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.

SuperData Sees WoW Rising and Crusader Kings 3 Holding On

SuperData Research published their monthly digital revenue chart for October so it is time to see what is up in video games.  As has become almost standard so far in 2020, their report opens up with another statement about how much video game revenue is up over the previous year.

  • Consumers spent $10.6B on digital games in October 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Consistent with ongoing trends, console spending grew the fastest, with earnings up 18% over 2019. This was especially impressive growth given that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched in October 2019 and many of the biggest titles of the 2020 holiday season were not released until November. Earnings on other platforms rose as well, with mobile up 15% and PC up 10%.

Again, people staying home, or trying to, has led to more consumption on the video game front.

And then there is the chart itself.

SuperData Research Top 10 – October 2020

On the PC end of the chart the usual top four remain in place, swapping spots but otherwise the same crowd as always.  But in fifth position, or the first actually competitive position most months, World of Warcraft shows up.  This is not unexpected as the warm up for the Shadowlands expansion was in play.

Then there is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in sixth and Roblox in seventh spot.

And then we find Crusader Kings III still on the chart for October in spot eight.  It is down from fifth spot last month, but the surprise is that it stayed on the chart at all.  Games that are not online subscription or cash shop based tend to peak quickly and fade, usually just appearing for a single month.  But CK3 breaks the mold again.

That is followed by Fornite and Valorant, while World of Tanks fell off the list again.

On the console column, NBA 2K21 tops the list, followed by FIFA 21.  And down at the bottom of the list is Grand Theft Auto V.  It has been a regular on the list since it began, can it hold on much longer?

And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go is back at the top of the chart.  It passed the 4 billion dollar total revenue mark during the summer and just keeps on going.

Then there is Genshin Impact, which made both the console and mobile charts.  SuperData has a bullet point about it:

  • Genshin Impact from miHoYo was October’s highest-grossing game. The title, which was released on September 28 on mobile, PlayStation 4 and PC, is an unprecedented international success for a game made by a Chinese developer. Genshin Impact features monetization mechanics commonly found in mobile games like collecting characters through gacha (where users pay for the chance to get random in-game items) and limited-time events. However, gameplay inspired by console role-playing games and action-adventure titles attracted players who may have avoided mobile gacha games in the past.

Last months number one, Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, carried on in third position in October.

Perennial list member Candy Crush Saga held on another month, securing seventh position.  And down at the bottom of the list is Honour of Kings, which had a run in first place for much of this year.  Still, don’t cry for its fall, being in the top ten overall still means it is probably raking in the bucks.

Other bullet points from the SuperData report:

  • FIFA 21 sold 1.5M digital units. Compared to the launch month of FIFA 20, launch month digital sales and revenue were both up (1.2M vs. 1.5M for sales). However Electronic Arts had a significantly shorter launch month period in which to sell FIFA 20 since it was released only at the end of September, while FIFA 21 went on sale at the start of October.
  • Watch Dogs: Legion from Ubisoft broke franchise records, selling 1.9M digital units.  Even though the game was only on sale for the final three days in October, its first month sales were significantly higher than Watch Dogs 2, which was released on November 15, 2016 and sold 431K digital units. The latest game likely benefited from several free giveaways of Watch Dogs 2 earlier in 2020, which built up the franchise’s audience.
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from Activision Blizzard sold 402K digital units, a smaller total than recent remakes of titles in the franchise. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy sold 520K digital units in June 2017 (it released on the last day of the month), while Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled sold 552K copies in June 2019. There was likely less pent-up demand for Crash 4 and the title was also released during a more crowded release period than its predecessors. First-month earnings were, however, the highest of modern Crash games since Crash 4 launched at a standard $59.99 price point instead of $39.99, like the recent remakes.
  • Star Wars: Squadrons sold 1.1M digital units in October, putting it ahead of the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II (1.0M) and behind Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2.9M).
  • The Star Wars IP attracted a sizable audience to the title even though it belonged to the niche space combat subgenre. In contrast to Crash 4, Squadrons earnings were lower than those of other modern Star Wars games given its lower $39.99 price.
  • SuperData will now regularly be reporting on the performance of game subscription services, which give users access to a library of premium titles at a fixed monthly price. Publishers and platform holders have invested heavily in Netflix-style subscription services in order to generate recurring revenue. SuperData is currently covering Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now and EA Play.* Combined revenue for these services in October was up 142% year-over-year and subscriber numbers rose 113%. Xbox Game Pass accounted for the majority of growth in both cases.

EverQuest Claws of Veeshan Expansion to Launch on December 8th

Daybreak announced that the upcoming EverQuest expansion, Claws of Veeshan, will launch on Tuesday, December 8th.

Dragons, always dragons

This, the 27th expansion to the 1999 title, is currently available for pre-order from Daybreak and is available in four price levels:

  • Standard Edition – $34.99
  • Collector’s Edition – $89.99
  • Premium Edition – $139.99
  • Friends & Family Edition – $249.99

The question is how much additional fluff do you want with your expansion?  The “Freinds & Family Edition” includes an in-game tradeable token that can be redeemed for a base copy of the expansion.

Interestingly, or oddly, the base package does not include the insta-level heroic character options, though the fact that the boost only gets you to level 85 still in a game where the level cap is now 30 levels beyond that does make one question Daybreak yet again.  When will they fix that?

The expansion, which was announced back in October, includes the following:

  • 6 Expansion Zones – Follow the chilling trail of ice into the lands dominated by the dragons of Velious. Find the source of the mysterious and restless ice and put an end to the dangers that have enveloped the entire continent.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Dragon’s Hoard – A dragon’s hoard for those that have collected so many items, it is nigh impossible to contain. This is an additional space to hold all those items you may need once more but do not need now.

That sounds about right for a Norrath expansion.

Punching Sheep with Marshal Windsor

It was time to return once more to Blackrock Depths and to continue our adventures there.

Blackrock Depths map

Last time we successfully finished the Franclorn Forgewright quest which gave us the Shadowforged Key.  That gave us some options going into this week.  Our group was:

  • Viniki – level 55 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 55 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 55 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 54 gnome mage

We assembled at Thorium Point and ran over to the mountain, down the chains, through the mine, and into the instance.

Into the mountain

With the Shadowforged key, we were able to head off to the left and through the locked door.

New paths available

We decided to make Marshal Windsor’s quest our goal for the run, which meant defeating General Angerforge and Golem Lord Arglemach, who are at points 13 and 14 on the map above.  As to how to get to them… well, it was a good thing Skronk remembered or had done some research, because the map is pretty bad at showing the various elevations in the instance.

We headed through the gate, to the right, and up into a side door that put us behind the Ring of Law.  There we had to get around to a large gear assembly which would deploy a bridge across the Dark Iron Highway and give us access to our targets.

The bridging gear

We managed to clear that area and deploy the bridge.  We then started working our way towards our targets.  We moved pretty quickly and even managed to bypass one group, and successfully avoided bumping into them by accident later, which was what happened to us last time.

And this was kind of key as we would walk past that group a few times.

Our first bit of trouble was a group of four, two fire elementals and two Dark Iron Dwarves, one of which was a healer.  We decided to kill the healer first, but the elementals hit very hard and I went down suddenly on a crit and we ended up wiping.

We released and ran back and finished them off, but things got out of control again with the next group and another wipe happened.

Viniki and Ula down as the wipe progresses

The fire elementals hit hard, but this also did not bode well for the upcoming fights.

General Angerforge was just down the steps from the elementals, so we made sure to clear them all as well as the groups that were off to either side of the general.  We then got ourselves ready to go.

Ready for Angerforge

Angerforge has a group of non-elites with him that are fairly easy to kill.  Then, when he is down to low health, he summons another group.  Our plan was to freeze and burn the initial non-elites, which went well.  We then burned down Angerforge until he called for help.  At that point, as his team ran in, I lit off my AOE taunt, which has a 10 minute cool down, so I use it only at need.  The plan was to get them all on me, do more freeze and burn, and finish off Angerforge.

My taunt worked.  All the mobs ran to me… and beat the crap out of me, killing me.

Viniki down again

This ended up as a wipe, but we managed to bring down General Angerforge before the last of us died.  We released and ran back to the instance and kept going straight back to the scene of the fight.  I had some unlooted mobs disappear after a previous wipe, so wanted to get back just in case.

We were in luck.  His helpers had disappeared, so we were able to loot the first item for Marshal Windsor.  Then it was across the way to the Manufactory and Golem Lord Arglemach.

Into the Manufactory

Golem Lord Arglemach was straight ahead, but we went about and cleared out the whole area before heading to him.  He will call any left for help.  So we proceeded with care, pulling individuals and groups.  They are mostly non-elite, but there were some elites mixed in.  And once that was done we turned to face Arglemach.

Arglemach waits

He has two golem helpers with him.  A quick check of the fight suggested that we kill the golems as quickly as possible, then finish off Arglemach.  Our first run was fast.  I pulled Arglemach and he and the golems came at me, and beat me down with a 1,500 burst of damage.  It was a quick wipe.

Viniki down in seconds

But we did learn a few things.  The first was that Arglemach unleashes some lightning attacks that are nature based.  We all had two nature resist potions on us.  So the next run we took the potions to reduce damage from Arglemach, and set to slay the golems first again.  And we did fairly well, we managed to get both golems down, but didn’t have enough left in the tank to finish the boss.

Helpers down, Arglemach still up

That didn’t further our cause though, as the golems just loaded back again after the fight.  You have to kill Arglemach or you get nothing.  So we looked at the combat log again and decided we needed to kill the golem tossing fire balls at us first.  He was doing the most damage.  So we took out potions again, focused on the fire golem, and then I shot him to start the fight.  And he just stood there launching fire balls while Arglemach and the other one ran at us.  I panicked and ran to the target golem and got out of healing range of Skronk and died quickly.

Barely scratched them this time

The fight happened so fast that Moronae didn’t even get a hit in, so was able to stealth and hide without dying.  He popped his combat ress on Skronk, who in turn was able to ress Ula and I, saving us the run back.

