Carbot DiabLoL

Carbot Animations has made their mark on YouTube doing cute, funny little videos based on the Blizzard properties.  They’ve been successful enough that items based on their work have been featured in the Blizzard Store. (Alas, the Carbot plush zergling is no longer available.)  I highlighted their World of Warcraft series about five years back.

They have a new-ish series that I really like based on the original Diablo.

I find the mix of their animation style, the effects and music straight from the game, and the recognizable situations from the game to be quite charming.

But there was an additional aspect to this.  The series was announced around BlizzCon, which ended up being a bit awkward due to the Diablo hype that was ruined by Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal announcement.  It seemed like bad timing for a series based on that IP.

But then Blizzard and GoG.com released a version of Diablo that would run on today’s machines, which I have mostly played through, making the timing of the series seem incredibly spot on.  I am not sure I would have enjoyed it half as much if I had not just been playing the game.

Battle for Azeroth Flying on the Horizon

We have had the World of Warcraft 8.1.5 update in our hands for a little while now, so Blizzard has started telling us about the 8.2 update, Rise of Azshara.  They had a half hour stream on Twitch yesterday that gave an overview of what to expect.

The 8.2 update splash screen

We are slated to get a lot of things with 8.2 and a 30 minute presentation gave just a brief overview of a lot of what to expect.

Rise of Azshara Features

I have not been very engaged with the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  Some aspects of it seemed almost designed to discourage and dismay all but the most determined.  And, as with Legion, it wasn’t a particularly alt friendly design to get into.  It is a better plan to pick one character and do all the things first.  And so I have pottered about, playing then falling by the wayside off and on since the expansion dropped.  But the first ray of light for alts came with this update with the announcement that the unlock for flying will be part of the 8.2 update.

Flying is Coming

We knew it would be coming, though that hasn’t stopped some people from being angry it hasn’t been in since day one.

Flying will be unlocked for your account when you finish the Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder Part Two achievement.  You will get that nice mechanical parrot mount pictured above for your efforts as well.  As for what will be required for that achievement is not yet certain, but now I at least have a mission; get the Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder Part One achievement complete.  I’m lagging on that.

Where I stand today

Still, I can wrap up part one with a little effort I think.  The exploration achievement is easy enough and I am only one faction shy on the diplomat front.  With those, and four more war campaigns to finish for the Ready for War achievement, I will be there.

Also on the topic of mounts, the 8.2 update will also introduce an equipment slot for your mounts in order to give them a special ability.

Mount Equipment

There are three options which will give all your mounts water walking, resistance to being dazed, or a parachute to deploy if you are dismounted in the air.

It was openly stated that this was in reaction to the Azure Water Strider mount, which has the innate ability to walk on water.  Putting this in the game during the Mists of Pandaria expansion was almost as big of a change as when they put in flying.  Being able to ride on water at will is such a huge boon that I use this mount all the time, both on alts and any place where flying is not available.

An alt riding on water

And apparently I am not alone.  This mount gets used everywhere and I see other people on it all the time.  So Blizz, realizing they let the water walking genie out of the bottle, is going to make it so any of your mounts can walk on water if you so desire.

What was left out was whether or not the water strider would keep its innate regardless of what was equipped.  I suspect it won’t, but if it does I don’t expect that usage of the mount will go down since you’ll be able to have water walking with that AND one of the other buffs as well.  We shall see.

More Structure Busting in the East

There are still a lot of somewhat low key operations running in the east of null sec on a regular basis.  My own alliance has a deployment running and a lot of ops, though they tend to run when I am at the office.  But Liberty Squad has me covered for US time zone evening ops.

There had been a warning ping about the approaching op, so when the real ping came over Jabber I was already logged into the game and ready to go.  We were advised to bring plenty of structure bashing ammo (read: cheap T1 rounds) so it was clear what we would be up to.

Once we got the fleet assembled… which took a bit because there were other competing ops running… we were able to undock and head out.  We even got a ride to our destination rather than having to gate our way out.

A Ragnarok sends us on our way

We landed in A-YB15 out in The Kalevala Expanse, which meant back to hitting Pandemic Horde structures to keep them from being able to turn the region into a rental income area.

We set up on anchor at a Fortizar and started shooting that, but it was clear to me what the real target of the night would be.  We were just setting up the Fort for later, but there was an Ansiblex Jump Gate on the grid that would be ready to kill in under an hour.

Less than an hour on the clock

We were just biding our time, setting ourselves in place for the real target and to be ready if Pandemic Horde came to defend it.  But for the time being we were pretty much left to our own devices.  Nobody even came out to gun the Fortizar.

The idea was to take up the time waiting for the Ansiblex by reinforcing the Fort, but we ended up done with that and still had 20 minutes on the clock before the main event.  So we found a Raitaru in the system and shot that as well.  That didn’t take long either.  It was even unfueled, which meant we burned through both the shield and armor.  We blamed RatKnight1 for speeding us up with his high DPS Kikimora.

The Kikimora

It took me a moment when I first saw him out there.  To my brain a solid red beam is a target painter and not the Triglavian weapon system.  When spun up to full power he was doing considerably more damage than the average Eagle was.

With the Raitaru set, we just loafed around the Ansiblex, waiting for the timer to get down to zero so we could start shooting.  There was some concern that Pandemic Horde would come out to defend it, since this would be a kill and, while it is easy enough to just drop a new one… it used to be the same deal with the POS jump bridges and so we wouldn’t kill them, just burn through their armor so the owner would have to work to finish the kill or repair the module… it does cost ISK to set these up over and over again as we kill them.

But they let us be and when the timer hit zero we opened fire.

The Fortizar visible in the distance

I had a couple of combat drones in my drone bay and we were close enough that I was able to set them on the structure to get on the kill mail.  However our FC, Zintage, was once again reminded that you cannot use a target painter on structures, and since that is all the monitor can mount, he did not get on the kill mail.  But he had already been in on a Brothers of Tangra  Ansiblex kill earlier, so he was ahead of the game.

The Ansiblex blew up shortly, leaving a glowing wreck behind as we aligned back for our staging base.

After the explosion

Thanks to cooperation with some of the locals we had a ride most of the way home as well, using one of their Ansiblex jump gates.

Sent back the easy way

With rides both ways it ended up being a fairly short op for how much shooting we did.  But I am sure there will be more to shoot again tomorrow.

Visiting the Katia Sae Monument

As mentioned in yesterday’s EVE Online patch notes, there is a new tourist attraction in New Eden, the monument put up to celebrate the journeys of Katia Sae.  Of course I had to go visit, though I was hardly the first.

While the monument’s location in the system Saisio puts it inconveniently distant from home in Delve, I have my share of high sec alts.  Logging an alt on in Jita put me just five jumps from there, so I hopped in a Kestrel and warped off to see this new thing in space.

I arrived in Saisio, warped over to the Abagawa gate, and saw the monument looming in space.

Arriving on grid with Katia

If you go there and miss it, it will only be because you were not looking for it.

The jump gate visible behind Katia

Being the tourist, I went into orbit and took some screen shots of Katia, poised in space in all her bronzed glory.

Well, she looks bronze to me

The planetary system above her upraised hand is pretty nifty, though I read that the cloaked Astero that orbits in it is, like Katia, larger than life… though not as much so.

She holds the system in her palm

That is one way to get a sense of scale though, knowing that the frigate above her is even larger than it should be and is yet dwarfed by her.  Still, space has a way of both distorting and enforcing scale via perspective.

My Kestrel looks big, but then there is that gas giant

The only hitch on seeing it is that, for overview purposes, the monument is a large collidable object… and it is literally so I suppose… which is something I have hidden in most over my overview settings.

Do not bump the monument please

There is, of course, an inscription describing the achievement celebrated by the structure and who erected it.

The words in space

My only quibble with any of this, and it is a very minor one indeed, is the use of the word “memorial.”  I realize the dictionary definition says it isn’t necessarily so, but where I come from a memorial is usually something put up to remember the dead, and the last I checked Katia Sae was still flying about very much alive.  In fact, one of the stand out aspects of her achievement is that she did not die while visiting every system in New Eden.  Though, when you’re a clone capsuleer rocketing through the hazards of space with your consciousness backed up an essentially immortal, pinning down what death even means is a bit of a chore on its own.

Anyway, it is a fitting monument… that is the word I prefer… to an exceptional achievement.

If you’re interested in reading more about her journey, I wrote a post about it which includes links out to much of the coverage the even received.

The EVE Online April Update Brings Capital Nerfs

The April update is here and we had been warned that big things were coming.

The first item on the list is the change to remote repairs that gives them diminishing returns, so that the more reps on a target the less effective each rep becomes as the number or reps increases.

Call a fax nerf a fax nerf

There was a whole dev blog released about upcoming changes for April, and this was at the top of the list.  The idea is to have more capital ships die by once again trying to nerf faxes.  We’ve been here before, as the Onslaught expansion nerfed faxes last November.

While this change also affects sub capital reps as well, CCP has charts to prove that the impact on them should be minimal compared to the hit to force auxiliaries.

Also on the capital front, the dev blog above also contains some nerfs to how well they can apply damage to sub caps.  High angle weapons (read: anti sub cap weapons) are being nerfed in order to make titans less able to kill sub caps with impunity, while boosting their effectiveness when used with a siege module, to keep dreadnoughts in the game against subs.

Also, damage application for fighters is being nerfed, which I imagine will have an impact on both the effectiveness of carriers and super carries at gate camps as well as for anomaly ratting.

And, with anomaly ratting being mentioned, there is once again this line in the patch notes:

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

As I mentioned in reference to last month’s economic report, they are still tinkering with anomalies and ratting to try and stem some of the flow of ISK.

Ratting is also a passing focus of the sub cap rebalance, which nerfs the Vexor Navy Issue, everybody’s favorite forsaken hub runner, by removing its drone velocity buff and increasing its signature radius.

Finally on the economic front, there are a few hits against Rorqual mining.

  • Reduced the bonus to shield boost amount provided by the Industrial Core to 60% for T1 Industrial Cores and 75% for T2 (was 120% and 140% respectively)
  • Reduced the base duration of the PANIC module to 4 minutes (was 5 minutes)
  • Increased the bonus to mining foreman burst strength provided by the Industrial Core to 30% for T1 Cores and 36% for T2 (was 25% and 30% respectively)
  • ‘Excavator’ Mining Drone base mining yield decreased to 80m3 (was 100m3)
  • ‘Excavator’ Ice Harvesting Drone base cycle time slowed to 310s (was 250s)
  • Excavator drone volume increased to 1100m3 (was 750m3) and Rorqual drone bay volume increased to 8800m3 (was 6000m3)

Mining yield and cycle time are easy to see as attempts to slow down the voracious null sec Rorquals. Likewise, reducing the duration to the PANIC module makes a Rorqual more likely to die.

The size of excavator drones however, that is an attempt to get a side effect.  Right now if your Rorqual gets dropped on you drop a mobile depot and put your excavator drones in there.  Those drones are expensive and that helps mitigate the loss of your ship.  Making them bigger means you can’t hide as many, meaning if your Rorqual gets destroyed you’ll lose some excavators making the loss more expensive.

Meanwhile, if the Rorqual is shepherding sub cap mining ships, they’ll be more vulnerable but will have better mining yields.

So that is the capital and economy themes of the patch, but that isn’t all.

On the war declarations front there are updates (covered in this dev blog) to close the neutral assist loophole.

  • Neutral remote assistance will now cause a criminal timer and CONCORD response when applied to an active war declaration combat participant or limited engagement participant in highsec space
  • Command bursts deployed by neutral characters will no longer apply any bonuses to active war declaration combat participants in highsec space

Then there is the rest of the sub cap rebalance which nerfs the popular Ferox some and improves medium beam lasers so maybe the long neglected Harbinger, which also got an increase to its power grid, will see some use in fleets.

The Harbinger is the screen shot used for the sub cap rebalance

And the patch notes keep on going.  There are some graphical updates to station hangars (mood lighting), the monument to commemorate Katia Sai’s journey has now been deployed in the Saisio system, and the planet at Yulai IX has been named “Kjarval” to honor the long service of CCP Guard who recently left CCP to pursue another dream.

Missing from the patch notes, but called out in the Spring update dev blog, were changes to insurance.  It is not uncommon for CCP to miss something, but that is kind of a big item to omit.

There are more details, but I think those are the highlights of the update.  That is certainly all I am going to bother calling out.  Now we will just have to wait and see if any of this changes the meta.  I personally want to fly a Harbinger because I like lasers.

News of the successful deployment of the update went out earlier today.  For all the details that CCP opted to share you can read through the patch notes or take a look at the updates page.

Brisc Rubal Removed from CSM13 and Banned from EVE Online

I thought the CSM might be past the whole “somebody gets kicked every year” routine, but here we are again, only well beyond the usual removal scenario.

Never far from drama

Earlier today an EVE Online Dev Blog by CCP Dopamine was posted announcing the following:

Brisc Rubal has been found to be sharing confidential information with a member of his alliance that was later used by another alliance member to conduct illicit in-game transactions.

The results of this finding were reported to be:

  • Brisc Rubal has been removed from his role as a CSM 13 representative effective immediately and will not be able to run in any future CSM elections.
  • All his in-game accounts have been permanently banned from the game.
  • Two other players involved in this incident have received a one-year ban.
  • All the illicit assets and ISK gained from this incident have been confiscated.

According to the Dev Blog, the information that led up to these actions came from CSM members concerned about the integrity of the institution.

As is customary with this sort of situation, CCP has declined to include any details as to what actually transpired.  Brisc Rubal responded on Twitter stating that he did not know why he had been banned:

For those asking, I do not know why I was banned from EVE and removed from the CSM. I have asked for clarification and have received none. I categorically deny any wrongdoing and look forward to clearing my name and having my reputation restored.

Being a politician in real life, there was no shortage of quips in response to his statement.

Brisc Rubal also appeared on an impromptu episode of Talking in Stations with several current and former CSM members to talk about the situation.  When the recording for that is posted you can listed to the discussion that came about.

While people being removed from the CSM has not been an uncommon occurrence in the past, and even insider trading has come up before, but seeing a CSM member removed from the council and having their accounts permanently banned from the game might be a new low for the institution.

I suspect that we won’t hear anything further from CCP on the topic unless they uncover compelling evidence that causes them to change their decision.  CCP isn’t a civil government and you sign away all your rights when you accept the end user license agreement and terms of service, and probably all the more so when you sign the NDA as a member of the CSM.

Still, there is an odd mention near the end of the Dev Blog:

Some additional steps to help prevent similar conduct in future will be implemented. Starting from the next summit, we will impose a rule that prohibits electronics during CSM sessions and will take extra time to educate everyone about confidentiality, insider trading and general do’s and don’ts when it comes to operating under NDA.

I don’t know how electronic devices enter into this affair, and likely never will, but it is interesting that it is brought up specifically.

And then there is the question of a replacement.  Often when a CSM member is removed the next person in votes from the election is tapped to join the council.  However, the Dev Blog notes at the end that the CSM14 elections are “approaching fast.”  Though there hasn’t been an official announcement yet or a timeline laid out, I suspect that this means that it is too late in the CSM13 term to bother bringing somebody new on board.  The summits have happened already and a new election is in the offing.

Finally, in a moment of either good or bad timing, depending on how you look at it, MMORPG.com published a long post about the CSM this morning that goes into some of the ups and downs of the council.  The post has since had today’s events appended.

Other coverage:

Pet Battle Catching Rodeo

As I mentioned last week, with the pet battle experience boost running through today in World of Warcraft, it was time to get out and level up some pets.

Time for pet battles!

My problem was that I was running out of low level pets to run through my level up routine and, as I realized, catching new pets out in Zandalar and Kul Tiras was just adding in more level 23 pets as opposed to giving me some level 1 pets to run with.

So I started working on things that would get me level 1 pets.

The auction house is always an option, though I am a bit of cheapskate, in part because I have never been one to accumulate gold in any serious fashion.  So in the current price meta at the auction house, literally everything seems expensive to me.  Still, I buckled down and bought a few of the cheaper pets I did not have.

Another way forwards was via achievements.  As it turned out I was just a few pets short on several of the collection achievements.  So I headed out into the world to do a bit more catching.

First up was Battle for Azeroth, where I was out doing world quests on Zandalar.  There lived the last few pets I needed.  So I went around the zone and scooped them up as I could, finding the last one

Battle for Azeroth achievement complete

That gave me a new rare level 1, the Dreadtick Leecher.

Next up on the list was the Legion collection achievement.

I was a bit surprised that I didn’t have that completed as I remembered working on it specifically at one point during a past pet battle bonus event.  But I still had a couple on the list, so it was off to the Broken Isles to pick up a few more pets and another achievement.

Broken Isles done

That left me with one more collection achievement, one that had eluded me before.  I needed the restless shadeling from near Karazhan.  I make the same mistake every time.  I go to WoW Head, look it up, read the top comment, which says that it spawns only at midnight server time.  Since Eldre’Thalas is a US east coast server, so I happily get in there and hang around at 9 pm Pacific time thinking it should spawn.

I always forget to read down the comments to the point where it says that Blizzard changed this so that restless shadelings start to spawn at midnight Pacific time, so I am usually hanging around there for nothing three hours early.  And I did that again.

Hanging around yet again

This time however, when 9pm came and went I looked the whole thing up again and decided I was just going to stay up and catch it.  Staying up until midnight doesn’t sound like a big deal, but my life is currently skewed towards getting up at 5am, so I am usually quite drowsy past 10pm these days.  Getting old is no fun.  But my patience was rewarded.

The shadeling appears

I was actually a bit annoyed because the first one I spotted at midnight was positioned in such a way that I could not open a battle with it.  But there were more down the way and, being just level 17, they show up solo rather than getting two partners, so they are easy enough to catch.

I got one, and the double achievements for finally bringing that guy home.

Mine at last

That got me lined up with some fresh pets to work with.  But at that point I noticed I was closing in on yet another achievement, the one for collecting 800 pets… which, of course gets you another pet.

I wasn’t far off and, as it turned out there were three new pets to buy at Darkmoon Faire, added with the recent 8.1.5 patch, so when Sunday rolled around I immediately found the vendor… they are balloon pets, so the balloon vendor has them… and bought all three.  I have a stock of prize tickets for just this sort of thing.

Hey, balloons

The balloon pets are fun as they do, in fact, appear around you as though you are holding a balloon.

Me and my wolf balloon pet

That left me just a few pets shy of 800, so I got out an alt that had some gold on them and bought up some more from the auction house.  That was enough to get me over the top.

Pet Emporium achievement

The count in the Rematch addon was off by a bit, so I actually bought a few more battle pets than I needed to.  At least that gets me closer to the next achievement, which is for 1,000.  As of now my count stands at 806, which seems like a long way from 1,000.  But then again, 800 seemed a long way away when I made it to 600, and Blizz keeps adding pets to the game.

Anyway, that was what I did with my gaming time this weekend.