CCP Announces the Return of the Alliance Tournament to EVE Online

CCP teased us with a count down to a video yesterday which had capsuleers wondering what the company might have planned.  Summer isn’t just a down time for players, much of the company tends to go on vacation as well.  This morning at 15:00 UTC (8am for me, so morning in my book) the video was unlocked and the big news was… the return of the alliance tournament.

Coming this November

Why is this a big deal?

The Alliance Tournament ran annually from 2005 through until 2018, then went on hiatus in 2019.  CCP allowed groups like EVE NT to host tournaments on their infrastructure, but declined to carry on with what was viewed as the “official” tournament for many players.  Many were disappointed and it has been a perennial point for CSM members to ask about its return since the 2019 announcement.

In addition to the prestige of winning the Alliance Tournament… CCP even unveiled a monument to the winners earlier this year in the Manarq system in the Genesis region… success in the tournament could be quite lucrative for the winners.

Winged Victory surrounded by markers of all the winning alliances

There alliance has not been without controversy.  For openers, one of the prime aspects of EVE Online is that we all play on a single server and everything happens within that space.  But the Alliance Tournament breaks that, taking place outside of the game.  There is also a bit of elitism as to who can participate, where the rich get in and the poor stand by.  And the wealth accumulated by some winners has seemed a bit excessive.  It has been said that Pandemic Legion financed many of its operations over the years on its winnings, so the influence of an out of game event has been felt in New Eden.

And then there have been the actual controversies within the tournament itself including accusations of collusion, with winners having been disqualified.

But it has remained a staple of the game for years and many will celebrate its return.

It will be interesting to see what impact this return will have on the game.  There have been years when wars have slowed down or stopped because key players in alliances drop out of playing to plan and practice for the tournament, often months in advance of the actual event.  Of course, with the currrent state of World War Bee right now, I am not sure anybody would notice.

So some big news on Bastille Day.

Related:

The Hunter’s Boon Update Lands for EVE Online

Last week CCP put the proposed Hunter’s Boon update changes on the test server and today those changes went live for EVE Online.

The July Update

The update represents a variety of changes, but I think the biggest deal in the whole package has to be the removal of skill point loss when you your Tech III strategic cruiser gets blown up.

That was the original cost/benefit proposition for those hulls, introduced back with the Apocrypha expansion in March 2009, that they would be powerful and adaptable, but would also come with a risk of loss.

My first Tengu from back in 2010

Over the last dozen years the fortunes of strategic cruisers have gone up and down with buffs and nerfs and balance passes, most recently being one of the ship classes hit with the removal of interdiction nullification.  Once ubiquitous and powerful, they have been eclipsed by the Heavy Assault Cruiser meta of late.

So, in order to make them more viable, CCP has removed the big penalty.  No longer will you randomly lose a level from one of the skills related to the T3 hull you are flying.  Kind of a big deal.

What else do we get with the update?  CCP introduced the mobile covert cyno beacon.

We got the mobile cyno beacon back in March and it was apparently such a success that we now get the covert cyno version of it.

Covert style now

Blueprints for it have been seeded into the game so industry people can start researching them and begin production.

CCP also introduce blueprints for a new drug, the Strong Veilguard Booster, which increases capsuleer cloak stabilization… that timer that marks how long you can stay cloaked before a Mobile Observatory… something introduced just last month… can decloak you.  That raises the duration to a possible 45 minutes of stabilization.

The role bonus for fleet interceptors (Ares, Crow, Malediction, Stiletto) has been changed to include a reduction in scan resolution penalty while using Interdiction Nullifiers, the role bonus is now:

  • 80% reduction in Interdiction Nullifier reactivation delay, max lock range penalty, and scan resolution penalty.

The nerf bat came out for Marauders, which saw a hit to the benefits of their bastion mode.  The Bastion Module effects were adjusted as follows:

  • Target painter resistance has been reduced from -95% to -50%.
  • Sensor dampener resistance has been reduced from -95% to -50%.
  • Weapon disruption resistance has been reduced from -99% to -50%.
  • Bonus to sensor strength has been reduced from 1,000% to 100%.
  • Removed the ECM Immunity.

Hostile ewar will now be much more effective against those hulls when their Bastion Module is running.

There were also buffs to the CONCORD Pacifier and Enforcer hulls in a bid to make them less niche and more generally viable.

Finally, CCP also has a graphics update, the Bring Out EVE’s Colors plan mentioned previously.  Today’s update includes.

  • The Bring Out EVE’s Colors update is live and introduces a range of huge visual improvements, ensuring that New Eden continues to set a standard as a visually stunning universe. The update includes:
    • PBR shader adjustments, including changes to roughness calculation and visibility factor.
    • Modified lighting with brightened reflection map generation and asset backlighting.
    • Postprocess color improvements – tonemapping adjustments to brighten colors, extend the color range, smooth out gradients, and emphasize highlights
    • Numerous tweaks to assets, environments, and effects to maintain their appearance with the new tech.
  • Characters in windows are now rendered with 4x supersampling when Antialiasing is set to “High.” (DX11 only)
  • Characters in windows now require substantially less video memory to render. (DX11 only)

There were also some smaller defect fixes, which you can find in the patch notes.

The update has been deployed and is now live.

Related:

53 Weeks of World War Bee

We’re now past the one year mark and nothing special happened to magically end the war.  I guess we’ll just have to carry one.

Which didn’t mean there wasn’t some drama.  This past week saw two corporations in NCDot, Criterion and Original Sinners, discovered in their plans to jump ship and join NullSechnaya Sholupen (NSH) due to boredom with the war.  NSH, part of PAPI, has grabbed a corner of Fountain in which they have set up shop and spend most of their time battling in low sec.  The two corps, which have some key FCs on their rosters, want in on those fights.

The discovery of this plan initially drew a sharp rebuke from Vince Draken, leader of NCDot, that proscribed the two corps and hinted that they might even go to war with NSH over the whole thing, but so far nothing has changed, so that might have just been an opening bid.

As I wrote last week, the war effort breaking down would run against the current interests of PandaFam and possibly lead to the ruination of TEST and Legacy, so both groups are motivated to hold the PAPI null sec blue donut together.  It has been suggested that once one major party walks away from the war, the rush to the exits will follow, so anybody trying to leave the front lines should expect an array of threats and promises from their current allies.

One Year Ago

CCP cancelled all live events for the remainder of 2020.  That was hardly unexpected.  In fact, they seemed a bit late in calling it.  They also started straight up selling skill points for cash in the web store, something hardly unexpected in hindsight either I suppose.

Here I was looking into the different theaters of operation in which the PAPI invasion might take place.  It was also time for entosis warfare again.  TEST managed to take an ihub in Period Basis, which seemed like a strong start, but the Imperium wasn’t going to let that stand.

And then I summed up the first week of the war.

Delve Front

Once more, this image pretty much sums up the situation in Delve.

O-EIMK Constellation – July 11, 2021

Hot drops and skirmishes were the tale once again.  The Delve Campaign report for the week shows that the total ships destroyed was down by about 1,500 hulls.  Unfortunately, there is some glitch in the report and GSF losses don’t show.

Delve Campaign – Week 53

Adding up the losses by ship type it looks like the losses totaled up to about 270 billion ISK total and GSF losses, by subtracting everybody else, look to be about 100 billion of it.

Other Theaters

In Feythabolis Red Alliance continues to hold out in the corner of the region they captured.  They lost an ihub over the course of the week, but took another back, so they remain with the same number as before.

Feythabolis – July 11, 2021

Word is that The Initiative, back from a break, as setup to start harassing Legion of xXDEATHXx (X.I.X), which is invested in taking a big chunk of the region right now.

Over in Catch, the PAPI efforts to get back into the one-time Legacy region have stalled as Dracarys pushed back on Siege Green, retaking one of their ihubs.

Catch – July 11, 2021

The push into Catch seemed more an effort to push Imperium systems away from Querious to keep them from dropping on Legacy ratters and miners.

My Participation

I got in on an op early int the week when a there was a call for bombers to log in and join a Welp Squad operation in a wormhole.  They had found a Lazerhawks crabbing op in progress and we managed to kill a Minokawa, a Golem, and a pack of Lokis, along with some expensive pods.

Minokawa under attack

There is also a John Hartley video of the fight.

That wasn’t just the high point of my week in New Eden, but just about all of it. Otherwise I managed to miss any further skirmishes in Delve, so my losses for the war remain as:

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

Other Items

CCP invited new players to “Seek your Destiny” in another attempt to make the game less opaque.

CCP also launched Minmatar Liberation Day which include login rewards, in-game events, and the usual sales in the store.

Have a Brutor Libre, the official drink of Minmatar Liberation Day!

And then there is the state of the player base.

The “summer of rage 2.0” meme keeps coming up related to the game.  Kotaku had an article last week exploring the whole lead up to where we are today.  But “rage” seems like an overreach.  Sure, some people are angry at CCP, but some people have been angry at CCP literally every single day since the game launched back in 2003.  And compared to the Incarna crisis, the rage feel pretty muted.  But, as I pointed out in the previous weekly update, it is more than monetization that is suppressing the PCU.

CCP’s response in the article seemed quite unconcerned about… everything.  They say their internal numbers are fine and this will all pass… no need to speak to the players, they’ll get on board, a sentiment that does feel remarkably reminiscent of CCP’s response to Incarna.  But CCP has a history of being dismissive of their player base.

As for the PCU this past week, we saw another of seven day run of not cracking the 25K mark, though the top number on Sunday was up a bit from the previous total.  We could blame it on US Independence Day the week before and an EU soccer match yesterday.  What will next week bring?

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

Related

Binge Watching in the New Normal

Pandemic restrictions have been lifted, but just last week I was buying some KN-95 masks because I live in California where things are just on fire for months at a stretch.  There was a brief conspiracy theory about why we all had masks on hand when Covid hit, and then we reminded people it was literally raining ash over most of the state during the summer of 2019 so we needed them to breath.

All of which is just another reason to stay inside and watch TV.

The show is about an aging stand up comedian, Deborah Vance, who was an early female presence in the genre (think Joan Rivers) and who has been doing a Las Vegas show for many years running on the same material.  Her agent sends out a 25 year old female comedy write who was just fired from her last gig for being too controversial on Twitter in an effort to get Deborah’s act to appeal to a younger demographic.  The two meet, don’t like each other, and the usual generational sniping begins which ends with grudging acceptance than a genuine relationship.

This could have been a very predictable show.  In fact, it often is very predictable.  I am not spoiling anything in my description above because you’ll see it coming a mile away.  But Jean Smart’s performance as Deborah Vance manages to make it rise above what could have been another throw away series about show business and the generation gap.  I don’t want to sell the rest of the cast short.  There are plenty of good performances, but Jean Smart is the anchor that sells it.

In the air flight 828 experiences some severe turbulence.  When they land in New York the passengers and crew find that five years have passed since their flight departed.  They have been missing, presumed dead for most of that time.  The government wants to know what is going on, a shadowy defense contractor is very interested in the passengers, a scientists fringe theories seem to be born out by the event, and a semi-religious following starts obsessed with the people who disappeared and were returned with flight 828.

Meanwhile, the lives of the passengers all moved on while they were away.  Kids grew up, spouses found new partners, jobs and technology and science went along without them.  And some of the passengers start hearing voices in their heads, giving them vague instructions or showing them visions.

There is a lot of possible content there to mine to drive a story.  But the writers try to have it all, and in trying to cover all the possible angles, end up with a show that feels like it doesn’t deliver fully on any front.  The episodes jump around, dealing with relationship issues, the NSA investigation of the passengers, the defense contractor’s odd motives and experiments, seeded with plenty of Walking Dead-like flash backs to make sure we know everybody’s store.  The whole thing just didn’t jell for us and we stopped after the first season.

The show follows the aging Sandy Kominsky (Micheal Douglas), a one time aspiring actor from New York who ended up in LA and never quite made the cut.  So he became an acting coach and opened his own school of acting, which he runs with his daughter.  He has still lived the LA lifestyle, has been married three times, has slept with numerous stars, and tends to favor much younger women.

The show begins by contrasting him with his best friend, Norman Newlander, who came out from New York with Sandy and who found great success as an agent and runs a major talent agency in LA.  He is also Sandy’s agent, but never finds Sandy any work.  Norman is played by Alan Arkin in that very typical cranky, cynical character that has worked for him for so much of his career.

The show is very good and we burned through all three seasons pretty quickly.  It does remind me a bit of Brockmire in form, if not in content, as it starts off as a pretty light show about two cranky old guys complaining about their prostates and Norman chiding Sandy about who he is sleeping with, and then develops into a much more serious show about death, children, and one’s legacy.  But it remains funny and and not too heavy.

This has been floating around in my periphery for a while.  Netflix kept pushing it at me as a recommendation for years, and it has a reputation as a show with a cult following, but the show’s description on the service did not spark any interest, nor did the title card featuring Ken Jeong dressed as Napoleon.  Not that I dislike him, but a little bit of Ken Jeong can go a long way.

And then I found out that Rick & Morty season five wasn’t going to be on any of my streaming services until the season was complete… looking at you HBO Max after you made a big deal about how you now have the show… you can get first run movies but can’t get an Adult Swim cartoon until it has been aired elsewhere I guess… and started looking up Dan Harmon to see what his problem was and made the connection with Community, which is basically the show he did before Rick & Morty.  So I started to watch it.

The basic, first episode premise, is that now ex-lawyer Jeff Winger, having be caught out lying about having a bachelor’s degree, enrolls at Greendale Community College in an effort to find the shortest path between him and a degree so he can get back to what he is good at.  His plan involves finding a study group that he can use to help him along.  He lies to them about being a professional tutor to get them to join him, but they somehow become a solid group.

While Jeff is the main character and the de facto leader of the group, it is TV and movie obsessed Abed who is their soul as well as being the wink towards breaking the 4th wall as he describes their situations in movie and TV tropes and cliches which the show often then embraces.

Anyway, I am through season two and am hooked.  It is a show that I laugh out loud at regularly, as my daughter can attest.  My main problem is that I started watching it on my own, and now I wonder if I should go back and rewatch the first two seasons with my wife, get her to just pick up in season three, or simply keep the show to myself.

What I Have Played so far in 2021

2021 is past the half way mark now and, as usual, the months seem to have slipped by.  But it did seem like a good time to maybe stop and look at what video games I played in the first six months of the year.  Thanks to ManicTime I have a handy list to work with.

Unfortunately, ManicTime can only tell me what I have played.  It cannot make my list longer or more interesting.  Still, let’s see where I spent my play time budget.

  1. Valheim – 40.18%
  2. WoW Classic – 39.50%
  3. EVE Online – 17.89%
  4. War in the Pacific – 0.97%
  5. Burning Crusade Classic Beta – 0.43%
  6. World of Warcraft – 0.39%
  7. Runes of Magic – 0.31%
  8. MMO Tycoon 2 – 0.24%
  9. LOTRO – 0.09%

Not even an even ten games, though these are just games on my PC.  We can add Pokemon Go if I need the round number I suppose, but I don’t have times for that, so we’ll skip it.  Anyway, looking at that list we have:

  • Valheim

Proof that I do play new games now and again.  It came out of nowhere in February and distracted the instance group from WoW Classic for more than two months.  It is actually in second place now in my Steam library based on hours played, just barely ahead of RimWorld and out in front of Age of Empires II and War Thunder, but still quite a ways behind Civilization V.

  • WoW Classic

The title I expected to be in first place, though it isn’t far behind Valheim.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it making the list is probably no surprise to you

  • EVE Online

I am sure it is a sign of the current state of World War Bee that my time spent in New Eden is less than half of the time played in either of the first two titles.  Still, it is in the top three that together make up about 97.5% of my PC gaming time so far this year.  I do wonder sometimes if I should give EVE a multiplier for play time because there is no other game I spend so much time playing while tabbed out in a browser looking something up, and ManicTime only counts the time when the game has focus.  Then again, I do also sit docked in a hangar doing nothing a good chunk of time too.

  • War in the Pacific

My apparent attempt to prove that I no longer have the patience to get into a complicated war game title.  22 year old me would have managed it.  Even 35 year old me might have made it.  But far side of 50s me isn’t getting there it seems.  I blame the tiny text and the lack of a zoom feature.  And even as a failed experiment it makes it into 4th spot, so I tried!

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta

You can argue that this ought to be under WoW Classic, but it had its own executable and was tracked on its own line.  Plus, given how little time I spent in beta, about which I have posted, there is a statement on how little I played anything below this.

  • World of Warcraft

Oh retail WoW, I was so into your Shadowlands expansion right up until I got my first character to level cap and decided I didn’t want to do dailies and grind anima or whatever it is.  I was seriously excited about some of the zones.  I’ll probably come back next year when the catch up mechanics kick in and make everybody who did it the hard way feel like a schmuck.  I mean, unless you enjoyed the journey.  I don’t want to take that away from you.  Anyway, my time spent here is mostly the monthly Darkmoon Faire login… and I even missed a month of that.

  • Runes of Magic

This isn’t a bad game, and it even works on my big monitor.  It suffers from the fact that there are just half a dozen other games at least that I would rather play.  I got hooked up into it for its anniversary for a bit.  Actually, it is probably for the best I didn’t carry on, because I never got as far as having to rent bag space or the dreaded $10 horse, which would have made me pissy about them having converted my account somehow causing me to lose all my diamonds.  Maybe it is a bad game.

  • MMO Tycoon 2

A single player game?  Whaaaaa?  Purchased this on a bit of a whim at the end of last month.  It seemed like it might be a bit of a laugh.  How meta, the one game on my list that has no MMO characteristics is about simulating the creation of an MMO!  Me so crazy!

  • Lord of the Rings Online

Grumble, grumble, monitor size and UI scaling.  I do log into the game once in a while, though I suspect if I went back into ManicTime and added up the time spent in the launcher patching and added that to the list, it would push LOTRO down another position.  Some day SSG will get around to supporting large screens.

What an entirely predictable list!

The good news, I suppose, is that I have picked up a couple items on Steam so the list ought to be a bit deeper before year’s end.  Everything won’t be “the siege of 1DQ carries on” and “the instance group rides again!”

Friday Bullet Points about Things Old and New

Here it is, another Friday bullet points post that future me will curse as I try to write up a month in review.  But I live for the day, and there are some things I wanted to mention but couldn’t really work up into a stand alone post.  How have I not made this a blog category yet?

  • Crowfall Ships!

Holy crap!  Color me shocked!

Seriously, I was interested enough in Crowfall to have created a category for it… something generally reserved for regular features and titles I play a lot of here on the blog… back when the Kickstarter campaign launched… which was in February of 2015.  So, its been about six and a half years.

Is this even still their logo?

This was back when I had stopped backing MMO Kickstarter campaigns but still held out hope that something might come of them, before the great cynicism fell on me after every date offered by an MMO Kickstarter campaign winded up being as much a fantasy as their IP.  The ship date projected during the campaign was December of 2016, and it featured in a number of my annual prediction posts as an easy “this won’t ship” call.

But here it is.  Live.  That puts it well ahead of titles like Camelot Unchained, a title that has helped sink backer confidence almost as much as Star Citizen by this point.

Anyway, congrats to the team.  I have no idea what they ended up shipping or if it is anything close to the “Game of Thrones meets EVE Online” catch phrase they were bandying about, but at least I could find out if I had even an ounce of inclination left in me.

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta Stats

Blizzard sent out an email to those who participated in the Burning Crusade Classic beta back in April and May.  I was invited a bit late to that party, and honestly wasn’t all that into it, but I logged in long enough to find a few issues and to feel concerned about whatever Blizz was up to.  The beta felt pretty wonky in a way that belies the stability now that it has shipped.  But I apparently reported seven bugs… mostly related to hunter issues.

What I did in the beta… not much

Overall the community reported quite a few things.

The stats for everybody

It seemed to do some good I guess, because Outland has been pretty stable, at least on our server, though I am still a bit annoyed at the whole draw distance thing, but that was in WoW Classic as well.

  • The Next 6 Month Mount From Blizzard

Those of us on the six month subscription plan for WoW got a new mount for being such dedicated customers.  This time around it is the Sapphire Skyblazer.

The latest in a series

Part of me isn’t all that impressed. I have a few hundred mounts now, so another blue bird… eh.   Then again, at least it isn’t some cosmetic pajamas this time.  I am pretty sure Blizz learned their lesson on that front.  I’ll take a mount every time, thank you.

Six month subscribers also got a special prize in Burning Crusade Classic, the Imp in a Ball.

Available at an Inn near you

The Imp in a Ball toy actually went into the game with the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch, so I have had one on my characters for quite a while now.  They come from a quest that the city innkeepers have, and are basically an Azerothian Magic 8-Ball… ask it a question… say it out loud or whatever… then activate it for a comically indecisive answer.  Your mileage may vary.

  • New Switch Disappointment

Rumors have been floating around about Nintendo possibly launching a new Switch model with 4K or a faster processor or whatever.  So there was some disappointment apparent when Nintendo announced a new model with an OLED screen.  Yay higher quality screens of the same size?

The Switch line up

It does have double the RAM built in and some other improvements, but it was very much an incremental upgrade to the product line… which is a very Nintendo move, really.  But it does mean that demand has slowed down enough since the pandemic rush on units that they feel they can tinker with the new models.

  • RimWorld Ideology

It was announced earlier this week that the survival game RimWorld, number three on my list of Steam titles I have played the most, will be getting a new DLC package soon.

A new drama generator

Called RimWorld Ideology, it will allow your colony or clan to create a belief system, allowing the configuration of things such as rituals, veneration, dress, adornment, and social roles.  You can play as a tribe of tree worshiping cannibals if you want.  I am sure this will crank base drama up a few more notches.

  • Minmatar Liberation Day

It feels like we just finished up Gallente Federation Day and we’re already on to Minmatar Liberation Day.  They always have the cards and decorations out so early.

Have a Brutor Libre, the official drink of Minmatar Liberation Day!

As is the usual pattern these days, there are login rewards (12 days worth), in game events, SKINs in the New Eden Store, and some SKINs you get as an add on when you buy some PLEX.  There is a full run down of events and rewards over at The Nosy Gamer.

Wrapping Up the Steam Summer Sale 2021

By the time this post goes live the Steam Summer sale should be about 15 minutes in the past.  Another one for the books.

There we go again!

My enthusiasm for the sale was at pretty low ebb, as it has been for a few years now.  Steam puts things on my wishlist on sale as often as Safeway discounts canned corn, and both generate about the same level of excitement these days.

So it is probably a bit of a surprise that I actually bought a few games during the sale.  Though, to be fair to Steam and its sale, I did not purchase anything that was on my wishlist or anything that they were pushing at me during the sale.  These came from outside recommendations.

Anyway, what did I buy?

  • MMORPG Tycoon 2

I mentioned this in the June month in review post already, but Lum was playing this and posting about it on Twitter.  It is in early access and wasn’t even on sale, but seemed meta enough to take a shot at.  My initial game, Attractive Nuisance, would tend to suggest that the title of the game perhaps ought to be WoW Clone Tycoon, but I haven’t dived into hard mode yet, which is launching a free to play game with monetization fun to deal with.

  • Art of Rally

This came up as part of a post on Ars Technica about the best titles in the Steam summer sale for under $25.  It also happened to coincide with me starting up on the whole immersion topic when I was making a mental list of games I missed and Need for Speed: World popped into my head.  I was able to achieve some serious “in the zone” time with it and the TRON: Legacy sound track.  This is a cool little game set in the golden age of rally racing in the 60s and 70s.  However, it really needs a controller to play it, so I am going to try and dig out the one I have for my PC before I pass judgement on it beyond the fact that you shouldn’t bother with just keyboard and mouse.

That said, it is a very nice, stylized racing game.  Could be a winner.  We shall see.  It will also be available on consoles soon, including the Switch, so it might be a better choice there… controllers being part of the bargain.

  • The Fermi Paradox

One of my favorite episodes of This American Life involves David Kestenbaum talking about why the Fermi Paradox, summed up as “where is everybody?” in the universe, makes him sad.  It makes me sad too, though so does the immense size of the universe and the relatively slow speed at which light travels.  We can barely get to the moon and Mars seems like a distant dream still, so how do we even consider other stars?

Anyway, The Fermi Paradox lets you play God over the rise and fall of sentient life in a corner of our galaxy where you make choices that guide civilizations along the path up the technology tree and get to see who fails or goes extinct and who, if anyone, makes it to the stars.  This is also in early access and is currently pretty raw, but there could be the germ of a good game here.

  • Flashing Lights

This is more of a special mention, because I purchased it on sale during a previous sale, but only started playing it during this past summer sale.  This went on my list because I was interested in the Grand Theft Auto V mod that let you play as the police, but I wasn’t up to getting into GTA V that deep.  This sat on my wishlist for quite a while before I eventually bought it.  It lets you play as fire, medical, or police responders, but the fun is running around in a police cruiser.  This is also in early access.

Play Time

I did follow my current Steam rule, which is not to buy a game unless I plan to play it that day.  I have between 30 minutes and 3 hours on each of these titles.  Not enough to write a review yet, but close enough to an initial impression blog post I suppose.  I am sure I will get to those.

How Does World War Bee End?

It has been a year of war, a year that has seen some of the biggest, most epic battles in the history of New Eden, a year that has seen trillions of ISK in assets destroyed, a year that has seen the largest coalition of null sec organizations in the history of the game… 103 alliances at the start… come together to attack the Imperium.

The PAPI assault on the Imperium has rolled the Goon led coalition back to a single constellation in the Delve region.  By the end of Week 36 of the war the Imperium held only the O-EIMK Constellation in Delve.  PAPI media outlets were ready to declare the war won then.

Talking in Stations declares victory

The expectation seemed to be that the Imperium would follow the plan, evac low sec, at which point PAPI could finish destroying the last remaining Imperium structures at their leisure.  Instead, the Imperium held fast and now the was has been in stalemate ever since.  PAPI has not been able to break into the final Imperium bastion in Delve, but they retain such a numerical advantage that the Imperium cannot break out.  And so both sides settled down for a siege of sorts.

O-EIMK Constellation – May 30, 2021

And so it has gone for 16 weeks, more than a third of the war so far.  That has given people a lot of time to ponder, game out, and wish cast how the war might end.

How Do Wars Usually End in New Eden?

Morale is to material as three is to one

-Napoleon

Wars in EVE Online tend to end the way wars in the real world do; one side falters, loses faith, or otherwise stops showing up.  In New Eden, when one side stops logging in, the other side wins.

The failure cascade is a staple of our wars, where the line members give up, stop joining fleets, and try to evacuate whatever assets they can even as their leadership is talking about eventual victory.  You can only snow your line members so long.  They know when they’re losing, when the supply infrastructure is coming apart, when the finances have been tapped out.

Organizations that survive losses are the ones who spot the trend and find a way to end the war before the line members head for the exit en masse.

This time around neither side has hit the point where line members have given up.  Participation numbers are down, but that is to be expected when there isn’t much going on.  The Imperium bides its time by hunting PAPI pilots in Delve and other regions and PAPI pretends the war is still moving forward by killing left behind Imperium structures one by one.  That keeps enough players in motion to stave off desertion, but this cannot go on forever. Or can it?

The problem is that neither side can extricate itself from the war without devastating losses.

Survival of the Imperium

PAPI made a serious mistakes engaging with the Imperium very early in the war.  That was when Vily gave an interview to Polygon where he stated that the war aim of the giant coalition he brought together was extermination, the removal of Goons from EVE Online.

This was a propaganda coup for the Imperium.  When the enemy has declared they will accept nothing short of elimination of your faction, there is no longer any reason to contemplate peace or even compromise.  The war became one of survival against a foe who painted us all with the same “bad for the game” brush.  The victory conditions are set; we win by denying PAPI their stated objective, our mere survival means we win.  This is why Imperium line members aren’t calling bullshit when The Mittani says we’re winning.  We didn’t even set the victory conditions!

Meanwhile, Vily’s statement meant that there was no other path to peace beyond leaving the game.  There is no retreat so we might as well keep fighting where we stand.

Vily has squirmed on the hook of his own making since that interview, trying to downplay it, claiming that he didn’t really mean it, allowing that maybe the existence of the Goonswarm could be tolerated even if PAPI won.  The problem is that he hedges on the extermination stance whenever the war slows down, but as soon as PAPI gains a victory he and Progodlegend are quick to remind everybody that the war is about driving the Imperium and its members from the game.

That wavering on message just looks like weakness from the Imperium side of the war, and nobody is at all convinced he wouldn’t push his extermination plan if he could, he’s just seems to be worried he won’t have the means to fulfill it.  So we’re not going anywhere unless they force us out.

TEST is Next and a Tiger by the Tail

Vily’s statement about extermination made “TEST is Next!” the war cry of the Imperium.  That is a fairly empty threat when PAPI represents most of null sec and outnumbers the Imperium by a wide margin.

But from TEST’s perspective, they actually have to follow up on Vily’s statements and effectively drive the Imperium from the game.  If they do not and the PAPI blue donut disbands, TEST and its Legacy coalition partners will very quickly be on the defensive.  The general consensus is that in a war between just Legacy and the Imperium, Legacy loses.

So TEST is very much invested in the war carrying on.  Vily’s words cut both ways and, while I doubt the Imperium would view “TEST is next” as a war of extermination, TEST will be the next Circle of Two for us and we will spend the next decade if needs be shooting them where ever they go.

PandaFam Ascendant

PandaFam, the name coined by Jin’taan more than a year back, is the coalition of Pandemic Horde, Fraternity, NCDot, and Pandemic Legion, who live together in the northeast of null sec.  The war has been an opportunity for them.  They have expanded their space, their regions top the crabbing aspects of the monthly economic report, and their rental income is alleged to be up due to the fact that their space is generally safe, the war being so far away.  Aside from The Initiative prodding them a bit, the war has been very good to them.

They also represent the backbone of the attack on the Imperium.  Pandemic Horde has done the heavy lifting throughout the war and NCDot is always well represented relative to the size of their alliance.

PandaFam’s goal in the war has been to bring down the Imperium after from its post-Casino War heights, when Delve turned into the dominant economic machine in New Eden.  While they have never objected to Vily’s extermination plan, neither have they made that their own goal.  Their stated plan has been to wreck the Goon economy, destroy the tribute faction Fortizars from the war against Guardians of the Galaxy, and evict us from 1DQ.

Otherwise, PandaFam does not have a lot of skin in the game.  They don’t want any of the space lost by the Imperium and their own space has not suffered.  They could declare a legitimate victory today and walk away as the dominant power in null sec.  So why stay?

Goals aside, the war serves their purposes.  It keeps their space safe, it gives their combat pilots and FCs a war to play around with, and it keeps the Imperium economy offline.  Their power continues to grow relative to Legacy and the Imperium at a cost that is pretty reasonable.  But if they pull out, the balance shifts to the Imperium and “TEST is next!” becomes a reality.  They need to be there to prop up Legacy in order to maintain the benefits they are currently reaping.

Minor Powers

There are other players in the war, but their contributions have dwindled.  The Russian FI.RE coalition in the southeast and Army of Mango Alliance have been pushing a bit to clear up space that the Imperium took in Legacy’s backfield, but they don’t make up significant numbers in fights and they seem unlikely to up their commitment unless the Imperium and its allies come for their space.  They have their own local issues.  If they there is another history making fight brewing, they will show up in small numbers, but otherwise they are mostly on board because it is the safest course for them.

So How Does the War End?

Back to the question in the headline.

In the short term, I am pretty sure it just keeps going.  Neither Legacy nor the Imperium can get what they want with a peace settlement.  Legacy isn’t going to restore the Imperium to their pre-war space and the Imperium isn’t going to simply go away or let TEST off the hook.

Meanwhile PandaFam is getting all they want out of the war, so peace brings them no benefit.  They will keep propping up Legacy so long as that remains true.  They would still like to destroy everything in 1DQ1-A, but not at the cost it would take currently.

So PAPI continues to nibble around the edges.  They are clearing out any Imperium structures they can find.  They are pushing Imperium allies out of the Legacy space they have occupied.  They are looking to gank suspected Imperium alts in high sec.  They are trying to find other routes to chip away at the defenders.

PAPI could make like more miserable for the Imperium if they wanted to put in the effort.  They have setup Fortizars in NPC Delve on the stations from which they could camp then in order to interdict supplies coming in to 1DQ.  They could tighten the siege.  But that would be a lot of work and every ounce of misery for the Imperium down the road has to be purchased with an ounce of PAPI misery now, camping stations or gates or otherwise trying to suppress the Imperium.

Meanwhile, it is part of the Goon identity in EVE Online that they are willing and able to put up with more misery than anybody else, that they excel in a war of boredom and stalemate.  To fight to the last in 1DQ1-A, to make the attackers pay a terrible price for any attempt to evict us, is almost literally what it is to be a Goon right now.

So the war goes on and the occasional calls for one side or the other to do what is “good for the game” fall on deaf ears.  Nobody is going to sacrifice their side for some esoteric idea of what the game needs.

Longer term, somebody is going to wear out.  Somebody is going to get sick of all of this.  Fraternity will come to blows with one of the Chinese alliances that fought against them on the Serenity server or PandaFam will get tired of propping up Legacy or Legacy will end up in some sort of internal crisis because they have to dock up every time the Imperium forms bombers.  Morale somewhere will crumble.  People will stop logging in or somebody at the director level will decide they have had enough and betray Legacy yet again.

Or maybe PAPI will put in the effort to turn the the war into a real siege and actually starve the Imperium out.  I am sure the PAPI wet dream is to starve us to the point that we can’t even fuel the main Keepstar so that when they come to kill it, it drops all the loot like the biggest space pinata ever.  They keep killing it on the test server, so they clearly have something like that on their wish list.

What I don’t think will happen is an epic assault on 1DQ1-A.  The fights at M2-XFE showed that the Imperium is willing to go all in with supers and titans and, in their home system where they are all now parked, PAPI is not going to risk a repeat of jumping into 4K hungry and heavily armed Goons.  The lesson I took from the second M2-XFE fight is that it might not be possible to attack us on our capital system.

So it will be a wearing away process.

But all that will take time.  I suspect that we’ll be looking at winter coming before either side has worn down enough to either lose the war or find a compromise that leads to a treaty.

Addendum: Of course, I write two thousand words about this over the weekend and then somebody on /r/eve sums up the options in about 250.

Down the Rabbit Hole of Immersion

This could be the first of a multiple post thread on the topic… or it might all end right here.  I am not sure yet.

Last week I wrote about immersion from my usual point of view, which was trying to pin down what it is while trying not to become the pedant that cannot see that it can be different things to different people, that getting there and getting pulled out of that state are very much things that vary from person to person.

In reflecting for a while on things I found immersive, games and moments in time from those games, I came to the not all that startling in hindsight conclusion that there is very much a pattern of immersion when it comes to games I have enjoyed, played for long stretches, or for which I feel a great deal of nostalgia.

More of a “that makes sense” discovery than a “eureka!” moment, and yet I feel that there is, perhaps, a “eureka!” to be found if only I could approach this from the right angle.  It feels like if only I could somehow parse through the games that I liked because I achieved some tipping point level of immersion in them that I might find a pattern, some common thread… or maybe several parallel threads… that links those games together.  If immersion is truly a key aspect that dictates how much I like a particular video game, then discovering what factors lead to immersion might not only explain my video game preferences, but help me find games more likely to get to that immersion point.  To figure that out I need more data.

But how do you even go about compiling data for what is, at its heart, a very subjective and often transitory experience?

My initial thought is to simply list out all of the games that I have really enjoyed, that series of special titles that rise up above the rest, and explore, one by one, what worked for me within each.  Call that “The Immersion Files” and we are probably talking about a minimum of 50 posts exploring various titles through the years.

That can’t be enough though.  I have to at least spend some time with titles that, for whatever reason, did not hit the nebulous and indefinable immersion threshold, but perhaps should of due to their similarity with titles that did.

Why, for example, did EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online cross into immersion territory, but Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 never did?  That comes close to trying to say why World of Warcraft succeeded and Warhammer Online failed when somebody like Richard Bartle says that they are, with enough distance, pretty much the same game; an exploration guaranteed to make somebody angry!

Not that such would stop me.  I’ve already had people shout “willing suspension of disbelief” at me like it was an answer on that front, I can handle that.  Plus, I would be exploring my own likes, which need not feel obligatory to anybody else.

Also, any such exploration depends on my own recollection, and memory is notoriously faulty in most people.  If I go through all the possible titles I am going to have to dig way back.  Literally the first really immersive video game title that comes to my mind was from the mid 1970s, somewhere between Pong and the Atari 2600, when a friends dad brought us into the office while he was watching us one weekend and let us play Star Trek on the mini computer in accounting.

Star Trek in vt52 emulation

The source code for a variation of that in BASIC is all of 425 lines long.  We were so into that game we had to be dragged away and we went on to create a board game version of it so we could play it independent of the accounting department.

But this very early title brings up some important… to me at least… questions about the relative nature of immersion.

First, how much has what triggers immersion changed for me in almost 50 years?  I found this very deep at the time, but I was also 10 years old.  I suspect I wouldn’t find the same level of immersion in it today.

Second, how much does the state of technology at the moment affect immersion?  A 425 line BASIC program was pretty spiffy back then, but today it hardly makes the cut.  I was playing much better Star Trek games in the 80s and 90s, and even those games seem somewhat primitive by today’s standards.  I don’t need AAA photo realistic titles to find immersion… I can find it in un-modded Minecraft for Pete’s sake… but it seems likely that my experience since that game would make it less likely to hold my attention.

And third, how much does the associated theme and/or IP affect immersion?  While I practically need rose-tinted binoculars to see that far back in time, I do know that part of the appeal was that my friend and I were very big fans of Star Trek and this gave us an opportunity, simplistic though it was even at the time, to sit in the captain’s chair and fight Klingons.

This is not a throw away idea, either.  I suspect, could I fully explore my subconscious, that I would find that part of the reason I found, and continue to find, LOTRO compelling and immersive is its association with the books I read not too many years after my friend and I were playing our board game version of Star Trek.

Does my love of EverQuest at launch stem from it being a great game at the time or from the fact that it was very much a translation of TorilMUD, so I came in with some familiarity of what was going on?  I would argue that it was more of the former, but the latter was not absent.

How much impact does familiarity have?

Then there is playing with others.  That is always a big draw for me.  I am pretty sure I put up with WoW at first, which I didn’t like all that much at launch, because friends jumped over to play.  What impact does that have?  Does it improve the chances of immersion?

And given all that, how do I explain Star Trek Online?  I was into and familiar with the IP, wanted to play, and was there on day one with friends… and yet it never grabbed me.  Was it lack of immersion?  Was it just not a game made of of elements that appealed to me?  Or were expectations that the stars would align on such a combination of factors so high that disappointment was inevitable?  Does hype, anticipation, and high expectation impact the possibility of immersion?

Then, let me pile on top of all of that the “me” factor of how I felt, thought, and reacted to the world at various times over the last half of a century.  Leaving aside the tech aspect, there was a time when I would play NetHack all night long… I had the source code and would throw in my own tidbits at times just to see if would run into them… and then there was a time when I would no longer find that interesting.

Did I change?  Did something better come along?  Did I just wear out the possibilities of the game?  I suspect it was all of those combined and probably a couple other items as well, but there was a point when immersion was possible, and then that passed.

So is it even worthwhile exploring why Tank was immersive and Pong was not?  Why the Atari 2600 games Air Sea Battle and Pac Man were dull but Adventure and River Raid would keep me up past my bed time?  Why I played so much Wizardry and Ultima III?  Why WoW Classic is immersive now, and much more so than retail WoW, while early WoW wasn’t terribly immersive for me back in the day until around Wrath of the Lich King? How far back does the exploration of immersion remain valid?  What applies to me today?  Does TorilMUDEverQuestWoWLOTROValheim?  Where do the answers to this lie?

Perhaps the study of a single title that has both immersive and non-immersive aspects for me?  We shall see if I get to that.

52 Weeks of World War Bee

This week saw the non-aligned AUTZ null sec alliance Tactical Supremacy give up on its free range lifestyle of the last five years and joined The Initiative.

Put on ice for now

The stated reason was a lack of content for its members.  The move shores up The Initiative’s AUTZ presence, allowing them to work more effectively around the clock.

There were also town hall meetings for NCDot and Pandemic Horde, with the former being pretty down to earth and the latter trying to find something to keep the war going.  In furtherance of keeping the war going, PAPI has formed a high sec SIG to gank Goons and anybody suspected of being Goons, including the new player training group KarmaFleet University.  Gobbins also told his members to stop using the term “contained” when referring to the Imperium’s situation in 1DQ because it becomes a propaganda victory for Goons every time they kill something outside of that constellation.

One Year Ago

It has been a year.  One year ago today the non-invasion pact between the Imperium and Legacy coalition officially lapsed and the war began.

Two days before the start I was still fiddling with stuff in my hangar and wondering what was to come.

When the day hit there were moves/counter moves including the rushed PAPI Keepstar drop in FAT-6P.

And the first of my Monday summary posts went up about the events of day one of the war.  I did not intend for them to be a regular thing, but here we are a year later.

Delve Front

For another week this map fragment, first posted on May 2nd, accurately describes the state of the war in Delve.

O-EIMK Constellation – July 4, 2021

Otherwise is was a week of skirmishes, shenanigans, and avoidance.  One of the highlights of the week is summed up in this video from John Hartley, and Imperium FC.

Still, despite  the situation in the constellation remaining unchanged, looking at the Delve campaign stats for the week the level of skirmishing saw more than twice as many ships and capsules destroyed when it came to total numbers and almost twice in ISK value.

Delve Campaign – Week 52

If you go to the report and change the view to show by ship types you can see the dreads that PAPI lost before that video above along with a few other expensive assets they lost.

Other Theaters

Esoteria is done for the Imperium now while Legacy and FI.RE are pushing on the Imperium holdings in Feythabolis.

I had wondered last week if Red Alliance would come to some sort of agreement with their fellow Russians, and perhaps they did, but Legacy still wants them out it seems.  Red Alliance is down two ihubs and their other four are at risk, along with their holdings in Impass.

Feythabolis – July 4, 2021

It also looks like there is some TCU cleanup going on in the region (orange highlighted systems that otherwise have no ihub in this view.)

In Catch Legacy pushed further into the region from Querious, taking eight more ihubs from Imperium member Dracarys.

Catch – July 4,2021

Looking at the ADMs, Dracarys has been active in these systems.  We will see if Legacy keeps pushing into the region.

My Participation

As with the past few weeks I went on a few small ops, but nothing very exciting.  The biggest op was probably a Cormorant fleet called by Tom Flood to escort Jirai Grepher on his birthday op.  For their birthday, Jirai decided to gate a Naglfar dreadnought into T5ZI, PAPI’s staging system, to see how long he would last.  We went along to give him a bit of cover.

Into T5ZI

Jirai got a few kills before a PAPI Ragnarok hit him with a doomsday… PAPI undocked a titan… blotting him out.  I got on a few kills as well before my Cormorant got splashed.  That added one more to my list of losses, though the op qualified for SRP so I got the ISK to buy a new Corm.

My war losses so far:

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

Other Items

CCP announced some graphic updates that are available on the test server that are supposed to make space bright and more colorful.  I’ve been around long enough to remember the graphic updates that were aimed at making some areas of space darker and less colorful.

Then there is the PCU.  I have been tracking the top weekly player count during the war, which usually occurs on Sunday. (I note when it is a different day.)  The decline in  the PCU has been noted by many and seems to be something of a perfect storm of conditions.  First, there is the coming of summer, which people always say heralds a decline, except when it doesn’t.   Then there is the end of pandemic restrictions many places, which has led to a surge of people eager go somewhere, anywhere, the hell away from home.  My wife noticed over the last week or so that luggage sections at various stores were almost completely shopped out.

Need a bag? Not going to find one here!

The war is not helping.  Stalemate and stagnation hasn’t given people a reason to log in. CCP’s economic starvation plan is piled on top of that.  It has made things more expensive so far, and capitals almost irreplaceable for some, so people are becoming more risk adverse.

And then there is the outrage at the pop-up ad that CCP has introduced to the game to encourage people to buy PLEX has encouraged a pile of people to say they are quitting.

Use your credit card to finance your revenge!

Add in a holiday week… yesterday was US Independence day… and this past week had the lowest weekly peak concurrent user count of the war so far.  The Blackout was a big worry back in the day because daily PCUs were down around 25K.  That is up from where we are now most days of the week.  The question is, when will this bottom out and begin to recover?

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

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