Category Archives: CCP

Protests in Jita over New Dawn Changes

Friday’s dev blog outlining CCP’s plan for resource harvesting, the foundation of the “new age of prosperity” they are touting, the gateway to the end of their economic starvation policy of the last 18 months, has ended up getting a thumbs down from a vocal group of commentators.

One wag suggested that the message from CCP in the New Dawn graphic was that you should just fly your mining ships into the sun.

A message received

When picked apart the update seemed to having something for most everybody to hate.  There certainly seems to be some blunders when listening to the complaints.

The low yield, high waste mining crystals I mentioned on Friday as a possible error are apparently a thing because CCP still harbors the delusion that we’re going to go offensively mine out out enemy’s belts, despite the fact that in doing so we would be improving their ADMs thus making their space more defensible.  No, if we’re going to do anything, it will be blowing up their miners because mining is boring and kill mails are awesome.

And the nerfing of Rorquals on multiple fronts then offering a 2 for 1 deal on skill extractors seems too cutesy to be a coincidence, so some are taking it as a big middle finger from CCP, a pre-emptive response to any complaints.

There are always people who aren’t directly and immediately affected by any particular update or who will simply support CCP out of the misapprehension that a corporation can be their friend, so there is a lot of anger at people who are upset about the changes.  But resource gathering is the foundation of the New Eden economy and it feels like CCP has decided to make a dull game play mechanic more annoying to manage.  It is certainly difficult to see how all of this totals up to a “new age of prosperity.”  This feels more like the economic starvation plan being written in stone, with waste and loss balancing out any gains and everything simply being more complicated.  It is as though CCP does not want scarcity to end, and that will ripple up the supply chain.

As often happens when even a few people get mad about some change that CCP has made or proposed, there was a call to go shoot the monument in Jita.  Since this appeared to work during the Incarna crisis ten and a half years back… though I suspect people unsubscribing was the real pressure on CCP… shooting the monument has been the go to option for any slight.

And I will be the first to say that it is a completely ineffective method of protest 99.9% of the time… and probably 100% of the time if people are not unsubscribing as well.  Every time I see somebody calling for a protest in r/eve, call for people to shoot the monument since Incarna, it has added up to a whole lot of nothing.  I check in on the occasional protest that gets some support on Reddit, and if they get more than 100 ships in on the protest it is miracle.

Yesterday’s protest got more backing than the typical Reddit rage, in large part because the the Imperium endorsed the protest and The Mittani was on Jabber pinging out a request for people to join in and shoot the monument at 17:00 UTC.

Between that and calls on Reddit, the numbers in Jita local swelled.  There are generally about 2,000 people in Jita local most days, maybe a bit more on the weekend, but I haven’t seen it past 2,500 in ages.  At 17:00 UTC when I checked in there were already people at the monument and local was past 4,000.

Now, one of the sly things that CCP did when they redid the Jita 4-4 market hub station was stick the monument out back behind the new structure, so it is not visible from the undock where people are coming and going.  They basically hid the traditional point of protest in New Eden, so if you can only get a hundred people out there shooting the monument, nobody is even likely to even see you.

The monument location in Jita

However, when you can get thousands of people to your protest time dilation starts to kick in as the sheer numbers shooting and talking in local begin to have an effect above and beyond the typical protest of since Incarna. Everything in Jita was moving at 10% speed for a stretch of hours on Satuday.  People were reporting problems being able to gate into Jita, with freighters stuck on the gate in Perimeter.

Shooting the monument

Local was giving different readings for different people.  I saw over 6,200 people in Jita reliably at times, but others were reporting numbers higher than that, including numbers past the 6,557 mark that set a Guinness World Record at the battle of FWST-8.

One of my readings during the day

If accurate, that means that almost a quarter of the pilots in game at some points on Saturday were in Jita.  (Even with the protest the PCU for Saturday fell short of 30K, hitting 29,908 at 18:40 UTC.)

Now, of course, all of this ends up with the question as to whether even such a large protest can make a difference.  I suspect that CCP will do what they generally do and push ahead with their plans, dismissing all dissent, if they even bother do acknowledge it.  I suspect they won’t even do that. As I said about the WoW Community Council, a few agreeing voices will drown out a multitude of complaints in the minds of most people.

The view from CCP has always been that nobody tells CCP what to do… except maybe Pearl Abyss, and PA seems hot on NFTs, which probably explains why CCP doubled down NFTs for the second weekend of the Alliance Tournament, even pushing players to link their accounts to some blockchain abomination. So add that to the list of things to be angry about.

But where there are protests there are also actions behind the scenes.  Maybe enough people will unsubscribe for CCP to take notice.  Their economic starvation plan already helped diminish the PCU and made both sides in the biggest war in EVE Online history reluctant to engage in the very battles, the large and costly capital ship clashes, that make headlines and set world records.  The changes they are proposing seem unlikely to bring back those big battles they love to promote.

Prosperity denied.

Meanwhile, the the plan is to carry on with the protest in Jita today whether or not CCP is listening.


CCPs only response to any of this was to say that Jita is capped at 4,000 players and that everybody’s local chat counter was wrong… which tells you all you need to know about how their chat server implementation is going a few years since it was put in place.

CCP says 4K is the limit

I think the 4K cap actually works in favor of the protest.  If the protesters stuff the system and keep people from getting in, that has more impact than just shooting the hidden monument.


The EVE Online New Dawn Quadrant to Start With Mining Changes

Earlier this week we got an announcement for an announcement when CCP promised us a dev blog today.  And CCP has lived up to that promise, hitting us with the first big dev blog for the quadrant.

Prosperity Promised

The title of the dev blog is From Extraction to Production and it covers a lot of ground on the resource gathering, processing, and production front.

On the prosperity front, the post promises a doubling of many resources found in New Eden

  • All ore quantities are doubled in asteroid belts
  • All ore quantities are doubled in all resource anomalies
  • All ice quantities are doubled (in addition to the previous 200% increase)
  • All Omber, Kernite, and Crokite quantities are doubled in sov anomalies, whilst Mercoxit quantities are increased by 20% (in addition to the previous 200% increase)
  • All Mykocerocin quantities are doubled, whilst spawn chance of extra sites that was added earlier this year has been reduced
  • All Cytocerocin quantities are doubled
  • All Fullerine quantities are doubled
  • Extraction rate is doubled from moons
    • Moon Extractions will take the same time as before, but will yield 2x the quantity of ore when fractured. Extractions which are in progress (and not yet fractured) at deployment time will receive the 2x yield when they fracture

But you will need all those extra rocks to chew on because CCP is also introducing the concept of “waste” in the mining equation.  As CCP puts it, it is “a chance per cycle for resources to be turned into space dust.”  You’ll still get a full yield in your ore hold, but some of what was left to be harvested will disappear.

The amount of waste will be dictated by the type of mining module you are using to harvest, with tech I modules being considerably less efficient than tech II or faction modules.

There is also a big change coming to mining skills and crystals.  Reprocessing skills will be condensed down from 19 varieties covering each individual ore type to 6 to cover the new categories of ore that are being introduced.  They are:

  • Common
  • Uncommon
  • Rare
  • Superior
  • Abyssal
  • Mercoxit

Mining crystals will be reworked to cover just those six categories as well.  In addition, there will be different variants of crystals that are currently targeted as:

  • Standard yield
  • Higher yield, high waste, less reliable
  • Lower yield, very high waste, very unreliable

I may be misunderstanding that third one, but it does not sound like a viable option, but this is just the initial dev blog and things may change.

CCP is going to add compression ability to gas and moon ore.  The Rorqual, Orca, and Porpise will all be able to compress ore, but will require new modules for the type of resources they are attempting to compress. (And the modules will require new skills, so if you got any skill points refunded from the reprocessing skill changes, you can spend them here.)

Also ore and gas compression will no longer be perfect.  Compression efficiency will be:

  • Ore 90%
  • Gas 90%
  • Ice 79%

So, once again, CCP giveth and CCP taketh away.  You’re going to need that extra ore out there in space to make up for this.

There is also quite a bit on ship and module changes, with some ships getting new ore and gas bays, industrial cores being changed for the Rorqual and added to the Orca and Porpise, new gas harvesting modules, and some stuff that has a supporting spreadsheet to illustrate, which is how you can tell we’re really getting into nerd levels of industry.  I always mildly resent people who dismiss EVE Online as “spreadsheets in space,” unless they are specifically referencing industry.  This is where the spreadsheets come into play.

There is basically a lot in the dev blog to unpack.  But it is just a dev blog, which is generally a statement of intent by CCP.  They do, occasionally, listen to feedback on them before pushing the ideas into the live game.  CCP usually does big changes like this in stages, starting with seeding blueprints for modules and skills required in advance.  The dev blog says they expect to start that by the end of the month.

Being more than a decade distant from caring much about industry and mining, I am going to sit back and listen to those immersed in the topic discuss the changes and pass judgement.  Angry Mustache who, along with Kazanir, was on the Meta Show last week for a deep dive into scarcity already has his gut reaction to the changes up on Reddit.


Watching Week One of Alliance Tournament XVII

The Alliance Tournament has returned, having been on hiatus since 2018, with ATXVII officially kicking off this past weekend.  It came out during some of the between match discussion that this was in large part due to the efforts of CCP Aurora.

Alliance Tournament XVII

I spent some time watching the first weekend of matches, though being on the Pacific coat means that they tend to start while I am still asleep.  I do want to say that I am happy the AT is back.  While I have my reservations about it and while it has not been without controversy, it does represent an aspect of the game that a segment of the player base enjoys, and in a sandbox game we’re all better off if groups can thrive in their part of the field.

That said, in watching this I am reminded once again what an abysmal spectator game EVE Online really is.  It can work for a streamer where you can see their modules and overview, but from a third party perspective viewing a battle it is tough to get anything from what is being displayed on the screen.

Though, honestly, that might be a true reflection of being in such a battle where the visual of the game are often just so much chaos, where the brackets merge and overlap into an unreadable mess at times, and where the overview is often the only thing delivering useful information at a given moment.  At that point as a viewer the match depends a lot on the announcers, and even the best of those can be wrong or off the mark in a game as complicated as EVE Online.  Of course, when so many matches are pretty much decided in the first 30 seconds, maybe complexity isn’t the biggest issue.

As usual, there were some interesting matches and some complete wipes.  I think the second match for What Could Possibly Go Wr0ng might have been the best morale wipe.  They went in with an artillery Maelstrom core against LAZERHAWKS and just got stomped.  One of several 100 to 0 results.  But I had just been thinking about arty Maelstroms because, as I am coming up on a decade in null sec I have been looking back at some old posts, and the Maelstrom based Alpha Fleet was the first doctrine I flew in way back then.  Greetings from 2011.

Probably the most exciting match for me was the second Goonswarm match against Deepwater Hooligans.  GSF got wiped in its first match, going down 100 to 16 against Psychotic Tendencies,  so everything was on the line for the second match.

I was away from my keyboard and missed the first five minutes of the second match, only pulling it up to find GSF down 55 to 18 with only two ships left on the field.  It seemed like things were a foregone conclusion.

This does not look good

And then ren taka and Dirk Stertille managed to rack up a series of kills as the clock counted down, knocking out both DWH Eoses .  If the Golem could have held on a bit longer it might have been the end for the Ishtars.  But it could not, and its explosion seemed to call the match.  But then the Navy Scorpion did kill one of the Ishtars and the score got close again, sitting at just 72 to 79 in favor of DWH.  But Dirk couldn’t hold out for very long, and with less than a minute left in the match the Scorpion exploded and that was it for the match.  Goons knocked out early once again.

The final score for GSF vs DWH

That was probably not the absolute best match of the game (the Fraternity vs The Network match was something else) but it was a good one and one I was invested in.  I bet all my channel points on Goons twice and lost twice.

It is interesting to see what comps were popular this year.  There were a lot of command ships on the field.  The Sleipner is usually pretty popular, but the Eos and the Nighthawk saw a lot of usage.  There were also multiple attempts at battleship heavy compositions to try and bring as much damage to bear early in the match as possible.  That worked a few times, but the mobility of command ships seemed the better choice in the first week.

All of which is a reminder of the esoteric nature of AT fleet comp theory crafting, where both teams are limited to ten ships and have a 100 points to spend on hulls in a pricing scheme setup by CCP.  This leads to a very tight balance between hulls and fits and pilot skill to create a winning team, and the teams that spend the most time testing fits and practicing tactics tend to stand out as the tournament progresses. (And props to Arrival for putting a 22 billion ISK Barghest flagship on the field. The AT took place in TQ in the UUA-F4 system so you can see all the losses on zKillboard.)

So it was an interesting weekend for round one.  We even got to see some teams secure prize ships as this time around the top 16 teams will all walk away with at least a few.

Marring all of this a bit was the whole turning kill mails into NFTs thing that CCP announced at the last minute, which went over like the proverbial lead balloon.  Hilmar was out on Twitter hyping up the NFT aspect and meeting quite a bit of push back.  The big defense for him was that these NFTs were less environmentally harmful than competing NFTs, with the tech bros he contracted with throwing links to dubious charts in his wake.

It is one of those things where I understand somebody like the CEO of Electronic Arts saying that NFTs and blockchain are the future of gaming.  He is just jumping on the hype train to try and juice is stock price (and thus part of his compensation package) even as he admits in almost the next breath that he doesn’t know what his statement even means. (And even if they have no real benefit and plenty plenty of downside for video games.)

But Hilmar and EVE Online have a pretty small audience so it isn’t clear to me what benefit he thought he was bringing to the company by diving in with NFTs, which is currently little more than a haven for scams right now, and block chain, which represents the favored currency of criminals globally.  This might be taking that “Be the Villain” ad campaign a bit too far.  That 10% cut of all sales transactions for the kill mail NFTs seems more like an accounting encumbrance than a benefit.

But he was all in on VR to save the company too at one point.

Anyway, we’ll see what becomes of that in the long term as well I suppose.


EVE Online Fanfest Returns to Iceland for 2022

There won’t be a BlizzCon or a BlizzCononline for the foreseeable future and the annual events that SOE used to hold are but a distant memory at this point, but CCP carries on with its tradition of EVE Fanfest at the top of the world by announcing the event will return for 2022.  With the pandemic at least somewhat under control in many places and vaccinations readily available CCP felt it was time to get the band back together in Iceland after having skipped 2019 to do the FanFest World Tour instead and having had to cancel in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID.

Return to Iceland

Attendees will have to comply with the Icelandic government’s regulations… which as of today is asking people to avoid non-essential travel, but who knows what tomorrow will bring… and provide proof of vaccination.

But tickets are now available for purchase, with early bird tickets as a discounted price likely to be gone quickly.

So get ready for the triumphant return of EVE Fanfest in 2022.  Details are available at the EVE Fanfest 2022 site.  There is even a quick announcement video.

Now what about EVE Vegas?


The Summon the Swarm Update brings CRABs and Tax Changes to EVE Online

The previously announced capital ship ratting enhancement has finally arrived in New Eden.  With the Summon the Swarm update the CONCORD Rogue Analysis Beacons (CRAB) can now be built and deployed in the game. (“Crab” is the in-game vernacular for somebody who rats or mines or otherwise focuses on gaining wealth, with “crabbing” being the verb, though it is often rendered as “Krab” because the term came from our Russian friends in New Eden.)

Calling all CRABs

According to the patch notes these new deployables, which can only be activated from capital ships, have four phases of operation:

  • 1 – Deployment
    • Anchoring III required to deploy, with restrictions in deployment locations.
    • Limited to Null and Low Security space.
    • Activation delay: 20 seconds
    • Maximum lifetime: 1 hour
    • Shield / Armor / Structure: 50,000 HP / 50,000 HP / 50,000 HP
  • 2 -Linking
    • Once deployed, it will be globally visible via the Overview for anyone to warp to.
    • After its initial Activation phase, it can then be Linked to by pilots in the following ships: Carrier, Dreadnought, Supercarrier, Titan.
    • For the ship that begins the linking phase, it will be locked in place in space for a duration of four minutes.
    • While linking, the following will be in effect: Tether Blocked (Debuff), Cloaking Disrupted (Debuff), Warp Drive Disabled (Debuff), Resistance Bonus of 10% (Buff to all resistance profiles, Shield/Armor/Structure).
    • After linking the above four statuses will clear after a duration of 60 seconds.
  • 3 – Scanning

    • After Linking, the CRAB will begin to broadcast a signal in the solar system that will attract the attention of Rogue Drone NPCs.
    • When Rogue Drones are in proximity of the CRAB, they will block the scanning progress and attack hostile threats in proximity to the CRAB.
    • The Rogue Drones must be destroyed to clear the perimeter so that the CRAB can continue its Scanning.
    • After 10 minutes of uninterrupted scanning, the CRAB will complete its analysis of the Rogue Drones and will have salvaged enough technology to reward players with new Mutaplasmids.
  • 4 – Reward

    • After successful scanning, the CRAB will have mutaplasmids from Rogue Drones inside of its cargohold .
    • For two minutes after scanning, the ship that initiated the CRAB during its linking phase will have exclusive access to the cargo hold of the CRAB.
    • After these two minutes pass, the CRAB will self-destruct with the generated mutaplasmids always safely being found in the wreckage (it will be a 100% chance to drop its contents when it self-destructs).

In order to keep these new modules under control so they don’t get run constantly and lead to some sort of economic overload, CCP has added the following items to limit their use.

  • Solar systems have a new property, “Signal Interference”.
    • Using the new CONCORD Rogue Analysis Beacon repeatedly in the same solar system will saturate a system with interference preventing the CRAB from being able to broadcast a signal that can be isolated. In practical terms, the CRAB will not be able to be linked to if interference is too high as the Rogue Drones cannot locate it.
    • Over time, Signal Interference will decay back down to a quiescent state. This state of decay is always ongoing and not attached to server downtime.
    • The time for a full recovery of a solar system with maximum signal interference is approximately 25 hours.
    • The User Interface has been updated to show Signal Interference in locations where appropriate.
  • Capsuleers now have a reserve of Complex Encryption Qubits (CEQs).
    • CEQs are used when initiating a link to the CONCORD Rogue Analysis Beacon.
    • Over time CEQs will regenerate back to their full reserve, and the regeneration is always ongoing and not attached to server downtime.
    • The time for a full regeneration of CEQs is approximately 22 hours.
    • As CEQs are only required by the CRAB, your current reserves will be visible in a tooltip on mouse-over of the CRAB in your inventory.

Blueprints for the new modules are now available from CONCORD and DED LP Stores.  A 5-Run BPC costs 20,000,000 ISK & 20,000 LP.

These rewards from CRABs include new Rogue Drone Mutaplasmid technology.  These ew Mutaplasmids come in four variations (Durability, Firepower, Navigation, Projection). Each variation will favor positively one attribute, with all other attributes having unknown results.

They also are sorted out by drone type, with heavy, medium, light, and sentry drone variations.  In addition, there are two wildcard modifiers, radical variations, for drones and fighters.

In order to use modified drones players will need to train up the new drone skill introduced with last week’s patch. CCP changed the skill name from ‘Rogue Drone Specialization’ to ‘Mutated Drone Specialization’ with this update.

CRABs are the headline for this patch, but there is another sizable change in the patch notes as well.  The three month tax holiday for NPC stations, which came in with The Grand Heist update back in July, has concluded.

The new base tax rates will be:

  • Sales Tax: 8%
  • Brokers Fee: 3%

The change to base, unmodified tax rates are now (holiday -> post holiday (pre-holiday):

  • Sales Tax: 2.5% -> 8.0% (Previously 5.0%)
  • Brokers Fee: 2.5% -> 3.0% (Previously 5.0%)
  • Total Taxes: 5.0% -> 11.0% (Previously 10.0%)

The minimum achievable tax rates for NPC stations, modified by skills, standings, etc, are now (holiday -> post holiday (pre-holiday):

  • Sales Tax: 1.125% -> 3.6% (Previously 2.25%)
  • Brokers Fee: 0.5% -> 1.0% (Previously 3.0%)
  • Total Taxes: 1.625% -> 4.6% (Previously 5.25%)

Buying things in NPC stations is now more expensive, and the shift to favoring Sales Tax over Broker’s fees means that player owned structures like the Tranquility Trading Tower in Perimeter will no longer be as attractive for sellers or lucrative for owners.

So those are the big changes with today’s update.  There are a few minor fixes… well, maybe not minor when it comes to the MacOS client… but nothing that changes game design.


EVE Online is Back with Native MacOS Support

Back in the day CCP used to support a native MacOS client.  It was finicky… I once ran it on the wrong MacOS version and got some very odd results… but it mostly worked.  Then Apple swapped over to Intel processors and it became possible for CCP to just use WINE emulation to run the Windows client on Macs.  There was some extra work to do to support that, including contributing code to the WINE project, but it was a lot less effort than maintaining two clients.

And then recently Apple left Intel for their own new M1 processors which led to EVE Online MacOS players potentially being unsupported if they purchased the new machines.

This swap by Apple also prompted Intel to launch a petulant “Apple Sux!” ad campaign because I guess they think Apple will never ever buy another chip from them again or something.  But that is another story.

So CCP was left with a choice.  Given that they are still optimistically talking about growth and working on the new player experience, they opted not to ditch almost 10% of the PC market, which meant going back to native MacOS support.

While 10% might sound like a small loss, CCP knows how many MacOS users they have, so it might be worth it to them.  Also, the 10% number vastly understates the number of systems that might actually be able to run EVE Online.  There are a lot of base model Windows boxes sitting in enterprises and on desks all over the world that aren’t even in the running.  When I go to visit the sprawling medical center where my doctor resides, I walk by dozens of PCs… one at every reception desk, one at every nurse’s desk… they all little desks now because the need to access their PCs… one in every exam room, two in my doc’s office, and more in spots I whose function I could not identify.  And not even one of them is likely ever to load up any video game more complicated that Solitaire… and only that if the IT department hasn’t purged it.

Anyway, the path back to a native client culminated with yesterday update and the new EVE Online X Apple era, whatever that means.

Times Apple? Ten Apple? Kiss Apple? I don’t know

Post update there is a transition from the old WINE version to the new native version which is covered in detail in the patch notes.

To celebrate the update and transition back to native support, CCP has some login rewards for us that run for five days.

Included in the rewards are the usual skill points and SKINs, but there are special Quafe Zero Green Apple flavor SKINs.  While they aren’t the classic old blue Quafe SKINs, they are still good.

And the is also some Quafe Zero Green Apple flavor boosters to go with the event as well.  Per the packaging:

Capsuleers can now enjoy Quafe Zero Green Apple, the new flavor of New Eden’s favorite performance drink with the potency of a booster!
A taste explosion that will help avoid ship explosions, the Green Apple edition of Quafe Zero provides the benefits of increased agility and power with Zero drawbacks!

+5% Agility, +5% Capacitor Recharge Rate. Duration: 1 hour.

Quafe Zero Green Apple is fortified with a proprietary mix of performance enhancers, oxidizers, and natural fruit juices designed to push your abilities to the limit.

The secret is in our patented fulleroferrocene nanite delivery system, which attaches our exclusive pro-capsuleer formula directly to the neurons you want, not the ones you don’t. The result is an immediate and direct boost to your performance, with Zero drawbacks!

For maximum experience overload Quafe Zero Green Apple has been further enhanced with proprietary Quafe nanoparticles responsive to popular brands of subcranial nanocontroller personal enhancements, such as the LD-X100 range from Lai Dai!

So make sure to login and collect your SKINs, skill points, and boosters.

Yesterday’s patch also made some changes to the Dynamic Bounty System thresholds, whatever that means, and continued the iterating on the new skill window and skill plan functionality.  They have already fixed the most egregious issues, like the huge amount of empty space, but there is still tuning to do.

And a new skill was added, Rogue Drone Specialization, which is required for using the new modified rogue drones.

Not present in the update was the capital PvE ratting mechanics, previously announced as Summon the Swarm, which are still brewing on the test server.  That still needs some work.


Friday Bullet Points Once Again from Space

It is Friday and there are a few EVE Online items I want to bring up but that don’t quite merit a full post at this time.  Not included in this is the September Monthly Economic Report, which I’ll get to on Monday.  That I can string out into 1,500 words easy.  Meanwhile, CCP it trying to outdo me with their own Community Beat post today.

  • Introducing Quasar

CCP posted a dev blog this week titled Introducing Quasar, which is a look at the changes CCP has made, and further changes that they are contemplating, to improve server performance of EVE Online by getting around Python’s Global Interpreter Lock that keeps the game running on a single thread.  Basically, if you take some housekeeping items off of the server’s to-do list, like skill plans, there is more bandwidth to track ships in space.  As put in the post the goals are to “dodge the GIL and clear the table for moar lasers.”

There is some additional insight into this over at TNG.

  • Totality Day Celebration

Come October 13th it will have been a year since the Triglavian Collective took the 27 systems they had conquered from the four empires and disconnected them from the previous gate network to for the new region of Pochven.  (Which, among other things changed the shape of travel in empire space with the removal of Niarja.)

So… time for an anniversary celebration I guess?  CCP thinks so and has some events planned according to this dev blog.

The Triglavians are still behind the other empires of New Eden as they don’t seem ready to offer login rewards for their event.  Maybe contact with the other empires will lead them to this technology at a later date.

  • Faction Warfare Report

Faction Warfare is often mentioned as one of the neglected aspects of low sec space in New Eden.  You don’t hear much about it unless somebody is complaining that it is broken… or noting CCP’s neglect.  But a group of Gallente pilots have started up a podcast, the Federation Frontline Report, to give some insight into that aspect of EVE Online.  They also have a guest post up on INN about their efforts and what Faction Warfare is.

  • SSO Endpoint Deprecation

For those who use the CCP APIs for various things, they are deprecating the old security authorization token interface, so if you are connecting to the using ESI or using the EVE SSO for user authentication, you need to update to the v2 versions of the API by November 1st.  Details are available in a third party developer blog post.

  • Mega Skill Point Packages

There was a post over in r/eve this week from a player with an account that had been dormant since 2010 who received an offer from CCP to buy 50 million skill points for the low low price of $999.99.  Another user reported an offer for 12.9 million skill points for 229.99 GBP.

I didn’t get an offer, but I dug around in an account that was last Omega maybe three years ago and found I had a special offer for 8.1 million skill points for $199.

Skill Point Offer

I am sure we could find a few other data points and figure out how many skill points you get offered based on how long your account has been dormant.

  • Monocle Offer

It has been a little over a decade since the Incarna expansion, which got the player base to explode over a variety of issues.  Often referred to as the “summer of rage,” the name that stuck for a lot of people outside of the game was “monocle-gate.”  I covered the anniversary in a post earlier this year, including the fallout, resolution, and how things went forward from there.  But monocles became the symbol due to a pricey eye piece that was added to the in-game store with the expansion.

While the monocle stuck around long after things simmered down, it remained a trigger for some, which is why it was a bit of a surprise to find CCP offering special monocles again in the in-store ten years down the road.

Monocular times are here again

I can’t tell if this is CCP just looking for some new cosmetic item to sell or if they’re just trolling us a decade after their first monocle.  And the monocles are only available until downtime on October 14th, so they’re trying to push the FOMO button as well… if anybody has any actual fear of missing out on a monocle I guess.

  • New Player Experience Explored

Shintar sent this video to me, so credit to her.  CCP apparently went out looking for streamers who had never played EVE Online to go through the recently revamped new player experience and give their response.  They were supposed to go in without reading up or getting external help and just let the game guide them.  Preach Gaming took on the challenge and put together a video about the experience.

It is kind of fun to watch as somebody who knows the answers.  There are a few places where I don’t know how he ended up with a particular idea, but otherwise it seemed to go pretty well.  Something that will come as a surprised to exactly nobody is that the problems began when he hit the now very out of date career agents, but I remain impressed that he figured out how to use probes and scan something down in under two hours with no external help.

Anyway, that is what was on my list.

24 Million EVE Online Pilots Means What?

As part of their announcement that EVE Online was now available on the Epic Games store CCP put out a press release that indicated that more than 24 million “pilots” had played the game and that more than 91 million ships had been destroyed.

Some numbers

Those are some impressive numbers.

When I write about older titles in the MMORPG genre I often refer to a game’s “installed base.”   Those are the total number of users who have played the game and who are still interested in or fond of the game. They are often a lucrative resource for a company to sell to.  There is a direct correlation between that “installed base” number and how successful an older game can be playing the nostalgia card with retro servers and the like.

EverQuest, for example, while peaking at 550K subscribers, was the biggest show in town when it came to the genre for the first five years of its run.  During that time several million people played the game and then moved on.  So, while many players didn’t stick with the game forever, they played long enough to have had good times.  When SOE, and later Daybreak, started offering old school servers based around early content, that became a significant part of the title’s business.

Likewise, we saw WoW Classic revive the fortunes of World of Warcraft when Battle for Azeroth was foundering a bit, and Old School RuneScape… playing the retro card there has gotten it concurrent player counts more than a lot of titles have total players.

So EVE Online looks to have a sizable installed base to work with.  Even if they can’t play the retro server card, they can still market to appeal to players who have played and lapsed over time.

The question is, how big the core installed base, the players that got invested enough in the game, really is.  And for that we have to first figure out what 24 million “pilots” really means.  That could mean characters, accounts, actual individual people, or some other metric they came up with after a night of too much aquavit.

Fortunately, even as I was thinking about what it could be, CSM member Brisc Rubal was using his position to find out from CCP what it really meant.  On The Meta Show on Saturday he said that he got clarification and that “pilots” really meant “accounts.”

That means 24 million accounts have been created for the game.

But he got even further clarification.  Of those 24 million accounts… and I know I keep rounding down, but I am going to get into some sloppy math in a bit and that will be my margin for error or some such… 18 million were created by unique individuals.

So the largest potential installed base for EVE Online is 18 million people.

Of course, it is not that big.  Not every one of those players spent enough time to form at attachment with the game.  After all, we’ve all seen this chart from EVE North 2019, haven’t we?

How many new players log back in as time passes

And that wasn’t even news in 2019.  We had seen a similar sort of chart back at EVE Fanfest 2014.

New Player Trajectory

People who leave without engaging, people who don’t log in after a day or two, nothing has hooked them.  They got a glimpse, didn’t find anything to their liking, and moved on.

This was the view of EVE at the time

The retention problem has changed over time.  That 2014 chart reflects the pre-F2P era, when you had to commit a bit more to even get going because the whole thing required a monthly subscription after the 14 day trial, a fact that chased a lot of people off before they took their first step towards the game.

Now, with free to play, the reality of the first chart, where nearly 90% of new players fall by the wayside in a week and the overall long term retention is something like 4%, that 10% “Group / Diverse” long term retention path probably feels like the good old days.

That means that the installed base isn’t 18 million.  But it also isn’t 720K, which would be 4% of that number.  It is somewhere in between, though much closer to the lower number I would guess.

So I am going to do a bit of hand waving with the data we have to come up with a guess that, while not solid, has some foundation in reality.  And that is where we get to that gap between 24 million accounts and 18 million individuals.

That is a gap of six million, and I am going to use that as the basis of my estimate, because to me those are the secondary and tertiary accounts that users who are committed to the game, people who would likely count in the installed base, players that CCP could reasonably be able to market to with some new initiative.

So if that is six million alts and, let’s take a 3 alts per main as an estimate… I know, somebody will say that person X has a hundred accounts, but a lot of people still just have one, and even Goons by the last participation metric count are a little past 4 to 1…. that means that there are maybe 2 million individuals out there that have committed to the game enough to manage multiple accounts.

That leaves 16 million in the total users, who can’t all have turned and run, so I am just going to somewhat arbitrarily declare a million of them…  6.25% of that total… are also in the installed base of the game.

That gives the game an installed base to draw on of maybe 3 million individuals, and I am going to use the slop in my rounding down to 24 million at the top to hide the current player base, where CCP has said they have an active monthly user count that runs between 200K and 300K.

That is pretty healthy.  But EVE Online has had some promising numbers of late, like that floor of 110K subscribers that the redeemed ISK token line in the July/August MERs seemed to indicate.

Of course, the question is what CCP does with this installed base.  As I noted above, they don’t really have the retro server option, the New Eden economy being a bit precarious as it is.  Splitting the player base with another server would likely doom both, leaving aside the giant elephant in the room of what an EVE Online retro server would even be.

So they have untapped potential.  Can they do something with it?  What would lend itself to getting the installed base engaged and back to the game?  Or is the installed base really a thing at all for New Eden?  When you “win” EVE and log off, do you want to come back?  It is a game that can absorb all the effort and dedication that you have, so would you miss it when it was gone or just feel relieved?

Yulai Bot Bash 2021

GM Week is back upon us, and it opened up with the traditional Bot Bash in Yulai.  I think they get straight to that to grab botters before they realize the even it coming.  While there are plenty of other things to do during GM Week, this is always has a good turnout.  It is described as:

In this fan-favorite event, Capsuleers discovered using CONCORD-prohibited automated piloting technology will be dragged into Yulai, ship and all, where countless players will be sitting in wait to tear them apart!

So I had to find a character who could go out and take part.  Due to other commitments, the only character I had handy was  5 million skill point alt that I rolled up back in 2008 and only just started working with recently.  Most of his skill points are in planetary industry, but he had just enough in Caldari ships, and enough un-allocated skill points, that I could get him in a Kestral with decent range so he could get his first kill mails after almost 14 years of hanging around in the station waiting for his turn.

Of course I bought him a SKIN, I have some sense of style

I flew him out to Yulai early and set him up in a wide orbit around the Yulai Graveyard beacon.  (You can read about the Yulai Graveyard here.)

Things were warming up even as got there very early.  People had started to gather already and fireworks were being thrown about liberally.

It looks like the battle has already started

I left that to itself and went about my business until the time was almost upon us.  I was going to be ready this year, so I set my alt up with a capitals only overview and got ready.

There was an announcement in local.  The targets were going to be arriving soon.

Here they come

CCP Convict was on grid and rolling around in his Polaris Enigma Frigate.  Destruction was imminent.

CCP Convict in the thick of thins

Then the first three targets, three Rorquals, appeared on grid on my overview.   It was on!

And then I did a very null sec thing.  I shot them right away.

Unfortunately, Yulai is a high sec system, so you’re supposed to wait until the GMs flag the teleported ships as suspects, making them legal to shoot, before opening fire.  Honestly, if I had just counted to five I would have been fine.  I saw them turn suspect even as my own handle was broadcast across the system as a criminal and CONCORD came to get me.

And then I exploded.

My pod lasted long enough to get on the kill mail for the Rorqual I shot.  Or maybe the system was just lagged and I snuck in.  But now he is on his first kill mail… and he has his first loss mails as well.  He is a capsuleer now.

The event carried on without me.  It looks like the haul was those three Rorquals, five supercarriers, and a Titan.  Not ships you get to see in high sec every day.  Not as big of a haul as last year… one of my baby characters is on two titan kill mails from that… but still decent.

I am a bit bummed about my mistake,  but I am sure the event will be back next year.  Bots never sleep and they keep coming back.

EVE Online Gets Another New Player Experience and Skill Training Updates as a New Quadrant Arrives

The summer vacations are over and CCP is back with a new Quadrant.  The Foundation Quadrant is over and the Gateway Quadrant has arrived.

Didn’t we all get stuck out here after that gateway closed?

And with that CCP is focused again on its favorite obsession of the last few years, the new player experience.  This time the NPE has been rebuilt around a new NPC faction, the Association for Interdisciplinary Research which will introduce new players to EVE Online.   The highlights from the dev blog are:

  • More immersive experiences and faster iteration
  • More dynamic visuals
  • Gradual UI reveal
  • Improved UI highlighting
  • An integrated intro video
  • Beautiful visuals

To the cynic in me that works out to “pretty,” “pretty,” “working with the UI we already have,” “working with the UI we already have,” “pretty,” and “pretty.”

I mean, there is room in there for real improvements, and maybe it is a better NPE, but CCP has chosen to emphasize the superficial and that the UI is too much for new players in its own description.  What is that supposed to tell me?

The new NPE is also said to be story driven, but so was the NPE two iterations ago, which was going to be a big new thing until they quietly ditched it, because everything PvE had to go into The Agency…. and probably also because once you got done with the story the actual game is nothing like that, bait and switch not being a great idea for player retention.  I hope CCP learned something since last time and aren’t just jumping back on the same idea they previously axed.

Though the NPE has been through the wringer more than a few times, CCP has been especially adamant about new player retention being an issue since EVE North back in 2019 when they gave us this chart.

How many new players log back in as time passes

As I noted at the time, that seems pretty dismal without any context.  But the one publicly available study on the topic I found seemed to indicate that those retention numbers are pretty close to the industry average for MMORPGs with a free to play option.  Given EVE Online’s legendary difficulty, obtuse UI, and open world PvP, that CCP does so well is probably an achievement.

So while I get that CCP likes to keep reminding us that new players are the lifeblood of the game… and I hope this next revision of the NPE helps on that front… farming the installed player base, the lapsed veterans and such, is how games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft have revitalized their bottom lines.  Here is hoping that another investment in another new NPE pays off.

The NPE is also emphasized in the trailer for the new quadrant.

I feel like I saw that launch sequence in the EVE Valkyrie opening… but I guess all tube launches feel kind of the same.  I’ll have to find some time to give it a try.

So that is the first thing on the list.

Next on the update front is skill training with the introduction of skill plans and a revamp of the training system UI.  This feels like a feature that benefits both new and old players alike.  Players will be able to create plans for specific goals, with milestones to mark improvements for specific configurations, and even certified skill plans aimed at new players to help them decide what to train.

There is also a revamp of the skill training UI.  Being an old fart that has finally gotten used to the current setup, I immediately wondered how badly could they screw it up? This morning already saw calls for the old UI on r/eve, but they hate everything there.  But here is the new UI on day one.

The New Skill Window – The red arrow thing is not part of the UI

For openers, skills now have their own window, no doubt because the game UI doesn’t have enough independent windows floating around, and it defaults to the new training plan UI, which I won’t even delve into right now, but it feels too big and not all that helpful.

For those of us who just want to see our current skills and queue together, the second tab has that, with all the skill groups now in alphabetical order finally.  I know, there is outrage that Spaceship Command isn’t in the upper left, but whatever, and my brain wants to read left to right along rows first, then down columns, and the sorting is by columns, but I’ll get used to all of that.

The window seems bigger than it needs to be.  It defaults to full screen, which is obnoxiously large on my 34″ monitor, but even when I make it a window it remains too wide for my taste largely due to the black dead zone between skills and queue (marked with the red arrow in the screen show above) that cannot be sized down by itself. (The gap between skill names and their states seems pretty wide as well.)

Anyway, there is always EVE Mon still if I need a more compact view.  Oh, and your character sheet is different now, lacking all those skills… and I hope you remembered to put pants on your avatar.

A fuller body view now

All of this comes with a couple of big changes to skills queues:

  • The current limit of 50 skill entries in the queue will be increased to 150 for both Alpha and Omega clones.
  • The current restriction of the Alpha clone training queue allowing only the skills that would start training within the next 24h will also be removed.

As somebody who came from the “one skill at a time and make sure you start a long skill the night before the next patch update” era, these seem huge.  150 skills in the queue will let you build up a might skill plan… I’ve bumped into the 50 skill limit a few times since it became a thing… and the removal of the 24 hour queue limit will be huge for new players.

And old players.  I can even now see people rolling up a new alpha, sending it the ISK for skills, setting up the desired queue, then letting it run for however long it takes until that suicide gank character or whatever is on the shelf and ready to use.  There is no improvement that EVE players will fail to exploit.

There are a few other items with today’s update.  A new skill points for sale pack is in the store.  EVE Online will be available in the Epic Store come September 23rd.  And, in a nod to the promise to relax the economic starvation plan (now planned for November), there was this tidbit slipped in at the bottom of the announcement:

More ice has been brought back into New Eden with its availability having doubled, and the availability of Mercoxit has also increased.

I wonder if the ice availability got boosted due to the jump drive fuel crisis that hit the game when World War Bee ended and PAPI had to move home?  Anyway, there is alleged to be more ice now.

So that is the what has come with the launch of the new quadrant.  Here are the related dev posts for today’s update: