Category Archives: EVE Online

Leaving Rakapas and Arriving in Sakht

Given my lack of luck with convoy ops over the last few days, I decided to try and move my carrier forward on my own.

The route had been posted in the CapSwarm forum, along with some instructions for one awkward, no-station jump… which, as it happens, is the jump from Rakapas.

But first I had to go get some cynos lined up and in position to guide me along the path south.  I got on my second account, on my “main alt” character, the one with 110 million skill points, clone jumped him out of his implants alt, and sent him off to Jita to buy a few cyno ships.

I opted for simple, buying 4 Kestrels and fitting each with a Cynosural Field Generator I and loaded with 250 units of liquid ozone, enough to power the module for one cycle. (I obsessed and trained the relevant skill to V, just in case I needed to light a covert cyno.  More on jump drive operation here, if you are interested.)  I got my alt into one, contracted another to a second character on that account that I had trained up to be a cyno alt, and headed off to get myself situated.

Kestrel on the way out

Kestrel on the way out

I had at first thought about starting from Amarr or maybe Saranen, but as it turned out, Jita was by far the closest common point to the target systems.  Getting through to them, both in low sec, did not present any real problems.  The only hiccup I had was, after getting my main alt to his location, I logged on the secondary cyno jockey and was in such a hurry to fly out that, after I clone jumped him to Jita, I forgot to accept the Kestrel contract… or even get in a ship… and just started flying to the destination in a pod.  Yeah, slow down there bro.

After a couple of jumps I was suddenly all, “Oh yeah… the ship… right…” and went back to get it.  Once that was squared away, I was able to get out to the destination system and docked up without issue.

I logged him out, got back on my main alt, and got myself setup in the first destination system.  Since it lacked a station, the instructions in the forum said to cyno your capital in to the Astrahus citadel, let it refill your ship’s capacitor (citadels are handy like that, refilling and repairing like a full service gas station of old), and then warp off to the safe POS to wait out your jump timer.

Unfortunately for me, it was a Goonswarm Federation POS, which meant I wasn’t welcome inside unless I had the password.  So I was going to have to skip that step.  That meant facing the dire warnings about people coming to bump your capital off the citadel to get it out of tether range, at which point it could be blown up.

My solution to this was to jump out as soon as I possibly could, spending as little time as I could manage tethered.  That meant logging in the next cyno with the secondary alt, which would require logging off the primary alt, which I could not do until the cyno module cycle ended, something that takes a full ten minutes.

I decided to just light the first cyno and let module run to almost the end of its cycle before jumping in.  That meant I might lose the cyno ship before I could jump, but that seemed like the least cost failure scenario.  So I undocked him from the citadel and lit the beacon.

Earlier there had been a bunch of traffic through the system, but I seemed to have picked a quiet 10 minute window and my cyno ship went unmolested.  As the timer reached the last minute or so of its cycle, I undocked the carrier in Rakapas and made the jump, ending up hanging tethered on the citadel.

Archon tethered, cyno still burning

Archon tethered, cyno still burning

After the jump, I had a little over two minutes to wait before I could jump again.

The timer counting down

The timer counting down

The cyno did not last that long, and I was able to swap characters and get in position well in advance of the jump reactivation timer.

As I sat there on the citadel, I noticed on the overview that the system had a gate to Rakapas.

Wait, I went how far?

Wait, I went how far?

I had waited all this time to jump what amounted to a single gate?  Well, sometimes that is how things work out.

At the station I faced two potential issues for the next jump.  One was where to place the cyno.  I do not do this enough to have a favored position for each station type, as some people do.  After watching other people, I try to get both a ways off the undock on both the horizontal and vertical axis so as to avoid bumping and such.  So I picked a spot a bit out and above the undock.

The tactical overlay helps

The tactical overlay helps

The other problem was that I was using a neutral alt in a system that was full of Imperium pilots.  While it was likely they would assume a neutral cyno was somebody’s alt, there was still a non-zero chance that somebody would shoot it just because.  So I got undocked, setup, and lit the cyno as quickly as I could, jumping the moment it was up.

Carrier on the undock

Carrier on the undock

I docked up, op success.  I was now two jumps further down the line towards Delve.

I docked up my secondary alt when his cyno went down and traded him some replacement fuel that I was carrying along in my carrier, and sent him off to the next destination.  I had about two hours of jump fatigue and was planning to let that burn off before I jumped again, but I figured I ought to get the next jumps queued up.

The secondary alt got to the next station easily enough, at which point I logged my primary alt back in, flew him to catch up with the carrier to refuel, and then sent him off to the destination after the next one, so as to have two jumps lined up once again.

However, getting to that target meant flying through null sec space in the Syndicate region.  So it was not unexpected that, with the jump from low sec to null, I immediately hit a gate camp that had an interdictor.  It threw up a bubble when I landed in system and there wasn’t anything I could really do.  I decloaked and headed back to the gate on the off chance they were completely incompetent, but without an prop mod, that was a tiny gesture of defiance at best.  They blew up the ship and podded me, sending me back home.

Kestrel going down

Kestrel going down

But I had planned for that, expecting to lose these ships.  I had set my home in Jita for this, and was able to pick up another of the Kestrels I fitted out and started heading back towards the destination system again.  I stopped in a station before I got to the null sec transition again, thinking I would wait until later in the evening for that.

As it happened, while I was waiting, Asher pinged about a move op.  He was going to take people from Sakht, our current staging point, back to Saranen to pick up ships, at which point people up north could join the fleet and fly back down.

That seemed like an opportunity.  I couldn’t bring my main alt along to drive a ship as his jump clone timer still had many hours to go, but Wilhelm didn’t have a jump clone timer problem and was just sitting around in a station.  So I joined the op, watching it move around the map via a couple of wormhole connections, until it started to close in on Saranen, at which point I clone jumped to the area, picking the Oneiros I left parked in Ashitsu on Saturday.  As it happened, I did the jump just as they were passing through the system and was able to follow them back to Saranen.

Once there it was time for a break, during which I decided to fly my Cerberus down to Sakht.  Once everybody was back, we undocked and headed to the first wormhole, which was just a few jumps away in Eha.  We went through the wormhole, however it collapsed before everybody got through.  Those of us who made it were in Heimatar, in Minmatar space, where we had another dozen gates to take before we got to the next wormhole.

Those left behind in Eha were told where we were if they wanted to burn to us to try and catch up, but we moved on to the next hole.  However, the route to the next hole took us through what so many fear, high security space, and a 1.0 sec system in particular. (How can those rebel Minmatar have so many high security systems?)

Yes, we we're in Heimatar!

Yes, we we’re in Heimatar!

Those with negative security status avoid high sec space with its NPC enforcement complications, and a full 1.0 system posed a threat to some along for the ride.  Never having had a negative security status rating during my time in New Eden, I never think about that as being an issue.  Even though I have bad standings with the Minmatar and Gallente factions (-4.72 and -5.74 respectively, the latter which should make me “shoot on sight”) after running so many Amarr/Caldari missions over the years, somewhere along the line I trained the social skill Diplomacy to level IV, which mitigates that sufficiently that I am merely loathed, but not actively shot at.

Some in the fleet hadn’t invested in that sort of stuff.  We were set to burn individually at best possible speed to get past the high sec terror and to the next wormhole.  Several people were locked up by the local faction police, and the occasional potshot was taken, but faction enforcers don’t warp scramble and in at least one case the webbing action of an NPC actually helped somebody get into warp faster.  Basically, comedy ensued, but nobody lost a ship.  We went to Hek and back mostly unscathed.

Once safely into low sec space again, we collected up again around the wormhole and jumped through.  Everybody got through safely and, it being a low sec to low sec connection, we were all in Aridia, just a few jumps from our destination.  We flew on, scattering the smart bombing battleships that were gate camping along the way, to arrive in our new home.

Get Sakht

Get Sakht

So now I have at least been to Sakht this year.  I haven’t been this close to Delve since April of last year.

Of course, there is still work to do.  I have that carrier to move and a couple more doctrine ships to convoy down.  But at least I have made it through once… and I am no longer stuck in Rakapas.

Another Night in Rakapas

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

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

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

The station does seem a bit more cramped...

The station does seem a bit more cramped…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Held Over in Rakapas

i hate rakapas

-Jay Amazingness

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

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

When are we leaving Rakapas?

guys when is the next rakapasop?

is this the rakapas move op

what is the route from rakapas?

will there be ops in rakapas later on tonight?

any eta on ops scheduled from rakapas?

are we leaving from Rakapas ?

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

are we moving to the next location after rakapas?

can we still start now from rakapas ?

Which has given Jay a new appreciation of the system.

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

Destoration's awesome contribution to the cult of Jay

Destoration’s awesome contribution to the cult of Jay

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

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

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

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

Pointed Towards Delve

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

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

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

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

The general direction

The general direction

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

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

Approaching the titan

Approaching the titan

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

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

Another bomb lands on an Apostle

Another bomb lands on an Apostle

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

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

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

Hey, we have a video ad now too

Hey, we have a video ad now too

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

It was at that point I had a problem.

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

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

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

Making the next jump

Making the next jump

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

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

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

Last Moves Before the Big Move

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mymridon headed for recycling

Mymidon headed for recycling

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

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

Heading from YA0 to Saranen

Heading from YA0 to Saranen

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

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

Heading for the gate

Heading for the gate

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

Another tower in Pure Blind

Another tower in Pure Blind

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

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

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

And then another wait for jump clone timers.

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

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

Harpy on the move

Harpy on the move

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

Go little Harpy, go!

Go little Harpy, go!

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

The Imperium - July 21, 2016

The Imperium – July 21, 2016

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

Another Goon brand

Another Goon brand

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

Now living in Fade

Now living in Fade

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

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

Shooting another tower

Always something to shoot

Wait.  Shoot a tower.  Wait some more.

BB77 – Everything Has a Season

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

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

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

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

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

So is EVE Online finally dying?

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

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

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

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

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

Cormorant Docking - Trails On

Space, back before training queues…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes.  Yes it is.

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

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

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

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

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

Defeat in the North and New Destinations

The war, for whatever name you chose… Casino War, World War Bee, The War of Sovless Aggression… will effectively be over by the end of the week.

The Mittani announced on the weekly fireside chat yesterday that The Imperium would be packing up and leaving Saranen. (Recording here, since it is already up on Reddit. The meat of the announcements are in the first 10 mins.)

I have previously had people tell me that the war was over already because The Imperium lost all of its sovereignty, or because they personally were done, or, most bizarrely, because Reddit wasn’t talking about it enough, as though Reddit defines reality.  But I have always maintained that wars aren’t over until the losing side admits defeat and goes away.

Well, here is that admission.  We lose.  End of war.  Fabian strategy failed.  The reconquista has been postponed indefinitely.  The MBC/CFC 2.0, rules the north.

So the fight, which has been going on for over six months for some of us, is over.  I know that there are ops going on this week, running into Pure Blind, but my heart isn’t in it now.  Of course, part of that is because we were told to pack all of our stuff and be ready to move this coming weekend.

I favor Vanilla Quafe myself

Good bye to the Quafe Factory Warehouse, Saranen V, moon 9

I was just enough ahead of the curve that I got nearly everything out of Deklein and Tribute before the MBC began to actively contest those regions.  There is still a Harpy in one station, a blockade runner in another packed with a final bit of stuff, and an Oneiros I put up on contract in UMI-KK.  But that is about it.

I sent a lot of it to Jita to be liquidated so as to have ISK for a protracted war, but a good chunk of useful stuff ended up in Saranen.  And my stockpile in Saranen grew as we swapped doctrines and I had to buy new ships time and again.

Now that all has to go… somewhere.

Even before the fireside chat was over I had repackaged a bunch of ships and modules and contracted them to be shipped to Jita.  That was the first pass, the easy picks, the ships no longer in doctrine and related items, 100,000 m3 of stuff.  It has already arrived safely.

But I am still left with a lot of stuff in Saranen, more stuff than I can easily move, including a carrier.  Since I am not part of CapSwarm, I am not sure how I will get that safely to wherever we might be headed.

Of course, that is the big question of the day, where are we headed?

If you look at the current null sec influence map, you will notice that there isn’t a big empty spot in sovereign null sec for us to simply move into.  So we will have to take some space.  But where?

Even leaving aside our old space, space occupied by groups with which we have agreements (various Russians), and space that is just shit (sorry Period Basis), there are a variety of possible destination regions on the map.

Where will The Imperium go?

Where will The Imperium go?

Delve is the classic Goon location and has NPC null stations to stage out of.  Querious has good access to empire space.  Fountain is old, familiar territory, though a bit close to the MBC.  Etherium Reach keeps some proximity to the big trade hub in Jita.  And the others… well… they are far away from the MBC.  Who is likely to follow us to Omist?

Everybody has a guess as to where we will be going, but the official announcement won’t come until the end of the week.

Wherever we are headed, we have been told we will be there for a long time, a year or more perhaps.  And that brings up the question of how this will change The Imperium.  Some people are tired of the war and want a place to settle into and in which they can rebuild.  Others are invested in Deklein and the north, either identifying with it strongly or having left a lot of their stuff behind.  This long march into exile may winnow down our numbers further.

As we head towards the new normal, whatever that may be, the winding down of the war and the summer downturn in PCU numbers has led to the usual “EVE is dying!” reaction, which is the topic of this month’s blog banter.

I won’t be joining in on that, I have too much to do in game.