Category Archives: EVE Online

Friday Bullet Points Before EVE Vegas

Today is the start of EVE Vegas and when this post, scheduled in advance, goes live I will probably be on a plane for the short flight from Silicon Valley to whatever euphemism you care to use for Las Vegas.  Though, given the actual layout of the boundaries in the area, it is debatable whether or not I will spend even a moment in what is actually Las Vegas while I am in Las Vegas.  Call it a trip to Paradise instead I guess.

So while I am traveling I have some bullet points to post about.  This is good for current me, as these posts are easy to put together.  Future me, writing the month in review post in October 2019, will hate this because it is a pain to reference multiple topics in a single link in my usual format.  Current me is always burdened by the actions of past me and generally seems unconcerned about sticking it to future me.

  • One Week and No Cash Shop Apocalypse

The Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP closed a week ago, on October 12th.

Together for reals now

So far the new owners have managed not to burn down New Eden with horrible game-breaking pay to win schemes.  Yes, they haven’t had much time, and they have an opportunity this weekend to spring that sort of stuff on us at EVE Vegas, but if you read some of the panicked threads on /r/eve after the acquisition announcement you might be surprised that New Eden isn’t already a cash shop dumpster fire.

  • No Commerce War in Perimeter

Back on Monday it looked like there would be something interesting going on in high sec with war decs sprouting between null sec groups looking to battle over the trade citadels in Perimeter, a system just one jump from Jita.  TEST even dropped a Keepstar in the system, a first for high sec space.

A Keepstar in Perimeter

However, Pandemic Horde, who previously held the Perimeter PLEX and Skill Injector market, announced to their pilots that they would be punting on defending this source of income, as well as any income from their home in Geminate, in order to concentrate on attacking the Branch region.  Branch is where GotG had to send the ratters and miners during the war in the north when Imperium forces were working to suppress such income generation in Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind.

So TEST will be taking over the Pandemic Horde markets in high sec without a fight.  The TEST citadels are online and offering a very low tax rate, while the PH citadels look to be headed to destruction.  Hail to the new boss, same as the old boss, only at a slightly discounted rate.

  • 64-bit EVE Client on the Road Map

CCP has been bringing up the idea of a 64-bit client for over a year now.  It was part of the justification for shutting down the captain’s quarters and the built-in Twitch integration.  But I noticed earlier this week that the idea has made it to the Updates site, along with some other items we’ve been expecting, as part of the Winter update.

A 64-bit client would help players during large null sec fleet battles as it would be able to access more memory.  The current 32-bit client dies at just past 3GB.  And anything that would make those battles more viable would be good for CCP, since they are pretty much the only things that gets the company publicity lately, barring being acquired by yet another company.

When will we see this and the other things planned for winter?  I am sure we will hear more about that at EVE Vegas.  But, while winter may be coming, it doesn’t actually start until December 21 and runs until March 20 in the northern hemisphere, though emotionally I would accept any date in December as counting as winter.

  • No Monthly Economic Report for September… so far

The usual MER for EVE Online is running late this month.  Posting about the changes and economic imbalances has become a monthly staple here, so I hope they haven’t given up on it.  I suspect that prep for EVE Vegas has gotten in the way, but maybe we will hear something about that at the event.  With my luck it will probably get posted while I am driving to the airport rendering this bullet point moot.  But that is why I hid it in the middle.

  • Crimson Harvest Event Returns Soon

Holiday events are always a bid odd in New Eden since playing the game mostly amounts to being in outer space.  And, in any case, CCP has been sporadic in its acknowledgement of holidays for most of the life of the game, save for maybe the time around Christmas.  But they seem to be settling into a routine, with the Crimson Harvest event, a pseudo-Halloween thing, coming again to the game.

2018 Edition

As has become the norm, this event comes to you as part of The Agency interface where you will get tasks to earn points to collect prizes.  This year there is a mention of mining as an option in addition to combat as well as being able to construct your own cerebral accelerators.

I don’t know what that really means other than CCP is trying to make these events appeal to a broader range of players.

  • Days of Summer Ending in Norrath

And, as a “screw you” to future me of next year, I can’t even keep the whole post focused on EVE Online.

The Days of Summer event in EverQuest II which, among other things, yielded a comically overpowers armor set for my recently turned level 100 character, is coming to an end.

I’m here for the event please

As with baseball, summer seems to run well into October in Norrath but comes to an end eventually.  So if you want to get the last quest, which takes you on a tour of Lavastorm, it is time to head to the Sundered Frontier zone and pick it up from Yun Zi.  If you don’t pick it up now… well… I really don’t know.  Does Yun Zi and his vendor Pas Yu go away at the end of the event, or do they just sit there handing out quests and updates until next summer?  I don’t know if Days of Summer, despite having a seasonal name, is treated like a seasonal event akin to holidays or if it is different.  Welcome to Norrath.

  • Sinnoh Comes to Pokemon Go

It is like I don’t even care about future me.

In the land of Pokemon Go Niantic has unleashed the fourth generation Pokemon, the ones introduced with the first titles on the then fairly new Ninetndo DS handheld, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.  So I now have the first starter Pokemon I ever chose, Piplup.

Best penguin ever

I realize that Niantic has only released some of the fourth gen Pokemon, and some are only available in certain regions, but the fact that I have Piplup makes me pretty happy.  I hate to evolve him, as I do almost all of the starter Pokemon, but at least his later forms aren’t as crazy bad as some of the starter Pokemon.

I think if I catch a Shinx and show it to my daughter she’ll start playing Pokemon Go again.  That was her favorite Pokemon ever.  Time to test that theory.

So that is it for bullet points.  Monday’s post will likely be some sort of news round up from EVE Vegas.  I don’t care enough to lug a laptop with me to post live updates, so my scribbled notes and vague recollections will have to do.

Heading to EVE Vegas 2018

That time of the year has arrived, at the other side of the calendar from EVE Fanfest in Iceland is EVE Vegas.  This coming weekend, October 19 through 21, CCP will be setting up in the city most closely representative of New Eden, if only New Eden still allowed gambling.  CCP has a dev post up covering the various aspects of the event.

EVE Vegas 2018

There will be a lot of eyes on CCP as this will be the first public event for the company after the acquisition by Pearl Abyss, the deal having closed on October 12.

I expect that the keynote will cover this in a very “everything will remain business as usual” sort of way.  Neither CCP nor Pearl Abyss wants to rock the boat right now, so a sense of soothing continuity seems like the best plan.

Still, if you want to panic about something, you can go check out the job posting for the new Monetization Director position at CCP.

You will work with Project Managers, Directors and EVE development teams to strengthen monetization designs, vision and process.

As it turns out, CCP is in it for the money.  Who knew?

EVE Vegas is also where we’re likely to hear about the next big thing for EVE Online.  We are at the end of the year where we often get a big, named release as opposed to a monthly update, and CCP like to announce that sort of thing in front of a live studio audience.

We will no doubt be hearing about CCP’s other New Eden related plans.  There is a presentation for Project Nova on the schedule.

For the fourth year running I will be attending EVE Vegas.  This year, in a change up from my usual lurking off on the side, I will be doing a presentation.  If you are going to EVE Vegas as well you have a good chance of spotting me at 4pm on Saturday in the Social A room.

EVE Vegas 2018 – Saturday Schedule (Pacific Time 16:00 = UTC 23:00)

Yes, my topic is blogging.  Go with what you know.  I will be attempting to evangelize the joys of blogging about internet spaceships.  So if you are in Vegas, have a badge, aren’t going to the Abyssal Deadspace round table presentation, and cannot find anything better to do, you can see me mumble into a microphone about the history, future, and reality of blogging.

If you are viewing from home… and CCP is streaming a lot of the event on their Twitch channel… then you’re not going to see me.  While some presentations are being streamed, the block of time where I am speaking is being used for Stream Fleet.

EVE Vegas 2018 – Saturday Streaming Schedule

Given that at least one slide of my presentation goes over the new media options that have supplanted blogging over the last decade, the irony of being pre-empted by streamers is not lost on me.  I suspect they looked at the list of speakers and put the two most dull topics into the same hour so they could turn the camera elsewhere.  Hard to blame anyone for that.  But at least the pressure is off and I don’t have to worry about accidentally saying “fuck” or anything.

Anyway, there it is.  I will be at EVE Vegas to hear what is coming for the game live and in person as well as communing with my fellow blogging types.  These events do tend stratify into groups, so it is probably telling that I’m over in a corner talking about CCP and New Eden rather than at the bar drinking and being loud.  Look for reporting on the event and some pictures next week.

Addendum:

After writing this I got the email from CCP about watching EVE Vegas remotely which includes a streaming schedule that is different from the one on the megablog post linked above.

Alternate universe streaming schedule

I suspect that the one in the in the original post is correct and that somebody just copied the presentation schedule rather than the streaming schedule, but who can tell.  Maybe you’ll see me, maybe you won’t.  We’ll only know when the time comes I suppose.  But now I’ve gone from wondering what I should wear to not caring what I wear to again being concerned about what I will wear.  I’m thinking one of the Open Comms show T-shirts.

Null Sec goes to High Sec for a War Dec

Weren’t we just talking about war decs?

Okay, this isn’t that sort of griefing war dec that drives high sec care bears from the game.  In fact, this is exactly the sort of thing CCP wants war decs to be.

With the ending of the war in the north there was supposed to be a month of peace.  However, Pandemic Horde took great exception to the peace payoff that sent the Imperium on its way and loudly declared it was not bound by it in any way and heading off, along with Black Legion, after Guardians of the Galaxy in a war that seemed set to disturb any recovery peace might bring.

Pandemic Horde setting themselves apart from the peace terms left the door open to further conflict before the month long timer ran down.  And while there is combat going on in null sec space as each side drops on the others ratters and miner, a new front opened up over the weekend in Perimeter, a system one jump over from Jita, the central trade hub of New Eden.

Jita and Perimeter and the general area

Perimeter has been the system of choice for attempts to setup trading citadels since they were first introduced.  While not much trade has moved to those citadels… nobody is going to buy hulls or ship modules there when their market alt is in Jita 4-4… certain commodities like skill injectors have found a market home there.

If you are sitting in Jita 4-4 and you look at the market for skill injectors sorted by price, the lowest prices are in the Perimeter citadels.  Since you can activate them remotely, you should probably buy them there.  The lower tax margins allow for lower prices, though that still doesn’t stop people from buying them from Jita 4-4.  I’ve sold a couple dozen skill injectors, always in Jita, and always for much more than the current going rate in Perimeter, without issue.  People will pay more to buy from the station they are in, often much more, just to avoid having to undock and travel.

This is one of the special features of EVE Online.  There is no magical delivery service.  If you buy something remote you then have to go get it or pay somebody to bring it to you.  Travel is a burden in New Eden, but it makes market segmentation possible.  There is not a single, unified auction house that will pop your purchases in the post.  Distance matters.

CCP, in their usual techno-Viking libertarian madness, despite having seen how we generally behave, wants players to control as much of the economy as they can get away with, so this citadel market operation is their plan working as designed… for once.  Player owned citadel markets haven’t taken over the economy.  Gevlon citing this as a corrupt developer game-killing excuse to leave the game was yet one more sign of his self-deception.  But they are a thing and can make some groups a decent amount of money.

And, in the case of Perimeter, Pandemic Horde is a big player both directly and through their neutral alt alliance, IChooseYou Holding.  So this weekend a new front was opened against Pandemic Horde via high sec war declarations.

Declaring against Pandemic Horde

Both GSF and TEST got in early with their war declarations.  While the Imperium reset standings with TEST and its allies with the peace in the north, high sec is a different story.  We can work together and not be blue as standings between alliances do not matter in high sec, only war decs do.  And so both groups declared against PH and their alt alliance right away, with a few additional groups trailing in late.

Probably at war by the time this post goes live

Those mirror the war declarations against IChooseYou Holdings as well.  You can check their info in-game and see the same list.

So we may be working with Darkness, the lead alliance of Guardians of the Galaxy, in this war.  Black Legion, sided up with Pandemic Horde, was also included in the whole thing.

Black Legion’s war plan

Null sec alliances are used to having war declarations against them.  This is usually done by groups like P I R A T, which you see there on Black Legion’s list, that camp the undock in Jita (and sometimes Amarr) hoping to catch the unwary and the unknowing leaving the station for an easy kill.

If you look at Pandemic Horde’s status in-game, you’ll see they have no shortage of war decs running.  But none of them are quite like what they are facing now.  And TEST was quick off the mark to get the party started.  Once their war dec went active they immediately hit the trading Fortizars in Perimeter.

Pandemic Horde Fortizar reinforced

With the first timers down those using the market in either the PH or the IChooseYou Holdings face a choice.  If TEST comes back and wins the armor timer, then the market functions will be shut down and sellers may end up having to wait for asset safety in order to recover their goods.

But TEST was also in to setup their own trade hub.  There was a TEST alliance hub being spun up, using a Draccous faction Fortizar no less.  A bit of showing off in that I am sure.

TEST branded sales

But bigger still was the Keepstar they dropped in Perimeter under an alt corp.

A Keepstar in Perimeter

INN says that this is the first high sec Keepstar and it is right there on the Jita gate in Perimeter if you want to see on up close.

The Keepstar managed to slip past the initial vulnerability period when it was deployed, but anything that big is too sweet of a target to ignore.  War decs on the alt alliance went out immediately and we shall see what happens when it goes into its initial repair cycle after 19:00 today.

Fortizar with the Keepstar in the distance

So for those who were asking, “Now what?” when the war in the north ended, here is the answer, and likely not one many expected.  We will see if Pandemic Horde can be thrown out of the market hub business, something reported to be a serious source of income for the alliance.  The proximity of Jita, still the undisputed trade hub of New Eden, makes for fairly frictionless logistics, so both sides in this conflict could hang on for quite a while.

And, as null sec pilots prepare to enter high sec, the usual comedy will no doubt ensue.  If you live in null sec, where pretty much anything goes, the rules of empire space can be arcane and confusing.  There are already warnings going out for people to check the security status lest they find themselves a target of CONCORD and I am sure the locals will take advantage of anybody’s suspect status.

Finally, with war decs in the spotlight and loud calls to turn the feature off resounding around the community (if only until a better solution is found), there is the possibility that whoever can control the Perimeter trade might have their supremacy locked in by CCP.

Draccous Fortizar anchoring

That is, if you believe CCP will actually turn off war decs.  Somehow I doubt that will come to pass.

Further information:

Four Years of Reavers

Another year has gone by and somehow I have managed to not get kicked out of the Reavers for either lack of effort and marginal competence.  It must be my strict adherence to the dress code and a willingness to fly whatever doctrine that Asher dreams up that has saved me.

Reavers forum bee

As I do every year at about this time, since I still haven’t bothered to nail down an official founding date for the SIG, I review what we have done since last anniversary.  I probably should hold this post for Monday, as the 15th is probably the right date.  But I don’t have anything else set to post today, so here we go.

For those wishing a fuller history of the SIG, past anniversary posts.

To quickly sum things up:

The first year was the glorious start, with deployments deep in enemy space that early members still talk about.  It also saw us adjusting to null sec changes including jump fatigue and Fozzie sov.

Year two was tumultuous as the Casino War occupied the coalition from January through June of 2016, followed by the conquest of Delve once we fled the north for a new home.  Both events called for lots of fleet ops, but left little room for the traditional Reavers role.

Year three saw us ranging out again as our home in Delve was secure.  We camped CO2 in Impass and based out of Curse to find fights.  Then there was the Hakonen deployment where Reavers had some special tasks during the big Fortizar fights.

Which brings us to year four, with the usual map comparing the year as it started and ended.

October 2017 and 2018 compared

A lot changed in the east over the year, but most of our time was spent in the northwest.  But there were changes there as well and some parties came and went in between those to map time points.

Not too long after the three year anniversary post the SIG deployed north to an NPC station in Pure Blind.  I was a bit late to the party.  I have moved all of my stuff out of Delve and was thinking about taking a break from the game.  But I figured there was a deployment going on and I could take a peek in on that.  I caught up quickly, flying a bomber up to join in the fun.  This became the “Zungen Ops” era for us.  It developed into a combined deployment with Reavers and Black Ops.  Inspired by Bigbillthaboss3, who didn’t want to move his suicide dreads back to Delve after Hakonen, this ended up being our focus for most of year four.

Our area of operation for most of the deployment was Pure Blind, Fade, and some of Deklein.  As you can see from the map, when we started out Mordus Angels owned much of Pure Blind and Pandemic Horde was living in Fade, while Guardians of the Galaxy was up and Deklein.

Things started mostly with bomber drops on ratters and miners, cynoing in a dreadnought now and again to help skill larger things.  There was also Asher’s VNI fleet doctrine, where we went after the locals in the same ships they used for ratting.

There was something of a break for a bit towards the end of the year, though we did do a special Blaze Fleet in Armageddons as well as running the first of our races, organized by Ranger Gamma.  I won a Naglfar in that race.

January saw us distracted by the Million Dollar Battle in 9-4RP2 while in February Pandemic Horde moved from Fade to Geminate, leaving a hole in the north and removing our most persistent adversary.  We also got changes to citadels, making them quicker to kill if unfueled as well as letting us shoot them any time we wanted, at least for the first timer.

Returning to NPC space in Pure Blind found our citadels gone and our station bubbled.

The situation upon our return

Guardians of the Galaxy tried to step in and suppress us on our return, going almost a full week trying to bubble us and camp us before wandering off.  There were also POS towers on every single moon in the system, which we slowly killed off.  But not before we spent time annoying the enemy by hitting them at random over and over to set off alliance wide alerts.  There were lots of little operations around that activity.

Somewhere around then the theme of the year emerged, which was Asher bringing up delicious Kirkland protein bars.  I don’t recall exactly when or why that became a thing, but it very much became a thing.

After trying to expand into Fade, Mordus Angels collapsed not too long after our return, with a couple corps defecting to the Imperium.  There was also the brief but odd exchange between Asher and Strange Juice over a video of GotG shooting an undefended tower.  Also, 3 2 1 Kenshin!

TNT, which had been staging in the North for a while began working with us more regularly and Space Violence decided to join the party in Pure Blind, which eventually led GotG to adopt a policy of not forming to fight us in the hope we would get bored and go elsewhere.  But Reavers love nothing more than shooting undefended structures and deploying our own.  We even chased them into Venal for a couple of days.

Along the way we discarded the VNI doctrine and swapped to Ishtars, starting with a shield tank then swapping to an armor tank.  That meant sending my Basilisks back to Jita and shipping out Guardians and an Oneiros, the latter of which managed to survive through the rest of the year.

Of course, the biggest issue for Reavers was that CCP took our trademark jacket out of the New Eden Store.  We have appealed for its return, but have had no luck.  The remaining jackets on the market are very, very expensive.

Wilhelm with the jacket

Meanwhile, the foundations of the next war were being laid.  TEST evicted Pandemic Legion from Providence in a week, reversing PL’s long campaign to take the region.  That left PL looking for revenge.

Providence changed over the course of a week

As that was happening the Imperium was clearing out Fountain,  Federation Uprising ended up owning some of Cloud Ring as The Culture collapsed, and the number one target on the Imperium hit list, Circle of Two, moved into Fade.

Reavers had its third race… I missed the second one… where we ended up racing through TEST’s space. Asher asked Vily to blue him so he could use their jump bridges.  Soon enough we’d all be blue to TEST.

Then war opened up, with PL and the Winter Coalition attacking TEST and Legacy Coalition in the south.  That led to the struggle in UALX-3 where TEST lost a Keepstar, but trapped a host of the attacking fleet while dropping another Keepstar in the same spot.  That one lived.  And while the hostiles broke their fleet out, that set of battles pretty much ended their drive in the south.

The Imperium teamed up with TEST and borrowed a Keepstar to drop in Cloud Ring in order to open up a second front in the north.  I am not sure we asked FedUp in advance if we could set that up in their space, but the fight over it in 6RCQ-V was the first real chance for the coalition to demonstrate is super cap power.  The Imperium won, the Kirkland Protein Star was deployed, we had a foothold on the doorstep of Fade, and the war was on.

Asher, as Skymarshal of the Imperium forces, which put him in charge of all the toys, was kept busy for most of the war, though he found time now and again for Reavers.  Zed Starshine ended up leading us out on ops in the north as Reavers did their bit to help with the war effort.  But there were plenty of coalition fleets to go on as we destroyed hostile citadels, including a number of Keepstars.

Eventually we wore down the north.  They lost multiple Keepstars in a single day.  Circle of Two announced that it was evacuating from Fade.  And GotG paid us in faction Fortizars to go away.  That included all SIGs and squads in the north.  So Reavers packed up and went home with the rest of the coalition for a break.

That isn’t all that Reavers did, but that is all I ended up posting about.  It is at times like this where I wish I had done some more posts about smaller ops, but I think I at least captured the theme of the year, which was spent in Pure Blind attacking the north.

And our break ends up being at just the right moment to close off year four of Reavers.  Asher already has plans for the start of year five, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

The October EVE Update Claims to Bring Balance

But as we know, one person’s balance is another person’s horrific nerf.

Probably the biggest change coming with the October release is an update to electronic counter measures, of ECM.

Backbirds jamming in the dead of night

ECM effects, target jamming and other debuffs, are frustrating when you’re the target.  You just sit there watching the  indicator cycle down, unable to do anything about it, hoping that the RNG goes in your favor for the next cycle.

In an effort to alleviate this, CCP has made a change so that the ship being jammed can always target the ship jamming it.

I guess if you are in a fleet fight this might give you something to do.  As a logi pilot the jamming ships are often outside of my drone range, so about the best I can do is yellow box the jammer and hope they get nervous.

But if you’re in a small gang this simply makes ECM ships more vulnerable, and if you were using ECM to escape one on one encounters previously, that plan is now pretty much a bust.

There is talk of CCP boosting the survivability of ECM ships in the future, but for now they are more vulnerable.

The next item up is interdiction nullification.  This is a null sec thing.  About five years ago CCP made a change to interceptors that basically allows them to ignore warp disruption bubbles.

Fear no bubbles!

This has been controversial since it went in.  It made travel ‘ceptors a thing.  If you fit your interceptor so it can align in under two seconds you can move pretty safely through null sec space. (Just watch out for Asher in that smart bombing titan on a gate.)

The problem is that it also makes interceptor-only fleets pretty much impossible to pin down.  It is one thing to have some strategic cruisers with the interdiction nullification subsystem, like the Slippery Pete Tengus of past glory, zipping about playing hit and run.  They at least have to sacrifice some capability to get that and they cost a lot of ISK.   But when you have a fleet of arty fit Claw interceptors zipping in and out, quick to align, quick to shoot, and quick to warp off, blapping ships in your fleet one by one without much skin in the game, that gets on your nerves.

So, in the grand CCP tradition of half measures and compromises that make nobody happy, CCP removed interdiction nullification from some interceptors.

The combat interceptors (Claw, Crusader, Raptor, Taranis) will no longer have that null sec super power.  The reign of the Fozzie Claw may be coming to an end.

However, the fleet interceptors (Stiletto, Malediction, Crow, Ares) will keep interdiction nullification.  We shall see if this changes anything or if there will just be a new interceptor doctrine based on one of these hulls.

The Crow also had its agility number dropped as part of this.  Is a 2 second aligning Crow even possible?

The best part of this however will be the people who don’t read the patch notes and who end up getting stuck in a bubble and blown up wondering what just happened.  It is a good thing that I opted for the Ares as my default travel ‘ceptor I guess.

Exoplant SKIN Ares on the move still

Next up was a change meant to fix a mechanics exploit with heavy interdictors that looked to screw over wormhole space.  CCP used the phrase “unwilling collateral damage” right up front.  Not being a hictor pilot nor a wormholer, I didn’t quite get what was going on with this, just that wormholers were getting the short end of the stick.  In the end, however, CCP created a new module… the zero point mass entangler… to address this and the wormholer’s ability to roll holes in high mass hictors will go unchanged.  I think.  There is a forum thread about it.

Also on the “fixes for null sec” list were two changes to titans.

The first was discovered in the recent war.  It turned out that if a group of titans used their doomsday weapon on a capital and killed it in a single volley, those titans could then re-tether on a citadel in a minute rather than facing the five minute post-doomsday restrictions in place for other actions such as jumping or cloaking.  That has now been changed and a titan that fires its doomsday will now be unable to tether up again until the five minute timer has passed.

In addition, the minor splash damage effect that exploding titans had was removed.  CCP had said in the past that they didn’t think that this was causing any performance problems in large null sec fleet battles, but everybody involved has been harping on this for so long that I get the feeling CCP just said, “Sure, fine, whatever, we’ll take it out. Are you happy now?” so they could get on to other performance related issues without having to hear about exploding titan splash damage over and over.  Sometimes you just have to do this sort of thing.

More generally there was also a change to the slot layout of the Triglavian Damavik frigate.

A damaged Damavik

It loses a low slot but gains a mid, giving the hull three of each.  People said a frigate with only two mid slots wouldn’t be viable, and they were right.

Otherwise there were the usual round of small fixes, many focused on graphical fidelity, with an item thrown in there designed to make me grind my teeth:

  • Additional dungeon assets have been upgraded to the latest shaders.

It isn’t that I don’t want various mission assets upgraded to the latest shaders, it is that I hate when CCP refers to mission spaces as “dungeons.”  This is a long standing gripe and no I won’t ever get over it.  This isn’t Space WoW.

So that is it for October.  The update is already live. (That page has the links to the feedback and known issues threads.)  You can find the original ideas for the October balance pass in this dev blog.  They didn’t get to the Force Auxiliaries this time.

To see what did get changed there are the patch notes and the updates page to guide you.

Between now and November we have EVE Vegas.  That falls on October 19-21 and I expect it will be there that we’ll hear about the “next big thing” for EVE Online.  There is generally a big, named expansion at this end of the year.  Optimists hope for the next great feature that will revive the game while pessimists expect a Pearl Abyss enforced cash shop nightmare.  Reality will probably be somewhere in between.

Always Something to Clean Up in Space

After having caught the first move op back to Delve last week I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with myself in New Eden.  I haven’t ratted in over a year, and I haven’t mined in much longer than that, and have no desire to do either.  When you see those Delve numbers on the monthly economic report, I contribute nothing to those two categories.

Meanwhile the peace in the north has meant few strategic operation opportunities.  I like strat ops because the have a goal and I am a very goal oriented person.  Roaming just to roam, unless it is with Reaver, isn’t something I enjoy.

Fortunately it appears that NCDot was looking out for me.  It must be because I am friends with Matterall.  They left a couple of Astrahus citadels in Aridia set for US time zone timers, so when a fleet went up to go shoot them I was awake and ready to go.  It was going to be Hammerfleet doctrine, which is built around the Ferox battlecruiser, which meant that I would get to show off the Cordite Blossom SKIN that CCP briefly offered as a fundraiser back with the September update.

Cordite Blossom Ferox at a jump bridge

The fleet was under Dave Archer and, of course, he didn’t tell us what we were up to, just that it was a strat op.  The presence of spies and the requirements of operation security means we rarely get told much until something is already happening.  But that it was a strat op in a doctrine that is often used to shoot structures, and because there was a small carrier op under Zed Starshine going with us, it seemed like a good bet that there was a citadel out there that needed bashing.

And that we took the jump bridge to 1-SMEB pretty much guaranteed it was in Aridia.  So off we went, shepherding the slower carriers that would be used as the firepower for the shoot.  Getting there went smoothly, except for the point when somebody in the fleet set off they cyno by accident.

That wasn’t what he meant to do

That sort of thing doesn’t happen as often as it could.  But it was quiet enough in the area that we left him behind and he was able to catch up.

The Astrahus itself was being gunned, so as we orbited the structure it threw various things at us.  For the most part that kept logi awake with something to do.

Paints and webs on somebody

The unaware and incautious were in trouble however.  Small stuff had to warp off to stay safe and the few people who did dumb things, like lighting their microwarp drive when a bomb was coming in, paid the price.  But losses were minimal.  When the heard had been culled of the incompetent the gunner started in on our drones and we had to pull those and pick up with guns.  However the fighters from the carriers carried on without issue.

Unfortunately, this shoot was just for the armor timer.  There was no kill mail to be had.  The kill was set for three days down the road.

Timer counting down

Then we moved to another system and did it all again, shooting another gunned Astrahus to take care of another armor timer.

The Ferox line and a planetary atmosphere

That set up another timer for a kill next week.

After that it was a quick run back to 1-SMEB where the carriers could jump and we could take the jump bridge back home.   So I managed to get in on at least one fleet this month and helped clean up some hostile structures.  We’ll see if I remember to check for the fleet that will go get the final timers and the kills.

CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes and How War Decs are Killing EVE

CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.

CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes, Economy Discussion

I ebb and flow in my interest in the CSM, which in its way reflects CCP’s own wavering commitment to the institution over the years.  And, of course, the topics being discussed and how much information we get affects my interest as well.  Some of the summit minutes have so much redacted that what is left just isn’t worth getting worked up about.

Not the space police, just the non-binding space oversight committee

This time around there were actually a few interesting topics.  The key one for me was war declarations, or war decs.  These have been complained about since I started playing EVE Online back in 2006.

There is a whole section devoted to war decs in the minutes, reflective of there being a dedicated session on the topic.  The minutes from that are somewhat interesting.  That section of the minutes opens with a pretty ominous note:

In the EVE Leadership meeting the CSM was presented with numbers resulting from research
into the state of war declarations in EVE and those numbers quite starkly showed how
asymmetric the situation is, and how war declarations allow a small number of players to
negatively affect a huge number of people, with low risk.

After that, however, the discussion in the minutes goes the way it has always gone.  Everybody knows war decs are a problem but there are always reasons why CCP won’t get rid of them completely.  Along with the all-time greatest hit, “we don’t want high sec space to be completely safe,” there is now the problem of Upwell structures which litter New Eden.  Without high sec war decs you can’t blow those up.

So the discussion flowed through a set of ideas guided by that, with talk of costs and victory conditions and the like.  The session notes end with a mention of how war decs favor the aggressor, how corporations who get war dec’d tend to just stop playing when there is a war going on, and how some organizations like Red Frog avoid the whole thing.

There was no real indication about a future plan for war decs or whether or not CCP would do anything about them in the foreseeable future.  While disappointing, that was hardly unexpected.  CCP hasn’t like the war dec situation forever so far as I can tell but hasn’t done much save tinker with it over the years.

The minutes then move on to the session on the economy where starts off CCP Larrikin by confirming that the current level of NPC bounty payouts is not sustainable and that most of it comes from carrier and super carrier ratting.  No surprise there.

It isn’t until the second page of the economy section, a point by which I am sure some people have already uttered, “yadda yadda yadda” and moved on to the next section, that we come to the paragraph with which I chose to open this post.

I chose that quote for a reason.  It takes away a lot of the ambiguity about war decs.

If you’re paying attention, you will hear people complain about war decs.  It tends to be anecdotal information.  Somebody got war dec’d and it sucked.  But somebody always has a story about how something in the game sucked, so how do you assign a priority to it?

Well, the CSM saw the data, and maybe CCP will share it with the rest of us at some future date, but the reaction seems to be enough.  War decs kill corps and CCP knows it, and likely has known it for some time.  Furthermore it is bad enough that CCP put the following line in the meeting minutes that they themselves edited:

…it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.

CCP endorsed that statement by putting it in the minutes.  Remember that.

What is the all time, long term problem for EVE Online?  If you said, “player recruitment and retention” you get a prize.

Which brings me back to the section of the minutes that was specifically about war decs and the decided lack of urgency that comes through on the whole topic.  The discussion reads to me like it is a topic that needs to be fixed eventually, but which they can get to in the fullness of time when they have the ideal solution.  That quote from the economy section makes this seem like much more of a “hair on fire, do something now!” situation.  If it is really that bad, I’m with Brisc; turn the feature off.  We can live without war decs for six months or a year if it stops driving players away.

There are other parts of the minutes worth looking through.  The economy section, as noted, is worth a read.  There was also a whole session about the new player experience that explains, in part, why CCP ditched the epic NPE experience for the current version based in The Agency, something I wrote about last month.

And there was a discussion of the updated customer support policies, marketing and recruiting and community outreach which are likely worth a read.

But for me the primary take away from the 53 pages of minutes is that high sec war decs are bad for the game, CCP knows this (and has likely known this for a long time), and yet they are still dithering about a solution.  I’d be hard pressed to come up with something more important for them to look into given the statement in the minutes.

Addendum: Others covering the minutes