Category Archives: EVE Online

A Keepstar Waits in the Hole

A Keepstar and a Sotiyo are down in J115405… along with various other smaller structures… but the timers on several more are counting down.

Structures in their final timer… and some mobile depots

The big circles are hostile structures, with each circle divided into thirds, each third representing one of the steps necessary to destroy it.  Each is already past the shield and armor steps, waiting only for the structure timer to arrive.  Over the next five days there will be some more fleets to kill them.  But the big one is coming soon.  The second Keepstar, Unassailable Wealth, is less than a day away.

Soon to be assailed

We got out last night to support the Initiative contest the armor timer.   We got out our Ishtars, and I climbed into my Guardian to fly logi, while our friends in INIT undocked their Raven fleet once more.

Ravens hanging off of the INIT Fortizar

Once more though, no ships undocked to try to fend off the attack.  Instead we were left to dodge the Keepstar defenses, its point defense system, its bomb launcher, and the dreaded doomsday that can reach out and hit even the elusive Raven fleet.

There is just a bright blue spark that appears on the Keepstar structure to let you know the Arcing Vorton Projector firing and the lightning is coming.

The lightning forming on the left side of the structure

Then it arcs out towards its target, bouncing across six more ships before dissipating.  The FC’s Raven was the target, with others eating the rebound.

Ravens exploding after the hit

Fortunately for the attackers, while this weapon pretty much ensures a few subcap kills on each firing, it has a 10 minute cycle time.  We only had to face it twice during the armor timer.

The second firing was just as effective as the first, the FC being the target both times.  The second time the fleet logi had their Typhoon pre-locked and reps running on it.

Armor reps on the Typhoon already

The Typhoon went anyway.

Here comes that lightning again

However, the kill mail showed that the Typhoon wasn’t fit, so an economic victory since it was probably insured.

After that there wasn’t time for the Keepstar to fire again.  The Ravens finished up the armor timer, with our Ishtars adding their bit.  The armor layer was soon burned down and the Keepstar did that transition effect that indicates that the structure timer is up next.

The Keepstar light show

The timer was set for 23 hours from that point, putting the final even at some time just past 00:00 UTC.  We will see if there is any final effort to contest this Keepstar and whether or not it will be anything like the loot pinata of the first.  I am sure somebody is busy tonight delivering 3200 cap boosters to lots of people just to make the loot hunt that much more dramatic.

Sotiyo Boom

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, while we were waiting for Fort Knocks to come out for the final timer, we diddled around and pushed a Sotiyo through its armor timer.  That came out just as I got home from work, so I quickly logged in and hopped into one of my ill-gotten loot ships from the Keepstar haul, a Hound that, judging by its name, was one of bombers from the Initiative fleet that night.  No doubt it was dumped to pick up a sweeter ride.

The ride of a barbarian on his way to a sack

I logged on to see that the Sotiyo timer was already paused.

Attack in progress

I didn’t bother to find a fleet or anything.  There did not appear to be any hostiles in the vicinity.  I just warped in at 50km and started orbiting the structure, sending torpedoes down range.

Not that I was making a big dent.  The Initiative was out again in the Raven doctrine spewing missiles from their blob.  The Ravens were packed so tight that you could barely distinguish one from another.

Ravens on the go

Somewhere there is a bomber FC looking at that blob and dreaming of lining up a perfect run.

And as missiles flew, the lights and the logo on the citadel flickered as if with the blows.

The Hard Knocks krab

There were others arrayed about the Sotiyo like myself, singletons who had dropped drones or were launching from a distance, showing a bit of care lest they get caught.  However, nobody was gunning the Sotiyo and no fleets showed up to help defend it.  The damage cut through it, dropping the last 40% in about 10 minutes.  Then it began to brew up.

Those are not fireworks

At least I got on that kill mail.

There was some loot ejected from the structure.  There were some hangar containers strewn about.  But it wasn’t anywhere close to the feeding frenzy of the Keepstar.  I could have grabbed a Catalyst.  A spray of those showed up in space.  But I already had more ships on hand than I could fly.

The lack of threat showed in the cleaning up after the kill.  A Roqual salvaged the wreck of the Sotiyo before I could even get a screen shot.

That isn’t the final target though.  In the picture above you can see a Keepstar.  The second Hard Knocks Keepstar, the one named “Unassailable Wealth.”  That one has also been reinforced.

The count down has begun

We may find that whatever wealth that structure contains is assailable after all.

Meanwhile, this killing of a wormhole Keepstar has made another group nervous it seems.  Nobody wants to host the next loot pinata party I guess.

Fort Knocks Way Down in the Hole

There in J115404 the Keepstar was waiting for us.  The trip into the hole on Saturday was going to pay off.

Fort Knocks over a planet

The Keepstar called Fort Knocks had been initially reinforced by the Initiative.  The whole venture was the culmination of about a year’s planning and logistics and it was came to its culmination last night.  The Initiative had jumped into J115405, the wormhole system colloquially known as “Rage,” taken over the static hole into the system, and reinforced the Keepstar named “Fort Knocks” last week.

Fort Knocks, as noted over at PC Gamer, was the first Keepstar to be brought online in New Eden.  That article will also tell you a bit about Hard Knocks, the alliance that built it.

As noted, once the Initiative launched their plan, bringing out their pre-positioned assets and taking over access to the hole, the Imperium was invited along to participate, and Asher brought the Reavers into the hole on Saturday.

Sunday saw the armor timer for Fort Knocks come and go uncontested.  Hard Knocks gunned the structure, hurling bombs, running the PDS to shake off drones, and zapping those who dared stray too close with the doomsday.  But they didn’t undock a fleet or otherwise put a serious attempt into defense, nor did allies or other wormholers come to help them.

There is a legend that wormholers will band together in the face of outsiders, k-space dwellers, coming in to attack them.  But, then again, Hard Knocks has played the role of wormhole tyrant in the past, so perhaps that sense of unity did not apply to them.

Instead, Hard Knocks looked to be preparing for the end largely by shifting some assets about and by undocking and self-destructing capital ships to collect the insurance before the end.

Not that they were not beyond some hijinks.  Putting capital ships on the undock and self-destructing them was an ongoing temptation for those besieging the system to warp in and take a shot in order to get on the kill mail.  And then the doomsday would fire from the Keepstar and some unfortunate would get to “ride the lightning” for their trouble.

Even Asher lost his Monitor FC ship when he warped our fleet over to a Moros stuck in a bubble after somebody in fleet reported it as being far enough off the Keepstar to be safe.  It was not and Asher got to ride the lightning as well.

That, in a wormhole, is a pretty big pain in the ass.  At least he did not lose his capsule as well, because then you’re in your clone in normal space.  There is no jump cloning to wormholes.  Still, even with a capsule left you pretty much have to fly into the hole the ship you plan to use, as wormhole space isn’t just another system in New Eden.  You can’t just get a ship and fly back.  You have to find the right hole, or series of holes, to go through to get there.  Fortunately, somebody lent him a ship and he was able to arrange to get another one sent in, likely via an alt, so he was back in a Monitor by last night.

Anyway, come last night we were pinged to log on at about 01:00 UTC, or 5pm my local time.  We were forming up for the final timer.  We got into fleet and sorted ourselves out as usual, undocking to hang off the Raitaru and survey the system.  There was about a half an hour left to go before the big event.  Wrecks of capital ships were still lingering on the undock of the Keepstar.

Capital wrecks on the undock

But before that there was a Hard Knocks Sotiyo that had been reinforced.  We flew off to do the armor timer, anchoring up on Asher to hang about avoiding the defenses as we shot the structure.

Cruising around the Sotiyo

We had enough firepower to stop the timer, but not enough to hit the damage cap on the structure, so we were still shooting it when the Keepstar timer hit.  But the Initiative was already on the job and stopped the clock there right away.

Timer paused at Fort Knocks

As expected, the Initiative was out with the structure killing Raven doctrine, a mass of cruise missile spewing battleships trolling at long range and being jumped every so often to avoid bombs.

The Raven blob commeth

They have pretty much perfected this doctrine and have killed structures in the face of titan support without capital ships to back them up.  They shoot and then they scoot as the blob gets booshed along.

The jump effect forming before the fleet

They also had a fleet of torpedo bombers out as well taking shots at the Keepstar, giving enough well handled firepower that the result was never in doubt.  Without a fleet of their own, Hard Knocks could annoy the attackers, unshipping some, sending others back to K-space if they got podded, but could not stop them.

We finished up reffing the Sotiyo and then set on a Raitaru and watched as the circling fleet chewed away at the structure of the Keepstar.  The more damage the citadel received, the more the lights in the hangars, and even the Hard Knocks logo, dimmed and flickered.  A nice effect by CCP.

As the end of the structure grew near, Asher warped us in at 30km to get in some hits so we could get on the kill mail.  However, we were in and out too quickly for my light drones to get in a hit.  I had a sentry drone in my cargo bay for just this situation, but had forgotten to swap it out, making this this third Keepstar kill mail this year I failed to get on because I was in the logi wing.  There was no time to go back as the structure soon began to brew up.

Keepstar Coming Apart

My alt, cloaked up in an Astero 40km off the Keepstar did have a Bouncer sentry drone in his bay, so I was able to launch that and get in some hits, so at least he got on the kill mail in time.

The kill mail is here, and over a thousand people managed to get on it.

And then there was the big boom as the Keepstar blew up, leaving a huge wreck behind.

The remains of the first Keepstar

But that wasn’t all that was left behind.  In normal space, all the stuff in an Upwell structure goes into what is called “asset safety” and is delivered to the nearest low sec station 30 days later, where it can be retrieved for a fee.  This was CCP’s response to years of null sec outposts changing hands, locking people out of their homes and leaving all of their stuff stranded.

In wormhole space however there is no asset safety.  Instead, Upwell structures are giant loot pinatas, and the oldest Keepstar in the game might have been the biggest and richest loot pinata of them all.  When it blew up all of the items people left in hangars was spewed out into space, forming a ball of loot consisting of almost 2,000 hangar containers.

The loot ball with tags on

Each one of those little yellow tags contains what was left in somebody’s hangar.  Each of them is a present in space, waiting to be opened.

A hangar container floating about

Some of those containers held great wealth.  There were dreadnoughts with 10 billion ISK fits.  Huge piles of PI materials.  Officer modules.  Freighters.  Blockade runners and Deep Space Transports.  And there was combat ships galore.

There were also cap boosters.  Somebody wryly seeded many people’s hangars with a single 3200 cap booster, the equivalent of getting coal in your stocking at Christmas.

And so a frenzy of looting began.

Because this was their operation, based on all of their planning and hard work, the Initiative was given exclusive access for the first 30 minutes after the Keepstar blew up.  But there was so much loot on the field, and it kept showing up for quite some time as CCP’s code processed through the hangar of each and every capsuleer who ever left anything in that Keepstar… and some who didn’t, because you can “deliver” things to people in Upwell structures now, which is how Doomchincilla ended up losing so many ships during this event despite being nowhere in the vicinity so far as I know… that there was still a huge pile to sort through when we were given the all clear to join in.

The PL killboard sullied with all those frigates

The code even went a little wonky, throwing out containers around the other Keepstar that were flagged as belonging to LAWN.

What followed can only be described as a sacking of a Keepstar as people filtered through cans, ejecting ships to fly around, grabbing items, and blowing things up they couldn’t carry off.  It was such a crazy event that I would be in favor of foregoing asset safety in null sec if this could be a regular spectacle after every structure kill.

That might get too crazy in normal space where every random outsider could try and show up to claim some loot, leading to even bigger numbers straining nodes during such fights.  In wormhole space the crowd is fairly well constrained.

Of course, we were also all stuck there in wormhole space.  You could grab huge items and haul them off to a local structure, but actually getting stuff out of the system was another matter indeed.  A couple of people in Reavers managed to grab dreadnoughts.  Ratknight1 was the first, picking up a Moros out of a can.  He flew it to the friendly Fortizar, insured it, then undocked it to self-destruct in order to collect the insurance.

Ratknight1’s Moros exploding

I was in time to help out with that, so at least I got on one kill mail this month.  That is all I ask, just to prove I’m still around and playing.

As time went on people went from grabbing all they could to blowing up everything in sight.  A gaggle of Praxis battleships was disgorged from one can close by me, but as I closed in with my pod I couldn’t board any of them as they were all locked up and being shot.

My alt managed to jump into an Ishtar and fly it off, taking out some time to shoot Ratknight1 as well, then docked it up to go out again.  He got a Hound stealth bomber next, allowing him to zip about to check cans… though it was only an afterburner fit, so maybe “zip” isn’t the right word.  But when it became clear that we had reached the time of just blowing stuff up, he just joined in to shoot things.

The pillaging looked set to carry on for quite some time still, but I tired of it once it turned to blowing things up.  I docked back up, leaving the two ships I snagged to inspect later.  I’ll see if there is anything worth stripping off of them then likely insure them and blow them up.

Even as I was logging off there was an Imperium fleet up to get people back to Delve.  But Reavers are hanging around for a bit.  There are still structures to blow up in J115405, like that Sotiyo that is coming out soon, and the other Keepstar looming across the way.  Where there are structures to shoot, Reavers will be there.

Other coverage of the event:

The December Update for EVE Online brings War Dec Changes, New Ships, and the Start of the Holiday Event

It is time for the December update for EVE Online.  One of the key things up front for this update are changes to the War Dec system.  CCP put out a dev blog on these initial changes, but the key is eligibility.  As was discussed previously, this change will not allow players to war dec a corporation unless it owns a structure.  The following structures count:

  • All Upwell Structures (including Upwell FLEX structures)
  • Starbase Control Towers
  • Player-owned Customs Offices
  • Sovereignty Structures (Infrastructure Hubs and Territorial Control Units)

If your corp does not own one of those structures then you should be immune to war declarations.

And, to close a glaring loophole, the second change is to add a setting to disallow structure transfers.  At least CCP could foresee that war dec corps would seek to bypass the structure rule by simply transferring a structure to their prospective victim and then declare war.  There is now a setting in the corporation details tab that allows automatic rejection of structure transfers, and the default setting for that will be true.

That is expected to be the first round of changed for war decs as CCP tries to figure out how to deal with this issue.

Also coming with the December update are two new Triglavian ships, the Rodiva and the Zarmazd.  These are the previously mentioned Triglavian logi cruisers.

Logi cruiser hull model

Unlike other Triglavian ships, this one comes as both tech I and tech II, aligning to the logi cruisers from the empires.  Only the blueprint for the Rodiva will drop and you must go through and do invention on the copy to get a Zarmazd blueprint.

There are also armor rep blueprints going in to match the two new ships, available as Abyssal drops.

The niche for these new logi ships is that their reps get stronger the longer they stay on their target.

Also coming to Abyssal space is a set period of invulnerability when transitioning through Abyssal gates.

The update also introduces the 2018 holiday even for EVE Online.

Thirteen Days Only

Called the Thirteen Days of EVE, you need to log your account in daily to claim prizes… like an advent calendar… but you have 17 days, so you could miss a couple days and still get all the presents.  The prizes include some new things EVE, including a standings booster, new Candy Chromatic SKINs, straight up skill points, and, for Omegas only, a booster with three uses that will allow the pilot to use skill injectors without the diminishing returns penalty.  That means people like me, with over 80 million SP on a character, could get the full 500K of skill points from an injector rather than the 150K one gets normally in that situation.

A sample of the rewards

That last item requires you to log in for the full thirteen days.  But that is easy enough and there is no reason not too.  Details are available at the event site.

The update also lays down the groundwork for the next in-game event, Operation Permafrost.

Coming soon

As usual, the event will come to you via The Agency and will require you to accumulate points for rewards.  At EVE Vegas is was mentioned that this event will bring your ship down into the atmosphere of a planet, giving the art team at CCP a chance to show off some more fancy new environments.  Details are currently up on the live event page.

Also on the graphics front, CCP has added atmospheric auroras to planets.  They only show up at random times though, so you have to be there at the right moment to catch them.

A Megathron spotting an aurora

Another possible background for screen shots.

A lot of the rest is just the usual tweaks and minor fixes that accompany any update for the game.  However, there is one innocuous one in the mix that I want to call out.  This one:

Adjustments have been made to the respawn rates of certain nullsec anomalies. These adjustments are part of a gradual ongoing process that will see further tweaks for this type of content.

As rumors have it, the “certain nullsec anomalies” are havens and that this is a direct poke at titan ratting.  Yes, titan ratting is a thing.  The alleged reason is that at the current respawn rate a titan can can use its boson doomsday, clear a haven, and another one will have spawned by the time the titan has recovered and is ready to keep rolling.  We will see if there is a corresponding dip in the NPC bounties with the coming of the December MER.

So that is it.  CCP has already announced that the update has been deployed successfully.  Information about it is available via the patch notes and the updates page.

Waiting for a Hole

We had been warned that something might be coming up.  We had been given hints about when it might be and had been asked to have doctrine ships ready to go in 1DQ1-A.

Doctrine ships were no problem for me.  I had left them all in the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A when we returned from the war up north in the big move op.  So I figured we were ready to go.

Finally, yesterday, the ping came.  Asher was going to take us out for some sort of deployment again.  People logged in, got in fleet, and waited.  I got into my Guardian, put on the Emergency Response SKIN, and sat on the undock ready to go.

Guardian waiting

And there I waited for a while.  Asher told us where we were going.  There was an operation afoot to kill the Hard Knocks Keepstar in wormhole space.  There info about that over on Reddit as well as an update this morning over at INN.  We were waiting for a wormhole that would get us there.  In the meantime we were advised to pack for a week’s stay without any resupply and likelihood of living in space the whole time.

I docked back up.

I had not stocked up on enough supplies for that sort of expedition.  So, as we waited, I grabbed a mobile depot, a cloak, enough drugs for four long battles, replacement drones, a couple of sentry drones in case we shot a POS so I could whore on the kill, the extra modules we are supposed to carry but which I tend to leave in the station because we never swap them out.

I also got out my alt with the perfect scanning skills and put him in his Astero.  I was going to drag him along to get myself out of the wormhole should I get left behind.  I loaded up the Astero with extra probes, a back up mobile depot, extra drones, extra drugs, and a few more items.  If there was room in the fleet he was coming with us.

There were discussions going on as to how much to bring with us and what else we might need.

But eventually we went back to waiting.  The hole that we had logged in for hadn’t been right, so we were waiting for the next one.  Comms quieted down.  Asher, with not much else going on, went to appear on the Meta Show.  I pulled up the iPad and watched U.S.S Callister episode of Black Mirror.  I also undocked my alt and zipped around the system for a bit to see the new jump gate.  I didn’t really have to go far to see that.

The jump gate right off the Keepstar

As I idled on tether at the Keepstar I noticed an orange glow on one of the uprights that could only be an explosion.  I looked up in time to see a Rorqual coming apart.  A neutral had jumped to the cyno beacon and had been bubbled and blapped.

I didn’t quite get the camera on the beacon in time for the excitement, but if you are sharp eyed you can see the Rorqual wreck at the top of this screen shot.

Cyno Beacons are always bait

Before the Meta Show ended, while Asher was still on, a whole became available.  He pinged us to be ready go and had us free burn into Fountain.  There we grouped up and took our first ride on one of the new jump gates.  My first ride at least.

Jump Gate Ready

I had already setup the auto-pay on Wilhelm, but my alt wasn’t set yet and I have to approve a payment for 2,900 ISK in fuel to jump his Astero through.

From there we had another burn, though we traveled as a group this time.  Well, some of us did.  The more eager took the destination as a free burn.  Those of us more familiar with Asher’s style knew that if he didn’t say to free burn we would be going together and everybody should just jump through every gate and then align to the next one in order to be fleet warped.

Landing on another gate

Eventually we arrived at our hole.  The fleet gathered together so we could go through as a group.

Waiting for the word to go

When we all seemed to have arrived, Asher sent us through.  We were in Thera.

Once there we took the long warp to another hole, only to find somebody had been left behind.  DBRB went back to be a warp in for him.  One the lost sheep was collected, it was through the hole.

Only it collapsed before everybody got through.  A chunk of the fleet had been left behind and had to eventually wind their way back to wait for another fleet.  Apparently the Initiative had just pushed a fleet through that hole, so it wasn’t as fresh as we had been led to believe when we set out.

Those of us in the new hole were scattered about the system, the effects of a hole collapse.  I seemed to be inside of the sun.  Asher warped some people to our next hole, but that only caught some of the fleet so we had to wait a bit to collect.  Then we were off again, through nearly half a dozen more holes until we arrived in J115405 and saw the Hard Knocks Keepstar.

The Hard Knocks Keepstar in J115405

The armor timer was already running, the shields having been hit already.  The armor timer was set for late USTZ, so it seemed likely that I would be able to get online to see the fights that developed.

And that was really only the first Keepstar.  They have two together on the same grid, along with an array of other smaller structures.

The second Keepstar across from the first with a Fortizar in the middle

The first Keepstar was named Fort Knocks, while the second was Unassailable Wealth.  We shall see about that.  But there is a lot of fighting to be done here.

In addition to the Hard Knocks structures, somebody on our side had gone in and dropped over two dozen Raitarus in the hole in order to get us some place to tether and dock up.  I am sure most of those will get destroyed, but only a couple need to survive to make our foothold more tenable.

On arriving there wasn’t much else to do.  We scattered about the system, made safe spots, cloaked up if we were going to hang around or safe logged if we were not.

The only thing we’ve done so far is help the Initiative guard a hole into the system to keep Hard Knocks from getting anything in.  That mostly meant anchoring on Zed Starshine for a while and orbiting the hole, with the occasional trademark Zed Crazy Ivan turn to scatter us about and let the slower ships catch up.

Following Zen

Anyway, it is good to have a deployment of some sort going on.  I had been fairly dormant in null sec since returning from the war.  We shall see if more Keepstar kills result.  You can keep an eye on the kill board for the hole over at zKill to see what is dying.  Some POS towers are already down.

Reviewing my 2018 Predictions

Here we are in December, the new year is looming, and it is time to get to those inevitable end of year housekeeping and review posts that I plague you with every holiday season.

Being a regular event there are past versions of this sort of thing available if you care to see how this sort of thing tends to go.

As is usually the case, the start of the year comes around and I take the opportunity every January 1st to write out a post seemingly designed to make me look foolish.  Seriously, if anybody accuses me of not being able to admit I am wrong I just have to direct them to this series of review posts.

Anyway, as usual, back at the start of the year I posted 27 predictions, plus a bonus prediction, and then went on with my usual nonsense.  Now it is time to grade my folly.

As usual, each question is worth 10 points.  Multi-part questions are split up by segment.  Partial credit is available if I am close but not quite on the nose.  So here we go.

1 – Blizzard will ship the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft on August 28th of this year.  10 points if I am right, minus 2 points for each week I am off for a partial credit calculation.

A nice, cleanly defined and measurable prediction.  I am bad at making those, so let’s just enjoy this one for a moment.  Ahhh.  I was two weeks off the mark, so it is 6 out of 10 points.

2 – WoW Classic – We will have a lot of details by the end of the year and you’ll be able to sign up for closed beta, but there won’t be a lot of emphasis on it to the disappointment of many.  But Blizzard is canny and won’t want to distract from the Battle for Azeroth launch.  Expect a major WoW Classic panel at BlizzCon with lots of details of things we can expect to try in 2019.

A little more subjective, but BlizzCon told the tale.  We got a detailed look at how serious Blizzard was about this whole project, including a chance to play two of the early zones.  The latter is going to pass for closed beta in my prediction.  And we got a launch… season.  Summer 2019 will see WoW Classic launch.  Going to give myself 10 out of 10 for this one.

3 – With plans for a real WoW Classic unambiguously in motion, expect Blizzard to serve notice on any emulator hosting enough players to run the Deadmines that legal action will commence if they do not shut down and promise to stay that way.  That was cute and all when Blizz said it couldn’t be done, but with actual money on the line Blizz will be more like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

And now we’re into the subjective.  Yes, in 2018 Blizzard spent time going after WoW emulators.  But did it stoop to the level of Blizz kicking over every Vanilla WoW sandcastle on the beach?  I don’t know, because small servers don’t make the news, only big ones do.  Meanwhile emulators like Kronos and Demon Souls are still up and running and declaring that the presence of WoW Classic won’t stop them.  So much for the theory that these servers are only around because there is no official alternative.   Anyway, I think I get 0 points for this one.

4 – Heroes of the Storm will continue to follow the Diablo III toward the dormant part of the Blizzard franchise locker room. More changes won’t revitalize it, but it will make enough money for Blizz to keep making new heroes through 2018.

We didn’t hear much about Heroes of the Storm, aside from some new heroes.  High Inquisitor Whitemane was a good addition, along with another at BlizzCon.  BlizzCon showed that Blizzard was still working on a plan to “fix” the game, but it still remains far behind League of Legends and DOTA 2 in popularity.  Still, Blizzard is persisting, so call it 5 points for the heroes, but zero points for the dormant part.

[Dec 13 Addendum: If only I had waited I could have gotten full credit.  Blizz is killing the esports league and sending most of the devs elsewhere. But my cut off is Dec. 1.  Oh well.]

6 – Won’t ship list – The following titles won’t ship, go live, leave early access, progress beyond alpha, or otherwise leave the criticism deflection zone and actually face the live market, 2 points each:

  • Star Citizen
  • Crowfall
  • Camelot Unchained
  • Pantheon
  • CCP Project Nova

Well, there were clearly a few gimmes on that list.  I have to get some points somewhere.  We did get some news on some of those, but not all of it was great.  Still, none shipped, so 10 points.

7 – Shroud of the Avatar will make the leap to live status, will leave early access and such, and be fully available for sale without caveat or restriction… and sales won’t take off because most everybody who was interested has already bought in.  Instead it will need an active, constantly updated, and heavily promoted cash shop to keep going.  Govern yourself accordingly.

Wow, even I am surprised at how on the nose this one was.  I mean, it happened.  Shroud of the Avatar had its live launch on Steam.  And then not much happened, except for laying off some of the development staff, backing away from their Euro publisher, and declining numbers on Steam.  But there were a updates and, as expected, focus on the cash shop specials.  Seems about dead on.  10 points.

8 – No legal changes to lootboxes, pay to win, or pseudo gambling.  This is a Gevlon inspired prediction, where he said:

“Mark my word: one year from now, it’ll be illegal to sell anything random or powerful and it’ll be also illegal to not disclose major gaming concepts like how the matchmaker works.”

I’m taking the opposite position.  I’ll leave out the matchmaker part, mostly because that seems nonsensical to predict… not to mention he was wrong about it with League of Legends… and stick with just the “random or powerful” part of that.  If I can buy a random lootbox come December 1st of 2018 with the promise of a useful, non-cosmetic item, that will be 10 points for me.

By my stated criteria I get the full 10 points.  That a person in Belgium cannot is outside the parameters of the prediction.  Betting against Gevlon is generally a wise move.

9 – Nintendo and GameFreak will announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl for the 3DS.  Come on, you know how badly we want this!  Dooooo eeeeet!

Nope.  In fact, even as I wrote that prediction GameFreak had already washed its hands of the 3DS platform, so there will be no more Pokemon on Nintendo handhelds.  This makes me sad.  (No, the Switch is not a handheld.)  0 points.

10 – In a retro focused year, Nintendo will also announce Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire for the 3DS Virtual Console.

Again, the 3DS is dead as far as Pokemon goes, and pretty much as far as any new titles go.  Nintendo wants everybody on the Switch and has abandoned the DS/3DS installed base.  0 points.

11 – The Nintendo Switch will get its own Virtual Console store in 2018, and one of the early test items will be versions of the above mentioned Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire in order to test the waters. We will get that announcement before we hear anything about a new, current generation core Pokemon RPG on the Switch.

There will be no Virtual Console for the Switch, and the lingering Virtual Console for the WiiU and 3DS platforms is slated to be turned off soon.  Nintendo has really turned against me.  0 points.

12 – Pokemon Go will finally get a head to head battle mode along with a friends list, though it will be segregated by platform, so iOS and Android shall not mix.  No trading of Pokemon however and the incentives to battle, aside from pride of winning, will be kept minuscule out of fears of abuse.

Well, we got a friends list.  That is worth 2 points I think.  I was pretty much wrong on everything else, even though we got a hint that head-to-head might be coming.

13 – Microsoft/Mojang will announce end of updates/new features for Minecraft –  Java Edition in favor of ongoing support for the unified edition that works across mobile, console, and Windows 10 which, coincidentally, is also the edition where they make money selling skins and such.  Basically, maintenance mode and a push to get people to go where the money is.

Nope.  Much to my surprise, Microsoft has kept Minecraft – Java Edition live and up to date.  0 points.

14 – Daybreak will finally announce a new product, a small-ish group/co-op RPG thing that will feel like something of a new coat of paint on Just Survive, but will be fantasy and based in Norrath because that is the only IP they have that has some draw and lacks a licensing fee.

*crickets*

I guess predicting anything new from Daybreak was optimistic at best.  0 points.

15 – PlanetSide 2 and Just Survive will clearly be in maintenance mode by the end of the year, with staff being pulled off to work on the above new title.  The problem will be distinguishing maintenance mode from whatever mode they are in now.  Daybreak will just have to tell us.

I am going to claim half credit on this one because Just Survive was clearly in maintenance mode for some time frame in 2018… before Daybreak shut it down.  The problem is that, with Daybreak, you can only recognize maintenance mode retroactively, after the axe comes down.  So PlanetSide 2 exists as sort of Schroedinger’s MMO, where we cannot tell if it is supported or drifting untended because silence is Daybreak’s default mode.  It did get a new map, but there hasn’t been a lot else.  So I could possibly claim PS2 was in maintenance mode, which is why I am being greedy and claiming half credit for Just Survive5 points.

16 – EverQuest and EverQuest II will get their annual autumnal expansions.  The EverQuest team will follow the lead of their younger sibling and return to a Planes of Power theme.

17 – On the EverQuest II side of the house the focus will be a surprising return to a desert theme along the lines of Desert of Flames, flying freaking carpets and all.

I am lumping these two together because they are examples of bad prediction writing.  There are four measurable elements here, each worth five points.  The first two are whether or not EverQuest and EverQuest II will get their annual expansions, while the second two are the themes of those expansions.

For the first two, I get full credit, 10 points, as both got an expansion.

As for themes, I was only half right there.  EverQuest II did not return to the Desert of Flames, however EverQuest did move back to the elemental planes again, so 5 points on that.

All together, 15 points total.

18 – The deal with Tencent to bring H1Z1 to China will fall apart when PlayerUnknown’s Battleground makes it there first and sews up the battle royale market.  Best case, H1Z1 will launch and fold in a few months, worst case it won’t even get the chance.

I haven’t heard a thing about H1Z1 in China.  Jace Hall had a lot to say in August, but China was not on the list.  It isn’t clear why H1Z1 didn’t go to China, just that it did not.  Going to claim 8 points for that.

19 – EVE Fanfest 2018 in Iceland will be a smash, celebrating as it will the 15th birthday of the launch of EVE Online.  However, one of the announcements will be that there will be no EVE Vegas going forward and that their plans for Four Fan Fests around the world in 2019 will be scrapped as will Fan Fest 2019, though the latter will be because they’re remodeling the Harpa.  I am not adopting the Massively OP outlook that EVE Online itself is mordibund because most of the community team got the axe, but without them who else is going to do these events?

I was kind of down on CCP after the big layoffs and retrenchment.  The four fanfests plan still seems to be in motion and EVE Vegas is still a thing.  It just looks like CCP Guard and CCP Falcon are going to be very, very busy. 0 Points.

20 – EVE Online itself will continue to move forward more slowly than planned.  The end of player owned starbases and null sec stations won’t come to pass until after the traditional CCP July/August vacation season.  Focus before then will be tuning Alphas some more, The Agency, and special events.

This would seem like a really spot-on prediction if CCP hadn’t done the Alpha clone thing before I wrote it.  I expected more.  Also, the null sec stations thing happened in June.  But there was continued focus on The Agency.  I get 1 point for that!

21 – After going up in 2017, the PCU will begin to trend down again, with the average over the next 12 months dipping down to 30K.  Not drastic, but it will keep the “EVE is dying” fan club active and have CCP looking around for short term changes to boost the player base.

Seems close enough.  The average line through 2018 over at EVE Offline, as of this writing, shows the number at 31K.

The average online user count for 2018

That looks like I am dipping a little into December 2017, but even if I push it all the way to March the number doesn’t change.

Going to give myself 7 points and reaffirm that EVE is dying just like the rest of us.

22 – EVE Fanfest 2018 will see a revised vision statement about future plans for EVE Online.  Gone will be talk of player built gates and new space.  There is already too much space in New Eden for the current player base.  Instead the new vision will seek to revitalize NPC null sec regions like Venal and the Great Wildlands with a much more aggressive NPC population defending those systems rather than just letting players pass.  Details will be high level, but CCP will hint that this is a test run for plans they are considering for Jove space as some sort of high end, raid-like experiment.

Well, I don’t think anybody is talking about new space.  We did, however, get player built star gates.  They were just replacements for jump bridges, not portals to new space.  And the rest was not anywhere close either.  0 points.

23 – In EVE Online the CSM 13 elections will see a bump in non-null sec representation, with four seats going to such candidates.  The return of Mike Azariah will help get out the non-null vote.  The six null-sec seats will be two Imperium (Aryth & Innominate), one Brave, one TEST, one PL/PH/NCDot, and one GotG.

HAHAHAHAHA… no.  If anything it went the other way, with only two non-null sec seats in the end and five Imperium members winning seats.  Also, nobody from Brave or TEST.  I cannot find a loophole here to even give myself a single point  0 points.

24 – Project Aurora, CCPs mobile game made in cooperation with… um… whoever that was at EVE Vegas… will ship in the second half of the year and… will do better than Dust 514.  It will do okay, people will download it and play it, it will get a core following and make some money, but it won’t be covering the bills or paying for an expanded community team.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.  And Project Aurora became EVE Echoes and is being made by NetEase, the same Chinese company that is making Diablo Immortal0 points here.

25 – We won’t hear much about the alleged new project that CCP recently posted job listings about, aside from the fact that they have partnered with somebody else to do the heavy lifting. A year from now EVE Online will still be all CCP really has, but people will still be yelling at CCP for a) spending money on anything besides EVE Online and b) gambling the whole company’s future on just EVE Online.

I guess we heard about new product and projects, so it is hard to claim any points here, but then again some of what we heard, like the plans for Project Nova, got turned back after Vegas.  I have to go with 0 points on this.

26 – No 64-bit client for EVE Online in 2018.  The captain’s quarters wasn’t all that was holding them back, it was just the easiest to dispose of.

Okay, at least this one was spot-on, even if it was pretty much a gimme.  10 points.

27 – Standing Stone is running out of content for Lord of the Rings Online.  Between Mordor and the Grey Havens there is really only a couple of weddings, the walk home, the scourging of the Shire, and trying to clean up the mess.  No expansions, no big changes to the landscape, just a few updates with some of the more militant mopping up tasks in areas of Middle-earth they have already mapped out.  We won’t be walking Frodo to the Grey Havens in 2018, but it will be on the horizon.

SSG actually surprised me on this, pulling some content and an increase in the level cap out of their hat.  It wasn’t sold as an expansion, so I suppose I and right on that front, but that isn’t much to hang my hat on.  I’m going to take 1 point for that.

Double Extra Credit Bonus Prediction: CCP will announce they are merging with, or being acquired by, another studio before the end of 2018.

For something of a random-ass guess… I mean we knew CCP was being shopped around, but actually finding a buyer was never going to be simple… I am surprised I got this bonus round prediction.  But it happened, Pearl Abyss bought CCP.  So I guess 20 points for me.

Score

All of that adds up to 120 points, including the bonus question, out of 270, giving me a 44% score.  As usual, it is a failing grade, but it was still better than the 25% score I managed last year.

Anyway, I do this every year less to be right and more to make myself think about the future and the possible paths it may take.

And now I have to consider what I will predict for 2019… besides more of the same.  That tends to be the most consistently correct prediction of all.

MER – Charts for All My Needs

CCP was a bit quicker here in December in getting out the monthly economic report November.  However, in their haste it looked like they had omitted almost all of the charts I usually write about.  Frustrated by that, I decided to just grab the raw data this time around and make my own damn charts, only to find that all the charts I expected were included in that .zip archive.

So I have already learned something new this month.   I’ll check that off my list.

And, unlike last month, the Fade region actually made the cut for inclusions again.  The Cache region however remains unaccounted for.

As usual, I will start off with the mining to see how peace in the south and small scale conflicts in the north are doing.

November 2018 – Mining Value by Region

In a completely expected turn of events, Delve continues to be the region seeing the most mining activity.  The bar chart shows just how far ahead Delve is when compared to other regions.

November 2018 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

By this measure the mining output of Delve is greater than the next seven regions combined.  (The newly returned Fade region is at the bottom of that list as well as others, perhaps confirming the theory that it was missed last month due to not hitting some minimal activity threshold.)

And yet the Delve number is down.  In October the amount mined was measured in excess of 19 trillion ISK, but for November it is down to 15.5 trillion ISK.  Did people get tired of mining in Delve?

Maybe not.  As usual, there is another chart here to figure into things.

November 2018 – Economic Indices

As you can see, the price of minerals has continued its post-war slide, landing at a three year low in November.  Since the mining amount is measured by the value of the ore, falling prices can mean falling numbers even if the total cubic meters of ore mined remains the same.

November 2018 – Economic Indices over All Time

As for the price of minerals, while they are not at an all time low, they are headed there.  I think we are firmly in the zone where, if you have a researched Charon freighter blueprint, you can build the freighter, insure it, have somebody gank it, and still turn a profit.  That was a tale I was told at the bottom of the last mineral price dip and we’re now well below that.

So mineral prices seem like something CCP needs to address.  Maybe.  There is a production aspect to that.

November 2018 – Production Values by Region

In production, while The Forge region was up a bit (as was its feeder region The Citadel, while Lonetrek held steady), Delve continues to be the single region with the greatest production output.

November 2018 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

Production, of course, requires inputs, of which mined minerals are a significant portion.  Aryth said on a recent Meta Show that production in Delve enjoyed a certain advantage in that the ore and minerals were available at a discount when compared to the Jita market.

There is a not insignificant cost to ship compressed or and minerals all the way to Jita in order to sell.  That makes what I would call the effective parity price of minerals in Delve lower, and since Delve is producing all that ore for the engines of production to consume, Delve’s economic power might be causing a greater dip in the economic indices for minerals than one might see in Jita.

Anecdotally, tritanium seems to be cheaper in 1DQ1-A than in Jita, but I cannot tell how much weight to give that observation.

And since we’re here, I might as well through the sales charts up on the page.

November 2018 – Trade Value by Region

For all the pride of the Delve region, Jita and The Forge remain the economic center of New Eden.

November 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph

That chart is so lopsided that CCP has to exclude The Forge in order to get some insight into other regions.

November 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

Domain, home of Amarr, remains in second place with Delve not too far behind.  But you have to get down to seventh spot, which is Esoteria, the home of TEST, before another null sec region shows up.

NPC bounties are more straightforward.

November 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region

No we’re back to things Delve dominates and which do not depend on variations in market prices in order to measure.  NPC bounties are a direct faucet into the economy.  On that Delve was down by half a trillion ISK.

November 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

Following behind Delve are Esoteria (TEST), Detroid (Fraternity & Triumvirate), Querious (Imperium alliance training ground), Fountain (Imperium), and Period Basis (Red Alliance).

In the north of null sec, where infighting around Branch and Venal is keeping everyone busy while the Imperium’s Space Violence squad is active and the NGSA is trying to oppress the numbers in Geminate, Deklein is the highest earner for ratting, bringing in just over 2 trillion ISK in bounties.

Overall bounties continued to peak.

November 2018 – Top Sinks and Faucets

While mineral prices are at a recent low, NPC bounty payouts are now at an all time high.  The question remains as to what CCP will do, if anything, and if there is anything they can do that Malcanis won’t make a mockery of.

Overall, bounties are down slightly as a percentage of the income faucet total, ringing in at 63%.  The number was 65% in October.

November 2018 – Sinks and Faucets and the ISK supply

But that is because other faucets like incursion payouts and agent mission rewards and bonuses were also up for November.  The overall money supply was up another 37 trillion ISK for the month.

So there it is, another month and the economy of New Eden hasn’t fallen over yet.  Aspects of it look bad, but it keeps on chugging along.

Finally, the chart that I choose to end with most months, the overview and comparison of regions.

November 2018 – Regional Stats

And so it goes until next month.  You can find all of the raw data and charts over at the dev blog post for the November report.