middle of this month… that went on about Moore’s Law, software, and how the cost of everything in tech doesn’t really go down over time.  It is mostly just the capability of hardware versus price that keeps changing.  The same dollar buys you twice the computing power every other year.  It doesn’t affect the cost of food, gasoline, or rent.

The primary question in the whole thing was whether or not the $15 a month subscription price for MMORPGs… and, by extension, the $60 box price for AAA games… was really a reasonable expectation 20 years down the road from when they were set.

Daybreak subscriber prices

Raph Koster has opined on the cost of making video games for years and has data to back up what he says.  That linked post came from a discussion that started in the comment thread on a post on this blog.

Given the small, rather niche audience that this blog has, I was interested to see what responses, if any, I might get.  The responses were a bit nuanced, though I would say there was a bias towards not paying any more than the current $15 a month.

And then Massively OP picked up on my post and asked the question of the staff and their own wider audience and… well… I can see why Raph Koster said that studios don’t dare raise prices from the current set standards.

Seriously, the staff and most of the comments come across not just against any raise in price, but often insisted that we should be paying less.

A couple of reasonable souls allowed that the overall rate of inflation might justify something like $17-20, but most people were adamantly against any such thing, often for very subjective reasons, like feeling that this game or that isn’t delivering as much content as they once did.

Is it reasonable to expect, as example, Lord of the Rings Online to deliver as much content when they’ve gone from making $100 million back in 2013 to something around $14 million in 2020?

It doesn’t matter, people feel cheated, that they’re paying as much or more due to cash shops and are getting less for their money.

No need to put a bullet in price rise idea, it is clearly dead already.

Of course, as I opined in the thread, the video game industry hasn’t exactly done itself any favors.  The wealthy Bobby Kotick or Tim Sweeney are the poster boys for greed, making obscene amounts of money while keeping pay and benefits for the people who do the work well below what comparable ability would earn a person other tech segments.  When Kotick’s compensation is cut in half and still looks obscene, that says something… it says that video game companies are making plenty of money already, thank you very much.

And the fact that Steam added 10,263 games to its online store in 2020, a storefront long complained about by developers both due to the regular sales that have cut the average sales price for titles and the 30% tariff Valve takes off the top of every sale (something the rent seeking Tim Sweeney wants a cut of, which is the only reason he is battling with Valve, Google, and Apple… it certainly isn’t the concern for gamers he professes),  seems to indicate that there are a lot of developers out there that are just fine with the situation as it is.

I say that because, in a rational economic situation, self interest would drive some, if not most, of those developers to seek better paying jobs in industries where their talents would earn them considerably more in compensation.  But video games are emotional, a “dream job,” that people will sacrifice to pursue.  (Or is it the corrupt developer career path they are seeking?)

Then there is how consistently two-faced various companies have been about monetization in the face of their inability to raise box prices.  It is always fun to call out EA for saying dumb things like that their pseudo gambling lock boxes are ethical and fun surprise mechanics as they target children by advertising in a toy catalog, but the industry group that represents them tried to upstage the FTC hearing on industry practices by holding a press release where the promised, cross their heart hope to die, that the industry could regulate itself even as Activision patenting game matching algorithms that would pair cheapskates up with those who paid to win to get superior gear so that they would feel the need to spend in order to compete.  As I said previously, this is all a very strong approach to getting the industry regulated.

And so I suppose I cannot really blame the people commenting that they should be paying less for games.  The big players in the industry have cultivated an environment where the whole thing feels like… a business?

Wait, that can’t be right, can it?

CCP Announces the Candidates for CSM16

The drive to the CSM16 election continues.

CSM16 is approaching

Yesterday CCP hit another checkpoint in the run up to the CSM16 election when CCP Dopamine and CCP Swift did a live stream announcing the candidates who made it through the vetting process and will be on the ballot come June.

In total 47 candidates made the cut, which is up from the 40 who were on the ballot for the CSM15 election.  Here are all of their in-game portraits.

The candidate field for CSM16

As I did last year, I will list them all out alphabetically with a link to their campaign thread and their alliance or corp affiliation.  The portraits above are in the order of the list below.  CCP has their own list with trading card like summaries should you prefer that.  It is also in alphabetical order.

The List

  1. Angry Mustache – Goonswarm Federation
  2. Arsia Elkin – Electus Matari
  3. Baculus Orden – Goonswarm Federation
  4. Brisc Rubal – The Initiative
  5. Broodin – Goonswarm Federation
  6. Dr Spodumain – ISK.Enterprises
  7. Dutchgunner – Arataka Research Consortium
  8. Eluwein – Hole Control
  9. Evie Kouvo – Wingspan Delivery Network
  10. Gay Pride Booooom – Novus Ordo
  11. Gobbins – Pandemic Horde
  12. Hurleyalex hurley – Test Alliance Please Ignore
  13. I Beast – Method Synergy
  14. Innominate – Goonswarm Federation
  15. Jim Halescott – The Scope
  16. Jurius Doctor – Nullsechnaya Sholupen
  17. Kay-lynn Tsero – Tsundere Triad
  18. Kenneth Feld – Pandemic Legion
  19. Knockerwrench Alduin – Black Wolves
  20. Lucrative Business Opportunity – The Curatores Veritatis Auxiliary
  21. Maldavius – Stribog Clade
  22. Mantis Akiga – Red Alliance
  23. Mark Resurrectus – Turbofeed or Glory
  24. Merkelchen – Goonswarm Federation
  25. Micromancer – Goonswarm Federation
  26. Mike Azariah – The Scope
  27. Phantomite – No Handlebars
  28. ProgodlegendTest Alliance Please Ignore
  29. Reicher514 – Pandemic Horde
  30. Rheaha Preynar – Free Range Chikuns
  31. Rich Richman – Plucky Adventurers
  32. Rixx Javix – A Band Apart
  33. Robert Downey Iron – Unreal Alliance
  34. RonUSMCTest Alliance Please Ignore
  35. Seddow – Dreadbomb
  36. Shui Jing Jing – Caput Draconis
  37. Stitch Kaneland – The Tuskers Co.
  38. Styxx – D.A.R.K.
  39. Suitonia – We Form V0lta
  40. Tdor ClauTest Alliance Please Ignore
  41. Teddy Gbyc – Outfoxed
  42. Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci – Arataka Research Consortium
  43. VilyTest Alliance Please Ignore
  44. White Orchid – We Form V0lta
  45. Winzentowitsch Madeveda – PARABELLUM
  46. Xenuria – Goonswarm Federation
  47. Xeromus Plague – Interstellar Triglavian Collective

That is a lot of people, so let me try to break them out into groups to make the list more easily digestible and maybe make finding your ideal candidate a bit easier.

Incumbents

Eight of the ten current members of CSM15 are running for re-election.  They are:

  • Brisc Rubal – The Initiative
  • Gobbins – Pandemic Horde
  • Innominate – Goonswarm Federation
  • Kenneth Feld – Pandemic Legion
  • Merkelchen – Goonswarm Federation
  • Mike Azariah – The Scope
  • Phantomite – No Handlebars
  • Vily – Test Alliance Please Ignore

Of that list, Gobbins, Innominate, Merkelchen, and Vily are all running for their third consecutive term, which will disqualify them from running again for a spot on CSM17, as term limits allowing only three consecutive terms were introduced as part of the CSM15 race.

Sov Null Sec

22 of the 47 candidates in the race hail from organizations that hold sovereignty in null sec.  They are:

  1. Angry Mustache – Goonswarm Federation
  2. Baculus Orden – Goonswarm Federation
  3. Brisc Rubal – The Initiative
  4. Broodin – Goonswarm Federation
  5. Gobbins – Pandemic Horde
  6. Hurleyalex hurley – Test Alliance Please Ignore
  7. Innominate – Goonswarm Federation
  8. Jurius Doctor – Nullsechnaya Sholupen
  9. Kenneth Feld – Pandemic Legion
  10. Mantis Akiga – Red Alliance
  11. Merkelchen – Goonswarm Federation
  12. Micromancer – Goonswarm Federation
  13. Progodlegend – Test Alliance Please Ignore
  14. Reicher514 – Pandemic Horde
  15. Robert Downey Iron – Unreal Alliance
  16. RonUSMC – Test Alliance Please Ignore
  17. Seddow – Dreadbomb
  18. Suitonia – We Form Volta
  19. Tdor Clau – Test Alliance Please Ignore
  20. Vily – Test Alliance Please Ignore
  21. White Orchid – We Form Volta
  22. Xenuria – Goonswarm Federation

Sov null candidates tend to do well when it comes to being represented on the CSM as they belong to organized groups that harness their power to aim votes at candidates that represent their values.

That said, there are only 10 seats up for grabs and even the largest alliance in the game, Goonswarm Federation, only has the numbers to get 2 or 3 of its candidates on the council.  Their electoral power also makes outsiders less likely to vote for them.  There are 7 Goons running, so 4 or 5 of them are likely going home disappointed unless they have a constituency outside of the alliance or coalition.  The other big alliances are good for 1, possibly 2 seats, depending on how well the coordinate with their allies.

Brisc Rubal is perhaps the only stand-out on this list as somebody who has constituency outside of his coalition.  Having dual Initiative-Goon citizenship and likely to be in the third spot on the Imperium ballot, he has a decent shot of returning to the council.

The alliance ballots will be interesting this year.  With World War Bee still raging almost 11 months now, there are hard feelings all around and I doubt we’ll see, for example, Vily appearing on the Imperium ballot because we can “work with him” this year.

Small Gang / Low sec / Faction Warfare

There are 8 candidates in what I grouped up the combat oriented, mostly low sec focused tribe.  That includes one incumbent.

  • Lucrative Business Opportunity – The Curatores Veritatis Auxiliary
  • Phantomite – No Handlebars
  • Rheaha Preynar – Free Range Chickuns
  • Rixx Javix – A Band Apart
  • Rich Richman – Plucky Adventurers
  • Stitch Kaneland – The Tuskers Co.
  • Styxx – D.A.R.K.
  • I Beast – Method Synergy

Lore  /  Triglavian

This is kind of an odd group which I imagine, in another year, might look like low sec players.  But then the Pochven region got carved out of New Eden by the Triglavians.  This group has an affinity for that and the lore around it.

  • Arsia Elkin – Electus Matari Pochven
  • Dutchgunner – Arataka Research Consortium
  • Kay-lynn Tsero – Tsundere Triad
  • Maldavius – Stribog Clade
  • Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci – Arataka Research Consortium
  • Xeromus Plague – Interstellar Triglavian Collective

Wormholes

There are five candidates that appear to spend much or most of their time in wormhole space.

  • Eluwein – Hole Control
  • Evie Kouvo – Wingspan Delivery Network
  • Mark Resurrectus – Turbofeed or Glory
  • Teddy Gbyc – Outfoxed
  • Winzentowitsch Madeveda – PARABELLUM

High Sec / Industry / Mining

There are three candidates that seem to fit into this category, including incumbent Mike Azariah.

  • Knockerwrench Alduin – Black Wolves
  • Mike Azariah – The Scope
  • Shui Jing Jing – Caput Draconis

High Sec Ganking

And, finally, the record and statements of one of the candidates indicate that they just want to blow you up and CONCORD be damned.

  • Gay Pride Booooom – Novus Ordo

Early Projections

I am very bad at projecting winners in advance as my track record will attest, yet here I am again.   As in real life, I wouldn’t bet against most if not all of the incumbents who are running from being returned to the CSM.  They have proven they have an constituency.  I think Innominate, Kenneth Feld, Merkelchen, Gobbins, and Vily are all almost guaranteed to return to the council.

Brisc Rubal and Phantomite are also strong candidates, though they also have obstacles.  With World War Bee on and Brisc on the Meta Show every week, he might have polarized some of his past constituents against him.  He’ll need more Goon votes being passed down from Innominate and Merkelchen than he has in the past.

On the other hand, there being a war on means that the null sec groups have a lot more active and (somewhat) motivated players.  That could push their usual organizational advantage further than the last election.  Maybe they get 8 seats?  Maybe Brisc in the first round? (Assuming he gets third spot on the Imperium ballot.)

Meanwhile, Phantomite faces a possibly bigger name in Low Sec than his own when it comes to Rixx Javix, though Rixx comes with his own baggage.  And then there is Stitch Stitch Kaneland from Tuskers, who is not to be dismissed.  A split vote may keep them all from being winners in the early STV rounds, though if they can coordinate ballots, the bleed off from the others may elect one of them.  Like many things in New Eden, working with others often gets you further than trying to do it all yourself.

And then there are the wormholers.  Will they get their act together this year?  Maybe?

So let me get my early, and likely bad, prediction in now and say the results could look like this:

  1. Vily
  2. Innominate
  3. Gobbins
  4. Merkelchen
  5. Kenneth Feld
  6. Phantomite or Rixx Javix
  7. *wildcard*
  8. Mike Azariah
  9. Whoever is second on the TEST/Legacy ballot
  10. Brisc Rubal, ahead of 11th by less than 100 votes

Voting

Voting commences after downtime on June 8, 2021, and closes at downtime on June 15, 2021, giving people seven days to cast their ballots.

The results will be announced on June 21, 2021.  We will see if that gives the community team enough time to come up with another animated representation of the STV process in action.

The Burning Crusade Classic Pre-Patch Arrives

At some point in the wee hours yesterday Blizzard finished up the database migration to split WoW Classic from Burning Crusade Classic, with the final downtime estimates running until 1am Pacific, 10 hours past the 3pm Pacific initially projected.  I was a bit bummed I couldn’t play that night, but things happen.  By the time I was able to take a look yesterday though, the servers were up and and ready.  It was go time for the pre-patch.

Through the Dark Portal… soon

The launcher now has a split between WoW Classic and Burning Crusade Classic.

Mu current options

In an odd twist… or an indication of where Blizz thinks people are likely to head… Burning Crusade Classic takes over the directory in your WoW directory while WoW Classic requires an install if you want to play or carry on there.

Again you mean?

That’s okay, since I plan to proceed directly to Outland when available, though I am also a bit nervous about clicking that install button since right now everything is still in the “classic” directory, though I am sure Blizz thought that one through and will do the right thing if I do install.  I’ll just let somebody else try it first.

Once in, all of my characters were on the list with “Choose Expansion” legend under their names.

My main characters

Clicking on one of them brought up an alert… it was time to make the big choice.

Will you choose wisely?

I was destined for Burning Crusade, so chose that.  But if I had wanted to stick with vanilla I would have had to quit, install WoW Classic, log in, and make my selection there.  That makes sense, but I bet somebody will get messed up and do the wrong thing.  It can’t be helped.

And, after that, I was in the game.

I got a warning about my addons, which I ignored, but Auctioneer specifically refused to load as it is keyed to the version number, and 2.5.1 isn’t a version it recognizes.

Auctioneer Balks

I am kind of wondering how CurseForge is going to handle the addon updates.  Since everything is still in the “classic” directory, it might thing everything is fine.  I suppose they’ll catch up at some point, but my few addons will likely all need some sort of update.

Once in the game I was greeted by the need to apply my talent points to the new specs.  I’ll have to go read up on them… I have long since forgotten everything about them… but both my hunter and pally look to have benefited from the new expansion.

Blizzard also put the new services up on the Battle.net store site.

Transfers and clones

And then there are the extras, the Dark Portal Pass and the Deluxe edition.

For those who want extra

The Dark Portal Pass gets you a boost to level 58, some gear, some skills already skilled up, bags, the basic riding skill, a mount, and a bit of gold.

The Deluxe edition adds two special mounts, one for the classic era and one for your retail character, a pet, and a few other goodies, on top of everything the Dark Portal Pass offers.

I cannot see myself being tempted by either.  I have a few characters ready for Outland and, even if I wanted one of the new races, the level boost cannot be used on them.  So it goes.

And the countdown to the opening of the Dark Portal begins.  Since we, as a group, were only around level 40 when The Burning Crusade launched initially, we missed out on the events that build up to the opening.  It might be time to give that a look and add something to our ongoing classic experience.

Reconsidering My Paladin in Dire Maul

At some point last night we got the Burning Crusade Classic patch on WoW Classic… I think.  The downtime was supposed to be done at 3pm, then 7pm, and then 10pm and… well… some of us have to get up and go to work in the morning.

I suspect that database operations took much longer than expected, which is frequently a thing in my experience.

Anyway, when it it does go live it will be the day of the dividing of worlds and new specs and events and what not.  I’m sure I will have a post about that tomorrow.  This post was actually supposed to go yesterday, but then EVE Online blew up in three directions and that was the focus of Tuesday.  So maybe it is better that the patch is delayed as I can slip this post in now.

As we have run up to the last days of the pure WoW Classic, I have been reflecting on the last 20 months or so of this experiment in nostalgia.  Don’t worry, I’ll have a post about that too.  But one item I was considering this past weekend was my paladin.

He has made it to level 59, so I can move him on to Outland whenever I choose… once it becomes available.

Wilhelm the Paladin in Silithus

But getting him there has been a grind at times, both due to the nature of the class, the nature of leveling in the old system past level 40, and due to my reading too much into various bits of advice.

For example, I spent a stretch trying to level up based on a retribution spec from Icy Veins that was really for raiding.  I eventually found a spec better suited for leveling, which did make things more manageable.

Another bit of information I took to heart was the stated fact that paladins cannot tank in classic.  I read that a number of places and, based on that, I went with Viniki, my gnome warrior, to be the group tank when the group settled down to the four of us.

That was a good decision and it has worked out.  We have been able to manage most instances as a foursome without having to out-level them.  But every time we run into a multi-mob scrum and Viniki is trying to keep aggro on half a dozen non-elites I always think about how that wouldn’t be an issue if I had consecrate.  The pally comes with a lot of beneficial skills, though does lack that single target taunt.  And the tanking thing, like my first spec, was really meant for end game raiding.

So, this past weekend I decided to tinker with my paladin and the protection spec.  I went to the pally trainer and paid to reset my talent points… which was 10 gold because I’ve done that a few times now… and spec’d up the recommended protection talents, which were fairly obvious.  I probably would have gotten them right just doing them myself, starting with the need to spec into consecrate on the holy tree first.

That done, I went to the auction house to buy a sword and maybe a better shield.  The spec pretty much requires a one hander and shield.

As I wandered into the empty auction house… odd and prime time on a Saturday… I realized that this was the weekend when the auction house had been shut down to clear it our for the WoW Classic / Burning Crusade split.

Of course, I had already done the spec change, so I was kind of stuck.  I had a shield in the bank, but not a 1h weapon to call my own.  I had been sending green drops and such to Moronae to use for enchanting.

Trade chat, being trade chat, wasn’t helpful on this front.  At least not with my budget.  So I ended up with the best vendor sword that WoW Head could find me, the Falchion.

A common sword will have to do

With that in hand I went to go train up the sword skill.  I figured I could do at least that much as I was starting out with a skill of 22.  I hit some lower level mobs for a bit, but then went over to Felwood to pick on some mobs in the low 50s, just to see how I would do.

Of course, with a low weapon skill, even when I was hitting I wasn’t doing much damage.  But as the skill built up past 200 I started killing mobs.  Meanwhile, I wasn’t taking much damage.  Skill ups slowed down around 230, but I kept on killing.  I moved over to Winterspring to get some higher level mobs and seemed to be doing okay.

A lot of the pally’s damage is in his holy seals and judgements and I had beefed him up with plenty of +str gear to boost damage as well.  I was doing well enough with that common level sword that I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have just gone with protection for leveling up anyway.  The kills came a little slower, but I took so little damage that downtime shrank to more than make up for the lower damage.  I wasn’t setting any records, but I was doing pretty well considering the weapon.

When Sunday rolled around we tried to get something going, but Moronae was not available.  Skronk and Ula were on, so I asked if they could help my pally finish up a quest in the Eastern Plaguelands.  Hameya’s Plea was probably something I could manage solo.  I did it with my hunter.  But it can get out of hand if you’re not careful.  So they flew out and we grouped up.  The quest was even shareable, so we could all get the reward.

As it turned out we did get a little sloppy and ended up with a mass of undead trolls around us, but a pally tank loves some undead to slay.

Hameya is on the left there

We were able to get in and out without me managing to mess up too much as tank.  Running back to turn the quest in, it got them an item to vendor for some gold and me a sword upgrade.

An improvement

Confusingly, they both have the same inventory icon, but I got the right one equipped.

That done, the next item on the list was the mooncloth robe recipe, which comes from a vendor in the library of Dire Maul.  So we headed to Feralas and into Dire Maul North.

We had issues doing Dire Maul North as a group of four previously, so going in hard with just the three of us, and with me trying to tank a with a new spec, seemed like a bad idea.  But you can get to the library with minimal mobs to kill.  We took down one ogre guard and then got onto the stairway that goes down to the center pit of the first big area.  Going down far enough that we could jump up on the banister (and waiting until the wandering pack of dogs passed) we were able to avoid the group of ogres in the center.

The stairs behind us

From where we are in the screen shot it is a straight run into the very long tunnel, which fortunately lacks and mobs, that eventually gets you to the library.

Welcome to the Dire Maul library

There Ula was able to able to buy the recipe.  She also picked up the Arcane Refreshment quest, which gets her the final drink spell for mages.  In order to complete it you need to slay Hydrospawn in Dire Maul East.  Since we were already in the neighborhood we thought we might give it a try.  We’ve done DME a couple of times already, right?

Getting out of DMN meant running back up the tunnel to the center area again, waiting for the dog pack to pass, then running up the stairs, which meant getting within aggro radius of the ogres in the center.  Ula and I made it, running for the door.  Skronk got caught and smacked down.  But we just met him over in DME since, as a ghost, you get revived in any of the Dire Maul instances.

There we cleared a couple of mobs then considered our options.  The plan was to avoid fighting our way all the way in to Hydrospawn, being a tough job for a group of three.  Instead, we wanted to drop into the middle area in the main room, the conservatory, which is where Ironbark stands.  From there it is possible to track back to Hydrospawn pretty easily… or so we hoped.

Considering the drop

It took us a few tries to get it right.  There are a couple groups of non-elites down there, but also some solo elites and the usual groups of treants that run back and forth across the area.  By the fourth drop we managed to get in and have a clear LZ from which to work.

There were issues on the first three tries

We then very carefully grabbed any stationary mobs that were in our way, timing our progress to avoid the mobile mobs.

Taking some refreshment while mobs run past

From where I am sitting in the shot above were were able to time it to run past the treants to the fallen column, then to the wall, and then through the archway towards the next area.

Safely through the conservatory

I will say that the draw distance issue, about which I have complained in the past, did not make that run any easier.  The treant groups would appear and disappear and what felt like very close ranges to us.

From there we had to slay a couple of Satyrs, but otherwise were setup with our eyes on Hydrospawn.  There we were able to pull him… and we almost managed it.  We had forgotten that Hydrospawn resists frost attacks, which is a really bad bit of news to recall mid fight when your DPS is a frost mage.  You’d think a water elemental would resist fire and be frozen by frost, but what are you going to do.

We made it through the part where he summons two helpers, but I ran out of heals, pots, and any other pally tricks very shortly thereafter and was down.  There wasn’t enough oomph left to finish him off.

Dead on the rock and Hydrospawn back in his pool

Still, it was a fun run.  We decided that was enough for the day, but we’ll be back again to get Ula her quest reward.  I wouldn’t mind another run into DME.  My pally has the quest the gets him a serious shield upgrade from the last boss and there are some decent drops.

But by the time we try that the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch should be in place and I will have to roll with the new spec.  Having tinkered with it in beta, I know that at least I won’t have to go up the holy tree to get consecrate.  I can give him a trial run next time to see if I stick with my warrior, Viniki, or swap to my paladin, Wilhelm.

Slugfest in 3-DMQT over iHub and Azbel

After spending much of the weekend shooting targets on secondary fronts after the pasting they received at the hands of Imperium bombers in two consecutive fights, PAPI decided to make an aggressive attack on the ihub in 3-DMQT just before 00:00 UTC yesterday.

As I have mentioned in the last few weekly updates, the system of 3-DMQT is the focus point for PAPI in their attempt to break into the O-EIMK Constellation which is the capitol of the Imperium and the last bastion of our defenses in Delve.  As such, both sides have Ansiblex jump gates setup to facilitate piling forces into that system

O-EIMK Constellation – May 17, 2021

As the fight started several fleets were called for on the Imperium side, including one for carriers and supers.  As we had done previously, the carriers sat on the Fortizar nearby the ihub on tether and sent their fighters in to clear enemies from the ihub.  The subcap fleets went in to keep the hostiles from being able to simply shoot fighters.  We have a fighter shooting doctrine we have used to great effect previously, and PAPI sent in a Harpy fleet to do that.

Battle around the ihub

I went in with the Drake fleet under Kretin Valefor, in part because it was the first fleet called, but also because I am happy to see the return of the Drake to a fleet doctrine.  It isn’t quite 2012 again with clouds of perma-MWD Drakes prowling the spaceways, but the hull is back and spewing heavy missiles.

Yes, I can bring my Drake

For whatever reason… I guess I thought this would be a short and/or easy fight, I decided to dual box and got my main alt in a Scythe to play logi.  What could possibly go wrong?

The ihub grid was crowded when we got there, with bubbles up and the usual mess of clashing fleets.  There were around 2,000 people in the system and, while tidi was clearly in effect, it managed to hover between 13 and 20% for much of the fight, meaning the server had slowed us down, but was still able to keep up and process commands.  Things still took seemingly forever to accomplish… nothing like the FC having you change ammo and then, just as that starts to cycle, seeing a different fleet on grid, tells you to change back… but nothing was backlogged.

This was the costly part of the battle for me, as I managed to lose three Drakes during the skirmish over the ihub.

Seeing your ship brew up from your pod

The finance team was on the job though.  I applied for SRP for my losses and was paid before I was back in the fight with a fresh Drake… expect for the second one, when I was in a hurry and forgot to check if the rigs were in the cargo hold before I undocked.  SRP Denied.  Oh well, I guess Progodlegend and I have something in common now, though I only did it once in a single fight.  But getting back into the fight was speedy and I was on a couple of the better kills, those being the two Minokawas that PAPI dropped in to rep their subcaps.

Minokawa brews up on the ihub

I did considerably better with my alt in the Scythe on the second screen.  I couldn’t be bothered to save my own Drake it seems, but I managed to get reps on a few others and, with my armor and hull drones, managed to haul one Drake pilot back from the brink.

Back from the brink

One more volley would have done in that Drake, but the enemy saw he was getting reps and switched targets.  Oddly, the hostiles left my Scythe alone for the most part during the ihub fight and I was able to amble about the field repairing as I went.  We were intermixed with a fleet of hostile Harpies, but aside from the occasional potshot, they focused on fighters and ignored me.

The ihub battle went on until the vulnerability window closed, after which both sides pulled back a bit and we safed up on the Keepstar in system.

The doomsday reaches out to hit some PAPI pilots who strayed too close

We were waiting for the next round, which was one of the PAPI Azbels that was set to come out of its six day timer and anchor.  As the time ran down we got on an Astrahus that was 1,051km from the Azbel.  Because we own the system, it only takes us a day to anchor a structure, so we can always plant one near any of the ones they are trying to drop.

Azbel with 2 minutes left

They deployed bubbles and ships between the two structures, but there are enough bounces in the system that when the time came we were able to warp in right on top of it.

They got the core in and the 15 minute repair timer started counting down, but we stopped it before it hit 10 minutes and it never moved after that.  It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Azbel was going to die.

Instead both sides brawled in an attempt to destroy as many opposition ships as they possibly could as drones and some Bigbillthaboss specials chewed away at the structure.

BBtB Myrmidons from his personal fleet

In this fight the Drakes were mostly ignored by the enemy, who sought out more valuable targets.  The only exception was my Scythe, which got blapped at one point.  But I was able to reship with my alt and rejoin the fight.

We shot the Azbel ourselves from time to time, then get stuck into whichever hostile fleet we could find.  Slowly but surely the health on the Azbel ticked down until it exploded.

Azbel blows

The quantum core dropped… because cores have a 100% drop rate per that update… and a TEST Mammoth scooped it, only to be destroyed.  But the core dropped again… because cores have a 100% drop rate… but I don’t know who ended up with it.  It is 50K m^3 in size, so you can’t just grab it with an interceptor and run.

After that there was a bit of a frenzy to get in some final kills and then we settled down back on the Keepstar.  The fight was over but we needed to wait for PAPI to extract in order to ensure they were not up to any more mischief.

That took a while because PAPI, having learned its lesson, didn’t try to squeeze through the out gate in one giant, server melting mass this time.  Instead they went out by small groups, which took them a good while.  Eventually they cleared off and we were able to take the Ansiblex back to 1DQ1-A and log out ourselves.  I was tired at the end of that, being a long battle that started just as I was done with work… and since I work from home, meant sitting in my desk chair for another five hours.  But that wasn’t as bad as our FC, who said at the end he had been up for 25 hours straight.  He must be young though, I saw him in a ping leading a fleet the next morning.

It was a long fight.  The battle report showed quite a bit of destruction.

Battle Report Header

PAPI soundly won the ISK war, with the Imperium losing more than double their number.  This was helped along by a Nyx super carrier that got itself blown up and some dreads and faxes of ours that were on grid for the Azbel part of the fight.  I am pretty sure part of the reason the Drakes were left alone is that they were going for big targets.  And as well they might.  We would have done the same.

Progodlegend posted a brag on Reddit about PAPI winning the ISK war while being outnumbered.  That is certainly true, though it also raises an eyebrow when the side that has three times the total pilots of its foe can’t out number them in a big fight.  What good is blueing up over a hundred alliances if they won’t blob for you?

The Imperium, however, can claim to have won all of the objectives.  The ihub did not get reinforces and PAPI once again failed to anchor a structure in 3-DMQT.  Having made no progress for all the effort, PAPI has to do it all over again.

So the “Siege of 1DQ” carries on.

CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online

Just last Thursday, six days, or four business days ago, CCP announced a plan to make changes warp core stabilizers and interdiction nullification.  While the former saw only a few changes, the latter went through a cycle of alterations that moved it from a low slot to a high slot and updated the ships that would be allowed to use the new module.

CCP apparently felt they had enough feedback and launched all the changes on the live server this morning.

That’s the name they chose for this

Launched under the title “The Great Escape,” a banner worthy of the Ministry of Truth, I can only imagine they mean that ironically as both changes are targeted at keeping players from being able to escape destruction.  It will be great if you actually escape I guess, but CCP ideally wants less or that and more ships exploding.

Warp Core Stabilizers

The warp core stabilizer summary remains simple.  From the announcement post, here is what the tech I module is now:

  • Warp Core Stabilizer I
    • Activation cost: 80 Gj
    • Active Duration: 10 seconds
    • Reactivation Delay: 150 seconds
    • Maximum number able to be fitted: 1
    • Warp Scramble Strength: -2
    • Targeting range reduction: -40%
    • Scan resolution reduction: -40%
    • Drone Bandwidth Penalty: -50%

You now can have 10 seconds of 2 warp core strength with a 150 second cool down, and only one can be fitted per ship.  The other flavors of the module alter the activation duration, which can be as long as 18 seconds with a faction version. The scan resolution and targeting range penalties, which are applied when the module is fit, as with the old passive version, are reduced with the higher meta modules, but the drone bandwidth penalty remains the same.

Warp Nullification Module

Interdiction nullification, after having gone through multiple gyrations, has now landed on the following plan:

  • Interceptors, yachts, and nullification subsystems now have passive nullification removed.
  • Interceptors, yachts, and nullification subsystems have received a new role bonus: 80% reduced target range penalty and reactivation delay for interdiction nullification modules.
  • Interceptors, yachts, and nullification subsystems have now received a new role bonus: 100% increased duration for interdiction nullification modules.
  • Passive nullification has been added to all shuttles.
  • New blueprints, seeding, and manufacturing data have been added for the new modules.

Of note there is that blueprints have only just been seeded with this patch, not in advance as CCP has done in the past, so right now the only ships with interdiction nullification are shuttles.  For days, if not weeks, production will have to ramp up to catch up with the change, during which bubbles in null sec are essentially unavoidable. A few are on the market already, but only enough to accommodate experimentation.  Blueprints still need to be optimized and there is research needed for the tech II versions.

And even when the market settles, expect to see a lot more of those on gates during your travels.  And on both sides of gates where possible, since the cool down will force you to motor out slowly as you wait for the activation timer to run down.

Those details are a bit short of the full picture, so you have to go to the patch notes to get a few more details… though not that many.  CCP’s lack of transparency in documenting the changes here seems like another indication of the almost indecent haste they have shown in getting these changes in.

The new module will be usable by the following ship types:

  • Interceptors
  • Blockade Runners
  • Deep Space Transports
  • Tech I Industrials
  • Covert Ops Frigates
  • Victorieux Luxury Yacht
  • Strategic Cruisers

In addition, the following applies:

  • All interdiction nullifiers are High-Slot modules and only one nullifier can be fit per ship.
  • When fitted these modules will reduce targeting range and ship scan resolution by 50%.
  • Module types:
    • Interdiction Nullifier I
    • Compact Interdiction Nullifier
    • Restrained Interdiction Nullifier
    • Interdiction Nullifier II

The high meta version give you a longer duration of nullification, with 10 seconds on the tech I and 15 seconds on the tech II.  But the reactivation delay remains 150 seconds on all of them.

So it goes.  As with most rushed things, expect issues.  The in-game information is incorrect in some places, with the Restrained version of the unit still listing stealth bombers as part of the supported ship list.

Welcome to a new age in null sec.

Related:

CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online

Last week we got news that changes relating to warp core stabilizers and interdiction nullification were arriving on the test server.  This week changes meant to address cloaky camping are on the menu.

Cloaky camping is next on the list

For most cloaky campers are pilots who land in a low sec or null sec system, cloak up, and just sit there.  The idea is to inspire paranoia and suppress activity like ratting and mining in a system because you never really know if the cloaked pilot is AFK or is quietly stalking you or about to cyno in some friends to blap you.

While I’ve tended to think of cloaky camping as just a cost of doing business, having been cloaky camped by various parties from random passers by to the Olmeca Gold Goon-Hate campaign, a lot of people get very upset because you cannot really “do” anything about a cloaky camper.  So people have been complaining to CCP about the practice since long before I knew it was a thing.

So, 18 years into the life of the game CCP is planning to introduce a new deployable call the Mobile Observatory which, once activated, will ping the system every ten minutes with a chance to decloak anybody cloaked up in the system.

The Mobile Observatory

And the attributes:

The attributes

The observatory, once it is correctly coded, is deployable in low and null sec space (not wormhole space) with a limit of ten per system. (Currently it can be deployed in WH space and next to stations and you can have as many as you want deployed in one system.)

In order to protect the legitimate cloaking pilot, cloaking up will give you 15 minutes of “cloak stabilization” to keep you from being decloaked.

Cloaking Defense

I tinkered with one a bit on the test server with a stealth bomber and was decloaked fairly reliably once the cloak stabilization wore off.

Being decloaked at the same tick every time

The effect is system-wide, so proximity to the observatory presumably has no impact.  I was 15 AU away for three of those four decloaks.  It did not decloak me at the 19:53:03 tick, when my stabilization had worn off, but the other three times it decloaked me on the first tick after I was no longer protected.

For the last round I was close by when it decloaked me as its lifetime was nearing its end and I wanted to see how much it would take to kill it.

Well within torp range

Five salvos of faction torps from my Purifier was sufficient.

There was no cool explosion or anything because the item doesn’t even have artwork associated with it yet.

That fact indicates to me that we’re likely not going to see this pushed into the live game quickly.  As with the warp core stabilizer and interdiction nullification, I expect that CCP will take time to digest feedback and make changes for a while.

And the comment thread is getting a lot of feedback, though you have to skip down the page a bit because the first problem was that CCP announced to everybody that it was available to test… and then it wasn’t on the test server for another couple of hours.

This will clearly shake up the cloaking meta.  AFK cloaky camping might even cease to be a thing.  But it is the impact on other playstyles that use cloaking that might be the trick here.  I’ve sat on a blops in a hostile system for 90 minutes easy waiting for a hunter in a distant system to get in position.  While those waiting can stay safed up and recloak, that hunter is in a bad spot if they get decloaked.

Related coverage: