Category Archives: entertainment

Minecraft and the Map Room

l have gone on a bit about how much I like having access to rendered maps of our Minecraft world.

The current-ish map of our world

The current-ish map of our world

Having that available really helps me with the big scope road and rail projects I have been working on this year in addition to just helping me find things in the world.

But there are also maps within the game.  I have tinkered with them before, but they can be a bit quirky and I haven’t really found a lot of use for them, aside from being decorations.  I have maps of the local area hung up in a few of my bases.

On the decorative front, Skronk’s map room in Firenze is probably the high point of their use in the world.  Skronk went out and put together maps of various locations in our world and hung them up with labels in the map room.

Looking at the map room in Firenze

Looking at the map room in Firenze

Recently, Aaron went on a tour of our world, riding the rail loop I had built.  He too was impressed with the map room he saw.  He was so impressed that he decided to make his own map room, in a very Aaron sort of way.  He is the guy whose base has samples of all of the flora and fauna in the world in neat little areas.  And now he has a map room with the biggest map collection in our world.  Behold the map wall.

Aaron's map wall

Aaron’s map wall

That is 224 map segments affixed to the wall with frames.  The just visible red square in the middle of the map is part of Aaron’s base.  The map itself is backlit using sea lanterns at several points.

A closer look at the map gives a better feel for the level of detail that the in-game maps can achieve.

Standing closer to the map

Standing closer to the map

There you can see the red square is actually a grid of red netherrack from Aaron’s charged creeper farm, detailed in a past post.  This also shows Xydd’s castle in the upper left corner and one of my bases to the right of Aaron’s  Also visible is some of the road and rail network.

It is pretty cool.  It won’t replace my rendered maps, which show more detail, but it is still something great to have within the confines of our world.

The same area in a rendered map

Approximately the same area in a rendered map

And, being another Aaron epic project, you can see that his map room has two more walls ready for map segments so that the room will eventually give a panoramic view of a segment of the world.

Ready for more maps

Ready for more maps

I do like the idea of having the maps backlit.  I may go do that to some of the base area maps I have hung up around the world.

Another Night in Rakapas

Rakapas… Shit, I’m still only in Rakapas. Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the Delve. I’m here a four days now… waiting for a move op… getting softer. Every minute I stay in this station, I get weaker, and every minute hostiles camp the route, they gets stronger. Each time I look around the hangar walls move in a little tighter.

-Delve-pocalypse Now 2016 Move Log, Day 4 Entry

I had hopes last night of getting closer to Sakht, our destination.  However, the capital move ops that came up were all departing from destinations two or three jumps down the line.  My Archon stayed in place for another night.

The station does seem a bit more cramped...

The station does seem a bit more cramped…

It did seem for a bit that I might get another ship down to Delve.  There was a call for a subcap move op.  I figured I could clone jump back to Saranen, join that, and at least get a doctrine combat ship down to our staging.

However, that move op was also only for ships that had made it to the incursion that was blocking our way yesterday.

So, the tally at the end of day 4 was four ships down in our staging, two frigates and two stealth bombers that somebody else put in their carrier because they had extra space… so some people are making it down to Delve.  Everything else I want to move is still in Lonetrek or Black Rise… about where we started.

I am not doing well at the move op thing.  Apparently I should at least be in Aulbres by now.  Every time I log into Rakapas though, there are a bunch of blues sitting in the station with me, so I suppose I am not alone.

It isn’t that I cannot attempt the move on my own.  I am trying to follow the standing orders which say, in large, purple, Comic Sans letters, “DO NOT MOVE YOURSELVES” right there at the top of the forum post announcing them.  But I am starting to think I had better move my carrier a jump or three ahead if I want to make any ops in the near future.

That means getting my alt out onto the heavily camped route south to light a cyno for a jump, something that will likely require repeated attempts, as cyno ships are easy to pop and I expect I will lose at least one on every jump.  I just hope one doesn’t get popped mid-jump, as then my carrier will end up at the sun, an easy target.

As for the subcaps still up in Saranen, I will have to wait for a move op or just strip them and ship them to Jita.  I doubt I am going to get a T2 logistics cruiser all the way down to Delve alone without getting popped.

Another day has dawned, we shall see what it brings.

Held Over in Rakapas

i hate rakapas

-Jay Amazingness

I had some hope yesterday about moving onward towards Delve.  I have Jabber on my iPad and could see pings going out about move ops, and specifically ones from Rakapas, where I am currently docked up.

Jay Amazingness was leading ops out of Rakapas and further down the route to Delve while I toiled away.  Of course, it wasn’t as though he lacked prompting on that front.  He posted a sample of the coms traffic:

When are we leaving Rakapas?

guys when is the next rakapasop?

is this the rakapas move op

what is the route from rakapas?

will there be ops in rakapas later on tonight?

any eta on ops scheduled from rakapas?

are we leaving from Rakapas ?

Dread in  Rakapas , any cyno’s up for further down the route?

are we moving to the next location after rakapas?

can we still start now from rakapas ?

Which has given Jay a new appreciation of the system.

Meanwhile, those waiting on the word of Jay to lead us to the promised land had perhaps begun to elevate him in status.  Commandments were written and images created in furtherance of our deliverance.

Destoration's awesome contribution to the cult of Jay

Destoration’s awesome contribution to the cult of Jay

Unfortunately, by the time I got home last night an incursion had spawned a couple jumps down the line towards Delve, and all move ops were suspended until it was defeated.  And I couldn’t even join in on that as I left my doctrine combat ships back in Saranen, as instructed.

So I spent another night in Rakapas.  Not quite the trail of tears… mostly because we haven’t had to do this all in one sitting.

We await our savior, Jay Amazingness.  He will deliver us to Delve.

At least I am not one of those people who only have JDC4 trained.  They are truly in a world of hurt.

Pointed Towards Delve

Almost five years of deployments and move ops have instilled in me a need to get in on any move ops as early as possible.  In my experience, if you are not on a move op and at the destination in the first 48 hours, move ops quickly start to taper off and getting to the destination becomes increasingly problematic.

With that experience in mind I was up on Saturday morning and in the first fleet op I could find.

As I mentioned last week, we had been told that we would be moving out to a new home come the weekend.  That new home is Delve, a surprise to almost nobody.  Delve is where Goons go when they don’t know where they should go.  Of course, the last time we left Delve, during the great consolidation before Fozzie Sov, I was very diligent in extracting every asset from the region.  Another lesson learned; just leave stuff in Delve.  We’ll be back eventually.

Anyway, the destination was clear.  We would be leaving Saranen in Lonetrek for Delve.

The general direction

The general direction

Of course, this could not/would not remain a secret… it was announced on Reddit before we were told officially… and so the path to Delve was festooned with traps and those looking for stragglers and solo travelers for easy kills.  There was apparently a very successful batch of smart bombing battleships sitting on a gate in Aridia that knocked off a stream of Imperium pilots making the run south in interceptors.

Thus, being in a move op convoy was all the more important.  So I jumped into Asher’s subcap fleet that was forming up.  We undocked after a bit and headed out to a titan for a bridge.  We were on our way.

Approaching the titan

Approaching the titan

Except, of course, we were not on our way.  Subcap move ops to Delve had not yet… and as of this writing have not yet… begun.  We were formed up to cover the movement of supercaps as they started their way down south, a necessary if tedious duty.  I spent more than three hours in the fleet and the biggest event was when NCDot nearly caught a Leviathan off of a citadel.

We were rushed off the moment that seemed to be a possibility, but by the time we arrived the Leviathan was safely off and NCDot’s Macheariel strike force was sitting about getting hit by the citadel’s gunner.

Another bomb lands on an Apostle

Another bomb lands on an Apostle

As the morning wore on into afternoon, I had other things to do and dropped out of the fleet in a station a few jumps from Saranen.  However, given how well camped the area around Saranen has been, that ship is now effectively out of range of Saranen unless I can find a fleet to swing by and pick me up.

Later in the day things were still going on, but I remained stranded so eventually decided to clone jump back to Saranen.  Since move ops seemed to be picking up for capitals, I thought I might pack up my carrier and see if I could that moved down south.  That would be one major anxiety off my list.

I was able to stuff almost all of my remaining ships into it, leaving behind only a couple of combat ships for our current doctrines.  Those I figured could wait for subcap convoys and would remain available for any further cover operations we might have to run.  I also bought quite a bit of fuel for the run, just to be safe.  My carrier, packed up, was ready to move.

Hey, we have a video ad now too

Hey, we have a video ad now too

Sunday morning I was up in time to get into a capital move op led by Jay Amazingness.  The pace for that was… slow.  We had to wait for some people to jump their capitals into Saranen, and then wait for their jump fatigue to fully subside before we were able to undock and make our first jump.  But the time finally came and we were told to undock and jump to the cyno that had been lit for us.

It was at that point I had a problem.

I had never been in a fleet with other capital ships before.  I have had the carrier for almost three years now, and have jumped it to various locations in the past, but that was always in a two person fleet.  So I have always just right-clicked on my alt in the fleet window and selected “Jump To” from there.  But now I was in a fleet over 150 players strong and had no idea who had actually lit the cyno.

So I had to speak up on voice coms to ask how to jump to the cyno the fleet was going to, and immediately became “that guy” in fleet once again.  Jay, after asking a couple of questions to determine I was in the right ship in the correct location, told me to right-click on my capacitor and select “Jump To” from there.  With that bit of information, I jumped successfully to the first waypoint.  Jay was quick and efficient in his response, leaving the mockery for after.  Even a few hours later he was complaining about the sort of people who were in his fleet, citing the fact that he had a guy who didn’t even know how to jump to a cyno.

We jumped, docked up, and then we waited.  As it turned out, we were going to sit and wait for everybody’s jump fatigue, the blue timer, to run down after each jump.  That wasn’t made clear, at least not to me, for the first two jumps.  So the first time around I sat there patiently at my desk for the 54 minute timer and then while longer as people got back together and we were cleared for the next jump.

Making the next jump

Making the next jump

The second time around I asked if we were going to wait down the timer again, but got no response as I think Jay had already wandered off for the timer.  I didn’t sit there the whole time, but I kept an eye on things, lest I get left behind.  By the third jump I was fully aware of the process.  However, we hit a point where the move op was halted, just over a dozen gates from Saranen.  We were going to hold there while other move ops got people up to that point.  After that, further ops would move forward from our current location.

That left me committed to moving the carrier, with my jump clone timer still many hours from letting me shift again.  As the day moved on, more pings went out for fleets and move ops, but nothing from my location.  Then, during the evening, after a couple of pings for caps to form up in Saranen, I saw a ping in the evening that announced that caps from my location had successfully moved closer to Delve.  I clearly missed an opportunity to move on.

That is where the great move stands for me right now.  I am still in Black Rise, an awkward number of jumps from Delve.  We have gotten the word that these move ops will keep going, so I hope to get end up down south this week.  On the other hand, I don’t want to clone jump away from my carrier, sitting at an early waypoint station, lest I miss the ping that announces a move forward.  So I am sort of stuck where I am.

WoW Se7en dot Oh My!

Oh, patch day, patch day, patch day, it was time for patch day.

The big primary digit patch day always contains its share of chaos, and all the more so for me because I adamantly refuse to read about upcoming changes and features in advance.  I hate to spoil the surprise.  So when Blizzard sent me an email notification about the WoW 7.0 patch asking if I was prepared, my answer was an unequivocal, “Um… no?”

Wait, I was supposed to be prepared? What am I, a boy scout?

Wait, I was supposed to be prepared? What am I, a boy scout?

On the first day of the reign of 7.0, I logged in for just a couple of minutes simply to verify that the patch was there… and to make some more hexweave cloth.

My big end of garrison plan was to invest everything into supplies to make hexweave bags.  My tailor will be sitting in his garrison for the next few week cranking out 30 slot bags because bag space is still a good thing.

The next night I logged in for a bit to check on my main and to see how things looked.  I still wasn’t able to face the addon apocalypse that accompanies all such major updates.  I try to keep addons to a minimum simply because their authors come and go and you can never be sure as to what addon will still be around after a year of no patches.

And even still, the Curse client only reported a few of my addons were 7.0 ready, which meant I was not ready to face the game.  Plus I had stuff to move in EVE Online.

Last night however, Curse told me I had a quorum when it came to updated addons, so I ventured into the game.

Unfortunately, some addons were less prepared than I was and I had to log back out and uncheck the box that makes WoW load out of date addons.  Here I ran into one of a few bugs.  I spent some time swapping between characters and, every time I logged out to character select, the game warned me about loading out of date addons.

Warning... over and over...

Warning… over and over…

The checkbox kept getting rechecked every time I logged out.  A minor but persistent annoyance, as you get two alerts for it and then have to open up the addons interface and uncheck the option yet again.

Then there was the class resets for 7.0.  Every single character that logged in was reminded about talents and such.

And this just keeps coming up...

And this just keeps coming up…

Basically, I have to figure out all the new class stuff for every single character.  I will probably push on this for a while, except for a couple of key characters.  For Vikund, my paladin, main, and oldest character, I did go to Icy Veins to read up on the talents so as not to make the “wrong” choice… because there is ALWAYS a wrong choice.  The “wrong” choices did surprise me at times.

There is a certain irony in facing this.  I came back to WoW about a month ago in order to get back into the swing of things, so as not to be completely lost when the expansion hit.  And then, blammo, I need to relearn all the classes from scratch anyway.  At least they dropped the 7.0 patch well in advance of the pre-Legion events.  We all have some time to get up to speed.

I pottered about the Garrison a bit as well, and the 7.0 transition seemed to have left a few bugs in its wake there.  I was, for example, offered the Mastering the Menagerie quest again immediately after completing it.  But you cannot complete it again.  Ah well.

But I probably spent most of my time tinkering with the new wardrobe/transmog system.  You have to focus on the most important things first, right?

My father used to say to me
“Nando, don’t be a schnook,
It’s not how you feel,
It’s how you look!”

-Billy Crystal, You Look Marvelous

As with most everything else in the patch, I knew a change was coming but wasn’t up on the details.

The first thing I noticed was that I got a series of achievement related to transmog upon logging in.  The joy of having many alts over many years and storing away a lot of useless but cool looking items meant that I hit the achievement goal for almost every gear slot.

I wanted to see the new stuff, so I opened up collections and went to the new appearance tab to see all that I had.

A captain's hat!

A captain’s hat!

I sorted through that for a bit, eventually figuring out that, while I could see lots of cool gear, I couldn’t actually DO anything with it from the collections interface.  We can see all our options from where ever we are, but if we want to actually change them we still have to go find that Transmog NPC and pay them some gold to update our look.

Yes, we don’t have to pay the void storage fee as well any more, but I am still not clear why Blizz feels they need to be as restrictive as this when it comes to appearance.  I look at how EverQuest II and LOTRO and Rift (and even EVE Online) and how they handle this sort of thing, and it just feels like Blizz has something against the whole idea.

Particularly irksome to me was the 20 gold charge to change my tabard appearance.

I never wear this tabard

I never wear this tabard

One of the things I was looking forward to was clearing all those tabards I have out of my bank to clear up storage space.  The appearance system certainly seemed to have scooped them all up and saved them all.  If I want to change my tabard appearance, the cost is 20g.  But I can avoid that by just going over to the bank and pull the actual tabard out and change it for free… and, being an engineer, I can bring up bank access anywhere, which makes it more convenient than transmog.  I just don’t get those 35 or so bank slots back.

Yeah, yeah, I don’t actually change my tabard all that often, but I got the impression at some point that tabards were going to be more like toys than transmog.  And the cheapskate in my will likely keep the tabards in my bank.  Better make more hexweave bags.

On checking, I found that the one main transmog achievement I missed out on had to do with shirts.  I haven’t been collecting shirts.

Missing some shirts...

Missing some shirts…

Nine shirts didn’t seem like much.  I figured I could head on over to the auction house and fill out that order and get the last achievement along with the meta achievement and title.  Of course, with shirts being a thing in the transmog system, some people were attempting to make some money off of the situation.

That is an expensive shirt

That is an expensive shirt

Fortunately, once I sorted by price, I found some more reasonably priced shirts in a much more reasonable price range.  I probably could have made a few of them with my tailor.  But, with only nine on the list, I was able to scoop those up, put them on (so their appearance got captured), and hey presto, I had the final achievement.

W7FabAchi

So I have the title “the Fabulous” going for me now.

And that was about all I had the time and patience for on a week night.  I logged on a bunch of characters, found many of them had stuff in their inventory that hadn’t been picked up the new system, so there was lots of putting thing on to get them captured.  I did tinker with a few looks for lower level characters.

My mid-60s warrior in red

My mid-60s warrior in red

With the weekend I will probably get out and figure out how to play at least one character again.  There is still time before the big intro event.  Onward to the Broken Isles.

Last Moves Before the Big Move

After getting the word that the Imperium would be leaving Saranen for points unknown and being told to pack for a long stay elsewhere in New Eden, I started moving around to get things together.

The first thing I did, even as the fireside chat was winding down, was repackage a bunch of no longer in doctrine ships and modules and had them shipped to Jita.  I probably have to do another pass at that.  I still have too many ships in Saranen.  But at least the obvious stuff is off in Jita waiting for me to find time to jump clone over and list it all for sale.

It may be a bit before I get there.  I had other places to jump clone.  The first stop was UMI-KK, where I listed some stuff I had left behind.  Somebody got a good deal on an implant that I listed for cheap, and some mining stuff went at a discount, but other stuff I listed closer to Jita prices.  I think.  I tend to be haphazard and pricing on a good day.  If it sold already, I probably priced it too cheaply.  I also contracted a Heron to Orion Sa-Solo as a lark.  I am not sure if it was even fit, but it is his problem now.

Then it was off to my alt account.  I jumped him to D2-HOS in Pure Blind where he had one of the ratting Myrmidons that the coalition was selling back during one of our “retake Pure Blind” phases.  Designed to be able to survive and run away, I was able to test that out when I hit a bubble camp on the Mantenault gate in RQH-MY.

Nobody was there when I landed, so I started motoring to the gate.  Even with the afterburner lit my progress could be at best described as “stately.”  And then a couple of unaligned hostiles dropped on me while I was in the bubble, locked me up, and started blazing away.  I turned on the armor reppers and considered my options.  It looked like they would get through the armor before I got to the gate, so I spun up the micro-jump drive.  That sent me 100km from my attackers, who had followed me into the bubbles.  From there I was able to align and warp off to a safe.

After that, if I read local correctly, some Pandemic Horde guys showed up and, finding my attackers stuff, shot them up.  I was congratulated for being bait.  I don’t know how that ended up, but when I landed back on the gate a few minutes later, all was clear and I was able to motor to the gate and into low sec.  From there I flew the ponderous beast to Jita, where it and all its modules were repackaged and listed for sale.  I wasn’t bringing that on the move op.

Mymridon headed for recycling

Mymidon headed for recycling

Then it was time to wait for jump clone timers to tick down before the next moves could be made.

The next night I made another jump for another move.  Wilhelm went to YA0-XJ in Deklein, where I had a Harpy, a Crane blockade runner, and barely a quarter of a cargo load of excess junk.  I put the Harpy up on contract (I got an in-game mail later from a reader who said they would buy it at a reduced price, so I relisted it.  However, the contract remains unclaimed, so there is still an “as flown by Wilhelm” Harpy available!), loaded everything else into the Crane, and headed off on the longest of my planned flights.

Heading from YA0 to Saranen

Heading from YA0 to Saranen

YA0-XJ itself was pretty quiet, though Aryth, who is one of the Imperium reps on CSM 11, was hanging around in the system.  I don’t know what he was up to, and I didn’t hang around to find out.

The route out was pretty clear.  I did get somebody trying to grab me when I got impatient and uncloaked on the way to a bubbled gate to light my MWD.  However, by the time he targeted me I was already there and all he did was aggro himself, ensuring my escape.

Heading for the gate

Heading for the gate

I have very few bookmarks for bounces and safe spots in that part of Pure Blind, but I was able to use old corporate bookmarks for towers and jump bridges for that.  Those were available in plentiful supply, and the towers were often still there.

Another tower in Pure Blind

Another tower in Pure Blind

MOA, which holds/held/will hold that stretch of territory, didn’t bother to go through and shoot a bunch of the towers we left behind.  For the last month, every time I have bounced through the area, I kept landing on towers sitting there, unfueled, waiting for our return.  With the push into Pure Blind a bit back, GSOL looks to have gone out and fueled a bunch of them.  Of course, they are all GSF towers, so being in TNT, I can’t safe up in them unless I know the password, and the usual password isn’t always the right one.

Anyway, I managed to push through and made it to Saranen without incident.  Well, an NCDot scout tried to point me in Saranen when I decloaked, but I had warp core stabs fit, so I warped off for the station handily enough.  That Crane, which I have had for years now, will likely be hauling stuff to our next deployment.

Then it was my alt’s turn.  He had an entosis Rapier up in ROIR-Y, which isn’t that far from Saranen.  Still, I almost managed to get caught along the way.  I crashed through a camped gate, but the hostiles there jumped through with an interdictor and started bubbling to hold me there.  I did the uncloak, MWD, cloak, turn hard off previous course routine, but it looked like they might get me for a bit.  They had a decent sense of where I was and threw bubbles around that area while trying to close in and force me to decloak.  I watched one of them get within 6,000 meters of me as I twisted around to try to keep out of decloak range.  And then the range started to open up.  Soon they were well out of range and I was out of their bubbles and on my way again, arriving safely in Saranen.

And then another wait for jump clone timers.

The third night I had an easy run for my alt, but Wilhelm had a Harpy and a jump clone still stashed in QPO-WI in Deklein.  I thought about just selling it, but nothing else was going on, and it was only a Harpy.  I decided to YOLO it home or until it got blown up. (Orion Sa-Solo can confirm my prediction in advance that the ship was going to be destroyed.)

So off I went.  Deklein was, as usual, pretty quiet.

Harpy on the move

Harpy on the move

Likewise, Venal was empty, though there were plenty of GSF citadels strewn about the place.  I was able to stop at one of those to tinker with my fit.  This was an old Harpy and one of the guns was offline,   That done, it was into Tribute and then into Pure Blind for the run down the pipe where I hit another bubbled gate.  This time, however, there was no escape.  A Garmur pointed me as I was turning away from the bubbles to try and warp off.  I was too far from the gate to make that, so I targeted him back and started blazing away.

Go little Harpy, go!

Go little Harpy, go!

I did manage to strip away his shields, however he had friends arriving to help out, which only sped up what was already a foregone conclusion.  The Harpy went boom and that was that.  That Harpy was the last asset I had left to fetch from our former home.  I am sure I have bits and pieces of things strewn about Deklein, Tribute, Pure Blind, Fade, and Branch, but nothing important.  Certainly nothing worth bothering about.  So I am about ready for the move, along with what is left of the Imperium at this point.

The Imperium - July 21, 2016

The Imperium – July 21, 2016

For those who will miss Goons in the north, fear not.  It appears that DARIUS Johnson and his “True Goons Only” club is arriving even as we are leaving.

Another Goon brand

Another Goon brand

They got a few systems transferred to them from Pandemic Horde.  I suppose that is one way to get sovereignty.

Now living in Fade

Now living in Fade

Anyway, shooting Goons will still be a thing in the north.  They won’t be as plentiful, but it will still be an option.  Pandemic Horde has you covered.

Now I am waiting around for the destination to be announced and the move ops to begin.  There is always the new 7.0 patch in WoW to keep me busy, along with the occasional op.

Shooting another tower

Always something to shoot

Wait.  Shoot a tower.  Wait some more.

BB77 – Everything Has a Season

We’re mutants. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us… we play EVE Online.

I wasn’t going to join in on the blog banter this month because the topic seemed to have the potential for hysteria about it.  And then people piled on with all sorts of variations on the theme, not all of them the obvious answers, some good, some bad, some a bit silly, and I felt that I had to get my two cents with a set of simple, coherent arguments.  Instead I ended up with the steaming pile of confused opinions below.  And that was after I trimmed out some of the more rambling bits.  But I don’t have anything else ready to post today, so proceed with caution/skepticism.

So this blog banter, the 77th in the series, posits the following:

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it’s just another bout of summer “ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!”

Just to bring things in to perspective, Noizy noted that we are coming up on the 13th anniversary of the first known usage of the phrase “EVE is dying,” which happened on July 30th 2003.

So is EVE Online finally dying?

Certainly the PCU count is down.  You can go look at the data yourself, but even anecdotally I have seen the numbers go down of late.  Not too long ago there would be 19K to 22K players on TQ during my evenings, now that number seems to range from 16K to 19K.

This year the PCU hit its high point towards the end of April and has been trending down ever since.  Of course, that pattern happens to match the recent war as well.  Wars get people playing the game, but they also burn people out.  Even DBRB, a man of seemingly boundless energy who led fleets nightly for a couple of months, has wandered off the range to play ArcheAge.

Add in the fact that it is summer when people often go on vacation or simply go outside… I hear Pokemon GO is popular these days… and it seems like the cause of the recent decline is pretty easily explained with a bit of hand waving.

Of course, the PCU count has been going down for a while now.  But, then again, CCP has been making it easier to “play” EVE Online without logging on.

Back in my day there was no skill queue at all and you had to log in every time a skill finished training in order to get the next one started.  Short skills were a menace.  Starting a 12 hour skill before bed and knowing that it would finish while you were at work and the next skill would have to wait until you got home to start was a mild pain in the ass.  Level V skills were good, if only because you wouldn’t have to fiddle with that sort of thing for as much as a month, or even more with some skill.

Cormorant Docking - Trails On

Space, back before training queues…

Then we got the 24 hour queue, so you only had to log in once a day at most.  You could pack in a bunch of short skills and they would take care of themselves.  Life was better and we didn’t have to log in as much.

More recently we got a skill queue limited to 50 skills or 10 years in duration, which allowed people to pile on lots of skills and log in even less frequently.  You could play only on the weekends with that, and leave the training queue chugging along unattended for the rest of the week.

Finally, this year we got skill injectors so, with enough money, in-game if you are industrious, real world if you are well off, you can have all the skills you want right fucking now.  You can make a new character in the morning and be able to fly a titan by lunch.

Not that I really object to any of these additions.  As focused on level V skills as I am of late, I don’t want to go back to no skill queue at all.  And even skill goo has its place, as it tears down the barrier of time… for those who can afford it… so newer players can “catch up” to the veterans on the skill front.

All of which probably dented the PCU numbers, at least a little bit.  Beyond that though, they are indicative of my broader point, which I will get to any paragraph now.

MMORPGs… by which I mean the shared, persistent world sorts of game that were en vogue in the middle of the last decade, and from which I explicitly exclude lobby games, shooters, MOBAs, and what have you… are a niche, market no matter what Mark Jacobs may have said in the past.  People who play them, who put in the time, have a tolerance for the efforts required, who will pay a monthly subscription, are outliers in the video game market.

The core of the video game buys a video game, plays it, then moves on.  You mother, over there playing Candy Crush Saga on her iPhone, is closer to the core reality of the video game market than you are.

One of the many recurring dumb arguments I have seen over the years is whether or not video games can be considered a hobby or not.  When we get into MMORPGs, with their complexity and changing dynamics and time requirements, I would argue we are well into the domain of the hobby, and sometimes straying close to the boarder of obsession.

Among other oddities, MMORPGs stick around for a long time relative to other video games.  Yes, they get new content and technical updates, but you and your characters persist through them.

EverQuest has been around and getting regular updates since 1999.  How many other 1999 video games have gotten that much attention and effort put into them over the years.  Here is the list.  There are games there that were successes, faded, disappeared, and were revived with updated versions in the same time frame.  EVE Online has been going since 2003, and the list from that year is also very much stuff we don’t play any more.

MMORPGs, when they are successful, have long lives… for video games… that go through different stages.  I tried to map that out in a previous post.  There is the time of youth, the time of growth, when an MMORPG is fresh and new and a majority of its players are relatively new to the game.

And then there is middle age.  Growth has slowed down or stopped.  Some decline (Deklein?) has set in.  The majority of the player base are veterans of the game, and there tends to be a gap between the new players and the the vets.  In WoW or EQ or whatever, that tends to mean that the old timers are clustered at the level cap.  In EVE it manifests itself more in the form of skill points, knowledge, wealth, and stories about how things used to before there was “warp to 0,” but the effect is the same.  There is a gap.

And, at that point, the company has to decide who its customers really are.

Middle age isn’t a bad thing, not completely.

The heady vigor of youth is gone.  But there is now a base of resources and wisdom to build on, and things that seemed impossible in youth are viable.  As the SNL skit used to say, “I know how escrow works!”  I know this because I have bought and refinanced houses more than a few times, something 18 or 22 year old me would have found bizarre.

Likewise, CCP has built on what it created.  There was, and continues to be, an era of additional features to enhance the New Eden experience.

But for a middle aged MMORPG, its customers are the installed base.  They are the ones invested in the game, the ones who make the big in-game events possible, the ones who pay the bills month after month.

That doesn’t mean that a company should ignore new players.  New players should be encouraged, as replacements for departing vets are needed.  In fact, one of the greatest failures of CCP has been its consistently bad new player experience, which has been driving of potential players wholesale for the entire life of the game.

But new players aren’t showing up in sufficient numbers to pay the bills and there is no feature that CCP can add to the game now that will ever restore it to that era of growth it enjoyed for as long as it did.  I defy anybody to point out another MMORPG that managed to restore meaningful growth via any new feature besides simply giving the game away for free.

The installed base is the life blood of the game and CCP must cater to it, first and foremost.  Anything that isn’t focused on, or in support of, spaceships being out in space and fighting or controlling territory or harvesting resources or hauling or defeating the NPC scourge is extraneous.  Those are the customers CCP has now, and selling them out for some illusory potential new customers would be a tragic mistake, the sort of thing MMORPGs don’t bounce back from.

So where was I?  Oh, right, is EVE Online dying?

Yes.  Yes it is.

But I am also a bit of a fatalist when it comes to the big picture.  I too am making my way inexorably towards death.  Things have their time, and nothing lasts forever.  Some things have a recurring cycle.  I’ve been through almost half a dozen recessions, nearly as many droughts in my life, and a seemingly endless series of IT upgrade projects.  I expect I will see a few more.  Other things have a single arc; lives, video games, the earth.

So why EVE Online is dying, it is still in the midst of it arc, it is still in middle age.  There will still be opportunities, wars, PCU spikes, and general revivals based on space, friends, foes, and nostalgia.

In the end, we play EVE Online now because it entertains us and gives us fun memories.  The memories bit is why I write this blog, which reminds me that I didn’t even start off on the side track to the topic “EVE blogging is dying!!1!”  There is a whole different post in that, but I will live it alone for now.

So there I am.  Others have different, and likely more succinct and coherent, opinions on this month’s topic.  You can find them here and linked below:

And a couple of posts related to the picture being painted: