Tag Archives: Apocrypha

Enter Hyperion

The Hyperion is a great ship for people who don’t like to ask questions, like “Why didn’t I just buy a Megathron?”

-Goon Wiki

Today CCP drops the second mini-expansion on us.  We had Crius five weeks back, and today we have Hyperion.

Of course, I was all “Heh, there is a battleship type called ‘Hyperion’ in the game, I should run with that!” when I saw the name of the expansion.

The CCP Train Schedule

And you know where I’ll go for Rhea then…

Not a very original idea and, as it turns out, the Hyperion seems to be a bit of a loser when it comes to Gallente battleships.  As the quote from the Goon Wiki above indicates, I would be hard pressed to come up with a scenario where one would choose the Hyperion over its Gallente stablemates, the Dominix or the Megathron.  I even went over to my other site to find a picture of the ship, but with more than 800 EVE Online screen shots posted, the Hyperion only appears once.  And that shot was a classic graphics shot from 2009, back when the ship might have had a place.  Oddly though, the year 2009 fits into the scheme of things, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The Old Hyperion

The Old Hyperion

Anyway, the Hyperion expansion was not named for the Gallente battleship, which as far as I can tell gains no benefit from the update, but from the mythical titans, who lend their name to the expansion out into the foreseeable future.  My momentary flirtation with the ship was mostly because Hyperion’s main focus is on wormhole space, and I know squat about wormhole space.

Hyperion Wormhole - Note ship not used...

Hyperion Wormhole – Note ship not used…

Wormhole space showed up with the Apocrypha expansion back in March 2009 (back when I was taking classic graphics screen shots of Gallente battleships) along with the skill queue, tech III ships, the ship fitting window, that epic mission arc thing I never did, and an updated new player experience, all of which seems far more recent in my brain than five years ago.

Apocrypha - March 2009

Apocrypha – March 2009

But there it is, and wormhole space added nearly 2,500 star systems, which makes up more than a quarter of space in EVE Online.  And I have barely ever been there.

Potshot and I were planning a wormhole expedition at one point.  We were going to find a small wormhole, set up a tower, and live the life of the independent space pioneer.  And then we found that we were far from alone in that idea as every wormhole we scouted seemed to be occupied.   Packing up to go live in w-space seemed to be a fairly common goal.  So it seems odd to read articles that talk about CCP’s vision for w-space being that of a nomadic existence, where players never settled but just roamed about, mining or ratting or whatever, only to return to known space at then end of their mission.  I only ever heard, “new lands to settle!” sorts of sentiment back then, probably influenced by the ideas of sovereign null sec.

Emergent behavior took over, players did what they wanted to, and w-space became what it was.  CCP has been clear in its blogs about Hyperion that they are not going to try to “fix” things to bring them back to what they envisioned, but rather change things to help suit what has become the defacto behavior in w-space… and, of course, tune some of the discoveries made by players over the years as to how to exploit w-space.  Given enough time, players will always find the best, or most efficient, approach to anything.

Since I know next to nothing about wormhole space, I’ll defer to those who live there as to whether the changes are good or not.

The other graphic being used for Hyperion

The other graphic being used for Hyperion

Other than wormhole space, there are some changes to incursions and missions, including a new type of optional level 4 mission called a “burner mission.”  In those missions, you will be tasked to go chase down and destroy a pirate faction frigate fitted for PvP style encounters.  And you, yourself, will be limited to a frigate hull as well, so this is supposed to be something of a challenge… which is why it has to be optional… and perhaps a way to get people to transition a little more towards a PvP mentality after running endless PvE missions.

I will be interested to see if this ends up being used much or not.

There are also a couple of additions to the New Eden Store (formerly NEX) that give players some additional items they can purchase for real world cash and turn around and sell for ISK in game.  The two new items are the Pilot’s Body Resculpt Certificate, which lets you redo your avatar, and the Multiple Pilot Training Certificate, which lets you activate a second training queue on your account so your alt can train up as well as your main.  Previously you could purchase both of these with PLEX.  At first I suspected that the increasing price of PLEX has prompted CCP to separate these two, though to get Aurum, the currency for the New Eden Store, you have to buy PLEX in any case, so the price of PLEX in Jita will still drive pricing so… what was the question again?  Anyway, these are now things in New Eden.

And then there is the usual array of minor adjustments and bug fixes for the release.  You can go read the Hyperion expansion page for the general overview and the patch notes for the gritty details.  The expansion itself appears to have been deployed without incident.

The next expansion on the list is Oceanus, which should show up in another six weeks or so, putting it somewhere in early-to-mid October.

I guess that CCP timeline is way-off by this point (so I should probably stop using it), largely because what ended up going into Cruis, all those industry updates (and did those change the shape of industry very much, I haven’t really paid attention), were supposed to be in Kronos, so the clock got moved up for that first mini-expansion.  And soon we will hear what Oceanus might bring.  But for today it is just Hyperion.

As I have noted elsewhere, at least we get new music with each new expansion, so with more expansions we get more music, so I will leave you with the official CCP music for Hyperion.

Mirkwood and Dominion

Today is yet another milestone.

Today we say farewell to two Splash screens, those of EVE Online Apocrypha and Lord of the Rings Online – Mines of Moria

Apocrypha

The Mines of Moria

The downtime of change is upon us and soon, if all goes well, two new expansions will be launched.

Soon we will see EVE Online Dominion and Lord of the Rings Online Siege of Mirkwood.

Here is hoping for success to both, may they both further enrich these games and may their splash screens be easy on the eyes, as we’ll be staring at them for a while to come!

A Not So Fabulous Turn of Events

Reynaldo Fabulous has been pressing ahead with his training, tying up all of the learning skills in his plan by Saturday.  He trained up the first and second tier learning skills up to level 4 for everything by Charisma.  It was time to start the trek to Gallente Industrial V.

The only prerequisite left Gallente Frigate III, then five Gallente Industrial skills in a row, with the last being about 14 days.

Of course the first three went by quickly.  I queued up the fourth, which ran over a day, as soon as I could.

Finally, I went to queue up the level five skill and ran into a problem.

Previously there had been a loophole in the training bonus given to new characters.

You get double training speed up to 1.6 million skill points, after which you are, in theory, caught up to the people who rolled characters in the past that came with around 800K or skillpoints.  But any skill you started before you hit the 1.6 million point would continue to train at double speed.  So, if you were aware of this, you could wait until you got close to the end point of your double speed training and start up a really long skill and continue to benefit long after your bonus should have ended.

A bonus bonus.

In hindsight, you would think that CCP would have seen this one coming, knowing the EVE Online player base as they do.  And even without that, I have to think there was a test case somewhere that would have shown what happened when somebody tried to queue a skill that went beyond the limit.  It is called boundary checking and people in QA ignore it at their peril.  Somehow though they missed it, or didn’t think it was important, and ended up having to fix it after the fact.

Now, the logical, independent of code complications, fix to me would be to just apply a 2x multiplier to any skillpoints trained up to and including the 1.6 millionth, and after that they run at a normal rate.

Of course, long experience has taught me that the logical fix can often be quite difficult.  Sometime you end up with the expedient fix instead.  That appears to be what we got.

Last night when I went to queue up Gallente Industrial V, I got this error:

No Gallente Industrial V today
The rather blunt force fix to the exploit seems to be simply to not allow you to start training a skill that will take you beyond the 1.6 million skillpoint barrier with the bonus, unless agree to throw away any remaining bonus.

Gallente Industrial V is an 800K skillpoint skill.  If I start training it now I will essentially be throwing away almost 500K of double speed trainin.  That is about one third of what you get, since you start with around 80K skillpoints.  So I don’t want to do that!

Now I am going to be delayed in being able to fly the Iteron V.

And I also have to spend some time with EVEMon figuring out the optimum set of skills to train to ensure I waste the least amount of my remaining 500K double speed skill points.

Certainly this is not the worst situation ever foisted onto an MMO player base, but this double skillpoint routine is part of the NEW USER EXPERIENCE.  This is yet another parameter with which somebody new to EVE Online is going to have contend.

And the “slap in the face” aspect of this whole fix, and there always has to be a “slap in the face” now doesn’t there, is that people who queued up long skills before the patch introduce this change did not get interrupted.  No, really!  One of the people in our little corp queued up a long skill on a new character that was close to the limit right before the patch.  After the patch he was still trucking along at double speed.

Now, if I had been the product manager… or producer in the game world I guess… and someboday had come to me and said that they were going to fix this exploit by adding more complexity  for new players while allowing everybody who was in the process of using the exploit to carry on and get the benefit, I might have pushed for a different solution.

One decision model that we have used at various companies at which I have worked laid things out into four categories, listed here in descending desirability:

  1. Right Action, Right Reasons
  2. Right Action, Wrong Reasons
  3. Wrong Action, Right Reasons
  4. Wrong Action, Wrong Reasons

An organization that hits on the first item, they do the right thing, and they do it for the right reasons, is doing well.  We all want to be doing that as often as possible.  However, most places I have worked that have done well end up doing the second quite a bit.  That is getting lucky.

CCP’s solution to this issue seems, to me, to be in the third category.  The problem needed to be fixed, right reason, but the actual solution is… sub-optimal in my opinion.  It puts a burden on a group of people least able to cope with it, the new players in EVE.

Again, certainly not the worst thing ever.  Players will get past it.  I doubt anybody would quit based on this fix alone.  But it is annoying, and sometimes it is the preponderance of little things rubbing the wrong way that makes people walk away from a game.

Anyway, I have to go figure out my plan for those 500K skillpoints.  I think I can get to 1,595,259 skill points and contribute to my next goal (a Hulk, of course) without training any skills I do not need.

Apocrypha So Far

Apocrypha marks the sixth EVE Online expansion I have been through (the other five being Revelations, Revelations II, Trinity, Empyrean Age, and Quantum Rise) and it is, without a doubt, the expansion with the biggest immediate impact on me and how I play so far.

Apocrypha - March 2009

Apocrypha

I could sink my teeth into some of the new features right away!

-Probing: I really like the new interface for probing (just don’t try it on a machine without a scroll wheel mouse!), but it feels like it is only 80% there.  I want preset formations (and the ability to make my own) for probes and the ability to move probes as a group for starters.  Even with my clumsy probing technique I have found a few wormholes already as well as a drone hive that had a pile of veldspar asteroids hanging about.

There is a downside. I had setup shop to manufacture and sell probes a while back.  It was a mild money maker, helped by the fact that there were so many flavors of probes and that you lost them when you used them.  Now I have five identical blueprints, since they were all consolidated into a single type, and I haven’t lost a probe yet with the new system.  The price of probes has fallen and the demand is way down.  Oh well.

-Skill Queue:  What we have all been asking for!  Of course, I would still like to queue skills up out to forever, but piling up a bunch of short skills then hanging a long skill off the end is still better than what we had.  It took me a minute to figure out how to do that.  In the queue editor you can only line up skills to the 23 hour 59 minute mark.  But once you’ve saved your queue, you can go to the old skills window, right click on a skill, and add it to the end of your queue.

I did have a couple of issues with the queue early on.  A couple of times it failed to start the next skill, something I only noticed because the API reported a skill I knew wasn’t on the list to EVEMon

-Ship Fitting Window: It looks neat.  Data is presented in a much better way and I love the idea of saving pre-set configurations.  On the other hand, the new big circle o’ fitting is a bit odd.  It isn’t bad necessarily, but I can’t imagine anybody requesting that a window in EVE Online take up MORE real estate.

-Agents: I like that you can now see the mission you’re getting from an agent without having to open up the journal then open up the mission.  Instead you get to see the mission right there, right away.  I also like that they added a bit more information to the default mission briefing, like the security level of the systems involved.

I do wish they would tell you how many jumps there were between locations.  And not just for courier missions, though that would be key.  Once in a while an agent send me off to run an encounter 5 or 6 jumps away.

-Graphics Changes:  There are a lot of little updates to the graphics.  I seem to spot something new every time I log on.  The new gate jump graphic is nice.  Mining lasers seem brighter and shinier than ever.  I’ll have to get out the Mackinaw just to see if they made the ice lasers blue again.  I appreciate that asteroids are no longer a series of identical space dumplings, but space is dark and things are usually far away, so all those new asteroid models are just so many shaped rocks.  There is just more variety.

Of course, not everything in the expansion was targeted at players like me.

-Tech III Ships:  Call me in about a year, I might have it figured out by then.

-Wormholes: Being somebody who loses every time in PvP, this just seems like a new and interesting way to get ganked.  Send me a post card from the other side.

-New Player Experience: I want to give it a try at some point when I have some time.

-Epic Mission Arc:  I have received the mission Humble Beginnings a few times now.  However, the drop that sends you off to start the whole thing says I have to fly 27 jumps into the heart of Gallente space.  Given that the last time I strayed into Gallente space found me persona non grata and whatever the Latin phrase is for “shoot on site,” this seems like a bad idea for me.

And then there are the unexpected changes.

-Bounce:  I don’t think this was supposed to be a feature, but since the expansion “Warp to 0m” seems to have become “Warp to Intimate Contact Range.”  Getting hung up on a mission gate is amusing and all the first dozen times, but the second or third time your freighter bounces off a jump gate and ends up more than 10km out and faced the wrong direction you start to wonder what is going on.  At least I don’t seem to get hung up on the new CONCORD billboards.

-Crash: Things seem to have gotten a bit unstable since Apocrypha launched.  Last night I had the game client crash four times in under an hour.  That can wear on you a bit.  I hope we’re going to see a patch pretty soon to address this.  I am not the only one seeing this it seems.

All in all, despite the last two, Apocrypha has been a very good expansion for me so far.

Farewell Classic Graphics

Just fifteen month back, according to Kirith Kodachi’s EVE Tribune article “Growing and Growing,” the Trinity expansion to EVE Online introduced the premium graphics option to the game.

At the time I was not impressed.

Of course I was flying some ships that were newer in the game than most, so their forms did not change much in the jump from classic to premium, and others that looked pretty good as they were designed.  Drakes, Cormorants, Merlins, mining barges, Mammoths, and even Badgers did not change dramatically in the jump to premium, so it seemed like a big yawn to me.

Then I built a Raven.

Now there was a ship that was seriously improved by the premium graphics option.

As a reminder of how much of an improvement there was, I set my machine to classic graphics mode and took one last picture in the old art style for comparison.  The subject: My Raven Navy Issue.

Raven Navy Issue safe in its hanger

Raven Navy Issue - Premium Graphics

Raven Navy Issue - Classic Graphics

Raven Navy Issue - Classic Graphics

With Apocrypha the classic graphics are gone.  Now, if you want to boost performance, you can alter your settings to show lower resolution versions of the premium models.

But it is always good to remind ourselves once in a while where things once stood.

It’s Down

I saw the last seconds tick off before the big shut down for the Apocrypha expansion in EVE Online.

apocr01
Of course, things don’t go away instantly…

apocr02
But after a few seconds of that, the connection went down and I was out.

Good bye classic graphics!  You’ll only be the stuff of legends and screen shots now!

Soon we’ll say hello to skill queues, wormholes, tech III, and all that they will bring to the game.

I hope that two day skill is enough.

Apocrypha is Coming!

Apocrypha, the latest EVE Online free expansion is coming, and it is bringing many wonderful things.

Some of them are easy to grasp, like a skill queue of sorts that will allow you to pile up all those 8 minute to a couple hour skills into a batch to run overnight or while you’re at the office.

Others are more complex, like the wormholes and probing, which Kirith Kodachi has been exploring in depth on his blog, to tech III ships which… are… a whole new ball of wax.

Apocrypha is upon us, showing up tomorrow.  You have to love CCP; about the time we’re all starting to understand something new is coming, it is here!  No long waits.

Of course, that means system downtime, the announcement for which has been posted:

Deployment of the free expansion, EVE Online: Apocrypha will begin at 03:00 GMT on 10 March. We anticipate the extended downtime for the deployment may take up to 13 hours and we expect to be back up at 16:00 GMT.

We recommend starship pilots prepare for the unveiling of that which is hidden by setting a long-training skill.

During this time Tranquility will be offline, our forums and news section, the EVE API and Secure (login for EVElopedia, Account Management etc) will be taken down at about 02:30 GMT. Secure will return at 05:30 GMT and the news section and the forums will be partially up at 09:30 GMT to provide players with a feedback channel.

The EVE API will remain down until downtime 11 March. We will activate a back-up news system to provide updates during the time our news section is down.

03:00 GMT on March 10th is 8pm Pacific time on March 9th (today) out here on the left coast, where daylight savings time is also now upon us.

And, like the man says, make sure you queue up a nice long (multi-day) skill before the down time.

CCP has been very good about not going long on the last couple of expansion, but I still remember a couple where the downtime went into the following day.  So be prepared!