Category Archives: entertainment

PAPI Begins Pulling Out of Delve

Starting at peak EUTZ prime time yesterday PAPI finally put their long anticipated attack plan into motion.  They pushed a large number of subcaps through the gate between 1DQ and T5ZI while simultaneously black ops bridging strategic cruiser fleets into systems within the O-EIMK constellation in order to try and gain some sort of foothold.

O-EIMK Constellation – Aug 2, 2021

Pings went out for fleets on both sides.  It happened to be lunch time for me so I was able to jump in and get in the Mister Vee Eagle fleet, which warped off to the T5ZI gate in 1DQ in order to help with the defense.  Other fleets joined in and super carriers undocked and sent their fighters to the gate as well.

Off to the defense in the bubble sphere around the gate

Even as I logged in tidi was hitting 10% and there were more than 2,000 capsuleers in 1DQ, a number that would pass 4,000 at the peak of the battle.

It did not go well for PAPI.  Fleets coming through the gate into 1DQ were met with a hail of fire.  While they concentrated on the HAW dreads, Imperium forces chewed through their subcaps.

Ships in the bubbles

While the main line of the Imperium forces held the line in 1DQ, The Initiative moved out to contain the strategic cruiser drops elsewhere in the constellation, thwarting their plans, catching them refitting on a Nestor and destroying them, leaving PAPI few options.  When The Initiative was through with their mission they jumped through into T5ZI to shoot PAPI members attempting to retreat from the battle in 1DQ.

The battle report shows PAPI lost almost 3,000 ships in the clash.

Battle Report Header

The clash was enough to top the peak concurrent user number from the previous week, with 27,350 accounts logged into the game at the height of the battle.

Even before the fight in 1DQ was done there were reports that Legacy alliances were starting to unanchor structures in the areas they had taken from the Imperium, which came as a bit of a surprise to their allies.

As that news began to spread the alliances in PAPI started announcing to their members that they would be pulling out of Delve.  TEST declared victory and then said they would be leaving Delve, Querious, and Period Basis, the territory that they had vowed to live in when the war was done.

Over in the Brave meeting Dunk Dinkle was much more candid about the outcome, declaring that the Imperium had won because we were able to hold together even as the attackers started coming apart, and that they needed to leave Querious to escape the wrath of The Mittani who had apparently extended an offer to change sides about six months back.

On the Imperium side there was much rejoicing.

Celebratory doomsdays on the capitol Keepstar

We stood up to almost the entire rest of null sec for more than a year and came out the other end still in possession of our capitol and most of our assets.  I personally have very few items waiting for me in asset safety from structure losses as we had time and space to retreat back into Delve and then into 1DQ.  And we certainly had more than enough ships and pilots to repel PAPI’s final attack.

As for the war, it is far from over.  The Imperium has only become more charged up with this news.  There is much work to be done.

PAPI still needs to extract themselves from Delve.  The coalition will need to hold tight to get away safely lest the avenging Goons catch them and defeat them in detail.  Some groups will be able to safely retire back to their space.  I can’t see us going across null sec to try and attack Pandemic Horde or Fraternity, and some of the alliances that were in PAPI mostly in name towards the end will probably walk away without much impact.

But Legacy Alliance in general, and TEST in particular… if they think there will be peace living next door in their old space, they are sadly mistaken.  We all remember Vily declaring this a war of extermination against The Imperrium.  And he didn’t say that on fleet coms or in a Legacy town hall or on Talking in Stations, but to a major gaming news site.

When we started this war, we knew that we were fighting this to the end,” Vily told Polygon. “For us, this is a war of extermination. This is a war to the death. We are aiming for the removal of Mittani and The Imperium from Eve Online. […] We are here to purge them.

-Vily, in an interview with Polygon about the war

So expect that to come back to haunt him and those who follow him going forward.

Progodlegend suggested in his initial statement I listened to that TEST would just go back and take up residence in their old space… presumably after evicting some of the Imperium allies who now own a lot of it.  He blamed not being able to defeat the Imperium on game mechanics and claimed that anybody could hole up in a constellation and defend it indefinitely.   However, he didn’t seem keen to test that theory as it later came out that TEST would be headed for the Dronelands, on the eastern side of New Eden, far from Goons.  We’ll see if that is far enough.

As for who won, both sides will claim victory via various metrics of calculations.  Less than a month ago I speculated as to how the war might end.  I was wrong in thinking that PAPI wouldn’t just walk away I guess.  But I did point out that the usual ending in New Eden is that one side gives up and goes away, retreats from the field of conflict and finds a home elsewhere.  In my experience we rarely count that side the winner.

For the moment there is still a celebratory mood in 1DQ.

More V for Victory formations

We withstood the onslaught.  Now to see how the reverse of the flow plays out for us.  The last chapter of World War Bee has yet to be written.

Related:

56 Weeks of World War Bee

While we spent much of the week waiting for PAPI to prepare for the coming onslaught on the Imperium capitol, a true hero of the PAPI coalition emerged in the form of one Syrio Ikunen of TEST who managed to launch an electron bomb from their Purifier that caught a John Hartley Kestrel fleet dead on, destroying 119 Kestrels and two support ships in one go.

They were not the only attacker on the battle report, but their bomb was the most spot on and a majority of the Kestrels blown up were marked as solo kills attributed to them.  That Purifier has a lot of kill marks on it now.

Who got all the kills?

XtraSquishy captured a bit of the bomb run on video.

I am actually kind of bummed I missed that because I had one of those Kestrels sitting in my hangar waiting to get used. (I have now named it “Syrio Ikunen Target.”)  They’re zippy fun to fly around, but clearly they are a bit thin on the tank end of things.

One Year Ago

CCP did some updates to command ships, though I couldn’t tell you if that changed anything.

In the war I was out on a fleet in Paragon Soul with Dabigredboat chasing TEST dreadnoughts.

And in my summary of week four of the war it looked like 10 trillion in ISK had been destroyed so far, split fairly evenly between the sides.  Fraternity and PanFam had broken into Fountain and we were falling back.  Legacy was deep into Querious.

Delve Front

Since this was just move op and re-subscribe week for PAPI, the strategic situation in Delve did not change, so I can once again re-roll the same image of the front lines.

O-EIMK Constellation – Aug 01, 2021

The expectation, given the PAPI announcement last week, was that, come the weekend, things would heat up, that the actual assault on 1DQ1-A would begin.  And it seemed for the briefest of moments that this was going to come to pass.

As I got up and got online Friday morning I opened up Jabber and there were pings about hostiles in 1DQ.  I logged in, but all the fleets were full, so I undocked in a Kestrel to see if I could get a shot in on something.  I managed to get missiles away on one target before it blew up… my one kill mail in 1DQ for the week… before the whole thing was over.

But it wasn’t even a real attack on us.  Some Imperium pilot in a Nyx warped into a bubble and PAPI tried to take advantage, as we would in a similar situation.  It was just another minor skirmish in a week that was mostly minor skirmishes.  The weekend saw no assault, and every time PAPI pinged for a fleet we stood to with a counter and they declined to come to us.

There have been rumors of move ops heading away from Delve, rumors of structures being unanchored, and somebody noted that there were a number of titans for sale in the T5ZI Keepstar, the Tower of Legends as it has been named, just across the way from the Forge of Heroes Sotiyo, but there has been no official announcement that PAPI has called off the assault on 1DQ yet.  Even some PAPI members are getting tired of their inability to commit.

Meanwhile, the NPC Delve interdiction campaign, aimed at cutting off 1DQ from the rest of New Eden petered out when Imperium pilots shot up the first few bubbles deployed to the NPC station undocks.  Nobody seemed interested in maintaining the watch on 11 different camps.

As for the weekly Delve campaign report, numbers were up again as the Imperium prodded PAPI and shot structures and generally tried to be a pain.

Delve Campaign – Week 56

So there were a half a trillion in ISK in destruction, and that doesn’t even count all the clashes in E-VKJV, because that system is in Querious.

Other Theaters

Do we care at this point?  Something might be happening in Feythabolis, but no ihubs have changed hands.  Likewise, whatever was going on in Catch appears to have tapered off.  All eyes were supposed to be on Delve.

Really, the only interesting bit was Snuffed Out baiting Fraternity into another fight in the northeast.

My Participation

After hitting the 5K kill mail mark last week I was able to go back to flying logi… and promptly lost a Scalpel in a skirmish in E-VKJV between an Imperium Harpy fleet and PAPI Retributions.

Scalpel still alive

I also lost an Eagle late on Friday night when we went into E-VKJV to reinforce the Ansiblex jump gate there to make any attempt to go around the back on Saturday, when we expected that the assault might begin, a little more awkward.

Tidi makes for nice explosion shots

Given the lateness of the hour, I was surprised how on the ball the reimbursement team was.  I got my payout in under a minute.

Eagle loss paid out 47 seconds after being submitted

I am pretty sure this is becoming a point of pride for the Imperium after we keep hearing that some PAPI line members wait for weeks to get something.

I was actually fairly active as we went to visit PAPI in their space multiple times.  I was there in a Scalpel, an Eagle, a Ferox, a Kestrel (long after the fleet mentioned at the top of the post), and at one point we took a wormhole out to Insmother to try and nab a capital, but were too late so we caught a Thera connection back to Fountain and gated through T5ZI without incident.

Kestrels escaping from T5ZI

As a measure of the tide of the war, I was on 98 kill mails in week 56 and only one of them was in the pocked of space the Imperium still holds.  We spent a lot of time poking PAPI.

Anyway, the two losses above bring my total loss count for the war to:

  • Ares interceptor – 18
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Drake battle cruiser – 7
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Cormorant destroyer – 5
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 5
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar T2 logi – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Jackdaw destroyer – 4
  • Scalpel T2 logi frigate – 3
  • Guardian T2 logi – 2
  • Eagle heavy assault cruiser – 1
  • Scythe T1 logi – 1
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

CCP dropped the expected Grand Heist patch on Tuesday, releasing the reserve bank keys into New Eden.  I hope we get some report later on about how much of that ISK gets harvested by the groups that own the systems they are in.

The Grand yet Slow Heist

The whole thing got off on a bit of an awkward foot as the low sec sites with the keys were broken when the update hit and it took CCP the rest of the week to get things corrected.  I think things are good now.

CCP also started straight up giving us ISK in a login campaign.  I’ll take 235 million ISK thank you.

Collected them all

I wonder how this will influence the July MER?

They also reduced sales tax and broker’s fees in NPC structures by 50% for the next three months.  Again, I don’t think anybody is going to complain about making more money on market transactions, but I do wonder what the goal here is.  Are they trying to stimulate the economy, jump start production, or undercut the Tranquility Trading Tower in Perimeter?

The latter would be amusing for the Imperium.  Even if it wasn’t the intended effect, CCP made NPC stations cheaper to sell from if you have all the right skills, so a lot of trade moved from Perimeter to Jita.  While we get a 20% cut of the TTT, Pandemic Horde and TEST are much more dependent on it for income.

When it comes to the peak concurrent user number for the week, New Eden was up again.  No doubt the promise of a huge battle got people to peek in.  We’ll see how the failure of that to materialize affects numbers next week, but we saw the numbers pass 27K for the first time since week 49.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)
  • Week 34 – 35,626
  • Week 35 – 35,379
  • Week 36 – 35,085
  • Week 37 – 34,394
  • Week 38 – 36,319
  • Week 39 – 35,597 (Saturday)
  • Week 40 – 35,384 (Saturday)
  • Week 41 – 33,708
  • Week 42 – 33,521
  • Week 43 – 33,731
  • Week 44 – 33,742 (Saturday)
  • Week 45 – 33,758
  • Week 46 – 31,768
  • Week 47 – 29,898
  • Week 48 – 31,462 (Monday)
  • Week 49 – 27,914
  • Week 50 – 26,045
  • Week 51 – 25,661
  • Week 52 – 24,262
  • Week 53 – 24,290
  • Week 54 – 24,922
  • Week 55 – 26,259 (Saturday)
  • Week 56 – 27,176

Related

Welcome to Blaugust 2021

The time has come again, the annual neighborhood blogging event has arrived.

As I mentioned previous, back in the day this was a bit of a hardcore event, an attempt to get people to blog every day for a month.  But the blogging neighborhood was a bit different in 2014.  That can be a bit daunting for some.  We all write at our own pace and along the way the event became more one of cross-pollination, bloggers coming together to meet up, share a few ideas and opinions, and to link out to each other.

So I will get right to that first bit.  Here are the bloggers signed up for the 2021 event.

That is 39 bloggers as I write this.  We’ll see if I remember to update that number if the list grows.  And it could grow, because it it NOT TOO LATE to join in.  You can do it.  Just go read the informational post about the event, fill out the sign up sheet, and join the Discord server to say hello.

Believe me, it is easy to get started because you can just write a Welcome to Blaugust post like this and you’re already on your way.  It is practically a freebie, something a lazy person like myself appreciates.

There is, of course, some loose structure to the whole thing.  It isn’t required, but it there to give you something to chew on if you’re looking for a post idea.

The 2021 Calendar

The ambitious will be out the gate on day one with the theme of the week.  And then there is me, who will get to it on the Saturday, hitting the publish button at the last minute.  But you don’t have to get on board for that.  I just feel mildly obligated because I signed up as a mentor, so ought to lead by example or something.

Actually, I guess I am ahead this week.  As I said, “Welcome to Blaugust” is a bit of a gimme.  Others have already done theirs, but I am not as late as usual to the party.  If I were feeling ambitious I would list them all out, but I just put in a list of links to all the participating blogs, so you can just click on that if you want to see who is already on board.

There are still achievements to be earned, if you so desire.

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it! You created a new blog and we are extremely happy to welcome you into this raucous community. As a result we are going to recognize your efforts just for signing up.
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2021.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2021.
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2021.
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted 31 or more posts during the month of August 2021.

I personally aspire to the Rainbow Diamond Award.  I will try to post every day this month, proving both that it can be done and that you can make a bunch of blog posts and still not have anything profound to say.

Every blogger has their own style and standards.  Some sit on their posts and polish them.  Some won’t post unless they have something new and different to say. (“Should I repeat myself?” is often a topic of discussion on the Discord server.  I say you should, and certainly if you have had any change of heart of feel there is more that could be added.)