At this point we had blown our nature resist potions.  Skronk still had one extra for me, and Moronae still had his up, since he didn’t die.  So we lined up for our fourth run.  It was starting to feel like we were not going to be able to get past this boss.  But we had another go in us.  We planned to all bring it to the fire ball golem this time, to get him down fast.  Then the second golem, and then Arglemach.  So in we went.

And this time it worked.  We got the first golem down fast, then the second, and had plenty of gas left in the tank for Arglemach.  He went down and we were able to collect the other piece for Marshal Windsor.

Golem Lord Arglemach down at last

That done, we went back out the way we had come and set about clearing the big open area between the detention block and the instance exit in anticipation of having to having to finally escort Marshal Windsor out of the dungeon.

We did that and started down the detention block, clearing as we went.  We got in over our heads at one point when, working on a group of four, Ula mis-targeted and brought the next group down on us as well.  And then a group of dogs patrolling the detention block walked into range and joined the fight.

Things looked bad.  But somehow we managed to pull it off.  Skonk and I used every skill that had a long cool down to keep going, and Moronae died at the end of the fight, but in the end the bad guys were all down.

We survive the brawl in the hall

We got Moronae ressed up and carried on, clearing to Marshal Windsor’s cell.  We even cleared the group just past the cell, just to be sure we didn’t get a proximity pull by mistake.  Skronk opened up the cell door and we went in to talk to him.  We turned in the quest, for which he gave us 90 silver, then immediately wanted to get out of there.  But first he wanted to go get his stuff.

I cannot leave without my stuff!

I always wonder who writes the scripts for escort mobs and thinks that somebody locked in a dungeon’s first thought on seeing rescuers is, “I’m saved, but I cannot leave without my random and likely replaceable stuff.”  Of course, Windsor didn’t even suggest leaving on our first two visits.

And then I remembered where the storage area was.  It was on the other half of the detention block loop.  We had cleared the most direct route to Marshal Windsor, but not the path he was about to take.  To illustrate:

The Detention Block

The blue arrow is the path we cleared as we came in.  The orange arrow is where Marshal Windsor was going to go.  We had not cleared that.  So it was on our bicycles to keep up with Windsor and keep him safe despite himself.

I will say, for a guy in just his shorts… where was he keeping that silver he gave us… he got right into the spirit of battle.

Windsor bringing the pain

Unfortunately, he could be kind of random as to who he would attack.  He had a propensity to start beating on whichever mob Ula managed to sheep during these fights.  He seemed to delight in it, changing to beat on the sheep when he had a mind.

We got a break part way through as he stops at Dughal Stormwing’s cell so we can free him as well.

Dughal gets free

He doesn’t join the fun, just runs off into the instance and disappears.

Once he was free and we rested up a bit, Marshal Windsor went on towards his stuff.  We ended up outside the storeroom with only two more mobs between us and the exit of the instance.  Windsor just stood there for a bit, then suddenly announced he was going into the room.

He’s going in!

Of course, there was a group of mobs in that room and, in our attempt to keep Windsor alive and grab aggro and kill them we managed to wipe.

Dead in the storeroom

Windsor fought on, but died not too long after.  We released and ran back, but our expectations were low.  In Classic, losing an escort mob in an instance generally means resetting the instance and starting over.  And such was the case here.  But at least we would be read for next run.

At that point, we called it and headed out.  Skronk and I both managed to finish the fanny packs quest, so we got to turn that in.  Next time around we’ll finish up Marshal Windsor and then move on to the next item in the instance.  There is still a lot of that map we haven’t seen yet.

The Explosive Velocity Update Lands in EVE Online

Here in the shadow of the Shadowlands launch CCP dropped an update of their own.  The Explosive Velocity update takes aim at torpedoes and a few neglected hulls.

Is this the work of Team Talos?

Torpedoes will see the following changes that will make them more effective.

  • All XL Torpedoes:
    • Explosion Velocity increased by 20%
    • Missile Velocity increased by 20%
    • Damage increased by 10%
  • All Torpedoes:
    • Explosion Radius reduced by 10%
    • Explosion Velocity increased by 10%
    • Missile Velocity increased by 20%
    • Maximum Flight Time increased by 20%
  • Torpedo Launcher:
    • CPU usage and Powergrid usage reduced by 7%

That will make ships that can use torpedoes a little more effective and give them a little more power grid to play with when launchers are mounted.

One set of torpedo using hulls did get a bit of a nerf.  Stealth bombers were already pretty powerful out in the wild and remain quite popular, so they took a hit to keep them from being too OP.

  • Bonus to Torpedo Maximum Velocity lowered from 20% to 15% per level
  • Racial Frigate Bonus to Explosion Velocity / Explosion Radius was removed

That offsets some of the torpedo buffs, but still leaves them better post-patch.

Two dreadnoughts also got changes today to help them be more competitive.

  • Phoenix:
    • CPU increased from 965 to 990
    • Power Grid increased from 500000 to 550000
  • Moros:
    • Low slots increased from 7 to 8
    • Mid slots decreased from 5 to 4

The Phoenix, the platform for XL torpedoes, also benefits from the above changes, which might help break it out of its very specialized applications.  We shall see if the slot changes helps the currently unloved Moros.

Then there is the Griffin Navy Issue, which is neither a dread nor a torpedo platform.  It just needed some help in its role as a short range ECM drone boat it seems, as CCP made the following changes:

  • Caldari Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
    • 10% bonus to ECM Drone jam duration
    • 20% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret damage
  • Misc. Bonus:
    • 85% penalty to drone damage
    • 50% penalty to drone hitpoints and drone control range
  • Attribute changes:
    • Drone Bandwidth increased from 5 to 25
    • Drone Capacity increased from 5 to 35

It got a bigger drone bay and the ability to launch more drones, but that 85% nerf to drone damage clearly means CCP doesn’t want people running it with combat drones.  ECM only please.  We’ll see if anybody ends up using the hull now.

And, finally, today’s patch slips in what I will call the “YZ9-F6 boson fix.”  Back in October the Imperium set a trap to slaughter PAPI caps and supers, and executed it correctly… only to have CCP’s code fail to deliver the damage it should have.  CCP acknowledged the issue, though there was little they could do after the fact.  But this line in the patch notes seems to indicate they have tried to remedy the issue for future fights.

Improved the stability of damage-over-time superweapons to make them more reliable at applying their full damage under heavy server loads.

Of course, somebody will have to trust CCP enough to try it before we’ll know if the fix was effective.  Who is going to gamble some titans on that?

Anyway, the patch notes are available and the update has been deployed.

A Smooth Slide into Shadowlands

I expressed some concern about the launch of the Shadowlands expansion in my post on Sunday, wondering if the server problems I had been seeing might impact the new experience.

But when it came down to it, at least on the Eldre’Thalas server, things seemed to go pretty smoothly.  (Though there were problems elsewhere I hear.)

I had read that the starting hook for the expansion hook would be out in front of the fountain before Stormwind Keep, so set myself up there early in the day.

The fountain, with some people beginning to gather

A little before 3pm local time, the hour of the launch for me, I logged in to gather with the other early birds to get right into things.  Ula had some free time as well, so we grouped up and waited around the fountain, which by that point was quite crowded.

The early crowd is ready

Moments after 3pm hit there was an announcement in the area by Highlord Darion Mograine.

Hear ye!

And then a death gate opened up before the fountain and people started piling in.

If all your friends jumped into a death gate, would you do it too?

It was through there to Icecrown and Bolvar Fordragon who had a few feats of strength for people to go through before he sent them off into the Maw to go find the people scooped up by Sylvanas in the pre-invasion.

So why am I dragging your little bits around the ceremony again?

And then it was into the Maw, the so-called crucible of the damned.

Welcome to The Maw

And it was a grim, dark hellscape with some of the tormented to fight and some of the regulars to find.  You end up with Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall to start with and end up on an exciting run through the place.  You find Anduin Wrynn and have to work to free him, and then Warchief Baine Bloodhoof.  The place is a torment and everybody wants to get out, and has been struggling to do so since they were taken.

Together you work your way to what my be a way out of the place, a portal that seems to respond only to your presence.  So they cover you while you escape.

Jaina, Baine, Anduin, and Thrall while you fiddle with the thing

And then, hey presto, you’re teleported to Orbios and your first achievement.

I fought the Maw and the Maw won…

There you meet the locals, talk about what is going on, get a tour of the place, and generally take your time, heedless of the fact that your recent pals are still being tormented.  But they have a way of doing things.  There is apparently enormous red tape in the after life.

From there you get sent off to Bastion to ingratiate yourself with the locals and run through their bright and shiny lands, the polar opposite of the Maw when it comes to style, and help them deal with their personal issues.

Seriously, Jaina, Thrall, Baine, and Anduin got themselves recaptured covering your escape, and were clearly unhappy about it.

Anduin is not at all happy

And now you’re farting around with really some of the most annoyingly chirpy mobs in the game who all sound like they’re in a cult if you start paying close attention to what they’re saying.  It is like being in the 70s.

Still, when in Rome… so you go along with the initiation, fight your personal demons manifested, relive past events in brief, and haul around their anima, the precious resource that drives things around there.

At first I thought they said “anime”

You get some armor, spar with some initiates, dust, tidy up, and attend some more lectures on the whole thing.

Ula and Vikund at another seminar

Doing all the fetch and carry and introspection gets you a level pretty quickly.  I was level 52 before the evening was out, and well on my way to 53.  The first person made it to 60, the new level cap, in just three hours.

But I gather that the level grind is not the big deal in Shadowlands.  Once you get to the level cap you have to pick a covenant and start earning your way into that as an alternate advancement method.  Something beyond just a rep grind so far as I have seen, though I haven’t looked too closely yet.

You get some new gear naturally, though I was surprised that it took a while for the first pieces to show up.  They were not in a hurry to replace everything you had in the first half dozen quests.  And some of it wasn’t good enough to replace what I had.  While I didn’t work very hard on the Heart of Azeroth in Battle for Azeroth, the first neck slot quest reward wasn’t cutting it as a replacement.

Heart of Azeroth wins today, even if it is cut off from its life force

Likewise, the big sword I got from Nathanos Blightcaller was better than the first weapons that came my way as drops or rewards.

My blade remains viable

And while the server seemed solid and I did not see any queues later in the evening when I logged back in, things were still a bit off.  I tried to group up with Ula again later on and we got stuck in different phases even though we were on the same quest.  We tried the dreaded “party sync” option, and while it did indeed get us onto the same quest again, we remained in different phases.

And perhaps some of the quests are meant to be solo, but it would be nice to have some indication of that.  Later, when we tried to add Skronk to the group, we had similar issues.  He couldn’t join the group at first, then he was in a different phase, and even after the part sync put us onto his quests, we still couldn’t all get into the same phase and visible to each other.

And that was on top of the usual factional annoyances.  This is one of the expansions where the Alliance and the Horde have identical experiences, so we’re all out there mixed together in Bastion.  But if a fellow Alliance member tags a mob, I can still join in and get credit, but if somebody from the Horde tags it, it is now gray to me and gets me no credit.  If we’re essentially fighting on the same side this round, maybe adjust that?  I don’t know.

But the advancement is going quickly enough that hopefully Bastion will be in the rear view mirror before too long.  It the sort of environment that brings up thoughts like, “I’m not saying Sylvanas is right, but looking at this place, I am not saying she is completely wrong either.”  Hell, one event involves a bunch of the locals sick of the routine and rising up against the status quo.  I had to go help put that down despite my sympathies.

Vikund ready to enforce conformity

But it is just a zone, and some zones you like and others you don’t, though the narrative in it feels like an extended intro that I kind of want to wrap up but never quite gets there.  Will I want to go through this with alts?

I will admit that the place looks pretty good.  A lot of work went into things.  I just have to get through Bastion and get back to rescuing people from the Maw, right?

Other first night posts:

 

Twenty Weeks of World War Bee

The plan was always we were going to move into Delve and Period Basis at some point.

-Vily, TEST Alliance SOTA

This past week on the CCP front, the company released the Monthly Economic Report for October which showed the extent of the destruction that occurred in Delve over the course of the five consecutive big fights early last month.

NPC Delve stands out on the map

Of the 45 trillion ISK destroyed that CCP recorded, 10.89 trillion ISK of that happened in Delve.  That is 24% of the destruction in the game, most of which occurred over a one week period.

The MER also showed how mineral prices have spiked to an all time high due to CCP’s starvation plan.

Oct 2020 – Economic Indices – Look at that mineral price spike at the end

CCP nerfing mining hard last month and nerfing ratting this month will have some impact, but with the World of Warcraft Shadowlands expansion landing later today, if CCP sees a dip in players it will likely be the call of Azeroth that did it.

Then there were two alliance announcements from the invaders, one from TEST and one from Pandemic Horde, which paint different pictures of their respective war goals.

Vily got up in front of TEST and trotted out the same vilification message that Goons are dumb and bad and their leaders needs to be driven from the game and the line members must repent of their bad choices.  Also, he wants to sit on our face, which I guess means he’s trying neg us or something?  Look, he said it, not me.  I just think of that as an incentive to keep fighting for as long as possible.

Also, as I pointed out in the quote at the top, TEST plans to come live in Delve and Period Basis which, again, is awkward given we’re still there.

TEST holdings in Orange

They do have all of Period Basis now, so I suppose they can start there.

Currently TEST lives primarily in Esoteria, Paragon Soul, and part of Feythabolis.

Current TEST home areas in Orange – Also, orange poop emoji?

Those areas will be up for grabs if they are really all in on Delve and not just making an excuse for their backfield home systems being attacked.  But the plans about avoiding our Keepstars and just smoking us out over time do not seem to have changed.

Then Gobbins posted an update for PanFam in their Discord on Saturday, after the Keepstar was anchored in T5ZI-S, announcing that “The Great Siege of 1DQ” had begun.  Also, they’re going to invade Fountain again, but this time from the south.  But primarily they want to burn “Rome” (1DQ), though they primarily interested in the faction Fortizars there, which were part of the treaty with GotG back in 2018, not the Keepstars.  They also want to blow up anything not secure behind the Helms Deep citadel in E3OI-U, after which they might be done.

Delve Front

In Delve there was much of the same going on as before.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, while ihubs continued to change hands, PAPI pushed hard to get the ihub T5ZI-S down, which opened the way for them to drop a Keepstar there.

PAPI Keepstar in T5ZI-S

The Imperium opted not to engage in another bloodbath to kill a Keepstar the way we did in early October, there being another one in the region already.  Without an opposition it went online successfully and put their new staging just one gate from 1DQ1-A.

Delve – Nov. 22, 2020 – Now with more annotations

What that they are… closer to us.  Maybe that means they will start attacking 1DQ1-A or that fights will be more likely.  The idea being floated that it cuts us off from Fountain though, I am not sure what that buys anybody.  But the war will get more real… or it won’t.

Other Theaters

Fountain.  I guess, given the above statements, PandaFam is invading there.  Reliving past glory?  Given that The Initiative retook a bunch of the ihubs and has since moved to join the Imperium foothold in Esoteria, there isn’t a lot stopping them.  Some theoretical capital ships are “trapped” there in Gobbins’ vision of things, but I’ve heard tales of trapped capitals before.  For a long time the same people were telling us the Imperium super and titan fleet was trapped in 93PI-4.  And then suddenly it wasn’t.

Querious remains an ongoing low intensity war over ihubs.  The invaders finally broke into “fake” Querious and took some of those ihubs after weeks of trying.  Now they have to hold them.

Querious – Nov. 22, 2020

And down in Esoteria the Imperium campaign has carried on.  The Bastion, Ferrata Victrix, and The Initiative have held on to their gains and even added another ihub to their record.

NW Esoteria – Nov. 22, 2020

If Vily’s SOTA speech is true, that group over there should be able to gain more ground if TEST is really moving to Delve.

My Participation

I went on a number of ops over the past week, but few ended up in a fight.  If the enemy shows up with double or more our numbers, we don’t feed them an easy victory.  The best skirmish was yesterday when a TEST Ragnarok warped off on its own and got dropped and killed by a dread bomb.  That drew a big response.

Behold their titan rage form

I bridged in with a Cerb fleet for support and, while too late for the titan kill, we managed to pick off a few hostiles, including an enemy FC, before heading home.  Screwing around in Delve just two jumps from our capital… well, there is a saying for that.

In the end, no losses for me, so my total remains as follows:

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

Other Items

The EVE NT Alliance Tournament wrapped up on Sunday, with the final match up being Templis CALSF versus Warlords of the Deep.  That ended up with Templis CALSF winning the final best of five matches with three straight victories.  They lost no matches and came out on top.

And then there was the weekly peak concurrent user count, which again happened on Saturday rather than Sunday, likely due to the Keepstar in T5ZI-S anchoring right at prime time, which had about 6,000 of us sitting around waiting for the other side to jump into us.  No fight occurred, but lots of us logged on.

  • 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)

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Shadowlands and the Calm Before the Storm

The expansion lands tomorrow.  Here on the west coast of the US it will arrive at 3pm local time as part of the unified world wide launch.

The world-wide launch plan

So now it is just down to the waiting.  Certainly any planning I had to do is long since done.  While I have increased my characters at level cap count considerably… I had three after the level squish and have a dozen available today… I was always going in first with the usual suspect, Vikund my paladin.  He is my “do all the things” character.

Otherwise I have not paid close enough attention to Shadowlands and the mechanics of the expansion to have anything like a course charted.  It will be a surprise to me.

I do wonder if we will be in for a rocky launch though… rockier than usual.

All the normal stuff will happen, queues and disconnects and lots of crowding.  But the potential for more difficulties seems to be out there as well.

Blizzard seems to be working on changing and tuning the expansion, which was delayed by a month, right up until the last minute.  That means there won’t be much testing done on the final state things.  We’ll be testing live and in person instead.

If the pre-expansion updates are a guide, there is something to worry about on that front.  I follow WoWHead and Icy Veins on Twitter and their accounts have had regular posts about how Blizzard has broken quests and classes and mob drops and even cosmetic looks with the 9.0.x patches so far.

Meanwhile, I have noticed some issues cropping up with server performance.  Simple things, like turning in a quest, seem to get gummed up now and then as you sit and wait for things to catch up.  And I have had a series of what I call “silent disconnects” over the last week or so, where the client keeps running, but clearly isn’t connected to the server, so stops drawing any new mobs.  You get to just fly through an empty world of just the terrain stored locally on your machine… and the client doesn’t seem to ever get the message that it should throw an error.

Of course, before that I was getting lots of disconnects with errors, so perhaps Blizz cranked up the time out on those in the hope they would fix themselves.  And maybe that works some of the time.  I haven’t seen any active disconnect messages.  But when it doesn’t work, you’re left stuck in an empty world.  You cannot even exit the client from the menu.  That apparently needs some confirmation from the server, which it never gets.  I have to bring up the Task Manager and kill the process.

So, to sum up, we’re going to have one of the busiest days possible for the game when the game seems in something of a shaky state.  This could end up being a considerable challenge to the Blizzard crew.  It is a good thing they are launching on a Monday.  They have all week to spend on it before the weekenders show up.

At least WoW Classic will still be available.  And the addon apocalypse has been temporarily averted.

You may have heard that Amazon, which owns Twitch, which in turn owned and integrated the Curse Forge addon service into its client, sold Curse Forge to a company called Overwolf which, so far as I can tell from their web site, only has the Curse Forge stuff as a business model.  The transition from Twitch to Overwolf was slated to take place next week, right in the middle of the expansion launch and was expected to keep addon devs from being able to update their code.

Nothing says you care about gamers like being completely oblivious to things like that.  Not a good opening move for Overwolf.  Yes, they do support other games besides WoW, but I am going to bet that WoW is a pretty big deal to them.  Forcing all of those WoW players who use Curse Forge to look elsewhere during launch week seems like a possibly huge self-inflicted wound, given they’re business model is based on ad revenue.

Anyway, somebody pointed this out to them and they have delayed the transition for a week.  Still not excellent timing, but marginally better that the day of the launch.

We head into the Shadowlands tomorrow.  I just hope that doesn’t turn out to be a metaphor.

PAPI Keepstar Anchors in T5ZI-S

There was potential for a big fight today as the Keepstar that PAPI dropped in T5ZI-S yesterday was set to anchor a little after 17:00 UTC.  Both sides formed up fleets, with the count in PAPI’s staging going past the 4K mark while local for the Imperium was just beyond 2K pilots.

With those numbers the Imperium opted to defend the 1DQ1-A side of the gate with T5ZI-S in case PAPI decided to use their form up to start attacking there.  The gate was bubbled up and fleets and fighters were deployed around the gate.  I was in a Rokh fleet ready to repel any incursion into the system.

On our side of the gate

However, PAPI took their win in getting their Keepstar in place and stood down after that.

PAPI Keepstar in T5ZI-S

Watching their Keepstar after it anchored, they appear to be involved in yet another move op to marshal their forces.

With PAPI able to stage one gate from the Imperium’s capital, the 1DQ1-A system is now on the front line of the war.  While the invaders did not come today, they will no doubt soon begin their assault on the heart of the Imperium’s power.

PAPI Drops a Keepstar in T5ZI-S

Pings went out earlier today for Imperium forces to log on as the invaders were piling up a large number of ships in the T5ZI-S system in Delve, which is just one gate away from the Imperium’s main staging and capital system, 1DQ1-A.

Over the course of the week PAPI had been pushing hard to retake and hold the SPNZ-Z constellation which includes T5ZI-S.

T5ZI-S and 1DQ1-A on the map

On the Imperium side the expectation seemed to be that PAPI was going to take its first run at reinforcing the 1DQ1-A ihub, a necessary step before any serious attack on structures in the system can begin.  The Imperium put battleships and assault frigates on the T5ZI-S gate in 1DQ1-A and bubbled up the gate to slow any attackers.  Capital ships were jumped on to the nearby Keepstar and supercarriers put their fighters on the gate.

Keepstars and Fortizars in 1DQ near the gate

Then word came over coms that PAPI had brought in a Providence jump freighter and deployed a Keepstar in the system, on grid with the 1DQ1-A in T5ZI-S.  PAPI had the gate bubbled on their side and had brought in more than 800 heavy assault cruisers with capital ship support to cover the initial deployment of the Keepstar.

Neither side opted to jump forces into the other and once the initial deployment sequence finished and the 24 hour clock start for the primary deployment, both sides stood down.

The Keepstar now deploying in T5ZI

Now things are lined up for another big fight tomorrow, with the Keepstar coming out to anchor at a little after 17:00 UTC.  Both sides will be planning and gearing up for that.  It will be a weekend fight, so there will be lots of pilots available to get into and fight that develops.  We will have to see if PAPI decides to try and cheese another Keepstar even by using the bubble wrap tactic they went with in YZ9-F6 last month, or if they have something new to try.

And then there is the Imperium.  Do they have a counter if it turns out to be another bubble wrap drop and what other fresh tactics do they have up their sleeve.  We will find out tomorrow.

The October MER Shows Destruction in Delve and Mineral Prices at an All Time High

CCP got the Monthly Economic Report for October out yesterday, which I was looking forward to because October saw a lot of action I figured might impact the numbers.

EVE Online nerds harder

I am going to start with the big numbers, leading with destruction.

September saw 33.6 trillion in destruction.  That number got bumped to 45 trillion ISK, with Delve coming out way in front of the pack.

  1. Delve – 10.89 trillion (Imperium)
  2. Lonetrek – 2.24 trillion (High Sec)
  3. The Citadel – 2.06 trillion (High Sec)
  4. The Forge – 2.05 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.51 trillion (High Sec)
  6. Querious – 1.34 trillion (Imperium)
  7. Pochven – 1.18 trillion (Triglavian)
  8. Oasa – 1.12 trillion (PandaFam)
  9. Metropolis – 1.12 trillion (High Sec)
  10. Domain – 920 billion (High Sec)

Last months number one, Querious saw 2.71 trillion in destruction as World War Bee played out in the region.  While there were some big clashes, they were nothing compared to the battles in NPC Delve in early October.

NPC Delve stands out on the map

My own posts about those battles:

That series of titanic clashes ended when the invaders bubble wrapped their fifth Keepstar drop, but by then many trillions of ISK had been blown up.  There was a bit of relief on both sides with that as those fights took a toll in both ISK and personal fortitude.

Besides the spike in Delve, much of the chart looks about on par for normal.  High sec around trade hubs tends to see lots of destruction.  Of interest is the new region of Pochven, which came in with the October update.  I guess the Triglavians were busy cleaning house.

And then there is Oasa, the crab capital of New Eden now, where some players rat and mine 23.5 hours a day.  I admire their almost robotic stamina, but somebody has been hunting them it seems.  There isn’t anything else going on in that space.

The other big number comes on the mining front where the indices chart shows that mineral prices have hit an all time high.

Oct 2020 – Economic Indices – Long Term

Mineral prices are now higher than even the post dronelands fix when minerals were removed from drone NPCs.  So miners must be raking in the loot, right?  Well… September saw a total of 27.3 trillion ISK worth of ore mined in New Eden.  October saw that rise slightly, to 28.68 trillion ISK.  The top ten regions were:

  1. The Forge – 1.6 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Domain – 1.58 trillion (High Sec)
  3. Metropolis – 1.5 trillion (High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 1.45 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Oasa – 1.16 trillion (PandaFam)
  6. Lonetrek – 1.14 trillion (High Sec)
  7. The Citadel – 1.01 trillion (High Sec)
  8. Tash-Murkon – 978 billion (High Sec)
  9. Everyshore – 831 billion (High Sec)
  10. Derelik – 793 billion (High Sec)

Why no overall boost or spike in region totals?  Because the same October update that brought the Pochven region also landed a severe blow with the nerf bat on mineral yields for ore, stripping minerals from different sectors of space.  If the prices went up and the totals stayed about the same, that means the yield must have been way off.  The mineral starvation diet continues in New Eden.

Trade values were also up a bit, moving from 600 trillion ISK in September to 658 trillion ISK in October with the top regions being:

  1. The Forge – 456 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 57.46 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Delve – 24.29 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Sinq Laison – 21.67 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Lonetrek – 15.48 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Metropolis – 10.21 trillion (Hek)
  7. Heimatar – 9.64 trillion (Rens)
  8. Essence – 4.91 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. The Citadel – 4.53 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  10. Oasa – 4.3 trillion (PandaFam)

The Forge, home to Jita and the Tranquility Trading Tower in Perimeter, remain far and away the top spot for trade.  Jita, Amarr, and Delve all saw increases in trade, while other regions… and it is the same set of regions in the top ten for both months… were stable or saw slight declines.

Delve, of course, represents the Imperium supplying the war effort.  And Amarr, its short route to Jita now cut by Triglavian space, is rising rather than falling now standing on its own.  We shall see if that trend continues.

Production also reflects the war effort when it comes to the war, with 122.78 trillion ISK in production taking place in October, up from 114.5 trillion ISK the month before.

  1. The Forge – 21.55 trillion (High Sec)
  2. Delve – 17.31 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Lonetrek – 6.86 trillion (High Sec)
  4. The Citadel – 6.58 trillion (High Sec)
  5. Oasa – 5 trillion (PandaFam)
  6. Domain – 4.95 trillion (High Sec)
  7. Sinq Laison – 4.88 trillion (High Sec)
  8. Esoteria – 3.84 trillion (Legacy)
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 3.60 trillion (PandaFam)
  10. Malpais – 3.34 trillion (PandaFam)

The trio of The Forge, The Citadel, and Lonetrek remain the industrial core of the game, feeding the Jita markets, but out in Delve the Imperium was busy building replacements for the many ships expended in NPC Delve.  PandaFam is also making their way in producing out in their space.  Legacy also made the cut in Esoteria, though there is a minor invasion going on in their industrial heartland, with The Initiative joining The Bastion and Ferrata Victrix there.

And, finally, there is the big ISK faucet, NPC bounties.  October will be a benchmark month as CCP set about nerfing this with the November update.

October saw 55.9 trillion ISK in NPC bounties collected, up a bit from the 52.1 trillion ISK taken in the month before.

Oct 2020 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

The top regions were:

  1. Oasa – 6.23 trillion (PandaFam)
  2. Branch – 4.24 trillion (PandaFam)
  3. Cobalt Edge – 3.6 trillion (PandaFam)
  4. Perrigen Falls – 2.88 trillion (PandaFam)
  5. Vale of the Silent – 2.52 trillion (mixed small groups)
  6. The Kalevala Expanse – 2.25 trillion (PandaFam)
  7. Insmother – 2.07 trillion (Legacy)
  8. Detorid – 1.97 trillion (Legacy)
  9. Malpais – 1.83 trillion (PandaFam)
  10. Tenal – 1.76 trillion (PandaFam)
  11. Delve – 1.73 trillion (Imperium)

As you can see, the attackers in World War Bee are enjoying a good deal of freedom to rat and mine at home.  I tacked Delve on there in 11th place to show that it was still active even with the war having come to the region at last.  Esoteria, which was in the top ten last month, dropped down to 18th place.  I am going to guess that the minor invasion which I mentioned above might be suppressing a bit of ratting.

So it goes.

We will see in the November MER if the nerfs CCP brought have an impact on the NPC bounty numbers.  When we were out in Oasa Fraternity seemed a bit testy about people stealing from their ESS banks.

If you are interested in the charts and the raw data, CCP makes all of that available as a download with the MER dev blog.

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