EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion Servers Today

Today is the day.

I am not betting on an early launch, but Daybreak’s shot at nostalgia servers for EverQuest II are slated to come online today, after a two week beta.  The short version of what these servers are is:

TLEannounce

The more detailed list of features, from the forums, is:

  • PvP server: no battlegrounds EVER!
  • PvP server: no prestige housing!
  • PvP server: no flying, leaping or gliding EVER!
  • PvP server: No more pvp stats on gear. Procs return to items that have them.
  • PvP server: Travel bells will be restricted, more information to be determined.
  • There will only be ground mounts and they will have reduced ground speed. Most likely 45%/50% run speed.
  • Only All Access Members will be able to create characters and log into the TLE-Servers.
  • A new queue system for logging into the servers
  • Content will be locked to classic EverQuest 2, starting areas will be Frostfang Sea and Darklight Wood. More on this later.
  • Expansions will be voted to be unlocked at certain times by the population of the server. Majority vote 2/3 of the population.
  • No Veteran Rewards or Veteran experience bonus.
  • No Recruit a Friend
  • No /claims. Anything you could claim on your normal accounts will not be available on the new TLE-Servers
  • Loyalty System and daily quests will be locked to Chains of Eternity expansion.
  • Legendary, Fabled and Mythical crits will be locked to Altar of Malice Expansion.
  • No dungeon finder
  • Level agnostic dungeons will be locked to an undetermined expansion feature.
  • No races or classes will be restricted from character create if you own them. They will all be playable at launch.
  • Re-forging, Mercenaries, and Tradeskill apprentices will be locked to Age of Discovery.
  • Mercenaries may or may not return to PvP, this will most likely become a poll in the future.
  • Guidhalls and their amenities will be locked to a undetermined expansion. We are still considering this.
  • No prestige home portal or home UI will be available.
  • Marketplace will be highly restricted and polls will be done to determine what will be available.
  • Experience penalty will be returned to launch levels of experience gain
  • Coin will also be returned to launch levels of coin gain.
  • Adventure packs will be linked to specific expansions, still being determined.

I am surprised they haven’t updated that, but maybe they will have something new once the server goes live.

And the whole Alternate Advancement side of things will be unlocked as follows:

  • Exp01: Desert of Flames, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 60, Guild Level Cap Increased to 60
  • Exp02: Kingdom of Sky, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 70, Alternate Advancement Subclass Window unlocked with a 50 AA cap, Guild Level Cap Increased to 70
  • Exp03: Echoes of Faydwer, AA Class Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 100, Tinkering, Transmuting, and Adorning Unlocked
  • Exp04: Rise of Kunark, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 80, AA Cap is Raised to 140, Guild Level Cap Increased to 80, Guild Halls
  • Exp05: The Shadow Odyssey, AA Shadows Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 200
  • Exp06: Sentinel’s Fate, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 90, AA Cap is Raised to 250, Guild Level Cap Increased to 90
  • Exp07: Destiny of Velious, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 92, AA Heroic Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 300, Flying, Leaping and Gliding Mounts
  • Exp08: Age of Discovery, AA Cap is Raised to 320, Mercenaries, Apprentices, Reforging
  • Exp09: Chains of Eternity, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 95, Prestige Window Unlocked, Guild Level Cap Increased to 95
  • Exp10: Tears of Veeshan, AA Dragon Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 350
  • Exp11: Altar of Malice, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 100, Prestige Class Tree is Unlocked, Guild Level Cap Increased to 100, Legendary, Fabled and Mythical crits

Unfortunately, this is going to be a busy week for me, so I doubt I will be able to peek in on the server until the weekend.  We shall see how things play out.  While I remain mildly disappointed, though not surprised, that the Isle of Refuge won’t be making an appearance, I will surely head to Qeynos to explore the old zones out there, including the catacombs below the city.

The catacombs back in the day...

The catacombs back in the day…

Now, will anybody show up for this?  Is there nostalgia for some variation of old EverQuest II?

A Call for Space Carebears

At one time in the distant past, the CFC eschewed the idea of renting and those who set themselves up as landlords were derided.

And then, as null sec politics evolved and we ended up with essentially three power blocs, two of which were heavily financed by rental space, the tune of the CFC changed.  The Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere was born about two years ago.  The CFC became landlords, pragmatism winning out over exclusion and any spurious  feelings of ideological purity.

That this venture remained a distant third behind the other two main rental empires was no surprise.  The surprise, to my mind, was that it got any renters all.  After years of rental and recruitment scams, who would actually rent from Goons?

As it turned out, quite a few people would, and that rental ISK helped filled the coalition coffers.

And then came the looming threat of what became known as Fozzie Sov.  With the Phoebe expansion, the ability to range across New Eden was throttled and the CFC let go of some of its southern holdings.  As the details of the Summer of Sovereignty changes came out, plans for further consolidation were drawn up.  Fountain and most of Cloud Ring would have to go as well and the coalition, now renamed The Imperium, who fortify itself in the north. (SMA holds that bit in Cloud Ring, J4LP having been reset some time back.)

Regions of The Imperium - June 2015

Regions of The Imperium – June 2015

Now the changes has hit.  Null Sec is choatic as various factions explore the dynamics of the Entosis Link module.  The Timer Board site shows a lot of systems in play.

Up in the north though, things have been relatively quiet for The Imperium.  We have lived there for so long because the systems are decent for ratting and mining.  There are a few lemon systems, but the active defense multiplier… the measure of how much a system gets used, which influences how hard it will be to take… for a lot of the north was pretty high straight out of the gate on the 14th.  Where we live is defended.  However, some places where we have not traditionally lived are pretty weak, with low ADM numbers.  This is particularly true in Pure Blind where, in the past, many of the systems haven’t been worth ratting or mining.

However, with the PvE upgrades that were announced just before the sovereignty changes hit, the systems in Pure Blind are suddenly viable.  The Imperium just needs somebody to live there.  We have been encouraged to rat there and strategic mining fleets have been running out that way.  I think I have personally raised the ADM of one system in the region.

Doing the Ishtar thing in Pure Blind

Doing the Ishtar thing in Pure Blind

But all of that is a temporary measure.  Not many people live in the vicinity.

So a new plan has been announced.  GSF is going to allow corps to join if they want to live in, rat, and mine, in Pure Blind.  There will be a fee to sign up and a tax on ratting and a charge for system upgrades, but otherwise corporations will be able to carebear to their heart’s content as there will be no fleet participation requirements.

In addition there will be a corp in GSF for individuals who want to sign up for that plan.  Ratting will have a 25% tax, but mining will be free.

GSF already has a way for anybody is keen to join to get on board through Karmafleet, which has greater access, so is the more likely conduit for spies and awoxers.

So we’ll see if there are any takers who want to live and rat and mine in Pure Blind.  It is close to Lonetrek, so getting things back to high sec in general, and Jita specifically will be easier than most places.  Is greater population density the answer to Fozzie Sov?

 

Learning to do the Fozzie Sov Shuffle

After the false start of Wednesday, when downtime was extended well into the Icelandic evening and jokes about Fozzie Sov killing EVE Online were starting to feel uncomfortably close to real, it looks like people really dove into the whole new sovereignty mechanic with a vengeance.

If you look at the Timer Board web site that somebody put together to use the updated API’s ability to tell you what systems are in play, you will see… as of when I am writing this… more than 200 things are being assaulted.  Obviously, not all of them are going to get taken.  A lot of timers look to be past their mark.  But clearly Entosis Link trolling is a thing, if nothing else.

Meanwhile Wollari over at DOTLAN EVE Maps has integrated some of the new data available into the map options on the site.  In addition to the usual sovereignty view of a region, you can also now choose views that show systems that are vulnerable, which systems have which of the three key structures (TCU, ihub, station), and what the active defense multiplier is for systems.

That last one is important for both attackers and defenders.  For attackers it determines how long the Entosis Link module has to run to capture something, a range of 10 to 60 minutes depending on the multiplier.  And for defenders, it essentially lets you know what your response time has to be for given systems and where you might want to focus some effort in order to boot that number.  (I am waiting for somebody to put that ADM data together into a chart to show how many sovereign null sec systems people actually use regularly.  If the ADM is 5 or greater, people live there.  3-4 shows some life.  But if it is less than that, not so much.)

This has lead to some changes of behavior, at least in The Imperium.  Before now, the carebears amongst us were, at a minimum, kidded about spending their days ratting, mining, building, or otherwise whiling away the hours in space not shooting people.

Now though, with their behavior influencing the ADM, the call goes out for shock workers to perform hero ratting in low multiplier systems.  Strategic mining ops are called and participation links given out for burning rocks.  Industrialists are now hailed as heroes of the coalition.  I am not making this up.  Well, maybe I made up that last one, but the first two are real.

It is a good time to be a carebear in The Imperium.  And it isn’t a bad time for combat operations as well.  Mordus Angels and Pandemic Horde have been making runs at systems in Pure Blind and Fade in small, easily destroyed fleets.  I managed to get into a homeland defense fleet that caught MASSADEATH himself and a small Cerberus fleet trying to finish off a vulnerable node in Pure Blind.  We got some kills, drove them off, and made the save.

Making the save

Saving the ihub

The theory seems to be that if they get in quick with a small fleet, they can get away with it.  But small gangs and squishy Entosis Link ships just feed the Feroxes of the Homeland Defense fleets.

Feroxes for Freedom

Feroxes for Freedom

The Timer Board site only shows a few systems of The Imperium under attack out of that list of 200+, and mostly on the periphery where hostiles have easy access.  It is a little early to make much of a claim, but it feels like having the coalition contract into a smaller perimeter that consisted of space that was mostly occupied and in use on a regular basis was a good plan.  Attacks are only really getting any traction where we are thin on the ground.

And the ihub upgrades for rats seem to be having an effect.  A system I ratted in pre-Aegis used to generate a single Guristas Forsaken Hub, the best generally available ISK/effort anomaly.  After that system got the upgrade, it was generating three Guristas Forsaken Hubs and a Haven.

I also had an opportunity to go out and be part of the offensive side of the Fozzie Sov equation.  Last night Asher Elias and the patron saint of welps, Dabigredboat, ran a joint Reavers/Bomberwaffe operation down to the Reavers’ home away from home, Querious.

A test run, we went down in Caracals and interceptors via a convenient (if more rare) null-to-null wormhole to  see if Darkness would defend some of their space.  Ideally it would have happened in ED-9LT, the former Reaver outpost in the region.  That was not an option.  Instead we were headed to UYU-VV in the 8BO-IH constellation.  (This is going to mean learning system AND constellations now, isn’t it?)

We faced no opposition on the first Entosis Link attack and pushed the event into the “scatter round” when additional command nodes appear throughout the constellation… in this case six systems… forcing us to break up into smaller groups.

The group that stayed in UYU-VV actually faced a bit of opposition.  The group I was in, sent off to W6V-VM, was not bothered.  We flew off to the Territorial Claim Unit Command Node that spawned in the system.

TCU Command Node

TCU Command Node

That appears to be the overview marker for the actual target, the Structure Command Node.

Timer on the command node

Timer on the structure command node

Of course, in the grand CCP tradition, the option in the overview to actually SEE these nodes is unchecked by default, harkening back to the battle cruiser split when one of them… attack battle cruisers I think… didn’t show up on overviews by default.

You need to check the right box...

You need to check the right box…

Upon finishing off the node inW6V-VM , two more nodes spawned.  Our Entosis Link fit interceptor went after one while we flew cover and, upon finishing that one, we were called back to UYU-VV.  Enough other modules were running that we did not need the additional one in our system.  And while Darkness appeared in small numbers, they did not seem interested in hitting any of the Structure Command Nodes to contest or operation.

The results bar tipping heavily in our direction

The results bar tipping heavily in our direction

And so the system was rolled.  Later, Plaid Rabbit ran out, grabbed a TCU, and planted it in UYU-VV, thus taking sovereignty for Reavers in Querious yet again.

Our constellation

Our constellation

It would have been nicer if it had a station, but I am not sure we’re going to spend ISK upgrading a system we grabbed on a whim at the other end of New Eden.

After that we had the option of starting the process on another system or going 20 jumps on the off chance we might get into the middle of a fight.  The killers won the poll, clearly betraying out Reaver philosophy, and off we went.

We did catch a blockade runner along the way just idle near a gate.  I am going to guess the pilot went AFK cloaked and then got decloaked by somebody passing too close.  That was a quick kill.  And while I understand that eventually some of us got on a dreadnought kill or two, I ended up getting popped when we crossed paths with a Northern Coalition fleet headed for the same fight, and so missed out.  Life in a combat zone.

So that has been my experience with Fozzie Sov and the Entosis Link module dynamics so far.

CCP has put out a video detailing how the mechanics of the new system work.

How the new system will actually play out over time though, that is a horse of a different color.

Minecraft and Bringing Light to Dark Places

How many torches do you actually need in Minecraft?  More than you actually have I am sure.

I mentioned my friend Xyd and his castle last time around.

Xyd's castle at night

Xyd’s castle at night

It fairly glows with the amount of lighting he has in and around the thing, to the point that when my daughter and I were wandering through it exploring, she asked me if I had been putting down extra torches.  I had to assure her that this was not some aspect of her father’s mania, that somebody else had put down all of those torches.

She tends to be rather conservative in her torch usage, while I tend to throw them around more liberally.  This is why I stop and dig out every coal vein I run across… must make more torches.

Or at least my torch usage feels profligate.  But it has mostly involved mining.  And down under ground, where space is restricted, it is pretty easy to get a feel for how much is enough.  Narrow passages and such mean it is easy to spot those dark patches where zombies and their ilk may spawn once the sun goes down.

Secret underground mining facility

Actually needs a few more torches…

But in different sorts of spaces… well, I would have to learn.

I finished up my first run at a castle.  It is three stories tall, with roof access, a tower at each of the front two corners and a wider, keep-like tower in the back.  The walls are all cobblestone, but I felt the need to refine a lot of that material back to stone for the flooring of the first two floors.  The third floor is all oak wood, and the roof above that is back to cobblestone because it is an exterior surface… and I got tired of using my coal to refine cobblestone.

A castle in the distance

A castle in the distance

The roofline is visible because I did that in granite around the perimeter… mostly because I had a ton of granite I wasn’t using.  That turned out to be a useful thing in that, when running up the ladders in the towers, the line of granite serves as a very visual marker of when I reach the roof.

So basic structure complete.  Now what to do with all that floor space?

I know, kill all the freaking monsters that spawn in it!

I found that, once I had roofed everything over, I had essentially made my own series of dark spaces where zombies and skeletons and spiders and such would spawn once the sun went down.  And, of course, once they spawn inside, the are also shaded from the sun, so they don’t burst into flames when daylight comes.  One of the joys of the game is to wake up every morning and look out of the window to watch the burning zombies on the front lawn… and that one skeleton that is always smart enough to jump in the pond out there and just hang out.

Skeletons are wily.  I find them in the middle of the day under the shade of trees.  You can see that causeway I built between the castle and our original house.  It runs straight along the east-west line, so the underneath is always shaded.  Skeletons like to linger under there during the daylight hours as well, sniping at me with their bows when ever I come within range.

Less amusing than the flaming zombies is the sound of one inside the castle.

Just because a spot is dark enough doesn’t mean something will always spawn there, but it seems like something will eventually spawn there.  So the open area outside my workroom, behind the stairs, and next to the shaft down to the mines, seemed to pop something nasty every so often.

I had started with torches around the walls, but that wasn’t enough.  I tried to make something of a torch light fixture on the ceiling to add more light, but still got a spawn now and again.  Eventually I said, “screw it” and just threw down torches where ever I saw a dark shadow.

Spawn now, come on!

Spawn now, come on!

And I am still not sure if that will be enough, but it has kept spawns at bay for now.  I’m mostly just happy that only one creeper has spawned inside so far, and I managed to kill him before he exploded.

Meanwhile, deep under ground, the mining continues to expand.  I originally dug down to level 12 and started on a series of horizontal shafts running along the north-south axis, branching out from a large, well lit, main room.  However, in both directions I ended up running into fairly large pools of lava as I started running shafts further east.  Eventually I used the western most shafts and started digging that direction, every three blocks, to satisfy my thirst for ore.  And I have been suitably rewarded.

Diamond's are Steve's best friend

Diamond’s are Steve’s best friend

I have found enough diamonds to have some set aside for future use, gold sufficient for current projects, enough iron ore for projects as well as keeping ahead of the constant tool making consumption curve, and more redstone than I will likely ever use.  I am about to fill up a full double chest with my accumulated redstone.

Of course, not every bit of ore has been easy to get, and I still run into lava pools in my current direction.

I got those diamonds, but I did so very carefully

I got those diamonds, but I did so very carefully

More interesting have been the wide, open spaces that I run into now and again.  From an effort/reward point of view, those are quite lucrative as I often just see veins of ore there on the walls, ready for the taking.  The downside is that it generally becomes an underground cathedral of torches as I try to keep the place from becoming a zombie mosh pit.

At some point we may pick up and move to a new location… I’ve seen a couple square kilometers in a world that is effectively limitless in size, so exploration is a thing to come… at which point I will be tempted to run down into the mines and collect up all those torches I have planted,  backing out of each shaft as I harvest them, and then plugging them up.  I suspect I would have quite a pile.

Meanwhile, back on the surface, with the castle done, I started working on some related items.  There was the causeway to the house, the flattening of the front yard and the removal of the hills from the back.  I cut back some of the woods around the castle, both to deny skeletons cover from which to snipe and to have enough wood to eventually fence things in a bit.

And then I built myself an automatic sugar cane harvesting system on the castle roof.

Of course, this was not at all my own design.  I went to the internet to look for ways to accomplish this.  The first video I tried on YouTube looked good, however it turned out to be a few years out of date and the design wouldn’t work with Minecraft 1.8.x.  Of course, I only figured that after I had built the whole thing.

I had more luck with the second video I found promising an “easy” automated sugar cane harvesting system.  I was able to create it and… once I actually duplicated the redstone system correctly… I had a block out of place… it actually worked.

Automated Sugar Cane farm

Automated Sugar Cane farm

The hard part was actually getting the parts.  You need sticky pistons which need slimeballs to create, which means finding slime, which only spawns in the swamp biomes and blah blah blah.

So I spent about a day (real world day, not in-game) camped in a swamp trying to find slimes.  And then I started looking up how to find slimes and found a video about how to discover where they will spawn and then spent another day killing enough to get the the necessary slimeballs and then trek back to the castle to build my sticky pistons… and was so totally focused on that whole thing that I didn’t even take a screen shot… or write down the coordinates… so I hope I don’t need any more slimeballs soon.

Anyway, I got my 28 sticky pistons which, in hindsight, watching this system work, is probably twice as many as really necessary.  The whole thing triggers when the sugar cane on the far right gets three blocks high, triggering the whole array to knock down all but the base row.  But I am pretty sure it would work with a single row of pistons just knocking everything down when that first sugar cane got two high instead.

Whatever, I was just happy to make it work and can refine things later.

The one change up I did make was to use the collection system from the first video, which involved a stream of water which dumps all the harvested sugar cane through a hole in the floor into a hopper on the third floor of the castle, which then deposits it into a double trunk.

I will say it was a bit challenging to build the second story on the farm.  The design can be extended horizontally or vertically, but the space on the roof and my use of the water delivery method limited how wide it could be, so I had to go for the vertical.  Having built the whole thing close to the edge meant that my construction scaffolding put me over the edge of the castle roof, facing a 4+ story fall to my certain death if I went over.  That will help you focus.

My goal in all of this was to have ample sugar and to be able to make paper to trade to the villagers in the village we came across back during our further exploration phase.  Though I have to go back and find it.  It is sort of south-east-ish… I think.  Time to explore again.  And maybe build a road.

Meanwhile I also started looking into hosting services to put the world online so the instance group or other friends could join in if they wanted.  There has been some mild interest in that regard.  I will say that the number of such hosting services shows just how popular Minecraft really is.  And exploring that brought up the whole “which server type?” question.  Vanilla Minecraft is the default, but there are other options out there, the most popular… based on what I have seen… being Spigot, which claims better performance, memory management, and finer control over world parameters, and Bukkit, which offers a huge range of ready-to-go mods.  Or such is my take-away.  So the question isn’t just who has the best price and where their data center is location, but also what server type to run.

And such is the state of affairs for us in Minecraft.

Quote of the Day – The Dreaded Rear Admiral

Most who don’t understand how the industry works, the technical challenges etc, were quick to discount this as just another Derek Smart rant, or hyperbole. Regardless, even those who doubted the statements, were forced to stop and think. According to online metrics, this single article, has set practically every gaming forum talking about this game, and the impact it will have when (not if) it fails.

-Derek Smart, Interstellar Discourse

It would be hard to argue against the fact that, in his attempt to shine a bright light on the on things, Derek Smart did indeed get people talking about Star Citizen, the promises, made, and what crowd funding is, where it may head, and what those who fund projects in this way really owe people.

As I noted in the comments of my previous post, even the team at Cloud Imperium felt the need to respond in the forums to the issues  he brought up.  They did not address him directly, but it was clear that Derek Smart’s post set the ball rolling and put them on notice.

At which point a mere mortal might think the job was done.  Pot successfully stirred, people talking, issues being discussed, recognition of some sort from the developers in question, and some “yeah, what he said!” sentiments still ringing in the Star Citizen forums, meaning the question wasn’t just going to die off with a simple “Everything is fine” response.

But this is Derek Smart, and the quote at the top is from his second post on the topic, another epic collection of words under the title Interstellar Discourse, from which Massively OP distilled a central theme and a list of seven demands.  (The full, yet to be shared list is reported to be a beyond-Wilsonian 33 points to date.)  And then the comments section for the post at Massively OP went through the roof, drawing in Derek Smart himself.  It is past the one thousand mark with no end in sight.  I hope Syp gets paid by the click.

In an addendum to the post, it was announced that Cloud Imperium had disabled Derek Smart’s account and refunded his money allegedly because he was using his posts… on his own blog… to draw attention to Star Citizen simply to promote his own game.  Kickstarter’s terms of service allow companies to refund money and lock those deemed “trouble makers” out of their campaigns.  And so Derek Smart’s rank as a Rear Admiral was revoked.

Your credentials are now invalid

Your credentials are now invalid

(Image from Derek Smart’s blog, for which he no doubt holds any copyright, and which I have used without permission.  But I cannot resist a Simpsons reference.)

And it is certainly true that Derek Smart makes reference to his own games, including his upcoming title Line of Defense often and at great length, arguably beyond the point needed to establish his credentials or support his points.  But that is a pretty subjective line.  I could personally take 90% of what came under that as read, but I have above average familiarity with the topic of Derek Smart.  Somebody unfamiliar with the him might need all that background and more.

And lest you think that things are over, with RSI having evicted the dreaded Rear Admiral, there is a mention of a third post in progress from Derek Smart and legal issues and even a theory that RSI plans to refund all $2.1 million in Kickstarter pledges to rid themselves of any crowdfunding FTC issues.  The fun never stops.

It is summer.  This is the silly season.  At least we have entertainment.

Addendum: Some are looking at this more abstractly than others.

So Many Wiyrkomi Skins

One of the more natural complaints about the ship SKINS program… and I will capitalize it just this once to acknowledge the force fed lore acronym, Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings… was that at its introduction, there were not a lot of skin choices.

Basically, why doesn’t MY favorite ship have a special skin?

There seemed to be a huge gap in the range of skins available.  There were skins for capital ships, no doubt because if you’re going to invest billions into a hull… and live in that hull forever in the case of super caps… you are probably likely to want a new paint job for it.

Then there were skins for a range of tech I ships, so new players could spruce up their look.

And in between, in the land of tech II hulls… there wasn’t much happening.

This pain was made more acute by the temporary bug in the skin system that allowed players to apply any skin to any ship if they knew how.  It was agony seeing every ship done up in the Police Pursuit Comet skin, knowing that it was a fleeting moment of awesome.

Police Pursuit all the things!

Police Pursuit all the things!

Some of the skins looks awful when applied to the wrong ship, but enough looked good enough… or even damn good… that there no doubt lived within many of us a faint hope that CCP would not fix the bug.  You can see some other examples at EN24, from whom I borrowed the above image.

Still, even with the tech II skin gap, I managed to find some skins to spend my ISK on.  And I actually got to use a couple of the skins I picked up in Jita.  We ran Ravens for a bit during the Reaver Querious campaign.

My Raven with the Wiyrkomi skin applied

My Raven with the Wiyrkomi skin applied

And I also got to use the Rokh skin for a one-way suicide venture to Fountain at one point.

Both of those used the Wiyrkomi corporation skin, which is a decent olive drab finish with some white highlights at key points.  It isn’t very showy as far as skins go, but it has a martial air to it.  This is a color you would paint a combat ship.  The Kaalakiota or Nugoeihuvi colors, with their red chevrons or red tiger stripes, may feel more savage, but Wiyrkomi is pretty good.

And CCP had its explanation for why it wasn’t rushing out skins for the tech II ships as part of one of its skins updates.

Another concern of allowing any SKIN on any ship is making Tech 1 ships resemble Tech 2 ships which would have visual gameplay implications. While deciding what SKINs to offer in the release of this feature we carefully selected SKINs for ships by making sure that if we offered a SKIN for that ship the same look was not used by its Tech 2 counterpart. This is the reason why for example there is no Sarum SKIN for the Apocalypse, as it would too closely resemble the Paladin.

Okay, I get that.  If you make a Merlin skin… which the had, including one done up in the flat olive of the Wiyrkomi corporation colors… it wouldn’t be much fun to then to have the very same skin on the Harpy of the Hawk, the tech II variations on the Merlin hull.

And then with the Aegis expansion and the Fozzie Sov patch we got a lot more skins, including a bunch for those neglected tech II ships.  The situation for me literally went from “no skins for any ship I fly regularly” to “skins for damn near every ship I fly regularly.”  And if they had done something for the Tengu… and with the subsystem configurations that change how the hull looks I get that such a skin will be a pain to make for any of the tech III strategic cruisers… I would have been pretty much setup.  Just look at the list for Caldari ships alone in those two drops:

  • Harpy Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Hawk Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Buzzard Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Manticore Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Kitsune Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Crow Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Raptor Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Caldari Navy Hookbill Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Flycatcher Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Cerberus Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Eagle Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Onyx Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Basilisk Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Falcon Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Rook Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Caracal Navy Issue Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Osprey Navy Issue Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Crane Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Bustard Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)

That is 19 new skins, and I know just off hand that I have eight of those ships sitting in a hangar in either YA0-XJ or UMI-KK, which means I might even fly them once in a while.

You can open up that New Eden store and be treated to a veritable sea of olive drab ship skins.

My olive drab cup runneth over...

My olive drab cup runneth over…

The thing is, CCP seems to have changed its mind on the whole “making sure that if we offered a SKIN for that ship the same look was not used by its Tech 2 counterpart” aspect of their skin program.  While I haven’t bought the skins and compared them side by side, the Wiyrkomi skin for the tech I Merlin looks exactly the same as the Wiyrkomi skins for the tech II Harpy and Hawk.  Likewise you can compare the Osprey, Osprey Navy Issue, and the tech II Basilisk in the store and not see an iota of difference.  (If you can see such a difference, your eyes are better than mine!)

And there are similar skin matches between tech I and tech II in the Gallente, Amarr, and Minmatar line ups.  That Ishtar Intaki Syndicate skin looks a lot like the Vexor Intaki Syndicate skin and so on.

Which leaves me with a somewhat split opinion.

On the one hand, I appreciate CCP getting some new skins out there for all of these ships, and I know that cranking out this many skins… and they have promised us new skins every Tuesday this month… means that they cannot all be special snowflakes of uniqueness.

On the other hand, that is a lot of olive drab paint splashed over those Caldari hulls.  In that dev blog about skins coming this summer, the whole custom mask issue was explained, but there were also a lot of color options shown.  I feel like the tech II ships might have been treated to at least something a little different.

But with two more Tuesdays left in July, maybe CCP will show us something different.

Strategic cruiser skins maybe?

Well, once they get the game running again.  Fozzie Sov post-patch issues.

The Age of the Entosis Link Module is Upon Us

It feels like it has been a long time coming, but this morning CCP announced the successful deployment of the final step in their null sec sovereignty revamp.  Back in November 2014, the Phoebe expansion gave us jump fatigue and reduced structure hit points as the lead-in features to the journey to alter the face of null sec.

Jump Fatigue timer counting down...

Jump Fatigue timer counting down…

That put a leash on the free ranging super capital fleets while managing to make capital fleets more viable for local defense.  Pandemic Legion could not longer drop a pile of supers on people anywhere in New Eden with half an hour of notice.  Instead we got the Bizarro world vision of supers taking gates across space.

Caps landing on the J5A gate

Caps landing on the J5A gate, just a thing these days

That change also gave rise to the whole Reavers concept, where during a war a small group could go deep into enemy territory, shoot structure, drop SBUs, set timers, siphon moons, kill ratters, and otherwise cause enough pain that the hostiles would have to choose between fighting on the main front or pulling back to secure their home turf.

There was then a second round of proposed sovereignty changes centered around the Entosis Link Module and the idea that, as somebody summed it up, constellations are to be the new regions.

Entonsis Link beam

Entonsis Link beam hitting a station

This has all been summed up… if that is the right term… in a series of dev blogs and updates that have come out since March of this year:

But for all of those posts, the final patch notes for this between releases drop are surprisingly concise:

  • Territorial Claim Units, Infrastructure Hubs, and Outposts are no longer subject to regular weapons damage. Instead an Entosis Link module is required to capture and control them.
  • Ownership of Territorial Claim Units, Infrastructure Hubs, and Outposts has now been decoupled from one-another. Each different structure in a solar system can be deployed, owned, attacked and destroyed by different alliances at the same time.
  • Territorial Claim Units no longer require an upkeep bill. Instead, the running costs have been moved over to bills on Infrastructure Hubs.
  • Each alliance can set a Default Vulnerability Time for their sovereignty structures. This is a daily interval where structures will become vulnerable to Entosis Links. The length of this interval is based on the Activity Defense Multiplier. The ADM in turn is based on the Strategic, Military and Industrial levels of the solar system. Changes to the Default Vulnerability Time will take 48 hours to come in to effect.
  • Each alliance can set a single Capital System on one solar system where they control a Territorial Claim Unit. Structures controlled by an alliance in their Capital System receive a bonus to their ADM, making them easier to defend. Changes to the Capital System will take 7 days to come in to effect.
  • Destroying/capturing another alliance’s sovereignty structures requires attackers to use Entosis Links on the structure during its daily vulnerability window. If this action succeeds, the structure will become invulnerable. At some some point between 24 and 72 hours later, Command Nodes will begin spawning around the constellation. Attackers and defenders must capture these nodes using Entosis Links in a tug-of-war battle in order to destroy/secure the structure.
  • Sovereignty Blockade Units are now obsolete. Any SBUs in space will automatically self-destruct, whilst SBUs in hangars can be sold back to NPC buy orders.

Yes, there is a lot of assumed information in those notes.  You have to go through the dev posts to get the full picture.  But that is the essence distilled down to its basic form.  And apparently capsuleers in New Eden are off to the races right away.

One of the new aspects of this, freeport stations, where anybody can dock up, friend or foe, have started showing up.

You can see this over on DOTLAN as well.  Somebody will have to come up with a freeport feed.

So today is one of those before/after points.  The sovereignty system brought in with the Dominion expansion is finally gone.  Fozzie-Sov, brought in over a number of small expansions, is now was sovereign null sec functions.  We should take a look at today’s sovereignty map for comparison with what it will look like three or six months down the road.  Will this lead to a big shake up in who holds space in null sec? (From the usual source.)

Sovereignty Map - July 14, 2015 - Happy Bastille Day

Sovereignty Map – July 14, 2015 – Happy Bastille Day

That is null sec space as it stands now.  The Imperium is tucked up in the north.  Black Legion is sitting on most of Fountain since Brave left under with the philosophy of “…we will certainly come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated!”

A lot of other areas have been carved up into smaller domains, though a lot of the long time players still remain.  Against All Authorities in particular just keeps popping back up in that same spot on the map.  And then there is that huge chunk or renter space in the Northeast, with Shadow of xXDEATHXx and Brothers of Tangra still providing opportunities for those who wish to sublet in null.

Are we headed for a new realignment in null, or will the status quo, having condensed in some cases and started recruiting new players en masse in a couple others, hold on to their current domains?

And, of course, who is going to lose sov because they forgot to pay the bill since that changed as part of the patch as well.