Category Archives: entertainment

The Coming of Refineries in New Eden

Upwell structures continue to take over New Eden.  CCP put up a dev blog about the current state of citadels and engineering complexes with some informational tidbits such as:

  • Over 7800 different player corporations have at least one Upwell Structure in space right now.
  • Four player alliances have active home citadels with more traffic and trade volume than any NPC stations except for the big four trade hubs and the newbie systems. The busiest of them has also surpassed Rens in trade volume.
  • The top 100 most active industry facilities in EVE (measured by industry job output value) so far in 2017 consist of 13 NPC stations, one Outpost, one Starbase array, one Citadel and 84 Engineering Complexes.

The new structures have definitely been embraced by a swathe of the community.

Keepstars are the new centerpiece of player empires

As a follow up to this, CCP also posted a dev blog about the next Upwell branded structures they expect to release, Refineries. (There is also a survey to gauge how you feel about these structures.)

Refineries will replace player owned starbases in the role of moon mining, and the act of moon mining will go from passive act (or passive aggressive according to Kirith Kodachi) to a much more active process, where chunks of the moon will be displaced into space to be collected manually.

Everybody’s current favorite moon chunk picture

According to the follow up questions and answer post, this will mean the end of siphons.  Since harvesting from moons will be a more active process, stealing the moon bounty will also become something you have to get out there in a ship and do directly.

There is still no time frame for when Refineries will be coming to the game.  I suspect that we will hear a lot more about this at Fan Fest, which is coming up in less than two weeks now.  Over at INN there is word that CCP Fozzie will be appearing on the Talking in Stations podcast with Matterall to discuss what has been announced.

This means one less activity for player owned starbases, the familiar old POS that has dotted New Eden for many years now.  With moon mining operations gone, the purpose of the POS will be as a place for jump bridges, cyno beacons, and cyno jammers.

When the POS finally disappears, it will be the end of an era.  I have spent a lot of time in game “shooting the stick” and forming up in the protective force field that surrounds the central tower of a POS.  My first ever fleet op in null sec involved shooting a POS.

Modules blowing up back in 2011

In the new world of structures, with their vulnerability timers that let you control when you have to fight, I have no doubt there will be some nostalgia for the old POS once it finally disappears.  You could go and shoot one to reinforce it whenever you wanted.

Why yes, I will shoot this POS

And nothing will replace the giddy feeling when the shield hit points drop below 25% on a tower you expected to just reinforce.  A boring old POS shoot suddenly becomes a kill mail.  Those days will soon be behind us.

Minecraft and Coming to the End of My Road

The end of the road is in sight, and I mean that literally rather than in some sort of gloomy metaphorical sense.  My long term project to build an overland route between the Forest Mansion I found last November and our central surface world rail network is about 90% complete.

In December I started on the road project to cover the 20km gap between the mansion and the nearest mine cart rail stop.

Status back in January. Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

As of this week only about a 2km gap remains between my current forward location on the road and the nearest base and rail stop.

So much closer

The road has taken a while largely due to logistics.  Given an infinite supply of cobblestone in my bag, I could have completed the road in a few sittings.  Having to manage a limited inventory, finding or creating resupply points as the road moves forward, and having to deal with the day/night cycle and the hostiles that spawn after dark make for the challenge of the project.

Also, it allows me to indulge in one of my favorite tasks, which is base building.  In order to not totally bog down the road building effort I have tried to limit my major bases to NPC villages, desert temples, and the like so that I have some structures available to set up in.

A Desert Temple base on the road

Desert temples make good bases, so long as I have some wood on hand to make a few doors.  I go in and loot the treasure in the basement, then set off the explosive trap down there, running away before it blows.  That opens things up so I can mine cobblestone easily.

Villages however tend to tie me down for a while.  While showing up at one gives me shelter, the Minecraft algorithm for placing them seems to just drop them on the terrain rather haphazardly.

A desert village on the only hill in sight

This leads to me spending time “fixing” villages. After I have picked a house to setup in, placed a bed and some chests for storage and built a corral for horses, I can’t bring myself to move on until I level out the paths and make sure all the buildings are accessible.  Placement often leaves a few buried up past the doors so you cannot get in or out.

And once I am doing that I also light up the village with lots of torches, straighten up the pathways, and add a bunch of doors to get an iron golem to spawn to defend the villagers.  If the village is far enough from the previous portal, I put up another nether portal to connect to the nether transit hub and maybe build a tower to make the village more visible from a distance.

A fixed up village with portal and tower

So every village becomes a new side project.  I suppose I have a vision of them being used as bases by other people, though at the moment there is scant activity on our server aside from my own work.

I did try to expand my working hours by keeping more tamed wolves around me in order to fight off hostile spawns at night, to the point of breeding a pack.

Happy wolves looking to be fed, also an iron golem and the back of an auto-furnace

Wolves can be fragile however.  You have to keep them healed up by feeding them, and securing a supply of meat to feed them led to breeding a flock of sheep.  And still I was losing them pretty regularly.

Damn dog, I am busy over here with slimes!  Slain by a spider

That was all becoming a more effort than it was worth, so I gave up on any illusions about working through the night in order to keep pushing ahead rather than wasting time traveling back and forth from the nearest camp to sleep.

So progress has been made and the end is in sight.  At this point I think it might work best for me to head back to our core territory and build the road northward to link up with what I have build already.  That will give me the advantage of drawing from already established supplies.

See Your Space Wealth

Yesterday we got another minor patch on top of the YC119.3 update that gave us a new feature.  Per the updated release notes:

Added a Total Net Worth counter to the character sheet. This is accessed by clicking a ? icon in the character sheet header. This counter updates once every 5 minutes.

So now not only can you see your total ISK on hand by checking your wallet, but looking at your character sheet will give you your estimated net worth.  Clicking on the question mark will break the two numbers out so you can see how much you hold in ISK and assets.

Wilhelm… the background color behind the name is sub-optimal

This isn’t a startling new thing.  Some third party apps, such as Neocom on iOS and the internal GSF utility EVE Thing have been able to give you such an estimate in the past.

However, then citadels came along and mucked everything up on the data front, something we’ve yet to recover from.  The two apps I mentioned just don’t know about any assets you might have in citadels, while EVE Mon reliably crashes every time it tries to tell me a sales order was completed in a such a structure.  Since I don’t really pay attention to the CREST API stuff, I can’t tell you if that isn’t up to par yet or if the utilities haven’t caught up, but citadels certainly seem more opaque than stations when I go hunting for data.

Anyway, I am actually surprised my widely spread assets are valued at that much.  Almost 22 billion ISK seems like a lot of money for me to have tied up in stuff.  I have an Archon and an Apostle, which together add up to maybe 5 billion ISK.  But other than that, I have some normal-ish sub caps, none of which likely exceed 300 million ISK in value, and then a bunch of modules and ore and other crap strewn across stations all over New Eden.

So I suppose the next logical feature to ask for is some sort of ranking list to show what assets are tying up how much wealth, because my gut says there is probably 10 billion ISK worth of stuff I don’t use stored away somewhere.

CCP Revises PLEX Plan to Reconsider Aurum

To cut straight to the chase, CCP announced in a dev blog that they are not going to gyp you out of your Aurum if you have a balance less than 1,000.  Last week they were going to draw a line at 999 Aurum or less in the name of the economy and I was dubious as to whether they would hold the line on that statement.  They’ve given out lots of penny packets of Aurum since it showed up and are worried that converting it all to the new PLEX would flood the market.

Honestly, I am never going to replace this PLEX graphic

While the design of the game may have started with the line “Death is a serious matter,” death is mostly trivial in New Eden, it is the economy that keeps the game going.  They can fix death, but if they screw up the market the game is done.  But the hew and cry about lost Aurum was loud enough that they had to listen.

So instead of doing the PLEX conversions all at once, those with Aurum balances under 1,000 will get their conversion three months after the fact in an effort to buffer the impact on the economy.  There is still no word on when the initial PLEX conversion will happen, so that will be three months from whenever.