And then there is this blog, where everything is a first draft, a bit of a gut reaction, a memory jotted down in the moment that can be reconsidered at a later date.  For me it is better to have written and posted and the only posts I really regret are the ones I did not make.

Anyway, I’m already a post into the month, so I am on my way.

For those interested in the event… and I must stress that it is NOT TOO LATE to join in… you can find all the relevant information here.

July in Review

The Site

There has been some discussion of the summer slump that EVE Online has been in, with the peak concurrent user numbers taking a dive over the last month or so.  There are several theories and lots of possible influences on that number, not the least of which is that it is summer and pandemic restrictions have been relaxed so some people just want to go on vacation after 15 months stuck at home.

EVE Online gets the focus here because they let people see their online numbers all the time and there is a site dedicated to tracking them.  Other games are less forthcoming with these sorts of stats, which makes it look like it might just be a New Eden problem.

Looking at my own blog stats however, I see a similar trend when it comes to pages view when I bring up the week by week stats.

Weekly page views – May – July 2021

The current week is a little low due to the measurement being from Monday to Sunday, but you can see the trend down from May to July, which lines up pretty well with the weekly peak concurrent user number I have been tracking in my weekly World War Bee updates.

This is not to say that CCP doesn’t have other problems, but it feels like there is a bit of a slump in interest in video games after more than a year of people binging on them.

One Year Ago

The 2020 Steam Summer Sale finished up.  I bought some things.

In TorilMUD, aging was abolished.

SSG was compensating people for outages in Lord of the Rings Online.

Minecraft gave us the Nether Update.  I went out and found a crimson forest in the nether.

I was reflecting on Diablo II at its twenty year anniversary.  We didn’t know for sure there would be a remaster at that point.

Blizzard was getting us more details about the Shadowlands beta and launch.

In WoW Classic the instance group was finishing up Zul’Farrak and then meandering about Maraudon, which we finished up on our second run.

Blizzard was banning botters in classic while getting ready to open up the Ahn’Qiraj war effort event.  As part of the anti-botting effort they were limiting the number of instances players could spawn in a day, but we were at least getting some extra bag slots.

CCP cancelled their San Diego player event as Covid did not look to be going away any time soon.

I also resigned myself to the fact that, despite past promises, CCP was going to keep selling skill points in EVE Online.  (I’d feel better if they stopped being so dumb about it.)

In game we saw the launch of the Zenith Quadrant, the first part which was a small update to command ships, and an official capsuleer cemetery at Molea.  The June MER showed that mining was shifting to high sec after the resource changes.

But the bulk of my posts in July were about the opening of World War Bee, which I am just going to list out rather than try to create a paragraph narrative:

Five Years Ago

Pokemon Go was everywhere after it launched.  Everywhere.

I listed out the NBI Class of 2016.  I haven’t gone to check how many survived the year.

Daybreak turned off the last PlanetSide server and the game was gone… though it lingered on the server status page for a while.

Daybreak did launch a pair of special event servers for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  I was keen enough to go earn the special mount on the EQII server.

There was strange news for Turbine as their parent company, Warner Brothers, announced that they were transitioning into a mobile app development studio.  We wondered what that meant for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

In Minecraft I was tinkering with maps and night renders while Aaron created a huge map room in game.

In World of Warcraft I managed to unlock flying in Draenor.  Just in time too, as the 7.0 patch was already pre-loading.  Soon the garrison gold mine would be turned off.  And then it hit, bringing new features.

In EVE Online the Casino War was winding down.  There was a Keepstar to chase, the alleged hellcamp, and some sovereignty exchanges in Pure Blind.  That wasn’t really going anywhere though.  We killed four titans in Okagaiken and blew up a CSAA just to show we were still fighting.  But in the end we admitted defeat and began packing for our trek to greener pastures.

Our destination was Delve, ever the region that calls to Goons.  But first we had to get through Rakapas.  I was there for a bit before I ended up soloing my carrier down to our staging in Sakht, accruing the maximum about of jump fatigue possible.

I also hit 160 million skill points while the Blog Banter spoke of malaise.

Ten Years Ago

Google+ was already starting to become annoying. (At the end of that post I also link out to an article that predicts that social media in general, and Facebook specifically, will start to fade by 2014.)

I tried Civ World, the Facebook interpretation of the classic Civilization series of games.  I didn’t like it.

In EVE Online, the results of the emergency CSM Incarna summit were released with CCP basically saying, “Ooops.”

I hit level 50 in LOTRO, got into Eregion, and actually saw the door into Moria.   Only a couple of years had passed since I bought the expansion. Gaff was ahead of me, as usual.   Meanwhile, Isengard was in beta, but nobody was supposed to talk about it.

Getting lost… rules.

EA, BioWare, and their new Origin service got together and combined my accounts without bothering to mention they were doing it in advance.  Just another day at EA as I understand it.  Customers come behind their own convenience.  Still, I was interested in their authenticator and how it stacked up against others.

Speaking of authenticators, SOE made one available as well that looked just like the Blizzard model.  But they cannot be swapped, one for the other.  I got the official line from VASCO on that.

And on the EverQuest II front, they announced that they were going to revamp Freeport, which I took as a waste of time.  (Plus, of course, Qeynos got shoved off until later.)  I am still not convinced that either revamp was worth the effort of the time spent downloading the assets.  But I am not sure Beastlords were either.  They seemed pretty broken when they launched.

The instance group wrapped up our last adventure in EverQuest II Extended.  There were a number of ways the game wasn’t right for us.  It wasn’t just the ugly mounts.

The pending closure of Star Wars Galaxies led to interest (and concerns) about SWG emulation.

But PlanetSide 2 news was coming.

I started playing Need for Speed: World, a driving MMO.  It wasn’t a bad game with the right music playing.

Zynga helped reveal the two faces of Tobold.

And World of Warplanes was announced, which got me wondering if this might not be a spiritual successor to Air Warrior of old. [The answer to that was “no.”]

Fifteen Years Ago

Twitter launched.  This blog has been entirely part of the Twitter era.

Microsoft was talking about a device to challenge the iPod and denying they would ship an XBox 360 with an HD DVD drive.  Being on the mark half the time is pretty good for them.

EA was trying to retain people by giving out more stock options and revising under water options while Take-Two Interactive was being investigated over stock grant shenanigans.

The ESA announced they were downsizing their yearly E3 conference.

The Civ IV – Warlords, the first expansion for the title, came out on Windows,

Twenty-Five Years Ago

The perhaps unfortunately named (and all the more so given the current scandal) CUC International purchased Blizzard Entertainment parent Davidson & Associates and Sierra Online, which became the heart of the new CUC Software.  The company later became Cedant Software, Havas Interactive, and eventually Vivendi Games.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  3. California Explores Gaming Power Usage
  4. Robbing Some Space Banks
  5. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  8. LOTRO Launches the Shadowfax and Treebeard Legendary Servers
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. On Immersion
  11. The End of Scarcity Foreseen in EVE Online in Q4 2021
  12. The Fraternity Alliance Update and the Direction of the War

Search Terms of the Month

is imperiume tech stock the one that bill gates called the holy grail
[Google says “no”]

how to get to the scarlet desert eq
[I actually have a whole post about that]

sylvanas x anduin wordpress
[The math doesn’t add up]

minecraft warm biome near cold biome
[I have screenshots of an ice biome taken from a desert biome]

Game Time from ManicTime

I came into the month working pretty hard on WoW Classic, or at least alts there.  Then the war started heating up a bit in New Eden and I tried a playing a few other titles.

  • WoW Classic – 51.04%
  • EVE Online – 24.36%
  • RimWorld – 12.44%
  • Flashing Lights – 4.64%
  • MMO Tycoon 2 – 4.51%
  • World of Warcraft – 1.06%
  • New World – 0.95%

EVE Online

Lots of little things going on in New Eden, but the war itself wasn’t very exciting.  PAPI decided to take the summer off at one point, then changes their minds and now are coming back for a final try to take our capitol.  They’ve only had a Keepstar next door since November.

New World

So yeah, I pre-ordered and have played a tiny bit in the beta.  Things have changed a lot since I was in one of the early betas a couple of years back at this point.  I am not sure I am happy with the direction the game took.  But more on all of that at a later date.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go Fest was the big deal this month.  My wife and I did a lot of that.  But the climb from 40 to 50… that’s a lot of xp.  To get from level 47 to level 48 you need 21 million xp, which is more than levels 1-40 combined.  You need to be pretty hard core for that, and yet I met a level 50 player during the event.  In talking to him, he just does everything I do, just a lot more often.  For example, he has caught almost 400K Pokemon, while my total is about 18K.

Level: 41 (69% of the way to 42 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 654 (+8) caught, 677 (+2) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 13
Pokemon I want: Heracross would finish my Johto Pokedex
Current buddy: Noibat

RimWorld

With the coming of the Ideology update for the game, I bought it and gave it a try.  I will no doubt have some words to write about what changed, but in general it is an easy game to sink back into even with the updates.

Steam Games

As I noted, I bought a few titles during the Steam Summer Sale.  You can see I’ve played them a bit in the Game Time section this post.  I plan to write something about each of them.  But plans often fall by the wayside.  I thought I would have a post up about at least one of them by this point, and yet here we are.

World of Warcraft

It was a bit more than the usual routine for retail WoW this month.  I did the Darkmoon Faire quests, but then I spent some time with pet battles when they had the bonus event running.  Still, over all, I didn’t spend much more than an hour with the game.

WoW Classic

I went into July strong on Burning Crusade Classic.  Or, at least the vanilla content as re-worked by the Burning Crusade updates.  I leveled my rogue from 21 to 37 while working on crafting and some other things.  And then the giant harassment scandal blew up at Blizz and, while my subscription hasn’t lapsed yet and our group is still playing a bit… we have paid for the privileged… we’re also discussing what we ought to do.

Coming Up

August means we will be getting some Q2 2021 financial reports.  Activision Blizzard should be interesting because it ought to give some insight into what the end of the lockdown in many places has meant to video games.

When it comes to WoW specifically the 9.1 patch came out at the very end of Q2, so the impact of that and the flow of players from retail WoW into FFXIV won’t be reflected until Q3 results.  And Q3… well, now that the state of California is after Activision Blizzard for creating and abetting a hostile workplace, I can only see things getting worse for the company.  They’re just another Riot and all their words about diversity and inclusiveness were just BS.  If you needed an actual example of virtue signalling… trying to ride on a popular wave that you don’t really care about… this might be it.  The question time for the Q2 call should be lit.

Then there is EVE Online.  August is traditionally a slow month for CCP as it is the nicest weather all year in Iceland, so they tend to emulate the French and go on vacation if possible.  But World War Bee still… rages?  I am not sure it has “raged” at all in the last six months.  But PAPI has promised an all out assault on the Imperium capitol, so maybe the rage will return to space, rather than hanging out in r/eve.

And, of course, it is the start of Blaugust, the annual blogging celebration.  It is not too late to join in.  There will be more about that tomorrow.

Friday Bullet Points Vying for Medals

The Olympics are going on right now in Tokyo.  They’re a year late and the local population isn’t happy about having a bunch of strangers show up when we’re still in a pandemic, but if I turn on live TV… which I hadn’t done since January 6th… and find the NBC channel, there they are.

I saw some sort of skateboarding event, and I was surprised to find that women’s softball made a return to the games because the US women’s team is so dominant that they removed it as an event, so I am not sure what changed there.

Anyway, I have some “not quite a full post” items again, so I figure I will make them vie for medals as well.  Who will win the coveted Friday Bullet Points gold medal?

  • Blizzard Continues to Blow Up

After last weeks lawsuit and the company’s “nothing was broken and we’ve fixed it in any case” response, names from Blizzard’s past, including Morhaime, Metzen, and Street, popped up with minor mea culpas about their failings which both stirred things up and served as a counterpoint to Fran Townsend’s statement, which drew on her nearly four months of experience with the company to reject the results of the two year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

While more hostile workplace workplace stories continued to pop up about the company, many current employees… the people who have to put up with much of the bad environment that senior management and HR have allowed to fester… were very unhappy with both Ms. Townsend’s and the company’s response to the lawsuit.  Word was that work at the company had pretty much ground to a halt.  Around two thousand current employees signed a petition and a walkout was staged to protest the company’s response to the lawsuit and to demand that they fix the company’s toxic culture and roll back some of their more oppressive policies.

This got Bobby Kotick to finally release a statement apologizing for the tone deaf nature of the company’s response to the lawsuit along with a promise to do better, which included hiring a law firm to make sure any accusations were taken seriously.  And then somebody pointed out that the firm they hired was the same firm that Amazon uses to break unionization movements in their ranks and it all seemed like just more of the company trying to protect itself from its employees.  Employees getting organized makes management panic.

And then even more stories showed up, this time fueled by the social media accounts of male staffers who seemed quite unashamed about their behavior.  More just keeps showing up.

At least the WoW Team started removing mentions of former Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, who the company admitted was fired last year due to his behavior.

There’s a new field marshal in town… at least in retail

Meanwhile, institutional investors are mulling over a lawsuit about all of this.  Yes, you do have a fiduciary responsibility to not run a company like a frat house until the government sues you.

Medal Status:  Disqualified for doping… as in the place is run by dopes.

  • California has Standards

I was trying to figure out why a post I wrote early last year about a state of California sponsored study in to video game related power usage was blowing up in my stats earlier this week when MMO Fallout pointed to an article over at The Register about how Dell won’t ship certain computer configurations to California.  This caused a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth and headlines about gaming PCs being banned California.  How will gamers in the golden state survive?

The reality was a bit more nuanced.  Actually, The Register article was nuanced, but a lot of the follow on seems to be more fearmongering than reality.

The restriction isn’t even on peak power consumption, but how much power a configuration consumes when it is idle.  And it has nothing to do with building your own.  You can order your parts and put them together however you like.  Dell and other builders can figure this out.

Medal Status: 80 Plus Bronze score

  • Neverwinter Embraces Bards

The Bard class is one of those MMORPG things that, when done right, can be magical.  Bards in EverQuest, for example, were incredible, and all the more so because players figured out how to push them beyond their expected limits.

Sing “heal” dammit!

So when I saw that the next Neverwinter expansion included a bard class, I was immediately interested.  I haven’t touched the game in years and I doubt that will change, but I am curious about how bards will work out.  Their promo reads:

A versatile adventurer, the bard commands the power of song to be a powerful healer or a stylish combatant. Regardless of their path, it is a bard’s ability to perform that determines how far they can go

Seems in tune, but I will wait for the reviews.  The game is also undergoing a level squish, always a daring venture.  I wonder if the effort that goes into it will be worth the reward.

Medal Status: Silver tongued

  • Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons Expansion

ArenaNet has announced the target launch date for the next Guild Wars 2 expansion.  Called End of Dragons, it should be arrive in February of 2022.

But we get to end them, right?

As with Neverwinter, I don’t really pay much mind to GW2, but an expansion is worthy of note and Bhagpuss says it will even include fishing.  Sounds interesting.

Medal Status: Golden dragon scale of hope

  • Crimson Desert Mirage

Meanwhile Pearl Abyss, known for Black Desert Online and, to a lesser extent, their ownership of CCP and EVE Online, announced this week that their next bit title, Crimson Desert, has been delayed indefinitely.

The desert is implied I think

While Peal Abyss has other titles in the pipeline, Crimson Desert has been the big focus, so its delay may impact how the company does on the market.

Medal Status: Did not finish

Which Games Hand Out Cash in the MMORPG Space?

I mention in Tuesday’s post about the Grand Heist update for EVE Online that CCP had launched a new login campaign that included an ISK reward for Omega accounts.

Grand Heist Login Rewards

Universal basic income arrives in New Eden!

This got a lot of attention and the usual suspects were quick to call out anybody who seemed to be complaining about it, to the point that there were literally more threads started complaining about people complaining than there were actual complaints in /r/eve.

But there was a lot of “WTF?” in the air all the same.  This was in part because CCP has spent the last couple of years turning down ISK faucets in the game and generally nerfing income, which makes them suddenly handing out ISK a bit… strange.

I mean, I think we all can agree that it was an abrupt change of direction without having to dig into the “why” aspect of the whole thing.

In addition, at least for me, the whole thing was kind of strange because I cannot recall any MMORPG that I have ever played that had a daily login reward that just straight up handed you the basic in-game currency.

I have been given cash shop cash, vouchers, gear, cosmetics, pets, mounts, toys, vendor trash, companions, and all sorts of other game related items.  But the main in-game currency?  Never.

CCP, which has been doing login rewards for a couple of years now, both in ongoing daily and special event related forms, has been pretty stringent on not even giving you something that could be sold in game for cash.  They have over the years made so that most items they give out are consumed on redemption.  You can’t trade that SKIN from the event, so you better redeem it on the right character!  And the items that are not are generally of little value.  I mean, I am sure somebody has found a way to make some ISK off of those 5 run Tech I blueprints that we keep getting handed, but I haven’t.  I generally stick them in my cargo to add to the flavor of my loss mails.

So with this I wondered, for example, if WoW has ever just given me some gold?  Has EverQuest or EverQuest II ever handed me some platinum coins for just logging in?  I don’t think so.

The closest I can come is LOTRO and their daily hobbit presents, which sometimes hands you a pile of coins that you can bring to the vendor for in-game currency.  And they still aren’t just handing you some actual currency, just something you can sell to an NPC.

But my horizons are pretty narrow these days.  Among the many legitimate complaints you can make about this blog is the fact that I am still playing mostly the same games… and sometimes even the same content… that I was writing about nearly fifteen years back.

So maybe this is a thing that just hasn’t landed in the few titles I spend time with yet.

And thus I ask the question: Is this a thing in your MMORPG?  Do you get handed in-game currency in the titles you play?

Somebody has to have seen this.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bhagpuss?

Inquiring minds want to know.

As for the “why” of things, CCP is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and stashed away on a volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic.  We can guess, but I’ve heard from former devs is that CCP is so isolated from the rest of the industry that they end up arriving at various points more due to accidental circumstance than by design, even in an industry where this often seems to be the norm.

So some will say it is because of the sagging player count or the shrinking economy or to cover for the fact that the company will be mostly on vacation for the next month or that Pearl Abyss made them do it.  But it could as well be their form of the rainbow covenant, the sign to all of us that the economic starvation era is really coming to an end.

Anyway, we’ll see where things head.

Immersion in Middle-Earth

I set myself an ambitious goal.  I was all up in arms about immersion once again and, having had that blinding flash of the obvious association between immersion and enjoyment of certain titles, figures I could explore some past titles to see if that could pinpoint what makes for an immersive experience for me.

The danger here is that what is immersive can easily be confused with things I just like… and thus things that prevent or break immersion must be things I simply don’t like… and so the whole thing might just devolve into things I have praised or groused about in the past.

And “confused” probably draws too dark of a line between likes and immersion.  They are at a minimum fellow travelers.  But I know I can find cases where things I do not always enjoy and up in the mix of immersion as well.  The rather nebulous concept of “grind” fits in there.  Grinding mobs for a quest or just for xp can be bad… except when it is not.  Sometimes it is just what you need, and easy repetitive task that lets you fall into the rhythm of the game and your character.

Anyway, with all that and more in mind I thought I might take a stab at what I consider up front to be an easier title with which to pin down my immersion factors.

And the winner is Lord of the Rings Online.

Straight out of the gate the lore of the game is something I had been immersed in for nearly 30 years before it launched.  I was Book of Lost Tales and other bits and pieces published by Christopher Tolkien deep into it.  I used to knock out The Hobbit on a Sunday afternoon if I had nothing else going on and would re-read the main trilogy every two or three years.

So I was already sold on the idea… though that can be a hazard if the company doesn’t deliver.  But Turbine did deliver.  LOTRO might not be the most unique or well built MMORPG, but it looked and felt like Third Age Middle-earth to me.  The landscape, the buildings, even the stars at night are all amazing.

As well, the integration of the player into the story was done very well.  That was something I was worried about before playing the game.  One of my early posts on the blog, less than two weeks after I started, was a bit of fretting about how Turbine would handle LOTRO and lore.

But parallel path of the player through the tale, where you are handling important side tasks and occasionally crossing paths with the fellowship, is done with such care that it has never caused me much concern.

Knowing the lore and being predisposed to go along with it helped me get in the zone with the game.  There were certainly problems, especially early on.  The usual problems of running back and forth too much or perhaps spending too much time on the bear/boar/wolf circuit were pain points.  And the UI itself, with odd and sometimes indecipherable icons for skills and attacks… again, I have a post about some of that… were among my gripes.  But at least you got a lot of bag space up front, so inventory management wasn’t an immediate struggle.

Even the kind of goofy take on crafting, where you pick a vocation that gets you a basket of three trade skills plus the related harvesting was at least a slightly different take on things, though it could become something of an unpleasant grind on its own after not too long into the game.

So I found fun and interest and immersion to some degree on our first pass through, and immersion seemed to grown as I returned to LOTRO various times over the years.  I have mentioned before that having knowledge of the game when you come back to start from scratch helps things along and makes me feel more the champion of the free peoples.

To this end there are a string of zones that I enjoy running through again and again.  The starter zones not so much… I’m not really a fan of the Shire, quaint though it be… but once I am headed towards Bree I am very much engaged in the game and the story and the tale of my character.  Bree and the Old Forest and Midgewater Marshes and the Lone Lands and Evendim are my happy path, where I fall under the spell of the game, where I can feel myself get lost in the experience.

Things taper off a bit for me in the Trollshaws and in the Misty Mountains, and I have never been much on either Forochel or Angmar, the former being weighed down by so much running back and forth while the latter is just a bit too grim for my tastes.  But I still can carry on and find the zone through those and on into Moria.

And then somewhere, between Moria and Mirkwood my immersion fades and the game feels like a labor, the story doesn’t capture me and all the quests become like a weight dragging me down.

Mirkwood might explain it.  It is a dark and uninspired area into which you get thrown.  I’ve been through Moria well enough a few times now, but Mirkwood is truly an impenetrable forest in my way.

So I roll up any number of characters and get to level 40 and can be quite pleased.  I can push on and still enjoy myself.  But there is a limit beyond which there is no joy, no immersion, just grind.

It is tempting to blame Siege of Mirkwood, it being a blameworthy expansion, but even Mines of Moria, the epic underground adventure, begins to wear on me.  There is a temptation in me to revert to my “no good expansions” stance.  It is handy to reach for the idea that the initial crafted experience, the base world of any MMORPG, is a solid experience and only besmirched by trying to tack on a sequel.

I’ve played that tune any number of times, and it does have a ring of truth to it at times, especially with titles like Rift.  Changes in philosophy, new features piled on the game, attempts to be both true to the game and yet provide a new experience… to both player and developer, the latter who may chafe even more that the former at having to do the same old thing over and over again… must necessarily dilute from the original focus.

Expect, of course, I can find exceptions to the rule.  For every Storm Legion departure from the core tenets of a title there is a Ruins of Kunark that is a much needed seasoning that enhances an already delicious meal.

But as much as I might like to blame the torpor of Mirkwood and the darkness of Moria, I’ve boosted some characters past those locations.  I have tried my shot at Rohan a couple of times as well and failed, and I am told that Riders of Rohan was not a bad experience.

And here is where I risk sounding as though I am simply going to blame the failure of immersion on a feature I have complained about in the past.  Yes, I am going to lay this on legendary items.

I know, I know, the elevator speech for legendary items is pretty awesome.  I know I went in as a true believer when it came time.  You pick up a weapon that will grow with you, the potential of which you will unlock as you adventure with it.

That is truly the stuff of legends.  Arthur and Excalibur.  Aragorn and Anduril.  Even Bilbo and Sting are pairings many of us wished to emulate in our D&D campaigns or online adventures.  Strider doesn’t hand off his family sword to the nearest shop keeper the moment he finds something a bit shinier or with a slightly better stat.  No, he and the weapon are one and they fight together.

Unfortunately, Turbine screwed that idea up pretty badly and then proceeded to double down on it repeatedly… since late 2008.  Seriously, that is when Mines of Moria launched and as a feature it has just gotten worse and worse.

Let’s start with the basic problem, the immersion killed for me, which is that your legendary item is a needy baby constantly crying for attention.  At times it feels like you can’t get through half a dozen mobs before an alert pops up that it has leveled up and you have new points to apply.   And then there is the need to go back to camp to reforge it, which doesn’t happen as often, but still comes about way more frequently than it ought to.

And then, add on top of the constant nag that is your legendary, you then end up abandoning it down the road for the inevitable upgrade from a new expansion or update.  We are Aragorn abandoning Anduril every ten levels rather than every other level.

I used to think that maybe the whole thing was just a bad idea, that we shouldn’t level up weapons, that it is a flawed mechanic that should be avoided.  Then Blizzard did the legendary weapon thing with the Legion expansion and it was freaking brilliant.  And they even had a bunch of the same things I hated with LOTRO legendaries, like having to go back to town to upgrade it, but somehow made it work.  It was great.  Legion might be the last great WoW expansion.

And Blizzard had the good sense to not try to drag that on into the next expansion.  I mean, I was sad to leave Ashbringer behind and I missed the skills it enabled and the looks you could unlock with it, but it was probably for the best. (I’d seriously consider a WoW Legion Classic server I guess, just to do that again.)

So there it is.  Legendary items.

I mean sure, there are other things.  The monetization can pull me out of the game.  Having a “buy your way through this with some mithril coins!” mechanic does not jibe well with immersion.  But the mithril coin thing doesn’t show up constantly when I am out in the field questing.

I can get through escorting Sara Oakheart and running up and down the lengths of Forochel and people with crappy non-RP names and avoid a good chunk of the monetization by playing on the Legedary servers.  But even when I boosted past Mirkwood into Rohan the first thing in my face was the freaking legendary weapon and the need to do whatever.

There are literally a lot of things that people complain about when it comes to LOTRO that I can overlook like the stiff character models, the indecipherable iconography, the skirmishes, the dull housing, and how grindy crafting becomes as you move forward in levels.  But legendary items… that just kills it for me.

And I am not the only one complaining about them.  I remained amazed that first Turbine and then SSG not only kept rolling on with a system like that for more than a dozen years, but have only now conceded that maybe they ought to look into giving it a rework.

Anyway, after that reconnaissance by text of LOTRO, what are the take aways?  What makes for good immersion and what fails me on that front?

Immersion pluses

  • Familiar lore
  • Good adaptation of the lore to the game
  • Feeling of place within the game
  • Mechanics are familiar but not identical to other fantasy MMORPGs
  • Familiarity with the game
  • Well done landscape that feels like Middle-earth

Immersion minuses

  • Legendary items (primary)
  • Monetization (somewhat avoidable)
  • Poor content mid-game (Mirkwood)
  • Poor iconography
  • Lack of large monitor support (my 34″ monitor specifically)

In the end, LOTRO remains a game I have been happy enough to go back and play multiple times… at least the original content.  It is a game where I have often found immersion, traveling through the game, both as confidently as a ranger and as lost as a neophyte, depending on where I am.  (I don’t get lot in the Old Forest anymore.)

So this post was a bit of a gimme.  I already had strong feelings about what draws me to the game and what has pushed me away.  With this post I have set something of a baseline.  The question is, where do I go next?  Do I pick another fantasy title and compare immersion points, or do I try another direction and see if a very different game shares points of intersection?

CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online

As expected, CCP’s final update for July, named The Grand Heist, went live today.  It brought with it the long awaited ESS reserve bank keys, allowing players access to ~20 trillion ISK that has been piling up and inaccessible since the introduction of the mandatory ESS structures last November.

The Grand yet Slow Heist

In a surprising move, CCP also decided to straight up hand players ISK.  But I’ll get to that in a bit, first the reserve bank thing.

The reserve bank keys are now available in low sec sites that need to be scanned down.  The keys are available in four “flavors” with two variations.  The flavor is which quadrant of space they are useful in, the break down being:

  • SW: Feythabolis, Impass, Delve, Period Basis, Querious, Catch, Esoteria, Paragon Soul, Providence, and Stain
  • SE: Geminate, Curse, Detorid, Great Wildlands, Immensea, Insmother, Omist, Scalding Pass, Tenerifis, and Wicked Creek
  • NE: Cobalt Edge, Etherium Reach, The Kalevala Expanse, Malpais, Oasa, Outer Passage, Perrigen Falls, The Spire, Vale of the Silent, and Cache
  • NW: Branch, Deklein, Pure Blind, Tenal, Tribute, Venal, Cloud Ring, Fade, Fountain, Outer Ring, and Syndicate

The variations are the durations,15 and 45 minutes, which is how long the key in question allows you to siphon encrypted bonds from the reserve bank.  As with the main bank, the payout is in bonds that need to be turned into an NPC in order to convert them to ISK.  So the robber can get robbed trying to cash in.

So you don’t get all the reserve bank, but a steady payout for every minute that you and your crew sit in the ESS, up to the duration of your key.  The payout apparently ramps up over time, with a potential peak payout of 150 million ISK per minute.  That is some decent ISK, though it is still going to be a while before the current 20 trillion ISK is drained.

As I noted previously, some alliances have already nationalized some of their reserve banks, declaring that their output will go into the general funds to support the organization and its programs, like SRP.  Those not nationalized will likely still be harvested by the local residents.

In addition, the ESS structures and UI got a complete overhaul.  The small percentage of capsuleers than actually end up in an ESS will no doubt appreciate the new visuals.

Further details about the ESS update are linked at the end of the post.

But that is not all the update brings.  CCP seems to be all about the ISK at the moment, which seems a bit odd after the panic of the starvation economy and trying to make us all poor over the last year or so.  In order to celebrate the Grand Heist CCP is handing out ISK as login rewards for Omega clones.

Grand Heist Login Rewards

That is hard to see unless you enlarge it, but if an Omega account logs in for six days they will get rewards of 10, 15, 25, 40, 60, and finally 85 million ISK.  Not bonds or other items of value, but straight up in-game currency totaling up to 235 million ISK.

Handing out in-game currency as a daily login reward is pretty common with free to play mobile games, but I cannot recall an MMORPG giving out cash like this.  And this isn’t even an trivial amount.  For a lot of players, myself included, 235 million ISK is a useful sum.  I won’t be resubscribing any accounts to collect it, but I will certainly be sure to log in my subscribed accounts to gather this ISK largess.

But wait, that’s not all!

CCP is also trying to stimulate the economy by declaring something of a tax holiday, reducing sales tax and broker’s fees by 50% for the next three months.  So selling will net you more profit on the market between now and the end of October.

Both the ISK handout and the tax holiday are unprecedented in the history of the game.  CCP not too long ago went through a phase of raising taxes, again due to concerns about too much ISK coming into the economy.  Now they’re giving away ISK and reducing taxes.  It is almost as though they are reacting to something.  Can we be bribed to log in with ISK?

Anyway, I’ll be interested to see if there is a blip in the July or August MERs that line up to these two things.

The update is live in the game now.  Information is available at the following locations:

Addendum:

I now have a screen shot (thanks to Reddit) to prove the keys exits.

The info for a 45 minute SW key

Go forth and heist I guess.

55 Weeks of World War Bee

The week was largely spent speculating about what big plan PAPI was set to announce come Saturday… to the point that I was half convinced that PAPI made the pre-announcement to see if Reddit could come up with a plan for them.  So many posts.

The Fraternity alliance meeting early in the week suggested the point was going to be to end the war in the next 60 days, though after the announcement it seemed more like Fraternity gave notice that if WWB wasn’t wound down in that time they might move on to other tasks… like assailing the Tranquility Trading Tower in Perimeter.

When the announcement came on Saturday it managed to be both exciting and disappointing in one blow.  Yes, PAPI was going to go all-in on taking 1DQ.  Yes, capitals, supers, and titans were mentioned.  The possibility of headline grabbing giant battles was waved before us as PAPI seemed ready to pay the price to break into the O-EIMK constellation.

Only we would have to wait a week before any of that could get under way.  The previous message from PAPI was that they were taking the summer off so they need a week to get people re-subscribed and their ships back in T5ZI-S.  So we’re back to PAPI moves op.

To be fair PAPI won’t be idle for a week.  They have things to do, like cleaning up NPC Delve, from which the GSF BlackOps SIG has been making its presence felt.  But waiting a week to get ready also gives the Imperium a week to get ready as well.

Still, maybe something exciting will happen come week 57 of the war.  Maybe August will be the war’s final crescendo.  But what happens if PAPI doesn’t win in time?  Do they disband and go home?  Do groups like Fraternity leave while other try to carry on?  Does TEST look for some space as far from the Imperium as possible?

One Year Ago

PanFam and Fraternity were pushing into Fountain while TEST was being pushed back out of Period Basis.

Legacy then swept into the eastern half of Querioues, notably the the part most distant from the gate connection to Catch where they had set up their staging at the start of the war and where they actually lived.

In my Week 3 update I was covering multiple active fronts and noting how the PCU was climbing.  How things change.

The June MER showed mineral prices sagging a bit and CCP gave use a new monument in Molea, making the cemetery there a permanent feature.

Delve Front

The strategic situation in the region remained unchanged.  Roll the same map I’ve been using for three months now.

O-EIMK Constellation – July 25, 2021

The Imperium did take advantage of PAPI’s state of torpor to continue with hot drops as well as setting timers, shooting bubbles, killing a couple of structures, and generally reminding the enemy that we are not so contained as they might believe.

PAPI did rise to the occasion now and then and skirmishes were had, so not every kill mail was a gank or uncontested.  The Delve campaign report shows an uptick in losses, with the total once again passing the half trillion ISK mark.

Delve Campaign – Week 55

With people coming back that number should keep trending up.

Other Theaters

In Feythabolis Red Alliance is still holding on to two systems, having lost two more ihubs to the Warriors of the Blood God.

Feythabolis – July 25, 2021

Re Alliance’s holding in Impass remain intact, though that may be the next target.

And in Catch Dracarys and Siege Green look to be in a stalemate in the southwest of the region, on the route to Querious.  Dracarys is pushing on Siege Green but took back no additional ihubs over the week.

Catch – July 25, 2021

In Catch Dreadbomb Alliance scooped up the remaining unclaimed ihubs save for that one on the way to Impass.

There were also reports of war adjacent fighting going on in Fountain around the J5A-IX system, while Snuffed Out opened up their campaign against Fraternity which led to a dread brawl.

I expect that other theaters will be static while PAPI works on assembling for their final assault on the Imperium… at least if they manage to get everybody on board and focused.

My Participation

I hit a minor milestone in my EVE Online career, getting on my 5,000th kill mail.  It was, rather unspectacularly, a Mobile Large War Disruptor II, one of about 40 we shot in PAPI’s staging system while they sat around and watched one afternoon.  Our Harpy fleet was mostly unhindered. (Overall I think we blew up about 400 PAPI large bubbles alone last week.)

Harpies in T5Zi killing bubbles

I had mentioned before that it was low key goal of mine to hit 5K before my 15th anniversary playing the game.  5K isn’t a particularly impressive number.  There is a player in Fraternity who has nearly 74K kills, with more than 9K of them coming in the last 90 days, and they’re not even at the top of the list.  But 5K is a nice round number and, now that I have made it, I can go back to flying logi more often.

Aside from harassing PAPI bubbles, when the big announcement came on Saturday I was out in a fleet with Asher to entosis a couple of TEST systems in Delve… multiple groups went out to hit ihubs so that they would get a bunch of notifications during their alliance meeting.  There were a few clashes along the way, but mostly it was the first time I had flown a Tengu since the nullification nerf and the removal of skill point loss.

Tengus waiting for the blackops trip

Fortunately I didn’t lose my ship, so I didn’t have to test that last change.  I did get to try out the interdiction module when I jumped through a gate as instructed, only to be waved off when it was too late, arriving in the middle of a hostile gate camp.  I was able to trigger it, align, cloak, and warp off safely, though my pulse had increased noticeably  when I loaded grid.

With no losses for the week my total remains as:

  • Ares interceptor – 18
  • Malediction interceptor – 7
  • Drake battle cruiser – 7
  • Atron entosis frigate – 6
  • Cormorant destroyer – 5
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 5
  • Crusader interceptor – 5
  • Rokh battleship – 5
  • Scimitar T2 logi – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 4
  • Jackdaw destroyer – 4
  • Guardian T2 logi – 2
  • Scalpel T2 logi frigate – 2
  • Scythe T1 logi – 1
  • Raven battleship – 1
  • Crucifier ECM frigate – 1
  • Gnosis battlecruiser – 1
  • Bifrost command destroyer – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Mobile Small Warp Disruptor I – 1

Other Items

We got a July Update from CCP that announced the end of the starvation economy… some time in Q4.  It is good that there is now a faint light at the end of the tunnel, and we assume it isn’t an oncoming train, but CCP wasn’t forthcoming with details and we know they still want to keep the economy in check, so celebrations were muted.

Meanwhile, though the June MER, which was posted last week, showed mineral prices coming down, there was concern about morphite prices, critical to production, the supply of which seemed to be drying up, keeping the price of it rising rather even as production continued falling.

Focus returned to the Tranquility Trading Consortium, the shared venture between Pandemic Horde, TEST, and the Imperium.  It has long been called out as an oddity of the war that this agreement has held while PH and TEST have been attacking the Imperium.  The explanation has been that the deal is too lucrative to all the parties to let the war mess it up.

Now Fraternity has announced their plan to set up a competing trading outpost in Oijanen, a low sec system adjacent to their holdings, to get a cut of the easy sales tax money.

Meanwhile, The Mittani explained on the special Friday night edition of The Meta Show that the Imperium isn’t really a partner in the TTC deal.  Rather, we get a 20% cut to not make trouble.  So there isn’t any reason for the Imperium to leave, and if PH and TEST kick us out then we will go log in all the alpha clones we stashed in Jita and Perimeter back when the trading outpost situation was being contested.  That would be very bad for business, and would be all the more so with a competing venture coming online.

The TTC deal cannot last forever, but it will be interesting to see who finally breaks it knowing that it will all three members a lot of ISK.

Hy Wanto of Snuffed Out posted a long essay to Reddit about the problems with citadel game play which came with endorsements from other null sec luminaries, and even got a serious follow on post.  At least one person at CCP wasn’t interested however.

Somebody posted the manual for the Black Hand, the GSF spy organization.

On the PCU front, as I noted yesterday, the PAPI announcement at least had the effect of pulling the week’s peak user count up above the 25K mark for the first time in four weeks.  Big battles, should they come to pass, will help on that front as well.  But there is still more going on than just a slow war to keep the PCU down.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165
  • Week 12 – 36,671
  • Week 13 – 35,618
  • Week 14 – 39,681
  • Week 15 – 40,359
  • Week 16 – 36,642
  • Week 17 – 37,695
  • Week 18 – 36,632
  • Week 19 – 35,816 (Saturday)
  • Week 20 – 37,628 (Saturday)
  • Week 21 – 34,888
  • Week 22 – 33,264
  • Week 23 – 33,149
  • Week 24 – 32,807 (Saturday)
  • Week 25 – 31,611
  • Week 26 – 39,667 (Saturday)
  • Week 27 – 34,989 (Saturday)
  • Week 28 – 34,713
  • Week 29 – 35,996
  • Week 30 – 38,323
  • Week 31 – 38,167
  • Week 32 – 37,259
  • Week 33 – 35,886 (Saturday)
  • Week 34 – 35,626
  • Week 35 – 35,379
  • Week 36 – 35,085
  • Week 37 – 34,394
  • Week 38 – 36,319
  • Week 39 – 35,597 (Saturday)
  • Week 40 – 35,384 (Saturday)
  • Week 41 – 33,708
  • Week 42 – 33,521
  • Week 43 – 33,731
  • Week 44 – 33,742 (Saturday)
  • Week 45 – 33,758
  • Week 46 – 31,768
  • Week 47 – 29,898
  • Week 48 – 31,462 (Monday)
  • Week 49 – 27,914
  • Week 50 – 26,045
  • Week 51 – 25,661
  • Week 52 – 24,262
  • Week 53 – 24,290
  • Week 54 – 24,922
  • Week 55 – 26,259 (Saturday)

Related

PAPI All In to Win the War in Four Weeks

But they need a week to get ready… after waiting a week to make the announcement… after spending nearly three months with us bottled up in the O-EIMK Constellation… more than a year since the war kicked off.

There are days when it feels like they never really had a plan for the war.

Anyway, with a week’s notice for the announcement, when the time came it was the Imperium that seemed most invested, with more than 2,200 capsuleers logged into the capital system of 1DQ1-A and a few hundred more watching the back door of the O-EIMK Constellation in 3-DMQT, a gate away in T5ZI-S PAPI fell about a thousand behind the Imperium total.

O-EIMK Constellation – The focus of the war

Still, the announcement, spread across multiple PAPI alliances at 19:30 UTC yesterday, was at least enough to pull the peak concurrent player count above 25K for the first time in four weeks, with the numbers capping at 26,259 at just after 20:00 UTC.

The announcement time

That will make week 55 of the war the first real uptick, bringing it back above the week 50 peak, though still more than 1,500 players shy of week 49’s 27,914 peak.

Rumor is that Fraternity, which made a strong statement earlier in the week, was the force behind the announcement as it is alleged that they threatened to leave the coalition if there was not a serious effort to end the war.

In the TEST alliance meeting Progodlegend said that they would be going all in on defeating the Imperium, using capitals, supers, and titans to break down the defenses and take the Imperium’s final null sec defensive position.

The week’s delay is to get everybody resubscribed and back into T5ZI-S after Progodlegend previously said that PAPI was taking the rest of the summer off.  They also plan to use that time to try and contain Imperium harassment efforts coming out of NPC Delve, where they claim to have a thousand warp disruption bubbles ready to deploy.  They will need to defend those bubbles however, as Goons do love to shoot things that do not shoot back.

So that was the big announcement.  It looks like we will have at least another week of skirmishes and harassment before they get together the forces to begin the assault in earnest.  Progodleged asked that people give the effort four weeks once it started, that being their estimate as to how long it will take to grind Goons down under the weight of their attack.

How it will actually play out remains to be seen.