Tag Archives: CCP

Grousing about the EVE Online 2020 Ecosystem Outlook

Blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought!

Dennis Moore

I mentioned in a cynical aside yesterday that CCP had posted a Dev Blog about the state of the economy/ecosystem after spending most of the year nerfing resource harvesting and wealth generation as hard as they dared.

They say ecosystem, but the focus on the economy

You can certainly accuse me of getting my EVE Online news from all the wrong places… for heaven’s sake, I still check out the official forums and visit r/eve regularly… but my impression has been that any player enthusiasm for CCP’s changes so far has come from outsiders with no skin in the game and via the schadenfreude of players happy to see somebody else getting screwed over.  Granted, the latter accompanies any game change, but this seems a bit more pronounced as usual.

CCP has even put their philosophy into three somewhat nonsensical maxims.

  • Abundance breeds Complacency and Scarcity breeds War

The idea here is to make people fight over resources.  The goal of CCP is always to make ships explode.  Unfortunately there are a few problems with this philosophy, and I’m not just referring to the previous “farms and fields” idea to make people live in the space they conquer.

First, scarcity implies that some people won’t be able to do what they want to do without actively fighting for resources.  People struggle for resources in the real world because they have no choice.  You find a way or you die.  In a video game we have a choice.  Somebody will always put in the effort… people put in crazy amounts of work on things in the game… but others will look at the hill they need to climb in order to do what they set out to do and walk away.

In a year where CCP has said that more people have tried the game than in the last three years combined, but the online player count on the launcher isn’t really reflecting that, some care needs to be take with the scarcity regime.  Or maybe “stop the bleeding” was just a 2019 thing and has been forgotten already.  One guy riding around in an old school bus distributing spaceships should not be the basis of a new player retention policy.

Meanwhile, we live in the New Eden that has developed under the rules and mechanics CCP has imposed in the past.  We have what we have now and unless CCP is going to go for much more active approach to the redistribution of wealth, and those who have accumulated wealth will aim to keep it.  One of the long standing truisms of the game has been, “Don’t undock in something you cannot afford to lose.”  And everybody with a super or a titan right now is going to be aware of how expensive those ships will be to replace now.  Hell, with the price of tritanium, battleships are going to be pricey.

The ironic twist of CCP introducing scarcity to promote war might very well be people docking up their big toys because they’re too expensive to replace and playing with cheaper ships.  Scarcity may prevent war.

  • Predictable Inputs lead to Stagnant Outputs

This one makes my head hurt even though I sort of know what they’re getting at.  It is one of those things that sounds meaningful if you say it quickly and don’t think about it, but falls apart quickly if you stare too hard.  Was this what Hilmar was going on about in wanting resources to not be predictable?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  The statement doesn’t make any logical sense on its own, so it is difficult to take seriously as an economic philosophy.

So let me say this about predictability; it is a basic expectation of many players.

What is one of the first things somebody will ask in any forum post about a new activity in EVE Online?  What is the ISK per hour?  People will gravitate towards the highest RELIABLE payout. Things that are a gamble will tend to be avoided in favor of the predictable.

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

Edward Castronova

That goes for capsuleers as well.  NPC bounties were the king of ISK faucets not because the content was at all interesting, but because it was steady and reliable.  That was what people wanted, a known quantity.  A   Every NPC has a value amount attached to it.  And, as soon as CCP changed the reliability aspect by allowing somebody to blow through your system and steal all your bounties, NPC bounties tanked hard according to the November MER.

Nov 2020 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

I wish they broke out NPC bounties by high/low/null sec in a form easily read.  I suppose I could estimate it from the MER regional data.  But I suspect that the floor gets you down to level 4 high sec missions being a significant part of that total.  In missions against pirates the bounties are often a much bigger part of the payout than the mission rewards.

And now… now people are moving on to other things with reliable payouts.  Abyssal pockets.  Planetary Interaction.  Burner Missions.  I even dialed up an alt to do some level 4 security missions now and again just to get some LP store items that sell well.  There are plenty of other predictable “solved” and PvE activities out there that people will move to in order to pay the bills.  Predictable is not a dirty word.  But it is something players will gravitate towards.

  • Autarky is Anathema to Free Trade

“Autarky” is a Byzantine sounding word that means “self-sufficiency.” And no, it is not “anathema” to free trade, at least not by any definition of free trade I can find.  I suspect that is because CCP doesn’t really mean “free trade.”  Jita 4-4 is the pinnacle of free trade in the MMORPG genre.  We’re already there.

Instead, this is their vision of a future of economic interdependence, the rejection of the past “farms and fields” policy, the idea that if they scatter resources into specific areas people will fight over them.  They don’t want free trade, they want more resources being schlepped to Jita.  Sure.  Whatever.  I’m not sure “all your tritanium belong to high sec” is breaking new ground, but there is a whole school of economic thought when it comes to raw materials versus finished goods when it comes to trade.

We shall see.

After giving themselves a pat on the back and pointing out how responsive they have been because… *checks notes*…. they rolled back that one drone nerf that broke drones in PVP, CCP laid out some future plans as to where their economic ideas might take them.  They are:

  • Improve customization of player-owned space through iHub upgrades, allowing meaningful choices and trade-offs.

From CCP “meaningful choices and trade offs” means nerfs.  Null sec income remains in their crosshairs.

  • Introduce Reserve Bank keys for the ESS as players start planning heists and/or fortifying their bank defenses as billions of ISK become accessible across all of Nullsec.

The reserve bank thing still needs to be explained in detail.  If there isn’t a way for the locals to access it then there seems little need to defend it.  Right now the main bank is your money if it pays out, but the reserve bank might as well belong to somebody else unless there is some benefit from it.

  • Add more dynamic systems – the DBS has allowed for geographical resource balancing and the plan is to extend and expand on that with dynamic systems for resource distribution and industry. The DBS allows for quick iterations, and there have already been two updates since its release (raising the baseline bounty multipliers in Null and Lowsec).

CCP is going to nerf mining yields in systems where people mine too much next.  Scarcity will get worse before it gets better… and that assumes that it will get better.

  • Continue to balance risk and reward for income with attention as an additional pillar within the risk/reward framework. EVE has low-attention style gameplay and that is perfectly acceptable. However, care must be taken to ensure that the rewards of that gameplay balance attention and risk, and so, the intention is to revisit high-risk income platforms like Carriers and Marauders, and revisit lower-attention options in more precise ways.

Making carriers and marauders more viable could be interesting.  I just worry about the usual unintended consequences rule that always seems to bite CCP in the ass.  The collective mind of the community is like water when it comes to finding the most efficient path through something in New Eden.

  • Address one of the most debated subjects in EVE, AFK cloaky camping, with improved systems to get rid of the frustration of AFK cloaking and its total lack of counterplay without removing the ability for hunters to catch lazy prey, or for spies to be able to scout and monitor systems with strategic value.

I don’t know why this was included in what is primarily an economic outlook dev blog.  Yes, they say “ecosystem,” but it is really ISK and the economy they’re on about.  Cloaky camping has been a thing for so long that its presence or absence has little effect on the big picture.  The sinks and faucets chart above has gone up and down, but cloaking has not been part of the equation.  It is just something people perennially bitch about when it is being done to them and dismiss when they’re doing it to somebody else.  This feels more like a sop to people whose income stream has been choked off.  “But at least we got rid of cloaky campers!” CCP can declare.

  • Further define the differences between the five categories of space and foster geographical variety. The semi-lawless frontier of Lowsec has the potential to become much more than it is now as the Empires’ patience with intrusive Capsuleers in Highsec is wearing thin while wormhole resources will see increased demand.

High sec, low sec, null sec, wormhole space, and… what is the fifth space category?  Faction warfare space?  NPC null sec?  Triglavian space?  Anyway, this looks like another attempt to make low sec a thing.  I will believe it when I see it.

  • Establish a sustainable role for Rorquals and Orcas and do a general balance pass on mining ships to ensure that they each have a unique role and they are balanced in terms of wealth generation and survivability.

Sounds nice.  Probably means nerfs… especially for the Orca, which is now the AFK resource harvester of choice in high sec.

  • Add new personal deployables, both to allow more control of your immediate surroundings, and to unlock brand new meta opportunities.

I like the sound of this, but only because I enjoy shooting deployables.  There are not enough MTUs around now, so more targets are good.  How this applies to the game at large is left unexplained.

Anyway, CCP say that things will get better, even acknowledging that things are not great for a lot of us right now when it comes to ISK; income is down, prices are up, resources are scarce.

It is clearly understood and acknowledged that many players are faced with reduced income and some radical changes to what they have become accustomed to in New Eden. To make it abundantly clear, scarcity is not the new reality, this is a temporary phase and it will end.

The problem I have, the thing that is making me cranky about all of this, is the obvious (to me) conflict between CCP’s vision of how they want New Eden to work and my experience with players in online games since 1986.  As I said above, the mass of the player base is like water and will flow down the most efficient path.

In EVE Online especially, many see earning ISK as a necessity only to enable them to do the things they want.  CCP reaps the benefit of that in PLEX sales for those don’t want to spend the time earning ISK and can afford to bypass that aspect of the game.  But for the rest of us, we grind to play, and CCP seems set on making that more difficult.

And there is a bit of what I think of as the Jimmy Neutron effect in play here as well.  Those familiar with the show back in the day will recall how many an episode ended with Jimmy solving the crisis and expecting to be lauded for it, only to have it pointed out that he caused the crisis in the first place.  Likewise, we’re in a state where CCP seems to be looking for praise for fixing things they implemented.

Anyway, maybe CCP has a realistic plan that will solve the dichotomy of the situation where ISK earning is a barrier to play.  Maybe 17 years of running this game has finally given them insight into what will work and what will not.  But there is a long history of ideas that just made the player base shift slightly and carry on as before.  We shall see in 2021.

Related:

The Idea of an EVE Online Shooter Just Won’t Die

An Eve Online first-person shooter is CCP’s greatest folly

-Jeremy Peel, VG24/7

Massively OP posted earlier about a press release from one Sperasoft about how they and CCP are working together on a first person shooter based on the EVE Online IP.

Together for a purpose

The idea of an EVE Online FPS is one that just will not die, and I am honestly confused at this point as to why this is the brass ring that CCP wants to grab so very badly.

We had DUST 514 and the promise of integration with EVE Online back in the day.  That was not a success for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the decision to make it a PlayStation 3 title, and shut down back in 2016, though CCP spent time after that closing off the integration points.

Even before the corpse of DUST 514 had cooled there was talk of something called Project Legion, the next FPS CCP planned to deliver.

That, or some elements of it, later became Project Nova, which CCP showed an early version of at EVE Vegas back in 2018.  It was hinted that the whole thing was closer to being done than we might think.

Then, about a month later, CCP announced that Project Nova had been postponed.  This corresponded with the Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP for $425 million.  (EVE Online was worth more in 2018 than Daybreak was in 2020 I guess.)

We coasted along for another year or so until, in February of this year… which feels like it was a forever ago now… that, whatever Project Nova was, it was becoming something else, though we were not going to get a new name and CCP was going to try and stop talking about shooters until they had something more concrete to present.

That being difficult to parse as a headline, the gaming media mostly went with “Project Nova Cancelled.”

Which brings us to today and a company called Sperasoft and the following announcement:

USA, San-Jose – December 15, 2020 – Sperasoft, a Keywords studio specializing in co-development is proud to announce its partnership with CCP Games, the creators of the world’s largest living work of science fiction, EVE Online.

CCP is a leading video game developer, founded in 1997 in Reykjavik, Iceland. CCP’s mission is to create virtual worlds that are more meaningful than real life. CCP pioneers technology and design that facilitates emergent behavior, empowering people with compelling means of self-expression. With the launch of EVE Online in May 2003, CCP established itself as one of the most innovative companies in the interactive entertainment industry, winning numerous awards and receiving critical acclaim worldwide.

EVE Online is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) science-fiction game of galactic proportions, in which space flight is the path to all commerce, communication, and conflict. Set in the star cluster of New Eden tens of thousands of years in the future, in EVE Online every pilot’s greatest asset is their starship, designed to accommodate their specific needs, skills, and ambitions. Featuring a vast player-run economy, EVE Online offers an immersive, community-driven experience filled with adventure, riches, danger, and glory. EVE Online is renowned for its scale, complexity, and its gigantic, world record-breaking in-game battles where thousands of players come head to head in a single star system.

“We are excited to be a partner of CCP Games and share in their mission to create immersive virtual worlds” – comments Denis Larkin, Chief Commercial Officer at Sperasoft – “Our experienced team of developers is focused on delivering cutting edge solutions for our client and gameplay innovations for their fans.“

“We’re delighted to be working with Sperasoft on our unannounced online shooter set in the EVE IP,” said Allen Edwards, Game Director at CCP Games’ London studio. “Together, we’re looking forward to delivering a rock-solid, action-oriented gameplay experience with stunningly beautiful worlds.”

The first details about this currently unannounced title will be revealed via www.ccpgames.com/news in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, follow @CCPGames on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Those are some fine words, with a promise to get some more information in the “not-too-distant” future, and not much else.  I am going to guess that puts it in a time frame beyond “soon,” which itself is an unknowable and possibly quite long unit of time.

Sperasoft’s page shows quite a bit of collaboration with some big name studios and titles.  But the services they offer appear to be geared towards outsource coding and platform porting, with some live game ops thrown in.  So while they have had a hand in on titles from Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed to DC Universe Online and Free Realms… seriously, they have the old Sony Online Entertainment logo on their brag page, a couple spots over from Trion Worlds… it isn’t clear what they specifically did for any of them or if they have ever stood up a game on their own.

Still, they clearly have success, undefined though it may be, under their belt.  So they could potentially be a big help to CCP’s shooter ambitions on the technical front.

What they probably cannot help with is finding a compelling reason for an EVE Online shooter to exist.  New Eden can be a deep, dark IP, full of lore.  But the reach of that lore is pretty small.  EVE Online is a successful beyond niche status game in the MMORPG genre, but the MMORPG market is very much niche in the grand scheme of things.

We will have to wait and see if CCP and Sperasoft can come up with some way for a New Eden shooter to stand out in the crowd of shooters that currently clutter the market.

EVE Online Blazes a New Trail with UI Only Mode

Proving once again that EVE Online is different from most MMORPG’s, CCP announced on the forums on Friday that they had put a new “UI Only” mode option on the test server.

Just to be clear, what this option does is allow players to turn off the 3D rendered EVE Online universe and operate with just the UI elements.  This is the opposite of the “hide UI” option that any game worth its salt has.

You get the overview and chat channels and inventory and controls and brackets and pretty much everything except the pretty view of space and all the ships that occupy it.  You get to be under the hood, go instruments only, fly the overview.

Instead of this:

Space and structures in the view

You get this:

Keep your pretty pictures, I just want the data

I cannot think of another MMORPG where this would not only be a viable feature, but kind of a big deal.  I know people who are stoked for this feature to come into the game.

Because, when you’re in one of those grinding null sec battles with thousands of objects on grid with you and you turn on the in-game system monitor and see how much RAM the client is gobbling up and how hard you are pushing your GPU, having the option to let go of a significant amount of processing the client need to do can be a big win, especially if you’re in with multiple clients.

This will be a boon when it gets pushed to the live client.

Of course, it won’t do anything to help with the underlying problem of the servers struggling to handle those big fights with thousands of objects on grid.  Time dilation will still suck and the server will eventually get way behind, stop responding, or just fall over if too many people land on it.  But your GPU won’t be melting as well, and your system will have resources to keep streaming Netflix or play the other game you have going while you wait for your doomsday to cycle.

Control-shift-F9 will be your new friend.

(Unless you’re like me and out there to take screen shots.)

New Eden Bot Bash in Yulai

It is currently GM Week in EVE Online, where some of the staff come out and mix with the players and run special events.  There is a list of things going on this week.

GM Week 2020 – Times are in UTC… and should be 17:00 if we’re going to be EVE Online

The best item on the list… my opinion… is the whack-a-bot.  It takes place in Yulai at the graveyard beacon… you can read about the Yulai Graveyard here… where CCP teleports in ships of people they have confirmed are botting, flag them as suspects, and lets everybody shoot them.

This has become a popular event since it started, so when I took a break from work to slip over in an interceptor to take a peek, I wasn’t surprised to find a crowd in system and time dilation kicking in.

Ships hanging out waiting

In the middle of all of that were several Praxis battleships… there is one in the top middle of the screen shot above… and they started using smart bombs… area of effect weapons… in the crowd.  Smaller ships started blowing up right away.

The scene now lit by explosions

I was in the midst of this and was taking a bunch of damage.  Looking at what I had fit, I decided to set off the burst jammer just to hit back and maybe get on their kill mails.

Being in high sec space, this was a bad idea.  I was now a suspect as well.  And, while one of the Praxis pilots got the kill mail, 40% of the damage to me was done by CONCORD.

Somehow I managed to get my pod out of the scrum and docked up in the nearest station.  I clicked the “Board my Corvette” button… I still don’t like it, but I know what it does… and undocked, ignoring the warning… the warning that I still had a timer and would be shot if I undocked… which promptly happened.

I had that and a bunch of kill rights on my character.  It was time to log them off and try somebody else.

I grabbed an Alpha Clone character I had in Jita who happened to be in a Tristan.  That seemed good enough, so I took the direct route to Yulai, eleven jumps including a few through low sec, and made it to my destination.

Along the way I set up an overview for just capital ships.  Being in high sec meant that my usual settings, which show everybody not blue, meant that the overview was pages long since most everybody on grid was neutral.  People from null sec often get a little freaked out when they wind up in high sec space again.

Being a little more wary on my arrival, I warped to the graveyard beacon at 30km.

I had missed the early bots, the carriers and the rorquals, but I was there in time for a pair of super carriers, a Nyx and a Hel.  The Nyx was the closer of the two, those still outside of my 48km lock range, so I started to motor in that direction to join in on the kill.

Nyx under fire

Fortunately my Tristan has an eclectic fit.  Generally a drone boat, I had fit guns and a target painter to it at some point.  The target painter was key.  The guns were short range and drones can be slow and vulnerable to smart bombs… you can see a Praxis still in the Nyx screen shot… but a target painter can reach out as far as you can lock a target and counts and ewar, so gets you on the kill mail.

So I happily painted the Nyx as I turned to get in range of the Hel.  The Nyx was not long for this world.

The Nyx begins to brew up

I got within range of the Hel and put my target painted on it, then decided I could spare a drone, so sent one of mine out to do some damage as well.

The Hel getting Hell

The Hel was not long for this world either, but even as it started to come apart, the grand finale appeared on grid with us, to Avatar titans.

Hel in the center, flanked by Avatars

This was what everybody wanted, to be on a titan kill.  After nearly nine years in null sec I have only been on 11 titan kills, seven of them at B-R5RB and another four at Asher’s trap in Okegaiken during the Casino War.  That is just two opportunities over all that time.  So everybody was keen to get on these two.

A sky full of beams

And the show go even better.  They may have both been botters, but one of the Avatar pilots was at least close by his keyboard and realized what was going on.  If he was going to lose his Avatar, he was at least going to get on a titan kill mail while he was there, so he unleashed his doomsday on his fellow victim.

The doomsday hits!

You have to give them points for style and putting on a show as everybody got to see the new Avatar doomsday effect.  (I got to see it on the test server back in April, but it is still pretty cool.)

But the masses were wearing them both down.  First one Avatar exploded. (The doomsday got the other one top damage.)

End of a titan

Then the other one gave up and started to explode as well.

My Tristan flies by as somebody shoots fireworks

And that was the end of the show.  It was some fun, and I am sure some people got to see a few ships they hadn’t run into before… on the field as well as among the botters.

While I had the UI off for a lot of the time, I spotted local getting into the 1,800 player range, which meant that time dilation was in effect for much of the event.  The game slowing down drew a lot of complaints in local chat, which I found pretty amusing.  CCP even posted the CPU usage chart for the event.

A lot of load there

For a big null sec battle, like the fleet fight we had on Sunday or any of the contested Keepstar timers in Fountain, this was nothing.  A mere slow down of the game.  The UI was still responsive and I didn’t feel the need to open up the command queue to see how long it was taking for things to get through.  So my own reaction to local was:

Time dilation is around our necks in every fight in null sec

But if you’ve never been in a null sec fight, I guess this might have seemed pretty bad.

So now I have an Alpha Clone character that I almost never use with two titan kills under their belt.  Oh, and my first alt, the one who got smart bombed and then set off the ECM burst, they will have to stay docked up for a while.  That burst jammer lit up enough people that my alt earned a page full of kill rights against them.  I’ll just have to wait the 30 days for those to expire.

Others at the event:

The Node Crash at KVN-36

After we lost the Keepstar in O-PNSN on Thursday, eyes turned to the next target, the Keepstar in KVN-36.  The armor timer was set to come out a day later, so both sides were ready to form up to contest that.

Again, the battle was going to overlap a bit with work, so I pre-positioned another ECM burst interceptor so that I could join in when time allowed.  I saw pings and people forming up long before I was able to get in.  But Kun’mi had another little ECM burst fleet going, so once I had the time I logged in and undocked to join in.  I caught a warp into the fray almost immediately, landed in some hostiles, and got tackled.  I set off my ECM burst, but couldn’t get away.  My Ares went boom on the first run.

The hostiles were good enough to pod me though, so I was quickly back in 1DQ1-A where I grabbed my back up ship, a Malediction, and headed back to the fight.  As always, since tidi was slowing the fight down, very little happened before I got back.

I made a perch off the Keepstar and rode the warps as Kun’mi launched us into the hostiles fleets.

Aligning out from a run

The hostiles were running the same basic plan as the day before.  They had an Astrahus on grid with the Keepstar where they had tethered up their carriers.  Those carriers disgorged a mass of fighters to attack the Keepstar.

The hostile Astrahus

Meanwhile, the subcap fleets from both sides set to shooting each other, while we zipped in and out trying to avoid getting tackled.  Being hit with the ECM burst is annoying, I know this from having been on the receiving end a few times, and the enemy put a lot of effort into tackling and blowing us up.  No doubt each kill gave them great joy.  But we were close enough to home that the few of us in the fleet would just re-ship and fly quickly back.

There was also a lot of smart bombing going on.  We had some success the day before the a Praxis fleet set up to smart bomb, and the hostiles picked that up as well, so there were smart bombs going off all over it seemed.

The Praxis fleet from the day before

Both sides seemed to using them with impunity.  You can dig though kills and find ships that have smart bomb damage from both sides.  And, of course, some doctrines, like the Feroxes, are not smart bombing platforms, but carry one fit.  So it was a hazard and I had to warp off to repair a few times after flying into smart bombs.

Things seemed to be going with the attackers.  They had quickly stopped the repair timer and had been steadily whittling away at the armor layer of the Keepstar.  We kept doing our runs and our fleets in general tried to slow things down.

Another run in my Malediction

However, the system seemed more laggy than the day before.  Commands were slow, especially when close in with the Keepstar, even though there were not as many people in system as we had seen in O-PNSN.  But both sides persisted.  It is just something you put up with and power through to win the objective.  Then things got really balky and unresponsive and, suddenly, boom!  We were all kicked out of the game.

Connection dropped at 21:31 EVE time

That happened to coincide with Dave Archer’s Jackdaw fleet getting smart bombed by NCDot, which seemed like it was going to wipe them all out.  Kun’mi happened to be describing this action to us and the likely fate of the Jackdaws, and that was the moment when the server died, and so became part of the lore of the battle.

Of course, we all tried to log back in, but the server wasn’t having us.

Access denied

CCP tweeted out a link to a forum thread about the server going down.  They were aware and working on the situation.  That was at about 21:33, so they jumped on that pretty quickly.  Meanwhile, both sides were anxious about what was going to be the state of affairs when the server came back up.

In the past, servers going down meant tough luck to one side and a saving grace to the other.  I lived through the null sec era of server killing battles.  I remember back in Fountain War at Z9PP-H when CCP remapped the node incorrectly and dumped everybody out, effectively saving the TEST capital fleet.  I have posts about other crashes, like the one at HED-GP and the one at KW-I6T.

But that was all quite a while back.  And the ability of servers to handle such loads have gotten better over time.  The X47 Keepstar battle kept going despite a ton of ECM burst ships and a DDoS attack in progress.  There were about 6,000 ships involved, with fighters flying all over and all the other usual stuff, during the so-called million dollar battle.

There was also a bit of the Imperium institutional paranoia about the situation, a worry that this time, when a crash would benefit Goons, that CCP might try to roll back the clock on the timer rather than let things ride as they had traditionally done.

We had about a half an hour to think about that.  CCP said the server had been stood back up at 21:55, but by the time I got in and made it back on grid with the Keepstar… everybody had been warped off grid… it was 22:01.  And there I saw the Keepstar timer had just a little over two minutes on the clock.

Just about two minutes left

Given that first screen shot at the top of the post, taken at 20:55, showed 13:37 (leet!) left on the timer, it looked like only 12 minuted had counted down during the approximate half hour that the node had kept us out, though the node was down and presumably not advancing the clock for part of that time.  The downtime didn’t save the Keepstar completely, but the time left was so small that it ran down before the attackers could bring firepower to bear on the structure.  Keepstar saved.

Timers reset

You see a repair timer there, but you’ll notice the damage indicators for the armor and shields were set back to their pristine state.  The objective had been won, with some help from CCP.

We drew the card this time

Of course, recriminations were flying long before the servers came back up.  Everybody was looking for somebody to blame.  In the forum thread about the server outage somebody was trying to pin the blame on those Goon ECM burst interceptors, which made me laugh.  If there were even a dozen operating at once I would have been surprised.  We had about eight going at our peak when I was participating, and that isn’t enough to cause much of a problem.  It certainly didn’t break the server during the last fight.

There were also fingers being pointed about who was running their smart bombs, though both sides had them deployed.  Memes were being thrown around and Cryo, the official Imperium propaganda artist these days, even threw together a special piece for the occasion.

The smug is palpable

Meanwhile some people on /r/eve are claiming that the server crash was deliberately caused by “hundreds” of Goon smart bombing ships or ECM bursts or a Goon DDoS attack (evidence?) or anything else that their vivid imaginations could churn up, because Grrr Goons.  Some things never change.

I personally don’t buy any of the finger pointing about the crash being an intended goal.  We had more load on the server in the fight the day before and it made it, though at times things were marginal.  (Note the problem I mentioned with my UI when I returned to the fight.)  Sometimes things just fail.  We should probably be surprised that this doesn’t happen more often given how much load we put on the servers.  And nobody is going to stop using smart bombs, or ECM bursts, or masses of fighters on either side, so it seems like it will happen again during the war.

Anyway, the battle wasn’t over yet.  Everybody was back on grid and there were people to shoot, so things kept exploding for quite some time.  Kun’mi had lost his probes, so we just warped in on wrecks when we could.

Another run into the mix

I did get a couple of bursts off, but eventually got tackled again.  They put everything on me they could.

A range of effects

From left to right I believe I was neuted, painted, nos’d, webbed, scrammed, tracking disrupted, and pointed.  I like the tracking disruptor.  Some zealous pilot in a Cruicifier hit me with one on a few runs. (So did somebody in an Eagle, though why they didn’t just shoot me…)  Pity it doesn’t do anything to an AOE weapon.  It will get you on the kill mail however, and that is the important part for all of us.  I got my ECM burst off before I blew up, and was then able to warp off in my pod before the parade of effects were able to land on me again.

After that I docked up and waited around for people to clear out.  I didn’t pad my kill board as gratuitously as I did the day before, but I got on my share and didn’t even get on any blue kills.  A rare thing with the indiscriminate ECM burst module.

This time around, with no structure loss weighing us down, the battle report fell in our favor.

Battle Report Header

Plus, we won the objective.  PandaFam has to start over again by setting the first timer again, which they did not bother with.  They will likely want to set it to fall in EUTZ where they are stronger.

So it goes.  They still have four Keepstar kills in the bag and two more left to kill in Fountain before the fun starts in Delve when supers and titans will start being part of the mix.  I think they only have a few dozen there to kill.  At a rate of about one or two a week, this could take some time.

Other coverage:

Metaliminal Storms Arrive in New Eden

With the Thursday morning update, the patch notes indicated that the previously announced metaliminal storms were now on the scene.

Unusual subspace distortions have begun to be detected in nullsec space. The first Metaliminal storms will arrive soon.

For once in game development “soon” meant “now.”

They’re here

They were coy in the patch notes and the news piece they posted, but when you logged into New Eden there was already a storm brewing in Providence.  Like most in the Imperium, I had money on Delve being the first location, just to go along with CCP tradition, but I guess the rotting carcass of ProviBloc gets the first storm raining on it.  The storm started centered on KBP7-G, which is adjacent to high sec, so high sec systems get a bit of the new weather as well.

The good news is that nobody has to build a New Eden Weather site, because CCP actually took the time to add storms to the map.

Storm option on the map interface

They actually put it on both maps, the old map above, which is still the better of the two, and the new map, as shown below.

The storm option on the years old “new” map

I have to say that the storm shows up marginally more visible on the new map.

The new map shows the storm

While the old map is not quite as clear.

The old map shows the storm

Though, honestly, neither is as clear or useful as the logical map view that DOTLAN gives you of space or than more “shape of space” view that GARPA displays.  Again, how CCP can have gone 17 years and still not produced a clear and useful in-game map remains a mystery to me.

The map doesn’t tell you what type of storm however… so maybe we do new NewEdenWeather.com.  So I flew an alt out to take a look.  As it turns out, the center of the first storm is very close to Amarr, being just 10 jumps out.  When I got into the outlying systems of the storm, I discovered it was an electrical storm. (I wrote about all the storm types previously, and the stats do not appear to have changed.)  You get an indication of the weather above your capacitor display, just like in Abyssal space.

The storm is weak in outlying systems

Naturally, the first storm was an electrical storm, because that is the one that prevents cloaking, which is the only big deal about the storms so far.

Closer in, you get stronger storm conditions.

Towards the center, the effects get stronger

As I said previously, the knock to cloaking feels like CCP playing towards those who don’t like cloaky camping, throwing them a bone without really doing anything one way or the other about the issue.

I also don’t think people get how long these storms could potentially linger.  I seen some HTFU attitude on this front, but I will be interested to see how those same people will feel when a storm comes to their part of space and lingers for days, moving one system a day, with the effects out to five gates.  Wait until a storm gets caught up in your region in a dead end path and the RNG keeps pushing it back and forth.  It is all fun and games until the turd is on your doorstep.

CCP said there would be eight storms running, so seven more will likely be spawning as time runs along, with two of each of the four flavors in play at any one time.

And, as often happens, it feels like CCP has missed the risk vs reward when it comes to these storms.  The incentives are so paltry, and the penalties so annoying, that my bet is that most people will avoid the storms if at all possible.

They do have a nice storm effect in space though.

My Ares in the electrical storm

We shall see if that is enough of an attraction.

The Fall of Niarja and the Shape of High Sec

Surprise!  Niarja became low security space last night!

Things have changed here

I had not been paying much attention to the Triglavian invasion event.  New Eden is a big enough sandbox that I can play in my own area and not care about what was going on in high sec.  Delve is many gates from the nearest high sec system.  Also, the war.

And then Niarja became the next Triglavian target and everybody lost their minds.

Niarja is a 0.5 high sec system known primarily for two things; being a prime spot for suicide gankers and being on the direct trade route when traveling between Caldari and Amarr space in general and the trade hubs of Jita and Amarr specifically.

When the Triglavians take a system, the security status of that system drops by 0.1.  That change would drop Niarja to 0.4, making it low sec and turning it from a place to suicide gank to a place to simply gank people passing through as CONCORD responses would no longer occur.

Meanwhile, the “safe” route from Jita to Amarr would go from 10 gates to 46.  I am not sure how much trade is specifically between those two points and how much of the traffic is from Jita to points beyond Amarr, but either way Niarja looked to become another low sec danger spot on the shortest route between regions.

The forces of chaos, in which I include CCP, seemed quite eager to see Niarja fall.  Others seemed quite angry at the prospect.  At least one group was sending out mail messages in game warning people that they had better not get caught supporting the Triglavians.

Signed, a friend

I am sure that was just some fun role play.

And this was all a high sec affair… until it wasn’t

Early yesterday Legacy Coalition declared that they were going to protect high sec by siding with EDENCOM to make sure the Triglavians didn’t take the system.  Dunk Dinkle of Brave posted a truncated image from what looks to be a Discord message that said:

THE COALITION DIRECTIVE IS TO SECURE NIARJA

Addendum: The Discord message in full:

Brave ping on Niarja

[This message is apparently what set the Imperium in motion, the opportunity to harm the people attacking us.]

At some later point Vily posted elsewhere that the coalition had just decided to fight the Triglavians because the Imperium had sided with them.  World War Bee was coming to high sec.

To my knowledge, up until then, there had been no official effort by the Imperium to influence the events in Niarja either way.  Word later came out that incursion squad had gone there on the down low to push things in favor of the Triglavians.  But once Vily reacted it became an official Imperium operation.  Pings went out to get people to pile on for the Trigs. [TEST never did show up for the event despite Vily’s post.]

Once I saw that was going on, I logged in a high sec alt just to see what I could see.  The gate to Niarja was suitably adorned with the Triglavian logo.

A new sheriff is in town

Inside the system, the battle was tilted towards the Triglavian side.

77% in favor of the Triglavians

Ashterothi, who was providing status updates on Twitter, reported that the Trigs had been as high as 85% at one point, but EDENCOM had slowly worked that down into the 70s.

The fighting is done by blowing up NPCs that spawn at sites in the system.  If you want the Triglavians to win, you go to the EDENCOM sites and shoot the spawns, and if you support EDENCOM you warp to the emerging conduit sites and shoot the Trigs.

Some sites from the probe scanner window

I was not on as an Imperium character so couldn’t join their fleet, but I spotted them and watched them take down a couple of the EDENCOM sites.  (I also saw a Brave group shooting up an EDENCOM site, and I am not sure what was going on there.)

It was already late for me and I wasn’t going to be able to join in so I docked up at one of the Raitarus in the system.  The Triglavians seemed to be edging up every so slightly as time went along, but it was going to take some time.

When I work up this morning however, I logged in to check and found I was in a low sec system.

The Triglavian sky is strange

The Mittani was smugging about having cut the high sec travel route as it apparently impacts Legacy and their own ability to resupply.

Meanwhile, the battle for the system carried on and the Triglavian side hit the final luminality.

EDECOM gives up at this point

Niarja is effectively a null sec or wormhole space system now in terms of security status.  That doesn’t make much difference to haulers, as low sec status was going to keep them away in any case.

In the short term I will be interested to see what this does to trade.  Does making Jita 30+ jumps further away make Amarr more valuable?  Does it grow as a trade hub out of Jita’s shadow?  Or was its proximity to Jita what made it the second trade hub?  Does Jita shrink?  Does this help Hek, Rens, and Dodixie, the lesser trade hubs?  What happens to the market?  What happens to shipping charges?  There is a lot there to unpack.

For the longer term I am back to wondering what CCP’s end game plan is for the Triglavian invasion.  It was a happy fun PvE event for quite a while, but now with more and more high sec systems falling to the Trigs (The Agency says 16 systems are now in final luminality) what is going to happen?  Will the Trigs remain and their systems be changed for good?  Will they reach some accord with the empires and become the fifth Beatle empire?  If there is a fifth empire will Max Singularity and the Sixth Empire demand some high sec space of their own?

CCP has never run an event like this in high sec.  In the past high sec followed the rules of TV sitcoms, where things can go crazy for a bit, but at the end of the episode the status quo must be restored.  It will be interesting to see if they want to return to the way things were or have a new long term state of affairs in mind for high sec space.

Other coverage:

EVE Echoes Launches Giving Players a New Beginning

Today sees the launch of EVE Echoes, the NetEase built mobile version of EVE Online.  CCP has a press release out announcing that the game has gone live.

EVE Echoes

This launch brings EVE Online, or a facsimile thereof, to your iOS or Android phone or tablet.

The launch video promises a new way to experience New Eden, which is no doubt true.  (Also, is that Hilmar’s ‘rona hair or is he growing it out for a 70s revival?)

I signed up for the Alpha test early on and got to try it out.  My summary:  It is not for me.

I am not a big phone/tablet gamer to start with.  And a game as complicated as EVE Online, which is tough enough to play with a keyboard and mouse, does not lend itself to a mobile interface.  Or such is my opinion in any case.

I am sure that it will suit some people.  Lots of people apparently, as they are saying they have over five million registrations in advance of the launch.

Big number is big

Of course, it is a free to play mobile MMO based on an mildly famous/infamous IP, so there are no doubt a lot of people who simply want to kick the tires… and no doubt more than a few botters looking to get in early to start an illicit RMT business.

More interesting to me though is the thought of starting with a reset version of New Eden.  People have long be asking for a reboot of the game, a new server where everybody starts fresh.

CCP will never do this.  It would kill the game.

Unlike EverQuest or World of Warcraft, being on a single server is the life blood of the New Eden, and splitting that population could lead to the player world falling below a critical mass of sustainability.  There is a threshold below which the game fails to be able to support the specialization of roles we now enjoy.  Or so the theory goes.

But now there is a fresh version of New Eden being rolled out, one where everybody is going to start equal and new, with no huge skill point advantage, no piles of ISK, no T2 blueprint originals to give a production advantage, and no alliance tournament ships rattling around in hangars.

This is the reboot many have asked for.  Will they use it?

Will the game take off?  Will it draw players away from the original?

I know, it isn’t an exact duplicate of the PC version of the game.  It is quite different in many ways.  But it is still basically the same premise.  We shall see.

I will say that EVE Echoes certainly seems to have gotten to market more quickly than another NetEase mobile partnership, Diablo: Immortal, the status of which still seems vague.

Other Blogger Coverage:

The Coming Metaliminal Storms May Decloak You in Null Sec

CCP announced today that Metaliminal Storms will soon be coming to null sec, imparting “weather effects” where ever they go.

Metaliminal Storms

Per the announcement:

Chaotic storms of Abyssal energy – called Metaliminal Storms – will begin appearing randomly in nullsec space this August when the Metaliminal Storms update goes live, as an unexpected side effect of the Triglavian invasion! These roaming storms will move slowly between star systems via the gate network.

The forum thread with the current details indicates that these storms will move at a rate of one system every 24-48 hours, giving at least some level of warning if a storm is close by.

There are currently four different storm types planned, with two levels of intensity (strong and weak), each of which brings with them a variety of effects on space, some beneficial some detrimental.  The storms will be akin to hurricanes, with a central system as the “eye” of the storm with strong effects being felt there and adjacent systems, while weak effects will be felts in systems two or three jumps away.

The way the describe storm movement, they appear to be effectively taking gates, so they follow what I might call DOTLAN map logic, where the distance between systems connected by a jump gate is effectively a constant, and a very small one at that, as opposed to what the in-game map shows, where the distance between systems can vary greatly, especially when it comes to gates between regions.  This may lead to some odd situations.

For example, since I have been marking up maps of Fountain lately due to the war, if the “eye” of a storm is in KVN-36 or C-N4OD, the storm effects will ripple out to the northern and southern ends of the region without touching anything in the middle thanks to the long gate jump between the two systems.

And outdated map used to show the distance between some key gates

Likewise, if the “eye” is in D4KU-5 in Fountain, the effects will ripple into Aridia despite the two regions being too far apart for a capital to jump between them.

Storm magic I guess.

The plan right now is to have eight such storms, two of each type, wandering null sec.  The “eye” of the storm will always be in null sec, but the effects can reach into low and high sec systems if the storm travels in that direction.

Of particular note to almost everybody reading the effects is that electrical storms will disable the ability to use a cloak in systems affected.

Gamma

  • Weak Metaliminal Gamma Ray Storm
    • -10% Explosive Resists
    • +10% Shield HP
    • -50% Remote Shield/Armor Rep Amount
    • +40% Warp Disruption/Scrambler Range
    • -10% Signature Radius
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Gamma Ray Storm
    • -25% Explosive Resists
    • +25% Shield HP
    • -90% Remote Shield/Armor Rep Amount
    • +100% Warp Disruption/Scrambler Range
    • -25% Signature Radius
    • Spawning extra Rogue Drone combat sites

Plasma

  • Weak Metaliminal Plasma Firestorm
    • -10% Thermal Resists
    • +10% Armor HP
    • +20% Weapon Damage
    • -20% Turret/Drone Tracking Speed
    • +20% Missile/Fighter Explosion Radius
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Plasma Firestorm
    • -25% Thermal Resists
    • +25% Armor HP
    • +50% Weapon Damage
    • -50% Turret/Drone Tracking Speed
    • +50% Missile/Fighter Explosion Radius
    • Spawning Triglavian combat sites

Exotic

  • Weak Metaliminal Exotic Matter Storm
    • -10% Kinetic Resists
    • +20% Scan Resolution
    • -10% Mining Laser Cycle Time
    • +40% Warp Speed
    • -10% Local Armor/Shield repairer cycle time
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Exotic Matter Storm
    • -25% Kinetic Resists
    • +50% Scan Resolution
    • -25% Mining Laser Cycle Time
    • +100% Warp Speed
    • -25% Local Armor/Shield repairer cycle time
    • Spawning extra ore anomalies

Electrical

  • Weak Metaliminal Electrical Storm
    • -10% EM Resists
    • -10% Capacitor Recharge Time
    • +10 Virus Coherence
    • +20% Probe Strength
    • No Cloaking
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Electrical Storm
    • -25% EM Resists
    • -25% Capacitor Recharge Time
    • +25 Virus Coherence
    • +50% Probe Strength
    • No Cloaking
    • Spawning extra relic sites

As with all things from CCP, this is likely subject to change before it hits Tranquility.  It has not yet been put onto the test server, Singularity, but the company plans to test it out there before it goes live.

CCP is soliciting feedback in the forum thread linked.

Many people are wetting themselves at the idea of cloaking being disabled.  And the boost to probe strength will really make it tough to hide.  I always felt cloaky camping was one of the prices of playing in null sec, so expect this will end up being a mixed blessing.

Storms also hit remote reps, local reps, and various resistance types, no doubt giving some a secondary jolt of pleasure after the cloaking effect hit wears off.

I am only surprised that there isn’t a storm effect that removes interdiction nullification and puts logi on kill mails if CCP really wanted to play to capsuleer requests.  Maybe they are holding those for round two.

EVE Online Command Ships Get a Small Update

CCP announced today that they had deployed the Combat Command update, part of the Zenith Quadrant plan, to give a bit of a buff to command ships.

Command ship love

The changes, listed out in an update to the patch notes, are as follows:

Attack Command Ships (Absolution, Astarte, Nighthawk, Sleipnir):

  • 3% bonus to command burst strength changed to 4% bonus to command burst strength
  • 100% bonus to command burst range removed

Absolution:

  • Mass decreased from 13,300,000 to 12,300,000
  • Max velocity increased from 150 to 158
  • CPU increased from 400 to 420
  • PG from increased 1500 to 1550
  • Scan resolution increased from 210 to 252

Astarte:

  • Max velocity increased from 155 to 165
  • CPU increased from 440 to 450
  • Scan resolution increased from 200 to 240

Claymore:

  • 5% bonus to missile explosion velocity increased to 10% bonus to missile velocity
  • 7.5% bonus to shield boost amount changed to 4% per level bonus to shield resistances
  • max targeting range increased from 65km to 75km
  • Scan resolution increased from 220 to 264

Damnation:

  • Scan resolution increased from 210 to 252

Eos:

  • Command Ships bonuses (per skill level):
    • 7.5% bonus to Drone Tracking speed
    • 10% bonus to Drone Optimal range
    • 3% bonus to Armored Command and Skirmish Command burst strength and duration
  • Gallente Battlecruiser bonuses (per skill level):
    • 10% bonus to Drone hitpoints and damage
    • 4% bonus to Armor resistances
  • Max targeting range increased from 65km to 75km
  • Max velocity increased from 145 to 150
  • Mass decreased from 13,000,000 to 12,500,000
  • Drone bay increased from 250m3 to 300m3
  • High slots decreased from 6 to 5
  • Low slots increased from 6 to 7
  • Scan resolution increased from 200 to 240

Nighthawk:

  • 7.5% bonus to missile rate of fire increased to 10% bonus to missile rate of fire
  • max velocity increased from 140 to 150
  • mass decreased from 14,810,000 to 13,200,000
  • mid slots increased from 5 to 6
  • low slots decreased from 5 to 4
  • Scan resolution increased from 195 to 234

Sleipnir:

  • Scan resolution increased from 220 to 264

Vulture:

  • Command ship skill bonus to hybrid optimal range changed to 10% shield hp per level
  • Scan resolution increased from 195 to 234

After a few bad experiences I stay away from boosting and command ships, so can’t really say if these changes will make much of a difference.  The Eos looks like it got the most changes.  We will see if the state of the Nighthawk gets any better.  The next time I see one in space will likely be the first time.

The update also marked the end of the 2v2 cruiser brawl proving ground event.  A destroyer event will be starting on Friday.