Monthly Archives: June 2021

June in Review

The Site

After a bit of a traffic boom in mid to late May, something I mentioned in the May review, search traffic fell off quite a bit on June 1st.

Peak Search Impressions in May

Google is the main variable in my traffic.  Without that my daily visitors and page views are pretty flat.  The same few people show up here regularly, so if you’re one of those… Hi!

Anyway, I am always a bit curious as to what attracts Google results, and for the back half of May my position in Google search was related heavily the Dire Maul summoning stone.  Google gives you a nice little report about the last 28 days if you know where to find it in their search console stuff.

When you need that summoning stone

Nice positioning too.  I am the top result for most of those search terms.

Bing also has a search console that tells you about your traffic, and I likewise saw a spike from Bing for “Dire Maul summoning stone.”  However, traffic from Bing is approximately 5% of the Google traffic, so not as big of an impact on my stats.  Still, some traffic.

So my guess is that once the Dark Portal was open and we were all rushing into Hellfire Peninsula, the need to summon people to Dire Maul fell off and my search traffic went with it.

Here at the end of June “Dire Maul Summoning Stone” is still my top search term, but it is just not as popular.  “Jintha’alor Altar” is still there in 4th spot with about the same amount of traffic.  But “How to find a Warm Ocean in Minecraft” is on the list now as are two variations of “EVE Online cloak stabilization,” which relates to the cloaky camping nerfs CCP introduced this month.

One Year Ago

My daughter graduated from high school.  It was a pandemic graduation, but we made do.

My poll about voice chat indicated that Discord now rules that roost.

Pokemon Go gave us remote raid passes since we all had to stay home.

I was giving Minecraft Dungeons a try.  I finished the main story fairly quickly and found the game to be light and fun, but not very deep or replayable.  Other reviews were even less charitable.

Daybreak was still having problems with their Aradune progression server.

We were getting down to the final days of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in World of Warcraft and I was wondering how it would rank in the pantheon of expansions and how much the previous expansion plays into how people feel about the current or next expansion.

WoW Classic was still going strong enough that Blizz had to turn layering back on for several realms.  There was also the Summer Bowl and the campaign against bots.

The instance group was still working on Zul’Farrak, failing the stairs when Sergeant Bly and his crew died.  Then, the next time, Bly and his crew survived, but disappeared as we looted the field.

My hunter became my first character to hit level 50 in WoW Classic.

In EVE Online I was reminding people about why CCP gave Upwell structures asset safety… because they took it away with the Forsaken Fortress update.  Another case of people foolishly believing in company promises.  So we went out and shot our own abandoned state structures in Delve just to keep other groups from coming along and doing it.

Meanwhile, the CCP mineral starvation plan was driving mineral prices to an all time high.

We did, however, get new ships for the EDENCOM faction as part of the Triglavian invasion event as well as a Project Discovery update that moved its focus onto the coronavirus.  And we got character log off!  People had only been asking for that since forever.

The CSM15 elections kicked off, with the results being announced by mid-month.

Also a little something about how opaque the game UI can be.

Actually in space the GEF was still up north fighting over various objectives.  But that all came to a screeching halt when we we found out that most of null sec was planning to gang up against us and invade.  They denied it, but then the evidence was found.  Our deployment up north ended and we began consolidating the empire into our core space, pulling down the last Keepstar in Cloud Ring before the month was out.  World War Bee was coming.

We were playing some Minecraft and seeing how villages had changed.

I was getting promotions for an Atari branded online casino complete with its own crypto-currency.  I guess, as a brand, Atari still has some value.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak’s Landmark finally went live just a few days short of summer.  However, it was the end of the road for PlanetSide and Legends of Norrath.

There was also the launch of the Isle of Refuge free trade server for EverQuest II.

There was a Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I put up a post.

It was reported that Minecraft had sold more than 100 million copies.

Minecraft put out the Frostburn Update, version 1.10.  I was building the last stretches of what would become the 22km rail loop.

I also reflected on a year of playing Minecraft, then added in some statistics.

Blizzard had the Warcraft Movie open.  I didn’t like it, nor did that many people outside of China.  Meanwhile Blizzard was also explaining that WoW expansions were just going to take time.  While WoW Legion was still weeks away, my daughter and I went back to finish up Warlords of Draenor and get ready for the new expansion.  Meanwhile the whole Nostalius thing was still simmering.

And I was playing EVE Online.  There was the YC118.6 update, which brought us more overview tabs and the Shadow of the Serpent event, among other things.  Recurring opportunities, in which you could earn some skill points by undocking and shooting an NPC, were removed after their short runDX9 was also dead in EVE.  And there was Blog Banter 76, which was about FC’s and how vulnerable they should be.

But mostly I was flying in fleets out of Saranen as we kept up the tempo of operations in what would become the final full month of the Casino War.  There were just too many posts about that to try and sting them together in a single paragraph narrative, so I will just list them out:

Ten Years Ago

I had to get out my Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD.

Team Fortress 2 went free to play.  Begin the hat-based economy!

I was wondering if people were picking on Lord British.  This was before he started talking about his “ultimate RPG” and made picking on him a very entertaining sport.

We were not playing WoW, but guild accounts were being hacked.  And we were not even among those 600K WoW players that supposedly went to Rift.

LOTRO announced the Rise of Isengard expansion and offered up a exp boosting item for pre-orders.

I was wondering what launch conditions would be like for SWTOR.  Of course, I sort of figured it might launch before mid-December.

LEGO Universe announced it was going free to play.  At our house, my daughter enjoyed it for a bit, but eventually dropped it for Animal Jam.

CCP began a slow and deliberate campaign of alternating between shooting itself in the foot and sticking said foot in its mouth, all in the name of the Incarna expansion.  And my sentry drones were still boring.  And then LulzSec brought them down.  At least they had finally made it much easier to find an agent in the game.

SOE announced a new version of Station Access, its “all games for one low monthly price.”  Called SOE All Access, which had a price of $19.95 a month.  This was a welcome drop from the previous $29.99 a month price.

However, by this point, SOE had dropped The Matrix Online and had just announced they were killing Star Wars Galaxies, so there were certainly fewer games to play.  Of course, that was also back when they had some games that were not free to play already.

At least SOE was up and running after the PSN/SOE outage.  A pity they fumbled the marketing opportunities offered by their make good plan.

The instance group had finally gotten out of the damn starter zone in EverQuest II Extended, but the game still wasn’t sitting well.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, the Ruins of Kunark expansion was opened up and then “finished” in short order.

And finally, on June 29, 2010 I created a Reddit account so I could reply to something on /r/eve.  Apparently I have yet to learn my lesson on that front.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sonic the Hedgehog turned 15, which I guess means it is 30 now.  Maybe I shouldn’t do call backs to birthdays.

Bill Gates announced that he was planning to relinquish his remaining full time positions at Microsoft in order to focus on his foundation.  Though Steve “Uncle Fester” Ballmer had been CEO since 2000, Gates was still Chief Software Architect and Chief Research & Strategy Officer (along with being chairman of the board).  More recently he’s been accused of trying to microchip us via vaccines and is in the midst of a divorce.

EverQuest II got the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack, the last such pack until 2015’s Rum Cellar.

Nintendo finally shipped the Nintendo DS Lite in Europe, though $3.2 million worth of them went missing en route from China.

Half-Life 2: Episode One was released as Valve briefly tried to pay attention to the core of their biggest franchise at the time.  Still waiting for Episode Three.

Titan Quest, one of the great post-Diablo II ARPGs launched.  It even got a remaster way before Diablo II.

Twenty Years Ago

Anarchy Online launched in what became one of the more tragic opening day break downs in early MMO history.  I mean, they were always bad back then, but AO had to introduce a free tial program, which eventually became a free to play option, to recover, making it one of the early free to play conversions.  The game recovered and carries on to this day, but it was a shaky start.

WWII Online launched as well and was also another troubled title.  And yet somehow it still survives to this day.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. New Eden and the Death of the Subscription Model
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Robbing Some Space Banks
  6. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  7. EverQuest Launches the Mischief and Thornblade Servers
  8. CCP Rushes Warp Core Stabilizer and Interdiction Nullification Changes into EVE Online
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  11. Where Does WoW Classic End?
  12. Arrival in a Level Squished Northrend

Search Terms of the Month

dcuo pay for skill points
[I think that is more an EVE Online thing]

eve online female characters
[They’re mostly men]

ancient winter poncho
[No Ponchos!]

everquest 2 pvp server 2021
[Get there fast before it closes]

Game Time from ManicTime

This month ManicTime shows a pretty solid trend in my play time.

  • WoW Classic – 89.21%
  • EVE Online – 9.07%
  • MMO Tycoon 2 – 1.41%
  • Valheim – 0.19%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.12%

The launch of Burning Crusade Classic was clearly the focus of my play time in June.

EVE Online

Stalemate in the war, CCP’s ongoing economic starvation plan, the end of Covid restrictions, and the coming of summer have conspired to make New Eden a bit quiet.  Well, quiet save for the bits of the game where people are angry.  There was some desultory shooting of the monument in Jita at one point of packs and pop-ups, but that seemed to fade pretty quickly.  There wasn’t enough anger to sustain it, which means CCP successfully pushed monetization forward another step or tow.

MMORPG Tycoon 2

A Steam purchase, though not because it was on sale.  I saw Lum tweeting about it last weekend and asked if you could play with business models and monetization.  He said you could, so I grabbed a copy.  It is early access, but seems pretty solid so far.  At some point I will write a post about it and my first game, Attractive Nuisance.

Pokemon Go

I am a bit concerned about how much Niantic is planning to pull back from the changes put into the game during Covid.  Specifically, how close you need to be to a gym or Pokestop to interact with it is going to get cut way back, which seems a bit dumb.  It isn’t like you can spin one from a mile away, the change is a matter of yards/meters, but for a few gyms it means the difference from parking my car close by to get in or having to get out and walk across some grass.  Not a huge hassle, but enough to make it less likely that I will bother at all.

I did see a level 50 at last.  The highest person on my friend’s list is level 44 and they seem to be running out of steam.  But I was in a raid last weekend and saw this person:

Level 50 among us

I hadn’t even seen the requirements for levels 49 and 50 yet, as Niantic held them back when the new levels were unlocked.  But I guess they are in now.  So that person is starting to accumulate xp for the next level cap increase I guess.  Meanwhile I am not even half way to 42 yet.

Level: 41 (47.5% of the way to 42 in xp, 3 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 646 (+3) caught, 675 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 13
Pokemon I want: I accidentally transferred my Vanillite before I evolved it
Current buddy: Event Slowpoke wit a special evolve

Valheim

I did log in for a bit to check out the latest update and to make a maypole.  Still waiting for a major update before I resume a more active focus on it.

World of Warcraft

Once more my venture into retail WoW was just to run the Darkmoon Faire crafting quests in order to boost those skills up another 5 points.  At some point as the expansion is winding down and everything has been unlocked I will probably come back and finish things up.

WoW Classic

As noted above, the launch of Burning Crusade Classic dominated June for me though, given how much I have played, I certainly haven’t gotten very deep into the expansion.  My highest level character is 62 and is only just into Zangarmarsh.  Meanwhile I am already angry at level 70s with flying mounts swooping down to grab harvest nodes while I am fighting a mob that was blocking me from grabbing it.  Some things never change.

Coming Up

Umm… what is coming up in July?  Vacation?  I know some people are going on vacation.  My wife was at the mall the other day and told me that there wasn’t a piece of luggage to be had at any department store.  But I’m not going anywhere.  We have vacation plans for later in the year when, one hopes, the immediate rush might be over.

Otherwise what do we have?

More Burning Crusade Classic for sure.  Maybe something will happen in the war in New Eden.   A new pair of Legendary servers from LOTRO.  All this and more I suppose.  Maybe I’ll even buy something else at the Steam Summer Sale.

The May Monthly Economic Report Charts the Decline of Industry in EVE Online

It is once again time for the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report, this time for May 2021.

EVE Online nerds harder

Production

The April MER showed a big spike in production in the lead up to the industry changes that affected battleship and capital ship production, after which production fell off just as much.  The downward trend in production carried on into May as expected.

May 2021 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

While the chart only goes back as far as 2019, going back to older versions of the chart, that 2019 dip was pretty much the lowest point for a long stretch (and roughly corresponded to the Blackout), so the fact that we’ve now dipped below that seems significant.

Of course, what has really happened is that producers created a bunch of inventory while it was cheap to do so and have had no incentive to build any more battleships or capitals because the market price for hulls is still well below the new cost to produce.  And given how reluctant players are now to risk capitals, that doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future.

Overall the MER totaled up production for May as 115.44 trillion ISK in value, down from 168.4 trillion ISK in value in April.  The top producing regions were:

  1. The Forge – 20.87 trillion
  2. Delve – 12.88 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 8.45 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 7.67 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 5.15 trillion
  6. Vale of the Silent – 5.13 trillion
  7. Fade – 4.4 trillion
  8. Domain – 4.02 trillion
  9. Malpais – 3.78 trillion
  10. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.69 trillion

As usual, The Forge and nearby regions, which serve the Jita market, remain very active, though all of the regions in the top ten were down in May.

Mining

I speculated that part of the ongoing rise in mineral prices last month was related to the rush to produce as many hulls as possible before the industry changes hit.  And there it is on the May chart, the first significant decline in mineral prices, coinciding with the industry changes.

May 2021 – Economic Indices

Hey, supply and demand works in New Eden!  The other indices are still garbage, anchored on things they shouldn’t be, but minerals are finally coming down.

As you can see from the long term chart, mineral prices are still at record highs, thanks in large part to the ongoing mineral starvation plan that CCP has running.

May 2021 – Economic Indices – Long Term

Mineral prices going down might at least mean that hulls not impacted by the industry changes, T1 frigate through battlecruisers and their T2 upgrades, might ease off in price over time.

As for where mining happened, here are the top ten regions for May:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.43 trillion
  2. The Forge – 1.63 trillion
  3. Metropolis – 1.49 trillion
  4. Domain – 1.43 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.15 trillion
  6. Lonetrek – 1.03 trillion
  7. Everyshore – 907 billion
  8. Genesis – 789 billion
  9. Heimatar – 726 billion
  10. Kador – 723 billion

A total 31.35 trillion in ISK value was mined in May, up from 27 trillion in April.  Mining remains primarily a high sec vocation, with the exception of Vale of the Silent, the null sec region run by Fraternity.

Trade

Trade was also down in May, there no doubt being a relationship with reduced mineral demand.  The total ISK value of trade in May was 598 trillion, down from 626 trillion in April, with the top regions as:

The Forge – 422.69 trillion (Jita)
Domain – 53.83 trillion (Amarr)
Sinq Laison – 18.45 trillion (Dodixie)
Delve – 15.73 trillion (Imperium/PAPI)
Lonetrek – 15.03 trillion (Caldari high sec)
Metropolis – 10.53 trillion (Hek)
Heimatar – 9.12 trillion (Rens)
The Citadel – 5.48 trillion (Caldari high sec)
Vale of the Silent – 4.33 trillion (Fraternity null sec)
Essence – 4.28 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

Those are pretty much the same ten regions we see every month at this point, though sometimes the order changes at the bottom now and again.

ISK Faucets

Commodities remain the dominate ISK faucet still, topping the chart again for May.

May 2021 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

Broken out as the over time chart:

May 2021 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

And then commodities broken out:

May 2021 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

As usual, the Sleeper items from WH space top the chart, though there was a burst of Sansha incursion activity in there.

Meanwhile, the old faucet king, NPC bounties, topped out in these ten regions:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.16 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.19 trillion (PandaFam)
  3. Lonetrek – 1.06 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Querious – 1.02 trillion (Legacy)
  5. Insmother – 1.02 trillion (FI.RE)
  6. Tenal – 1.02 trillion (PandaFam)
  7. Tribute – 977 billion (PandaFam)
  8. Oasa – 955 billion (PandaFam)
  9. Metropolis – 928 billion (Gallente High Sec)
  10. Malpais – 924 billion (PandaFam)

PandaFam is clearly using the war in Delve to fill up their coffers in the northeast of null sec, far from the fighting.  Interesting as well is that there are now two high sec regions on the list, an indication of how much bounties have been tapered off in null sec.

Destruction

Finally, there is still a war on, and Delve remains the focus even in the lull, so it tops the region list again.

  1. Delve – 3.39 trillion
  2. Lonetrek – 1.78 trillion
  3. The Forge 1.77 trillion
  4. The Citadel – 1.56 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.4 trillion
  6. Querious – 1.22 trillion
  7. Metropolis – 1.13 trillion
  8. Vale of the Silent – 1.05 trillion
  9. Pure Blind 894 billion
  10. Tribute – 741 billion

The damage in Delve was almost exactly what is rang up in April, though I suspect that we will see that number taper off when we get the June MER next month.  The siege of 1DQ has slowed down.

Total destruction was 32.73 trillion ISK in value, down some from April’s 35.12 trillion ISK number.

So it goes.

As usual, all the charts and source data are available for download from the May MER dev blog.

51 Weeks of World War Bee

We’re about to turn the corner and head on into a full year of war.  Just one more week to go.

There were preparations for war going on as the Imperium pulled in forces and structures and got itself ready for the coming fight.  And, of course, the propaganda machine started cranking up, calling out the attackers for the blue donut coalition they were even before the attack began.

Also, we finally got character logoff.

Next week I’ll start a new “One Year Ago” section in the weekly post with links out to the wider coverage of the war.

Delve Front

The stalemate that is the Siege of 1DQ carried on for another week, with PAPI making no serious attacks on the remaining Imperium constellation in Delve.  My map fragment from May 2nd remains accurate.

O-EIMK Constellation – June 27, 2021

Combat in the region consisted of skirmishes and hot drops.  Legacy seems to be getting sensitive to the Imperium pinging for bombers.

From Legacy Discord

PAPI did come through into 3-DMQT with a large fleet at one point and word went out that they had EDENCOM Skybreakers included, but hopes that we might be facing a meme fleet offensive proved false.  There were only five mixed in with a mostly Svipul fleet composition.  Five does not a meme fleet make.  They tried this again on Saturday with a few more EDENCOM ships with similarly bad results. (Late addition: Now this was a meme fleet coming into 1DQ.)

Vily did say on the Legacy town hall that they were indeed planning to try and camp all twelve systems in NPC Delve in order to interdict the Imperium supply chain.

NPC Delve

The structures are in place, they just need to actually commit to the task.  Otherwise Delve was not exactly the hot spot it was just a few weeks back.  It

There is a rumor that PAPI splurged and spent some of its ISK reserves on mercenaries to come in and help break the stalemate in Delve.  We shall see how that plays out.  They were supposed to attack this past weekend, but PAPI told everybody about the plan which meant we knew and would be ready, and they seem to have figured out that jumping into prepared defensive positions is a costly idea.

Overall, while little changed in Delve, there was more fighting than last week according to the campaign data.

Delve Campaign – Week 51

While the value of losses wasn’t much more, the total ships and capsules destroyed was up by nearly two thousand.  Cheaper ships were expended.  You can see what the Imperium has been up to as stealth bombers were the hulls most lost by them over the course of the week. (Also, I took that screen shot a bit early, but if you go to the link you can see the final weekly numbers.)

Other Theaters

The Bastion has finally been evicted from the corner of Esoteria where they have been holding out since Week 14 of the war.  A hell of a run.  The Army of Mango Alliance has taken the last ihub from The Bastion and is besieging their remaining structures.

Esoteria – June 27, 2021

Likewise, the tide has rolled against the Imperium in Feythabolis, where the Russian FI.RE coalition and Army of Mango Alliance have been rolling back Imperium gains.

Feythabolis – June 27, 2021

Red Alliance remains up in the northwest corner.  They are Imperium allies, having defected from PAPI back in week 17.  But they are not in the Imperium, having gone to work with the Stain Russians, so they may be secure in their corner.

And then there has been some activity in Catch, once home to several Legacy alliances including Brave.  Severance and Siege Green have been coming up the path from Querious to attack space currently held by Imperium member Dracarys.

Catch – June 27, 2021

I do not know if this is Legacy trying to simply push back the Impeirum from Querious or a serious attempt to retake the region.  Legacy does still have a couple of Keepstars in Catch.

My Participation

As has become something of the norm, most action in Delve has been on demand, where you have to be ready to login and go on very short notice to participate.  Still, I managed to get in on one good bomber drop where we toasted quite a few PAPI Caracals and helped reinforce one of their Ansiblex jump gates.

Purifier on the job

That put me on another 48 kill mails, moving me a bit closer to my goal of being on 5,000 before the end of August.  We’ll ignore the blues that got hit… most of the kill mails were PAPI.

I also lost my Purifier on our last bomb run.  I didn’t even have a bomb at that point, but went along to spread the enemy’s attention and, since no good deed goes unpunished, was tackled and blown up.  So I filed for SRP and bought a new bomber.  And then I lost that bomber on a later op, another SRP claim another bomber acquired.   So my losses for the war total up to:

  • Ares interceptor – 18
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Drake battle cruiser – 7
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 5
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar T2 logi – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Cormorant destroyer – 4
  • Jackdaw destroyer – 4
  • 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

The results of the CSM16 elections were announced.  The results were not particularly surprising.  Some people are mad about them, but for the usual reasons.  Large organized groups get candidates elected.  So we got to hear the usual complaints and demands that CCP rig the system so this person or that can win, as though electing a focus group through a popularity contest was a good idea.  It wasn’t in 2008, it isn’t now.

We also got the Black Ops update from CCP.  And the Monthly Economic Report for May showed up as well.  Something about that here tomorrow.

Overall a loud slice of the community seems to be upset at CCP with their new monetization ideas, the state of the in-game economy, the CSM elections, the way the war in Delve has petered out topping the list of complaints, and have been pointing at the PCU as proof that CCP has dropped the ball. (example of very mad person post that is mad about everything)  In response the usual Pollyannas have said the PCU isn’t a valid measurement and anyway this is just the usual summer lull, nothing to see here, go on about your business, everything will rebound come autumn.

Unfortunately, the only way to find out who is right is to wait it out and see if things do bounce back.  But either way, the weekly PCU still seems to be sagging, with another week where cracking the 25K mark was the exception, not the rule:

  • 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
  • Week 47 – 29,898
  • Week 48 – 31,462 (Monday)
  • Week 49 – 27,914
  • Week 50 – 26,045
  • Week 51 – 25,661

Related

Exploring This is World of Warcraft

I always enjoy the Carbot Animations videos about Blizzard products.  The ability to capture what is often the essence of something like Diablo with some simple animations, an absurdly familiar situation, and a few of the in-game sounds is amazing.

And the quality of the work has made the channel a success, leading to items in the official Blizzard store based off of the videos including the StarCraft Cartooned graphics pack for the remastered game.

But the most recent video… This is World of Warcraft… it is a bit of a punch in the gut.  It captures in its way the nostalgic experience of World of Warcraft and its move from early innocence to the state of the game today in a way that managed to make even me a bit misty eyed.

Back when I was much younger

This could be the Sayonara Norrath for WoW.  So take three minutes to watch it.

Did you watch it?  Because I am going to write about it.

The first cut response is how well it captures the arc of the game for many people, the early joy, making friends, conquering raids, and all the things we’ve heard.  The expansions come, and they’re good too, mostly, as they pile up.

The expansion pile

And Blizzard starts introducing new things like paid mounts, which are accepted enthusiastically by the fans.  But as time goes on and the game seems less unique and less special.  Our protagonist feels the world emptying out.  The magic is gone, sunk by Blizzard’s hamfisted handling of the game.

And then WoW Classic comes along and the world is special again.  But monetization creeps in and seeing the special packs and mounts in Burning Crusade Classic our protagonist feels lost and cheated by Blizzard again

Money invades the classic experience

They exit the game, ending the video.  The magic is dead.  Fade to black.

That is a pretty much on-point story that a lot of people tell, and such a punch in the gut that I have to wonder where the channel is headed.  It almost felt like a sign off.

So many feels.

But it really isn’t comparable to Sayonara Norrath.  That video, which pre-dates the launch of World of Warcraft, is about the memories of a guild that has decided to move on.  They have changed, the world has changed, and while they have many memories, those are in the past.

This is World of Warcraft is what you would get if the Mirage guild of Sayonara Norrath hung on for another fifteen years, trying to live EverQuest as it was back in the day, forever comparing the good old days to whatever expansion or update or free to play scheme or company change or special server Daybreak came up with.

So This is World of Warcraft feels like it heaps blame on Blizzard for wrecking what was once a happy and formative experience for many gamers… millions of gamers.  And I get that.  But I also question it.

I have been on about the static nature or subscription pricing lately… it was $15 a month back in 2004, it is still $15 a month here in 2021… and the unrealistic expectations of players.  The response to paying more is almost always negative.  The companies themselves are viewed as greedy and unresponsive… something that Activision Blizzard hasn’t helped with given the obscene compensation some of their senior execs get… and are often blamed for ruining our gaming experience through monetization.   Over in EVE Online players are up in arms… again… about CCP doing that as well.  We want our peak enjoyment at all times at the price we were paying back when my college age daughter was still in diapers.

How realistic is the expectation that World of Warcraft should feel as fresh and new now as it did back in 2004?  How, with eight expansions in the can now, was Blizz supposed to maintain that sense of simplicity and innocence while cranking out a full fledged expansion every other year?  And how, with subscriptions down and the cost of everything going up, were they supposed to be a viable business without finding another revenue stream?

How much of the fact that we don’t think WoW now feels like WoW of old is grounded in unrealistic expectations that a party should remain fun for fifteen years running?  Blizzard gave us something amazing in 2004 and we’re all kind of pissed off that it isn’t as amazing and as fun in 2021.  Is that realistic?  WoW is practically The Simpsons when it was 15; still something good there, but nothing like the first half a dozen seasons.

I can sit back and objectively dissect the faulty logic of our expectations, and yet I too feel them.  I just want the game to be as fun as it was back… whenever… and to feel that joy.  I am part of the problem too.  I see Sayonara Norrath and my first thought is always “Hey, I should go play that again!” and not “What a special time that was.”

So bravo to Carbot Animations for stirring up all these conflicting feelings.

I’m still playing Burning Crusade Classic.  I want to play it because it was, and still is, a good game. (And hey, it is only $15 a month!)  But part of me does want it to be 2007 or whenever, to feel like I did when I was that much younger.  It is a flaw in me, a flaw in many of us.  Letting go is hard and some of us won’t do it until we’re forced to.  It is complicated.

Related:

What are the Prerequisites for a Retro Nostalgia Server?

The whole retro nostalgia server thing has gone from something those weirdos at SOE did once in a while to a idea that has helped sustain the profitability of titles as large as World of Warcraft.

Classic is as classic does

The idea has officially been part of the EverQuest business model since 2015 and has spread to other Daybreak titles and beyond.  Old School RuneScape has a life of its own, Aion just launched a classic server last week, and the Lord of the Rings Online team is launching two new legendary servers next week and has started hinting about a real “classic” server.

So I started wondering what it takes to make one of these sorts of servers viable.  I came up with four… I’ll call them “common threads”… that seem to be involved with successful ventures of this sort.  They are, to my mind:

  1. Player versus Environment Progression
  2. Expansion Based Content
  3. Multiple Server Architecture
  4. Some Past Era of Fame or Success
  5. A Monetization Scheme

Player versus Environment Progression

The first item on my list, PvE, is probably the most controversial.  I mean we only have to look at how many PvP servers Blizzard stood up for WoW Classic to convince just about anybody that PvP is not necessarily a detriment to the nostalgia idea.

But I am going to argue that even on a WoW Classic PvP server that PvE progression, doing quests and killing mobs and getting to the level cap, is the primary.  Getting ganked in Stranglethorn Vale or coming to an uneasy truce with somebody from the other faction when you just want to finish up a quest out in Un’goro Crater, that is some extra spicy topping on the PvE game and not an independent PvP experience.  It is PvP in a PvE framework, and that PvE framework is what you need.

Which isn’t to say that PvP can’t screw things up even with a PvE framework.  The story of PvP in EverQuest II basically consists of a few brief moments where a PvP server was fun… under very specific circumstances, like leveling locking yourself at a specific point in progression and sticking to low level zones… and most of the rest of the fifteen years of the game trying and failing to recreate or recapture the magic of those moments.  They keep breaking PvE progression to make it work, which makes it otherwise unsustainable.

Expansion Based Content

This might not be as critical as the first item.  It is more of a factor as to how long your nostalgia experience can be expected to last.  EverQuest, with 26 expansions, is the poster child for this.  You can unlock an expansion a month and still keep the party going for a couple of years.

But you might not want to drag people through every expansion.  The Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server for EverQuest ran for nine yearsEverQuest was only seven years old when they rolled out the first such server.  Nine years is long enough to feel nostalgic for the good old days of the launch of the server.

For World of Warcraft it feels like there is an argument to stop after the second expansion, if only for the sake of simplicity.

And, of course, having expansions where the game changed all in one go gives the company and the players nice, clear markers as to where the nostalgia is.  It is handy.

Multiple Server Architecture

The MMO in question ought to support the idea of multiple shards, servers, realms, or whatever you want to call them.  This seems like a bit of a gimme, but it does leave out EVE Online, where not only does everybody play in a single version of the game (except those in China), but the game itself is a success based on the critical mass of players.  Splitting off a nostalgia based New Eden would be a non-started for this reason alone… but it also doesn’t have PvE progression nor expansion based content.  No retro server for EVE Online ever.

Anyway, you should be able to roll up a new, special rules server and not kill your game or over-tax your staff.

Some Past Era of Fame or Success

Can you have nostalgia for a game nobody has heard of?  Sure, why not!  Will anybody else come and play?  No.

A big part of the retro server plan is farming your installed base, appealing to them with visions of the “good old days” when the game was new, they were young, and everything seemed much simpler.  While those who missed out on the original launch might show some interest, the success of your server is largely based on how many people have fond memories of your early game.

EverQuest does very well on this front because, while the game never achieved anything like WoW level subscription numbers, in the five years between its launch and WoW‘s launch a lot of people came and played for at least a little while.  Brad McQuaid said at one point that there were a couple million former EQ players before WoW was a thing.  These are the people who will be tempted to come back.

And then, of course, there is WoW Classic, where Blizz had to roll out about 150 servers to handle the nostalgia overload.

Even Lord of the Rings Online, which never met Turbine’s grandiose visions of popularity, did score a lot of players over the year.

On the flip side there is EverQuest II, which launched just weeks before WoW, and never achieved the kind of success its older sibling had, or Anarchy Online, 20 years old this month, which had such a bad launch it became the first title I knew of to go down the free to play path.  Both games have dedicated followings, but neither has the depth of installed base that makes the idea of a retro server a big deal.  EQII has had a few of those at this point, but they tend to launch quietly and shut down even more quietly.

A Monetization Scheme

The company isn’t doing this for nostalgia, it is doing it to farm the installed base for money.  And to get that money, they have to have a plan.  WoW Classic has the simplest of all plans.  Since you still have to subscribe to play WoW, they just included WoW Classic in that plan and they were set.

EverQuest and other Daybreak titles, which still have a subscription plan as an option, just put their special servers in a special “subscribers only” room.  Not too tough, that.  (Though can we get LOTRO and DDO on the Daybeark All Access plan now that we finally know Daybreak owned them before EG7?  or How about an EG7-wide all access plan?)

Aion Classic has… a monetization plan of sorts.  If I am reading things correctly, it consists of a special pay to win cash shop and an optional subscription for benefits, but at least that is a plan.

But I wonder if a game like Guild Wars 2 could ever pull off the nostalgia server idea.  It seems like there might be a market to re-roll the event experience of the game from scratch.  Maybe?  But their business plan is buy the box and cash shop items.  I guess they could have some special cash shops items, but I am not sure they would bring in the money needed to make a classic server worthwhile.

Anyway, those are my somewhat off-the-cuff thoughts this morning.  I am sure I missed something in the mix.

New Eden and the Death of the Subscription Model

You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

On Wednesday this week I was arguably somewhat critical of CCP’s monetization policy in EVE Online. (I see myself as most in a state of exhausted indifference at this point, but sometimes tone doesn’t come through.) Today I am going to argue the other way around because life and software and business are all complicated.  There are no simple answers to anything.

There was a new round of outrage at CCP this week over all sorts of things, from bugs to the CSM election, but monetization always gets the biggest response and this week had a couple of hits on that front.

First there was the $230 black ops pack that I mentioned on Tuesday which, due to the inclusion of skill points even got somebody posting on r/eve that we all needed to undock in Jita and shoot the monument.

This has been the go-to move since Incarna by people who didn’t understand what happened during Incarna.  As much as I’d like you to go back and read my Wednesday post, I’ll sum it up: shooting the monument did nothing, people unsubscribing led to change.

Also, with the Jita 4-4 revamp, the monument is hidden around back of the new station and no longer visible from the undock.  CCP has successfully sidelined the protest zone.

Can you see the protest going on? Me neither.

Anyway, the frog was on the boil once again with the black ops pack when people discovered that, since Tuesday’s patch, if you lose a ship it appears that there is a chance you’ll get a advertisement pop up with your loss suggesting you buy some PLEX to turn into ISK in order to purchase a new one. (I lost a ship this week and didn’t see one, so it might just be for Euros or for accounts less antiquated than my own.)

Use your credit card to finance your revenge!

I had to look at that image a couple of times because at first glance it seemed to imply that you could buy your ship back with cash, a first step on the path to something I expect to happen eventually.  And, of course, I might have been influenced by the fact that EVE Echoes has real money ship insurance.

But no, we aren’t there yet in PC based New Eden.  This was just a hint that you could finance your return with your real life wallet… handy since so many ISK earning avenues have been devastated by the economic reforms of the last year.

So another week, another fire in New Eden.  Film at eleven.

This time around these outrages seemed to spark a mass desire to return to the “subscription only” era, back when EVE Online was at its peak and everything was good.  (Except, of course, it wasn’t because the only thing more persistent than “EVE is dying” is players complaining about CCP and their handling of the game.)

Unfortunately, few supporters of the “subscription only” idea seem to be aware of the brutal nature of the situation.

EVE Online subscribers peaked in 2013 when they claimed to have hit the half million mark.

20% of those were probably on the Serenity server in China and, while that doesn’t mean they weren’t earning the company any money, CCP wasn’t getting anything close to $15 a month out of them.

Still, that leaves 400K subscribers in the west paying in US Dollars or Euros or whatever local convertible currency they had to hand.  That number, and the fact that the game is still around to argue about today, probably marks EVE Online out as the most successful open world PvP everywhere MMORPG in the west… though that isn’t a hugely high bar, given that most other contenders had to either make PvE servers to survive (e.g. Ultima Online) or imploded (how many versions of Darkfall were there?).

Anyway, CCP was able to make a go of a business with that many subscribers and even had pretensions about creating other games… all of which failed, but EVE Online remains.

I would estimate that EVE Online has fewer than half as many subscribers here now in 2021.  Things peaked in 2013, but it was a downhill ride after that.  Hilmar has thrown around numbers like the game having a monthly active user count somewhere between 200K and 300K, but he omits how many of them are Alpha clones… non-subscribers… and how many of them are new players, 96% of whom bail out in the first 30 days.

In the time between 2013 and now the price of many things has gone up but the subscription price remains the same… I had a whole post about this a bit ago… and the subscriber base has been cut in half.

So, taken literally, the suggestion to go back to a subscription only business model would mean CCP bringing in half the revenue they were in 2013.  That seems like a non-starter, even if they were not owned by Pearl Abyss.

But wait, even that is optimistic.  I do not know how many people earn ISK in game to buy PLEX in order to pay their subscription, but it is a number larger than zero and big enough to attract CSM candidates interested in buying votes.  Most of those accounts probably go dormant in a subscription only situation, so we’re at less than half of peak revenue.  We’re back in 2006 maybe, if we’re lucky, which was a crazy time in EVE but not an era that would pay today’s bills.

There are, of course, solutions being offered.  At the top of the list is raising the price of the subscription.  As I have written before, that seems like a sure fire way to drive away more players, especially since CCP would have to at least double the monthly price to make the model work.

Then there is the “stop sucking” group who believes if the new player experience or some neglected feature was fixed subscriptions would surge.  This is wishful thinking at best.

Still, that is better than the magical thinking brigade which includes a new and persistent faction that believes if CCP would only allow player made ship SKINs in the online store their financial problems would be solved.  Leaving aside Sturgeon’s law and the tragic history of player made content in MMORPGs, the operating theory of this group seems to be that SKINs are just mods and if Skyrim or Valheim or Minecraft can have mods then so can EVE Online.  It is like a festival of ignorance.

So it is not going to happen, not here in 2021.  The “subscription required” model is a thing of the past except for a few select titles.

Which isn’t to say anybody has to like the situation the game is in.  The first decade of the twenty-first century was a charmed time, with many fresh seeming MMORPGs and a universal subscription model that seemed to keep the genre, if not pure, and least not irredeemably tainted.

But the past is the past.  Besides which, half of the appeal of EVE Online has been facing adversity and sharing the effort with others.  We’ve always been angry at CCP and this horrible game and play it in part because the bonds shared suffering creates.

So go shoot the monument in Jita I guess.  Join in and talk with some fellow protestors.  It is hardly less pointless than a lot of the game and maybe you’ll make some friends you can complain about CCP with.

Unfinished Business in Azeroth

It isn’t as though I am avoiding Outland, I am just having a bit of trouble letting go of Azeroth because there are still things to be done there.

Out with friends

I mentioned last week that I had run my druid up from level 36 to 58 since the pre-patch hit, which enabled him to head on through the Dark Portal.  And through he went.  But after doing the first few quests and getting some gear upgrades, he was back in Azeroth again.

He was back in part because I wanted to see how the gear upgrades would fare in places like the Eastern Plaguelands.  But mostly he was back because I needed thorium.

I needed thorium because my druid had picked up mining and herbalism as trade skills and, while I managed to get the latter up to 300 long before I hit level 58, mining was another story.  You cannot mine fel iron in Outland until your mining is up to 300 and his was still 280.

So there was mining to be done and thorium was where the skill ups were to be had and that was all back in Azeroth.

A rich thorium find

I do sort of wonder why there are Azerothian herbs in Outland… you find them all over Hellfire Peninsula… but no thorium.  Hellfire and the Blasted Lands look similar enough, at least at a glance, so tossing a little thorium into the former seems like it would fit the pattern.  But no.  Or at least I’ve never seen any thorium.

I also needed thorium for Wilhelm.  His trade skill is engineering and to make that last run up from about 285 to 300 he needed a bucket or two of thorium bars.

And then there was Viniki, who took up blacksmithing.  He too needed thorium… about 400 bars of it to go from 270 to 300, since the path forward for him needed about a dozen bars per skill up if he followed the least resource intensive way of leveling up.

That is a lot of thorium, and all the more so when a small thorium vein might cough up 3 ore if you’re lucky, while a large vein could be good for as many as 6.

This was all complicated by the fact that everybody and their dog has been out hustling for thorium nodes because they also need the skill ups or because they want to make some gold.  That hot market I mentioned last Friday?  It is still going strong with a huge demand for mithril and thorium.

If I didn’t desperately need the thorium for trade skills I might be making even more gold.  Still, I picked up enough mithril along the way to have something for market.

And I was not the only one in the group our working on that sort of thing.  Fergorin decided to go with jewel crafting as a profession, a new one that came in with Burning Crusade, so he too needed to mine himself up into and through thorium.

Ula was also out working on enchanting, which she took up in addition to being our tailor, in order to get herself up to 300.  Viniki managed to get far enough up in blacksmithing in order to craft the arcanite rod, which covers the last tier of enchanting.  Fortunately Skronk was able to transmute arcane crystals into arcanite bars to make that. (The transmute also required thorium, so add that to the list.)

I did managed to get Alioto up to 300 mining (along with hitting level 60) and Wilhelm up to 300 engineering, but Viniki is still stuck at 280 blacksmithing, so there is some work to be done there.

In addition to all of that, Potshot (who plays Skronk and Fergorin, keeping the names straight is a chore all around I guess) also took to heart a comment about Hellfire Ramparts having encounters that suited a shaman.  So he rolled up a Draenei shaman and started working him up through the levels this past weekend as well.  Alioto took some time out to shepherd him trough the Deadmines, which was fun.

Blowing the door in the Deadmines

It is a long climb from character creation to Outland, but it isn’t impossible.  I managed to get most of the way there with Alioto.  Still, we might not have a shaman healer in the group for a while still.

Then there is the epic mount question for Wilhelm, Fergorin, and Beanpole.  We still have things to take care of on the Azeroth side of the Dark Portal.

The Steam Summer Sale 2021 Arrives

It is that time of the year… or one of those times of the year… when Steam has a bigger than usual sale.  Welcome to the Steam Summer Sale 2021.

Here we go again!

In addition to most everything on my wishlist or in my library being discounted… hey, Valheim is even 10% off… Valve has a little Forge Your Fate feature for the sale that is supposed to help guide you towards titles you might appreciate.  I will have to see if it has any influence.  So far it has just guided me to pages that suggest things already on my wishlist.  Maybe I am doing it wrong.

Anyway, the sale is here.  At this point I post about the sale more out of habit than actual enthusiasm.  Steam has long since cured me of being excited about video game discounts, instead making them something I expect.  But at least it got me to log into Steam I suppose… boy, do I have a lot of updates queued.  Maybe I will see something new and interesting.

Incarna a Decade Later

It has been ten years since the Incarna expansion released for EVE Online and set off probably the biggest confrontations between CCP its customers in the now 18 year history of the game.

Incarna – June 2011

It came at a moment when CCP was at its absolute pinnacle of ambition and hubris.  Before Incarna the company was shooting for the stars, had set their sights on, in their own words, world domination.  Before, EVE Online was just a stepping stone on their path to greatness.

Afterwards… well, EVE Online is really the only money maker they’ve had.

Which isn’t an uncommon story in tech.  It is rare for a company that finds success with one product to be able to repeat that success with another.  Even less common, however, is finding success at all.  So you have to give them that.

I always find it odd that the events around the Incarna expansion get summed up by some as “monocle-gate,” a reference to the  $70 cosmetic item introduced into the in-game store.  People who use the term “monocle-gate” brand themselves as outsiders in my eyes, as the monocle was a side-show at best and, once everything had calmed down, stayed in the in-game store without much further comment.

For many people, myself included, it was avatars and captain’s quarters that broke our faith in the company.

Walking in stations was a bad idea.

Or at least it was a bad idea for CCP as their execution was less than stellar.

After hints and hype and neglect of the rest of the game, to say that the captain’s quarters were underwhelming is an understatement.

What is on Space TV today?

I came back to the game just to try out the expansion and I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for the update.  And to get this feature they had to not only forego working on other more core issues to the game, but pretty much had to rob the World of Darkness team of resources as well.

I’m not sure CCP could have pulled off a World of Darkness MMO, but the diversion of resources from that and DUST 514 made sure we would never find out.

More importantly to many players, the captain’s quarters replaced the hangar view that had been a staple of the game since launch and which had the utility of immediately displaying which ship you were in as it was right there in the middle of your screen.  If you didn’t care for the useless fluff that was the new quarters, your only alternative was a view of a hangar door.  That hangar door was viewed by many as, and I apologize for dredging up this ancient angry metaphor, a slap in the face.

When Hilmar derided requests for a return of the old hangar, dismissing it as “ship spinning” people were pissed.  When he pushed back on growing player complaints about the changes, he hyped up CCP’s technical achievements at their ability to inject solo avatar play into a spaceship game.  He wasn’t going to listen to player complaints.  CCP was going to stay the course.

Not listening to players remains Hilmar’s signature move, as we saw most recently during the Blackout and are experiencing now during the economic starvation plan.

So a useless and processor hungry new feature, the removal of the interface everybody was used to, the neglect of many problems in the game to focus on fluff, Hilmar’s pompous “I know best” attitude, a requirement that 3rd party apps pay a license fee, and even that monocole, had effectively poured gasoline all over the landscape.

All it needed was a match to really set it off, and CCP was happy to oblige in the form of the Greed is Good? issue of their in-house magazine Fearless. (link to it here)  When that leaked… some coincidental timing on that… with its discussion of selling premium ships, gold ammo, and other crass monetization schemes, it was too much for many players.

People speak of the Jita riots which, like the monocle, betrays a simplified view of the event.  A bunch of players did orbit the monument in Jita and shoot it as a show of protest.  But the monument wasn’t a destructible object in the game, so it was very much symbolic.  Did that shift CCP’s view?  I somehow doubt it.

Word is that, on hearing that CCP only cares what players do and not what they say, many players decided to see if unsubscribing was an action that would bring attention to their unhappiness.  I was certainly in that group, cancelling my subscription in annoyance at the company.  That seems a much more likely lever of change when it came to CCP’s view of things.

In a rare display relevance, the whole fiasco gave CSM6 an opening into some agency and they helped harness player discontent at the company into a coherent message.  For a brief period of time the CSM was a voice the company couldn’t ignore, which led to an emergency CSM summit in Iceland, where some accord was reached, though both sides had to issue their own statements on the whole thing as CCP wouldn’t step down from Hilmar’s attitude.  And Hilmar was like Sadam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War, defiant, shooting his gun in the air, and still claiming victory in the face of catastrophe.

While CCP wouldn’t admit they had been wrong in any of their decisions or attitudes, their actions after the fact played a different tune.  Maybe Hilmar had a point with that idea.

For quite a stretch CCP tread very lightly on the monetization front.  They learned that moving slowly, drawing tentative lines, and laying smokescreens (i.e. lying) was the way to go.  So we went from skill injectors and a promise never to introduce skill points directly into the game to skill point packs in the cash shop over a few years.  It took time, but they got there by making each step small enough to not generate outrage until we got to the destination.  The slippery slope demonstrated.

On the bright side, CCP did also show a renewed interest in actually fixing things that were bad or broken in the game.  We didn’t always get what we wanted and CCP has had some strange ideas on what is good for the game, but they have at least kept focus on it.

And then there was walking in stations.  Player reaction made it a feature that was pretty much dead on arrival.  They did introduce a few different captain’s quarters to match the different empires, but it was never seriously worked on after Incarna.

CCP demonstrated that they did not have the resources to make walking in stations a feature of the game and keep the flying in space aspect of the game evolving as well.  What we received with Incarna was hardly more than a mock up of a real walking in stations feature.  Making it viable, useful, and multiplayer would have required CCP to essentially build a new game, ignoring the old.

Flying in space won out over walking in stations.  You don’t ditch your paying customers for some theoretical new customers.  The history of tech is littered with the wrecks of companies who tried that.

The captain’s quarters lingered in game, with barely 10% of the player base opting to use it.  Then came Upwell structures, new code that did not have the captain’s quarter’s integrated into it.  Given how long it took CCP just to get insurance available within citadels, integrating the captain’s quarters was clearly not in the cards.  Usage of the feature declined further.

Game time spent in Captain’s Quarters

Then came the drive towards 64-bit, which was being held back by the code.

One of the first things that we want to investigate is to release a 64-bit EVE client to better utilize your available system memory when playing. Compiling a 64-bit client has been held back by the outdated middleware that was needed by captain’s quarters.

That was the death knell for the feature.  It will never return.

In the end, Incarna did at least focus CCP on what was important to the current player base, and we have gotten a lot of improvements over the years.  It hasn’t stopped them from going in on VR or believing they can make a successful shooter, but they don’t neglect flying in space as much.

It also made CCP more wily when it came to monetization, pushing them to boil the frog slowly.  But, as the frog knows, we still get boiled in the end.

Related:

Black Ops Battleship Changes Land with the Enter the Portal Update

CCP announced back on June 11th their intention to make some changes to black ops battleships, including giving them a new way to jump themselves and their companions as a single group to a covert cyno.

That was seen as an interesting change which got a lot of feedback and today CCP launched the changes under the banner Enter the Portal.

Black ops and other changes

The big change for black ops battleships is the new “conduit jump” option which jumps the anchor ship, the black ops battleship, and up to 30 companion ships in one jump operation.

The details for conduit jumps:

  • Conduit Jumps provide a new group jump to a destination from the Anchor Ship (the Black Ops battleship) plus all nearby eligible fleet members in a single, instantaneous event.
  • Eligible ships are any that are capable of travelling through a covert jump portal. Black Ops Battleship, Blockade Runners, Covert Ops Frigates, Force Recon Ships, Stealth Bombers, and Strategic Cruisers (with the covert subsystem)
  • Up to 30 eligible passenger ships may be included in the conduit jump, at a cost of 1000 isotopes per light year.
  • Travel via Conduit Jumps has similar requirements to normal portal travel (cannot be cloaked, warp-disrupted, or in a state of transition such as exploding etc.). Additionally, further restrictions apply for conduit jumps for passengers:
    • Passenger Ship must be in same fleet as Anchor Ship.
    • Passenger Ship must be within 10 km of Anchor Ship.
  • If the Anchor Ship fails any of the required checks, the Group Jump cannot be activated at all. If a Passenger Ship fails any of the required checks, the Group Jump will proceed, but that individual Passenger Ship will be left behind.

In addition, black ops battleships all received the following updates:

  • Increased the cargo capacity by 100m3. [More fuel!]
  • Increased maximum target range by 30%.
  • New Role Bonus: 50% reduction in Covert Cynosural Generator duration
  • New Role Bonus: 650% bonus to ships maximum velocity when using a Cloaking Device (this was previously a Black Ops ship bonus and has been moved into a role bonus).
  • Increased role bonus to 75% for reduction to effective distance traveled for jump fatigue.

And the individual black ops battleship hulls got the following changes:

Redeemer

  • Increased the Capacitor Capacity from 5312 to 5912 GJ
  • Updated Amarr Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Large Energy Turret rate of fire from 5% to 10%.
  • Updated Black Ops bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 125% bonus to ship max velocity when using Cloaking Devices to 10% bonus to Energy Nosferatu and Energy Neutralizer drain amount.

Sin

  • Increased the Ship Inertia modifier by 25%.
  • Updated Gallente Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Large Hybrid Turret damage from 5% to 10%.
  • Updated Black Ops bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 5% bonus to Ship Inertia modifier to 10% bonus to logistics drone transfer amount.
    • Changed the 125% bonus to ship max velocity when using Cloaking Devices to 7.5% bonus to drone tracking and optimal range per level.

Panther

  • Increased the ship Max Velocity by 25%.
  • Updated Minmatar Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Incrased the bonus to Large Projectile Turret damage from 5% to 10%.
  • Updated Black Ops bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 5% bonus to ship max velocity to 7.5% bonus to Large Projectile Turret tracking speed.
    • Changed the 125% bonus to ship max velocity when using Cloaking Devices to 7.5% bonus to Large Projectile Turret falloff range.

Widow

  • Updated Caldari Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Rapid Heavy Missile, Cruise Missile and Torpedo Launcher rate of fire from 5% to 7.5%.
  • Updated Black Ops bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to ECM Target Jammer strength from 30% to 40%.
    • Changed the 125% bonus to ship max velocity when using Cloaking Device to 4% bonus to shield resistances.

Marshal

  • Updated Gallente Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Large Hybrid Turret damage from 5% to 10%.
  • Updated Minmatar Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Large Projectile Turret rate of fire from 5% to 10% .
  • Updated Caldari Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Heavy Missile, Cruise Missile and Torpedo Launcher rate of fire from 5% to 7.5%.
  • Updated Amarr Battleship bonuses (per skill level):
    • Increased the bonus to Large Energy Turret damage from 5% to 10%.

Black ops battleships are pretty commonly used out in null sec, so it will be interesting to see how these changes, and especially the ability to jump a group of 30 and the battleship as well, will change up tactics.

In addition, covert ops frigates also received an update pass:

Helios

  • Added 1 High Slot (current total: 3)
  • Updated Gallente Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 5% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret damage to -15% capacitor need to initiate warp per level.
    • Changed the 10% bonus to Scout Drone thermal damage to 5% bonus to cloaked velocity per level

Anathema

  • Added 1 Low Slot (current total: 3)
  • Updated Amarr Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 5% bonus to Rocket damage to -15% capacitor need to initiate warp per level
    • Changed the 5% reduction in capacitor recharge time to 5% bonus to scan deviation per level

Buzzard

  • Added 1 Low Slot (current total: 3)
  • Updated Caldari Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 5% bonus to kinetic Light Missile and Rocket damage to -15% capacitor need to initiate warp per level
    • Changed the 5% bonus to Light Missile and Rocket Launcher rate of fire to 5% bonus to scan deviation per level

Cheetah

  • Added 1 Low Slot (current total: 4)
  • Updated Minmatar Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
    • Changed the 5% bonus to Small Projectile Turret damage to -15% capacitor need to initiate warp per level
    • Changed the 10% bonus to Small Projectile Turret optimal range to 5% bonus to cloaked velocity per level

And EDENCOM ships got a bit of love.  Their Voltron Projectors will now chain damage to 10 targets, up from the previous 5.  We will see if that makes them viable for more than just meme fleets.

Of course, with a big update like this, CCP would like to sell you something.  So they have a new black ops pack in the online store.  For $230 you get:

  • 180 Days of Omega Time
  • 2,860 PLEX
  • 500,000 Skill Points
  • 6 Months of Multiple Character Training
  • Expert Cerebral Accelerator
  • Panther Fireblade Guerilla SKIN
  • Widow Fireblade Guerilla SKIN
  • Redeemer Fireblade Guerilla SKIN
  • Sin Fireblade Guerilla SKIN
  • Marshal Fireblade Guerilla SKIN
  • Men’s and Women’s Blood Raider ‘Outlaw’ Clothing

That seems a bit pricey to me, but there is a lot of stuff there, so I am sure somebody will bite.

The update has been deployed, details are available  at the links below.