Tag Archives: CCP

Sending Messages to CCP in Jita

If you give players a way to use something to send a message, they will use it.

Bubble arrangement fun

Since you can’t have warp disruption bubbles outside of null sec and WH space, you get mobile depots around Jita, the main trade hub of New Eden.

A mobile depot is a small deployable structure that lets you change fittings on your ship, put fresh drones in your drone bay when you’ve lost your current ones, and hide your excavator drones when your Rorqual is getting dropped.  More about them over at EVE University.

They also sit in space, visible if you have your overview set to show them and, unlike warp disruption bubbles, they do not expire.  So people will patiently deploy them one after another in order to spell out things in space.  This is what was in space around Jita 4-4 earlier today.

Words with Friends in Jita

Those are just dozens of deployed mobile depots.

A view of Jita 4-4 from one of the mobile depots

There are a couple of words in Cyrillic and a line of mobile depots at the top with descriptions in Chinese.  But there is also a sentence in English.  In case it isn’t clear, and it might not be, it says “CCP MAKE NEW UI.”

Everybody is a critic.  Not that I necessarily disagree.  The UI was in my Top Five Problems with EVE Online post a couple years back, and I haven’t changed my mind on any of it.   But after fifteen years we’re all sort of invested in this IU.  To change it radically would be to change the game.  But to leave it as it is means the game remains as opaque as it ever was.

Of course, this is laid out in 3D space, so I warped out to one of the mobile depots and one end of the message and selected one a the other end to see how big the whole message was.

View from the end

Edge on you cannot read the message, but you can see that the mobile depot at the far end is almost 580km from me.  That distance, about 360 miles, is quite a ways.  The internet tells me that is about the distance from Boston to Baltimore, if you’re on the east coast, or about the distance from San Jose to Los Angeles if you’re out here on the left coast.

Probably a little bigger than that actually

I would have done the Boston to Baltimore map, but California is easier since there is nothing between San Jose and LA really.  At least not according to Google.

That is quite a distance.  I happened to be in a ship fitted with festival launchers and fireworks, so shot a few at the mobile depot I was near.  But a firework’s blast extends maybe a kilometer max, so they were completely invisible if you zoomed out far enough to see the message.  Scale will do that to you.

You can also see that the mobile depot I have highlighted is named “check bio.”  You can get info about the mobile depot and see who deployed it.  They, of course, have their manifesto in their player bio.

What do we want?

I hate to start an argument, but if this person knew what the a 2002 game actually looked like… well, they would probably be shocked.  Let me show you.  Here is a Megathron battleship in 2007.

What the Megathron looked like back then

And here is a more recent screen shot of a Megathron.

Quafe… so refreshing

Same shape, but better graphical fidelity.  And you can’t even see the turrets, which track targets as they shoot.

But graphical quality is a very subjective topic.  Somebody will always say whatever you have is not good enough, so I think devoting space in their bio, which has a character limit, was a wasted effort.  The graphical quality of the game is actually something that CCP has evolved throughout the years.

As for the rest of the UI… well, the overview can be a dumpster fire.  It is your prime source of information as to what is in space with you and it can be a pain in the ass to deal with and is one of the first major hurdles new players face.

On the other hand, I don’t have a better idea as to how to represent what is going on around you in three dimensions.  You could add more information to the brackets for ships in space, as suggested, but that has the obvious downside of adding more clutter to what can already be a very cluttered display.

Anyway, I could pick apart every suggestion given with adverse consequences and still not like the UI myself.  All design is a compromise.  And players being mad at CCP because the game isn’t exactly what they want it to be is nothing new.  This person, for example, seems to want to turn the game into more of a tactical spaceship shooter.  But EVE Online isn’t that and won’t ever be that.

Still, I have to give this person credit.  They did get CCP’s attention.

I assume Hilmar is still around because his retention contract has yet to mature.  I expect he will be gone by the end of the year.  Damn, I should have put that in my predictions for 2019.  But still, somebody at CCP clearly saw it.

Of course, the best response to that tweet was:

That’s particularly impressive given how crappy the object placement UI is ;)

I am not even sure there is a UI for that.  At least not for mobile depots, which you just deploy from your cargo hold.  But I gather this person may have used the module placement UI for POSes.

All in all, just another day in Jita.

The January EVE Online Update Brings Updated Asteroid Visuals

The January update for EVE Online is rather sparse if you’re looking for big ticket items.  Granted, the regular monthly updates are just suppose to be regular vehicles to deliver small fixes and features, but we have had a series of them that have had significant items in them over the last year.

Still, there is one new feature.  The update includes a graphical change to asteroids, which will now dissolve as they are mined out.

Asteroid dissolve sample

So now you will be able to see as an asteroid is progressively used up as you mine it.  That almost makes me want to hose the dust off of one of the mining barges I have docked up to see that in action.  We’ll see if I get around to it.

After that though, the patch notes are mostly about fixes to things already in the game

The New Player Experience got a change to make it easier to understand, though since we’re talking about something in the context of EVE Online, the word “easier” is extremely relative.

The Activity Tracker, which came in with the Onslaught expansion back in November, and about which I have moaned already, can now be opened up in a window within the game rather than taking up the entire game window.  Now if they would do that with the map window… or better yet, let the map window undock from the game so I can put it on another monitor.

There is me, hoping against hope, that CCP will make the in-game map both useful and usable again.

CCP has also made a change that prevents skill extractors being used on characters for a set (but undisclosed) time period after a password reset in order to help keep hacked accounts from having their characters drained dry.

Also if you use a ship scanner on a strategic cruiser you will now get the subsystem information back as well as the modules.  Previously you could guess pretty accurately at the subsystems based on the modules and slot layout if you had memorized all of the options, but now mere mortals will be able to see what is there.

And, finally, as a last minute addition, there was a fix put in to fix a visual desync problem experienced when exiting warp.

After that though the patch notes are pretty much a laundry list of small fixes, covering everything from the appearance of the corpse hold capacity for the Blood Raider capital ships in the info window to the correct spelling of the word ambience.

There were a couple of items I expected to see updates about that went missing.  First was the changes to the war dec system.  I realize the “no structure, no war” change just went in with the December update, and then we had the holidays and all.  But the change, as expected, has already managed to highlight other holes in the whole plan as noted over at INN.  (With no war going on, Arrendis has been watching the whole war dec thing pretty closely.  Those of us in RepSwarm have reaped some of the benefits of his wisdom on that front.)

I was also expecting to see something about the chat system, though updates for that might just be going on behind the scenes.  Still, the chat windows have been borked on a fairly regular basis of late.

Then I was hoping to see something about  a recurring issue I have been seeing where, after going through a gate, my overview fails to load.  I would estimate that this happens to me somewhere between 1 in 30 and 1 in 50 jumps .  It hasn’t been fatal.  Often it happens in during a fleet op and the FC is going to warp us to the next gate anyway, so I can just click on that for the next jump.  And even solo there are a number of work-arounds.  But it is annoying, especially when flying through hostile space.  There used to be a similar issue of the overview failing to load if you undocked with a fleet which I haven’t seen for a while now.  Maybe this is it manifesting itself elsewhere.

And so it goes.

As usual we’ve gotten word that the update has been deployed successfully.  For the details there are the patch notes and the updates page available for your perusal.

Over at The Nosy Gamer there is a further look at some of the items buried in the patch notes.

Where Are All the Ship SKINs?

The joke that isn’t really a joke has been about CCP being unable to run a store to sell EVE Online merchandise.  Granted, there are difficulties serving a world-spanning audience, and everybody who says, “They could make so much money if the just sold…” is completely wrong… I went over all that already… but it still seems to take them to get something going only to be disappointing.

The in-game store though, the New Eden Store, that ought to be different.  That has no shipping or currency conversion or inventory cost issues.  Just get the art team to make some nifty, infinitely reproducible ship SKINs and put them up for sale.   I know there are people who don’t like ship SKINs, but there are people who don’t like puppies and kittens as well.  And judging from the fleet ops I go on, there are plenty of people who do like SKINs.

Reavers fleets are always full of skinned ships

And if you have a titan it seems like having a SKIN is almost mandatory judging from what I saw of those fleets over the summer.

Something, something, titans will never be common…

So, with that in play, you would think the New Eden Store would be full of ship SKINs.

Not too full, mind you.  I get the whole scarcity and exclusivity thing.  And, of course, the UI of every online store becomes a burden when there are more than 20 things in any given shopping category, so you want to avoid bloat.

Even given all of that, I still fully expect that I should be able to open up the New Eden Store and find a SKIN for the ship I am flying, no matter which ship it is.

But, this is CCP, so of course I can’t.

It is the holiday season… you know, when people go shopping for gifts, a time when it is good to have a full selection of items available… and the Reavers had a Secret Santa gift exchange again this year.  The person I drew wanted an Apostle and I figured I could swing that.  But I hate to give just a ship.  I like ship SKINs and so throw some in with every Secret Santa gift.  I even have a few of the Blaze SKINs socked away to go with gifts at a later date.

So I wanted an Apostle SKIN.  But when I opened up the New Eden Store I found that there were no Apostle SKINs for sale.  Frankly, there are barely any Amarr SKINs for sale… or Minmatar.  There are just five Amarr and six Minmatar SKINs in the store.

I hope you are flying one of these ships if you want an Amarr SKIN

Gallente is a bit better.  They have some coverage, though it is far from universal.  Only the Caldari, of the four main empires, seems to have a good selection of SKINs.  They are mostly the white Ghostbird SKIN, which I admit I really like, but at least you have an option as Caldari. (The Triglavians, the new hawtness, have a couple SKINs per hull available, and the Gila is also well covered.)

But no Apostle SKIN.

I had to get out an alt in Jita to go shopping.  And that is okay.  I understand that SKINs from events and old SKINs area meant for the secondary market.  And I was able to find a Purity of the Throne, a Dark Iron, and an Exoplanets SKIN to go with the gift.  I had to run them out to Aridia in an interceptor so my main could pick them up and fly them back into Delve, so a little inconvenience, but not much.  I just feel lucky that I was able to find three quality SKINs without breaking the bank.  If he had wanted a faction battleship SKIN I might not have been so lucky.

I won’t pretend I am an expert on in-game, cash shop marketing, but it does seem like the holiday season would be a good time to have a selection of SKINs available for a much wider selection of ships.  And the art team at CCP has show itself able to knock out a good SKIN on short notice for fundraising events.  So what is going on here?

Looking Back at 2018 Highs and Lows

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.

-James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion

We stand together again at the end of of another year; at least those of us who survived the journey do.  And, as has become the tradition here, I set aside some time to reflect and sum up the year that was 2018.

As usual, this is more of a stream of consciousness sort of affair as opposed to a rigorous study of the year.  Some things loom larger in my mind than others, especially the more recent.  I can’t really remember what happened in January, but BlizzCon was in November so my brain is still full of that.  Because of the method, and my general laziness, I don’t link out in this post (save for one exception this year).  You sort of have to know what I am talking about or else just let it pass.

For comparison… I suppose there is a study that could be done on my moods and views over the years… you can read the versions of this post that has come up in past years.

Not everything listed as a “low” is necessarily a tragedy, nor is everything listed as a “high” really something that was headline news to celebrate.  One year I inserted a “middle” category and then found I wanted to put most everything in there, so I set that aside.

There is also something of the accountant in me that tries to turn this into a balance sheet, with every “high” having a corresponding “low” on the list.  That works a lot of the time, but not always.  Some things are just one or the other.

Also, I remain undecided on punctuation in this sort of post.  To my mind, bullet points shouldn’t get punctuation.  Sort of.  They do when the bullet point is a question.  Also, I use a lot of semi-colons while eschewing the sentence ending period.  And then there is that exclamation point.  Does that wreck everything?  I think my life would be easier if I just made them sentences, but I am writing this after all the stuff below and I am NOT going back to change all that.

Anyway, on with the show.

Blizzard

Highs

  • A decent start of the year for Blizzard, building momentum for the WoW expansion and BlizzCon
  • Battle for Azeroth launched very well, with the build-up to the expansion drawing a lot of attention
  • Hearthstone did very well, even breaking into the digital revenue top ten on the PC platform
  • BlizzCon for once did not ignore any of the main Blizzard franchises
  • Blizzard showed they were very serious about getting WoW Classic right
  • There is even going to be progression in WoW Classic so the raiding is done with the right gear
  • We got an official announcement for the second of the three planned remasters, Warcraft III Reforged
  • Plans for upcoming Battle for Azeroth content
  • New expansion for Hearthstone
  • New hero for Overwatch
  • New champion for Heroes of the Storm, plus more plans to fix the game
  • New co-op commander for StarCraft II
  • New game for the Diablo franchise
  • Hey, Lindsey Stirling was one of the BlizzCon closing ceremony acts

Lows

  • BlizzCon seemed to kill fan enthusiasm for the aforementioned momentum
  • Even I am starting to feel that the BlizzCon formula might be wearing a bit thin
  • They say that all press is good press, but burning down that tree is going to take a while for some people to get past
  • After a strong start, flaws in Battle for Azeroth around gear and such began to tarnish the experience
  • Wait, as my ilevel gets higher mobs actually get harder rather than easier to kill?  And Blizz thinks this is fine?
  • BlizzCon divided up by six franchises means a preciously small slice of pie for any fan of only a single franchise
  • WoW Classic might be so authentic as to do to retro servers what WoW did to fantasy MMORPGs
  • Did you say WoW Classic would have progression?  This will inevitably lead to people wanting progression into expansions
  • Still waiting for news on that third remaster, Diablo II
  • The Battle for Azeroth content wasn’t all that exciting, even for a year with no expansion announcement
  • Unsure if the Battle for Azeroth content wasn’t exciting because the game is getting old and tired or I am… or both
  • Heroes of the Storm is losing its epsorts league and most of its devs as Blizz restructured it to keep it going with a smaller staff
  • I’m not even sure what a co-op commander is in StarCraft II
  • Complete fail on the part of Blizzard for expecting core Diablo fans to embrace  the mobile title Diablo Immortal
  • Failed to mitigate the above by not mentioning anything about Diablo VI, more Diablo III content, the Diablo II remaster, or anything else the core fan base might care about; vague references to multiple Diablo projects doesn’t cut it
  • Trifecta of Diablo franchise fails when rumors hit that they were going to announce Diablo IV but pulled it at the last minute, followed by a statement that the rumor wasn’t true, all of which will pretty much pull the punch from any future Diablo IV announcement
  • Gaming press proceeded to vilify Diablo fans, pretty much going full on “Imma let you finish…” over Blizz even as Blizz was owning up to badly setting expectations
  • Few people attended, and no press covered, the “Play Nice, Play Fair” presentation at BlizzCon which, among other things, presented evidence on how vilifying your player base as toxic tends to actually enable toxicity from your worst fans while alienating the 99% of your fan base that isn’t a problem
  • Allen Adham says senior devs at Blizzard are playing mobile games now, and Blizzard makes games they want to play by improving the games they are currently playing, so expect anything new from them to be on your phone

Daybreak

Highs

  • Company not shut down due to connection to Russian oligarchs via Columbus Nova
  • EverQuest still holding on as the standard bearer
  • EverQuest turned 19 and launched a new progression server called Coirnav
  • The Fippy Darkpaw EverQuest progression server is still running
  • Likewise, EverQuest II celebrated its 14th anniversary
  • EverQuest and EverQuest II both got an expansion again in 2018
  • DC Universe Online continues to hum along, getting some updates
  • As rumors indicated, PlanetSide 2 got a new map and some updates
  • Rumors also mentioned a new Norrath game, possibly EverQuest 3
  • H1Z1 actually left early access and went live, adding in a new vehicle mode along the way
  • H1Z1 became a success on the PlayStation 4
  • Some sort of joint venture with NantWorks to redo H1Z1 as Z1 Battle Royale
  • Just Survive looked to have received a last minute stay of execution
  • They finally announced a new game, PlanetSide Arena, the first since they ceased to be SOE
  • They actually sold out their 4,000 lifetime memberships at $299 a pop for a nice influx of cash

Lows

  • Not sure who is still playing on the Fippy Darkpaw EverQuest server, its been up for eight years
  • Company changed its mind rather abruptly about who owned it when asked about Russian oligarchs, deleting all references, attempting to scrub Wikipedia, and claiming that they misstated who actually owned the company for three years and on just about every document and press release they published
  •  After all that, Jason Epstein is/was still clearly tied to Columbus Nova
  • In the midst of changing its mind on the ownership question Daybreak took a moment out to lay off a chunk of their staff, showing that all is not well
  • Then, earlier this month they laid off another big chunk of the team
  • H1Z1 pretty much fell by the wayside in the market under pressure from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds then Fortnite
  • The deal with Tencent to bring H1Z1 to China also failed when the Chinese ethics review board rejected H1Z1 because of “blood and gore” and “vulgar content”
  • There went that H1Z1 esports league
  • The NantWorks joint venture, NantG Moblie, seems pretty nebulous so far, and uncertainty isn’t helping
  • The NantG Mobile plane, such that it has been stated, sounds suspiciously like “What if H1Z1 were more like Fortnite?
  • EverQuest is tied up in this deal in some way, but nobody has explained how
  • Just Survive’s stay of execution turned out to be an illusion and it was shut down
  • The new game, PlanetSide Arena, seemed to be just PlanetSide 2 with well worn shooter modes… including battle royale, of course
  • Lifetime subscribers are all people who won’t be paying a subscription going forward, so Daybreak essentially took a one-time buyout from some of its core fanbase
  • Lifetime subscriptions only apply to the four oldest games, nothing new-ish is covered nor are any console players covered
  • Not sure if NantG Mobile ought to come under the Daybreak heading
  • Not sure how many products Daybreak really has now
  • Not sure how healthy Daybreak is at this point
  • Nothing so far has really quashed the rumors from early in the year about Daybreak’s plans, for good or bad

Standing Stone

Highs

  • Found new ways to expand LOTRO and hey, it was free content
  • Raised the level cap in LOTRO to 120
  • Continued updating character models
  • High elves were added in, because we need more elves in Middle-earth
  • Possibility of a new class for the game
  • Female dwarves in Middle-earth, so now the Tolkien purists can be angry
  • Some mention of a 64-bit client in the offing
  • LOTRO Legendary server proves so popular they have to open a second server
  • A new musical instrument was added, so now you can play the bassoon
  • LOTRO lifetime subscription remains the best MMO deal I have ever made, all the more so since I am back playing
  • DDO got a new race, so you can unlock your inner wood elf; go team elf
  • DDO also got some other updates I think and sold some of those two year subscription deals

Lows

  • Nothing else on the horizon for the company at all
  • Still really don’t know who owns SSG
  • LOTRO remains difficult to pick up with an aging and awkward UI, a balky client, a patcher that is in no hurry to get you patched, and that whole legendary weapon thing which should have been left behind in Moria
  • The rise in the level cap was not universally applauded, but you have to gate content somehow
  • Managed to screw up the Shire for a bit like they were Sarumann
  • The need to make money meant more focus on lootboxes and making the in-game currency situation worse by adding “ember” currency to the list
  • An announced new Middle-earth game won’t shut down LOTRO, but it won’t help it either
  • The “legendary” aspect of the LOTRO Legendary server seemed more than a bit oversold
  • And yet SSG managed to poorly promote the whole LOTRO Legendary server thing at the same time
  • LOTRO Legendary seems most popular with those already invested in the game, so likely pulled a lot of its population from the live servers of players
  • Those LOTRO Legendary queues pretty much went away inside of two weeks
  • A second server and no more queues portends a server merge when the new server joy wears off
  • DDO news was so sparse that I don’t really have anything besides the wood elf to add
  • There was bluster about what the two year subscription might get you, but since two years of normal VIP actually cost $100 less I expect to hear some buyer’s remorse

CCP

Highs

  • CCP purchased by Pearl Abyss ends having to please direct investors
  • CCP and Pearl Abyss claim to be sympatico in their outlook on games
  • CCP says they will get to keep operating on their own
  • CCP got recognition from Guinness finally for the battle at 94P-I
  • A new war in null sec has made some additional headlines
  • Lots of people got to get their titans out and shot things
  • Lots of updates and improvements over the course of the year
  • Abyssal Deadspace was especially popular
  • It is a good time to be farming Gilas
  • In game events are generally getting better
  • CCP is FINALLY trying to fix War Decs
  • With FLEX structures the problematic POS code is almost ready to be expunged from New Eden
  • New Activity Tracker shows you what you’ve been doing in New Eden
  • New games, EVE Echoes and Project: Nova coming next year
  • Working with NetEase, their new partner, to re-launch EVE Online in China
  • Didn’t lose any major third party sites on which EVE Online depends
  • EVEMon is actually back again after the swap to ESI
  • EVE Vegas was a lot of fun
  • I gave a presentation at EVE Vegas

Lows

  • Pearl Abyss, whose reputation from Black Desert Online is that of “cash shop pay to win atrocity horror show” now owns EVE Online.
  • We will see just how sympatico the two companies really are
  • CCP trading external investors for one owner probably means a lot more direct scrutiny
  • CCP will get to run their own show only as long as the money keeps flowing, you can bet on that
  • Monthly updates, some of which can be quite meaty, do make it hard for named expansions to stand out for EVE Online
  • The New Eden concurrency number keeps slowly moving down
  • Null sec wars only last so long, then we all go home and mine
  • Peace is boring since I neither rat nor mine anymore
  • I may, in fact, be a bitter vet at this point
  • The null sec balance of power is now skewed such that the China syndrome seems a possibility, where one power bloc essentially “wins” null sec and everybody else quits
  • Faction Warfare has gone stagnant, with key players leaving it completely
  • The change from passive income to active moon mining sent some low sec groups into decline, hurting low sec even more
  • I’ve added “when will the in-game economy collapse?” to my list of concerns about the game
  • Even the people who used to bristle when it was claimed low sec was dead are starting to feel that low sec has gotten much less active
  • Abyssal Deadspace depends on RNG to stay fresh and still has become mostly a solved problem save for some very bad luck draws
  • Still can’t figure out how CCP went this long without looking into War Decs given how completely problematic the data ended up showing they were; they were pretty much universally declared as horrible years ago
  • Seems likely that CCP will muff fixing war decs, though in their defense there is no simple answer that will please everybody nor one that adheres to the spirit of the game
  • I am going to miss the good old POS bubble when they’re finally removed
  • What were they thinking with that Federation Grand Prix event?
  • Activity Tracker is essentially achievements for New Eden
  • Activity Tracker doesn’t count anything you did before Nov. 13, 2018, which kind of stings for those of us around for more than a decade
  • EVE Echoes is a NetEase mobile game completely disconnected from the main game
  • Project Nova looks nice and could connect to New Eden, but otherwise seems to lack a distinct personality and CCP wants to make it as complicated as EVE Online if they can
  • Oh, and even CCP thinks Project Nova has issues, so it has been delayed
  • Total EVE, EVE Files, and Dotlan EVE Maps all stumbled this year, making us all aware of how fragile the third party ecosystem for New Eden really is
  • There is always a period of post-event malaise for me after the excitement of an event like EVE Vegas wears off
  • In a room with seating for 800 people easy, I had 30 people at my presentation at EVE Vegas, with even some fellow bloggers blowing me off
  • My presentation was also neither streamed nor recorded, so it remains just a special moment in the memory of a very select group
  • Whatever happened to that EVE Online TV series?  I am sure Netflix would buy it

Nintendo

Highs

  • The Switch continues to prove itself a surprising force in the console market
  • Among titles arriving on the Switch was Diablo III
  • Pokemon for Switch looking to be popular
  • Pokemon Go revenues keep on going
  • Pokemon Go released the 4th generation Pokemon, which was a nostalgia rush for me
  • There will be a link between Pokemon Go and the new Pokemon titles on the Switch

Lows

  • The Switch version of most games cost more than on other platforms
  • The Switch isn’t up to supporting ports from other platforms for some games
  • All that Switch news is cold comfort if you’re invested in the neglected DS handheld platform
  • The Switch is not a handheld, portable platform; it is too big, too fragile, and lacks the battery life to be considered as such
  • No more Pokemon on the DS line, ending more than 20 years of the franchise’s link with Nintendo handheld platforms
  • Hilarious attempts to justify the easy nature of the Switch Pokemon games by claiming that those games are “for children” as though the past 20 years of Pokemon handheld games were not
  • Nintendo actively pushing its latest/last handheld model, the 2DS XL, while pretty much winding down the new game queue for the platform in something that feels a lot like dishonesty
  • Pokemon Go is pretty much the only winner in Nintendo’s mobile strategy
  • Pretty much have to admit that Pokemon games on handhelds were the last thing Nintendo had that interested me, in case you missed that, so they probably won’t even get a category here next year

Other Games and the Gaming Industry

Highs

  • TorilMUD made it to 25 years; long live the MUD!
  • Fortnite found its niche and conquered
  • I enjoyed some time with Rift Prime
  • Having enough leftover credits from the free to play conversion, I didn’t even have to spend a single dime on Rift Prime
  • Shroud of the Avatar left early access
  • Project: Gorgon arrived on Steam
  • No Man’s Sky seemed to be finally living up to some of its pre-launch promises
  • The Elder Scrolls Online seems to be a rock, able to carry on even as other titles falter and fall into neglect, maintenance mode, acquisitions, or closure
  • Everybody seems to be raving about Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Finally, somebody mad about loot boxes and set to do something about them
  • A ruling from the Library of Congress extending DMCA exemptions for video game archiving and study to include server/client based games like MMORPGs
  • We got a good Minecraft expansion with the Aquatic Update and Pandas are on the way
  • Steam declared they weren’t going to reject any games based on content, save for those titles it felt were just “trolling”
  • Civilization V got an update… it was only to the launcher, but the launcher needed it
  • Bomber Crew ended up being a nice little game, I should write about it

Lows

  • This section is getting harder to write every year as I rarely seem to play anything new
  • Fortnite has become popular enough to start facing backlash like a ban by the NHL
  • Battle Royale as a feature is now a requirement in all shooters
  • Rift Prime, like Rift the first time around, was guaranteed to lose my attention at Storm Legion; as it was I didn’t even make it that far
  • Trion’s games were bought by Gamingo as Trion folds up shop leaving an uncertain future for their titles; I guess I wasn’t the only one not spending money on Rift Prime
  • Shroud of the Avatar then proceeded to go free while the studio laid people off
  • I still haven’t given Project: Gorgon much of a shot
  • I can’t really tell anymore, is Star Wars: The Old Republic on an uptick or a down tick this year?
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea developer Portalus Games is calling it a day, leaving it to an even smaller group to run which does not fill one with confidence
  • Wildstar and Carbine Studios are no more, victims of their own hype as much as anything
  • Tried Anarchy Online and, as it turns out, nostalgia for the “good old days” only applied to reliving your own hardships, not the hardships of others
  • Every time I see “RDR2” my brain converts it to “R2D2”
  • RDR2 is a console game and my latest console was a PS3, not counting the 2DS XL
  • Loot boxes became a political football for those looking to score points on the “Won’t somebody please think of the children!” front; actual change outside of Belgium was pretty much zero
  • Riot  Games giving the industry an even worse reputation as Kotaku exposes their caustic bro culture
  • Riot Games attempting to fix their horrible culture through platitudes and PR; I only wish I played League of Legends so I could quit dramatically
  • Library of Congress ruling is essentially useless as it only allows museums and the like to archive MMORPGs if they can legally obtain the server code, which just isn’t going to happen
  • The eventual crashing of fan euphoria as they found out the DMCA exemption also prevents remote, off-site connections to preserved MMORPGs; The Library of Congress is not interested in letting you play SWG just because you miss it
  • The last refuge of closed MMORPGs remains the pirate emulator, which live a perilous existence in the gray space between popularity and a lawsuit
  • The Civilization V launcher update seemed primarily put in place to serve as an advertising platform to push the disappointing Civilization VI
  • Just to repeat, Civilization VI was quite the disappointment so I uninstalled it and play Civilization V when I have the Civ urge
  • As it turns out “trolling” isn’t well defined and Steam pretty much rejects the same games it always has, only now that is their excuse
  • All the same, the number of new games to hit Steam every day continued to grow, leaving only those studios that can afford marketing or who have a solid reputation likely to make any money at all
  • Many game developer careers remain Hobbesian in nature (nasty, short, and brutish) as studios abuse the seemingly endless supply of young developers seeking to do what they love in order to live the dream; the dream being 80 hour weeks, low pay, and no long term employment stability
  • Gaming media, another realm where an endless supply of replacements await those who can’t generate clicks, continues to play both sides of the game as they stoke up fan expectations with uncritical assessments of studio promises and then tar video game fans with whatever negative euphemism comes to hand (e.g. entitled, man babies, entitled man babies) over any backlash when the expectations they helped set fail to deliver; but controversy gets views man
  • And yes, some fans just need to shut the fuck up; but drawing attention to them, bringing them fame, and reporting their every complaint isn’t going to make that happen… and conflating the words of a tiny minority with the views of a whole community remains asinine

Media, Social and Otherwise

Highs

  • Even more Star Wars in theaters
  • Lots of new shows and movies on services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu
  • Season five of Bojack Horseman was excellent
  • The First was slow, but good; despite his personal life, about which I could stand to never hear about again, Sean Penn remains an actor dedicated to his craft
  • Still some really nice, serviceable shows on what one might still call “basic cable” these days
  • Better Call Saul might be better than Breaking Bad
  • Honest Trailers and Honest Game Trailers just never get old for me; the Screen Junkies team is awesome
  • Honest Trailers Commentaries is my new YouTube addiction
  • Somehow Zero Punctuation has stayed pretty fresh for me as well despite the fact that I still reference videos Yahtzee made over a decade back
  • Twitter, for all its faults, remains pretty useful to me

Lows

  • Even Disney now believes that there can be too many Star Wars movies now
  • Solo was there to answer questions nobody was really asking
  • Is there any series or movie so bad that Netflix won’t pick it up as an exclusive?
  • House of Cards ends on a silly/disappointing season though, like the original, the first season was all that really made it matter
  • Whoa, have you seen the Netflix earnings lately?
  • Every network now seems to think they need to get on the exclusive streaming service train to gate in their content leading to market fragmentation and, likely, eventual failure for all but the strong
  • The strong are, inevitably, Amazon and Disney, and we know what they’re like
  • There are so many options on basic cable that I often miss good stuff until a season is part way through and then have to wait until it makes it to Hulu or Netflix in order to watch it
  • Kind of starting to resent shows that only drop an episode a week; I want to binge… and binging helps me keep the plot and characters straight
  • Screen Junkies owned by yet another new company now, I hope they continue to survive
  • CinemaSins has gotten pretty stales for me; I like to hear Jeremy talk on the podcast, but the same old complaints, like “47 seconds of logos,” have been beaten to death
  • Pretty sure at this point that Zero Punctuation is all that is keeping The Escapist alive at this point
  • The Escapist pretty much broke being able to watch Zero Punctuation on their site back in July; I hope they get revenue from posting it to YouTube, because that is where I go to see it now
  • Google announced that, due to low usage and a security issues, they would be closing Google+ in August 2019
  • And then another security issue came up and Google moved the end date for Google+ to April 2019
  • That threat by people to leave Twitter made me realize how much I depend on it
  • Mastadon, a Twitter alternative, is great… if you just want to be in a tiny echo chamber of stifling conformity
  • Facebook looks worse as a company with each passing day

The Blog, Internet, and Like Items

Highs

  • Somehow, after a dozen year, here I am still
  • The month in review posts have become pretty special to me as I get to review past posts every month
  • The MMO Blog Feed in the side bar continues to function, amazing given the hack that it is and that several times the companies involved were set to make changes that would break it completely
  • A really nice Blaugust event this year, combining both the usual activity with some of the Newbie Blogger Initiative stuff
  • Blaugust was low pressure and not even gaming blog oriented, which brought in a lot of faces, new and old, to participate leading to a lot of good cross-pollination
  • Blaugust Discord was fun and has kept going as a place to chat for some of us
  • The whole thing was objectively a success on many fronts, including traffic, which ticked up noticeably
  • Traffic to this site was not only up for August, but stayed up for the months following
  • For the first time since 2012 traffic is actually up for the year when compared to the previous year
  • Average word count per post was up this year; I assume that is a good thing
  • Also, and odd metric, but “likes” were up quite a bit on the site, something I think was directly from Blaugust
  • Stalking the tags and categories feature in the WordPress.com Reader has actually led me to several new blogs, which should be a reminder that people should try to use standard tags if they want their blog to be found

Lows

  • Blogging continues its decline as an influence, remaining a hold out for those of us who prefer long form, words, and being able to collect our thoughts into a single site
  • The month in review posts are becoming more bloated and no doubt helping to inflate that average word count
  • Always somebody keen to declare any social event like Blaugust a “failure” if their own independent measure wasn’t met, even if they did not participate or understand the premise
  • Not sure traffic boost was solely related to Blaugust as search engine quirks seem to be in play as well given the specific posts that are seeing ongoing interest
  • While likes were up, comments were down for the year, and rather dramatically so; on balance, a good comment is worth a half a dozen likes in my book
  • There are days when I feel I am stuck between people who can accept no criticism of their current favorite game and those who feel that in order for their game to fully succeed somebody else must fail
  • My cynicism about new titles remains driven by the unwarranted optimism certain repeat offenders seem willing to invest in studio generated hype even after they have time and again become resentful when reality fails to meet their inflated expectations
  • So much for net neutrality
  • So much for the alleged benefits of dumping net neutrality as the promised increase in infrastructure building actually went the other way
  • So many bloggers use bad tags or categories for their blogs (e.g. “wow” rather than “warcraft” or “world of warcraft” and “eve” instead of “eve online”) which makes finding them a low percentage accident at the best of times
  • WordPress.com ads have officially crossed the line into obnoxious, proving once again that ad block is pretty much a requirement on the internet
  • My brain has started auto completing words for as my fingers type them, and the result is even worse than when my iPhone does it

Final Thoughts

My temptation is to continue to beat to death the “and so it goes” line from Vonnegut.  I read a lot of Vonnegut in college… I actually read all of Vonnegut in college, or all that there was at the time, short stories included… and it clearly influenced my somewhat fatalistic outlook on life.  Maybe “no damn cat, no damn cradle” would be better.  That might be the lesson of life in the end.

Another year has passes and the trivial pursuits of our lives continue.

The EVE Online 2019 World Tour

As announced at EVE Fanfest… last year I think, I know the plan has been knocking around for a while… there will be no EVE Fanfest in Iceland in 2019.  Instead, CCP plans to take Fanfest on the road for 2019.  In addition to the usual EVE Vegas event CCP will be adding additional events to their schedule as well as dropping in on regular player events, turning them into official Fanfest occasions.

Here are the announced locations for the 2019 World Tour:

Fanfest 2019 Locations

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands March 23-24 – Joining in with the traditional EVEsterdam event
  • St. Petersburg, Russia May 4 – Bringing an event to the large Russian EVE Online community
  • Sydney, Australia May 23-26 – CCP one again attending EVE Down Under
  • Toronto, Canada June 21-23 – CCP in Canada for the first time with an event for the northeast
  • Kemiönsaari, Finland August 23 – The winner of the Fanfest Home contest gets CCP in their living room
  • Berlin, Germany September 13-14 – CCP joins up with G-Fleet for a German event
  • EVE Vegas October 25-27 – The traditional Second Fanfest will return to Vegas
  • London, England November 23 – EVE London will have CCP in attendance

That is eight official EVE Online events being run for 2019.  And if the 2019 T-shirts for all of these events isn’t a concert tour knock-off with all of those dates on the back, I will be sadly disappointed.

For those of us who might make just one of these events in 2019, the plan is to stream them all so we can play along at home.  There is even a teaser video for the whole plan.

The only question that remains: Can PermaBand play a world tour and survive?

Further details at the dev blog announcing the tour.

The December Update for EVE Online brings War Dec Changes, New Ships, and the Start of the Holiday Event

It is time for the December update for EVE Online.  One of the key things up front for this update are changes to the War Dec system.  CCP put out a dev blog on these initial changes, but the key is eligibility.  As was discussed previously, this change will not allow players to war dec a corporation unless it owns a structure.  The following structures count:

  • All Upwell Structures (including Upwell FLEX structures)
  • Starbase Control Towers
  • Player-owned Customs Offices
  • Sovereignty Structures (Infrastructure Hubs and Territorial Control Units)

If your corp does not own one of those structures then you should be immune to war declarations.

And, to close a glaring loophole, the second change is to add a setting to disallow structure transfers.  At least CCP could foresee that war dec corps would seek to bypass the structure rule by simply transferring a structure to their prospective victim and then declare war.  There is now a setting in the corporation details tab that allows automatic rejection of structure transfers, and the default setting for that will be true.

That is expected to be the first round of changed for war decs as CCP tries to figure out how to deal with this issue.

Also coming with the December update are two new Triglavian ships, the Rodiva and the Zarmazd.  These are the previously mentioned Triglavian logi cruisers.

Logi cruiser hull model

Unlike other Triglavian ships, this one comes as both tech I and tech II, aligning to the logi cruisers from the empires.  Only the blueprint for the Rodiva will drop and you must go through and do invention on the copy to get a Zarmazd blueprint.

There are also armor rep blueprints going in to match the two new ships, available as Abyssal drops.

The niche for these new logi ships is that their reps get stronger the longer they stay on their target.

Also coming to Abyssal space is a set period of invulnerability when transitioning through Abyssal gates.

The update also introduces the 2018 holiday even for EVE Online.

Thirteen Days Only

Called the Thirteen Days of EVE, you need to log your account in daily to claim prizes… like an advent calendar… but you have 17 days, so you could miss a couple days and still get all the presents.  The prizes include some new things EVE, including a standings booster, new Candy Chromatic SKINs, straight up skill points, and, for Omegas only, a booster with three uses that will allow the pilot to use skill injectors without the diminishing returns penalty.  That means people like me, with over 80 million SP on a character, could get the full 500K of skill points from an injector rather than the 150K one gets normally in that situation.

A sample of the rewards

That last item requires you to log in for the full thirteen days.  But that is easy enough and there is no reason not too.  Details are available at the event site.

The update also lays down the groundwork for the next in-game event, Operation Permafrost.

Coming soon

As usual, the event will come to you via The Agency and will require you to accumulate points for rewards.  At EVE Vegas is was mentioned that this event will bring your ship down into the atmosphere of a planet, giving the art team at CCP a chance to show off some more fancy new environments.  Details are currently up on the live event page.

Also on the graphics front, CCP has added atmospheric auroras to planets.  They only show up at random times though, so you have to be there at the right moment to catch them.

A Megathron spotting an aurora

Another possible background for screen shots.

A lot of the rest is just the usual tweaks and minor fixes that accompany any update for the game.  However, there is one innocuous one in the mix that I want to call out.  This one:

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

As rumors have it, the “certain nullsec anomalies” are havens and that this is a direct poke at titan ratting.  Yes, titan ratting is a thing.  The alleged reason is that at the current respawn rate a titan can can use its boson doomsday, clear a haven, and another one will have spawned by the time the titan has recovered and is ready to keep rolling.  We will see if there is a corresponding dip in the NPC bounties with the coming of the December MER.

So that is it.  CCP has already announced that the update has been deployed successfully.  Information about it is available via the patch notes and the updates page.

How Various Studios Deal with Problems

I’m not sure where this post started, but it assembled itself at one point a few months back and then sat in my drafts folder.   I looked at it again earlier this week, added the entry for Activision, and scheduled it for release it into the wild today.

Electronic Arts

There is no problem, the customers like it just fine.  Look at how much money we made initially.

*way, way too long later*

Okay, now that you’ve set the building on fire, sales have tanked, our company is being lambasted in the general press, and the government is saying that they may investigate us, perhaps we can look into finding some sort of solution.  But we admit no wrong doing.

Blizzard

There is no problem, things are just fine the way they are.  No, you don’t want the changes you’re yelling about.  We designed this, we know it is good.  Really, we know better.

*endless forum threads and editorials later*

Fine, have it your way, we’ll give you your feature.  But we’re going to delay it and we’ll make you work for it.  Also, we’ll make sure it doesn’t work all the time.

Activision

Yes, our numbers totally depend on an annual Call of Duty release, but we can smooth out that cycle!

*Gets on phone to Irvine*

Blizzard, stop worrying about quality and start making mobile games!  Also, put Call of Duty on your launcher!

King

We can’t live on Candy Crush Saga forever…

*releases half a dozen mobile games that go nowhere*

Crap, get some more levels out for Candy Crush Saga!

Sony Online Entertainment

We’re proposing to break the game and ruin all your fun and maybe sell your offspring to another company.  We talked about it in a conference room for a few days, so we’re pretty sure this is the right decision.  It was really, really convincing on the white board.  We didn’t run it by anybody, we just came straight from the meeting where it was decided and announced it.  So all good.

*one small riot later*

Wait, you don’t want any of that?  How strange.  Okay, we won’t do it then.

Daybreak

*sound of crickets*

Okay, we’re shutting this down and laying some people off, go away!

*sound of crickets*

CCP

We have listened to your feed back and determined that this upcoming new feature is not exploitable.

*update goes live*

Crap, you exploited it anyway… and in so many ways…  you are horrible, horrible people… let me get the band-aids.

Valve

Yes, we hear you.  We know we have a problem and we have a policy that will totally fix it.

*two beats too many*

Oh, and we might need to build something to support that policy.  But we’ll get to that later.  Also, the policy has a glaring loophole and we aren’t really following it.  Hey, is it time for another sale already?

Rockstar Games

Well, we released GTA V, what should we work on next?

*five years go by*

Cowboys again?

Riot

We are hardcore gamers, but we’re against toxicity and are masters at playing gay chicken.  Wait, no, scratch that last part.

*stands in front of “No Gurls” sign*

Equal opportunity.  Yeah.

*handed pink slip*

#@%&*!!!