Also, as part of that dev blog I learned, as no doubt many others did, that there are actually Aurum tokens in the game.  I’ve never seen one, nor bothered to look.

Look quick before they’re gone

Those will be coming out of the game when the change hits.

CCP has also said that they will be doing sales/promotions in the New Eden Store so that if you want to spend your Aurum before the change, there will be something to buy with what you have.  They also announced a new ship SKIN for Cormorants, Caracals, and Drakes, but that comes in at 800 Aurum per SKIN and you probably only have a balance of 300, so you’ll have to wait for another offer.

Not really sure who the IGC is, but they have a nice SKIN

Meanwhile, there is always a “somebody is going to get screwed” aspect to changes like this, and while people with low Aurum balances seem to be off the hook, those who have paid Broker’s fees in order to list PLEX on the market are now the ones who will be losing out.  In the first dev blog CCP promised to refund Broker’s fees when the conversion went in and all current listings were removed.   The new dev blog though says that isn’t going to happen:

…our team discovered that we don’t actually have the ability to refund fees at all. In EVE, fees are paid as a transaction when an order is placed and not tied to the order itself.

Oops.  The back up plan here is just to give you lots of advance notice that if you list a PLEX on the market and it is there when the change comes into effect, you can kiss that ISK good-bye.  Of course, as noted above, we still don’t know when this PLEX change is going to come into effect, so we don’t know how far in advance this advance warning will be.  And, of course, CCP doesn’t have a great track record getting the word out to people, though that doesn’t distinguish them from other MMOs.  As an audience, MMO players likely aren’t as engaged as you thing they ought to be.  If you’re reading this you are a special snowflake when it comes to actually paying attention.

Furthermore, I have to wonder if getting the word out is a good plan.  What happens when people stop listing PLEX on the market to avoid the possibility of losing their Broker’s fee?  Supply will shrink and prices will go up… and if they go up enough people will start listing again because the Broker’s fee loss will be covered by the price increase if only the person listing can sell some of their stock.  Because there is likely to be a price drop once the change has been made and a lot (but not all) Aurum is converted to the new PLEX.  Maybe?

What do you think?  Is CCP going to screw up the market here, or is there enough ISK going through Jita to buffer this change?

For those interesting in hearing more on this, Talking in Stations did a show that included a discussion of the topic with CCP Rise to help sort things out.

The Next Pokemon Release Will Be…

My guess is that the next Pokemon title will be a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl is where I joined Pokemon

And when I say “next Pokemon title” I mean the next release of the core RPG game that runs on the Nintendo handheld platform and not some subsidiary title riding on the Pokemon fame like Pokemon Snap or Pokken Tournament.

So why remake Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

The core Pokemon franchise has been one of patterns over the years.  They are not always consistent, but they seem reliable enough to give one insight into what might come next.

The pattern started off with a release of a pair of titles… Red & Blue, Gold & Silver, Ruby & Sapphire, followed by a third title that represented a revision of the initial pair, respectively Yellow, Crystal, and Emerald.

Once Nintendo moved from the GameBoy and GameBoy Color to the GameBoy Advance and then the DS hardware, GameFreak used that as an opportunity to remake titles.  So Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen, HeartGold & SoulSilver, and Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire came to be, reviving old locations and old foes (and already existing Pokemon) on new hardware with new features.

Having recently released a pair of titles set in a new location with new Pokemon being added to the Pokedex, it seems logical that the next title they go with will either be a remake of a past title or a third title to go with Pokemon Sun & Moon.

There are actually rumors of a Pokemon Stars out there, rumors that even I have heard, and I don’t pay much attention to much outside the official press releases for Pokemon. But that name sure fits the theme.

However, the rumors seem to be about this title coming to the Nintendo Switch as opposed to the 3DS platform.  If that is the case, it doesn’t count in my book.  Meanwhile, the whole “third title” pattern seems to be in decline.  The last true “third title” was Pokemon PlatinumPokemon Black & White got a Black & White Version 2, which stayed in the same region but which was a different story line, so that was sort-of a third (and fourth) title, but not in the spirit of past releases in that mold.  And then Pokemon X & Y, the first 3DS-only title, got no follow on third title, even though they had a Pokemon setup already for feature in a possible Pokemon Z.

Because of this, I think third titles might be out for now, which leaves a remake as an option.  So when I went to look for the oldest Pokemon generation that had yet to be remade, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl was the result.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl seems about prime for a remake.  It came out in Japan over ten years ago, and is coming up on its ten year release anniversary in other regions soon.  That makes it feel like it is about due, as previous remakes were of titles 8-10 years in the past.

One difference however is that you can still play Pokemon Diamond & Pearl on the current 3DS hardware.  The flip side of that though is Nintendo looks to have stopped shipping the DS only titles, likely because the infrastructure to support those games, the old Nintendo WiFi and such, has been dismantled. Nintendo is up there with EA in closing stuff down as soon as the next title comes out.  So while you can find copies at Amazon or eBay, but they aren’t on the shelves at Target, WalMart, or Toys R Us for a reason.

And when it comes to that Pokemon Bank integrated National Pokedex of which I wrote last week, there is no official way to buy Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (and Platinum as well) in order to obtain the full range of generation 4 Pokemon.  And, unlike the Pokemon Black & White games, even if you have a copy you can’t get your Pokemon straight into Pokemon Bank.

Of course, there is another alternative.  Since Pokemon Diamond & Pearl already runs on the current 3DS hardware, Nintendo and GameFreak might decide to simply spruce the titles up a bit and put them in the Nintendo online store as Virtual Console titles the way they did with Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow back at the 20 year anniversary of the franchise.  Then it would be back to the old school look.

Pokemon Diamond back in the day

That wouldn’t be horrible.  I might buy a copy if they included Pokemon Bank integration, which I am sure they would would.  But I would really rather have a remake title the way they have done in the past.

No matter what is coming next for the Pokemon franchise, I bet we won’t hear an announcement until autumn.  I will just have to wait to see if my guess is correct.

PLEX Shattering Proposal for New Eden

Yesterday CCP made public their intention to change PLEX, the in-game item that can be bought, sold, moved, blown up, redeemed for 30 days of Omega game time, and occasionally redeemed for Aurum or multiple character training.

This old screen shot may make PLEX look more expensive than reality soon

CCP wants to make PLEX the universal secondary currency so that you will only have ISK and PLEX… and LP if you’re into that, but that is a whole different thing.  To do this CCP wants to break a single PLEX into 500 units of PLEX, in which capacity it will replace Aurum, the unloved New Eden Store currency.

CCP also plans to introduce the PLEX Vault, wherein you will deposit your PLEX to be used and where your PLEX will be accessible to any character on your account from any station or citadel location you can use in New Eden.

The Proposed PLEX Vault

Anybody who has a PLEX right now will end up with 500 PLEX when this change goes into effect, while anybody who has 1,000 Aurum or more will receive 1 PLEX for every 7 Aurum they hold.

The logic behind the 1,000 Aurum cut-off is in the questions at the end of their post:

Q: Why are you only converting Aurum balances above 1000?
A: A large portion of the total Aurum stockpile is in small balances left over from past giveaways and by not converting those small balances we mitigate risk of oversupply in the PLEX market

Basically, if you have less than 1,000 Aurum you probably got it from us for free, so screw you we’re taking it back now that it might have actual in-game ISK value.  I will be interested to see if there is enough hew and cry about this to get CCP to relent on this front.

And, of course, the other big change here is that PLEX becomes a digital currency more akin to ISK, something that is in a wallet you can access where ever you go.  I suppose that makes a bit of logical sense, as opposed to PLEX being a physical object in your inventory.

This potentially means no more PLEX-tanked frigates worth billions of ISK being blown up… remember the first big loss, involving a pilot who could have kept his account going for over six years if he hadn’t stuff 74 PLEX into an unfit Kestrel and undocked… if people are smart.

The thing is, people are not smart.  That people, to this day, still move PLEX in rookie corvettes is proof of that.  There is almost no need to do this, as you can activate PLEX remotely and buy it via contract from anywhere in New Eden.  So I live in hope that stupid will out and that we will still see the occasional PLEX kill mail since CCP plans to leave in the physical aspect of PLEX if you want to take it out of the PLEX Vault.

And, if everybody does suddenly get smart, we still have skill injector losses.

So that is the plan.  There is even a video with CCP Seagull explaining the plan.

 

There is no announced date for this change yet, and even the UI proposal is tagged as a work in progress, so there is still time to head to the forums and howl over any aspect of this you do not like.  I fully expect CCP to relent on the 1,000 Aurum limit for conversion to the new PLEX, if only because some people will have residual balances less than that which they paid for.

But at some point in the future any PLEX you have… which could be worth as much as 1.2 billion ISK each…  will go away, replaced by 500 new PLEX worth as much as 2.4 million each.

As somebody who doesn’t use PLEX, the only change for me will be a lack of comedy kill mails I suppose.  But as somebody who has some Aurum and buys ship SKINs now and again, this will be a bit of a boon, since it will be easy enough just to buy new PLEX with ISK in the quantity I need for a given transaction.  This might make the New Eden Store more viable.

This may be the biggest change to PLEX since it was introduced over eight years ago.

Addendum: Official forum thread for feedback on this plan.

EverQuest Turns Eighteen

The date has come again where I tell you I still have that receipt from Fry’s for a copy of EverQuest dated March 16, 1999 and reminisce for a bit about the good old days and what a revelation an open, 3D world was back in 1999 and how far the game has come and how amazing that here, eighteen years later the game is still live and viable and getting updates and expansions.  I think you will find similar posts just about every March 16th (or 17th if I was lazy) over the life of the blog.  Ten years ago today there was a post here on the blog about EverQuest turning 8.

And there is nothing wrong with that.  Why shouldn’t I celebrate something that clearly left a mark on my life?  The EverQuest team is celebrating as well.

They can now buy cigarettes and vote

There are all sorts of things going on in old Norrath, with new events, bonus experience, and the return of old anniversary favorites.

You can even get a free level 85 boosted character between now and March 31.

Being level 85 makes you heroic by default

The offer is good for any account that has ever played EverQuest or any new account that is an All Access subscriber.

There is also a new Producer’s letter up that, among other things, promises a new Progression server called Agnarr that will stop unlocking content at Lost Dungeons of Norrath and simply stay there.  There is also an explicit statement that there will be an EQ expansion this year, as though we would doubt that at this point.

All good stuff for a game that continues to defy expectations and carry on despite its age.

1999 EverQuest Trivia from 2011… the level cap is 100 now

But the anniversary also brings up some questions as well.  A lot of MMORPGs have come and gone during the game’s run, and it is purported to still be one of the most popular/highly populated games at Daybreak.  This leads me to wonder how long can EverQuest last?  How long will it keep getting updates?  What combo of critical mass and notoriety does an MMO need to hit to achieve this sort of longevity?

I have failed to answer those questions before, though not for a lack of trying from time to time, starting with a post back in 2007 when I wondered how many more expansions the game would get.  This was at the time when the EQ team moved from two expansions a year to just one.  I guessed two or three.  So very wrong.  Currently Daybreak summarizes the game’s features as:

  • Experience 18 years of continuous development including 21 expansions of amazing content
  • Build your character through 100 levels of power
  • More than 500 zones to explore
  • Choose from 16 unique races and 16 distinct classes
  • Thousands of Alternate Abilities available to further customize your character
  • More than 50,000 items to earn and collect
  • Hire and control unique mercenaries to aid you in your heroic adventures
  • A robust in-game marketplace containing potions, weapons, armor, and mounts
  • Solo, Group and Raid across continents filled with perilous dungeons, eerie crypts, floating landscapes, and underwater adventures
  • Participate in several seasonal and holiday events throughout the year

Anyway, another year passes and Norrath still seems to be going strong.  Same time next year?

My past anniversary posts, just to keep track: