Author Archives: Wilhelm Arcturus

About Wilhelm Arcturus

I started playing online, multiplayer games in 1986. I expect to get the hang of it any time now.

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  $50 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.

Introducing Your CSM16 Representatives

Yesterday CCP did the big reveal stream for CSM16, going through the election round by round to both demonstrate how STV elections work and to try and milk some suspense out of the results.

Unfortunately there wasn’t that much suspense because CCP accidentally posted the results archive up on their site before the stream, so they were up on /r/eve before hand.  CCP tried to pass that off as just “test data,” but when the results lined up it was clear that was just a smokescreen.

The winners were:

CSM16

Congratulations to those who made the cut for CSM16.

In order of election they were:

  1. Merkelchen – Goonswarm Federation (first round)*
  2. Gobbins – Pandemic Horde (first round)*
  3. Innominate – Goonswarm Federation (first round)*
  4. Brisc Rubal – The Initiative*
  5. Kenneth Feld – Pandemic Legion*
  6. I Beast – Method Synergy
  7. Suitonia – We Form V0lta
  8. VilyTest Alliance Please Ignore*
  9. ProgodlegendTest Alliance Please Ignore
  10. Mike Azariah – The Scope*

*CSM15 incumbent

Seven of the eight incumbents who ran were re-elected and seven of the ten total seats when to sov null sec bloc candidates, which is about par for the course for CSM elections.  Null sec blocs tend to take between 6 and 8 seats.

Total votes cast were 38,086, up from the 36,120 cast in the CSM15 election and the 32,994 cast in the CSM14 election.  The votes by country saw the US contribute the lions share of ballots making up close to a third of the count.

CSM16 Election – Votes by Country

As happened last year, Merkelchen and Gobbins, who topped the Goonswarm and Pandemic Horde ballots respectively, met the ballot quota of 3,463 to get themselves elected in the first of the 36 rounds of elimination.  Interestingly, there were enough votes for Merkelchen in the first round, 7,726 to be exact, that his spill over elected Innominate in the first round as well, being the next candidate on the Goonswarm ballot.

Innominate, having made quota, then sent another 204 excess votes to Brisc Rubal, third on the ballot.  In the past, those voting the straight Goon ballot have generally only sent votes to the first two candidates, but there were enough voters for some to trickle down to Brisc this time.

The round one vote bounce

From there it was quite a few rounds before Brisc Rubal and then Kenneth Feld met quota and were elected.  By round 36 the final three candidates neither eliminated nor elected were Progodlegend, Mike Azariah, and Arsia Elkin.  Arsia was the last candidate eliminated, so they will be the first called up should somebody on the CSM drop off or be removed.

The State of the Final Round

Being in 11th place used to give you a pretty good shot at serving on the CSM at some point, as we had a pretty long streak of councils where somebody ended up getting tossed for non-participation or leaking NDA related information.  CSM15 was a bit of an outlier on that front.

One thing I observed from a ballot analysis (linked at the post end) was that Silent Company, the largest alliance in the game, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post, had an official ballot.  But of the 30K players in the alliance, only 133 voted their ballot. (Mike Azariah got those votes as he was the top pick on their list.)

People bitch about sov null sec candidates winning 6-8 seats every time, but there was a potential tide-turning number of voters who didn’t bother voting.  Guess what, you don’t get your act together and vote your ticket, you don’t win.

The eliminations, round by round, were as follows:

  1. Elimination: “TDor Clau” with 30.551773 votes
  2. Elimination: “knockerwrench Alduin” with 51.510715 votes
  3. Elimination: “hurleyalex hurley” with 56.163352 votes
  4. Elimination: “Styxx” with 57.628965 votes
  5. Elimination: “Reicher514” with 62.725040 votes
  6. Elimination: “Xenuria” with 63.810632 votes
  7. Elimination: “Kay-Lynn Tsero” with 67.353259 votes
  8. Elimination: “Micromancer” with 69.549025 votes
  9. Elimination: “Lucrative Business Opportunity” with 99.172650 votes
  10. Elimination: “Xeromus Plague” with 109.192879 votes
  11. Elimination: “Broodin” with 122.813039 votes
  12. Elimination: “Robert Downey Iron” with 156.601009 votes
  13. Elimination: “Gay Pride BOOOOOM” with 191.050778 votes
  14. Elimination: “White 0rchid” with 225.780072 votes
  15. Elimination: “DutchGunner” with 231.144089 votes
  16. Elimination: “Winzentowitsch Madeveda” with 244.139180 votes
  17. Elimination: “Angry Mustache” with 251.063735 votes
  18. Elimination: “Rich Richman” with 285.158034 votes
  19. Elimination: “Baculus Orden” with 306.315076 votes
  20. Elimination: “Mantis Akiga” with 309.669628 votes
  21. Elimination: “Evie Kouvo” with 326.396510 votes
  22. Elimination: “Eluwien” with 352.996941 votes
  23. Elimination: “Shui Jing Jing” with 420.596216 votes
  24. Elimination: “Jim Halescott” with 519.031531 votes
  25. Elimination: “Maldavius” with 600.084464 votes
  26. Elimination: “Jurius Doctor” with 671.064656 votes
  27. Elimination: “Phantomite” with 720.975725 votes
  28. Elimination: “teddy Gbyc” with 750.116022 votes
  29. Elimination: “Dr Spodumain” with 775.232211 votes
  30. Elimination: “RonUSMC” with 850.020410 votes
  31. Elimination: “Rixx Javix” with 972.755342 votes
  32. Elimination: “Stitch Kaneland” with 1048.711892 votes
  33. Elimination: “Seddow” with 1227.656965 votes
  34. Elimination: “Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci” with 1509.087582 votes
  35. Elimination: “Mark Resurrectus” with 1736.691925 votes
  36. Elimination: “Arsia Elkin” with 2241.771743 votes

And so it goes.  As I have repeated ad nauseum, CCP is in the driver’s seat when it comes to the CSM, so it is up to them to pay attention or ignore its advice.  The current relationship with the CSM seems pretty good, but CCP always talks up the CSM, even when it is in the midst of trashing its relationship with it on a whim.  We will just have to see how the next year turns out.

Related:

50 Weeks of World War Bee

We are just two weeks shy of the one year anniversary of the start of the war.  But that doesn’t mean we’re not hitting any “one year ago” events yet, because it was a year ago this past week that The Mittani held an emergency mid-week Fireside to announce that PandFam and Legacy were rounding up as many allies as possible to come and attack us.

Legacy and PanFam denied everything and called Mittens paranoid.  But then logs leaked… logs always leak because three people can keep a secret only if two of them are dead… and Vily made his “The Die is Cast” post, announcing that the non-invasion pact between Legacy and The Imperium would end on July 5, 2020.   And so the start date of the war was made clear to both sides.

The Goon Expeditionary Force, a SIG meant to keep pilots like me who only want to go on campaigns and fleet ops, was pulled back from Cloud Ring where it had been clashing with some low sec entities, to Imperium space as plans were being made to tighten up our perimeter and prepare for the coming onslaught.

Then there is my question of the week, which was “Who is Silent Company alliance?”  I noticed on Dotlan that they lost 3,655 members this past week, something that put them on the front page of the site, and which brought their member count to 31,696, a number still big enough to make them the largest alliance in the game.

I hadn’t actually noticed them before because Dotlan’s alliance view defaults to a list of alliance who hold some null sec sovereignty.  When you view all alliances they are there on top.

Top Ten Alliances by Members

I know that there are tons of alliances in the game, with more than three thousand on the Dotlan list having at least one corporation and player, but I wasn’t aware there was one so big.  Silent Company, if my Google research is accurate, does a lot of things, just not the null sec sov thing.

When you look at sov holding alliance the total is just 134.

Top Ten SovHolding Alliances by Members

My world view in game tends to be focused on the list of sov holding alliances as they tend to be the players I run into in game… and because so many of the alliances on that list have joined in on invading our space.

Delve Front

The Siege of 1DQ remains static.  PAPI has basically given up on attempting to gain a foothold in the constellation at this point, so my map of the siege from May 2nd remains accurate.

O-EIMK Constellation – June 20, 2021

There have been some skirmishes, but PAPI has not been big on commitment.  They’ll form, then we’ll form, and then they’ll find something else to do because they don’t want to commit to the losses needed to break into the constellation.  As such, the campaign stats for the Delve region were way way down this past week.

Delve Campaign – Week 50

Week 49 saw 9.6K ships destroyed for close to half a trillion ISK in losses.  Week 50 is about 3K ships and shy of 200 billion in losses.

Instead PAPI has gone to the trouble of anchoring Fortizars in NPC Delve, placing them off of the NPC stations up there.

Fortizar on grid with the station in PR-8CA

This is suspected to be part of a plan to try and blockade and starve the Imperium out of the O-EIMK constellation by camping the stations in order to intercept jump freighters flying in supplies.  But, if that is the plan, the effort so far has been so low as to give words like “desultory” a bad name.  There were literally no PAPI pilots in a number of the systems when I passed through to take a look.

In order to run this sort interdiction operation you need to have people out and on the station undock with bubbles and tackle ready to go.  And there is an additional issue in play here.

NPC Delve

There are a dozen systems with a station in NPC Delve, all of which are within jump freighter range of 1DQ1-A, which means you need a dozen camps active pretty much around the clock to make this sort of effort effective.  PAPI doesn’t need a thousand people to make this work, but they they need enough people on at all times on each camp to kill a jump freighter and ward off any Imperium response to a camp.  One pilot can kill a jump freighter but cannot hold the undock if a small response force shows up to drive them off.  Anyway, I suspect we will see if PAPI is up to the effort or not soon enough.

Other Theaters

Out in Esoteria Army of Mango Alliance has continued its drive to evict The Bastion and its allies from the region.

Esoteria – June 20, 2021

With just one ihub left in the region The Bastion looks to be on the ropes in the region.

Likewise, things in Feythabolis look grim as The Bastion as they lost all of the ihubs they held there to the Russian Legion of Honor Alliance.

Feythabolis – June 20, 2021

I am not sure where the RLH alliance fits in, but I suspect they are part of the PAPI allied FI.RE coalition, a group of Russian speaking alliances that grouped together a couple years back when the Winter coalition was attacking their space.  Red Alliance still hold part of the region and they are an Imperium allied group.  We will see if things end up in the region with Russians fighting Russians.

Elsewhere things seem fairly static.  The Initiative does something in Etherium Reach now and then, a new group moved into the formerly Legacy held region of Catch, which is now held by Imperium groups along with some non-PAPI alliances, and the rest of New Eden carries on.

My Participation

The week was definitely off to a slow start for me and it was mid-week before I even undocked.  As noted, ops have tended to be quick defense sweeps or hot drops where you have to get in right now in order to participate.  Still, I got lucky and happened to sit down as there was a rage ping going out to get into bombers and get on the blops and take a bridge.  I got in and was able to fire a few salvos at a Severence Hel that had been tackled ratting in Fake Querious.

The Hel is going to… well, you know

That was a decent kill and was a follow on to a Wyvern that had been caught just a bit earlier that day.  Delve (and Querious) are safe though.

I also managed to get in a John Hartley Harpy fleet that zapped some PAPI pilots who made a visit into 3-DMQT, putting me on a few more kill mails.  I have a low key goal of getting on 5,000 kill mails before my 15th anniversary, and looked on track coming into June within 200 kill mails of making it.  I was on 187 in May after all.  Then the war slowed down and I am not sure I’ll get there.  Oh well.

No activity means no losses I suppose, so my loss count for the war remains:

  • 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
  • Jackdaw destroyer – 4
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 3
  • 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

This past week was Federation Day… which makes me think there might be a naming issue for the event… which included a bunch of little events and some specials in the store.  I did the login campaign daily on all my accounts and launched fireworks daily with one high sec alt, but otherwise it didn’t register much for me.

The CSM16 elections wrapped up on Tuesday at 11:00 UTC.  CCP Swift, who promised “teases throughout the week” said that there were more votes than last year… then gave us no more teases.  I submit this as proof that he is now fully integrated with CCP.

This week saw CCP Rise on Pando’s FC Chat Twitch show talking about recent changes and plans.  You can find the whole stream here or you can read the summary over at INN.

Meanwhile, the daily player count continued to falter, with mid-week numbers failing to crack even the 25K mark.  The chart of the last three months over at EVE Offline is trending down.

Not a happy PCU trend

I hope this is just summer and everybody just happy to leave the house, because the week’s high was kind of low, just barely cracking the 26K mark on Sunday, the peak of the week:

  • 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

Related

Still Pandemic Binge Watching Like it was 2020

The CDC dropped the surprise “Masks while vaccinated? LOL no way!” guidance on us about a month back leaving state and local officials scrambling to come up with a coherent plan to transition into what we all hope will be the post-pandemic era.  My state this week then said, “whatever” and masks and the pandemic were ruled over I guess.  But that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped watching way too much TV.

I thought I had read a couple years back that Archer was going to end with season 10.  I certainly had that in my brain somewhere, so dismissed the thought even when Hulu kept putting it up in front of me on login.  Then I went to go watch an old episode and discovered there was a whole season I had missed and that season 12 was coming at the end of this summer.

We left off at the end of season 10 with Archer waking up from his coma, there having been three seasons of coma induced dreams that puts Dallas to shame, so season 11 starts with Archer returning to work to find it running like a well oiled machine.  Competence abounds and nobody is using “phrasing” any more, all seemingly due to Archer not being there to drive everybody crazy.  So the season is essentially Archer returning to form and getting the agency back to its old levels of dysfunction.

The problem is that it feels kind of flat.  A return to form after three outrageous, yet unsatisfying, dream sequence seasons should be a cure but instead seems to remind me why we got the triple season experiment in the first place.  I watched it all, and will no doubt watch season 12 too, based on H. Jon Benjamin delivery of the character… I watched most of Archer while mixing in episodes of Bob’s Burgers, where HJB is also the main voice, which was an oddly satisfying pairing… but it feels like the show isn’t really stretching… though, neither does Bob’s Burgers of late, so maybe you can only ride on delivery for so long.  Or maybe I just miss that “phrasing” is no longer a thing.

We’re not really zombie aficionados, but in looking for something to watch we do end up finding more and more entries in the genre.  Black Summer is the anti-Walking Dead.  To start with, the dead are truly terrifying as they run, full speed, after people all the time.  It also isn’t clear if the whole “kill the brain” tactic works on them, mostly because they don’t shamble slowly and let you hack them with whatever object you have to hand.  They aren’t exactly the ninja-zombies of Army of the Dead, but they will go straight for you.

Also, the storytelling is very much a break from The Walking Dead.  You can go for episodes and learn almost nothing about the people that have been thrown together to face the apocalypse.  The series starts with a retelling of the same day from multiple perspectives… a burning Jaguar became an anchor point for me… and then goes on following several people as they move from place to place just trying to survive.  It cannot maintain tension and action constantly, but it tries to make every moment an experience in a way that The Walking Dead never did.  That said, as a viewer, I do kind of want a “what the hell is going on?” answer at some point.  I don’t need a flashback, backstory episode for every primary and secondary character, but seriously, what is going on?

Atlanta follows Earnest “Earn” Marks, who is from a poorer, African American part of the city, and his struggles with both the system being stacked against black men and his own community’s seeming acceptance of the way things are.  Earn is smart, got good grades, and got into Princeton, but then dropped out and ended up back in Atlanta and a cycle low pay, dead end jobs and trying to make ends meet.

He becomes the manager for his rapper cousin “Paper Boi” and they navigate the Atlanta rap scene where, as with the life in general, Earn is endlessly frustrated with how things are.  He knows they should be better, but cannot change the system or the people around him who also buy into and support the system that also hold them back.  Early on in the series Earn and his cousin are arrested and Earn is punished for being outside the system.  His cousin, having been arrested before, is released almost right away, but Earn has never been arrested so he has to stay over night in a limbo-like waiting room, neither in jail nor free, while he is added to that particular aspect of the system.  Played as comedy at times, and tragically hilarious at times, it is very much social commentary.

As we’re noticing that the zombie genre just keeps going, the same goes for the superhero graphic novel adaptions.  And so it is with Jupiter’s Legacy.  Superhero shows and movies tend to be either origin stories… how many times must I witness the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents… or into the action and central issue, allowing a bit of back story to creep in when needed.  JL tries to have it both ways, with each episode split between the modern day, when the Union of Justice faces problems with a new generation of super heroes coming into the fold… or rejecting it… and 1929, when the events around the stock market crash set a group of people on a journey that ends up with them obtaining super powers and forming the Union of Justice.

The problem is that neither story really grabbed me.  The origin story, since it needs to be told in parallel with the current tale, drags along unnecessarily, waiting for the modern times side of things to get somewhere.  Meanwhile, the current timeline stuff is mostly The Utopian, head of the Union of Justice, being disappointed with kids these days and their not being down with the “no killing, no politics” rules of the union, though even he wonders whether sitting out WWII to catch bank robbers and such was the right call.  Basically, some times a slow burn isn’t a burn at all.  Sometimes it is just slow, so slow that when you get to the big reveal in the final episode of the season you don’t even care.

My wife wanted to watch this, though I was less than enthusiastic. My wife and I watched Friends and Seinfeld pretty regularly when we moved in together, but I didn’t watch either before that, mostly because I didn’t have live TV or cable for a chunk of the mid 90s.  So I am good for the last 6 or so season of Friends, and I’ve never had the urge to go watch it in re-runs.

The special itself tries to find something for everybody, which meant that there were bits I liked… mostly about the history of the show, how casting decisions were made, and the sort of behind the scenes trivia I generally like to read about… and bits that I could have skipped.  The obviously staged and rehearsed opening felt… obviously staged and rehearsed I guess.

But it was less than two hours and it had some heft to it at points.  I didn’t complain while watching it though, as with the series, I have no urge to go back and watch it again either.

The show follows Mare Sheehan, played by Kate Winslet, a police detective in the city of Easttown Pennsylvania.  It is a smallish place and she has lived there her whole life so nearly everybody she runs into who isn’t a friend of colleague is a friend of a friend or somebody’s cousin.  It is run down and the sort of town you get away from if you have any grand aspirations in life.

Mare, in her 40s, divorced, with a daughter at home, a son who killed himself, her mother living with her, and still in the town where she grew up, starts investigating the murder of a young woman.  In a way, the show reminds me a bit of Broadchurch, in that various suspects get thrown in her path and we have to dig through everybody’s story to get to where we need to go.  Fortunately, it does this better than Broadchurch, which felt like it had been jerking me around for seven episodes before suddenly saying, “Hah, the killer was right here the whole time!”  Mare of Easttown keeps you going, “Ah, it must be him/her!” only to find that flimsy theories don’t stand up to the facts, but then never letting go of those suspects because their tales help build to the final outcome.  I enjoyed the whole thing.

The Other Shoe Drops on Facebook Account Requirement for Oculus

We learned last August that Facebook, owners of Oculus since 2014, was going to start requiring all new Oculus users to login using a Facebook account, with a plan to eliminate legacy Oculus accounts by 2023.

This was viewed with suspicion by many who expected that Facebook (motto: Evil is just a question of money, how evil do you want to be?) was planning to collect and abuse data from these accounts.

Happy FarmVille Memories… which apply to Facebook in general for many

And now we have the confirmation.  This past week Facebook Reality Labs (formerly Oculus and I feel like they should put the word “harsh” in before “reality”) posted a blog update announcing that they would in fact be collecting data from your VR usage in order to present ads and make you a focus of targeted marketing.

This, I am sure, surprised exactly nobody.

Your Facebook data will even be popping ads in the Oculus app for you.

The surprising… or perhaps “galling” or “outrageous” is the right word, I am not sure… part of the blog post was where they announced that they were starting to test injecting ads into select VR games based on whatever skeevy data Facebook has collected on you.

On reflection, “surprising” was clearly not the right word because I found the whole thing absolutely unsurprising once I read about it.  It seemed quite on track for Facebook.

I am sure this is exactly what every gamer is looking for, ads based on their every day life, viewing habits, and purchases, showing up in the escapist pursuits.

I mean, I am perhaps not the best one to going on about immersion, it being a delicate line that I can only cross when I am absolutely not thinking about being immersed, a cotton candy sort of mental state that melts away the moment I realize it has happened, but I can guarantee it is never going to happen if I get real estate ads in my game because I liked a Facebook post my wife put up about her latest listing… because spousal support is about all I can manage on their platform these days.

Of course, I don’t actually own an Oculus VR headset… but if I did, I would be disgusted with it I imagine… or myself.  I am sure I’d find something to be mad at.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points from Outland

Bullet points posts are often tidibits of news that I want to mention.  This time around it is mostly just about me and Burning Crusade Classic, with a couple of news items mixed in, just to get them all into a single post.

  • A Druid for Outland

I have somehow managed to get my druid, who was level 36 when the pre-patch hit, all the way to level 58.

Level 58 out in Silithus

I will say again that the leveling path from 36 to 58 has been smoothed out considerably with the 2.5.1 patch.  The dead spots seem to be taken care of with new, or newly visible, quests.  I know the stuff in Theremore is new, but the fact that available quests appear on the mini-map means I probably picked up more quests that I likely missed the fire couple of times through the content.

This now gives me four characters available for Outland.  I suppose that means I should stop screwing around so much and go play in Hellfire Peninsula.  I do wonder if my druid should bother at level 58 or wait until 60 to go through.  There are still plenty of quests for him in Azeroth.

Plenty of quests at Lights Hope Chapel still

On the flip side, there is a lot of hugely improved gear if I go through the portal.  We shall see.

  • Hot Market

I mentioned previously that the pre-patch before Burning Crusade Classic was clearly pulling people back into the game, with my primary evidence being the number of pages of auctions that were coming up in Auctioneer.  That number had sagged down into the mid-to-low 200s towards the end of WoW Classic, but jumped into the 600s with the pre-patch.  And now with the Dark Portal open and Outland at our feet, that number can reach into the mid 700s over the weekend.

There is a lot of economic activity going on, at least on the Bloodsail Buccaneer server, with demand for commodities that aid in leveling up trade skills being particularly in demand.  As such I have managed to make a bit of gold in the game for once.  Not a ton.  I am just not that invested, so to speak, but before the pre-patch I was worrying about scraping together the 350 gold for the Paladin Charger quest, thinking I would need to loot my other characters.  Now, a few weeks later, I have that much gold just on my pally, so I am happy with that.

  • Fast Market

For a bit there after the patch, and even more so after the opening of the Dark Portal, the auction house was starting to drag quite noticeably when it came to searches.  People were complaining and Blizz looked into the issue, applying the following hotfixes:

  • Implemented settings changes intended to lower the time it takes to search the Auction House.
  • Players who list, bid, buy out, or cancel a very large number of auctions may now incur a delay between consecutive actions.

The latter is one of those annoyances that keeps coming up.  I am not sure what advantage is bestowed by listing dozens of the same thing, often a commodity that would sell fine as a stack, as a bunch of singles, aside from maybe trying to obscure your competition by driving them off the first page of results.

Anyway, Blizz says they are monitoring the situation.

  • Falling for Shattrath

I have already fallen to my death in Shattrath trying to run for the elevator out in front of the inn in the Aldor area.  This is one of those “seriously, why did I just do that?” recurring events that I remember from the expansion back in the day.

I’ll step out of the Aldor inn, get on my mount, and as I ride towards the elevator, it will already be at the top so that, just as I get close it starts to drop and I instinctively jump for it.  The descending platform and my forward motion then carries my over my  target and I fall to my death.

I did this often enough back in the day that with my pally I got good at hitting Divine Protection to save myself.  But this time I did it with my hunter who has no such option.  A passing priest ressed me, which saved me the run back at least.

As for “Why Shattrath?” that is where the portals back to the main cities are, which include the auction houses.  Shat isn’t one of my favorite cities in the game, but it is the transit hub for Outland.

  • Arena Season 1

Finally, Blizzard announced the start of Burning Crusade Classic Arena Season 1 for those who were waiting for more PvP options.  Available to teams of 2, 3, or 5 players, rewards include gear, titles, and even a special mount.  Not my thing, but everything doesn’t have to be about me.

Blizz did make a mistake and enabled some season 2 rewards, then had to track down the 81 players who cashed in on that.  The transactions were reversed and the honor refunded.

On the Edge in Hellfire Ramparts

After last week’s run the group spent a bit of time going out and running quests out of Honor Hold in order to gear up a bit.

The place is a bit of a mess

That did, of course, get us some experience as well, and by the time we formed up again for another run this past Sunday, the group looked like this:

  • Ula – level 61 gnome mage
  • Beanpole – level 61 gnome warlock
  • Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 60 human paladin (holy)

Potshot had also been busy with Skronk, the guild alchemist, who was out gathering herbs and creating potions for us, including a fire resist potion for that last boss fight.

We managed to get right into the instance… we ran back enough last time to not get lost… and into the first few mobs.

Starting off strong

We did have a couple of minor mishaps on our way to the first boss, as we mis-timed a patrol and forgot that when you hear the announcement about hounds, you had best be prepared for even more adds.

Whoops

Fergorin also accidentally lit off a consecrate in the midst of some adds, which brought him down as well.  But we successfully made it to the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar.  After clearing all the groups from where he wanders, we followed our previous successful strategy and killed off his helpers first, leaving him vainly calling for healing as the fight went against him.

But no healing came as his healers were dead

After Watchkeeper Gargolmar we cleared the rest of the opening area and went up the ramp in the tower to face our biggest non-boss nemesis, that group of five at the top of the tower.

Those guys again

We made sure the soul stone was up and went at them.  This time they resisted Ula’s polymorph and seemed to deflect all of her frost damage.  We thought we were going to wipe and then we wiped.  But at least we brought three of the five down in the attempt.  Once we revived we gave it to the other two.

Not so tough without all your buddies, are you?

We managed to get through the open area at the top of the tower and to Omor the Unscarred.  Last time around it took us four tries to bring him down and I wasn’t sure if we really learned much about the fight after the first two tries.  But we tried to harness what we knew, spreading out and getting ready to go all in.

And it was a near run thing.  Ula got popped trying to remove Omor’s curse and Skronk fell to that as well.  Beanpole and I held him for a bit before the curse got him as well, but Skronk had a soul stone up again… we had waited until it was ready again before we started the fight… and got in some heals on me and some damage before going down again.  That left me alone with Omor, who was down to the hairy edge of hit points, but so was I.  I had used everything besides lay hands up to that point, so hit that as I got low, which gave me just enough to bring him down.

It is for you

I had just a bit of health left.

Just 21% left in the tank

Unfortunately his last words were prophetic as he had left behind three fiendish hounds that were still on me.  With no mana and everything else on cool down I went down before I could finish them off.

Omor lost and defeated us in the end

So we beat him on the first try AND we wiped.  We had to run back to the instance, but his corpse was still there to be looted when we returned.  That was good, as he had the Tenacious Defender, a nice belt upgrade for me.

That just left us with Vazruden and his dragon mount Nazan.

Vazruden and Nazan waiting for us

This fight we felt we had learned something from.  We had some fire resist potions and had read up that the tank, if careful, can nestle up to Nazan when he is down on the ground, getting under his head, which will cause him to miss with his big fire breath weapon.  So we kicked off the event by killing the guards, then tackled Vazruden, and finally I went in and grabbed Nazan.

And the plan of keeping under his chin seemed to work.  Nazan steps back every so often when you get that close, but I kept pressing up to him with each retreat until I had him up against the edge of the platform where the battle takes place.

Nazan breathing fire over my head

It went well right up until it didn’t.  While I was avoiding his breath attack, he was still hitting me and dropping fire bombs on me, which added up to a lot of damage.  I used my health stone, but didn’t have a health potion up because my fire resist potion was on the same cool down.

I died.

But we were so close and, while Fergorin was clearly next to go, both Ula and Beanpole were still in the fight and if seemed like we would get there.

Nazan must die, he is almost there

But once Fergorin went down Nazan turned on Ula and his breath did her in, which left Beanpole alone to whittle down the last 2% of Nazan’s health.

Beanpole alone

He didn’t make it.  We wiped.  And, furthermore, while we had the soul stone up again, Fergorin couldn’t ress me, way out in the open area, before the event reset and the guards reloaded.  He just got off the spell before being attacked.  I ran past him, hitting myself with Divine Protection, which somehow kept me out of combat, so when Fergoin went down I was at least able to ress the party.

Still, we were feeling good about how close we had been to victory.  It felt within our grasp.

And then we did the fight two more times and came nowhere close.  On the next fight I forgot to take the fire resist potion and got caught in the open between Vazruden and Nazan as I was trying to go grab the dragon’s aggro and took the fire breath weapon full on and died instantly.

The next time I took the fire resist potion and managed to grab Nazan successfully, but on his first hop back he launched his breath weapon at me before I could step forward and I was down again.

Dead again

After that Beanpole had to go as RL was calling, so that was the end of our second attempt at Hellfire Ramparts.  We will have to look into what else we can do to mitigate Nazan next time around.

Diablo II Resurrected is coming September 23

Blizzard announced at E3 this past weekend that Diablo II Resurrected will launch on September 23, 2021.

Just a few months away

I have been a little concerned that the only two new titles… both of which are remakes/remasters… that I am interested in so far this year, Diablo II Resurrected and Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl were both looking to collide somewhere in Q4 when it came to release dates.

We heard at the end of May that Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl had launch date of November 19th.

Now we have the Diablo II Resurrected date, which is almost two months earlier.  That seems like a pretty decent gap.  And, if you pre-order, you can get in a few weeks early with the late beta… so, of course I pre-ordered like an idiot.  They are singing my song here, or promising me I can relive my relative youth, or something.  Just take my money already!  Yes, I know I already own two copies of the old game, give me the remaster!

I am clearly still pretty excited about this title four months down the line since it was announced at BlizzConline.  I would have been happy for old graphics that just scaled up to modern monitor sizes, but to get a full graphical remaster… with the ability to toggle to the old graphics… plus a lot of nice quality of life changes like a shard stash, that is killing it.

There is, of course, a new trailer up that shows some of the new graphics (and a bit of the old as well).

The launch date is also far enough out that it might be time for a break from Burning Crusade Classic.

So mark me down for this come September.

Gallente Federation Day Returns to EVE Online

I suppose it should really be called Federation Week as related events run from today through until downtime on the 22nd.

Gallente Federation Week

But Federation Day celebrates the founding of the Federated Union of Gallente Prime in 23,121 CE, some 238 years ago in the timeline of New Eden.

As has become the norm, the event will feature a five day login reward campaign featuring SKINs, and skill points, and fireworks, and a few other items.

Federation Day Login Rewards

Per the norm, Omega characters get more stuff, though Alpha characters who upgrade during the event can go back and claim items they missed.

In addition, the daily tasks during the event will bring you to Gallente space to do things like launch fireworks at the Federation Navy fleet out on parade.

You can barely see fireworks next to a titan

There are also some new monuments that came in with the update today.

Battle of Iyen-Oursta

In addition there are mining blitz and Abyssal proving ground events related to Federation Day, along with some special SKINs being made available in the New Eden Store.  There are also SKINs being bundled in when you purchase PLEX during the event.

All the details can be found in the dev blog post.