Tag Archives: CCP

CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes and How War Decs are Killing EVE

CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.

CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes, Economy Discussion

I ebb and flow in my interest in the CSM, which in its way reflects CCP’s own wavering commitment to the institution over the years.  And, of course, the topics being discussed and how much information we get affects my interest as well.  Some of the summit minutes have so much redacted that what is left just isn’t worth getting worked up about.

Not the space police, just the non-binding space oversight committee

This time around there were actually a few interesting topics.  The key one for me was war declarations, or war decs.  These have been complained about since I started playing EVE Online back in 2006.

There is a whole section devoted to war decs in the minutes, reflective of there being a dedicated session on the topic.  The minutes from that are somewhat interesting.  That section of the minutes opens with a pretty ominous note:

In the EVE Leadership meeting the CSM was presented with numbers resulting from research
into the state of war declarations in EVE and those numbers quite starkly showed how
asymmetric the situation is, and how war declarations allow a small number of players to
negatively affect a huge number of people, with low risk.

After that, however, the discussion in the minutes goes the way it has always gone.  Everybody knows war decs are a problem but there are always reasons why CCP won’t get rid of them completely.  Along with the all-time greatest hit, “we don’t want high sec space to be completely safe,” there is now the problem of Upwell structures which litter New Eden.  Without high sec war decs you can’t blow those up.

So the discussion flowed through a set of ideas guided by that, with talk of costs and victory conditions and the like.  The session notes end with a mention of how war decs favor the aggressor, how corporations who get war dec’d tend to just stop playing when there is a war going on, and how some organizations like Red Frog avoid the whole thing.

There was no real indication about a future plan for war decs or whether or not CCP would do anything about them in the foreseeable future.  While disappointing, that was hardly unexpected.  CCP hasn’t like the war dec situation forever so far as I can tell but hasn’t done much save tinker with it over the years.

The minutes then move on to the session on the economy where starts off CCP Larrikin by confirming that the current level of NPC bounty payouts is not sustainable and that most of it comes from carrier and super carrier ratting.  No surprise there.

It isn’t until the second page of the economy section, a point by which I am sure some people have already uttered, “yadda yadda yadda” and moved on to the next section, that we come to the paragraph with which I chose to open this post.

I chose that quote for a reason.  It takes away a lot of the ambiguity about war decs.

If you’re paying attention, you will hear people complain about war decs.  It tends to be anecdotal information.  Somebody got war dec’d and it sucked.  But somebody always has a story about how something in the game sucked, so how do you assign a priority to it?

Well, the CSM saw the data, and maybe CCP will share it with the rest of us at some future date, but the reaction seems to be enough.  War decs kill corps and CCP knows it, and likely has known it for some time.  Furthermore it is bad enough that CCP put the following line in the meeting minutes that they themselves edited:

…it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.

CCP endorsed that statement by putting it in the minutes.  Remember that.

What is the all time, long term problem for EVE Online?  If you said, “player recruitment and retention” you get a prize.

Which brings me back to the section of the minutes that was specifically about war decs and the decided lack of urgency that comes through on the whole topic.  The discussion reads to me like it is a topic that needs to be fixed eventually, but which they can get to in the fullness of time when they have the ideal solution.  That quote from the economy section makes this seem like much more of a “hair on fire, do something now!” situation.  If it is really that bad, I’m with Brisc; turn the feature off.  We can live without war decs for six months or a year if it stops driving players away.

There are other parts of the minutes worth looking through.  The economy section, as noted, is worth a read.  There was also a whole session about the new player experience that explains, in part, why CCP ditched the epic NPE experience for the current version based in The Agency, something I wrote about last month.

And there was a discussion of the updated customer support policies, marketing and recruiting and community outreach which are likely worth a read.

But for me the primary take away from the 53 pages of minutes is that high sec war decs are bad for the game, CCP knows this (and has likely known this for a long time), and yet they are still dithering about a solution.  I’d be hard pressed to come up with something more important for them to look into given the statement in the minutes.

Addendum: Others covering the minutes

And What of the EVE Online Store?

Since the announcement of the acquisition of CCP by Black Desert Online creator Pearl Abyss a few weeks back there has been a stream of speculation as to what this will mean for EVE Online, good or bad.

The two logos together in space

There has been more than a fair share of panic that New Eden is going to become some sort of pay to win hellhole like Black Desert Online with special cash shop ships or gold ammo or whatever.  I am dubious that Pearl Abyss would jump right on that, and not just because CCP spent most of their AMA forum thread repeating that there were no drastic changes planned.  It would simply be dumb to to make that sort of changes to the game as it would be a quick way to kill it.  Unless CCP has something else worth $425 million, that would be a very bad way to treat their investment.

But if the panic over the downside has been overstated, it is in part because the possible upside of the acquisition lacks a direct, tangible win.  How will things be better if CCP’s primary message is that things are not changing?

My own take has been that the acquisition should/could allow CCP to focus more on EVE Online, the most valuable asset the company owns.  Without having to worry about making that next product they won’t have to keep diverting time and resources into what has largely been a waste of money sine they bought White Wolf back in 2006.

Being part of Pearl Abyss puts CCP in an ecosystem where EVE Online doesn’t have to pay all the bills and gives them the support to develop the IP of New Eden for other games.  Players win by virtue of EVE Online getting more of CCP’s attention.

Again, while positive sounding, that is a pretty nebulous stance.

Others have take this a step further and started pointing at things on which they feel CCP ought to focus.  More than 15 years in EVE Online is a big game with a lot of neglected features.

Over at Massively OP their EVE Evolved column decided to pick a couple of items that CCP ought to work on and I couldn’t disagree more with the proposed focus, and all the more so because the article’s alleged point is monetization.  Neither ideas is a money maker.

One was walking in stations, a feature I’ve beaten to death here.  The problem the feature has now is the same problem it has always had, which is that if you bring in avatars you then have to create game play to justify them.  Otherwise it is just a huge waste of time and money that would cost much more than even the most optimistic revenue estimates you could make while keeping a straight face.  If you’re going to build what would essentially be a new game you might as well go all out and actually build a new game rather than trying to stick it in New Eden.  Fortunately CCP has learned its lesson on that and said in that AMA that walking in stations was not going to return.

Me, only you can’t change my mind

The other was a bit more subtle, an idea that superficially seems to have merit, but which falls apart if explored.  That is improving or expanding the EVE Online store.  I’m not talking about the in-game store, but the web storefront that sells real world items.

The EVE Online store has long been a bone of contention and has gone through many iterations over the years, with significant gaps where there wasn’t a store at all.  But the long running consistent complaint has been pretty simple; why the hell can’t I buy some decent EVE Online merchandise?

Right now it is a semi-generic store, but you can at least buy a black EVE Online logo T-shirt or hoodie or a coffee mug along with a few other items.

The Current EVE Gear Shop

But the article over at Massively envisions a grand expansion.  It calls for better apparel, posters, ship models, and whatever.  It is a refrain we have heard over the years.  We want to buy cool stuff about EVE Online.

Except, not really.

Sure, our theoretical selves, enthusiastic about the game, are keen to throw money at EVE Online stuff.  But the real, practical, looking at the prices and having to open the wallet and get out the credit card selves?  Not so much.  Yes, there is always somebody willing to shell out for a thousand dollar floating Nyx model, but there aren’t enough people for CCP to ramp up production and keep some in stock to ship.  Those battleship models CCP made back in the day?

Everybody loved them, but not many people loved them enough to drop $125 on them.  I am pretty sure CCP took a bath on those and I seem to recall them giving them away for various events down the road. (Though now I see a few on eBay for $300 each, so maybe I should have invested.)

The reality is that for a company the size of CCP, the gear store is marketing and not a business.  I cringe every time I hear somebody say, “CCP could make so much money if they only sold…” about the online store.  No, they won’t make money.  They’ll be lucky if they break even.  The quantities are simply too small relative to the prices we’re willing to pay.

Yes, if you’re Blizzard or Riot or even Valve and have a super popular game companies like Jinx will pay you for the license to print shirts and such.  The market for some properties is big enough that third parties can pay to use the IP, do the work, and make money at it.

But EVE Online is not one of those properties.  Jinx worked with CCP in 2009, back when EVE Online was still a bit of a rising star, then declined to renew after 2011.  When pros like Jinx drop you, that is a pretty big hint that you aren’t in a league to make money on T-shirts with your IP.

I realize that this is mostly opinion on my part, but I think it is opinion backed up by some reasonable evidence.  And I’ll throw some more on top of that.

Find a game of comparable size/player base/popularity as EVE Online that has a better online merchandise store.

As I said, the big dogs are covered.  Blizzard licenses out to Jinx and others, while Riot and Valve have their own store.  But down at the CCP level things get kind of thin.

SOE used to have a store with some dubious merch.

It’s like they never saw Beavis & Butt-head

But since the dawn of the Daybreak era that has all fallen by the wayside.

Back about when EVE Online was working with Jinx Turbine managed to get a LOTRO coffee mug and mouse pad in the WB online store, but that seemed to be about their peak.

And then… hrmm… in digging around, that was about all I could find.  Barring unlicensed third parties at places like Red Bubble, there isn’t a lot of merch available from game companies like CCP.  We might, in this as in many things, be holding CCP to an unreasonable standard when we’re actually better off than other games.

Anyway, if you have any evidence to the contrary I’d be glad to hear it, but I think we might have the best EVE Online store we’re likely to get… and it is never going to be a profit center for CCP.

Another Studio Acquisition Story

Or a few stories really.

Acquisitions are much on my mind still and since Massively OP is still going on about the concept I’ll carry on as well.  Previously I meandered on about reasons for them and often how things can go bad.

Getting acquired can suck.

There can be a loss of prestige in not being able to make it on your own.  And, of course, there is always some loss of freedom and autonomy as you have to answer to the new owners.  Plus the company doing the buying doesn’t always know how to treat their acquisition.  Culture clash can be an issue and can lead to key developers heading for the exit.

But sometimes things do work out for the better.

For example, there was a company called Silicon & Synapse, Inc.  Founded in 1991, it did some platform ports to start off with, then moved on to a couple of original games that were published by Interplay.

A brain was their mascot, of course

The name of the company wasn’t as brilliant as the founders thought and they changed it to Chaos Studios, Inc.  However they were soon acquired by Davidson & Associates and ended up having to change their name again because somebody else held the rights to the name and they couldn’t afford to purchase them.  There was even a little story in the Technology section of the LA Times by one of the staff writers who probably drew the short end of the stick on that one.  It is short enough to quote in full. (Hopefully the LA Times won’t come after me for that.)

May 24, 1994|Times staff writer Dean Takahashi

From Chaos to Blizzard: Chaos Studios, a developer of video and computer games in Costa Mesa, has changed its name to Blizzard Entertainment.

Part of the reason is to reflect its new ownership. Davidson & Associates in Torrance, an education software company, bought Chaos Studios earlier this year in a $6.75-million stock deal.

The Costa Mesa game company, which formerly developed games for other publishers, will publish its own games as a result of an infusion of money from Davidson.

Another reason is that the rights to the Chaos name were owned by a small holding company in New York, Chaos Technologies, which also owns a video game company.

Allen Adham, president of Blizzard, said Chaos Studios couldn’t afford to pay for those rights, so the name was changed to Blizzard, which had a nice ring to it.

“We’re still the same lovable company,” he said.

We’re still the same lovable company!  That has to be one of the most low-key “before they were famous” news stories.

But look how things worked out.  Despite having been acquired just three years into their existence… and before they even had their name fully settled… Blizzard went on to be a powerhouse.  Blizzard has essentially never been a stand-alone company, not under that name.  Its success came after it was acquired.

Success grants you some power and Blizzard itself, having done well with Warcraft, was able to acquire Condor Games, renamed Blizzard North, which turned out Diablo and Diablo II.

While that turned out well initially, problems with then Blizzard owner Vivendi led key members of the Blizzard North team to leave and found Flagship Studios.  The studio was dissolved after  Hellgate: London failed to take off and some of the people from that venture ended up at Runic Games, the makers of Torchlight and Torchlight II, while key team member Bill Roper landed at Cryptic Studios.  Both Runic and Cryptic were later acquired by Perfect World Entertainment.

Some key people from Runic left PWE to form Double Damage games, and the whole dance continues on.  A few things succeed, others don’t pan out or make just enough to be of interest to another company.

And, just to bring this back to yet another small world story, Dean Takahashi, who wrote that little piece in the LA Times so long ago, is currently the lead writer for the Games Beat section of Venture Beat and was the author of three posts over there last week, one about CCP being acquired by Pearl Abyss as well as two key interviews interviews, one with Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung and the other with CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson.

Rambling On About Being Acquired

In chatting with people and thinking on the Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP, I starting browsing though my own memories of acquisitions.

A new addition to the logo page

Working in Silicon Valley, being bought is pretty much a way of life.  I have been through eight acquisitions directly in my career (plus working for two VC funded startups, which is like the worst aspects of being acquired only it never stops), watched a few more from close up, and have listened to friends recount their tales.

Generally a company acquires another for one of the following reasons:

  1. Customers – You are a competitor and we essentially want to get you out of the way
  2. Entering a Market – You’re in a market we want to be in and it is cheaper to buy you than do it ourselves
  3. Tech of Expertise – Occasionally true, but unless your company has some nice patents or is doing something Google is suddenly into, mostly not
  4. Brand – It can happen, though usually a secondary item
  5. Investment – Usually in one of four flavors:
    • Buy you, fix you, sell you for more or take you public to cash out
    • Buy you, fix you, keep you for the revenue
    • Buy you, strip you to bare bones, and milk your revenue (the CA model)
    • Buy you as a way to hide money, especially Russian money
  6. Synergy – This a bullshit word that means nothing when used during an acquisition announcement

I currently work for a company that has acquired a bunch of other companies over the years for the first two reasons, but the part I work in was acquired for the third reason, and the whole company has since been bought out by an investment group that seem set on one of the first two sections of reason five.  We share a building with a group that was acquired for the second reason and who then had to absorb another group that was hired for the first reason.

My last company was acquired three times for the first reason, and none of the companies could get our customers to leave our product for theirs.  Rather than lose the maintenance revenue, they kept is alive and even now I know somebody who is still supporting it.

And I had a good friend who worked for Palm (and got me a refurbed then-current PalmPilot Professional, to put a time stamp on that), saw the founders split off and form Handspring, watched Palm acquire Handspring which ended up with Handspring running Palm, after which he got sick of the whole company and went to work for HP.  HP then acquired Palm and basically sent him back to his old job in the building he left.  He quit that and went to another company and HP got out of the phone business, selling the Palm name to somebody who was going to revive the name for Android phones, but even that seemed to drift off.

Acquisitions are pretty much a constant.  There is even a Silicon Valley business model based on the idea of getting acquired, with Google being the dream buyer.

Being bought can suck.  After the first acquisition of my last company, which had been billed a as a “merger of equals,” the new CEO got up and made sure we knew it was no such thing, that we were those ones being bought and his company was in charge.  I was pretty sure that “merger of equals” was just another form of “synergy,” I was just surprised that he felt the need to discard the pretense and start treating us like shit on day one.  But that helped me feel all the better when, in the end, not one of our customers would move to their product and, after they spun us off to be acquired again, they themselves were acquired and disappeared.

And sometimes being bough can be okay.  As it turned out the company that bought our group actually wanted to tech we had, have adopted it, and continue to use it eight years down the road.

All of which brings me around to CCP and why they got acquired.

It certainly wasn’t for the first reason.  EVE Online players can’t simply be folded into Black Desert Online, and it wasn’t for the second reason as Pearl Abyss is already in the MMO market.  I don’t think internet spaceship MMOs is big enough to be a market on its own.

There could be tech or expertise reasons to buy CCP, but I suspect not.  Any tech would have to be abstract enough to be transferable, while expertise is difficult to pass along.  Likewise, I am not sure the CCP brand brings much to the table.  EVE Online gets more mainstream media coverage than a lot of games, but I am not sure how much the public retains.

And, while both companies have said a lot of synergy-like things, that is never a good enough reason to buy a company.  It is a nice to have, something that can make things work better, but as a stated reason it is BS.

So it seems like an investment.  EVE Online is undoubtedly a minor gold mine, as any MMO that can keep a six figure population is.  If CCP were able to focus on it, tend it, and keep it going it could pay off handsomely for years to come.  I suppose they could spiff up CCP and try to resell it, but it seem more like they bought a revenue stream.

And for CCP this should be a boon.  If the last fifteen years have shown us anything, it is that CCP has spent a lot of time and money trying to create another money earning product.  As a solo company, that no doubt felt like a survival imperative.  Now, however, as part of a larger company, they can just be the EVE Online division.

What I don’t think will happen is any sudden change to how EVE Online is run.  If you go to the AMA that CCP did in their forums yesterday you can see CCP Falcon repeating over and over that no changes are planned. (I recommend that you click on his avatar and click the filter button so you only see his posts, otherwise the whole thing is overwhelming.)  I do not doubt that.  The last thing that Pearl Abyss wants after spending $425 million on a company is to kill it by radically changing how things are done.  I am sure they are well aware of the Incarna and and “greed is good” debacle.

This could very well be a renaissance of sorts for EVE Online.  You’re never going to get avatars into the game.  Falcon was specific on that, so you can let that pipe dream go.  But CCP as part of Pearl Abyss and focused on EVE Online could mean good things.

Does that mean there will never be any changes?  Of course not.  During times like this people always want assurances that go out to infinity, and that just isn’t possible.  If CCP screws up, if EVE Online sees a big drop in revenue, if another company buys Pearl Abyss, or any number of other possibilities come up, the situation may change drastically.  But unless Pearl Abyss is just dumb, they’ll remain fairly hands off.  Some redundant positions will be eliminated.  That always happens.  But for the most part I would guess we’ll see business as usual.

Only time will tell.  But if you’re in a lather about a Black Desert Online pay to win cash shop appearing in New Eden any time soon, you’re kidding yourself.

Other speculation:

CCP to be Acquired by Maker of Black Desert Online for $425 Million

Enemy on island. Issue in doubt.

-Commander Winfield Cunningham, Wake Island, December 1941

Well, we all knew things were not going well for CCP.  They had, near the end of last year, laid off a chunk of staff… again… after a new game, EVE Valkyrie, into which they had poured development time and resources failed to take off… again.

So we had to at least suspect that something was coming.  My double bonus extra credit prediction for 2018, made back on January first, was:

CCP will announce they are merging with, or being acquired by, another studio before the end of 2018.

Such was the mood of the time.  And while the year went on and we got bits of good news about games being made in partnership with other studios, with CCP’s main contribution being the EVE Online IP and art assets, I suppose nothing really changed overall.

Still, it was a surprise to see this tweet this morning.

In case that doesn’t come through due to AdBlock… or it getting deleted some day… it announces that CCP is to be acquired by Pearl Abyss, the makers of Black Desert Online.

I guess Pearly Abyss is a name we’ll be hearing a lot more now.

A new addition to the logo page

Venture Beat reports the price of the acquisition at $425 million.  That is less than the $1 billion that was being bandied about as a number by Bloomberg two years back, but still a sizable amount, and better than bankruptcy.

CCP has a press release up about the acquisition as well.  It says a lot of nothing, as such press releases must, but I’ll quote it here for posterity.

SEOUL – September 6, 2018 – Today, Black Desert Online developer Pearl Abyss announced that it will acquire CCP Games, the creators of popular spaceship MMORPG EVE Online. The deal outlines that CCP Games will continue to operate independently as a developer with studios in Reykjavik, London and Shanghai, while integrating the company’s extensive development and publishing expertise into Pearl Abyss’ operations for all current and future projects.

EVE Online is a space-based, persistent world MMO game, developed by CCP’s Reykjavik studio. The game first launched in 2003 and has since gained recognition for its scale and complexity with regards to player interactions in EVE’s single, shared game world. EVE Online is one of the most critically-acclaimed MMORPG intellectual properties (IPs) in North America and Europe, and one of the most extensive works of science fiction in the world.

Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung stated, “We are thrilled to have CCP Games join our team as Black Desert Online continues to branch out globally. CCP is a seasoned publisher with over 15 years of digital distribution experience and know-how. They have done an incredible job of engaging and maintaining their playerbase, which we aim to learn from and hope to integrate natively into Pearl Abyss’ general practices across all our games. I am confident CCP’s reputable IP and expertise in global publishing will help reaffirm our company’s dedication to developing and servicing the world’s best MMORPGs.”

“I have been seriously impressed with what Pearl Abyss has achieved ever since I first visited their website for Black Desert Online and subsequently became an avid player of the game,” said CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. “Pearl Abyss is a fast-growing company with lots to offer in terms of technology, capability and vision. I believe our two companies have a lot to learn from each other. We are very excited to join forces with them and achieve great new heights for our companies, our games and – above all – our players.”

Birgir Már Ragnarsson of Novator Partners and Chairman of CCP commented, “As lead investor in CCP for over 13 years alongside General Catalyst and NEA, we’ve seen CCP go from being a few dozen people strong to employing hundreds all over the world, with an ever-increasing customer base and multiple titles. CEO Hilmar V. Pétursson and his dedicated team have built a company that Novator and its partners are proud to hand over to Pearl Abyss and we wish them the best of luck in their future ventures.”

Pearl Abyss first launched its open-world MMORPG, Black Desert Online, in Korea in 2014. The game has received critical acclaim for its advanced graphics, seamless world, large-scale castle sieges and action-based combat system. Since Pearl Abyss’ initial public offering in 2017, the company has worked to secure competitive global IPs, such as EVE Online, through strategic investments and M&A activity.

Pearl Abyss saw record-high sales in the first half of 2018, following the launch of Black Desert Mobile in Korea. The company is looking forward to another strong year in 2019 with EVE Online and the upcoming global launch of Black Desert Mobile.

Deutsche Bank is acting as financial advisor to Pearl Abyss, and Kim & Chang is providing legal counsel. The Raine Group is acting as financial advisor to CCP Games, and White & Case LLP and LOGOS are providing legal counsel.

There is a Reddit AMA scheduled for tomorrow where, I am sure, we will be told everything is fine and nothing will change and that EVE Online will stay as it is or some such.

Hat tip to Rhavas… CCP Guard addressing the CSM

We will see some of this as well I am sure.

EVE Online Forever

And maybe it will be so.

But, having been through many acquisitions over my own career, in this stage of things it is in the interest of both companies to maintain the status quo and reassure everybody that there won’t be any significant changes.  That sort of news has to wait until the acquisition is complete and things have settled down a bit.

After all, everything was all light and happiness when SOE became Daybreak.  The layoffs came later.

So we’ll hear nothing of substance while those who love EVE Online fear the future and those who hate it hope that this will mean radical change.  The truth in the end will likely be less than anybody hopes for.  Expect lots of comparisons and memes.  So many memes.

(7:14:42 AM) directorbot@goonfleet.com: all characters must have at least 420 attack skill and 330 defense skill by next tuesday. If you don’t have the time to grind isk, you can purchase boosts from the store.

~~~ This was a broadcast from kcolor to opt-all at 2018-09-06 14:14:43.856271 EVE ~~~

I guess it might be time to see what Black Desert Online sells in their cash shop.  Maybe Jin’taan will get his cat ears after all.

Coverage of the story:

A Decade of DOTLAN EVEMaps

Without going to much into the historical details or timeline: I can proudly announce that DOTLAN EveMaps has reached a major milestone and is providing a well known and respected service to all players of New Eden for 10 years now!

Wollari, 10 Years of EVE Maps

Wollari tweeted out earlier that DOTLAN EVEMaps turned ten years old today.

I suppose the big question ask on the tenth anniversary of DOTLAN is why CCP doesn’t have an official map that is even a tenth as useful.

I wrote a piece a couple years back about the top five problems with the game, and I limited myself to five and a bonus item, but believe me the in-game map was in the running for a spot on that list.

I mean, the in-game map is beautiful.  I highly recommend that you show that your friends who don’t play the game.  It is impressive as hell.  I mean, it really looks like something important.  I like to show off the systems I’ve visited.

Still haven’t been nearly everywhere yet

But as a utility that transmit information to the user it is sub-par.  I basically use the view that shows the location of your fleet members and maybe the recent kills view, but the latter generally just so I can take a screen shot of a huge red ball in The Forge when Burn Jita is going.  Mostly though I just use the star system view to check bookmarks and bounce points when I travel through null.

Maps are so useful in games like EVE Online.  And there has been a healthy tradition in the community of creating maps for the game, from Ombeve’s 2d maps, to the maps EON Magazine used to sell, to the null sec influence maps (and a summary site), to GARPA Topographical Survey (highlighted here), to the various utilities that map wormhole connections.

But my go-to site is DOTLAN and I visit almost every single day.  Links to it and screen shots from it pepper my posts about null sec.  I cannot imagine the game without it.

I first became aware of the site when Meclin/Rarik/Gaff (we all have so many handles) went off to null sec with Skyforger in TNT.  That was around the middle of 2009.  He started sending me information about what things were like out in null sec, including DOTLAN EVEMaps, which he said was essential.

Still wandering the ways of high sec empire space, I thought the site looked interesting, but could not see it as essential to my ventures.  I had already memorized the routes through my little corner of space, and when I didn’t know the way I knew the destination and could simply plot a route there in the game.

But in late 2011, when I was back in the game but almost immediately bored of life in high sec again, Meclin got me to make the jump to null sec and my world changed.  I was suddenly in a part of the game where systems had crazy alphanumeric designations rather than unpronounceable names, I had no idea how to get places, and my overview was suddenly vitally important at all times because random strangers could show up at any time to shoot me.

At that point I had DOTLAN up pretty much constantly when I was logged into the game.  The intel channels would call out hostiles in systems and, at that time the system info didn’t give you the route/jumps from your location, so I kept having to check to see who was distant and who was close and needed minding.  That was back when I lived in 0P-F3K and fleets moved out from VFK-IV.

Wars and operations and fleet movements expanded my need to keep track of where the hell I was.  And even as I started to get used to flying to and fro, using the jump bridge network and recognizing systems that were choke points on the routes across space, I still kept DOTLAN up and going.

And I still use it nearly every day now.  Sure, if I need to move some place around Delve I will bring up GARPA because it has the jump bridges in it, so can give me the shortest route with those included.  But we’re deployed up north and running off to the east and going all sorts of places where I need to at least refresh my memory as to the layout of the land.

And even when I don’t need to know where I am or where I am going, and when I don’t need a visual aid for a blog post to show routes or proximity of locations or whatever, I still go bring up the front page to take a look.  It is a source of information as to what is going on in New Eden.  There on the front page you can see alliance movements, recent data on the most violent systems in the game, and sovereignty changes.  I go there and see the numbers and often wonder what is going on, why did that alliance gain or lose so many members in the last week, was there a big battle in that system at the top of the list.

Even today I look at the front page and wonder what is going on with Dream Fleet and Red Alliance, our neighbors down in Period Basis.

DOTLAN says something happened

EVE Online is a game full of stories, and DOTLAN is one of the places that helps you find those stories and, quite literally, put them on the map.

Anyway, DOTLAN is a huge resource for the EVE Online community.  Wollari is asking in his blog post for people to comment on their memories of the site here on its birthday.  But that is a tough thing to do, because so many changes have been highlighted there over the years.  Grand conquests have been show as well as humiliating defeats.

One I do remember is from back at the end of 2016 when CCP turned off the ability to deploy outposts… stations… in null sec space as part of the last update for YC118.  The alliance Fraternity got out and deployed the final null sec outpost just hours before the deadline.

The final list…

Of course, outposts are gone now, converted to citadels last month.  But as Ascendant Frontier will always be the first alliance to drop an outpost, Fraternity will always be the last, and we likely know this because it was right up there on the front page at DOTLAN.

I honestly can’t say enough good about the site.  It is a shining beacon both for the community and as to how much the efforts of the community matter to this game.

Thanks so much Wollari!

A Keepstar Lives in Tenerifis

If at first you don’t succeed…

Last night saw the second Keepstar deployed in UALX-3 in the Tenerifis region come online successfully.

Home for Executive Dino

The circumstances of the past few days allowed this to conclude successfully.  The big fight over the first attempt to anchor a Keepstar in UALX-3 led to the node crashing after the Keepstar had been destroyed but before the attackers could extract themselves from the system, leaving many pilots trapped, logged off on the grid where the fight took place.  This area was covered by anchored bubbles by TEST who have been camping the area since the system came back up.

A field of bubbles waiting for people to log back in

With a fleet trapped and camped in the system and TEST able to anchor a cyno jammer to prevent reinforcements, the stage was set for the second Keepstar to online successfully.

I did not get to hang around and watch the Keepstar come online, but I was there earlier in the day to join in the camp and to watch the Fortizar that was anchored on the edge of the bubbled area come online.

Just before it started to anchor

You can see a large covering force around the Fortizar, with the bubbles nearby and the Keepstar, still a few hours from anchoring, in the background.

Once anchored, the Fortizar was a handy location for carriers to sit as they sent fighters out into the bubble camped area.

Meanwhile, as the camp dragged on, it seems that the FCs of the trapped fleet started telling members logged off but stuck in the bubbles to petition to have their ships moved by a GM under the theory that they were trapped.  I guess given a wide enough definition of the word they were trapped, but not in the way that CCP intended when it comes to asking for GM help, so CCP felt the need to issue a news bulletin on the topic.

UALX-3 Fleet Fights – Misfiling of “Stuck” Tickets

Over the course of the last twelve hours, we’ve been made aware of instructions being broadcast by the leaders of several alliances to file “Stuck” support tickets in order to have their capitals, supercarriers and titans moved out of the system of “UALX-3” by the GM Team.

This comes after a node death occured at around 09:00 UTC on July 19th, during a large scale engagement over an anchoring Keepstar, which resulted in the attacking forces being sieged in the system.

Our policies are clear when dealing with large-scale player engagements, and the GM Team will not intervene and move capitals, supercarriers or titans for pilots involved in these kinds of fleet fights, as per our Reimbursement Policy:

“Any losses of any kind resulting from a large-scale player engagement are not covered by this reimbursement policy.”

Furthermore, it is not possible for us under any circumstance to move ships sporting their own Jump Drive. This is clarified in our “Inaccessible Assets And Returning Players” article:

“Ships sporting their own jump drive are assumed to be capable of jumping themselves out quickly without the usage of a gate and no exception or move will be granted to these ships.”

Please be aware that the GM Team will not grant relocation of ships involved in large-scale player engagements, and that attempts at co-oridinated mass filing support tickets in order to avoid the destruction of ships involved in engagements of this nature may be considered abuse of the support ticket system.

Pandemic Legion an its allies aren’t going to get CCP to move them out, so the camp continues.  According to zKillboard it looks like there was an attempt to break out some dreadnoughts early this morning, leading to a series of kills,

But the camp won’t last forever.  People will either try to break out and either succeed or get blown up, or hunker down and wait the long wait until the locals get tired of deploying bubbles and sitting around waiting for people to log in.  Given that there are some titans yet to be accounted for, the camp may go on for a while.

Keepstar and Fortizar watching the bubble camp

And, of course, the next question is, “What now?”  Will deploying this Keepstar and trapping some of the attacking capital fleet blunt the attacks on TEST and its allies in the south?  Will the Imperium, which showed up in force for these Keepstars, stay in the south, return to Delve, or move back to the northern front once more to assail Circle of Two and Guardians of the Galaxy?

Then there is the propaganda war on Reddit, which has reached a high water mark of smug from the defenders.  Some examples:

Addendum: Meanwhile CCP Falcon has taken the time to lay down some facts on Reddit about some controversial aspects or misunderstandings about battle and subsequent stranding of capitals in UALX-3 in order to set the record straight on what CCP will and will not do.