Category Archives: EVE Online

EVE Aether Wars Round Two Event

Back in March we had the first EVE Aether Wars tech demo when CCP and Hadean got together during GDC to try and get a bunch of players into one big space battle and maybe set a world record.

Things learned from that went into round two, which went off yesterday.

For the second run the event grew somewhat in sophistication.  Previously players just logged in, were given a ship, and spent their time spewing missiles at each other.  This time there was an objective beyond explosions.

The setup

We were also given a selection of ship types this time around as well.  There was the Worm frigate:

The Worm

The Gila cruiser:

Gila Description

And the Rattlesnake battleship:

Rattlesnake description

In EVE Online all three of these hulls are focused on drone combat, but in the tech demo things were more simple.  As the control scheme shows, the combat was much more dogfight oriented than the EVE Online “lock and shoot” method.

The control scheme for the event

One thing missing from the controls was the fire button.  Unlike last time, where much time was spent pounding a button to spew missiles.  I only noticed that once had locked some people up that there was no way to shoot.

Early in the fight

I quickly figured out that the your ship fired automatically, launching missiles at a fixed rate.  They appears on screen marked with red triangles.

It took me longer to figure out where to find the zero point condensate, or ZPC, which was the scoring focus of the event.  I flew around for quite a bit before spotting a black cloud in space.  That a bunch of people were flying around it was the give-away.

Go to the cloud to harvest

I flew into the melee to collect some ZPC.  As it turned out, despite what the ship descriptions said, if you were blown up you lost your whole cargo load, so when I went boom I came back empty.

I tried the different ships.  The Rattlesnake was a popular hull, I saw a lot of them.  However, despite having a lot of hit points it was also slow and something of a missile magnet, being easy to spot and close in on with smaller ships.

Out with the Rattle

The Gila was better, and probably the best compromise.  But I ended up favoring the Worm just to be able to zip in and out of places and to chase down targets.  At one point I spotted a Gila glowing with a golden aura.  Figuring that was a sign, I went after it and, after a long chance blew it up.  The golden highlight was a sign that they were carrying a bunch of ZPC, so I went from zero to 31K pretty quickly.

Suddenly rich in ZPC

I did figure out that you could exit the game and come back in a fresh ship if you were in need of repairs without losing your ZPC.  However, I wasn’t going to play it safe and hide with my little stash and went looking for more golden tinted ships.  Unfortunately I was also likely highlighted with a golden tone, though it did not show at my end, so quickly became a target as well, losing all my ZPC.  Easy come, easy go.

One of the goals, as with the last event, was to try and set a Guinness Books world record, which would have required them to get somewhere around 10K people into the battle.  Mid way through the test they announced that there were over 3,000 of us battling.

Over 3K battling they said

At that point they were going to load up some AI ships in order to push the load levels.

Send in the clones

Once again, they fell far short of a record.

The summary from Hadean at the end put the total just under 3K players involved.  Still, with us and the AI they said they got new data to evaluate from the test, which was the point of it all.

Unlike last time, it wasn’t obvious to me when they added AI pilots to the event.  People were able to spread out in the dark Abyssal Deadspace environment chosen for the battle.

That dead Leviathan was just scenery

The event wrapped rather promptly an hour after the announced start.  At the client end this wasn’t immediately apparent as the server going down didn’t kick people out.  You just ended up flying around in space by yourself.

The final scores showed some people managed to scoop up a lot more ZPC than I ever managed.

Who got the ZPC?

As for how the whole thing ran, it did not seem to tax my system very much.  But the whole thing seemed designed to keep from doing so.  Unlike the missile spam of the last attempt, which dragged down the frame rate on my system, there were never more than a couple dozen ships or missiles on my screen at any time.  Maybe we were all too spread out or maybe the client was set to only draw so many objects before stopping.

Communication was also spotty.  You had to be on the Discord for the event to know what was going on, and even then there were times when they should have mentioned things in the Announcements channel rather than dumping info into the public channel where it often scrolled off quickly.

Overall, from my side, it was a Sunday morning distraction.  There wasn’t a lot to it, though it was built as a test not a game, so that is to be expected.

CCP promised us prizes, but I haven’t seen any follow up on that.  Everybody who joined in is supposed to get some SKINs for the effort and somebody is supposed to win a paid trip to this year’s EVE Vegas.  I’m sure we’ll hear about that soon, as EVE Vegas is just over two months away.

Other post event reports:

 

Chaos Fatigue

Do you press one of these buttons when you log off from EVE Online?  CCP added them a while back as something of an exit survey.

Thumbs up or down?

For about a week after they showed up I diligently and thoughtfully clicked one of those buttons every time I exited the game.  And then I stopped.

I stopped because, on reflection, this seemed like data collection without value.  It lacks any context and, given human nature, can be waved away by circumstances of the moment.  There is always something going on that will allow CCP to say, “Well, that i just because we announced X and a few people are mad about it.”

I would not be surprised to find out that the buttons are not hooked up to a backend that stores the results, that CCP put them in there as just a way to deflect anger into the void.

It is a very Reddit-based response, let people down vote the game when they are upset because it lets you feel like you have done something, even though down voting never changed anything because it can always be explained away.  And that makes it very appropriate for the Chaos Era that CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson has declared for EVE Online.

Things have been somewhat chaotic since the Invasion expansion arrived back at the end of May.  That brought Triglavian incursion-like events to high sec, leading to NPCs camping the routes between tutorial and career agent systems and the joy of logging in an alt only to find you had best just log off because you’re system is now an NPC kill zone.

Didn’t want that 10K skill points anyway

And, of course, that has expanded, so hanging out it a belt in a 0.9 system might end up with you getting blow up right  away as well.

Didn’t want that Venture anyway

CCP also spread the chaos to null sec, which has tended to monopolize the headlines (Because who cares about new players?) with Drifter attacks and the Blackout and the sudden VNI nerf and the tax increases and now the coming cyno changes, with the promise of more changes to come.  I have mostly watched this from the sidelines, this blog being little else than that.  If you’re reading this you are in a tiny, obscure part of the EVE Online player base.

Just the other day CSM14 representative Dunk Dinkle was encouraging people with strong opinions on these changes to speak up publicly.

To me, strong opinions are part of the problem with any EVE Online discussion.  PvP players can be exceptionally vocal… roll footage of the forums of every PvE focused MMORPG ever… and the chaos era changes have brought them out en masse to cheer CCP for making changes that disrupt the status quo.  Anybody speaking against the chaos is shouted down because their motives are based on self-interest.  As such, every CCP proposal seems likely to go forward unchecked, since it isn’t difficult to find a wave of vocal support for them.

So the chaos will continue until morale improves.

However, I wonder if chaos is really a viable long term strategy.  Hilmar mentioned the novel The Three-Body Problem as one of his inspirations during that interview on Talking in Stations.  It was already on my list of things to read at some point, so I picked it up last week.  I have gotten far enough along to see where Hilmar swiped the idea for the Chaos Era.

In the book there is a video game which experiences alternating orderly and chaotic eras.  During the orderly times the player society of the game progresses.  During the chaotic eras nothing is predictable and everything is in disorder.  CCP seems to have decided that is the path forward for EVE Online.  They want to keep changing things constantly so that nothing is predictable in anything but the immediate time frame.

What I found interesting in the book was the player reactions to the chaotic eras.  While a select few persist through those eras, trying to discover a pattern to the chaos, the vast majority dehydrate themselves and are stored away, only to be revived when the next orderly era appears.  Then everybody gets back to work on progress in the game.

I could not help but associate the dehydrated state in the book with something akin to becoming an Alpha clone in EVE Online.  People often find chaos to be wearing over time, not what they want to devote themselves to as their hobby.  I know I am feeling a bit weary from the chaos era of New Eden, and barely any of it has an impact on me.  Only the coming cyno revision will change some aspect of my play.

And there is a very vocal choir that supports the chaos, which means that CCP would have to work to see a reason not to keep on with it.  So I suspect that the chaos will continue.

But it makes me wonder if chaos a viable long term strategy?

Addendum: After writing this, I listened to the Talking in Stations interview with CCP Rise, and it sure sounds like chaos is the long term strategy CCP has chosen.  My question as to whether or not we take Hilmar and CCP Falcon and their vision of where they want EVE Online to go appears to have been answered.

The Chaos Era is Coming to Cynos

CCP announced in the forums today that with the September update they are planning two changes when it comes to cynosural fields, the ship mounted beacons that act as jump targets for capital ships.  The announcement in full:

This September we are planning two large changes for Cynosural Fields:

  • Cynosural Field Generator I can only be fit by Force Recon Ships and Black Ops Battleships (note: these classes can still fit covert cynos)
  • Jump Freighters can jump to Covert Cynosural Fields

During this era of chaos we are eager to introduce new challenges for veteran pilots while working towards a deeper and more balanced capital meta. Historically, cynos have been extremely flexible. They can be used on flocks of alts at nearly no risk or used by the largest and strongest ships in the game. With few options for cyno disruption, capital response time and power has grown to the point that it’s oppressing activity. This change will make it more complex and demanding to get capitals to the field quickly and give more strategic options for those wishing to disrupt capital response.

While most of the impact from this change is on combat, we are sensitive to the effect on Jump Freighters and logistics overall. Jump Freighters will be allowed to use Covert Cynos which can be activated by cheaper hulls like Covert Ops Frigates. This may need further attention and we will be watching this area very closely.

As clarified in a follow up post, that means that only the following ships can fit a cyno:

  • Force Recons
    • Arazu
    • Pilgrim
    • Falcon
    • Rapier
  • Black Ops Battleships
    • Redeemer
    • Widow
    • Sin
    • Panther
    • Marshall (maybe?)

If CCP carries through on this, the days of the cyno alt in a small, sacrificial ship will be over.

No more cyno on a Kestral

My hot take on this is that Malcanis will prevail yet again and the rich will get richer while the poor will be left out.  Is that that goal?

A large null sec organization that can afford to throw away expensive hulls for cynos or organize protection for their cyno beacons will carry on as before.  Coalition capital moves ops won’t change and you will still get dropped on by a bunch of titans if you come to Delve.  You’ll just get a better kill mail if you manage to pop the cyno ship.

However, if you are trying to get your own capital ship moved around New Eden, welcome to the new expensive reality.  You can only light a cyno in low and null sec, where their presence on the overview system-wide makes them an easy to find target, stuck in place for 10 minutes.  The only reason not to bother is that a rookie ship doesn’t get you a kill mark.

But if suddenly every cyno has an expensive kill mail attached, people will be racing to pop them.  I just did a multi-cyno trip across low sec to get a suicide dread in place a few weeks back.  It cost me a bunch of fuel and a Kestrel.  Would I do the same if I knew I was going to have to sacrifice a nearly 300 million ISK Falcon, the current cheapest of all the hulls listed according to EVE Appraisal, for each jump?  Probably not.  That would have cost me almost as much as the dreadnought itself.

And when people are burning a Falcon for every cyno, expect that price to go up.

I know that CCP wants to shake up the meta, but this feels like it will have the same result that so many past changes have, where an effort to make the larger groups hurt only ends up locking out the small time operator.  I suppose at least they had a thought for the jump freighter pilots, who will now only have to burn a covert ops frigate for each jump.  Expect shipping prices to go up some as well.

This change isn’t coming until September and at times CCP does listen to feedback.  We shall see if this is the chaos they want.  I am sure there will be lots of… ahem… discussion about this proposed change.  The forum thread about this is already alight, as is the main thread on Reddit.

Others writing about this:

The EVE Online August Update brings Community Ship Fittings

It is August and in the midst of the vacation cycle, so there wasn’t any real expectation that something big would drop for this months EVE Online update.  That we got anything beyond fixes is a bit of a surprise.

CCP chose this image for the update, maybe it means something

The big item in the update, to my mind at least, is the community fittings feature.  Few items are as difficulty to pass on to new players as how to fit your ship.  People will toss out hull options, but modules drop you into a deep well of complexity.  As I have oft said, fantasy MMORPG have the advantage of being based on a model we all understand.  We know a helmet protects your head, a sword hurts your foe, a healing spell tends your wounds, and there is probably some number somewhere that lets you compare what you have now with another item so you can tell what is better.

With EVE Online and its myriad of choices it can be hard to know where to begin.  I mentioned module complexity as one of the big problems for new players previously, using just the example of light missiles.  Which do you choose new player?

Not shown, defender light missiles

And that is just the ammo.  Which launcher do you pick, what modules will make missiles more effective, what defenses does a ship need, what other modules should I consider or avoid, all of that and more goes largely unanswered by the game.  That means new players tend to just equip whatever they happen to come across in the classic “something is better than nothing” view of the world.  But is the cargo scanner that dropped off that belt rat worth the effort?

This gets all the more important if a player wants to go PvP.  Mission running can be fairly forgiving… you can often just warp off it things start going badly and start over again.  But other players, they will tackle you and blow you up and you’ll likely not know what went wrong or how to get better.

So the idea of suggested fits has been kicked around for a long time now, and the culmination is the community ship fittings feature.  What appears there will be based on some consensus being reached in the community fittings forum.  People will, naturally, complain that they fittings are not all they could be.  The fitting meta can be fluid.  But at least it might give new players some insight into what they ought to consider.

Community fittings aside, the rest of the update looks to be of a fix and tune nature.

There are some updates to how the war declaration system works.  The implants known as “Slave” will now be known as “Amulet” due to planned changes to which faction provides them.  And there are a whole bunch of little fixes.  I am kind of disappointed that kill marks will no longer blink on the Caracal hull.  Blinking kill marks sounds like a feature.  It would certainly make them easier to find.

There is one entry that might portend some change up with the Triglavian invasion event:

Triglavian Recon vessels have been sighted outside of Invasion zones

I suppose that means they will be going somewhere new to shoot capsuleers.  I do wonder if this is related to the news item about an increase in wormholes connecting to Drifter hive systems.  Will the Drifters be headed our way again?  Will they come to blows with the Triglavians?  We shall see.

The word has come that the update has been deployed successfully.  For details you should go check out the Patch Notes.  There is also an updates entry for today, but it mostly goes on about the already in progress Skilling Spree event and the coming Fanfest Home.

EVE Aether Wars Round Two, This Time with Prizes

The EVE: Aether Wars testing is back for round 2.

Back in March CCP teamed up with Hadean to do a tech demo during the Game Developers Conference to show what might be possible in the future when it came to huge space battles with thousands of players involved.  They promised then that there would be more such events, and now the second round, slated to take place on Sunday August 18th, is just a week away.

Phase two, round two, whatever…

The first round back in March had some lofty goals, including an attempt to set a Guinness Book World Record by getting 10,000 players into the demo.

CCP had been previously recognized by Guinness for getting 6,142 players into one online battle back during the “Million Dollar Battle” in January of 2018.  CCP and Hadean wanted to shatter that record decisively.

However, they fell well short of that goal.  As the CCP Dev Blog about the demo spelled out, the total live player number topped out at 3,852, with a mere 2,379 being the peak concurrent number of players. Null sec can get more than that in a system just to shoot an undefended Keepstar.

Hadean helped push the stress aspect of the event by dumping more than 10K AI clients into the demo, but those don’t count.  Guinness wants to hear about live people

The event did have some things going against it when it came to that 10K player goal.  It got some press coverage, but not a lot.  CCP wasn’t big on asking people to help spread the word.  It wasn’t clear to some if you needed an EVE Online account in order to participate. (You don’t)  And, probably worst of all, the event was held at 11am Pacific time on a weekday, so people in the US were at work and people in Europe were just getting home from the office and people in Asia were probably still asleep.

I was lucky.  My boss let me work from home that day and take some time out for the event, but it wasn’t the sort of thing that people would take a vacation or sick day to attend.

Locked On!

For the second round the test will use more visual assets from EVE Online.  It looks like we’ll be tooling around in an Abyssal Deadspace environment in something like the Caldari Merlin hull.  The first test was clearly setup around EVE Valkyrie assets.

The image suggesting what the coming test will look like

In addition to a more EVE Online feel, CCP is throwing out incentives in order to get people to come participate in the test.

People who sign up for the test will get a special set of EVE Online ship SKINs and somebody will win a free trip for two to EVE Vegas.

So, adding it all up, we have a new test with more familiar art assets taking place on a Sunday instead of a work day with CCP throwing out some gifts to those who participate as well as a travel give away.

It sure sounds like a plan to get more people involved.

Whether or not it becomes a Guinness Book level event remains to be seen, but it seems like they are trying harder this time around.

Raitaru Fight in Frarie

We had another timer waiting for us last night in Frarie.  Snuffed Out had previously reinforced a Raitaru we had dropped not too far from our Fortizar and the final event was at hand.

Counting Down

We formed up in Abaddons again, wondering if Snuff would show up for the timer or not.

Word was that they too were forming, and eyes on their home in Rakapas said they were putting together a mix of Machariels and Apocalypse Navy Issues with fax support.  A few minutes after the repair cycle had started they bridged in.  At that point we undocked and warped straight onto them with out pulse beam fit Abaddons, with our own fax in tow, and a brawl ensued.

The Abaddons off the Raitaru

At that point I got very busy as I was once again out in the dirty Guardian doing my logi thing.  Cainun was targeting Machariels to make them pay in ISK while they were going after logi to make killing the rest of the fleet that much easier.

Our logi was holding and a few Machariels had died when Snuff upped the ante and started dropping in dreadnoughts.  Our logi chain was broken and our fax wasn’t able to keep up. Guardians were alpha’d off the field by their battleships while the HAW dreads starting hitting Abaddons.  The dirty Guardian was no more.

We had the option to escalate as well.  We have some anti-cap dreads of our own that could have come into the fight.  However, the word was that they had their titan and super pilots logged in and sitting in Rakapas waiting to jump in as well if we did so.

Cainun’s last act was to warp us all back to our Fortizar before his own ship exploded.  Our fax went down as well, as did the Raitaru.  The battle report shows the ISK war against us as well.

Battle Report Header

This fight, and our previous encounters with Snuff, does make me question the value of this deployment.  Liberty Squad leadership wanted to go somewhere where we could get “good fights” on something like a regular basis.  But we chose to base ourselves under the capital umbrella of Snuffed Out without bringing anything like enough to counter that.  That leaves them the option to escalate, something they have done in every fight.  We have had them drop titans on us more than once already.

Titans loll about a previous fight

And yet Snuff clearly wants us there.  They have more than enough capitals on hand to take out our Fortizar if they wanted to.  As with any such arrangement, the price to keep them from doing that is to fight them… entertain them… and lose.  If we stop, you can bet the Fortizar will be their next target.

This is, as always, the problem with low sec for me.  There is nothing here to win.  Nothing changes, we just form back up again another night to repeat the same event.

It makes me want to jump my clone over to the Black Ops deployment where they cyno in to gank somebody and about half the time it doesn’t go as planned and the locals jump us instead and we have to scramble to get out.  At least there is some question as to how the fight will end and a chance to get away with something before the supers start landing on you. (Fortunately I have an alt there already.)

Oh well, that is the nature of EVE Online without a war going on.

Addendum:

Somebody recorded last night’s fight.

 

EVE Echoes Alpha Announced

It has been a while since we heard about anything besides EVE Online out of CCP, but they appear to be still working on other titles.  Today CCP announced the sign up for the EVE Echoes alpha.

EVE Echoes Alpha

First show to us somewhat by accident as part of the Apple ARKkit 2 at WWDC as EVE: Project Galaxy, the game was  formally unveiled last year as EVE Echoes.

EVE Echoes is the latest iteration of CCP’s attempt to create a mobile game based on the EVE Online universe and is being created in conjunction with NetEase, the company also working with Blizzard on the missing-since-BlizzCon title Diablo Immortal.

CCP previously demoed an EVE Online based mobile game made in conjunction with PlayRaven (now a subsidiary of Rovio of Angry Birds fame) at EVE Vegas a couple of years back under the name Project Aurora.  This was alleged to have become EVE: War of Ascension, but we haven’t heard much about it since. (Googling the title seems to suggest it was released for iOS and Andriod in some regions, but I couldn’t say for sure.  It does not appear on the CCP site anywhere.  Maybe the Rovio acquisition complicated things.)

Anyway, if a mobile version of the EVE Online experience appeals to you, you can sign up for the Alpha at the EVE Echoes site.

Being invited to the Alpha will mean keeping things quiet according to the sign up.

How hard core is hardcore?

So if you’re doing this for a blog post or stream event, you might have to sit on your hands for a bit.  CCP will want to let the gaming news sites have first bite at the publicity before the plebes can start gushing and/or complaining about the new game.

Other coverage: