Tag Archives: Ascension

EVE Online Passes 50K Players Online Again

Today saw the concurrent user count in EVE Online pass the 50,000 mark, and the day is not over yet. (Though we are heading out of EUTZ prime time.)

Approximately 19:00 UTC

Approximately 19:00 UTC

Yesterday saw the count pass the 46K mark, surpassing the 2015 high water mark of 45,637 set back in January of that year.

The 2015 high watermark

The 2015 high watermark

We’re still 15K players shy of the all time high player count of 65,303 set back in May of 2013, but numbers are significantly higher than they have been, as the online peaks have been capping out just beyond the 30K mark on weekends since the Casino War wound down back in June.

This all comes because the Ascension expansion, launched this past Tuesday, added the “Alpha clone” option which allows players to play without subscribing, a feature which brought with it a spike in new character creation.

You can see when free hit this past week

You can see when free hit this past week

The catch is that Alpha clones only have access to a limited range of skills to work with, and they train those skills at half the rate of subscribers.

Of course, the question of the hour is whether or not all these new players… or returning old players… or current players just making alts and checking out the revised new player experience… will stick around and add some money to CCP’s bottom line.  I have noted in the past that every MMO free conversion is rewarded with a spike in players, but the “happy time” after such conversions can be limited unless the game in question continues to adapt in order to keep players.

Data, aside from the first screen shot, taken from EVE Offline, which keeps a historical record of user count and new user creation.

Ascension Login Trials

I went through last night and made sure the four EVE Online accounts I have all had their email addresses verified.  I managed to assign each one a different email address, but the verification links all went through okay.

Today, however, upon arriving home, I have only been able to get into two of those accounts.  Fortunately, Wilhelm was one of them.  He got logged in and was given the message about being an Omega Clone.

Omega means being able to do all the things

Omega means being able to do all the things

I also got a glimpse of the new character sheet.

Just over three days until he can fit Tech II triage

Just over three days until he can fit Tech II triage

Dealing with skills is a little bit… well… fiddly now.  Every time you mouse over something an info window springs into view, sometimes just where you don’t want it to be.  But at least you don’t have to turn the queue on and off again to clone jump any more.  Or so I’ve been told.

I was also able to get an alt up and going.  Verification code arrived via email, no problem.

But the other two accounts, neither of them got their code, despite the fact that both of them got their verification links in the mail just the night before.  Probably not coincidentally, both of those accounts have a Yahoo email address, a legacy of past times.  I wouldn’t make a new Yahoo email address on a dare these days, as everything they touch just turns to shit.

Anyway, that is where I stand.  Two accounts good, two accounts somewhere in the weeds.  Going to the CCP site and trying to do account recovery also yielded no email response.  Nothing in the spam folder, no response visible at all.  So either there is a problem sending to Yahoo accounts or Yahoo is eating the email responses somewhere along the way.

Ascension Day in EVE Online

It is the day, the day the Ascension expansion hits EVE Online.

Today is one of those dividing points, a time when everything changes, a point from which will be reckoned a brand new era in New Eden.  For many long time subscribers, everything before today is now history, and everything after will be the new shit that ruined the game the grand experiment that changed the universe.

Coming in November

It’s here, it is finally here!

Free to play has come.  CCP has opened the door and invited everybody in without a cover charge or a two drink minimum.  And seriously, this can be a game where two drinks often aren’t even enough… literally or metaphorically.  Clones states are here.

We can split hairs over what *really* constitutes “free” in “free to play,” whether the restrictions on Alpha clones make this more of an unlimited trial or a bonafide free experience.  All I know is that you can make a character, fly in space, shoot people, and never be asked to pay a dime.  That sounds pretty damn free to me.

Well, you will be asked to pay a dime.  Many dimes.  In fact, I am pretty sure you will be pestered to do so incessantly.

Can't touch that!

Upgrade to Omega

It would be remiss of CCP to not throw some of that Candy Crush Saga-esque “Oh, you want more? Well pay up!” persuasion in the game.  But you will not be obligated in any way to do so.  You can choose, as I do with Candy Crush Saga, to look at free to play as challenge mode where anything you accomplish is all the sweeter because you did it the hard way.

If all Ascension had for us was free to play and things related to that, it would be a huge deal.  That alone could be the biggest thing in a long time for EVE Online, a game that thrives on having more players.

But that is not all that Ascension brings with it.  What is left would still be a super feature packed expansion even if the whole free to play thing was not part of the deal.  That list includes:

That is most of the list from the Updates page, but there are also the Patch Notes for the expansion, which include many smaller items going into this release.  And little, of any of this, is non-controversial.  EVE Online is like any MMORPG where every feature is somebody’s favorite so changing any feature pisses somebody off… and Ascension is changing some fairly substantial features.

But there it is, deployed already.

I am excited… but also a bit anxious.  There will be bugs… there is already a patch set to drop at the next downtime.  And then there is the whole New Player Experience, the fourth since I started playing the game.  It is a directed story line that gets players involved with the empires and their lore, different for each of the four empires.  That is a fairly radical departure from the opportunities system that was in place until today.

So, if you have been waiting to try EVE Online… erm… maybe wait for the weekend to jump in, once there have been a few post expansion fixes deployed.  Or just jump right in.  Sometimes a good bug can be a formative experience in a game.  But CCP wants you to come give it a try.  There are many things you can do with an Alpha clone.  I expect all groups catering to new players will have Alpha clone compatible doctrines.  I even have my own Alpha clone trained up.  His skill plan wrapped up yesterday (though I had already brought him out for a trial run), at which point I started on a second one.

Others are talking about Ascension naturally enough, and while the focus is on Alpha clones, there is a lot of other things in play today as I noted above.

Finally, it wouldn’t be EVE Online if there wasn’t a new song for a new expansion.


Following in the Footsteps of Vegas Alpha

At EVE Vegas one of the presentations was from CCP Rise.  Ostensibly it was about the new clone states, but it was really about his own experiment in-game playing a clone with only the skill set that an Alpha clone will be allowed come the Ascension expansion.  It was a great presentation in an goofy sort of way and I enjoyed it immensely.  You can watch it here if you like.

CCP Rise’s basic plan was to create an Alpha clone skilled character and see what he could do with it in real fights on Tranquility.  And so the character Vegas Alpha was born.  You can see his combat record over at zKillboard.  He set out to kill a Svipul and managed to do that and more.

In watching the presentation, I was particularly interested in his fit for the Gallente Thorax cruiser.  It is hull tanked, which seems like an interestingly deceptive choice.  When somebody is shooting you and the blow through your shields and armor, they are unlikely to suddenly spook and run away when they hit structure.  But that is where the bulk of the hit points are on this fit.  So I stored that fit away to play with another day.  Here it is in EFT format if you like.

[Thorax, Vegas Alpha]

Damage Control II
Reinforced Bulkheads II
Reinforced Bulkheads II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

50MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive
Fleeting Compact Stasis Webifier
Fleeting Compact Stasis Webifier
Initiated Compact Warp Scrambler

Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M

Medium Transverse Bulkhead I
Medium Transverse Bulkhead I
Medium Transverse Bulkhead I

Acolyte I x5

That is maybe the third ship fitting I have posted in ten years.  The drones are different, but you can change that out if you like.

On Saturday night I was sitting around.  My wife was watching hockey, my daughter playing online with her friends, so I had some free time but no plan.  I wasn’t feeling like WoW, I’d already played enough Stellaris for the week, and there were not any fleets going in EVE Online, so I was just sitting there wondering what to do.  I decided to go fit up a few Thoraxes.

As I mentioned previously, I have a Gallente character that I have been training up to have all of the Alpha clone skills available to him.  Enter Reynaldo Fabulous again.  As of Saturday night he was still a couple of skills shy of a full Alpha loadout, but he was close.  Close enough that I sent him some ISK from my main so he could get out of his implant clone, fit five Thoraxes, and go on an adventure.  I undocked, set a course for Saranen, the only low sec system that sprang to mind, and headed that way.

Thorax away!

Thorax away!

The goal here was to find a fight and lose or, should I win, find another fight and so on until the ship got blown up.  The ship was insured, wasn’t that expensive, and what the hell, right?

This was, of course, pretty much opposite day for me, a bizarro world reversal of my usual intent when traveling alone in New Eden.  It is always work to not get into a fight, so actually getting into one ought to be easy, right?

Oh, the other side of the coin.

When I travel and don’t get caught I just think I’ve been lucky.  But here I was out in low sec on a Saturday night trying to find somebody, anybody to shoot at and not having any luck.  I was there to take the fight, any fight, it just wasn’t happening.  Sitting on gates, sitting on station undocks, going to anomalies, all came up dry.  Granted, I might have been less than patient, but trouble seems to find me when I am flying an industrial.

I wandered around from system to system, heading towards Okagaiken, another name I seem to remember, which got me into Black Rise and factional warfare.  I played with factional warfare for about two hours when it came out back in… wow, was that 2008… and haven’t really thought about it since.  But there were more people in these systems, so I thought I would see if I could catch somebody.

I first found a Kestrel sitting still in a site about 100km off from where I landed.  This being the best opportunity I had run across so far, I lit the MWD and headed towards him.  He didn’t seem to notice, though when I got about half way to him I saw that he was in LAWN, an Imperium alliance and started to wonder if I should shoot him or not.  Technically Reynaldo is in a non-Imperium corp, but the info page about that corp shows Wilhelm Arcturus as its founder, and shooting blues is frowned upon.  However, he woke up long before I got into range and warp off.  Decision averted.

So I started hitting other sites, looking for targets.  I actually got in range of a couple, like this guy.

Locking up Peon Neon

Locking up Peon Neon

Yeah, he was in a frigate and I was in a cruiser, but I was long past being picky.  That was actually my second go at him.  I warped into his site, he warped off, so I warped off, then I warped back to the site almost immediately and found him right back there again.  Cocky!  And I was almost on top of him so I was able to lock him up and throw all the goodies on him… and he shook off my tackle and warped away again.

I got some opportunity rewards for that, but no kill.

I did the things and got paid

I did the things and got paid

Oh, to feel the pain of being Rixx Javix, a hunter in a land of warp core stabilizers.

I had a couple more encounters like that before I got bored of the failed tackle routine.  I figured I was close to null sec at that point, I would take a gate there.  For sure somebody would shoot me in null sec.

Headed to Cloud Ring

Headed to Cloud Ring

I wandered through Cloud Ring, warping straight between gates, getting caught in unattended drag bubbles, motoring my way to gates, only once did I see another ship… an industrial who probably was cursing their ill luck but who got away safely before I could close.  Luck favored him rather than me in the end.

At this point I was past the two hour mark and was looking to resolve this in a fight sooner rather than later, so I set my course for DO6H-Q, that intersection between Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind that is also, if I recall right, the capital system for Brave Newbies.  Somebody would be home there!

Traveling there was uneventful.  More unattended drag bubbles and empty systems.  I landed in DO6H-Q, but nobody was at the gate to greet me.  I warped around to a couple of locations only to come up empty, so I decided to go kick the hornet’s nest and warp to 100km off their station.

That got me some attention.  A small group landed on me, pretty much ensuring my doom, so I tried to pull range on them in the hope that I might be able to turn on one of my pursuers and finish them before they all piled on.  However, their tackle got on me pretty quick.  I closed with them and got him down to structure before I got hit with EWar and lost lock.  My drones were out and carried on the fight, but it wasn’t enough.  The ship exploded, followed shortly by my pod and I was quickly back in Jita where I started.  They got a little something for their evening, while I got an insurance payout and another opportunity bonus.

Death pays... at least the first time

Death pays… at least the first time

And that was that for my first Thorax run.  I have a few more handy, though I think the next time I give this a try I will go out earlier in the evening.  It was already late-ish USTZ when I started (PCU was ~20k), so maybe if I dial it back to late-ish EUTZ I won’t have to wander so far before I find somebody willing to blow me up.

Anyway, that was my Vegas Alpha inspired adventure, a clone that has since been biomassed.  Maybe someday Reynaldo will get a Svipul too.


The Economy of New Eden Without Gambling

I don’t know the answer, but I want to ask the question; what happens to the economy now?

Gambling… at least third party gambling,.. will be leaving EVE Online come the Ascension expansion on November 8, 2016.  As I have said elsewhere, you can find the best telling of this tale over at The Nosy Gamer.

As you might have guessed by my own reaction to that announcement, the departure of gambling is fine by me.  I am not a fan of it in either real or virtual life.  Having a casino like IWI start throwing the weight of its ISK around in New Eden to broaden its power did nothing to warm me to gambling.

However, gambling sites have been part of the environment for a while now.  We know that their departure will have some minor impact on EVE Online related things outside of the game… streamers will no longer get an ISK stipend to advertise for casinos and sites like EN24 will have to find new advertisers (which they did almost immediately once Bobmon, the casino candidate on the CSM, stopped crying wolf)… but what about the New Eden economy?

The thing is, gambling does not create money.  It isn’t an ISK faucet.  If you look at CCP Quant’s monthly economic charts, there isn’t a line item for “gambling.”  Gambling in New Eden just serves as a conduit that moved ISK from the wallets of gamblers to the wallets of the various casinos, because in the long term, the house always wins.

And some of those casino wallets have been drained as the CCP security team confiscated RMT tainted ISK.

So this will actually end up with there being less ISK in the New Eden economy.  And while that ISK is measured in the trillions, it was idle in banker’s wallets so its absence probably won’t influence the market in Jita.  Certainly, some individuals whose wallets were found to be stuffed with dirty money were feeling the pinch once CCP removed that ISK, but that hit a very tiny slice of New Eden.  The average capsuleer should hardly notice the difference.

But then there is PLEX, which in its way made this whole casino business viable.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

Current prices are around 1.2 billion ISK in Jita

I have heard on a number of occasions that some of the gamblers using the EVE Online casinos are just that; gamblers.  Which is to say, they were not EVE Online players.  Instead, they created EVE Online accounts, bought PLEX, sold it for ISK, and used the ISK in the casinos.

I do not doubt that this has actually happened, that somebody has bought PLEX just to gamble.  The only question in my mind is how prevalent this sort of things really is.  If this sort of thing was only a tiny minority of the people who used the EVE Online gambling sites, then the impact of the passing of gambling probably won’t hit the price of PLEX.

If those gambling for ISK were a significant factor in these casinos, if people were not simply tossing away their ratting and mining ISK but were buying PLEX to support their gambling habit, the end of the casinos could user in another spike in the price of PLEX. (And things with prices that are effectively pegged to the value of PLEX.)

Of course, as noted up at the top, the gambling sites officially go away with the launch of the Ascension expansion on November 8th.  That expansion introduces Alpha Clones, which will allow people to play EVE Online without a subscription fee.  This is CCP’s free to play move.

Should this see the initial success that such free to play gambits generally achieve… lots of people should come give the game a try, or come back to take a look… is CCP counting on them to take up the slack in PLEX purchases?  Is this why CCP waited until last week… just four weeks before the launch of the expansion… to move against IWI and ban people who, in some cases, they had banned earlier this year?

In a game where the economy is absolutely essential, where nobody can avoid it, I imagine CCP is trying to tread carefully.  But I still wonder where this will lead.

Meanwhile, as The Mittani and DBRB were smugging so hard I am surprised they didn’t injure themselves, I Want ISK has been vacillating between telling people that IWI 2.0 was never meant for New Eden and how they are removing lines of code that were part of the IWI 2.0 connection to EVE Online.  It sounds like they have decided to become a straight-up online casino.  I am sure that will end well.  And, finally, over at The Nosy Gamer there is a further look at the legal aspects of all of this and why CCP may have chosen to act.


Stabs takes a stab at what happens to the economy when gambling goes away.

*BOOM* Headshot! Gambling Down with the EVE Online EULA Changes for Ascension

You may not use, transfer or assign any game assets for games of chance operated by third parties.

-From the Updated EULA for Ascension

Buh-bye EVE Online gambling and the influence of that ill-gotten ISK in New Eden.

Coming in November

Coming in November

The game is better for it.  I already like what this expansion is bringing and it isn’t even here yet.

I am especially happy to see IWantISK getting what they deserve.

The third party service IWANTISK has been shut down in game, and all ISK and assets have been confiscated after extensive and exhaustive investigation has brought forward compelling evidence of large-scale Real Money Trading. Permanent account suspensions have been issued against those involved.

The third party service EVE Casino has been shut down in game, and all ISK and assets have been confiscated after multiple and sustained breaches of our Developer License Agreement. Permanent account suspensions have been issued against those involved.

Whenever anybody brought up the idea that IWI was deep in RMT, it was always shouted down by the “Grr Goons” crowd, who demanded proof.  Well there is your proof now.  Good riddance to bad garbage.

Time to study the EULA changes more, but that seemed to be the big news.  Again, all available here.

Follow up posts by others who might be a little more thoughtful than my own gut reaction here: