Tag Archives: Chaos Era

The Strange September MER

CCP was quick to get the Monthly Economic Report for September into our hands this month.  Due to a number of factors, I have been slower actually getting to it.

Still, there is something to gawk at this month and I am going to go straight to my favorite chart this time around, which is the sinks and faucets over time.

September 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time

And the key item on this chart is the gold line that represents NPC bounty payouts.  As I have noted, and as the chart shows, bounty payouts had been tapering off since their peak at the start of the year as CCP nerfed various aspects of null sec anomalies.  Then came the blackout in null sec and they fell off a cliff.  However, the player count also took a hit, so in mid September the blackout ended.

However, just a week before that we got the September update which introduced the cyno changes.

So if you look at that chart closely, examining its behavior between September and October, you can see that NPC bounties fell off even further.  They pretty much dropped off another, smaller cliff as capital ship ratting was pulled up short and the various null sec coalitions developed strategies with which to cope with the change.

In the Imperium people were told not to rat in capitals or supers until the was figured out, and I have heard that other groups did the same.

Eventually though new fits were worked out and strategies setup to counter the problem of not being able to light a cyno on your capital or super (or Rorqual) to get rescued if trouble showed up. (Hint: having an alt in a force recon with a cyno cloaked up on grid and ready to go is a big part of the answer.)  After that was settled the crabs once again undocked and commenced their harvesting yet again and we can see the line going right back up at the end of the month.

So the question probably is whether or not that line has momentum, whether or not it will keep on climbing back into the untenable zone where CCP will feel it has to step in again in order to reign in what was once the biggest ISK faucet in the New Eden economy.

We’ll be back to this chart when the October numbers come out for sure.

As for who grabbed the most of those NPC bounties, the chart shows that the usual regions were at the top of the list.

September 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region

The top ten regions for September were:

  1. Delve – 2.2 trillion
  2. Deklein – 1.5 trillion
  3. Cobalt Edge – 1 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 975 billion
  5. Fountain – 957 billion
  6. Branch – 699 billion
  7. Oasa – 686 billion
  8. Detorid – 528 billion
  9. Tenerifis – 496 billion
  10. Insmother – 454 billion

If the Imperium is home then Delve is at the top.

A lot of those numbers are down from the August, full blackout but pre-cyno change top ten:

  1. Delve – 4.39 trillion
  2. Insmother – 1.30 trillion
  3. Detorid – 1.23 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 1.05 trillion
  5. Querious – 753 billion
  6. Cobalt Edge – 705 billion
  7. Metropolis – 543 billion
  8. Omist – 526 billion
  9. Fountain – 515 billion
  10. Malpais – 514 billion

Delve was down by half in September, and other regions fell off as well, but not all of them.  Cobalt Edge, was up in the northeast of New Eden was up by 250 billion.  So location, reaction time, and the proximity of a war no doubt played into it.

The big sinks and faucets chart shows NPC bounties were down overall compared to August.

September 2019 – Sinks and Faucets

The August chart had NPC bounties at just over 21 trillion ISK, while for September that number fell by nearly a trillion ISK, with NPC bounties pegged at just over 20 trillion ISK.

That kept commodities out in front as the largest faucet in New Eden, though those fell a bit as well, dropping from nearly 24 trillion in August to 21.6 trillion in September.  While that is down some, the peak back in January was 26 trillion, so there hasn’t been any huge shift there.  It is the top faucet because NPC bounties (which were over 83 trillion back in January) have been brought low.

You can also see from that chart that more ISK came out of the New Eden economy this month than went in.

Since the blackout and cyno changes also impact mining operations, at least in null sec, I should probably spend a moment looking at those numbers as well.

September 2019 – Mining value by region

Pulling numbers from the spreadsheet, the top ten regions for mining were:

  1. Delve – 3 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.3 trillion
  3. The Forge – 1.2 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 1.1 trillion
  5. Querious – 879 billion
  6. Lonetrek – 876 billion
  7. Sinq Laison – 848 billion
  8. Metropolis – 847 billion
  9. Fountain – 768 billion
  10. Genesis – 705 billion

Delve being on top should probably surprise nobody.  The Imperium is the top crabbing organization in the game, which also figured into Querious and Fountain being on the list.  And Esoteria should be renamed TESToteria.

But the rest of the list is high sec.

The numbers overall seem to be down from the August top ten:

  1. Delve – 3.62 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.59 trillion
  3. Esoteria – 1.46 trillion
  4. The Forge – 1.40 trillion
  5. Querious – 1.10 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.02 trillion
  7. Lonetrek – 972 billion
  8. Metropolis – 895 billion
  9. Everyshore – 777 billion
  10. Tash-Murkon – 773 billion

However, mineral prices, on which these numbers rest, were also down in September.

September 2019 – Economic Indices

With the prices down, the value is down.

Finally I want to grab the destruction numbers for New Eden.  The blackout, the cyno changes, and the Chaos Era in general were suppose to be at least in part in furtherance of destruction.  Hilmar wanted to see more things blow up.

September 2019 – Destruction value by region

For September the top regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 2.4 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.7 trillion
  3. Delve – 1.7 trillion
  4. Detorid – 1.6 trillion
  5. Sinq Laison – 1.2 trillion
  6. Domain – 1.2 trillion
  7. Lonetrek – 1.1 trillion
  8. Esoteria – 906 billion
  9. Metropolis – 882 billion
  10. Deklein – 865 billion

We have high sec trade hubs, Delve, the war zone of Detorid, TESToteria, and Deklein, the last no doubt in relation to the increase in ratting that put Deklein in second place for NPC bounties.

Those numbers are a bit down from August, especially around Jita it seems.  The August top ten:

  1. The Forge 3.2 trillion
  2. The Citadel – 1.9 trillion
  3. Lonetrek – 1.8 trillion
  4. Detorid – 1.6 trillion
  5. Delve – 1.5 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.5 trillion
  7. Domain – 1.5 trillion
  8. Fade – 1.4 trillion
  9. Metropolis – 1.1 trillion
  10. Black Rise – 1.0 trillion

Overall the total destruction numbers according to the August and September regional stats spreadsheets were 39.7 trillion and 31.2 trillion respectively.  So destruction seems down, and not just in null sec where the crabs were docked up for a couple weeks out of the month.  The Forge being down by a quarter seems significant.

Did the 3 minute cap on being bumped before warping cut down ganks?

Anyway, that is the meat of things for me, and it gives me something to look at next month when perhaps things will have settled down enough to see a pattern.  Or maybe there will be chaos! Chaos!  CHAOS!

If you are interested in the data and charts, CCP provides them all here in a nice zip archive so you can dig into them and make your own lists and graphs.

More New Eden Numbers for 2019

There have been a lot of numbers thrown about with regards to EVE Online of late in attempts to prove all sorts of things like whether the Chaos Era or the blackout or tax rates or PLEX prices are helping the game, hurting the game, or whatever.  So I thought I would join in on the fun.

Being who I am, I don’t have a point I am trying to prove, and if you skip down to the end you won’t find any grand conclusions either condemning or congratulating CCP.  I just want to see what the data says… or, more likely, what it doesn’t say.

For my numbers I thought I ought to compare the extremes of 2019, so I figured I would put January of the year up against August.  When those two months?  August simply because it is the latest set of MER data we have, while January… well, January was the peak of what one might call “fat times in null sec,” when NPC bounties were paying out greater than ever before.  Look at this chart from the August MER.

August 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time

You can see that NPC bounties reached their peak.  This was also a period of not much in the way of wars.  It also pre-dates not only the Chaos Era but also the series of nerfs to bounties and mining in null sec.  January might very well be the height of everything that people outside of null sec hate about it.  It was the peak of the Delve Time Unit.

As for the data I want to toss around, there are three things I want to look at, all of which I am taking directly from the MER data in the January and August reports.

The first is NPC bounties, because of course it is.  As I noted above, January was the absolute peak of NPC bounty largess and CCP has been trying to combat that for much of the year, with nerfs to anomaly spawns and fighter damage application and VNI changes and the blackout and the recent cyno changes to complicate defense group responses.  As I mentioned in my August MER post, those numbers have been declining over the course of the year.

  • January – 83.8 trillion
  • February – 69.8 trillion
  • March – 71.4 trillion
  • April – 57.2 trillion
  • May – 55.5 trillion
  • June – 48.2 trillion
  • July – 29.1 trillion
  • August – 21.1 trillion

August was basically 25% of the January total from the sinks and faucets table.

Unfortunately, I am working from the RegionalStats.csv file that is included with each MER, and the numbers there do not align with some of the other charts.  I get it.  You write your SQL query and you take your chances, and different queries can yield different results if you’re not careful.

Also, the region of Cache was missing from the January MER file, so I removed it from the August data so as to compare apples with apples to the extent I could.

With that data in play, the numbers are:

  • January – 84.8 trillion
  • August – 19 trillion

That puts August at about 22.39% of the January total.  However, looking at it in drops sorted out by region, the average/mean drop was 50.49% and the median drop was 49.38%.  That those two differ so much from the combined total drop seems to indicate that drops varied greatly by region.

Since I have that data broken out by regions, I thought I would look at the biggest and smallest losers.

For losers, here are the regions that took the biggest hits:

  1. Period Basis – 3.4 trillion to 20 billion ISK – 0.58% of January
  2. Outer Passage – 2.4 trillion to 80 billion ISK – 3.31% of January
  3. Branch – 6.9 trillion to 259 billion ISK – 3.75% of January
  4. Catch – 1.2 trillion to 52 billion ISK – 4.47% of January
  5. Wicked Creek – 2.1 trillion to 96 billion ISK – 4.54% of January

Period Basis, that was Red Alliance space back in January, though they fell apart and GSF took over, turning it into Imperium rental space and an alleged haven for bots, protected behind the bulk of Delve.  The blackout and bot banning took its toll there.

Outer Passage was another deep null sec spot reputed to be a haven for bots.

Branch was Dead Coalition’s ratting paradise back in January, where they were recovering their fortunes after the Keepstar War of last year.  Not quite as well protected as some regions, but well back from NPC space aside from a station in Venal.

Catch is home to Legacy Coalition alliances including Brave Newbies.

Wicked Creek has been held by Fraternity for ages, but they have apparently pulled back from it for ratting, at least relative to their core in Detorid, which we’ll get to.

The big winners were:

  1. The Kalevala Expanse – 190 billion to 400 billion ISK – 210.29% of January
  2. Genesis – 199 billion to 218 billion ISK – 109.81% of January
  3. Placid – 76 billion to 83 billion ISK – 108.79% of January
  4. The Bleak Lands – 14 billion to 15 billion ISK – 105.83% of January
  5. Tash-Murkon – 98 billion to 103 billion ISK – 104.76% of January

Basically, that is four non-null regions that stayed about the same and The Kalevala Expanse, which is the real outlier in the mix.  It has been held by Pandemic Horde since May of 2018, but was not well utilized for a long stretch.  It was going to be, and may still be, their rental empire.

Then there are what I have decided to call the benchmark sov null regions, which were held by the same groups throughout 2019 and how they fared:

  1. Cobalt Edge (Hard Knocks) – 2.0 trillion to 706 billion – 34.72% of January
  2. Delve (Imperium) – 12.9 trillion to 4.4 trillion – 33.92% of January
  3. Detorid (Fraternity) 5.5 trillion to 1.2 trillion – 22.19% of January
  4. Esoteria (TEST) 5.1 trillion to 1.0 trillion – 20.44% of January
  5. Providence (Provi) 860 billion to 71 billion – 8.26% of January

The wretched excess of Delve was curbed, but it did not fall as far as many, while Provi appears to have suffered quite a bit over the course of the year. Detorid looks to be right at the mean drop.

And then, finally, I also broke the regions of New Eden out into three different areas, Empire (both high and low sec, since Empire regions often include both), Sov Null, and NPC Null.  Broken out, here is how they compared:

  1. NPC Null – 749 billion to 620 billion – 82.77% of January
  2. Empire – 4.3 trillion to 3.5 trillion – 81.70% of January
  3. Sov Null – 79.7 trillion to 14.8 trillion – 18.62% of January

So the weight of the changes over the course of the year fell on null sec.  Of course, that is where the most of the bounties were.  Empire and NPC Null lack upgraded anomalies and don’t see capital or super capital ratting, so the NPC bounties are likely from missions and belt rats.

Looking at NPC bounty changes overall and broken out by the different areas:

  • All Regions Overall: 22.39% Mean: 50.49% Median: 49.38%
  • NPC Null Overall: 82.77% Mean: 76.59% Median: 76.93%
  • Empire – Overall: 81.70% Mean: 84.96% Median: 84.78%
  • Sov Null – Overall: 18.62% Mean: 22.57% Median: 9.24%

When the overall, mean, and median are close, that means that the change was spread pretty evenly.  When they vary, as they do with All Regions and Sov Null, that indicates that changes were uneven.

Basic conclusion is that NPC bounty changes affected Sov Null more than other areas.  I do not think that is a particularly controversial statement.  It is what we would expect having paid attention to the MERs during 2019.

Next up is mining, the other thing CCP sought to nerf in 2019.  Again, it is something that happens heavily in Sov Null, but it is also pretty big in Empire space as well.  The only problem is that the ISK numbers are based on mineral prices during the given time period, so January to August comparisons will be less indicative than NPC bounties, which are always in direct ISK value.  But let’s look anyway.

Overall mining in January brought in 58 trillion ISK in mineral value, an amount that fell to 28 trillion in August, just 48.47% of January.  But the average percentage, when look at per region change, was 76.19%, which means there were some big losers out there.  They were:

  1. Period Basis – 155 trillion to 91 million – 0.06% of January
  2. Outer Passage – 809 billion to 35.4 billion – 4.37% of January
  3. Branch 2.2 trillion to 106 billion – 4.81% of January
  4. Deklein – 1.3 trillion to 83 billion – 6.38% of January
  5. Perrigen Falls – 327 billion to 35 billion – 10.54% of January

There is at least some overlap between the NPC bounty and mining regions here, with Period Basis on top and Branch in the middle for both.

Likewise, the regions with the biggest gains have a pair of repeats:

  1. The Kalevala Expanse – 150 billion to 520 billion – 345.47% of January
  2. Omist – 126 billion to 378 billion – 300.29% of January
  3. The Bleak Lands – 133 billion to 202 billion – 151.82% of January
  4. Pure Blind – 149 billion to 220 billion – 147.19% of January
  5. Aridia – 166 billion to 240 billion – 144.44% of January

As noted before, TKE was underutilized back in January, while TBL, high sec space, saw something of a boost for both bounties and mining.  The surprise for me is probably Pure Blind… who even lives there to mine… and Aridia, as low sec doesn’t have a reputation for being a miner’s paradise.  But, then, none of those regions had big numbers to start with, no trillion ISK regions on that list, so the amount required to move the needle is significantly less.

[Addendum: During the Sep. 20 Open Comms Show Brisc Rubal said that The Initiative moved their mining ops to Aridia during the blackout, which explains that jump.]

And then there are my benchmark Sov Null regions:

  • Cobalt Edge (Hard Knocks) – 745 billion to 217 billion – 29.06% of January
  • Delve (Imperium) – 14 trillion to 3.6 trillion – 25.81% of January
  • Detorid (Fraternity) – 3 trillion to 415 billion – 13.48% of January
  • Esoteria (TEST) – 3.9 trillion to 1.5 trillion – 36.97% of January
  • Providence (Provi) – 405 billion to 122 trillion – 30.16% of January

All were down, with Detorid down the most, while Esoteria seemed to hang on better than the others.

Broken out by different areas of space, overall is all regions as a whole, mean and median are per region changes:

  • All Regions Overall: 48.47% Mean: 76.19% Median: 75.61%
  • NPC Null Overall: 70.94% Mean: 63.77% Median: 65.66%
  • Empire – Overall: 99.99% Mean: 103.34% Median: 104.91%
  • Sov Null – Overall: 31.37% Mean: 60.01% Median: 36.27%

Mining isn’t down as much as bounties, but it is still down.  Empire space was the least affected over the course of the year, with January and August numbers looking very similar.  That at least seems to cast some doubt on the “all the mining bots moved to high sec” theory I have seen.  But the picture is incomplete.  The change in mineral prices, which went up over the course of the year, means that it the totals are close then less ore overall was mined.

Finally, the third thing people have brought up quite a bit is destruction.  The purpose of the blackout was, among other things, supposed to bring more destruction to New Eden.  Or so some people were loudly declaring.  Maybe it was just to frighten botters.  Anyway, we’ll look at those numbers.

Overall destruction in New Eden, according to the data I am using (and we know the data isn’t always complete as noted here) has January pegged at 40 trillion ISK and August at 39 trillion ISK, which is probably withing the margin of error for CCP data.  That would be an almost Ivory Soap-like 99.41% change.  That the by region mean change was 129.22% indicates that different areas saw different results over time, but the median was still a nice solid 96.21%, which is pretty close to the overall change.

So where were the big increases?

  1. Fade – 113 billion to 1.4 trillion – 1265.61% of January
  2. Omist – 76 billion to 414 billion – 544.21% of January
  3. The Kalevala Expanse – 278 billion to 777 billion – 279.66% of January
  4. Genesis – 402 billion to 910 billion – 226.64% of January
  5. Verge Vendor – 168 billion to 363 billion – 216.71% of January

I have no idea what was going on in Fade, which is a problem with a lot of these numbers.  And a big increase like that will skew your data when you look at it in region sized chunks.  Still, something was going on.  It was also interesting to see that destruction followed utilization in TKE, it having made the top increase in all three areas.

The last two regions are in high sec.  More ganking maybe?

At the other end, where did destruction drop off?

  1. Period Basis – 491 billion to 26 billion – 5.30% of January
  2. Geminate – 2.4 trillion to 380 billion – 15.68% of January
  3. Perrigen Falls – 372 billion to 81 billion – 21.78% of January
  4. Outer Passage – 387 billion to 93 billion – 23.95% of January
  5. Cloud Ring – 383 billion to 151 billion – 39.57% of January

Again, it is nice to see some consistency, with the drop off in ratting and mining on Period Basis there was a corresponding drop in destruction.

Geminate was where Pandemic Horde used to live.  Perrigen Falls and Outer Passage are both in the upper drone region, a place reputed to be a botting home.  And then there is Cloud Ring.  I blame The Initiative and Snuffed Out for whatever happens up there.

And how about the benchmark Sov Null regions?  Any changes there that correspond to anything we have seen so far?

  • Cobalt Edge (Hard Knocks) – 395 billion to 699 billion – 177.02% of January
  • Delve (Imperium) – 1.8 trillion to 1.5 trillion – 85.86% of January
  • Detorid (Fraternity) – 1.2 trillion to 1.6 trillion – 137.20% of January
  • Esoteria (TEST) – 613 billion – 860 billion – 140.39% of January
  • Providence (Provi) – 765 billion – 843 billion – 110.24% of January

Unlike Period Basis, there is no corresponding drop in destruction relative to the decrease in ratting or mining.  Somebody took it upon themselves to get out to Cobalt Edge and blow things up. Detorid and Esoteria are also part of an ongoing war in the east, which muddies the water a bit.  Providence saw a bit of a bump.  And then there is Delve, the only one of the bunch that saw a decrease, though at both ends of the measure it saw the most absolute destruction.

Destruction broken out by different areas of space, where overall is all regions as a whole, mean and median are per region changes:

  • All Regions Overall: 99.41% Mean: 129.22% Median: 96.21%
  • NPC Null Overall: 79.61% Mean: 74.70% Median: 76.72%
  • Empire – Overall: 110% Mean: 118.98% Median: 103.41%
  • Sov Null – Overall: 92.29% Mean: 145.77% Median: 88.00%

NPC Null saw a drop, the data shows that it fell in every region, Empire stayed about the same, with some outliers, and Sov Null saw the widest variety of change.  But there are more Sov Null regions than the other two areas combined, so that seems likely.  But the overall numbers didn’t show much change.

So what do all of these numbers mean?  I don’t know.

My daughter is currently taking AP Statistics, so I am trying to show the same restraint I have tried to instill in her when it comes to jumping to conclusions based on data that may not tell a complete story.  It is easy to infer meaning at a glance that is not really there.

There are certainly some consistent stories in the mix, like those of Period Basis or TKE, where a changes followed a nice pattern.  The stories of those regions seem clear.  But others are less so, which points to the need to know what was actually going on in any given area before drawing any conclusions about it based on the data here.  And everything should probably be overlaid on some sort of user online report to give some hint if more people online end up with more ratting and mining and destruction as part of things.

Still, I think there is some value in looking at the data, if only just to get a sense of what is changing where.

For this post I put the data from the August and January MERs into their own Excel spreadsheet, which you can download if you like.

Of course, I started doing this last weekend just because, then got it queued up to post this week after the Ragefire Chasm three-parter, only to find Rhivre at INN also wanted to throw lots of data around this week as well.  She goes into more depth, talks about more things, and generally does a much better job than I bothered to do, so if you want to wallow in numbers you should probably go check that out.

On The Road Again in New Eden

The Chaos Era has been a bit of a bust for me.  I don’t rat or mine, so I am not on that declining indicator, but with a lot of people turtling up there are not as many defense fleets to go save people.  I am also not a solo PvPer, so I haven’t been out hunting.  I generally depend on SIG or squad deployments for my content and, aside from the short one up to Placid… which was low sec, so no Chaos Era benefits there… I haven’t had much to get me to log in.

There has been talk of a Reavers deployment, but things kept getting in the way, like a hurricane Dorian headed straight for Asher’s home.  That eventually passed and last week Asher got us grouped up.  It was going to be a very traditional Reavers deployment, with Ishtars and support and no station to dock up in.  I had a couple of Guardians left over from past operations already correctly fit, so I put one on my main, one on my alt, and waited for the ping announcing our departure.

I didn’t plan to dual box Guardians.  Keeping up with reps and the cap chain on two screens during a fight is too much for me.  Instead my alt was basically hauling out a reship.  If my main got his ship popped, he could just grab the extra from my alt, while if he got blown up and podded, he could just fly out in an interceptor and swap ships with my alt, who could then fly home.

Soon enough the ping came and we loaded up our ships with the intent to live out of them in hostile space and headed out.

A small fleet warps off

As is tradition, our destination was not announced in advance.  We just went to a series of waypoints along the route to our area of operation.  But Asher couldn’t hide which direction we were going.  We were headed east and were soon into Legacy Coalition space, where the jump gates seemed to be set to less us pass through.

Using the middle management dino gate

I was wondering whether this was a default setting, if Legacy was letting us use their gate network to let Imperium forces pass through their space in order to join in on fights in the east or if we were getting some special treatment.  The war between Legacy and Winter coalitions, which has been running off and on for ages now, continues to bubble down in the southeast of New Eden, with third parties like Pandemic Legion showing up to grab some content.  Certainly the Imperium had sent fleets east before during the war.

However, not all gates were green… or blue I guess… to us.  At an XIX gate we had to stop and hold, hanging in space while Asher found somebody to flip the switch for us.

Waiting for the gate to let us through

That he had to get on a channel somewhere to get us a pass seems to indicate that at least an “Imperium flies free” policy isn’t Legacy wide.  So we sat and waited, no doubt scaring a few of the locals who jumped through to find a fleet of not blue Ishtars and support hanging about.

We had our own fat targets, but no shots were taken

Asher found the right person and we were able to jump through and continue on our way, heading past Legacy space and into Winter Coalition’s domain.  No jump gate travel for us there.  But it was also well past prime time for the locals, and we were able to pass through their space using gates without much notice.

My Guardian aligning out from another gate

The blackout was in effect, so they would have needed to lay eyes on us or catch us on a dscan to know we were there.  Finally a bit of the Chaos Era working in my favor.

Another gate to pass through

Eventually we found a spot to safe up in Insmother, made our safe spots, got out our mobile depots, and fit cloaks in order to be able to cloak up and stay safe.

Living out of a mobile depot

Once there we had to find something to do.

Initially we found a couple of unfueled Fraternity towers, which we proceeded to shoot.  That is all part of the Reavers plan.  We set up in space the start shooting things until somebody shows up to chase us off.  If the hostiles for big, we just cloak up and disappear.  If they form a fleet about our size, then we take the fight if we can.  So we blew up the towers.

An old Minmatar tower blows up

All that yielded was a “But why?” from somebody in local… and I am not even sure they meant us.

The next time I was on we went looking to stir things up with one of the Winter Coalition members more in our time zone, the Lord of Worlds Alliance (LORDE).  Their alliance logo is an angry unicorn on a pink shield, which I guess gives them some synergy with GoonWaffe (GEWNS), whose logo is a unicorn in front of an outline of a heart.

The comparison

This similarity came up on coms and, while the GoonWaffe logo was no doubt chosen for irony, who actually chose it and why has been lost to the mists of time.

Anyway, we went out to entosis a couple of their infrastructure hubs to see if they would come out to play.

The ihub awaits

The word was that they were on during our time frame and would form up and fight if the numbers worked out.  After tinkering around a bit to get and entosis link on the right ship… it started on a Tengu and there was some awkward work with people swapping ships and using mobile depots in order to get it fitted on an Ishtar… we commenced to fly in circles around the ihub and run the magic entosis wand over it.  Exciting game play.

Entosis coming from the Ishtar in the middle

There was a bit of trouble with the Ishtar running out of capacitor, but one of the Guardians in the cap chain just diverted one of their cap transfer modules onto it and we were set.  And then around and around we went.

The locals did come out to play, but apparently couldn’t get enough people together for a stand up fight.  Instead they came out in bombers and interceptors to try and and interrupt the entosis ship.  That was mildly annoying, but not enough to get us to break orbit, and we ended up getting a couple of kills.  Ishtars racing in a circle with props on move pretty quickly so you have to anticipate where they’ll be before you bomb.  The locals were not quite that good.

Things were quiet enough that I put EVE Online on my second monitor and played WoW Classic for part of the op.  That is EVE Online some days, a game that lets you watch movies or play other games.

That ended up with a couple of ihubs reinforced, after which we went back to where we were living, where we safed up, put on our cloaks, and logged out again.  I didn’t do much with EVE Online over the weekend.  I missed any ops we might have run.  But today things changed.  As CCP announced on Saturday, the blackout is over.  We’re no longer invisible in space.  People can now see us in the local channel when we log in.  Our extra cloak is gone.  But we have always had to deal with that in the past.  And us being logged in and cloaked up can be a deterrent on its own.  And so it goes, living out in hostile space on another Reavers op.

Null Sec Blackout to End on Monday

I woke up this morning to find some fresh news from the Chaos Era, though this time it seemed a bit counter-chaos.  CCP Cognac announced at the Berlin Fanfest that delayed local in null sec, the blackout, will be over after downtime on Monday.

CCP says Blackout

CCP had said previously that the blackout would be for an indefinite duration, but its introduction two months back came with quite a bit of warning, discussion, and even a setup via the in-game lore.  Has a new supply of Quantum-Entangled 4-Helium been secured?

We don’t know.  Not yet anyway.  CCP did not say why they are bringing the blackout to an end, just that it is happening.  The announcement could charitably be called perfunctory.  Clip of the announcement, and I have seen several, run about 30 seconds.

Of course, there is quite a bit of speculation as to why it is happening.  You need only go over to cesspool of /r/eve to see various theories.  But /r/eve has been at war with itself over the Chaos Era since it started. (At war with itself more so than usual at least, likely because the Chaos Era has been focused on nerfing null sec, which has led to the usual tribal division who see somebody else getting hit as good for them.)  A leading candidate is the dropping concurrent player numbers, something I mentioned on Monday.  The count fell off noticeably with the end of the Season of Skills event and has been slowly falling ever since.  I was concerned to log in on a week night to find the online count under 15K, but this week I was on when it was around 12K.  18K used to seem like the low bar for my usual evening play time on the west coast.

There is even a post up over at Massively OP trying to sum up the various evidence and theories which, including the comments, range from summer vacations to WoW Classic to the core player base getting old and dying off.  But back in the EVE Online player base people are still denying there has been any decline at all.  So your mileage may vary.

Anyway, we shall see if the removal of the blackout has an impact on those numbers.  I do expect that AFK cloaky campers will soon be back in null sec space to keep the ratters and miners on their toes.

I am sure there will be plenty of hot takes and summaries of the blackout.  I might have a few additional words myself.  But the end of the Chaos Era hasn’t been announced, so expect humans to continue to behave like humans when faced with uncertainty.

Others on this topic:

The August MER and the Fall of NPC Bounties

We got the Monthly Economic Report for July somewhat late last month, but this month CCP has the MER for August out already, so it is time to take a look.  And the big chart for the month is the sinks and faucets.  That will be my main focus this time around.

August 2019 – Sinks and Faucets

There are a few items of significance on that chart.

Up front, for the first time in a long time, sinks out paced faucets in the game, with just shy of 64 trillion ISK coming into the game from faucets but almost 70 trillion ISK leaving the game via sinks.  That, plus the Active ISK delta, which includes ISK removed via GM actions, saw 49 trillion ISK leave the New Eden economy in August.

The big change continues to be falling totals from NPC bounties, which dropped to a recent low of 21.1 trillion ISK for August.   There has been a pretty consistent drop so far in 2019, with NPC bounties at about a quarter of where they stood in January.

  • August – 21.1 trillion
  • July – 29.1 trillion
  • June – 48.2 trillion
  • May – 55.5 trillion
  • April – 57.2 trillion
  • March – 71.4 trillion
  • February – 69.8 trillion
  • January – 83.8 trillion

And where were those bounties being harvested?  20% of it was in Delve, which is back at the top of the list for NPC bounties since the Imperium pulled back home back when the Drifters started hitting.

August 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

Most every region was down, with some more than others.  The top ten regions for August were:

  1. Delve – 4.39 trillion
  2. Insmother – 1.30 trillion
  3. Detorid – 1.23 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 1.05 trillion
  5. Querious – 753 billion
  6. Cobalt Edge – 705 billion
  7. Metropolis – 543 billion
  8. Omist – 526 billion
  9. Fountain – 515 billion
  10. Malpais – 514 billion

Compare that with the list from July:

  1. Delve – 4.71 trillion
  2. Esoteria – 1.77 trillion
  3. Branch – 1.61 trillion
  4. Detorid – 1.23 trillion
  5. Deklein – 1.22 trillion
  6. Insmother – 1.10 trillion
  7. Tenal – 1.1 trillion
  8. Fountain – 1.06 trillion
  9. Omist – 850 billion
  10. Feythabolis – 810 billion

Delve remained on top, and five others remained on the list, four new regions made it into the top ten, including a high sec region, Metropolis.  Metropolis didn’t make the top ten due to a huge surge in bounties.  It rang in at 529 billion ISK in July, so was only up a bit.  It made the cut because just about every other region fell.  Of last month’s top ten, only Detroid stayed about the same.

That meant the percentage of bounties claimed in high sec went up as the bounty totals went down.

August 2019 – NPC Bounty Percentage by Sec Status

Zero, high, and low sect were 81.7%, 15.9%, and 2.4% respectively.  The balance in July was 88.7%, 9.9%, and 1.5%, while in June it was 93.6%, 5.6%, and 0.8%.  Given that the August NPC bounty total was less than half of June’s, this appears to be much more a matter of null sec totals being reduced rather than any large increase in the other areas of space.

Continuing on with NPC bounties, they also used to be the biggest number on that sinks and faucets chart, often obnoxiously so.  With the coming of the August MER, two other numbers have passed bounties.

The first item is NPC Commodities, items that drop from sleepers or combat sites or Abyssal Deadspace that can be cashed in via NPC buy orders in select stations.  I honestly don’t know a lot about this, save for the Triglavian Survey Database that drop from Abyssal Deadspace.  And, honestly, CCP isn’t much help on this front.  Look at this chart.

August 2019 – Commodities Breakdown

According to that 14% of the commodity income is from Overseer’s Personal Effects, 25.7% is from “Other,” none is from Sleeper Components, so I guess wormhole space makes no money anymore,  and 60.3%, or roughly 14 trillion ISK of the total, isn’t accounted for at all.  I suspect this is a matter of CCP Quant having created these reports and, when he left, people assumed they would just need to run his script and everything would be fine and nothing would ever change and it isn’t anybody’s job to fix this so the reports will just get comically out of whack over time.

Such is the way of things.  If nobody owns it, nobody is going to fix it.

These commodities, whatever they were, brought in 23.8 trillion ISK to the New Eden economy, putting them ahead of the 21.1 trillion ISK brought in by NPC bounties.

But this wasn’t any rush away from null sec or NPC bounties.  Commodities have been stable, or even down a little bit (the number was almost 26 trillion back in January), for most of the year.  NPC bounties have just fallen below where commodities have lingered.

The other item on the sinks and faucets chart that now exceeds NPC bounties is actually a sink.

In late July CCP announced an increase in transaction taxes and brokerage fees, which came into effect at the start of August.  This saw transaction taxes collected jump from 11.6 trillion ISK in July to 22.1 trillion ISK in August, putting the number ahead of NPC bounties.

So basically two things changed on that initial chart, transaction taxes went up and NPC bounties continued to go down.  This is visualized on the sinks and faucets over time graph.

August 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time

NPC bounties, after a steep drop, seem to have leveled off, while transaction taxes saw a sharp spike… downward, because faucets go up and sinks go down on this chart.

Alright.  Off the sinks and faucets chart, I thought I would take a side trip into another old favorite, which is mining value per region.  Again, Delve is at the top of the chart still.

August 2019 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

The top ten regions on that chart, and the value mined, are:

  1. Delve – 3.62 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.59 trillion
  3. Esoteria – 1.46 trillion
  4. The Forge – 1.40 trillion
  5. Querious – 1.10 trillion
  6. Sinq Laison – 1.02 trillion
  7. Lonetrek – 972 billion
  8. Metropolis – 895 billion
  9. Everyshore – 777 billion
  10. Tash-Murkon – 773 billion

For null sec, that is basically the Imperium in Delve and Querious and TEST in Esotaria.  The other seven are high sec.  I had to go look up Everyshore region, because I could not recall it ever being mentioned anywhere.  But DOTLAN says it is a thing, a part of Gallente empire space.

That put null sec way down compare to the number from July:

  1. Delve – 5.77 trillion
  2. Querious – 3.18 trillion
  3. Esoteria – 2.61 trillion
  4. Syndicate – 1.99 trillion
  5. Fountain – 1.92 trillion
  6. Etherium Reach – 1.77 trillion
  7. Domain – 1.69 trillion
  8. Malpais – 1.64 trillion
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.61 trillion
  10. The Forge – 1.47 trillion

The rumor was that mining botters simply moved en masse to high sec to with the coming of the blackout.  I can’t say that this proves it, but it certainly seems to support the suggestion.  I guess those roving Triglavian scouts need to start working harder.

And that drop in output, it wasn’t related to a price drop in minerals.  According to the economic indices, mineral prices remained flat, so those numbers are a reasonable month over month comparison.

August 2019 – Economic Indices

I might have skipped past mining this month, what with the NPC bounty thing, but I figure those numbers might be relevant next month.  As you may know, earlier this week the September update introduced the big cyno change, the latest in the Chaos Era campaign.

I suspect that next month, when we get the September MER, we will see NPC bounties dropping even more as the big coalitions that have depended on super capital umbrellas to stay safe have asked their super and titan ratters to stay docked while new defense strategies are worked out.

Likewise, Rorquals are probably staying safe for now, though I know in the Imperium they are free to get back to work, but only if they stay in certain systems, get in the standing fleet, have a specific fit, and have an alt in a force recon with a cyno cloaked up and ready to bring in the cavalry should somebody drop on you.  The upside is that if you follow the new rules, you get SRP if your Rorqual dies.  Or Goons get SRP.  In TNT we just get yelled at.  But I don’t own a super or a Rorqual, so I only know what gets pinged out over Jabber.

So look in next month for another drop.

Meanwhile, you can go grab the full August MER, which is chock full of additional charts and data and what not, if you want to peruse that at your leisure.

Others looking at the MER:

The September Update Brings Cyno Changes and New Player Improvements to EVE Online

The Chaos Era continues in New Eden as CCP proceeds with the dual goals of making the game more difficult for veteran players while simultaneously attempting improve new player retention.

In my book the big item hitting the game for September is the cyno changes, which I mentioned previously.  This has been summed up in the patch notes in a single sentence:

Cynosural Field Generator I now only able to be fit to Force Recon Ships and Black Ops Battleships.

Yesterday most of the 345 ships currently flyable in New Ede could have lit a cyno, the requirement having been just a high slot.  Today it is down to nine.  If you’re like me, you’re now stuck moving your capital ships around in fleet ops unless you are willing to blow a 300 million ISK force recon hull for every jump, or a billion ISK black ops hull.  My solo trips in a cap are done, don’t undock what you cannot afford to lose being the iron law of New Eden and all.

No more of this frigate cyno stuff

The one set of hulls excused has been Jump Freighters.  Initially CCP was simply going to allow them to use covert cynos, which had its own mix of good and bad. (Which needed Cyno V on your cyno alt as well as the ability to fly a covert ops ship, but exposure would be reduced.)  That plan was changed (hopefully before people skill injected their cyno alts to Cyno V) and now there is a new cyno module just for jump freighters.  Per the patch notes:

  • Added Industrial Cynosural Field Generator.
    • Can be fit by Industrials, Deep Space Transports and Blockade Runners.
    • Industrial Cynosural Fields can be jumped to by Jump Freighters and Black Ops Battleships.
    • Requires Cynosural Field Theory I to activate.

Industrials will be the new cyno ship for jump freighters.  This will also keep cyno vigils a thing, though now vigils will be held in haulers, which seemed to be a major factor here.  More room to hold fuel I guess.  The odd bit is the addition of Black Ops ships to those being able to jump to the new cyno.  I did not see a reason listed for that.

And so the chaos continues.

On the new player side of things, the big feature for September looks to be warning messages when players are fitting ships sub-optimally.  There will now be four levels of warnings in the fittings window if you commit any of these fitting sins.   The warnings are broken out into the following groups:

Crucial/Red if:

  • The ship’s CPU is overloaded
  • The ship’s Powergrid overloaded
  • The ship’s Cargo is overloaded
  • The ship is a Strategic Cruiser and is missing a subsystem

Warning/Yellow if:

  • The ship has Invalid modules fitted (for example after a ship has been rebalanced or when swapping subsystems on a Strategic Cruiser)
  • Some fitted Modules are not providing bonus (for example if you have a Magnetic Field Stabilizer fit but all your guns are projectiles turrets)
  • Mixing turret groups
  • Mixing turret sizes
  • Mixing launcher groups
  • Both Shield and Armor modules fitted
  • Offline modules

Info/White if:

  • Armor tanking a ship categorized as shield ship
  • Shield tanking a ship categorized as armor ship
  • Polarized weapons fitted

Skill warning if:

  • Skills for the ship or fitted modules are missing
  • Skills for items in the ships cargohold are missing

Hovering over the warnings will describe which tenant of ship fitting you have broken and highlight the offending modules.

Dual tanked Raven as an example

With this in place can we then assume all bad fits are on purpose?

Other items of note on the list of changes include the long promised warp timer.  Previously tossed due to technical reasons, you can now only be kept from warping by bumping for three minutes:

Ships that bump while attempting to enter warp will now automatically enter warp if they remain in the pre-warp state for three minutes continuously. Scramblers or any other form of canceling the warp will reset this timer.

The out is that if the people bumping you are willing to sacrifice a rookie ship and a warp scram to CONCORD every two and a half minutes or so, they can still keep you stuck indefinitely.  But if you’ve set yourself to warp in a belt and walked away, you’ll only bump off that asteroid in your way for three minutes… so long as belt rats don’t get you before then.

On the graphics side of things, there has been an update to graphics and shaders related to stars and wormholes.  There was a dev blog about this, but I guess it can be quickly summed up in a graphic from that.

The before and after look

Wormhole graphics will also indicate the age and capacity of the wormhole, so capital capable wormholes will be visually distinctive from frigate sized holes.

There are, as always, lots of other small fixes and tweaks in the update.  You can find details in the patch notes and on the updates page.  Word is that the update has been deployed successfully.

Expecting Too Much from New Eden

Last Tuesday afternoon, just after I got home from work, I brought up the launcher for EVE Online.  I did so by accident, as I meant to bring up the Blizzard launched to play WoW Classic.  But I let it patch and run up just to keep it current.

Then I looked at the online player count and was a bit surprised to find it below the 15K mark, and you know what came to my mind right away.

First known occurrence of “EVE is Dying”

I realize that a weekday afternoon, and one after a three day weekend in the US, isn’t necessarily a peak time, but 15K seemed pretty low.

For the past year or so I have come home in the afternoon to find the count between 20-22K most weekdays and, as I have written in the past, I generally consider low ebb later in the evenings, when the Euros have gone to bed and it is safer to move things around, to be about 18K players online.

I had heard The Mittani talking about diminishing peak numbers on consecutive Sundays since the start of the Chaos Era, but that seemed premature to me.  That was two weeks ago.  You could chart small declines, but I thought you really needed to get past the login bonuses and free SP event before the numbers would start to really be telling.

Well, here we are, Chaos Era in full swing, more nerfs on the way with the September update, and no promotions or events in progress.  So Goons are working on gloomy charts (with some add on charts in the comments), Nosy Gamer is having a look at NPC and player destruction that doesn’t bode well, the MER has NPC commodities as the new biggest ISK faucet, and my own anecdotal evidence all seem to add up to something being amiss, manifested in the concurrent player count numbers, which you can see over at EVE Offline.

I realize that CCP doesn’t mention concurrent player count anymore, preferring the trend towards daily and monthly active users, the darling metrics of the mobile domain where ads are often part of the revenue stream. (Have you seen Candy Crush Saga lately? There has been a pretty big swing towards “watch an ad video, get a booster!” in their model.)  But the concurrent player count feels more like the reality we play in, so a dip is not good news.

This has, naturally enough, led to a cottage industry over on /r/eve and in the forums and wherever else about what CCP needs to do to fix this.

What I find interesting is how many people can move straight from the stance that CCP is both slow and incompetent to a grand master plan for fixing EVE Online that pretty much demands that the company be both quick and excellent at their craft.

My poster child right now is this post, which is a master class in glossing over reality.  The premise is that CCP should add back walking in stations, shove whatever Project: Nova is right now into the mix, and try to turn the game into what Star Citizen aspires to be some day.

Leaving aside my myriad objections to avatar play in EVE Online (summed up as: You have to build a whole different game to support it), the very easy jokes to be made at the expense of Chris Roberts, and the completely half-assed, evidence free, changing horses mid-stream vision being espoused, what in the last sixteen years could lead anybody to believe that CCP has the capability of doing this in any time frame that doesn’t include the heat death of the universe as a benchmark measurement?

I remain convinced that people outside software development think that just because it is easy to describe something it must therefore be easy to develop.

That is not the way of the world.

Just last week I suggested that CCP wasn’t going to be able to fix the new player experience in any meaningful way that would have even the slightest impact on new player retention.  I mean, I wrote “point and laugh” as my possible response to whatever they come up with, but that was what I meant.  And I say that because of CCP’s history.

It is like when people say that CCP should make things like level 4 missions more fun… something else I have seen come up as part of this… and I again wonder what people think has been going on since 2003.  Do you think that CCP has not tried?  Also, your idea on how to do this is badly considered garbage that won’t work.  Just accept it.

The game is what it is, having grown and developed almost spasmodically over the last decade and a half.  It hangs together on social bonds, vengeance fantasies, pretty screen shots, angry memes, and the sunk cost fallacy, and anything that CCP could do to “fix” the game has a pretty good chance of upsetting that balance.  I swear the corporate motto ought to be, “We did not see that coming!”

Which isn’t to say that I don’t think CCP can do things to help the game along, and even make the NPE better.  There are lots of ways the game could be made better.  But what CCP needs to do is way down in the fundamentals, blocking and tackling level stuff.  There is no room for Jesus features any more as there are too many balls for CCP to keep in the air as it is.  That one labelled “faction warfare” rolled under the couch a couple of years ago.

But what you don’t do is mask things with uncertainty.  Chaos is not a viable business strategy unless you’re selling safety from it.  Rational people, when faced with chaos, tend to try and find a safe place to weather the storm.

Anyway, we’ll see what comes to pass.  I fear that the Chaos Era may have officially pushed me into the bitter vet status, so i’ll probably just go play some more WoW Classic.

Others on the Chaos Era: